Saturday, December 12, 2009

A Caregiver's Affirmation

 Tomorrow is a new day; begin it well
and serenely and with too high a spirit
to be encumbered with your old nonsense.

— Ralph Waldo Emerson

As I cast my mind back over my life and my time of caregiving, I see the lessons I have learned, the growth I have experienced, the intuition I have tuned and strengthened. All this is available to serve me. I gather my resources and rise to the occasion.

When people aren’t responding as I would want, I have the intuition to recognize it, the voice with which to respond, and the wisdom to choose constructive words. When my support systems fail me, my purposeful resourcefulness will bring me through. Some supports can be mended, while others can be replaced. I have the inner resources to do what must be done. I am even strong enough to ask for help.

And more turmoiled moments, when my mind wanders into its “bad neighborhood,” I can take a mental step backward, raise my vision, and look at the whole of this caregiving journey within the context of my life. I am not the cause and I am not the solution. I am playing my part. That is all I can ever do.

Caregiving is an honorable service. I am a character in a complex play that I cannot fully understand and certainly cannot control. My presence and my compassion are my biggest gifts. I will look for opportunities to celebrate life.

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Thursday, December 3, 2009


Each morning when I open my eyes
I say to myself: "I, not events,
have the power to make me
happy or unhappy today.
—Groucho Marx (1890-1977)

You can sow seeds of resilience by practicing the art of partnership, by using humor to heal, and by choosing happiness. Yes, happiness can be a choice.

Partnership may be practiced with a trusted life partner, sibling or friend. Teach your partner and others to act on your terms, rather than taking over. Partnership requires candor, collaboration and boundaries. First, you need to know what you want (which is not always easy to express.) Then, you will need to speak clearly and non-judgmentally in order to be heard. Your partner and family may need to listen in new ways to acclimate to your new ways of operating and speaking.

Since caregiving is serious business, it calls for the medicine of humor. Humor not only mitigates times of tension, it is therapy. Therapists use humor to open clients for growth. It moves you through your emotional terrain. It also boosts your immune system. It is healing. Make a list of the things you laugh at and the people who make you laugh. Stock up on funny movies and books. Prescribe for yourself daily laughter.

And if you think happiness just happens to you, think again. To some extent, we feel victims to our emotions... often to the degree that we think we are. Here, too, we can become proactive. Study the conditions that give rise to your happiness. Build into your life the experiences, people, and ways of thinking that bring on a episode of happiness.
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