Caregiver Fulfillment

We think a lot about what our son is going through, and if we are not careful,  it can overwhelm us.    Living life one day at a time is key to getting through this.  Caregivers and family members also need care and it's important to think about your own needs as you are walking this road.

We do not care for our son day after day.  We see him as many times a week as we can; sometimes it is daily, sometimes just a couple of days a week.  We aren't up 24 hours a day.  We chose an independent life for our son a long time ago.  Although there is an amount of guilt in allowing someone else to care for him, we also know that he has a life that gives him the most autonomy possible.

Nevertheless, we feel the burden of making decisions for Lacy and the pain of visiting and watching the decline.  Sometimes it seems incremental, sometimes we can see a big change.  Anxiety seems to be just behind us, often catching up to us.

Years ago, we learned a valuable lesson as a family;  narrowing our world gave us the more freedom and peace than trying to struggle through those experiences and situations that were just too unstructured.

I feel as though I am having to re-visit that lesson right now.  I tend to want to keep going - grab life with both hands, seize the day - but that frenetic attitude toward life costs me more that it gives.  For example, here's the list I would make if I had no challenges to face:

Pray and read the Bible every day.
See Lacy three days a week.
Work full time.
Go to three professional conferences this year.
Teach a night class at our community college.
Try out (and hopefully, be picked) for a local play.
Exercise at least 5 days a week.
Get plenty of sleep.

Too much, I know.  Even though I would love to do all of these things - and each one gives me a certain feeling of joy or comfort - I need to narrow my list.  Doing everything I want to do would be so much fun.  Achieving all these goals would be overwhelming.

What is a realistic list?  Look at the things that are most important:

Pray and read the Bible every day - even just a few minutes of prayer and meditation gives me strength for the day.
See Lacy three days a week - this gives me peace.
Work full time - I love my job, and it is flexible enough to be able to leave if necessary.
Get plenty of sleep - if I don't sleep, I can't think.  Domino effect on my state of mind.
Exercise at least 5 days a week - improved state of mind, sleep, work, and visit with Lacy.

I always liken this smaller world to being in a fenced pasture (like the sheep in the scripture) with the Shepherd guarding the gate.  There is plenty to eat in the pasture.  It might be enticing to go outside the fence, but it's not safe right now.  The original list is thrilling to think about; paring it down is more fulfilling.

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