Caregivers risk the danger of being on guard 24/7. There are times when that is necessary.
However, in order to sustain the role effectively, it becomes urgent for a caregiver to carve out some time in the daily routine. Having been such a caregiver for my husband for over a dozen years, my body recently forced me to attend to my health. So I began to utilize Adult Day Care for him, a hard but important decision toward sharing the duties of caregiving.
This allowed me to save my sight with several vital procedures as well as starting the long and arduous process of “catching up” on a decade of neglecting much of my self care.
Yes, I had made efforts in that direction a couple of years ago when I joined a monthly caregiver support group nearby. I even attended a couple of Caregiver Conferences. Yet hearing the need for self-care and actually weaving those skills into my daily life presented a long term challenge.
In recent months I took a proactive step in starting to make myself coffee each and every day. Just that simple act has forced me to stop and spend some time in contemplation. (Ha, it has also gone far toward correcting my chronic constipation, arggh!)
Close ties with friends and family has been a great help since it lets me feel less alone and gives me a much-needed support system. I also find inspiration in the words of others, like the Carrie Fisher words which Meryl Streep quoted: “Take your broken heart, make it into art.”
Suddenly at the turn of the year I happened to hear a singer and noticed how I smiled and breathed deeper as she held the high note with such gusto and a seeming lack of purpose. The whole audience was caught up in the joy as the note seemed to go on forever. I realized the only goal was to relish this passing moment.
That aha moment literally screamed at my soul, my very task-oriented soul, ha. It seemed to be time for me to breathe–like I tell my hubby but don’t practice enough myself–and just enjoy the moments in my life without keeping the “do list” in front of my eyes every living moment.
So now, my New Year’s gift will be to not just my usual habit of smiling when I awaken and having coffee, but to allow myself to hold the high notes life presents to me.
Today I am starting to add to my habit structure of feeding myself better (did that last year) or exercising (which I handle by averaging 60 minutes of walking daily). My new endeavor will be to add a slice of happy intentionally each day. It’s like a vitamin for my soul.
I’m good at courage; I can get things done. What I now need is breathing without intent or goal, just cherishing the moment. This refreshes my life as a caregiver and clears my mind to return to necessary tasks with new insight.
This burst of insight has been gently creeping up on me. I’ve noticed I break into dance and song even with some commercials. Sometimes I make my own music by humming in the spirit of my old friend Winnie The Pooh.
My plan is to hold the high note for the pure joy of another day of living my chance at another day of hope, however imperfect it may be. Yes, bad things may be happening all around me. But I still have a choice to be an island of peace. This will allow me to be more helpful when needed by those I love.
Problems and challenges haven’t gotten smaller or gone away. I’m just making an evolving and conscious decision to enjoy the ride even when its bumpy and seasoned with tears. There will continue to be noise in the background, but I will put peace in the foreground of my life.
So if you don’t see me around, I might be busy holding the high note of life.
Copyright by Hildra Tague. Obtain permission for use online or in print.