What’s the Cost? To give up sweets on day 46 of 172

Doesn’t the world selling addictive food use the word crave. I’ve seen “obey your thirst” and the ideas of overconsumption used as cute little advertising gimmicks like “the fourth meal”. But, I want to sell you an idea:

Lose your crave.

But, before we buy into something, don’t we weigh the cost/benefit?

That’s what I want to do with you now. What are the costs? What benefits are there? Of course… I will tell you there are both. But I’ve got good news, of course, that’s it is really really

Really… worth it!

What would any of us pay to lose the out of control craving for (Anything… including sweets?) … the out of control desire that keeps us down, drugged, overweight, and unhealthy. Eating or using anything in a way that is self destructive is the very definition of insanity. So, I guess you might say I’m a recovering insane person? (Me laughing, not insanely)

Ok, so I am going to weigh the cost of giving it up:

  • “Naysayers” will in the smallest ways make fun of you and belittle your efforts, try to sabotage you, will not support you, and will be unable to understand, really, what you are doing! They really wish they could do the same but don’t believe they can. They may even be jealous of your efforts or success. How is that a cost? Well, it is a lot easier to go along with what everyone else thinks. It’s a lot harder to step outside of that and do something you know is right. It can be downright isolating. I think at some point the benefit that you find friends who actually care about you and maybe just perhaps you pull some people out of the mire of addiction as well. So, naysayers watch out!
  • Cravings, sometimes severe, mostly at the beginning. This only seems like a really big cost at the time! TRUST ME!
  • You have to find a plan which is a little difficult and stick to it, and ok… YES that is difficult. But, it will become your new way after all and will not take much effort to continue along in the process, the new strategy becomes your life
  • Effort – Saying no gets easier as you go
  • Weight loss. But maybe not right away. I am attempting NOT to concentrate on the weight loss (not that it is not needed) – it can be a trap because if you aren’t losing or are not losing at a rate you imagined when you gave up sweets and flipped out your calendar and pictured. your bikini bod on the beach in the summer… You know what I mean.
  • INCREASED energy. This is amazing. BUT only after the beginning few days of all out tiredness and you don’t have your DRUG OF CHOICE!
  • Clearer thinking. YES! This might be the best one of all.

OK so let’s weigh that against the opposing viewpoint which might be as follows:

“I know I have a problem but I don’t think I can do it. Am I right?”

Don’t wait to start. Start today. Though it’s the Christmas season and sweets sit calling your name… Go back and read my posts. I’ve been posting each day for the past 46 days! So, then, you will get new sweeter friends that understand and will support you in your effort.

Sweets Teetotaling Rehab on day 45 of 172 days of giving up sweets

I found this cool countdown app “Countdown Star” for my IPHONE! I think the background looks like sugar! How appropriate!

Ok, so first order of business here… I have to say a big whoops! I made an addition mistake – it’s not 210 days I’m giving up sweets. It’s 38 days fewer! I’m 45 days into a total of 172 days. I feel a little relieved by that mainly because I have planned to blog each day about the giving up sweets and then I am going to publish a do it yourself book to help people be able to get started… and stick with it.

Now, I’ll explain about where I get this teetotaling from…

Teetotalism pertains to people who make a lifestyle of giving up alcoholic beverages completely. And, I don’t subscribe to it for myself for alcohol. But that’s because I can drink a glass of wine but I don’t really care about drinking too much. I don’t have a problem with alcohol. I don’t crave it. Once I accidentally got drunk in a restaurant when I was 18 and newly married where everyone knew I wasn’t a drinker and they kept pouring their champagne in my glass. I had never had any alcohol before that and I weighed probably 120 pounds so I got drunk pretty quick and started crying in the middle of the restaurant because I couldn’t feel my face. It was really scary. You might say, I was scared straight from that time on. I have never wanted to be drunk again. I keep an unopened bottle of wine in the cabinet because sometimes I might like to serve it with a meal for guests. But, I haven’t ever craved alcohol. Come to think of it I haven’t craved anything except sweets.

So, for sweets, I have adopted the teetotaling philosophy but just for a period of time. II think teetotalism is the only way to go with sweets until the addiction cycle is broken.

Then after that I will move on to my second phase which is eating sweets sometimes, seldom, or for a special event (defined as not more than once a week and just only a serving).


So I’m presently a sweets teetotaler.


Why is it that so many people think they can get over an addiction to sweets by still eating sweets? I just bought a little magazine at the grocery store by Prevention Guide entitled “The Sugar Smart Diet, Sugar Detox Made Easy.” On the front cover is an apple pie with “Cure Your Cravings” in bold letters next to the pie. And inside the magazine there is lots of really good information for people like me who need to sugar detox. But, also, there are pages of pictures of sweets and recipes that make you think you can make them and still feed your sweets desire AND detox off the sweet cravings. That mess no sense!

My own sweet addicted life attests that curing cravings cannot happen while still eating sweets even if it’s low sugar or baked with fake sugar.

It has to be TOTALLY given up for a time. I’m doing 172 days. Don’t people go to drug rehab for 60 days? So, I’m over doing it for effect. So, you’d think by day 172 in my “sugar rehab” of sorts that I could kick that habit as well as the addiction, right!?

The Spirit helps us in our weakness. Romans 8:2!

NO WHINERS – Part 4 of 10 of How I do it – on day 44 of 210 of giving up sweets

A little dab of plums or applesauce on the end of the spoon would get my babies to eat their green beans. They would all out gag on them otherwise. And, my toddlers, at the height of willfulness, would go hungry rather than eat something they didn’t want.

I would cook really nice dinners for my family and as my children got to school age they’d come in and complain about it. So, I instituted a “stand in the corner” rule for the offense of: complaining, asking what it was with intent to express dissatisfaction, crying, groaning, face-palming, or sighing heavily. The requirement was to try it but not eat the whole thing if they didn’t like it. And, it had to be a bite, not just some little lick.

It wasn’t good for any of us to come to the table like that. It wasn’t good for their development to think they could rule the roost on what I was making for dinner as well as create a fuss filled dinner time. But, it wasn’t easy for any of us for them to be in their separate corners and I ate alone. They figured it out really quick that I meant business. So, although they tell me they can still smell the wallpaper, I think we only did it a couple times. And, that made mealtime a nice place to be. I remember one of them saying that somebody’s mom makes them take a “no thank you” bite. I like that very much. Do you know, they learned to like the things I cooked that way. And, as well, they learned an important lesson: don’t mess with mom.

Raising children as a single parent… ouch!

Raising myself, even harder!

Aren’t we always raising ourselves? If there is something out of balance in our life – like (all kinds of too many to list things we do that aren’t so good for ourselves) and of course I add to that for many of us: eating too many sweets…

We must figure out a way to stop the whining that we can’t or don’t want to do it and stand ourselves in that proverbial corner.

SATIETY!- Part 3 of 10 of How I Give up Sweets on day 43 of 210 of Giving up Sweets

Today I will talk about the one key ingredient to giving up sweets, and that is #3 of 10 ways I’m giving up sweets for 210 days.

SATIETY!

My appetite has diminished although I still get hungry. I just don’t get ravenous. Desires and cravings have gone away. More than the craving for sweets has gone away. For instance, those old cravings for fast food have mostly subsided and I’m wanting to prepare more delicious meals at home.

When faced with too large a serving at a restaurant, I have no problem pushing it away when I’m pleasantly full. And, at home I don’t usually snack between meals. It’s not that I’m against the snacking. If I ever do, I am sure to reach for a Babybel cheese circle or some nuts.

Very Seldom do I Desire Sweets.

Besides blogging about it, I’m not consumed by thoughts of not being able to eat sweets. I don’t feel sorry for myself that I don’t get those Christmas cookies or that dessert that everyone’s having in front of me.

Instead I have found the pleasantness of NOT eating the sweet stuff.

It is safe to say that I have calmed down immensely my “sugar monster”. Click here to get acquainted…if you dare!

SET A GOAL – Part 2 of 10 of How I Give up Sweets on day 43 of 210 of Giving up Sweets

A right goal is a great gift!

Yesterday’s “how-to” was: “Thought Control”.

Today’s “how-to” is #2 of 10 ways to give up sweets: “Set an achievable goal”

ASK YOURSELF: “WHAT IS MY GOAL?”

A sweet addiction is complicated, and that is why going off of it must include a well designed goal that solves the problem. There’s nothing else like a sweet addiction because there is so much wrapped up in being alone with a chocolate cake. Right?

What goal do we all jump to? Weight loss. Of course, losing weight probably is a need as well as a desire for the sweets challenged person. But, it’s best not to have weight loss as a goal AT ALL because the giving up sweets needs to be the primary focus. And, perhaps the giving up sweets is all that is needed to reaching a desired weight loss.

I will tell you, though, that weight loss is happening for me… and I’m not even working at it beyond giving up the sweets. I’m over 11 pounds down in these 43 days!

So, OF COURSE the goal needs to be to either:

  • eat fewer sweets,
  • or never binge on sweets,
  • or stop eating sweets for a period of time,
  • or never eat sweets again for the rest of your life (what! Scream heard trailing off into the distance)

Here is what my goal is:

STOP EATING SWEETS FOR 210 DAYS.

Your goal could be:


STOP EATING SWEETS FOR _______ SECONDS/MINUTES/HOURS/DAYS/MONTHS/YEARS… (ok, maybe not years!)

Now whatever you put in that blank is an achievable goal.


ASK YOURSELF: “IS MY GOAL ACHIEVABLE… FOR ME?”

Of course, you all know by now if you’ve been reading my blog (at least for the past 43 days… that I set a 210 days without sweets goal. Here are some questions that might help you to ask yourself:

1. Instead of asking, should I... and instead of asking is it possible

Ask: Is it possible for me. Is it possible for me to go a particular time without sweets…

With my particular time I chose… 210 days… I had to say YES! because I once went much longer than that without eating sweets, so I know it’s possible for me.

2. Will I be able to keep it up?

It was a quirky thing to do with a strange enjoyment factor for me – the 210 days is the time from Halloween to Easter: “The Season of Sweeting”. I think if a goal is possible to attain there must be some enjoyment factor to be able to keep you doing it. I think the fact that so many people are astounded that I do it makes me want to do it. To have someone tell me they don’t think they can do it strangely makes me want to continue. Why is that? I do like to go against the grain, artistically, it’s my personality.

3. Do I have a plans in place to achieve my goal?

My first plan was to binge out on that Halloween candy (click to read the Halloween post where I made that decision here) and then to test myself I left the remaining candy in the bowl right where I had binged out on it, right by the front door where I was handing out the candy to trick-o-treaters. It was like a “crime scene”. If I’d have thought about it at the time I’d have gotten some crime scene tape and made it such. But, it was enough of a memory of that crime that I had involved myself in – on purpose- right before I knew I’d be giving up the sweets – BUT it just about killed me. – I was so sick from having done that! (NOT RECOMMENDING THIS!!!)

The second plan was… so very simple!

Don’t eat anything hereafter defined as sweets. candy, cake, cookies, cobbler, sweet soda or tea or coffee, dessert, pie. But, I don’t go crazy on the other foods like ketchup or spaghetti sauce… or bread or potatoes or pasta ..or fruit… I deferred that to a later decision. ALSO, I made the decision, since I was quitting sweets not to eat sweets that contain fake sugar. I was worried that might feed my addiction.

Quite simply, I’m giving up my binge worthy food. Which is sweets.

Part 1 of 10 of How I Give up Sweets on day 42 of 210 of Giving up Sweets

BECAUSE IT’S…..NOT!… ALL ABOUT EXERCISING SELF CONTROL,

for the next ten days, I plan to give to you the ten ways I give up sweets that are not simply exercising a flabby muscular will.

So here goes – #1 of 10 ways I give up sweets:

Thought Control

Giving up sweets means learning the truth and debunking the lies. Lies like:

“There are starving people in the world, so hungry or not you must eat.”

“Life is short, eat dessert first.”

“I need chocolate because I have pms, a fight with my mom, a bad day at work….”

“A calorie is a calorie.”

“You might as well eat the whole thing.”

“I can just burn it off by exercising.”

“This _____ will make me feel better.”

“I deserve it.”

“On Monday I will start my diet.”

“I have no willpower, It’s because ______ made me this way.”

A right mindset based on truth has to be formed again and again towards food. And doing that takes answering back truth. This goes deep to the heart of the problem. The mind is a powerful place for truth to dwell. But, it can be riddled with lies from a lifetime of experiences surrounding food that are based in emotion.


But, how to get that truthful mindset? I use the “holding thoughts captive” method from II Corinthians 2:5. Here’s how I do it: I imagine the little thoughts under a bright light in a jar. Of course they can’t hold up to scrutiny if they are in error and then I reword the thoughts into what the truth is about the matter. It’s such a cool visual artistic way to do this.


With giving up sweets I have found it important to rethink a saying we all usually only giggle about:

“LIFE IS SHORT, EAT DESSERT FIRST”

This statement assumes you like dessert better than dinner. Maybe that isn’t always true. If you are off sweets or even eating sweets in small portions as a sometimes food you are calmed down enough to enjoy them in the smaller quantities.

Maybe your life could be shortened by eating too many sweets.

Perhaps you would be healthier and feel better if you ate fewer sweets.

Maybe there are decades of your life left so if you start now, you’d never eat dessert first.

Perhaps dessert is better enjoyed in a few bites at the end of a meal.

And a little further, is dessert better enjoyed when NOT hungry.

Perhaps the meal itself which can be quite yummy is better enjoyed without eating the dessert first.

So, the truth for me is: Put dessert in it’s place, at the end of the meal but only as a sometimes treat and only after my 210 day no sweets challenge is up. This is a radical shift in my thinking.

The thought control muscle needs exercise. The more it is applied the stronger it gets. But do we think of overeating as a problem solved in the thought process?

Tomorrow I will share #2 of the ten ways I am giving up sweets.

JOIN THE CHALLENGE! For those of you thinking about doing it, jump in with two feet. Just stop eating sweets for five minutes and lengthen the time from there. Watch your thought cues that will lead you to the truth. There are lies you’ve been telling yourself keeping you where you are: an unhealthier version of yourself than you wish to be.

You will be glad you did!

I will divulge to you the best way to cook a quick meal that is delicious and nutritious. You can cook it for any number of people from one on up…

Now that is sweet with no need for a dessert!

ROAST CHICKEN AND VEGETABLES

I use boneless breasts normally but have done it either way.

Here’s the way I did it last night:

In your roasting pan place the chicken in the middle like they are the castle.

And then surround the castle with a moat of:

  • Potatoes, any kind (cut up, not peeled). I like to use sweet potatoes or those little round purple and white ones because they look so festive.
  • Carrots, cut up – peel if you care about having peeled carrots. (I don’t always put the carrots.)
  • Brussels sprouts*, quartered
  • Onion (yellow or white)

Drizzle with olive oil and stir around to make sure to get those veggies a good coat.

Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning

Roast, uncovered, at 375 for 30 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink and the veggies are fork tender.

Prep time is about ten minutes. And, it’s more delicious than anything you will find out to dine. Really. And, it’s always good!

Let me know if you plan to try it!

The bottom of the roasting pan has some nice juices which I pour over the chicken when serving but next time I may even whip up a nice gravy out of those crusty flavorful drippings. To do that all’s you have to do is add a little flour and milk. But, the clear juices are really tasty and take no work.

Since I sometimes think I must be a real chef, I will even slice the chicken and pour the juice over it and surround the plate with the vegetables.

I’ve found that you can cute it up and feed even the pickiest eater.

The sweet potatoes and Brussels sprouts look so festive. It smells so nice cooking and it serves up real nice looking. And, besides the knife and cutting board, the cleanup only requires the washing of the roasting pan, plates and forks. That chicken’s so tender so no knife needed.

*When I was a kid my family served boiled Brussels sprouts (as well as okra) and I sure didn’t like them even though my mom would say they were so cute, like little cabbages. But, the roasting makes them just delightful. Try it!

Cinnamon rolls – top – rose for the amount of time in the recipe – and below – rose for a lot longer because I got busy doing something else… So, moral to the story – let ‘em rise!

Cinnamon Rolls on day 40 of 210 of Giving up Sweets

I made homemade cinnamon rolls for a family gathering recently and I just threw the remainder out. (Before 40 days ago I would have made sure to eat out the gooey middles first, at least!)

No, I didn’t eat them nor did I want any. I made them a couple of weeks ago as well for a church potluck and they vanished. A man came to tell me he liked them better than Whataburger. My family just loved them. So, therefore, I didn’t need to try any to know they were good.

Well, they aren’t chocolate cake.

Sometimes, like yesterday, I have difficult moments.

But, don’t get me wrong, this is much easier than dieting. And, today I had a good friend tell me she could tell I was losing weight. I haven’t wanted to make a big deal of it, but I’ve taken off about ten pounds so far.

And, at the beginning because I was just so focused on the giving up sweets challenge, I didn’t want to put any focus on losing weight. But, now that I am losing, that makes me want to lose as much as I can to get out of the “obese” weight range. I have 20 pounds to go to get to the simply “overweight” category and then 30 more if I want to just be normal weight. But who likes “normal”? I just hate the word normal, but I am quoting the BMI calculator I just put my height and weight into. Again, I hope I don’t get off track from my most important expedition which is:

STOPPING THE INSANE SWEETS ADDICTION!

But I can’t help but imagine just how nice it would be to carry around a little less baggage. I wonder if at the rate I’m losing – 10 pounds in 40 days – if by day 210 I might just achieve the goal without any dieting! Just giving up the sweets.

Isn’t it so cool that the length of time (210 days) that I chose because it is the “season of sweeting” as I so named it… because it’s Halloween to Easter where sweets abound, multiplies out perfectly for the weight loss I need to drop.

Nothing’s an accident.

Sad and Frantic on Day 39 of 210 of no sweets

Can you believe that here on day 39 I had a fleeting desire to eat sweets that started with a sadness that seized me and demanded I make an exception for it with any kind of sweet I could lay my hands on

I felt momentarily hugely FRANTIC about it. But why?

And, it is an unusual thing to happen to me quite like this, out of left field really. But, it happened nonetheless.

Ok. So in all reality I think the whole experience lasted less than five minutes. However short a period of time, it was still a huge difficult torment that could have been much worse.

It’s so much better, instead of stuffing it down under a bunch of chocolate, to experience the sadness.

And, being sad can be endured. Thinking through it helps or perhaps calling a friend or even having a good cry is all that’s needed. And, I’ve never wanted to eat while crying. Funny that.

And of course the best solution is sought through prayer because “The Lore is near to the broken-hearted….” Psalm 34:18

Now, that is of course better than any chocolate cake.

What have I learned today? That the problem of sugar addiction has no simple fix – even if you get to day 39.

Because: There really is a sugar monster for a picture of him click here.)

Sweets for the heart on day 38 of 210 of giving up sweets

Gingerbread house in my kitchen.

Oh, let the tears roll!!!

First of all, have you heard of the “hearties” – those who watched “When Calls The Heart” – What a big deal that show was that I just finished binge watching.

I could barely watch the last episode without blubbering. Good thing my daughter went to a basketball game with some friends so I could sit here with my Kleenex and embarrassingly ball along with this series on Amazon Prime. A friend of mine suggested it so strongly and so mostly I stayed with all of the five seasons because of her. It was a sweet show, but too sweet at times, sooo predictable, but… at the end they got me! I was surprised at how I had gotten used to those characters like they were my close friends. For awhile, I think I was living in Hope Valley – the fictional town where people love each other and pull together during good and bad. Anyhow, if you watch it, remember I said it was really good, but then, it was sorta bad. I had to write this poem after I couldn’t stop crying, I know! So embarrassing!

Of course, I had to weave in my “give up sweets” since it’s what I’m all about right now.

Sweet Salve

Can a hurting heart

Be tended with sweets,

Ably mended with marshmallow treats,

Cuddled by cupcake or chocolate, in heaps?

Time’s the tender touch it’s needing,

A messy healing, flowing, bleeding,

No sweet salve but only grieving.

It’s bittersweet, without the eating.

~Julie Robinson

By the way! In yesterday’s post, (scroll down to see) I added a picture of myself with my container of Quaker Oat Meal. I about cracked myself up… I think I’m beginning to look a little like him! Vote in the comments if you agree.

Let’s play ball on day 37 of 210 of no sweets

Me and Mr Quaker

Steel cut vs rolled oats

Sounds like a football match! Well, it is!

Yes. And I unashamedly suit up for I the

ROLLED OATS

And it’s the old fashioned Quaker kind. No quick cooking. No little packets with flavors added. I add some kind of fruit and nuts and cinnamon. That’s it. Oh and no milk.


I wrote a poem about them even! What!?


But, I, lover of oatmeal this morning gave the steel cut a try because I’d thought maybe they’d be healthier.

First off, what’s the difference?

The rolled oats are creamy and the steel cut are kinda nutty/chewy.

Are the steel cut healthier?

Yes. But not by a lot. They foul out on mouth feel and texture when chewing. They take longer to cook and seem dry. The dreamy creamy rolled oats get the touchdown with me. They stay with me very well, sticking to my ribs. I will keep on cheering them on!

Helene Vaillant gives the best picture prompts for story writing challenges. I don’t always take them, but this one creatively sparked my writing enthusiasm! So today, I take a break from talking about giving up sweets… I hope you enjoy the beginning of a story that I hope to finish in another post.

SAVING ALEX

Earth had run off course recently and people were worried. Scientists warned of a possible collision with planets seemingly on the horizon.

People on earth were either praying or preparing or both. Some said that underground bunkers would be the best protection from all of the intensities of such an occurrence. Janine wondered if no one really knew what was about to happen but that doing anything to prepare gave people hope.

Janine Lawson packed out her car and was headed to a holdout bunker her brother had built underground on his West Texas ranch, a place he began preparing in 2001 after terrorism fears. She had taken a tour of it with him, it was like a small city underground.

Friends and neighbors had already moved into their homes in the underground city, and they were first met with the sign as they descended the main elevator. It said simply, Hope, in two feet high gold letters suspended from the ceiling of the new town. But, not everyone could be convinced to go.

With spotty cellular service while driving there, she was tearfully and frantically trying to convince her mother to come to Hope.

And though they were only ten minutes away from their destination, she was forced to pull her car over for her little almost three year old boy, Alex, who had been hollering that he had to go to the bathroom. Recently potty trained he would NOT “just use his pull-up pants” as she had suggested a few times.

We’re almost there!

“Potty, potty!” He demanded and in any other occasions she’d be proud at the great success of her growing up little boy.

But when he began crying the cry that every mother knows there’s no return from, she quickly spotted a post which would serve in this potty pinch.

But, as soon as she set him down by the post, a great wind blew the dusty red Texas sand right into her eyes which she shut tight and as she was attempting to right herself, she could hear her mother’s voice in the cell phone she dropped, and dizzy from the initial onslaught, she bent over blindly trying to pick him up, wiping mascara across her sleeve, trying to see.

Her arms couldn’t find him. And, she squinted her eyes in every direction, frantically running this way and that.

What she didn’t know was that her little Alex had gone running back down the road to the light.

The same light that beckoned him now completely blinded and disoriented her.

It had all happened in less than five seconds.

He was just out of reach as she lunged this way and ran that way. And he didn’t turn back for her voice trailed away with the wind.

She stood, helplessly flailing, screaming his name.

And then she fell to her knees.

A Sweet Relationship on Day 35 of 210 of Giving up Sweets

I once worked with a young lady who didn’t like sweets. She’d scrunch her nose up at them like they were boiled okra.

It was a life changing event for me as I discovered this alien of a person, non-citizen of the sweet loving world. She was standing across a holiday sweets laden table from me and I was mesmerized by all the quantity and was pondering the quality making my heart race like a love affair and I was thinking what I’d do if I could be left alone in the room – well, me and the sweets, that was.

And, she, no plate in hand, when offered by the hostess, spoke against my sweet nation:

“I don’t really like sweets too much.”

And, you know how people will push the sweets just like they do alcohol. The hostess had gotten insistent and the poor lady was then blushing while still trying to smile while pushing away the offer of the bewildered hostess. I couldn’t feel sorry for her at the time but I have never been able to forget what she said and the look on her face.

Time stood still and my gaze zeroed in on her attempted grin to the hostess but was came off as a grimace and I’m just sure my own face reflected horror as my jaw dropped and my eyes widened. Mind you this was thirty-five years ago and look how my emotional reaction to it made me remember it in slow motion.

She actually was really no alien but a sweet lady. I trained her before I left the employ due to a job transfer for my husband… and she sent me a thank you note.

On this day 35 of giving up sweets I’m thinking alien thoughts too… but I think the possibility is nil that I would ever not like sweets.

But do you think it’s possible for me to at least be a little ambivalent? Maybe, at least, I can enjoy it like other things I enjoy, be it fried chicken or mashed potatoes of which I only eat a serving, (albeit with gravy – but I am a Southern girl) but my heart doesn’t go pitter-pat over it. And,I don’t need to eat a whole bucket of fried chicken. But, I have felt like I could eat an entire cake. (I’ve never EATEN a whole cake! But, I have felt like I could.)

At the end of my plan of 210 days I will not be in total abstinence any longer, but a kind of ambivalence is what I’d like to have come April when I’ve finished with this challenge.

Think it’s possible?

Jack going for a ride, painted for a friend, Acrylic on canvas

Driving Internally on Day 34 of 210 of giving up sweets

Pushing a stalled car where the driver is attempting to start it is dangerous because its possible to get run over. But, in my past before I ever heard about that, I helped push a friend’s stalled older car that needed a momentum to get going.

That gets me thinking, do we need a push when our motivation gets stalled out?

Both words have a common meaning. Motor and motivation: “to move”.

The former must have an external fuel source or push. The latter can come from another such as a motivational speaker. But the best motivation comes from within.

Sometimes an outside push helps but sometimes it just isn’t there. For instance I haven’t been able to find one person who is willing (as yet) to do the giving up sweets challenge with me. I thought for sure someone would be intrigued and give it a good try at least. I thought that I might have needed that kind of a push to keep going.

To be sure, there have been countless times in my life where I have needed to be the only one driving my success and pushing it! – like mastering a course or skill, beginning a new job, having a baby.

Maybe it’s helpful that no one else is doing the sweets challenge with me yet. Maybe it is better to solely depend on a continual conscious effort of heart and mind and internal drive. That way I am depending on God.

No coasting.

The top of our piano – full of nutcrackers which is what my daughter is playing for her Christmas recital. Listening to her play is a sweet thing indeed!

Near Sweets Suicide on day 33 of 210 of Giving Up Sweets

…Rewind to Ten Years Ago…

I wonder if other people keep video of major life changing events in their mind with full sound, thought, feeling, color, motion, and sight? I don’t remember everything, but some key moments are fully hyper-recorded and their memory protected by emotion. And, I like to replay those records and feel those emotions again, well the good ones, anyhow.

So, a “recording” I just love to push play on is the thought decision moment ten years ago where after suicidally eating sweets I gave up them up for a full two years.

It might be important to note that I had about killed myself on sweets: donuts, bags of candy, whole bags of any kind of cookies, cakes, frosting out of the can, cookies, anything, really! I developed an esophageal stricture from the constant stomach stretching and overproduction of acid caused by my suicidal eating and I had to go to the endodonist to get it stretched because I had gotten food stuck in my throat feeling like I was choking… I had to have it done twice in two years! It was just a horror! I don’t know if they didn’t have me sedated enough, but I felt like I was being choked to death. I also was showing signs of arthritis and had several root canals. All that was going on while I was raising children, caring for my husband, and running my husband’s busy law practice as office manager and he was in the very early stages of dementia, (though no one would have known, and – not even me, at the time.)


My desire for sweets was pathological.


I was binge eating sweets and then feeling bad about it and then I’d do better for half a day and blow it at three o’clock, the most tired and troublesome time for me. So if I’d already blown it, I’d eat more. Sweets were my drug. I always thought I’d do better the next day, on Monday, at the beginning of the school year, on January 1. But those days would come and go with defeat in store.

With the covers pulled up to my nose, I lay in my bed on a cold Colorado morning when (who wants to get out of bed in the cold) it was a little early to be getting up but in those first early morning minutes I decided to give up sweets.

Those first morning minutes are perfect for sorting thoughts and chunking bad ones down a destructive worry path and holding onto ones that by faith I’d solve or accept, no fear. Those “first thoughts” are golden clues to solving the puzzle of my life. And, in the way I do it, I can carry through and “see” if the solution might work and sort of already do it even before even getting out of bed.

That morning began with a tiny “What if” that I might have missed had I jumped out of bed too early. What if…


What if the next time I was feeling like eating a sweet or the next time I was offered one I just said no.

What if I just did it as long as a could? Could I do it for five minutes or five hours or five days? Of course I could do it for five seconds.


I think what worked in those “What if’s” was the gift to myself of a way out, the opportunity to have it, but just… later.

Of course after those two years of sweet abstaining I ate it a lot less (AT FIRST!). But that sugar monster had not been completely defeated (see yesterday’s post)… hah! NO!

So the change this time (a decade later) is to do it for a period of time set up at the beginning (210 days) – and to give it a meaning – “the season of sweeting” I call it, to pray and ask my Maker and Lover of my soul for his help and guidance.

It’s been with God’s sweet help only that I am at 33 of 210 with no sweets.

Punching its Lights Out on day 32 of 210 of No Sweets

Beware of Sugar Monsters – They’re a Killer!!! (IPad Pro art – me fingerpainting)

Sometimes sweets is a beast, and though I’m on day 32 now (of eating no sweets) and have done well with giving it up – sometimes sweets is a beast and I’ve got to punch its lights out!

Yes, it’s me vs. the sugar monster! And, I know full well that I have to get through these trying times by sticking to my 210 day goal. At that time I do not plan to eat a truckload of chocolate cake (in case anyone’s wondering.)

That sugar monster comes in sneakily… Just after lunch today it said “You know, you could just be glad you made it this far and hang it up. What are you trying to prove?” I heard those very words in my head.

Yes, my sugar monster talks to me. But, just in my own head. Of course we all know what “negative self talk is” – it’s us defeating us.

Want to know the knockout punch to throw? It’s at the beginning of round one of the boxing match: It’s called – don’t answer that kind of foolish line of thinking. PUNCH IT’S LIGHTS OUT! Dancing this way and that throwing and dodging little punches in any kind of discourse allows the thought to seem more reasonable and then to take root.

BAM! Fell that beast!

I kind of get a little mad at the mind games but that anger gives me an advantage. See, that sugar monster wins when I lose my nerve. So it has to try to manipulate the facts. I heard it said recently, You are entitled to your own opinion, but you are not entitled to your own set of facts.

Yes, there really is a sugar monster.

Elderberry Syrup On Day 31 of 210, No Sweets

Yes, this elderberry syrup is sweet, but it’s medicine. And for medicine… it actually tastes pretty good. I wonder what it would taste like without any sweetener added.

There was an ER nurse on YouTube – one of the places I currently go when I’m doing my research for natural cures, and she explained how through using elderberry syrup she’d never contracted the flu despite the close contact she had in her 20 years of ER work flu ridden patients sneezing all over the place. And she had always been opposed of the flu vaccine so had never been vaccinated for it.

She had a remedy she says kept her well all those years: a dose of elderberry syrup.

So when I was out grocery shopping I looked for it in the vitamin section but had troubles finding it and was intending to order it on Amazon, but then after I gave up I was walking through the baby section for no good reason except the the other medicine aisles were completely clogged with customers and carts. I don’t even know why I glanced over at the baby shampoos and such as I hurried through but anyhow I was surprised to find right there next to Johnson & Johnson … that elderberry syrup I was looking for. And, for babies. That gave me a really good feeling about it. What’s safer than something you give to a baby?

I don’t know if that ER nurse is right or not, but I only know what happened for me the past two times I have felt like I was beginning to get sick… You know that feeling of being run down and tired, maybe a headache or runny nose? And instead of having to be SICK which is such a bummer, I took a teaspoon of that elderberry syrup. I think the instructions warn not to take it longer than ten days. I have only taken a teaspoon each day for two days mainly because I felt better right away and I didn’t want to take more than needed. Actually, right away within seconds of taking the syrup I felt better. I don’t know how it would do for someone who had a full blown cold or flu. I wonder if it would shorten its duration?

And the Christmas cookies begin. Of course I won’t eat any! But they’re fun to make and give away.

Fasting From Sweets: How I do it on day 30 of 210 of no sweets.

  • PLAN. I began with a plan to binge out on Halloween candy fully knowing that I planned the next day to begin my fast. Now, I know what many might say… it’s not a good idea to do this. Do I recommend it? No. A binge is always a bad idea! But just to let you know what I did… I ate a lot of candy the night before my fast.
  • FUN. I liked the idea right away to do the 210 days because it seemed so big. I was excited for the difficult challenge. And it was significant to me as those days spans the three sweetest times. Christmas, Valentine’s Day, and Easter.
  • CLEAR “RULES”. I made the decision early exactly what my defined fast was. I was cutting out “sweets” except fruit and dried fruit. But I wasn’t cutting out bread. That may have made this more difficult. Cutting out too much right away can be defeating. I may go ahead and cut out bread unless it’s that sprouted grain from the health food store. I’m not a big bread eater anyhow.
  • KEEPING SWEETS NEARBY. Because I had tried to clear them out so many times in the past (but failed in the task of abstaining), I decided to try the opposite. First off I kept the bowl of Halloween candy for a very long time right by the door where it was when I ate it like there’s no tomorrow. I finally threw that candy out. But now I’m involved in the sugarcoatingest holiday of Christmas so I’m going to participate in baking and making but not eating. And do you know I don’t want any of it.
  • DEFINED BOUNDARIES. I thought ahead about what I might say to people who might be naysayers but I haven’t run into anyone who’s been against it.
  • A GOOD START. When I first started, I’d eat oatmeal each morning. I did the larger 3/4 cup serving which is the heart healthy recommendation on the box. I added a handful of pecans and raisins and lots of cinnamon. That set me on the right course each morning. Something about that oatmeal – it’s hearty enough to stay with me until lunch. I think it’s because it nourishes and fills me up while leveling my blood sugar. Presently I’ve not been hungry first thing in the morning so I’ve been skipping it. Seems I’m not hungry until noon at this point and I’d rather be hungry for lunch. I’ve even eaten oatmeal for supper.
  • SATISFYING MEALS. My lunches and dinners vary. Yesterday I cooked a beef stew in the Instant Pot my son sent me. I love how insanely quick it cooks. From frozen stew meat to bowls of steaming stew on the table was 1.5 hours. It was really satisfying. I ate it for lunch and dinner with some hard crusty French bread. When I was on sweets I would have preferred a peanut butter and honey and banana sandwich with tons of honey.
  • KEEPING IT SIMPLE. I’m not counting carbs or even sugar grams but I did look up the current recommendations for women – 6 tsp of added sugars or less each day. Currently I’m doing no added sugars. When I’m done with this experiment/challenge I will add in sugars in that kind of 6 teaspoon moderation which isn’t much and then a cheat day weekly I think where I eat a dessert without worrying about it. Lord willing.
  • REMEMBERING THERE’S SO MUCH MORE SWEET THAT ISN’T FOOD. Love and kindness, giving, completing a difficult task, learning something new or acquiring a new skill, getting out in nature, painting, writing, poetry, reading my bible and praying, and, especially, listening.

Proverbs 25:27.

If I have motivated you to start a similar challenge of a fast from anything, please let me know by commenting or liking this post.

It’s a sweeter day that has a friend in it.

Our Local Paper Coloring Book Section for Christmas

Visiting My Husband on Day 29 of 210 of no sweets

Bringing a coloring book is my favorite way to visit my husband in assisted living. He doesn’t color too much in the books anymore but he sits and looks through them and seems to like that I’m coloring. There are upon occasion others who will come around interested as we sit at the dining room table so I will tear pages out and hand out colors and encourage them to join in. Pretty good and relaxing way to wile away assisted living visits, otherwise I just don’t know what to do. I see other spouses come visit and they just sit and hold hands. I either color or if it’s a nice day I suggest we walk on the sidewalk out back. He always says yes to that.

Today though the visit was strange. I was there at the table and he sat for a little while looking through the color book and then he got up to go watch television. Usually he wants to stay right with me.

The workers there asked if I’d help with the Christmas decorations, painting Christmas trees for each resident on construction paper which I of course enjoyed doing. When I left, the nurses were hanging greenery and lights. They decorate for each season, successfully creating a homey feel. My husband was engrossed in Gunsmoke, so I gladly slipped out.

We have our Christmas tree up!

Word Cookies! On day 28 of 210 of no sweets

The Christmas season is the cookie season in our family. I make cookies and mail them off to my grown children and I keep the cookie jar pretty much filled at our house. I usually can’t get enough of them but this year I’m abstaining of course.


Christmas is such a sweet season and I hope to think about that when tempted to cookie it up.


I wrote a recipe for the “word cookies” I am making on my day 28. I hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoyed writing.

Sweet Word Cookies, a recipe

Ingredients:

A pound of thinking

A cup of kindness

A sprinkle of salt

Season with sweetness

Stir the listed ingredients from the heart.

Bake your ideas completely before speaking as half baked ideas are never ready for anyone to consume and having to take back words is an impossible task for once they are out there they can be poison.

Pleasant words are as a honeycomb, sweet to the soul, and health to the bones. ~Proverbs 16:24

Beginning Illustrations using watery acrylic on watercolor paper for a Children’s Book I’m Writing

Painting Illustrations on Day 27 of 210 of No Sweets

Can you believe that I’m writing and illustrating a children’s book about apple pie on day 27 of my giving up sweets challenge?

It’s a picture book about an owner of an apple orchard who operates a family bakery and bakes nothing but apple pies. I just love writing that character! She shares my excitement for the amazingness of a seed. The story isn’t about apple pie baking per se but it does push the story along.


I am not in fear that this will derail my no sweets challenge, though I am going to be painting some apple pies and I looked up some photos to get started and I was thinking they looked pretty good.


And, for greater research as well as experiencing the life of my character and for some photo ops of pie making every step of the messy way I plan to try to make some. Actually I plan to make as many apple pies as possible until my eaters say something like “this is the best apple pie I’ve ever had!”

I’m sorry to say that I haven’t been successful with pie. The crusts on my Thanksgiving pies were tough even though I was careful not to overwork the dough. I will watch video instruction on my iPad and prop it up in my baking area covered in plastic wrap for protection. That’s my favorite way to cook… and hah! Apple pie and iPads kinda go together if you think about it.

The original story that I had written and illustrated, but did not publish, was for my grandson a couple of years ago. It was Where Did the Seed Come From? I do not intend to publish that book at this time, but I fully intend to publish this new book.

The seed concept is so compelling to me. First of all it is the seed of thought that needs to be germinated. Then it is “the chicken or the egg” … but for my stories it’s “the seed or the tree”. It boggles my brain to try to think on it but that it is like trying to imagine how numbers never end.

The seed is in the apple, and the tree is from the seed. But where did the seed come from?

This doesn’t answer the question, but I thought it so interesting I couldn’t bear not to share it! Where it came from, aside, that little baby seed is made by a very delicate process similar to a human baby. It is “the birds and the bees”. The trees can’t do it by themselves. They need bees to visit every flower … or… no apples. An apple is born with all of its seeds. Similarly a human girl is born with all her eggs. But then when all of that is learned… we are still left with: WHERE DID THE SEED COME FROM!

I’m not going to be any expert, but I am in greater awe and amazement at our Creator whenever I learn about the complexities of our world. So, I was attempting to show that without outrightly telling it. Seems I heard those words again and again from writing teachers. Show. Don’t tell.

With the illustrated story of the baker I hope to show that seed story.

I can’t wait to get started on learning how to make the perfect pie crust.

My baking cabinet – I like to have everything in one spot. This holiday season I plan to bake… but not nibble!

A Baker’s Dozen on day 12 of 210 of no sweets

It’s been dozen days for me now, no sweets.

And to commemorate, here are a few things that are a dozen. First off I just want to ask a little question, how comes a baker’s dozen is 13?

  • “A baker’s dozen” assures the baker isn’t cheating anyone. The appearance of propriety is kept by the baker throwing in an additional to bring the dozen to thirteen. Historically a baker would have to pay a fine or according to my research, pay some other severe consequences for cheating people such as getting an earlobe nailed to a post. Sorry bout that but history is brutal. I am pretty sure that if they’d teach those interesting tidbits in high school kids those sometimes unreachable teens might just pay attention.

There’s a bakery near me always throws in a couple donut holes with the bag of donuts. (Of course I’m not eating any presently.)

A dozen things that are a dozen, or twelve

  • eggs,
  • cupcakes,
  • muffins
  • Cookies
  • Pack of hot dogs
  • Hours in half a day
  • Months in a year
  • Inches in a foot
  • School grades 1-12
  • Tribes of Israel
  • Days of Christmas,
  • Roses

Counting, Not by Tens

Primitive counting by duodecim

Not by the neat metric base of ten

Gives us a dozen right out of the oven

Cookies and cupcakes and muffins in tins

And when months of the year and hours of the day

Look to the moon and the sun to arrange

And the length of the foot times three is the length

From the right shoulder to the left finger, a yard, three feet,

Wonder where the dozens come from

That gets moons and planets and measurements going,

Those dozen roses, and holidays aglowing

And the creation adoration bestowing

~Julie Robinson

Above photo: my every morning: oats and coffee, a little listening, studying, planning, and a lot of writing On DAY 11 OF 210 OF NO SWEETS, YAY! It’s getting so much easier too. Right now I’ve been taking a little break from painting because the poetry and other creative writing endeavors have taken top place in my creativity.

Here’s my poem and below the poem is a number line showing my sweet progress.

SAVORED LEAF

A dust devil destroys stacks

Of carefully raked leaves,

A Skittering dustup which the wind wins.

But one bright leaf, whisked up by a kid,

Mesmerized by the skirmish,

Having kicked a rock as far as he could,

But finally losing it,

Crams the new find deep in his pocket

And later tries to pull it out

A crumbling faded memory

Better to savor but not to save,

To leave it where it lay

~Julie Robinson

210 DAYS NUMBERLINE – The progress looks so tiny below, bottom left in pink. But it serves to remind that this experiment has an end. Join me in the journey, never too late to jump on!

Mondays are my favorite…on Day 6 of 210 not eating sweets

This post has nothing to do with giving up sweets … but it has everything to do with staying with it. It’s a Monday attitude sometimes the only thing that’ll get you through!

What can Monday be good for? Don’t most people relish hating Monday’s? My answer’s in the Ode.

Ode to Monday

Monday comes dressed to impress

Smart and clean

after the weekend

Of t-shirts and jeans

You freshly greet us

And you don’t make a fuss

“You still sleepin’ you lazy bumpkin!”

Oh no, that’s not a Monday voice

You leave that to other days

You’re sharp yet sweet

Like a first grade teacher

It’s discipline first you know we need

You come each week

Ready, rain or shine

To do but mostly be,

Always so refined

Good thing you are a Monday

So you can never see

Me rumpled up on Friday

While you, neatly pressed, pristine.

~Julie Robinson

IPad Pro Art… Tree at the Guadalupe by Julie Robinson

Ushering in “No Sweets November” and, ok, just one more tiny little poem.

Between projects is a difficult place to be. I only have the hope of the future projects – but not one yet underway. It makes me feel a little artistically heart fluttery nervous. Why is that?

So to solve this problem, I get to thinking, what is is that I treasure the most? So, I thought that first a bit of personal inventory might help:

During the month of October,

I placed my husband in long term memory care after he wandered out dangerously for the last time in the middle of the night climbing out of his window and walking a mile! And I’m strangely torn without him here, unused to not taking care of him all the time. It is expensive. I have faith that God will provide the needed resources to keep him there.

Also I finished the first quarter homeschooling my daughter 11th grade. She does lessons by video and I oversee and ask her to teach me what she has learned. It works well that way since relating something just learned helps greatly with interest and retention. Hey and it’s good for me too as I think I’ve forgotten all that. Actually I think at her age I was doing nothing but concentrating on some boyfriend. I paint and write while she does school. As I blog away here she’s doing violin class and I will add… a lot less squeaky than when she first began at the beginning of the school year.

I wrote a poem each day for the past 31 days. That was exhilarating. Really. I did not know that doing it would be like running a race each time. Yay for getting across the poetry finish line.

But back to answer my original question what should I do now that poetry month is over

1. I am in planning – brainstorming – looking at photo references – for a brand new oil painting project to show in my art club’s copying the master’s challenge but first I’m finishing the painting below. I’m not very happy with it right now which is lending a little to my art troubles but I wrote a poem about it so I am including it.

2. I’m sugar free (but just as sweet) and will blog about my upcoming 7 mos of eating no sweets.  And yes I can eat fruit

3  Art projects with memory care. I am excited they asked me would I bring in some projects to do with the folks at my husband’s memory care facility. I am considering bringing some tempura paints and brushes and some cheap Walmart canvases. So I will be sharing about my Art memory care experiences.

4  Poetry Monday’s:  I am thinking I ought to write poetry on a schedule of one day per week so I can keep poetry challenged.

Below is my current painting propped for picture in the window. Interesting how the lavender sky outside is all matchy matchy with my painting.

Faith

Oh! A lavender sky

Where below the cattle gather,

Heads low, munching,

Not at all watching

Any kind of weather.

~Julie Robinson

Sweet Report: Day 1 of 210 (is that 7 months?) I haven’t actually started this day yet! But, I am full of optimism, I’ve gathered all the faith I got like the cattle under the lavender sky, and unless the sky rains snicker bars, I’m ok. Check back each day for my Sweet Report. Think I can do it?

Summing up this post, goodbye October and ushering in important thing: FAITH! I went back up into the post and italicized every place I talked about it. That is the treasure I seek for November. Faith

There is an old phrase

“Art imitates life”.

Art Isn’t Dying

Rescue art

When it screams

Unbecoming decaying things

Should make the conscious crawl away

How can passion for disaster

hate-filled lyric fashion

Cut up jeans to Banksy shred

Be any statement but:   “That art is dead.”

Bored of their own pleasure

Wanting, working their demise

Receiving doleful measure

A dark and deadly compromise

Of standing, agreeing

And where wisdom once was

Mistaking fleeting feelings

Raw, uncensored, not creating.

This poem has no summation

‘Cause all know a salvation

Starts deep in the art

By the Refiner of heart

~Julie Robinson

Melancholy Glee

Lavender spike oil filled the room

better smelling than turpentine

The painter, tired, in a mood

How painting day was now the night

Across the room, with distance to see

That drama of the raging sea

Rough and vast and painterly

But her cat would change it, yes, would he

Who jumping to chase

Snagged his claw on the drapes

And clanging knocked over

Red buds in a vase

So frightened he shrieked

And wherein did leap

His bushy tail becoming a brush, he did sweep

Across the wet painting wide and deep

Oil painter was he

The artist doubled fitfully

Then signed the painting happily:

Melancholy Glee

~Julie Robinson

Gilded

There it sits

The golden frame

Setting the painting

O’er fireplace hangs

Stormy seas bringing

A ship on the green

Waves swelling, telling

High venture at sea

Ornamental,

Brilliance beaming

Oil captured, artist dreaming

Come, move in closer now to see

What is happening

In that moment

Stormy day atop the wave

Rocking, rolling, treasure toting

Tell me, ship, you coming, going

Got time for a visit pay

Better, navigate my wall untamed

In the artist’s gilded frame

~Julie Robinson

Sometimes I like to imagine that something I have created on canvas is real. I have painted many ocean and beach scenes but this is my first attempt at a sailing vessel. I have the painting sitting on the floor trying to figure out a grouping with some other paintings. It’s actually an acrylic painting though it worked better in the poem to have it be an oil. And I have no fireplace, but I am considering building myself a faux fireplace with candles just so that I can hang it above the mantel.

My good friend Caroline Dechert so sweetly framed it in that beautiful frame and put it in a local art show for me during a time when it was difficult to get out and do things due to caregiving.

That frame is as fancy as friendship. Caroline called me and checked up on me and came to my house to paint with me. She has been one of my biggest art supporters. Friendship is golden.

I think this painting should be named: “Gilded”.

The Princess of Pee

Don’t mock the cardinals

I stood outside while my 10 year old Yorkie was doing her little business. I say little cause she’s only 9 pounds. She has had a little problem which has given her the nickname “The Princess of Pee” because she doesn’t want to “go” outside when it’s raining and it’s been raining a lot.

Enough is enough. So I figured I’d better stand outside with her to be sure.

And boy did the birds put on a show.

High on top my neighbors tree were three female cardinals. And in my tree, a beautiful male sang loud a courting song which is what got my attention. But then some mockingbirds, the Texas state bird, swooped in and took those high positions.

There are rules in birddom, I’m sure, rules dictating who gets the top of the tree. Sure seems the mockingbird ranks over the female cardinal.

Coming in from the animal show in my backyard, I can’t help but consider in this so far quiet early morning hour as I scoop coffee grounds and put the oatmeal in the microwave… I can’t help but compare our lives to the birds: When my husband got his dementia I had to swoop in and take his place kinda like the mockingbird.

And I wanted to … And I had to…

when I needed to … be at the top where I am the one in charge where I am caregiver to my husband and part encourager part enforcer to our daughter who homeschools.

Gotta be the mockingbird.

I really ought to write a mockingbird poem during this poetry writing month. Right?!

IMG_0765
For awhile I was churning out little clay animals, mostly owls, but I decided to make a turtle here and I snapped it’s picture as he looked like he was trying to climb out.

Feeling Stuck

I got a bead stuck up my nose… in all honesty, I stuck a bead up my nose when I was about eight years old and had to go to the doctor to get it out.  When you get anything stuck anywhere there is a franticness that sets in.  The bead gets dug even deeper, the kid with the elbow between the chair slats wedges even tighter (one of my kids).

When my grandson came to visit a few years ago he got his finger stuck in my pantry door.  Anything stuck makes me feel so frantic on the inside and his wailing really made made it worse.  I highlight those stuck moments in my mind along with other painful moments like falling off my skateboard.  I thought I could go faster if I ran and jumped on it.  I went up in the air and landed on the concrete where I felt like I kept landing… it was a strange sensation… and I remember laying there looking up at the sky and plumeria trees (we lived in Hawaii) and boy do I remember having to go to school the next day and sit.

What do you do in ongoing life stucky-ness?   Being a 24/7 caregiver for a person with any illness with no end is stuck time that drags on.

We are stuck in my husband’s dementia.

Usually I deal with it better.

Today I am not feeling well.

I feel like I’m coming down with a cold which is making me feel aggravated with his telling and repeating all his weird delusional tales he makes up.

Stuck in dementia… trying to at least emotionally climb out like the painted turtle above.

 

6B64D5A7-C53B-4DEE-A28E-D330833A1606
iPhone art. If you look closely in the lower left hand corner you will see the paper holes. I had taken a picture of some smears on my piece of paper and then doodled around with the iPad pencil. Sometimes I write a poem to go with my paintings.  (See Adrift Haiku below story)

Have you seen Adrift?

My daughter and I watched the movie Adrift last night on Amazon Prime.  If you haven’t seen it yet I promise I won’t spoil the story.

We sat together on the couch watching it and nearly hit each other over the grief when they showed the thing … that happened, the thing that was revealed was so surprising.  It’s a true story.

What is it called when the author knows the thing that happens and keeps it a secret?  It makes me kinda mad, like they were keeping a secret and holding it back from you to punch you in the face with it for effect.  It was strangely satisfying though because I think it made us feel a little like the character felt when it happened.

What happens in the movie (except the thing I can’t tell you that happened), is no surprise.  And, that there would be a rescue was no surprise since it is based on a true story.

The way the director weaves in the days prior, during, and after the storm of a couple who fall in love not long before they set sail to the time of a great storm that changes their course, leaves us all adrift with them.  We were on that sailboat… what a cinematic accomplishment.  And, we always kept in the back of our mind that there of course would be a rescue.

But, the surprise:  it cut deep.

See the movie and tell me what you think.

Adrift Haiku

Adrift is not lost

A storm can n’er be conquered

But peace can be found.

~Julie Robinson

I couldn’t help comparing Adrift to being a caregiver to my spouse who has dementia.  Not everything can be equally compared.  But sometimes I am Adrift.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Close up on a painting I’m working on to show details. When my iPhone wasn’t working, I noticed there was detail needed in this painting I’ve been working on for the past two days.

IPhone Addiction… how to know?

This all happened to me yesterday so I diagnose myself: addicted

I got to thinking … maybe it isn’t the iPhone, per se, ,,,but the

I n f o r m a t i o n.

IPHONE ADDICTION?

Here is a list of my own life events and my own reactions to a day without my iphone.

This wonderful technology I haven’t had that long in the scheme of my life… It was born in 2001. YouTube 2006, WordPress 2003, Siri 2011. I use it to find the word of the day, the verse of the day, and look up words … I love etymology! Breaking news, traveling the Google Earth to find that place they are talking about on the news, writing my blog, and poetry, and reading, keeping up my blog readers, checking arrival of Amazon prime orders, YouTube for learning about anything and everything, and using Siri for text, reminders, putting things on my calendar. The iPhone has reached in and gripped my entire life. And when I didn’t have it, I felt at a loss. I think I might feel that the iPhone is my friend. Granted, it wasn’t just the iphone, but my internet and cellular were also out at my house. So, a triple whammy!

I was locked out of my phone first thing in the morning. Because, of course, what is the first thing I do every morning? I simply didn’t enter the passcode correctly that I had just set up less than a day ago so got locked out.

1. I was frantic about it beyond normal and couldn’t eat because I was trying to solve the problem.

2. Spent all day watching YouTube videos to figure out how to reset my phone and trying all of the things they said to do. None of those “hard reset” hacks worked.

3. Spent hours and energy into iTunes (which by the way could be more helpful).

4. Bought a brand new phone instead of waiting to go to the apple store where I was told they could restore my phone.

5. When I got home with my new phone there was an internet outage in my area until the next morning so I ate a cupcake and went to bed with my book, The Distant Mirror, The Calamitous 14th Century, a difficult read that I usually read with Wikipedia at the ready. No Wikipedia. So, I couldn’t really even read my book.

6. Upset that I couldn’t answer comments on my blog.

7. Couldn’t set up my new iPhone because I couldn’t go on the internet or the cellular service. And, just like a person whose power goes out who keeps trying to flick on the light switch, that’s what I kept on doing with my phone. It was on… I could see the apps, but I couldn’t actually get in. I kept going to the weather app and the news app… For some reason, I wasn’t able to use the cellular data for internet either. It was tough for an information junkie.

8. Woke the next morning and my heart skipped a beat when I saw the internet on so I could set up my new phone.

I was refreshed because I got a good night’s sleep … with no YouTube to distract me and I thought about trying to fight the iPhone addiction. So, I looked up, on the iPhone, “how to fight iPhone addiction”. Of course.

Visiting a Colorful Muddy Road, Acrylic on Canvas

My husband was cranky so when I mentioned his going to the adult day care he told me in a tone that I knew was going to be a “brick wall” conversation… that I needed to be the one to go.

Sometimes I run through phrases in my head that fortunately I don’t speak. All those years of my mom’s teaching me (and my big teenager mouth) to let those thoughts rattle around awhile before deciding to let them shoot out the chute… pays off time and again.

So I told him he’d maybe feel better if he lay down awhile. The sound of my voice was so soothing I surprised myself. Thanks mom! I know it was hard work raising me.

So today we stayed home and I made chicken flautas. Everyone’s favorite. Here’s the recipe. I don’t do exact amounts but I will try to here. I’ve been cooking these up for perhaps 20 years and the amounts don’t have to be exact. Trick is to use leftover chicken and soften the tortillas before you stuff them or they will crack.

I’ve had these in a restaurant… but always deep fried. Never like mine… so GOOD!

Julie’s Chicken Flautas

1 cup of cooked chicken, shredded or diced up small

1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese

1/2 can green chilis

1 tsp cumin

8 flour tortillas, warmed

Roll up cooked chicken, grated cheese, green chilies and cumin in each flour tortilla. Seal each one good and tight with a wooden toothpick. They resemble little flutes – where they get their name flautas, Spanish for flute. Brown then them in a little oil in a skillet. Serve over shredded lettuce and diced tomatoes and top with sour cream and salsa. They are a pretty presentation. Sometimes I sprinkle a little cheddar cheese on top to make them appear so extra tasty. Don’t forget to remove the wooden toothpick before serving.

So, I decided as I was serving the delicious meal that sometimes it is better to stay home and invite people over. I invited my parents, who I was intending to meet out for lunch, and asked them to bring cupcakes from our favorite cupcake shop: The Sweeter Side of Rails. We like the tuxedo and the peanut butter cup. That made it all the more sweet.

And after they left, I painted over the above painting which I had painted last year when I was doing clouds differently than I am doing now. And what did I do, of course you know if you’ve been reading my blog….

…but add a very wet reflecty muddy road that is in itself a weird kind of respite for me..

If Clouds Could Talk, Acrylic on Canvas … with poem at the end of this post.

We went for the Psych evaluation.

First off, the psychologist had at least 4″ high purple shag wall to wall carpeting in her office. I haven’t ever seen anything like it and I’m a child of the 70’s.

And her office was in an old building that didn’t have a “trust factor” for me.

As in the above painting of mine, clouds talk, and apparently, psychologists performing a psych eval do too. After the evaluation the psychologist gave her opinion that my husband probably wouldn’t get the disability because she didn’t think dementia is caused by PTSD and that he didn’t have any PTSD symptoms.

But the paperwork from the VA had said the psychologist evaluator only does the evaluation and won’t give an answer. I thought it a bit strange she’d give an opinion.

In my own reading on the matter I’ve learned that it does happen that a person can have a very stressful event happen such as my husband did in Vietnam that can cause dementia later in life.

Well, I am not worried about any of it. And I remind myself that I’m just carrying through on the application for disability that the VFW near us had helped my husband apply for a few years ago after he was no longer able to work, but had not as yet been diagnosed with dementia.

A little tiny bit of history on him case you were wondering…

He was a practicing attorney until 2012 when he wasn’t able any longer to concentrate or to properly function in his job.

Then in 2014 after he had been going to visit with the veterans at our local VFW, they helped him apply.

Then in 2015 he finally got a diagnosis of dementia.

Then… a few weeks ago (9/2018) I was looking for something in the file cabinet and I came across the PTSD disability application which he had filed. So I took it up to the VFW and they refiled it with the information they had said they were lacking. In about a week the psych eval had been ordered by the VA.

I don’t know how any of it will go. But that purple shag carpeting was very very strange. Just about as strange as clouds communicating.

If Clouds Could Talk

If clouds could talk

in puffed up words

Or heavy purple phrases

Misty morning melodies

To tornado laden crazies

They’d loftily quote

Or drastically deluge

If clouds could talk.

~Julie Robinson

This current painting of mine has no storm in it. I have been painting out of my own feelings instead of looking at a picture. Sometime the strokes of paint look like something. Those little sheep had been some rocks. Sometimes it is whatever occurs to me at the time. I have painted plenty that have turned into a storm when I add to it another day… So better hold on to your sheepskins you little sweet sheep.

TODAY WE GO FOR MY HUSBAND’S PSCYH EVAL

Because of the disability application, as a matter of course, the VA orders a psychological evaluation of the person to see if PTSD is the cause of their symptoms. In tomorrow’s post I will say how that goes. I don’t really know what to expect.

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Colorful Puddles After a Rainstorm, Acrylic on Canvas

Besides the sweet smell in Texas when “It’s fixin’ to rain”, one of my favorite things is puddles after a good rainstorm with reflections of a now bright sky. I love to put those last touches of bright red in the fresh puddle that make the road rise up.

I express this feel of a scene often in my paintings because it says “Look up, the torrent is over and it’s a brand new brightness.”

Being a caregiver has been a bit like that rainstorm.  But, it has been helpful for me to find acceptance in who I am now. I don’t have a husband who is there for me to love and care for me.  Instead I’m left with a man who sometimes packs up because it’s time for him to go home.

But “The position has been filled”… as was succinctly stated to the dog standing outside the door in Mary Poppins.

…Filled by the One who makes a storm, knows fully about the puddles, the colorful brightness, and how to fill my artist’s heart with joy.

img_4216-1“Every Little Thing’s Gonna Be Owlright” is a canvas bag I painted. Such a cutie!!

Dementia is progressive.  It does not get better.  There is no cure. And we who care for someone with dementia are at risk ourselves due to the ongoing stress of it all.

That brings me to a question I saw posed online, I think it was a writing prompt.

Wife, or Caregiver?

I think the question could be expanded to…

Husband, or Caregiver,

Daughter, Son, Granddaughter… or caregiver... and on and on.

I will speak to the spouse/caregiver because it is what I know and live.

An answer to the question is found where the lines got blurred between my husband as spouse and me as fully caregiver.

I am so glad to be able to share this information because I believe it is so helpful for the mental health of the caregiver.  And, for those of you who read my blog, you know I am an artist so forgive me, a non scientist, as I get “all scientific” with my seven stages…

First I ought to say… My considering myself to be a caregiver and no longer a wife happened incrementally over the course of several years.  Here are the stages we have been and are still going through:

The seven stages of my becoming a caregiver.

Stage Zero:  (All spouses take care of each other throughout their marriage – sometimes one spouse needs more care… and it can’t ever be seen as equal as the spousal role is to love the other – so this stage is a reminder of that…)

Stage One.  Unnoticible to those outside the husband/wife relationship:  husband has small changes in his personality, husband apologizes, difficult time is covered over by husband/wife relationship. (+/- 1 years)

Stage Two.  Wife confronts husband on his now more apparent personal changes, gets angry pushback.  The relationship suffers. (+/- 1 years)

Stage Three.  Husband is unable to concentrate on work and otherwise is acting in outlandish and inappropriate ways in his business, but, thankfully, wife is able to talk him into retiring.   Still, he is able to hold a conversation, be excited about politics, and he still reads.  He still drives.  The family still plays games together and he can fully participate.  Wife is able to talk her husband into retiring and moving out of state. (+/- 1 years)

Stage Four.  Husband is acting in inappropriate ways socially and wife talks him into letting her come along to his next doctor’s appointment where he is diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment.  Husband no longer reads yet spends all of his waking hours watching cable news.  (+/- 1 years)

Stage Five.  Husband gets confused with bill paying and has trouble concentrating, begins to have problems working his television.  Wife takes over all finances. (+/- 1 year)

Stage Six.  Wife has husband evaluated for driving the automobile.  He loses his license. Husband begins believing he is running a business and also begins thinking “he needs to go home” and will pack his bags.  Wife sees that the business ideas are being stoked by his constant web surfing so wife takes away all electronic devices.  Wife is able to verbally talk him out of leaving.  Husband is unable to stay home alone.  (+/- 6  months)

Stage Seven.  Wife has now crossed over into full caregiver because husband has become incapable of understanding most things.  Wife is able to manage his television viewing habits so as to have him watch for the most part, good movies and reruns of shows like I Love Lucy.  Husband is now completely unable to play a family game.  Husband has times of psychotic type behavior where he, in agitation, tries to escape.  Will walk down the street and not want to come back.  Wife has needed to call the police to come help with this problem.  Husband does not wash himself even if he is in the shower and will put on the same dirty clothes afterward.  Husband sleeps in his clothing.  Husband cannot at times find the bathroom though there is a label on the door.  Cannot find where his bedroom is.  Husband will want to eat though he just ate a full meal.  (3 years… and counting).

So, for me it was not wife OR caregiver.  It is wife has BECOME caregiver.

It is not just a war of words, though. Tomorrow I plan to discuss how defining myself as caregiver has helped me.

Is every little thing gonna be owlright? What do you think?

Me… and my ideas… and showing off my haircut. FYI in case anyone out there wonders… My hair went totally white and so I just… go with it. And now on to…

Respite Care Reform

Please read yesterday’s post where I describe respite care.

(Don’t get me wrong… I love the place and the people where I take my husband). But if I were asked…

I have been taking my husband to adult day care for a couple of years now, and I have some ideas for improvement…

What if there was/were

  1.  curb service drop in/pick up so that the person using a walker would not ever have to walk across a parking lot and the caregiver would not need to get out of the car. My husband is physically able but I see many that are not.
  2. a full service salon for haircut and nails during the times they are in care?  It isn’t easy for caregivers to do this.
  3. beds for nap time because having a rested person to pick up would be nice. For my husband the respite care is busy busy. Too busy.
  4. daily, all day care for working people.  Maybe employers would allow their employees a little allowance to assist with the expense of this.  Or, maybe there could be some tax remedy to allow people to afford it.  Our day care is five hours, three times a week which I am thankful for but it doesn’t allow me enough time to work.
  5. a calm schedule with activities for people who want to participate and movies or television for those who like to sit and watch.  It would be nice to keep the person from being worn out from the day.

Sometimes we people who give care forget about our own needs, independent from the ones who depend solely on our energy, our kindness, our patience. Respite allows us to recharge those finite resources. If you aren’t already seeking respite… go out there and find it.

I think I have mentioned that I have

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and walls of my paintings at my house. Granted, many are because I’ve been learning, practicing and developing my personal style over the past six years that I have been a caregiver.

And trying to stay sane.

And, sanity… brings me to how much I appreciate RESPITE CARE.

Before I begin to discuss respite care I feel for most people not close to the dementia world I should begin with giving my best definition:

Respite: a short break from engagement in something, anything really, that is especially difficult.

Remember respite during primary school days?

School recess is a respite we most of us can relate to. It was where we once so easily threw off the frustration of the strict classroom and climbed to the top of the monkey bars to hang by our knees.

Remember being a new parent? (Or business owner… I think anything that is truly your “baby” would compare to the feeling…). As a new parent I remember feeling at a loss when I went out without my baby for the first time.

It was a similar experience when I took my husband to the adult day care. I sat in my car with no plan. Now what? Who am I even?

A couple years down the road I now know what to do.

Respite care is never long enough. If I choose to paint I lose track of time which is why I don’t usually paint. I don’t mind at all painting when he’s home. So even if I have a compelling artistic venture I choose not to paint during my respite time. Instead I…

  • run errands
  • have coffee or lunch out with friends
  • make a great grocery list and shop carefully for as long as I want
  • do a household task that’s hard to be in the middle of with him here
  • pay bills
  • make important phone calls
  • study my bible and memorize scripture
  • read a book
  • clean out a closet, a drawer
  • make plans, lists for things I need to do but am putting off… like tackle the garage. (The garage is last on my list (always). Does anyone else have the problem that the garage feels… foreign and full of spiders. I need to take the space over and make it work. Well I will be inducing a little self therapy on that very soon… like next Spring… I kid, really.)

Respite ought to leave a person refreshed. Cleaning out the garage during my respite time might do that in the end.

Tomorrow I will discuss a few small Respite Care Reform ideas I have that would help me. And, since respite is for me, the caregiver, I don’t mind divulging my ideas.

And, look for a future post with the great garage clean out. I think.

I Love You More Than Cupcakes…

… A writing prompt from my kitchen.

Have you had a store bought cupcake recently?  Not a homemade or from a grocery store bakery.

No, a cupcake from one of those cupcake shops that have arisen in strip malls in the past few years.  Our town has one with cupcakes and gelato.

A little comparison: Yesteryear’s cupcake was 2” cake and 1/4 “ frosting. Today’s are basically buttercream frosting and filling encased in a little cake … to hold it together.

i love ‘em. My favorite? Peanut butter cup.

I will never be able to go back.

DEMENTIA SWEET CRAVINGS

One of the side effects of dementia is a new sweet tooth. And it’s my husband with the dementia.

My husband, before dementia, didn’t especially like sweets.  If we ever had something he’d just want one little bite.  I’ve always wanted anything that was dripping in childish amounts of  sweet. My husband, now that he has dementia… is more like that child.  He will eat handfuls of candy and will want a large chocolate milkshake with his cheeseburger.  When getting cookies, he asks for several.

I’m trying to think of the earthly things I love more than a good cupcake.

“Sketching” in acrylics. The Path

I was in the mood to do what I call acrylic sketching today (above landscape). I’ve been painting in my sketch book recently. And, I can’t wait to get back to painting on canvas. The paint goes on so differently on the paper. I love the paint on the canvas because there is some give to it as you paint. Why is that important to me? I don’t know, but I do like the feel.

I plan to do a painting soon on canvas of a hill country pathway like one that would’ve been painted in the 18th century, and I plan to frame it in an old timey ornate gold frame, the kind can only be gotten (affordably) at a thrift store these days.

Music and Dementia

As I was cleaning up from the day’s painting my daughter, who had been playing her precise classical pieces and jazzed up versions of her other songs, sat and improvised on the piano The House of the Rising Sun and my husband began belting with more feeling than most people sing… the lyrics: “There is a house in New Orleans…”

There are more interesting changes in my husband’s dementia than the delusions, hallucinations, forgetting and wandering and weird behavior.

Sometimes there are good things.

My husband never before cared much about music. He certainly never sang except for in church. And then I would have to strain to hear the proper tune to sing because he was so off.

He has developed a whole new kind of a talent now for singing. Knows all the words to all the songs though he doesn’t know the president, how old his daughter is, the city he’s in or what he ate for lunch.

And he’s quite on pitch now. Do you think that the difference in his musical ability is because now he doesn’t hold back?

We have music in our home all the time.

And when not at home, we sing CD’s … from old time gospel to John Denver to Queen.

“We are the champions, my friends….”

Pumpkins I painted over my old Peaches Sign

Eating with Dementia

We made homemade tortillas and smoked up the kitchen in the process (the pan I think was too hot?) requiring that we open all the windows though there was not a breath of air in this Texas Hill Country post lots of rain evening.

To complete the eventful dinner time , my husband, who has dementia, built his own taco but he did it completely upside down. He put all of the ingredients in layers on his plate starting with the sour cream, the cheese, and the chunks of chicken and then topped it with a tortilla.

I just watched (more like an artist, less like a caregiver) to see what would happen next as he turned his plate upside down and it all fell off to the table, disgustingly. I could’ve helped him but he seemed determined.

He scraped it all off with the tortilla and ate it. I figured it was just a matter of a quick wipe up when he was done. I’ve seen worse being a mom of three.

But the chicken tacos with the fresh tortillas were just delicious.

And then we ate ice cream. And who could argue with that?

I’ve been working on this a little each day… added another tree and widened the river.

Playing Clue With Dementia. Yes We Can!

First of all, I’m considering making my own worksheets for the game of Clue. We ran out about six months ago and each time we play we write out all of the categories before we start playing. Yes, we have played it a lot over the years. And, he used to be the one to win. I’ve always been pretty bad at it. Now, my game is Scrabble!

But our daughter likes to play Clue. And, she still doesn’t mind inviting him to join us, though we figured out a way to play with just 2 players.

So, I have created – on my new IPAD Pro – a new Clue worksheet.

I first perused Etsy to see if anyone has made any. None. So, maybe I am the first?

I am going to print them and get them laminated so they can be reusable with Expo marker.

Dementia Clue Works!

We play dementia Clue which means we let him do whatever he wants. We let him have some of the cards and don’t make a big deal out of it if he says the card out loud. If you are familiar with the game, a player quietly shows their card to the person whose turn it is. It makes the game shorter which is good for playing with him. He gets joy from choosing to be for instance in the kitchen or the bedroom. We tell him he is the winner. Some of his playing and antics are funny but the last time we played I noticed I lost a bit of my game playing funny bone.

What I’m working on. Painting and Praying.

A DRAMA OF DEMENTIA DRUGS

Drugs… past use

Dementia drugs have been unsuccessful in the past in treating my husband’s intermittent revved up delusional antics that can lead him to racing out the door on a mission, with me having to chase him down.

In fact about 2 years ago the drugs in his system, all prescribed dosages, interacted and sent him to the trauma center by helicopter.

So the trauma doctor took him off of all those drugs and instructed us to contact his doctor to see what drugs might work better.

Better than drugs?

By the time we could get in to the doctor and because the drug she wanted to try him on was not covered under his Medicare plan, I decided instead I would try to manage him drug free with redirect, a bottle of water, a cookie, my calm voice, a smile.

But dementia is progressive…

But dementia being progressive, worse over time, stopped at times listening to me. So I took him back to his neurologist who prescribed a very low dose mood stabilizer that I wouldn’t have to give all the time. Only if he began showing signs of what I refer to as “brick wall”, impervious to my behavioral interventions and usual winning ways with him.

I could sometimes give him a pill.

I have to say it is a strange thing as a wife not to be able to influence any longer the one person you used to be able to win over.

Why didn’t I just give him a pill?

I almost gave him one of those pills today because he could not settle himself down. He began being afraid it was going to flood because our local paper had flood watch as the headline story. He would not drop the subject. Would not be redirected. And of course there is never any ability to reason with him.

We just had a hard dementia day. All day.

I should have medicated him.

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Redirecting From the Rabbit Hole

I picture, at the entrance to the proverbial rabbit hole of wayward thoughts, desires, and actions, the place good people fall, a stern rabbit holding a sign:

TURN AROUND.

I can easily find myself ignoring those warning signs in the matter of my own creative passion. I’m a creative junkie. How can that be a problem? Isn’t creative expression a good thing? Not when it is out of order. And I need to keep order and boundaries for my home since I am also in the business of redirecting others, a homeschooling teenager and a severely demented husband.

You know though there is a lie I sometimes fall prey to that leads me bunny trailing.

“You’ve got a lot on your shoulders.  Go easy on yourself.”

That leads me to the rabbit hole, a world where my thoughts and desires are scattered in too many directions that I end up not actually accomplishing anything of real value in my painting and my writing.

My valuable creative personal resources hop off to everything else …

I think it important I should divulge the list of the attention stealers for me: (and, of course, there’s nothing wrong with doing any of these things).

CREATIVE ATTENTION STEALERS

Paper mache, clay, watercolor, charcoal, crayons, markers, pastels, oil pastels, embroidery, crochet, knitting, sewing, writing poetry, writing many comic strips about my yorkie, making little stuffed baby sock creatures, creating greeting cards with die cut shapes from aluminum cans and cardboard and whatever I figured out could go through the die cutter, creating stories and handmade and painted books for my grandchildren, painting elaborate T-shirts for my grandchildren. And rearranging and painting and redecorating my home and cleaning out and redoing all areas of the house, and making new recipes and special meals, and baking all kinds of treats and (trying to) make gingerbread houses. Then there’s my new fascination for reading and studying the 14th century. Now I’m not at all saying I have to give it all up but I’m just trying to prove a point…

I am a creative junkie.  (Safe to say?)

My creativity rabbit holes.  So… I am now trying to harness that creative energy and put it into what I have decided is most important for me to be doing.

I have to decide if the thing I am beginning to put my mind to figuring out, the thing I am just beginning to set my heart on, is something I need to spend my creative God given resources on right now or is it a rabbit hole that makes me lose the best parts of myself…. my heart and my mind.

So, what do I plan to do next.

Going With The Flow

A “Navy Brat”, I spent my childhood at the beach. I think it’s why I’m magnetically drawn to paint it now.

I race through cleaning up the breakfast mess and make sure my husband has plenty of coffee and “reading” material because I’ve got an ocean scene calling my artist’s imagination. Have I mentioned I’ve painted stacks of paintings, many of them ocean scenes. Not all good. Some ok. All still in a learning stage for me.

As I paint, my husband and I usually chat about what he’s looking at in the paper. He thinks he knows the people in the pictures, he’s been in business with them, his mind is delusionally entertwined with them. Mostly I say “Oh, is that right,” and “Wow I didn’t know that”, faking a tone to allow him to continue there. I know he just likes the talking and the time.

I put a live ocean scene on YouTube loud enough so I can feel like I’m there and so I can study the light hitting all the places light hits, glowing, refracting, being deflected and diffused, causing shadows.

Sometimes when I paint, I wax a little poetic… I didn’t want to title this one because it would mess up the tip of the wave… so it is

An

Ode

to the

Ocean:

a melody

and a dance.

Waves prance,

in lacy edge dress,

seagulls squawk soprano,

starkly accompanying the sea.

And there am I, a party to the scene,

only in my mind through the power of TV.

~ Julie Robinson

As all of this “excitement” is raging, my husband gets up to return to his second love, Turner Classic Movies. First he looks at my painting and says, as always, “Another ocean”. I try not to be deflated by the flat dementia tone that I know he has entirely no control over.

And he leaves me at my painting to go watch Turner Classic Movies.

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Caregiver Painting Poetry

Sometimes I write stories or poetry to go with my paintings. I’m absolutely taken in by the subject matter and get absorbed in my paintings. The picture I took of this one in my Pathways series is a little dark… but I decided to leave it that way because I thought it a mysterious path.

The writing/painting combo keeps away the dangerous caregiver stress.  (See my previous post.)

Above the painting… below the poem.

The Dusty Road

The dusty road,

After a squall,

Whispers, “Come and walk awhile”,

Needing nothing,

It wants your all.

You listen to

The dusty road

And consider its promise,

Breathing in its sweet grasses,

Seems like heaven’s abode.

Bunnies race

And deer eyes gleam.

The dusty road

‘Tis steep it seems;

And the road becomes your dreams.

The river racing

And Crickets chirp,

And you plod on and on and on and on

The dusty road

It’s mighty work.

At last, a rock’s your friend,

Long nuff you’ve strode.

The singers, the music, the song,

And to sleep you’ve gone on

The dusty road.

~ Julie Robinson

It’s Fall in my cart!!!

Caregiver Stress… My Take

Have you seen the statistics related to how badly caregivers fare? Not so good! I’ll leave it to you to google this.

Lots of research has apparently said that I’m toast.

So since I’ve been doing this for 6 years now I thought it would be a good idea since it’s almost Fall to take an almost change of season stock of myself:

do I have stress?

I had to think hard about this one.

Well, I do have stressors. That’s for sure. But I don’t think I’m stressed. Here is how I consider measuring this for myself:

1. Do I keep myself and my home clean and as neat as possible? Yes. Probably better than ever since I’m here most the time in “forced retirement”.

But I’m no perfectionist. Last Spring I planted a vegetable garden and forgot to water it often enough that it just flat gave out. I felt like a gardener failure. But right now I’m making plans to try it again next Spring and setting an iPhone watering reminder

2. Am I angry? Or do I cry a lot? No

3. Do I get breaks? Yes. I take my husband to adult daycare a few times a week.

4. Do I maintain friendships? The best I can. I run a weekly bible study out of my home. We are a crazy mix of Catholics and Baptists. Today we joked that we are the Batholics. As well, am starting back up with a ladies bible study at our church.

5. Do I have outside interests besides caregiving? Yes. I paint and, of course, blog, and am writing a book. And I read. I have a wide range of reading interests. And I oversee my daughter who’s homeschooling 11th grade.

6. Do I feel depressed or discouraged? Earlier on It was harder for me. I was ready for it to be over and not knowing how long used to just “eat my lunch”. But as time has passed I have gotten more peace about it.

I pray. And I memorize scripture.

7. Do I overeat or use alcohol/drugs to cope. Well no on the 2 latters. But the overeating I was guilty of. Right now I’m on day 5 of no sweets because I was overeating them. I should try overeating broccoli sometime.

These are the criteria in my mind for whether I’m over stressed. You might do your own inventory and with your own criteria. I suggest you do, especially after you check out the scary reports on what caregiver stress can do to a person.

Now I will sip the cranberry tea I just brewed and light me a pumpkin candle. Fall… come quick!

Melting Roses, Acrylic on canvas

The High Cost of Dementia Care:  The Process of Applying for Veteran’s Disability Benefits Part 1 of (Many?)

For “memory care” in our area the price tag is about $4,500.00 per month.

So, I am having to start thinking about how I’m going to be able to pay for the care my husband will be needing.

As I am finishing up this post, he walked out the door and I went to get him. He said he was planning to visit people. Good thing he was good about getting in the car. He isn’t always. It helped that our daughter ran down the street after him and I think I unnerved him with a big flirty smile “Hey, wanna ride?” Side note: a smile wins!

Being a Vietnam veteran, my husband began applying for disability after he began meeting with the veterans at our local VFW several years ago. It was before he was diagnosed with dementia.

So, he applied for it but because he was already mentally unable, he did not follow through with the complicated process.  I didn’t know what he was up to with all of it, he was busy busy with many things.

He was still driving.  He’d drive himself to the courthouse and ask to talk to the judges.  He was a retired lawyer, so he was used to being able to do such things.  You know, he even got himself appointed to the town council.  (I had to help him get out of that gracefully). If you didn’t know him well or didn’t spend too much time with him you’d perhaps think he was ok at that time.

After I finally took over the management of our family’s finances, I gathered up all his messy papers he had crammed in a cabinet and because they looked too important to toss I put them in a file.

I pulled it all out last week when I was looking for something else.  It was an application for disability.

We resubmitted the old application paperwork even though it was on an old form. The very kind man at our local VFW helping me said that he thought they might want to have it on the newer form but thought he’d give it a try.

While I was in there in my hour long meeting with the man, a line of veterans had been forming outside the door. One of them wished me “good luck” which I kinda think means it’s not going to be easy.

I was given a greater understanding of some of the magnitude of the Vietnam war after researching the disability application process. I found a very very … very long lists of our ships that were in Vietnam. And my husband was on one of them.

It is both humbling and surreal that I am following this process through that he had begun.

754E5733-1CEE-4419-A913-C484AA663A25.jpeg

This painting was a quick study of the use of cadmium red, cadmium yellow medium, ultramarine blue, and titanium white.  The blue and red mix almost look black, a deep purple for sure. I like the glow that the yellow makes. I wanted to create movement in my strokes of the crashing wave and the clouds, and the birds. I put on big chunks of unmixed paint and moved it around in the messy waves. I was going for messy and free.

Dementia and Art

Creative expression through painting and writing is good for me, the caregiver. But, my husband isn’t interested. Dementia made him lose his interest in everything but me and his TV.

I’ve read articles that recommend encouraging a person with dementia to participate. But, my husband doesn’t want any part in it. What he does like is to sit across from me while I am painting. Once in awhile he gets up and walks around to see what I’m painting before he leaves to go watch his television.

At our house we art all the time. I like to work in clay, paper mache, ink, watercolor, shaving cream with food dye or acrylic paint… I’ve dipped greeting cards and t-shirts in the shaving cream paint. I make T-shirt’s and books for my grandchildren with “lift the flap” that I cut out and paste in and of course I put my original paintings in them. Once I made a book for my grandson by staging pictures with a tiny stuffed matchbook mouse and took pictures, sent to Walgreens for printing (and they are done in an hour… yay) to put in a little photo album where I hand wrote the story.

My Workday: Yes, I am working here.

My daughter starts her homeschool day at 8:00 am and I try to maintain order in myself as much as possible because I don’t want us to fall into chaos here. So we get up and get dressed – no caregiver pajamas allowed here. And, then I start “work” as well.

I begin by writing my blog, or better yet, edit it if I have written it the night before. Then I go on WordPress to reach out to others that are doing the caregiving as well. I haven’t yet found anyone doing caregiving and homeschooling all at once, but I can’t be the only one.

While she is homeschooling, I feel that if I keep myself occupied on these things I think of as my work then I can build my career as an artist and a writer even though I’ve been unable to work these past six years when I was forced to retire as paralegal. So, when she is doing her classes, and in between grading her assignments, I write, paint, plan meals, cook, clean, laundry, and of course, practice the fine art of caregiving.

And, of course, I’ve mentioned before that I am beginning work on a Patreon account as well as learning how to make videos of me painting. Today I made a video of my painting the above ocean scene and had technical difficulties that I have a plan to solve for next time.

I’m glad to have my teenage daughter still at home because she joins in with me on projects. It would be a lonely existence here without her bright presence.