Monday, December 27, 2010

Give Yourself a Gift

December is the big gift-giving season, and for many of you, buying or making or re-gifting was part of your routine. You continued to give care to a loved one, but in addition, you made sure that there were presents for your family members, friends, your child's teacher, the mailman. Didn't have to be something large or expensive, just something to express how you feel.

Did you remember to get yourself a gift? Did you select something that you really wanted, wrap it up and tag it "From Santa"?

Probably not. We usually don't. We think about how others will feel if they don't have a present. We spend a lot of energy choosing the right gift for a friend or relative. We expect those around us to give us presents, sometimes expecting that they'll get us just the right thing, even if we haven't given them any clues or hints what that right thing may be. Many times those close to us come through, and we're delighted.

But there's nothing written in any rule book that says we can't give ourselves a gift.

Maybe it's a new basketball or electronic gadget or a sweater we've had our eye on. Maybe it's the commitment to ask our neighbor to come and stay with our elder while we go to a movie. Maybe it's a long bubble bath. Maybe it's just time to sit and watch life unfold out our window.

This is the gift-giving season and as a caregiver, you do a lot of giving all year. How about acknowledging the effort, the love, and the care?

How about giving yourself a gift?

Happy Holidays, and blessings on your caregiving!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

"Here We Come A-Caroling..."

Last Sunday, I joined friends at church for a Carol Sing and Pot Luck. Just a group of us around a piano with an acoustic guitar for interest, singing for all we were worth. I'm writing this while one of my favorite Christmas CDs plays in the background, and I find myself humming along. This evening while making dinner, I made a point of putting on Christmas music and singing along the whole time I was cooking.

And guess what? A very busy, stressful day turned brighter as I let myself get carried away with the music and added my own "special" rendition. Now I have the Chipmunks stuck in my head. And other beautiful, crazy, touching and funny music. Much better than anxiety over the snowy, icy weather; over what to get my father-in-law who has dementia for his community Christmas party; over too much work.

So I suggest that when your caregiving and holidays collide into near chaos, put on your favorite music and sing along. Right out loud. Go ahead, belt out the words. If you're singing Christmas carols, the rest of the family can join in. Doesn't matter if you're off key. Doesn't matter if you forget the words. You're just letting out some energy and embracing the lift singing out loud can give you.

So sing. Sing for joy. Sing for the holiday. Sing for life.

Blessings on your caregiving today.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Smile at the Cashier

We are in the midst of the holiday shopping, celebrating, expecting and remembering season. With caregiving adding another dimension to an already stressful (even fun can be stressful) time, practicing small acts of kindness help relieve some of the simmering energy that seems to follow us around. One of those acts is simple.

Every time you arrive at a check-out counter during the month of December, say a cheery hello and smile at the cashier.

Grin, even.

That's all. You don't have to make conversation (although connecting at the check-out can be very pleasant). You don't have to overdo it.

Even if you're having a crummy day, make those lips curve up, smile and say hello to the cashier. Hey, the guy or gal behind the counter is just trying to make a living, right? And odds are the cashier has nothing to do with your crummy day (if they do, that's for another post).

For just a moment, while you're at the check-out, lighten up. If you smile every time you greet a cashier, you will feel better. People around you will feel better, too. Guaranteed.

The holiday season is for feeling joy and cheer as well as stress and pressure. One way to feel joy and cheer is to ACT joyful and cheery.

Try it. You'll like it!

Blessings on your caregiving today.