Many times when we think of caregiving and the brutal battle fought everyday, we don’t think of beautiful words to describe it, like delightful, serene, full of potential, thrilling, and fulfilling. Most adjectives used to describe the duties and role could spin you into a therapist office contemplating different diagnoses. However, as I develop in this process, I am noticing more and more how there is a huge impact on myself as a human being, similar to a blossoming flower.
Have you ever watched a flower bloom and its reactions to environmental influences? I have these beautiful Startgazer Lillies on my deck that I watch respond to the extreme sunlight, the rain, the humidity and the chilly nights. I watch what makes them bloom and what makes them shrivel up. The strain of too much sun, or the collision with a heavy downpour of rain can wither a blossom unto death. As too, the caregiver, with an overabundance of environmental extrinsic stress can diminish the very essence, the intrinsic nature of being human. If we are not careful, our blossoms will whither, our soil will dry up and our bright colors darken. So how do we blossom as caregivers?
- Stay balanced with enough rain and sun to thrive, not just survive. How do you ever think about doing this? Well, I can tell you, being a financially restricted, young, married, working caregiver, this took a determination, a mindset and a love for myself. It is true, no one is going to do this for you, not a system, not the government and definitely not friends and family. Many will desert you and disappoint you. You can look around and see the abyss of services and support. Therefore, mentally, what is your option? Are you going to whither up and die, or seek the rain and sunshine? What do you need to bloom during this time of great trial? What is your rain and sunshine? Define it for yourself and find a way to access it!
- Turn your trials and tribulations into hope and support for others. Whether you believe in God or not, your spiritual being provides a sense of purpose in humanity in that we are here to support and help someone along the way. We are all tied to one another, living on this earth together, sharing some set of meaning and purpose. You are not traveling this road solo and are interconnected to your fellow man/woman. As you learn more about caregiving and what has assisted you, share it with others. If there is not a support group, start it. If legislatures and the federal government aren’t supportive, tell them what you need, over and over and over again. If there isn’t enough exposure to the needs and issues that surround caregivers, expose it. Exposure can come through many different avenues including mulit-media outlets, work policies, non-caregiving and caregiving institutions. If there is no sunshine, bring the rays and if there is no water, bring the fresh rain! Blossom caregiver! Write about it, talk about it, open your mouth and share! One of my favorite leader of all times, Martin Luther King Jr. had such powerful truth-filled quotes that has changed history and man-kind:
- “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about the things that matter.”
- “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”
- “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort or convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.
- Make your strengths your personal weapons of war! Did you know a lily (Lilium) could grow just about anywhere? They are the earliest to bloom and the easiest to grow. They have a multitude of colors, can be fragrant or non-fragrant, and require little care. Sound familiar? A caregiver receives little to no care from anyone. They come in many different races, ages, sexes and socio-economic statuses and exist all over the world. Disease does not discriminate and wherever there is a human suffering with a debilitating disease, there is a caregiver that embodies some heavy-duty strength. You have strengths caregiver and are the foundation of the survival of another human being. Examine your strengths and put them to use for yourself. We fight and advocate everyday for our loved ones and yet, we ignore ourselves like we have no value. Take a minutes an inventory the strengths and values you apply to caregiving everyday and begin to apply them to yourself. They are the petals in your bloom, the root in the soil and the nourishment needed to continue to flourish.
“Strength and growth come only through effort and struggle.”