Monday, July 16, 2012

Heads Up for Fall 2012 Workshops ...

Hello, dear readers! I know it's early for fall photos but I want to give you a heads up about two great workshops I'll be offering in greater Vancouver this fall. Do mark your calendars now and, when I return from vacation in early August, I will have registration forms available for everyone who would like to attend.

1.  Caring On Empty: Creative Tools for Compassion Fatigue Transformation & Resilience - A Workshop for Family Caregivers, Foster Parents & Home Share Providers
This is a one-day special version of Caring On Empty for those of you who provide care in your home for family members or others. (Also welcome are family caregivers whose care recipients are currently living in a facility.) 
Date:  Friday, October 19, 2012  9:00 - 3:30
Location:  Accent Inn - Burnaby (1 blk south of Lougheed and Boundary)
Cost:  $139  (Includes HST, beverage breaks, lunch, handouts & book draw)

2.  The Enneagram for Everyone: An Introduction for Beginners
This entertaining and informative 1 1/2 day workshop will introduce the Enneagram (see the description on the column to the left) to adults interested in an adventure of self-discovery, an adventure that can lead to greater self acceptance, understanding and acceptance of others, compassion for others' world views, and a direction for your personal growth.
The workshop will help you identify your personality type and begin a personal growth plan that will expand and enrich your self care.
(**Note:  This fall, in response to requests to include friends or family in the workshop, this workshop will be free-standing, without the prerequisite of a Caring On Empty workshop).
Date:  Friday November 16   7:00 - 9:00 pm  - and -
                     Saturday November 17   9:00 - 4:00
Location:  Accent Inn - Burnaby  (1 blk south of Lougheed and Boundary)
Cost: $ 179  (Includes HST, beverage breaks, lunch Saturday, handouts and text)

3.  For those waiting for the next Caring On Empty Workshop for Helping Professionals, I will be experimenting, this fall, with offering the workshop through Jack Hirose and Associates.
The workshop will be held at Kwantlen Polytechnic University, Richmond, BC, on Friday December 7th.   Registration is through Jack Hirose and Associates.

That's it for now. I hope you all find a way to enjoy a restful and refreshing break this summer. More workshop information on my return from Ontario in the first full week in August.


Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Life After Long Term Caregiving ...

Had my husband not died, this past Friday would have been our twenty-seventh wedding anniversary. It is almost eight years since his death and, although I had been feeling twinges of sadness for several days, I woke on Friday morning feeling mellow and happy.

The sun was shining and the air was cool and fresh and I rose early, gathering my journal and market bags, (and my ubiquitous green smoothie) and headed out to the Granville Island Public Market, for many years a favourite "day-off" place to visit.

I sat at "our" round wooden table with a large cup of tea and a toasted blueberry scrumpet (once shared, but now left half finished) and browsed through copies of Common Ground and the Georgia Straight. In my imagination, Derrick sat across from me, suntanned grey head bent over his book until something sparked his interest and he looked up, blue eyes shining with curiosity, to ask, "What do you think about this ...?". It's those moments that I miss the most. The times of shared ideas, interests and excitement.

After a while, I bought a second cup of tea and began to read my journal. It was good to look back and to see how far I'd come since the exhausted, bereft days after Derrick's death. Some of my anniversary entries were achingly sad and others, blazingly angry or scared, but Friday's note had more nuance, more complexity, more integration, a weaving of good and bad memories peppered with goodly amounts of forgiveness - both for him and for myself. I have grown and changed beyond measure through seven years of care-partnering and eight years of recovery and, while I would never wish the long term caregiving journey upon anyone, I am grateful for the "new me" and the things I have learned.

I believe we err in thinking that the caregiving journey ends with the death of our loved one. There is another important phase in the journey, a phase of recovery and the creation of a new life. This phase often takes longer than we might expect. (As I've written elsewhere, a wise acquaintance once said that it would be five years before I truly knew who I was without Derrick and she was correct, almost to the day.)

The length and the quality of this last phase of caregiving is different for each of us, of course, but there are commonalities in the experience - layers of profound grief, loneliness, the slow healing of compassion fatigue and burnout, rebuilding our physical wellness, the Rip Van Winkle syndrome, learning new roles and responsibilities, becoming financially secure, rebuilding a leisure life, learning to trust ourselves and our strengths in new areas of life. As we work through each step (often several times) we become not just well, but weller than well. (ie Not only returned to our pre-caregiving state but having developed new talents, new effectiveness, new strengths, new horizons.)

Because I believe this recovery phase of family caregiving is so important, I will begin a series of posts on life after long term caregiving in August, when I return from vacation. Watch this space for the first post sometime in mid-August.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Six New Articles of Interest ...

Hi Everyone! I've been perusing the internet this week and have come across some articles I think will be of interest to any one of us who cares for others, whether professionally or personally.

The first of these is a wonderfully well written report on young caregivers created by three UBC researchers for the Vanier Institute of the Family. Entitled, Young Carers in Canada: The Hidden Costs  and Benefits of Young Caregiving, this article explores topics including the incidence of young caregiving in Canada, the exceptional nature of the work, the age range of young carers, the ways in which early caregiving can disrupt "normal" development, factors that mediate the young carers' experience, the consequences of early caregiving, ways of supporting young carers and their families, and the need for public policy to respond to their plight.

The second article, Doctor and Patient: Can Doctors Learn Empathy?, was published in the New York Times blog. It cites new research on empathy training for resident physicians and finds that physicians like other helping professionals can, of course, learn empathic responsiveness.

A third piece, When It's the Nurse Who Needs Looking After, also from the New York Times blog, speaks of the extraordinary financial consequences of nurses' stress on the American health care system.

Fourth, is a thought-provoking Wall Street Journal interview, The Medication Generation, with Katherine Sharpe, author of Coming of Age on Zoloft,  about the long term effects of antidepressant use on adolescents.

A fifth article, from the New York Times, written by a health psychologist from SickKids in Toronto, focuses on the accumulated grief of physicians and it's impacts on patient care and on the physician's life and family.  When Doctors Grieve cites a recent study of oncologists' responses to patient loss in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

And, finally, an article on exercise prescriptions from, Physicians Turn to Exercise Prescriptions to Prevent and Treat Chronic Conditions, caught my eye. It's emphasis on reducing symptoms and risk factors through exercise rather than medication, and its link to Toronto's Dr Mike Evans' new-to-me website, My Favourite Medicine, made it worth the read.

May these articles stimulate new thoughts and discussions as we move through the summer whether we're reading in a hammock by the lake, riding the Skytrain to work, or relaxing on the deck with a cup of iced tea. Cheers!