Within your heart, keep one still, secret spot where dreams may go.
Awake at 4:30am, I wonder what has stirred me?
These past weeks I trained several new caregivers. Many hours have been spent sharing personal details and staying very alert to our every move. This type of training is much like dancing – together we learn the steps and build the trust needed to lead and follow.
Then there is the introduction to my life. Where is my family? Why did I move to Asheville? Do I like to shop, read books, watch tv… Questions begin to slow when I explain my vocation — an Episcopal priest, where I have lived — from the East Coast to the West Coast, my schedule — time for quiet, prayer, writing projects, workshops and meeting friends for food and fun. Most caregivers are not accustomed to working with folks like me, active people who live with a disability. It takes a while to get oriented. My job– to be patient. Be patient and remember to protect the space for my dreams.
I have a dear friend who once asked how I managed to have any privacy and time for myself. She watched my life as it always seemed filled with people. People, who by necessity, must be in my rooms and touch many of my belongings. She could not imagine how I might find a way to have private time and space. “No one caregiver knows everything about me.”, I replied. “Somehow I am able to create a space that allows for privacy and solitude.”
This is not to say that finding private time is easy. And so I return to my opening question:
Awake at 4:30, I wonder what has stirred me? It is my alarm for peaceful time alone. When most of the world still sleeps, I awaken ready to revisit my dreams. My eyes open to discover a moment when images and ideas can rise to the surface and find expression.
This time is never taken for granted. It has to be honored. All of the people who assist me with the details of my daily life rely on my ability to find these moments. It is time to remember my dreams and find ways to bring them to life.
I welcome this opportunity and give thanks for a new day.
After a full week of focusing on so many details to help with my move, I said ‘see you later'(never say goodbye) to people who had given every bit of their energy and strength to unpack, arrange my things and offer their emotional support. I miss them terribly but know that their time with me had to end. They have returned to their own homes and I have begun the process of making this new place – my home.
It has been a long time since I have moved to a new town. I think about all of the people who I met along the way while living in Greenville NC for 20 years. They helped shape who I am today and I know they will always be a part of me. Even though we are far from one another, we will stay connected – that is the way of friendships.
Tonight I write as Lilly sleeps next to me. No kennel will confine her right now. She is by my side with an alert eye to the changes around us. We belong to one another and in a place filled with new faces and routines, this bond brings comfort and strength.
The stress of establishing ourselves is evident. Lilly always loses her appetite when there is change of any kind. I feel easily overwhelmed as I meet incoming assistants and begin training for my care. I feel easily overwhelmed as I continue to look for pieces of my life still packed or stacked in undiscovered places throughout my apartment. I pray for patience as this transition takes place at a pace set by the length of each day and the schedule of those who are with me to help.
Through it all I am grateful for the support and structure of the community around me. This retirement community is beautiful – out every window there is a view of trees and mountains. The food is great and I am never alone – but I have moved into a retirement community. At the age of 54 this was not what I anticipated.
This was, and still is, a big decision. Each day I talk myself through moments of challenge and, in turn, give thanks for the chance to make such a move. This community has welcomed both Lilly and I. Even though the work of resettling can only be done by me, I know it would have been more challenging without the support and resources available in this place.
Why the fishbowl? The image speaks to my feelings. Like that fish, my leap to make this move is a stretch and risky. The new bowl is larger and full of possibilities. Taking this leap has been an act of faith. An act of faith filled with unanswered questions and unexpected feelings.
And tomorrow is a new day…