Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Promise ...

For many, the New Year is a time of promise and expectation, one of hope and possibility. But for some carepartners - family, volunteer or professional - the New Year seems to bring with it only fear and worry. Times are uncertain. Will my loved one suffer this year, or even die? Will I have the energy to keep going? Will my job be "re-structured" out of existence? Will I be able to continue caring in the face of so much loss and trauma?

In her excellent book, Daily Comforts for Caregivers, speaker and author, Pat Samples, responds to the New Year anxieties of family carepartners this way:

Hope seems out of reach. Yet I'd like to find a way to
keep a brighter outlook...

The truth is, I can't depend on anything "out there"
to create a sense of promise. That's an inside job. It's
possible I can find hope if I trust in the generosity
of life. Not that I can expect any particular outcome just
because I want it. But I can expect to find gifts in every
situation I face, no matter how difficult the circumstances seem.
My window on the world determines whether or not I notice them.
I could start the year by cleaning my window
and looking above the clouds.

When I let in more light, I see more promise.

I think Pat Samples' wise words apply to all who provide care for others, though years ago, in the midst of great emotional pain and physical exhaustion, it was hard for me to recognize these words as anything other than "sentimental drivel". (Forgive me, Pat!). Fortunately, with carepartnering can come growth and, today, I have learned how important it is to look for gifts in even impossible situations, not because they necessarily cancel out the anxiety but because they provide a counter-balance to it and are, thus, a source of energy and hope for the hour, day or year ahead.

So, in this first week of the New Year why not take a moment to write down a list of the gifts - large or small - that you've received through your experience of caring in the past year. And then let yourself feel the promise for 2010...

With every good wish for the New Year!


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