Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Journey to Joy Winter Seminars

Upcoming Journey to Joy Programs 2008
Six Week Small Group Sessions

Tuesday evenings
January 8-February 12
Tuesday evenings
April 1-May 6
Location: Central MississaugaCost: $295.00

Single Seminars
Discover Your True Passions
Get clarity and focus in your life through "The Passion TestTM"
(limited to 8 people per session)
Saturday mornings 9:30-12:30
January 12
February 9
Evenings 7:00-10:00
Thursday January 17
Thursday February 21

$75.00 three hour seminar (includes workshop materials)
$125.00 private two hour session (includes workshop materials)
Special group rates for your club or associationLocation: Central Mississauga

NEW The Journey Continues - Keeping Your Spirit Alive Monthly Series These sessions are designed for those who have already taken any of the Journey to Joy Seminars. Be part of an uplifting monthly connection where we will continue the dialogue and enrich our spirits within.

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Enriching the Lives of Others While Keeping the Balance in Yours

By Barbara Ashcroft B.A. M.ED.

Most of us at one time or another will find ourselves called upon to tend to the needs of a frail or terminally ill family member or friend. Any one of us could be called upon to care for an older parent, an accident victim of any age, or a dear friend recently diagnosed with a degenerative or terminal disease. We never know when this call may come. Our first response may be one of fear. Most of us do not have medical backgrounds and may panic at the thought of dealing with the unknown. We might also wonder how we will manage to do this with our already over-scheduled daily routine. We may even find ourselves sandwiched between the needs of our aging parents and the ongoing needs of our young children. Then, added to the mix are the daily demands of our workplace.

We may begin to feel overwhelmed at just the thought of it of it all. Some folks might even be tempted to opt out, throw their hands in the air and run, claiming a lack of knowledge and skills. But let me tell you from personal experience that when the will to see this through is there, the way will be shown. Just get in there and start. It is amazing to see how we are given the strength and skills to cope in crises situations. Sometimes when I look back at those times when I got the call to be there 24/7 for my father when he was dying of cancer, for my mother when she suffered a massive stroke and lived nine years with her paralysis and for my husband when he required fulltime in home oxygen for his pulmonary fibrosis, before his transfer to continuing care, I really wonder how I got through it all. But I would never think of changing a minute of it.

So how did I do it?

Get as much knowledge as you can about the prevailing illness or situation. Ask, ask, ask. You must find out what medical, community resources and specific agencies can help you with the understanding of the disease and the organization of the care giving. Find support groups who have already been there and who can give you ideas, comfort and management tips. Do your research.

Set up a binder with all your information, including all medical and home care support names and numbers. Prepare and make photocopies of all medications, and dosages. Take this binder with you to every medical meeting and make a duplicate to have immediately available for paramedics for 911 emergency calls. This way you are not so frazzled when these wonderful medical people ask you all for all the info they need in the midst of your emergency. This binder is also helpful for any homecare staff. Keep a section for ongoing observations and questions. This saves time, helps everyone and gives you a sense of security.

Call in the reinforcements. I found that most people are more than willing to help if they know exactly how they can help. Make a list of several tasks that you do for your loved one. There may be one or two items that other neighbours, friends or family members would be willing to pick up even on an occasional basis if they knew exactly what to do. When we involve the whole family or neighbourhood community in the act of caring for others, everyone shares the responsibility, and everyone wins. The main caregiver feels supported and the wonderful messages that we are sending to our children will always be with them. Children remember our actions more than our words. When children see the love, respect, and support that we give to others with disabilities, the more likely they are to do the same for us in our hour of need.

If your loved one is in a hospital or other institutional setting, try to create as much of a home-like environment as possible. It’s amazing what comfort a few familiar photographs or sentimental objects can bring to another. Any time we must leave a loved one in an institutional setting, we must become their on-site advocate. Being clearly visible to staff and getting to know those who provide the front line care in nursing homes and hospitals can only benefit our loved one. Teamwork and co-operation on behalf of our family member or friend is the only way to ensure quality care.

Stay focused on your loved one’s abilities. What activities or tasks can they still do? If we always focus on another’s disability, we begin to look past their actual current abilities and we may contribute to their depression. Staying positive for another amidst their difficulties is a must. We always have a choice when it comes to attitude. Even a bed-ridden person may still be able to perform one or two independent tasks that maintain his sense of dignity. We need to support others to find ways to help to keep as much independent activity and social interaction going as possible. What are their affective needs? It is often the fulfillment of these needs that gives one the will to live.

Most importantly, take time for yourself. It is only when we put fuel in our tanks that we can give our best to others. This is not a selfish act, but a necessity for both you and your loved one. Just a one week break with a change of scenery will give you that boost you need to continue on. You must have this respite in order to stay emotionally and physically strong for your loved one. You may be all they’ve got and you may be looking at a long term supportive situation. Your health and welfare must be a priority.

Some of you reading this will already be in a care giving situation. You are not alone. Just know that there are others who have come before you, done what you are doing and now feel privileged to have played such an important part in another individual’s life. What a great opportunity we all have to be by the side of those in their most vulnerable state. Seeing the most loved people in my life off to their next one was immensely fulfilling for me. Sharing their last few days with them and their last breath was definitely a sacred moment. It is the best gift any of us could ever give our loved ones. Would we all not want this for ourselves?
For those involved in eldercare these sites may be helpful.

Peel Public Health
The Canadian Health Network Check out seniors

Permission for reprint of this article is given with the inclusion of this statement:
Barb Ashcroft offers Journey to Seminars and private consultation for those who want to think more positively, discover their true passions, and feel fully alive. She may also be booked for professional speaking engagements. Barb is a certified Passion TestTM facilitator. Contact Barb 905 814-6434 barb@barbashcroft.com

The Passion TestTM is a trademark of Enlightened Alliances created by Janet and Chris Attwood.

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How Healthy is Your Spirit?

By Barbara Ashcroft B.A.M.ED.

In western culture when we refer to health issues, we frequently think only of our physical symptoms and body ailments. We seek out measurement tests that give us evidence of the status of our body functions. We look for a variety of quick treatments to fix us up so that we can get back to the daily business at hand. The WHO (World Health Organization), on the other hand, defines health as a “state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”

How often do we take the time required to examine the state of our mental and social well being? What scale do we use to give us this data? I can check my blood pressure at the pharmacy, but so far I haven’t found a tool to give me a reading on my zest for daily life. We must become monitors of our own personal moods and emotions. We need to start paying attention to how our inner spirit is feeling. We must learn to recognize when we are becoming emotionally drained and depleted, when we are experiencing a lack of interest in the day and a sense of emptiness in our purpose. These prolonged negative states of mind and spirit can creep up on us slowly and may eventually contribute to the development of physical disease. We need to better understand the mind-body connection. We must learn how to listen to our bodies. Stress, physical ailments and depression often set in when our authentic selves are buried and sacrificed for who we think we “should” be.

We were all born into this world with our own unique gifts and into a natural state of joy. True joy comes from using these gifts for ourselves and then for the greater good of humanity. Somehow along the way, however, life happens, and we may lose touch with those gifts and our inner feelings of self worth and our spirit of hope. We need to reconnect with our original state of giftedness and contentment. The only way we can begin to do this is to become aware of our daily feelings and begin to gather some reflective data. We need to ask ourselves: How content and satisfied am I with my life? How peaceful and joyful do I feel today? When is it that I feel most confident and fulfilled? What am I doing? When does time fly? Why am I excited to greet this particular day looking forward to all its events? When do I least want to get out of bed in the morning? What’s going on that day? Pay attention to your responses. The answers lie within. It may take you a while to notice these indicators, but they are clear signs of what you need more of (or less of) in your life in order to feel complete, peaceful and valued.

Where are you on the enthusiasm scale? Are you passionate about what you do? We all start out in life with longings and interests that often get pushed aside. What was it that stirred your heart at 6, 10, and 15? Do you even remember? What were your childhood aspirations? Have they been buried so long that you can’t even recall them? Are you in touch with what really makes your heart sing? What dream do you want to start creating today? When you follow your passions, you will love your life. Your dreams already exist. They are just waiting for you to find them…to bring them into the world. This is what will keep your spirit alive and keep you mentally healthy. Your intuition knows what you really need to feel fulfilled. Your life may need some long overdue adjustments.

Sometimes we get so caught up in our same old, same old, that we lose sight of what really matters to us, what motivates us and touches our soul. Busyness and daily routine take over and then we die. Life has a way of happening with or without your consent. There are no reruns. Most people, on their death beds, do not regret their mistakes, but their lost opportunities. The good news is that it doesn’t matter what age you are. There is always time to get in touch with your passions…better late than never. If you ask yourself how many good years you think you might have to live on this planet, you get a sense of how important it is to make these years purposeful. Why would you waste one day spending your valuable time doing what is not feeding your soul? What truly gives you meaning? When you begin to align your daily life with your passions, your whole life becomes renewed and energized. Think about this: if today were your last day to live, what would not be fulfilled in you?

Even if you aren’t able to spend your whole day in your bliss, you must find some time to nourish yourself with those things about which you are passionate. Your body cries out for it. In fact, your body will rebel if you do not use your natural talents and gifts.

Your mind might be able to pretend you’re someone you’re not, but you’re body can’t. Sarah Ban Breathnach

When we really begin to seek the answers to these larger life questions, we start to live a life on fire with inner joy and passion. Our spirits get uplifted, we feel light as a feather, and our whole mental outlook improves. When we are living our passions, our physical and mental health flourish, our families benefit, and our lives become productive and rewarding.

It’s never too late to become what you might have been. George Elliot

Permission for reprint of this article is given with the inclusion of this statement:
Barb Ashcroft offers Journey to Seminars and private consultation for those who want to think more positively, discover their true passions, and feel fully alive. She may also be booked for professional speaking engagements. Barb is a certified Passion TestTM facilitator. Contact Barb 905 814-6434 barb@barbashcroft.com

The Passion TestTM is a trademark of Enlightened Alliances created by Janet and Chris Attwood.

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