Change the old patterns that you are comfortable with yet are toxic. Take out the clutter in your life to make room for a clean and healthy mental and physical environment for yourself to create a peaceful silence in your life (and sleep!). It's a win-win for both you and others in your life.
It begins with the stripping away of all the holiday trappings, usually on the first day of the year, but sometimes the following weekend. Red and green are packed away to be replaced with calming pastels - tranquil blues and creams - punctuated with bursts of color (turquoise, lime green, orange) that are like visual bubbles of delight. They lack the audacity of Valentine reds, purple, and pink, and aren't quite as vivid as the colors of spring and summer, but they feel light and positive when compared to the muted light and bare trees outside.
I know journaling is not for everyone. I also know finding time to journal as a caregiver can be daunting. That being said, I am still going to point out the joys of journaling.
Do you believe in magic? I do. The holiday and New Year seasons are lovely reminders of its importance; you can feel it in the air if you are still enough. Small acts of kindness, random gestures, or simple adventures can fill your heart and that of others with magic. Hope. Peace.
Hanukkah. Solstice. Yule. Christmas. All these powerful celebrations coincide this week, and while all have different themes and belong to different faiths, they all share one commonality: they celebrate the return of light and hope into a dark world. For caregivers, the holidays can be extremely stressful as we try to balance the needs of others with the needs of ourselves. It can be especially difficult when the people in our care are no longer able to enjoy the holidays they once loved.
I sit here, waiting on news about my boyfriend's father in the emergency room at Starbucks - hot cocoa in hand. Living through a scenario that began last night, I've been through many times before with my parents. A coughing spell led to chest congestion that he swears he didn't have. When he came close to falling last night, it became clear that at the age of ninety-one, a trip to the doctor would be in order.
New Beginnings don’t happen all at once. They can be a soft accumulation of things that have been brewing for a long time. A New Beginning can be adjusting to the new role of a caregiver; a role that you might not have chosen, but it chose you.
I have had conversations with many people lately who are going through rough patches with their health while caring for someone else and feeling great uncertainty in the world as a whole.
I ask you to pause and think about this statement: The weight of responsibility that we place on ourselves and the forgiveness we don’t give. We all fumble at times in our lives. We've had words that flew out of our mouths under duress because we've exhausted ourselves. We've experienced anger, impatience, fear - all big emotions that can overwhelm our sanity - it happens to all of us. Those words/thoughts can be directed toward others as well as us.
As the holidays near, I can't help but think of the relatives who won't be with us as we celebrate Thanksgiving next week, and the other holidays that follow soon after: Hanukkah (we're a multicultural family), Christmas, the New Year. But while my surface thoughts are about the individual people, I find that a deeper dive leads to what I learned from them, and what they taught me about gratitude.