Monday, January 30, 2012

Ski Weekend

What an amazing weekend!  I had planned to ski with friends on Saturday.  We started as a group of 4 and one by one they dropped out until I found myself alone.  It's funny but most often I exercise alone.  I find that when trying to merge schedules with friends, the timing rarely works out for all of us to be available at the same time.   I really enjoy exercising alone.  I get lost in my thoughts, and let nature guide my pace.  
The sun was brilliant Saturday, and I felt so blessed to be fit and healthy enough to spend an hour or so skiing and soaking up the sunshine.  The wind was biting, and it was racing across the lake.  I hugged the shoreline to cut the wind and got lost in the rhythm of my body whooshing through the snow.  There was barely enough snow for the poles to grab before slipping on the ice below.  I stopped several times just to enjoy my surroundings.  I tend to look down at my skis while skiing and miss the bigger picture.  The sky was that amazing  cloudless blue .  I love to look up at it hightlighted  behind the dark bare branches of the trees.  I had some canines greet me as I passed their homes.  They really seem to love to frolic on the big frozen expanse, and we had a delightful visit.
Sunday looked to be a busy day and I awoke with the wish to ski again but the thought that it may not be possible.  Some way, some how, I found myself darting out the door at 3:30 instead of washing my kitchen floor.  I knew that soon, the sun would begin setting and I needed to prioritize fresh air and more sunshine.  Back down to the lake I went, to find that the wind was much less severe, but the temperature was much lower than the day before.  I took a slightly different route, and truly found my bliss.  It is a magic formula for me to be in nature, sunshine, and fresh air.  I find it so restorative and amazing.   I was able to ski a bit farther and stretch my tight muscles from Saturday's skiing adventure.  Usually, I start my skiing treks much earlier in the year, but with the strange lack of snowfall and the mild temperatures, Saturday was my first ski of the year!  I am blessed to be living in such close proximity to lakes, trails, wildlife, and adventure.  
Today find your bliss and breathe it in.  Savor it so that you can call it up at any time and breathe yourself right back into that time and space.  It's like a mini vacation from stress.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Beautiful Snow

I had always heard that the Eskimo had hundreds of words for snow.  I read in Wikipedia today that they have about as many words as we have in the English language.  It is the Sami people of a region that spans Sweden, Finland, Norway and part of Russia, who have hundreds of words for snow.  
This week, we have had a fresh dusting of snow almost daily. Today my boot prints were the only human ones on the lake path -both going in and coming out.  The temperatures have been more mild this week, so the snow has stuck to every branch on every tree. Sound is muffled from the insulating quality of the snow.  I swoosh almost silently through nature, lost in its magic.  It is stunning. 
Last week, when I was walking, the temp was far below zero, I try to put it out of my mind, but I think it was 14 below one morning without accounting for windchill!  That morning I was walking as well, and each step sounded like I was walking on Styrofoam.  The cold literally made my steps squeak through the snow.  I knew that it would be a long shot to see anything wild that day.  All of the creatures could hear me coming for 5 minutes before my arrival!  I did see a magnificent pileated woodpecker.  I always seem to forget how large they are.
If I can drag myself outside into the cold, I am always rewarded.  The cold brings all of the different frosts and snows that we don't have words for but should!
Next time you see an amazing weather day, try your best to live in the moment.  If you can't get out for a walk, ski, bike or other 'big'  activity, just step outside.  Take some deep breaths and say "thank you" for the beauty that surrounds you at that moment. It is a moment just for you that you can savor for the rest of the day or longer!
Live in the now of nature.  Enjoy!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Going Home

I had the honor last Thursday of visiting 6 different hospice patients.  I spent quite a long time with one patient, "June".  She is suffering from dementia.  She was very unsettled and something was obviously troubling her.  She told me that she was afraid to go "home".  
For many hospice patients "home" has several meanings.  Some who have been removed from their physical homes wish that they could recover enough to return.  For others, I believe that "home" means heaven or wherever their beliefs will take them in the afterlife.  June kept telling me that she needed to go home but that she was afraid because her mom and especially her dad were mad at her.  I had attempted to calm her by saying that I was pretty sure that they would forgive her when they saw her.  Having no idea of her family history, I didn't want to say too much.  I usually try to turn worries or thoughts into questions.  I asked her if she didn't think that she would be forgiven and reminded her that her parents loved her.  We sat and held hands without speaking for about 30 minutes.  She seemed to relax.  She asked me if I had any idea how much she loved me.  It took me by surprise.  I don't know who she thought I was.  I decided that it didn't matter, the important thing was that she was sharing something very real to her with someone she thought she loved.  I replied with a thank you and told her that I loved her too.  It seemed very important for her to tell me.  I have done so much research about dementia.  Many people have the feeling that they need to correct the patient or loved one.  "Your parents have been dead for years.  Your son can't be older than you.  You have lived here for years.  You are home."  
My experience is that the only thing that the so-called correcting does, is to frustrate and confuse the patient or loved one.  I have designed a good rule of thumb.  If what the patient says is incorrect, but won't harm anyone, let it go.  If they say something like "I'm all alone"  it is helpful to talk to them in a soothing way and point out the physical surroundings and nurse or family to "remind" them that they are not really alone or in danger.  If they begin talking about someone who isn't present, or call you by another name, you can say something like:  "Oh, Clare .  I haven't thought about her in years.  Tell me about Clare."  Often their memories are crystal clear and are a wonderful source of connection.  Their stories can lead to other things that they remember.  
Just remember to be patient and ask yourself what the kind and gentle response would be.  It's amazing what can come out of those interactions.  
I will always remember my time with June last week as a gift!
Here is a great resource for dealing with people with dementia

January or March?

Well, what a beautiful weekend.  I went up to the St Cloud area to visit family.  It should have been our 4th annual boot hockey for all ages tournament.  We had two issues. There had been so little snow and so much wind, that the ice was almost too slippery to stand on without falling over.  The second issue was that there was a lot of open water.  Our host keeps records, and the latest date that the lake has completely iced over was January 9th.  We beat that this year.  
We still ended up having lots of outdoor fun in the beautiful sunshine and 30-40 degree temps!  
The oldest and biggest "kid" in our party is 53 and he organized curling, golf,  soccer, and bean bag toss.  He painted the curling target right on the ice with spray paint and we glided rocks into the target.  I ended up finding that the perfect delivery was like a version of bowling.  I got a running start from a small patch of snow and then swung my rock and set it on the ice as I pushed it forward.  It worked like a charm.  We golfed from the sand and chipped the balls onto a deflated inner tube that was positioned on the ice as the "green".  We all decided that we needed some good cardio exercise, so we chose soccer.  There was no snow on the grass, but because it was frozen, it was slippery and hard.  I can tell you too, that when the ball made contact with skin, it hurt.  We spent hours outside laughing and soaking up the unbelievable January weather.  Right before we began curling, a flock of 10 white trumpeter swans flew in and landed in the open water.  They seemed to be unafraid of us and swam to our end of the open water.  Several were mottled gray and white.  We decided that they were juveniles.  They were every bit as large as the adults.  Only their color distinguished them.  They were incredibly beautiful and quite noisy at times.  
The lake was almost constantly making the most eerie sounds as the ice expanded.  I tried to record it but the family was much too noisy.  It reminded me of hearing whales communicate.  At the same time, it's quite unlike anything else.  What an amazing outdoor weekend!