Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Two New Literary Resources for Care Partners ...

Good morning, everyone! I'm writing today to tell you about two new literary resources for feeding the souls of those who care for others. The first is brand new and the second is new-to-me. I hope that both will be a source of strength, hope, optimism and healing as you continue your care partnering at home and at work.

1. Brain Injury Journey - Hope, Help, Healing

Several times in the past I have spoken of, and linked to, the blog of Barbara Stadhura a great writer, journal workshop leader, and former care partner for her husband who has now recovered substantially from a brain injury following a motorcycle accident. Barbara is now the Editor-in-Chief of Brain Injury Journey Magazine, an exciting new publication from Lash and Associates, a leading publisher of brain injury information.

In the words of their publication introduction:

This magazine is a vehicle for information, support, and resources for the entire brain injury community. Designed to help persons with brain injury, families, caregivers, and providers successfully navigate challenges and live a full and satisfying life, each issue offers empowering personal stories, interviews with experts, clinical updates, research findings, and book reviews. Above all, it provides a community to enhance hope and foster healing after brain injury. 

The best news of all is that email subscriptions to the magazine, which will be published for the first time in April, are free. You can also order a print edition, published 6 times a year, for $48 (US).

With Barbara at the helm, this magazine can't help but provide an authentic, practical, and encouraging  information source for the whole brain injury community. Congratulations to Barbara and her team!

2.  Panhala Website

Anyone who reads this site regularly or who comes to my workshops will already know of this predilection - for those who don't or haven't,  I love poetry! A few weeks ago, quite by accident, I came across this website and, all of a sudden, I was in poetry and photography heaven.

Panhala, according to the website, is Hindi for "source of fresh water" (more or less). The purpose of the group is to " share poems and prose to make the day a little brighter".  The postings on this site are excellent, and the photography, just beautiful. Perhaps try the poem called Laughter  by Hafiz first - it will make you smile all day!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

TED Talks for Helpers ...

For the past few weeks, Vancouver's been buzzing with the news that the popular TED Talks  (Technology, Entertainment, Design Talks) will be bringing their West Coast conference to Vancouver  in 2014.

Though beyond the financial ability of most folks to attend, TED's ideas worth sharing can be accessed via the Internet and many of the past speakers have addressed topics of interest to care partners and to compassion fatigue sufferers, educators or specialists. Some of these talks include:

1.  Karen Armstrong:  Let's Revive the Golden Rule,  The Charter for Compassion
2.  Nancy Berns:  On the Space Between Joy and Grief   
3.  Tim Brown:  Tales of Creativity and Play 
4.  Brene Brown:  Listening to Shame,  The Power of Vulnerability
5.  Elizabeth Gilbert:  Nurturing Creativity 
6.  Carl Honore:  In Praise of Slowness 
7.  Nigel Marsh:  How to Make Work-Life Balance Work 
8.  Kristin Neff:  The Space Between Self Esteem and Self Compassion 
9.  Mattieu Ricard:  Habits of Happiness 
10.  JK Rowlings:  The Fringe Benefits of Failure 
11.  Saalman Sana:  Compassion for Care 
12.  Ernesto Sirolli:  Want to Help Someone?: Shut Up and Listen!

While none of the talks listed above are aimed at care partners, specifically, we can each draw lessons from them to enrich our lives.  Enjoy!

Monday, February 11, 2013

A New Compassion Satisfaction Resource ...

Compassion satisfaction is the pleasure you derive from being able to do your work. For example, you may feel like it is a pleasure to help others through what you do at work. You may feel positively about your colleagues or your ability to contribute to the work setting or even the greater good of society through your work with people who need care.

Beth Hudnall Stamm, PhD

Hi everyone! Here is a new book for your compassion fatigue library. Compassion Satisfaction: 50 Steps to Healthy Caregiving was published in the fall of 2012 by Patricia Smith, an American CF Specialist and author of the first popular literature on compassion fatigue. (Her first books were To Weep for a Stranger: Compassion Fatigue in Caregiving and Healthy Caregiving: A Guide to Recognizing and Managing Compassion Fatigue.)

Patricia's new book on Compassion Satisfaction (CS)  offers several brief, readable chapters divided into three sections, one each for caregivers, care recipients and organizations. It's the perfect book to keep handy for quick inspiration and refreshment as you begin a day of care-giving or to dip into before going to bed at night.

Compassion satisfaction is an important concept to remember any time we speak about compassion fatigue. Our helping experiences are complex, not all bad nor all good. There is usually a mix of stressors and rewards. Reflecting upon the rewards helps us to balance the difficulties and reminds us why we chose to be helpers in the first instance. It brings into bold relief what keeps us going as we do the work. When we recognize what sustains us, we can increase our focus in these directions. 

In her book, The Compassion Fatigue Workbook, another CF Specialist, Francoise Mathieu, offers these questions (paraphrased) for reflection and journalling on compassion satisfaction:

1.  What made me choose this work?
2.  What keeps me going and sustains me, as a person and a professional, given the challenges of my work?
3.  What concrete strategies have made a significant difference for me and have allowed me to remain healthy and well in this work? (Strategies at work and strategies at home)
4.  If I were to do it all over again, is there anything I would do differently?
5.  Reflecting on successes, how have I made a difference to others?
6.  Can I think of a particular client, patient or loved one whose story has touched me profoundly in a positive way? What is it about his or her story that has moved me?
7.  Is this still the right work for me?  (p136

Why not make a hot drink, curl up with your journal, and reflect for a little while upon what it is about your care-giving that still makes your heart sing?

Monday, February 4, 2013

A Gift For and From the Heart ...

Hi everyone! February is Heart Month and the home of Valentines Day and many of us are beginning to think of Valentine gifts for our loved ones - the traditional chocolates, flowers, lingerie and poetry or more adventurous gifts like exotic cruises or white water expeditions. But what about considering a more long-lasting gift of the heart - like a heart-healthy diet for the whole year?

I love healthy, real food - the way it looks, the way it smells, and most especially, the way it tastes. Last night I made an amazing technicolour red quinoa stew with onions, mushrooms, squash, spinach, slivered almonds and dried figs. Mmmmmm-MMMMM! Gorgeous and delicious and so full of healthy nutrients that one cupful sustained me for the whole evening. I wish my husband had been there to enjoy it with me. Derrick cooked for me for 19 years and I really believe that cooking healthy food for those we love is one of the best ways we can show our love. (Following in his footsteps and learning to make a healthy dinner for myself was quite a transition for the girl whose family once joked that if anything happened to Derrick, Jan would die of a Cheerios overdose!)

Those of you who spend all day caring for others - at work, at home, or both -  may find yourselves  exhausted and stymied when it comes to another week of meal planning. So here is a Valentine gift for each of you - a list of 5 of my favourite healthy-food websites and 5 of my favourite healthy-food cookbooks, each with nutritious, easy-to-prepare meals and beautiful pictures. (It can be a gift to yourself just to spend a few minutes looking at the photographs!)


1.  Healthful Pursuit
2.  Cooking Light
3.  Heart and Stroke Foundation
4.  Food52
5.  The Healthy Foodie


1. Lighthearted Everyday Cooking by Anne Lindsay
2.  Eating For Energy Without Deprivation: The 80-20 Cookbook by Patricia Chuey and Diana Steele
3.  12 Best Foods Cookbook by Dana Jacobi
4.  Start Fresh! Your Guide To Midlifestyle Food and Fitness by Diane and Dr Doug Clement
5.  The LooneySpoons Collection by Janet and Greta Podleski

So, why not give a Valentine gift that keeps on giving - both to you and to the ones you love?