Some days will be like this.

Posted in Personal on September 17th, 2010 by Jim Hughes – Comments Off

Some days will be like this. I don’t know why, they just are.

Actually it started yesterday. I’d finished mowing, taken a shower, and put my mowing clothes in the washer and started it. Then I sat down in the den for a few minute before leaving to go eat and do some errands.

When I started to get up, I could see the water running from the kitchen into the hall. The washing machine had overflowed. Again. The entire kitchen, the laundry room, the garage, the hall, and a little of the den were very wet.

My first mode of attack was to use the hard surface floor cleaner to start sucking up the water. It sucked its capacity in about 3 seconds. I figured out pretty quickly that wasn’t going to be much help. Then I grabbed the 5 gallon wet vac, and that was great until it was time to try to empty it. Finally I shifted to the carpet cleaner, which was more manageable, and I finally got it all cleaned up.

So first thing this morning I called GE to set up a repair appointment under our service agreement. You see, the same thing happened two years ago, and I ended up buying the agreement. After navigating the phone tree and having to call another number, I got a representative reading from a script in broken English. He said I had to unplug the washer for one minute to reset it to see if the part was really defective. I did, watched it fill to the top thinking I’d shut it off quickly enough, only to have water running on the floor again! He kept asking questions while I kept telling him I needed it fixed and I needed to clean up the water, but eventually he got what he needed and I got an appointment. And I got the water cleaned up. Again.

So I thought I’d go have a nice lunch, soup and a salad, at Panera Bread. I ordered chicken tortilla soup and a classic salad with ranch on the side. When the food came, the salad didn’t have ranch dressing. I told the waiter, who responded, “We don’t have ranch.” “Well, what is this dressing?” “I don’t know,” she replied, “but I’ll ask.” “Balsamic,” she said a few minutes later. I didn’t tell her that the reason I didn’t order the Greek salad was I didn’t want balsamic. I just ate it, figuring it was part of the day.

After lunch, I went to HEB to pick up a few grocery items. It’s one of my favorite places, actually, and a trip there usually makes me feel good. And everything was going great until it was time to check out. Checkout was more like Walmart than HEB’s normally great experience. But after the way other stuff had been going, it just confirmed to me that it was just one of those days.

I’m looking forward to tomorrow!

Some weeks I need my Moleskin.

Posted in Personal, Self Care on August 2nd, 2010 by Jim Hughes – Comments Off

Well Used

Some weeks I need my Moleskin.

I need to physically write things down, bullet lists of to do’s that I can check off as I go.

For some reason, it just doesn’t work the same when I do it on the iPhone. I’ve tried all the apps, some of them very good. But I end up feeling more overwhelmed, instead of more focused.

During Dad’s illness and recovery period, it was my go-to for information ranging from his Rx list to Dr. contact information to lists of what I needed to handle and ideas of how to do it.

It’s not a big Moleskin. It’s one that will fit in my pocket, one which will allow a pen to be held when it’s kept closed by the elastic closure thingy.

When things are going along pretty smoothly, I don’t need it. I keep up with things in my head or on my calendar.

But when things get hectic, as this week’s going to be, I grab it and start writing. It’ll be in my pocket the whole week, keeping me focused, keeping me comfortable, like a blankie.

What helps you be focused and comfortable during hectic or stressful weeks?

Times of Refreshment

Posted in Caregiving, Personal, Self Care on July 30th, 2010 by Jim Hughes – Comments Off

I think he's smiling!

It’s Friday, and I woke up early this morning.

I’ve enjoyed the quiet, watching the sun rise in a clear sky, hearing and watching the world in my back yard wake up. I saw the great horned owl come home to roost from his night’s hunting, ready for his day of rest. I saw the wasp that started building a nest on our back porch go from sleeping while hanging by a thread to the nest to resuming active building. I heard the sounds of other creatures big and small beginning to move, and the sound of traffic as people became busy.

Meth the goldfish, the name Eloise gave him because he’s lived so long (short for Methuselah), was excited that I was up, hoping for a few flakes of food. Missy Dog was still curled up in a ball when I went to let her out of her kennel. But she too was eager for the day after a few stretches.

I slowly sipped a cup of home-roasted Honduran coffee, not because I needed the caffeine, but because of the joy of its rich taste.

And I had a quiet conversation with God. We talked about Jim and Pam, and the slow process of recovery from a double lung transplant, about the joy of small steps, about the challenges of each moment. We talked about Earnest and Xenia, each caring for spouses who have suffered debilitating strokes. And we talked about many others, currently on my prayer list, asking his blessing and intervention for them.

But we also talked about how amazingly beautiful this world is that he’s given us to live in for a little while, and I spent some time wondering what Heaven must be like if this world is so gorgeous.

Most of my mornings are not this good. I wish they were. It’s a calm in a storm, a chance to catch my breath, a time of refreshing.

Much of the last week has been about caregiving. It had worn me out. I had lost a night’s sleep at the ER with daughter Sara as she suffered though another bout of pancreatitis. Then after getting her home, there was concern and being on call as she rode it out. I also spent long hours with Dad at doctors’ appointments and tests. Sara’s recovered and Dad’s test results were good. Another storm weathered. I’d never wish that I was not the go-to guy for them — I prize being able to be there for them. But it has its price.

My refreshing comes from quiet times like this morning. And from some focused time taking and processing and sharing photographs of beautiful things. And reflecting. And conversations with a God who loves me they way I am. And having a loving wife who puts up with me even when I’m weird.

I’m hoping that you’re having times of refreshment along the way too.

Making It Through Difficult Days

Posted in Personal on July 19th, 2010 by Jim Hughes – Comments Off

As hinted at in my photoblog today, there’s lots going on around me.

My buddy Jim Clarke got his new lungs last Wednesday night. The fact that a double lung transplant is even possible just boggles my mind. And yes, it’s a BIG deal — for Jim and Pam and their family, and for all of us who love them (which is easy because they are such loving and serving people). I’m so anxious for him to recover to the point that we can enjoy his laugh again!

Also last Wednesday, I spent time with one of our members who is in her last days. She and her husband have been though so much the last couple of years — she fighting cancer, him recovering against all odds from a massive stroke. However, as I visited with the family, we were able to talk about all of this and even laugh together frequently. Even though they have been dealt difficult blows, they’re handling it all with grace and gratitude. And as I prayed with this beautiful lady who had been non-responsive, she audibly prayed along with me.

In addition, I have two friends caring for their spouses who have suffered debilitating strokes. And several who have lost their dads in the last few weeks. And even more who are caring for their aging parents, dealing with all kinds of difficult issues.

The way they, and we, are getting through each day is the commonality that brought us together in the first place — our faith, and our hope. We are able to face each day through the presence of God — often seen through those dear people he has brought our way — in our lives.

Today I’m especially thankful for that.

It’s my dog’s fault (that I haven’t been writing here).

Posted in Personal on June 14th, 2010 by Jim Hughes – 2 Comments

Maybe you’ve noticed that I haven’t been writing here lately.

Missy Dog

It’s my dog’s fault. Well, sort of.

Missy Dog has abundant energy, and is seemingly always either receiving my attention or getting in trouble in an attempt to get it.

Of course, the reasons I haven’t been writing are more complicated than that, and it’s not fair to blame it all on Missy.

On the positive side, I’ve been devoting a lot of time to my photography. There’s so much to learn, so much to shoot, so much to post process and to share.

I’d love for you to drop by my personal blog (which I’ve converted to be primarily a photo blog) to see some of my recent shots and how I’m doing with this newly revived passion.

There was also both an unconscious and conscious decision to pause my writing on this blog. We’ve had a lot going on personally — difficult seasons — so far this year.  Several of my last posts were about my brother-in-law being in hospice. Happily I can tell you that his condition has improved so that he is living independently. But then in March, my 85 year old dad had a heart attack followed by pneumonia, resulting in 10 days in the hospital and an extended recovery. That thrust me into an essentially full-time caregiving role. Happily, his recovery has gone very well. Not only have these situations required a lot of my time, but a lot of emotional energy. Writing about them and difficult seasons in general has just not been something I’ve had the energy to do. And I’ve needed to focus what energy I have had into activities that provide renewal (like the photography).

I’ve missed the writing, though. And I have a number of things that it’d be good to write about. So I’m back — but with no promises about how frequently I’ll post.

Thanks for reading!