Can having less stuff make you happier?

Having less stuff

“I’m looking for less stuff to take care of.”

This phrase is something my friends and family would hear me say when I was deep in the role of being the primary caregiver for my mom on top of working full time, raising two children, spending time with my husband, and taking care of me. Oh…and my husband was his mom’s primary caregiver as well so we both felt like we were drowning in stuff to do.

It became crystal clear to me that I had way too much on my plate. I feared something important was going to give or drop whether I liked it or not so I needed to be mindful of what I could sacrifice. It felt heavy to take care of so much stuff and difficult to keep so many plates in the air.

While I know I needed to be focusing in the moment, I was constantly distracted by worrying about all my other plates. When I was with my mom, I was thinking about my kids. While I was at the office, I was thinking about my mom, and whenever I was taking some time for me I felt guilty. This nonstop feeling of being needed and not feeling like I could ever do enough reminded me of a mother robin tirelessly feeding a nest of hungry baby birds. I wrote more about this frustration here.

Does this sound familiar to you? (more…)

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How to Incorporate Movement while Caregiving

How to incorporate movement while caregiving


A guest post written by Erica Hornthal, founder and president of Chicago Dance Therapy. I had the pleasure of meeting Erica at the 2016 National Caregiving Conference and attended her movement breakout session. Her techniques opened my eyes to a fresh new tool for our caregiving toolkit.

As a dance/movement therapist, I have the opportunity to connect with individuals through their bodies, not just through “dance” but through non-verbal expression, communication, and body language. Our bodies have a wonderful way of expressing wants and unmet needs. Martha Graham said, “The body never lies.” This is true as long as we look and listen.

In this post we’ll explore several ways to blend movement with caregiving. (more…)

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Caregiver Spotlight – Priya Soni

Caring for aging parent

I regularly feature one-on-one conversations with a family Caregiver from either my Happy Healthy Caregiver Facebook Group or the Happy Healthy Caregiver Community. I call each of these recorded conversations a ‘Caregiver Spotlight’. I started these because each caregiver journey is unique and I know every time I talk to another caregiver I learn something new and I leave that conversation knowing I’m not alone and feel encouraged by others.

Meet my caregiving friend and fellow caregiver advocate Priya Soni. Priya’s caregiving experience with her dad and recently with her mom continue to shape who she is and inspired her to start a movement called The Caregiving Effect. Usually Priya highlights other family caregiver stories through The Caregiving Effect but today the Caregiver Spotlight is shining on her. (more…)

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2016 Reflections & Accomplishments – A Year to Remember

A lot can happen in a year and yet years seem to go by faster and faster. 2016 just flew by!

With hundreds of days in a year, we have good days and bad days but collectively my wish for you and for me is that our days roll up to a year of new learnings, opportunities, hearty laughter, memorable moments, and genuine health & happiness.

I wanted to create this ‘year in review’ wrap up blog post, partly for you and partly for me. Since the years do seem to rush by, capturing it in writing in some small way seems like a small way to cement the accomplishments and memories.

I’m also guilty of just plugging on to the next thing and not taking time to savor and celebrate the accomplishments. It’s been fun to reflect and recognize the fruits of my labor and to highlight what was really great about 2016. (more…)

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Alzheimer’s & Dementia: Early Warning Signs & the ‘Pivot to Happy’ Mindset

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Tara Reed – Expert Interview

Tara Reed’s father was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and her personal experiences forever changed her and inspired her to create her own business to help others in a similar position. Tara’s business, Pivot to Happy, is a wonderful toolbox of resources specifically for family caregivers who have a loved one with dementia or Alzheimer’s to help them navigate this journey.

(more…)

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How to Stay Connected with Your Long Distance Aging Parent

A guest post written by Family Caregiver Sarah Allen

Staying Connected with Mom

My mother has taken care of me for most of my life. Now she is struggling with the early stages of Alzheimer’s Disease, and I know it is my time to step up to the plate and return the favor.

Rather than continuously visit nursing homes, rehabilitation centers and try to pay for a home aid ourselves, we moved her in with my family and I take care of her.

My sister Emily lives out of town, but is constantly looking for ways to keep in touch because she can’t see my mom every day. With so many families in our situation, most know it is hard to keep in touch with loved ones we can’t see often. Here are some ways that you can stay close to loved ones.

(more…)

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Minimize Caregiver Overwhelm by Taking One Day at a Time

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For many family caregivers, the future is just too uncertain. Questions with no specific answers and abundant worries race through our heads. Questions like:

Will we have enough money to take care of our loved ones?

Will I have enough energy to make it through the day?

Will my loved one remember who I am?

Why has all of this responsibility been given to me?

How long will the demands of caregiving last?

What will people think of me if I don’t visit today?

All of these questions trigger other questions and we can find ourselves stressed out and overwhelmed over all these uncertainties.

(more…)

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Caregiver Spotlight – Carole Brecht

Caring for aging parent

I like to regularly feature one-on-one conversations with a family Caregiver from either my Happy Healthy Caregiver Facebook Group or the Happy Healthy Caregiver Community. I call each of these recorded conversations a ‘Caregiver Spotlight’. I started these because each caregiver journey is unique and I know every time I talk to another caregiver I learn something new and I leave that conversation knowing I’m not alone and feel encouraged by others.

Meet Creative Family Caregiver – Carole Brecht

Carole Brecht’s first exposure to family caregiving occurred when she had just closed her art gallery and was planning to secure a job in her industry. Her dad worked full-time and her mom had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. Carole had the time to step up as the daughter to help, not even knowing what a Caregiver was, nor hearing the word Caregiver until the end of her journey. She just knew her mom needed assistance with daily tasks and transportation and advocacy at her doctor appointments. Like many of us, Carole had no formal training in caregiving and learned as she went. Her caregiving journey with her mom lasted  several years until her mom passed away two years ago. During this time, Carole didn’t have a support system. She felt caregiving was a lonely, isolating journey that caused her to withdraw. Carole is currently her father’s Caregiver.

Caregiving took Carole down a path she didn’t anticipate. Her personal experiences inspired her to explore two positive, creative outlets: Zentangle art and writing.

(more…)

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5 Calorie-Free Holiday Treats that Will Keep You in Good Health

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A guest post written by Lorna Scott, The Caregiver’s Lighthouse

It is a pleasure to be here today and a huge bundle of thanks to Elizabeth for inviting me to share with you some ideas and strategies to help you get through the holiday season without having to dig deep for willpower to say no to every yummy looking holiday treat.

Beware of the Holiday Sugar Monster

I’m not sure how the last two months of the year became most famous for all the sugar filled food that you find on every corner in every store. In Canada, it starts even earlier with Thanksgiving in October. Soon it’s Halloween, American Thanksgiving and before you blink an eye you are rolling into the rush of Christmas. There’s no time to catch your breath in between pumpkin pie, Halloween kisses and candy canes. How can anyone expect to get through the relentless bombardment of “eat this treat and be happy” messages?

This can be especially true for family caregivers. Really, what is easier than grabbing a leftover Halloween goodie or candy cane to give you a boost of energy? Sounds good and you might even feel great for a few minutes. And then the fatigue and fogginess returns quickly, and often is worse than before. So you grab another treat, the same thing happens, and you grab more, and soon, you have been sucked into the grasp of the sugar monster.

I know how easy this is to do because I just lived through it. For some reason I caved into that cycle this week. I have a sweet tooth and while I’ve never sworn off all sweets forever, I am usually very careful about giving in to the sugar cycle. I know it takes me off course in every aspect of my life, hurts my body and adds weight I’ve just worked hard to release. It’s insidious, and I gave in to it.

(more…)

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Embracing and feeling your emotions and fears is healthy

It’s not realistic to think that you can be happy all the time.

We live in a culture where we tend to stuff our emotions and fears. We’re busy. We don’t take time to feel and process our emotions and fears.

Lately, I’ve been trying to become more in tune to my inner voice. I think she has been talking to me all of my life and I just tend not to really hear her anymore – she became background noise. Sometimes she’s my number one fan pushing me to try new things and take the next step toward my goals but other times I catch her doubting me or comparing me to others and holding me back.

We have this urge to be perfect, instead of recognizing we are enough. Social media doesn’t help. Facebook and Instagram show individual’s highlight reels of sweet family moments, beautiful bodies, happy relationships, and gourmet meals. Deep down we have to know that these individuals have struggles, insecurities, bad habits, and imperfections. We’re all human!

I don’t eat perfectly all the time. I get frustrated with my progress. I have a list of repetitive fears. I yell at my kids, and I can shut out or stuff my true feelings. (more…)

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