Monthly Archives: December 2014


It’s soon that time of year when people make their annual proclamations to change things in their lives.  New Year’s Resolutions!  So full of importance, action, and promise! And yet so often discarded in the first quarter of the year for any number of reasons.  Perhaps the goals are too lofty.  The ideals too large for one person to manage.  Or maybe life intervenes to hijack the resolution with a dose of reality.  Whatever the reason, many resolutions remain unrealized.  I’ve done this for decades and in the last few years, I changed the way I make resolutions.  In fact, I don’t make resolutions. I choose a single word to provide influence, inspiration and motivation throughout the coming year.

For 2015, my word shall be:  LIGHTEN.  And here are a few reasons why:

  • Jim and I each have the problem of stress-eating which has given us some unwanted poundage and inches that we’d like to lose. We can feel changes in our bones and bodies that are not going to be beneficial as the years go by.  We are not nearly as active as we should be. There is a need for lighten-ing here.
  • We have accumulated “stuff” (George Carlin’s routine is such an accurate reflection!) in our home that is either no longer useful to or practical for us. We have our own library of books and DVDs that could serve a small community.  We have clothing that no longer fits (even though “someday we’ll get back into them”).  We have housewares and furniture that we no longer use but that still have life in them.  There is a want for lighten-ing here.
  • Both Jim and I work in demanding jobs in caring for chronically (or terminally) ill and mostly, but not always, elderly. We see the vestiges of once vibrant lives succumbing to the ravages of illness and age.  And we see grieving, up-close and personal. We see people who are facing loss, family and friends who are focused on the lost relationships, the surge of wide-ranging emotions, and sometimes the pressure of unwanted decision-making.  There is desire for lighten-ing here.

There are other examples I could give to substantiate my word choice for 2015.  I’m sure many people can relate to the three illustrations I provided above.  I also found some great definitions for “lighten” online this morning which influenced my word choice:

  • “make or become lighter in weight, pressure, or severity”
  • “make or become more cheerful or less serious
  • “to make light or clear”
  • “to relieve of a burden in whole or in part”
  • “to make less wearisome

It is within these definitions that Caring Choices will share in my 2015 word choice.  The thought (and act) of having advance care planning conversations with people we love is weighty, serious, burdensome and wearisome. Jim and I both hope that one of your resolutions this New Year will be to consider lighten-ing your family’s load and start talking.  It can be one of the most important and life-changing resolutions you make.

Caring Choices is here to help.  Conversations do not need to be weighty and burdensome.  Let us help you lighten the load for the people you love.

(c) 2014 Caring Choices

Hip Pop

Never realized I liked Hip Pop so much until the other day when I was getting up off the couch. And there it was again. That all too familiar, recently frequent sound of my hip popping whenever I change position. All I need is a hat on sideways, saggy pants and a microphone for a screaming sweaty mass of frantic fans right? Between my knees creaking and hip popping I can actually make music just walking to the refrigerator. It has become almost rhythmic and harmonious with other indications of my seniority in life. The recognition of the age factor I must say has gradually changed for me over the years. Initially I wanted to be older, always just a little in order to get in with some group or another, or even to be able to go somewhere alone. And as time went by it seems that my age preference slowly shifted to wanting to be younger. When I re-entered college at 35 and was suddenly the geriatric in the room, I was often older than a lot of the teachers. And around this time I was referred to as “Sir” by a checkout girl at a grocery store. I had finally become OLD in the eyes of groups of people whom I still found desirable to be part of.  And in reality I see now as I creak and pop around the house that I have always been aware that getting old was not going to be a pleasant experience. When I first entered the work force in factories and mills around the country I saw and heard the veteran employees warning me of the trials facing us all. They got up slowly, they ate smaller portions, and they all warned “You’ll see.” And they were right.

Approaching 60 this year is going to be a great milestone. I look forward to this age as a hurdle I never thought I would cross. Assuming, of course, I make it until mid-May. So what will I do now with my arrival to the decade of retirement? For one thing I hope to no longer be such a Pro-Crastinator! I have mastered the gift of laziness with skill and precision. I sleep in, watch movies, play X-box, and lay awake reading at night as if I have already retired. I have enlisted myself in a sort of last stand boot camp in as far as I have finally again started to record music I had written as long as 40 years ago. I have initiated enrollment back into college to start working on continuing my nursing education and I have taken on a new and challenging job. “Use it or lose it” I have heard some say. I do not want to have made it this far and just stop and resign myself to inevitable stagnation. I feel that I would rather start over. Working as hard as possible to achieve new goals and reach new objectives while strengthening my spirit to live life to the fullest.

Caring Choices enlists all efforts to support the conversations on choices and decisions to keep trying no matter what age or what obstacles one may face. There is always going to be the hope that we can make things better for ourselves or others. No matter what changes life has in store as time goes by, it is never too late. We are never too old to try something new and different. The rhythm of life keeps on going even if we can no longer dance.

(c) 2014 Caring Choices

Overwhelming Choices

I’m not a shopper.  In fact, I always joke with my friends and say I’d almost rather have a sharp stick inserted in my eye than to spend a day shopping.  However, yesterday, I had errands to run and things to buy so I set foot into both a major department store and the grocery store in the same day.  I had very specific lists for both places and I didn’t veer from those lists. I went into the aisles where the goods we needed could be found.  But, as I walked through both stores, I couldn’t help but become a bit overwhelmed by the amount of choices we have available to us.   (I usually feel this way in stores but since I knew I would be blogging today, it seemed to strike me more vividly than usual.)

My husband and I have become accustomed to certain brands and we pretty much stick to those brands.  As I approached the toothpaste aisle to purchase our preferred tube, I noticed that there were about 10 other brands available.  Within those 10 other brands, there are different aspects or features to choose from:  cavity-fighting, whitening, enamel-protecting, organic, dye-free, gel, paste, etc.  This variety of choice seems to be available in just about every aisle of the grocery store.  There are as many different brands and types of soup, pasta, ice cream, bread, milk, etc.  And the same is true in department stores where you can purchase bath towels, sheets or underwear in 20 different colors.  Or choose from a dozen different kinds of light bulbs or Christmas ornaments or pet food.

I remember when I first went grocery shopping for my widowed uncle who didn’t like to cook for himself.  He reached a point where he didn’t like driving in winter weather so I took over his grocery shopping while I did ours.  His list was usually pretty simple:  frozen (microwaveable) meals, some fresh fruit, milk, eggs, bread, ice cream.  Because we had a close relationship, we both assumed that I’d return with things that he’d like.  I carefully looked at labels because he had congestive heart failure and was supposed to limit his sodium and cholesterol intake.  I probably spent an extra hour in the grocery store making what I thought were sound, healthy choices for my uncle’s health and well-being.

But the first trip to the store proved a learning experience for each of us. I purchased everything on his list, but not all the brands that he liked.  I purchased several of the healthier frozen meals (they are few and far between) only to learn that he’d tried them before and HATED them.  After we sifted through the bags of groceries I brought to him, we ended up with two bags of items to be returned for the brands that he preferred.  Back to the store I went …  but this time, equipped with the knowledge of his preferences.

No matter how well we know someone, we can’t know everything about them.  We may not always know that they’ve tried something before and didn’t like it (and would not want to have it again).  We may not know that they prefer a brand name item over a generic item.  Like my first grocery shopping trip for my uncle, we won’t know likes/dislikes unless we have a conversation before jumping into the task.  Even when we try to make sound “healthy” choices, we may be choosing something that isn’t desired.

Caring Choices believes that having multiple and frequent conversations is the only way to fully understand what someone else wants/needs related to healthcare choices.  Just like within a grocery or department store, we will each be faced with overwhelming healthcare choices for treatments, procedures, medications, etc.  Don’t make someone you love try to figure out which “brand” you want.  Give them the power of knowledge.  You CAN talk about this.

(c) 2014 Caring Choices