Finding Joy in Your Life

Caregiving has many rewards.  A sense of being needed, the joy of giving to another, rewarding work, responsibility and often a sense of doing something that is beyond what the average person is privileged to participate in during his/her lifetime. Along with great work in our lives we can all appreciate a sense of joy that comes with connecting to something that is thrilling to us.  Joy in your life on a regular basis, in my opinion, should be considered your birthright, like the air you breathe.

How often do you get to experience joy?  Do you know what gives you joy?  Can you recall the last time you felt the thrill of joy?  If you can answer those questions positively, I know your life is good, no matter what your responsibilities or circumstances.  You know where to find your joy when you need it, when your cup needs refilling. What we focus on, on a regular basis, is what we create more of in our lives.  Creating space for joy will bring more joy, and more space for lovely experiences in your life.

MASTERFUL CARE FOR YOU AND YOUR LOVED ONES, the byline of this website, starts with you taking care of yourself first. I hope you give yourself permission to indulge in your joy often.

If you feel a little less than positive about your answers I have a feeling you’re not alone.  How many caregivers find the time to even think about doing something that would be just for their own pleasure?  Please see this as a possibility. The things that give us real pleasure are often so simple.  But we have to make a point of recognizing them.

I recall a sweet friend who, in the midst of my most difficult times right before my husbands passing, offered to come over and sit on the curb outside my house and just be with me for a little while.  There wasn’t a lot of joy just then in my life, but I could always find a little time for two things that will always bring a thrill and joy to my life on a regular basis no matter what shape my daily life takes.

My simple pleasures are having coffee with someone I enjoy and can share life’s experiences with on a personal level (I leave feeling somehow restored) and reading books, especially great works of literature and books that make me grow. It was a great sentence I read this morning that gave me such a thrill I wanted to share it with anyone who might have the patience for it and feel thrilled by it, as I do.  I hope you enjoy it, nineteenth & early twentieth century writers have such a way with words and a sensibility I miss in modern society. Their writing is often a character study and the study of human nature has for me always been a passion. I had to read it several times to get the full measure of it.  Enjoy!:

“Nothing could have been odder than Strether’s sense of himself as at that moment launched in something of which the sense would be quite disconnected from the sense of his past and which was literally beginning there and then.”

– Henry James; The Ambassadors

Please take the time to recognize what gives you joy and find the time to get a little of it each day.  Then…when you know how to find it, you could help the person in your charge find what would bring some joy into their life.

I Wish You the Thrill of Finding Joy and Experiencing It Often,

Hugs,

View Post

Sometimes a Light Comes On!

Watching a video about the benefits of meditation the other day, a reference to multi-tasking related to stress caught my attention. That morning, my older daughter had mentioned that she had gotten distracted from our conversation because she was multi-tasking. Synchronicity?  When a subject comes up twice my antenna goes up.  Was something telling me to write about Caregivers and focusing on the task at hand?

Then, as I sat down to write, A LIGHT CAME ON, oh my, I’m the ultimate offender.

I don’t turn my phone off when I’m meditating. That’s ridiculous!  I get one or two calls often, early in the morning, and a text or two.  No wonder I’m always frustrated that I can’t get my meditation done early enough.  And what would the quality of that meditation be if I didn’t always have the thought in the back of my mind that I may be interrupted at any time?  There’s voicemail for heavens sake.  Ok.  That’s it.  Phone off from now on during meditation.  It’s a new day.  Namaste ;)

Caregiving, like any other important task, requires concentration and focus.  After all, we’re often dealing with medications and medical procedures.  We shouldn’t be cooking and doling out medication at the same time.  Even dressing someone or serving them meals could be more creative and pleasurable with full attention.  Tasks that become mundane could be less so if we were paying full attention instead of thinking about all the next things we have to do and becoming overwhelmed.  We would have less stress and frustration.

It’s just a thought.  If you’re a multi-tasker and life works well for you and those around you, that’s great. Keep going.  We’re not all the same.  However, if any of this discussion hits home, maybe it’s time for a LIGHT TO COME ON.  Maybe life could be more peaceful and enjoyable.

One aspect of this subject that I happen to be working on lately, with visibly nice results, is paying more attention (full attention) to the person with whom I’m speaking. I must admit my mind often wandered and I could feel less than interested in a subject someone else wanted to discuss.  I would often be thinking about how I would be able to solve their problem instead of just listening.  Sometimes people don’t need to have anything solved. They just need to be heard.

There is real pleasure in knowing that someone with whom you’ve engaged in conversation is enjoying being heard, maybe for the first time in a long time. Their eyes sparkle when they know their words are received with interest.  Putting other tasks aside to focus on another human being is most rewarding for all involved. I think we then go on to our next task ready to do a good job, by focusing on it.

It’s Spring, enjoy the season.

Hugs,

View Post

A People Pleasing Non Conformist

Life is a tightrope for Caregivers!

Taking great care of our loved ones is so much more than just showing up each day. Great care means we have to use our hearts, minds and intuition when making decisions which are critical to the well being of those in our care. We’re taking responsibility for another persons life and the attention we give that responsibility is a testament to our own character. When all is said and done, will you be able to honestly say to yourself, “I think I did a good job because I did what I thought was right at the time”?

If it helps, there really is no “right”. There’s only the best decision that could be made with the information and circumstances you had at a given time. Isn’t that true for all of life?

Whoso would be a man must be a non conformist.
He who would gather immortals palms must not be hindered
by the name of goodness, but must explore if it be goodness.
Nothing is at last sacred but the integrity of your own mind.

Ralph Waldo Emerson,
Self-Reliance

Perhaps you look back and second guess yourself often. We all do when we’re in the throws of playing Doctor, Lawyer, Merchant, Chief and, also, for years after when we’ve had time to reflect. But it’s our tendency to look outside ourselves for approval that keeps the second guessing rolling in our minds. We hope for the approval of family, friends, doctors, society and our loved ones. There’s a lot of pleasing to do. They’re going to have “opinions”.

It’s natural to be easy to get along with when things are going well. It’s often hard but necessary to be a non conformist when a situation warrants. Especially if your loved one is suffering. Its really okay if you’re not liked by everyone. Even by doctors or administrators. We’ve been beaten into submission by society to think that we have to take a no when we need a yes. If you do your best to put your point across as nicely as possible, if doggedly, I’m sure you’ll get respect eventually even if you’re an inconvenience at the time. If not, who cares? You’ll have done your best.

My husband passed away in March seven years ago. I’m remembering the very irritated look on his doctor’s face when I showed up at his office without an appointment, my husband in his transfer chair in tow. I was getting no where over the phone and I needed help now. My husband was blind, deaf, suffering from congestive heart failure and had extreme anxiety. The anxiety and the various medications all his doctors had him on manifested into a frightening schizophrenic behavior that showed up each evening at sundown. If you’re not familiar with Sundowning Syndrome you can read a previous blog post here (click the following links to read Sundowning Part I, Sundowning Part II). His visions of men in trench coats with machine guns pointed at us were now showing up in the day time. This unwelcome office visit got the ball rolling and it took a couple of weeks to get insurance approvals, but we finally received the care needed. The doctor is a fine man, he was just too busy to really get involved in each individual case. It wasn’t personal, there was just no other way I could get what we needed without pushing as hard as I did. Upon my husband’s passing, he was the only doctor who called with condolences.

As a people pleaser most of my life, I credit my years of Caregiving with the lessons necessary to toughen me up. All my life I had been proud of the fact that I could get along with most anyone. As a child I was praised for being a pleasure in the classroom in school and at home for being easy to raise, I’m the oldest of four girls. We generally live up to what we’re praised for. But life has a way of rolling over us if we don’t find a balance.

I want to encourage all Caregivers to be who they are and expect to be respected for it. Those around you who matter will recognize your truth. And those in your care will be best cared for. Keep pursuing what you need to have the best life for yourself and those you love.

I wish you love and the courage of a non conformist.

 

Hugs!

 

 

 

As always, please email me with questions or comments at: patricia@caregivingcornerstone.com. I’ll get back to you promptly.

View Post

WINTER REFLECTION

Red cup of coffee and old book on wooden table
“…for experience, the only true knowledge…”
Herman Milville, The Confidence Man

Winter season, along with warm traditional Holidays, brings on the serious time of year, it seems to me.  Unlike Spring, Summer and Fall when we’re more distracted by happenings outdoors, Winter can be a time to curl up by the fireplace and take stock.  We gather the highlights, include the lowlights, recognize that we’ve another year of growth behind us and get ready to start afresh January one. No matter what transpired this last year, we’re coming into the home stretch of 2016 and we can chalk this and all our years up to “our” personal story. Our own precious history, always unfolding, full of the unexpected, rarely what we might have predicted it would look like at any point.

Having lived nearly seven decades, through some serious highs and lows, I could look back and say, “If I had the chance, I would change this or that and life would have been so much smoother or much easier.” I could, but I won’t.

I wonder how many Caregivers look at their current lives and say, “I’m really happy I get to do this.”  That’s a tough one.  When we’re in the midst of life’s challenges, few of us, I suspect, are stopping to say we’re happy about it. I remember saying to myself, “Why does it have to be so hard!?”  Caregiving is hard, it can be backbreaking and both mentally and physically exhausting.  No time for yourself or others you’d like to be connecting with. It seems to be never ending. But, you know you’re going to do it anyway.  You love those you care for.  You’re the best one for the job and you want it done right. But, HAPPY about it?  Perhaps GRATEFUL is the word.

It’s only now, with sixteen consecutive years of Caregiving (for three different loved ones) behind me, that I can see the beauty of it all. That took time and distance.  Today, nearly four years after, I’m GRATEFUL.  I’m grateful for those days that were so hard.  That took so much tenacity.  I know how strong I am.  I can handle tough times, new situations and emergencies. It took a few years distance and a long history of living to recognize that each seaming period of life had its reasons.  All my experiences were absolutely necessary and came along at the perfect time.  From childhood to young adult, to wife and mother, to business owner, to Caregiver, to blog writer for Caregivers, was just what I had to experience in order to be able to handle my story as it continues to unfold. 

Life is never a-piece-of-cake for long.  How boring would that be?  Even during great times, you still have to figure out what to do everyday and how to deal with all the people and situations that surround you.

Experience is life, I hope as you reflect during this Winter season you’ll give yourself the gift of feeling GRATEFUL for your own unfolding unique story.  I’d love to read it!

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

View Post

Kindness: Attempting To Walk In Another’s Shoes?

INDNESS: Attempting To Walk In Another's Shoes?

The word KIND has come within my purview several times in the last few days. Does it make sense to discuss kindness? I think it does. Will it change the nature of those who don’t understand that they are not innately kind? Probably not, it’s nature after all. What it might do, however, is soothe the hurt caused by those who are unkind. They often mistake kindness for weakness, or as a threat (people don’t like to be reminded of their shortcomings). Reinforcing that kindness is good and it’s right under any circumstances serves everyone well in the long run.

There’s no way to know if most Caregivers are kind. But, I’ll venture to say that most kind people are Caregivers. Kindness is akin to compassion, yet not the same. One who attempts to walk in another’s shoes and tries to provide what they think is needed for that person, with no benefit to themselves, is being kind (a type of kind that’s done when no one is looking). Interestingly, a kind person recognizes immediately when someone else is being kind, and they’re grateful. It’s the little things, like making sure another is included in a conversation. Or, that something they have accomplished is recognized by others. The instinct to notice that someone is being left out is compassion, doing something about it is kind.

In conversation with a close friend recently, I could feel his hurt that his children and siblings hadn’t shown up when he could really have used some help caring for his father. This is a man who shows kindness everyday in many ways, the ultimate Caregiver. He brings flowers to his wife regularly, just to make sure she knows she’s in the forefront of his mind. A sick friend gets chicken soup whether they want it or not, as soon as he’s aware they’re sick. When his brother needed him, wasn’t he always there for him? So why did his brother not offer to do something, even just be there for an hour so he could run some errands?

Who knows? Is it that the brother doesn’t get how hard it is, he just assumes that because you always take care of everything, you’d ask for help if you needed it? Maybe he’s selfish and just doesn’t care? Maybe it’s all of these. It’s too complicated, you’ll never figure it out. So how do you get past the hurt, the lack of kindness and compassion shown toward you?

In my experience, the best way to get past emotional pain is to recognize and greatly value your own freedom to be who you are and nurture it. Somehow you are that kind and caring person you would hope to be. Aren’t you the lucky one? Maybe you’re an old soul. Maybe the brother is a baby soul, just learning to crawl and has no clue yet that walking is the way to go. May I suggest that you do your best to let others be who they are. Let everyone be free to be who they are without your judgement; with its rewards, consequences and all. Everyone is living out their own lives as best they know how. It’s so liberating when you let go of being part of someone else’s actions!

Cherish freedom! Be happy you are who you are. This is what works for me when I feel hurt by someone else’s action or inaction. That is, after my heart hurts a little and tears start to well. We’re all human right?

Big Hug!


 

 


 

PS:  Serendipity strikes again!  The day I wrote this blog about kindness, I received the NOTE FROM THE UNIVERSE below. If you would like to receive a personalized note each weekday, go to tut.com and signup. I’ve been receiving them for about seven years and they help me start my day on a high note!  I know Mike Dooley, went on one of his fabulous Adventure trips, the one to Italy in 2012. They’re cruising the Tahitian Islands in March!

NOTE FROM THE UNIVERSE

To touch someone with kindness, Patricia, is to change someone forever.

Heavy, huh?  That’s nothing.

Because for everyone you touch, you also reach everyone they will ever know.  And everyone they will ever know.  And everyone they will ever know.  And so, for the rest of all time, your kindness will be felt, in waves that will spread, long after you move on.

Muchas gracias,

The Universe

Don’t ask what happens on a bad day, Patricia. 

View Post