Autumn Leaves are falling down

Autumn Sunrise with low fog
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My alarm goes off around 7.30 am, regardless of what day it is at the moment. I know mum does not get up for at least another hour, so this is MY time, time to reflect and time to enjoy the splendour of nature at my own pace.

 

It has been a hectic, sometimes stressful and confusing year for me so far. Hence why you have not seen much action here either. After a fairly uneventful Summer I travelled from Australia, into Spring in the Netherlands mid March, where my cousin was waiting for me to help her get organised, in case a bad situation would eventuate with my elderly mum, to be prepared for everything. We found a fitting nursing home with a large garden and arranged as much as I could fit in the 4 weeks I stayed, like meal deliveries, meetings with care staff, doctors etc., to keep her living independently as long as possible, along with spending time with mum as well.

Upon returning home in Australia late April I got a phone call the next day, still groggy from jet lag, after which I found myself working an extra 5 nights a week, while trying to catch up in my garden at home and get that ready for my absence during Winter and work in the nursery part time! Well, no rest over Winter either, with record snowfalls, more lodge guests than ever, and keeping my promise from last year to my manager then, of attending more ski training this season! I had to leave a week before closing of the lifts, to fly back to the Netherlands for mum, who had deteriorated badly over their unusually hot Summer.

So here I am, finding myself utterly confused after Summer followed by Spring, followed by Winter and now in Autumn, but thankfully healthy and well. Something I unfortunately cannot say about my mum, who is physically doing very well, but mentally in need of full time support.

 

I swiftly throw on my ‘trackies’, hoodie and sneakers, over my pyjamas to keep the chill of the early morning out and quietly sneak out of the door. I am so glad mum chose to live at the edge of a small town in the Netherlands, from where it only takes me a few minutes to walk the street that brings me to the paddocks showing the Sunrise in full glory. I savour the wide open space, still in peace and quiet this early in the morning, especially during the weekends when work traffic is absent.

When I walk I focus on my surrounds, nature waking up along with myself and my body. It is easy to get sidetracked during the day and fall into bad habits in regards to posture, but during the stillness of the morning it is easier to focus on walking with a straighter back and shoulders relaxed in the right spot, arms swinging loosely in harmony with my stride. It feels so good to take a deep breath full of life’s most important energy that somehow feels more rejuvenating at this hour than the rest of the day.

 

I take many deep breaths during the day as well, but most are for the purpose of keeping my sanity and composure while mum asks me the same question for the 30th time in an hour and still fails to understand my calm explanation. She easily gets upset when this happens and I find myself repeating to her many times that it is ok and that all is organised and will work out just fine.

I know she just hasn’t got the synapses to connect the dots any more as dementia is slowly stealing her mental abilities. I also know that giving her an answer calmly with love is important, despite the seeming pointlessness, because she will ask me again in a few minutes. Important, for it gives her a feeling of being heard, loved and respected. I am sure she feels that I care for her as she still treats me like her daughter, even though she gets confused and thinks I am still in Australia, and much younger than in reality, lol, if only… Occasionally she believes me, mostly she puts her ‘stubborn hat’ on and is convinced I am telling her fibs. Reality does not make the same sense to her as it used to.

The way I mentally deal with the current situation is reminding myself of the old quote a Buddhist monk told me, that if I CAN do something about it there is no need to worry and if I CANNOT, why worry? Another one that helps me mentally is from Wayne Dyer, that it is NOT the situation or circumstances that stress people out, but the thoughts created about it. I take one step at a time and file my upcoming responsibilities in my phone, which gives me a beep when something pops up that needs attention.

 

The one thing that still cheers her up and takes her away from her worries and suspicions that everyone is out to deceive her is Nature. She really calms down and comes home a different person. I am so glad about this, as it is so good to see her marvel at it’s beauty too when we go for an afternoon stroll in the nearby forests on the milder days. It is ‘nature therapy’ for both of us! We stop and look at the many mushrooms showing themselves and we walk the leaf covered paths surrounded by old deciduous trees in beautiful Autumn colours. Something I have not seen much of in the last 15 years when I have always visited around her birthday in Spring.

Autumn Trees

Autumn Trees

We pick up a few treasures to take home and arrange in a shallow pottery dish on the table, acorns, pine cones, a few leaves and a tiny feather she found with the most vibrant blues. I take photo’s of the mushrooms, better left in peace where they are. Besides, my knowledge of them is insufficient to know which ones are safe to pick, let alone any names.

She still walks unaided and really well for her 87 years, but I am carefully monitoring her gait to see whether we should keep going, or returning to the car soon. Surprisingly she generally knows her way around quite well, despite being bad in many other ways. It is a blessing now that she moved back to the area where she grew up when dad was still with us, because she retained a lot of her older memories so far.

Mushroom coming up among Autumn leaves

Mushroom coming up among Autumn leaves

I am always fascinated with these little surprises of nature, here one day, gone the next. Perhaps it is the shortening days and decay all around that makes me feel melancholic. For a moment I think about the issues at hand and cannot help but see the fleetingness of all we take for granted. A hint to make the most of, and be grateful for each day we are blessed to experience.

Mushroom covered tree trunk

Mushroom covered tree trunk, found off the beaten track

Red and white mushrooms

Spotted these red and white ones only on passing a second time, surprisingly, as they are quite striking

I ponder about memories, which are not much different. As we walk along our lives we collect and grow them, we treasure and share them, but when decay sets in with old age, they are like the falling leaves of Autumn, we drop them slowly one by one on still days, or many at once when a storm hits….

I am so GLAD that my own ‘tree’ still has many leaves that, for now, are securely attached.

Leaf covered road

Leaf covered road

Feel free to comment 😉

With Gratitude,

PollyEsther

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What would you do?

Passion flower
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A dilemma cropped up and the best answer has so far eluded me. Oh, sorry, I have been so busy that I forgot to fill you in on whats been happening behind the scenes on my laptop!

First, I felt inspired again to write more, but differently this time, with even more passion, hence the flower picture 😉 I like to write about things that bug my mind a lot, important more educational and informational stuff that may also be of help to some others looking for answers to their issues.

Because I felt it was too far off from what this blog is about, my personal experiences with gratitude and everyday ‘magic’, I decided to open my options and start a second blog with possible room to expand. The idea was to create options to get some rewards for all the time l spend looking and researching to get this stuff out for everyone to benefit. Maybe sell a course or link to other sites that might give me some affiliate rewards. Maybe it will never happen, but I want to try as my usual part time casual job is sending me into poverty at the moment and my life is too busy with other priorities, like going overseas again shortly to look after my mum, to be adding another job now.

After a lot of research into Internet marketing style info, it was clear that I needed a ‘list’. After learning a lot more more about different ‘list’ companies, I set up and email list subscription with Aweber and had to pay annually for that.

Next I found out that WordPress.com does not cater for Aweber plugins, so the already set up ‘.com blog’ was useless now. I had to jump over to WordPress.org to create this so called sales funnel. OK…..sigh…
Now before I could do that I had to get a domain name, which was not included in the deal with ‘.org’! After some more study I decided on Bluehost which was recommended by several experts on line, which also costs me an annual fee…

Hang on guys! I am not selling anything here yet! What happened to building a reputation and following first? http://happypollyesther.org

So I dropped my Aweber subscription after a year not signing up a single soul, nor working on my project much besides slowly getting more inspiration. I like being prepared mentally and physically 😉

Now that I have 4 Posts up I am getting second thoughts about my choice of going with WordPress.org and paying my ongoing Bluehost fees…

I cannot get a profile picture up despite already having it linked to my WordPress.com and ‘About Me’ profile. To get my statistics, I had to sign up for ‘Jetpack’, which thankfully did allow me a free trial for now… I cannot work out how to get widgets on the blog or a ‘follow’ button and feel like a total blog noob again.

Why can I not just add a link to the end of each post referring to my Paypal account instead of a button for donations and go back to my originally set up new WordPress.com page?

But then I will lose my perfect domain name for ‘.org’ in case l need it when things do take off…

What would you do? Stay and pay or lose the domain and go back to the comfort of WordPress.com? Perhaps you have some other clever suggestions that could help?

I would really appreciate your thoughts on this!
Thanks!

With Gratitude,
PollyEsther

Happy Thanks Giving!

butterfly in my garden
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My heartbeat, breath, pulsing inside.
The dog, laying by my side.
Butterflies fluttering about.
Feeling at peace inside and out.
Nature beaming with life.
A world free of strive.

In perfect harmony the earth,
humming a symphony of worth.
Gracefully dancing with the stars so bright,
even in darkness shines the Light.
Southern Spring heatwave on a continent,
balancing Autumn chills north imminent.

Gratitude in focus today.
Loving life’s full array.
Planting seeds or harvesting needs,
especially other’s gentle deeds.
Not just today we should,
instead the whole year we could!

With Love and gratitude,
Pollyesther

Did I scrape in or not?

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That’s it everyone! The poetry contest, opened in October is now closed. However, it is not “done” quite yet Frodo, I still need to announce the winners! I will be tallying up the points all night from such wonderful submissions. I truly have a difficult choice before me. Thank you to everyone who submitted a […]

via Poetry Contest CLOSED — KaylaAnn

I spotted this poetry contest and decided to enter as it was still open and going when l found it. Within minutes I turned my computer on, followed this blog as per prerequisite and went to my own site to copy the link to my poetry piece I wanted to enter, one I had blogged earlier:

https://happypollyesther.com/2017/01/22/the-emerging-butterfly/

Upon returning to the comments, it was closed, but stubborn me tried anyway and left the link. I hope it will be considered…

Even if not, I still wish all that managed to enter in time the best of luck!

I am glad I had one I prepared earlier, haha!

 

With Gratitude,

Pollyesther xxx

PRECIOUS TIMES

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“I can’t find the keys anywhere, how is that possible?” Mum asks me several times a day. Another one is: “Have you closed your window?”, every time we leave the house. The keys are quickly found in the usual spots she puts them down automatically without thinking or registering. The room I am in does not have an opening window at all, but I assure her every time that the window is shut.

Three years ago was the last time I flew to the Netherlands to visit mum, family and friends. It was a busy, fun time with several parties and a primary school reunion, creating many happy memories. At the time she also had her 83rd. birthday. She was a little annoyed that she was struggling to remember all the names of the plants and flowers in her garden, but I guess when you get to that age, you should be happy to still be physically fit enough to be able to enjoy working in your own garden.

Late last year my cousin, who keeps a close eye on mum for me when I am in Australia, which is now home for me, emailed me concerned that I should be thinking about another visit soon, because mum was confusing her, me and her daughters names badly when they looked at some old photos. “If you leave it much longer there may be a chance she will not remember who you are!”, she said…

So here I am, visiting again, making sure not to miss her 86th birthday and making the most of what time we have left together before she loses her memories altogether. My cousin and I are busy talking to her doctor and care staff and making arrangements for her future behind her back. It feels wrong, but what choice do we have? She is convinced that she is fine and does not need any help yet. I guess in some ways I do agree with her, as she is still very alert and swift to respond to the traffic when driving her car on familiar roads. She is still capable of putting in a fair effort maintaining her small and well manicured garden and we both enjoy looking at the birds she feeds every day and squirrels that like to steel some of the birds’ crumbs when no one is looking…

But…at the same time she keeps losing things around the house, convinced that the care staff is stealing from her all the time. She only trusts a very small number of familiar people she knows well, thankfully including me. Others she treats with suspicion, fear and mostly verbal aggression, occasionally raising her fist to emphesize she is serious. The memory lapses come and go with me thinking she is indeed fine at times, but then at night when tired she looks at me and tells me she finds it strange to think that she has a daughter at all… Physically she is doing very well for her age, mentally it is becoming a real concern. She functions ok when she is able to stick to her routines that have become almost compulsive. When it is disturbed she gets very upset and stressed.

There is a lot she does not understand, like why she has trouble with her tummy when she stresses, as she does not remember she has been suffering from Crohn’s disease since before I was born, probably set off by a stressful period in her life not long after she got married due to circumstances out of her control. She also has had other inflammatory issues ever since.

While making my plans and arrangements for my journey to see her I asked an internal question and the answer came in the form of a book called ‘The Grain Brain’ by Dr. David Perlmutter who describes how and why most of her issues could likely be the result of food sensitivities, with the main culprits possibly dairy and gluten. The fact that my own minor inflammatory issues eased after starting on a gluten free diet and cutting out milk convinced me even more that his theories and findings were of value. I decided to ask her doctor for some tests to see what the results would be.

After living with her now for well over a week and observing her obsession with her routines, I sadly have to make peace with the fact that she is too far gone to change… She does not understand it when I have to tell her every night again that I do not eat custard for desert any more. When drinking tea she keeps offering me biscuits and looks puzzled why I only want special gluten free ones and refuse to eat the normal ones she keeps offering. She thinks that I must be very ill not to be able to eat all those ‘healthy’ traditional things and need special bread for lunch, despite my best efforts of explaining why. She does not understand… Every morning she makes the table and places a plate for me to eat my toast that I have not had for breakfast for years. I love my goats milk yoghurt with gluten free cereal and some fresh fruit like a mandarin and/or banana added, along with a black coffee.

She cannot see that I do not need hours any more to wake up every morning and look and feel healthier than when I was in my twenties. She does not remember how badly I suffered from several allergies and was always tired and often sick with every bug that came around, while I was still eating like she does now.

It is difficult listening to the same stories every day and hearing her complain about being tired and her tummy playing up. It is difficult, but I have to be at peace with the facts and make the most of what little time we have left to enjoy our walks in nature and spend time asking all the questions I have not before that I would still like to know before she does not remember the answers.

It makes me sad to see her like this and knowing that with a few changes and additions to her diet she could possibly be free from all her old health issues as well as slow, stop or even improve her declining memory, but you cannot force her to eat things she is convinced would make her feel sick in her stomach.

I am glad however that she still remembers to place an extra plate for me even though I really need a bowl. I am glad that we are able to enjoy those little things now I am here with her, like walking in nature, playing indoor lawnbowls, cleaning the autumn leaves from her garden together, watching the nesting birds around her home and the squirrels stealing the birds bread crumbs…

P.S.
I am sorry my dear Dutch friends, that this time around I will not take time to party with you, nor run around to visit everyone I have not seen for three years. Maybe we can arrange a meeting on a Sunday afternoon somewhere in a pub for a few hours, later during my stay, where everyone that wishes can come to say g’day before I head back to my duties and work in Australia. For now I intend to make the most of my time with mum. I hope that after reading my story you will understand…

With Gratitude, PollyEsther

The Emerging Butterfly

Blue Butterfly
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l used to be a caterpillar small and insecure,
eating away at yummy green leaves so pure.

I did not feel so well and was not growing like l should…
Wondering how to make it better and if l possibly could?

Then one day a book fell in my hands,
that taught me which leaves were in bad lands.

l read and read some more,
like I’ve never read before.

Started eating the right leaves from then,
finally knowing what to eat and when.

I felt a whole lot better indeed,
and grew fatter and fatter with rapid speed.

Started having a real good time,
rolling along with a great big smile.

Then wore myself out after all,
got tired from eating, felt like curling into a ball.

I felt different and a little strange…
Were there some special leaves in the last range?

I spun a little hammock out of silk and laid myself down to rest.
It only seemed like moments when l woke back up in my little nest.

Who has washed it for me while l slept?
cos l am sure it was less tight, last time l checked…

I stretched out my stiff limbs, oh no, broke my comfy cocoon!
I don’t know if I was quite ready yet, to get up so soon?

Loving the safety of what I now knew,
but also a little curious as to how l just grew…

Into this beautiful creature l see in the reflection of the puddle below.
With an aura that just beams with this wonderful magical glow.

Topped off with some wings, how incredible!
just by eating the right foods that were eatable…

Instead of poisons like so many of my dear friends,
who perished long ago and came to sad and sorry ends.

I was the lucky one indeed,
finding the right kind of feed.

So l could be reborn into a different phase of life so free and light.
The day has never before looked so bright!

Oh the ecstasy of flying off with my special man,
and doing what only a butterfly can.

I wish to share what I learned with all the caterpillars yet to be born,
but sadly know I will not witness my offspring and if they have ever flown.

It is the task of my genes to pass that on for me,
and my task is to let them be.

Let them be free to find their own path at their own pace.
May they all grow into butterflies and live happily in their own space!

 

With Gratitude,

PollyEsther

 

PS: Something a bit different to normal, but after all the lovely comments on my last poem, I could not resist posting this one too. I wrote it to enter into an on-line ‘Burning Man’ event display, which has a theme of growth and transformation.

The recent multitude of butterflies in nature, as well as my attention being drawn to them a lot lately in different situations, inspired me to put the two together. There is a lot of symbolism woven into this piece that is very close to my heart and I am pleased with how it turned out, GLAD my muse tapped me on my shoulder again yesterday!

What do you think?

Discovering subconscious fear pushing boundaries

Early morning sun rise @ Hotham 2016
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It was a sunny morning in the last weeks of September. The ski slope had frozen up a little overnight and felt ‘grippy’, but firm. The weeks prior had been warmer in temperature, yet the resort had been hidden in the clouds which made it feel very damp and cold, despite the melting soft Spring snow with a ‘beach sand’ consistency.

I still needed more training for my exam tomorrow, even though I had been doing fine in the soft snow of the previous weeks. This was a very different day and it looked like the same conditions for tomorrow, so went up the chair lift on the beginners run near the ski and ride school, enjoying the spectacular view that had been lacking for so long. This run is one of the highest ones in the resort and sitting in the chair lift makes you feel like you are on top of the world looking over an extensive area of the old Australian alps mountain range and National Park surrounding the resort.

Once I got off, l gripped my poles different to normal, so I could hold them out wide and drag them along the snow for extra balance, while lifting one ski off the snow. I had been learning to ski on one ski with proper outriggers, but only had a short time today before the usual lineup for group lessons would start, so did not waste it getting the keys to the container holding all the special equipment for adaptive skiing.

For the readers that have not heard of adaptive skiing, this is for people with a wide variety of disabilities, physical and cognitive, where with special training and equipment they too can learn and enjoy snow sports. Outriggers are ski poles like crutches, but with a very short ski on the end, touching and sliding along on the snow, providing extra stability, steering and balance. The reason I needed to master skiing on one ski now, was to be able to do demo’s for people missing, or unable to use one of their legs.

Today however, l struggled with the different snow conditions and felt like being back at square one! Oh, no! I started to feel a panic wash over me. My stomach went into a knot as fear started to get a hold of me and my body would not listen to my commands of how to move… I felt unable to get onto the outside edge of my one ski to turn both ways and balance!

All of a sudden it dawned on me that this is how my customers must be feeling when they struggle to keep their balance on their first slide on both ski’s! I thought that l remembered well what it felt like to learn to ski, but had overlooked the fact that l had already gotten used to sliding on slippery surfaces as a kid ice skating and roller blading well before l started skiing, something a lot of my customers had not learned yet!

l thought about what I had learned from reading about and listening to Bruce Lipton’s work, of how the mind works. How we use the conscious mind to learn new skills by being mindful in the moment and focusing on what we are trying to achieve and how the subconscious takes over the other important tasks at the same time that are not focused on. This happens without being conscious of it, because the conscious mind can only focus on one thing at a time. It is very helpful to our survival and functioning while multitasking, like driving a car while thinking about other things at the same time. Once a skill is learned sufficiently, it goes into the subconscious program, to come out when deemed necessary.

l understood now that my subconscious had a program running that told my body not to get onto the outside edge of my ski, because it would cause me to catch the “wrong” edge and lose my balance real quick! Something that happened a fair bit while l had learned to ski! l understood l had to override the old program, to be able to master skiing on one ski in icier conditions too, something that still made me feel a little fearful of falling some days when sliding on two skis down steeper and more challenging slopes. I had to work on building new neural pathways in my brain, and quickly too, a big challenge, with so little time left to perfect.

Thankfully some of my higher qualified colleagues nearby were helpful in sharing some special tips to focus on and within a few more runs l regained the ability I had been working so hard on to perfect in the weeks prior and felt confident enough to pull it off the next day in similar snow conditions.

The exam day came with light snow showers and again low visibility as well as firm snow conditions. Not ideal for showing off our newly learned skills optimally, but examiners generally take that sort of things in account when scoring your tasks. I managed to impress him with my sit ski riding skills and we ran out of time after all the different role play scenarios of teaching different disabilities to show our understanding and efficiency in the task of being an adaptive ski instructor. I did not have to demo the one ski skill after all that, despite our trainer Dean urging me to work on it predominantly, thinking it would be covered on the day. and noticing it was my weakest point.

Our whole team of candidates made it through, all passing and upholding our trainers amazing record of never having trained anyone to fail at the exam! I believed him, because ten years prior Dean also trained me for the hiring clinic, becoming a rookie ski instructor, and again, all 5 in our group got hired! Oh, great memories and jokes shared again…

Qualification medal for instructing adaptive skiing

APSI qualification medal for instructing adaptive skiing

Several years ago I got to know a lady at a local market over Summer, who always stopped at my plant stall for a look and chat. She was still fairly young, guessing in her mid thirties, yet could not walk well enough and therefore in need of a scooter to get around. When she told me she used to live near the ski resort I had worked for several seasons in a row then, I could not help inquire if she used to ski, which she said she did, before her current physical condition, upon which her face turned sad. Knowing about the adaptive program, I asked her if she had heard about it, which she had not.

Months later they turned up in the ski resort and found me through the ski school. We met up in the most popular lunch bar after my work finished and her partner offered me a drink. The lady was beaming with pride and joy of having pulled off what she thought she’d never do again. Her partner was very pleased seeing her so happy too. I will never forget how it made me feel having been the instigator of this joy and achievement! I never saw them again as I did not continue doing markets. I would love to find out if it had helped afterwards too, perhaps even moving her boundaries in general. Something I am currently educating myself about, by reading material about brain plasticity, are the possibilities and less directly related benefits of snow sports for people with disabilities.

This course was an amazing experience, pushing my own boundaries, fears and understanding, as well as adding to my neural pathways, learning new skills. The understanding I gained from it was a real eye opener too, realizing that slopes look a lot steeper from a sit ski’s (and children’s) perspective and gaining an enormous respect for one legged skiers, feeling the strain, pain and cramps myself after a few turns holding my weight on one leg skiing. On my first run I had to swap my ski from one leg to the other 5 times before reaching the base of the slope!

l am so GLAD to finally have done it! Especially after doing the odd training session here and there over the past years, since meeting that lady, unable to commit to all and never finishing off taking the exam. This was mostly due to the fact that work got in the way, as well as lacking the energy for extra training with the added task of minding our ski lodge at night. Then there was my lack of true commitment, for I could have asked for the days off to allow me to train more. Maybe I was not quite ready for it myself at that time?

The true motivation came mid season this year, from having met several more inspirational disabled people over the recent years that benefited from this little known service and some more that did not, but who served greatly in inspiring and reminding me of my dream of becoming an adaptive ski instructor myself. The last hint that made my motivation turn into eagerness was running into and chatting with the DWA (Disabled Winter Sports Australia http://www.disabledwintersport.com.au/) supervisor Phil for our resort, who was very keen to introduce sit ski’s in Season 2017 on the little beginners run where I had been teaching for the last ten seasons and have written about in some previous posts. ( https://happypollyesther.com/2015/08/23/you-have-a-choice/ and https://happypollyesther.com/2014/06/03/why-i-am-exited-about-the-coming-snow-season/ as well as https://happypollyesther.com/2014/10/05/storm-lovers/ )

I am eager to see where this all will lead me and cannot wait to serve my first customer with special needs next season! I hope you can forgive me for tucking my muse away over our past Winter and seeing very little action on this blog, but I think I will make up for this over the coming Summer ;). Comments/queries/suggestions welcome below.