"Be excessively gentle with yourself." ~John O'Donohue
This is undeniably, incredibly hard. I was a caregiver for my mother for 17 years, and we weathered multiple hurricanes and hospital stays, pneumonia, falls, and other assorted emergencies, but never a pandemic. During the last months of her life, my mother was in a nursing home and they had an outbreak of flu so bad that they closed to everyone in order to contain it. As irony would have it, I caught the flu there and was then unable to go back to visit my mother for 8 of the longest weeks of my life. So, I do have the very deepest empathy for any family member who is separated from their loved one during this crisis. Unable even to say goodbye. It's heartbreaking, deeply distressing and emotionally devastating. My tears have flowed with those of family members sitting outside the nursing home window with their loved on on the other side.
I cannot really imagine how difficult it is to navigate this crisis, but I would say to anyone caught in this cauldron of fear, pain, helplessness -- keep your focus on what you CAN do -- express your love and be present in any way possible. Use a phone call or video chat or a greeting card or photo held up to a window -- whatever works in your particular circumstance, do your best. And know in your own heart that you are doing the best anyone can in an impossible situation. Try to keep yourself calm and centered by any means -- prayer, deep breathing, meditation, yoga are all valuable helps. Know that others are with you in spirit, praying for your strength and safety. Be at peace. Be excessively gentle with yourself.
"It is in crisis that seeds of opportunity are planted."
I really believe that a crisis is an opportunity standing on its head to get your attention. I have had this proven to me in countless ways in my life, as, perhaps, have you. Many of those times occurred during my role as caregiver. There seemed to be an abundant number of crises available to test the theory at any moment of any day. I also recognize now, if not always during the actual crisis, that there was very little control I could exert over the particular crisis-of-the-moment, but there was always a choice in how I perceived it. I alone could determine how I "judged" or reacted to some urgent thing grabbing my attention.
So, having said that, did I always choose to view the crisis of the moment as a positive, as a blessing, as an opportunity for growth? Of course not. I have all the same human foibles anyone does -- actually, I may have more than the usual foible complement. But, I also have intelligence to examine, research and learn from what I encounter in life. I have a resilient spirit, which I nurture with good books, happy thoughts, humor, uplifting music, prayer, meditation and yoga on as regular a basis as I can manage. I have wonderful friends, family and community whom I can turn to when the going gets beyond tough into torture. So, I count myself very rich in goodness, even though, to an outside witness, my life might not appear to be so rich.
I want to share two books with you that have made a HUGE difference in helping me to find sanity, contentment, and insight so deep it kinda scares me! The two books are by one author, Alan Cohen, who is an incredibly gifted author, motivational speaker, life coach, and great human being. He has written 23 popular inspirational books (you'll find my four favorites below), been featured on Oprah.com and has a lively talk show called "Get Real" on HayHouseRadio.com. But, here's the thing. I think he transported via mental telepathy or something into my brain and came up with the exact stories & anecdotes, warmth & wit and spiritual nuggets of truth I needed and put them all in these two books. Really! I don't know how he did that! So, I think you should read them and let me know if you feel the same way.
His book, Enough Already: the Power of Radical Contentment, captured me right from the start with the subtitle - radical contentment - what an excellent concept! Perhaps this is what we all need to practice to counterbalance all the radical bad stuff in our world. His chapter titles are also priceless and funny: "Going Nowhere Faster, Desperation Repels, Where Few Have Gone Before, The Secret to Winning the Lottery". Are you intrigued yet? The book has the following blurb on the back cover: "In a world where fear, crisis, and insufficiency dominate the media and many personal lives, the notion of claiming contentment may seem fantastic or even heretical. Yet finding sufficiency right where you stand may be the answer to a world obsessed with lack. In his warm, down-to-earth, and believable style, Alan Cohen offers fresh, unique, and uplifting angles on coming to peace with what is before you." Hmmm. That's it in a nutshell - coming to peace with what is before you. Isn't that the magic key to a happier life? So, would you rather be happy or be sucked into seriousness? Would you rather see the opportunity or the crisis? Is finding a state of peace and contentment your goal or do you live in a world where struggle and lack are the only thing you can imagine?
If you answered "yes!" to the first part of the questions above, then this book is the radical, realistic, resounding roadmap to getting there. Find the opportunity in your crises and learn how to be "radically content". You won't be disappointed with this book, I promise!
The second of his titles which appealed greatly, is A Daily Dose of Sanity: A Five-Minute Soul Recharge for Every Day of the Year. Well, the title says it all. Who couldn't use a soul recharge that takes five minutes and leaves you feeling inspired, uplifted, lighter and a little bit more sane? I find the daily "doses" of humor, lively insights, anecdotes and quotes a perfect way to give me a needed boost, morning, noon or night. I refer to it often, and even find myself reading ahead (or behind) the actual day simply because I am intrigued by a title on the page. It's so wonderful to hear Alan's "take" on life through his lens of experience with guiding so many people to more empowering choices. How refreshing it is when something can open your heart and bring you clarity, insight, and a smile all at the same time? And in five minutes! Did I tell you this man is a miracle worker?
Karen is a compassionate, enthusiastic student of life, who cared for her mother for 17 years. She brings her insights, compassion, experience and desire to share knowledge and healing to this ongoing conversation with others on the caregiving path. If you are caring for a parent, spouse, friend or other loved one this site offers sanity-saving tips, open-hearted self-care ideas, and an open forum for discussion, connection and sharing resources for the journey.
All Acceptance Aging Together Alan Cohen Alive Inside Movie Alzheimer's Alzheimer's Prevention A Mind Of Your Own Anxiety Aromatherapy Audio Therapy For PTSD Austin Air Hepa Filter Autism Back Care Video Beginner's Mind Being Present Blessing For Caregivers Books Brain Insulin Butterfly Story Calm Calm.com App Care For Veterans Caregiver Advocate Caregiver Coalition Caregiver Comfort Kit Caregiver Guilt Caregiver Retreat Caregiver's Serenity Prayer Caregiver Stress Caregiver Support Care Giving Caregiving Vulnerability Care In Hospital Caterpillar Into Butterflies Chamomile Tea Cindy Laverty Comedian Computers & Exercise Crisis Dan Cohen Deepak Chopra Delirium Depression Diabetes Disaster Preparedness Distractions Dr. Dharma Singh Khalsa Dr. Oliver Sacks Eden Alternative Eldershire Elizabeth Dole Foundation Emergency Planning Emergency Preparation Emerson End Of Caregiving Enough Already Escapism Essential Oils Food Safety Forgiveness Funny Stories Gaiam.com Gail Sheehy Gift Of Alzheimer Gift Of Healing Presence GMO Food Green House Project Gregory Fricchione Md Grief Guilt Happy Light Healing Holding Hands Home As Sanctuary Hope Hospital Caregiving Hospital Stay Humor Inspirational Reading Ipods For Nursing Homes Isolation Jacksonville James E. Miller John Denver Johns Hopkins Study John T. McFadden Jon Kabat-Zinn Kelly Brogan Kirtan Kriya Meditation Lao Tzu Laugh Laughter Lavender Loneliness Loss Of Purpose Love Love In The Nursing Home Maya Angelou Mayo Clinic Mayo Clinic Alzheimer's Blog MD Meditation Meditation Garden Melatonin Memory Memory Cafe Military Caregiver Mindfulness Meditation Mr. Bean Music Music & Alzheimer Music And Memory Neurological Research Noise Pollution Operation Family Caregiver Opportunity Overnight Respite Care Pandemic Passages In Caregiving Patience Paul Coelho Peace Post-traumatic Stress Disorder Power Of Love Prayer PTSD Quality Of Sleep Radical Contentment Relaxation Releasing Problems Renewal Research Respite Rewind Rodney Yee Rosalynn Carter Rosalynn Carter Institute For Caregiving Rowan Atkinson Sanctuary Sanity Self Care Serenity Silence Sleep Slowing Time Solutions Soothing Music Stress Stress Relief Sun Sunshine Support For Caregivers Tai Chi Thanksgiving The Care Company The Kiss Time Traumatic Brain Injury Travel With Alzheimer's Person Treat VA Caregivers Valentine's Day Verilux Veteran Farms Veterans Veteran Suicide Vitamin D Wayne W. Dyer Wellness Wendell Berry White Noise William H. Thomas Worry Yoga Yoga Video