Sunday, October 3, 2010

What are you made of? ...from eCare Diary

This following is an article from eCare Diary. They have a lot of great articles and information on being a caregiver. Even if you aren't... you may still find something interesting. I really love the story included in the article below... so I thought I'd share it with you. It's a great site. Check it out. Here is the article from eCare Diary...

What are you made of?
Jane Meier Hamilton - September 26, 2010 11:26 PM

The years when I filled both professional and family caregiver roles were difficult. Caring for my patients and my parents was a joy and a burden, deeply inspiring yet sometimes repetitiously boring, filling my heart and also draining my energy. I felt proud of what I could do, yet guilty about how negative I sometimes felt.

One time when I was at a low point, my sister, Wendy, sent me an email. It was one of those stories that circulate on the web, author unknown. Somehow, this anonymous little tale really spoke to me, as if Wendy had written it just for me. The story from the web is titled Carrots, Eggs or Coffee? It goes like this:

A young woman went to talk with her mother and share how hard her life was. She didn’t know how she was going to make it and wanted to give up; she was tired of struggling. It seemed as if when one problem was solved, a new one arose.

The girl’s mother took her to the kitchen. She filled three pots with water, and put them on the stove to boil. In the first, she placed carrots. In the second she placed eggs, and in the last pot, she placed ground coffee beans. The mother let them sit and boil without saying a word.

After twenty minutes, Mom turned off the burners. She fished out the carrots and placed them in a bowl, removed the eggs from the second pot, and poured the steaming, aromatic coffee into a large mug. Turning to her daughter, the mother asked, “What do you see?” “Carrots, eggs and coffee,” the young woman replied, wondering where this was going. The mother asked her daughter to feel the carrots, peel the egg, and sip a cup of coffee.

Finally revealing the meaning of this odd exercise, the mother explained that each of these objects had faced the same “adversity,” boiling water, but each had reacted differently. The carrot went in strong, firm, and unrelenting. However, after being subjected to boiling water, it softened and became weak. The egg had been fragile, with a thin outer shell protecting its fluid interior. Like the carrots, the egg was changed by the boiling water. Its soft interior became hardened. The mother pointed out that the coffee was unique; it alone had changed the water in which it had been boiled and turned it into something quite wonderful.

Then she asked her troubled daughter, “Which one are you? In the face of adversity will you wilt and go soft, like the carrot? Will your fluid spirit harden, or, like the coffee beans, will you release the potential within you and turn the boiling waters of your life into something you savor?”

We caregivers all need to answer the question, “What are you made of?” Faced with adversity, are we like the carrot, eggs or coffee? Will we have the energy, judgment and grace to persevere with caregiving? By centering ourselves, we can tap into the calm energy at our core and be like the coffee. Some ideas to help you stay centered:

• Remember that you are a human being, not a caregiving machine. You need to balance involvement in caregiving with times of rest and relaxation.

• Conserve your energy for caregiving by clarifying your priorities. Save your energy for what is important to you, not just what seems urgent or important to others.

• Simplify your life. Eliminate what is unimportant or overly complex so you can devote time and energy to your priorities.

• Let go of what you do not control. However hard you try, well you plan or carefully you communicate, you control very little of the caregiving situation. Accept the limits of your humanity. Do your best and let go of the rest.

Caring for others can be both a joy and a burden. It can fill your heart and drain the last drop of energy you have. Caring for yourself helps you continue to care for others.

Jane Meier Hamilton MSN, RN, a nurse for 35 years and family caregiver for 20 years, founded Partners on the Path to help professional and family caregivers preserve their health, well-being and capacity to care. Read her book, Journey of a Lifetime: The Caregiver’s Guide to Self-Care (Infinity 2010) to learn sensible, effective ways to cope with your caregiver stress.

Thanks for reading and have a great day!
Mary Ann :)

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