Hope for living, loving and caring with no regrets!

Ep 22 Michele Howe

Episode 49

This week, Rayna Neises, your host, interviews April McCallum.  April focuses her passion for communication and creativity on writing, art, and advocacy projects.  She has authored several inspirational coloring books for adults, one of which is titled “Reflections of Love: Coloring Book Therapy for Grief and Loss”.  The following insights are shared:

  • We need moments when we can be mindful, relax, rest, and be with our thoughts to reflect on our relationships and the giving and taking of love.
  • Selfcare includes more than just taking a nap or a day off:
    • Practice self-advocacy
    • Find helpers whose passions can assist you
    • Get a prayer partner
    • Unload the burden
    • Express your feelings
  • Do not major in the minors!  The small stuff is not what you will remember when your loved one is gone.
  • Being right vs. being supportive in the way that your loved one needs.
  • Learn from the person you are caring for by documenting their personal story/history.
  • The risk of loving someone and then losing them is worth it.

Transcript

*Transcript is an actual recount of the live conversation

Rayna Neises: 

Welcome to A Season of CaringPodcast where there’s hope for living, loving, and caring with no regrets. This is Rayna Neises, your host. And today I have a special guest April McCallum. April has work experience and high tech industry and nonprofit worlds. She’s dedicated to volunteering for women’s ministries and organizations that encourage and empower women like Reach Up. She now focuses her passion for communication and creativity on writing, art and advocacy projects, April designs, creative pieces that interweave words and visuals that speak to issues close to her heart topics include championing women, adoption, grief, and loss, addiction, and recovery, and the power of one. She has also authored several inspirational coloring books for adults. And the one that caught my attention was Reflections of Love, Coloring Book Therapy for Grief and Loss. April is a strong prayer advocate, believer in dreaming and doing. She loves to see people walk in freedom in order to embrace their God given identity and destiny. Born and raised in Southern California, April and her husband are now transplants to central Florida. They have a son, daughter, three grandchildren and adorable dog named Oliver. Thank you so much for being with us today, April.

April McCallum: 

Thank you, Rayna, for having me as a guest.

Rayna Neises: 

Well, you know, as I ran into your coloring book, I just really thought to myself as caregivers, it’s so important that we find things that helped to reduce our stress. And unfortunately, a lot of our caring season includes grief and loss. And so I thought what a beautiful way to bring those truths together that we need to be processing the grief and losses that are a part of our everyday life as caregivers. Something like coloring, which is something we can do anytime, anywhere to really help us to bring down our stress levels. So thank you for the gift of your book and just for the opportunity to talk a little bit more about, how it can be helpful to my listeners.

April McCallum: 

Well, thank you. Thank you so much for featuring The Reflections of Love: Coloring Book for Adults wonderful. Yes, totally agree that as caregivers we need to have moments where we can just be mindful. Where we can relax, rest, just have peaceful times, quiet times to ourself in our thoughts and our spirit, just to, maybe sit back and reflect. And that’s why I titled it Reflections of Love because even after a person is no longer with us in this life. We like looking in a pond, then there’s reflections of light. You have those reflections of light and love about our relationships with the person that we’ve lost. And so those reflections are really something that are ongoing, like ripples on the water and light on the water that they keep coming back to us to reflect the good parts of our relationship and the things that we gleaned from that life and that love and the giving and taking of that love. So that’s a little bit about, the title of the book. Reflections of Love.

Rayna Neises: 

That’s great. Thank you. So, as we think about caregivers, what do you think might be some helpful things for them in this season right now?

April McCallum: 

Well, I think, we hear sometimes more now than we did in the past. We’re becoming more aware and that is that caregivers themselves need respites and caregivers need to not only advocate for those they care for, but also advocate for themselves so that they will, take care of themselves. I think a lot of times we think it means just to take naps or take a day off, but I think it’s more than that. I think nourishing yourself and body, it is good, but also in soul and spirit and then our minds to manage our thoughts and not allow ourselves to feel guilty, things like that. I think if you want to feel guilt, feel guilt for something that you’ve done that’s bad. Caregiving is a good thing. So the importance of self advocacy is one of the number one things. I think that. recognizing that we’re not the savior of the person we’re taking care of, that we work in tandem with God. And we release that. So we don’t feel like we’re carrying a burden. We were never meant to carry. We do our part. And then in a third bullet point might be, we do our part, meaning. We let others do you know what they’re gifted in their gifts and talents and draw on them. Maybe you’re not a cook, but you feel stressed and burdened because the elderly person and the person that you’re caring for expects that. But it’s not you, maybe you have a friend or they have a friend that would love to do that because that’s their thing. And see, kind of get the idea about that. Or maybe it’s someone who likes to clean and that’s all they do, you know, you’ll do your part, let others do their part. And it becomes a balance. I think also, getting a prayer partner for me has been huge. I have friends that I can say, will you pray with me about this? And what can I pray with you about? And so that’s a bi-directional, lifting of one another as women or whoever your prayer partner is to give you out a strength in those times. I think listening and learning is really important from the experiences and wisdom of the aging person in your life, or whoever your giving care to whoever, if it’s a person that’s lived a life that’s different than you, or maybe, maybe they older than you, but you can glean from listening. And then a really important one that I think is, to manage expectations. Like don’t try to change an elderly person or that person. Meet them where they’re at and lower our expectations because they’re not where we think they should be or where we want them to be. So I think for me, that’s been really big. And then, filters diminished with aging. And just to remember, we can ask God, we can say simple prayers, ask for an unaffendable heart. Every time you feel a burden because we’re not meant to do that. How can we get rid of this burden? Where do we take it to? It might be another person? It might be something like a coloring book. It could be something like that. And then I would say maybe lastly, give yourself room to express your feelings. Cause it’s not just about the person being cared for. It’s also about you as a caregiver, as you’re a season of caring is about, that could be art or nature or music or talking or praying, but it’s something. It could be go to the place where you can express yourself as a caregiver.

Rayna Neises: 

Some great wisdom in that you covered so many great things. I think all of those fall in that self care category, which so many times I know in my caring season, I was like, Oh, I’m so sick of hearing about self care because it feels like it’s just this huge thing. But I love that a lot of those are really practical, simple things that we can do that mindset. You know, loving our person that we’re caring for well, by not taking offense to every little thing. Taking that time to find your place that fills you. because that is so important and it doesn’t have to be spa or a big trip, or like you said, time away, it really needs to be something that is integrated into everything in your life. Self care has to be a part of that as well. That’s great, April, so many good things to two on there. Thank you. So what would you say would be helpful maybe in caring for the aging parents?

April McCallum: 

Well, things like setting boundaries, one of the biggest ones I would say has helped me. And I think can help, people giving care to aging parents or elderly. Boundaries. I think as humans, we don’t want boundaries. We never, it sounds like we were being restrained or constricted. And I think it’s not the way to look at it as we, get a little wisdom and we have a little more experience. We realize that boundaries in everything actually helped us I feel more secure. we set expectations, those are boundaries. We set, for example, my aging parent, we’re not going to go to the market every time one thing is out. We’ll go once a week so we’ve set that expectation. So then every week it’s kind of a relearning, maybe retraining and it might yeah, a little difficult at first, but maybe it’s a relief. And so we go, we do that together. And, and it’s something that we can look forward to together and then they can get ready to make their list and so on and so forth. Not everybody has an aging parent that’s able to go out and do that. Understand that everybody’s care is at a different level, but things like setting appointments for doctors or for their friends to come over, or when you’re going to maybe cook a special meal, or when family’s coming over to visit all. Of those things would have to do with that category. I would say also don’t major on the minors. We get so caught in the weeds sometimes where we it’s just not necessary. And then also along that line is, we don’t always have to be right. We just don’t need to always be right. Like, let yourself have some relief. It’s just easier to say, I want to be a helper. How can I help you? We don’t have to correct them. We don’t have to say don’t you remember when or I told you this, we already talked about that or you always do it this way. You just, just be a helper. What do you need? Oh, you want a piece of pie tonight? You don’t want to have a three course meal. Okay. Okay. let it go. And then I also think, kind of recalibrating, trying to get a helicopter view up instead of getting right in the weeds. Like I said, you’re seeing the bigger picture. Like, it’s just not that important. If they’re gone, you know, tomorrow or next week, or in two years from now, we’ll be care about those little things. We won’t. We’ll care about the moments we spent with them and we want to live without regrets. And so I was just say, seize the moment, say what you need to say. Don’t major in the minors. Make sure that they have dignity. I think dignity is very important for elderly people and all people. And then also, so I would just say lastly, one of the things I was considering before we had the podcast today is document. Let them tell their stories. Only they can tell their stories. Recount family history and take videos, do little interviews with them, you know, go through photos and then talk to them about their lessons learned. Glean that wisdom for generations to come, for legacy reasons. Things like that and really, I think when we do that, it also helps us to calm down or appreciate this is a person who’s lived a life just like we have. And. They’ve got things to say, they’ve got things to teach us, et cetera, et cetera. And anyways, you get the idea.

Rayna Neises: 

I love that, just great valuable tips. There are boundaries. Really tough, but so important, completely agree. And that’s, being a helper that heart of a helper, it just does make all the difference because it’s not about being right or wrong. It’s just about being there and supporting them in the way that they need it. And then, just really being able to value them as a person. And I love the idea of getting the history because I lost both of my parents to Alzheimer’s disease. And, you would think after losing my mom at a very young age, I would have spent more time asking my dad questions about our family history of their life, that kind of thing. And, you know, he just didn’t really like to talk about it. And so I didn’t. And I look back now having both of them gone and it’s just sad because I didn’t get a chance to gleam that information. I do have an aunt and we’ve been picking her brain lately to learn a little more stories about mom and dad, because especially my parents. We’re older when we were born, my sister and I, they were in their thirties and they got married at 18 and 19. So they had a long life before they were mom and dad. It was funny because when you talk to them, life just started when they became parents. And so we really just didn’t know a lot about their history. So I love that challenge to really learn from the person that you’re caring for. Because when we think about, what we’re going through right now with COVID in this pandemic, Multiple generations before us have gone through typhoid and polio. And these other things, we can learn so much about how resilient they are and how they learn to trust again and walk again in faith and not be worried or distraught over what’s happening. So I do think there’s so much to learn and I love that you pointed that out. The idea of having video and things like that would be amazing as well.

April McCallum: 

Ryan.

Rayna Neises: 

So as we were talking about the cover of your book and just kind of the reflections and where that came from, the back of the book describes it as a love letter for their heart filled with tenderness, hope and reflection. So tell us a little bit about the idea of that love letter.

April McCallum: 

Yeah. So I have a thing about levels. I think, I just think God is always sending us love letters. And that’s just kinda my personal point of view in life. I tend to be optimistic, pragmatic. But I feel that way when I’m in nature, and looking at creation of flowers and the distinctness of somemany things, how a leaf is how efficient is made, how birds fly, just colors and just all of it. I feel the presence of God in those places. So I think it also comes to people who are important to us, who would I call it? They drop love bombs on us at pivotal times in our life. And I think that’s really, again, the presence of God, but kind of the hands and feet of Christ coming to us in special ways. So I think those kind of things are what I would call. love letters. things that are filled with hope and promise of a life up ahead. And it’s full of words and images, the coloring book and, and those things. So in that way, I would say the client book is like a love letter. It’s a message that comes with the ability to wrap tiny bits of promise and hope and love around our hearts when we need it. When they’re hurting, when we’re going through stages of loss or flection about a loved one in their lives. So I think it’s how we feel a little bit, like we go through an old shoe box or we go through an old journal or we see letters or postcards, and we’re reminiscing about special moments and our memories linger like they’re suspended in time. And after we go through those things, we kind of feel like we’ve been encapsulated for a few moments with the time that we’ve actually spent with our loved ones. So in that way, I mean, it’s kind of like a love letter.

Rayna Neises: 

That’s beautiful. And love is all around and all those places when we learn to notice them, it’s always there for us. And so that’s a great way to challenge ourselves to kind of look for those little love letters or love bombs. I’d love that. So there’s a quote in the welcome section of your book. “The risk of love is loss and the price of loss is grief, but the pain of grief is only a shadow when compared with the pain of never risking love.” Speak to that for us.

April McCallum: 

Yes. Thank you. Yes. I love that one too. Life, it’s beautiful and magnificent as it is, is also with moments as we know, because we’re talking about this, with seasons of great disappointment and pain. It might be this kind of thing with an aging parent, it could be losing a child. It could be so many other things, divorce or adoption and other things where there’s great pain, but there’s no escaping it. And I think it’s just a part of obviously our humanness. But if we’ve been blessed enough to be birthed in this life, I think with the pain and loss and death and all of that losing loved ones, we could say, we focused on jobs and wealth and money and fame and that whole earthly thing and then there’s death. But my perspective, would be the other perspective is to risk getting back to the quote, risk, loving another, and then losing that person. After it’s all said and done. Is the one who risk loving has something in their heart to show for it. They gave their love, they lost their loved one, but they also receive something in return. Something that’s eternal that no one can take away. So they’ll have memories to have those reflections of love. They’ll be able to cherish those times, shared, lessons learned, and all of that, that was with another person. So in the grander scheme of things, the risk was worth it. And that’s really what I saw in that quote. And that’s why we see Reflections of Love because we were intentional about our lives and we, invested in and people invested in us. And there’s something that goes on to turn it off. I believe when we see life through that lens.

Rayna Neises: 

That is a beautiful, definitely I think when we’ve risked it it’s so well worth it. Sometimes it ends up being, just difficult to continue to risk whenever we find ourselves having losses and unless, we really learned to process those things and hand those things over to God, because like you said, they are part of life Whenever you’re caring for an aging person or someone that you love. There are losses that relationship changes. They can’t do what they used to be able to do. You can’t count on them in the same way. They’re starting to count on you for more things. All of those things get a little bit complicated, but the love is so much the key. That we get to walk away with that treasured gift of their love and if their time, and like you said, those memories.

April McCallum: 

Yes. It’s all good.

Rayna Neises: 

So as we’re talking about loss and we think about when we love somebody, can you just really devastating to lose them? In those that was final stages of caring for them, but is there a redeeming quality that you would say about personal loss?

April McCallum: 

Yes, I would say because it’s not the end of the story, it’s a continuum. And it’s a continuum of their memory or history. And it’s part of us moving forward into the future. In Psalm 34, if you’re familiar with scripture, it says “He is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit and binds up their wounds.” The word binds means to protect and strengthen insecure. And what’s so cool about God is he invites us to partner with him. And then also in Isaiah 61, it talks about us proclaiming the good news that “He sent us to bind up the broken hearted, proclaim freedom for the captives, and release those who were bound in darkness.” So when we think. Is there any redeeming quality? I say yes, because God promised us beauty for ashes and the oil of joy for mourning of, and for the spirit of heaviness. So God knew that with the hope of eternal life, we would experience heartache and loss here on earth. So he provided for that, that it didn’t just end with death and sorrow, but that something would be raised up and come to life in us, as we expect and look for the more we’ll find it.

Rayna Neises: 

Such true, very powerful. And just a reminder, listeners, you can really find such truth in the books that April has created, being able to really point us to that true life and love and, God’s love for us. So definitely, we want to be able to share with you, one of her books she has donated to us to give away. So I want you definitely to visit our website and www.ASeasonofCaring.com/podcast. You just need to comment on our podcast with April and we will be giving away copy of Reflections of Love. And I look forward to being able to do that and bless someone. I think it will be an opportunity for you to really focus in on what’s most important as you’re able to have some downtime some quiet time and just de-stressed. Thank you again, listeners for joining us and April, it was a pleasure to have you today.

April McCallum: 

What a pleasure. Thank you so much, Rayna.

Rayna Neises: 

Just to reminder A Season of Caring Podcast is created for the encouragement of family caregivers. If you have medical, financial, and legal questions, please consult your local professionals and take heart in your Season of Caring.

*Transcript is an actual recount of the live conversation

April McCallum

April McCallum

Author

After a successful career in the high-tech industry, with her last position at Intel Corporation, April transitioned out of the corporate world. With a background in business, marketing, and communications, she entered the non-profit arena. She worked for an organization that documented spiritual and societal transformation around the globe with a focus on research, training, and filmmaking. She also serves in various volunteer capacities including women’s ministry and on the Board of Directors for Reach UP, a one-of-a-kind magazine specifically created to encourage, counsel, and empower marginalized women.

As a lifetime creative, she now focuses her passion for communication and creativity on writing, art, and advocacy projects. Her writing and artwork have been licensed and featured in both business and non-profits, appearing in a variety of magazines and on products. April has long been an “advocacy artist” designing creative pieces that interweave words and visuals that speak to issues close to her heart. Topics include championing women, adoption, grief and loss, addiction and recovery, the “power of one,” and more. She has also authored several inspirational Coloring Books for Adults.

April is a strong prayer advocate, believing in the power of love and prayer to redeem, reconcile, and restore lives. She’s a believer in dreaming and doing– taking action with our individual gifts to play a pivotal role in the bigger picture of transforming hearts and lives one step at a time. She loves to see people walk in freedom in order to embrace their God-given identity and destiny.

Born and raised in Southern California, April and her husband David are now transplants in Central Florida. They have a son, daughter, three grandchildren, and an adorable dog named Oliver.

In a nutshell, she is a follower of Christ, lover of life, champion of people, advocate for freedom and a believer in dreams come true.

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Meet Your Host

Rayna Neises, ACC

Your Host

Author of No Regrets: Hope for Your Caregiving Season, ICF Certified Coach, Podcast Host & Speaker, offering encouragement, support, and resources to those who are in a Season of Caring for Aging Parents.

Her passion is for those caring and their parents, that they might be seen, not forgotten & cared for, not neglected

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4 Things you need to know as you begin your season of caring

4 Things you need to know as you begin your season of caring

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