Achieving a Level of Acceptance

"Not everything that is faced can be changed. But nothing can be changed until it is faced." - James Baldwin

It can be tough to sit back and watch your loved one’s health deteriorate. On a daily basis you watch their struggles and observe how the strong person that used to take care of you now needs you to take care of them. There needs to be a level of acceptance. You may at first feel some type of loneliness or some type of distress as you wonder how you will deal with this situation. You may even be angry. That anger may manifest itself as anger with God for allowing this to happen and making this situation come up at the most inconvenient time in your life. Questions like why now? Why me? Why them? Often surface. Then you may not want to deal with it so you sit in a period of denial forcing you to gloss over the situation because you truly don’t want to believe that this is real. However there comes a time where you can no longer function in a level of denial and you have to step up to the plate and make some hard decisions. You must step in and become the primary decision maker for others rather than just yourself.  

I know I began to wonder what gave me the authority to now have to be head of someone else’s life. Why do I now have to adorn this responsibility? I’m just getting the hang of being responsible for myself. It’s as if you were thrust into a fire pit and not having the ability to put out the fire because you have no water and the air is dry. At some point you must take a deep breath and then let go and begin to organize. Just remember to take one step at a time. I’ve made it through. I expect challenges to come. However, with careful planning and mental and emotional preparation you can get through this too. You may need to seek the support of others in similar situations; you need to seek outside connections. Don’t isolate yourself. Remember to set aside time for yourself. A little bit of solo time and time spent with others away from the situation goes a long way.

You may need to sit down and think of some ways that you can achieve a level of acceptance. Redirect your negative thoughts and energy toward something positive.

Please share: What have you done that helps you to keep going?

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.

Developing Resilience

“I don’t measure a man’s success by how high he climbs but how high he bounces when he hits bottom.” – George S. Patton

Have you ever felt that your life is not your own? Are you constantly doing or being called to do something for someone else? Sometimes I feel like I want to change my name and assume an anonymous alias. Do you sometimes feel like you can’t catch a break and are always in the middle of some challenge just waiting for it to plateau… however, when you turn around there is something else you have to contend with? If these questions seem to fit you and you can answer any of them with a resounding “Yes!”…you must be a caregiver on the verge of burn out.

Lately I’ve been feeling overwhelmed myself. I am feeling tired of having this responsibility and I just want to put all of this aside. I try to maintain a positive attitude. However, when faced with a grouchy sick person who has otherwise been for the most part reasonable to get along with, turn around and flip the script and act with the most unpleasant behavior and attitude toward you and others………… you start to question a few things. Why am I doing this? Why do I have to put up with this? Why is God allowing this to happen? How can I continue to deal with this and move forward with the things that I want for my life? Will I be able to pursue what I want?

I was caught in one of these moments in the past week. My father decided to be angry with everyone – himself, me, my mother, and the aide. His behavior was inexcusable. There’s nothing like trying to remain pleasant with someone who is being stubborn and refuses to listen to reason. As for me, I tried to reason with the irrational. At that point, an otherwise reasonable man was facing a pivotal point in his life – the thought or realization that he may never walk again on his own and will probably always need someone’s help.

 At that moment, my Dad’s ability to be rational was severely compromised because his independence is slowly, “yet rapidly”, in his mind escaping him. My thought is why be mad at the world? Why be mad at me? I have endured so much with you…advocating on his behalf by talking to doctors, nurses, and all kinds of medical staff – so much so that I can say that I’ve been through a mini medical school boot camp. What did I do to you to be on the receiving end of this dialogue of dissatisfaction? I didn’t make you sick or cause certain things to go “wrong” with you.

I must stop here…..because I realize it’s not about me. It’s not even about what he said or what’s going on and how he even got there. I began to absorb his negative energy and started wondering what’s in it for me and how can I still pursue my goals.

One of the ways to develop a level of resiliency is to have something else to focus on. Have you buried a dream because  you don’t have the time to pursue it? One of my passions is writing and one of the reasons for starting this blog. Experts say write about what you know. This blog helps me to express myself through one of my passions!

I want you to remember that, whether or not you are a caregiver, having balance in your life is key and it is especially important to carve out some time for yourself. Do you have any desires and passions that lay dormant? These things can serve as an outlet and give you something else to focus on besides the person’s ailment and all the responsibility that comes along with being a caregiver. Pursue them!  You are feeding your spirit which will give you more energy to fulfill your dreams and desires along with your caregiving responsibilities. I recommend that you don’t forget about yourself during this time and process.

Joel Osteen said, “One way to tell if a dream is really from God is that the desire won’t go away. You may have had it for years, but you still can’t let it go. In fact, you may have tried to let it go, but it won’t let go of you.” I encourage you to reach out and search your heart for those dreams and desires that reside within you. These desires are there for a purpose and it is a disservice to yourself and others if you don’t pursue them.  This is how you bounce back. This is how you become resilient. This is how you can gain energy to keep going.

What have you done that helps you to bounce back? Are there dreams and desires that you’ve let go? Please share your thoughts.

Letting Go of Worry

These thoughts kind of hit home for me today.. hopefully tomorrow will be better.

An excerpt from the book:

The Language of Letting Go by Melody Beattie

What if we knew for certain that everything we’re worried about today will work out fine?

What if . . . we had a guarantee that the problem bothering us would be worked out in the most perfect way, and at the best possible time? Furthermore, what if we knew that three years from now we’d be grateful for that problem, and its solution?

What if . . . we knew that even our worst fear would work out for the best?

What if . . . we had a guarantee that everything that’s happening, and has happened, in our life was meant to be, planned just for us, and in our best interest?

What if . . . we had a guarantee that the people we love are experiencing exactly what they need in order to become who they’re intended to become? Further, what if we had a guarantee that others can be responsible for themselves, and we don’t have to control or take responsibility for them?

What if . . . we knew the future was going to be good, and we would have an abundance of resources and guidance to handle whatever comes our way?

What if . . . we knew everything was okay, and we didn’t have to worry about a thing? What would we do then?

We’d be free to let go and enjoy life.

Today, I will know that I don’t have to worry about anything. If I do worry, I will do it with the understanding that I am choosing to worry, and it is not necessary.

30 Day Workout Challenge

I am challenging myself to 30 days of exercise consecutively. That’s right, you read correctly! I can’t believe that I’m actually stating this out loud myself. But… here goes! This exercise regime will consist of anything, any kind of exercise to just get moving that can be done at the gym, at home or outside since the weather is still nice (well when we’re not floating away from the monsoon rainstorms we’ve been having lately here in NY). Also keep in mind you don’t need to have a gym membership to participate in some form of exercise.  How many of us have memberships we don’t use? I can definitely raise my hand. So I also wanted to lift restrictions from having to go to the gym. I saw an article from Time Magazine on how “Just 15 minutes of exercise a day may add years to your life”. I also felt inspired by a tweet from Judge Hatchett about participating in a 30 day exercise challenge. Exercise can help reduce risks associated with heart disease, diabetes and other health related illnesses that you may be susceptible to due to hereditary predispositions or poor health habits. Not only does exercise help you build strength, it also can help reduce the risks of developing cancer. So if doing some form of exercise daily can help you reduce the risks of all these things, why not do them? I constantly ask myself this question. I know that it’s good for me and I should do it. What’s holding me back? Excuses! Yes I said it! I fully admit it!

I know that I’m not as strong as I used to be and I wanted to get myself back on track to being in shape. Although different things have happened during the course of my life over the last couple years that caused me to get off track, I can acknowledge that these are just a whole bunch of excuses laden with procrastination and other fears coupled with laziness. The credo for all procrastinators is “I’ll start tomorrow”. Members of procrastinators anonymous please stand up! Research has shown that it takes 21 days to develop a habit. I want to try to push myself to go beyond the 21 days to 30 days of exercise. I see it as an opportunity to get a jump start on renewing my exercise habits.

As a caregiver, we often make a whole bunch of excuses about why we can’t take care of ourselves, so this is something that I want to do that is important to me that will allow me to be able to take care of myself. Exercise helps me to gain clarity, sharpen my mind, get centered and it has some great health benefits. Some of these benefits include improving my cardiovascular capacity and endurance, improving circulation, reducing the effects of stress, and also it helps me to purify and cleanse my system. I also benefit from a faster metabolism, which will help me burn more calories (By the way, I am not counting calories at all, but it’s nice to know that I’m burning them even when I am at rest 🙂 ). I also noticed in the past after doing some kind of exercise, even after a short while, that I have more energy! Who doesn’t need more energy? Having more energy will enable me to be able to participate and handle the daily activities and responsibilities of my regular life, which also includes all the stresses associated with caregiving, which I think is very important.

My Goal:

For this entire 30 day period, I will try to do some type of exercise each day whether it’s pushups, crunches, squats, lunges or something lengthy and more strengthening as a yoga class or Pilates, a cardio class, weight training with free weight or machines, bike riding, tennis, jogging, or doing some kind of walking for an extended period of time. I hope to do some type of exercise on a daily basis just to get my mind and body in alignment and focused.

Stay tuned for more!

Ten ways to love.

As a caregiver, you are often experiencing a myriad of emotions at any given time. Try to remember to always walk and act in love. The following list references thoughts to keep in mind as you continue on this journey.

1. Listen without interrupting. (Proverbs 18)

2. Speak without accusing. (James 1:19)

3. Give without sparing. (Proverbs 21:26)

4. Pray without ceasing. (Colossians 1:9)

5. Answer without arguing. (Proverbs 17:1)

6. Share without pretending. (Ephesians 4:15)

7. Enjoy without complaint. (Philippians 2:14)

8. Trust without wavering. (1 Corinthians 13:7)

9. Forgive without punishing. (Colossians 3:13)

10. Promise without forgetting. (Proverbs 13:12)