Updated: Feb 21
"“Gratitude is a quality similar to electricity: It must be produced and discharged and used up in order to exist at all.”
Greetings dear friends, I hope this post finds you taking excellent care of yourself. November brings observance of special days. Did you know that November is National Family Caregivers Month? Celebrated every November, National Family Caregivers Month (NFCM) is a time to recognize and honor family caregivers across the country. It offers an opportunity to raise awareness of caregiving issues, educate communities, and increase support for caregivers. Did you know it is also Alzheimer's Awareness Month? I spoke to a family caregiver yesterday who had never heard of these two designations for the month of November. She has been on her dementia caregiving journey for nearly a decade. It is more proof of how isolating the path of the caregiver can be. It's a lane I know very well because of my own journey as a family caregiver and decades in senior related healthcare.
November is also the season of giving thanks, honoring Veterans, changing clocks and a loss of daylight hours. Spending more time indoors and having less daylight brings even more challenges for the person with dementia and their paid or unpaid caregiver. I hope that you are practicing good self-care and healthy boundaries. You all know these are my two favorite and most popular themes in my workshops. Everyone needs a self-care or boundary tune up, no matter who you are. In 2020 statistics showed one in five Americans was a family caregiver. If you are not one now I'm sure you know many, or someday will be one yourself.
It was three years ago that my mother passed in October. My caregiving journey came to an abrupt halt and I turned fifty that November. I had many things that needed my attention and my life sped forward. Admittedly I stayed distracted by overworking and studying for my coaching certificate. I bought a house, moved and launched my private practice all in the middle of a pandemic. There was no celebration, no party or ribbon cutting. It's all a blur now. I jumped into each change with a blind faith that it was the right move. I'm grateful I was able to take those giant leaps of faith. I'm celebrating turning fifty three this month, and two great years in my cozy office. It's a very nurturing space with a massage table and many sound healing instruments for the energy work I provide. I just opened a second space across the hall, this is to accommodate a classroom and meeting space. I'm very grateful for the many clients and supportive friends who have made this expansion possible.
I am 100% self-employed! This has been a dream of mine for three decades. I cannot recall a time in my life where I didn't have two or three jobs, and someone in my family that needed care. As I take a closer look at what I am grateful for this season, I recognize it has been twenty three years of professional service to seniors and their caregivers. I have worked in nursing homes, cardiology, home health care, assisted living, dementia care and care consulting. In honor of my unique expertise I have added a special coaching program to my practice. The program supports seniors and their caregivers no matter where they are at in their journey. Transitional Life Coaching can help seniors or their caregivers find the clarity and confidence to make necessary plans and tough decisions.
I find myself in transition like many of my clients are. It is a whole new way of being when you don't have to split your time and energy between multiple jobs and caregiving duties. I used to do so many tasks in a day, but I didn't do them all with love. Many times I was rushed, impatient or just utterly exhausted. I found each caregiving experience, and work experience to be quite different with its own lessons to learn. I'm grateful for what each of them taught me,, especially trust and patience. My life during those times had different challenges, different demands, totally different environments and people in them. Some are gone and some remain in my life today. It can be quite an adjustment to not have anyone else to advocate for, or ensure their needs are met. So many women and men go through this when a loved one passes and they are left behind to figure out a new way of being. Your identity can become wrapped up in the role that is no more. I have struggled with this too. Former wife, former caregiver, former employee, and on and on. It is sad and liberating at the same time.
Change is scary, freeing and ultimately such a blessing. When you are in the throws of transition it is hard to see that your future self will thank you for all the many steps you are taking now. Hold onto that thought, everything is temporary. If you are still in a caring role, try to approach each task with as much love as you can. Love for yourself first and then the one you are serving. If you cannot then that's the task to delegate or change entirely. It's so easy to become resentful, overwhelmed and burned out. We have to constantly take stock of what feels good to spend our time and energy on and what feels like a chore or burden. We cannot delegate all those things away, but we can strategize, vent and take better self-care around the hard parts.
When I write a post it is always the result of recurring themes that present in my personal and professional life. The percentage of my clients who are family caregivers is growing daily. Their challenges are similar but never the same. Everyone handles caregiving differently. There is power in being prepared for the future with education and resources. No matter what stage you are in please seek help to meet your own needs. If you can't see your way through to even know what you need, then the time is overdue to address it. I look forward to being a part of the village it takes to support you. In honor of those who I have cared for, and for the parts of me that went uncared for, I launch this new office with gratitude for all I have learned.
If you know someone who is experiencing challenges or unfortunately drowning in them, I encourage you to share this post. I created support systems for myself and so many others over the years, I'm very good at matching resources to people's unique situations. Take a first step and talk to someone about your situation and its challenges. Therapy, coaching, medical practitioners, workshops, podcasts, books, support groups, councils on aging, elder services, women's and men's circles, clergy and friends are all great resources to tap. I welcome your messages, and I love hearing from you. If one of my workshop titles interests you, and there isn't one on the calendar right now, that's ok I still want to hear from you. I recently have been providing one on one and small group sessions when the interest is there for a certain topic. The materials in the workshops are valuable, you will receive printed materials and the privacy you may need or desire at this time.
My new space welcomes like-minded collaborators who have a talent to share, an event to host or a lecture to provide. Coming up soon is a therapeutic crafting event for people who want to create a holiday wreath. Laurie Coffin of "A Wild Irish Rose" is facilitating. We filled two sessions so quickly, just one space remains. I'm amazed! We intend to continue providing a creative outlet for people who want to destress in a small group and go home with a lovely arrangement of flowers for example.
The picture I'm using in this post is one you see on my website and Facebook page. It reminds me of my journey and was taken during a visit to Paine's Creek in Brewster on Thanksgiving day. It's a healing place where I have scattered the ashes of those dear to me. I wish you many blessings, and I hope you look forward to all that this November will bring.
Till we meet again, -K