Lately, I’ve been reading “The Broken Way” by Ann Voskamp and she poses a couple of tough questions! “What if the abundant life isn’t about having better stories to share but about living a story that lets others live better? What if the goal isn’t to experience more of the world but for more of the world to experience more?”
New Year’s Resolutions
New Year’s Resolutions? But, it’s mid-May, you say? Yes! We’re 5/12’s of the way through 2017. So, tell me. Honestly! How are you doing with your New Year’s Resolutions?
It seems that every year we make our list of New Year’s Resolutions and by January 3rd, we’ve thrown in the towel. Life starts to creep back into our plans and best intentions get put to the side. All the things that want to accomplish with another new year. All the best made plans. All the health choices, career choices, relationship choices – lost in the busyness.
I don’t know if that’s your story… but it is certainly ours!
From the cradle to the grave is a term that we understand to mean: throughout our lives; from beginning to end. We all have dreams and ideas of how life will unfold and what the typical life journey should look like. Unfortunately, the road is not clearly marked and is rarely even paved!
We start school at the ripe-old age of 5 and set our sights on getting through school so we can be “free” from the school routines, homework and exams that get in the way of our living. Then we are abruptly cast into the work force to find our wings. We navigate our careers and work to climb up ladders (to who knows where).
We opt-in to pensions plans and contribute to our retirement plans, all the while moving the goal line to whatever age our magic retirement calculator tells us is the financially best for us to shirk off the golden handcuffs of employment and embrace our retirement. Early retirement if we’re really lucky!
We may marry and raise a family and fight to keep a work-life balance, spending quality family time together during vacations that are limited in number – due to finances and our vacation calendars at work. 17 days a year. Maybe 22. Spent recovering and unwinding from the busyness of life.
And then the day finally comes that we have enough candles on our birthday cake and we are “free”. We look forward to the life we have always dreamed of. Time to travel. Time to pursue our hobbies. Time to spend with our families – who are now too busy themselves, or also caught with limited vacation time and a hamster-wheel hangover at the end of each work week.
And of course, with those golden retirement years come hip replacements, knee replacements, arthritis, heart attacks, strokes, high cholesterol and the ever-dreaded C word. Some of get through easily enough. Others not so much so.
And then one day, it’s all over. The eulogy of your life is shared. The boxes of memories are packed away. The knowledge and experiences you have stored up over the years, now exists only in what you’ve written down or passed along to others. It is a sobering thought.
Trying it a Different Way
So, let’s propose trying it a different way! What does that look like? If only we knew! But seriously, there has to be a better way!
There are lots of parents who are breaking away from the pack. It is not uncommon for men to take paternity-leaves or put on the hat of stay-at-home-dad. And there are so many business women who are switching up their careers so they can be a stay-at-home-mom to their children. The questions that are often asked: why would we want someone else to raise our children? Why wouldn’t we want to spend these precious and short-lived years with them while we have the chance?
We see parents chosing to home school. Some even take leaves from their careers and start businesses that they can manage from the comfort of their own homes and accommodating their own schedules and lives. Think of the freedom that affords a family. They can now take their classroom anywhere in the world! How amazing is that?
We’ve been asking ourselves similar questions lately. Why would we want someone else to care for our parents? Why wouldn’t we want to spend these precious and numbered years with them while we have the chance?
Now, don’t ask us exactly what that looks like – because we have far from figured it out! But it’s the question that we are asking these days. What would that look like?
Can we make it happen? Do we have the energy and skill and resources to be able to even consider it? I’d say maybe to energy! Barely to skill! And unlikely to resources! At least if we want to consider pursuing our ideals of retirement when that day arrives. But honestly – we’re not sure that matters. We can’t take the green-backs with us when we go.
I’ve been reading from Ann Voskamp’s “The Broken Way” lately in my morning reflections time. She poses an interesting question:
What if the abundant life isn’t about having better stories to share but about living a story that lets others live better? What if the goal isn’t to experience more of the world but for more of the world to experience more?
Again, it turns my mind to the question of spending these golden years with our parents. While I still write my Goal Lists and Travel Lists – and hope to one day have many more memories and stories to share with others, living a life and creating a story that lets our parents live better, now, might just be the call to abundant living that we are to heed!
Advocating for the Best
Good, better, best. Never let it rest. ‘Til your good is better and your better is best. (St Jerome)
Join us on our Journey
So, as we figure this out and start to pull together our own resources and support networks, we hope that you’ll join us. If you’re on a similar journey, we’d love to connect with you and learn from you, too! We don’t pretend to know where this road will take us, but we get up each new day and keep walking it out.
Is forever enough? ’cause I’m never, never giving you up!
So, tonight Frank is watching a movie with his folks, and I decided to take some quiet time to listen to some music on my own. And while listening to a random play of country music, the Dixie Chick’s Lullaby came up. It is a song that is familiar to me, but tonight it seems to sit closer to my heart.
Another Day is Done
Another day is done and in the history books. It was a gorgeous, hot, sunny day, with the promise of a thunderstorm that didn’t materialize. There is something of today, that brought to mind the song “Day is Done” which is often sung to the tune of Taps. And so, as I close out the day, and get ready to turn it, I leave you with these reassuring words for your rest: God is nigh! Rest peacefully knowing He is near!
Taps (Day is Done) by Horace Lorenzo Trim
Day is done, gone the sun,
From the lake, from the hills, from the sky;
All is well, safely rest, God is nigh.
Fading light, dims the sight,
And a star gems the sky, gleaming bright.
From afar, drawing nigh, falls the night.
Thanks and praise, for our days,
‘Neath the sun, ‘neath the stars, neath the sky;
As we go, this we know, God is nigh.
While the light fades from sight,
And the stars gleaming rays softly send,
To thy hands we our souls, Lord, commend.
Relaxing Respite Retreat – Essential to our own Wellbeing
Frank and I are just back from our second Relaxing Respite Retreat! And we have decided that they are absolutely essential to our own health and wellness as caregivers! Respite is so important to help prevent caregiver burnout! We need time to relax, rest and retreat from our responsibilities. Our little Relaxing Respite Retreats are “all about us” time – specifically designed as time to relax, rest, retreat, recharge, rejuvenate and reconnect! Enough “R” words? 🙂
Epsom Salts are magnesium sulphate based and are touted as being amazing for the body. There are some many reason to buy a bag and start adding them to your bath! But during our Relaxing Respite Retreats, my number one reason is help us relax and sooth our weary, tired bodies! And how can you go wrong with a hot bath in epsom salts! When I was working as a Registered Nurse, I would come home after a long shift, run ragged off my feet. I would draw a hot epsom salt bath and soak the stress of my shift away!
So when we go away, it is always a bonus to be able to book a hotel with a lovely soaker tub! This trip was no different. And over the course of just 3 days and 2 nights away, I enjoyed 4 relaxing soaks! You can read more about our little Relaxing Respite Retreat here. But I wanted to share some ideas for mixing aromatherapy into your respite time! And even into your regular routines, as able.
I am a huge fan of essential oils and aromatherapy. Some people claim that essential oils have lots of healing properties. I am more of the mind that it’s the essential oils that you enjoy most that are the best for you!
So into a hot bath with 3 cups of epsom salts, I add 5-10 drops of my favourite essential oil of choice.
Below is a list of some of my favourites for bathing. Together with each are a few of their aroma benefits. Although the most important benefit in my opinion, is how they leave me feeling personally. Given them a try and see how you like them!
Eucalyptus Oil helps to clear the mind, promote feelings of relaxation and clear breathing.
Lavender Oil can help reduce anxious feelings, promote peaceful sleep, and help ease feelings of tension.
Rosemary Oil helps reduce nervous tension and fatigue.
Wild Orange Oil is a powerful cleanser and purifying agent and is uplifting to the mind and body.
Cheer® Uplifting Blend promotes feelings of optimism, cheerfulness, and happiness. It can counteract negative emotions and provide a boost of happiness and positivity when you are feeling down. It features Wild Orange Peel, Clove Bud, Star Anise Fruit/Seed, Lemon Myrtle Leaf, Nutmeg Kernel, Vanilla Bean Extract, Ginger Rhizome, Cinnamon Bark, Zdravetz Herb.
Console® Comforting Blend promotes feelings of comfort and hope and counteracts negative emotions of grief, sadness, and hopelessness. It uses sweet floral and tree essential oils to promote feelings of comfort, putting you on a hopeful path of emotional healing. It features Frankincense Resin, Patchouli Leaf, Ylang Ylang Flower, Labdanum Leaf/Stalk, Amyris Bark, Sandalwood Wood, Rose Flower, Osmanthus Flower.
Balance® Grounding Blend promotes a whole body sense of relaxation and may help ease anxious feelings bringing balance to the emotions. The warm, woody aroma of Balance® is a perfect blend of Spruce, Ho Wood, Frankincense, Blue Tansy, and Blue Chamomile with Fractionated Coconut Oil to offer an enticing fragrance that promotes tranquility and relaxation.
Serenity® Restful Blend promotes relaxation and a restful sleeping environment while lessening feelings of tension and calming the emotions. The addition of Cedarwood, Ho Wood, and Vetiver essential oils gives dōTERRA Serenity® a grounding aroma that calms the mind and soothes the senses.
Relaxing Respite Retreat – Take 2 (2 nights that is)!
Our second Relaxing Respite Retreat was nearly a duplicate of our first one early this month! Only it was nights instead of 3. How quickly we become creatures of habit! There are so many amazing places to visit in beautiful British Columbia, but this trip was more about rest than about exploring new ground. And we were looking to just relax and do very little else. We decided to return to the same hotel we stayed in earlier this month during our first Relaxing Respite Retreat!
I’ve decided that our respite times deserve a name! Hence the Relaxing Respite Retreat moniker. I feel like it keeps the focus clearly before us! It is not an adventure getaway or a camping expedition. It is firmly rooted in relaxing, taking respite and retreating!
Nita Lake Lodge – A Paradise for Respite
Nita Lake Lodge, in gorgeous Whistler, BC is one of our favourite places for total relaxation! With a balcony view of Nita Lake, a gas fireplace, a comfy king-sized bed, a mini-kitchen and a spa-licious bathroom, complete with a huge soaker tub, frameless glass shower and heated floor, it is perfect for a mini getaway for caregiver respite!
Caregiver burnout is a very real thing and taking time to care for oneself and reconnect is most important!
We packed some wonderful meats and cheeses and put together our own charcuterie board to enjoy with a bottle of Sandhill Barbera Wine. Some dark chocolate, fruit and coffee to enjoy in front of the fireplace.
And a epsom salts and essential oils soak in the huge tub! So many aromas to choose from to help you relax, unwind, rejuvenate. In the short course of a 2 night respite retreat, I managed to sneak 4 soaks! Ahhhhh! Soothing!
We kept our breakfasts super simple – coffee made in the room, yogurt and croissants from the hotel cafe – brought back to the room to enjoy in front of the fireplace with some cafe jazz album streaming from the tablet to our bluetooth speaker! A quiet lazy, pajamas kind of morning! Just the change I needed from the caregiving crunch that happens each morning as my in-laws require assistance with their morning routines, often followed by a doctor’s appointment or visit or other tasks around their place.
A couple of slow, quiet mornings to do nothing. Ha! Well, it was almost that idyllic! Of course we still made a 9am phone call each morning to ensure that Frank’s dad had the correct dosing for his morning insulin injection, that he rolled his insulin pen to mix the insulin prior to injecting it and to just generally see how the morning was going. So, while we were away, we didn’t completely leave our caregiving behind this time. I do wonder though, if that is ever really possible? Sort of like parenting I supposed. Do parents go away and ever really leave the thoughts of home and concerns of schedules and health issues behind them at the door? Hardly ever. Let’s be honest. Caregiving for aging parents is much the same.
Purebread – Mini Flourless Chocolate Cake
So during our first Relaxing Respite Retreat (which you can read about here), we were also celebrating Frank’s birthday, so I was on the hunt for a decadent chocolate cake! When we arrived to Nita Lake Lodge, I asked the front desk staff for a recommendation on the best chocolate cake in town! And they pointed me to Purebread. As you’ll read in my other post, they were out of chocolate cake by the time we arrived that day, so we tried their chocolate raspberry loaf, which fit the “decadent” bill without any trouble at all!
This trip, we decided we should try for chocolate cake again! And this time we were successful in picking up a mini flourless chocolate cake that was out of this world! There were no less than a dozen other amazing looking treats that I am sure were equally as evil!
While we were there, I snapped this photo of a great “pour over” coffee set-up! Would be super easy to install in a custom built-in coffee bar! Frank is already busy designing one of his own!
Mountain Views and a Cigar with God
We were blessed with a gorgeous clear day and a vantage point from which to enjoy the breath-taking mountain views to be had at Whistler. Truly God’s country! While I have never downhill skied, it is something that I would love to try one day. Frank has skied Whistler before, so hopefully one day we’ll give it a try together! I am sort of thinking that I need to find a smaller bunny hill to start out on though!
However, we did enjoy the view, none-the-less! Frank even sat on a rock, overlooking paradise and shared a cigar with God. If you’ve never heard me use that phrase before, let me explain! Frank is not particularly a smoker. The only time he enjoys a cigar is when the view is spectacular and in conversation (read: prayer perhaps) with God. People have all sorts of interpretations for what prayer is. We like to think of it simply as a conversation with God. And where better to have a conversation with God than when enjoying the majesty and wonder of his hand-work! And snow-capped mountains on a sunny, blue sky day is certainly a display of his creative heart poured out for us… and most worthy of a praise-filled conversation! A clear summer night with the Milky Way stretched out overhead is another!
Say what? Travel where?
Yep, that’s what I said! Travel to 101 places in 1001 weeks! I know! A lot, eh? The way we see it is like this: 1001 weeks is 19.25 years. And while no one is guaranteed tomorrow, we also know that if we don’t keep the finish line in mind, we may not get through even a quarter of our list.
I think we’ll be surprised at how fast 75 comes. One day we’ll be sitting in front of a birthday cake with 86 candles, shaking our heads wondering where on earth the years have gone. [Ironic side note: as I write this, I can overhear Frank’s conversation with his dad… they are talking about a 5 year warranty on the new reclining chair that he recently purchased and Frank made the astonishing statement that in 5 years his dad will be 91! His dad, of course laughed and said he can’t believe he is 86 already!]
A Calming Essential Oil Blend for Women: Whisper®
Many people are turning more and more to essential oils to enhance their personal health and wellness. I love using essential oils for their aromatherapy effects! There are so many favourites I could tell you about! But today, I wanted to share a little bit about Whisper®from doTerra® because it is an essential oil blend that I find so soothing and calming. And I just reordered it tonight for my own personal use. When we hopped on the plane to fly out to Frank’s folks, Whisper®was one of the essential oils that I threw in my bag. Am I ever glad I did! We have been running on ten for several months now. And I have reached for my bottle of calming Whisper®so many times, it is running low on fumes!
The Hope of all who seek Him!
What a statement to make about someone: The Hope of all who seek Him! That means that when we seek Him, he will be our Hope and that we will find Him and that Hope!
I remember singing this hymn at Easter when I was young… but the memory that I most strongly associate with it was at my Grandfather’s funeral service when I was 13. The poignant memory was of it bringing my mother to tears. I remember trying to console her in the moment, thinking that she was overcome with grief in the moment. But she assured me she was okay and that they were tears of joy, not sadness. I was puzzled by that notion at the time. We were burying her father. But she explained that she was happy that her dad wasn’t suffering anymore that he was alive with Jesus in Heaven.
So, while the hymn lyrics speak to Jesus being alive, the hope of our salvation and the promise of an eternity spent with Him, brough great hope and joy, even in the form of tears, to my mother.
Like a Candle in the Darkness
There are times when life feels like total darkness… devoid of light.
I love the imagery of a candle in the darkness! It illuminates the darkness and pushed it away. And brings a point of focus and hope which dispels the hopelessness that comes with darkness. One little flame is all it takes! Darkness is a total absence of light. So the imagery of a tiny flame cutting through the darkness is a source of hope! And Jesus’ resurrection and the gift of salvation that we have through him are a source of hope for all who seek Him; help for all who find Him!
The hymn “He Lives!” is filled with that hope! I’ll leave you with the lyrics to ponder! May they be the light of a flickering candle in the darkness. May Jesus be the Hope you find in your seeking, and your Help along the way!
I serve a risen Savior, He’s in the world today.
I know that He is living, Whatever men may say.
I see His hand of mercy; I hear His voice of cheer;
And just the time I need Him He’s always near.
He lives, He lives, Christ Jesus lives today!
He walks with me and talks with me along life’s narrow way.
He lives, He lives, salvation to impart!
You ask me how I know He lives? He lives within my heart.
In all the world around me I see His loving care,
And though my heart grows weary, I never will despair;
I know that He is leading, Through all the stormy blast;
The day of His appearing will come at last.
Rejoice, rejoice, O Christian, Lift up your voice and sing
Eternal hallelujahs To Jesus Christ the King!
The Hope of all who seek Him, The Help of all who find,
None other is so loving, So good and kind.