Thursday, February 21, 2013

The Reluctant Caregiver

In my class on caregiving I always say, "Don't let anyone saint you." That means: do not take it when anyone says of your caregiving role that, "You must be a saint." The reason is, that as soon as you have accepted that intended compliment you are now prohibited from saying just how hard it is to be a caregiver. How will you follow "You are a saint" with "I hate this"?

Here's someone else writing about the pain of caregiving and the reluctant caregiver--of which there are many. In this story it's a woman caring for a mother-in-law but often its someone caring for their parent or even their own spouse. No, it's not a made-for-TV-movie where everyone finds caregiving heartwarming and rewarding.

Take a look at this short article. And know you are not alone:

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Sex and Cancer and Young Patients

Oh, I am so excited to discover another woman writing about sex and cancer. Sadly this is a young woman--25 years old--with cancer and as is perfectly appropriate for 25 she is talking to her gal pals about sex. But this is not Sex and The City. It's more like Sex and The Chemo. And crazy frustrating they are still not getting good info on sex and cancer.

But this young woman--Suleika Jaquad--is a writer and advocate and she's writing a blog for the New York Times. Here is the link to her column this week. Take a look. Send it to friends. Send this to your oncologist and to your cancer support group too. Lets make them talk about sex!

Click Here:

Monday, February 18, 2013

The Normal Bar as a Book for Two

It’s President’s Day weekend, and I am so grateful to have this long weekend with John. We have both been so busy with work, family, sports and community. We have not had much “couple time” in the last month, so this weekend we went to our favorite B&B in the Berkshires to read, sleep and make love.

For fun we took the new book, “The Normal Bar” with us and we took turns reading it and asking each other the questions about our relationship. One of the things that works well with this book is that it is well documented and based on thorough research so it seems to work for both men and women. There are enough facts to assure the suggestions are valid, and there are enough stories and anecdotes to engage a less literal reader. Hence both boys and girls can enjoy!

The tagline on the book says, “Surprising secrets of happy couples…” and there are some big surprises. Like what men want more of is: communication. And the authors mean hands-free communicationJ. Really. Of course they also document the correlation between better communication and better sex so bring on the talking!

But there is more than juicy sex tips in this book. Of course, sex sells so you have to mention sex and romance to sell a book, But how about this tip for a great marriage: comb your hair, put on a nice shirt and lose five pounds. Yes, according to the authors’ research with thousands of couples, letting yourself go--which starts in years six to 9—does big damage to marriages. And the remedies are simple; no plastic surgery needed: change clothes, add lipstick and shave on weekends.

Rest assured that there is plenty of good stuff on sex in this book. Want to know if your fantasies are normal? If his are? How important is oral sex? And how important is it to your partner if you have an orgasm? That’s here too. Just reading the book together turned up the heat on our winter weekend. Let’s just say we were a little bit normal and a little bit not.

As usual, we came away from the weekend touching more and laughing more and yes, reading together a whole lot more.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

The Normal Bar for Happy Relationships

If you don't have a gift for your Valentine yet here's a suggestion that will give back over the next year. I've just started reading, "The Normal Bar--Surprising Secrets of of Happy Couples" and it is eye opening from the start. I'll be writing more about this juicy book over the next week.

You would expect great, well-documented information from the trio of authors: Chrisanna Northrup, Pepper Schwartz and James Witte. All great writers and accurate digesters of information who have a high skill to put research into relevant lay language.

This book is not about Cosmo quizzes and what works for your friend. It's longitudinal social science research translated into, "Try This!" And we can all use some of that.

And you might be thinking, "A relationship book as a Valentine's gift?" But yes...the only implied message is "I love you and I want more." But just to be on the safe side, add some dark chocolate.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Take Your Vitamins and Don't Forget to Pray

You want to live long and look good so you do everything the experts suggest: You eat salmon, wear sunscreen, lift weights and jog. You floss, eat five fruits a day; take your Vitamin D and you pray. Pray? Yes, God is now part of a healthy lifestyle.

It turns out that God can save your life as well as your soul. According to the newest research on aging and health we need to hit both the treadmill and our knees on a regular basis. This new push for God isn’t coming, as you might expect, from the church folks, but rather from doctors, specifically neurologists.

The timing is perfect because we are a pretty nervous bunch right now.  The world is tilting; economy struggling and our fears about it are multiplying. Dr. Andrew Newberg is the spokesperson for the new field of neurotheology and his focus; “How God Changes Your Brain” is also the title of his new book. In it he details extensive research showing the impact of prayer, faith, meditation and yes, exercise on longevity and health.  

In a key section of the book they rank the ways that we can improve our brain function—the overall key to long life--and while aerobic exercise is number three, it turns out that the very best thing you can do for your brain is to have faith.

Can’t you just hear this at the gym, “What’s your workout?” “Oh I do 20 minutes on the elliptical, 20 minutes of weights and a couple of rosaries.”

But there is something else. The selling of belief as self-improvement strikes me as another kind of materialism, albeit a spiritual one. We typically recognize consumerism in the race to bigger houses, cooler cars or the latest techno-gadget. But maybe in a recession we drop those in favor of other kinds of consumption, like using God for your own good.  In most faith systems the goal or end point is about turning away from self and toward others: Love your neighbor. Mend the world.

So there’s a paradox here: trying to be more spiritual for selfish ends knocks you right off the spiritual path. It’s like humility; just when you think you’ve got it, you don’t. But maybe God doesn’t care; maybe he’s OK with being the bait to catch himself.

So if you’re getting in shape for spring, think of “Him” as Vitamin G.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Gail Sheehy Writes About Caregiving

A few years ago Gail Sheehy published her most important book since "Passages". She says that when she wrote that much earlier book she never conceived that there would be a life passage that included remarriage, illness, cancer and caregiving. In "Passages in Caregiving" she details the cycles that occur in caregiving and how she learned to move through them and emerge relatively sane after her husband's long, tortuous illness and death from cancer.

Here is a short essay from Publisher's Weekly that Sheehy wrote about why she writes and about writing the book, "Passages in Caregiving."