Winter 2014 Newsletter

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Key Life Journeys  is the website I established to share the various journeys that are a part of my life and which I thought might interest, inform and inspire others. On the five blogs there is room to comment. I discovered that the journeys which have had the most impact on my life are those of care giving, travelling and gardening; through them I have had personal growth and found a spiritual path, the soul journey.

Key Life Journeys   is having a rebirth or sorts – a makeover really. I get dragged into the tech world fighting every step of the way in fear and trepidation, but I love the new cleaner look. When I think back to the old format with its green back ground it reminds me of the fashionable avocado coloured fridges and toilets of the 60’s (anyone remember them) and how dated they so quickly looked. The website has gone digital…let me digress a moment.

I have been using hearing aids for many years and when I used to go and visit my mother I would always find hers in the drawer. “But they always get tangled in my hair net” was her excuse, “and I can’t change the batteries.” I suggested we did it together for the duration of my vacation. Later I got a letter from her where she announced “I’ve gone digital. Have you?” Apparently a “nice young man” was willing to come to her home and, with her friend Mollie, demonstrate the new and improved variety of computerized hearing aids. They each bought a pair after the nice young man promised he would keep visiting them till they had mastered how to use them. Well, she beat me to it then and now, finally, my caregiver movies and a lot of other stuff is available as digital downloads on the new website. I think my mother would be proud of me. Had she lived, she would have been 100 years old in 2014.

My mother is mentioned in the e-book “100 Years Down the Road of Life with Edith Chambers” which you will find on the website.  Me ? A digital e-book…This is all too much!!

My mother is my role model for caregiving. She looked after me in the era when those who could not pass as normal were hidden away. She refused to do that. So in many ways the series of caregiving DVDs  and downloads only could become my reality because of her. I’m glad to say she was able to vicariously live through the activities of the Travelling Gal for many years, and we did several jaunts together.

Thoughts from the Travelling Gal

Let Me Tell You About My Mexico

I have always loved travelling in Mexico. It was in February 1990 that I first walked the beaches that fringe Banderas Bay, filled with recently born humpback whale calves and their mothers.

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It was the first occasion I slugged back an ounce of tequila; it was the first time I heard a live Mariachi band. It was the first occasion – followed by many more – of being in the zocalo surrounded by pigeons; seeing Mexican fathers proudly showing off their infant daughters and the bright extravaganza of the balloon seller.

Since then I have been in many sea side Pacific and Caribbean towns and stood beside massive Olnec Heads in the state of Veracruz and watched shade coffee harvested in the cloud forest. I have been healed by a shaman and I have clapped as an old Tarahumara Indian danced in the glow of the camp fire at the edge of the Urique Canyon, the deepest canyon in the Sierra Tarahumara at 1,879 meters (6,200 feet)  down.

I have explored Mayan Ruins and underground senote. During the spring Equinox I have watched the sun’s shadow show the descent of the Serpent Kukulkan at Chichen Itza.

I have walked the streets of Merida with a young Mayan hammock seller who proudly showed me his identity card that allowed him to sell. He was proud to speak English. His family in the village who made the Hessian hammocks only spoke their native tongue; they did not even speak the official language, Spanish.

So it hurts me that the stories of violent deaths, corrupt police and drug crimes have tainted Mexico’s name and driven away the tourists. Swine flu decimated the legitimate business in tourist areas like Puerto Vallarta. When I went back the following year the empty stores told the tale of those who never survived the dearth of tourists…

click here to see the rest of the article on The Travelling Gal blog .

Thoughts from the Caregiver Journey 

Long Before The Dementia Diagnosis Is Made

Reaching a diagnosis for many diseases takes a long time. Symptoms appear and there are tests. Symptoms are often denied by the individual or at first minimized by the professional. Symptoms may make past activity and work impossible causing great strain on family resources. In some situation changes in behaviour or memory are insidiously destroying relationships before they can be identified as symptoms of something being wrong.

This means that by the time the diagnosis has been made and the family is expected to get on with it, major rifts in its structure and solidarity have appeared. Indeed by the time the family is expected to “pull together,” family members may not be talking to each other; may feel let down, taken advantage of or abused by others.

When this is the reality, how can a family problem solve, decision make and deal with this situation? If this is your position it is imperative that you get professional help. Chances are you are so angry with what is going on that you are all taking it out on each other.

It takes a lot of work to cease from blaming, to stop finding fault. The dynamics are too complex and confusing to be handled alone. It is not a sign of weakness to need help at this time. It is a gift to find someone who will listen and not pass judgment, hear your pain without telling you what to do. This is indeed what every member of the family needs. Families function because of unique interdependencies, everyone has a specific role – bread winner, scapegoat to name just two. When disease hits, the security of this family web is torn apart. Everyone feels a tug of insecurity because that familiar role will be changed for ever. …. for the rest of this article go to the Caregiver Journey blog

Thoughts from the Waterfalls and Gardens Blog  in September

Another Lesson from the Natural World

It is September. I love this time of year in the garden, pruning, dead heading, collecting seeds and picking vegetables. Then I sit on my shaded patio where dappled light filtres through tree branches, a cup of tea by my side. I plug in the water pump and my waterfall drops into the 12 foot river which then descends into the underground reservoir where the pump sits, to move the water back up.

I drink my anise tea which I buy from a middle eastern grocery store which smells of rose water – and yes I often come away with a box of Turkish delight. On my lap, a book by Pema Chödrön. One of life’s lessons I read is the art of letting go – that is accepting life’s impermanence. I think in our consumer identified society we make “to possess” the most important verb in our vocabulary – or to put another way “to have and to hold.” However, this seems to create a great deal of stress for us, especially when someone else has more than we do or we don’t hold that which we think we are entitled. Pema Chödrön teaches us that letting go is better than holding on, perhaps making grief, loss and all that comes with aging easier to handle.


So here I am with the afore mentioned book and mug of tea and acknowledging that learning the art of letting go might be good for me, when I espy movement on the grass between my veggie patch and the apricot trees that front my patio. Actually when I first built the patio, I called it a bower. To the right of these fruit trees the garden opens up to display my waterfall, rock gardens, metal birds and a blue pot with an iguana on it from Mexico. Into this space walks – as if he owned the place – a large raccoon. 4pm is a normal time for urban raccoons to be out an about. He notices me and stops. We stare at each other for quite a while before he gets bored and nonchalantly walks on, probably following his daily route. We came to an understanding. I had to let go of the notion that this garden was mine. I could only share in its bounty. I did not possess it. There was only one area over which I had control – the pump that made my waterfall flow. Maybe the raccoon acknowledged that too. I bet he and his family would love to have it flowing when they called my garden home. They could wash their hands in it. It was for this very reason that I built an underground reservoir so that when I did not need it, the water would just disappear…

For the rest of this story go to it at the Waterfalls and Gardens blog

As you know I do want to hear from you. Making comments on my blog sites is one way of doing that. Best wishes to you on your journeys.


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