Review of The Home Design Doodle Book

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As an avid reader of the blog, Miss Mustard Seed was excited to explore her latest creation, The Home Design Doodle Book. I was not disappointed. The artist in me delighted in the look and design of it. The friend in me delighted in the gift potential, already thinking of several friends who would enjoy this book. The fan of me happily supported a woman who inspires me.

First, this is a book by a creative, crafty artist…and this book is beautiful. It is filled with heart, joy, and inspiration.

Second, this book contains the most sensible, five steps for discovering your style.

  1. Observe and collect items//swatches/images that speak to you
  2. Filter what you love vs. what you love for your home
  3. Recognize patterns in the images/items you love for your home
  4. Unearth your style based on the patterns observed
  5. Transition your style: after noting what fits and does not fit your style in your home, gradually transition your home to fit the style you identified.

After this, she encourages a room reset, the creation of mood boards, organized and planned shopping with a budget in mind, and offers her tips. Pages are frequently inserted for your expression/reflections like, “I think that is stupid!” or “seriously need a new stove.”

Third, a warning: this is not a reading book. This is a workbook. As Mrs. Parsons says, it is a conversation. But as any great designer, she offers only prompts and expects you to do the talking and discovering. She can give tips, but it is up to you to seek the information.

I can see how this book could be an excellent guide for those who are a) to intimated to make design choices, b) cannot focus their many projects or desires, or c) feel their home is too far from what they would like it to be. The format is open enough to allow you your own mode of operation, style, and pace, but tight enough to maintain concrete steps in your creation. When a home feelings overwhelming, the latter can be invaluable.

I would highly recommend this book. I plan on keeping a copy in my home to give as a gift whenever the opportunity arises.

Caveat

If you seeking information and guides on how to do in more detail, you will not find it here. It is what it says, a doodle book. This is the tactile version of creating a Pinterest board. It is an advanced form of a bulletin board (well, many bulletin boards). If you want to learn how to do these things, I recommend Mrs. Parson’s video tutorials and her many other digital offerings through missmustardseed.com.

Happy decorating!

Sad Haikus

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These are from earlier in the week. The memories move back and forth in my heart, sometimes at the front, sometimes at the back, always there.

My peace is the belief in the communion of saints. As C.S. Lewis writes about the mother, it is “a comfort to the eternal spirit within her. But not to her motherhood. The specifically maternal happiness must be written off. Never, in any place or time, will she have her son on her knees, or bathe him, or tell him a story, or plan for his future, or see her grandchild.”

These haikus reflect that reality…our reality.

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Daddy

 

He sits on a chair

Wishing her to sing her a song

Rocking her to sleep

 

No song will come out

She is already asleep

On her way to light

 

Tears fill up his eyes

A man who almost never cries

Cries to say goodbye

 

Silence fills the room

For death has taken her home

Little baby girl

 

Me

 

Filled with emptiness

Memories of silence

Warm blanket on her

 

Goodbye my sweet girl

For long I will not see you

Till I come to you

 

A life lived in fear

Waiting for another grief

Mark left on my heart

 

I don’t know your cry

I never saw you alive

I don’t know your touch

 

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What is Art?

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If my hobby is painting, but my day-job is a postal worker, can I call myself an artist? If I screw together basic shapes of wood and make a table, am I an artist? If I crochet blankets for my grandchildren, am I an artist? Some would say not. Some would hesitate to say so about themselves. I propose that art is something anyone can make. Anyone can be an artist. And anything has the potential to be an art.

Art is a way of making something that builds on a skill. In applying the skill, art requires the intuitive judgment of the maker on how to apply it just so. While making art, we engage with the spiritual side of ourselves. We give it a transcendent quality. To make art is to take that which does exist, and transform it into something that goes beyond its original state.

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Some feel to say “this is art” or “this is my art” or “I am an artist” is too lofty or grandiose because we attach the artistic quality of the work to a special quality the maker naturally possesses. “He has a gift,” we say. But what he has is a way of taking this skill to the next level, applying more than just a science to it. To consider oneself an artist is to see a vocation, or calling, of oneself to this particular art form. It implies a commitment to seek opportunities and produce this particular art.

Craft is to make a thing that can be used. The art one makes may or may not be useable. It may be visual or performance. Art is a quality superimposed on the craft. We do not need terms like crafters, creatives, or makers. For those who put their heart in the things they make, let them call themselves artists.

Start with a skill, and allow time to ponder its production, to get lost in the effort or plans of making it. Continue with the skill. Learn the rules in order to break them. Do not set out merely to break them.

Make beautiful art.

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What type of art can you make? Emily Freeman in A Million Little Ways encourages us to find the things that give us joy, that we desire, that make us feel the thrill of being alive in a healthy way and then do those things. One’s art could be painting furniture, pencil sketching, making music, dancing, computer programming, gardening, or practicing medicine. As there is no limit to the tasks we may encounter, so there is no limit to the types of projects that can be considered art when approached with a fullness of intention and freedom of spirit.

How can I make great art? Renowned artist, Robert Florczak, describes great art as demanding the highest standards of excellence, improving upon the work of previous masters, and aspiring to the highest quality attainable. We can bring this down to a beginner level with the intention to give every work our best. It is not worth it to merely turn out quantity, we must aim for quality, even if it means we produce little, but what we do produce is magnificent. For most of her lifetime, Harper Lee published only one novel; and it is one of the most beloved American novels in existence, To Kill A Mockingbird.

Next, educate yourself on what others have done and what others are doing, start by copying in order to develop your techniques. You learn the skills and techniques in order to later make them your own and find what works best for you. Lastly, continue to learn and seek to grow with every endeavor. There is always more to learn. You may only paint one tree, but if you love that tree, there is nothing wrong in painting it over and over again.

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The Giving Tree

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What is the Giving Tree?

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The Giving Tree is the mother. She gives with joy when the boy takes with joy. She rejoices in his joy. As he ages, her gifts mature. They are more substantial. Yet his receipt of the gift requires him to leave. To fully use the gift, he must leave her.

He returns when his well is dry, when his ideas have failed.

His need is deeper.

His longing is greater.

And so she gives.

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She gives until she is fundamentally altered. Her body is no longer recognizable as the tree she once was. She has substantially changed. What seemed to make her what she was when she was young, when the boy was young, is gone.

All that is left are the profound remnants of a life fully given. She is sad when she is alone.

Is she so old, so different than the things that make trees beautiful, that she has nothing left to give?

No, in her suffering, in her altered state, the boy returns again. He needs very little. In the end, his depth of need comes face to face with the love of an infant. He needs just her. It is not something he can take from her. It is not something that can be taken from her. He needs her. And she is glad to be with him, glad to have a gift.

We give and we give as mothers. We give with joy and with our bodies in those early years. Yet we are still recognizable. Perhaps there is a certain charm we have now as mothers that we did not have before. People smile in passing to see those names carved on our hearts and our bodies, held from danger in our hands. But the day comes when people no longer smile. Maybe they see a wasted life or a useless life or worse, perhaps they do not see us at all. A 60-year old woman rarely turns heads the way a 20-year old woman can. And so a society obsessed with youth writes her off.

But she gives and gives. She no longer just gives out of the usual way a tree or a mother can give. Now she must see the child she tried so hard to protect suffer and grieve and it hurts her all the more.

At some time there comes the time of loss. Maybe she was young, as I am, or old. But some loss occurs: the loss of a home, the loss of a child, the loss of a grandchild, the loss of a spouse, the loss of a marriage, and so on. Some loss happens. That suffering makes her forever different. She bears in her body the marks of the life she gave for her children. She will never be the same.

Children take and take. It is not folly but some thing written into human nature. In the end, though, there is nothing to take, just a nearness to experience, the rest of being in the presence of a mother. Whatever Mother gave, whether she gave well or often or with weakness, when she is present, her presence is so much more powerful than all the strangers in the world. And the presence of her child -the physical presence of her child- is more magnificent to her heart than all else. Whether the child is small or taller than she or dead, her body is complete when she is near that child.

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I do not know what it is like to have grown children. I do not know what it is like to see them leave for college or start a new job or grieve a loss I hope they never would know. But I know what it is to lose. I know what it is to be separated. I now know a fear I can never “un-know.” And when I fear for my child, I fear in a new way. Then, I must let go in a new way.

This knowledge bears itself in my body and in my heart. I am fundamentally altered by the gift I have given, by the lives I have loved. I cannot know what the future holds, but I can say with the gift that I gave, that I am happy to have given it.

Mother’s Day

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Mother’s Day.

There are debates surrounding relationship awareness days like Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day. I think any ire against Mother’s Day generally goes quiet most people acknowledge many mothers work without thanks. It seems fitting they should be celebrated. Who wants to be the cad saying, “let’s not celebrate mothers”? At the heart of the complaints, is often disgust for commercialization or personal pain associated with the thing celebrated that day.

With any holiday, we can complain of commercialization.

Anna Jarvis founded Mother’s Day, as we know it, in 1908 with a national campaign to put it on the calendar. It began as a well-intentioned celebration in a Methodist church, financed by and widely celebrated in Philadelphia retail stores. Florist shops helped promote the day as part of the petition for a national holiday. Is it any wonder, with these roots, that Jarvis would find the holiday usurped by the commercial process? She spent the latter years of her life fighting the commercialization of this day intended to honor all mothers everywhere, with or without flowers.

As a popular holiday, Mother’s Day is unique is how new a holiday it is, and how it was founded apart from religious observance or patriotism. That it is one of our most popular holidays, and one of the biggest for consumer spending, speaks to something deep inside us as a nation and a culture.

For whatever struggles women have in society, on a personal level, we can see our indebtedness to mothers. Even those with emotionally or physically absent mothers, or oppressively present mothers, feel the lack so much because of what it should be. If mothers did not matter so, no one would care if their mother were absent. But motherhood matters, not only biologically, but the relationship with one’s mother follows throughout the individual’s life. Healthy attachments affect later relationships. Through his mother, the child learns the world is a place where it is safe to explore. Mother acts as a home base. They are more commonly the primary caregivers. As such, they often responsible for teaching children healthy coping skills. In Mother’s relationship with Father, children witness problem solving and cooperation between two very different individuals. A mother becomes aware of the baby’s every move in utero and maintains that awareness even as the toddler seeks out mischief in the house. She is the first word learned by an infant and the last word spoken by the soldier on the battlefield.

Not everyone has this family structure. Not everyone has a mother of whom they can say they owe everything. Not every woman can be a mother. Not every woman wants to be a mother.

However, you observe the day, make it personal. Take time to reflect on the wounds and graces of motherhood’s impact in your life. Resolve to do better or to imitate, whatever the case may be. While biological motherhood can be quite limited in scope, the concept of spiritual motherhood, a motherhood that transcends biology providing us with “mother figures” in our lives, is quite remarkable. To mother is to care for, ahead of oneself, in an intuitive and judicious way.

Give praise to a mother in your life, be she your biological mother or spiritual mother or someone else’s mother. In your reflection, spend time with old photographs, videos, and memorabilia from the days of parental monitoring or personal crisis in which a mother cared for you. Consider and write down what words come to mind. What are you grateful for? What lessons were learned, what passions or hobbies acquired, what qualities admired? Thank her for them. It can be written on a post-it note or a fancy card. That you see her and recognize her in her motherhood captures the spirit of the holiday.

It is okay to have holidays to raise relationship awareness. Mothers seem to be around, wherever we go. It is quite human to need reminders. And, after all, it is our humanity we’re thanking them for.

How I settle in at home

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There is a reliable course I follow to settle back into home following a hospitalization.

First, I unpack. If I do not unpack immediately, it can take weeks. It is so unsatisfying to spend two weeks procrastinating unpacking, finally unpack, and then have to leave again. Better to get it out of the way. In this, I erase all traces that we were gone. I restock suitcase items as needed, put away the suitcase, the bags, and move on. I take the same approach with Peter’s things.

Second, I go on the rampage. I am a territorial woman and my home is no exception. It is best for my husband to be gone when this takes place. It usually looks and feels quite angry. I go about the house putting everything just as I like it, react strongly when things are out of place and look like a madwoman. I do not care how the house is kept when I am gone, but this process is cathartic for me. I come out satisfied, like winning a fight. The house it turned back. It is mine again. All traces of my husband as the housekeeper are gone.

Third, I buy flowers. I arrange flowers. This time, sweet peas are in bloom at my mother’s. I cut a large batch. My six-year-old surprised me with a sweet bouquet because she sees how I love them. We are lucky if I stop at three arrangements. I could do more.

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Fourth, I take the kids on an adventure. Today we went to the Farmer’s Market. I could not resist an arrangement of roses and eucalyptus from Kelley Flower Farm.

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I added Jupiter’s Beard and Dusty Miller to make it mine. We sampled everything that was not pure sugar. I bought a Jack London book at the book sale. We stopped at a Barn Sale on the way. It was gloriously reckless.

 

And now I am home. It is mine. I am reestablishing my authority with the kids, and my friendship. I look around and see not just the house I left, but the home I continue to create. My heart is full of gratitude and joy. In these perfectly imperfect moments, my heart has never felt so full.

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Today is Clean-up Day!

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I grew up outside city limits. In my upbringing, there were no baseball evenings, annual yard sales or citywide clean-up. Now that we live in town, I look forward to these things immensely. When I described this town to a nurse in San Francisco, she said, “oh my gosh, you live in Stars Hollow.” Which is to say, we live in the dream town: a small town, with third places, where people gather, know each other, support each other, mourn for each other and have unique city events that could only happen in a small town. Last weekend we saw the citywide yard sale and Fruit and Nut Festival take place. This weekend, it is time for the citywide clean-up. It is a busy time of year.

When I was away from home in early April, I felt eager to get my hand back into my art. I could, at the time, do little more than sort photos. It is wonderful to think of how far we have come in our home. To design is a process. You can take steps in the beginning and if you really know your taste, your way of functioning and color, you might not need to make any changes for a long time. More likely, you will make decisions and change your mind in the future. But every step in decorating one’s home is a process. The home represents those who live in it. It has a soul just as there is a collective spirit to the family. Our town is a larger version of a home with municipal codes instead of rules and a much larger family.

It takes time to develop a home as a marriage takes time and as a family takes time and a town takes time. With each additional to the family, the home must also change. It grows. It goes through trauma. You can mark the growth of your children, not just with measurements on a wall, but also with photographs of when that bed was there and that room was overwhelmed with baby things and when you tried to organize all those clothes. If you are involved with your home as you are with your family, it becomes an embodiment of your history. And that is a beautiful thing.

It is not always the case. Sometimes we neglect our home. Sometimes we neglect our family. The two are not equal. Even in a neglected home, where you did not give a lick about decorating, you will still have memories. When we did not have a bed frame…when picture frames sat in a shopping bag on the desk for a month…when the living room was nothing but boxes. Even then it can still echo the activities of our year.

There is no perfect home and there is no perfect family. There is no perfect town. If your home is perfect, I suspect it is impersonal, or a vacation house you just arrived to but have not lived in for some time. Because when people live in the home, it must change as much as we do.

And so it is time for the annual clean-up day, when we wander our property for those neglected pieces whose time has passed and must be let go, for the appliance boxes we held onto in case of a return, to trim the trees and haul the brush. This weekend, as well as last, you can invest in your family, your home, and your town, as can only happen in a small town like this.

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Managing a hospitalization with little ones at home

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I often think about how, in some ways, emotionally managing Peter’s condition is easier because I can compare him to my other children. Having other healthy children has protected me from the self-blame, and shown me Peter is learning and growing like a normal, non-medically complicated child. That said, there are many challenges that come with balancing the needs of three children against the need of the one. I’d like to share the lessons learned along the way regarding managing hospitalizations with little ones at home. All the recommendations here may not apply to you, but I hope there will be some gold to glean for you from our experience.

The Family

Get to know your support systems at home. It takes vulnerability to ask for help. As something necessary and good, it is another sacrifice you make for the sake of your family. Accept help when offered. When you have a calm moment, consider making a list of things people could help you with so you can more easily remember things when people make general offers.

Get you know support systems in the hospital: social work, child life specialists, music therapist, and so on. There may be more than meets the eye. It can take a while to learn what is available and see how it may benefit you or your child.

Re-work the spousal dynamic. If you are married or have other people deeply involved in raising your children, take an objective look at what each person contributes to the normal balance. I am the planner. When I am gone, and my mind is occupied with hospital business, I cannot plan for my spouse or children. He and others will have to coordinate plans. It cannot be as I might like it to be. I must learn to let go of this. Every hospitalization, no matter if it is less worrisome than others, is a sort of crisis because the family is separated. In times of crisis, things cannot be just as we would have them. I should not blame my husband if things are not functioning at the same caliber. An entire person is missing from the home dynamic! Learning to accept that is part of finding peace in difficult times.

The Children

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Engaging in medical play

There are a handful of things I focus on in keeping the heart of family life pumping even when in my absence.

  1. Maintaining family celebrations

After our Easter fiasco, I was determined to have a back-up San Francisco plan for every holiday. My plans for home would be simple enough to translate should Peter end up in the hospital. As I look back on the past year, I feel this was a gift to our children. Each child’s birthday was celebrated. In fact, we were able to make such a celebration that when it came time for Peter’s first birthday, I could do nothing. He is too young to understand and so I let it go. I reached my limit. I tell myself, “life does not stop when we get to the hospital.” Christmas still comes. Easter comes. Birthdays are a big deal.

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Halloween 2016

  1. Routine Family Visits

During Peter’s first admission I put off asking my parents directly to bring the children. Back then, the two-hour drive seemed like a big deal. I should not have done that. When we learned after a week that we would not go home yet, I fell apart in tears, desperate to see my children. We had never been long apart. After that, we agreed to always have a plan of when we would see each other again and to remind the children that plan. “We do not know if Peter will still be in the hospital, but if he is, we will see each other on Saturday.” We never told them when we hoped he would be discharged until it was certain. This approach gave us things to look forward to and hope for, without getting hopes up.

During our visits, we established a routine. We limit the time in the hospital room to keep the kids sane. We go to mass together. They go to the playroom. They know what to expect and are excited to come.

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Ice Cream following a Giants game

  1. Communication

My oldest daughter is six. The key for us to was to communicate at an age-appropriate level what was happening. It would do no good to hide it from this perceptive, sensitive little girl. She would know if something was happening, better to tell her and give comfort her. “Fever,” “infection,” “sick,” and “medicine” are common words in our house. “Peter has a fever…the doctors are working hard to find out why he has a fever…they’ll work hard to keep him comfortable and give him medicine…then he’ll stay a little longer until he strong enough to go home.” Something along those lines. For my four-year-old, I might say, “Peter has a fever and we are going to the hospital…but we’ll see you on Saturday.” I keep it focused to what information the child is most likely seeking. When I’m not sure about a behavior from the children, or questions they ask, I contact the Child Life Specialist for advice.

We also talk about feelings. I tell my six-year-old that I am sad to be away from her, I miss her and will be so happy to see her again. I say it is hard when we have to go. I am worried about Peter. I share these things with her and when she shares her feelings with me, I listen or might say, “sometimes I feel that way too.” I have not pushed her away if I cried, but also did not seek her out even though I am comforted by her hugs.

She is part of the equation, even though I should like to shield from all the pain. Though she feels what is happening, we never put on her the responsibility of keeping the family together. She could engage or disengage, cry or play, however, she responded, was welcome.

In order to do this for the children, I have to do my best to take care of myself. It is very difficult in times of crisis to step outside myself and talk to the kids, but I try.

Parenting is a thousand little moments. What happens today will not define my child’s future or who he or she is bound to be in the future. So I can fall short a little today. It is the thousand little moments added together, not the individual moments, that count most. And for whatever influence the lesser moments have, there are greater moments that are equally, if not more, powerful than those.

For other pieces in this series, click below:

 

Transitioning to life after admission

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I have shared with you my tips on surviving an emergency department visit and a long hospitalization. If you have experienced these things, I am sorry. They are life changing and unquestionably difficult things to go through. If you made it through these experiences, but tragically, your little one did not, with all my heart, I am so sorry. What I write next references adjusting to life at home with your little one following a major hospitalization. It will not reference what it is like to adjust to life after a long hospitalization and loss.

My little 15-month old treasure has had 15 hospital admissions. Of those two were truly frightening, and a total of five were very dangerous. In the beginning, my mind only took in as much information as it could handle, which is why the middle three stays did not frighten me as they could have. But they probably will in the future.

When I drove him home after the second admission (a month and a half long stay) I wrote a poem that focused on the nightmare ending. This was my mindset for the longest time. It was a nightmare and I would wake up. I knew he had a genetic condition. I knew we would return to the hospital. I knew this intellectually.

Emotionally, I felt waves of relief each time we came back and the belief that it was over. We are home now. I felt the jolt soon after when we returned again and again.

This mindset caused me to lose my peace. It took 12 months of our hospital life (which started when he was two-months old) before I learned a new way of looking at it.

We are going up a mountain, hiking on a switchback trail. On one side is the meadow, the sweet relief, the promise of comfort and ease, the time with family, my beautiful home, the good health of my boy. On the other side it is dry and dusty and dead because this mountain is in California and is a volcano. So we walk, back and forth, up, up, up. Some times we face the meadow, some times we face the dry side. But it will change. Whichever side we are on, it will change. This thought brought me peace.

How do you look at the situation? Maybe yours was a one-time admission. Or maybe for you, like us, it is a way of life. Maybe this is your only child. Or maybe, like us, you have other children. Everyone’s story is a little different. I would love to hear what helps you.

All the advice I gave in the last piece on maintaining peace during your child’s hospitalization…apply it here as well. I needed to learn how I can apply the coping skills I learned in the hospital to life at home. With the demands of home, it will look different, but it serves me the same. I walk in the evening when my husband gets home or exercise when I first wake up. I stretch. I read before bed. I try to unplug. I try to eat healthy, feeding myself as healthy as I try to feed my children. I try to avoid the mindset that I deserve this sweet or I deserve this drink and focus on ways that will actually lower my stress. I ask my existential questions and seek out spiritual and emotional support. I talk to my husband. I craft.

The reward at home is greater because I am in my beautiful home that I have lovingly crafted. The joy is greater because I put my computer aside and watch the children march around the house with instruments, and see Peter crawl after them. My heart is fullest at those moments. I know, as he crawls, that he has a g-tube and Broviac under that shirt. I know we will do a dressing change in a couple days and use a syringe to infuse his TPN with vitamins tonight before connecting him to a 1.5 liter bag of mystery stuff that makes him grow and live. It does not matter.

These are the perfectly imperfect moments. Learning to live in and enjoy the moment, coping and caring for myself, staying aware of my interior life as well as my exterior life. These are things I have learned. And each month I may have to learn them all over again. But we keep moving higher. We keep moving forward.

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For other piece in this series, click below:

Surviving your child’s hospital admission, part 2

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Last time I shared with you about how to care for your emotional, volitional and intellectual needs. Today we move forward, considering how to care for your physical, social, and spiritual needs.

Physical Aspect

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Christopher’s Books, Portrero Hill, San Francisco, 1/2 mile walk from the hospital

Maintaining physical health and energy is vital for you to support your child in the way you desire. I recommend focusing on four areas: sunshine, exercise, wise eating and sleep. In serving the intellectual capacity by exploring the neighborhood, you are getting some sun. A full day inside is not good for anyone. Refresh yourself physically by taking a break outside.

Exercise. Talk walks or doing a short exercise routine first thing in the morning. It is important to get your heart rate pumping aside from stress. This will energize you for whatever is to come, and reset you after a hard day. Stretch before bed.

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St. Patricks, Downtown San Francisco, 2 mile walk from the hospital

 

Eat well. You might hear, when someone offers you a sweet, “you’ve earned it.” You are still in it. Telling yourself you are justified to eat unhealthy things for comfort will not help you in the long run. They will zap your energy and give you more calories than you can work off in that little room. Should you treat yourself? Absolutely. But avoid the trap of thinking, “I’ve earned it.” The prize is not a sweet. You are not going through all this for a sweet, damn it. That kind of thinking is a way to cope with stress. Cope with the stress in a way that will actually work. Avoid heavy foods with lots of carbs. Protein, fruit, and vegetables will make you feel better after these long hospital days.

Sleep. If this is your first time with your child in the hospital, leaving the bedside at night might be unthinkable. Your child may be older and scared to be alone. My child was a baby when first admitted and an easy sleeper. You alone can make the decision whether or not to sleep at the hospital. If you choose to sleep away from the hospital, it does not mean you a bad parent or less sacrificing. The hospital is a terrible place to sleep with beeps and interruptions all night long. If you are well rested, you’ll be stronger physically and emotionally to remain present to what happens during the day. Think about it. Sleep on it.

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Bay Bridge, view from the Embarcadero, San Francisco, on my way to the Ferry Building, 3 mile walk from the hospital

Social Aspect

You are here because of your relationship to your child. Try to maintain other relationships you have as well. If you are social, cultivate new friendships by chatting with the nurses, getting to know them and what their life is like. Keep in contact with people who make you feel comfortable, not with people who stress you out. Group updates over email work well for those who want to know the details of how your child is doing. If someone responds with a question, reply to the whole group with an answer because others may wonder the same thing. Have hallway conversations with your spouse or best friend. If you are a repeat visitor learn who is around at the hospital. Find who you like and get along with. I found various individuals with whom I connected and when the additional crisis of a prenatal fatal diagnosis came, I already had a support team. This was also possible because my son has an enormous medical team. Even with a smaller team, you likely see the same nurses, cleaning staff, and food delivery staff over time. Learn their names. It helps.

Spiritual Aspect

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As human beings we also have spiritual needs. We need to feel a sense of purpose and meaning in what we do. The sense of suffering and existential questions may be great. If you feel comfortable, ask to speak with a chaplain. There may be chaplains of different faiths assisting at the hospital. It is all right to ask if one of your particular faith visits.

Please take time to figure out what you are experiencing on the spiritual level. Allow your heart its pain. With each up and down, we can learn to obtain a sense of peace and acceptance of what happens, learning to make the best of it. The alternative is no good. It is better to be at peace. By spending some quiet time considering what you’re experiencing, you can come out of this stronger and better able to handle whatever life throws at you in the future.

The hospitalization of your child is a traumatic experience. I always thought PTSD was only like something a person experiences in war or being assaulted. But really, a trauma is a thing that completely shakes up your understanding of the world you live in, and forces you to reevaluate. We come out different people. Next time, I will share with you my thoughts on how to adapt to life on the other side of a major hospitalization.

For other piece in this series, click below: