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Coping With Caregiving for Your Loved Ones

 A Caregiver’s Guide & Resources

My brain and heart dreams up commitments my body can’t keep! In the past, I provided care to sick or elderly friends and family members for many years. I took care of my mother for 12 years and my grandmother for another 10 years. For me this proved to be exceptionally challenging.

Many times, while providing exceedingly loving and compassionate care, I depleted my “sanity reserve bank account” and fell into self-destructive patterns for myself.

My thinking patterns became very distorted—I loved others so completely that I would do anything for them, but when it came to me, I wished God had made me a robot so that I would have NO needs. Having needs was inconvenient. If I was supposed to be of “infinite helping support,” then why did God make me with needs?

I finally realized that I had over-commitment to others and under-commitment to me. I saw the effect of this pattern on my emotions and life.

Clues that I was becoming overwhelmed by my caregiving were that I started to get grumpy and resentful towards those I was caring for. I felt like I was “dial a disaster, dial Bob! I’ve got a problem and I need you to fix it!” It seemed that the only time the family member called me up was to request something of me, or to tell me what I had done wrong.  At that time it felt like my caregiving was done out of obligation and not freely given–I felt drained–and I had no more to give. 

I felt torn apart: in that I was SO emotionally committed to my loved one and would do ANYTHING for them…and I had reached my limit of providing care for them.

From hindsight, I would have talked with those family members and had an agreement up front that IN THE FUTURE when their need for additional care had exceeded my ability to provide it (that I was mentally, physically, and emotionally being harmed) that I would let them know. At that time they would need to go to an assisted living facility or find some other type of help. 

I would have had these steps already planned out and communicated right at the start to avoid problems later on.  I learned that if in my old age anyone was willing to offer assistance to me for my care, that I wanted to respect their natural limits.

I would want to acknowledge that  their love and support has natural and healthy limits. I would want to let them know that when “it’s THAT time,” just let me know, and I will understand. They KNOW that I love them and myself, as well.

Aging Matters Documentaries: End of life Decisions, Caregiving, Economics of Aging, The New Old Age, Aging In Place, Healthy Aging, Living with Alzheimer’s and Dementia, and other superb topics are discussed. They provide perspective and life tools to use. Their website is: www.wnpt.org/agingmatters/home/

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Additional Resources

According to the American Psychological Association, about 20% of seniors 65 and older meet the criteria for some kind of mental disorder. They also found that this age group is significantly less likely to receive mental health treatment, typically sticking to primary care doctors for all their needs.

While there is no substitute for seeing a mental health professional,  it’s important for seniors to have access to the most current, comprehensive information about their mental health. Check out: http://www.balancedweightmanagement.com/Articles.htm#Seeking_Support_and_Counseling

Caregiver’s Guide to Understanding Dementia Behaviors

The Benefits of Cooking with Alzheimer’s: A Caregiver’s Guide

Six Things Seniors Can Do To Improve Memory

Preparing Your Home for a Loved One with Alzheimer’s: A Caregiver’s Guide

10 Easy Ways Seniors Can Boost Their Mental Health and Well-Being

Eating for Your Brain as a Senior

Overcoming The Loss Of A Child Without Drugs Or Alcohol — A Parent’s Guide

Mourning A Parent or Spouse’s Death

Promoting Mental Health at Home: How to Design the Perfect Meditation Room at Home

Newsweek Magazine has a wonderful article about A Guide for Caregivers and explores Caregiving & Alzheimer’s: a PDF file: Newsweek A Guide for Caregivers-MSNBC.com.pdf

See below the extremely helpful resource, COPING WITH CAREGIVING.pdf which shares many practical insights about how to manage stress when caring for loved ones. Discover below many other essential resources.

Overwhelming circumstances

One of the great joys and blessings in life is being able to share our talents and gifts with our larger community—as volunteers. Again for me, this area has time and again caused me problems. I want to make a difference in my spiritual group, dietetic community, neighborhood, and the world at large—but my diaries have shown me the harmful effects of what happens when I get out of balance. I become compulsive, cranky, controlling, reactive, depressed, and physically, mentally, and emotionally ill.

What’s your experience with this area? It you find that the topic of providing care to a loved one challenging, perhaps see below for ideas on how to manage this matter. Also visit: Bob’s Story: Balance In Life.

Many clients I see and friends that I know have experienced the overwhelming stresses of  providing TLC for their loved ones. More that 20 million households contain Americans who look after loved ones. While caregiving can offer enormous rewards–providing a sense of fulfillment, deepening lifelong loves–research increasingly links it to deleterious health effects, including a weakened immune system, depression and even premature death.

There are ways to relieve the burden. Support groups offer lifelines out of isolation. Adult day-care programs provide respite. Regular exercise lowers blood pressure and reduces stress and depression. Taking time for healthful eating provides essential fuel for the body. Most important of all: caregivers must look after themselves–without their own good health, their loved ones will suffer, too.

Don’t forget “care for the caregiver” by noting how our daily lifestyle choices effect how the caregiver feels too. For additional helpful insights consider visiting:

EXPLORE 2017 CELEBRATE STEPS TO VIBRANT AGING PowerPoint

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A friend recently shared some insight about aging: “I spent my younger years doing what I was told to, my adult years doing what I had to… My golden years are for what I want to do!”

Indeed, I have a friend who living proof that retirement doesn’t have to mean sitting around and watching time pass. They are involved in several clubs, they golf at least once a week, and takes their son on outings every chance they get. They even inspired several other friends to get more active!

I thought I’d try to spread that inspiration even further by sharing some senior resources about making the most of the golden years.

Retirement: The Payoffs of an Active Lifestyle

Transportation Options for Seniors Who Don’t Drive

How Playing a Musical Instrument — at Any Age — is Good for Your Health

The Senior’s Guide to Becoming a Real Estate Agent in Their Golden Years

9 Things You Didn’t Know About Dating for Seniors

How to Love Our Adult Children with Purpose

Identifying and Stopping Opioid Abuse in Adult Children

How to Follow Your Dream and Spend Your Retirement Traveling the World

Aging in Place with a Little Help from Roommates, Neighbors, and Teenagers

5 Communities That Will Change Your View of Independent Living

Retirement doesn’t have to just be about stopping work… It can be about starting the fun!

Resources shared by Marie Villeza http://elderimpact.org/

How to Manage Stress When Caring For Chronically Ill or Elderly Relatives

Powerful tools for Caregivers:  Powerful Tools for Caregivers.org http://www.powerfultoolsforcaregivers.org/about/ A terrific comprehensive workbook and class series.

A Pacific Northwest Extension Publication. This excellent resource that is packed with lots of really helpful information. It can be downloaded and printed off for free.

For the PDF version of this excellent book, click on: COPING WITH CAREGIVING.pdf

Found at: http://extension.oregonstate.edu/catalog/details.php?search=coping+with+caregiving

INJURIES-KEEP GOING

There is a great program that has started around the country called: “Program of All-Inclusive Care or the Elderly” or PACE- It is a pretty amazing program that offers a way for fragile elders to stay in the community, has healthcare and many social services.

Check out the Eldercare ABC Blog with many important topics: http://eldercareabcblog.com/pace-programs-an-important-senior-care-resource/

SSC currently serves a 34-zip code area and has two sites. The mission of SSC is to:

  • Provide high quality care and services to its participants
  • Take steps to keep participants as healthy and independent as possible
  • Prevent premature nursing home placement

Comprehensive, coordinated care is a key part of Sutter SeniorCare. Participants receive a broad range of services including all benefits provided by Medicare and Medi-Cal and more. Most care is provided at SSC centers by an interdisciplinary team, which includes physicians, nurses, social workers, rehabilitation therapists and others.

How can we help you care for your parents? Visit www.caring.com for many terrific topics. Check out: Health A-Z, In-home care, Money and Legal matters, Caregiver Wellness, Senior Living Directory and much more!!

Elder Abuse:  http://www.injury-settlement-guide.com/elder-abuse-and-neglect.html This website provides an overview of elder abuse, the types of, where, and why it occurs and actions that can be done once, and while it is occurring. It provides links to many resources.

Gift From Within (www.giftfromwithin.org) a non-profit organization is dedicated to those who suffer post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), those at risk for PTSD, and those who care for traumatized individuals.  GFW helps everyone with PTSD by sharing ideas, improving morale, and reducing the stigma of the diagnosis and its treatment. We have articles written by authorities in the field, poetry and art gallery for trauma survivors, peer support pal network, personal coping and inspirational stories, a Q&A, videos, book reviews, list of retreats for survivors, global list of trauma survivor support groups, and other educational materials and resources.

Some of our articles include:  “The Art and Science of Caring for Others without Forgetting Self-Care”; Trauma Addiction: Safety and Stabilization for the Addicted Survivor of Trauma;  Life After Breast Cancer: Surviving & Thriving; “Exposure To A Traumatic Event Does Not Automatically Put A Person On A Path To Develop PTSD: The Importance of Protective Factors To Promote Resiliency.”; Latinas in Pursuit of Healing: Cultural Implications for Counseling Sexually Abused Latinas; “I Will Survive: The African-American Guide to Healing from Sexual Assault and Abuse (excerpt)”; Trauma in American Indian Communities; Suffering in Silence: The Problem of Male Sexual Abuse; Stress Responses in Sexual Trauma Victims and in Others Experiencing Overwhelming Events ; Don’t Make it Worse! Use of Alcohol or Drugs After Trauma; Secret Diet Disasters of Trauma Survivors

Geriatric Care Manager:  www.caremanager.org 

GCM is a non-profit, professional organization of practitioners whose goal is the advancement of dignified care for the elderly and their families. With more than 1,500 members, GCM is committed to maximizing the independence and autonomy of elders while striving to ensure that the highest quality and most cost-effective health and human services are used when and where appropriate.

Assisted Living Today, a Web publishing company that specializes in information about elderly living.

We published on the subject of choosing the best care type for your loved one would be interesting for your readers. We created guides for each of five different care types:
• Assisted Living Care Guide: http://assistedlivingtoday.com/p/assisted-living/
• Memory Care Guide: http://assistedlivingtoday.com/p/memory-care/
• Nursing Home Guide: http://assistedlivingtoday.com/p/nursing-homes/
• Care Home Guide: http://assistedlivingtoday.com/p/care-homes/
• Independent Living Guide: http://assistedlivingtoday.com/p/independent-living/

The aim with these guides is to help people faced with deciding what type of care to choose for a loved one make the best possible decision.

They’re also designed to help those looking for care to determine which type of facility is best within a certain care type, and offer information like questions to ask, fees to look for, contractual issues you may run into, etc.

National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys: www.naela.com

The National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, Inc. is a non-profit association that assists lawyers, bar organizations and others who work with older clients and their families. Established in 1987, the Academy provides a resource of information, education, networking and assistance to those who deal with the many specialized issues involved with legal services to the elderly and people with special needs.

The mission of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys is to establish NAELA members as the premier providers of legal advocacy, guidance and services to enhance the lives of people with special needs and people as they age.


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Another terrific resource is:

Visit them to discover: Caregiving articles, journal exercises, healing circle of prayer, inspiration, humor, alternative healing, readings, resources, and MUCH more! Visit: http://www.care-givers.com/

Discover numerous resources for: Caregiving sites, elderly sites, grand parenting resources, alternative healing therapies, legal and financial information, dying, death, and grieving sites, spiritual  and metaphysical sites, humor and more are found at: http://www.care-givers.com/pages/resources.html#Anchor

Aging Solutions

Aging Parents and Elder Care: www.Aging-Parents-and-Elder-Care.com Articles, comprehensive checklists, and links to key resources … designed to make it easier for family caregivers to quickly find the information they need … and avoid overlooking something important in the care of their loved one.

Administration on Aging: www.aoa.gov : Provides caregivers and their parents information on various services including elder rights.

Area Agency on Aging: This government program provides a national network of social services. See www.n4a.org  (National Association of Area Agencies on Aging) or call 800-677-1116 for your local agency.

Medicare Rights: www.medicarerights.org Independent source of health-care information and assistance for people with Medicare.

National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization: www.nhpco.org  Offers information on end-of-life issues and state-specific advance directives.

Nursing Homes: www.medicare.gov/nhcompare  Provides detailed information on the past performance of every Medicare- and Medicaid-certified nursing home in the country.

Welcome to the Eldercare Locator

Is a public service of the U.S. Administration on Aging. The Eldercare Locator connects older Americans and their caregivers with sources of information on senior services. The service links those who need assistance with state and local area agencies on aging and community-based organizations that serve older adults and their caregivers.

You may find the information resources you need by following the directions below or you may speak to an Eldercare Locator information specialist by calling 1-800-677-1116 Eldercare Locator  Discover local information, referral resources, and contact information for state and local agencies, from the United States’ Health and Human Services Department. www.eldercare.gov/ 

Family Caregiving Alliance: National Center On Caregiving

Family Caregiving Alliance is a public voice for caregivers who provide loved ones with support who have chronic, disabling health conditions. Our pioneering programs provide:

  • Caregiving Information and advice
  • Education
  • Fact sheets and publications
  • Services
  • Chat groups and message boards
  • Research
  • Advocacy

Visit: http://www.caregiver.org/caregiver/jsp/home.jsp or call: 800-445-8106

An excellent national resource is: www.nofec.org

Exploring Disease States and How to Best Manage Them

Healthopedia.com, a medical and health consumer information resource containing comprehensive and unbiased information in patient-friendly language from trusted sources on over 1,500 health topics, 70 focussed health centers, and more than 11,000 drugs and medications. Visit: http://www.healthopedia.com/

How to manage Alzheimer’s disease: http://www.healthopedia.com/alzheimers-disease/Resource In Multnomah County (Portland) Oregon

Cultivate Health as You Celebrate Well-Being!

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Cultivate health! Celebrate well-being!

Vitality/aliveness/well-being is more than a number on a scale!

Ask yourself: What’s NOT wrong?

What are the blessings in my life that sometimes I might take for granted?

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Come to the banquet table of life.

Learn to nourish yourself in ways that provide lasting nourishment to the soul (heart).

Practice the recipes for nourishing the heart.

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Learn the art of cultivating joy.

Ask yourself, what nourishes joy in me? What nourishes joy in others?

Do I nourish joy in myself and others enough? Do I enjoy the precious jewels that I have?       

        Daily Check-in:

  Notice if there’s suffering (obstacles/patterns that don’t work well).

See a cause.

See a way out, and a path that shows the way out.

Practice the path.

     Ideas for Self-Nurturing Activities         By Bob Wilson, BS, DTR

(* = FREE) This list is euphoric and non-caloric!!!

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Paint Your Life with Creativity! The Painting Experience

Self-Nurturing Restorative Box

Sprinkle Dollops of Delight and Self-Care Towards Yourself

Ways to Learn to Love Your Body

Listen to my favorite music

Enjoy a long, warm bubble bath

* Go for a walk

* Share a hug with a loved one

* Relax outside

* Practice feeling contented

* Physical activity (of my choice)

* Spiritual prayer

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*Attend a caring support group

* Practice diaphragmatic breathing

* Do stretching exercises

* Reflect on my positive qualities: “ I am…”

* Watch the sunrise/sunset

* Laugh

* Concentrate on a relaxing scene

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Create a collage representing “the real me”

Receive a massage…ah…

Massage

* Reflect on: “I appreciate….”

Write my thoughts and feelings in a personal journal

Attend a favorite athletic event

Do something adventurous!

Read a special book or magazine

* Sing, hum, dance or whistle a  happy tune!

Play a musical instrument

* Spiritual meditation

MEDITATING DOG

Work with plants (gardening)

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Learn a new skill

See a special play, movie or concert

Work out with weights

Ride a bike or motorcycle

Make myself a nutritious meal

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Draw/paint a picture

MY FIRST PAINTINGI SAY YES TO MY LIFE

* Swim, float, wade, relax in a  pool, or on the beach

Do aerobics/dance

Visit a special place I enjoy

* Smile & say : “I love myself.”

* Take time to smell the roses  (and other flowers I enjoy!)

uncondition love ROSEP1040518

* Imagine myself achieving my goals and dreams

Go horseback riding

* Reflect on “my most enjoyable memories”

* Enjoy a relaxing nap

Visit a museum/art gallery

* Practice yoga

Relax in a whirlpool /sauna

Enjoy a cool, refreshing glass of  water or juice

* Enjoy the beauty of nature

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* Count my blessings: “I am thankful for…”

* Play as I did as a child

* Star gaze- stay up late, get up early!

* Window shop

* Daydream

* Tell myself the loving words I want to hear from others

Attend a special workshop

Go sailing/paddle boating

Reward myself with a special  gift I can afford

Take myself on a vacation

Create with clay/pottery

GIZO FRONTVOW PLAQUE

* Practice positive affirmations

* Pet an animal

* Watch my favorite TV show

* Reflect on my successes: “I CAN….”

Make a bouquet of flowers

LOVE OF FLOWER ARRANTEMENTS

* Relax: watch the clouds

Make myself something nice

* Visit a park/woods/forest

Read positive, motivational literature

* Reflect on: “What I value most in life…”

Phone a special friend

Go on a picnic in a beautiful setting

Enjoy a gourmet cup of herbal tea or coffee

Participate in a favorite sport, game, recreation

* Practice a relaxation exercise

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* Practice the art of forgiveness

Treat myself to a nutritious meal at a favorite restaurant

Participate in a hobby

* Practice feeling awe for life

woman meditating on rock

* Discover a new place

* Hug a tree!

* “Meow” with a cat; “ bark “with a dog, “chirp” with a bird !

* Create my own list of self-nurturing activities

LIVE LIFE

ABC's of Zestful Living-COLOR

You Become What You Contemplate!

Do your habitual thoughts lead you to feeling calm, centered, happy…OR

…distressed and anxious?

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Just like with food habits….you BECOME what you think, what you eat, and what you do….

your moment by moment choices shape your world.

Your life is your garden. Over time, what you plant is what you get.

                                                                                          

ASK yourself: What mind am I contemplating?

1. The “I, me, and mine” mind: This is a mind that is always planning, fearful, and obsessed? Maybe anxious? Always concerned with outcomes? Trying to control all things in your life? How do you feel when you are lost in all of those type of thoughts?

2. “Concern for your family and the whole-world” mind: This is a more expansive and broader contemplation, but consider what happens to your mind and emotions when you are watching too much news and seeing directly the distress of the world.  Perhaps your thinking about your family and friends with a caring and open heart? Where does seeing too much suffering, problems, and individual distress lead you? Do you end of feeling discouraged, feeling hopeless, sad, or wanting to run away from it all?

WORLD DAY OF METTA

3. OR, “focus on a VAST” mind: the mind of the still forest or whole Universe: connected, present in the here and now, concentrated, celebrating life! Aware of senses: seeing, hearing, tasting, smelling, and touching. Practice how to cultivate that vast mind:

Winter Stillness: Talk by Kodo Conover

  • Be aware of the 4 elements in everything: earth, air, fire, and water parts of all life.
  • Let go of the thinking/planning mind whenever possible–come to silence–focus on the great VAST mind–just like the sky with stars in it or clouds in it (all floating by)–all levels of manifestations on earth–constantly arising and instantly manifesting…and then…instantly disappearing.
  • All in the VAST space of awareness (my mind)…everything arises in it…and disappears…
  • Allow all to arise and pass away–without preferences
  • Don’t “judge or label” what happens….allow it to be just as it is in this moment.
  • The VAST Universe, world or planet is ONE continually pulsating, alive organism–all with mysterious intelligence that guides it and brings it to harmony. My apparent “life” is intimately and completely connected with the whole world and Universe–it is NOT separate from it.
  • Allow myself to experience the awe, wonder, and mystery regularly…contemplate it and rejoice!!
  • Accept all as the perfect teacher for what I need at this moment.

LIFE GIVES US WHAT WE NEED TO LEARN

LIFE IS FULL OF BEAUTY. NOTICE IT

DALAI LAMA-INNER PEACE

ACCEPT YOU AS YOU

Considering all of these thoughts can benefit the entire world!

WE ARE ALL TOGETHER-1

Discover Creative Holiday Garnishing Fun: Make a Sandwich Birthday Cake and More!

Celebrate Holidays and Special Occasions!

                Jon Cake-Fruit Jon Birthday Cake-smile

For all people who love to be creative in the kitchen but want to avoid making traditional gooey, high-calorie cakes for birthdays or weddings, consider this fun and delicious alternative. My kitchen creativity previously expressed itself in making 8000-calorie cheesecakes for all of my friends!

When I lost weight, I knew that I needed to find alternatives that were still fun to make and healthful. I started making birthday cakes for my friends and even one for a friend’s wedding. The wedding cake had 3 cakes with a large bouquet of flowers in the middle.

I love using flowers and colorful vegetables in my creations.

  • In the above cake, I used green onions, red pepper circle-slices and red cabbage for my friend JON’s name.
  • The flower is made of carrot circles and green onions.
  • I put red pepper hearts that were cut out using a small, heart-shaped cookie cutter. I also have used a small teddy bear cookie cutter on other cakes.
  • I decorated the sides of the cake using carrot circles and red pepper hearts.
  • Colorful chrysanthemum flower tops were used around the base of the cake for accent.
  • The icing is really herbed tofu dip (you can use low-fat cottage cheese).
  • The cake is really a two-layered sandwich with low-fat tuna salad (It’s green-colored in the above picture because I used green catsup!) on the bottom layer and low-fat Toby’s® Tofu Dip—it tastes similar to egg salad—which could be used instead.
  • Options: I have also used my garbanzo spread and black bean spread for the layers and have used pureed cottage cheese for the icing. See: dinner recipes.

Banana FRUIT art

Ingredients:

18 slices Orowheat® Best’s Winter Wheat  Bread (a chewy bread—6 slices/layer)

2 heads red leaf lettuce

3 6½-ounce cans of water packed tuna

catsup, to taste (I used green!)

spicy mustard, to taste

dried onion flakes (or use fresh), to taste

6 stalks celery, diced

1 ½ pints of Toby’s® Tofu Dip or low fat egg salad

dried dill weed, to taste

garlic powder (or minced garlic), to taste

2 12-ounce, extra-firm tofu packages You can also use low-fat cottage cheese.

vegetable garnishes, as desired

keep going

What to do:

  1. Prepare “salads” and “icing” first: the low-fat tuna and egg, or garbanzo and black bean—use any “salad” filling that is desired. Refrigerate the salads, for best results and to keep everything safe from bacterial contamination.
  • For tuna salad: used 3 cans water-pack tuna, 6 stalks of diced celery, green catsup, horseradish mustard, black pepper and dried onion flakes—make according to your tastes
  • 1 ½ pints of low-fat Toby’s® Tofu Dip (found in Portland, Oregon) OR low-fat egg salad—make according to your tastes
  • “Icing”: Blend in a food processor or blender 2, 12-ounce boxes of Mori Nu® low-fat extra firm tofu, dried onion flakes (about ½ cup), dried dill weed (about 2 tablespoons), garlic powder (about 2 teaspoons) and horseradish mustard (about 1 tablespoon)—make all according to your tastes
  1. Get a large 18-inch round platter and line it with red leaf lettuce (washed and patted dry).
  2. Arrange the 6 slices of bread—in two rows of three slices—in the middle of the platter on top of the lettuce.
  3. Use a spatula to spread the layer of tuna salad evenly on top of the 6 slices of bread.
  4. Put 6 more slices of bread on top of the tuna salad—just like you just made 6 sandwiches.
  5. Then put on the low-fat Toby’s® Tofu Dip OR low-fat egg salad on top of the bread using a spatula.
  6. Next put 6 more slices of bread on top. Now you have 6 double-decker sandwiches, in two rows of three.
  7. Now get out the “icing” and using a spatula, cover all of sandwiches, top and sides, to a thickness of ¼ inch—just like you were icing a cake.
  8. Prepare the “names” and garnishes out of whatever you want to use—carrot circles, red or yellow peppers (hearts, teddy bears), red cabbage slices; you can use pretzels to make the names. I suggest that you use tweezers or needle-nosed pliers to place the vegetable or pretzel pieces on the cake.
  • You can decorate the sides of the cake using carrot circles, red pepper hearts, peas, chive flowers, or any other edible delight.
  1. Lastly, put whatever type of flowers around the edges of the sandwich cake for a garnish.
  2. The cake takes about one hour to assemble after the “salads” have been made.
  3. Refrigerate the cake until serving time.

Serving Suggestion:

This cake is a delightful alternative for people with diabetes or for those who want to avoid eating lots of sugar, fat and extra calories. People always LOVE receiving this cake (except children, because they expected REAL icing!).

Cut the cake using a sharp knife after letting everyone see it.

This cake serves about 15 people, with serving 1/3rd of a sandwich to each person. 

Serve with a fresh fruit and cut up vegetable platter.  

 Make a Sandwich Wedding Cake Too!

Sandwich Wedding Cake-2 Sandwich Wedding Cake-1

I have two friends who were married and they did not eat sugar, but wanted a wedding cake. So I offered to make them one. A sandwich cake!

Use the same process as described above, but make several cakes. Then I cut the flowers from the yard and made the center arrangement and added the flower garnishes to the cakes.

I went to the wedding reception and set the cake up on a table.

It was a Spring wedding, and so all of the flowers in the garden were blooming. Take a peek and see how it turned out. It was SO fun and everyone enjoyed it!

Christmas Relish Tree

                                                          Christmas Relish Tree Think Light For The Holidays!                                                                                           

To clearly see the type click on the thumbnail then print off the page.

 

Simple Garnishing Creates a Colorful Easter Celebration!

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Create a feeling of consciousness, delight, and pleasure about your eating!

I love mixing flowers (some are edible) from the garden,  along with cut up fruit. 

The meal also includes a low-fat mini pizza and coffee.

 Enjoy!

Garbanzo Appetizer

Bob’s Garbanzo Spread Appetizer (See Dinner Recipes)

For a wedding-brunch appetizer:

I lined a platter with red leaf lettuce. I formed the garbanzo spread by using an empty yogurt container. I then emptied it on top of the lettuce. I added a few flowers around the base.

Next I topped the Garbanzo Spread with borage flowers, carrot circles, red pepper hearts, and teddy bears.  I made the teddy bears and small hearts using small cookie cutters that I purchased from a kitchen store. 

I served the appetizer with Lavache heart-shaped crackers on top of red leaf lettuce.

Pickled Beets and Asparagus Platter

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BE WHO YOU ARE. Be happy for this moment--it is your life!

Learn to Effectively Manage Social Gatherings

 Holidays are Here! So Be a Lamp Unto Yourself!

 BE A LAMP UNTO YOURSELF

Failing to plan is planning to fail!  An ounce of preparing is worth a pound of fat!

Prior Planning Prevents Painful, Poor Results!

Get to know your DANGER ZONES. Where is it difficult for you to stand up for yourself and make healthful choices?

autobiography in 5 chapters

Which situations and times do social groups influence you the most? At work? During pot lucks? At your church or spiritual group? With family and friends? At the neighbors? On vacations and holidays? At restaurants? When you’re feeling overwhelmed (too many needs and requests for your time) and out of balance? What’s your challenge?

Consider that you probably have been through these situations numerous times in the past. What can you LEARN from them? HOW can you make more effective choices next time?

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Take into account the mindset of  holidays or special occasions:

  • Special occasions are filled with people, food, and emotions. Because of this, the events may be enjoyable and stressful at the same time!

  • Notice that the gatherings frequently center around FOOD! You’ll probably find tempting treats everywhere!

  • Many times you may find that overeating is encouraged, “Oh you can go off your diet, just this once!”

  • Because the events may involve lots of preparation (cleaning up the house, shopping, food preparation) you may not find time to go for a walk or to practice other stress reduction activities (like taking a NAP!)

  • Watch out for being:  P-HALT? Are you too: P=Pressured, H=Hungry, A=Angry, L=Lonely, T=Tired?

  • You may discover that family dynamics may increase stress for you.

THE OVALS FINAL-COMPLETE WORKSHEET.pdf

SHORT-Journal tips and ideas-1.pdf

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Get to KNOW yourself as you develop wisdom. Pay attention to your choices as you notice a lifetime of holiday habits automatically play out. Prepare yourself to be successful on special occasions by exploring the following sections:

Use the Stages Of Change  and The Daily Personal Check-In for suggestions on how to become a more effective self-manager.

Remember, progress not perfection! Easy does it, but DO it!

Think Light For The Holidays!    Christmas Relish Tree

                                                                                                                                                            Think Light for the Holidays!                                     Christmas Relish Tree!

Do You Need an Emotional-Spiritual Tune Up?

Be the change in yourself that you want to see in the world!  Gandhi

Be a lamp unto yourself!

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Here are my thoughts that I wrote in my journal last summer when I noticed that I was very cranky, reactive, and fairly miserable. I wondered what choices that I had recently made that led me to feel that way. I contemplated how I could change my perspectives and choices so I could feel happier and restore balance to my life. How about for you? Could you use a tune up?

UPDATE: This last season of 2013 and 2016 has seen many opportunities and challenges: increased work demands (and then retirement after 40 years), family, friends, and in-law illnesses came up. I was also attempting to support them too; lots of housework and gardening, shopping & cooking, and other healthy-lifestyle practices, trying to promote my Playbook; friends requests and having a variety of guests over (all fun…and it takes time and effort to plan and implement)…and I arrived at a place of feeling extremely tired and stressed. I realized I was at a place of burnout. OOPS!

I wanted to be compassionate for everyone in the world….and I realized that I was depleted. I took time to remember that the cycle of compassion is not complete without myself. I can’t drown…I need to keep myself afloat too. It’s essential that I heal my own traumas.

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ASK myself: “Is this compassion for me? Can I take on this commitment and not overwhelm or harm myself?” I can remember that it’s not my job to save the world single-handedly. Plant the seeds that I can–do what I can. That is enough.

VOW PLAQUE

It’s essential that I take care of my instrument (my body, mind, and spirit) too so that I can make beautiful music! No one can take care of me–I have to do it. I realized that no one can balance my life for me–I have to do it.

CAR TUNE UP

So I asked a friend if we could stay home today (and not take a whole-day trip to Eugene from Portland OR). I slowed down and actually went to the gym for a short while, visited my spiritual group and meditated 2 hours, and then went home and took a nap! Ah…now that felt better!

I asked myself, how can I create my life more skillfully?

I want to become a doctor to my own mind, emotions, and life!

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  • When life gets challenging (with lots of busyness, suffering, difficult experiences) then I really need extra meditation, contemplation, and time spent on managing my stress (not less!).
  • Set my daily intentionthis is the way I’m going to do it. I’m not creating more separation from myself and others by my choices. ASK: Does this act of body, speech, and mind serve my highest aspirations for my heart and life? It is my intention that you are not going to be harmed by me in any way. It is safe to be with me.

Relax, Work,Play, and Flirt!

  • Practice stress management techniques. Slow down. Release speed. Allow extra time. Release the need to rush to the next thing. Own my place on the earth. Move slowly throughout the day. Contemplate and celebrate my journey of life!
  •  Relax. Observe and allow. Be aware of and stay connected with each of the experiences that I encounter. Pay attention to my reactions to life’s events.
  • Know what enough is. Watch greed (and compulsion) for accomplishment (e-mails, computers, house chores, social activities, etc.). Notice the heaviness of obligation.
  •  Ask where’s my heart? I shut off my heart when I live in my head (constant thinking—remembering, planning, and judging).
  • Remember all of stories and identities I have about me and others are not true! Everyone, everything, and myself are in a constant state of change all of the time. There is no solid and unchangeable core in anything. Everything is in flux.
  • Don’t buy into the idea that I need a long retreat or a special environment to get happy (have emotional and mental balance and peace). It can happen in my daily life—IF—I set up the daily patterns and choices for it to manifest!

ASK: Would I rather be right or happy? Remember, my serenity is inversely proportional to my expectations!

 I SAY YES TO LIFE!

o ASK: Am I happy, peaceful, and contented? Yes/No? If not, what habits or patterns or mind am I cultivating? Notice that attachment to what I want à anger and unhappiness are the result.

o High and unmet expectations lead to impatience and frustrations. When I have lots of desires, wanting to be right or acknowledged, and have attachment to my views and my desired outcomes (“I want or must have…”) I notice that I’m miserable!

o Do I have strong attachment to my projects, views, and perspectives? If I do, what happens to my peace of mind?

  • I’m in charge of making my choices, trying things out—making the effort. I’m not in charge of the results or outcomes. When I’m attached to the results, I suffer and am unhappy.

For perspective, consider the metaphor of looking at a forest floor. You will see trees fallen everywhere, branches, old flowers, shrubs, and leaves all over. They are all in various forms of decay and regeneration to new life forms. So like all of life (humans too) on earth—some falling down, crashing and burning (falling into relapse around harmful behaviors)—going through apparently difficult and chaotic circumstances, there is dying of old ways and regeneration of new forms of life. They are evolving in ways that are right for them!

Perhaps consider too:

Kiss The Earth and Walk as You Touch Peace in Every Moment!

Setting Healthy Boundaries

Various Meditations

On The Spot Stress Managers (new audio relaxation tape)

Prescription for Well-Being!

Overcoming Your Obstacles to Healthful Eating

How to Develop a Loving, Self-Nurturing, Inner Voice For You!

Thich Nhat Hanh questions (Mary shared them with me.)

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Dear Friends,

Consider these questions today. This can apply to a romantic partner, but family or even in the business world…or really to any relationship:

1.      Are you in love?  Creating Healthy Relationships

2.      Are you still in love? Loving-Kindness: Learn to Befriend Ourselves and Others and Love Your Body!

3.      Do you want to reconnect with the person you used to love?

4.      Do you think that he or she is happier than you are now? How to Develop a Loving Relationship with You

5.      Do you have the time for each other or are you both to busy? Overwhelmed? Are You Taking In Too Many Empty Calories? and Help! I’m movin’ too fast! I need to slow down!

6.      Have you been able to preserve your freshness and beauty for yourself and for the other person?

7.      Are you capable to offer him or her freshness and beauty everyday? CELEBRATING The Simple Joys Of Life!

8.     Do you know how to handle the suffering in yourself? Four Foundations of Mindfulness

9.     Are you able to help handle the suffering in the other person? Relax, Observe, and Allow

10.  Do you understand your own suffering and the roots of that suffering?  Getting to Know Your Stress and How to Management It and Out Of Hell, Into Freedom Thoughts

11.  Are you able to understand the suffering in the other person? Make Your Mind an Ocean: Become Your Own Therapist!

12.  Do you have the capacity to help the other person suffer less? Thoughts On Healing and Helping Yourself and Others

13.  Have you learned the way to calm down the painful feelings and emotions? Dialectical  behavior therapy 

14. Do you have the time to listen to yourself, your suffering, your difficulties, and your deepest desire? Mental Nutrients: What To Say When You Talk To Your Self

15.  Do you have the time to listen to him or her and help him or her to suffer less?

16.  Do you know the Buddhist way of restoring communication and bringing reconciliation? Non Violent Communication

17.  Are you capable of creating a feeling of joy and happiness for yourself? Peace!

18. Are you capable of helping the other person to create a feeling of joy and happiness? Be Happy and Contented!

19. Do you really think you have a clear spiritual path to go? What Is Life About? Heart Advice

20. Do you have the feeling of peace and contentment within yourself? Invent A New Life!

21. Do you know how to nourish your love everyday? Rules For Being Human

Benefits of meditation

Understand Food Cravings, Brain Chemistry, and Body Weight

You BECOME what you think, what you eat, and what you do!

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Consider about how your lifestyle patterns, food choices, self-nurturing, and physical activity choices deeply influence your brain chemistry, your moods, addictive urges, your sense of well being, and ultimately your body weight.

 

Many brain neurotransmitters and nutrients in foods affect appetite and moods:

Aside from providing great pleasure and enjoyment, the nutrients and energy your body needs to function; food also has an influence on appetite and moods. Research shows that certain foods and lifestyle patterns affect powerful mood-modifying brain chemicals called neurotransmitters:

  • Serotonin — this is a chemical released after eating carbohydrates (sugars and starches). It enhances calmness, improves mood, and lessens depression. Serotonin is made from the amino acid tryptophan. High levels of serotonin help control appetite, satisfy cravings, and provide a feeling of well-being and inner calm.
  • Dopamine and norepinephrine — these are chemicals released after eating protein (meats, poultry, dairy, legumes). They enhance mental concentration and alertness. These neurotransmitters come from the amino acid tyrosine.
  • Ghrelin — a neurotransmitter that sets up an irresistible urge to eat when elevated
  • NPY, neuropeptide Y — increases carbohydrate cravings when elevated
  • Galanin — increases the desire for fatty foods when elevated
  • Cortisol — the emergency gland of the body, the adrenals releases cortisol as the primary coordinator for the reactions of stress. Cortisol decreases the production of serotonin. If you normally eat to relieve stress, the hormone cortisol places the extra calories (fat) in the abdomen or stomach area of your body.
  • Endorphins — the body’s natural “high'” which gives pain relief and pleasure when elevated

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  How Do Your Lifestyle & Food Choices Affect Your Brain Chemistry?

  •   As you lower calories to lose weight, you starve your brain first and that depletes serotonin (a neurotransmitter which helps you feel calm, peaceful, and contented, and has a pivotal role in regulating appetite). This leads to increasing cravings for different foods, depression, anxiety, lethargy, feelings of hopelessness or rage all increase. Typical dieting means an immediate cutback on the production of chemicals that support health of your mind, your psyche, and your spirit.
  •  If you skip meals, this will lead to your blood sugar levels going abnormally low and intense cravings start. This also this causes an increase in ghrelin (a neurotransmitter that sets up an irresistible urge to eat) and also lowers neuropeptide Y, which increases carbohydrate cravings. This will lead to an unstoppable desire to eat lots of food and increases your eating frequency, which leads to binging on extra foods. Oops, not what you wanted to happen!
  •  As you lower calories to lose weight, this will lower insulin and thyroid hormone, which lowers your metabolism and also lowers the release of fat from your body (you can’t lose weight as easily and may end up on a plateau).
  •  As you eat more dietary fat, this will increase endorphins (the body’s natural “high”, which gives pain relief and pleasure). Research has also shown that the neurotransmitter galanin increases the desire for fatty foods. The more fat in a person’s diet, the more galanin is produced and the more galanin that’s produced, the more one prefers or craves fattier foods.  Research has also shown that eating less fat for several weeks reduces galanin levels and the desire to eat fatty foods. So the less fat (and refined carbohydrates you eat), the less you want.
  • Eating extra dietary carbohydrate (starches and sugars) will raise serotonin, which makes you feel calm and relaxed. So you can see how the usual combination of sugar and fat (many desserts) set you up to feel calm and contented, and can easily set up cravings for additional desserts because you want that inner state of calm and contentment.
  •  Stress is also a common reason given for overeating or emotional eating. Two out of three people eat more under stress. Plus, we don’t usually overeat vegetables when we’re stressed (Did you notice that “stressed” is “desserts” spelled backwards?) You can make small changes over time to improve your eating habits. Do your best to choose foods rich in nutrients when you are under stress–vegetables, fruits, whole grains, lean protein, fat-free dairy, and healthy fats in moderation. Limit sugar, unhealthy fat, caffeine, and alcohol.
  • When loneliness or stress increase, this leads to an increase in cortisol, which leads to deposits of abdominal fat and makes it more difficult to lost weight or keep it off.
  •  Do you sleep enough? 7 – 9 hours of sleep is vital to your health. There is a strong link between the amount of sleep people get and their risk of becoming overweight. Sleep deprivation leptin, a blood protein that suppresses appetite, and ↑ grehlin, a substance that makes people want to eat. After a night of sleep deprivation, people typically consume 10% more calories! Check out sleep disorder information online in NHLBI’s Diseases and Conditions Index (DCI) at http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/sdd/  Also Read the Comprehensive Booklet Your Guide to Healthy Sleep here a PDF file: Healthy Sleep.pdf
  • If you feel inferior, have the “blues,” think you need to find something or want a reward, this leads to the increase of dopamine, which will lead to an increase in desire for food and an increase in attention to searching out enjoyable eating experiences or rewarding actions.
  • Calming and positive thoughts lead to an increase in serotonin, which lowers your desire for food, and increases your satisfaction, all of which helps control your temper, improve your sleep, while balancing sexual urges, and enhancing your memory.
  •  When you eat favorite food this will increase endorphins which may also lead to an increase your eating speed, which causes you to eat more eating more.
  •  A rise in norepinephrine causes an increase in negative feelings, feelings of distrust, and increasing the desire to fight or flee from unpleasant situations
  •  Endorphins (the body’s natural opiates which give a “high”) when they are low, this leads to an increase of the urge to get relief or pleasure, desire for junk foods, excess exercise, or alcohol.
  •  Exercise naturally raises endorphins and control NPY (neuropeptide Y) which lowers anxiety and carbohydrate cravings and increases feelings of contentment.
  • After a person exercises, abnormal cortisol levels lower, dopamine lowers (arousal hormone), and norepinephrine lower, which leads to appetite suppression and mood stability…ah…you feel better.

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Nutrient, Food & Mood Links:

  Think about this nutrient depletion……………..Might cause some common symptoms   

Sodium Confusion and poor memory
Potassium Apathy and confusion
Chromium Depression
Iron Confusion, lethargy, and difficulty learning
Magnesium Depression, confusion, and change in personality
Maganese Seizures
Selenium Anxiety and depression
Zinc Mood changes
Vitamin B1 Mental confusion, personality change, poor appetite, memory loss, mood swings, short attention span, irritability, depression, and fatigue
Vitamin B2 Depression
Niacin, Vitamin B6 Mood swings, depression, sleeplessness, restlessness, disorientation, and irritability
Vitamin B12 Memory loss, confusion, and senility
Folic acid Irritability and depression
Choline Memory loss
Vitamin E Lethargy and depression
Essential fatty acids Lethargy, irritability, and depression
Amino Acids (protein) Mood changes

“Stop Gaining Weight” (Second Edition) by Dr. Laura Pawlak Taken from page 228
Reviewed by Gudrun Zomerland, MFT     http://www.chinnstreetcounseling.com/zomerland/zomerland_10.shtml

For additional exploration about how vitamins and minerals affect our emotions and health see resources below The Essential Guide to Vitamins and Minerals.

Review below some excellent resources that can assist you in meeting your essential nutrient needs that contribute to emotional well-being:

How can you balance brain chemicals, achieve natural well being, as well as, reduce food cravings?

CAR TUNE UP

Are you feeling a bit stressed out or overwhelmed? Agitated or grumpy? Exhausted? Burned out? Do you feel like running away from all of your daily responsibilities? The first essential skill to explore is to restore balance to your lifestyle choices. Consider taking some time to simplify your life. Relax a bit and consider an emotional-spiritual tune-up. Ah… Now, frolic around and explore the following suggestions:
 

  1. The first step to achieving a healthier weight is practicing healthy thoughts. Nothing has a greater ability to change your brain chemistry and your desire to eat, more than the way you think! Think of your brain as a computer that is impacted by everything inside and outside your skin. Since our moods (and brain chemistry) are dramatically affected by our thoughts, practice thinking positive, uplifting, celebratory, and thankful thoughts! Ah…doesn’t that feel better?  Stress-related thoughts lower serotonin, which increases cravings.
  2. Don’t forget to eat! Don’t allow yourself to get overly hungry.  Most people find that if they wait too long between meals that they eat very fast and end up overeating. Running many errands on an empty stomach or leaving home without a snack sets you up to make a bad choice. Take fruits and veggies, whole grain low-fat crackers along with you. Perhaps bring along a bottle of water to stay hydrated.
  3. Eat healthy meals, with fewer amounts of junk foods. Buy plenty of fruits and vegetables for snacking and meal preparation. If you’re short on time, consider ready-cut or frozen items for convenience (and bring along a food bag). Make sure you tune-up your brain by eating enough healthy fats. Explore Healthy Fats and Risky Fats
  4. Keep problem foods out of the house. Avoid buying foods that are high in calories and bringing them into your home: i.e. potato chips, chocolate, cookies, brownies, cakes and pies, candy, etc. You can’t eat what’s not there! That doesn’t mean that wouldn’t ever have any of these foods. You just might purchase single-serving sizes and eat them when you’re out of your home.
  5. If you’re feeling low, practice self-nurturing techniques, and go for a walk or talk yourself into a stable mood before eating. When we remind ourselves of the benefits for changing, it can help us get back on track and keep us motivated.
  6. Note the benefits for physical activity. Physical activity can lessen stress, control blood pressure, decrease resting heart rate, etc. But it also helps to deal with stressful situations be increasing your mental sharpness, concentration, problem solving skills, and creativity. Shifting our attitudes will also help us overcome our resistance to doing exercise.
  7. Get support from other people, find a clan.  You don’t have to do it alone! Remember, HUGS are euphoric and non caloric! Frolic around: Various Hug Coupons!

To explore Douglas Bloch’s Your Personal “Brain Maintenance” Program

from Healing From Depression

 

Make an investment in you!

For a PDF version of Make An Investment In You–Learn Core Skills.pdf

21 Steps to Aging Successfully!

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