Category: Creating ME Time

How to minimize holiday stress and maximize holiday blessings

For many of us, ‘the holidays’ can simply mean we have even more to do than normal and the last thing any family caregiver needs is one more item on their to do list.  As the holidays grow near, I find myself reminiscing about my childhood holidays, reflecting on those simpler days when we mainly just got to show up and enjoy the fun.  I am very grateful for the wonderful family holiday memories I have.  As an adult, I realize that it was primarily my mom that worked so hard to make holidays special for us.  She trimmed every corner of the house, planned and prepared every meal, and shopped and wrapped for every gift (including Santa gifts and stocking stuffers!).  We would have ‘stacks’ of presents beautifully tied with ribbons and all six of us would have the same amount of gifts to open.  I have just two kids and it’s difficult to ensure that everything is fair and equal.  I’m sure my mom and dad collaborated on the budget but I’m also fairly certain that my mom went over budget every year.  Let’s just say I also have some memories of my dad paying the bills in January.

 

The traditional Christmas eve family pose circa 1976. I'm in the new blue Footie PJ's and so excited about my new doll from grandma.
The traditional Christmas eve family pose circa 1976. I’m in the new blue Footie PJ’s and so excited about my new doll from grandma.

(more…)

Share the careShare on FacebookPin on PinterestTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Share on LinkedInEmail this to someone

Five healthy grab and go breakfast options

5 healthy grab and go bfast

My healthy me time takes place first thing in the morning usually before 5:30 am…I often sneak out of the house when all (except Shadow) are still fast asleep.  I find it’s easier to just get up and go before the day really begins for others.  I love the saying ‘seize the day before the day seizes you’.

Shadow is trained to be an early riser. Too bad he doesn’t understand the concept of weekends!

Because I’m up and out early to head to the gym, I need portable breakfast options that I can either prep on Sundays for the entire work week or gather together the night before.  Here are a few of my tried and true breakfast options. (more…)

Share the careShare on FacebookPin on PinterestTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Share on LinkedInEmail this to someone

Traveling for family memories

family travel memoriesEarly in our marriage, may be even before we were married, Jason and I had agreed that we would always use some of our time off to have our own vacation.  Coming from a big family, there are always events and family reunions to attend but it was important to us that we set aside focused family time together each year.  Before our children were part of our lives, we took some special trips to New York City, California and Grand Cayman.  Not to mention our honeymoon in Bermuda.

Traveling with young children

Once we had our children our vacations primarily centered on trips to visit family.  Every summer, we have been to our family cabin in Hubbard Lake, Michigan and there have been several visits to Florida, Pennsylvania, Phoenix, and Washington D.C. areas to see my parents and our siblings.  One exception to the normal trips is when we jumped on an opportunity when Natalie was 10 months old to go see my sister Susie and her family in Botley, England.  Her husband Dave was there for a 2 year assignment and it was Susie’s 40th birthday and we were missing their 4 kids since they had moved away.  They had been in England long enough to show us all the local sites they loved.  Susie kept Natalie one day when we visited so Jason and I could take the train into London for a day on our own.

 

Bali Indonesia family trip
Mt Batur Temple

Our first big international trip as a family was BIG!  In June 2007, the four of us went to Bali, Indonesia.  (more…)

Share the careShare on FacebookPin on PinterestTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Share on LinkedInEmail this to someone

Are you a “sequencing” mom?

Growing up, I never pictured myself as a working mom.  I knew I would work before having kids but figured I’d be a stay home mom, just like my mom was for us.  I know my husband may feel somewhat responsible for me not being a stay home mom but frankly he’s not the reason I am still working.

What is a sequencing mom?

A “sequencing” mom typically earns a college degree, starts a career, and decides to take a planned break
from the workforce in order to raise young children and then returns to their careers years later.
(more…)

Share the careShare on FacebookPin on PinterestTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Share on LinkedInEmail this to someone

It’s like feeding a nest of hungry birds

Click the image to link to my sister’s (Susie Morrell) beautiful art gallery!

When people ask me how I’m really doing (not just a drive by how you doin’) it’s hard to put into words what this season of my life feels like.  This season where I’m being sandwiched between being the encouraging, present, and fun mom I want to be for my kids AND being the caring, respectful, and motivating daughter I want to be for my mom.  Oh, yeah and somewhere in this mix I want to be a romantic, loving, and supportive wife and a fit and healthy woman who successfully juggles a full time rewarding career and builds a mission rich profitable business on the side!  Feels crazy just writing it all out.  Like you, I want it all and I want life to feel harmonious.  It’s a big order to fill.

If you give a bird a worm

Since it’s difficult to describe a sandwiched life, I thought I’d try an analogy.  I often tell people that life is like a puzzle and you just have to figure out how all the pieces connect but reflecting on this now, this analogy is just way too simple.  After all, when you are putting together a jigsaw puzzle you have the luxury of evaluating one piece at a time. What I feel, and probably many of you do, is the constant pulling of different important and competing priorities that frankly are never satiated.  A better analogy for a mom in the sandwich generation is to think of a nest of hungry baby robins with mom flying back and forth to keep everyone well fed. (more…)

Share the careShare on FacebookPin on PinterestTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Share on LinkedInEmail this to someone

Back to School, Back to You!

Back to school goal settingMy kids are already in their 2nd week of the school year!  I know, my Northern friends, we folks in Georgia start early!  Please note that we do end our school year earlier than most.  My kids are usually out of school before Memorial Day.  Not sure why our nation has to shift our school year based on the region of the country we live in.  It just is what it is.

 

Time for personal goal setting and reflection

In my eBook, The Savvy Sandwicher’s Survival Guide: How to care for YOUR health while caring for others (now available to my community members), I have a chapter where I dive into dreaming big and setting personal goals.  I call this chapter ‘Be a goal digger’!  In this chapter, I share one idea that works for me which is to revisit personal goals when my kids return to school.  Most Americans set goals as part of their New Year’s Resolutions.  I used to, too.  However, I found that once I got past New Year’s Eve and Day, I was in a post-holiday fog.  I had just emerged out of a crazed compacted time period where I was indulging more and moving less and frankly just wanted to get my Christmas decorations packed up.  After the holiday festivities, I just need to catch my breath.  I want to get back on track with my life but I don’t want to necessarily lay down new tracks!

When back to school season rolls around, my entire family is switching up routines and schedules.  So…it makes sense to find the pockets of time where I’m going to insert my healthy me time.  Quiet personal reflection time also tends to be more of an option while the kids are at school.  I suggest using ‘My Big Dreams’ worksheet included as a resource in the Happy Healthy Caregiver Community to get your dreams flowing.  In my ebook, which is also in the community, I share a few of my big dreams and also share my ’50 before 50 list’.  The ‘Big Dreams’ worksheet gets you to brainstorm around the four areas in the image below.Create Your Own Dream Worksheet

A simple self-assessment

So what does your current state of self-care look like?  My sister sent this tool to me recently. It’s called the Caregiver Self-Assessment Questionnaire and she found it on the PBS’s Caring for Your Parents webpage.  It’s a great tool to incorporate into your back to school reflection because it helps you evaluate if you are taking care of yourself – the caregiver.  I took the quiz and my ‘yes’ score totaled to ‘8’ which was on the fringe of a being in a high degree of distress.  Yikes!  I’m lucky that my answers to the questions about sleep and physical health are positive.  I gave myself a ‘7’ on current level of stress (1 is the lease amount of stress) but I feel like I could give this question a different score each week – sometimes each day!  I definitely don’t feel like I’m a ‘7’ consistently.  Right now, there is a lot of juggling of tasks and activities going on.   I just feel tired of the pace and often crave just being still.  Not to mention that the past few weeks I’ve been off my routine with vacation, the one year anniversary of my dad’s death, mom’s hospitalization (she’s home now!) and my kid’s starting a new school year.  For the overall health question, I gave myself a ‘4’ (again, 1 is the best score).  I’m definitely focused on overall improvements and have formed some great healthy habits over the past year.  I’m truly proud of what I have accomplished amidst so much crazy.

I love how this PBS quiz gives you specific action items you can take if your score falls within the high degree of ‘distress’ category. By all means, if you haven’t seen your doctor in over a year, finish reading this blog post and make your appointment. Identifying areas where you can ask for relief is another great next step.  Seeking support from others via a group may also provide a healthy outlet. I certainly hope you are finding some relief and encouragement from my blog and social media accounts. I know I find comfort and support by just knowing I’m not the only person in the world feeling the squeeze based on caregiving responsibilities. I also love that PBS and other respected organizations are promoting the importance of self-care and giving us permission to not feel guilty about caring for ourselves.

It’s as easy as 1…2…3!

Since I’m the teacher sharing knowledge, I want to end this post with some specific homework so that you can apply what you have learned:

  1. Decide when you are going to do your annual goal review and planning. Schedule this session on your digital calendar.
  2. Write down 1-3 personal goals for the current month. Schedule a monthly goal review session on your digital calendar.
  3. Write down your 1-2 personal goals for the current week. Block out time on your calendar for the activities related to your goal.

Once you complete these steps, I have no doubt you’ll be able to raise your Personal Development grade up to an A+ and I look forward to celebrating your success!

“Either you run the day, or the day runs you.”

– Jim Rohn

Time for Caregiver Self Care

Share the careShare on FacebookPin on PinterestTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Share on LinkedInEmail this to someone

Seven ways to pay your health first and still be a super caregiver

 

©2013_SusieMorrell_title_6x6_ oil on panel_hlowres with self care text
My sister painted this! Click image to see her online gallery!

Finding the time to take care of your own health with all the competing priorities of work, children, and an aging parent is near impossible.  There is no lost time to be found in a ‘sandwiched’ life.  I’ve experienced first-hand what happens to a mother’s life (and father’s too!) when you put yourself last on the priority list.  My parent’s believed they gave us everything growing up – all our needs were met and many of our wants.  But because they did not prioritize their own health on their daily to-do lists, their health paid the ultimate price.  Starting in their 60’s the lack of attention they gave themselves caught up to them in countless hospital visits, numerous prescription drugs, and a compromised lifestyle that caused them to be dependent on others to help care for everyday activities like cooking, showering, and running errands.  I believe that my dad would still be with us and he and my mom would be enjoying their golden years and retirement savings by traveling and having the energy to maximize each day.  Witnessing these choices, led me to wanting a different lifestyle for myself and others. (more…)

Share the careShare on FacebookPin on PinterestTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Share on LinkedInEmail this to someone

The ONE resource you need to initiate the power of prayer

psalm 107 susan morrell painting
I thought one of my sister’s recent paintings complimented this bible verse. Click the image to view her online gallery.

2014 will always be remembered for me as a rough year.  Both of my parents have been chronically ill for at least the past decade and there have been many ups and downs but in 2014 their lives started to spiral.  In the spring of 2014, my mom has hospitalized with pneumonia and incubated due to breathing complications with her COPD and thankfully surprised us all when she bounced back.  We truly thought we were going to lose her.  It took weeks in a hospital and a rehab facility and lots of support and prayer.  During these difficult months, my family was introduced to an amazing site called caringbridge.org (more…)

Share the careShare on FacebookPin on PinterestTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Share on LinkedInEmail this to someone

The unexpected payback from expensive travel sports

benefits of travel sports

Just fishin’

Have you heard the Trace Adkin’s song ‘Just Fishin’?  Here’s one verse and the chorus:

“I say, “Daddy loves you, baby” one more time
She says, “I know. I think I got a bite.”
And all this laughin’, cryin, smilin’ dyin’ here inside’s
What I call, livin’

And she thinks we’re just fishin’ on the riverside
Throwin’ back what we could fry
Drownin’ worms and killin’ time
Nothin’ too ambitious
She ain’t even thinkin’ ‘bout
What’s really goin’ on right now
But I guarantee this memory’s a big’in
And she thinks we’re just fishin’”

— Trace Adkins

I love the story this song tells the listener.  It’s about a dad spending quality time with his daughter.  She’s excited to go fishing but he is older and wiser and knows this experience is so much more than fishing.  The video is really sweet.

Travel sports

Both of my teenagers are in travel sports.  My 13 year old son plays travel baseball and my daughter plays for a sand volleyball club.  With my husband and I both working full time and the extra family responsibilities I have with my mom, life is B U S Y.  I have to confess that I miss weekends at home just hanging out.  When Monday quickly surfaces, it’s tough to face a new work week after spending a weekend away.  We sacrifice the productivity of getting stuff done around the house and we feel like we had too little rest and relaxation.  Travel sports are also expensive!  I think we probably bought a small car this year between our two kids and their sporting equipment, club fees, and travel expenses.  But rather than go on and on about the negative stuff, I wanted to share a huge positive revelation I had this past weekend about travel sports. (more…)

Share the careShare on FacebookPin on PinterestTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Share on LinkedInEmail this to someone

Quench your thirst to learn and grow

 

never_stop_learning

Are you running on empty?  We’ve all seen examples of busy moms who lose their personal identity sacrificing it all to care for the needs and wants of their families, job, or community. Sometimes we tragically see these moms in the news after they have snapped and plummeted off the deep end and hurt people in the process.  Most of these women probably meant well initially and maybe didn’t realize they were losing themselves along life’s journey.

Be a role model

Caring for others in spite of ourselves happens easily since there is always something we can do to help someone else, to make our homes cleaner, or to make our boss happier.  It’s a slippery slope and in my opinion sends the opposite message that most of us want to pass on to our children.  I believe it’s important for kids to see their moms growing and thriving.  They can’t witness our personal growth unless we carve out time for ourselves.  I want my son, and especially my daughter, to see that I am still a person underneath this supermom cape.  I have dreams, I have goals, and I have interests.  We encourage our children and our aging parents to step outside the comfort zone.  Let’s practice what we preach!

It’s not selfish to take care of yourself physically and emotionally.  It’s an act of survival.  Ignoring internal passions and interests is dangerous as it can build resentment and burnout.  Avoid the burnout by igniting the little bits of kindling inside of you.  We all were individuals before we were married and parents.  What interests did you have then?  In what ways, even if small ways, can you feed those interests and still care for others? (more…)

Share the careShare on FacebookPin on PinterestTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Share on LinkedInEmail this to someone