Maddisen K. Krown, M.A. is a Life Coach,Â Columnist, and Speaker who works with individuals and groups throughout the U.S. and the world. She supports the wholeness and well being of her clients, guiding them into the fuller purpose and quality of life that calls them.Â
Welcome to the holiday season! Thanksgiving is the perfect time to celebrate the harvest of living and give thanks for all blessings big and small.
This holiday season – in the spirit of gratitude, loving service, and good-heartedness – I’d like to share this positive update about my personal journey with my elder parents.
The Journey Home
Two years ago, I shared with you about my trip home to Connecticut for Thanksgiving, to be with my family. My focus and the main theme for this week-long trip went way beyond the one day of festivities. I was primarily there to assist my elder parents, to do some serious cleaning and clearing inside their large home, and to realistically assess their states of health and next steps for their care.
It was a sobering experience to say the least, bittersweet at best, with many epiphanous ponderings about life, love, acceptance, death, and what it really means to live a healthy and meaningful life.
It was also a wonderful time to reunite with one of my two sisters who lives within one hour from our parents, and who joined forces with me to take on this monumental parental care project. We spent the three days before Turkey Day on task at our childhood home. While keeping our frail, now 90 year old Dad at bay as he interrogated us over every old knickknack, sock, and outdated magazine clipping that we attempted to file, toss, or give away, and while keeping our dear, sweet, dementia-altered 86 year old Mom close by to keep us company – my sister and I laughed, cried, grimaced, and reminisced as we sorted through decades of stuff, including books, clothing, photos, lots of memorabilia, our parent’s precious wedding album from the 40’s which included a breathtaking photo of Mom singing at her reception, foreign currency collections from their many trips abroad, Mom’s extensive and impeccably matched wardrobe, including her 80’s dresses with the big shoulder pads (remember?!), knitting, needlepoint, Dad’s instrument and invention paperwork, a lock of my hair from 1962, and my sister’s Ken doll from the 60’s, who we found naked and missing an arm. Oh my God, we laughed so hard we cried! I remember changing Ken’s hair color with a magic marker when I was about eight; think my sister almost killed me!
Spending those three very full days with them was the best thing my sister and I could have done, for several reasons, but mainly because we were directly faced with the reality of their states of physical and mental decline, and an absolute knowing that we must take the lead regarding their proper care. We realized that we had become our parent’s parents.
What’s Happened Since
Immediately following that eye-opening trip home, my sisters and I sought out in-home care for our parents. We did this to respect our father’s strong desire (and adamant demand) to remain in their home of 40+ years, which they built. We quickly located and hired the services of a wonderful organization called the Visiting Angels. http://www.visitingangels.com/ Since then, my parents have had the attentive and loving live-in support of a Visiting Angel (wonderful Yvonne), which has helped in every way imaginable. My parents now have assistance with cooking, washing, dressing, laundry, cleaning, driving to the grocery store and doctor’s appointments, and most important, the comfort of knowing they are not alone in what has become the “chore” of living and doing even the most simple tasks.
This has worked beautifully for the past two years, but it is now becoming apparent that they are requiring even more assistance and medical care than can be provided by a live-in Angel; so we have been researching the next step, which is assisted living. We began discussing it with Dad a few months ago, knowing he would likely be initially very resistant to leaving his home, and that was the case. Again, we’ve done this in a respectful and loving way, and the good news is that he is now expressing that they’re ready and even desiring to take this next step.
Facing Mortality at Midlife
I must admit, to be currently navigating the challenging waves of my own midlife, while at the same time witnessing and helping my parents as they struggle with declining abilities in almost every area of their lives – is one of the most sobering, difficult, sad, and yet most beautiful and empowering experiences of my life. I’m sure there are those of you who can relate to this. And there is no way to fully grasp what this is like until we experience it ourselves.
And let's be honest here - we may live in a culture obsessed with youth, however, the truth is everyone, no matter what age, is on the natural path toward elderhood, so it's vital that we honor ourselves and others at every stage of life.
Listen To Mother Teresa – Do Good Anyway
The primary message I want to leave with all of you, is that my sisters and I are caring for our parents in this way and at this crucial time in their lives, because we love them and instinctively know they need us, and because it’s the right thing to do.
Regardless of the strained relationship with my father that all three of us girls have experienced for most of our lives, or any unresolved conscious or unconscious issues – I KNOW from the higher viewpoint and from within my heart – that caring for both Mom and Dad, and assisting them in making the safest and most loving transition from their physical state back to the Spiritual realm from whence they came – is my heartfelt mission, and I feel very clear and uplifted in doing so. This is unconditional love.
I sense that our unconditional love will travel with Mom and Dad as they cross the threshold from life to death, holding them, and perhaps even liberating their wounds and the wounds of past and future generations. Love and Forgiveness release karma.
I close by sharing this powerfully inspiring quote, which is taken from Dr. Kent Keith’s ‘Paradoxical Commandments’, and which Mother Teresa had on the wall of her children's home in Calcutta. These words exactly describe how I feel about caring for my parents, and all life.
“If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives. Be kind anyway.
If you are successful, you will win some unfaithful friends and some genuine enemies. Succeed anyway.
If you are honest and sincere people may deceive you. Be honest and sincere anyway.
What you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight. Create anyway.
If you find serenity and happiness, some may be jealous. Be happy anyway.
The good you do today, will often be forgotten. Do good anyway.
Give the best you have, and it will never be enough. Give your best anyway.
In the final analysis, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway.”
During the holidays and into the new year and the years ahead, may you do your very best to love and honor your own life and the lives of your loved ones - through birth and death. Do good anyway.
Your Life Coach,
Copyright 2013 Maddisen K. Krown M.A.
So many times I’ve heard “do what you love and the money will follow”, and I think this is so much BS. I have specific dreams that I’m very certain I want, with no doubt, but why am I struggling so much to receive them? SW
My spouse and I have separated after more than a decade of marriage. We've been in individual and some couples counseling, and we've spent many hours and months in honest conversation about the fulfilling and non-fulfilling aspects of our relationship. We are now in mutual agreement about one key area, the elephant, that we consider a deal-breaker.
We've really made a disciplined effort to explore the personal and spiritual lessons of this partnership, to honor why we came together in marriage, and to live up to our vow of 'till death do us part.' But honestly, at this point, my entire being is emphatically declaring that "we are complete." And when I let that in, I feel clarity and a sense of relief. But isn't it wrong to turn away? Shouldn't we make this marriage work? Our families and friends think we should. I'm conflicted and very confused, and would appreciate your viewpoint on this. Thanks, ML
I acknowledge you for your courage and honesty in sharing your story here, for your devotion to growth and fulfillment, for identifying the 'elephant' in your marriage, and for being open to highest good solutions. This is certainly a widely discussed topic that elicits many viewpoints. My intention is to address your doubts and the emphatic answer you are hearing -- "we are complete" -- and to offer suggestions for how you might both follow all of this to resolution.
I understand how very confusing it may feel in the chaos of everyone, including yourself, pressuring you about what you should do.
However, it's possible that the "shoulding" is a sign that you are swimming upstream, rowing against the current, and actually heading in the 'wrong" direction. Your emotional symptoms imply this. "Shoulding" can invoke negative feelings such as confusion, discomfort, unhappiness, resistance, frustration, sadness, depression, and/or anger.
But don't lose hope, because this is actually good news in that your emotional guidance system is feeding you vital information. You see, when we're "shoulding" on ourselves, we're most likely facing an adverse situation. And although this adverse situation may cause us to feel uncomfortable or unhappy, it's actually happening to help us define what would make us happier. Yes, I'm proposing that we use adversity to clarify what we don't want, in service of moving into what we do want. This is the nature of Nature.
If this rings true for you, ML, and for any of my readers, your next step is to explore the adversity to get clear on what you want. To do that, take some time for yourself and carry out the following process.
HOW TO USE ADVERSITY TO DEFINE & LIVE WHAT YOU REALLY WANT
Step 1 - Notice the adverse situation.
What adverse situation are you experiencing? What are your symptoms? They might include discomfort, confusion, resistance, sadness, hopelessness, suffering, frustration, depression, and/or anger.
Realize that this is an opportunity for you to gather information about what you don't want in service of clarifying what you do want.
If possible, accept the situation and all of your uncomfortable feelings. If that's too difficult, just notice it all, be aware of it all, and observe. Be patient and loving with yourself and the others involved. Practice self forgiveness.
Step 2 - Identify what you don't like.
What don't you like about this situation? What's not working? Specifically, what joy are you missing?
For example, are you sacrificing your own true voice and being true to yourself in any way? Are you sacrificing values, basic needs, and/or heartfelt desires?
If it helps, you might also list this on paper, speak it aloud, or both.
Step 3 - Identify what you really want.
What is it that you really want? What fullness or balance do you desire? What joys are you seeking?
What is your truth calling forth, what values, basic needs, fullness, and/or heartfelt desires must be acknowledged and experienced?
If it helps, you might also list this on paper, speak it aloud, or both.
Know that this is why we are here in this lifetime -- to live our fullness and heartfelt desires & purposes, and that when we use adversity to define and and move into our heartfelt desires, we are moving in the "right" direction.
Step 4 - Take inspired actions.
Allow yourself to take the inspired actions that move you into the fullness and joy you desire. Do this with love, patience, and respect for yourself and anyone involved.
In your case ML, what might your inspired actions look like? It's possible that your separation is one such inspired action. How else might you support yourself and receive support in moving into your fulfillment and joy? Might you share this process with your spouse?
Step 5 - Honor yourself.
Allow yourself to enjoy your life journey. Be your greatest ally and supporter and honor your truth, honor what you want. Let those rockets of desire lead you into happiness and fulfillment and loving purpose. In living your highest good, you will indeed be serving the highest good of all concerned.
Regarding Step 1 and my suggestion about "acceptance". I understand that acceptance can feel difficult and even impossible when we don't like "what is". That's why I recommend you just notice the adversity and observe it.
However, if you'd like to take acceptance a bit deeper, check out Byron Katie's process called "The Work", by clicking here: http://www.thework.com/downloads/little_book/English_LB.pdf
And so, dear ML, I hope all of this has helped you toward resolution. You've shared two important points that I'd like to repeat: 1) you and your spouse are in agreement about one key area that you consider a deal-breaker; and 2) your entire being is declaring "we are complete."
Therefore, your marriage partnership may indeed be complete. I trust you will take the time you need to make a decision that is in your highest good and ultimately in the highest good of all concerned.
Don't get stuck in "shoulding" on yourself, but rather use it for your liberation. Remember that adversity is a natural part of life, and that it's there so we can determine what we don't want in service of moving into what we do want.
“Struggle is the food from which change is made, and the best time to make the most of a struggle is when it's right in front of your face.
Now, I know that might sound a bit simplistic. But, too often we're led to believe that struggling is a bad thing, or that we struggle because we're doing something wrong.
I disagree. I look at struggle as an opportunity to grow. True struggle happens when you can sense what is not working for you and you're willing to take the appropriate action to correct the situation. Those who accomplish change are willing to engage the struggle.” – Danny Dreyer
“Life's a climb. But the view is great.” – Miley Cyrus
“My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness.” – Dalai Lama
From the heart,
your Life Coach Maddisen
Copyright 2013 Maddisen K. Krown M.A.
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