Tuesday, March 3, 2020

Caregivers, Worker Bees, and Little Bits of Crafting

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to have to care for an aging parent? I did not. Well...I did, but then I quickly realized I am not cut out for the nurturing care-giver and put it entirely out of my head.  That was my sister's job.  I was a worker bee.  I owned my own business, I volunteered with charities that were important to me, and I stayed busy all the time. My sister, Patsy, was the nurturing type. She went to nursing school until her own medical issues put a stop to the, and she always swore she would be the one to take care of my parents when they got old. And she did.  She took care of my dad through recovery from a heart-attack, gall-bladder surgery, and over a year of hospice care. She took care of my mom through all that, too, and I was glad for it...especially since I live 300+ miles away.

Then the unthinkable happened...my sister died unexpectedly, leaving her handicapped, adult daughter and my mother, who was already beginning to show the signs of dementia. I moved my 29-year-old niece to live with me in the city so she could get a good education and learn to live on her own (public transportation should NEVER be underrated!), and eventually, we convinced my mother to move from her paid-off home in rural Texas into a senior living community where my brother and aunt could help take an eye on her. That didn't last long, though, as her needs were far greater than I had known, and she was already incapable of independent living.  Add to that the fact that she had squandered her retirement by pulling all of her investments during the stock market crashes of the early 2000's, and then she lost her job, losing her medical and life insurance benefits in the process.  All that to say that in January, Mom moved into my remaining guest bedroom, and now we have a household of four with some very distinct, and often time-consuming, needs.

Being a caregiver has put strains on my family and me that I could never have imagined, and it's made it even more important to me to get in my crafting time whenever I can. It hasn't been easy, but I've found that if I break things down into smaller tasks, and squeeze them in whenever I have an opportunity, it really gives me the outlet I need to calm my mind, let go of stress, and just zen out for a little while.  For example, today, I had to take my niece to the doctor.  I didn't want to go inside with all the sick people, and I could have sat in the car playing on my phone, but instead I took a portable project (embroidery) with me to work on while I waited outside.  I didn't get a lot done, but it was a lot more enjoyable and productive than sitting in that doctor's office with a bunch of sick people playing "Words with Friends" (nothing against WWF).

The start of some flowers on an apron.

So whether you're a caregiver, a worker bee, or just someone with a lot of hats to juggle, the truth is there will always be things that get in the way of crafting time. Whether it's a deadline a work, a sick kid, a second job, etc., you can't let it consume your life. Making the time to craft is not only possible, but necessary.  We all need those few precious moments of space where we can let go of the stress of the day and find something beautiful in our lives to experience and celebrate. It doesn't have to be a marathon weekend of crafting, or even an hour...just grab yourself five minutes when ever you can while you're watching the evening news, taking your 15-minute break at work, waiting for the roast to cook, or sitting at the doctors office or carpool line.  Just do it. Your body needs it, your brain needs it, and you'll be really glad you did!

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