CAREGIVING: A Time For Self Care

00Cancer Patients, Caregivers, PeopleTags: ,

“It is not the load that breaks you down. It’s the way you carry it.” — Lena Horne, singer

If you are caregiving a child (or children), spouse and/or aging parent, there is a good chance you’re feeling stressed, overwhelmed and even burned out. In fact, you may be one of the growing number of people who are trying to balance everyone’s needs – the Sandwich Generation. Even though this is a huge challenge in your life, I wonder if you can also view it as an opportunity for self-care?

When I was caregiving my husband with stage IV cancer, everyday, I made a point to accompany him to the infusion center where he received radiation and chemotherapy. I was also caring for our 13 year old son who had Lyme disease. Every morning, I drove him to school and sometimes had to turn right around to pick him up early because he wasn’t feeling well. During all of this, I continued to work full time in my psychotherapy and coaching practices while regularly checking in with my aging parents and in-laws.

At first, I was stretched way too thin and already feeling burned out. Then, I had an internal shift when I asked myself this question: What would I recommend to my clients if they were as stressed and overwhelmed as I am?

That’s when I decided to turn caregiving into an opportunity for self-love and care.

Even though I didn’t have a lot of time to myself, I choose to do little things throughout each day that made a huge difference for me and my loved ones.
Below are the strategies I used that kept myself sane.


  • Daily Gratitude – Each morning in my journal, I listed three bullet points of what I was grateful for. For example, I wrote: I’m grateful for… my sister’s caring voice mail message; my ability to be helpful; my body for all it does. It only took 30 seconds to start my day off on the right foot.
  • Body Movement – Every morning, there was a period of time between dropping my son off at school and meeting my husband at the infusion center that I used to move my body. I used this time as my opportunity to either take a yoga class, power-walk, or even shovel the driveway of snow. I did anything to keep my body moving, which helped to release stress.
  • Positive Multitasking – During walks, drives, and chores, I was on my iPhone either connecting with a caring friend or listening to positive messaging, such as webinars and walking meditations. This kept any stinking thinking to a minimum.
  • Self-praise and acknowledgement – Because I was stepping up in a real way for other people, I realized that caregiving was a job that deserved accolades and applause. My self-talk included upbeat statements like, “Yay me, I’m so wonderful! Today I earned 10,000 kudos points!!!” Of course, these moments of self-praise always made me smile or even laugh.
  • Presence – One day, I was on a phone session with my client and it dawned on me that I was feeling guilty for not being with my husband or our son during that hour. My poor client didn’t have my full attention! I immediately created an intention to be present with whomever I was with and what ever I was doing. This internal shift changed everything. Because I’m human, I wasn’t present every single second, but certainly more than ever before. The mantra I repeated often was, “I am present and all is well.”
  • Accepting Help – “Can I call you in a pinch?” I’d ask my neighbors, friends and family. Of course, they all said “Yes!” And, I did call them. Every once in awhile, I needed their assistance and they were happy to step in by picking my son up from school, grabbing some groceries at the supermarket, or by simply lending a listening ear.

I hope you try these simple yet very effective self-loving and caring techniques during this challenging time. You deserve it!!

Are you stressed, overwhelmed or burned out? Click here for instant calm:

Be A Seeker

00Cancer Patients, Caregivers, PeopleTags: , ,

What a touching read by this guest blogger, Tosha Gorden, who shares the Zen that she has gained from her beloved yoga instructor, Joe.

Be A Seeker (ode to Joe)

My dear, it’s time for you to learn to fly. But no, I don’t want to fly, not yet, maybe not ever. It’s so comfortable here in this nest. You tell me everything I need to know. I’m not ready to fly out on my own!

I am having an emotional reaction to my yoga teacher retiring. I literally feel the tears pool in my eyes when I think about it. This is sort of crazy, right? There are a million yoga teachers out there and some of them are good. Really good maybe, but I have learned so much from this one and I don’t feel nearly ready for him to retire. I take his class at a cancer support facility in my town – a wonderful place with tons of offerings to help those fighting cancer and their families. He has volunteered there for 20 years and, by his estimate, taught 1,400 hours of yoga. Wow! Now that is the epitome of shining a light in the world and I’m so thankful for his generosity.

Why am I telling you this? I just don’t feel that it should be over. He has opened my eyes to so many elements of a healthy life. He is a big believer in dedication and doing things with intention and purpose. He trained in the “old” style of yoga – more Hindu-monk-style rather than Colorado-hippie-style. I don’t know why I chose Colorado…no offense CO! And I love hippies! 🙂

From Joe, I have learned about EFT Tapping, Laugh Yoga/Meditation, the importance of breath, less talk and more quiet. His presence is calming and his words are inspiring. As I process all that I will miss about him and his classes, I think about this blog and the many hours of volunteer work I do to create and share it. If one person learns half as much from reading ZenDitty as I learned from Joe, then it is well worth the time and effort I have put into it.

ZenDitty is my ripple in the water… me flapping my wings and going for flight as I learn to fly.

We all have the ability to inspire, teach, love and nurture. Like Joe, let’s find ways to utilize these gifts we’ve been given.

I will have a void in my practice of inner-peace when Joe leaves, but will continue to seek out practices that fill this void. I will seek out more information on the many healing topics he spoke of. Best of all, I will continue to share them with you!

Be sincere and at peace. Honor yourself and others. Life is pretty simple, if we allow it to be.

OM Shanti Shanti Shanti
(Peace Peace Peace to all).


Tosha Gorden

“ZenDitty was created after a deep relaxation detoxed stress and fear from my body and allowed me to move forward in my fight against cancer. My goal is to truly enjoy life and make choices to honor those important to me and I vow to give others this gift as well. I want to support you on your journey by sharing my own and learning to keep my Zen in the process.”


From Cancer Blues to Mini-blue

210Cancer Patients, Caregivers, PeopleTags: , ,

It’s 3:00 A.M. and I wake up realizing that this is the last day with our beloved Mini-blue. Suddenly flooded with memories of that day when the three of us – my husband David, our son Mark and I – walk into the Mini Cooper dealership, wide-eyed and excited. Smiling, we look at each other knowing what the other was thinking, “This day is finally here! We made it!”

You see, this wasn’t any ol’ day; this was the zenith we’ve been waiting for – where one dramatic period was ending and a new and exciting one was beginning.

More info


4-Step Guide to Taming Your Fears When Illness Hits: A Caregiver’s Perspective (Part II)

10Cancer Patients, Caregivers, PeopleTags: , , ,

taming-your-fear-part-1In last week’s post, I shared with you how my world turned totally upside-down in just four terrifying days. Our son with diagnosed with Lyme disease and my husband was told, “You have stage-4 cancer.” Fear took hold of me and shook me to the core. I knew it was time to follow my own prescription for fear by using a process that I had created for my psychotherapy and coaching clients – the method I call F.E.A.R. I’m excited to reveal that today, but first, let’s get the nitty-gritty on fear.

More info


4-Step Guide to Taming Your Fears When Illness Hits: A Caregiver’s Perspective (Part I)

10Cancer Patients, Caregivers, PeopleTags: , , ,

taming-your-fear-part-2Four Days and Five Words That Turned My World Upside Down

It was a beautiful day in mid-October and my husband was getting a haircut. His barber, Fast Freddie, said, “Hey man, what’s this lump protruding from your neck?” He admitted to Freddie that he’d never noticed it before. My husband showed me the lump and was convinced that he must’ve pulled a muscle during one of his strenuous weight-lifting workouts. I said, “Let’s make an appointment with the doctor, just to make sure.” With some reluctance, he agreed.

More info


What You Didn’t Know About Meditation Will Calm You Down Now

30Cancer Patients, Caregivers, MeditationsTags: , , , , ,

Fotosearch_k0485816I am busting the myth that all meditations are quiet and serene. Actually, some can be quite active, powerful and releasing. Before jumping in and getting physical, first, tune into what’s upsetting you.

Part 1 – What’s Bothering You?

Is something upsetting you? Then, the meditation below will help calm you right down. Go ahead and find out what that is. Does it have to do with a comment someone made or how you are harshly judging yourself? Maybe it’s about your relationship or lack thereof? Good, you are getting to what’s bothering you.

Now feel it… feel your emotions completely and notice where it lands in your body. When you tune into your body, you can locate it right away. I know you don’t like feeling this, and I promise that you’re going to release it soon during the meditation portion of this blog, but for now, just feel it. Be with it. Don’t judge it as “bad”, but allow yourself to feel this feeling entirely. Good for you, because this is not easy.

More info