Daughters, are you familiar with the term, ‘writing therapy’? Did you know it’s one of the most powerful tools out there for improving our mood, reducing stress and actually freeing up space in our brain? Author, Judith Henry is in the process of creating an online writer’s workshop and has graciously provided our Daughter Tribe with a suggested writing topic. Let’s try it and see where it takes us.
I was ten years old when my mother went into the hospital with a rare health condition known as Tietze syndrome and my father was suddenly responsible for taking care of three kids –my two younger siblings and me. The first thing he did was assign me the task of writing down everything we needed at the grocery store, so he could then drop me at the local Publix Supermarket to do the shopping. Grabbing pen and paper, I wrote the most important things at the very top – French fries, kosher pickles, Neapolitan ice cream, and pretzel sticks – all my dad’s favorites, because being ten didn’t mean I was stupid. That day turned out to be the official end of childhood, but it was also when my love of list-making was born.
The years went by, and over time my lists became more complex, and when I became a caregiver for my elderly parents they offered clarity and direction in a world turned upside-down.
A few were written on sticky notes that would hitch a ride on the seat of my pants until some kind stranger would take pity on me and point them out. They were scribbled on napkins, envelopes, and whatever else was handy. Some were created on Excel spread sheets like the names of doctors, medical histories dating back 40 years, and drug lists. There were phrases like “hospice appt,” “mastectomy surgery,” “update living wills,” and almost every one was linked to a story and a roller coaster of emotions.
It wasn’t until my caregiving days were over that I realized the power behind lists. They can help us dig deeper into our memories; shine a light on what’s happening in our world; figure out next steps; and allow us to tap into thoughts and feelings we weren’t even aware of.
So, for those reasons, I’m offering an opportunity to explore this concept by providing a few suggestions for creating your own lists. And maybe you’ll feel comfortable enough to share some of your responses here. I hope so. We can learn much from each other.
1. List three things about yourself that have to do with being a caregiver, and five things that have nothing to do with caregiving. Now choose at least one from each list and provide a little more information about each of them.
2. List the items found in your purse. Describe some of them in more detail. What do they say about your current responsibilities? Do any shed more light on your personality?
3. List three things you fear and three things that comfort you.
4. List the ways in which caregiving has changed you.