“I hope you will go out and let stories happen to you, and that you will work them, water them with your blood and tears and your laughter till they bloom, till you yourself burst into bloom.”
– Clarissa Pinkola Estés
(Trying to remind myself of this today.)
Join us for Linda’s One-Liner Wednesday! Find out how here: https://lindaghill.com/2019/03/20/one-liner-wednesday-i-take-it-back/
I’m opting to use the Just Jot It January prompt today, which is “balance.”
A large company in our area used to promote the concept of work/life balance.
They don’t anymore.
Now it is work/life “integration.”
This seems to mean that the employee is supposed to squeeze the rest of their non-work life and responsibilities into gaps in their work life. It also means that work can lay claim to what used to be personal/family time, such as evenings, weekends, and vacation, expecting monitoring of work email and helping to address problems over the phone.
I don’t think this is good for the employees, their families, or the business. It’s easy for workers to burn out and that is not good for anybody.
When I wrote about Just Jot It January on New Year’s Day, I said that I didn’t usually use the #JusJoJan prompts from Linda’s blog except for One-Liner Wednesdays and Stream of Consciousness Saturdays, but I decided to set aside what I had planned to post today in favor of Linda’s prompt, which was to write about your blog.
What blogger would ignore the chance to write about their own blog?
I started blogging after several friends suggested that I should. At the time, I was writing a lot of comments on articles about fracking as part of the fight against fracking in my home state of New York, our neighbor Pennsylvania, and in the US and around the world. I also would post on Facebook about a range of other topics, including feminism, progressive politics, and (also progressive) Catholicism. I knew I couldn’t contain myself to write about just one topic, so I decided to be eclectic and name my blog Top of JC’s Mind. I set up on WordPress in September 2013.
I am not particularly tech-savvy and hadn’t really studied blogging, so I didn’t know what I was doing at first. I learned a lot from Opinionated Man and through him, connected with our beloved Linda. While never one to obsess about stats, for a while, I managed to spend a considerable amount of time on blogging – writing my own posts, reading other blogs, and writing comments. I was slowly but steadily gaining followers and enjoyed reading a number of blogs on a regular basis.
Then, life happened and I wound up in maximum sandwich generation mode without much time or mind leftover for proper blogging etiquette.
While I have kept Top of JC’s Mind alive over these past many months, I haven’t been able to read or comment at anywhere near the rate that I used to. I am very grateful to the stalwarts who continue to visit Top of JC’s Mind, even though I only sporadically visit them.
Linda asked in her prompt for today if blogging had changed your life and I think it has. I have met and interacted with many people, both bloggers and commenters, that I would not have otherwise. It has also encouraged me to write more often and given me a platform for sharing poetry. I started blogging near the beginning of my re-engaging as a poet after not having written for decades, so the two writing disciplines have intertwined.
While I think that blogging has changed my life, my life has also changed my blogging. I didn’t think I would write so often about my family, but, because that is where a lot of my heart and time reside, I have written a lot about them here at Top of JC’s Mind and also in my poetry.
As the political and social divisions here in the United States have intensified over the last several years, I have tried to preserve my blog as a respectful place to exchange ideas. I don’t name-call or slam groups of people; I will, however, delete or edit comments that do because it is important to me to keep Top of JC’s Mind a civil space. I don’t delete comments if someone disagrees with me, but will dialogue in comments and use supporting links for backup, as needed, something I learned to do when I was writing commentary about fracking, renewable energy, and climate change. I admit that I get annoyed when people misunderstand science, misuse statistics, or deny facts and history, so I always try to be as accurate as possible with data and be clear when I am giving opinions.
See what happens when you invite a blogger to write about their blog? They go on and on…
And life is continuing in that vein. Baby ABC is thriving, as Nana becomes more tired and weaker. Nana does have some times that are higher energy than others, though, and it is a huge blessing for all of us to be able to visit often. Of course, ABC steals the show whenever she is there!
Everyone needs a high and spending time with a precious new life is one of the best highs there can be.
On Friday, Nana was accepted into hospice care. I now that some people are used to thinking of hospice as a last-days-of-life service, but it is really designed to be an integrated care program over the course of what is expected to be a final illness. It is meant to keep the patient comfortable and as engaged as possible for as long as possible, while also helping the family caregivers.
Nana will have regular visits from a nurse/case-manager, personal care aides, and chaplain. A social worker will be available to help with paperwork and recommendations as needed. A volunteer will arrive to keep Nana company while Paco goes off on his weekly trip to Wegman’s grocery store on the bus from their senior living community. More services can be brought in as needed.
In addition to hospice, we have aides coming in at night to assist Nana to keep her safe and so that Paco – and the rest of the family – can sleep without worrying about her.
Nana has improved over the last few days. It turned out that her oxygen machine that she uses when she sleeps was malfunctioning. Now that it has been replaced with a new unit, she is able to sleep longer and better so that she can have more quality time during the day.
Meanwhile, ABC is two and a half weeks old and doing well. She initially had a bit of jaundice, which is not uncommon in babies, especially those who, like her, arrived a bit ahead of schedule. She had light therapy at home which, along with time, took care of it. At her two-week checkup, her weight was a bit above her birth weight and she is now having a growth spurt and nursing frequently.
It is a joy to watch E and L who are wonderful parents, despite being so new to it. B and I love to snuggle and rock our granddaughter and are finding that our long-unused infant-care skills have reappeared readily.
We especially love being able to take ABC to visit Nana and Paco, who love every moment with their great-grandchild, even though she is often napping during visits.
We expect to see a bit more of her (currently) deep blue eyes in the coming weeks.
I admit that I am cheating on SoCS this week. I had a post that I had to write and it could not be stream of consciousness. My family has had a very eventful week. If you are so moved, you can read about it here.
When I wrote this post in the wee hours of Monday morning, I had no idea what new highs and lows the next twenty-four hours would bring…
At 9:00 AM, Nana and I met with her primary care physician, Dr. T. What began as a discussion of her recent symptoms that had prompted us to be there quickly segued into a discussion of how her numerous health conditions and our treatment plan were not succeeding as we had all hoped, how the trajectory while there were ups and downs was trending downward, and how we needed to discuss and prepare for end-of-life planning.
As I am sure you can imagine, or, perhaps, know from your own experience, the discussion was painful and emotional, but I am grateful for Dr. T’s honesty, care, and concern that made it possible for us to consider our options and get the help that Nana and all of us need. Barring a sudden event like a stroke, we are likely to have some unknown number of months with Nana, which we want to make as comfortable and peaceful as possible, as filled with family and friends as her strength allows.
We are starting with getting home care recommenced, but the new goal will be to have therapists and aides to help care for her so that she can conserve energy for fun things, instead of wasting it on mundane things. For example, while a goal of her physical therapy had been to be able to walk down to the dining room at their retirement community for dinner, a new goal will be to get a wheelchair so she can ride to the dining room and have energy to eat and visit with friends.
We expect that there will continue to be some days that are better than others, but we hope to have enough support to keep Nana at home in the apartment she shares with Paco. They have been married for 63 years and belong together!
I spent much of Monday afternoon communicating with family members that needed to know what was going on and wrapping my head around our next steps. E and L took over dinner preparations and we settled in for an evening together watching television. E wanted to watch the Stanley Cup (ice hockey) game and was ensconced on the couch with L, when, a bit before 8:00 PM, she startled all of us with the news that her water had broken.
In short order, there was a call to the obstetrician’s office, the message saying to head to the hospital, the hurried assembling of some supplies, and the four of us driving off to the hospital where we arrived at about 8:30.
E and L headed into the delivery suite while B and I set up in the waiting room, thinking that, given that E had not been having noticeable contractions, they might send us home while she rested for the night and waited for labor to begin in earnest. The reason we thought this might be the scenario is that, when I was pregnant with E, my water broke at 36.5 weeks and it took 26 hours for her to arrive.
And E was also at 36.5 weeks.
This was a different labor-and-delivery story.
Baby arrived before 1:00 AM Tuesday, on the sixth of the month.
E was also born on the sixth of the month.
Baby weighed five pounds, five ounces (2.4 kg) and was eighteen inches (46 cm) long.
E was born at that exact weight and length.
Baby has a full head of hair, as did E, although E was strawberry blond (later changing to golden blond) and Baby has dark hair, like L’s.
E and L named their new daughter Ada. Henceforth, I will likely refer to her here on the blog as ABC, which are her initials, but I did want to share her lovely name with you in honor of her birth.
B and I got to share a little time with the new little family before heading home to catch a few winks before the sun rose. We each got to hold our precious first grandchild and reflect on the parallels between E and little Ada.
One more: Ada, like E, is the first grandchild on both sides of the family.
L was able to stay at the hospital with E and ABC until they came home on Wednesday. On Thursday, they went up to meet Nana and Paco.
Maybe Ada was in a hurry to arrive so that she could meet Nana as soon as possible.
I’m sure she will bring us all much-needed joy in the coming months.
After the problem at the Oscars last night, mistakes are in the news, so I have been thinking about mistakes a lot today.
Most of us lead our lives in a small, mostly private sphere. When I make a mistake, it is usually straightforward to correct it and move on.
I’d hate to think of what my posts would look like if I couldn’t correct my mistakes…
A simple mistake of handing someone the wrong envelope last night led to a few minutes of confusion before the situation was corrected, but having millions of people viewing that mistake must have made it very difficult for those involved.
Still, the solution was fast and there was no lasting damage.
Other mistakes are not so easy to rectify.
Last night, 60 Minutes was re-showing a segment on people who have been exonerated after long prison sentences. Such grievously mistaken convictions are not so easy to rectify. Some states try to award money to the person, while others don’t even do that. Still, no amount of money can replace decades of lost life with family and friends, a chance for a career or for building a family, being able to choose what to eat and where to travel, to have contact with others on a regular basis, all the stuff that we take for granted as we build our adult lives.
One man, exonerated by ballistics testing after thirty years in prison, made his first stop after being released his mother’s grave. Nothing could ever replace the precious time he lost, locked away from her.
One of my current worries is mistakes from the White House, which can have massive consequences.
For example, mistakes with the executive order on immigrants and refugees sent some people back to dangerous situations. A mistake made in international relations could even lead to armed conflict.
People who are in positions of public authority don’t share the luxury that I have of making – and correcting – mistakes in private. Therefore, they must be particularly diligent to be thoughtful and considered in everything they say and do.