Pressure + The Snooze Button

I’m experimenting with something you probably know nothing about.

Oh wait, you’re a human, so yeah, you probably know a lot about what I’m experimenting with: Pressure.

(Don’t think for one second, I don’t automatically hear “Under Pressure” [Queen/David Bowie] and want to bust out a tune).

You see, this whole experiment came about due to my participation in one of my infamous spinouts.

And what’s a spin out you’re probably wondering?

Well, if Britney Spears circa 2007 popped into your memory (shaved head + wielding an umbrella) – I’m not there…yet.

My spin out looks more like a Tasmanian Devil that gets sucked into a hurricane.

I literally go so fast (at life, work, motherhood, wifey-lifey, etc.) something has to stop me. 

Most of the time the thing that gets me to slow down + recognize I’m in a tizzy is life being so smart: “Whoa, Kel, slow the hell down.”

Or my Hubs noticing the Tasmanian Devil spin out, watching me get all amped up from afar, and then dropping a subtle hint to me like, “You think that computer’s gonna feed you?”

Soon after I slow the hell down.

I suppose I’ve experienced enough burnouts to heed the warning signs from life + the Hubs (all thanks to getting older).

Thankfully this little spin out was able to be slowed down; like when you’re going so fast on a merry-go-round + someone comes in and physically stops it (hi, dad!), or you jump off because you’re feeling extra ballsy (hi, childhood!).

I’m always vacillating between a force helping me slow down or hurling myself onto stable ground.

(I’m working on some sort of balance, ok. #LifeGoals)

A full-blown spin out was thwarted, and I was left to ponder what actually got me twirling like crazy: why was I going so fast in the first place?

And the answer was clear: pressure.

More specifically – self-imposed pressure to be further ahead.

I was doing this to myself (as I usually do).

There’s no one to blame for my spin outs + definitely no one to blame for placing ridiculous amounts of pressure on myself.

And the truth is – I’ve been that way my whole life.

Perhaps it’s my childhood that had zero discipline.

Perhaps it’s that Capricorn in me that loves to be task-oriented + stubborn + diligent.

Perhaps it’s my fear that my idle brain will send me packing to Fiji on the next red-eye leaving everything behind.  

So, I pressed the snooze button on pressure.

Why the snooze button and not turn the entire alarm clock of pressure off?

Because sometimes pressure does make diamonds + perhaps I might need to harness that energy.

But I definitely prefer a place of low-pressure.

And that’s where I’m hanging out.

I’m experimenting with the low-pressure lifestyle.

And what does that look like?

Well, so far, I’ve stopped placing ridiculous time frames on my work life.

I love working ahead + being so on top of things that not only am I anticipating the next ten moves, I’m also living in that potential scenario.

I’ve learned to tell myself, “BE HERE NOW, WOMAN!” (I know that’s so Buddha of me to say, but damn, living in the future blows).

So here I am in all of my experimenting glory.

Every time I feel like I’m adding unnecessary pressure to my world, I literally stop and bitchslap ma’self: “You love your work. You’ll get it done. Just keep showing up and plugging away, you crazy-beautiful thing, you!”

How’s that working out for me?

Pretty darn good, actually.

I’ve thrown out mantra’s in my life (maybe it’s just the word mantra I’ve thrown out…hmmm), but I do love some self-talk that keeps me from puking on the merry-go-round or jumping off mid-swirl + getting all roughed up.

Because sometimes watching the future you on a playground chillin’ by the tree’s — workin’ on that low-pressure lifestyle — is where the magic really is.

Love + Snooze Buttons,

Keli

When Can No Become a Complete Sentence? (+ I’m So Not A Nature Person, So Stop Asking Me to Go Hiking)

I’m a pretty literal person + I definitely don’t read between the lines very well.

When someone remarks, “Didn’t you hear what that guy was trying to say?” I’m usually sitting there thinking so hard my brain starts to twitch, “Ummmm, nope, sure didn’t; all I literally heard was the exact words coming out of his mouth.”

It doesn’t help that my Hubs likes to tell me stories and paint me a picture of his intergalactic plans about the big-picture vision he has about how he would build something, “Does that make sense? Can you see it?”

No, I can’t see it, fool. Like, at all.

In fact, I’m now more confused about life than before this conversation.

And this is why I have such a difficult time with declining invitations.

I’m not talking just wedding invites and anniversary parties where I can RSVP with a checkmark in the no box – I mean any invite ever asked by a person.

Want to grab a coffee?

Shall we go to a movie?

Let’s do dinner!?

How does breakfast sound?

Weekend getaway sound off the charts?

As I’ve added more candles to ma’birthday cake I’m so less inclined to be social.

Call it an existential crisis, knowing myself better or just plain loving the shit out of being home – I find myself automatically wanting to say no to social stuff a lot.  

But the conundrum doesn’t fall in my desire to say no – the conundrum arrives in HOW TO SAY NO.

You see, I find it excruciatingly difficult when all I want to say is “No” or “Hell no I’m not making that” when declining an invitation or passing on an event – because I’m told there are softer + gentler ways to let people down.

(Side note: Are we really letting people down? But I digress).

My brain plays the fastest game of Scrabble® when I get an invitation –

“Hell no, I’m not going to that.”

“Ok, for just an hour or two – I’ll leave when I want.”

“Oh, forget that the new season of Grace + Frankie just dropped on Netflix.”

“Oh snap, there’s gonna be mimosa’s? Honey, can you drop me off?”

After the dust has settled and it’s time to actually make a decision whether I’m going to show up to this happening or not, 90% of the time I opt to stay home – where there’s mimosa’s AND Netflix.

So why is it not socially acceptable to just say no in declining an invite – and that be enough?

Why do we feel like we have to offer an explanation or even an apology, “Love to, but I’m so busy” “I’m richly scheduled that weekend, sorry”?

I’ve probably read a weekends worth of articles on the art of saying no + gentle ways to go about metaphorically slamming the No Door in someone’s face.  

Finding the right word choice to simultaneously not offend someone, potentially hurt their feelings yet also express what I need to express – has left me, well, a bit exhausted.

And I’m over it.

So, can we start a one-word revolution where no is a complete sentence?

I mean I tell my Little Love of a daughter that all the time, “No, is a complete sentence, honey. That goes both ways – for you and the other person.”

Why can’t I as a bloody adult just simply say, “No thanks” to an invite to go hiking (because I’d literally be dreaming of sitting on a patio drinking margarita’s the entire time [#SoNotANaturePerson #Facts])?

Now, I know I can simply say no and move on – I’m a free bird who can do whatever the hell I want.

So maybe I will.

As soon as I’m done with this margarita – because I’ll take tequila any day over dirt, rocks and the potential of being attacked by a mountain lion

Because I said no.

Love + Hell No,

Keli

36.

I’m officially 36-years-old.

Those two numbers swing closer to 40-years-old + I’m cool with that.

Call it luck of the parental draw, or my propensity to view most things through rose-colored glasses — I’ve been shown how to embrace + love another candle on the cake — thanks to my Pops (The Vic).

This brazen dude, The Vic, was 50-years-old when I came wailing into this world + my mama (his wife) was 22-years younger than the ole lad.

The Vic loved aging —

It was his mindset around growing older that made me feel like, “Hell yeah aging is cool!”

The Vic showed me to be grateful for being vertical and not horizontal in a grave. “How are you today?” “Well, I’m vertical and right now that’s all that matters!”

When someone asked Pops his age, I could see the spark in him as he revealed his age + laughed, “And damn proud of it, too!”

When we celebrated his birthday every year, he soaked up every second of it (when he could remember of course, before Dementia decided to crash his memory party).

I’ll never forget when he turned 77 – that was his favorite number (holy double 7’s!) – and all year long he spread the gospel of being 77, “I’m 77! Oh, I just love that number!”

So, in honor of The Vic – who really can’t recall much now but can always feel the love of family and friends – I’m going to share with you some of my favorite life lessons learned + thoughts on aging + favorite quips + some advice sprinkled in.

Cheers to breathing another day and having enough breath to blow out those candles!


Life Lessons + Favorite Quips + Advice (in no particular order!)  

  • It may have taken me 30+ years to learn, understand and truly integrate: BOUNDARIES ARE MY BEST FRIEND. (I had to learn that the hard way in my caregiving journey with The Vic).

  • Over-spiritualizing is a thing. Honor who you are, especially if you’re a planning, practical, get-shit-done, let’s-do-more-than-talk-about-it person.

  • When your life is in crisis – or like mine was when caregiving for The Vic + I had very little fucks to give – you really find out who will be there for you + who won’t. Those people who showed up for me during The Vic/caregiving years are still there for me now when my life looks hella less in crisis.

  • But don’t be jaded by friends or family that didn’t stick around or whom you expected something from – let life prune your friend garden ‘cause it sure as hell will if you allow it to.

  • Oh yeah, on that note, expectations are a set-up for resentment(s). And resentments are like walking on hot coals all day. That shit blows.

  • Experiment. It’s one of my favorite words + a lens I use to play with + see life out of. Because life really is one giant-ass experiment.  

  • My child teaches me more about myself (by being her mother) than I teach her about life.

  • 10-20 minutes of walking can do more for my body + brain than any amount of cement pounding, or crazy body contorting I think I’m into.

  • Coffee shops can revive you. After almost a decade of caregiving, working my ass off + always being ready to clean up bodily fluids + chase down my Pops – nothing was more healing to me than dropping the kid off at school, opening my laptop + letting the caffeine have its way with me.

  • I might identify as a freelancer more than an entrepreneur.

  • I can still bust a move on the dance floor. Only now I pee just a little bit when I turn into Michael Jackson, “Shamone!”

  • Time can heal wounds, but so can damn good therapy.

  • I still can’t drink liquids too close to bedtime or I’ll piss ma’self (sorry, Hubs).

  • Food shaming is not okay.

  • I reserve the right to change my mind regarding food choices. I’ve seen a pattern with my body + food preferences; it likes to change its damn mind. So now, I just go with it instead of judging it.

  • If I wasn’t married and didn’t have my little babes, I’d probably live in an RV with only ten articles of clothing. Often, I’m curious how that version of Keli turns out.

  • Your family might disappoint you.

  • Your friends might disappoint you.

  • Decide your non-negotiables + healthy boundaries with friends + family – you do have power over you.

  • Every year I become more open to digging in roots + possibly buying a home (with some major travel wings).

  • Relationships are better when you can share your truth + listen to the truth of others.

  • I’m madly, deeply, all-consuming in love with podcasts.

  • I want to start a podcast one day. (I’ve been saying that for almost five years now!)

  • I’m more aware of aging + my health now + I’m not sure how I feel about that.

  • And with each candle I add to the cake I shout, “I’m vertical, bitch!” And let each year have its wild way with me.

Love + 36 Wild + Glorious + Soul-Jerking Years On This Planet,

Keli

Dementia + Caregiving…My New Normal

It’s a little over a year now since I (the caregiving daughter) made the decision to place The Vic (my dementia-rockin’ dad) in a nursing home.

Actually, the term used now is Community Living Center and he lives out his days in a “secured neighborhood” (say locked unit and you’ll get some looks and a kind correction around those parts).

Whatever the gentle term is now, the reality is some days I feel like I’m still in process mode from being a caregiver for ten years and watching dementia take hold of my Pops – my favorite person in the whole world.

And other days I feel like I’m finally settling into my new normal.

A new normal that’s odd, yet free because I have my life back.

Strong words right? “Have my life back.”

You’d think I was in a war or something.

Nah, nothin’ like that. 

Or, wait, is dementia and caregiving like war? 

Not the war I will ever know (or want to know), thank God. 

But, I do have my own battle wounds and mental health concerns that dad did when he was a Marine, I’m sure. 

A daily battle between caregiving for my 80-something-year old pops and keeping my head (and my hubs and daughter) above water.

The Vic usually quips, “Semper Fi, M*ther F*cker!” And always faithful to this crazy-ass journey of dementia and caregiving, I am, even when it doesn’t make much sense. 

And isn’t that a lot like life in general? 

Dementia + Caregiving…My New Normal

Well, I’m able to have a thought to myself without wondering if dad needs to go to the bathroom, if he’s chewing enough to not choke, if he’s had adequate liquids so he doesn’t get dehydrated and if I can possibly watch another episode of Everybody Loves Raymond for the hundredth time.

But funny shows like that keep him laughing while I gobble down my food and take a short piss. So, it’s Raymond in the background yet again.  

When dad officially went to his new “home” I was nervous, yet relieved.

Emotions were having their way with me like an ocean wave, yet deep down, the calm was so there. I knew it was the next step and he was in damn good hands.

I visit him frequently and dad even scared us with some out-of-nowhere deathbed moments.

But like the tough-ass Marine he’s always been, he rallied and now when I go visit the dude I can barely keep up with him ‘cause he’s always on the go.

He doesn’t recall my name hardly anymore.
But he does light up when I walk into the room to see him.

And on an adventure like the dementia journey, that’s a win.

Dad’s not aggressive or agitated (thank God & crossing toes and hair strands he remains that way).

Dad laughs — at practically everything — and then asks, “We going somewhere?”

I remark to the nurses (who are straight-up angels), “When dad stops laughing, that’s when we worry, ok?”

Laughter is his barometer and he’s shown us, we should use it more often.

It’s been a tinge over a year since I decided to tap out as the primary caregiver and reassemble my mental health, my relationship with my husband and daughter…my connection with my own damn self that didn’t include all-up-in-your-face caregiving.

What Caregiver Learning Lessons Have I Learned?

I wish I could spout off some really deep schoolings with a nice bullet-point list you can easily scan and maybe talk about with someone else in this caregiver life.

But I can’t.

Because I feel like I’m still integrating.

I’m still trying to “find” the Keli that’s not a caregiver and a wife and a mother.

What I do know is when I see dad, the visits are shorter because there’s not much to say and he usually takes off every couple of seconds.

I hug and squeeze and give him tons of kisses and love and reconcile this is just the next stage of dementia.

In some way though, I gain solace knowing I held him so tightly for ten years.

The caregiver role never goes away I’ve been told, it just changes.

And just like life that constantly changes – over time – I will take in the ginormity that was being a caregiver for my father…particle by particle.

For now, I will just enjoy the tranquility of eating without interruption, a TV screen that’s black and noise-less and the ability to go to the bathroom and scroll on my phone until my legs and feet start to tingle.

Sorry hubs and daughter — the bathroom is now my sanctuary. 

Love + Loving the Little Things,

Keli