It’s time for a Caregiver Gap Year where I intend to spend 12 months to Grow, Aspire and explore all Possibilities. Why not? When I graduated high school and again when I left college, lots of my friends took time off for a year to explore what they wanted to do, who they wanted to be. I went straight to work because I had spent my summers exploring and trying different things. I knew I wanted to be a teacher since I was in third grade, why did I need to take more time to figure it out. Full Charge Ahead!
Four years later I was leaving the bureaucracy of teaching for something more fulfilling. One could say that between caring for my younger siblings (we were latch key kids) and all I did with children (babysitting, camp counselor, teaching) and animals (pet sitting, pet owner), it was inevitable that I would find myself caregiving for my parents. But now, in my sixties, with dad having passed away after needing seven years of Alzheimer care, and mom having moved up to New York to be closer to my siblings and the grown grandchildren, I am finding myself with more time to take this opportunity to explore who I am and what I want the rest of my life to look like. So I’m jumping in full charge again. This time, I’m not assuming anything. I want to live my most #optimallife and that means stepping out of my existing day to day to try new things.
I’d like to invite other caregivers to join me on this journey. It will be more fun and enlightening to do this together. What areas are you thinking you’d like to explore? I’ve already started and I’ve got a list of what is yet to do.
Home environment: I sold mom’s condo and cleared her out of her independent living community which freed me to leave Florida and head to Charlotte, North Carolina. Never lived in this part of the country. Embracing my new mantra “Why not?”, I moved in with a friend who just lost her mother. Guess what? I’m loving it!
- Co-Housing: Now we’re looking at joining together with another former caregiver to create a co-housing community with one house, two tiny houses, a greenhouse, some animals and a sustainable eco-system. We’ll have each other to lean on and make sure we’re alive every day! We can do what we want, eat what we want, travel and know someone will look after our “stuff” and so on. I’ll document this in case this ideas appeals to you. So far three more caregiver friends want to come join us so this is going to be interesting! LOL
Physical Wellness: I am dealing with a rare eye cancer so my goal is to be as healthy as I can so my body can heal. I joined a personal training center and had sessions twice a week. My rotator cuff injury from all that moving and typing acted up so I’m on hold from that right now. I’m healing my injury but I do cautious pilates every day, some yoga, and wear a step tracker to reach goals I set each week.
- I am continuing with the meditation practice I started to help me through caregiving challenges. Twice a day, 20 minutes each time. I know it must be helping because I feel like I’m missing something and I get more tense when I skip this.
- I journal every day which is like therapy for me.
- I am looking to explore more elements in this spiritual area. Right now I’m practicing feng shui, was gifted some crystals and I’m saging my space to keep the energy around me positive and healing.
Appearance: I spent seven years in sweats and t-shirts because I never knew what I’d be needed to clean up! I moved to a new space so i needed a change.
- I elevated my fashion to comfortable clothing that was stylish so that I wouldn’t hide behind the door when the delivery man showed up! Now I’m looking to review my closet.
- I met with a Feng Shui wardrobe expert (www.ChristineBove.com) to help me do this. Colors and fabrics can make a difference in how you feel and that impacts how you present in the world. I want to be better at this. When I get my make-over stuff, I’ll post pictures.
Nutrition: Eating healthy is critical to my healing and energy.
- I’ve embraced a Whole 30 Food plan to keep myself free of sugar (not doing so great there!), chemicals, preservatives, GMO’s and so on. I do feel better.
- Trying new recipes is something that makes me excited.
- I’ve also taken to exploring supermarkets in my new neighborhood so I can see and try new types of foods.
This is fun! Have any recipes to share? Want to do a cooking zoom night together?
Career/Wealth: This is always an area I find challenging. I am more about the impact I make than the money I earn. That hasn’t served me well for retirement. I didn’t think I would go through my own money while caring for my parents, but it happened. I don’t regret it. But I need to catch up again. So, today I spoke to a wealth coach and got her book and I’m going to work on creating abundance in my life, doing things I love – like writing! My hobby and passion is now becoming my business and I’m really good at it people tell me. My storytelling skills are helping people who want to write their memoirs and teach lessons. I feel invigorated about this!
What invigorates you? Are you heading back to work after taking time off? Are you doing something that makes you want to leap out of bed in the morning?
Next time, I’ll write more about some other areas I’m exploring.
- Self Care
- Personal Vision Statement
- Inventory of Life
- Positive People Policy
The Caregiver Gap Year, 12 months to Grow, Aspire and explore all Possibilities is my goal. I’m coming up with worksheets for anyone else that wants to join me on this mission. Let me know if you’d like to participate! Reach out on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/fernpessin/ or call me at 704.729.4586.