Archive for the ‘Aging’ Category

Graceful Dancing

Posted: May 16, 2015 in Absolute Truth, Abuse, Aging, America, Anxiety, Arguments, Atheism, Atheist, Bi-Polar, Bible, Blog, Blogging, Books, Brainwashed, Change, Charity, Charity Foundations, Christianity, Church, Community, Confessions, Coping, Corporate Culture, Crisis, Crooked Politicians, Culture, Death, Debates, Depression, Diary, Dilemma, Dreams, Duty of Care, Dying, Elderly, Emotional Abuse, Epic Battle, Ethics, Evil, Faith, Family, Fear, Forgiveness, God, Good, Good-byes, Greed, Grief, Haile Selassie, Insanity, Inside My Mind, Jesus, Journal, Lies and broken promises, Life, Lists, Living in fear, Logic, Love, Mania, Mental Health, Mental Illness, Minnesota, Misc, miscellaneous, Moral Theories, Morals, Motivation, Mourning, Nursing Homes, Opinion, Pain, Personal, Philosophy, Politics, Prayers, Progress, Psychosis, Quotes, Random, Random Thoughts, Rants, Reform, Rejection, Rights, Sadness, Self-esteem, Self-Help, Self-image, Social Debates, Social Injustices, Society, Sorrow, Spirituality, Stress, Suffering, Suicide, Suicide Note, The Bible, The Bucket List Foundation, The Philosophy of Quotes, Theology, TheRandomArtist, Thoughts, Treatment, Uncategorized, Unity, Verbal Abuse, Work, Work Environment, Writing
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The choice of letting go and saying goodbye is never easy, yet the decision to hold on is even harder. I have let go of hopes, dreams, relationships, redemption and written my goodbyes many times in the past, but every morning I regret my choices and my decisions to hold on… This was the beginning of the post I was working on last Saturday, what was to follow was going to be my final words then swallow every bit of medication I had and finally be at peace. Instead I ended up in the psych ward at Abbot where I stayed until yesterday against my doctors and others advice. I didn’t see the point in staying, all they did was drug me to the point where all I could do was sleep. I was at a crossroads where I knew whether I chose to stay or go I was leaving in worse shape when wen I went in. When I walked out of the hospital and reality came crashing down on me I knew right then and there that I fucked up choosing to go to begin with, yet again regretting my decision to hold on. So I am back where I started but with a bit more inner strength then I had before because I received a mental vacation, but seriously how long will that last? The answer will come in the next week or so as I sit back and see how everything plays out between my job, dream, finances, and relationships. I feel I am at the point where depending on how these things play out will determine my future.

My life is riddled with mistakes, and regrets each one adding to the greater mound of shit called life. At this moment three key things come to mind, keep in mind this is not in chronological order of importance.

  1. Failing at fixing all the problems at the nursing home I work at to improve the quality of life of the residents I have grown to care for so deeply.
  2. Giving up on my dreams of becoming a writer or an artist.
  3. Not finding redemption for the countless number of lives I have destroyed in my 35 years on this earth.
  4. Not following through with shit on November 26th.

I think what it comes down to is acceptance. I need to accept that I won’t ever be more than I am right now. I have to finally accept I won’t ever be able to help the residents where I work. I don’t know what’s worse giving up on my dreams or trying to redeem myself by helping people just like me who can’t help themselves. I have done shitty things; I have poisoned and hurt everyone and everything I have ever touched. Many of my poems touch on this concept of being a “virus.”

For over six years I have worked so hard to make up for all the pain and suffering I have caused by reducing the pain and suffering the residents at the nursing home I work for by the hands and decisions of the very same people who are supposed to care for and safe guard these residents. There are many good hearted people whom I work with who carry this burden of failure, if any of them are reading this they know the deep sorrow and feeling of helplessness of not being able to give these guys the proper quality of life they deserve.

I have been in business with and covered up things for “business associates” who wouldn’t hesitate putting a bullet in your head, but being involved with and covering up for an employer who is a non-profit and allows vulnerable adults and employees to be harassed mistreated and discriminated against is far worse in my eyes. There are many people at the nursing home I work at who see the same things I see but do not act; as Haile Selassie so eloquently put it

Throughout history, it has been the inaction of those who could have acted; the indifference of those who should have known better; the silence of the voice of justice when it mattered most; that has made it possible for evil to triumph.”

All of the people involved in my past life and unfortunately as of late too much of my current life chose “the life” and in the end we all end up in one of two places, we deserve whatever end to our means no matter how horrific or painful. Our residents on the other hand do not deserve the means that transpire until their end comes.

This is my apology to the residents that have come and gone who failed to receive the proper quality of life they deserved. I am sorry that I can no longer continue to fight for the change needed, it is destroying me. My old associates showed more mercy delivering people to their end, than the people I work for now. The people employed by this company who care are used and pushed until they break while the predators are allowed to continue to prey.

Non-profits are not supposed to be run like a criminal organization where fear and intimidation rule. Non-profits are supposed to be built upon something called “Duty of care.” If any one of the “criminals” who work at this nursing home is reading this let me define what duty of care means.

“Duty of care is the moral and legal obligation to attend to the safety and wellbeing of those they serve, those who work for them and others who come into contact with their operations.”

Now to wrap things up there may be some people who do not understand what the title of this entry has to do with the content. Below is a Youtube link of Justin Furstenfeld performing the song “Graceful Dancing.” After hearing his introduction to this powerful song, and seeing the familiar emotions during his performance I decided to check myself into the hospital which drastically changed the content of this post. For that I thank the artist and the person who posted this video.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fCFpgfvPGZo&list=PLIWCEQoVmfdHIakN42xTrXYjPnE6I3EHB&index=55

 

About a year ago I founded a non-profit organization “The Bucket List Foundation.” This foundation started after the responses I received from a post I did in remembrance of a dear friend who lived at the nursing home I worked at. All I did was throw out an idea I had to help make the lives better for our oftentimes forgotten elderly. This post helped unite the founding members of the foundation. The founding board members changed a bit but the core members came together and everything started to take off. At first we were going to apply for the Pepsi Refresh Grant to get us off the ground but Nicole and I were concerned of the impact that would have on us come tax time. We decided to start from the ground up, and build from there. I must admit we were a bit awkward. Despite this we started to make some real progress, until recently where we hit a major hurdle in our development.

Our last meeting was months ago. The end result of this meeting was we were going to figure out how to break up the writing of our business plan. Nicole was put in charge of researching everything that went into writing a successful business plan, once completed she was to delegate sections to each member to complete before our next meeting. I do not think we were fully prepared for the sheer scope of this project. In reality we had just set ourselves up for failure because this was far more than one person could handle by themselves, when you added in Nicole’s workload the task was almost impossible. Time went by with no progress being made. The days turned into weeks, and the weeks into months. I was afraid with all the time which had passed the dream of this foundation just sort of sizzled out. I honestly thought the foundation had died completely.

I ended up talking to our president to see if she was still interested, and she confirmed that both her and her father were still very much interested in making this dream come true. She sent out an e-mail to all the board members to make sure we were still on board, and to see about scheduling our next meeting. I responded to the e-mail letting everyone know I was still interested in proceeding and advised we should either get together or brainstorm via e-mail on how to get us back on track. I am sorry to say I have not received a response from anyone.

I am a bit discouraged by the lack of response. I am worried that our first hurdle may end up being the last hurdle we ever face. I feel without the unity of the board this foundation may be dead in the water. This is a sad day for many people because the foundation could have made a difference and changed so many of our aging population’s lives. I wonder how we can proceed if we cannot all pull together. Could I place an ad in the paper saying we are looking for board members to join our foundation to fill the spaces of the departed? I think one thing which caused this foundation to falter after hitting this bump was the lack of members on the board. We were a group of five individuals trying to accomplish a daunting task, and perhaps this task was too much for just five people to handle.

I truly hope The Bucket List Foundation is not dead. I know this foundation would make a difference in so many peoples lives, and if this doesn’t get off the ground than it is a shame this idea rested in my head instead of someone who could have made it a reality. When we were chugging along I kept thinking of all the peoples lives we were going to change for the better because of this. Now I am afraid I will be thinking how many people’s lives we didn’t change because we just kind of gave up.

I have spoken in posts recently about failure and I feel this is yet another example of failure on my part. I think back and if I would have been more organized and vocal as a leader perhaps this foundation would still be moving forward instead of being stuck in the mud. If you want my opinion; we need more members on the board to make this thing work. I have honestly thought then as I do now that we require members with specialties in the hurdles we are trying to overcome. How can you ask a group of people to come together and figure out how to write a solid business plan? The answer is you can’t. I place full blame on myself for allowing this thing to die down. Like I said earlier I hate that this idea was wasted on me. All I am able to do now is do what I can in hopes the individuals still interested come back together. If we are able to ignite a spark and move towards finding the right people to join the board; I feel confident this thing of ours can come back to life.

If you are interested in knowing more about the foundation you can check it out under “The Bucket List Foundation” in the categories drop down menu. I think some posts may be missing. If so let me know and I can point you in the right direction or give you more information.

In two weeks it will be the one year anniversary of the passing of my very special friend Dale Brown. Nursing home policy says I can’t use his real name, but I will not cheat him or his memory by covering it up. He should be a man who is celebrated. I haven’t been looking forward to this time of year because I do not do well with sadness. I have written about him a time or two in the past and even then it was hard to fight back the tears. I don’t think I ever really sat there and just cried my hurt away. I instead have chosen to run and hide. I have a very hard time expressing this level of sadness, because I do not know how to process these feelings. I can handle sadness of either this or that, although most of the time anger masks how I am truly feeling inside. I refuse to let the world see me weak and in my fucked up head it is better people see you angry over shedding tears. This pain I feel over losing him is different. I cannot reprocess it and project anger onto the world. In the pit of my soul my psyche weeps, but my deficiencies as a man keeps those tears from reaching my eyes.

I would love nothing more than to just sit here and turn the faucets on, but I cannot bring myself to do it. I think I am still in the denial stage of grieving. I mean seriously is it healthy to hold onto denial this long? I still expect to see him here as if he had just been hiding from me this whole time; but I don’t, and each time that realization hits me it is as if I am reliving his death all over again. Since his passing I have not been able to allow myself to get close to another resident, because I do not want to build a friendship only to have them taken away from me. Just typing this I realize how selfish that is of me. Why should I deny others the special bond Dale and I shared? Why should I deny myself of these special bonds?

The one thing I learned from my relationship with Dale is I can be real around these guys, because many of them are beyond judgment. I know Dale showed himself to me without blinders on pretending to be someone he wasn’t, and I did the same with him. The conversations we had were some of the only honest conversations I have had with anyone. There was another man here I started to form a bond with, but he eventually left, not by deaths touch but by a relocation. When I first found this out I was devastated yet again, but at least I knew he was still alive, and had not suffered the same fate as Dale did. Awhile back before Dale passed away I became friends with this man who is so wonderful in his own right. He has trouble speaking so you really need to give him some dedicated time so he can express his feelings. When this is done he lights up knowing somebody took the time to stop what they were doing to pay attention to him and truly hear his feelings.

After Dale passed I sort of pushed him and the other residents away. I chose to stay secluded in my office away from the residents so not to get hurt again. I still have a really hard time opening myself up. I know I made just as much of an impact on Dales life as he did mine. I would here compliments from the staff on our special bond, and how it was benefiting Dale. I don’t think they realized his impact on my life was just as strong. I knew I could tell him anything and he would not think any different of me. I could tell him about my recent diagnosis and he would love me just the same. I don’t even feel comfortable stating my diagnosis on this blog, and everyone should know I don’t hold back on my personal opinions and feelings no matter how out there they are.

I think me starting to work at this nursing home at just the right time to have him enter my life was serendipity. If it were not for him “The Bucket List Foundation” would not have been created. The visions I have of him laying alone while he passed away still haunt my mind. I have many regrets in my life but this one sits a top. I claimed to truly care for him as a friend and as a person yet I was not with him when he died. Saying this now just rips at my insides. Before he lost the ability to speak he expressed his fear of dying alone. He was scared, and I wasn’t there to tell him everything was going to be ok. I was not there to hold his hand so he felt the warmth of a loved ones touch. I failed him.

The Bucket List Foundation will serve many purposes but the most important for me is our pledge that our clients will not die alone. I have said this before but perhaps if I am able to deliver on this promise it will heal my intense guilt over letting him pass alone. I hope this does because I can’t deal with a yearly reminder of one of my greatest failures.

Why do we toss aside our elderly? Have we forgotten they have sacrificed their lives for our wellbeing? It seems once they stop paying taxes and start collecting Social Security and using Medicaid the government turns their backs on them. The government does this by budget cuts which heavily impact the nursing homes our loved ones are in. We as sons and daughters turn our backs on the very people who sacrificed their lives to raise us by sending them to said facilities suffering from these same budget cuts. Is this a product of a lapse in our ethics, or a product of the society we have created? Why do we value our elderly the least of all demographics? I think the answer is a bit of both.

In our society the value we place on money rules supreme, once you can no longer contribute to the machine you are forgotten. Fewer and fewer companies offer pensions, which most of our elderly counted on along with social security to survive. We have shifted to retirement funds to provide this cushion, but not everyone is able to maintain such a retirement fund. The money involved in caring for an elderly parent is crippling to a son or daughter. Their only financial option is sending them to a nursing home.

The other thing we place a high value on is time; because we work more than we relax our time is like gold. To care for a parent who can no longer care for themselves is not only expensive, but it is also time consuming. For many people to properly care for them it would require them to make a choice between their career and their responsibility to their parents. Many people cannot sacrifice their career, so the best option is to throw them into a nursing home. This time commitment begins to reflect in the number of visits residents receive. I would imagine at first the visits would be aplenty, but as time passes the visits become less and less. There are residents here who never receive visits from their loved ones.

My out look and concern over this problem has changed, since I started to work here. What I see here is heartbreaking, and I fear my parents may be sent to such a place. Prior to being employed here I gave very little thought into what kind of quality of life our elderly have. I was unaware of the promised money to facilities by our government only to be the first victim of budget cuts. I had very little concept of the level of care they were receiving. I gave very little thought into how our culture views our elderly, or what happened when they could no longer care for themselves. I never thought what my decision would be if my wife or parents could no longer care for themselves. I do know that the option to send them to a nursing home would be the last one explored.

This is why “The Bucket List Foundation” is so important. We are able to provide residents with the necessary level of human interaction by providing volunteers who are willing to visit at least once a week to truly give them basic human needs. We also would be able to provide the means for them to make a life long wish come true. In fulfilling their “bucket lists” they may be able to pass on with less regrets. Finally we will ensure no one dies alone. I would imagine the dying process is a trying time in our lives, sometimes the hardest thing we can endure. Nobody no matter how many bridges they have burned deserves to go through this process lying in an empty room. Perhaps if there was an elderly daycare center perhaps this would allow us to still work and care for our loved ones. There may already be such a program; if not perhaps the foundation will look into such an option.

I am not saying this issue is as cut and dry. I am sure there are facilities that provide the best care they can within their means. I am sure there are people out there who choose their parents over their own personal wants and needs. I imagine these examples are not the norm.

I do know this is a passion of mine. I think people need to take the time to contemplate the various things in our society. If this was done with this and many other issues perhaps these social maladies could be cured. We are often to busy and to self-absorbed to look at the issues perpetrated on our fellow man. I hope in my lifetime I am able to see a shift in this mode of thinking.

Last week I saw a picture of Dale and I, at our company barbeque. I was filled with such loss and sorrow. I quickly looked away, and had to compose myself. I did not want to tear up around my co-workers. I saw a huge smile on his face, and remembered how happy our short time together was.

There was not a day that went by he was not coming in and out of my office. He had a routine where he would go to specific places throughout the nursing home. He would stop and visit many of the staff, and everyone who was touched by this great man, were filled with such joy when he was around. He had the most wonderful  laugh and smile, which always brightened my day. I can truly say he was the brightest point in my day. Even after five and a half months later, I still wish he would come to my office to sit and listen to music with me.

Dale was the most enlightened man I have ever met. He achieved what many Taoist strive for, living and thinking like a child. It is children who are so peaceful and simple in their outlook on life. They have not yet been filled with the propaganda of the American Dream, and corporate brainwashing. They hold no judgment, and find joy in the simple things. Dale had reached these achievements. He lived for the simple joys in life, like his 10:30 soda, and 1:30 commissary trip. These things along with his simple routines made him happy.

When he came into my office he would sit down and listen to music. He was amused with my computer and often asked me to show him pictures of various things like cars he used to own. He was funny to talk to, because he was so random in his thought process. He had a mental illness which caused him to be so random, and OCD about his daily activities. I miss our conversations.

Like all my sad emotions I choose to not deal with them. This was particularly hard because I just thought he would be around forever. His death was so quick, he was diagnosed with cancer and it spread so fast. He just kept on deteriorating. When he could no longer walk on his own he spent much of his time in bed. I can’t even imagine how hard that was for him.

He had one wish; to not die alone. I would bet he was afraid of the unknown, and wanted someone to be by his side. I feel guilty and wish I was here to fulfil his wish. His passing is my reason for starting The Bucket List Foundation. The foundation will do many good things for our elderly, but one of our main goals is to ensure no one dies alone. Perhaps I feel if I can provide others with this important human needs, I can shed this intense guilt I feel over letting my best friend down. I call him my best friend because I have never met a friend which cared for me so unconditionally.

I think another reason I do not deal with my sad feelings over this is because I want the wonderful memory of knowing him to never leave my mind. I am not only afraid of having to deal with the sadness over his death, but I am also afraid to have his memory fade.

In five days from now the four founding members of “The Bucket List Foundation” will be holding our inaugural meeting. I am very excited about this for many reasons, but today I would like to focus on one aspect of my excitement. Those of you who either know me personally, or have become regular readers, are aware what my poetry book is all about, and how I suffer from a mental illness. I am battling this illness with the healing power of doing for others. I have found when I am able to live by the motto “how may I serve” I feel much better inside. This is not an easy motto to follow especially considering the “me first” society we have been raised in. The days I can follow this are the days where I have the least amount of stress; which in turn keeps my MI in check. 

I am basking in the idea of getting this thing going, and just thinking about how many lives will be improved if we were able to get this foundation off the ground. The thought of doing for others, assists in elevating my moods. I would imagine if the concept of doing the idea is uplifting; logic would conclude if it came to fruition then my moods should consistently level out.

I look at this foundation, as not only the ability to enrich people’s lives, but also to put past demons to rest. I have made more mistakes in my life than I care to count, perhaps dedicating my life to serving others I can begin to forgive myself. The major fuel for my depression is self loathing; perhaps this can mend the emptiness inside of me. I am naturally a selfish person. It is difficult to concisely put others first. Like I stated above I think I am a product of the “me first” society. I have such entitlement issues it is simply unbelievable.

The Tao teaches us first you need to learn it, then you need to think it, then you will live it. I hope this concept is true in my case. I have learned it, I have thought about it, yet I am unable to live it 100% of the time. I have more difficulty thinking of others when I am depressed because all I want to do is seclude myself and sleep.   

I am fully aware the odds are stacked against us. There may be a real possibility that time and effort is put into this project only to result in failure. Where will my mind wonder if this happens? I have the utmost faith in our cause. I have confidence in the people around me. In my mind failure is not an option; a possibility maybe, but not an option. Only time will tell if this dream will become a reality, until then I am going to trust the Tao that everything will fall in its divine order. Today I choose to embrace healing by helping.