2chicksand1oldlady

Two sisters taking care of their mom while trying to live life and find love.

Guest Post: “Don’t Lose Yourself” by Theresa Snyder

Theresa Snyder

Theresa Snyder is a multi-genre published writer with an internationally read blog

I have the pleasure of presenting a wonderful post from Theresa Snyder. Theresa is a multi-genre published writer with an internationally read blog. She is a voracious reader and her character driven writing is influenced by the early works of Anne McCaffrey, Ray Bradbury, Robert Heinlein and L. Ron Hubbard. She loves to travel, but makes her home in Oregon where her elder father and she share a home and the maintenance of the resident cat, wild birds, squirrels, garden, and occasional Dragon house guest. Theresa’s books can be purchased by clicking here.

Thank you Theresa for sharing your journey. Please enjoy this post, and share her in her quest to never lose yourself while caregiving!

What kind of advice would I give a new caregiver having been a caregiver myself for the past eighteen years?

I moved my elder parents in with me in 1996. I thought they would use our shared home as a stop off place between their ‘retirement trips’ in their motor home. That was not the case. Mother’s already poor health declined and my father suffered a heart attack which forced him into triple-bypass surgery. Mother passed in April of 2011. I still have my eighty-eight year old father living with me. Life often does not work out as we plan, no matter how well we think we have it carefully arranged.

But, I was talking about sage advice, words of wisdom I might impart on the new caregiver. I can sum it up in four words, three if I use a contraction … Don’t Lose Yourself.
Most caregivers take on the responsibility of another human being because they have a tendency to be giving and caring people to begin with. They are of the ‘Giver’ clan of humanity, rather than the ‘Taker’ clan. That being said, it is so easy to lose yourself in the process of caring for someone.

My mother and father never said, ‘don’t do such and such,’ or ‘stay home, we need you.’ I did that to myself at first. They were my responsibility. I didn’t want anything to happen to them on my watch. So, I gave excuses to friends who wanted to see me out and about. I gave up doing things that took me too far away. I put my dreams on hold to care for them. But, I am here to tell you that doesn’t have to be the case. You can pursue your own dreams and in the process share with them, making both of your lives much richer in your roles as caregiver and elder.

My journey started when co-workers, knowing I had moved my elder parents in with me, started to ask my advice on issues regarding their aging parents. I saw a need. There are many of us, over 62% of the population, who are baby boomers. A lion’s share of those will inherit the care of someone who is close to them.

I have always been a writer in my spare time. Before 1996 I had never been published. I wrote books. I kept a journal. I wrote letters in longhand cursive and never missed sending a birthday or thank you card. I decided to approach our local newspaper about doing a human interest column about a baby boomer (me) inheriting their parents (mom and dad). The editors liked the idea and I was off on my personal journey to follow my dream of being a published writer.

Writing moments were snatched whenever they arose. Mom and Dad looked forward to reading the latest about their antics and our adventures in caregiving. In 2007 mother went on hospice and I worried that she would never see the book I was compiling put into print, so I self-published a volume of the articles entitled We 3. Mom and Dad enjoyed giving those away that Christmas. We were lucky, Mother flourished for a time and would have celebrated her third year on hospice two days after she died. I’m pleased she had the joy of seeing a book dedicated to her and my father.

I managed to find and pursue my passions in the depths of caregiving. I have attained my dream and continue to work toward fulfilling it further. Whatever your passion is … Whatever makes your heart sing … Whether it is gardening, reading, drawing, going to the movies, running the latest 10K marathon … whatever. Don’t put it on the back burner. Don’t give it up completely because you don’t think you have time. You need that passion fueling you to keep your sanity as you weave your way through the maze of caregiving.

We 3 is now available on Amazon in eBook and paperback. It, and my thirteen other published books, are a testament to what can be accomplished as a caregiver and still provide the care your charges need to make them flourish.

There is a life for you as a caregiver. Don’t lose it.

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Love Who You Were Created To Be

Self-Love

Wear your flaws & quirks like a badge of honor. They’re beautiful, and make you uniquely wonderful

I posted this image earlier this week on our Facebook & Instagram pages. Self-love has really been on my mind lately; and I wanted to take a moment to let everyone know what I’ve learned over the past two years. I’ve learned you can’t become who you want to be, until you learn to love who you are. I never really understood that until I became a caregiver.

When my mom came to live with us, I really thought I knew how my life would turn out. I thought I was going to spend the rest of my life being a caregiver. I convinced myself that marriage & children just “may not be what God wants for me”; since this was where he placed me. I was completely convinced that caregiving was my “lot in life”; and I needed to make the best of it. Boy, was I wrong.

I’ve learned through lots of tears and counseling. That I was allowing my negative view of myself to make me believe that my life had to be limited because I was a caregiver.I was so filled with guilt over my decisions, that I believed I deserved to live at only a “certain level”. I thought that my only purpose was to work and take care of my family. In my mind, I was a failure on all levels. My family was miserable, my job was suffering, and I was on “auto-pilot”.

I finally started taking control back two years ago. I went to counseling, and realized that I didn’t love myself the way I should. I didn’t understand that God made me “uniquely wonderful”; and that I was given this situation because I could handle it. I discovered, “I wasn’t built to break”. I was built to grow and discover my purpose. So, I began the journey that lead me to that photo. I began praying more, laughing & smiling often, finding hobbies & purpose in my life. I began to live again, and that helped me “love me” again. It’s not easy. But, I’m so thankful to be here.

Caregivers,I want you to be here too! Don’t let anything or anyone make you feel like you’re lesser. You’re “uniquely wonderful” because of who you are, and what you do everyday. You deserve to be happy! Find your strength and see your beauty. It’s not about the exterior beauty. It’s about your heart being so full, that the love and tranquility inside shines through you. That’s what makes you truly beautiful. Take a moment everyday, and look at yourself in a mirror. Tell yourself how amazing today is going to be. Tell yourself how wonderful you are, and that you are doing everything possible to make sure your family is supported. You may not believe it in the beginning.
But, practice makes perfect ;-)!

We Love you! Now love yourself! Until we meet again

xo

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Sister 2 Sister Magazine Names “2 Chicks And 1 Old Lady” A “Fab Site to Check Out”

 

 

 

Sister 2 Sister Magazine September 2014 Cover

Sister 2 Sister Magazine September Cover

Wow! This has been an incredible week. I was coming off of a long holiday weekend 🙂 , and getting back into the routine of life ( work, errands, and all the usual fun). When I found out that we were mentioned as a “Fab Site to Check Out” in the September issue of  Sister 2 Sister Magazine. I had the pleasure of meeting Jamie Foster Brown, Owner and Publisher of Sister 2 Sister Magazine when I attended the Blogging While Brown Conference in June.

Fab Sites To Check Out Listing In Sister 2 Sister Magazine's September Issue

Here we are! We’re right under “MimiCutelips.com”, another great site to check out ;-)!!!

Sister 2 Sister Magazine was established in September 1988. Jamie Foster Brown is a visionary in the fields of Advertising and Broadcast Journalism. She is especially known for her in-depth interview style, and ability to bring a familiarity to celebrities like no one else can. So, I was honored to have an opportunity to speak with her. She was extremely kind and genuine as she spoke with all of the bloggers at our networking after-party. She thought many of us had voices that needed to be heard, and took all of our contact information to ensure she would be able to find out more about our point of views. 

Who knew that encounter would lead to being mentioned in her magazine as a “Fab Site to Check Out“. I’m so honored and excited about this opportunity. To be recognized by such a distinguished publication is incredible, and a huge responsibility at the same time. It reminds me that this is our opportunity to share our experiences authentically, with the hope that someone else will be encouraged in their caregiving journey. 

That’s why I started our blog. I wanted to provide a vehicle to show others you “CAN” have a life while being a caregiver. That you must have dreams and goals for how you want to live your life. Yes, caregiving is hard. Every day is not fun and laughter. There will be lots of tears, and moments where you feel like you’re a failure. But, there is still “LIFE”. Caregiving takes a village, and we have to begin having serious conversations as a society about how to support that village.  

This is definitely an honor I won’t forget. It reminds me of how blessed we are to have this opportunity to share our story with the world.  This is our chance to help start the “Caregiving Conversation”, while supporting others.

Thank you Sister 2 Sister Magazine and Jamie Foster Brown for allowing “2 Chicks and 1 Old Lady” to share their stories with your readers and the world. Please check out Sister 2 Sister online here or you can also subscribe here for a copy to be delivered to you. 

Until we meet again!

xo 

 

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The 2 Chicks and The “Old Lady” Are On The Loose!

We're Hitting The Road

2 Chicks & the ” Old Lady” are on the loose!!

We love to travel. Traveling has always been one of our favorite things to do. Before we became caregivers, my sister  & I were traveling every chance we got.

So, when we became caregivers that was one area of our lives we were scared to give up. But, now it’s actually just made us look at traveling in an entirely new way. Now, it’s about finding a place that is fun for us and safe for our mom. So, we have found some great places to go (e.g. Savannah, Ga, Cape Coral, Fl, and our old stomping ground, Ft. Lauderdale).

Luckily, Ft. Lauderdale is just a quick two-hour and thirty minute drive ( radar detector 😉 ). Ft. Lauderdale is like heaven to our mom. She gets an opportunity to hang out with her best friends a.k.a “The Golden Girls”; and it’s familiar. That’s really what makes it easier for us. When you have an older loved one living with you, you learn the value of familiarity for them. It keeps them calm, and helps them relax. Which is exactly what you’re looking to achieve :-). So, we decided to pack up the car for a quick vacation to end summer on the right note.

Ft. Lauderdale has it all (great food, weather, family, and the beach). When we go, we go into “seclusion” to ensure we get an opportunity to spend time with our “godmother & our extended family”. It’s so great to be able to cook, laugh, and get that extra boost of love that’s so needed sometimes. We also took a chance to stay at one of our favorite places, the W Ft. Lauderdale ;-). 

We can’t afford to stay here all of the time (Splurge Alert!!). But, from the moment you walk in and that lemongrass smell engulfs you. You already begin making plans to come back again ;-).  We LOVE this resort. They are a caregivers dream. The hotel has great accessible room options, large walk in showers (My mom is addicted to them), comfortable beds, and ocean and/or inter coastal views that will relax even the most discriminating caree (my mom is asleep in the lounger on the balcony now). The balconies have nice high and durable partitions that will help you feel safe about leaving them out there :-).  The food is awesome too! My mom loves that we can order her room service and be given an exact time that they will be there; and they always arrive before that time. Remember, it’s all about the consistency and schedule for them :-). But, it’s not all about them. There’s lots of things for you too. Caregivers need pampering, fun, and great food too :-).

All I need to say is “Bliss Spa“! I had a wonderful massage that left me relaxed and pampered. Appointments were super easy to make. All I had to do was let the young lady who checked me in know that I needed a massage, and she had me covered. They just called to confirm, and I was all set.  They really stand by their “Whatever/Whenever” level of service.

The massage and service was awesome! My masseuse, Theresa was very good. I also had a great time relaxing in the lounge and the private deck afterwards. Also, don’t forget to try the brownies 🙂

Private Deck at Bliss Spa W. Ft. Lauderdale

Private deck for relaxing at Bliss Spa W. Ft. LauderdaleMassage Room at Bliss Spa W.Ft. Lauderdale Such a nice room and they played great R&B music too!

Also, you can’t beat the amazing view of the beach. You are directly across from the ocean. The breezes are amazing. It’s the perfect place to grab a lounge chair and read, relax, and just be. We caregivers need that 😉

 

Ft. Lauderdale Beach views from W Ft. Lauderdale

Isn’t it beautiful

 

So, it you’re looking for a great place to go, then W Ft. Lauderdale is it.   Great views, service, and food is the perfect combination to make any caregiver super happy. Please check out their website now or locate them on Facebook and Twitter here.

We’ve had an amazing and relaxing time. I hope you get a chance to visit too. Just make sure you find somewhere that provides you the rest and relaxation that you need and deserve. When you’re at your best, your family will be too! Until we meet again!

xo

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I Did a Three Day Juice Cleanse…And I Liked It :-)

Day One Juices missing my Almond Mylk

Day one of juice from “The Juice Bar of Winter Garden” !!

I’m so excited to share this post with you. As we get ready to grow into a lifestyle site. I wanted to get started by talking about my experience with juice cleanses. I’ve really been focused for the past year on getting healthy. I learned late last year that I was borderline pre-diabetic. This occurs when your blood glucose levels are higher than normal, but not high enough to be classified as full-blown diabetes. I have a genetic predisposition to diabetes (my mother and all her siblings including her parents were diabetic). That was all the warning I needed to get serious about my health. So, I became a pescatarian (fish-eating vegetarian), and started working out regularly.

I’ve researched a lot of juice cleanses. There are so many on the market, and I wanted to make sure I found something I could finish. Juice cleanses aren’t cheap, and I wasn’t going to waste my money. So, as coincidence would have it, I stumbled upon The Juice Bar of Winter Garden while on Facebook. I checked out their page, and the rest is history. Or at least a new found obsession :).

The Juice Bar of Winter Garden is now one of my new favorite places to go. They have the best cold pressed juices, wraps, smoothies, vegan desserts ever. So, I was stoked to do their three day cleanse. From the moment they took my order (during which they cover any health issues, fruits you like don’t like, tips, etc.), they really take pride in making sure you have an amazing cleanse. Since the cleanses are freshly prepared, you coordinate your pickup around your start day. I started on a Monday, so that meant I would have to come on Sunday (the day they are closed to prep) to pick up day one, and then I would come back on Monday to pick up day two and three. That was another stellar moment for me. Knowing I was getting fresh pressed juice was awesome. Most juice cleanses are pre-packaged and shipped. This method guarantees freshness!

My three day cleanse consisted of fifteen cold pressed juices and three bottles of homemade “Almond Mylk” for dessert. Yes, they make their own delicious “Almond Mylk” that consists of a yummy blend of almonds, dates and vanilla. These were the last bottles of each evening, and they were a great way to end every day.

The cold-pressed juices were labeled one through five. You drink them in order every two to three hours to keep your blood sugar levels stable. You also want to make sure you drink lots of water to keep you hydrated. The great thing is that every day was a different set of juices. The Juice Bar of Winter Garden’s philosophy is “healthy shouldn’t be boring and always taste great.” So, it was an extremely welcome surprise to have a new set of juices to drink every day. That is something the other cleanses don’t do. I loved that, and it helped me not feel deprived.

The Juice Bar of Winter Garden Beetnik Blend

One of the juices I had during my cleanse

The Juice Bar of Winter GardenMango Coconut Water Blend

I loved this one 😉

I honestly can say I liked every juice I had during my cleanse. I thought I was going to have juice that I had to force down. I didn’t force this at all. I was satisfied and completely relaxed. This cleanse centered me. I realized that this was something that I was doing for myself. So, I couldn’t let myself get stressed, or I would lose focus and eat (recovering emotional eater). This cleanse helped me sleep better, and refocus my energy. I recommend everyone do it. Our bodies are temples, and we have to treat them as such. So, take time to clean out your temple. If you do, the Juice Bar of Winter Garden is the perfect place to go!

Thanks Juice Bar of Winter Garden for all of your help and encouragement. Please check out their Facebook page or visit their website here for more information!

Until we meet again!

xo

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My First Podcast!!

I had the opportunity recently to connect with Cherrie McKenzie. Cherrie is a former stockbroker who made the decision to live her dreams by becoming a licensed therapist, podcaster, and blogger at CoActive Dreams.

CoActive Dreams is based on the theory of using imagery to first picture the things you want for your life and then the means to attain them using the power of your imagination to command your focus to make peak performance less difficult. Cherrie has been able to use her business experience and education to develop tools and techniques to coach and develop others who are trying to pursue their dreams. I was so honored when Cherrie reached out to me about being featured on her blog. Cherrie thought my journey as a caregiver needed to be told, since so many people are facing or will be facing this challenge.

As she noted in her post that accompanies our podcast. According to an AARP study from 1990-2010, the 80-plus population increased by 62%. These numbers have strong implications for our society as many people find themselves now a part of a new “Sandwich generation”, where the adult children will now have to provide care for their parents. Many of us in that generation will have families and small children to add to the dynamic. All of these make for a class of caregivers who are pushed to their limits, with the feeling of no relief in sight.

Caregiving is never going to be easy. But, it can be manageable. There is life while being a caregiver. That’s why I share my story with you. I want to show the world, and continuously reinforce in myself that there is a large world out there. We just need to tackle it. My life changed in three hours. I hope you will take thirteen minutes to listen to our podcast; and hopefully find a little encouragement and hope in our chat that can change your life/perspective :).

Please check out Cherrie’s site, CoActive Dreams or you can follow her on Twitter at @CherrieMcKenzi2

Cherrie-McKenzie-265x300

Thanks again Cherrie for a wonderful podcast!

Until we meet again!

XO

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Sometimes You Have To Find The Funny

LivHome

LivHome

I recently had the opportunity to do a guest blog post on LivHome Blogs . LivHome, is one of the nation’s largest professionally led at-home senior care companies. They are committed to offering support and resources for caregivers and seniors on the challenges that can be encountered with in-home care. I’m so humbled to have the opportunity to be a voice in this conversation. Caregiving is a challenge that many or all of us will face. Our goal is to share our experiences to help make those challenges less overwhelming. I hope you enjoy this post :).

 

Being a caregiver is definitely not for the weak at heart. I’ve been a caregiver to my legally blind mom for almost five years, and my sister, who is developmentally disabled since 2008. My sister is more like a teenager versus a thirty-six year old. So, life is pretty interesting :). There are many days when I feel like I’m twelve seconds from being totally insane :).

When you’re a caregiver, everyone wants to give you advice on how you should best handle your situation. But, I find that most of the people offering advice have never had the opportunity to take care of a loved one while managing a life, career, family, and caregiving responsibilities. It’s those moments where I find that you have to live by one of my mottos, “finding the funny”.

You have to learn how to “find the funny” in every situation. It’s not obvious most of the time. It always appears at an unexpected moment, and that’s what makes it wonderful. You can be at a point where insanity is making a dash toward you because you have just realized that you have to go pickup your sister from work at 7:30pm; after rushing across town to make dinner for your mom. In that one moment you have gone from breadwinner, cook, and chauffeur all in the span of two hours.

So, it’s at that the moment where you’re about to jump off the cliff into the “abyss of insanity” that your mom asks to dance to Pitbull’s “Hotel Room Service” :). So, while I watch her break it down, while telling me he better take her to the “Doubletree” :). I’m reminded that all of the stresses of the day mean nothing compared to moments like this. She is dancing her heart out, until she needs to sit down before she falls asleep :).

Those moments are rare, and these memories will last a lifetime. It’s funny when you’re a caregiver, you feel like this is the most permanent decision of your life. But, in reality it’s temporary. Remember, nothing lasts forever. We won’t have these people with us forever. So, that’s why I try to focus on finding the funny. When you find the funny, you create a memory that will last past this situation. You forget about the stress, and remember the things that make you want to give up your life for this person. That’s what sustains me. Of course, I get frustrated, and want to give up. We all do. But, when I do, I remember that beautiful glint in her eyes as she shakes her “booty”. Then, everything is right in my world 🙂 .Make it a point to find the funny. It will free you, and give you laughs and a lifetime of memories

Until we meet again!

Xo

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You Can’t Be Everything To Everybody

Paulo Coehlo

When you say yes to others. Make sure you are not saying No to yourself

We’re all going through life at full speed.There are so many people in our lives that we touch everyday.The need to always be available to them is overwhelming. Imagine what’s it’s like as a caregiver.

As a caregiver, you are adding another level to your daily demands. Many of us are working while trying to balance the needs of family. At times it feels like we are being pulled in so many directions that if a good wind comes, we’ll shatter into a million pieces. When that happens, that’s when we have to remember “You can’t be everything, to everybody”.

We have to decide what really deserves our time. Our time is super valuable. We have to make decisions on a dime. We don’t have time to focus on negativity.We have to focus on what matters most, family. I would love to tell you that you can do it all. But, that’s not realistic. Something is not going to get done, and you have to be ok with that.

You have to go forward knowing that you made the best decision at that moment. To help you along that path, here are some tips that have worked for me.

1. Know your schedule: Know when you’re available. Keep your calendar up to date with events or tasks that have to get done (e.g.grocery shopping, doctor’s appointments, etc.). The more organized you are, the less stressed you will be.

2. Not everyone is going to understand that you’re a caregiver: I would love to say that people hear the word “caregiver”, and understand the sacrifices immediately. But, most caregivers don’t discuss their situation. So, it can appear to everyone that you have everything under control.

3. “Tell your truth”:This relates specifically to the fact that as caregivers, we have to be willing to talk about what we’re going through. I’m not saying to run into a room full of people, and start screaming about how stressed out you are. I’m talking about speaking with your friends, family, and colleagues about what your life is like. Sharing some of your day-to-day is a great way to help people understand what you are encountering. Not only does it help them understand. But, it helps you release stress and gain support. Caregivers do have more powers than the “X-Men” or “Avengers” (See post: Misconceptions About Caregivers). But, we all need someone to talk to sometimes.

4. “No” is not a bad word: There are many curse words out there, and I’ve used most of them :). But, the one word I used to use the least was “No”.  I’ve always been a “Yes person”. I used to say “yes’ to everything I could because I didn’t want to disappoint anyone. I always felt that if they asked me, they really wanted me to support them. But, once I became a caregiver; I realized that was not going to work. I was spreading myself so thin, I made cheap peanut butter look good :). I was failing on all fronts (e.g.work, family, friends, etc.). So, I took my power back. I realized that if my family was pleased, life was good. “No” creates much-needed balance for caregivers.

5. “You matter”: Make time for yourself. Take the balance that you are creating, and carve out time for you to do something you love. Everyone has dreams and goals. Make sure you do too!

 Life doesn’t end because you’re a caregiver. This is just in a temporary season where you’ll learn something that will help you on the path to achieving your goals and dreams. Be present in the season. Protect yourself, and realize  “you can’t be everything to everybody”. But, you can be the best “you”. 

Until we meet again!

xo

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Decisions and Balance: The Misconceptions About Caregivers

Caregivers need love too! An oldie, but hopefully a goodie. Let’s keep the conversation going. Enjoy!

2chicksand1oldlady

Decisions and Balance: The Misconceptions About Caregivers

This post was born out a conversation I had with a really good friend. One of her friends, who she happens to work with was not responding to her calls or texts. It really hurt her feelings, and made her question their friendship. Especially, since another friend was able to speak with her. All of these things I’m sure sound like they might have an issue.Except, in this case there is a twist. Her friend is taking care of her sister, who has had a reoccurrence of breast cancer. She also happens to be the mother of a teenage son, and has a family that she works hard to support.

So, she is a member of the elite club called, “The Caregivers”. We’re more powerful than the “Avengers”, and have more patience and skills than the “X-Men”. Lives depend on our focus and strength. But, with all of that talent…

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The Follow Up Plan Until Our Next Level

Thanks everyone for all of your feedback and encouragement. We are so humbled to have an opportunity to learn and share with you. We received some great feedback from our survey, and we will be taking action on the following topics:

1. Content centered toward men

2. Content related to managing expenses and care

3. Information on our lives (Who are we? Why do we do this?)

To help address these action items we are in the process of redesigning our site. We are really focused on ensuring this site provides resources to all caregivers. In-home care is one of the fastest growing trends in our society; and people are being placed in this category at a younger age. So, we want to be that place to help caregivers see there is help, support, encouragement, and life while making this transition . So, please look out for our new site coming soon!

Finally, we would like to give a warm congratulations to our winner of the $25.00 Amex gift card, Lisa Knox. Lisa, your gift card will be mailed out shortly :-).

Again, thank you for your support!Also, if you would like to share any information, topic ideas, or blog posts; email us at 2chicksand1oldlady@gmail.com.

Until we meet again!

 

 

xo

2Chicksand1OldLady

“My ABC123” “Partner in Crime” “My Sister”

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