Self-Care is Crucial for Caregivers

I momentarily forgot that self-care is crucial for caregivers. I’m a caregiver to both my husband and my mother. Certainly, it is easy to get caught up in the needs of others, forgoing your own.

A Definition of Self-Care

One definition is any activity that nurtures and refuels you at a deep level. There are many areas of our lives where we can practice self-care. Often we think first of our physical body. Similarly you can practice self-care in other areas; your emotional and mental state, your relationship with yourself, relationships with others, spiritual beliefs and even work.

Some Examples of Self-Care

  • Getting enough quality sleep
  • Daily time outdoors
  • Massage
  • Crying
  • Laughter
  • Free Writing
  • Forgiveness
  • Nature Walks
  • Meditation and Prayer
  • Engaging the senses
  • Doing something important to you
  • Cooking
  • Goal Setting
  • Boundary Setting
  • Learning New Skills
  • Time with friends
  • Conversations
  • Time with children

Signs That I Needed More Self-Care

I wear a Fitbit, which tracks my sleep patterns and my resting heart rate. Most noteworthy was the dramatic increase in my resting heart rate from 67 to 74 in just eight days. While the resting heart rate was soaring, my quality of sleep rating plummeted to the 60’s.

My Method of Self-Care

It had been months since I had walked the paths of my favorite public garden Bok Tower Gardens . On the morning of that eight day of increased resting heart rate, I told my husband I was going to spend time walking before I performed errands for him and my mom.

I was benefiting multiple areas of my life in this one act of self-care. My physical body was experiencing time outdoors. Nature walks are a form of meditation for me, boosting my spiritual care. By engaging my senses during the walk, I lifted my relationship with myself. Finally, I had a chance encounter with a friend along the path and enjoyed a lovely conversation, adding the self-care of relationships with others.

Measurable Positive Results

In the five days since I went for my self-care walk, my resting heart rate dropped each day and is now at 68. My sleep score for the same five days now has an average of 80. I feel rested, calm, and was able to meet a writing deadline in addition to this blog.

A Challenge for You

Whether you take care of your family, your pets, or just yourself,  self-care is crucial. I challenge you to find at least one way you can do something just for you, something that makes you smile, that makes your heart sing. Life is short. Take care of yourself. Love yourself.

Love,
Dawn


Perspective Changes Everything

As I noticed the swallowtail caterpillars devouring my parsley over three days, it reminded me how perspective changes everything. In my early gardening days, I always picked off caterpillars. After all, they were another pest in my garden. The connection between a caterpillar and the beautiful butterfly wasn’t solid in my mind until I studied biology in junior high school.

Who Doesn’t Love Butterflies

My first reaction at seeing the yellow and green striped caterpillars was, “Yes, finally!!” I was overjoyed to have caterpillars on my parsley. Although I planted it for my consumption, I also expected the eastern black swallowtail butterflies visiting nearby Pentas, to lay a few eggs on one of their favorite larval plants, parsley. I consciously invited these little caterpillars to my herb table.

Nature works in concert to keep the natural order in check. Birds eat insects when they are plentiful, lady beetles eat aphids when they explode and I pick off caterpillars when there are more than my parsley can survive.

I call this being a steward of my garden. With the help of my dog, Sugar, we removed most of the caterpillars from my parsley, leaving seven of the largest ones to mature into adults.

From One Animal to the Next

When I visited the parsley this morning in hopes of finding a pupae, I was horrified to find a multitude of snails instead. Snails and slugs can decimate a garden of tender plants like parsley. I set about picking them off the bare stems and breaking their shells against the terra cotta pot. Yes, I can be brutal in my garden.

Soon I realized there were too many of them to exterminate by hand. Quickly I headed to the storage building where I have a corner for all my friendlier pest deterrents. I rummaged around until I found the well hidden Garden Safe Slug and Snail Bait. After reading the instructions, I decided to apply right then.

Conclusion

My interest in my garden is diverse.
I love the plants.

  • seeing the shapes, contrast, or colors
  • inhaling the aroma of my white flowers
  • eating their fruit
  • feeling the softness or hardness of their leaves
  • admiring individual plants and carefully arranged groups

I love the birds and butterflies.

  • hawks announcing their territory at the top of a tree
  • red cardinals chirping and hummingbirds finding nectar
  • sandhill cranes flying over with their clear rattle calls
  • Gulf fritillary butterflies emerging on the maypop
  • the first zebra longwing attracted to the native firebush

I admire the circle of life in nature.

  • swallowtail caterpillars devouring my parsley
  • Vermin eating fallen fruit, corn snakes eating the vermin
  • bald eagles diving for fish in the lake
  • alligators capturing fish or turtles in its jaws
  • man hunting the alligator, eating the tail meat, tanning the hide

All my life, judgement is with me, keeping me safe by warning me the stove was hot, sometimes reducing my happiness when I judged or felt the sting of judgement from others. My pain from judgement brings tears as I write this, tears for me and for all those I judged. What is left after letting go is forgiveness, love, and caring.

My hope for you is appreciation, understanding how perspective changes everything, letting go, and love for all, especially yourself.

Warmly,
Dawn

Exercise Built Up My Confidence

Last week my husband, Wayne, asked again if I wanted to go with him in the airboat on Lake Marion. I had refused every time, but when I said, “Yes, I’ll try,” I realized it was a result of how exercise built up my confidence.

An Airboat Primer

He started up the aircraft engine while it rested in our central Florida lakefront covered boat slip. I ran the motor to lower the straps, and he pulled himself back out of the slip by grabbing the poles along the side. In contrast to airplanes, airboats utilize a push prop in the rear airplanes have a pull prop on the nose of the fuselage or along the wings.

There are two areas they are similar, the noise and the lack of ability to back up. In contrast to an airplane, an airboat can be spun around. Residents along large lakes in Florida complain about the noise. In our county they passed an ordinance that airboats must have mufflers. It didn’t really help reduce the decibels, however, because the source of the noise is the propeller. You can hear the engine and propeller noise and see the wind blow about debris in this short video of my husband and our airboat.

Airboats have a shallow draft due to their light weight, less than 1,000 pounds and the wide hull. Finally, the underside of the hull is treated with a product that reduces friction even more, Slick bottom. All these factors give an airboat the ability to skim over aquatic plants and even land for short distances.  As he skinned around and headed out past the weeds, I turned around on the dock to head toward the shoreline of Lake Marion.

Trial and Error

I navigated the first obstacle, getting down from the dock onto the cinder blocks that serve as steps to the lakeshore. But how to get into the boat? With my arthritic knees, I feel much better with something to hold onto. Ah yes, I remembered to put my butt down on the bow and swing my feet inside the hull.

Airboat on the shore
Carefully I stood up, whispering, “Thank you, Darrin”, to my workout coach for all the squats he has cheered me through. Aloft, I held onto the frame of the airboat, carefully aligning my feet with the metal bottom to reach the tubular rungs that lead to the backseat behind the driver.

I didn’t have the flexibility in my joints to lift my knees to the first rung. There was fear involved as my actions moved the airboat slightly. Big time fear.

The engine is running, but the prop is still, so I turned to Wayne and said,  “I can’t do it.”

He yelled, “Can you sit on the grate where my feet are?”

It looked possible, so I went forward, easily lifted my foot onto the shallow bow and leaned back with my butt on the platform with his feet. My toes were dangling above the bow as I scooted back. This platform folds the accelerator pedal for Wayne’s left foot, but the right side was open, as his right foot control was beside the platform.

“I can do this!”

The Ride

The only place for my hands to grab hold was the aluminum tubing welded along the underside of the platform. I held on tight as we spun around away from the sandy shore. Our immediate destination was the Eastern shoreline, directly in front of us.

Although my iPhone was stuck in my right pocket, I wasn’t confident of the stability of my situation to take any video until after we say a 10-foot bull gator roll off floating debris ten yards in front of us. My heart skipped a few beats as we skimmed right over his sunbathing platform. But I was disappointed to miss the iconic Florida wildlife photo.

Although the ride seemed really fast to me in my precarious seat, I knew Wayne was being extremely cautious. The roar of the propeller prevents conversation. But I suspected he was looking for the hidden entrance to Indian Springs Run, a slow moving creek emanating from a spring, constantly feeding Lake Marion. As we entered the run, our smooth ride on the airboat allowed me to take a handheld video with my steady hand.

I Didn’t Expect That

We exited the run and headed back out to the water lily pads. My phone safely in my pocket, a sudden outpouring of tears, then sobs overtook me. The anxiety of the stay-at-home pandemic order coupled with my newfound confidence in my improved strength burst forth, like the white egrets taking flight in front of me.

Then calmness reigned. I could now trust both my ability to hold fast on the platform and my husband’s care for me as I enjoyed the rest of the trip. I filmed cattle who had ventured away from the shore to browse on aquatic grass and later, the homes on Bannon Island.

The Next Goal

Two days later I told my trainer, Darrin, about my difficulty on the airboat, I could see the wheels turning behind his bright brown eyes. He added moves to my workout routine that would strengthen all the deep muscles in my hips. Remembering the thrill of the airboat ride enhanced my workout effectiveness. Even more now, I feel the result of how exercise built up my confidence. Next, Wayne’s talking about letting me take the controls on our next airboat adventure on Lake Marion.

I’d love to hear from you if you have any questions about this article. I invite you to write a comment, or better yet, signup for my newsletter so you won’t miss a blog and you’ll receive extras I reserve just for my subscribers.

Have a Safe Memorial Day Weekend,
Dawn