Sunrise: reflections and insight

Today I awoke at 5:30 am feeling refreshed and recharged. Looking out the giant window as I lay in the comfortable bed, I was able to remain quiet and calm and go within. I have learned that I use music to help me focus and to restore my energy. Music is healing

Silence is golden

I often resist quiet meditation time. My sweet husband has reminded me often how important it is to have time in the quiet. I know that in theory and believe it. Yet, I have used excuses as to why I don’t do that. Who has time to sit and be quiet? For me, it isn’t even about the time. It’s more about my mind being so busy with thoughts, often anxiety, that I have needed music to quiet the inner turmoil in order to focus.

Time alone is essential

I have discovered many things about myself over the course of the past three days.

I enjoy:

Walks on the beach without a plan or time frame

Reading while in my beach chair at the water side as my chair slowly sinks deeper and the water rushes against me as the tide comes in

Walking along the boardwalk at sunset

Walking on the beach at sunrise, something I already knew

Watching people

Talking with random strangers and learning about their life

Having casual conversations with the employees at the pier store

Connecting with someone because she has a dog and is standing alone

I have learned these things that either I didn’t realize or had forgotten:

Talking to people gives me inspiration for writing

Having an adventure by myself makes me giggle and also gives me writing ideas

I really do not care what other people think about me

I enjoy video blogging, even if I’m not yet good at it

What is good enough?

I like order and having a plan

I also love spontaneity and the freedom to do whatever…

Drink from the carton with the refrigerator door open

Leave things messy and fall asleep without changing

It is really cool to sit on a bed and be able to view two televisions and to be able to watch two shows at once

And I don’t understand why anyone, even an actress in a movie, would cheat on Richard Gere!

Watching Harry Potter movies by myself is not nearly as fun as watching them with my kids.

Watching feel good, uplifting movies inspires me to write

Stepmom is an amazing movie and makes me cry,while sitting in my pink bath

When I am depressed, I don’t feel real sadness

Depression and sadness are two very different things

Being on the 20the floor with an entire side wall of windows, in the heart of Myrtle Beach and being able to view the city and the ocean, is…

THE MOST AMAZING GETAWAY that I could ever have asked for.

I plan to make this a yearly pilgrimage and I want this very room each time.

I will be happy with any room with a side view from the 20th floor, or the 19th, even the 17th would be high enough for a beautiful view, right?

I like consistency and the idea of coming back to this very room to have memories to inspire me to write even more.

I also love change and variety and know that I will be inspired to write from any floor of this building, yet being up high is the most amazing.

My fear of heights is also exhilarating…

Standing at the edge of the balcony looking out

Looking to the ocean doesn’t really bring fear, but when I turn for the city vie, that’s when my heart races and my chest tightens

Maybe there is a message in that

Or maybe my fear is more about falling into traffic and landing on concrete

I do have some claustrophobia discovered when standing on a narrow hallway with no windows, on the 20th floor of a glass building, and reading the sign that say, “in case of fire, use the stairs, brings scary things into my mind that I had to shut down immediately to enjoy myself.

And maybe that’s the difference with someone with obsessive compulsive disorder and myself. I have fears and even obsess over ideas somethings, yet I have the ability to shut down the thoughts quickly. I knew that OCD involved the inability to shut down irrational, unhelpful, scary thoughts. Yet thinking about standing in the hallway reading that sign and how easily I was able to shut the thought out AND how easily I was able to NOT let it stop me from enjoying myself. Sure, it entered my mind each time I saw it, but I quickly moved on and didn’t obsess about it when I wasn’t standing there next to the sign.

I am always amazed at the clarity writing brings me. I had no idea when I sat down to write that I would talk about the sign and discover insight into Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, an illness that invades my children’s lives.

We won’t be staying on the top floor next month when I bring my family to North Myrtle to celebrate my 50th birthday. And that is ok with me.

I will stop and listen better to them, knowing that sitting with the fear is what they need to do to overcome OCD, and also that they don’t have to sit with all their fears, especially when on vacation. There is a difference between their fears stopping us living our lives, and minimizing being in fearful situations so that they can relax and have an enjoyable time while on vacation.

I could sit here all day on this balcony.

It’s 7:30 am now and I just remembered I wanted to take a picture of the sunrise for this post.

I can leave today, knowing I can come back here with points and also without points.

I can stay longer next time.

I can leave here today, looking forward to coming back in three weeks with my family with the thought of all five, and hopefully six of us, will be together on the beach.

We have a tradition of family vacations at the beach and that is something they will take with them for the rest of their lives. And even after I am gone, they can come to the beach and think about me, remembering our time together.

I need to go home and find the pen drive with the journal entries I write for Jason’s journal. I have Harrison and Abbys’s on paper in my bedroom closet. I likely have more entries for them as well on those pen drives or stored somewhere on a computer.

My post had moved from inspiration to a to do list….

I will capture my picture of where I am now and move forward.

Caregiver Burnout

I have both personal and professional experience with caregiver burnout.

I work in adult and primarily, geriatric, rehab as an Occupational Therapist. I have worked in this area my entire career, since 1992, when I graduated from Elizabethtown College with my bachelor of science degree in Occupational Therapy.

As I wrote The word career, I had to stop. Yes, I have had a career…it sounded bizarre to me after I typed those words.

Being a mom has always been my desire and passion. Occupational Therapy is something that feels like a part of me, yet since having children, it became a job, one I had to do to earn a living and had to continue doing when my husband’s business was getting started. And over the years, for many reasons, I have been the primary breadwinner most of the time. Don and I are part of book, our story is one of 60 others in Breadwinner Wives and the Men they Marry.

I don’t think of myself as a “career woman”. I think of myself as a mom who is also an Occupational Therapist. Being a mom is my most challenging and most rewarding “job” and my favorite role.

As an Occupational Therapist, caregiver education is very important. Over the years, I have realized in geriatric rehab and especially when working with people with dementia, that caregiver education is vital. With dementia, caregiver education is not only essential but also needs to be the primary role for an Occupational Therapist.

I see first hand from the people I work with and their caregivers, the impact of caregiver burnout.

I also have been a caregiver for my husband after he suffered a near fatal, massive heart attack in 2011 and spent 12 days in the hospital and 6 months in recovery.

When he graduated cardiac rehab 6 months after his “event”, I developed bronchitis which was reoccurring for over 6 months and then was in a car accident, ironically, one year after his heart attack. I still had wheezing at the time of the car accident, enough that they x-rayed my lungs. I didn’t have any major injuries and went home from the hospital the day of the accident. Yet, I suffered from that accident for a long time. Physically, I hurt for several months and mentally and emotionally, I suffered for years.

I honestly believe my recurrent bronchitis was a result of caregiver burnout and on a spiritual level, so was my car accident. The other driver was 100% the cause of the accident, or so the police reports and insurance companies said. I have forgiven the driver, never really blamed her per se. I blamed the fact that she wasn’t paying attention fully as she drove with her 2 year old in the car with her. One of my first questions after my accident was, “Are the other people ok?”, as blood ran down my nose after getting myself out of my car through the passenger door because I thought the smoke from the airbags meant the car could be on fire. The driver’s side door could not be opened as she had slammed into me making a left turn into the front corner of my car, pushing me sideways into another car at a stop sign.

“Are the other people ok?”

I am a mother of three, a wife, a healthcare worker, a child of aging parents, a child of a parent with chronic illnesses. Did I mention they called my husband’s heart attack, “a widow makers heart attack”? The medics and ER doctors, brought him back to life.

I am a caregiver.

I am significantly injured in a car accident and my first question to bystanders is, “Are the other people ok?”

As Caregivers, we often put the needs of others ahead of our own needs. Yet, doing this over time, affects our own health. And if we don’t stop and meet our own needs, we can suffer in many ways.

I am the mother of children who suffer with mental illness.

I am diagnosed with Bipolar Depression, Bipolar II. I only discovers my diagnosis because my brother also has this illness. I suffered for years with undiagnosed depression. Undiagnosed because, to me, it didn’t look like significant depression. I knew it was depression but told myself for years that it was “mild depression”. I was still functioning. I didn’t seek help until a friend who was prompted by my husband to convince me to seek help. That was nearly 5 years ago.

I have always known the importance of taking care of myself. I used to think I did a very good job at giving myself “me time”, attending to my own physical, spiritual and emotional health. My favorite metaphor is,

We must first put on our own oxygen mask, before we can help the person next to us with theirs.

Yet, I see now how much of my energy has been invested in caring for others.

I have repeatedly said that my job as an O.T. is mentally, emotionally and physically exhausting and coming home to be a caregiver for others is very taxing. I even joke about how I wish I had become an accountant or gone into a math field, as math was my best subject in school. The thought of sitting alone with numbers all day sounds like a nice change from being a caregiver.

Caregivers care for others because they have to and also many times, because it is their nature to do so.

Many people of all ages, need a caregiver. From babies and children of all ages though aging parents, people can have needs that they can not handle alone.

As humans, we all need to care for each other.

Being a primary caregiver to someone demands our time and our energy. Giving energy to others and not refilling our own cup, is what depletes us.

For me, I need to be alone, away from the house and away from immediate responsibilities in order to recharge. After my second child was born, I began a ritual of Monday night out, writing time. I created Charlottehomeschooling,com in that time. I have written thousands of journal entries, for myself and for my children’s journals that I started for all three of them when I was pregnant with each of them. I started my bogs using Monday night writing. First Gina’s Life Journey and them Child-led Learning . I have used that time to both talk with my husband as well as work on my end for our family coaching Business, Focused Health Family.

My writing time started as a hobby, as my passion. I came home refreshed and renewed and re-energized for the other aspects of my life, for caregiving. Then it became “work” and I found myself escaping from writing during my time alone, playing online games and watching movies and TV shows. I escaped because my life was overwhelming and because distracting myself from all my stress was my way of “coping” and I thought it was recharging me.

I am here now, alone at the beach, for 3 days and 2 nights because I finally realized how burned out I had become. I also finally realized that getting away by myself was essential to overcoming my bipolar depression.

Please share your stories about being a caregiver. My blog is intended to spark a community of support for myself and for others. I would love to share other’s stories , either as a guest blogger or anonymously with my help and your permission to share for your story. I want to help others through my experience, creating a community and connecting others with similar struggles.

I am a caregiver.

Now it is time for a sunrise walk on the beach.

Sending Big Waves into Motion, releasing secrets

Relax, renew, rejuvenate and recharge, take 2.

I am at the beach all by myself. I have never done this before. I’ve been here for 6 hours and I am finally sitting down to write. It has taken me this long to settle in, move from the shock and excitement of actually being here, all by myself. And finally, focusing on here and now.

I texted and made videos and took pictures and FaceTimed my youngest, while exploring my room at the top of the resort building, while walking in the beach and pier. I felt kind of lonely when I got here. I always come to the beach with my kids or at least my husband. One time the two of us went, well, before kids, I guess we went several times. Who can remember 22 years ago before kids?

I have everything I need for my adventure, inspiring books, music, healthy and yummy food, drinks, did you know you can get wine in a can?

As I packed my bag to head to the beach to write, I realized that I forgot my Bluetooth key board that I use with my iPad. My iPad, has been my computer for a while now… years, I guess. Something else that I can’t quite remember.

I have a lap top, buried in books and papers on my desk. It is old and I used to use it often, but decided I liked my iPad much better.

I found myself responding to a post on a Facebook group, Unschooling Special Needs, earlier and it has inspired my writing today.

There are so many things I can write about. Yet, the concerns shared in the post on the Unschooling Special Needs group are so close to my heart and the reason my husband and I now have a business together helping families with challenges, especially those with anxiety issues and challenging behavior with their children.

I have Bipolar 2 Depression. My upswings, are hypomania, not full on mania (well, it can escalate to mania). Hypomania is great, highly focused, functioning and much energy! Yet, the downswing is like the riptide pulling you under the ocean water.

Helping my children with their struggles is extra challenging for me because of my struggles. I can’t even imagine what it must be like for my husband.

In three weeks I celebrate my 50th birthday. I am proud and excited to reach this milestone! Seriously, I am. With age, has common not only wisdom, but confidence, clarity, courage and healing.

I always make time to write when I have come to the beach with my family. I have wonderful memories being here with my family. And I also have memories of stress, anxiety, OCD flare ups, and the feeling of disappointment that we couldn’t just have a “normal family vacation” without the anxieties.

Here I am now, writing and also texting with my tech support son. I might have him help me locate a key pad. Typing on the iPad screen is slow.

It’s getting dark and the sound of the ocean is mesmerizing me.

When I was younger, I would never have gone somewhere like this by myself. The silence of being alone was challenging for me. I now cherish time to myself. I still love the sounds of people talking, and my music, Tom Petty and now Mary Lambert sing in my ear..which is even more beautiful with the sound of the ocean.

They tell us from the time we’re young
To hide the things that we don’t like about ourselves
Inside ourselves
I know I’m not the only one who spent so long attempting to be someone else
Well I’m over it

I don’t care if the world knows what my secrets are (secrets are)
I don’t care if the world knows what my secrets are (secrets are)