Thursday, March 3, 2011

Say a Little Prayer

Sometimes it's all too much. Too many tasks. Too much caring. Too many options or too few. We need to pump up the faith that we'll find the right path. Say a prayer.

Quick, heartfelt. Arrow prayers, one friend calls them. Straight shot to the Divine, to the Spirit, to God. My mother's favorite? "Lord, give me strength!" Prayed aloud with all her frustration and need behind it, this was (and is) a pretty powerful prayer.

Prayer on a long breath. One of my favorites? From the Psalms--"Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me." And another--"Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your people and kindle in them the fire of your love. Send forth your Spirit and they shall be re-created, and you shall renew the face of the earth." Takes a little longer. Makes you focus on what you're saying. Takes you away from the current challenge. Try the Lord's Prayer or the Prayer of St. Francis. Any prayer that you've memorized and on which you can really focus.

Prayer on the Beads. I grew up in the Catholic tradition and found that repetitive prayer on the Rosary was just the thing to slow down the monkey mind and give me a sense of connection with the Holy Spirit. As I've moved in my spiritual journey to other expressions of Christianity, I've explored other prayer bead traditions--Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, Bahá'í Faith--and finally settled on the Anglican beads. The Anglican Rosary holds deep symbolism in its very structure, but has no one set of prayers associated with it.
The basic approach is to pray an opening prayer of faith on the cross and another prayer to settle into the Spirit on the Invitatory. Choose one prayer to repeat at each Cruciform bead and one prayer (or seven phrases) to say at each Week bead. To complete the prayers takes about 10 to 15 minutes. Enough time for a pause. Enough time to quiet monkey mind. Enough time to get a grip and return to caring. Renewed.

Say a little prayer...because you're worth it.

Blessings on your caregving today!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Clean Out a Drawer

"Clean out" anything does not sound like a mini-vacation, does it? But I'm finding a great deal of pleasure in cleaning out a chest of drawers. My father-in-law has just moved to a skilled nursing residence near us, and we've decided to add this chest to his furniture. So everything now stored in that chest has to find a new home, whether that's in another part of our house, or to charity, or to the trash. Every day, I take 10 or 15 minutes to make some progress--unload a drawer, go through the contents, confirm with my husband what we can pitch.

So far I have the chest emptied, and the contents waiting for new homes are stacked all over the downstairs. But it feels good. Sorting through pieces of my life to which I've clung but which are no longer important in my current life's rhythm. Knowing that I'll be re-gifting and sharing with others who will get more use and more enjoyment out of the extra linens, candles and craft items from that chest. Getting away from the computer, moving about, setting my mind in a different direction.

In a caregiver's busy schedule, the traditional "spring cleaning" which overturned the entire household in one fell swoop is not possible. But 10 minutes to clean out a drawer? Very possible...and very cleansing on many levels. Pick a drawer or part of a closet or a table surface or a corner of the garage. Clean out a little; get big benefits.

Blessings on your caregiving today!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Open Up a Talking Card

I hope that you all have been able to add a special activity into your routine. The activity that will refresh your spirit for caregiving. I can report that it's Friday, the day for contra dancing, but I'm not going dancing because...I got a better offer! A good friend from out-of-state is visiting, so tomorrow, we'll go touring, have a sleep-over, and talk and talk. A weekend getaway close to home.

Even if you've got your activity in place, remember to take those mini-vacations on the days when your activity is not planned.

Here's another idea. Ask someone close to you to buy you a talking greeting card. Or go out and buy one for yourself. Check them all out. You can have a mini-vacation just listening to all the talking cards in the rack. For my birthday, my husband bought me one with Ms. M&M Green on the cover. She's wearing those knee-high white boots and a sassy smile. When I open the card, she reminds how being so good-looking can be "such a burden." Sigh! Makes me laugh every time. I've got it on my desk, and when I need a lift, I open that card.

Get a card, get a laugh.

Blessings on your caregiving today!

Friday, February 11, 2011

"Time for Ourselves" Plan - Part The Last

Have you done it? Have you arranged for care for your dependents while you take some time for yourself? For those of you whose elders are living in their own home or in a residence with assistance, Step 4 is easy. My father-in-law is living in a skilled nursing residence, so I know he's safe and cared for. But Step 4 may be the hardest for those of you who share your home with your elder. Have you hesitated in your plan thinking that it's just too much effort or that you really don't want anyone else caring or that it's been harder to get things in place than you considered?

It's all right. Continue to work through the Plan steps. Keep in front of you the vision of taking that time for yourself doing something you really enjoy. Now is when that first choice of activity you made is tested. I know I've wanted to give up or not follow through. But I love to dance! And I feel SO-o-o good after an evening of contra dancing, that I know dancing will be a lift to my spirits and will give me more energy to keep going during the week. Don't give up.

If you've been able to make those arrangements, then we're at Part The Last.

Step 5. Do the Activity.

Yeah! We get to do our activity. Everything is in place. Now we can enjoy the fruits of all our planning. In my plan, contra dancing is a Friday night activity. So I'll give you an update next week.

Blessings on your caregiving today!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

"Time for Ourselves" Plan - Part 4

Last week our goal was to plan to put our Time for Ourselves activity into our routine. I'm working to put contra dancing into my schedule. I now know that the dancing society meets every Friday evening and the best time to go will be when my husband is on the Friday work schedule. Those are the days when I'll have use of our one car. So that will be twice or three times a month. I'd like to go every week and that may happen, but right now I'm not going to make it difficult. I'm going to make this first enhancement to my schedule as easy and stress-free as possible. I want to set myself up for success with no chance for excuses. I can definitely have transportation a couple times a month; I'll start there. I still need to get in touch with a few more friends who'd like to join me in this, and together we may arrange to carpool. All to the good.

I also found out that there is a small fee for each dance attended. It's something I can afford, but I'll need to budget it in. With annual tax time looming, I'm in the process of reviewing finances, so this week, I'll make sure this item is in the budget.

So now I have a set plan for attending and I'm moving on. How did your planning go? I hope you've been able to look at your schedule and block out time for this very important Time for Yourself. When you've done that...

Step 4: Arrange for your dependent's (children, elder's) care

This week, you will put into place the final "arrangement" piece of the Plan. If you need to arrange for daycare or evening care for your elder or your children, this is the week to do that. For your elder, take into consideration what companionship and services will be best for the current situation. You can consider these possibilities:
  • Ask a friend, neighbor, or family member to sit with your elder
  • Does your church have a ministry for seniors or volunteers who make home visits? Check with your minister or priest if you don't know.
  • Check out the local Senior Center to see if they have activities that would interest your elder at the time you'd like to take for yourself.
  • Call your local Area Agency on Aging or County Department of Aging or Social Services and ask for local elder daycare programs or volunteer organizations that provide in-home visits.
  • Check online or paper telephone yellow pages for "Senior and Aging Organizations" to find companies who can provide in-home care on a short-term basis.
  • Assisted Living communities sometimes offer respite care. Your elder could stay for a few hours, overnight, or even for a full week. This service is not always promoted front and center, so you might need to make a few phone calls to verify if the residence provides respite care.

If you get this piece in place, you'll be ready to start your activity. I know you can do it.

Blessings on your caregiving!