Tuesday, December 18, 2012


“I don't know the key to success
but the key to failure is
 trying to please everybody.”
~ Bill Cosby

In Part One we talked about how to think in new ways about the holidays so that the festivities you design really can be more peaceful. Here, in Part Two, we'll talk about ways to manage the people, your family and guests, to maximize the chances of creating that greater peace.

When a family member is ailing it effects the whole family, and functional families are rare. So, take a typical quirky family at the holidays, add a heavy dose of varied expectations (theirs and yours), toss in a collection of new time constraints, season liberally with a range of strong emotions and... can you smell the trouble brewing? (*See note at bottom about dealing with difficult families.)

How do you maximize the odds of having an intimate, even joyful holiday given all of that?  Notice, I’m not talking about simply asking for help. We’re shooting for something better; an inclusive conversation that builds family intimacy while relieving you of stress. Clear communication will lessen your feeling responsible for the happiness of the whole clan. But to communicate simply you need a simpler way to think about those involved. 

If you haven’t yet gotten out a piece of paper, now would be a good time. Imagine that your impending holiday looks like the cross-section of an onion, and the people who might participate in it are arranged on the layers. You and your loved one are at the center, and the others are at varying distances from the center. The one’s closest to the center are the ones you most trust, with whom you have the best communication. Now draw your onion. We’ll refer back to it.

Clearing Away Obstacles
“Few things can make us feel crazier
than expecting something from someone
who has nothing to give.”
~Melody Beattie
You may think that you know perfectly well how to talk to family, but this is no ordinary conversation. It needs to fulfill on that vision of joy and peace. Most of us enter such a conversation with a set of invisible assumptions that could be stumbling blocks for our new holiday possibilities. Which of these ring true for you?:
  • Everyone knows what I’m dealing with! But do they really? Others don’t necessarily think like you, even within your own family. Some have different needs for self-protection or varying abilities to listen, cope emotionally, or be forthcoming. Also, if you’re the average caregiver you may not speak to family about what it feels like to you. How much do you regularly share? How would they know what you’re facing this holiday?
  • They want the same things as I do this holiday. How do you know? Would you be surprised to learn that a family member has a different slant than yours on holiday necessities? Have you asked them?
  • They expect me to do it all. Well, maybe, but only if you’ve always done it all without question in the past. Whatever their past expectations, some might be very happy to rethink things this holiday.
  • Surely they can participate in Some way. This is where a dose of compassion may stand you in good stead. Even though they are family, they may be dealing with things you know nothing about. Why would that be? They may not want to burden you, or they may by nature be more private.  So be willing to accept No as an answer. If they can’t say No, they can’t really say Yes, so say “I love you”, let it go, and move on. 

While doing this, you may think of still other expectations that you have lurking about. If so, add them to the list. 

The Ingredients of Successful Communication
You might as well fall flat on your face
as lean over too far backward.
James Thurber
Communication experts will tell you that you can set up a conversation for the greatest success. Do you know the ingredients of a successful inclusive conversation that can foster family feeling?

Your state of heart and the words you use determine your success. How you ask will determine how you are heard. Looking at your holiday onion, you might ask yourself:
  • What’s the best way to communicate with family and friends?  
  • Am I making demands, making a request, or extending an invitation?
  • What do I say? What exact words will have them hear me and also open them up to participating with me?
  • What should I ask for, and how much? 

Looking at your “inner circles”, notice that these are the people with whom you feel at ease, who you trust, with whom you feel connected. Build your holiday thoughts and plans on this feel-good community. Whether they are family or friends, share with them your hopes for a happy holiday. By focusing on these people, you are already simplifying—your emotions around them are simpler, more restful. As you share with them, include them in the brainstorming about what could work.    

Worry less about the people further out on your relationship onion. Drop any expectations about what they would think, or how they should participate. If you want to feel good this holiday, focus on the people with whom you feel good. Simplify your feelings, thoughts, and expectations and you have laid the groundwork for a holiday of greater joy and peace.

You are the caregiver. Your physical and emotional health aren’t just important, they’re a necessity. Your health is inextricably entwined with your peace, so you owe it to yourself and your loved one to put in place the necessary ingredients for joy and peace this holiday. This may not end up being perfect but you don’t have to do it all. You can pave the way for a simpler, more joyful and participative holiday this year.

Holidays celebrated as a family caregiver are different. People are different too. Do what you can. Let that be enough. Make a little more time to decompress. Focus on relationships more than the trappings of the holidays. Ask others for partnership to help everyone get through the holidays a little happier, a little more peaceful, a little more grateful for all that you do have. And remember...

 "The past is history, the future is a mystery.
But today is a gift...that's why they call it the present.
So cherish every minute of it."
~ Elvis Stojko


If you have a very compassionate and giving family then you can more easily have the “How can we create this holiday together” conversation. But what if some of your family is more average, that is to say, somewhat difficult? Difficult people will likely be difficult regardless of what you say or do. As hard as it may be to imagine, they may be doing the best that they can. The stresses of the holidays push everyone to their emotional limit. Have compassion for them, while setting boundaries for you and your loved one. You can’t make other people happy or change them. You can only tend to your own state of mind and heart. 

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Saturday, December 15, 2012


“Insanity means doing the 
same thing, over and over,
and expecting different results”
~ Unknown

How much is enough? How many gifts? How many guests? How many items on your to-do list? The holidays are a time of abundance, so rarely do we think of “enough” except when we wonder Do I have enough time?  or Do I have enough money? Some would say that it takes guts to manage the holidays in the best of times. Ernest Hemingway defined guts as “grace under pressure”. But surely for you, the caregiver, there is a better way. What if you were to do the holidays differently this year? 

Perhaps you’re already thinking you’ll plan sensibly to organize festivities in a simpler way, but will that be adequate? Let’s take a deeper look at how you can have more of what you most need and want from this holiday season. For starters, you can’t get what you want unless you clearly know what you want, and also know how to get it.  Instead of going down that familiar road of Christmas Past, let’s explore ways to diminish the pressure and increase the peace. You, your loved one, and your family may find yourselves all having a more joyful and meaningful holiday.

Making Magic

As a caregiver it’s normal to assume that the success of the holidays lies squarely on your shoulders. After all, you’re pretty much able to manage the rest of the year. Why not now? Because Everything is more at this time of year, on the emotional plane as well, and most especially when you are the caregiver. As the emotional weight increases, so does the yearning for life as it once was. The holidays are a time of dreaming, sprinkled with the magic of yesterday. Even if you were capable of recreating what once was, if you allow expectations to creep in, you could be setting yourself up for exhaustion and disappointment. What can you do and what may be too much? 

First let’s look at some common caregiver expectations, and then at alternatives that may give you a better holiday. Don’t give up on the magic—you can make a new kind of magic, even with the present circumstances. 

The Holiday Essentials
 “Once in a while you have to
 take a break and visit yourself. “
~ Audrey Giorgi

Each of us has aspects of the holidays that are dear to our hearts. When you think of them, you smile. Just the thought gives you energy. What are yours? When you can identify what is most important to you, you can let go of the aspects that are draining. In the reclaimed space you might even connect more with yourself, generating peace in your heart that can source the whole holiday. Consider each of the following questions, looking for the answers that are absolutely true for you. Open your mind. Step back from your assumptions, looking for choices that you may not have considered. Writing down your thoughts will let you be more objective.

Preparations: What holiday preparations are truly necessary to you and which are essential to your loved one? Which ones give you or your loved one energy? What other aspects seem in some way important but actually drain you? Which ones might you dispense with or delegate to others?  
Guests: Who clearly needs to be present to bring the holiday alive? Who is most important to you, and who is important to your loved one? Could you manage to tell “certain others” that you’re scaling down, doing a simpler holiday this year? Of those that must come, who could stay nearby at a motel instead of with you? 
Food:  Which aspects of food preparation are a true joy to you or your loved one? Would it be okay with you if family brought some or all of the meal? Or could the meal even be ordered from a nearby restaurant? “Sacriledge!” I hear you say, but think about it!
Gifts: Would the family consider giving only one small gift per person or doing a yankee swap? Could you give simpler gifts— the singing of a song, reading a poem, or giving a special photograph, beautifully framed? Could you focus more on the gift of being together and less on the giving of things?

Partnering with Others

What would be possible if you asked others to partner with you in new ways this year? Including more family in preparations can increase holiday warmth. If you have friends who feel like family, talk to them too. We can’t always choose our family, but we can choose our friends. They might be touched to be honorary family in the simplification of your holidays, even those who may not be joining you. 

Family: Individually or at a family meeting, could you invite others to be on a holiday team, each picking one thing from your to-do list that would ease your load? Could a nearby family member offer respite care to give you time off from caregiving?
Friends: If you have friends who have been saying “How can I help?” is there a small service that they could do to give you some relief or make you feel less alone? By accepting help you gift others with the opportunity to give.
Professionals: Could you hire someone to do the housecleaning? Might you find respite care through a local senior center or assisted living facility to free you up from caregiving for a couple of days?

Some family members may think they know what would be helpful but need a little re-educating. They won't know what help looks like to You unless you tell them, so clarity and honesty can also help in getting you the help that you want and need.

Paring Down Commitments
"Besides the noble act of getting things done,
 there is the noble art of leaving things undone.
The wisdom of life consists in the elimination of non-essentials.”
 ~ Lin Yutang

What might be possible if, just for this pre-holiday, you pare down your commitments? People will understand if you have limited energy and resources this year. Give yourself a “time-out”.

Non-family: What are your on-going commitments to friends or organizations? Which commitments to friends may not be necessary between now and the holidays? Could you let organizations know that you won’t be available for the next few weeks? From which obligations might you like to permanently DE-commit? Does your workplace give special support to family caregivers during the holidays? It doesn’t hurt to ask. 
Family: What services or favors do you regularly do for other family members (including kids) that they could do for themselves? Could others take on the tasks that keep the household running?

If possible, include your loved one in these explorations. Let him/her be a part of the thinking, planning, and doing—participation is empowering for everyone. So now that you’re a little clearer about what’s necessary for a joyful holiday, how do you communicate with the rest of the family? 

READ PART TWO to learn ways to manage the people, your family and guests, to maximize the chances of creating that greater peace.

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Monday, December 3, 2012

The Set-Up for a Happy Holiday

“I don't know the key to success,
but the key to failure is
 trying to please everybody.”

~ Bill Cosby

If I were to name one key factor that will place your coming holidays on the continuum from pleasure to pain, it would be expectations. We all have them, whether they arise from memories of the last year or two, or from memories of childhood. In ordinary times most of us are unaware of how these little devils can undermine our happiness. So now, especially if you're a family caregiver, let's take a peek at how shifting your expectations may offer you more leeway this holiday, optimizing your opportunity for a joyful and peaceful holiday. 

Expectations of The Holidays
What are your expectations of this 2012 holiday season? On what past experience are they based? How could you set yourself up this time around to have a simpler, happier celebration? The holidays when you’re caregiving are different, yet many of us bend over backwards to try to make them the same as they were. At no other time are we so dedicated to pretending that nothing has changed. But take a minute to think about what is really important for this holiday time. Preserve the simpler family traditions, but consider tossing out your more extreme expectations of the holidays, family members, and yourself. Stay in the present moment. Generate new, creative, simpler family traditions. Focus on gratitude for what you have now.

Expectations of Others 
People are different too. Everyone is effected by caregiving. Those who are difficult may be more so. Those who are helpful may need some guidance in exactly what that means this time around. The demands of the holidays compound the regular stresses of caregiving to push family members to their emotional limit. If they need to act out, let them be. As hard as it may be to imagine, they may be doing the best that they can. Have compassion while asserting your own boundaries. You can’t make other people happy, or make them act the way you would want. You can only tend to your own state of mind and heart. Do what you can. Communicate clearly. Let that be enough.

 Expectations of Yourself
As your own stresses mount, consider lowering the bar on your expectations of yourself. Step back from any regular commitments that aren't essential right now. You can always get back to them in January. Make a little more time to decompress. Focus on your relationships more than the trappings of the holidays. Ask for a little more help from others. Holidays that are co-created have a more congenial feeling. If you find yourself stressing over how to ensure everyone's enjoyment remember, the happiness and holiday spirit of everyone else are not your sole responsibility. If you can, tell your family how you're feeling about the holiday planning this year, and then ask for their partnership to help everyone get through the holidays a little happier, a little more peaceful, a little more grateful for all that you do have.

Next week I'll begin a 2-part article that will look more closely at how you can reinvent your holiday this year. Until then, look for ways to simplify your thinking and your plan for your family holiday.
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Friday, July 27, 2012


I had to republish this article that confirms what many of us already know.

New UCSF Study Declares Loneliness Lethal for Elders

By Laura Beck of The Eden Alternative, June 26, 2012
on ChangingAging.org

Last week, the Archives of Internal Medicine published the results of a study involving 1,600 Elders, confirming what the Eden Alternative Philosophy has upheld for many years. Medical experts found that Elders suffering from loneliness were at significant risk for declining health over short periods of time.

In 2002, participating Elders were interviewed about how often they experienced feeling lonely.  Researchers then followed up with participants over a six year period.  Study outcomes revealed the following:
Among the 43% of those interviewed that reported being lonely, “23 percent died over the six-year study, compared to 14 percent of the participants who weren’t lonely – a 45 percent increase.” The study confirmed that the lonely participants had “a 59 percent greater risk of suffering a decline in function.”

To read the entire article in Archives of Internal Medicine, click here.
The UCSF study brings to mind a longitudinal study in 2007 published in Archives of General Psychiatry that made a direct correlation between loneliness and the prevalence of Alzheimer’s disease.  The Rush University Medical Study involved 823 senior citizens free of dementia and “assessed their level of loneliness using a 5 item scale questionnaire at the start of the study and each year thereafter for 4 years. They also monitored them for signs of dementia by testing a range of cognitive functions. An assessment of social isolation indicators was also made.”
Study outcomes showed that “the top ten per cent most lonely people (scoring 3.2 on the loneliness scale) had 2.1 times more risk of developing Alzheimer’s compared with those in the bottom 10 per cent (scoring 1.4 on the loneliness scale).”

To access the entire abstract, click here.
The Eden Alternative teaches that loneliness is a plague of the spirit that has the potential to kill.  As these studies indicate, loneliness is without question a serious threat to our entire well-being – mind, body, and spirit.  Hard data like this is a powerful reminder that culture change principles aren’t just “nice touches.”  They save lives.

Share this information with your care partner teams and use it to inspire Learning Circle discussions around how Elders and their care partners are given the opportunity to be deeply known.  How is the power of story being utilized for this purpose?  How are teams working together to create meaningful and ongoing opportunities for companionship?  How seriously does the team take the notion that the plague of loneliness can impact everyone on the team, not just the Elder care partner?  Share with us your creative endeavors in the fight against loneliness and help to deepen the learning for all of us!

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Wednesday, July 18, 2012


Undefined expectations are an insidious force that undermines a caregiver’s energy and clouds her vision. Expectations are such a part of us that they often are invisible, yet daily they pull our strings, masquerading as standards, concerns, and common sense. We are steeped in our expectations of other people, of ourselves, of our community, and even of life, but scratch a bit deeper and you’ll see the mischief these expectations make.

Expectations are tricky to see because they are part of our survival system. We Need to believe in our ability to know what to expect because that tells us how best to respond. In the past this belief was the bedrock of our confidence, but during caregiving that bedrock is built on sand. Our expectations become our invisible achilles heel—they are so close that trying to see them is like trying to see the back of your head. As Pogo says, 
The New Normal

Our first faulty expectation is that caregiving is an extension of normal life so therefore our habitual success strategies will serve us. The contrary is true —it is perfectly normal for people, circumstances, and organizations in caregiving to act in unexpected ways. Caregiving is not life as usual. In fact it can feel more like a fun house in which people we know change before our eyes, frightening occurrences fly at us out of no-where, and the floor of our reality moves without warning. This is the new normal.

Question Your Expectations

To better understand this, let’s look at a common caregiver Issue, siblings.
“When my sister doesn’t come through for Mom it feels outrageous.” 
Each expectation lives within the realm of a commitment. If I am committed to having the caregiving participation of my siblings then I mindlessly leap to forming expectations of their behavior. Unfortunately I may make false assumptions about their life and how well they are coping. There may be things I don’t know. False assumptions give rise to faulty expectations, which in turn give rise to troublesome Issues. If you find your expectations escalating a circumstance to the level of an Issue, question your expectations. But how is that possible if you can’t easily see them? 

Start with the Issues

We can back our way into the discovery of our expectations by looking first at the thing that is most “in our face”, the main Issues with which we’re wrestling. To reveal your caregiving expectations, start by listing your caregiving Issues. 
“My sister forgot to visit Mom!” 
Then look beneath each issue for your expectations and root assumptions. 
“Her life isn’t that complicated, she’s a competent person, 
and she’s as committed to Mom as I am.”
Then ask yourself,
  Given who I know her to be, am I being realistic? 
What do I not know? 
Are these expectations useful? 
Is this a life or death Issue? 
Is there something that I’m not aware of not knowing?

Prioritize Your Commitments

The real gold comes in identifying your primary commitments. In this case I might state my commitment as: 
"I am committed to having family support as much as possible."
Once you are in touch with your primary commitments you can see the how best to fulfill on them. Build a commitment list and you can prioritize them. Then you can use the list as a barometer for measuring the importance of Issues when they do arise. You can apportion the amount of energy you give to each based on its priority. Your commitment list might include the health of your elder, the well-being of your family, or your own sanity. Bottom line stuff. 

With your priorities in mind, you can easily rate any impending issue on a scale with “Critical” at one end, and “No Big Deal” at the other. Ask yourself,
How much energy does this issue deserve in the greater caregiving scheme of things? 
And don’t forget to ask yourself, 
Is this issue appropriately mine to handle? 
It's so easy to take over other people’s business without thinking twice.

Now that you’re no longer sabotaged by your expectations you can change them, or re-order your priorities whenever necessary. When a legitimately critical issue shows up, you’ll be prepared to take your stand. 

Finish each day and be done with it. 
You have done what you could. 
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

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Sunday, June 17, 2012

Glasses - A Wild Metaphor

Hello folks. I'm in the process of making a shift in my work, taking a few steps back so that I can see it with a broader perspective. I am, fundamentally, a life crisis transitions coach, which of course includes caregiving. MindfulCaregiving IS life coaching principles applied to caregiving. So my postings hereon in will be about life, with guidance as to how to apply it to caregiving.

I have always received a lot of juice from thinking about life (and caregiving) through metaphors. Here's one I was toying with yesterday, taken from a freewrite that I did last month at my eldest sister's writing group in Ridgewood NJ, but that's more detail than you need.

For now, as a caregiver, try reading this, but substitute "caregiving" for "world" and see how well it works for you. Is this a little too far out for you?

Glasses - A Wild Metaphor

I have a friend who talks to angels. She knows her life as part of a much greater continuum. She also wears glasses.

A few months ago she began to have floaters in her eyes, those fuzzy spots that people occasionally see, but these were monster floaters. Mega-floaters. Huge patches that passed in front of her field of vision, obscuring it. She can roll her eyes back to see over them, but they are always there.

Another friend and I conjectured with her about her possible need to look inward, as though she was being forced to look away from the outer world, as though some greater power, outer or inner, was guiding her into new rich lessons. We choose always to see life as teaching us.

Wanting to explore this "vision thing" a bit more deeply, I recently did a freewrite about glasses. I remember the odd sensation when I got first wore bifocals, and my vision split. It split from me, my world did! Before I Was my seeing-without-thought. Now I AM my switching from seeing closeup to seeing farther away. My computer glasses bring me a third eye, and always, always, the awareness of whether and where I am focusing. I am now not my world. My world is not me!

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Monday, April 30, 2012

THE MindfulCaregiving TREE

HERE 'TIS! The final posting for the Health Activist Writing Month Challenge WEGO http://blog.wegohealth.com.

It's been fun, fascinating, and has given me a new direction for my work. Stay tuned!

PROMPT #30:  Word Cloud. Make a word cloud or tree with a list of words that come to mind when you think about your blog, health, or interests. Use a thesaurus to make the branches of your “tree” extend further. http://www.wordle.net/ 

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Sunday, April 29, 2012


Latest posting for the Health Activist Writing Month Challenge WEGO http://blog.wegohealth.com

Prompt #29: Six Sentence Story. In this day of micro-blogging – brevity is a skill worth honing. Can you tell a story and make it short and sweet? What can you say in six sentences. Check out some here: http://sixsentences.blogspot.com/ 

Shirley was seven, sitting next to her teenage sister, Angie, in the crowded waiting room at Gate #8 with an hour to wait before boarding, and the woman on the other side of her sister was talking about an article she had read, something about a guy whose wife had disappeared three years ago who picked up his two little kids at the grandmother’s house, took them home, shut the front door, and blew up the house with the three of them in it.

With her brow furrowed like a washboard, Angie moaned, “If it’s true that we choose our lives before we even enter the womb, how could the grandparents choose to experience THAT? I mean the grandparents, to choose to lose first their daughter? and then their grandchildren?"

Shirley exhaled loudly, thinking how pointless it was to even think about making up stories about other peoples’ lives who weren’t even family and then get all worked up over the made up stories. “If I were making up a story”, thought Shirley, “I would make up that the kids and father were really unhappy and just wanted freedom, and the grandparents wanted to learn who they would be if they didn’t have family, if it was just them together, the way it was when they first fell in love. Anyway, my life’s complicated enough right here and now”, she thought, and then she scooted a little further away from her sister and turned up the volume on her iPod.

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Saturday, April 28, 2012


Latest posting for the Health Activist Writing Month Challenge WEGO http://blog.wegohealth.com

Prompt #27: The First Time I… Write a post about the first time you did something. What is it? What was it like? What did you learn from it? 

The first time I talked back to my mother I was horrified! I was 50 years old. I'm sure I had done it a time or two as a child, but this was the first time as a cognizant adult. It turned out to be a gift for both of us.

I Yell at My Mother - Version I

It is midnight. It is raining. Running myself around my track of wonderings, I cannot sleep until I find an explanation. Who is this upstart self who possessed me, making me raise my voice to my mother! The afternoon had gone on much as usual. Me driving, handling the requisite errands, while she sat beside me running her endless critique of life, society, and “Why on earth they designed the stop lights that way.”

Back at her room, I broached the topic of summer vacations, offering up a little packet of lovely possibilities. Each one was turned over with doubt—”Well, no, not quite right. No this one won’t do.” Until I heard my voice rising and rising, filling the little room, this room of the paper walls with old ears on the other side hungry for a drama to make life interesting. Pausing for a moment in astonishment, my mother’s voice then rose behind mine, but I was out in front so I didn’t notice. She said, “Lower your voice!” I paused for a millisecond, I stopped mid-breath and said loudly, “No, I won’t!”

What had really happened? Could this have been some sort of mid-life victory? I decided to dig deeper. I played with reality, rewriting what had happened in the voice of the rebel, just to see how it would feel. Writing can be so therapeutic.

I Yell at My Mother - Version II

It is not midnight. It is not raining. I did not rise troubled. I had caused the upset and I am glad. I had set her up. I’d needled her from the beginning about her innocuous observations, her critique of life. I had jabbed her with little questions every step of the way.

The vacation topic was my coup de grace. A happy topic, yes? Yet for Mother, who regretted the ending of joy before it had begun, vacation was the ultimate mockery. No vacation idea could be good enough, inspiring me to come up with more and more, piling them at her feet with a smile as she quavered, twisting her hopes into knots. And then, as she became mute I stole her voice, doubling mine in volume. Finally I had done the unthinkable and pulled it off—I had raised my voice to my mother! 

While my writings clearly were passive aggressive, in the confines of my private diary I could begin to explore my emotions about Mom without taking them out on her. I took the learnings wherever I could find them. This was a big one. From then on I had a stronger voice when needed and Mom respected me. That turning point put our relationship in a balance that made easier the rest of our time together.

(Taken from “Exploring Hell and Other Warm Places”, a mother/daughter memoir, and the story which sourced “The Caregiver’s Compass”, a handbook for emotional balance.)

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Friday, April 27, 2012


Latest posting for the Health Activist Writing Month Challenge WEGO http://blog.wegohealth.com

Prompt #26: 5 Challenges & 5 Small Victories. Make a list of the 5 most difficult parts of your health focus. Make another top 5 list for the little, good things (small victories) that keep you going. 

These were a few of the gifts from my decade of caregiving for my challenging mother:

  • Simply being with my mother
  • Abandoning my own life
  • Incompetent doctors
  • Middle sister disappearing
  • Training my husband not to take over

Victories (not so small)
  • Training my husband to partner
  • Learning to do real self-care
  • Learning to have a voice with my mother
  • Taking one day at a time
  • Forming a bond with my eldest sister

These also were the impetus for writing "The Caregiver's Compass" and my other two books where I show how I milked the experience to help me stay balanced and growing.
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