Friday, March 16, 2007

Sitting by the Ocean

Sitting looking at the sea, could be my ideal occupation. Listening to the waves hit the shore, seem to calm my soul. I can look out to the ends of the world and really feel I am the only person on earth. I would think how I would like the planet to be. I would want quiet, fresh air, beauty and cool breezes. After a while I would want someone to join me and enjoy the simple joys of life.

Together we could walk on unspoiled beaches, sit under star filled nights and whisper our dreams. Would we get lonely? I guess after we have spoken about that was could think of, we would want new subjects. Soon a neighbor may appear. Then 2, then 3. They might have different views then my partner and me, but we would eagerly listen and they would learn from our knowledge.

Then there would have to be other places to go, a movie theater, a mall and a zoo. We would have to see how the animals play, how our fashions should look and how a musical is shown. Next we would need a school so we could learn more, a museum so we could see beauty and a Theme park to entertain us. We would have to go to work to pay for all of this. While at our desk we would dream about sitting on the beach and watching the tide come in again.

So here I am again, sitting at the beach wondering why I ever got up and invited all the hustle and bustle in my life in the first place. Here are the answers I have come up with. Laughter, a giggle, a smile of a child. Compassion, relationship and caring from a dear friend. Respect, honor and love of a spouse. Wonder from a student. Amazement from a teacher. Excitement from a parent. Being admired from a son or daughter.

Living a life alone is fine for 1 or 2 days, OK 3 days. But the touch, the smell, the warmth from another is needed for us to grow. We need to have ideas pitched at us. We need to learn how to be a better person. We need to do things in our lives for others. Even if that means waiting in line at Wall*Mart to return a gift.

We need to grow flowers, to paint pictures, to write letters. We have to be examples of lemon aid makers. We have to turned all the sour experiences around and make that sweet. OK how do we do that? We stop thinking about "How I want things," and start thinking about "How I can better things." You can make your life a day at the beach, by asking yourself "did I brighten up a new friends life?" "Did I make a trip to the doctor comfortable for an old friend? " "Did I surprise my spouse by sending them a love note in their lunch box?" "Have I made my child's school test easier, but studying with them a little longer?"

OK, now the secret. We have to be good to ourselves. We go without new shoes, so our children can get books to read. We go without makeup so that there will be money for a trip to the movies. And we go without having time for ourselves, so that an extra story is read at bed time. Here is how to have time for yourself. You don't have to get up early or stay up late, all you have to do is close your eyes and think of clouds, flowers, oceans and say "God made them first and saved the best for last~~~ Humans!" God care for us so much that He made sure we would have beauty, food and shelter in our lives. He wanted to have us live a life filled with love, joy and magic. On the most part we do. We just have to give thanks for it each and every minute of each and every day. You have to open yourself up to the surprises that are waiting for you. When an unwelcome one happens, learn from it and get on to the next!

Because, I will be waiting for you here at the beach, so we can enjoy the sounds of the tide coming in and out of the shore!

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Saturday, May 13, 2006

How I feel

I have been asked, "How are you feeling?" a lot since I have Fribromyalga. I have three answers: good, great and wonderful!

Here is how I decipher it:
Good means thinking about changing the sheets.
Great means making the bed and
Wonderful means moving the room around.

Good means dreaming about taking a walk,
Great means planning a trip and
Wonderful means going on a trip.

Good means, "What is for dinner?"
Great means making dinner.
Wonderful means going out for dinner.

One of the lessons in life that I have learned is you affect those around you. If you tell them a sad tale, they go away feeling sorry for you. If you tell them a happy story, they leave smiling. Now, don't get me wrong, family and friends really care about how I am. I try to tell them only when I feel they need to know and I need help. But otherwise, I give out a positive attitude and hope for one in return.

For years I took care of my mother. She took to her bed for over eight years by giving up and deciding never to get out. I met her every need for 12 years. But every time I left her room, I would say to myself, "What is going on in her head that she prefers to eat, sleep and live in bed?" She had been told many times from her doctors she could get up and walk. I was her cheerleader and supporter. I told her she could do it; she didn't want to. She preferred to stay there.

The lesson she taught my family is NEVER give up. Life is waiting to happen. Whatever happens, you will be able to face it and turn it around in your favor. You do affect the people around you; you can make a smile or heartbreak. You can make friends go home and start to feel better themselves. You can teach them to get on with their lives by blooming where they are planted. You can show your family that failures and mistakes are stepping stones, not a boulder on their shoulder. You can turn sadness into to soaring sprits.

The way to do this is to get out of bed, get in the sun and realize that you are a growing plant in the garden of life. Your special look is adding to the Glory of the Garden. We are all beautiful and give, to all that see us, hope. Hope to achieve and succeed.

By the way, I feel wonderful. !
by Carolee Kaufold

Thursday, May 11, 2006

What's in my Future

What is in My Future?

When you pass my laundry room, you can see it. It is buried under sweatshirts and long pants. There is a little dust on the bottom. It was my mother's; she never really used it. Now it is mine. I may have to use it. My good sense tells me to save it. One day, I will need it.

A few years ago, I was in an auto accident. I was visiting my son and touring new hotels in the Disney area. My son was driving me to the Orlando airport so I could return home, when a car rental van came into our lane and hit us head on. I was on the passenger side, and got the most injuries. Luckily he wasn't badly hurt. I was code blue two times, I broke 4 ribs on each side, and I broke my sternum. I broke every bone in my left foot and punctured my lungs. The seat belt saved my life, but caused most of my injuries. I was in a coma for almost 3 weeks and had to return to NY on Amtrak, because I could not take the pressure of an airplane. I have also had some brain steam damage because of my head being shaken in the crash.

I still have a broken sternum and my left foot will never get much better. Because I am disabled I can never work as a Travel Agent again. I have trouble remembering names, places and perks of a vacation. So I was forced to sell my business. I was quite the world traveler. Now I can just write about the wonderful places I have been to.

I was under the impression I had MS for years. Just last month, I found out I was very wrong. I have Fibromyalgia. Now that is not as bad as MS, but it does get painful. Having the accident was a life-changing event for my whole family. But all in all it was a blessing. Right! I did say blessing. God gave me new gifts, to make up for the parts of my life that was gone. I can sit at the computer and just let my fingers fly over the keys, while God gives me the words to say. I have had the chance to meet and write about wonderful people.

I am allowed to be a friend to people that are generous and loving. Folks that have a strong faith in me. And pals that will stand up and cheer, pray and cry with each other. Living in central Florida has its perks. Seeing the space shuttle and fireworks from my back porch is nothing compared to watching palm trees and grass grow.

The thing in the laundry room? I may have to take it one day. I plan on walking, writing and laughing. I plan on singing, swimming and making new friends. I will give back all I have been given. I want to be a new Carolee, one that finds out what is good in the world. A Carolee that gives credit not blame to what has happened to me. A life can be changed in one second. A car comes into your lane and you are different. You see things in a different light.

I have never been angry with the van driver. He didn't say, "Today I will have an accident!" I think to get blessed you have to be a blessing. You have to get rid of anger, selfishness, and injustice. You cannot try to blame or accuse people that have hurt you. You have to love them. Yes, that is what I said! You have to love them. It is the only way you can heal emotionally, mentality, physically, and spiritually. You will be the one that gets the blessings and you will be part of the blessings that are given. I am living proof. Because of the accident I have been abundantly blessed. If you could sit in this chair and read my e-mail you would see how. If you lived in my family and meet my guys you would know how.

Oh, by the way! The thing in the laundry room is a suitcase, and I have been using it a lot again.
* * *
by Carolee Kaufold

Monday, May 08, 2006

Ham Sandwiches and Comic Books

Ham Sandwiches and Comic Books ....

My mother was never openly affectionate. She did love me, I have no doubt. But she never came right out and said so. She would do things for me in a quiet way. She was not verbal. In the darkened movie theater she would hold my hand. She would call me once a day from work. That is how she gave me messages she loved me.

She was not the bake cookies kind of mother. She worked in a bank, and was a very smart woman. She started out with her GED and became the first women in New York State to do what she did for her bank. She gave me the strength to do what I needed to do to be the kind of lady I am today. But not in the way you would think. You see, she became a role model: first in a positive light, then she showed me how not to be.

When I was about ten years old, I had a tummy ache. I was staying home from school and I felt terrible. My mother made me a ham sandwich with tomatoes on it and brought me a Little Lulu comic book. I have never forgotten that. Even today, I long for that ham sandwich and comic book. To me that was comfort food. It was her way of saying, "I love you and I will take care of you!"

In defense of my mother, her life was not all that easy. (Another story for another time.) She didn't have a positive out look on life, with good reason. And all her negativeness was getting to me. She was critical of everything. And never saw the good things in life. I tried everything I could to make her proud, but she just never seemed to care. My dear Aunt has told me that she was very proud, she just never told me.

When I became an executive at a newspaper, I wanted to show her my office; she drove right by and never stopped. When I became a travel agent, I wanted to take her traveling with me, she never would. When I bought the travel agency she never even came to see the office. Then one day she told me why she acted standoffish. Her mom died when my mother was 26 years old. She was devastated. She never got over the lost of her beloved mother. She didn't want me to have to go through the same thing, so she became distant. She didn't want me to feel the same heartbreak she felt at the lost of a mother.

Well, on with the story. In 1965 I got married. I was an only child and that left my mom and dad to deal with each other. Their life was not a storybook romance. They really were just friends, nothing more. When I was growing up, I promised myself I would do things differently then my parents. I would love my children openly. I would be a cheerleader for them. I would love them unconditionally. I would find a man not at all like my father and would be different.

And I did! I did everything I promised I would do. I had four sons, all different personalities. I love my dear husband because he encourages me to be Carolee first and to be proud of whom I am. He even brings be ham sandwiches and comic books.

In 1982 my Dad died, I felt a need to return to New York and be near my mother. We rented a house together. In 1983 she became ill, and over the next 11 years she became hopeless and depressed. She went to bed in 1986 and never got out again. I tried everything: support, nagging, cheering, crying, laughing, and screaming. I even tried to bring her ham sandwiches and comic books. Nothing would make her get out of bed. She was frightened by what her life had become and wanted to hide in her bed.
She taught my family (husband and sons) a very important lesson. Through all her years of having us do everything for her, feed her, bath her, take care of her needs, she taught us to NEVER give up. When my sons would go in her room to visit, they would come out so depressed. They finally didn't want to go in any more. When they would try to tell her about school she would tell that life was hard, deal with it. No one in the family was allowed to get sick. She had to have our full attention; She wouldn't share it with anyone else.

It wasn't until my Fribromyaliga got worse that she allowed me to get help caring for her. When our sons moved away for home, she felt deserted. I felt "Yea! They have escaped." During the years of her confinement, I changed from daughter to caregiver. On top of that I had a business to run, four sons to prepare for the world and one husband to keep from feeling resentment for sharing my time between him and my mother. They were wonderful! They did everything they could to be there for me. They gave me their ear to listen to me. Their arms to move my mother in her bed. Their advice, so I wouldn't become overwhelmed. And their heart to understand how hard this was on me and their strength to keep doing it.

Every morning before I left for work I would get her ready for the day. my husband Thom worked midnights so he would be home if she needed anything. As soon as I returned from work I would go straight to her room, to see if she was okay. I had her in my every thoughts all the time I was away from her. I was consumed with taking care of her. And to be very honest, I was angry. She was not that sick. She just didn't want to do anything. My family would go in the room less and less. Soon I was the only one to see her. When I traveled, Thom or one of my sons would have to take care of her. She was not happy. She felt like I had abandoned her. She would not eat, and just cried. I needed to travel for two reason ... one, because that is what a travel agent does and two, I needed to get away from the strain of taking care of her.

This does have a happy ending. Hold on, it is coming.
In 1994, she just gave up. She died on February 16th. I cried not because I would miss her, but because I didn't have any happy memories of her. She left me just like she wanted to. She didn't want me to be devastated or sad at her death. And I wasn't. She didn't want me to be lonely for her company and I wasn't. She didn't want me to be in mourning and I wasn't. What she did leave me with was strength, hope and endurance. She taught us that giving up was the easy way. She taught us that hiding in our room was comfortable. She taught us to let everyone do everything for you. She taught us she was wrong. She taught us to NEVER EVER GIVE UP.

In August of that year I was in a terrible accident. I was told it would be a long time until I could walk, leave the house and even travel. I was in a coma for almost 3 weeks. I broke every bone in my left foot. I broke 4 ribs on each side, and my sternum. I have had a little brain damage. I have trouble speaking and thinking of words I want to say. I have to this day, a scar where the seat belt was, from my right shoulder to my left hip across to my right hip. Guess what? I beat what the doctors said. I was out of the hospital months before they said I would. I walked months before I was expected to. And I have gotten new gifts in my life, like wisdom, patience, and I even became neater. All this because my mother taught me to never give up!! I promise myself that my sons would never have to go through what I did with my mother.

It has been 12 years before I could talk about my mother. I could not let myself say what I was really feeling. No one would understand. "How can one be so cold about their mother?" they would say. I have talked to my sons about this. They know what went on from 1983 to 1994. They have told me they understand how I feel. They sometimes wondered how I was able to take care of my mother for so long, without pulling my last hair out. So I thought about it. I honored my mother; I respected her for what she once was. I couldn't understand how a successful businesswoman became such a needy person. Then the answer came to me. She was always the strong one. She made the decision, the choices and manner on how she would live her life. When my father died, she let her guard down. She took a breath and said, "It is time for someone to take care of me."

As an only child, I did what I knew was the right thing to do. I would never give up on her. If she wanted to stay in bed, I couldn't talk her out of it. Stayed in bed she did. If she wanted to be depressed, I couldn't cheer her up. Stayed depressed she did. If she wanted to cry all day, I couldn't make her laugh. Cried all day she did. She made her final choice; she gave up and wanted to die. Died she did.

I have been trying to figure out if I loved my mother the last few years of here life. I don't think I did. I want to so bad. I want to have "mother-daughter" feelings. I know I treasure the lesson she taught us. I loved her in the Movie Theater. I loved her when she called me from work. I loved her when she brought me the ham sandwich and Little Lulu comic book.

Since that time I have gone throught many terrible times, but never once gave up, only grew into a better me. I am an example to my sons and grandsons that NEVER NEVER give up!

* * * by Carolee Kaufold