Author Archives: skylikeme

Hospice: The question of isolation and the absence of touch

I took a job a few months ago working for hospice doing massage therapy.   I’m in the business of human touch because I know that hands heal. I have seen people melt and come to tears when they experience the effect of compassionate touch. For me, it’s spiritual work. Tensions dissolve and hope is restored under the hands of someone offering non-judgmental loving kindness.     All kinds of communication happen with touch:    

You’re not alone.
You’ve worked hard.
It’s alright to feel good.
You deserve good things.
You’re safe.
It’s ok to relax.


Massage doesn’t just communicate these things to the recipient, it proves them: the evidence happens in real time in the body mind and spirit.    

In the last few weeks, things have changed rapidly as assisted living centers, memory care units, senior homes and skilled nursing units have all gone on various levels of lock-down in the interest of protecting residents from catching a virus.     

The question I’ve been asking myself is: What happens when people who are already challenged are kept in isolation? Dining rooms closed, activities canceled, family and friends unable to visit. Massage and music eliminated, spiritual care and mental health support limited to phone calls for those who can hear and are still able to talk on the phone, which for hospice, is not many. Nurse and aide visits restricted to essential care only- once or twice a week for aides, less than that for nurses.    

I don’t argue with isolation as a strategy to slow the spread of an easily transmittable virus. I don’t know that I’m arguing against anything at this point. I just know that these patients under the care of hospice will decline and approach death more rapidly without human contact, whether they catch a virus or not. I know that their quality of life will plummet and the allover comfort of loving hands, kind eyes, and aides who used to visit 4 or 5 times a week whispering “You look beautiful today” into their ears….That comfort will be gone.    

Human presence heals. Touch soothes. And the benefit these patients receive through the incredible work of nurses and aides, and music and massage and mental health workers and spiritual guides who come to sing hymns with them…. cannot be underestimated.    

The truth is that they’re on hospice because they’re declining and approaching death. The role of the hospice worker is to support and nourish, enhance and enrich the quality of life for these people. Truthfully, we can’t do this if we’re not in the room with them.

Philosophically, the larger question is: if saving lives is the primary goal and quality of life becomes secondary, we might seem to be taking the correct ethical approach, but what’s the cost?    

I don’t have the answers, but the last few weeks have certainly raised alot of questions.

New Song!

It has been eons since I shared a song but I finally have one for you!  Recorded Sunday morning in my living room.

A few notes.

  1. If it looks like I am gazing meaningfully at the camera in the last verse, it is because I displayed the just-written lyrics for myself right next to the camera and I am trying to read them.
  2. I mess up a chord. See if you can find where.
  3. I recorded this on my iphone and the volume is pretty low…headphones might be a good bet.
  4. This is a 3 chord song! Easy to learn if you like.

Lyrics follow.

 

Timeless
By Kris Adams

Holler around the bend
Ahead just a day or two
You see me walking there
And I turn back to look for you

There you are yesterday
And here I am overjoyed
Cause I hear you call to me
Like time is another toy

So many hours or none at all
We watch the clocks spin and dissolve
Timeless

When we’re in another world
I will remember this
I will remember you
Remember the way you kiss

You got the best of me
And I see the best in you
Our own little miracle
Just an eternity or two

You know we are everyone
We roll the dice, have a little fun
Timeless

Older than the road that we’re walking on
Younger than the thoughts that have yet to come
Stronger than the storms that we’ve overcome

This is no fairy tale
You make it up as you go
Nothing is ending here
It’s better if you don’t know

What’s coming straight to you
Has already begun
And all that your living for
You were destined to become

So many hours or none at all
We watch the days spin and dissolve
Timeless

Better than Buttered Noodles

A few posts ago, I mentioned that I created a new website kriskadams.com. While I love, love, love sharing stories here about lawn mower racing, getting older, fake food, postpartum boundaries, motherhood, jeans that don’t fit, grocery shopping with toddlers, coffee, and Isadora Duncan among other things, I wanted to create a site that was more specifically about self-care, self-awareness, wisdom traditions, personal evolution, and the interconnectedness of everything.  With a lens on pregnancy, birthing and parenting of course. This website will also have a blog that I am hoping will be better than a huge bowlful of buttered noodles with all the gluten.

I may be borrowing a couple older posts from shufflesteps here and there as I get rolling, and I will be creating tons of new content about how we live our authentic lives, cultivate a potent inner awareness, and gracefully bring attention and love to our journey and how all of that amazing work translates into our outer experiences.

I’m interested in reaching more readers! So please share my sites with anyone or anything that you think would benefit or enjoy reading.

I am also working on a podcast that I am super excited about. I will share details as things form more fully.

Thank you for sharing space in your beautiful minds for the words on these pages. Much love!

The Books You Must Read

Life is cuckoo these days, amIright? I recommend everyone stop watching and listening to the news for at least a week to give yourself a freaking break. Too much information is seriously messing up our nervous systems. Instead of reading the news, read these instead:

  

I am going to admit that I was not a chick-lit fan, ok? I usually don’t pick up books about relationships and instead gravitate toward Michael Connelly and sub-sections of Michael Connelly.

However, Kelly Harms has changed my mind.

It’s just too fun reading these books to hold onto my cynicism. What she does exceptionally well is write about how women relate to themselves and are there for each other through unanticipated circumstances.

Her new book, The Overdue Life of Amy Byler is out!

Is she a friend? Yes. Does she write hilarious, touching stories with characters I love spending time with? Yes! A thousand times yes! Does Kirkus Reviews think her writing is awesome? Yes!

“A PERFECT RECIPE OF CLEVER, QUIRKY, POIGNANT AND FUN.” -KIRKUS REVIEWS

If you don’t believe me, check out her first two books, listed above: The Matchmakers of Minnow Bay and The Good Luck Girls of Shipwreck Lane.

You can see a short clip of her talking here about her first book here:

The Overdue Life of Amy Byler is due out April 1st, but you can pre-order on amazon. Happy reading!

A Mother’s Rights #1

Several years ago I wrote about a Mother’s Rights, the first of which is:

 

You have the right to 8 hours of sleep every 24 hours.

 

And here it is in a handy image:

 

8hours

 

Ladies. Please don’t do what I did and think that you will catch up on sleep when your child is done night nursing or done co-sleeping or done teething or through this growth spurt or entering middle school.

Good sleep is necessary for good health. It just is. Everything from skin to metabolism to immune system to mood to heart health, blood pressure, learning and memory, and pretty much every aspect of how we operate in the world.

Ideally, when expecting a child and creating your birth plan, you are also creating your sleep plan and how you plan to get sleep after your baby arrives. Err on the side of caution and assume your babies will be like mine where they wouldn’t sleep without nursing, being held, or being rocked for the first several MONTHS. Followed by night nursing that continued for several years and then a second child who had major sleep problems due to sensory issues.

It is likely you will need support. You will need to nap. You will need to laugh. You will need to line up some local resources and look into what night services are available in your area and which relatives and friends are willing to help out.

I loved the advice of my lactation consultant who said this: After you give birth, for the first few weeks, do not change out of your pajamas until after you have gotten 8 hours of sleep. The day looks like this: baby nurses, mama eats, everybody sleeps. Repeat.

Please know that in the coming months if you are planning to sleep train your baby, it sometimes does not work out and it is not your fault. And it is not your baby’s fault. I know of some babies who, while attempting to sleep train, would cry until they threw up. Or who would cry for two hours or more night after night after night. Babies are people and need different things. Likewise, you may end up needing something different than what you can predict. But one things you will need, without any doubt, is a reasonable amount of sleep.

During our efforts for achieving solid sleep, my partner and I found some tools quite useful into the toddler years. Things like blackout curtains and sound machines.

For a short time, things like baby swings and co-sleepers were helpful too. Though baby sleep books were not helpful for us, a lot of my friends found them extremely helpful, as well as consulting with local sleep consultants.

In my opinion, getting a decent amount of sleep is a basic human need that does not disappear simply because you have a new life to care for. Work with your partner, take time off work or shorten your days so you can nap if you need to. I’ll explore other options for getting sleep in a future post, but for now, know that sleep is your right to claim…so claim it.

For future Mother’s Rights posts, please check out my sister site, kriskadams.com!

 

50% Princess!! 50% Unikitty!!

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Tonight I went down the wormhole of online toddler clothes shopping. My toddler is abnormally large which, if one follows the sizing of standard American clothing, all of my children have been.

My first born- the one I decided not to have an epidural with- a decision I reconsidered during transition when my teeth were burrowing into my husband’s shoulder- was 9 lbs 10oz. Which is 1 lb 10oz bigger than the bowling ball I select when I go to the bowling alley. We had brought to the hospital some itty bitty wittle newborn onesies that would fit a newborn kitten…which when my son was born may have fit his left thigh…and he went home from the hospital in a newly purchased size 6 month onesie.

Today as my 2 year old (size 4T) was red-faced, throwing her lunch plate across the room and screaming at me that I had given her the wrong plate (NOT MY PWATE! BOO MOMMY!) That’s right. She boos me. I noticed that her pants were a bit too snug, her sleeves a bit too tight. Though anger is generally my first reaction when plates are being thrown at me, I managed to steer myself in another direction…the ancient primal instinct to hunt and gather. I knew at that moment I’d be online shopping later.

Hunting and gathering clothes is not something I’m proud of in a global sense, but it is one of the most relaxing parts of being a parent. I do it after the kids are asleep, and it usually involves wine or whiskey. While hunting and gathering toddler clothes, I can finally relax after a long day as I venture off into feelings other than helplessness, mostly in response to graphic tees where I am either annoyed or delighted- with both being equally enjoyable.

Ideally, my kids would all be dressed in sustainable organic clothing, gender-neutral and without bold statements of political affiliations, quirky hipness, career aspirations, or who they’re most loving and loyal to.  But…America.

I’m over unicorns. They’ve worn out their welcome. Same for llamas. And animals wearing glasses, which I never got to begin with. But there’s some great material to be found if you go beyond the doorbusters. Tonight I laughed out loud at a glitter cat in a beret with the caption “meowci.” Hilarious.

Though grimacing a little at the 3 year old girls modeling for a camera, I am delighted by their leggings with rainbow lightening patterns. Shame on everything for selling skin-tight leggings to girls starting from age 0 while boys get joggers and sweats, but look: those suggested leggings have ombre hearts all over them, so it’s ok to go ahead and risk the body image stuff because….so cute!!!!!!!!!

The dark side, where I sip my drink and shake my head and wonder why I never got into the graphic tee biz, involves captions that somehow praise ME. “My mom’s super amazing.” “Mom’s BFF” “Smart like my mom.” I am very uncomfortable with shirts that state my toddler’s love for me. It feels like stealing something from her. Also, why would I dress her in something proclaiming a thought she isn’t aware she’s having or might not be having at all? Seeing “Mom is my Hero” on her shirt would not take the sting out of that plate hitting my shin. Plus, she does not know she’s wearing a shirt that celebrates the very person that, in her world, is a dictator trying to steal joy from her very existence. If my toddler were to design her own graphic tee it would say, “Mom is a dictator! I have no freedom! Please help get me my own place! Give me all your lollipops!”

Many graphic toddler tees have become self-help mantras for the adults that look at them. “Be your best self.” “You got this”. “Invent the future.” Nothing wrong with these words. These are things people need to hear. But why stamp them on a shirt that is only read and understood by the people not wearing the shirts? You may as well add, “Finally make a budget!” and “You’ll regret that midnight bagel!”

What kind of a world would it be if the rules for toddler graphic tees applied to adults? The rules seems to be: Say the thing the person in charge of you wishes you were thinking. Or say something celebratory about magical creatures, fattening food, or displays of affection. Or cats. Anything about cats. Our shirts would say things like: “100% Centaur!” “Cool like my boss.” “The government is my BFF.”  “Frosting on a spoon forever!”

Lately, the themes of exploring the wild and laid back surfer mentality have stumbled into the mix. You’ll see a moose driving a van with a surfboard on top over a mountain (pink shirt for girls, orange for boys) with “Get out There” underneath in really cool font. Two whiskeys in, I’m not really sure what we’re saying here. Are toddlers up for adventure in a way that involves forest creatures?  Why are we wearing surfing shirts in Wisconsin?

It’s a night’s worth of entertainment, for sure. If your kids are grown or if you don’t have kids, I still would recommend browsing the graphic tees of sites that specialize in middle-class price range kids’ clothing. Are we hopeful? Are we believing in the future? Is every big sister really the best in the universe? Do we still think mermaids might exist?  If you believe everything you read on a size 4T graphic tee, the possibilities are endless.

 

 

 

Letting love in.

Yoohoo! It’s the holiday season! Anyone eating too much delicious food because you deserve happiness? Or having old feelings you’d rather not feel again come to the surface? Anyone visiting family and discovering their angsty inner-11 year old self is still alive and well? Or going through Costco size bottles of bourbon?

This season is ripe with potential for emotional healing.

The flavor of my own emotional healing lately is 80% dark chocolate- the kind you almost want to spit out because it’s so intense, but once you get used to it, realize that Hershey’s tastes like wax.  With the fair trade stuff I’ve been eating daily, I can taste the earth the cacao beans are grown in. It’s deep and delicious and potent.

In therapy terms, my dark chocolate looks like EMDR therapy. I’ve been doing EMDR therapy weekly for around 3 months now. From the EMDR Institute website:

“(EMDR) enables people to heal from the symptoms and emotional distress that are the result of disturbing life experiences.  Repeated studies show that by using EMDR therapy people can experience the benefits of psychotherapy that once took years to make a difference. It is widely assumed that severe emotional pain requires a long time to heal.  EMDR therapy shows that the mind can in fact heal from psychological trauma much as the body recovers from physical trauma.  When you cut your hand, your body works to close the wound.  If a foreign object or repeated injury irritates the wound, it festers and causes pain.  Once the block is removed, healing resumes.”

It is bonkers how deeply ingrained some of those rusty old beliefs can be…you know the ones that tend to send you far off-course from the things you’d like to accomplish in your life or the things you’d like to think about yourself? Your true north may have you thrilled with your life and relationships, feeling fantastic about aging and who cares about what’s happening to your thighs, but those dang past traumas and beliefs pull you just far enough off the trail that you’re stuck on “Can’t Look in the Mirror Loop” or “Furious at the World Trail.” EMDR seems very much like a shortcut to getting back to your true north.

It’s not for the faint of heart. To heal some of the old stuff, you need to revisit the disturbing and painful feelings so they can lead you out of the brambles.  But it’s not a long, extended visit. It’s a sit-down, a hello. It’s tolerable. But suddenly you see yourself in a different light and the world around you looks different too.

In all this emotional healing over the past few months, I’m realizing that on the flip side of feeling deprived or stuck in the idea of lacking this or lacking that….are old wounds, blocks or stubborn patterns of not knowing how to let love in.

Have you ever had the feeling like you’re being loved, but you just can’t feel it? Or you don’t trust it? Maybe you don’t believe a compliment or don’t accept a gift. Or feel you have to repay a favor?

If we really did come here to this planet to remember who we truly are- that we all have within us the unlimited love of the source of creation, that we are all individualized versions of that same source….then this whole process of noticing ways we don’t feel loved is just like noticing specks of dirt on your windshield.  It’s getting the windex out so we can see more clearly just how much love we’re swimming in.  Because love is fucking everywhere. And if we can’t feel it, there’s some unawake part of us hiding under the porch, asking for attention.

My wish for all of us this year is that love flows freely to all the deepest parts of us. To the parts that need it the most, the ones that have been asking for years in ways we couldn’t understand. I wish for us the nourishment of knowing that oneness and loving connection are birthrights, and not things to be earned by somehow being better.

I wish for all the tiny stones in our shoes that have made our walk feel painful…to be turned out onto the earth and spread onto our common path, just a little more gravel on the trail. The sound of our footsteps walking together is so sweet. I wish for us all to open to the sweetness and know that we matter, we are loved, and it’s ok to feel it.