Caregivers are created to fulfill many different needs, and sometimes it is caring for more than one person. Caregivers often do not acknowledge they are a caregiver because of the relationship with their loved ones. During the struggles of our journey, we tend to create a mindset of lack and resentment which focuses our journey on what is impossible rather than what is possible.
I wanted to have Meriam Boldewijn, a dear friend, who was on the previous episode titled Caregiver Hope published April 2, 2021. Meriam was born and raised in South America, then later moved to the Netherlands, where she has lived for 31 years. As a wife, writer, entrepreneur, and now Caregiver life coach, she proves we can change our thoughts of impossible to possible by having faith in the universe. Her appetite for adventure and acceptance to change came after experiencing firsthand feelings of fear, self-doubt, and burnout as a caregiver. Fear of the unknown took Meriam and her husband on a journey through dialysis, transplants, and self-discovery together.
After 20 years of caregiving for her husband battling diabetes and a brother after a stroke, she was inspired to share her story which was published June 2021. Caregiver 2.0 From Burnout to Powerhouse is now available in stores and online at Amazon. Her love and compassion for her family taught her many valuable lessons, which she now shares with other caregivers through her book and Caregiver 2.0 6-week online course.
The one thing that helped Meriam throughout all of her trials and transformation is hope with the courage to make mistakes. We have both learned how powerful hope can be along a caregiver's journey. When I was still working, it was easy for me to add tasks to my daily To-Do list so I would not forget what needed to be done or reprioritize my days ahead. I noticed when I kept working to check off the list that I lost sight of my needs and hope waned. Then when I stepped in to care for Mom, she also became part of my To-Do list, which began to chip away at my self-confidence, self-awareness, and source of hope. I needed more courage.
Focusing on what is possible in life was difficult at first when all I could think of were impossibilities for adventure or living a better quality of life with Mom. The more I practiced small steps of self-care, I gradually felt what was possible to complete. Then I realized I was giving away my power by focusing on what I can't rather than what I can accomplish. Choosing to focus on what I needed stopped the feelings of lack, resentment, and defeat.
One area to being a proactive caregiver is learning how to work the calendar. Being able to plan gave me something to look forward to and anticipate moments of joy. Then when I wanted something bigger, like a chance to take a recharging vacation, I had to ask, "why not?" Meriam applied the same concept to travel with her husband Martin on holiday instead of medical treatments. Where there is a will, there is a way! When we focus on the possible, then the impossible is no longer an obstacle.
More caregivers are stepping up to provide unpaid care to family, friends, and neighbors. While many caregivers feel their role has given them a sense of purpose or meaning in life, these positive emotions often become unbalanced with feelings of stress or strain. As more caregivers report physical, emotional, and financial strain, their overall health status is also declining from excellent or very good to fair or poor.
Maintaining hope is a commitment between you and your creator. It requires active participation. If you find yourself in a hopeless state of mind or focusing on the impossible, then try these ideas to help reprogram your thoughts:
1. Write for 10 minutes a day to stimulate gratitude. Writing is calming and creatively therapeutic.
2. Acknowledge we cannot do it all and ask for help.
3. Stop thinking you're too old to do anything. It's never too late to learn a new skill or hobby.
4. Learn to identify the negative thought process to redirect those thoughts.
5. Design a self-care regimen that you can maintain daily. For example, yoga, painting, drawing, playing an instrument or listening to music.
6. Stay in touch with friends to connect, confess, create together, or be together.
7. Create a wish list of places you want to travel to or adventures to experience something new.
8. Attempt learning a new language or read educational books to feed your mind.
9. Move your body more to music or take meditative walks.
10. Schedule at least one event for yourself weekly that is your Me-time for at least two hours.
Be sure to subscribe to the podcast on your favorite app. If you're not finding it there, let me know, and I will do what I can to get it added!
I hope this gave you more food for thought. Until next time, BE PROACTIVE. Take care, everybody.
Intro: Vacation Time by Khris Paradise
Outro: Misty by Khris Paradise