Gifts from the Frontlines...
For those who show up...however they can for love
Why One of the first questions I ask of any caregiver is:
Some evolutionary biologists are speculating that the purpose of sleep (a TedX talk by Jeff Iliff) is to take out the trash—to clean your brain of plaques. (Yes, that would be the same brain garbage which seems to be causing dementia…)
It's not our fault.
We are only trying to get ahead—like good Americans. We learned sleep deprivation early, as teenagers and still teach it now to our youth. The NY Times (9/14/2017 The Case for a Later Start to the School Day) reported that teens are sleep deprived and it has consequences. Several national studies have recommended a later start time for schools so the kids can get their 9 to 10 hours of recommended sleep. While it makes economic sense (would add $18K to each student's eventual lifetime earnings and $83 billion to the economy in ten years), it hasn’t happened and probably won’t. (Hey, their parents have to get to work…)
Real wealth is a good night's sleep, indeed.
The lack of even one night’s sleep makes us:
What to do? In the Upward Spiral by neuroscientist, Alex Korb we must
· 1. Improve ‘sleep hygiene’
· 2. Deal with our anxieties and stress
Stress we know about...caregiving gives you a black belt in stress. I recommend a spiritual practice of eight things which I will cover in the future blog posts (and the Field Guide which will be published in later 2017).
Its not even as bad a flossing. All you do is edit what potentially interferes with
Let your own senses guide you. As you age, your sleep needs are changing too – you don’t need as much sleep as you did as a teenager but the true measure is how do you feel?
Caregiving and sleep
You need sleep to caregive.
Did you get enough sleep? It is the best of questions to answer. It’s your life to be lived.
Helping incurs debt.
According to Dr. Rachel Naomi Remen, helping is very different than serving. When you go all Florence Nightingale on your beloved, it is hard to take. You want to help but this help is not helping—or you could help so much more.
It's messier. It takes a bit more time but serving is infused with respect...and trust.
ASK them if what your doing, needs doing, or is it helpful? Asking gives them control. It turns into serving—as a peer and an equal. When I fix, I am telling them that they are broken.
"We serve life, not because it is broken, but because it is holy." —Mother Teresa
They are not broken...they are just ill.
Good medical care is changing in a similar manner. State-of-the-art hospital are instilling empathy into their employees. Check out this Cleveland Clinic video. It is about being in the moment...respecting the person with dignity. Unlearning Certainty is a rule that is essential for empathy—that you can use to heal.
Dr. Remen further explains good health (for everyone) is about collaborating:
"When I fix a person I perceive them as broken, and their brokenness requires me to act. When I fix I do not see the wholeness in the other person or trust the integrity of life within them. When I serve I see and trust that wholeness. It is what I am responding to and collaborating with." Noetic Sciences Review # 37
Fixing is a form of judgement and it creates disconnection... and that's the last thing we want with our loved one.
Healthier for us, too.
When we collaborate with our loved ones, we have a better shot at the gold standard of caregiving—healthy resilience—than if we try to fix.
The worst thing about caregiving is the isolation.
I thought I was alone, but I was thinking about it from the inside of my mental box. Don't let your walls box you in. If you are caregiving, and feel lonely, I invite you out of that box...by the most powerful force on Earth—the superpower of your own mind.
Put on your cape. Use that with x-ray vision...See it differently. Caregiving changes the planet...and (with perspective) it can change you, too—for the better. It happened to me that way...
This video is warm soup for a cold day...
Watch it and watch the separations melt away...reach out. There are other people just like you... Just like us. We show up. We care and it's powerful.