Archives

now browsing by author

 

Reflections – My Mother 2016

As it nears the end of the afternoon on this beautiful Friday, September 25th, I find myself thinking of where I was just four short years ago. On August 2, 2016, when I got the call my mother had a stroke, the situation she was found in by the caregivers at her independent living facility, led me to believe that by the time I got to her side in Detroit, I might not have the opportunity to say good-bye. Actually, I wanted to say more than good-bye. I wanted to ensure she knew I loved her. The ride from Cleveland to West Bloomfield, Michigan took forever on that beautiful summer day. Construction backed us up in numerous spots in Ohio, Michigan and within miles from the hospital, we were hit from behind causing yet another delay. Oy-Vay.
As I have written before when we arrived at the Henry Ford Hospital facility we were greeted by a sign, DO NOT ENTER, see charge nurse. My heart skipped more than a beat as I hurriedly made it to the desk, demanding to speak what I expected to be NURSE RACHTED. Instead, a very soft-spoken nurse informed me that what we may see may be shocking. My mother looked just like my mother no outer signs of a typical stroke. The stroke left her blind, and yet my mother did not know she couldn’t see. The brain was not registering that information. Per doctor’s orders, we were not to mention to my mother that she was blind, and we were to act normal around her, although we were going to assist her and guide her.
As I approached the room and entered to see my momma, I noticed she was slouched on the bed dozing off in her Dorothy manner, meaning she could hear a pin drop when she was sleeping and even deeply snoring. So. as I came over to her I quietly said, “Hi Momma, it’s KIKI.” She looked straight at me as if she could see and said something like, thanks for coming to see me. As we talked for a while, I explained she was in the hospital because they suspected she had a stroke. As I asked if it would be ok for Rich, Alex, and I to stay at her apartment. Of course, she said yes but she was concerned there wasn’t anything in her house for us to eat, she apologized for not baking. (That was so typical of my momma.)
The first few hours we were with her we could understand how she was unaware of the loss of her sight, and how she sounded so normal, not skipping a beat in our conversations. She remembered that my brother Joel and his family and me and my family had all planned to be with her this coming weekend. She apologized to me for being in the hospital but assured me she was OK, and she would be home in time for all of us to have fun. In fact, she was making plans and asking my niece Sue and me to take notes.
However, within days mom started getting a little hazy about where she was, and almost overnight we started to see the signs of dementia that often come on slowly, giving you some time to grasp the situation. That was not the case and by day five the doctor told us it was time to take mom home or place her in a nursing facility, and we knew she would not want the later. We did some research and asked around but finally chose to bring my mother back to her Independent Living Community and bring in healthcare workers to aid her and us. Both Joel and I chose to stay in Michigan and oversee and assist with mom’s care.
2016, August, September, and the first two weeks of October were beautiful. The temperatures remained warm and most days the sun was shining brightly. This became a time in my life when I truly got to know my mother. When mom’s brain was clear she would tell stories about herself as a girl, meeting my dad, raising my brothers and me, being a working mom, and so much more. However, there were ever-increasing moments of confusion when she saw a little boy in her room who pestered her, and she would ask us to send him away. My brother Joel and I learned very quickly not to question what she saw or what she knew and we went with the flow, often bringing humor into a situation that sad, we were losing momma, day by day, and we had no idea how long we had with each other.
During the 2 ½ months I lived with momma I learned that she loved watermelon. I also knew how much she liked coconut cream pie, and I bought a pie and fed her some and she was so happy! Even as a grown woman-child I would crawl into bed next to her and tell her how much I loved her. I even asked her to forgive me for anything I may have said or done that may have hurt her. I felt the urgency to find peace with my mother as High Holidays were approaching, and I so desperately wanted my mother to be engraved in the book of life. I was not ready to let her go, I knew she missed my pops, and towards the end, she would ask for her mother and father, as well as her sister Ann. Hospice and the Rabbis who came to visit shared that this is often passing into the next life.
We were blessed to have some marvelous caregivers, some whom I have stayed friends with to this day. The Rabbi’s were wonderful as they helped bring me closer to my faith, and the comfort belief can have.
My mother passed on October 11, 2016; however, it was Erev Yom Kippur. Momma died on the last day of the beginning of the new year. It felt at first as G-D had played a trick on us, why take her on that particular day? As Rabbi Krakoff shared with us dying on Yom Kippur is a good sign, because it implies dying without sin (the day of Yom Kippur atones for sin, providing the person repents).
As we approach the DAY of Atonement, I want to extend, love, peace, and the wish for health and happiness to all. You don’t have to be Jewish to want the best for all!n share a meal with us, she always had a spot at the table. She kept a ‘pushkee’ a tin box that she would put spare change in and when it got filled, she donated the coins to charity. My mother, nor my father ever asked for anything, but they were full of giving.
Erev Yom Kippur falls in two days on Sunday, and every year my mother’s Yarzheit (Jewish Memorial) of her death is observed on Yom Kippur Day. This year will be no different I will ask G-D to forgive me for any sins I may have committed during this year. I will ask G-D in front of witnesses (this year virtually) to be blessed for another year and to be written in the book of life, and I will thank Lord for the wonderful mother I had and will always have. My mother is my shining star.
As we approach the DAY of Atonement, I want to extend, love, peace, and the wish for health and happiness to all. You don’t have to be Jewish to want the best for all!
My Mother – was a baby rocker – holding drug-addicted newborns
Momma Moss was known for chocolate chips cookies
Dorothy Moss

was a seamstress, she made dolls, and knit caps for newborns

Momma was loved by all and she had a rare sense of humor!
Did you ever hear the Joke about the Horse that Came into the BAR???????

From Kristi Horner Courage to Caregivers

View this email in your browser
Caregivers have to make many important decisions that affect their loved ones, their families, and themselves. These are HARD decisions, and they can weigh heavily on our minds, adding to our burdens and our stress. It’s all part of the long journey of caregiving, but that journey can get a little easier when you realize that you do not have to travel it alone.

That’s why it’s so important to know who’s on your team, which is our Caregiver Management topic this week. And while this might make you think first of your support network – those family members, friends, coworkers, neighbors, or community members that you know you can rely on – this week we want to focus on your professional support team, who can be just as essential in times of need or crisis. To ensure that you’re prepared for anything that might come up, your team should also include professionals you can turn to when you need help with medical, financial, legal, emotional, and social issues.

If you’re familiar with my personal story, you know that I founded Courage to Caregivers as a result of my experience providing emotional support to my brother who was living with mental illness and lost his battle to suicide in 2014. Then last year, I became a caregiver again when a motorcycle accident left my son with a traumatic brain injury. His life and our lives were changed forever. Through both journeys, I have felt alone many times, but I also have learned about the many different types of professional support that I needed on my team. These types of support can include:

  • Doctors, nurses, medical support staff
  • Psychologists, psychiatrists, counselors/therapists, social workers
  • Attorneys
  • Financial planners, investment bankers, commercial bankers
  • Insurance agents/brokers
  • Emotional health/respite care team

At Courage to Caregivers, we hope to be included on your team, too, not only as a source of inspiration and motivation – standing by your side, cheering you on, and believing in YOU – but also as a resource to turn to whenever a need arises. As you build your team to include professionals in the areas listed above, you may want to check out our Resources page for help.

And finally, don’t forget that YOU are the captain of your team. You build your team to support YOUR goals and YOUR needs. Courage to Caregivers is proud to be on YOUR team.

Kristi Horner
Founder and Executive Director
Courage to Caregivers

there’s never enough time in the day Kristi Horner

I’m always hearing from caregivers that there’s never enough time in the day to do what needs to be done, not to mention setting aside time for self-care. It’s true that the “to do” list for caregivers can seem to be never-ending, and that can lead to additional anxiety and stress.

But let’s take some advice from interior designer Amanda Gates: “Exhaustion is not a status symbol or a badge of honor. Stop the glorification of busy, and learn to nurture your soul.”

Trying to multitask can make it even worse, resulting in lower productivity and less efficiency. When you multitask, you are actually shifting your attention from one task to another, which makes it difficult to tune out distractions and actually slows down your mental processing.

That’s why time management is so important to self-care. The ability to plan and control how you spend your time can be critical in helping you accomplish your goals, and this can help reduce your feelings of frustration and stress.

So, here are some simple tips that may help you manage your time more effectively:

  • Use a “to do” list or a weekly/monthly calendar/planner.
  • Prioritize.
  • Break your lists down into small manageable tasks.
  • Identify your distractions, and then manage or eliminate them.
  • Take breaks.
  • Strive for progress, not perfection.

It also may help to think of time management as being composed of three elements: setting goals, prioritizing tasks, and planning.

Where would we be without goals? Our goals reflect our personal vision for what we aspire to do, to be, or to become. Without goals we might just be wandering through life. I believe your goals need to start with your “why” – your passions and your vision for your life. When you truly know your “why,” you’re apt to make better decisions on how you spend your time.

Once you understand what’s at your core, in your heart and soul, it becomes easier to prioritize so that you’re spending most of your time on what’s important to you. Prioritizing your “to do” list helps you plan better, and if you have your calendar and due dates under control, it’s easier to prioritize what you need to do today.

Finally, remember that one of your priorities should always be YOU. If that’s not the case, then it’s time to re-prioritize. You should always have a place on your “to do” list, and why not at the top?

Kristi Horner
Founder and Executive Director
Courage to Caregivers

L’shanah Tova with Love

9/13/20
SUNDAY
We are preparing to celebrate using new virtual methods, Rosh Hashannah.  The other day I read a Facebook message and someone from my generation (growing up in the 50s and 60s,) asked how many of us remember getting new Fall Outfits for Yom Tov?  Often they were wool or something very warm despite the temperatures that may influence something less, but it was September/October and we must be dressed appropriately for the Jewish New Year.  I remember one year my mother sewed me a black & white hounds-tooth wools suit and I got this corduroy black corduroy hat that today has the 60s written all over it.

Rosh Hashannah and Yom Kippur were traditionally spent in shul, while my parents sat in the synagogue with all the other parents and grandparents, the three of us went to youth services and met up with our parents when their services ended.  It was a solemn day of reflection and it also was a time to show off your best and make your parents proud.

After services on Rosh Hashannah, we would either walk home with friends or pack into my dad’s car for the short 5-minute drive home.  Once home, the men in the family took off their jackets and loosened their ties, but we all remain in holiday finery.  I would help my mother serve the traditional foods like homemade chicken soup with noodle kugel, and course after course I would jump up to assist.  Momma made a tzimmis (a carrot, honey, prune sweet side-dish), sweet and sour meatballs, a sweet kugel with raisins, brisket, and or a roasted chicken (and sometimes we would go to the Shechitah days before to pick out our live chicken and watch the Rabbi, kill it, bless it, and make it kosher.)  Can You Say Tradition?

That was Rosh Hashannah and ten days later for Yom Kipur again we would have our traditional meal before attending Kol Nidre Services.  Much was the same as the week before, but in our home, my mother added Kreplach to the meal (a Jewish Ravioli.)  After filling ourselves up to the gills with food, we began our 24 hour fast for the Day of Atonement.  And just like Rosh Hashannah, my parents sat in the main chapel while my brothers and I went to youth services.

I miss those days – those were the days when my paternal grandparents attended our Shul and they were part of our inner circle, and years before my mother’s parents would join us for the break the fast 24 hours later.  Again, break the fast was centered around food, fresh bagels, and rolls with condiments including LOX, also my mother baked Mandel Bread, Chocolate Chip Cookies, a yeast coffee cake.  Food brought us together after a day of repenting.

Many of those traditions faded for me when I got married and moved away.  It took me over 36 years to find a Temple where I feel accepted.  However, this year I will not be able to sit in the sanctuary with my new family of Temple Friends I will be sharing in a zoom service like so many of us due to COVID.  However, I hope and pray next year we can feel safe in coming together as one, and as we say at the end of the Yom Kippur service, “Next Year in Jerusalem,” May we say next year in our Temple/Shul.

2020 or 5780 has not been the best year of my life, nor the worst.  However, I pray that 5781 will bring new peace to OUR LIVES so we may live in harmony.  Even those of us who sing off Key should be appreciated for the value we bring to this world.  We must make this year the first step to doing this and making it an everlasting journey for those that follow.

I ushered in 5780 last year with my Temple Israel Akron family.  Sadly, too soon after that COVID crept into our lives and turned things upside down.  However, if I have learned nothing else as I turned 70 in March, I am responsible for my feelings that can contribute to my happiness or sadness, and I have chosen Happiness!  I have spent the last year reaching out and making new friends and relationships.  I have continued to follow my dreams with newcleveleandradio.net.  I have been a support system for my family encouraging them to follow their dreams and not settle because someone has told them to.  I will go into the new yeat 5781 with new hopes and dreams and I will take the steps forward because that is what life is all about.

To all who may be reading this whether you observe the Jewish Holiday or not, know that I believe in you and all the good you too will put forth in the days to come.

L’Shanah Tova!

 

Love, Karen KIKI

Courage to Caregivers – Kristi Horner

We have a lot of resources to share this week. First, it’s National Suicide Prevention Week, September 6-12, and the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention reminds us that you don’t have to be a mental health professional to make a difference.

September is also National Preparedness Month, and here’s an awesome resource to help you plan for anything that might come your way. And it’s National Self-Care Awareness Month which, of course, we observe year-round!

Our self-care topic this week is decluttering your space, and probably the most famous expert on this topic is Marie Kondo, whose KonMari method is focused on how to make your home a more calm and relaxing space. With so many of us now working or learning from home, we could all use a little less stress and a little more peace and calm. Here are some of her top tips:

  • Tame the clutter.
  • Assign a place for everything.
  • Bring the outside in.
  • Purify your home.
  • Turn up the cozy.
  • Make tidying fun.

And here’s a checklist to get you started.

However, like many things about self-care, decluttering can be hard, and it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. So, if you’re like me, you might want to start small, maybe committing 30 minutes a day. Don’t try to do the entire house in one day – go room to room, closet to closet, drawer to drawer.

One of the benefits of decluttering is that it feels great to take control of something you can control, especially in these stressful and complicated times. The physical space in your home is one area where you are generally free to make the changes you want and adapt the environment to best meet your needs.

And as we declutter our physical space, we also need to consider decluttering our minds. When I think about this, I am reminded of when our daughter was little, and she had a hard time falling asleep at night. She would say, “Mommy, I have so many thoughts in my head – I can’t sleep!” So, we had the idea to keep a journal next to her bed so she could “empty” all those thoughts from her mind in order to fall asleep. It worked perfectly! Maybe journaling can help you declutter your mind, too.

Meditation also can help. Actually, I think about it as the antidote to a cluttered mind. Guided meditation has helped me, and I may be biased, but I think our Courage To Caregivers leaders are the best! Consider joining us on a Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday evening, or consider subscribing to our YouTube channel. Our Breathing Meditation program is designed just for this – to declutter your mind, heart, and soul!

Kristi Horner
Founder and Executive Director
Courage to Caregivers

#VOTEBLUE4YOU – Amy Ferris (THANKYOU!)

Tonight, my heart broke. It did, it cracked open. We live in a small community and I fell in love with this community years ago, right after I fell in love with Ken. He loved this place with all his heart. His mighty heart. And I loved him and so, yeah, the rest is history.
This community Is filled with a collection of people – all walks of life. Every walk of life.
Tonight we drove to town and right on the road – between two trees – was a confederate flag. Right there. On the road. Hanging there – a big confederate flag – as if it were okay. And my heart sank.
That isn’t the Republican way, It’s the trump way.
And for the first time tonight, I actually knew that with every fiber in me. I thought I knew it, but you can’t look at a confederate flag and feel anything but deep pain and deep sadness. The hate. The violence. The vulgarity. The need to destroy and create chaos.
The absolute obscenity.
The unbearable weight of racism.
If you’re a trump supporter you need to own that.
You need to go into your heart and ask yourself: Am I okay with this? With this hate? With this violence?
Ask yourself if you would be okay with a Black friend being massacred because of hate. Your neighbor – who you chat with and who you nod to and wave at when they leave their house; who you sit next to and laugh with – would you be okay with that person – that neighbor, that friend, that co-worker – being lynched or shot or killed because of the color of their skin because that is what that flag represents.

The cult of trump is destroying and killing this Country.

Vote him the fuck out.

#AGE Magnificently (AGEMARCH.ORG)- Barbara Rose Brooker

As I borrow the tag line from AGEMARCH.org and the founder, Barbara Rose Brooker, #AgeMagnificently, I challenge you to become the best YOU.  By becoming the best versions of ourselves we allow ourselves to be open to the opinions of others and dialogue rather than argue or fight!  We are all products of our environment, we bring to the table not only cultural differences but the interpretations of the culture we have (and are) experiencing.

My Jewish upbringing as a Conservative Jew is not necessarily the same as another who may identify as the same.  Growing up my parent’s kept a Kosher home, however, on Pizza nights we all sat around eating Pepperoni Pizza off Paper Plates because my parents created their personal interpretation of the Kosher Laws.  However, my Baube and Zayde would have said we were creating a ‘SHANDAH’ or a SCANDAL!

Whether my parents were right or wrong in the eyes of my maternal grandparents, they chose to create their version of keeping kosher.

Today we are living in a global society full of tags – we all need a tag line to be identified and often the tag lines do not give us enough information.  They are often like sound bites that do not give us the whole story.  However, #AgeMagnificently provides us a picture that with AGE comes Magnificent if we choose it.

To be magnificent means to be “admirable in action; displaying great power or opulence, especially in building, way of living, and munificence. Magnificent(adj) grand in appearance; exhibiting grandeur or splendor; splendid’ pompous.”  However, leaving out pompous, we can be admirable in our actions if we accept that all people are created with goodness, some may need a little more guidance than others.  Opulence does not necessarily reflect wealth but the rich and kindness of one’s personality.  We can all build a world of fairness that will lead to the growth of FAIRNESS!  We can walk straight and tall with our heads held high without stick our noses in the air, avoiding the truth.  Facing the truth is not easy but no one said that change was easy!

If we age magnificently from birth we will no longer be judged by a number, a color, gender, sexual preference, or no preference.  Our religion will be accepted and our traditions will not be frowned upon.  We will be the BEST of OUR BEST while lending a hand to someone who may appear to be different.  It is time to accept differences and come together.

It is time to make a Change – Do it!


 

Focus on Management

It’s a new month with a new theme, and we have lots to share as we focus on management as it relates to caregivers. This week, we’ll focus on planning for the future as well as the resources we have available to help us. We’ll also keep in mind that September is National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month – an important month for all of us.

Here’s a resource from WRAP – Wellness Recovery Action Plan – that combines all of those themes. Utilizing the WRAP for Life process for suicide prevention is an invaluable tool for caregivers and their loved ones. What I love about this process is that it involves your loved one directly, including taking ownership of their future planning. It includes resources for daily planning, a wellness toolbox, and crisis planning.

Management is an essential but often neglected topic for caregivers. We have a lot of things thrown our way, and it’s often difficult to keep up. Planning for the future, allocating resources, decluttering your space, time management, and determining who is on your professional team are all ways we can manage and maintain control.

Whether you’re helping your loved one on a sporadic basis or with more consistent care, providing primary emotional and financial support or occasional assistance, or co-caregiving with a partner, it may be concerning to think about your loved one’s future without your presence. Caregivers also can feel the impact of depleting their own financial, emotional, and mental resources to care for a loved one.

Planning can help reduce this stress, and it’s a key part of self-care. When you feel prepared, you feel less anxious.

But the planning process itself can also make us feel anxious. It may be hard to have a conversation with your loved one about the future. But remember our tips from two weeks on how to have difficult but necessary conversations? You’ve GOT this.

And as you plan, consider all of the resources you can draw upon to help you function effectively. These include tangible resources, such as people, places, or things that help us as caregivers or make life easier for our loved ones. They also include intangible resources – such as empathy, flexibility, support, and hope – expressions of goodwill that help make our days a little easier. Without a doubt, my go-to intangible resource is HOPE.

Finally, here’s an outstanding resource on caregiver management from AARP Foundation: “Prepare to Care – A Planning Guide for Families.” It’s a helpful guide that applies to caregivers of all kinds.

Setting goals for management and planning for the future can seem daunting at first, but they are necessary for self-care. It might be helpful to start small. Baby steps forward ARE steps in the right direction!

Kristi Horner
Founder and Executive Director
Courage to Caregivers

49 Years ago Today

Forty-nine years ago, I said I do for the first time. On that Sunday afternoon, I honestly thought this was a forever marriage – although as I waited behind closed doors to walk down the aisle, I had second thoughts “it was too late” to change my mind. I was more concerned about what my parents would say and how I could explain this to anyone, even myself. So, I walked down the aisle, sobbing on my father’s arm as my future husband was waiting for me with his parents.
In Yiddish, if this is your destiny, it is said to be, beshert. Sadly, this marriage was not meant to last. We went into it caring for each other and trying to please our parents by finding a Jewish Mate. His parents never liked me, and my parents never felt a connection with him.
However, if not for that day in 1971, we would not share our son, and Steve is the icing on the cake.
We eventually found our soulmates, and despite the early years of anxiety and tension between us, we moved on, putting the past behind us and enjoying the lives we detoured and created. We both celebrated 36 years of marriage to our soulmates this year.
The reason I am sharing this story today is to let you know that even when we think we are on the right road, it is possible to take several turns that will lead you in a new direction.
The direction you choose to take may create changes for others in your path and but it should be by personal choice to live our best lives. Too often, we try to please others, hoping that it will reflect on us, creating an aurora of happiness. However, making someone happy does not always make you happy, it may happen in love songs and movies, but it does not always relate to real life!
Forty-nine years ago, today, I had no idea what my future looked like. I knew I was saying “I Do,” but I was too young and naive to understand what that would mean as time moved forward. However, today with hindsight, I can look at the years that have passed and know that I am where I should be today. I have matured in becoming an authentic version of myself.

changing the subject and having hard conversations with Kristi Horner

Our topic this week is really two related topics: changing the subject and having hard conversations.

Every one of us has a story. We own that story, and part of ownership is deciding when to talk about it and when to change the subject.

You may recall that our son had a horrible motorcycle accident last year, and for some time afterward, it seemed that everywhere I went, I was greeted by, “I’m so SORRY … How’s your son?” Of course, I realized that people meant well when they asked this, but I felt I was being pitied. I was desperate to get back to talking about something else – and doing something else – instead of constantly being defined by my caregiving role.

Changing the subject in this way was hard for me, but it was also necessary. Sometimes, we just don’t want to talk about our story. And that’s our right because it’s OUR story, and we OWN it.

When people constantly focus on the negatives, it can keep those negative scenarios alive for far too long. In other words, when people do this, they interview for pain. It’s better to focus on the positives by asking uplifting questions, talking about opportunities and possibilities, creating HOPE, and painting a picture of a brighter future that could be. If you know a caregiver, here are some great questions to ask:

  • What do you dream about?
  • What brings you hope?
  • How can I best support you?
  • What do you need?

While changing the subject is hard, it can be just as hard to know when to face things head on and have hard conversations when necessary. If we avoid all of the hard conversations, we may just be kicking a can down the street. We risk the conversation blowing up even BIGGER than if we opened the can today.

So, here are some tips for tackling difficult conversations:

  1. Plan, and be prepared. Go in with the facts, and be specific. Remember, there are always at least two valid positions on any topic.
  2. Set ground rules – healthy boundaries for healthy conversations. There should be NO judging.
  3. Communicate directly. Be assertive (not passive or aggressive) in your communication.
  4. Listen – really listen. Prepare a few open-ended questions in advance to flush out the other person’s point of view.
  5. Regulate your emotions. Emotions can run high in hard conversations, and being prepared helps you to keep your emotions in check. If your loved one can’t keep their emotions in check, remember that it’s OK to hit pause and take a break.

It takes a lot of courage to have hard conversations as a caregiver. It also takes courage to own our story and to decide when is the right time to talk about it. As Brené Brown says, “When we deny the story, it defines us. When we own the story, we can write a brave new ending.”

Kristi Horner
Founder and Executive Director