Tags: dreaming

Next...filling in some blanks...rambling on...


The Hackberry tree in summer 2015, through my open childhood window

It's been just My Tweets here for quite a while!

What was happening between December 2015-2017 (and leading up), and then after, up until now:

My parents declined and died...and I'm still retired. But now I'm free to travel with my tortoiseshell colleague.

The folks' decades-long, steady but gradual at first, then faster, then ever-more rapid relentless demise through cascading old-age-related afflictions became and remained my full-time job and nightmare for nearly a decade, their final decade.

But I might live one more, maybe even two, and I'm resolving to live as well as possible.

Lately, I've been looking back, while going forward, driving or flying to and from Wisconsin, exploring new destinations around the USA, recalling in a jumble the blurs and highlights along my life's detouring path, so far--the synergy of fun, pain and learning.

My sister and I made no headway over those years improving the folks' steadily more and more chaotic state of affairs--as a last-ditch measure, we called Dane County adult protective services, but that agency was just beginning to open a case when the inevitable middle-of-the-night, life-changing disaster struck. Our mother's hospitalization in December 2015 then triggered many changes for the better, at least as far as safety and comfort go.

RIP1 - 2016 - Our mother's end-of-life: She died in October 2016, 92 years old, almost exactly six months before her husband, our father, while residing in Capitol Lakes Terraces, a POSH assisted living facility in downtown Madison, Wisconsin she chose. This was after a go-round in rehab there, after he put her in the hospital, just past midnight in mid-December 2015 because his dementia symptoms had escalated into violent aggressive outbursts after most sundowns. So, after her broken ribs had mended enough, she opted for safety, but her health declined rapidly thereafter.

Leading up: Despite drastically deteriorating conditions at home, our mother, growing very frail, yet still well able to demonstrate her own mental competence alongside our father's worsening dementia, had hotly refused to budge from this familiar, yet increasingly distressing and dangerous predicament, despite my sister's and my offers to facilitate safer, healthier solutions, with or without our father's cooperation (and healthier, safer solutions for him too, of course).

After hospitalization and rehab: Our mother lived her remaining months in her ideal mini-apartment, surrounded by all her favorite artwork and treasures we'd gathered from both the Davis, California and Madison, Wisconsin houses, with dedicated, well-qualified "resident assistants" providing impressive, skilled-nursing-level care (just under non-medical terminology because of the setting--most were nursing students, others had years of experience and/or CNA credentials and they provided all types of care, as needed, under an RN's supervision, individualized to each resident). After a few months, this exceptional care was augmented by Agrace Hospice services--more institutional than Heartland Hospice, a company I prefer that supported our father's dying later, but suitable in that assisted living environment.

RIP-2: Our father was controlling enough that he just had to die just past midnight, exactly on his 98th birthday in 2017 when that date, April 16, fell on Easter! An exceptional flourish is in character--he often claimed to be an exception to whatever rules Life On Life's Terms naturally, universally rolls out. But, despite his super-brainpower, poetic romanric heart, and generous sense of humor, ultra-privately, a lifelong compulsive worrier, he lived an increasingly brittle, anxious, fuming, PTSD'd life, despite much bluster, more and more often triggered into sweating much "small stuff" and some bigger stuff, both alike. Having grown up during the Great Depression, then flown a full tour of heavy bombing raids out of Foggia, Italy during WW2, as a B-17 crew member (Radio Operator/Gunner), like probably many others of his generation, he certainly suffered unrecognized, untreated PTSD, and maybe other traumatic brain injuries besides. So, to cope with those ongoing torments his way, he strived to overachieve, and largely he suceeded, while white-knuckling it took its heavy health toll, year by year.

And yet: Our father's end-of-life turned out okay, better than expected, after all: At his beloved Madison, Wisconsin house, Comfort Keepers caregivers, starting January 2016, with support from Heartland Hospice, joining in March 2017, gave him the best possible last year-and-a-half of his life--days of mostly carefree, nearly stress-free moments, full of pleasant dreams, drives along local memory lanes, and giant bowls of Neapolitan ice cream. "There's nothing to do, all has been taken care of!" were the magical, comforting words that allowed him to respond, again and again, "Wow...That's wonderful!"

After the crisis: Our father refused to move from his house, even to join our mother in assisted living, and could afford 24/7 home care, so he stayed put. He visited her at Capital Lakes Terraces once per week for an hour at most, supervised by me and his favorite caregiver, about as much as he could tolerate physically, and the dementia had taken his sense of timing, anyway. When he died in his home, as he had long-wished, under the best of care, resting, sleeping and dreaming on the hospital bed that had been set up in his livingroom so he could look up at the lush greenery of overhanging maple trees all around his property, he seemed deeply relaxed, at last. The caregivers had even brought in a huge, laid-back, super-friendly, playful orange tabby for companionship--"Finally, another man in the house. That's wonderful!"--who appeared to enjoy soaking up extra attention and watching over the backyard wildlife during his extended visit, with a countryside forever home at one of the caregiver's to return to.

Déjà vu and more: I visited both parents on two restful Saturdays, October 15 and April 15, prepared, both afternoons, to return the next day, but both died in their sleep overnight, each upon their apparently chosen, transformational Sundays (as both, lifelong Episcopalians, would think of all Sundays, and especially Easter Day).

Unfortunately, even putting the best spin on events: Our parents' last decades were increasingly disorganized and distressed--more and more turmoil, less and less fun--but they refused appropriate assistance, retaining every right to do so, until dire circumstances led to the crisis that forced comfort and safety upon them.

Before and after the folks entered assisted living and home health care, the ongoing managing of many details of their lives and properties became and remained my full-time volunteer job. Having cultivated, since adulthood, a simplifying, low-overhead lifestyle, I could just afford to retire early on Social Security to do this because for decades I'd worked diverse freelancing and odd-jobbing gigs alongside steady, fun (for me), manual (often so-called unskilled) blue collar employment. Before summer 1998, when I suddenly quit professional social work when I realized in an aha! flash I disliked it, I performed communty, clinical and administrative roles, usually full-time for nearly two decades in Milwaukee's inner city, while earning an MSW degree, and the LCSW credential next (which remains current, under "permanently retired" status that could be reactivated).

All those higher- or lower-paying earning quarters reckoned into the SSA's retirement benefits formula, adding up to just enough. Though I intended to semi-retire at first, attending to the folks zapped most of my energy and hours.

My sister, still full-tme employed professionally as a school teacher, with much better retirement benefits held hostage, helped as much as possible from a distance, flying in for holiday and summer visits, even while she was dealing with her own husband's early-onset severe dementia, and then his dying and death, As soon as she could afford retirement, she stepped up to do even more than her share near the end of the folks' lives, then beyond, into the red tape that came after.

My job coordinating everyday particulars locally--unpaid, except, necessarily, travel expenses--became less acutely stressful after the folks started receiving competent professional care. But it became more like social work then--so, a lower-level chronic stress, over the mundane minutiae of managing several health care providers, getting bills paid and repairs done for the two houses, staying on-call for questions and emergencies, etcetera.

This near-decade-long situation was, I believe, for both of us, discouraging and exhausting. Earlier on, for me, it proved traumatc and soul wounding, but I'm mending. Still, we volunteered, have no regrets (we've agreed) and experienced (I've understood all along) far better circumstances than many families dealing with aging relatives.

We were especially fortunate that sufficient funding for the highest level of care for both parents was available--before the chaos set in, the folks had planned ahead that way, expertly indeed. Finally, once the hospitalization crisis forced (grudging and kicking) acceptance of care, at our mother's request, and then under Power of Attorney, we did our bests to fulfill their end-of-life wishes.

Well, for me this ordeal is over physically, and I feel immense relief to this day, while wondering on what more I would do well to learn from this transforming phase of my life-journeying, and the learning will be ongoing, no matter what.

So now: What about me and my tortoiseshell companion these days? We're Wisconsin residents with connections to Madison and Greater Milwaukee, still. But we're jaunting around the American Southwest, drinking in sunnier, drier views.

Gradually, I've resumed working and playing with several long-term writing projects, without setting deadlines--I'm ecstatic, unabashed, reveling in this long-awaited freedom from family ties.

Appreciating our distances and differences, my sister and I keep in touch by texting, as needed and wanted, and visit occasionally--without ties.

Rolling along...







Here's the view from my place--two months ago, one month ago and now--here I am living in a retirement community in a Milwaukee suburb. So I am admitting, finally, I've retired--fully not "semi," like I'd been saying for a while. Really, I retired gradually from most freelancing as the needs of the seniors I've been helping have increased, gradually and steadily. But writing about these self-educational experiences must wait because of agreements I made.

In the meanwhile:

The shamanic circle church has shifted into a "faithful remnant" phase, and the known members have spread far and wide along the webs of life, connecting their shamanizing over the Internet and within our imaginations. My closest shamanic companions circle around where they live, shifting for the better what each values in space, time, matter and energy--not aiming to transcend, not reaching beyond the physical, reveling (and revealing) in the material.

After beginning that mission to study original and innovate new shamanic ways--meaning (as broadly as possible) to investigate any methods, techniques and systems that any shamans anywhere use and/or have ever used, from nowadays back through history and prehistory, to shift reality towards better and best, I shifted into skepticism.

Because: As much fun as I was having at workshops and circles, though waxing ecstatic seeing new possibilities for self-help and amazing ways to do mind-changing, heart-openng, gut-boosting rituals and ceremonies without getting bogged in beliefs or dwellng on dogma, quickly my enthusiasm waned into skepticism with reason. I soon came to doubt the efficacy, and even the harmelessness, of most all non-evidence-based practices I was adventuring so blithely.

So, I began doubting the practices that were benefiting me--because I was experimenting in fun, without believing or seriousness, like a child, while many seemed enthralled and co-opted.

Then I began debunking as a mission, questioning: The effectiveness, and even the harmlessness, of most all Complimentary and Alternative Medicines (CAMs); as well as the helpfulness, versus the harmfulness, of traditional and new religions alike, organized or not (including "spiritual paths" and "spiritualities" and similar euphemisms, circumlocutions and alternative verbiages substituted to avoid the word religion); alongside most all advertised faith- and energy- healing methods; and alongside supposedly occult, so-called magical (using any trendy spellings-with-a-k) reality-changing (or subjugation by willpower) schemes; and including popularized or copyrighted shamanisms.

For me, just attending lots of shamanic workshops, while watching and listening closely, did more debunking of supernatural beliefs, psychic powers, and pseudoscience than reading skeptical and science-based writers.

Throughout and since childhood, I've grown more and more fascinated and impressed by the beneficial world transforming possibilities of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (nowadays called STEM). Lately I've been saying "I'm a STEM optimist!"

Still: Undeniably, I find art-play; new storying; wondering and wonder; purposeful wishing, hoping and dreaming; and everyday jesting for fun-restoration; and more, all health-boosting, serenity-inducing and life-shifting towards better and best--for me, these are beneficial and freeing ways to shamanize, without any need for overlying superstitons, underlying esoteric babble or mystifying scary lore.

My understanding lately: Shamanic ways shift for the better naturally by inspiring and encouraging new patterns and possibilitiies and/or by enhancing and expanding placebo effects intentionally, through active imagining and intense pretending--fun acting out as art-play, shifting inner self first, allowing changes to ripple outward through all directions and dimensions of body, earth and universe--conscious to unconscious and back. It's psyching-up: re-creative (nano- to micro- to macro-) choice (by choice, by choice, by choice...to be and live fun here now) all-spiraling-interconnecting, into immediately obvious to long-hidden ways and means, that is, into physical, material beneficial butterfly effects anywhere and everywhere.

This emerging, never final interpretation is centered around and based upon hope (forward-peering grace), faith (past-scanning grace) and ongoing experience (LIFE in each here now crossroads moment of power, wherever two or three or more gather in fun, to rattle, drum, sing and dance all things new, the greatest grace of all). Art and science interconnect, interact and overlap in such improv, yet purposeful, frolics, then some of the best results only appear supernatural.

Disclaimer: I've written this for me--I'm still sorting many notions out.

So...

While I'm commuting between here and Madison, Wisconsin, words, sentences, even paragraphs brain-wave along for the ride. Why not dictate more frequent blog updates as I drive--about real, interesting topics, instead of why don't I blog more? Or, I could add increments to my "longterm project" book drafts.

Updated late June: Oops--I didn't post this before flying to California's Central Valley and back, helping those folks on their annual summer-early fall visit.

Traveling to and fro, considering footprints, rambling and musing freely

The Tortoise Cat tree guarding in Oak Creek, WI, July 2013

OK (beginning this amid a long rumbling train of thought), I just read recent research indicating train travel leaves smaller carbon footprints than the transportation modes I use nowadays, while visiting and running errands for shut-ins -- (anything but taxies: airplanes, buses, shuttles and autos (so far, only shared Zipcars - BTW without any of the so-called "hidden charges" Zipcar was sued over in 2009 and 2011, a controversy covered under Fees in the article, which otherwise appears thorough).

Some days my colleague Tortoise Cat and I dream of prowling the country perpetually. But we would need a camping vehicle to shift to that lifestyle because cats cannot ride the rails freely. Though train rides take much longer than plane rides, possibly much much longer, rail fares still cost hundreds of bucks, according to my research.

Traveling by Amtrak from the Milwaukee airport to Chicago, then to Davis, California and back on the Hiawatha and Zephyr would cost $572.00 for just one coach seat. Coach-class airfare could cost less or more, depending on how far ahead I book, whether special deals apply and other complicated factors I barely understand, despite my years working for airlines. But coach class train seats appear as roomy as First- or Business-class plane seats, and I could hike between cars on the way.

How much smaller are apartment dwellers' (than vagabonds') carbon footprints, I wonder? Well, that's a new topic for further research. For now, we'll live here one day at a time simply with our bags perpetually packed, just in case.

Uh oh, worst case scenarios happen with trains and planes, the daily news reminded me!

Well, every day, day after day, mayhem unleashes dismay, agony and anger all around this world, spoiling, harming and destroying relentlessly. Three to eight periods a day I attend to the latest terrible stories that draw my attention, seeking meaning and visualizing relief (as shamanic shifting meditation-prayers). But I rarely comment, after reading what others opine and conclude. Because usually I feel there's been enough said already, so I hope for better and best in silence.

Tweets about the plane crash fell into five categories in my reckoning: Prayers, scoffs (critical to hateful), information (correct and/or not, with even a few conspiracies), personal drama grabs -- like "WOW, #SoScary, I flew (or was gonna fly or made plans to fly) there (or on that airline) five (or some other number of) days (or months or years) ago (or hence)..." -- and, of course, most outrageously uselessly, last and perhaps least helpful, the self-proclaimed experts' (mostly ignorance-based) explanations of anything related to the event, the news coverage, folks' reactions, and (sadly) more, on and on.

But, social networking is fun for me, still. Maybe I will ramp up and expand my participation, now that I'm retiring from Cloud-based freelance writing.

Freelance writing online reminds me of those independent-cuss dumpster-diving aluminum can and scap metal collectors I'd notice toiling long (longer, longest) hours in any freezing to steaming weather along the east side and downtown Milwaukee, stuffing worn contractor bags as full (and heavy) as possible with smelly pop and beer cans stomped flat and/or rolling temporary, rusting modern sculptures on discarded baby-carriages, then clanking their drippy or awkward loads to a recycling center on the south side to exchange all for a few bucks. True, these folks avoid punching a time-card, but I wonder how the major sweaty trouble they go to could be worth it. Still, it must be.

When I was content producing, I stuffed recycled words for long hours, then exchanged my throw-away (anonymous) articles for a few bucks and the end of each day. I made this repetitive task fun and educational for a year or so and made a relatively hassle-free shortchange-living off it, but the fun kept wearing off. There are many other tasks I could do for money, brokered by Internet startups that facilitate connections and handle the financials, so I'm reassured I could always fall-back on earning a seriously fun-deficient emergency living among the many Cloud temp-agencies and content-farms as an information superhighway plodder (while retaining enough freelancing freedom and everyday flexibility to keep my nose a few inches off anyone's particular grindstone).

But I have retired, that is detoured, from independent contracting along the I-bahn's slow lanes, because my space-time here on earth as LIFE is ultra-precious, as my singular YOLO sacred FUN, and I don't want to exchange any of my being and living fun energy (and matter that matters) for any span or remuneration. Mass producing web content for easy (lesser amounts of) money per piece didn't discourage me as much as finding increasingly annoying that repetitive tap, tap tapping of hundreds of "just OK" articles per month, mostly used in link-building to boost blah websites, mostly selling unnecessary services and stuff.

But "in real life" many physical tasks that others readily pay others to do (as too mundane or menial or taxing or whatever) are really exhilaratingly fun for me naturally -- gardening, painting, moving, cleaning, many more (including many repetitive tasks, so long as the work is worth while) -- so IRL odd-jobbing is the perfect profession for me, though free exercise is the only perk.

Why this is true for me is merely another quirky mystery, probably connected to many un-fun early childhood experiences: Family life revolved around one especially esteemed member's apparently highly stressful "publish or perish" academic career, and Young-Me probably reacted to this, and all related domestic dysfunctions, by turning and tumbling, through momentary micro-decisions, towards this and away from that and so forth, eventually creating Adult-Me's complex and weird personality preferences and aversions.

Analysis wasn't any fun, I concluded after years of it, but flowing with what I want today yields the best and the most fun, and generates more and more, so that's what I do (between shrugs) -- indulge my weird complexity.

Well, I've rambled more than enough for now so now I'll recycle and re-purpose earlier sayings (by me and others, with permission) into a link-poem.

Again, what were those mottoes that helped?

SHIFTS happen...
Wonders never cease...
The stories of everyone's lives are changing...

The Universe rattles, drums, sings and dances until...
Always, ALL WAYS...

Blessings in disguise shift to gifts with laugh-medicines, revealing the fun of it ALL.

ZAP, ALOHA, YOLO...Be and live the FUN -- Don't believe,..
BE LIVE, with extras...

FUN Freedom (and/or Flexibility) Unfolding (Universally New) Now!

My freelancing New Year's resolutions

New Year's Eve is here and finally I'm reconsidering resolutions about my freelance writing and odd-jobbing for 2013.

I will work where I can donate payments directly to my non-profit mission of reality shifting towards better and best.

I will accept odd jobs and writing gigs I can link -- somehow, tangentially, if not directly -- to re-creating a funner, freer world.

I will publish at least one blog or article under my own name at least five days per week.

I will begin my long-dreamed ebook project anew and finish at least the next-to-last draft by the end of 2013.

I will keep silence except when emitting beneficial sounds: blessing, singing, laughing, cheering, encouraging, comforting, thanking, teaching, praying and storytelling dreams and visions of better and best.  

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Tortoise Cat Napping in a December Window


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