Magic Moments ~ *Balancing Life as a Caregiver*

… approximately 20 million Americans (one out of eight baby boomers) are juggling taking care of an older parent while raising or supporting a child. In Wyoming some 72,000 family caregivers make tremendous sacrifices at home and in their careers to care for a loved one. (Oshinnaiye, C.; Seven Tips for Better Life Balance; The Wyoming Sage, January, 2013)

Over the past few years, I have been the primary caregiving family member for our Dad, now 92+!! Balancing multiple roles added to daily life as we take on such responsibilities can be overwhelming, to say the very least. Some common stressors caregivers experience include:

  • Fear / Uncertainty with heavy responsibilities / Some “scary situations”
  • Shifts in Roles
  • Financial Pressures
  • Isolation / Less connection with others outside the home
  • Little time alone / Potential demands for constant caregiving
  • Guilt / Burn out / Frustration

Despite these great challenges, most caregivers want to be totally supportive of those who need their care and, as a result, many struggle to balance their personal lives. According the Wyoming Sage article mentioned above, the National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP have found that average family caregivers spend almost 20 hours/week in tasks such as meal planning and preparation, record-keeping & bill paying, transporting the care receiver to appointments and events. In my case, keeping Dad safe yet as independent as possible (because he is pretty vibrant and feisty!) is continually on my mind ~~ my mission. Balancing my life continues to be challenging, however I try to ‘practice what I preach’!! SO … try some of these ways to bring more calmness into your life (As I do!:-):

  • Delegate responsibility, look for help outside the home ~ reach out to family, friends, social groups, home health care, and others … You need not do it alone.
  • Take time for yourself ~~ take care of your own health & wellbeing ~ find ways to reduce STRESS (Ahhhhh … Yoga practice, walks, meditation, workouts, movies, long baths … Ahhhhh)
  • Discuss your feelings & emotions with close friends, clergy members, professional counselors, support group members ~ it IS okay ~ many have been “there” ~ and they are so willing to listen to you ~ this WILL help reduce your stress.
  • Last ~~ but NOT Least … BREATHE ~~ Inhale ~ Exhale ~ Repeat.

(PS ~ Check out www.aarp.org/caregiving for more information)





Loving communication is one of the happiest and most powerful experiences for people.

How do I get to this space?

I have done a lot of work on myself, I have read many books, and I’ve come to understand the principles, such as ‘What I think and say goes out from me, the Universe responds, and it comes back to me.’

So I begin to ask for help and to observe myself.

As I allow myself the space to watch without judgment and without criticism, I begin to make great progress in loving communication.

What do I believe? What do I feel? How do I react? How can I love more?

 ….. And then I say to the Universe ….. ‘Teach me to LOVE’ ….. “.


Balancing Life in the “Fast Lane”…wisdom from an incredible source!

A Lamp in the Darkness ~~ Illuminating the Path Through Difficult Times (Author: Jack Kornfield, PhD)

Jack Kornfield, PhD, one of the most revered mindfulness teachers of our time, is the co-founder of The Insight Meditation Society and of Spirit Rock Meditation Center, where I spent one of my doctural travel grant trainings ~ with him as one of my 6 mentors. In this book, he  invites us to ‘awaken’ … “Do not be afraid to face your difficulty. Turn toward it. Lean into the wind. Hold your ground.”

I want to share some of his thoughts with you as we are moving into the center of several important holidays ~~ moving toward self-care and self-compassion should be a constant reminder on our list of “Things to do…”. The hassles and chaos become prevalent, with situations that call for immediate attention everyday. We are burdened at such times, in some way, shape or form, so guiding ourselves through our days with some of Dr. Kornfield’s wisdom in mind can certainly empower each of us when we need it ~~


  • ” …Life is difficult for everyone.”


  • “The warrior in your heart says stand your ground…You have all the support you need in your bones.”


  • “Loss and betrayal tear open the heart. Look through this gate for the wisdom that lies there. What matters now?”


  • “The one who knows has the courage to acknowledge the way things are, and to care and love and trust, no matter what.” 


  • When we come to understand the paradox that what we most value in our lives was often born out of conflict and struggle, we can begin to get a glimmer that perhaps one day we may begin to embrace our difficulties and find grace in them, even if that day is not today.”


  • “You may not see it now; but this very difficulty will strengthen you. Your heart will grow wiser, your spirit stronger…”


  • “…sense how many other people on this earth are facing the same problems: loss, conflict…Feel your common humanity with them. When you can awaken sympathy, courage often follows.”

ENJOY THE JOURNEY ~~ through thick and thin ~~ Blessings & Peace to ALL!


Valuable Tips for WINTER & Colder Days & Nights!

With all the challenges of our Wyoming winter, beat the “blahs” with a Healthy Attitude AND these Tips!
  • Eat Healthy, Staying Active: These should be year round practices, but tend to become more challenging during winter, so focus on nutrition that enhances your energy and get creative with activity: walk indoors with a co-worker or family on stormy days!
  • Travel Safely: When attending parties where social drinking is involved, always appoint a designated driver before you start ~ ONLY WAY TO GO!
  • Stay Warm:  Stay tuned to weather forecasts ~ dress accordingly.  Protective footwear keeps you warm & can prevent injuries, such as slipping on sidewalks. Slow down, use “trackers” (rubber, spiked shoe coverings),  watch out for ~~ and help elderly folks!
  • Deal with Stress:  WOW! Way more “chaos” in our lives over the winter (holiday season etc.!!), so prioritize commitments ~ embrace some down time to relax!

Self-Care ~~ #1 Priority in Avoiding Burn Out!

Living life in a constant state of pushing ourselves beyond our “max” = BURN OUT!

In our fast-paced world, we get caught up with wanting to do and be more.  Can we truly give 110% to everything we do all day long without suffering burn out?  As chronic stress builds up in one’s system through taxing it day after day, something has to give ~~ it is impossible to live life at a constant frantic pace without suffering because of it.

We ALL need rest, we ALL need to relax, and we ALL need to recharge!  The failure to acknowledge our humanity in this sense will cause us to suffer consequences ~~ sooner or later! Look over this checklist:

  • Using caffeine or sweets to get through your day?
  • Getting the amount of sleep that your body really needs?
  • Spending enough quality time with friends or family?
  • When was the last time you did something just for FUN?
  • Are you truly LIVING your life or just moving from task to task?

Think about taking time and doing these 3 simple things to slow down:

1. Give 60-80% to certain projects instead of 110% to everything

Pace yourself ~~ look for projects where you can give 60-80% and still be proud of the outcome.Embrace a life that meets your desires but that does not rely on unhealthy quantities of certain foods, drinks or cutting out relationships and fun.

2. Spread your efforts more evenly to all areas of your life

Shift your efforts and thinking to prioritizing your health, your family, & yourself. Spread energy and efforts evenly across all areas of your life. Allow yourself to S.T.O.P. ~~ Stop! ~~ Take a moment! ~~ Observe what is happening in your body & how you are feeling right now! THEN ~~ Proceed with your day ~~

3. Take care of yourself ~~ T.L.C. for the B.O.D.Y.!

At the end of the day, be your own best friend. Respect your body. Give yourself some real tender loving care with stress-relieving Yoga and mindful meditation practice. Get a massage. Share a delicious healthy meal with a friend. Take a walk. Just REST…..

THIS is the kind of fuel your BODY/MIND/SPIRIT need to be nourished and to rejuvenate. 



Attitude IS Everything…

When we look and ‘see’ those around us, we can never fully understand their personal life experiences and how they have influenced choices in their lives.  So let us ALL ~~

Be kinder than necessary: It is so easy to smile or just say hi to everyone you meet – your moment of kindness may be JUST what they need!

For everyone is fighting some kind of battle: However big or small that ‘battle’ is, at the time that the individual is enduring it day by day – he or she may truly be suffering, only very deeply in his or her soul.

Live simply: Offering well wishes to others without any expectation brings many simple blessings in return.

Love generously: No matter what happens, continue to love …. fully …. abundantly …. freely.

Care deeply: When we can take off our heavy ‘winter coat’ of fear, guilt, resentment, criticism and shame ~~ we allow loving, forgiving, and peace-filled ways to fill our days and the days of all we meet.

Speak kindly:  It is important to pay attention to words, intonations, meanings ~~ and how they can shape our lives and affect our relationship with others.

And pray continually: No matter what prayer may mean to each of us, the saying ‘Ask & you shall receive’ comes to mind as the perfect way to manage stress ~~ Invite a need to be taken care of, without expectations ~~ be open to ‘answers’…

Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass: Choose a peaceful way of living each moment as the remarkable ‘spiritual being’ you are, in the midst of any and all ‘stormy’ human experiences!

It’s about learning to dance in the rain: When we are ready to grow spiritually, something forcefully urges us to move toward change, stepping into ‘forgiveness’ and out of the victim role.  As strange as it may seem at the time, all is right with the world.

Mindfulness of the BREATH!!! – Try this practice ~ again & again ~~

Mindfulness of the Breath…

1)             Comfortable sitting/lying position: If sitting in a chair, let your spine be self-supporting by sitting away from the chair back. If sitting on the floor, experiment with cushioning under your buttocks to find a firmly supported position with your knees touching the floor.

2)            Erect, dignified, comfortable posture.

3)            Gentle closure of the eyes.

 4)            Awareness of level of physical sensations: Focus on touch & pressure of your body on other surfaces. Where does it make contact? How does that feel?

5)            Awareness of changing breathing patterns- inhales & exhales: Lower Abdomen / Middle Rib Cage / Upper Chest

6)            Awareness on sensations of stretching areas of torso (with hand): Lower Abdomen / Middle Rib Cage / Upper Chest

7)            Letting go – letting the breath happen by itself: No need to try to control. Let it be natural – allow the breath to happen.

8)           Wandering (“Monkey”) Mind: Sooner or later, the mind WILL wander to thoughts, daydreams, planning, drifting. This will happen again & again! This is natural – perfectly OK! Acknowledge where the mind has gone (“Ah – there’s thinking!”). GENTLY escort your awareness back to focusing on the breathing sensations.

 9)           Self-Compassion/ Kindness for YOURSELF! Bring a quality of kindness to your awareness. These are opportunities to bring patience & gentle curiosity to your experience.

 10)         Continue your practice for 15 minutes or more with these intentions:  Simply be aware of your moment-to-moment experience. Use the breath as an anchor to gently re-connect with the “here & now” experience.


TIPS for Enjoying More Restful Sleep ~~ AHHHHH!!


 QUICK TIPS for Enjoying More Restful Sleep

  • Create a sleep ambience & a ritual that works for you
  • Keep a regular sleep cycle, whenever possible
  • Decrease caffeine consumption
  • Learn to meditate ~ moment -to-moment focus to the breath ~ LENGTHEN the exhale …
  • Exercise to help flush out stress hormones 
  • Decrease caffeine consumption
  • Move the TV out of the bedroom
  • Avoid eating a heavy meal before bed
  • Limit alcohol intake around bedtime
  • Avoid tobacco use (MAJOR sleep inhibitor!)

Coming to Terms with our ‘selves’

As Jon Kabat-Zinn says, “Healing is a coming to terms with things as they are, rather than struggling to force them to be as they once were, or as we would like them to be …”

… and he so eloquently writes: “Extending the reach of our own hearts lets us live in the world in ways that embody greater wisdom and compassion, lovingkindness and equanimity, and ultimately, the joy inherent in being alive”.

(Jon Kabat-Zinn, Coming To Our Senses)

Mantras for Daily Mindfulness Practice

When practicing mindful meditation, whether during yoga or in sitting, walking, or a lying down posture — just take a moment to settle, letting the body – the mind – the energy calm with focus settling on the breath   ….

Each time I add to this blog over the next few weeks, I will provide a short “mantra” — affirmation — that may be helpful in settling into the beginning of your practice.

Thought for the moment! ~~ “There is enough time” ~~