Windows to the Soul That’s what your eyes have been called May I look deeply?
I want to see you Know you at your heart’s level Open your windows
Seek and you will find But what are you looking for? Look into my soul!
Every week I have the privilege of doing a Bible Study with a few of my favorite residents at the Madison Valley Manor, our local nursing home.
We spoke about the importance of EYES, SEEING, FOCUS, UNDERSTANDING.
The lesson from In Touch, daily reading for devoted living, was based on Gen. 25:19-34. The title was “Spiritual Shortsightedness.“
The lesson demonstrated how focus on the temporal rather than the eternal can cause us to make decisions based on today’s desires or needs without considering tomorrow’s consequences. Notice the focus here:
This is the account of the family line of Abraham’s son, Isaac, his wife Rebekah, and their twin boys, Esau and Jacob. Isaac was sixty years old when Rebekah gave birth to them. The boys grew up, and Esau became a skillful hunter, a man of the open country, while Jacob was content to stay at home among the tents. Once when Jacob was cooking some stew, Esau came in from the open country, famished. He said to Jacob, “Quick, let me have some of that red stew! I’m famished!” Jacob replied, “First sell me your birthright.” “Look, I am about to die,” Esau said. “What good is the birthright to me?” But Jacob said, “Swear to me first.” So he swore an oath to him, selling his birthright to Jacob.
The consequence of Esau’s shortsightedness was disastrous for him. If what we choose to focus on is temporal and selfish, our lives can be turned upside-down, too. What are you looking at? What are you looking for?
My friends at the nursing home and I interspersed music with our Bible reading and sharing. I played my accordion. They sang along. Do you know this one?
“Open my eyes, Lord, I want to see Jesus, To reach out and touch Him And say that I love Him. Open my ears Lord, And teach me to listen. Open my eyes, Lord, I want to see Jesus.”
When I look deeply Into your open windows Will I see pureness?
When looking at me Seeing into my soul’s depths Do you see the Lord?
He lives inside me He helps me practice restraint Who lives in your soul?
Open your eyes, Friend Let me see into your heart I know I’ll find love!
See ya tomorrow (God willing) Thanks for visiting JanBeek I send you love from my soul’s depth.
How do you speak – especially during social distancing – with a loved one who has dementia?
My sister, Sally, has dementia. She lives in a Masonic Home less than five minutes from her daughter, Jodie. It’s in Pennsylvania – a loooong ways from me in Montana! But, even though they are close, in today’s pandemic world, Jodie can’t go to visit her. Sally is on the second floor of the care facility and when Jodie drives to see her, she is not even allowed out of her car. They just have to wave to one another out their windows.
I am sure that is a very smart safety precaution on the part of the Masonic Home. Jodie just tested positive for the virus last week! Now she is in quarantine for two weeks.
On Sunday I had my first ZOOM meeting with my sis. Rochelle, the Activities Director facilitated the meeting. Sally was basically non-responsive, so it was hard to know what to say. Rochelle repeated my comments to be sure Sally heard, but even then I barely got a nod most of the time. Still, it was good to see her.
Do You Relate?
Do you have a parent or sibling, a neighbor or friend with dementia? If so, you know what I mean. You’ve been in my shoes, and you long to be up close and personal with your loved one so you can look into each other’s eyes and make real connections.
Here are Bob and me with my sis, Sally, and her husband, Dave, waaaay back in the days of flat-tops, skinny ties and thighs, and 3″ heels! It must have been Easter … we’re all decked out. I will send her this photo. Dave died of a massive heart-attack more than 20 years ago. Pictures are an important way to tap into memories.
Using Technology to Tap Memories
I took my laptop out on the porch and showed Sally our scene of the mountains. I reminded her of the Thanksgivings we have spent together here sitting on the porch (or looking out this window), enjoying that view. Still, no change of facial expression and no words. Maybe it’s because the ground and mountains are often snow-covered in November!
Don’t Give Up – Keep Trying!
I talked about our times together at various Thanksgivings around the dining room table and showed her that scene. She has visited us in November at least ten years in a row before she needed to go to assisted living and wisely chose to be near her daughter and grandson.
Reach Way Back
Reaching back into the cobwebs of my brain, I remembered us as young girls sitting on our grandmother’s porch, reaching out into the “weeds” and finding stalks of sweet anise, breaking them off, and munching on them like you might snack on a stalk of celery.
Actually, I still love to munch on sweet anise. I remembered I have some in the refrigerator. So, I went with my laptop over to the kitchen. I opened the fridge and asked Sally if she remembered sitting on Grandma’s porch, nibbling on this while we waited for mom to come and get us after school.
When I showed her the sweet anise (commonly known today as fennel), I got my first real smile from her. She nodded. Ah, folks, smells and food are great memory triggers!!
The greatest trigger for memory when you are visiting with a loved one who has dementia is music. Find an old tune. Dig out that old pair of shoes that might bring back memories and play the sweet old songs that mom used to sing to us.
Study and Seek advice
Today on Facebook, my niece Tammy, who is a registered nurse and works with many Alzheimer’s patients, posted this helpful reminder:
Apply What You Learn – Reach Out
I have a friend in our nursing home here in Ennis who has dementia. During this COVID-19 pandemic, the residents have been on lock-down. No visitors. No outings. But recently, the nursing home constructed a “Visiting Booth.” It’s a little 8′ x8′ structure with a roof, two side walls (north and south), an opening to the east. It has a plexiglass partition to the west.
On a sunny day this week I called the nursing home and scheduled a visit with my friend. The nursing home arranges half hour visitations. At the appointed time, the CNA, Bonney, wheeled the resident (my friend) out into the fresh air and into the booth. I sat on the outside of the plexiglass on a park bench. It was hard to hear, but Bonney did what Rochelle had done for my sister and me. She repeated to my friend whatever I said.
I brought my laptop and my cell phone. Used the cell phone “hot spot” to connect to the internet. Logged on to a five year old video of my friend’s daughter singing and playing the SAW in a church service. Bonney brought the laptop into the booth and held it close to my friend. Of course, she thoroughly enjoyed seeing her daughter, hearing that beautiful, inspiring song, and visiting with me about things we had done together in years past.
I left with a song in my heart at the end of our visiting time. I couldn’t figure out how to get the video of Peggy and her saw from my FB page to this post. But, I found Peggy with her violin singing and playing “How Great is Our God” with Jordy Christo, on You.Tube, so I’ll post that here.
If you go to http://www.facebook.com/janbeekman you can find the “Amazing Grace” video with Peggy and her saw. It’s worth the click and your time. This is what it’ll look like when you get there:
I pray that you are inspired to reach out to someone today who needs to hear from you.
We may be limited by this pandemic, but we are not frozen. Do what you can to brighten someone’s day!
See ya tomorrow. Have a Wonderful Wednesday. Love and Hugs… Stay Well!! JanBeek
It’s already past noon here. I really needed that Monday morning coffee!! It was a really different kind of Mother’s Day yesterday.
We couldn’t travel to see our son and family in California. And they couldn’t come here.
We couldn’t fly to see our daughter and family in Switzerland. And they couldn’t fly here.
We couldn’t even go into the Madison Valley Manor nursing home to give our friends there a hug.
BUT, we could go and see our dear Elaine Forsberg through the window! And the CNA came to the door and took my balloons and delivered them to three dear friends there: Elaine, Phyllis and Kitty. The latter two couldn’t come to the Sun Room to greet us at the window, but Elaine did. Yay!
It’s a sad sign of the times when this pandemic keeps us from the warm hugs that brighten our days. We will never take those hugs for granted again!
As a group of family and friends, we gathered outside the Sun Room window and sang “Happy Mother’s Day” to Elaine.
Elaine’s son and daughter-in-law, her daughter and son-in-law, and a few grandkids and friends braved the gray, cold, windy spring Montana day to cheer her. It cheered us, too.
“Whatever you bring into the lives of others comes back into your own.”
My mom always told me that. Did you hear that as a child, too?
That smile was worth a million bucks.
If I coulda done so, I woulda delivered a basket of tulips to each of the Manor residents… and I’d send a basket of flowers to each of you, too. Thank you, my blogging friends, for visiting JanBeek today. I hope you had a memorable, happy Mother’s Day.
Our daughter, DeAna (who lives in Switzerland), called on FaceTime yesterday. She and her “Mother-in-Love” Denise were having a glorious Mothers’ Day. My son-in-law, Andre’ and three grandsons made a fabulous dinner with a beautiful dessert for their mom/grandmama and even cleaned up all the dishes afterward!
DeDe and Andre’ are going through some tough times right now. The COVID-19 pandemic has taken away their jobs. They are weighing some difficult decisions about their future. I keep them in my daily prayers. Thank God for the Internet so we can stay connected.
Ty and Monika called us on one of those social media apps (FaceTime or WhatsApp …) and we had a wonderful chat. Their lives are kinda topsy-turvy right now, too. I hope you were able to talk yesterday with all the people who matter most to you, too.
It must be especially difficult for people like Phyllis’ daughters, Lisa, Avis, and Julie. Phyllis is one of my dear friends at the Manor Nursing Home. Her daughters are scattered states away from their mom – – – and unable to visit her right now. My heart goes out them.
There was a beautiful blog written about that very subject yesterday:
Independence Day in Ennis, Montana is like stepping back 50 years.
The Firemen put on a pancake breakfast and feed over 800 people.
The parade blocks off Hiway 287 traffic for two hours. The floats are simple. The horses are wonderful. The old cars are fun to see. The children are delightful.
This video taken when we were watching it from Main Street a couple years ago gives you a real good glimpse of our parade. My friend, Mary Oliver, was Grand Marshall.
This year we watched from across the way from our Manor, the nursing home. The residents come out in their wheelchairs to enjoy the festivities. Some voolunteers served them rootbeer floats and presented the with July 4th hats or crowns. Adorable!!
It was overcast and a little cool
when the sun went behind a cloud,
but it did not rain on our parade!
Thank you, God!
I volunteered at our Senior Center to offer coffee, water, donuts, and restroom facilities to the more than 6,000 visitors who came to our little town of 1,000 residents on this special occasion.
My friend, Lynn,
who is President of our Sr. Center Board of Directors,
spear-headed the effort.
The rodeo is good-ole western down-home country.
And after the rodeo, we all have a BBQ
or invite neighbors and friends to come home with us.
The neighbors invite the neighbors to come dine with them in their welcoming homes.
What a lovely evening we had!
Just look at that view from our neighbor’s patio!
(Our house is beyond the trees to the left.)
You gotta experience it to believe it.
Maybe next year YOU can come to Ennis, Montana to experience the Firemen’s breakfast, the parade, the hospitality of the Sr. Center and the residents’ homes, and the rodeo.
Hope you had a Happy 4th of July.
What did you do if you were in the USA? And if you’re in another country, do you have similar celebratory experiences to celebrate your country’s independence or founding? Tell me about it!
Thanks for joining me on our A-Z journey
to find ways to Add More Meaning and Discover Clearer Purpose in Life
Today we’ll explore the letters “O” and “P” Optimism and Positivity
Optimism Brings Positivity!
Or, is it the other way around?
Does Positivity bring Optimism?
I couldn’t separate these two!
Like so many of the concepts we’ve explored in this A-Z series, these two (optimism and positivity) go hand-in-hand.
When you live with the “Positivity Potion” in your life, optimism is a natural by-product!
I am reminded of a story I have read more than once in various places. It’s about an elderly lady who is being guided down the hallway of a nursing home. The CNA (certified nurse’s assistant) says to her, “Your room is at the end of this hallway.”
The lady smiles at her and cheerfully exclaims, “I like it!”
“But you haven’t seen it yet,” the CNA responds.
“Oh, I know, but I like it.”
This lady had more than a sprinkle of acceptance.
She had more than a hint of gratitude.
She lived with more than a feather of hope.
Her positivity potion was overflowing with optimism about life and her future.
She is someone you’d like to have as your roommate
should the day come when you need to move into a nursing home.
These items of advice don’t suddenly become obsolete when you’re retired and don’t have to get up and go to a job every day. In fact, as a person who is aging (aren’t we all?), it is more important than ever that I remain positive in order to be happy.
When I was recovering from a knee replacement and struggling with more pain than I anticipated in the recuperation process, it was more important than ever that I remain positive, keep hope for a better outcome ahead, and work hard to remain happy.
Challenges keep coming.
Life is not a bed of feathery frolicking through the tulips!
It is more important than ever that I continue to work hard
(find meaningful work to maintain a sense of purpose),
and give my days reason to hope.
Not just a feather of hope,
but the whole chirping, red-breasted robin!
I never can let myself become so rigid, and set in my ways, and sure of my own way of doing things that I grow beyond the need to accept criticism. I must always keep learning. With a positive attitude, I can thank the one who offers the criticism – thank him or her for sharing an opinion with me – for caring enough to speak their words of correction. Take it in – try the shoe on and see if it fits! And weigh its merits. Keep learning and looking for ways to improve. Always!
With an attitude of optimism
and a demeanor of positivity,
I will attract happy, warm, and generous people.
And I will be one of them.
What better way to approach my 80th birthday – and the days ahead?
Bring Optimism and Positivity with you into your tomorrows!
My friend, Steve, has no trouble finding neighbors who need
their driveways shoveled or blown out. What a gift that is!
Volunteering to help others is giving back … or paying it forward! Someday Steve won’t be able to do this anymore. Then, hopefully, someone will volunteer to shovel or blow out HIS driveway!
Look at the book my daughter sent me:
I bet you have a story to tell about some “giving” you have done.
I try to give daily, so when I received this book, I thought, Why not write about it?
I love working at our Senior Center as a sous chef (that’s a fancy name for potato and carrot peeler. salad maker, and onion slicer). I can pretend I am at a fancy Paris Bistro… and my customers are the most precious children of God! (Actually, they are!)
Another way to volunteer your gifts is to visit a friend who is in a nursing home or at the hospital. Anyone can do that! It doesn’t take lessons or months of practice. Just an open heart, and a wiilngness to treat yourself to the infectious smiles your visit will bring.
In our little town of Ennis, Montana, I introduced you day before yesterday to Artists on Main, the wonderful art gallery with its amazing variety of locally created art for sale. We are blessed to have that shop… and if I had the ability to paint or sculpt or whittle or create pottery, jewelry, or stained glass, I’d use that talent to provide items for my friend, Carol, to sell… or I’d visit a friend and bring a product of my creativity as a gift.
Share Your Writing
But, that kind of art is not my forte’… I love to write, so I share my blogs orally with friends in the hospital. I read “Art is Life” to one of my dear friends this morning.
Play Your Instrument
Before going to the hospital, I shared another one of my gifts: the accordion. Do you play an instrument?
I started learning to play the “squeezebox” when I was about ten years old. (Every good little Italian girl or boy played the accordion in those days!) Now, it is a seldom seen (in person) whimsical, portable instrument that can bring joy wherever it goes!
This one is over a hundred years old.
I bought it from Frankie, my sorta cousin, about 70 years ago.
It still works, but with only 8 buttons, you are limited to songs in the key of F, C, G or A.
Many people today have never seen or heard an accordion played in person. They think of Lawrence Welk and expect me to play Flight of the Bumble Bees or The Beer Barrell Polka with bellow shakes.
Once upon a time, I actually could play those advanced pieces. But now, I am content to accompany the hymn singing at church when the piano or organist is ill or out of town… or accompany singing at the Lenten Breakfast where no other instrument is available. (I did that early this morning).
In the summer, I entertain at our Art Festival in the park.
Sometimes I pull it out at home after dinner with friends
and we have a sing-along.
It makes for a memorable evening.
If music is not your forte’, think of other ways you can give.
I belong to the Madison Valley Medical Center Auxuliary. Sitting at the desk a couple of Fridays each month is one way I can volunteer. Donating our home for the “Home Tour” fund-raiser is another way. Our auxiliary earns thousands with that fund-raiser every year and gives the benefits back to the hospital for new equipment, beds, sheets, and other needs. It’s gratifying to be a volunteer. I’m in the center, middle row here.
I hope you will consider ways you can volunteer your talents
for the benefit of others.
Perhaps you already do – in ways different from mine.
Tell me about a way you volunteer or give back. Does it express your purpose and passion?
The best part of being in Switzerland is the Family Time. Yes, it’s a wonderful place to “have to visit!” We have gone every other year since 1991 when our daughter, DeAna, and her Swiss-born husband, Andre’, moved back to his hometown of Sierre. They were pregnant at the time with our first grandchild. Of course, we had to go as soon as Mikey emerged! You will find a picture of Mike with his girlfriend, Sophie, in Part One of Our Trip to Switzerland. Mike and his girlfriend, Sophie, are so suited for one another! Keep him in prayer, though, he applied for an apprenticeship that he did not get. So now, his future employment is in limbo. Pray the perfect job opportunity emerges for our #1 Grandson.
Going back to 1993, two years after Mike’s birth, pregnant with our second grandchild, De prepared for a little girl. I traveled alone to be there to spend a week with “Melanie,” taking a suitcase full of pink things with me. Humph! “She” didn’t come as planned! Finally, the day before I was scheduled to leave to return to California, the doctors went in and pulled out by Caesarian section, a squalling, red-faced boy. Nicolas Marin Solioz was a screamer! Oh my, what a set of lungs! In the nineteen years since then, he hasn’t stopped making noise! Some of it is in the form of music on his steel guitar. Oh, yes, he’s a musician, an entertainer, a clown, a brilliant life of the party! Of the three, he looks the most like De & me. He has drive, determination, and charisma coming out of every pour!
Here is Nick with his girlfriend, Sandrine (Sorry about catching you with your eyes partly closed, Sandrine… you are a beautiful, bright, and thoughtful young lady with a bright future. Good luck as you pursue a career in the medical field!).
Two bright stars!
But, wait! Did I say three? Yes, two years later, determined to have that little girl we anticipated, Bob and I traveled back to Switzerland in time to greet Solioz child number three: Christian Robert (middle name after his Grampy Beekman). No, not a “Melanie” or “Janet,” but we would not trade this sweet, compassionate, thoughtful young man for a gillion bucks! No way!!
There’s he is, his 17-year-old face smiling on the left with his brothers,
having “the plate of the day” at their parents’ restaurant,
Le Rothorn, in Sierre- the Swiss state of Valais.
Chrissy sometimes has a break mid-day and comes home to eat his main meal of the day in the restaurant. He works at the Nursing Home about a half a mile from their apartment, which is above the restaurant on the main street of Sierre. At 16, disgusted with school, he quit the misery (for him) of public school and went to live for about seven weeks with a family in Germany so he could learn a little more conversational German. In their French part of Switzerland, so close to the German-Swiss section, it is imperative that people are at least bilingual. Most know at least two languages, French and German, and the younger generation almost all know English as well. Being a trilingual male interested in a job in the service profession, it didn’t take Chris long to land an apprenticeship at the local nursing home. The transition from being a sixteen year-old, care-free youth to becoming a vocational nurse has not been an easy one. But, with the help of observant supervisors and compassionate colleagues, Chris is succeeding. He works three days a week and attends relevant classes two days a week. His goal is to become a head nurse someday like his Auntie Marge in Fresno, CA. Isn’t it wonderful that Switzerland has the kind of apprenticeship programs that give young high school “drop-outs” viable alternatives? The United States could learn from the Swiss mentality!