"We've been invited to participate in this life, to be present, one to another, and that's all that's expected of us. Our successes may bring us personal joy, but our value as persons lies only in our being. It is not the things we accomplish that are important; it is the very act of living that is truly important."
"Amazing and wonderful things begin to happen as we believe in ourselves and celebrate the dignity of living every day. Stand in reverent respect before that which inspires you. Feel new strength and power; then, in the name of the highest and the holiest, get going."
Keeping It All Together
It’s easy to love someone else when they are doing well, when they are far away, or any
time the conditions are calm and the sailing smooth. The challenge and true test of love
is how to express care, how to show it and embody it in our own actions when difficulties
arise, when needs increase, when resources are taxed and when it would be easier to
simply walk the other way.
If you are involved in a caregiving situation with a loved one, believe me, you are doing
something valuable and something that is not a given with everyone else, no matter how
much it may seem that way. I’d like to offer several suggestions that have helped me
keep it all together as a caregiver.
- Create time for yourself. The key prerequisite for being helpful to others is
simply figuring how to last and how to survive. Creating time away is at the core
of sustaining energy and commitment for the duration of any caregiving situation.
- Feel all of your emotions. Caring for others can be an experience filled with all
kinds of feelings. Emotions like love, tenderness, concern, empathy are easy to
welcome into our awareness. Other emotions like frustration, anger,
disappointment, sorrow and discouragement tend to be tougher to deal with. We
need to feel them all as they lead us to knowledge.
- Pace yourself. Caregiving will require us to learn some new rhythms and
techniques and some new ways to pace ourselves. At times we’ll push ourselves
too fast, and go more slowly than we need to at other times. There is great value
in noticing our pace, and working with it.
- Look for hidden blessings. Part of the nature of blessings is that they are
bestowed upon us and come to us uninvited. Each morning we are born again and
each day something fills our cup if we just notice.
- Find fellow compadres. Discover those who understand your experience and
walk alongside you. That’s why support groups are so enlightening. It’s
important to find true friends who will just listen and be with you.
- Keep learning. Life is full of fascinating information. It can alter our
perspective. It alters it by expanding perception, sharpening accuracy and
affirming already existing intuitive wisdom. Gleaning as much information as
possible can been a boon for any caregiver.
- Be open to your loved ones. We are not the ones doing all of the giving. Be
prepared to receive. Working as a caregiver I learn more from those I serve that
I’m sure they learn from me.
- Say “No.” Sometimes you have to choose the smaller negative in order to allow
for the larger positive. For caregivers the most difficult word to get out is the
word “no.” Saying no to an unreasonable demand can mean saying yes to
freedom from resentment or frustration.
- Go with the Flow. Caregiving invites us to go with the flow. It can teach us a
great deal about flexibility of both heart and hand. Sometimes you just have to
surrender and let the game come to you.
- Be Gentle with Yourself. You have to take care of yourself first. If you don’t
take care of yourself, you won’t be able to take care of another person. Notice
when you need help and be sure to find it. Notice when you are weary and be
sure to do whatever it takes to regain your strength. When you are sad, seek
comfort. When you are confused or at a loss for what to do, invite counsel.
Consider it not a luxury but an imperative.
- Let Laughter Heal You. Laughter is a symptom of joy. And joy, whether in the
form of laughter or just a quietly happy heart, mysteriously heals, energizes and
uplifts the human spirit all at once. As a dedicated caregiver, you deserve your
own share of beautiful sunsets, bouts with pure joy, eruptions of wholesome
laughter, doses of humor and excursions into sheer happiness. And so do those
you care for.
- “It goes on.” This is my favorite Robert Frost quote about life. There is no rush.
There is no crisis. The future awaits me and we must never again act as though it
May your caregiving be blessed and graced! And all along the way, may your heart grow
in understanding of how important and how valuable love in the face of challenge really