Category: Mental Growth & Hobbies

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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Honoring my Dad’s birthday

drop in a bucket book
How lucky am I that my dad published his wisdom in this book!?! Click to order.

Growing up the month of June was all about my dad.  He was the only one in my immediate family with a June birthday and we celebrated Father’s day, too.  Needless to say, I’ve been thinking and talking about him a lot this week.  This August it will be a year since his passing so we have almost made it through all the ‘firsts’ without him.

Mimi & Pipi
Visiting my parent at their dream home in Amelia Island, FL.

We miss him

I know my mom misses him the most.  She is so lonely without him and her life has completely changed since he passed.  Within two weeks of his death, we had packed her up from their Florida condo and moved her into an assisted living six hours away so she could be near me and my three brothers.  So many new changes for my 77 year old mom in one year and she spends a majority of her time all alone which she hasn’t really ever done in her entire lifetime.  She went from her parent’s home, to nursing school, to marriage.  Mom and I talked this week about how we thought dad would want us to feel about Father’s Day and his birthday.  We knew he’d want us to be happy but also remember him.  He loved a bit of a fuss on his special days.  We both recognized that it is OK to miss him, shed a tear or two and then focus on what all we had with him…not what we no longer have.  Falling into a pit of depression definitely won’t bring him back and would just hurt those that we love still living around us.  My dad was too practical and productive to have us sit around in a dark pit. (more…)

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I’m positive that attitude changes everything!

eveydaymoments

Your attitude is a choice

Once, when I was going through a difficult time and didn’t know what direction life would take me, I was told by an acquaintance who had been through a similar rough patch that if you worry and then suffer, you suffer twice. But, if you don’t worry (and just believe) and still suffer in some way, you would only suffer once.

Newspaper columnist Erma Bombeck gave similar advice about worrying:

As a person who often measures value based on productivity and how many to-do items I cross off my list and as person who would like to suffer once and ideally not suffer at all, the act of worrying just isn’t for me. Rather, I choose to believe that there is a lesson to be learned or a bigger plan to be followed.  I choose to be positive. (more…)

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Don’t freak out…reach out!

Mothers day with kids andmom

Ask and you shall receive

Guess what I found out recently?  I can’t do it all and I need to ask for help.  I think the key is to ‘ask’ and not ‘expect’ someone to know you need help.  I’ve definitely said to my husband a few times, ‘Why do you wait until I’m spiraling to help?’  His answer is valid when he calmly says ‘I didn’t know you needed help’.  We think as moms we are supposed to do it all and we think other moms are successfully doing it all.  Maybe it’s possible for the short distance but not for the long haul.  I’m one of 6 kids, I watched my mom work non-stop taking care of the house, kids, food, pets, etc.  I also witnessed her burning out.  My siblings and I helped around the house but maybe could have done more and in recent years my dad had admitted that he could have done more to help at home.

Did you know you have a small army of helpers around you?  Below are eight individuals or groups of people that are willing to offer a helping hand and won’t think any less of you for getting their assistance. (more…)

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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…)

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Be a GOAL DIGGER!

Be a goal digger

This recent series of blog posts is about making time for yourself and then using your ME time wisely. In the first post in this series, I offered some time management tips that work for me.  If you missed this post, check it out here.  Now we need to hone into where you want this ME time to be spent, but first you need to pause and make a plan.

Make things happen

There are two main buckets of people.  Those that wait for things to happen to them and those that make things happen.  I prefer to surround myself with the people that make things happen.  I find them more interesting to talk to, inspiring, and uplifting.  Perhaps this explains why I have a sick fascination with reading true WW II stories about survivors of the Holocaust.  I can’t get enough of the stories about the strength and perseverance these usually ordinary people had to fight through extreme and unbelievable circumstances.  I love the movie Rudy and any true story about the underdogs setting a goal, believing they can do it, and making it happen. (more…)

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Who knew I would marry my prom date!?!

prom1989withcorners

19 lessons learned in our 19 years of marriage

You may have missed this random fact that I have shared on my About page:  I married my 1989 prom date.  By choice – not necessity.  Jason and I started dating in my senior year of high school, he was a junior.  Our first date we dined at the Real Mandarin House (I’d hate to see what the fake restaurant looked like since years later rumor was the real one was shut down for serving up felines!).  After Chinese, we went to see a Tom Hanks bomb film called The Burbs.  We went to prom that spring.  I was in a Laura Ashley phase and picked out the fabric and pattern that my sister Susie handmade and Jason’s tux was gray but looked lilac in the pictures.  Enjoy this 80’s prom throwback! 

We dated long distance for several years…on and off.  I started at Penn State that summer and he finished his last year of high school and went to University of Alabama.  We were married on April 27, 1996 – 19 years ago!  The past few years, our pace of life has significantly picked up as our responsibilities to help care for our parents was added to our already full plates.  Our kids also have active lives which has resulted in a jammed packed family calendar. Our days often feel like we are on a moving treadmill that never stops until we crash into the pillows at night.  I know I’m guilty of getting caught up in the day to day routine and sometimes forgetting what’s truly important.  This post is part of my anniversary gift to my husband.  After all, he’s a guy and we all know what he really wants.  It’s been fun to pause for a few moments and reflect on our relationship and I thought I’d share some of my thoughts, learnings, and insights after being married to Jason for the past 19 years.

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The lessons and learnings

1.      It turns out that I can still sleep well even when my bed isn’t made before I get in it and that toilet paper still functions even when it’s resting on top of the previous empty cardboard roll. Sense of humor is vital to our marriage.

2.      Traveling as a couple or a family is so much fun but I appreciate how lucky I am to be so happy to return home after any trip.

3.      Sometimes Jason is right and I’m wrong and that’s ok.  Shadow has been a sweet addition to our family home and is a visual example of unconditional love and an example of how father may know best.

4.      We are powerful duo when we work together in small projects and big life changes.  We are actually better at working together on huge life changing problems than the pesky annoying little ones.

5.      I’ve got the best built in accountability partner when it comes to health and fitness.  I stand up straighter with confidence knowing that he always has my back.  But I hate that he has a better metabolism!

6.      Jewish people can like commercialized Christmas more than Christians.  Marrying a Jewish man has perks like I always get to decide what we are going to do for Christmas and Easter.

7.      If I want to be in the know about his life, I have to pay attention to his phone conversations or ask very specific questions about his day.  Communication is a skill that will never be perfected.

8.      Romance is something you always have to work at but cheesy books like 50 Shades of Gray can help.  Men truly get sexier with age.

9.      Trigger words like ‘always’ and ‘never’ are called trigger words for a reason.

10.  Love is not just a gift to be received it has to be given as well.  Love is reciprocal.  When I make deposits in our romance bank, I get nice dividends.

11.  For me to be a great wife, I first need to be happy with myself.  Jason doesn’t complete me…he enriches and compliments me!

12.  It’s silly to expect him to read my mind and notice when I need help instead of asking for it.

13.  Sealing the deal before and after a girl’s trip away makes it easier for him to let me go off on my own.

14.  Positive reinforcement of behavior works on husbands, too!  Have you read my Choreplay post?!

15.  Marriage is the ultimate commitment and promise and I’m thankful that he continues to choose this ‘package’.

16.  The small unexpected fun moments can mean more than the huge expected ones.

17.  That we both can alternate being the teacher and the student.  Neither of us will ever be done learning new things about each other.

18.  We both need to be involved in the finances to keep ourselves in check.

19.  There is no place like home. I’m proud of the life we have built and continue to build and there is certainly no place that I’d rather be.

What lessons are you learning in your marriage?  How do you prioritize your relationship with your spouse?  Share what works for you in the comments below.

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