Why I Love Virtual Photo Walks

vpw postcard

I’ve mentioned Virtual Photo Walks before and I’ll probably keep mentioning it because I think it is SO great!

When I was in my 30’s my older sister was diagnosed with a terminal heart condition and given a few months to live. Being a stubborn, disciplined person, she did everything the doctor told her to do and she lived 6 years longer than they expected. I was one of her main caregivers. Having 2 small kids and caring for her was quite a challenge. My kids spent much of those 6 years in waiting rooms, hanging out with my sister as she gradually became housebound. We watched a lot of TV. We watched all of the O.J. Simpson trial. All of it. (Can you detect my sigh and eye rolling?)

Fast forward to 2015. My best friend was diagnosed with breast cancer. Like my sister, I walked by her side until she passed. Again, I spent many hours and days in waiting rooms and hanging out at her house watching TV and dreaming of trips we could take if we could.

I don’t know how I forgot about Virtual Photo Walks, but I did. Too many things on my mind, I think.

I remember when I initially found it I thought, “This is the greatest idea ever!” And when I ever have time I’m going to volunteer to be a photographer for them.

Since I’ve “retired” I have started volunteering with them and I want to spread the word, that’s why I’m writing another post about it.

What Is Virtual Photo Walks? 

VPW is a non-profit organization run by volunteers who are passionate about giving those isolated by illness, age or disability the chance to “escape” their isolation and travel the world!

John Butterill, the founder, organizes the walks through a video conferencing app called Zoom. Photographers from all over the world work with John and plan walks and visits to sites from archaeological digs in Russia to volcanoes in Hawaii to sites in Japan. John sets up the video conferencing meeting and connects the participants who may be in their homes or rehabs, day care centers, nursing homes or are in the hospital and they connect with their computers to participate in the walk.

“The Secret Sauce” 

The magic of Virtual Photo Walks is the live, real time interaction the participants can have with the photographer and also the others who are on the walk with them.

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The participants can talk to the photographer, ask questions and make requests like, “Can we see what’s to your right?” or “Can you take a photo of that tree?” Everyone laughs together and are amazed together in real time. It is a completely different experience than watching a video.

I joined a walk to Yosemite a couple of weeks ago from my office. It was so moving to be with the other participants as we saw the mountains and a beautiful waterfall together. On another walk to an archaeological dig in Russia we had participants from Israel and Japan. It was so interesting.

What VPW Can Do

I remember spending endless hours, days, months and years indoors with my sister and later, my best friend. Too weak to go out and sometimes even to leave the bed. Both of them had to restrict their exposure to germs so even though they might have felt okay, it was too dangerous for them to go out. It was isolating! They were lonely!

Virtual Photo Walks can give people who are isolated a chance to travel to another place and do it with a community of people! Nobody cares what you look like – you can cut the camera off to yourself so no one sees you if you’re worried. Everyone is just glad you joined. And away you go to some beautiful or interesting place together to get away from your bed or hospital room for an hour.

It really does carry you away for a while. It’s magical.

Please Share! 

Here is a great video about VPW. Please share with people you know. Share on social media!

As I said, VPW is a non-profit organization. It’s free to join. The participant just needs internet access to their computer.

You are required to make a request to join because John makes sure all the participants are safe and he protects their privacy.

If you or someone you know would like to participate in a walk, you can join here: 

http://www.virtualphotowalks.org/be-invited-to-virtual-photo-wa/

If you’d like to volunteer to be a photographer and share the beauty of the world around where you live or where you travel, you can volunteer here:

http://www.virtualphotowalks.org/sign-up-to-be-a-vpw-photograph/

You’ll need a smart phone, a good data plan and a tripod.

If you’d like to donate, that would be amazing! Please share with businesses who could possibly donate to help provide equipment and internet access. Donate here:

http://www.virtualphotowalks.org/donate/

Thanks for your help in this very worthy cause!

Peace,

Jill

 

 

 

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Why Mature Adults Need To Take A Personality Test

The Guide to Manliness

I’ve been under the impression most of my life that as someone ages the more they become sure of who they are. As I’ve gotten older, I haven’t found that to be true. I have found that maturing, like every other phase of life requires me to start over again and figure out how I fit, how to function and how I can contribute.

When I started college back in the Ice Age I was required to take a personality test. I don’t remember the results and in my arrogance, I didn’t quite see the purpose. Later, in my 30’s I went back to college and was required to take another personality test. My results were surprisingly accurate. In a course I took I was required to administer and interpret personality tests for 20 different people. The results were freakishly spot on.

Since taking that course I have administered tests to many people, most of them college bound students, like I was, who needed a little direction in their new phase of life.

So, how are older adults any different? Just like the new college student, we are entering into a new chapter of adulthood. As a college student we were entering into a new phase of life, taking on new relationships, moving into a different living situation and community and so, I think, as an adult I’m not so different. I’m learning to parent adults, adjusting to new family members as an in-law and grandparent. I’m considering a new career, albeit a 2nd or 3rd one. Many of us are moving to new communities to retire, navigating health issues, losing loved ones and making new friends. Why wouldn’t it be beneficial to stop and revisit who we are at this point?

I understand that some people don’t like personality tests, I think they equate them to horoscopes or palm reading. I also think some people don’t like them because they don’t like to have “their mail read” so to speak. They find it disconcerting that a test can reveal tendencies or weaknesses about them that they are trying hard to hide or ignore. As in anything in life, if we look for the negative we will find it. If we look for the positive, we will find that, too.

I would encourage you to take a personality test as an adult. I think we can’t truly appreciate the accuracy of personality tests until we get older and can see how spot on they are. Hindsight is 20/20 you know. Taking a personality test as an adult can be very revealing and encouraging. You may find that you actually gravitated toward a career that best suited your personality type. Or that you naturally found ways to overcome your personality’s weaknesses in creative ways. You might even discover that you navigated relationships very similar to others with your personality type and did it quite well.

If you took a test as a college student you will most likely find that you are not the same type as an older adult. We have changed and adapted to our circumstances. We have been affected by life and experiences. Not only can a test help you discover who you are now but it can encourage you and affirm the person you have become.

I have found that revisiting personality tests at this point in my life, as an older adult, has been very helpful in several ways.

  1. In considering a 2nd career, volunteering and choosing how to spend my time, knowing my personality type helps me direct my work and effort in areas that are most compatible with my type. Not to say that exploration and failure can’t be good experiences, and they have been, but I want to “cut to the chase” at this point.
  2. Revisiting my personality type has given me an upper hand in navigating new family relationships and new communities. Seeing myself more clearly helps me be more authentic. Knowing other types helps me identify others, potential conflicts and potential friends.
  3. Knowing my personality type and my needs has allowed me to cut myself some slack. I find that my personality needs time alone to recharge. Knowing that gives me permission to do just that and not feel guilty about it.
  4. Not only has knowing myself allowed me to cut myself some slack but I find it easier to cut others slack, too. It’s easier for me to recognize and appreciate our differences and not be so judgmental. This is vital when navigating new relationships.
  5. Knowing myself at this point in my life gives me confidence and boldness while stepping into these new experiences. I know what I’m good at, how I can best contribute to community, and what my limitations are.

We’ve lived life, we’ve adapted, we are resilient. Our experiences have made us stronger and smarter. We’ve thrown off the weights and are looking to pursue a brighter future! And I think taking a personality test, as an adult can encourage and help us enter into this chapter will confidence and boldness.

Here are a couple of  links to some free tests, but you can also search for yourself.

https://www.16personalities.com/free-personality-test

https://psychcentral.com/quizzes/personality/start.php

Enjoy!

Peace,

Jill

 

 

Distance Family & The Joy of Pinterest Boards

I have to give credit to my daughter-in-law for this one. Shout out! Woot! Woot!

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Maintaining a close family over a long distance is a challenge and so I’m always looking for creative ways to stay connected.

There are so many things that we take for granted when we are able to live in close proximity with our family. We don’t realize that stopping by for a quick visit or a trip together to the store or grabbing lunch periodically can give us information into our family’s lives that we miss when we’re not able to do those things.

Not to mention that our kids and grandkids change everyday and that subtle information that is communicated when we see them often is not available to distance parents and grandparents. When you’re with family often you’ll notice little things like color choices or hear them casually talk about things they like. When you don’t see your family often and only talk on the phone or FaceTime you don’t usually get down to those little, subtle details. And you only see them through the small window of the phone.  A lot of information is missed.

Especially when it comes to gift giving or wanting to be involved with our kids when they’re making a home and raising kids.

For example, my daughter may say, “I want a new purse for my birthday.” Well, you’re not around to see what kind of purse she’s carrying. You’re not shopping together to see what kind of purses she’s looking at and commenting on.

You’re not with your son to see what styles of sweatshirts or sneakers he’s wearing currently. You don’t know what books their reading because you’re not stopping by the house to see what’s on the shelves or coffee table. You don’t know what colors they’re using to decorate the kitchen.

Also styles change so quickly and what we might think is cute for the baby, they might think is hideous! And we don’t want to be “that” grandmother do we? That Crunchy Old Lady, no!

Well, that’s where Pinterest Boards are our friends!

My daughter-in-law helps me by keeping a Pinterest Board for gift giving. She makes a board for herself, my son and my grandson for birthday and Christmas. She also has boards about her house, clothes and accessories she likes, the colors she’s using, little helpful things like that. So, if I want to go off the board for gifts, I can at least stay in the ballpark because of the things she’s pinned on her boards. Her boards really helped me when my son turned 30 and I needed to figure out how to celebrate the milestone from a distance. You can read what I did, here.

Then I don’t have to ask so obviously, “Do you happen to have a set of mixing bowls in pastel colors? And would you like some?”

Another great benefit is that most of the time the links to where to buy those items are included in the pin. So, shopping is easy! I can just click and buy and have it shipped to them.

Not only is it great for gift giving but also for planning events. Right now we are working on the grandboy’s first birthdays and Pinterest is helping us communicate ideas for the parties. Now I can help with the party by sharing ideas and figuring out ways I can contribute.

If my family has to be separated by distance then I’m really thankful for technology and the ways it helps us stay connected!

Thanks Pinterest! Thanks daughter-in-law!

Peace,

Jill

Ministry of Presence

lemons card

Emily McDowell makes this great card. I sent this to my friend who had breast cancer because every time we were together and we saw someone she knew, they would come over and invariably share a horror story about someone they knew who died of breast cancer.

After we politely sat through the tale of horror, I would remind her to “Shake it off! That’s not your story.”

Sometimes my friend would get angry and say, “How can people be so thoughtless and cruel? Why when I’m fighting for my life why would they want to discourage me by telling me about someone who lost their battle? ”

At first, I tried to defend them and say, “I think they’re trying to find common ground with you right now and they just don’t know how to do it.”

But then it happened so often I said, “People are just stupid.”

Let’s be honest, we have all found ourselves in situations where we feel like we should be able to give advice or we desperately want to find some common ground and be helpful. And often we discover that all we can find is to tell someone about someone you knew or heard about that went through the same thing or something similar.

We’re grasping at straws.

The sad thing is that the person you’re talking to knows you’re grasping at straws and they feel bad for you so even though they are suffering or sad or sick, they re spending precious energy and emotion ministering to you by letting you ramble on in your embarrassment.

I think I can help the situation. Let me advise you:

  • Unless you’ve had the same experience, just admit you can’t relate and don’t know what they’re going through so don’t act like you do.
  • It’s okay to say, “I don’t know what to say.”

Times like these often just require you to practice The Ministry of Presence. A friend of mine shared this with me.

All you do is just be there.

Just be there.

You don’t have to have all the answers. You don’t have to give advice. You don’t have to save them. You don’t have to do anything. You probably can’t make it better. So, it’s probably best that you don’t even try.

The best you can do is just be there. Your presence alone is a gift and a comfort.

Then if they ask you to do something, you can decide if you can do that. If they ask you what you think, tell them.

In my experience, most people who have serious, serious illnesses have already faced their own mortality and wrestled with their fears privately. When they are ready to be with people they really like distraction. They like to think about something other than themselves. They want to see you happy and love for you to tell them about your life, your family, your children and pets. So, it’s okay to talk about your joy because I have found that people who are battling for their lives have discovered they don’t have time or energy to mess with petty issues like jealousy.

People who are suffering are sometimes the most generous, kind, patient and loving people on the planet. And they spend a lot of time loving and being patient with those of us who mean well but just stumble and fumble around them trying to be helpful. They use a lot of energy telling us, “It’s okay” and “Thank you.”

I discovered that when I stopped being freaked out about not knowing what to say or what to do and I just decided to show up and listen, not only was I more helpful, I was ministered to as well.

Peace,

Jill

 

 

 

 

 

When To Say “I’m Sorry” & “I’m Proud of You”

definition

I was wondering if anyone out there has the same reactions to the phrases, “I’m sorry” and “I’m proud of you”?

Maybe it’s just me but here’s what happens.

When something bad happens to someone I know like an illness or a death in the family, I will say, “Oh, I’m so sorry” and the response I often get is “It’s not your fault, why did you say that?” That happens a lot. Then I always feel embarrassed like I’ve made a mistake. Then when I try to explain myself I just become annoying.

And then when I do something well, like after a speaking engagement or being recognized for something, people (even those I don’t know very well) will often say “I’m so proud of you.” And that comment makes me feel like a little kid and they’re my parent. Then I feel like I’m being arrogant like I don’t want to share the praise with people.

So, after a recent experience I decided to stop and think about it. I looked up some definitions and did a little internet research about the phenomenon. I even pressed past my guilt and read an article with the title, “Why You Should Never Tell Your Child You’re Proud of Them.”

That little bit of thinking and reading (that I have time for because I’m spending less time cleaning and decluttering because who would have had time before to research something as trivial as this??) I’ve come to peace with these two phrases. I’ll share it now, if you have time.

Number one: “I’m sorry” is a phrase that I’ve been using correctly, it’s just that the meaning has been overshadowed by a second definition. To be sorry means, “Feeling or expressing sympathy, pity, or regret.” So, while I am expressing sympathy to my friend who is having a hard time, they think I’m apologizing like I had something to do with their troubles.

Number two: “I’m proud of you” is a phrase someone says to someone who has accomplished something or been successful. The trouble with this phrase is that it puts the person who is saying it in a superior position than the person receiving the compliment. It also implies a close relationship and that the speaker has had a contribution in the other’s success. So, for a stranger to come up to me and say, “I’m so proud of you” is awkward because I don’t know the and they had nothing to do with my success. Some people advise parents not to say this phrase to your children because it somehow takes away from the child’s success and makes it the parent’s achievement. I can see that, however, I think it’s okay for a parent to acknowledge a shared success. And I think it would be healthy for a child to see that they could not have been successful without the help of others. Not to mention the parent is in the superior position to the child.

One thing that is implicit within both phrases is relationship. When my friend’s family member dies, I could say “I’d like to offer my condolence” but that seems a bit cold to me. To say, “I’m sorry” lets my friend know that I’m affected by their sadness. It says, “You’re not in this alone.” Maybe the next time I get the typical response I’ll say, “I’m not apologizing, I’m expressing my sympathy.” Not that they need a lesson right then, but at least I won’t be stumbling and fumbling and saying “I’m sorry” for saying “I’m sorry.”

When my child wins the Spelling Bee, I think I can say, “I’m proud of you” because I helped them study, I supported them through all the doubt and fear of failure. However, it might be better to say, “You should be so proud of yourself right now” or just a plain old, “Great job!” when my child is older and they accomplished something with their own talent or hard work and I was not a teacher or mentor. I think I will think twice now before telling a peer that I am proud of them unless, of course, we had the relationship where they confided in me about their doubts and struggles and looked to me as a mentor.

I didn’t write this to make you, dear reader, paranoid about what you say. I just find words interesting and I was continually confused about the responses I had to these two phrases.

Maybe it will help someone, maybe it’s just me.

Have a great Monday!

Peace,

Jill