Category: Creating ME Time

Caregiver, it’s time to create your own bucket list

create own bucket list

Have you created a bucket list? In this post,  I’m going to share mine with you.  It’s my ’50 before 50′ bucket list.

So often I see caregivers put aside all their own dreams and goals in order to care for others.  I know their heart is in the right place when they make this either conscious or subconscious choice. We all have to do this from time to time in an urgent short-term situation. Caregiving is a marathon not a sprint. There is no way to know as caregivers how much energy we need to sustain and how much damage we are doing to our own physical and mental health by pushing this aside until ‘later’ or ‘someday’.


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A Gift for the Overwhelmed Caregiver that Keeps Giving

Caregiver Quotes
What do you give a caregiver to show them you care and are thinking about them?  What they really want is more time  and available hands to call when they are needed . But in our society where the demand of our time far surpasses the supply, it’s a struggle to be that helper we want to be to those caregivers we love.  Often times, I have heard the phrase, ‘Please let me know how I can help.’  I never even knew how to reply to that statement.  It may be well meaning but it’s not actionable.  Being a caregiver is tough stuff.  Often times caregiving is emotional draining and physically straining.  There are usually no warning signs when a caregiving crisis is approaching.  It’s reactive, urgent, and stressful.  We don’t know when or if things will improve and often times we know that our situation will probably get worse before it gets better . When a loved one has a disease or a chronic illness, the whole family is impacted in some way.  As caregivers, we all have those days, weeks, or even months when we feel like we are on a treadmill and no matter how hard we try to stay on top of it, the plates and pieces we are juggling fall and it feels like no matter how much we give it’s never enough.

I think a gift that continues to remind an overwhelmed caregiver that they are enough is a great gift.


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20 Happy & Healthy Songs for your Workout Playlist

My Spotify workout playlist is constantly a work in progress.  I know for my music to continue to motivate me and keep me moving, I need to keep my workout playlist fresh and fun.  Music is a must for me during a workout because:

  • It offers a distraction – I forget how hard I’m working or how long I’ve been exercising
  • It makes me exercise to the beat! I try to add songs to my workout playlist that have between 120 and 140 beats per minute.
  • It speaks to my soul! I love songs about getting stronger, achieving greatness, and being happy.

Since we are all caregivers interested in achieving greater health and happiness, I am sharing ten of my favorite songs in each of these areas – happiness and health.


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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.


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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…)

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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…)

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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.

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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…)

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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

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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…)

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