Archive for the ‘love’ Category

Caregiving isn’t always sweet and sentimental. Caregiver relationships are as complicated as everybody else’s. What happens if you need to/are asked to care give someone who has hurt you deeply?

I met a woman at a book club once and her face revealed her suffering. She shared that her husband had late stage Parkinson’s and she was basically housebound and caring for him 24/7. She looked beyond exhausted.

She also shared that she probably should have left him years ago.

Sometimes we stay. For the kids. For the security. Because we were too chicken to leave. Now it’s too late. We need to finish what we started.

I understand. I’ve lived long enough and have been married long enough to understand how very complicated things get.

My “book club” lady shared she really didn’t love him any more. He had killed that long ago.

I didn’t ask, but many times relationships are mangled beyond repair.

Repeated infidelity. Addictions. Isolation and control. Verbal or physical abuse.

There are things we never tell anyone.

I’ve volunteered in shelters, counseled couples, and have found that the deepest hurts usually go unsaid.


So why do it? Why care give someone who you simply can’t love any more?

Why stay? You may only have a few years left yourself.

Each person has to figure that out for themselves.

Sometimes it’s not that black and white. Yes, there are hurts. And no, you don’t feel anything for that person, but you have your reasons. Maybe it’s in part how you need to see yourself.

So you stay.

How do you love someone who has hurt you?

Don’t try to make yourself love them.

Don’t feel guilty.

Don’t try to look noble.

Do what you can.

Choose a path of integrity.

Caregiving isn’t about the person who is ill, aged or infirmed. It’s about you.

Decide who you want to be, regardless of them.

Mentally and emotionally separate yourself. You’re still giving them good care.

Trust your good heart.

Practicing a faith can bring you deep comfort.

Know that forgiveness can be as basic as wishing them no harm.

Even if they’re still hateful, vindictive and cruel, if you choose to stay then it’s on your terms.

If you can, if you choose to, place them in a care facility. You’re still being responsible. You’re still watching out for them. You don’t have to humiliate yourself and continue to be demeaned. They chose their path. You choose yours.

Find your place of peace.

Detach when you need to. Methodical caregiving can still be good caregiving.

Begin to nurture yourself. Your dreams. Reward yourself for what you’ve chosen to do if you believe it’s the right thing to do.

Duty. Responsibility. Integrity. These are important words our culture has all but forgotten.

Choose a higher path.

~Carol D. O’Dell

Author of Mothering Mother: A Daughter’s Humorous and Heartbreaking Memoir



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Know that old country song, “She’ll be comin’ round the mountain when she comes….?”

That’s how I feel.

I’ve been buying flowers. Flats of flowers, tubs of flowers, roots and bulbs and vines.

Doesn’t sound like a big deal but it is to me, this year especially.

I didn’t garden much when I was a full-time caregiver.

I had enough of anything that needed constant weeding, feeding, and watering , thank you very much.

But I missed it. What do you miss?

I’ve been a gardener for as long as I can remember.

My adoptive Daddy and I practically lived outside. I helped him with our 25 rose bushes, stepped on dozens of yellow jackets feasting on fallen pears. My toes looked like little red sausages. I’d swing for a good hour, climb the top of my swing set (mother’s nightmare) while gorging myself from a plum bush I could actually reach if I pumped my legs hard enough. Then, I’d jump off and grab a warm fig and then shimmy up the dogwood tree and nestle my bottom in a comfy crook and make up some story in my head about me being a spy or a princess hidden in a tower. Ah, childhood!

No wonder I love being outside. I equate it to freedom, peace, and make believe.

So, when I stop gardening, I stop being me–in part, anyway. That’s one way I can tell I’ve lost my joy.

Joy is crucial. Not constant, but crucial.

It’s not that I blame caregiving.

I see now that my garden, my constant pruning was my writing.

I planted the seeds of Mothering Mother every day.

I think caregivers simply have to choose which “seeds” to nurture. Reep and ye shall sow. Law of attraction. Same-same.

Last spring, my book came out and I was too busy for digging in the dirt. Booksignings every weekend, talks, radio, television–it was great fun! I still get to do a lot of it and it’s still fun, and more than that, I do know that I’m reaching other caregivers. I receive emails and cards every week, heartfelt notes that let me know I did what I set out to do–to help other caregivers laugh, release a sigh of relief that they’re not the only one thinking those less-than-nice (okay, quasi-dangerous) thoughts–to know they’re not alone.

But buying my latest flat of impatiens made me realize I’ve come back ’round my mountain.

We all have treks to take. Frodo-like treks that take us up steep mountains and into dark caves.

Caregiving tested every ounce of me–my  integrity, my marriage, my capacity to give and accept forgiveness.

I had to open the door and allow death to take up residence in my home.

I had to learn to stand up for myself, for my mother, to demand proper care, demand to be heard.

Caregiving tested my body, my spirit, my beliefs, and I’d say maybe, I got a B+, and I’m being generous.

I say throw out your highs, the moments where you’re so sweet and so good you’re sappy–and throw out your lows, when you’re downright rabid and squirrely–and average the rest.

That’s your caregiving score. Your life score.

You’re not your very, very best, and you’re certainly not your momentary, dispicable worst.

You can’t do it all, not while caregiving. Make peace with that.

I took another dip in the last few months. Lost my way a bit.

Guess that’s life.

See? It’s not just caregiving that sends you on a wild goose chase.

Don’t think you won’t have headaches, problems, lows, moments of panic, moments of dire frustration after caregiving ceases. You will. (You can’t blame everything on caregiving:) I used to. I used to have thoughts like, “After mother…” I hated to say the words, but part of me longed to look over the fence. It’s not so different, if that makes sense.

I think of my recent posts and know I’m giving myself away–losing myself and finding me again, what do you think you deserve, and what are you attracting? You see where my head has been.

Where’s your head been?

Think of your words, your ruminating thoughts, look at the items you’ve bought recently–you’ll begin to see a pattern.

You might find out where you are. I used to have a pastor that said if you want to know what you love, look at your checkbook, it’ll tell you.

I watched Oprah’s Big Give the other night, and I realized that this one team wasn’t dreaming big enough.

She thought she had done a phenomenal job, but even I could see that she could do so much more–but her basket wasn’t big enough.

I recently read that life  gives you only enough to fill up your basket.

I thought, “I’d better get a bigger basket.” (Reminds me of Jaws, “We better get a bigger boat!”

As I type this blog, my nails are caked with dirt. I’ve got a smudge on one of my calves. My nose is pink and it’s still March.

Bulbs are nestled below ground and pink geraniums sit under my office window.

I’m a sun-hoochie in the spring. I can’t get enough. I don’t come in until the sun goes down.

It feels good to be back.

I hope you find your way around your mountain.

~Carol D. O’Dell

Author of Mothering Mother: A Daughter’s Humorous and Heartbreaking Memoir

available on Amazon



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Caregiving isn’t exactly synonymous with a spicy love life–not until now. Maybe a passionate love life is just what the doctor ordered…


Dr. Christine Northrup, Oprah’s gynecologist on speed dial and author of Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom, and the Wisdom of Menopause suggests that you spend 30 minutes three time a week in “self love.”

(Yes, that’s right. We’re talking about the M word)

Now, I can only speak for myself here, but unless “self love” includes eating a bag of Dove chocolates, painting my toenails and thumbing through a magazine, I’m going to have about 27 minutes to kill.


It’s not like I have to woo myself or assure myself that I’ll respect me in the morning…


As a caregiver, mother, daughter, sandwich generationer, pet “mom,” I have to tell you, thirty uninterrupted minutes is hard to come by.
(pah dum,dum)


I figure I can blog about this if Oprah can discuss it at 4:00 in the afternoon while I’m making chicken pot pie.

Besides, a healthy love life is important–and most of us would rather “play with others,” so let’s take the leap.


Why bother? You haven’t got time? You have no drive?

You’re beyond exhausted? You’ll deal with “that” later?


Here’s why it’s crucial: 


Being a passionate person spills over into everything in your life–how you dress, walk, what you choose to eat, how generous you are with your time and energies, how affectionate you are to all living creatures–not to mention the effects giving and receiving love has on your heart, immune system, psychological, emotional and spiritual foundation.


Here’s a few tips for revving up the ole’ love life for couples who are also caregivers, raise kids, and walk dogs. Believe me, I’ve been there–forty pounds heavier than I am today–sleep deprived, irritable, and pulled in a thousand directions–and living with a loved one with Alzheimer’s isn’t exactly conducive to candles and teddys.


Mom’s Home—Quick, Lock the Bedroom Door!Enjoy Your Relationship Even if Your Mom

Lives With You

· Put a lock on your bedroom door—and use it
· Sneak around—intimacy doesn’t just have to happen in the bedroom. Be playful! Flirt!
· Nix the old t-shirt and sweats and wear attractive PJs—they don’t have to be overly sexy to be attractive.
· Stay affectionate–even if you have to make yourself at first—call each other during the day just for a “Hi, and I love you,” hug and kiss hello and goodbye, cuddle on the couch, call each other affectionate names/ take baths or showers together (you do remember those?)
. Take short walks together—even 5 or 10 minutes of fresh air is invigorating and gives you a chance to talk
· Plan a surprise—sneak out to the yard after dark to cuddle on a quilt under the stars with cups of hot chocolate
. Laugh! Rent a comedy, pop some popcorn and sit ont the couch together–not in dueling recliners
· Don’t sweat it if you aren’t in a lovey-dove mood–caregiving is stressful and there are seasons in life. Remember though, a healthy love life is healing, satisfying and stress relieving—and better for you than a bottle of Scotch

  • If you’re a care partner, you have also face physical challenges. Talk, cuddle, find out what works and what doesn’t. Don’t think you have to “go all the way.” Find your own way.

Being a caregiver, care receiver, or care partner doesn’t mean you–or your loved one is dead. Unearthing those needs and desires means you’re still alive. Love and passion are vital.

Say “yes” to LIFE every chance you get.

And don’t forget–holding hands is still pretty darn great.

Happy V Day!

~Carol D. O’Dell
Author of Mothering Mother: A Daughter’s Humorous and Heartbreaking Memoir,
available on Amazon
and in most bookstores

Kunati Publishing

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