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Daily Nugget of Gold 1813

“Chains of habit are too light to be felt until they are too heavy to be broken.” – Warren Buffett

Daily Nugget of Gold 1813

Routines Are a Powerful Foe

In our last get together, we discussed a gentleman we called Joe, and his “little victory” of making a choice on something as small and seemingly insignificant to some- as which snack to give him to enjoy. Over the years, he was cared for by many people, including an institution which had to be closed down- where he was mistreated. Later in life, he was cared for by at least 3 different agencies, and we had met him many years prior, when we ourselves played an entirely different role than a caregiver for people.

Joe’s life has actually taken quite a turn for the better, he’s cared for by loving and caring people now. Just the same, people fall into routines and focus on getting the physical tasks done for the people they watch over. Staff were very much focused on feeding the people they care for foods they thought they enjoyed, but often prepared the food for all of people at one time, and slipped into preparing the same food for everyone, mainly because it’s easier that way.

If someone were to reject a food by not eating it, or shoving away a staff member’s hand when something was offered, an alternative would be prepared and offered. We know of staff who went so far as to prepare 5 different items, one after another, searching for something Joe would want to eat. We can’t fault the staff here on whether or not they earnestly cared, they obviously did.

What we described above was a routine. Staff does need to get many tasks done, and feeding is only one of them. There’s medication, bathing, dressing, toileting, help with walking, and many, many other things that have to be accomplished daily. Routines help the people being served in some ways. People like routines because they become expected and normal, and provide a sense of security for the people being cared for. Staff like routines because they provide order to the day and they help workers efficiently carry out the work that needs doing.

Routines are adopted by our brains as a way to conserve thought energy, and as such, routines are difficult to change These are habits, which become ingrained and carried out as we live our lives- often thinking about other things. Routines we adopt become “the authority” and take control. If we’re going to be helping others become more independent and take control over their own lives, we’re going to have to reexamine routines and see whether or not we’ve misused them to eliminate the choices others might have, even if by accident. We’ll be out of our comfort zones as we do this, and as we open up choices for others to pick from, maybe even out of their comfort zone initially. All of this will seem difficult, at first. The most profound blessings we can share and enjoy come from difficult circumstances we overcome together, however.

Question of the Day to Ask Ourselves

“Have I allowed some routines to rule over my life in a negative way?”

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Daily Nugget of Gold 1812

“Your success and happiness lies in you. Resolve to keep happy, and your joy and you shall form an invincible host against difficulties.” – Helen Keller

Daily Nugget of Gold 1812

Pinkie Pointing,

A gentleman we’ll call Joe spent much of his early life in an institution. Joe doesn’t talk, but uses sounds to communicate that he wants or needs something. Additionally, Joe will at times shove a person’s hand away from him if he wants to let them know he doesn’t want to eat an item that a staff member might be attempting to feed him; or as a person working with him tries to shave him if he doesn’t want to do that right then.

Over the years, many decisions on what to make him to eat or drink were made by his staff because he seemed unable or unwilling to choose for himself, anyhow. If items were placed in front of him in an effort to have him choose, he would put his head down and seem to be sulking, or seemingly look around the room uninterested.

Curious about this, we decided to make it our mission, given what we wrote about in our last installment, to see if maybe- just maybe- with a little bit of patience and persistence, we could discern choices he may prefer PRIOR to eating. When Joe came out of his room and sat down at the kitchen table late one night, we gathered up several small portions of snack items he could enjoy and asked him to point at one. (By the way, coming and sitting at the kitchen table was his way of saying, “I’m hungry)

In our first attempts to have him choose, Joe just sat there, his hands holding his head, or nodded in another direction, none of which seemed to indicate anything. After a while, we noticed that he fixed his gaze on an item, and that may or may not have been a way for him to indicate his choice. We gave him that thing, a little cup of ice cream and he seemed to enjoy it.

Over a week or two, we repeated this ritual, encouraging Joe to point at an item which he preferred. One night, after patiently offering 3 choices for about 3 or 4 minutes, it happened! He pointed at an ice cream cup with his pinkie, a dainty, but definite choice! This “little victory” was HUGE. We had empowered him in a way he wasn’t used to. Over the years, Joe just accepted that he’d make his decision of what to eat only after either trying it, or as the spoon was headed to his mouth- by either opening his mouth for it or shoving the hand attempting to feed him away.

It’s been happening now much more regularly and we’re very excited that a person many considered to be unable or unwilling to make choices for himself in this way- was totally capable of doing so. He just needed a chance to do it, he needed someone more intent on finding out his preferences than on getting done with the task in a hurry. We love writing, but we love helping to enrich someone else’s life far more!

Question of the Day to Ask Ourselves

“Who are we to assume we know the inner thoughts of others if we don’t ask in a way they can answer?”

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Ben Franklin Quote:

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Daily Nugget of Gold 1811

Daily Nugget of Gold 1811

Differently Abled Comminicators

Wow, we scored a two-fer with that title! The spell check feature said, “huh?”- twice! Nice! Then we checked the authority on such things- the internet, and sure enough, we got it right and spelled both challenged words correctly, a bonus! We work in the field of helping intellectually disabled folk live fuller lives as our “day job” (in reality, it is only sometimes a “day job”, for these folks often need care around the clock.) Personally, we are very blessed to work with 3 such people and all of them are often referred to as being “non-verbal”. It’s a pigeon-hole phrase which is used by well meaning people to communicate that these folks don’t talk like most of us do.

The level of care that the folks we care for need is fairly high, they often need help with most of the tasks we do successfully for ourselves such as eating, drinking, bathing, and dressing. Cleaning and laundry are things that need to be attended by staff as well, and while sometimes a person might do part of a task themselves, loving help is provided.

Your author was hospitalized about a year ago and was rendered “non-verbal” by feeding and breathing tubes for about 10 days. We were cared for very well by most of the hospital staff, and our only way of communicating effectively was to write what we needed. Not many, but a few of the nurses on staff refused to give us something to write on, saying things like, “I don’t have time for this” or “Not now”. We were wanting something as simple as fresh water put down the feeding tube due to an overwhelming dry and salty mouth. Another time we had to be suctioned in order to be able to breath and resorted to banging our fist on the tray in front of us to get heard, and had to use our hands in the universal sign for “I’m choking!”

We are SO thankful and grateful for these experiences! They have shaped us in ways we would have never been had they not occurred. We’ve made it our work to offer choices to people who have almost no choices offered to them daily. We’ve made it our mission to take the importance of doing this to everyone working in this field. We’ve changed in what we do so as to be sure to offer choices whenever it’s possible to do so. We want to give people who had little choice in their own lives a feeling of nearly complete control over what they do, what they want or don’t want.

In our next session we’re going to talk about one such case and the little victories we’ve been able to have a hand in for that person. We say, “little victories” only because that’s what most people would see them as. They aren’t little, they aren’t insignificant, they are transformational and huge. We can’t wait to tell you about it!

Question of the Day to Ask Ourselves

“Have I given any thought to the fact that I am just a head injury away from being intellectually disabled myself?”

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Perspective…

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Daily Nugget of Gold 1810

Daily Nugget of Gold 1810

Gratitude For Our Problems

We like the good things in life. We usually want more good things to come into our lives and less problems. Everyone has problems and while we feel good about solving them when we can, we often curse them, passionately deplore them. Problems are what we make of them, though, and through our troubles comes true growth of Spirit. What we’re suggesting here is to bless and praise our troubles and see them for the necessary tools that they are- a way in which we can become better ourselves.

We’re not here to sit idly by while problems exist. We don’t have to seek them out, they’ll come looking for us. Understand that the person you become when you have successfully dealt with a problem is much more valuable than any physical thing you could be given. Let’s not get into the habit of complaining long and loudly that we have a problem, let’s instead begin thinking of possible solutions. Let’s think about how wonderful it would be if we solve the issue at hand.

Recognize that the biggest problems we face offer the most incredible rewards for us in the long term. Tragedies happen, and they happen to all of us, what shall we become because of them? People often say things like, “Well, it’s easy for you to be positive and joyous, but you don’t have MY problems” when talking to this author, but we can assure everyone, it’s not easy. It IS worth it, however. It’s attitudinal in nature, and that should excite everyone. Since this is merely a stance which can be adopted, everyone can do it. The question isn’t, “Can I?”, but rather, “Will I?”.

Here’s a way to flex your attitudinal muscles- willingly do new and difficult things. Welcome changes as a new beginning. Make it your mission to learn to do the things you’re not very good at now. Master those things that are important. Vow to never let fear whisk you away from trying things.

Some people say to us, “I can’t meditate. I’ve tried, but I just can’t do it.” Let us clue some of our audience who may be struggling in this way- mastery of self is key, it’s the beginning point of all success. Too many of us try and fix the stuff in the outer world in which we live without working inside at all. We will not be truly successful in anything if we don’t start within. Calmness of the Soul, centering of the being is the starting point of effective “doing”.

Question of the Day to Ask Ourselves

“How do I feel about the problems in my life, do I welcome the changes they’ll make in me?”

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Center Your Being as a Still Pool of Water

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Get Excited About Failing!

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