20130702 – Rats and Taking Breaks
I’m thinking about a lot of things today, but particularly the Prescott Granite Mountain Hotshots and the loss of so many good men. My sympathy and prayers to their families; what a terrible loss for a community.
We ran into cousin G and spouse J Friday night about 10:45 after some late night grocery shopping and he shared with us that she was showing some serious dementia symptoms along with painful bouts of arthritis. We had quite a conversation about the difficulties and the heartache of caring for a spouse with dementia and I hearkened back to my post last week about my Dad and my Mother-in-Law. It is a very tough road but when it’s your spouse you don’t think twice; that “in sickness and in health” commitment just kicks in and you do everything you can to stay connected and care for them. D and I suggested the reference over in the resource section of this blog; it’s full of good advice and techniques for family caregivers. Meanwhile, our hearts go with you G and J.
Last night was another Jazz at the Zoo concert, this time honoring local legend Arno Marsh on sax. He played with all the greats including Stan Kenton, played in Vegas, and played as good as the best. At 85 his music and performance were spot on and we couldn’t have asked for a better show. What a chance to really mellow out and we did! Arno’s son Randy is a great drummer in his own right and he played one of the meanest jazz harmonicas I’ve ever heard. It was a real blowout of an experience and a great way to get out of the sandwich for a few hours and recharge.
Looking back a little further, Sunday turned out to be the perfect day for a bike ride in Millennium Park so we loaded up and headed out. It started a bit cloudy but soon cleared up and with temperatures in the mid-seventies and a slight breeze I don’t think we could have had a better first ride of the season. Too bad it didn’t come two months ago! We did our typical tour around the lakes, then out to the east end of the park for a quick protein bar and water break at the pavilion, and returning for a final lake loop before calling it a day. After that ride the kayaks out on the lake looked really inviting – we’re going to have to rent a couple one day and go for a cool down paddle after the ride. Anyway, now we’re really motivated to get on those bikes regularly and get some serious exercise, something we could have used a lot more of ever since the weather turned nice enough for outdoor activities. Surprisingly we got in eleven miles, not bad. Other than feeling a little tired I was none the worse for the ride and found myself planning to get out much more often the rest of the summer. Yet another good way to get out of the sandwich and recharge!
Two days break and all it cost was a $5 donation and a fast food dinner. Not too bad on the wallet! I think that’s one of the challenges of caregiving and sandwich living, finding inexpensive ways to break away and give yourself some rest. It’s much tougher to find that time as a twenty-four/seven caregiver like my Dad was, but my weekly visits on Thursdays gave him a little break; not much but it was something and Mom wasn’t the mental challenge that a dementia patient can be.
And it’s not just caregivers and sandwich dwellers that need a break, we all do. It’s too easy these days to jump into the rat race and just run along with all the other, often much faster, rats. Why not step over to the curb and sniff a few roses instead of just dashing after the cheese? When we were biking Sunday we scared up a huge heron not ten feet off the bike path in the marsh we were riding through. It was a majestic sight (and slightly surprising) that close. And on our Fathers’ Day cruise to watch bald eagles soaring over the river and listen to the rush of water beneath the paddle wheels was quite a treat for the senses. To think we could have missed out on those treats had we not taken a little break from the race. Eventually you realize the rat race is not much more than a treadmill – you never really get anywhere meaningful and you miss out on a lot of real life experiences.
No matter what your lifestyle, and regardless of the challenges you face, give yourself an occasional break; you may find yourself experiencing a new perspective on life in the process.
Running the rat race … with a few other jazz-loving mellow rats …