Part three of Self Care series: Be your own advocate
Does caring for others make you sick?
In this last article of my self-care series, I’ll share how being your own advocate is just as important as being an advocate for your loved one. There are a few examples of how I showed up over the years. Whether I used my voice or didn’t use my voice, had and maintained boundaries or allowed others to crowd my space, it all served to help me grow. Here are a few things to consider when combining households and care giving:
1. Alone time amid a full house.
I granted myself time alone and went to my bedroom and shut
the door. In 2000, my parents left New Hampshire where they
planned on retiring and moved to Arizona within weeks due
to a significant life crisis I was having. Back then, there were
six of us (sometimes seven when my sister, Felicity, visited) sharing a
three-bedroom apartment. My parents shared a room, Amanda
and Felicity shared a room and I shared a room with Sarah
and Steven. Steven rotated among the rooms; whereas, Sarah
was attached to my hip.
This time around starting in 2009, I was fortunate
with such a full house to have a room by myself with a door.
With the exception of my mom needing to come through my
room to use the restroom (before we got her a bedside potty),
my family honored my closed-door most of the time. My
dogs and cats, well, they don’t care so much for closed doors.
If you don’t have a room with a door, you can go in your car;
think of it as a mobile room. People don’t typically think to
look for you in the car! I’ve done this many, many times.
2. I asked for and received help.
From dinner deliveries to prayers
to rotating visits from relatives, I learned to accept help!
My uncle Riley coming to visit gave me time to myself, and I
appreciated this very much. Colleagues at work also offered to
help when I found feeding my kids impossible when I was
at the hospital. Their helping with meals was a
lifesaver to me and I have never forgotten their generosity and
At work one day, one of my employees came into
my office and sat at my desk and gave me a prayer cloth and
asked if we could pray together. This happened right before I left work for family
medical leave. I was deeply touched as we prayed together.
I accepted the prayer cloth and felt so blessed and supported.
My staff meant everything to me and the outpouring of love
and support was overwhelming at times—in a good way.
If someone you know is going through a rough time, it only takes
a minute to dial a phone or send a message letting that person
know you are praying for them and are there if you need them.
Being an independent woman and someone who didn’t
typically ask for or take people up on offers of help, I quickly
realized I needed to be a gracious receiver. When
people offer to help, they generally mean it. ASK for help and
watch as the support rolls in.
“If you are headed in the wrong direction, God allows
~ Author unknown
3. Maintain my weight.
As a result of eating my emotions, I gained over 60 pounds during
November 2009 and September 2010. That’s an average of a
five (5) pound gain a month! I believe everything happens for a
reason and this was part of my journey. I share myself freely so it
can help someone else avoid these mistakes. Five pounds easily
creeps up on you and, if not careful, a five-pound increase turns
into 10 pounds, as so on. Think about the holidays where the
average weight gain is around ten pounds. Now, imagine a year
4. Physical space and boundaries.
I would have consistently honored my home space needs and habits.
Prior to my parents moving in, everything had its place and my home was
completely feng shui’d. I created an amazing living environment
and the energy felt so great; my home was my peaceful
sanctuary. All of a sudden it was gone and the reality was I
allowed it to happen.
I wrongly felt so bad for my parents and
the changes they were going through that I didn’t voice my own
needs about not wanting to see their stuff spew into our dining
room, kitchen, and my office area. I misplaced sympathy and
no one was happy.
My sanctuary turned into a consolidated
household with stuff everywhere. The garage
no longer served as a garage but yet another wall-to-wall
storage space. Just like gaining 5 pounds at a time, this too can
creep up on you and your household without ever realizing or
Make sure you identify your needs, speak your voice, and establish your ground rules
as soon as reasonably able as a condition before involving yourself in a care giving
role. Remember, putting yourself first can and will allow you to
effectively handle any situation.
Blessings for being your own advocate,
Tandy Elisala, MA, CPSC, ACT, CHt, TFT-fAlg, is Founder and CEO of Center for Inspiring Greatness, ™ and co-founder of Care Support for Caregivers ™. Tandy is a Care Giving Expert, Certified Professional Success Coach, Author and Consultant. She is certified in various alternative-healing modalities. Tandy has 25 years’ proven experience as a corporate executive, speaker and coach. Tandy was a full-time caregiver for both parents simultaneously while kicking cancer’s butt a third time and raising three children as a single parent. Tandy lives in Phoenix, Arizona, with her three kids, two dogs, and three cats. Tandy’s book, Healing Through the Chaos: Practical Care-Giving is available for pre-order at http://www.tandyelisala.com.
© Copyright 2013, Tandy Elisala, http://www.centerforinspiringgreatness.com and http://www.caresupportforcaregivers.com. Permission is granted to copy, forward, or distribute this article for non-commercial use only, as long as this copyright byline and bio, in totality, is maintained in all duplications, copies, and link references. For reprint permission for any commercial use, in any form of media, please contact Tandy at email@example.com.