A State of Consciousness

"Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

Are you conscious of the life that you are living now?

I was watching Oprah’s Life Class and she featured a show that reflected on being “present in your life”. It first aired in 2008. There was a woman named Brenda, who was a mother of two and a school principal. Her husband normally carried both kids to daycare and school, but that morning he asked his wife to drop off their 2 year old toddler, Cecelia, at the daycare facility. It was the first day of school for Brenda. As a principal, one can only imagine the crazy hectic pace that is expected on the first day of school where a swarm of teachers, students, and parents are scurrying around as they began the new school year. What do you think was going on in Brenda’s mind? She was under a lot of pressure to not only get herself and her kids ready in the morning, but to also prep an entire school for its opening. She stopped to buy some donuts for the teachers because it was too early to drop Cecelia off at the daycare center. The child was quietly sleeping in her car seat in the back of her car. Brenda drove to her school and continued on her day functioning on autopilot. It was business as usual, or so she thought.

As I watched the recount of this story, I felt a pit drop in my stomach. Did they neglect to add a detail? I think they did; but no they did not! Brenda continued on with her day. Yes we did not hear of that one key step… that one necessary task that she needed to complete for that day. She never dropped her daughter off at the daycare center. She forgot and left her daughter in the hot car all day. To her dismay, by the time Brenda got word from a school friend who noticed that her daughter was still in the car, it was way too late. Unfortunately this was a tragic end to this story. I wish I could tell you it ended otherwise, but I can’t.

You are probably wondering, “What does this have to do with me?”  Yes I said it, because I know what you are thinking.  It’s ok to have those thoughts. I do not take it personally.

How many of us continue on our day in an unconscious state of being? Are you really aware of what’s going on around you or are you constantly rushing from task to task or obligation to obligation?  As caregivers, we are often decision makers who are under a considerable amount of pressure being responsible for the care of a loved one. Some of these situations can be very serious and critical on top of our own daily responsibilities. We often go without sleep, tend to become overwhelmed with worry about situations that are out of our control, and put our lives and dreams on hold. These sacrifices can often wreak havoc on our very own health and well being.  Guess what? You don’t even have to be a caregiver to suffer from the “superwoman” or superman” complex.  Do you constantly try to take care of everyone or try do everything all the time?

WAKE UP! Take a conscious look at your life.

Don’t let a tragedy that could have been prevented be the conscious wakeup call that you need! Seek ways to slow down and realize that you can’t do it all. Ask for help. Say no sometimes. Get some rest. Take yourself out. Call a friend just to shoot the breeze. It all doesn’t have to be done today. Doing some of these things will help you be a part of life instead of life passing you by. I know that Brenda wishes she could go back in time and change what happened on that dreadful day. Her baby was sound asleep; she made no noise; she did not cry. Don’t let busyness, overwhelming responsibilities, and stress keep you from being present in the moment of where you currently are.

This very second, you can wake up and become conscious of the life that you are living. ~ Oprah Winfrey.

The Shrinking Senior

Why do seniors, as they age, seem to all of a sudden they feel like they have no power? It seems like their confidence is gone. It is something that seems to irritate me because I am watching someone, who during my life, moved with confidence and authority that is now seeming to shrink down in their seat. I’ve witnessed this behavior from my parents.

Why it is that they choose not speak up? I’ve observed this increased tendency to shrink back and to not ask for what they need. They tend to wait for me to speak on their behalf. Why do they do that? However, when it comes to me, they feel comfortable enough to make requests and at times extreme demands of me and my time and expect me to jump at their beck and call. I can only speculate that the reason for shrinking back relates to feelings of inadequacy. Perhaps they feel like they are not a whole person anymore and feel helpless and defenseless because they have to be dependent on other people to take care of them. So, to me, it seems that they feel the need to stay quiet or act timid because they feel like they don’t want to be a bother to anyone even if they are being paid to tend to their needs. From my observation, it appears that their voice is lost and is often stifled because of feelings of a loss of their inner power.

How do you deal with this? I suggest encouraging them to be an active participant in their own care. Of course I recommend this only if your loved one has the capacity to do so. My parents are generally limited by their physical ailments so they can actively give direction and communicate what they need. If they are receiving care in the home, empower them to make their own decisions and ask them to make their own requests. I’ve tried to step back to some degree and encourage them to make their own requests. I feel it is important for my parents to feel comfortable to assert themselves. I also have found that it helps me to feel comfortable that they will be ok when I’m not around and it lets me know that they’ll be able to handle themselves. It is definitely something as a caregiver that one needs to be comfortable with.

Have you encountered this? What steps have you taken to handle this type of situation?