A podcast where we share stories of hope for family caregivers breaking through loneliness to see God even in this season of life.

Stories of Hope for living content, loving well, and caring with no regrets!

ep 131 caregiver warrior

Episode 152

Rayna Neises, your host, talks with Peggy Bodde. Peggy left corporate life behind in 2014 to start a freelance writing business. She is also the founder of Sacred Work, a ministry that provides free career and leadership coaching. Peggy just signed a deal with a publisher and is working on her first book. She lives with her husband, George, and their dog, Quill, in Colorado and is happiest when outdoors. Peggy shares the following insights from her caregiving experience with her in-laws who journeyed with cancer and macular degeneration:

      • [3:30] Caring for an in-law is different from your parent.
      • [8:13] Ask, “What can you experience together?”
      • [8:55] There are more than just physical needs that need to be taken care of.
      • [9:59] Caregiving is difficult and can be very lonely and isolating.
      • [11:09] Utilize resources to allow yourself to be proactive instead of reactive.
      • [13:59] Caring for an adult is different than raising children.
      • [14:52] We all have wounds that we are not even aware of.
      • [17:29] Finding connecting points helps.
      • 19:55] Seek out resources quickly because caregiving is not second nature.
      • [22:25] This episode is sponsored by Content Magazine, a quarterly electronic offering, to help you find God in the midst of your caregiving season. Visit ContentMagazine.online to subscribe.

This Episode is brought to you by:

Peggy Bodde

Peggy Bodde

Family Caregiver, Founder of Sacred Work

Peggy is a former vice president who resigned from corporate in 2014 to start a freelance writing business. She is also the founder of Sacred Work, a ministry that provides free career and leadership coaching for women. Peggy just signed with Moody Publishers to write her first book.

She and her husband George live in the mountains of Colorado with their little rescue dog, Quill. George is an engineer turned artist and an avid skier who daily lives out his father’s legacy of big-hearted love. As a couple, they’re happiest when outside fly fishing or tromping in the woods.

Resources

Transcript

*Transcript is an actual recount of the live conversation

Rayna Neises: 

Welcome. This is Rayna Neises, your host of A Season of Caring Podcast, where we share stories of hope for family caregivers breaking through the busyness and the loneliness to see God even in this season of life Today I’m excited to introduce you to my friend Peggy Bodde. Peggy is a former Vice President who resigned from corporate in 2014 to start a freelance writing business. She’s also the founder of Sacred Work a Ministry that provides free career and leadership coaching for. Peggy just signed with Moody Publishers to write her first book. She and her husband George live in the mountains of Colorado with their little rescue dog. Quill. George is an engineer turned artist and an avid skier who daily lives out his father’s legacy of big hearted love. As a couple, they’re happiest when they’re outside fly fishing or trumping in the woods. Welcome, Peggy. I’m so glad to have you here today.

Peggy Bodde: 

Thank you, Rayna, for having me. I’m excited to spend this time with.

Rayna Neises: 

So let’s start off by just having you share a little bit about your caregiving season, what that looks like, who you’ve been caring for.

Peggy Bodde: 

Well, George and I moved to Colorado to be near his parents about a year before his father-in-law. My father-in-law was diagnosed with cancer. So we took care of him for about a year and that lasted from his diagnosis to when he passed away at home. And since that time we’ve been caregivers for George’s mom, Dorothy. So she’s 89, she’ll be 90 in May, and she is very fit. She exercises daily. even though she’s healthy that way, she does suffer from macular degeneration. So her vision is greatly impaired. She’s almost blind, so she has very different needs than George’s dad had when we took care of him. And we’re really grateful because one of George’s brothers just started helping us out last winter and after Christmas, he takes Dorothy to Arizona to stay with him through the end of May. So, gives us a little break and that is a gift, as you know, to have a break.

Rayna Neises: 

well indefinitely, even in, in the environment, I would imagine, with the macula, her being safe, just coming and going and that kind of thing probably is a, a factor of concern with the weather and all of that kind of as well. I know my aunt has macula and it’s amazing. it’s, it’s such a struggle. There’s so many things they just can’t see that it, they really do need a lot of help.

Peggy Bodde: 

Yeah. And we’re you know, we’re high up in the mountains in Colorado and she. Like a lot of older folks, she actually loves winter and cross country skiing and walking outside. But of course she can’t walk outside in the ice and snow anymore. So in Arizona, she’s able to do a walk around the neighborhood with, with her ski poles. She takes her ski and uses those. But she’s able to do that and it’s good for her mental health too, you know, to be outside cuz she doesn’t like the treadmill. So

Rayna Neises: 

Yeah. Walking outside is completely different than walking a treadmill. So, and you know, the older we get, the more set in our ways we are. Right. So that can be so challenging to make those changes. So I’m glad that you have his brother being able to help in that way. I’m sure that does make a big difference to give you that respite time, but can be so challenging. I think, you know, even caring for an in-law is different than caring for your own parents.

Peggy Bodde: 

That is such a great point. I think that my, my father-in-law and my husband, were best friends and so they had a very special relationship and that comes into play when you’re caregiving. And he’s one of six kids. And his mom always teases that by the time he came along, because he is the youngest, she was done so she turned him over to her husband. and, and they spent tons of time together. And in that way George was kind of like an only child. And so then here I come, you know, I’m the daughter-in-law. George and I have only been married eight years, so we met late in life I met, you know, so we’ve been caregivers half of that time, but. as an in-law, as a daughter-in-law, you kind of always feel a little bit on the outside, unsure of when you can speak up, when you can say something, when you shouldn’t, when you can make a suggestion, when you shouldn’t. So it does add a layer of complexity when it’s, when it’s not your parent, you know? And, and I think that’s one of the things that took me off.

Rayna Neises: 

Yeah. There’s so many family traditions, nuances, just how they do things as a family that you’re kind of trying to navigate on top of being selfless in this caregiving role, which is. Really what it takes. So both caring for your father-in-law and now your mother-in-law. Is there a story that you’d like to share with our audience about caregiving?

Peggy Bodde: 

Yes. One of my favorite stories is about my father-in-law, and one of the things I loved about him is he was very spontaneous, which my husband is that way too. I’m a planner. But my father-in-law was very spontaneous and he always created fun. You know, even out of the most simplest everyday things and his love language was to give people treats. So, that was one of the things that he always did. And ice cream, you know, if you ever rode in the car with him to the grocery store or anywhere, it was guaranteed that you would get a treat. You were gonna stop somewhere for ice cream. And ice cream was his favorite dessert. So after he had cancer, his diagnosis, he and I were talking about milkshakes and who has the best milkshakes. And I said, well, I think Chick-fil-A has the best milkshakes. And he said, well, I’ve never been to Chick-fil-A And just so that your listeners can understand, when I say we live in a small town in Colorado, in the mountains, we live in a very small town like the nearest Chick-Fil-A is two hours away in Farmington, New Mexico So. The conversation I had with him spurred this idea and, and he really latched onto this idea that he wanted to go to Chick-fil-A and experience one of their milkshakes. So at this time he was, he was pretty frail. He had lost a lot of weight and many other family members were not supportive of us taking him because it, you know, it’s a two hour drive, but he really wanted to go. So we made the decision that we were gonna take him to Farmington, New Mexico. We were gonna take him to Chick-fil-A and he decided he wanted to go to Sam’s Club. So we went to Sam’s Club first and wandered around, and then went to Chick-fil-A and he got a milkshake. And after his first sip, he looked at me and he just grinned. And he said, you’re right. This is the best milkshake I’ve ever had. And you know, we didn’t know it then, but he would only be with us for two more months.

Rayna Neises: 

Wow.

Peggy Bodde: 

And when I look back, I really think he needed that trip so he could remember what it felt like to be normal again, to be himself. And I think we needed that trip because we got to witness the joy, that it brought him. So I’m so grateful we took the trip and in a dark season, that remains a really. A really light and happy memory, so I’m glad we went.

Rayna Neises: 

I think it’s so important so many times in caregiving we’re so concerned about their safety, that we take everything away that brings them joy and we don’t do it on purpose and we don’t even do it. Most of the time we don’t even realize we’ve done it. And for him, it sounds like the illness took away so much of that because he was so frail and because he was so sick that I think it’s not unusual for us to. To lose that and for them to lose that joy. So I love that that’s a precious memory and such an opportunity to kind of challenge us as caregivers. What can we experience together? Even if it’s just a simple trip somewhere to something a favorite treat can be just a moment of joy to be able to tuck in our pocket for later.

Peggy Bodde: 

Yeah. And I, I think that’s something I learned from you, Rayna, from your book and from hearing you on other podcast episodes, is that engaging the people we’re caring for and, and things that are fun and enjoyable for them. Are just as important, because we do tend to make the spreadsheet for the doctor’s visits the medication, you gotta eat this, you’ve gotta drink this. And we kinda lose sight of the fact that they are still human. They still have things they enjoy doing. And that’s the main reason my husband especially wanted his dad to take this trip because he wanted his dad to have fun. You. It may not have seemed practical to other people, but he wanted to be able to give that, that fun experience to his dad. And I think it’s just so important to remember that there’s still, there’s more than just physical needs that need to be taken care of.

Rayna Neises: 

So true, and I will have to try a Chick-fil-A milkshake. I’ve been to Chick-fil-A, but I’ve never had their milkshake, so I’ll have to try to do that. I usually take my grandkids, which would mean I would end up having to buy them all a milkshake too, so I don’t know maybe they’d go for the ice cream and I can go for a milkshake.

Peggy Bodde: 

I highly recommend the Chick-fil-A milkshake

Rayna Neises: 

All right. Do you have a favorite flavor?

Peggy Bodde: 

Chocolate for me. My father-in-law liked vanilla, but I like chocolate

Rayna Neises: 

Okay. So what was the one thing that surprised you most about caregiving?

Peggy Bodde: 

I would definitely have to say the most surprising thing about caregiving remains how difficult it is. You know, my husband and I, we didn’t even really talk about it. We just kind of jumped into it and we both made the mistake of thinking, you know, we’ve done hard things in our life we’re smart, we can figure this out. And that was so wrong, That saying of you don’t know what you don’t know, took on a whole new meaning in the caregiving season and we learned the hard way and so many areas. So just like we were, you know, we were just talking about how the people we’re taken care of have different needs, physical, emotional. Well, those are, you know, on the flip side, those are the challenges that the caregiver is presented with. So it’s really difficult because it’s not straightforward. There’s layers of complexity, there’s, taking care of the physical needs, but there’s also emotional needs. And then there’s the fact that caregiving is it can be very lonely and isolating. So George and I talk now that, you know, we really wish we would’ve known about people like you and other resources from the get-go, because then we could have been proactive instead of reactive. But when we entered into caregiving, we didn’t even know it was a thing. We didn’t know that there were websites. Podcast books, we had no idea. So we just, jumped into it and bumbled, you know, our way through the first, at least six months of it. It can also be really isolating and lonely because people who haven’t done it, I don’t care how close of a friend they are, how empathetic they are as a family member who lives in a different state. If they’re not there doing it or if they haven’t gone through it, they don’t understand. So that can make you feel really isolated and it can also make you frustrated when the people you’re talking to don’t understand the experience you’re going through. So caregiving is super hard and I think how hard it is is definitely the thing that stands out to me that surprised me and my husband both.

Rayna Neises: 

I interviewed a lady, one of the first podcasts I did, and she said, it’s the hardest right thing you will ever do.

Peggy Bodde: 

Perfectly said.

Rayna Neises: 

Such a great statement because it is so hard, and even when you say that to someone who hasn’t done it, they kind of are judgy about it sometimes

Peggy Bodde: 

That is so true. And you know what, that is one of the reasons I wanted to bring it up in this conversation with you, because people like to shame I mean, it’s almost like you’re. By saying, you know, man, this is so hard. You’re dishonoring the person when you’re not. You’re just being honest that yes, you know, in our case, God called us to do it and we are gonna do it and it’s the right thing to do. But you know what? It’s hard. Most days it is hard, and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with saying that. And we have to get more comfortable talking about the reality.

Rayna Neises: 

Mm. I agree. And you know, it’s hard in a way because all of us, I frequently think of myself. What am I gonna be like when I’m old and I need help, and how am I gonna, how can I make this easier on people? And then I look at myself and think, I don’t know, because I like my way of doing things and no one else does things exactly like I do. And so I think there’s so much of that involved in trying to just let go of their independence and let go of their opinions. I mean, we’re asking them to give up so much to accept care, and most of us aren’t very gracious at that And so I think that’s a big piece of why it’s so hard. If you could just go in and do it all and not worry about the person’s feelings or what they want or any of the, it’d be a whole lot easier but it wouldn’t be pleasant.

Peggy Bodde: 

You bring up a great point, and this is one of the things I read in your book that really resonated with me. And you talk about how, you know, some folks compare caregiving to raising children. And for the reasons that you just described, it is completely different because they have lived a lifetime that we haven’t. They have a lifetime of wisdom and experience that we don’t have, and those things command a certain dignity and respect that is very different from raising a child. And so I think it’s even more complicated because you’re trying to honor that dignity, but you’re also. Trying to step in at the right time and make the right decision to protect them, to keep them safe, to keep them healthy. So it’s a delicate, it’s a really delicate balance to do that.

Rayna Neises: 

It is. I completely agree. The other thing that goes into that is we all have wounds. We don’t make it through this life without wounds. And I think so many times the wounds that we have or that they have, we aren’t even aware of. In this situation, we, I’ve mentioned my aunt before when she was very young she lived in a rural community and was hit by a car, and they took her by ambulance over three hours away to a hospital where she had to stay without any family. At four years old, and so that abandonment that she experienced with this head injury and broken bones and all of this scary, overwhelming feeling. She’s in a, an assisted living facility, and with Covid, she got covid. And so she was isolated and couldn’t leave, and her daughter couldn’t come in. And that 10 days was torturous for her. And there’s other times that her responses, you know, you, you just are kind of surprised by something that bothers her so much. But I think her life and her wounds and her experiences have led to. That reaction and so many times I, I wasn’t aware of how bad the accident, I knew she had an accident when she was young, but I didn’t realize how long she was in the hospital by herself and how difficult. I mean, my gosh, all of us can imagine how difficult that would be. But just realizing that those feelings kind of come back and maybe surprise the person we’re caring for or definitely surprise us cuz we aren’t aware of them. So I think so many times. our humanity shows up and that makes caregiving really hard as well. Because I have my stuff. You have your stuff and we probably don’t even realize it.

Peggy Bodde: 

Yeah. That, that really makes me think about my mom-in-law, you know, I mentioned she’s really healthy. Just to give your listeners an idea, she can do a plank for eight minutes. Which, you know, in two minutes I am shaking and I’m way over than she’s, but one of the things that’s been really hard for her is not being able, she used to be a competitive runner and now she can walk for two miles and that’s it. You know, and so losing her vision, you know, there’s certain, the physical part of losing her independence and her strength. For my husband that can be frustrating cuz he is like, you’ve got plenty of money. You’re, you know, you’re very healthy. But because I was born with a spinal defect and I’ve had things stripped away from me that I used to love to do, that’s a connecting point for me and my mother-in-law because I totally get where she’s coming from. And I think that having, if we can find those connecting points, It really helps. They may not be identical, but if there’s a way that we can develop empathy based on something we’ve gone through, I think that can really help those personal wounds that both the caregiver and the person being cared for bring into the season.

Rayna Neises: 

Mm-hmm. definitely. So share with our listeners how God has shown himself in this season.

Peggy Bodde: 

Rayna, I could not have, I could not be a caregiver without, without God. He has been so faithful to meet needs that I couldn’t even articulate. Caregiving as you know, can be overwhelming. There are still times when I say God, I need you. I don’t even know what to ask for but I can’t do this without you. And he always brings the right resources into my life at the right time, you know, people like you. He’s also protected our marriage. As you know, George and I met late in life. We’ve only been married eight years. We’ve been caregivers for half of that time. it can be really a strain on, on your marriage. So God has protected our, our marriage. He’s also given me strength when I feel like, you know, I have no, nothing left. I cannot give, I can’t give another minute. I don’t have it. He, he’s provided. So he’s just shown up in a really big way. And, just met every need that I’ve had. even when I couldn’t voice it. So I am, I’m so grateful.

Rayna Neises: 

I think faith is such an important piece of it, and we mentioned before we started the podcast, it’s just we can’t imagine what it’s like to do this without faith. And so I think that’s definitely one of the secret ingredients I would say, to making it through. Because of all that there is that’s involved in it from being sacrificially, loving others to being forgiving and being open and trying to be flexible. That’s not in my nature, particularly And so, you know, learning to do those things and to rely on him and, and just have that faith and trust, I think is such it’s precious and I’m thankful for it and definitely part of the growing process that is involved in caregiving.

Peggy Bodde: 

It is for sure.

Rayna Neises: 

As we wrap up, any words of wisdom you’d like to share?

Peggy Bodde: 

I think the one thing I would say to your listeners is something that I wish someone would’ve said to me early on, and that is that no one is automatically equipped to be a caregiver, and that’s okay, and we shouldn’t feel guilty about that. I, I think it’s important to seek out resources as quickly as you can because caregiving is not second nature. It’s not like parenting or anything else that we’ve done in our lives, and we can’t just start doing it and take it on along with everything else. You know, my husband and I both work full-time. You can’t just, you can’t do it all. It’s just not possible and you can’t know how to do it all. So I would just say don’t be hard on yourself if you’re floundering, because no one’s equipped to do it. It doesn’t come naturally. So I would say get resources and, and get help, because you don’t have to do it.

Rayna Neises: 

very wise advice. In fact, last week on our podcast, I interviewed Tonja Moon, who has spent years in the dementia area, but she said the exact same thing that when she became the granddaughter of someone with dementia, it was a whole different story. So even when you have a medical background, it doesn’t mean that you’re fully equipped to be a caregiver. So I think it’s so important to realize. I think taking on that label of caregiver can be a little surprising at times, cuz you just think, well, I’m just a daughter. I’m just daughter-in-law, who’s who’s hoping you know. But it really does help to take on that label because then you know that you need to treat yourself a little differently. You need to get the resources that are available. And when you use the word caregiver, you’ll find all kinds of resources out there. So it definitely helps you do that as well.

Peggy Bodde: 

That is so true. And I just wanna thank you for your book. Rayna, I’ve told you this before, but. It’s like our, our guidebook we still look things up and reread chapters and it has just helped us so much. So I just wanna thank you for all that you poured into writing that book because it is a very practical and encouraging resource, and it’s one that we use still to this day. So thank you.,

Rayna Neises: 

Well, thank you. Thanks so much for joining us today, Peggy, and just sharing a little bit of your caregiving season and your faith. I just am really blessed by it.

Peggy Bodde: 

Thank you for having me. I hope that it helped your listen.

Rayna Neises: 

Well listeners, thank you for joining us today for stories of hope from Peggy. This episode has been brought to you by content magazine and electronic quarterly magazine available today to help you find God in the midst of your caregiving season. Take that moment to take a deep breath. Find him and then go back energized into your caregiving life. That’s available now at www.Contentmagazine.online.

A Season of Caring Podcast has been created for the encouragement of family caregivers. If you have financial, legal or medical questions, be sure to consult your local professionals and keep living content, loving well, and caring with no regrets.

            Meet Your Host

Rayna Neises

Would you like to be a Guest?  |  Email Rayna

Rayna Neises, ACC

Author of No Regrets: Hope for Your Caregiving Season, Editor of Content Magazine, ICF Certified Coach, Speaker, Podcast Host, & Positive Approach to Care® Independent Trainer 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, so that both might be seen, not forgotten & cared for, not neglected.

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Rayna Neises: A Season of Caring