Ellen's book will strengthen and guide you in your role as caregiver to an elder parent or relative, and help you understand your own physical, emotional, mental & spiritual needs.
I’m looking forward to my Christmas holiday this year more than other years in the past. Not the commercial part, that seductive buying frenzy, but the idea of spending precious time with family and friends, relaxing with them over shared food. We were away in 2009 over the holidays, so I appreciate being home at this time of year more now.
Last year was unusual for us; we spent our Christmas in India, a very different culture, with unseasonal hot holiday weather. One of the few times I’ve been away from home at Christmas, it was the first year we’d been separated from our daughter ever in twenty-nine years. Bronwen said she didn’t mind us not being there, but as the trip came closer she wasn’t as thrilled. By then the plans were finallized, the tickets booked. I felt fine about not coming home, until our acquaintances in Dharamsala began disappearing one by one; to begin trips back to their home countries; Australia, Canada, the U.S. Then what we’d set in motion hit me, and I began to have some regrets about our decision.
It all turned out fine; Bronwen enjoyed the company of her many friends during the Christmas season, while we spent our time in Mumbai (formerly Bombay), a city with a significant Christian population (four percent out of twenty million people). We stayed at an Indian hotel in the suburbs, a forty-minute train ride from downtown Mumbai, after cancelling our downtown booking when we fortunately discovered that the staff at that hotel left much to be desired.
The day before Christmas we visited an official, government-sanctioned slum, and the next day dined in elegance on Indian turkey at a five-star hotel on the Mumbai harbour. The juxtaposition of the two places was very powerful; the opulence of the hotel in some inexplicable way locked the images of the slum forever into my brain.
Over the years our holiday season has changed, from a child-oriented one in the eighties, to a more low key celebration as our daughter grew up. Our attitude towards the world around us also transformed gradually. For some years now we’ve focused on contributing to local food banks and international family charities, as well as gift giving.
Nothing has had as powerful an impact, however, as spending time in developing countries, meeting and working with the citizens and with refugees who have no real country to call home. For me it puts things into perspective, helps me to realize just how affluent we are here in the West, while most people in the world have so little. Yet we, and I certainly include myself, are often dissatisfied with our lives.
This year we’ll celebrate a simple holiday season in our home, complete with a small tree, enjoying the company of family and friends, and share greetings with those friends who live far away.
We’re experiencing real winter weather in my neck of the woods on the west coast, very unusual, especially this early in the year. When I’m not taking a walk or attending my dance-exercise classes, I enjoy hunkering down inside my warm office or den. Perhaps the Universe is conspiring to help me cocoon, because when we do venture out, our car often breaks down enroute!
To me the idea of cocooning is a fitting one for the holiday season… I picture warm cozy homes, perhaps with fires burning, holiday decorations, and the company of close friends and family.
Planning and visualizing how we want to spend our time over the holidays is an important step to making it a reality. What do you really want to do, as opposed to what you feel or think you should do? I encourage you to take the time to figure this out, then scrap the rest if at all possible. Don’t forget to build in some discretionary “me time” for yourself. You deserve and need it at the end of your year. Personal time will help you set the stage for moving into 2011 in fulfilling and joyful ways.
Thank you for your ongoing support; I appreciate it. Wishing you an enjoyable and relaxing holiday season.
Some years ago I took a position in my chiropractor’s office. It wasn’t the type of job I usually did; mostly I’d done social work and held several positions as a transition house support worker. I struggled with the idea of going back to office work, and the bookkeeping tasks turned out to be much more complicated than I’d been told (actually I hadn’t been told anything, I’d just been offered the job and my two-day training turned out to be two hours, but that’s a whole other story!). After while I decided, “This is a good job with a very generous rate of pay, especially for a rural community of unemployed and underemployed people – I’m going to master it”. So I did; I took charge of my attitude and ultimately enjoyed the work and the people I met in the course of my time there.
Although I sometimes forget, and need to remind myself of this, I find the same basic idea still applies – how I approach my life overall, and each individual day depends a lot on my attitude. When I recognise and appreciate the positives, and realistically examine and make adjustments to what I need to change in order to be satisfied, my life flows in a joyful way.
When you get up in the morning, how do you feel about your day? Do you drag yourself grumbling into the day, or do you feel optimistic and excited about what’s to come? When the day’s over do you feel a sense of satisfaction for a day well spent, or does it seem that you’ve wasted your time?
Often just allowing ourselves to become aware of the many things that are working in our life, of all the people we make positive connections with on a regular basis, can make a real difference. Then looking at the things we’re not happy about and making small changes wherever we can will help balance our life out. For example, taking the time from our busy schedule to meet a close friend for coffee, bringing less of our work home, taking a scheduled day off from work one day per month, getting our family members to take on simple tasks like doing their own laundry.
I invite you to sit down comfortably with a cup of tea, take a deep breath, then just relax and think of the two sides of this equation, using the details specific to your life, and decide what changes you’d like to make. Then move forward with renewed positive attitude into the flow of your life.
Caring for the needs of our elderly relatives or other elders we are responsible for is something most of us do with compassion and patience. We do this month after month and year after year, and it’s hard for us to imagine anyone caregiving in any other way. Unfortunately, there is a small minority of caregivers out there, both paid and family, who do not hold this philosophy.
Because of them, elder abuse has become a significant issue. Recently an elder care expert on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s (CBC) radio morning show said that elder abuse is at a similar place as domestic violence was a number of years ago. People are just beginning to realized that there’s a problem out there — one that won’t go away.
As we reach old age, we are not as able to defend ourselves against attack, because we are often frailer in our body and our mind. Uncaring or unscrupulous people use this perceived weakness to take advantage of elders, instead of protecting and caring for them, and honoring the incredible life history each one of them carries within them.
Abuse can take many forms including physical, emotional, sexual, neglect/abandonment, financial or healthcare fraud. We are all our sisters and brothers keepers. If we know an elderly person who we think is in trouble, it’s up to us as good neighbors and community members to speak to someone, perhaps a family member, doctor, or public health nurse. The two main indicators of possible abuse are:
- Frequent arguments or tension between the caregiver and the elderly person
- Changes in personality or behavior in the elder
Help Guide has published an excellent article by Ellen Jaffe-Gill, Tina de Benedictis and Jeanne Segal, outlining what elder abuse is and detailing everything to look for; it’s called On Elder Abuse and Neglect
Here’s another one on financial abuse, a guest blog by Dale Carter on AgeWiseLiving, called How Can I Protect My Aging Parent Against Financial Abuse
Ryan Malone has written an informative article on How to Background Check Your Home Care Provider in his blog Inside Elder Care.
“We can never obtain peace in the outer world until we make peace with ourselves.”
-The Dalai Lama
We had the special privilege of attending teachings with His Holiness the Dalai Lama in Dharamsala, India last fall. What stayed with me from our time with him, was the idea that we must first be kind to ourselves, then we can help others.
This concept of self-care gives me permission to discover what I need to feel joyful and healthy, then from that place of clarity to go out into the world and share my gifts. Hopefully it will help you.
Here are a few questions about self-kindness for you to ponder:
- What will help me begin each day joyfully?
- What small change can I make in my life to enhance my kindness to myself?
- Can I trade off money and material objects in order to purchase time for my heart’s desires?
- What activities make me feel more alive, more engaged in life?
- Can I make changes in my work or other activities to reflect more of who I truly am?
Fall is truly a wonderful time of the year for quiet reflection and to embark on self-growth.
Fall In Person Group Coaching
Living Your Life with Passion
4 week series beginning the evening of Thursday, October 14th:
- Finding our true selves
- What holds us back? Identifying our limiting thinking
- Moving towards our future vision: using turtle steps we’ll get there!
- Our pathway and where we’re going next
You & Your Money, the Beliefs that Limit You
Joining me is Jodi Burke: Advisor, Debt Freedom Canada
2-part evening workshop beginning in November
For more information on these fall workshops, email email@example.com
- May 22, 2013Moving Day, Excerpt from An Indian Sojourn
- May 14, 2013An Indian Sojourn Excerpt
- May 3, 2013An Indian Sojourn free Amazon Kindle Days
- April 17, 2013Apani Dhani Eco Resort, Juxtaposition of Old & New, Excerpt from An Indian Sojourn
- April 12, 2013An Indian Sojourn reading plus Tibetan Presentation
- April 4, 2013Press Release: Ellen Besso’s New Book Describes Spiritual Insight Gained by Traveling and Volunteering in India
- April 3, 2013Introduction to Rajasthan, excerpt from An Indian Sojourn