As August draws to a close, I am grateful for the new beginning of school for my daughter, but I also anticipate a time of transition ahead. Since her adoption in the summer of 2013, the start of full day kindergarten marks the first time she will be away from me—and from home—for the majority of her weekdays. After three years of scrambling to meet deadlines and manage my work load while she was napping, sleeping, at preschool, or at therapy, I now have an almost 8-hour work day open. It's a strange feeling—a mix of relief, sadness, anxiety, and excitement. Some of the new projects I've been planning will soon be introduced, and the timing is perfect as I look to structure my work days differently. Expect an update in the next edition of this newsletter.
Another transition and new beginning took place this summer: My beloved grandmother moved out of her home and into a personal care home. Sadly, the decision and transition was met with resistance, anger, and a host of negative emotions by other family members, leading some to cut off communication with our family. It was, and still is, a painful experience, but as I'm processing the emotional weight of these changes, I'm hopeful for growth and resolution.
Life, the caregiving life especially, is full of transitions and new beginnings. Some energize us, others drain us. But if we focus on the growth opportunities within them—instead of fighting for what can no longer be—we may be surprised by the results.
Here are this month's tips and tools:
- TIP 1: Pick up a new hobby or set a new goal. Think small and simple, and aim for something you would enjoy. A caregiving life doesn't leave much free time, so choose a goal or hobby that aligns with your interests and passions. I've decided to take a photography class, and a family member generously lent me his camera so I can start experimenting immediately. Having something new and different to look forward to is invigorating, and it's one of the ways I'm being intentional about my "free time windfall." After the grief and burnout of recent months, it's also helping me renew and recharge. Want to create some new caregiving goals? I can help.
- TIP 2: Experience all your emotions. People will say things to encourage you when you're going through a difficult time, and that's fine. But never deny yourself the experience of being sad or angry about things happening in your life—the losses, health diagnoses, struggles, unwanted changes, disappointments. Certain emotions are labeled as "negative," but we should feel them just as deeply or honestly as the positive ones. We humans are complex, and emotional authenticity is healthy and necessary for growth. So go ahead: Feel all the feels! What transitions and new beginnings are you experiencing? Share them on my blog or reply to this email.
- TOOL 1: Meetup.com connects people with others who have similar interests. Social interactions are vital for caregivers, but getting out there can be daunting; Meetup makes it a little easier to bridge that gap. Find a group to match your interests and hobbies.
- TOOL 2: Strides: Habit Tracker + SMART Goal Tracker is a highly-rated and recommended app that offers daily reminders and a visual representation of progress towards your goals, whatever they may be. Explore the app's features and functions.