|Espresso and iPad art|
When I wrote in here last Sunday I was still processing the previous day's training. I'll start at the beginning of why I decided to become an end-of-life Advance Care Planning (ACP) facilitator. Last summer SG (Smart Guy) and I went to a presentation about the importance of ACP. Although we had prepared our wills with an attorney a decade before, this was different and much more comprehensive. After being given the Washington state version of ACP, we went home and filled out the sections of the 7-page-long document that were easy to process. Then we scheduled an hour-and-a-half session with an ACP facilitator.
Needless to say, I was very impressed with the process and what Karen, our facilitator, was able to do to help us decide how to complete the document. How it is different from a will is that you need to think about what you want to happen if for any reason you are not conscious and end up in the hospital. As their brochure says, "Speak for yourself today so that others will be able to speak for you tomorrow." This was not part of our previous will in any detail. You also need to think about what you want to happen if you are not likely to ever again know who you are or who you are with.
The Whatcom Alliance for Health Advancement (WAHA) is unique in my experience, giving all residents of Whatcom County a chance to get this information filled out, notarized, and on file in the records at the local hospital (PeaceHealth). And all this is done by volunteers; the program is supported by donations. WAHA has a plan to get 65% of all people 65 and over to have their ACP done within the next few years, and training new facilitators is part of the process.
I told Karen that I was so impressed with the ability she had to help us figure out the best way to fill out these documents that I too would like to learn how to help. I had done a little volunteering in the community since retirement, but before this happened I had not found my place. Last spring I attended a two-day-long session on becoming a death doula, someone who helps others to pass through the last phase of life in a sacred way. After attending, however, I decided that it was not for me at this time. Too intense, I guess, and not quite what I was looking for.
This training was pretty intense, too, but it's a whole different thing. First of all, I was instructed to complete four on-line courses on "Respecting Choices" and to learn how to use value-neutral language and how to listen without inserting my own feelings and desires into the discussion. I was given a month or so to complete them, and I found this method of training to be very helpful and instructive. I was glad to finish them successfully, since it's been a long time since I'd done any kind of training like that.
And then last Saturday I spent the entire day going through the training with five other new facilitators, accompanied by four current facilitators and the instructor. Eleven of us women never left the room except to use the bathroom for nine hours! Snacks and lunch were provided (a good homemade lunch, too!). We reviewed what we had learned on line and then did five separate role-playing sessions. Nobody really likes these, but they are a good way to put the skills you have learned to use. We pretended to be the facilitator guiding the client through the discussions, and then we switched roles. I learned a great deal, and it was very valuable, not to mention allowing me to become part of a community of like-minded women.
I was mentally exhausted by the time I returned home, but I hadn't had a chance to get any exercise at all, so I figured I'd go for a walk or something. But it's amazing how draining such intense mental activity can be: instead I poured myself a glass of wine, collapsed in my chair, and shared the day's activities with SG. The next step is to twice shadow a facilitator as she meets with a client (sit quietly in the room and observe), and then start working with my own appointments. I've got two friends who I'll work with, one my friend John at the coffee shop and another hiking buddy.
I've shadowed once and have another scheduled for the 16th, and by that time I should have helped two people in the community get their ACP documents filled out. I'm not exactly sure how the last part is finished (getting the documents checked over and notarized) but I'll find out. I'm now getting the hang of this and I think I'll enjoy it very much. It's a very valuable service. I know that families have a really hard time deciding how to proceed when a loved one is incapacitated, and it takes all the guesswork out of the situation when the person's wishes are known, written down and on file.
Whew! Getting all this written out was rough. I didn't realize how much it would help me to get my mind around it all by writing this post, but it has allowed me to organize my thoughts. It's not exactly a fun activity such as hiking to the top of a mountain, but it is needed and I think will give me a sense of providing a useful service. Plus it's volunteer, so if I decide it's not for me, I can just stop. I don't think I will, though.
The one thing I am already noticing is how much less free time I seem to have. Between appointments with the training and my two yoga classes, my "dance card" has filled right up! Again I marvel at how I ever managed to fit a full-time job into my life, not to mention skydiving every weekend. But I'm older now, and I've slowed down to the brisk pace of ordinary mortals. (smile)
In a few weeks, it will be exactly one year since I made my last skydive. Have I missed it? I can actually say no, I haven't. It was time to stop, but not a week passes without skydiving showing up in my dreams. It was a huge part of my life for a long time, but becoming a retired skydiver is not that much different from becoming a retired writer/editor. The only real difference is that I still can write and edit for fun. Jumping from an airplane for fun requires a different skill set. My skydiving gear is still continuing to get a good workout from its new owner, Lauren. And thanks to Facebook, I can smile and wish her well.
Mercy! This ended up being a bit more work than usual, but it was very necessary to get it all out here. I am now noticing the days getting longer as we gain more than three minutes of daylight every day. Before too long I'll be hearing the birds outside as I write, but it's still almost an hour before the sun comes up. There's light in the sky already, though. How delightful! I wish that you, my dear reader, will have a wonderful week before we meet here again. Blessings and virtual hugs all around.