On the heels of a beautiful spring weekend, I am feeling energized by the promise of better days to come, weather wise. So often in caregiving, it’s hard to find the light at the end of the tunnel. And now with COVID-19 compounding the challenges caregivers feel, it’s even harder to not imagine that light to be an oncoming train! But as this past Saturday and Sunday showed us, there is light – the bright, warm, wonderful light of spring. And while it may be interrupted by spats of rain here and there, we know it offers a turning point for us and holds the promise of better days to come.
Weather can go a long way with caregivers. Just being able to step out and feel the sun on our faces, smell the refreshing air outside, open our windows and doors, and walk around our yards, up and down the driveway, or along our neighborhood streets can carry us a long way. It’s the simplest of things and yet the greatest to soothe our souls, enliven our hearts, and clear our heads. It offers positive possibilities and that is what caregivers crave along their journeys.
COVID has closed in the walls of all of us these past several weeks. And it’s been difficult to not feel smothered by them. History shows us that “this too will pass”, but when you’re stuck in the thick of it, those words are hard to swallow. Yet this is precisely when we must look beyond our walls into a world full of inspiration, resilience, and hope and take what pieces we choose to move forward.
While I discourage watching the news at this time, as the tone of it can so adversely affect our loved ones (not to mention ourselves), there are countless stories being told of everyday heroes stepping forward and helping others. If we can focus on their courage and strength, perhaps we can be energized by it to give another day to our caregiving; muster up the patience to resist the urge to snap at our loved ones when they ask the same question for the nth million time; find the laughter rather than the tears within the frustrations of our journeys.
I have thought countless times of Anne Frank, who spent over two years in hiding, with what would appear to most, no real hope of surviving. And yet, she teaches hope through her writings. Her words that inspire, include exactly what all of us hopefully felt this weekend:
The best remedy for those who are afraid, lonely or unhappy is to go outside, somewhere where they can be quite alone with the heavens, nature and God.
As long as this exists, this sunshine and this cloudless sky, and as long as I can enjoy it, how can I be sad?
Think of all the beauty still left around you and be happy.
A remarkable soul, Anne Frank is the epitome of hope and faith. So when feeling down in the dumps and a bit oppressed by all this social distancing and isolation, I look to her to reignite my hope. And, to bring me back to what I learned while caring for my Mom during her 15-year journey with Alzheimer’s – to focus on what we still have, rather than what we have lost. This can be difficult to do at times, but my history shows that focusing on the smallest blessings – her smiles, her hugs, her face when she sat in a garden – kept me in the game, gave me balance, and helped me find my way back to my purpose at that moment in time.
So please take a few minutes each day, to open a door and stick your head outside. Take a deep breath. Listen for the birds. See the buds on the trees coming alive. Feel the warmth beginning to seep into your bones. Call on the smallest of nature’s blessings outside to help you with all of your challenges inside.