Good News: There is No Roadmap for this Journey

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How about this: there is no roadmap. I care about you. I want the best for you. And the same for your loved one who you’re providing loving care for. And the same for other members of your human and pet and plant families, as well.

Think about it. No roadmap. Even though I included the “Reach Out Roadmap” in Coaching for Caregivers, I intended it as a way to recap ideas about how to be resilient, not to prescribe a particular path for you.  

No roadmap means good news and bad news. The good news first. Other than things like it’s helpful to be clear about what you need before seeking it, since you are where you are, that’s the one and only place to get started. We know this thing called life is not linear, other than our beginning and our ending (though the destination is known, not much else about it is!).  

The book is chock full of openings that can help take the pressure off, help you take a breath, maybe even a nap! Find someone who can unclog a log jam (or a drain), start a Caresite for you that’ll help organize a team to help you, etc. 

Coming face to face with a belief you’ve held that has kept you feeling empty, drained, and lonely can be an exhilarating experience. Some of my most exciting moments have been when I’ve realized a belief I’ve held onto was in the way of things that help me feel happier. 

The so-called bad news is that not only is there not a yellow brick road, but it’s not even necessarily a road. At times it could be a path. At times it might change from feeling like a jungle to feeling like a tropical rain forest. It might be a trek, or maybe a dance. There are no magic steps. Only ones that pop out at you as your next steps.

Yellow brick road to connection

So with that expansive preamble, here’s a recap (not a roadmap) of some basic ideas I believe can help you on your yellow brick road to energy, aliveness, connection, and well-being.  

Embrace the idea that this is the right time to reach out for love and support. It’s there waiting to be called forth. Decide what you need. List the kinds of support and concrete help you need and when you need it.

Take stock of personal resources, in particular resources you already have and “low hanging fruit,” i.e., those that can be easily accessed. Develop a positive and healthy mindset for caregiving and discard beliefs that get in your way.

Build on your strengths. Take an inventory of personal strengths that you bring to current challenges. Commit yourself to appreciating these strengths and to noticing when you’re getting stronger and more effective in an area that’s important to you and your loved one.

Set privacy settings of boundaries and preferences. This ensures you get the help you need without feeling intruded upon. Identify your circle of close friends, your “Inner Circle” (can be as few as one or two people) and let them organize to help you. Tell them what you want and how you want to get it and let them coordinate things. You may wish to receive active support from your “Inner Circle” only and have them keep your “Ever-Widening Circle” updated.

Choose the Reach Out strategies that make the most sense to you. Select one or more of the following to keep people informed and let them know your needs and how to fulfill them:

  • Use the existing listserv of an organization you’re actively involved in. 
  • Create an email listserv of people you want to be in touch with. You can manage this yourself, but it may be less stressful to have an Inner Circle person take charge of the emails.
  • Create a Caresite (Lotsa Helping Hands, Caring Bridge).
  • Set up a Facebook page.
  • Join a support group.

Let in the love that flows towards you. Appreciate the wonderful opportunity you’re providing to people who are extending themselves to you. Be prepared for wondrous things to happen. Let people know how much you appreciate their love and support. Reflect with gratitude on all the blessings you have.

Forgive yourself & others

Forgive, forgive, forgive – yourself and others – over and over and over for being wonderfully human.

As I’ve said in my book and on this blog before, we present many openings to becoming more resilient, as a caregiver and as someone who has a wider life to lead. This Resilient Caregiver blog is intended to be a conversation of a learning community who are truly doing their best for their loved ones and who know they need to sustain themselves to continue doing so. So please share your experiences and learning with the rest of us on our Facebook page.