Tag Archives: women

Talking To Your Sister Is Sometimes All the Therapy You Need –anon

My mother always stressed how important my sister and I are to each other. Whenever we fought, and, like all siblings do, we DID fight, she would remind us that sometimes, and perhaps someday, we would be all we had.  “When your friends are not there for you, or you have lost a love, anything, your sister will be there,” she would say, and how right she was.  She was an only child so I guess she felt the value of having a sister more than we did at the time.  As it happened, thankfully, our Uncle Howard, my father’s older brother, married my Aunt Helen who too was an only child.  Now, my mom literally grew up with my dad and his brothers because my grandmothers were best friends.  It naturally followed that Marilyn and Helen became “sisters” big-time.  They were pretty much inseparable for most of their lives.  Again, like siblings, they had their moments, but all was always forgiven in the end.

This is a plaque in my room.  A gift from my sweet sis’, it greets me every morning.  I smile.

I am so grateful to my mother, OUR mother for instilling this gratitude in us.  Our love and caring and support for each other have carried us through many an emotional trauma.  We’ve spent plenty of long sleepless nights on the phone or in person working through life’s challenges.  We both have wonderful friends, of course, who have shared their support through the ups and downs, but there is something beyond special about our sisterly relationship.

Losing Mom this spring and taking care of all that was necessary following her passing has been proof of that.  We cared for her right there at home, with the help of hospice, but it was just the two of us there for most of the last days and at the end.  Joan and I spent two and a half months together under the same roof, a true test indeed.  We hadn’t been together for more than a few days or a week, maybe, since childhood.  Oh, we did have a couple of skirmishes, but Mom’s words got us through.  We didn’t say it out loud, but I know we were both thinking it.  In a moment, one time, we did tell each other that we thought Mom would be proud of us.

If you have a sibling or siblings, I hope you are close like we are.  I have to say that Mom would often comment on how happy she was that we appreciate each other like we do.  She spoke of friends whose children didn’t even speak to each other — ever. I have friends like that. Very sad.

About Jan Schim

Jan is a singer, a songwriter, a licensed body worker specializing in CranioSacral Therapy, and a teacher.  She is an advocate for the ethical treatment of ALL animals and a volunteer with several animal advocacy organizations.  She is also a staunch believer in the need to promote environmental responsibility.

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The Other Side of the Couch – Hope for the Future

 

The identification of the double-helix model of DNA by James Watson and Francis Crick in the 1950’s laid the groundwork for an amazing evolution in the understanding of genetics. The Human Genome Project concluded in 2003 with the sequencing of all 3.2 billion base pairs in the human genome (and completed the process two years before their set deadline).  This Human Genome Project ushered in a new era in medicine and advanced many new technologies related to gene sequencing.

The information related to these two seminal discoveries is only accelerating.  The field of proteomics  (the large-scale study of the structure and function of proteins) and the field of epigenetics (the study of changes in organisms caused by modification of gene expression rather than alteration of the genetic code itself) are combining to provide fascinating insights into the ways that our bodies function.

An offshoot of this information is beginning to impact our understanding of many mental health issues.  Researchers in the field of epigenetics are now suggesting that our cells may transmit the impact of traumas experienced by relatives and ancestors down through the generations.  In other words, if your grandparent experienced a significant trauma, that trauma, due to epigenetic changes in gene expression, could influence the instructions that cells receive to turn certain genes on and off.  This could result in the development of disease, either physical or mental.

For example, research by Dr. Rachel Yehuda showed an epigenetic tag that led her to conclude that the propensity for PTSD could be biologically inherited  (see citation –  Yehuda, R; Bierer, LM Prog Brain Res. 2008;167:121-35.

Why is this important?  Doesn’t the idea that we can biologically inherit a propensity toward a trauma response make mental health even more difficult to manage?

Therapists are finding that this is not the case.  Investigating one’s own heritage is becoming more and more available due to websites like www.Ancestry.com. DNA testing that connects an individual to literally thousands of other distant relatives is enlarging the understanding that many have of the breadth and depth of our connections to others, living and dead.  While therapists have always had a certain understanding of the effects that growing up in adverse circumstances have on a person’s life, the information that a parent’s or grandparent’s circumstances also have a biological impact that CAN BE HEALED by providing enriched environments in the present is incredibly hopeful.   After all, if epigenetics tells us that environment altered biology in the past, doesn’t that also mean that present biology can be altered by present experience, both for ourselves and for future generations?

This information gives me hope for individuals who have been impacted by the traumas of our present day – whether it is living through 9/11 or living in a war zone or being trapped at the southern border in horrible conditions.  These experiences can be overcome if the right environments are made available.  My hope is that those conditions will be identified and provided for all who need them.  It is within our power to shape both the present and the future – let’s do it.

About Susan Hammonds-White, EdD, LPC/MHSP

Communications and relationship specialist, counselor, Imago Relationship Therapist, businesswoman, mother, proud native Nashvillian – in private practice for 30+ years. I have the privilege of helping to mend broken hearts. Contact me at http://www.susanhammondswhite.com.

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What A Woman!

Marilyn Schim

October 23, 1925 – May 12, 2019

 

Miss you Mom…

About Jan Schim

Jan is a singer, a songwriter, a licensed body worker specializing in CranioSacral Therapy, and a teacher.  She is an advocate for the ethical treatment of ALL animals and a volunteer with several animal advocacy organizations.  She is also a staunch believer in the need to promote environmental responsibility.

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And Then There Were None

Ain’t technology grand?  I had two laptops.  Yes, two.  One, a full size model, many years old with many, many miles.  As Fred Byrd, a Used Car Manager I worked with years ago said about a car I traded in, and it certainly would have applied here, “Well, you certainly have enjoyed your car.”  The other is a much newer, handy little light weight, very portable model.  In a matter of days, I had NO working computers.  And I have been used to always having technology at my finger tips.

So here’s how it went:  The old one had been running slower and slower.  Finally, it just didn’t want to work at all.  Oh, it would “boot up,” but that’s as far as it would go.  Later, a trip to the Geek Squad, who said “patience” was key (and all my patience has never gotten me any further with it) convinced me that it was time for a new computer.

What happened to the other one?  A mistake on my part, and one I want to share with you in hopes that I can prevent any of you from making a similar one, became an expensive lesson.  See, I accidentally deleted a couple of emails I thought were real important at the time, so I started on a mission to try to retrieve them.  It’s a long story involving my Gmail, my iPhone, Apple Tech Support, and what I thought from a Google search, was a bonafide Microsoft help desk that could help me.  The result was a very long lecture showing me, after I trustingly gave him control of my screen, that I had been hacked and someone in like Nebraska somewhere was accessing my computer.  Oh, they could help me get it cleared up alright, with a $400 commitment to use their security program.  Funny, I hadn’t had any trouble with this laptop until I called the number for help.  After what seemed like hours, I finally extricated myself from his clutches.  The next time I started my cute little “extra” laptop, I had an error message telling me an application was open on my computer and to call the number on my screen to resolve the problem.  I couldn’t get rid of it and I couldn’t open any programs.  What was the number you may ask?  Why, it was the number I had called for help of course.  I have now come to learn about “ransomware.”  Thence, the trip to the Geek Squad with two defunct laptops in hand.

The ransomed laptop was an inexpensive one, for sure, and I was able to get it “wiped,” but to the tune of about half what I paid for it when I bought it.  Yeah, I could have just given it up, but I REALLY wanted that bunch out of my world completely.  I did sign up for some security and tech support for this and up to about five more computers, which I will def apply to my new one.

This brings me to the next step…

So many choices!  I looked at so many laptops – I had to take photos to help me remember which I thought I might like (and could afford).  Did I want Intel or AMD, and what was the difference?  Did I really need a 15.6 inch screen again or would 14 inches do?  Oh yeah, and then there’s touch-screen or not.  How about a 2-in-1 versus a “regular” laptop?  You probably already knew this, but this one, I learned, converts to a tablet.  The list goes on.  And the price goes up.  I sure hadn’t planned on or budgeted for a new computer, but like everyone, I depend on it so much.

I’ve opted for the smaller 2-in-1 for now and, so far, I do like the touch-screen.  I have 90 days to decide for sure, one of the joys of being a COSTCO member.  Best Buy only gives you two weeks to change your mind.  Technology really is grand, I suppose, when it works.

About Jan Schim

Jan is a singer, a songwriter, a licensed body worker specializing in CranioSacral Therapy, and a teacher.  She is an advocate for the ethical treatment of ALL animals and a volunteer with several animal advocacy organizations.  She is also a staunch believer in the need to promote environmental responsibility.

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Why the Time Change?

Every spring and every fall, as we “spring ahead” or “fall back,” people all around the country ask, “So am I gaining an hour or losing one?” It seems there is always confusion. And then there’s the question of why we do this at all. Why don’t we just leave the clocks alone and keep to “standard” time? Wouldn’t it just be easier? Well, get ready because it’s changing this November 4th.

I’ve always had some vague notion of the how and why we change our clocks, but I thought it had a much more recent history. I also thought it had to do with kids getting out of school and helping with farm work or something. I can’t tell you where I got that. You may already know it, but Daylight Saving Time (DST) is used to save energy and make better use of daylight. It was first used in 1908 in Thunder Bay, Canada. Many say the idea was actually conceived by Benjamin Franklin. Yep, our Ben, considered the “Father of Electricity.” According to timeanddate.com, however,

“Many sources also credit Benjamin Franklin with being the first to suggest seasonal time change. However, the idea voiced by the American inventor and politician in 1784 can hardly be described as fundamental for the development of modern DST. After all, it did not even involve turning the clocks. In a letter to the editor of the Journal of Paris, which was entitled “An Economical Project for Diminishing the Cost of Light”, Franklin simply suggested that Parisians could economize candle usage by getting people out of bed earlier in the morning. What’s more: Franklin meant it as a joke.”

The U.S. is one of about seventy countries around the world that use Daylight Saving (not SavingS) Time. Not every state in the country subscribes to it though. The Energy Policy Act of 2005 gives every state or territory the right to opt out of using DST. For the U.S. and its territories, Daylight Saving Time is NOT observed in Hawaii, American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands, and Arizona. The Navajo Nation participates in the Daylight Saving Time policy, even in Arizona, due to its large size and location in three states. Florida wants to have Daylight Saving Time year-round and Governor Rick Scott has signed off on a bill, the “Sunshine Protection Act,” asking congress to make it happen.

So, remember noticing a time change in the time change? I do. All of a sudden, the spring change came earlier and the fall change came later. The Energy Policy Act of 2005 was signed into law on August 8, 2005 and it changed DST dates.

The Energy Policy Act extended the yearly Daylight Saving Time (DST) period in the United States by several weeks.

  • The beginning of DST was moved from the first Sunday of April to the second Sunday of March.
  • The end of DST was moved from the last Sunday of October to the first Sunday in November.

The law came into effect on March 1, 2007, and the new DST schedule was first applied on March 11 of the same year.

Some pros and cons of DST (Again, from timeanddate.com,):

Pro: Longer Evenings

Changing the clocks does not create extra daylight, but it causes the Sun to rise and set at a later time by the clock. So, when we spring forward an hour in spring, we add 1 hour of natural daylight to our afternoon schedule.

  • Proponents of DST argue that longer evenings motivate people to get out of the house. The extra hour of daylight can be used for outdoor recreation like golf, soccer, baseball, running, etc. That way, DST may counteract the sedentary lifestyle of modern living.
  • The tourism industry profits from brighter evenings. Longer nights give people more time to go shopping, to restaurants, or other events, boosting the local economy.

Con: Doesn’t Save Energy

A century ago, when DST was introduced, more daylight was a good thing because it meant less use of artificial light, helping to save energy. Modern society, with its computers, TV-screens, and air conditioning units uses more energy, no matter if the Sun is up or not. Today, the amount of energy saved from DST is negligible.

Pro: Less Artificial Light

One of the aims of DST is to make sure that people’s active hours coincide with daylight hours so that less artificial light is needed. This makes less sense close to the equator where the amount of daylight does not vary much in a year or near the poles where the difference between winter and summer daylight hours is very large.

However, at latitudes between these extremes, adjusting daily routines to the shifting day length during summer may indeed help to save energy. A German analysis of 44 studies on energy use and DST found a positive relationship between latitude and energy savings.

Con: Can Make People Sick

Changing the time, even if it is only by 1 hour, disrupts our body clocks or circadian rhythm. For most people, the resulting tiredness is simply an inconvenience. For some, however, the time change can have more serious consequences.

Pro: Lighter = Safer

Safety is a good argument for keeping the lighter evenings of DST.

Con: Costs Money

It is hard to determine the economic cost of the collective tiredness caused by DST, but studies have found that there is a decrease in productivity after the spring transition.

  • The City of New York invested 1.5 million US dollars in a dusk and darkness safety campaign for the DST change for the fall of 2016.
  • There is an extra cost in building DST support into computer systems and keeping them maintained, as well as manually changing clocks.

The debate over DST is ongoing. I figure, we made up “time” anyway, so, if we want to change it to suit us, why not? The sun will rise when she’s ready and set the same way.

About Jan Schim

Jan is a singer, a songwriter, a licensed body worker specializing in CranioSacral Therapy, and a teacher. She is an advocate for the ethical treatment of ALL animals and a volunteer with several animal advocacy organizations. She is also a staunch believer in the need to promote environmental responsibility.

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The Perilous Plight of Pollinators

 

per·il·ous

ˈperələs/

adjective

full of danger or risk.

“a perilous journey south”

synonyms:

dangerous, fraught with danger, hazardous, risky, unsafe, treacherous; More exposed to imminent risk of disaster or ruin.

Can you imagine the world without bees? How about birds? Then you might also imagine the world without food because birds, bats, butterflies, moths, flies, beetles, wasps, small mammals, and most importantly, bees are pollinators. As they move from spot to spot, they pick up and transport pollen from flowers. This pollen carries the genetic material necessary for plants to reproduce and produce the fruits, nuts, vegetables, and more, that all the earth’s creatures depend on for survival. But pollinators are struggling for survival because of loss of habitat, disease, pollution, and chemical misuse.

Why are pollinators important? Somewhere between 75% and 95% of all flowering plants on the earth need help with pollination – they need pollinators. Pollinators provide pollination services to over 180,000 different plant species and more than 1200 crops. That means that 1 out of every three bites of food you eat is there because of pollinators. If we want to talk dollars and cents, pollinators add 217 billion dollars to the global economy and honey bees alone are responsible for between 1.2 and 5.4 billion dollars in agricultural productivity in the United States. In addition to the food that we eat, pollinators support healthy ecosystems that clean the air, stabilize soils, protect from severe weather, and support other wildlife.

Most of us have been at least somewhat aware that honey bees are in danger, but how many realize how severe the problem really is and why? Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) began in 2006. There are a host of “stressors” attributing to the decline in honey bee populations, including, parasites, viruses, bacterial diseases, pesticides, nutrition, genetics, “queen quality,” and management. Pesticide usage is possibly the biggest contributor to the severe decline in honey bee populations.

More than 1200 chemicals are registered for use in the United States and are used in some 18,000 separate products sold under a variety of trade names. People who apply the more toxic pesticides must have training and a state issued license to use these materials. Some insecticides have warnings or bee hazards on their label because they are toxic to honey bees, causing honey bee deaths. If the insecticide has a sub-lethal affect on honey bees it may result in reduced larval survival, altered foraging behavior or shortened lifespan of adult bees. The extent of the sub-lethal affects is still unknown. (Pollinator.org)

According to the Pesticide Action Network:

During the 2017-2018 winter, beekeepers reported losing an estimated 30.7% of managed colonies in the U.S. This is an increase of almost 10% from the previous year.

Traditionally, measures of honey bee losses have focused on overwintering losses, but more and more beekeepers are seeing losses throughout the year. The BIP also asked about summer losses this year, and beekeepers reported losing 17.1% of managed colonies from April 2017 – October 2017. For the entire year, beekeepers lost an estimated 40.1% of their colonies, 2.7% higher than the average annual rate of loss experienced since 2010.

Download this PDF to learn more about global Honey Bee colony disorders and other threats to insect pollinators.

There is good news, though. There are things you and I can do to help pollinator populations recover.

  • Spread the word about the importance of pollinators.
  • Support Farmers and Beekeepers by buying local honey and locally produced organic foods.
  • Donate to support researchers so that they can help fill in the blanks, the more we know the more we can help the bees!
  • Plant to provide habitat for pollinators in your yard and in your community.

Pollinator Partnership (P2) has compiled planting guides and an APP that helps you select the right plant for the right spot. “Plant the right plants on highway rights of ways, farms, schools, home gardens, corporate landscapes and on public spaces.” Their mission “is to promote the health of pollinators, critical to food and ecosystems, through conservation, education, and research. Signature initiatives include the NAPPC (North American Pollinator Protection Campaign), National Pollinator Week, and the Ecoregional Planting Guides.”

So let’s do what we can to keep them pollinators pollinating. Together, we can keep them bees a-buzzin’!!!

About Jan Schim

Jan is a singer, a songwriter, a licensed body worker specializing in CranioSacral Therapy, and a teacher. She is an advocate for the ethical treatment of ALL animals and a volunteer with several animal advocacy organizations. She is also a staunch believer in the need to promote environmental responsibility.

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My Precious Hummers

I get so excited every year when I see that first hummingbird darting around the feeder! I am so amazed. These tiny birds find their way across miles and miles of land and sea back to my little patio and the “nectar” I put out for them. Folks say they’re likely the same ones each year. I wish I had a way to know for sure.

My dear friend, Leslee, in West Virginia, introduced me to the idea of feeding the hummingbirds. She had feeders under the eaves all around her Victorian bed and breakfast and the little darlings absolutely swarmed her house. Then, Nancy and I had a feeder at the house in Ashland City and we would sit quietly on the deck watching our “hummers” flit and flutter around it. The first time I put my feeder out at my condo here in Ashland City, I wondered if and how anybody would ever find me and my red feeder with yellow “flowers.” Wow! No sooner did I hang it out than there they were. Or there it was anyway. Through my kitchen window, where I watch them daily now, mostly early mornings and at dusk, I saw a hummer. I was thrilled.

According to beautyofbirds.com, the hummingbirds typically found in Tennessee are…

Ruby-throated Hummingbirds (Archilochus colubris) are natives. Migrating males are usually the first to arrive in April and the first to depart in or around October. The females and the young usually follow about two weeks later. I definitely have these in my backyard family.

 

 

The male has a ruby-red throat, a white collar, an emerald green back and a forked tail.

 

 

 

 

The female has a green back and tail feathers that are banded white, black and grey-green.

 

 

Rufous Hummingbirds (Selasphorus rufus) are regular visitors. These hummingbirds are usually found in gardens and at feeders. These birds are fearless, and are known for chasing away other hummingbirds and even larger birds, or rodents away from their favorite nectar feeders and flowers. I do have a couple of rather aggressive “chasers,” but they don’t look like these.

 

Males can easily be identified by their glossy orange-red throats.

 

 

 

Females have whitish, speckled throats, green backs and crowns, and rufous, white-tipped tail feathers.

 

Black-chinned Hummingbirds (Archilochus alexandri) are considered “accidental” visitors. I think I have a couple of these, too.

 

 

The male has a black, shimmering throat with a purple edge and pale feathersbelow that create a collar. However, unless the light is just right, the head looks all black. His back is green and there are some green feathers covering the chest.

 

 

 

The female is pale below (sometimes with a slightly speckled throat) and her back is green.

 

 

“Like all hummingbirds, ruby-throats are precision flyers with the ability to fly full out and stop in an instant, hang motionless in midair, and adjust their position up, down, sideways, and backwards with minute control. They dart between nectar sources with fast, straight flights or sit on a small twig keeping a lookout, bill waving back and forth as the bird looks around. Male Ruby-throated Hummingbirds aggressively defend flowers and feeders, leading to spectacular chases and dogfights, and occasional jabs with the beak. They typically yield to larger hummingbird species (in Mexico) and to the notoriously aggressive Rufous Hummingbird.”

These are my guys for sure. My friend and co-writer, Brenda, caught this guy on camera one evening. We have begun a tradition of working on our songs while our humming friends fly around our heads. (Big smile as I write this…)

 

 

Are hummingbirds the most unique birds on earth? I sure think so. https://www.beautyofbirds.com/hummingbirdsinterestingfacts.html

About Jan Schim

Jan is a singer, a songwriter, a licensed body worker specializing in CranioSacral Therapy, and a teacher. She is an advocate for the ethical treatment of ALL animals and a volunteer with several animal advocacy organizations. She is also a staunch believer in the need to promote environmental responsibility.

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Heading Out: Vacation Prep Blues

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As I write this, I’m about to head out with my husband for a two-week vacation.  It’s the longest we’ve been away in years, and I am a bundle of stress.  The past several weeks I have been occupied with visits from my three adult children, something I enjoy but that also distracts me from the daily life I have constructed for myself.  So, my mind is most definitely not engaged in vacation prep.  Not only that but my youngest, who has been living with us for the last couple of months, has taken a job in another city and will be leaving just four days after we return.  I feel both excited for him and for my return to normalcy, but also somewhat sad to be missing out on some quality time during his last weeks at home.  Oy!  I am quite literally a mess of emotions.

I’ve written before about the pressure we women put on ourselves; the pressure to perform, the pressure to look great all the time, the pressure to succeed, to be perfect in every way.  For me, I add in the pressure to be the perfect mother for whatever stage my kids are in their development.  These days, as young adults just starting out, that takes the form of regular texts and phone calls for recipes, work advice, fashion input, roommate issues, financial planning, dating, the list goes on.  And of course, there is “Mom’s Moving Service,” which is always at the ready to help with apartment hunting, box schlepping and the assembly of Ikea furniture.

For the most part, it’s great fun to watch, and participate, as their adult lives take shape.  God knows I wish I’d had the same encouragement and support when I struck out on my own young adult life.  But it’s also physically and emotionally exhausting.  I walk the line between respecting their boundaries and giving input, all the while remembering their sweet little baby smiles, their sticky faces, their hurt cries and the tiny arms drawing me close to say goodnight.  Yep, for me it’s constant work to refocus the picture of them in mind as fully-grown adults.

And actually, they are all doing a great job of building their lives.  Each is on a different path with widely varying careers and lifestyles.  Each is financially self-sufficient and two of them have higher degrees.  This is not a brag on my kids, but the way, it’s me reassuring myself that they are all fine and well so that I can get on with my life and my vacation!

At this point, our bags are mostly packed and ready, save for the last-minute carry-on items, we’re checked into our flights and tonight our son will drop us off at the airport for our overnight transatlantic trip.  I’m hoping that somewhere over the Atlantic Ocean, I’ll drift off to sleep (with the help of some Ambien and a glass of wine) and by the time I wake up I’ll be recovered from the “Kids’ Visit Hangover.”

As you read this, I’ll be arriving home, hopefully with some new stories to tell my children when I see them next, and a refocused perspective on who we all are in this world and where I intend to go next.  Here’s hoping…

P.S.  The recent rains have made my garden go crazy!  Enjoy some pictures of my sunflowers, tomatoes and squash!

 

About Barbara Dab

Barbara Dab is a small business owner, journalist, broadcast radio personality, producer and award-winning public relations consultant.  She is the proud owner of Nashville Pilates Company, a boutique Pilates studio in Nashville’s Wedgewood/Houston neighborhood.  Check it out at  www.nashvillepilatescompany.com.  She is also the creator of The Peretz Project: Stories from the Shoah: Next Generation.  The Peretz Project, named for her late father-in-law who was a Holocaust survivor, is collecting testimony from children of survivors.  Visit http://www.theperetzproject.com.  If you are, or someone you know is, the child of survivors of the Shoah, The Holocaust, and you would like to tell your story please leave a comment and Barbara will contact you.

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Parenting Our Parents (Cont’d)

So… In the first segment of Parenting Our Parents back in January, I shared my mom’s often belligerent attitude toward me and her most assuredly depressing, nay, morbid feelings toward life itself. I wrote that we had “introduced her to the idea of a senior residence that seems absolutely fabulous. She now goes to a class there every Wednesday and admits (albeit reluctantly) that she enjoys it. Moving there is under consideration, but she’s ‘not ready for that yet.’” Well, I have an update and it is really good news!

Since April 15th, mom has been residing in that absolutely fabulous senior residence and, let me tell you, she is truly a different person. I mean, she has done a complete 180. I think I convinced her to try it by talking about having “kids her own age to play with.” I also had to promise that if she really didn’t like it, she could come home. My sister, Joan, is still living in the condo, of course, so it was easy to assure mom that the house would be there as she left it should she want to return. Thankfully, she trusted me enough to believe me.

So far, mom has not once mentioned going “home.” Nor has she talked about killing herself. Oh, sure, she says she’s tired and would still like to go to sleep and, well, you know, but she has made friends, goes to meals regularly, and even has a favorite pianist who visits the residence every couple of weeks. She plays bingo which “passes the time” (She’d rather play Poker, but hasn’t managed to get a game up yet. She’s working on it, though.), and roams the grounds in her power chair regularly. She’s getting a lot more fresh air because she can easily get in and out of the building herself and is eating better. The food isn’t always great, but they make “delicious soup” most of the time. If things aren’t up to par, you can bet she lets them know.

An intuitive article from the New England Geriatrics website, How Socialization Can Benefit the Elderly by Karen Mozzer, describes how important socialization is for the elderly.

No matter what age a person is, socialization is important and gives a person a sense of belonging and acceptance. The elderly are no different; they need contact with other people just as much as a child, teenager, young adult, and adults of all ages. People need socialization to thrive and enjoy fulfilling lives.

Socialization becomes more important as we get older, especially once we reach our senior years. A recent research study performed by Harvard University showed that elderly individuals, who had active social lives, were happier, healthier and more likely to live longer, than elderly people who did not have an active social life. Loneliness can deter an elderly person’s life, socializing can enrich it.

I, we, believe wholeheartedly that this is making the difference for mom. It has been totally life-changing for her. I joke that she’ll never admit it in my lifetime, but we think she is actually happy, much of the time anyway. Stay tuned.

About Jan Schim

Jan is a singer, a songwriter, a licensed body worker specializing in CranioSacral Therapy, and a teacher. She is an advocate for the ethical treatment of ALL animals and a volunteer with several animal advocacy organizations. She is also a staunch believer in the need to promote environmental responsibility.

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The Other Side of the Couch – Home is Where the Cats Are

 

Thursday night – my husband and I returned home from work (home still being the extended-stay hotel where we have lived since December 14 due to a water heater failure in our new home).  I was checking phone messages when I noticed that one of our cats was nibbling the leaf of a plant that we brought home from church last Sunday.  It was an Easter Lily.

For some reason I thought to myself – I should check on that – I don’t know anything about lilies and cats.

I googled it – and discovered to my horror that Easter lilies are extremely toxic to cats, causing kidney failure and death.

We immediately called our vet.  We were referred to the Pet ASPCA. We learned that the Easter Lily is the most toxic of the lily family to cats; they both needed immediate treatment, involving 48 hours of IV fluids and repeated bloodwork to determine whether kidney values were going up.  If they were, there was little hope of survival.  If the cats had even had pollen from the lily on their coats and ingested it while grooming, the toxicity would still be significant.

Four days later – the cats survived.  We are out a significant amount of money.  Most importantly, we learned a huge lesson – and it is not that Easter Lilies are dangerous for cats.

The lesson I learned is that my animals, my companion animals, are a significant part of what has kept me in balance through the turmoil of the last several months.  Having that consistency of caring, snuggly fur babies has given me comfort and helped me make it through another day.  Needing to be there for them has made it easier to keep going.

I imagine that there are many people out there whose companion animals make life a little less challenging and a lot more satisfying.  When I was afraid that I would lose them – well, let’s just say that I didn’t like what was going on these last several days. Learning that they would be ok has lifted a huge cloud from my world. It has also asked me to examine my definition of “home”.

Robert Frost, in his famous poem, “The Death of the Hired Man”, juxtaposes two definitions of home –

“Home is the place where, when you have to go there,
They have to take you in.”

“I should have called it
Something you somehow haven’t to deserve.”

From The Poetry of Robert Frost: Collected Poems, 1969

These two definitions have always troubled me – one exemplifies what I call an ethic of righteousness, focusing on merit and a kind of grudging acceptance of responsibility for someone who probably doesn’t deserve it but is taken in anyway.  The other focuses on an ethic of mercy or grace, recognizing that sometimes creatures just don’t deserve care, but receive it anyway out of grace or compassion.

What do my cats, or any companion animals, have to do with this story?  The cats, for me, are the carriers of grace.  We have a responsibility to the animals in our care, and they give us without condition the experience of unconditional love and acceptance.  The prospect of losing them brought home to me the significance of their living presence.  I am grateful, and wherever they are, is certainly home to me.

I wonder – what makes “home” for you?  I have found through all this that home has little to do with place, and a lot more to do with the connections with people and companion animals who surround me.  I will be very happy to return to our home – hopefully within the next two weeks.  However, I know that what makes it home has a lot more to do with my husband and my cats than with the place itself.

About Susan Hammonds-White, EdD, LPC/MHSP

Communications and relationship specialist, counselor, Imago Relationship Therapist, businesswoman, mother, proud native Nashvillian – in private practice for 30+ years. I have the privilege of helping to mend broken hearts. Contact me at http://www.susanhammondswhite.com.

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