“So it's not gonna be easy. It's going to be really hard;
we're gonna have to work at this everyday,
but I want to do that because I want you.
I want all of you, forever, everyday.
You and me... everyday.”
― Nicholas Sparks, The Notebook
Tears steam down my face at this scene in The Notebook even if it is the tenth time I’ve seen this 2004 movie. As this touching story unfolds, the star-crossed lovers, Noah and Allie, go through years of heartache only to find themselves at the end of their lives struggling with Allie’s dementia and Noah taking on the role of caregiver.
Few of us plan on becoming caregivers and very much like Noah and Allie in the movie; caregivers have dreams, passions and are inspired to do great things BEFORE becoming caregivers. So what changes? When the reality of caring for someone takes over your life, especially someone with a debilitating disease, it can become overwhelming and could easily stop dreams in their tracks. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Without romanticizing the role of the caregiver, not all of us have the same level of passion as Noah, it is still vitally important to feel the affiliation and validation of doing something you truly enjoy.
Keeping your dreams alive amidst the many challenges of caregiving can easily be put aside and forgotten. We think to ourselves that there just isn’t enough time in the day; that anything worth doing is worth doing right – but if you don’t give yourself a chance to dream, to think about what it’s like to achieve that dream, it won’t happen. So commit to a few minutes each day working towards that dream and eventually you will find yourself pushing harder to achieve it. Keeping your own dreams alive may also be helpful in finding purpose in your caregiving role.
Often times finding time for prayer, meditation or reflection may help to re-energize, reconnect and help you to better visualize your dreams. mmLearn.org provides over 200 free online videos for caregivers of older adults. There is a series of short 5-10 minute Prayers for Caregivers given by ministers and lay people from different faith traditions. These thoughtful reflective prayers are especially helpful for the busy caregiver.
There is also a six-part meditation series presented by Spiritual Director, Deborah Hanus that may be helpful in achieving clarity and purpose in your busy life as a caregiver.
Part 1 - The Nature and Purpose of Christian Meditation
Part 2 - Helping Yourself to Meditate
Part 3 - Coming to Awareness
Part 4 - Lectio Divina in Solitude
Part 5 - Lectio Divina in a Group
Part 6 - Meditation Using Guided Imagery
Keep dreaming and think about what Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.”