Help for Healing

Bitter & Sweet, living daily with grief


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A Day in the Life

The many hats I wear can be exhausting. Sometimes it’s the number of hats, and sometimes it’s the number of times I have to change them. And sometimes it’s how quickly I have to change them.

Doorbell rings. It’s my 18-year-old college student I have been hiring to help me with the yard work. The yard work has been overwhelming this year. That is because of the debacle with the neighbor in November which resulted in the privacy fence being put up, and other fencing coming down. Lots and lots of plants and bushes had to be replanted. She starts another job next week so I am trying to get as much done as I possibly can while I have her. I give her two or three jobs to focus on and then run off to do what else I have to do.

Computer work. Check all the emails. Ask clarifying questions about upcoming meetings. Quotes on Facebook for the business. Follow up on leads for the book and speaking engagements.

Dad pulls in. He has the picnic table he is giving me because he is hoping to move soon. Stop the student. Refocus her. Move the old picnic table, clean the new one. Yep, do that first because otherwise Dad might try to do it and he really shouldn’t be lifting things or carrying things with his balance issues.

Keep Dad busy. Give him the dreaded basket full of socks that need to be matched.

Back to phone calls. Dad wants to move. After months of trying to persuade him to downsize with seemingly little effect, he now is ready. And he is ready right now. Can’t happen fast enough for him. I try to get him to catch his breath. Let’s not just make up a number. I have calls in to my mortgage friends I trust. They give me the right direction which now involves more phone calls. Waiting for calls back.

Client comes. Put my focus on. Go in and talk to them and be fully present for the things they are struggling with. Actually like this because it involves a full hour of one thing and one thing only on my mind.

More computer work. I’m scanning lots of documents and pictures I found at Dad’s house while we were cleaning out Mom’s closet and bedroom. Send emails to my siblings and ask them what they want. This goes on throughout the whole day because I scan in between everything else. Can’t get rid of the large pile for a week though because one sibling is camping and has no internet access. I have to wait an entire week before I get an answer. That’s ok. I will just add it to the 20 or so boxes of stuff of Dad’s that I have been trying to sell. So far zero success. Haven’t sold one thing.

Student ready for more work. Damn, she’s really good and pretty quick as well. I have to keep her busy though while she’s here so out to the yard again for the next set of directions.

Holy cow, I am going to sell a bench. Back and forth text and emails several times, but she is coming to buy it at 6 PM. Have to remember she is coming. But we actually sold something!

In comes Mark. He is working on fixing the ceiling in the office. He has to be there when I don’t have clients. He has a few other things to fix too but I’m not sure how much he can get to in the limited time he has.

Surprise! Matthew (my step-son) shows up with my granddaughter. She is delightful and I wish I could scoop up every second with her. But she is terribly attached to her daddy so there is about 20 minutes of piercing screaming until she gets used to being with us again. We wait it out and eventually we are able to interact with her. I put everything else aside for the time being because she is my priority. I can’t get the cutest video ever to load on this so you can check out my Facebook page if you want to see her.

Dad asks if I am ever going to put those socks away. Really? Really?

I have another client coming but I am now filthy and have to jump in the shower. No shampoo. I call for Colin. He goes in the storage cabinet and there is no shampoo there either. Are you kidding? How did I let that happen? Luckily, the boys have some upstairs so I can actually finish my shower. Gotta remember to get to the store.

There’s only a hundred or so other things I did but don’t have the energy to write them all. It’s a new day.

My student has arrived and I send her to Home Depot with a list of things we need to keep going on the lawn. Then my brilliance kicks in and I send her also to Dollar Tree to get me five bottles of shampoo. Should have gotten 10 probably.

I start my blog but Dad is up and wants to know if we are out of cereal. I find some in the basement. Phew. Phone rings. Another realtor call. Left several messages for the place Dad is waiting for an apartment. I’ve left four so far but no response.

I let out a heavy sigh. Writing is almost done for today. Tonight is Frankie’s Jr. National Honor Society Induction. Can’t miss that. Because oh yeah, I’m still raising kids. LOL. Just means I had to reschedule clients for Friday night. I don’t normally work on Friday nights but tomorrow I have five at night, one in the morning. Sigh again.

Not really trying to complain. It isn’t that. But sometimes people tell me not to be stressed. Sometimes they offer to help. But they really have no idea at all what is happening in my life. They couldn’t possibly begin to understand or even manage half of it. Summer and I talk about this because we have similar amounts of responsibilities. The best is when other people act like we are the crazy ones who stress ourselves and then everyone else. That couldn’t be further from the truth. What we need is no critics, and people who will actually help. Follow through, be there even when it isn’t convenient.

Regardless, I will keep doing what I can do and somehow try to take care of myself in the process. I do a lot of mind gymnastics where I convince myself I can only do what I can and that is good enough. Period. And I really am ok with that.


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Carly

Most of you may not know that I went to a very conservative Bible college for my Bachelor’s Degree. I got an MA in International Ministries. Anyhow, I am still very much in touch with my first roommate, Carly. With cell phones, there are no longer long-distance charges so we talk several times a week. She lives in Indianapolis.

Carly home schools and also works from home when she can. For a while, she was an editor for a publishing company. That fit in great when I decided to write my books and open the publishing company. With the ease of the internet, she was able to edit both books from home, as well as the other three books the company got out. During the time that Tim was sick, she followed our blog faithfully but also sent us private emails. That meant she never actually got in the books because the entries all came from Caring Bridge. She is now a faithful follower of my blog. She joked a couple of weeks ago that maybe someday she will “make the blog.” Well, here you are Carly. A blog about you.

When I think about my relationship with her, I actually have to cringe. Not because of her, but because of me. I was well-intentioned, but nevertheless I was still a nightmare of sorts in college. I was in my genuine yet holier-than-thou phase. I truly tried to be the best Christian I could, but I remember someone on our floor saying that I talked like I had swallowed a Bible.

I played floor hockey and Carly could always tells when she got off the elevator because the whole floor would smell like Ben-Gay. I got injured more than once. One time I sprained my knee and had crutches. Another time my finger got whacked and my nail turned black. We had to drill a hole in the nail to let the blood out. But we were the champs. For those of you that know how NOT athletic I am, you would have been proud.

Moody Bible Institute- 10 N Hockey champs- Ellen, Darcy, Nancy

Moody Bible Institute- 10 N Hockey champs- Ellen, Darcy, Nancy

One of the most memorable times, was when I fell asleep on the top of the roof. We were on the tenth floor (the school was in Chicago) and it was a cloudy day. I ended up dozing off and got one of the worst sun burns I’ve ever had in my life. It was awful. Carly and the other girls on my floor took turns putting tea bags and cool cloths on my skin for hours. We had a dress code and I had to wear dresses to class. I didn’t wear a bra or underwear til I got better, which in a Bible school was of course scandalous.

One day I didn’t come home when Carly was expecting me. I remember walking in the room and her saying, “Where the hell have you been?” Now that may sound normal to you, but in a Bible college, that was even more scandalous. It was downright shocking. I remember being stunned. She said hell! My how time can change things. Here we are a couple of decades later and I’m praying more than usual. My prayer is that I don’t drop my usual F-bombs while she is here. She would love me regardless, but I don’t want to unnecessarily offend her. LOL!

I did a skit one time and was supposed to look like a punk rocker. You can only imagine the looks I got walking around that conservative campus looking like that. This is Carly and I after that lovely event.

Darcy, Janet Pollard-Carr

Darcy, Janet Pollard-Carr

Here is a real cringe moment. Back then, even though I wanted to be a missionary, I also had visions of being a counselor. I have totally forgotten this, but when Carly reminds me (as we giggle) I have to admit that it sounds exactly like something I would have said. I used to tell her on no uncertain terms that she unconsciously hated her father. I just knew she had unresolved issues with him and she needed therapy to deal with her hatred. Yikes. I shiver when I think of my audacity, and frankly my complete wrongness. Her dad is a delightful British guy with an accent that will melt your heart. She recently almost lost him but thankfully he is on the road to recovery.

Life sure has a way of changing things and humbling you. And sometimes, rare people like Carly just love you through all the phases and changes in spite of yourself. She arrived last night and we went to Applebee’s for a late night dinner. We both got the chicken pecan-crusted salads. Aren’t we well-behaved? The first thing I did was spill the entire container of dressing on the table. It was oily and messy and not easy to clean up. We had our waitress come over and clean it. I told her Carly was the one who had just driven all day but I was the one who was the clutz. She had to bring over spray to clean it so I had to hold the salad up so it didn’t get sprayed on. We laughed. And then before she could gather her things to leave, Carly spilled her entire cup of dressing on the table. Thank God our waitress had a sense of humor. We laughed so hard I’m sure we turned some heads. And of course, not a drop of alcohol passed our lips.

I can’t remember if I slipped out an F-bomb but I’m sure some curse word fell out. Carly just laughed. So glad she is here, even if briefly. Old friends, dear friends. Love you Carly!


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Consequences

For the last year and a half, I have thoroughly enjoyed being stretched and enriched by teaching graduate level classes. They were a perfect fit for me because they involved supervising students who are doing internships in the field. Ninety percent of my students seem to have thoroughly benefited from having me as their professor, but it was really me that got the most benefit. They have been like sponges and it has been most gratifying to build relationships with them.

Supervision involves providing feedback and answering questions on tough cases. We did a lot of role-playing and I would usually use actual client situations (with names and other identifying factors changed) to provide examples. It is one of their licensing requirements that the students provide actual recordings of sessions they have done when possible. Sometimes that couldn’t happen because clients have to give permission for such recordings. Anyhow, I grew to really value this part. Students would watch each other and learn how to give helpful feedback- compliments as well as criticisms. It is a vital part to them honing their skills.

With advances in technology, more and more colleges offer classes on-line. There are programs that enable students to check in via computer and you see a small picture of them on your screen as you are teaching. I am comfortable somewhat with this concept on general class instruction. But with supervision in particular, I find it nearly impossible to conduct such a class on computer. The interactions and non-verbals are crucial to teaching clinical skills. When I was initially hired, I was told participation with on-line students was optional. This year that changed and we were told it was a mandated part of our position.

The problem is, when you view recordings (which are also mandated) the program will crash. That is an impossible situation. Mandated computer participation with mandated recordings that crash the program. Impossible. When I asked what we are supposed to do about the dilemma, I was told to watch their recordings on my own time and then give the feedback to the entire class. Well, that adds a lot of hours to my duties without compensation, but much, much more important than that, is that the benefits to the student is severely diminished. The quality of their education is being stripped away in my opinion.

I hate sometimes, that I am that person that has to speak up. I remember glancing around the room during that initial meeting and thinking, did I misunderstand? Did they just say if we do the recordings it will crash the program? How come no one else is asking what to do about it? I had to ask for clarification. And I had to say that I was disappointed in the shift because it hurts the students’ quality of education. By the way, I was not tactless or disrespectful. I just felt it was important enough to open my mouth.

I didn’t get hired back this semester. At first I didn’t feel bad because I prefer not to work in the summer anyhow. But then I did some digging and realized that I might not ever get hired back. The program is trying to hire all doctorate level professors. With that being the case, I don’t feel badly because I don’t have any desire to get my doctorate. But I also know there are probably some politics involved. My reluctance to do the on-line stuff is an issue.

I hate the word consequences because it implies punishment for a wrong doing. I truly don’t think I did anything “wrong” per se. But I do feel very, very badly. I loved teaching. I may not be able to make changes on the level I would like to, but I could make an impact on the students I was involved with. Now that opportunity seems to be gone. I don’t have any students at all. I’m really struggling with whether I regret my position or not. If I could do it over, would I just sit there like everyone else? Maybe. I would still have my job. But then I don’t think what is happening is good for the students or the profession at large. Was it important enough to lose my position over?

That is the question. I have no idea how to answer it.

Sigh.


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“Lovely”

You’ve heard me say about a million times that I have an exceptionally supportive family and friend network. Today I want to focus on just one of my sisters. When Summer got very close to my family while Tim was sick, she gave my sister Janet a nickname- Lovely. And it has stuck.

Janet is eight years older than me. When I say I’m the baby in the family, I mean I’m really the baby. Janet is my closet sibling. My brother is ten years older, and my other sister is 18 years older. In many ways, I grew up like an only child because of the age difference.

If you have ever attended one of my lectures, my family almost always comes up. When I speak of Janet, I say she is one of the nicest people I have ever met. Nice may be a generic word, but it is truly fitting for her. She just doesn’t have a mean bone in her body. As we’ve gotten older, she will often tell me she isn’t nice anymore. She has gotten older and less pleasant. But Janet’s less pleasant, is still much nicer than most people are on their best day.

I learned that life wasn’t fair many times in my life. Probably the single most unfair episode our family ever experienced, was when Janet lost her oldest daughter. She was only ten years old and was killed in a car accident. She was the sweetest thing ever. She was feminine and loved wearing curls and frilly dresses. She loved to show affection. I have read many, many times about the loss of a child and the strain it puts on a family, especially a marriage. Statistics are very high for couples divorcing after such a loss. Not my sister. She and her husband are high school sweethearts. She isn’t just nice, she is a very, very strong woman.

When my mom was sick, the hospice staff told us that I was the voice in the family and Janet was the hands. I will never understand how she didn’t pass her nursing boards because Janet is an absolute natural. She would change Mom’s bandages and bathe her with such kindness and gentleness. One time she wasn’t available and I had to get Mom ready for the day. We both laughed hard because I was an utter failure. I had her nightgown twisted around her IV’s so badly we had to ask for help. Mom and I both knew that no one could replace Janet. Not even close.

Janet and her hubby are getting ready to make a huge, massive life-changing move. They are going to Tennessee to be with their beautiful grandson.

Lisa, Carson Patrick

Lisa, Carson Patrick

Can you blame her? I certainly can’t. We all knew someday they would go south to be with their daughter, but someday came sooner than anyone expected, including them. They know better than anyone that life is short and fleeting. Why miss out of that sweet boy’s most precious years?

I know it was a hard decision for her. After all, she is thoughtful. I know she worries about me. And she worries about Dad. She doesn’t have the capacity to be selfish. I’ve done my best to reassure her we will all be fine. What I love is that I know if I asked her to stay, she would. I mean, she actually truly would. That blows my mind. It’s not like she is retiring and moving to Florida. She and her husband will still have to work full-time and they will help care for their grandson too. But she would give up where her heart aches to be if she thought it was what was best for everyone else.

I can’t imagine the void I will feel in less than two weeks. I know that we didn’t see each other as much as we would like over the last decade. The hour and 20 minute drive got the best of both of us much too often. We will do our best to stay close, but we both know things won’t be the same.

So Lovely, my deepest best wishes for the new chapter in your life. You will be missed more than you can possibly know. You have been an outstanding example for me my entire life. Your kindness, thoughtfulness, integrity, gentleness and much, much more are something I will never stop aspiring to achieve. I love you! You truly embody your nickname.