As a national speaker I have presented to hundreds of family caregivers throughout the country. In each presentation I highlight how, as caregivers, we can become task masters; focused on our to-do list more than the people around us.
I share this by way of personal testimony. As I examined my time caring for my grandfather, the transition from the granddaughter that spent time talking and hanging out with my grandfather to becoming hyper focused on the tasks needing to be done to care for him happened so unconsciously. It wasn’t until years later that I realized that I was so focused on what needed to be done, I missed numerous opportunities to just talk and hang out with him.
So you would think that after reflecting, recognizing and relating this information to family caregivers all across the country, I would be extremely self-aware if it were to happen again, right?! WRONG!
A few years back I began journaling. Now many people think that as an author and blogger, journaling would be something I do naturally, however; it’s far from the truth. It wasn’t until I was on the flip-side of a very challenging year which included the death of several family members that I decided I needed some way to organize my thoughts and find inspiration.
I would journal all of the positive things happening (both large and small), as well as hopes and dreams for the future and create action plans based those ideas. Many exciting opportunities were being created, and it was all documented in my journal.
Recently I spotted my journal under a pile on my desk, not remembering the last time I had written in it and remembering how encouraging I found it, I decided to read through the entries. There were pages upon pages of inspired thoughts and thankfulness to God for all He was doing in my life and business. However; when I turned to the final entry I was shocked.
Pay phone bill
Follow up with contacts
A stark contrast to the pages of enthused optimism that filled the prior pages.
Noting the date, I realized that in spite of all of the caregiver support programs and writing I do on a regular basis, it had happened again. There was no denying it, it was right in front of me in black and white…the entry was dated the day after my Mom was diagnosed with breast cancer.
Somehow, her diagnosis had flipped a switch that propelled me from inspired writer into task-master caregiver without any semblance of awareness on my part.
With my new-found awareness I was able to make the following adjustment:
I regularly schedule time with my mom not related to Dr. visits and focused on fun.
I take time daily to focus on self-care and just breathe. It is vital that caregivers make self-care a priority in order to be available to care for others.
I began journaling again to re-connect with the inspiration I had found in those pages.
If you are caring for someone, I encourage you today to do a self-check.
Are you more focused on your to-do list then on the people around you? If the answer is “yes” make the necessary changes to take care of yourself and connect with those you love.
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