Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The Curse of the Caregiver

May 16, 2012

The past 12 months for me have been a journey of discovering personal limits, seeking balance, learning how to say no, letting go, and finding peace.  The journey is far from over, and I'm not sure it ever will be. But I feel stronger today (mentally, physically and spiritually) than I did in May 2011, but apparently my body has been absorbing more stress than I let myself be aware of. As it is my birth-month, I fulfilled my personal tradition today to receive a 60-minute massage.

As I tried to relax on the massage table, I quickly realized that I am not very good at relaxing! As the therapist worked on each section of my body, I began to realize how tense, sore, and fatigued my body is. Our session went over an hour, and she didn't even get a chance to work on my arms! It was a crazy experience, as each section was worked on, my body awareness increased and I scolded myself for not putting 'taking care of myself' as a higher priority. I call this, the curse of the caregiver.  I truly love my job and wholeheartedly love my students, which is why I am able to have so much patience with them. But when I get home I crash and neglect myself. I thought, and still think, that joining bootcamp was a good step in giving myself and my body some attention. But the curse of the caregiver is that I am left without any patience or energy to love on myself. I need to slow down and take more baths, treat myself to more massages, I think I might even buy myself some fresh flowers tomorrow, because hey, I think I deserve it!

It was so wonderful to have my kinks and knots worked on today, but I am far from healed. During my massage Matthew 11:28 came to me: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." This is a message to all of you in the caregiving vocation...come forward, let go, allow yourself to be taken care of and then we will feel pure rest.  I'm going to have to re-do my budget to make some room for more frequent massages...Dave Ramsey, I don't care what you think about that, I'll make it work!

I saw this picture and I had to grandma bought me the "Little Miss" books when I was young..."Little Miss Bossy" and "Little Miss Chatterbox" to be specific. Yes, she was very passive aggressive with her messages to me :) But "Little Miss Stress" is definitely who I would identify with today!

Monday, April 2, 2012

April 2, 2012

This is the first morning I can remember that I didn't hit the snooze button and actually just woke up right away! Is this a sign that I am rested for the week ahead of me? I hope so!

I got on Facebook this morning and saw a message a sweet friend I know from high school posted...she has asked all of her friends to honor her mother by calling their mothers, right now, to tell them you love them, then posting done. I couldn't think of a better request and a more beautiful reminder of how every minute we are allowed with each is a gift to treasure, to be thankful for, and to not allow our busy lives be an excuse in letting others know how much we love them. Mother's Day isn't once a year.

If you are reading this, please continue this wonderful request and call your mothers and let them know how much you love them. Then post "Done" in the comments below for my friend to see. I promise it will make for a beautiful day for both you and your mom!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Day 76

March 20, 2012

So something really neat happened this morning! As you know I admitted to myself, you and God last night about my lack of trust in others and Him. Well this summer, I followed a friend's recommendation and signed up for daily emails through GriefShare  You won't believe what the message of my 195th email was this morning...trusting God! Ok, I get the message, you are listening to me.  I actually have found this happen a few times with these emails, that the issue I am battling with at that moment, is the theme of the next email I receive. It's so comforting and encouraging to think, if they made an email about this, it must be a common struggle, I'm not the only one! It's seems appropriate that trust in the Lord and his plan for our lives would be the topic to rest on my heart as a focus during this Lenten season. The email was summed up with this sentence: "You do not need to fully understand Him, just believe in Him and trust Him in all things." I know these words to be true, but this is actually a difficult challenge and will be my meditation for the rest of Lent. Hebrews 2:13 "I will put my trust in Him" will be my daily prayer. 

Ok have my attention...

Monday, March 19, 2012

Today...Day #??

March 19, 2012

Time to get on a track. Wish I could say “back on track” but sadly, I don’t really know the last time I was actually “on track”!

Today was a great day. I love when at 3:00 your coworkers take a breath and say “Well, today was surprisingly a productive and easy day for a Monday after Spring Break!” And yes, it was! Although...let’s knock on wood. We still have 4 more days in the school week! In addition to a great day at work, I went to bootcamp. It wasn’t even a question to not attend...that’s a first! And although it was incredibly challenging for me, I just repeated in my head “I don’t have to enjoy this, I just have to do it”. Surprisingly, reminding myself of that helps a lot. Well, that and my co-workers’ support. They are great and encourage me to keep pushing myself.  I was in such a great mood when I got home, that I decided to take my dog for a walk, and actually did a 30-minute 5K training workout. My evening was made even more enjoyable with an excellent meal, a delightful glass of wine, and a soulful conversation with a dear friend. So the two of us ended our evening of text-talking with a commitment of personal goals for the week and a promise of accountability to each other. For once I feel like I have set achievable health goals and am excited to attack them. 

I decided to take a bath, an enjoyment I haven’t allowed myself in a while. I tend to have too many thoughts during that time, and let’s be honest, lately I’ve been trying to avoid all of my thoughts. On a less positive note, I came to admit that I have serious trust issues, mainly with God. Although this is actually a realization that makes me feel very sad and empty, it was truly a wonderful revelation and raw moment of honesty to myself. I feel like I now have a starting point for me in my search to find a track to get on. Wish me luck and let’s pray for strength. Does the journey ever get easy?

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Day 13

January 17, 2012

I had a biopsy today. Scary, especially since I have an irrational fear of doctors and have mild anxiety and cry everytime I am due for an appointment. A few years ago my friend Bonnie suggested that when I have to go to the doctor, I should treat myself to something special. I love that idea! So, my something special became a slice of pie at my favorite local pie shop: Must Be Heaven.

So there are two positives today: I survived my doctor's appointment without having an anxiety attack, and I got to eat pie!! Today I choose Coconut Cream Merringue, and was not disappointed.

Day 12

January 16, 2012

Today is another hard day to write about. The mass and burial for Lisa were today. It's hard to be positive in the midst of so much sorrow. It's hard to hear about death, and be told that we never know the timing, however in this situation, she DID know the timing. I feel like I have already lost the feeling of peace that I found last night! Come back!!!

I am again thankful for friends and family that are living. When Shawn died this summer, my loyal friend Casey drove up in the middle of the night to be with me, I didn't even ask her to. She also came to Shawn's funeral to be there for me. She did the same again today. She had only met Lisa once, yet was here for me today, to drive me, talk with me, and support me in the way only a friend can. 

As we were driving to the burial, I saw a billboard for Wicked. It reminded me of a conversation Lisa and I had just after Thanksgiving. We were going to take her oldest son to see Wicked! I approached D this afternoon and asked if that was something he still wanted to do and assured him that I wouldn't let this stop us from getting to see Wicked. So now I have something to look forward to, and I hope her son will find some happiness in having something fun to look forward to as well.

Speaking of "Wicked" here's an appropriate quote to end the day with:

It well may be,
That we will never meet again,
In this lifetime.
So let me say before we part,
So much of me,
Is made of what I learned from you.
You'll be with me,
Like a handprint on my heart.
And now whatever way our stories end,
I know you have re-written mine,
By being my friend... 
-"For Good", Wicked 

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Day 11

January 15, 2012

Today was a long day. It was one of those days that I just wanted to lay in bed all day and truthfully probably was exhausted enough that I could have. Lisa's viewing and Rosary was today. I was raised Methodist and Episcopalian, so although I appreciate and feel comfortable with the Catholic rituals I am very unfamiliar with a Rosary. My Catholic friends reassured me that I should go and Kani let me borrow her Rosary Beads (blessed by the Pope!) and wrote out what I called a "cheat sheet" telling me what to say! I am very glad that I went. It was a beautiful vigil and the Rosary was very special. The priest had us tie each decade to a memory we held in our hearts of Lisa. 

It was such a special way to remember her, and being in such a focused state of prayer brought me so much peace. I don't think this will ever be easier for me, I will never find understanding in her death, but I am thankful for this evening and the gift of experiencing some peace. I pray that Lisa too has finally found peace.

This verse came to my mind as I was writing tonight:

And here's a poster I found and think is a great reminder:

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Day 10

January 14, 2012

I'm an inspirational quote junkie right now. When I can't think of something to be positive about on my own, I find that scripture and inspirational quotes help to snap me out of it and remind me of all I have to be thankful for. So here's my poster for today:

I love this quote because it is so bold and so true. So today I find happiness in recognizing that I have an amazing family. I went to bed absolutely exhausted last night at 9:00pm and slept until my phone rang at 8:00am this morning with a call from my brother. He called to let me know that my family was on their way over. So today my mother, father, brother, sister-in-law, and "surrogate brother"all drove in from Austin (almost 2 hour drive) to spend the day with me. I am so blessed to have a family that is here for me when I need them! We had a great day all together. My british "mum" in true English fashion bought me a tea kettle and a variety of teas (I swear the brits think a good cup of tea cures all!), and my brother and sister-in-law brought me goodies from their recent trip to Disney World! It was so wonderful to have them around for company on a day that I probably would have just spend lounging around in my pjs! 

I have a wonderful and amazing family and I am so happy to be blessed with that gift.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Day 9

January 13, 2012

Friday the 13th!! So today's post is hard...I'm emotionally exhausted, my body aches, my heart hurts, and I don't feel like doing anything and I'm annoyed that I feel this way. I appreciate all the friends that have called to check in on me today, it means so much to me to hear from you, but I just haven't had the energy to talk to anyone. As I'm having a hard time coming up with positive thoughts for the day, I'm stealing from words said to me today by friends and images found on the internet that I found over the summer that serve as good reminders. After all, isn't that what friends are be there for us when we don't have the strength on our own? I'm thankful for all of you in my life!

  • "You are amazing and get that mantra in your head!"
  • "Positive thoughts. I don't think of that as regression [return of anxiety attacks and feeling sad] but as growth. Life is not perfect and never will be. That's why we love ourselves because of the beautiful people we are. Like you!"
  • "You are so positive, I was surprised when I read what happened, you handle things so well and are always so happy and positive at work throughout the day!"

Day 8

January 12, 2012

Today's moment of joy is simple. I work with elementary aged students with Autism and today one of my students said something that made my assistant and I laugh and then put us in a state of giggles for the rest of the afternoon. Can't think of the last time I had the giggles! It was a sweet, happy moment that I am thankful for on this day.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Day 7

January 11, 2012

I am sorry, I have spent the day crying and am having a very difficult time trying to come up with something to be positive about. I didn't expect to face a challenge like this so quickly after starting this journaling process. I still don't feel like I understand death and dying, I definitely do not understand suicide. There are so many questions and so many regrets, like...I thought about calling on Friday, why didn't I call????? I know I can't dwell on any of those thoughts, there are no answers in regrets but this is so hard for me!

So I think the only positive I can think of today is finding some strength in knowing that this will never happen to me. No matter how low I will ever feel, I know I will never feel like I don't have anyone to turn to or a reason not to go on. I am surrounded by love and I am fully aware of that. I have experienced the challenge that depression brings when it takes every ounce of energy and convincing to get out of bed in the morning, but even during that time, I wasn't afraid to ask for help and was thankful that my friends let me call them to have them make me get out of the house, I was thankful for doctors that didn't judge and were supportive, and thankful for a will that overpowered pride and found a therapist to help me through it all. 

I guess all I can think to find hope in today is in knowing that suicide will never be an option for me. Where do you find peace and hope in a time like this? I'm at a loss right now.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Day 6

January 10, 2012

Today is a lot harder to write about than I thought it was going to be. Today is a perfect example of why I decided to start this daily journal/blog. Two hours ago, I planned on sitting down to write about my second day of bootcamp which was fun, motivating and made me feel really good about myself and my future ambitions to improve my health. I was going to write about what a nice evening I had eating dinner and drinking wine with friends and about how I am becoming comfortable in this town and content with my small circle of friends whose company I enjoy so much. 

I came home two hours ago to upsetting news that my old classroom assistant from my first year teaching committed suicide last night.  Oh how the Lord likes to keep me on my toes. I am so lost, confused and incredibly sad right now. I spent the afternoon with this friend a month ago on the day of my brother's wedding, and I spoke with her over Christmas break as we tried to make plans for lunch together. Why is life so confusing?

But in the midst of all of this, I must remember why I started this journal. I must remember that God has a plan in everything, and even when our days seem sad and gloomy, there was good in that day. This is going to be a much harder challenge than I could have ever imagined.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Day 5

January 9, 2012

Today I realized, Mondays really aren’t that bad when you truly enjoy and are thankful for the people you work with!! I had some upsetting news from my doctor this morning. I am so sensitive about health issues, so when he told me I was going to have to schedule another appointment for some follow-up tests, all I could do was cry, despite him reassuring me everything was OK. In my mind, how are things OK if you are having to do additional tests? I ran to my co-worker’s office where I knew I wouldn’t be mocked for crying but would get a warm hug and earful of reassurance. Just what I needed at that moment. So thankful she is back from vacation!

In addition to falling behind with church, I have gotten out of any kind of exercise routine. A group of co-workers joined a boot camp and I decided to go along. I never thought I would ever say that I am excited about boot camp or working out, but I am! I had such a blast with these ladies and am really looking forward to the accountability and support that we are going to provide each other with our health goals. I am such a lucky girl, I love my job, and I really love the people I get to spend time with at my job. When I stop, open up, and let people in, I realize I am daily surrounded by an amazing support group.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Day 4

January 8, 2012

So time to be honest. My church-going habits have not been consistent the past few years. I know that I miss the community, fellowship and learning provided through church in my life, but it seems that I used to be out of town every weekend, or just wanted to sleep in. This summer I hit bottom and desperately felt the need to get back to church, but I couldn’t sit through a sermon without bursting into tears and that was just embarrassing for me. So I’ve been on a break, although this time knowing that I would get back. Last night I made a deal with myself, I would not set an alarm, but if I woke up, on my own, with enough time to get ready for the 9:30 service, I had to go. Well what do you know, I woke up at 8:00am, wide-eyed and bushy tailed! So I spent some time with my dog and then got ready for church. Another perk – as I was walking to the sanctuary, I saw a friend that I knew (I don’t know many people at this church) and she grabbed me to sit with her, so no awkward, feeling alone at a giant church, for me! Well, when your heart is ready to listen, God jumps in. The sermon was titled “Remembering Your Baptism” and was all about repentance, acknowledging our sins, and recommitting our faith and lives to Jesus. It was just what I needed. I cried, of course, and prayed. I finally prayed. And I’m pretty sure God listened. In the darkness, there is light, and today I felt some warmth from a tiny sliver of light that I finally allowed to shine in. 

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Day 3

January 7, 2012

Today I am thankful for friends who always understand. I intentionally kept this weekend open for two reasons: it’s my best friend Casey’s birthday weekend and  the due date for another best friend Kani. Well, Kani’s baby came over a week early so I had planned to make the weekend about Casey. See, Casey is one of my most loyal friends. No matter the distance, she has always made sure to be with me for my birthday and make me feel special. Well, last night I came down with a cold and wanted to go to bed early rather than drive to Austin. Casey quickly offered to drive to College Station so we could still spend time together but to save me a drive. How thoughtful and selfless is that? I had a great time today, I bought tickets to the Aggie Men’s Basketball game for us and her husband, we ate pie at our favorite spot, Must Be Heaven, and I bought us all T-shirts as a “party favor”!  I hope it was fun for Casey, it was for me and it reminded me of how fortunate and lucky I am to have such wonderful friends who will go the distance, even on their own birthday, to spend time with me. I even got to sleep 12 hours last night! Yes, my life is blessed.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Day 2

January 6, 2012

I have the best Chiropractor, Dr. Dan. I had to go see him again today for another adjustment to repair my personal damage from my car accident. I love him because he works on so much more than just my back. As we were talking about me and my personal well-being he asked if when I look in the mirror, am I happy with what I see? I replied…well, I’m working on that. He clarified, I don’t mean your body image, I mean, when you look in your eyes are you happy with what you see and how you feel about who you are. I again replied with a smile…well, I’m working on that. And in truth, to me that is the mission of this 360-day personal challenge, that by focusing on daily light I will find and maintain daily happiness within my life. I believe that God uses people in my life to reach to me and speak to me and I love the encouragement I receive from Dr. Dan to continue the mission to work on inner beauty, peace and contentment.

Baby Ruth (one of my best friend's 10 day-old baby) fell asleep in my arms today for an hour. Does life get more beautiful or peaceful than that?!!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Day 1

January 5, 2012

Today I came home and was greeted by my happy “foster” cocker spaniel. Her little propeller tail makes me laugh out loud and warm inside with happiness. How can we explain the love that we receive from dogs?! 2011 ended with me rear-ending a white Chevy Tahoe. I spent an hour on the phone with the insurance company today working out payment, but Brian, the State Farm agent working with me was so helpful and straightened everything out for me! Thank you for your patience and hard work Brian! I am really enjoying coming home and not having to worry about studying for grad school. Still a little sleep deprived from my trip to Philly, I decided to take a nap on my couch and watch “Leap Year”, a sweet romantic comedy that leaves me wanting to cry happy tears of hope for love. Alas, there was no time to cry because my phone rang with a call from Crystal, my long-lost, gypsy, humanitarian, world-traveling friend. It was so wonderful to spend almost two hours on the phone with her laughing at how our quirky personality weaknesses haven’t changed and we ended with such a solid agreement that our futures are so bright and have hope for such great excitements to come. I just love being able to pick up with a friend that you haven’t talked to in over a year. True friendship has no time lapse. Today, life feels good and full of hope.

The Beginning

As I reflect on 2011, my thoughts and memories are clouded with negativity and it saddens me. Beginning today, the 5th day of 2012, 360 Days of Light is a challenge to myself to end each day by reflecting and focusing on the positive in each day. Even in our darkest hour, there is a gleam of light. The challenge is to allow that light to be seen, experienced and most importantly, remembered.