Hope for living, loving and caring with no regrets!
- Faith is extremely important to her journey.
- Everyone has their own capacity. That is OK.
- Self-care is a must.
- Somethings that are important in Karen’s self-care routine.
- Things will never be the same- embrace your new normal.
- Let go of control-everything is not going to be perfect.
- Learn from your season. Karen shares her story and many of the things she learns in her book Reaching Up for Comfort: Caregiver Experiences, Questions, and Prayers.
*Transcript is an actual recount of the live conversation
Karen supports Christ-centered women navigating career and life transitions. She helps them achieve their goals through her company Crosswalk Coaching and Consulting LLC. She also serves as a consultant, mentor, speaker and retreat designer, and facilitator. She is a Professional Certified Coach through the International Coach Federation and an experienced caregiver.
Welcome, Karen. I’m so glad to have you here today.
Karen Weaver: Thank you it’s great to have the opportunity to share with you today.
Rayna Neises: Well, let’s just start off with sharing with our listeners about your caregiving experience.
Karen Weaver: Okay. Well, I usually consider my formal caregiving experience to start it with my husband had a massive stroke in 1995 so it’s been about 25 years, and at the time he was 39 years old, and so it was quite a adventure at times a journey. I’m just trying to navigate because we had young children and it completely changed our lives.
Rayna Neises: I can imagine that would be so just one day you had a normal and the next day that normal was completely gone.
Karen Weaver: Oh my goodness. That is, that is just, just how it happens. I mean, you know, he went to work, he came home from work and he went to bed and within a couple of hours he fell out the bed. Actually, if he hadn’t fallen off the bed, I wouldn’t have known that something was wrong. I thought he was playing at first, cause my husband is very much a trickster. So, but I realized quickly that he, he was not playing and called nine one one and, we were off to the hospital. So, yes.
And then of course, later, you know, I didn’t realize at the time that that was fully prepare me for other caregiving experiences I would have with my mom. And then, later on, with my dad, my dad lives with me as well right now he’s 91, and he suffers from Alzheimer’s disease.
Rayna Neises: Okay. You have your hands full and it’s a blessing in the journey. But it’s definitely not for the fainted heart.
Karen Weaver: It is not for the faint of heart. And, a pastor, once told me that just remember it’s a season. And so I tried to just show up every day and do the best I can and put my energy and thoughts into what do I need for today? It’s can be overwhelming if you think about it, you know, longterm,
Rayna Neises: Definitely borrowing trouble from the future is not anything that you need whenever just today there has more than enough.
Karen Weaver: More than enough. The scripture says that for a reason. Yes, yes.
Rayna Neises: So what are two or three lessons that you’ve learned as a result of your journey.
Karen Weaver: Well, certainly I’ve learned, how important my faith is in my journey. I, you know. I’ve always been a believer, and you know, I’ve served as a local pastor before and the United Methodist Church. But it’s really when your, your faith is really tested, that you really begin to see what it means to be a person of faith.
So that’s something I’ve certainly learned. And, secondly, I would say that you have to understand that everyone has their own capacity and had to let go of just the thought that, you know, certain family members should be helping me or friends should be helping me. That, you know, everybody doesn’t have the capacity to be a part of the caregiving journey. So I had to learn that, fairly quickly as well.
Rayna Neises: Those are two such important things, and I can completely identify with those with my season as well. I’m just so thankful that I had a strong faith going into this last season of caring for my dad, but even just how much it grew in that season, that dependence and understanding of how though this isn’t easy and heartbreaking at so many different turns. God’s still good and he’s still there and he, he’s all we need. And so thankfully.
But I love that too. Understanding capacity. I think, our caregivers that are listening out there probably have those same people in their lives, the ones that should. Be doing more that should be supporting us, should be staying. It should know that I need help or even should do what I ask when I ask them for help.
Karen Weaver: Yes, yes.
Rayna Neises: that can be so disappointing with those people in our lives that don’t step up, but it’s a really good perspective to understand that their capacity isn’t the same.
Karen Weaver: Right? Absolutely. Absolutely. And which also reminds me of just the importance of self-care, because when you think about it, no one is going to say to you, you need to take care of yourself? so you have to realize that at some point yourself that you are responsible for taking care of yourself.
And if you can’t get help where you think you should, you have to find a way to get the kind of help that you need in order to be able to take care of yourself cause that becomes just overwhelming because it’s so easy just to put yourself, on the sideline when you’re attending and caring for the people.
And with me having two people at home, it can be more of a challenge, easy to say, Oh, well, I’ll just, you know, put that off, but I can’t do that. I have to attend to those things which will nurture me and also keep me healthy.
Rayna Neises: Such a good point. So we want to say it to those of you who are listening to the podcast today. You have to take care of you. And we don’t want you to feel selfish in doing that. It’s not about going and getting your nails done or those kinds of things to take care of you. We mean nurture your soul, take care of your body and get the help that you need.
It takes a team to come together to help provide the caring that’s needed and being willing to ask for help and find the team that you need is just crucial to the longterm, being able to make it through the season. So that’s great.
So what do you wish that maybe you had embraced earlier in your journey?
Karen Weaver: I wish that I had embraced the fact that once my husband had a stroke, things would never going to be the same. I’ve realized that whenever there is like a major health event or some type of trauma in your life, sometimes, you know, we try to get back to where we were. And I think certainly in those early years, my husband and I were trying to get back to where we were before he had his stroke. But that was not going to happen. And if we had to embrace the fact that we were going to be moving into a new norm, and I, I wish I had realized that sooner than later. That you’re not going to go backward, but you have to embrace the new norm and figure out what that is.
Rayna Neises: I bet that’s really helpful in dealing with your dad with the dementia end of things because every day is a new normal almost sometimes.
Karen Weaver: This is true. This is true because persons with dimension, they can shift quickly on you. For sure. Yeah. And so being flexible I think is also a part of that journey and going back to my faith. I mean, I think it’s just teaching us that we just learning the fruits of the spirit, I will say, you know, is just teaching you and refining you, day by day to learn that it’s that grace you’re pulling off of each and every day to get through.
Rayna Neises: For sure. That’s so wise. And realizing that fruit continues to grow and we have what we need each day.
Karen Weaver: Oh yeah.
Rayna Neises: Even though it doesn’t feel like it, sometimes when we really stop and ask for it, he’s always faithful to give it to us.
Karen Weaver: He’s always faithful. Yes, yes. We have enough. We are enough because He is enough.
Rayna Neises: Hmm
Karen Weaver: for sure.
Rayna Neises: Well put. So what would you say was the biggest shift for you through this season of caring?
Karen Weaver: Understanding that I’m that in control. And, that everything is not going to be perfect. I think, you know, I’ve always been a person who’s been a planner. I’m very organized. I like the structure. So when I think about, actually learning to live in chaos and being comfortable with it, I think that was a big shift for me to be able to just kind of go with the flow and realize that was in my best interest to go with the flow and to know that God was able, God is in control.
So there’s, there’s no reason for me to be concerned about the fact that I’m not in control.
Rayna Neises: I always viewed it as my gifts of planning and knowing how to make order out of chaos. Those are gifts God gave me. And then I was in the season where. There was a lot of chaos. So I agree that that was a growing place for me to say, okay, how do I still use the gifts that I have but not hold on so tight?
And that’s what I learned was I’m going to use it open hand and I’m going to continue to plan and I’m going to continue to use my gifts of organization and trying to make it as good as possible, but I also had to not hold tight to those things to make sure that they went my way.
Karen Weaver: Yes,
Rayna Neises: I had to learn to open my hands and let the chaos happen if it was going to happen that day. But I do think that as those that are in a caring season, it can feel extremely overwhelming when we’re trying to control everything.
Karen Weaver: Oh, absolutely. Absolutely. I have to tell you a funny story. So the other day on the weekend, my caregiver wasn’t coming, and I just. Overslept and my dad got up and he took a shower, and by the time my husband and I got up and went to check on him, my dad was in his clothes from the day before and he just riding his bicycle.
So, you know, I’m looking at him in these clothes that he had on the day before. And I said, Karen. Not going anywhere today. Get a grip. It’s going to be okay. Tomorrow you would get up and everything will be more orderly, but it was just riding his bike and just waiting for me to fix his waffles. But I just hit the really laugh at myself. Because in my mind, I wanted to say, well dad, you take those schools off you, you had those clothes on yesterday. But. You better get a grip and just move on.
Rayna Neises: I can so relate to that. And my dad would get up in the middle of the night and if he saw his clothes from the day before, he would think that it was time to wake up and you know, start to take off as GMEs and put on those dirty clothes. And so the times that I blew that and left them sitting out, trained me to always put them in the hamper when I put him to bed.
So he couldn’t find them later. We hid things like his hat and his coat just because when he saw them, it triggered, I’m doing something and unless we were doing it, we were in trouble. So I can so relate to that, but it is that deep breath, it’s not that big a deal Rayna, it’s going to be okay, but it doesn’t feel that way in the moment. It feels like, Oh my gosh, this is crazy. You can’t do that.
Karen Weaver: I know. So I just, I mean, I just, when there, he’s riding his bike. I went back to my husband total what was going on, and I just laughed and I said, Oh my goodness.
Rayna Neises: So good for you, that’s great. And thank you for sharing that. Cause I know other listeners who are dealing with people with dementia completely relate with that as well. And it is about being able to just take a deep breath and is this life or death
Karen Weaver: Right? Absolutely. Absolutely. In the big scheme of things, you know, no one will ever know. No one will care and it will be, it will be fine.
Rayna Neises: Even if you were going somewhere,
Karen Weaver:] It would
Rayna Neises: it really, it wouldn’t have been that big a deal, but it would have been harder to get out the door probably.
Karen Weaver: Yes fro me it would have been, but if it worked out fine, but it was funny. I was just laughing at myself more than anything.
Rayna Neises: Yeah. And the growth, the growth of you realizing this isn’t that big a deal.
Karen Weaver: right. Yeah.
Rayna Neises:Yeah. So how do you take care of yourself? You mentioned that’s an important piece as a caregiver, is to really address your needs. What have you found that’s helped with
Karen Weaver: Well, I exercise at least five days a week, so I’m very focused on my exercise eating rate. I have my times of devotion. I do yoga, meditation, so I have some things that I, and really adhere too. Oh, for sure. and I do take time to go out. To launch for coworkers, you know, just to kind of, you know, get a different environment view. So, but I am still trying to do more because I, I think it’s, I think it’s important to just continue to find ways to nurture yourself. For sure.
Rayna Neises: I found in the caregiving season that sometimes we can forget those things that do nurture us. And one of the things that I had to do was step back and say, you know, what do I love? What do I enjoy doing? That I haven’t been doing for a while and I’m kind of a crafty person. And so I found some different things to try to kind of spur that on.
I hadn’t picked up a crochet hook in a long time, and so I found some patterns and I could sit and crochet well, dad worked on a puzzle or whatever he was doing, but just little projects like that found. To be able to inspire myself and, and, keep myself nurtured that I hadn’t really thought about lately because that season of life before I started caring for my dad had been busy too. And so I had to step back and think about those things I kind of had let go of.
Karen Weaver: No, I love that. Yeah. I’m learning to crochet. I’ve been watching a lot of YouTube.
Rayna Neises: yes. Well, I found this handy little kit that you can have sent to your house every month. It has a crochet project in it. And then it also has an address where you can donate the things that you make because I don’t know about you, but I don’t need these things. And so I’ve made, chemo hats for people in chemotherapy. I’ve made scarves and baby blankets and just all kinds of different little projects that they send.
Karen Weaver: I love it.
Rayna Neises: That you can donate. So I’ve really enjoyed that. I can share that on the resource page so that others can find that. But I was excited when I found it because it’s a great stress reliever. but the stress of having stuff I don’t need doesn’t help anything.
Karen Weaver: right. No, I do understand. That’s great. Yeah. Cause I always take my crochet with me to the hospital and to doctor’s appointments. Yeah.
Rayna Neises: It helps you wait better, doesn’t it?
Karen Weaver: Yes. It does help you wait better.
Rayna Neises: Well, I know you’re also an author, Karen, so tell us a little bit about your book.
Karen Weaver: Well, I’m a new author for sure. Oh, my book is called them Reaching Up for Comfort, and it is a book which includes some of my caregiving experiences. It also has questions in it and prayers in it. And so I’ve actually taken scripture and kind of interwoven it into my stories. And. I have some questions which would help the reader to sort of think through their own story as a caregiver.
And I’m hoping that it will actually not only inspire people and encourage people but maybe even challenge people to write their thoughts down that will lead to them telling their own story. So it’s very, it’s very exciting. It’s, yeah, it’s been well received and I’m very excited about, just having gone through the process and actually completed the process.
Rayna Neises: It’s a great accomplishment. Congratulations,
Listeners you can find, Karen’s book, Reaching Up for Comfort at Amazon.com. I’ll also share a link at the bottom of our page so that you can easily access that, and hopefully, that will bring encouragement for you through your season and help you to also process what’s happening so that you can glean some lessons through your season as well.
Karen is also firstname.lastname@example.org where you can learn more about her coaching services as well. Thank you so much. It’s been such a pleasure visiting with you. Karen.
]Karen Weaver: Thank you. Thank you for the opportunity. And, I really enjoyed spending this time with you.
Rayna Neises: Listeners, make sure that you check us out next week. And remember, this podcast is intended for the encouragement of family caregivers. If you have medical, legal, or financial questions, be sure to consult your local professionals.
*Transcript is an actual recount of the live conversation
Karen Weaver, PCC
Coach, Author and Caregiver
She earned a Masters of Counseling from Bowie State University; and a Masters of Theology and a Masters of Divinity from Wesley Theological Seminary. She enjoyed a forty-year career in the public and private sectors including service at a federal agency, a university and three private industry companies. She also served as a Local Pastor in The United Methodist Church for approximately five years.
Karen, her husband Kendrick, and their family live in Maryland. She has supported other caregivers throughout her journey. She currently serves as a caregiver to her husband and father.
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