~The Artistry of Caregiving, Letters to Inspire Your Caregiver Journey~
by Carole Brecht
I started caring for my Mom full-time in 2009 after I closed my art gallery/custom frame shop. I had planned to secure a job within six months, but my career path took a turn when my Mom was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease. My Dad was still working full-time and I lived nearby, so it seemed fitting that I would be taking on the role of Mom’s Caregiver. For a long time, I didn’t know the word “Caregiver” or its meaning. All I knew was that I was the daughter stepping up to help my parents in their senior years. I’ve always been close to my parents and would do anything for them if they called on me. To this day, I am caring for my Dad throughout the work week.
Initially, Mom was on a slow decline, but when she took a fall around the holidays that year and broke her arm, everything changed. She was heavily medicated with pain meds and her mental state began to change drastically. What I witnessed over the next several years of the ravages of this awful disease was horrific and scary. She looked exactly the same, but her aggressive personality changes were huge. At the end of her life, in September 2014, I made a firm decision to write a book for those going through their own Caregiving journeys and began writing The Artistry of Caregiving. All I could think about was helping someone in the same shoes to let them know they were not alone, but very much understood, appreciated and supported. Mom died on November 23, 2014.
I started writing my blog and creating a Facebook page in January 2015, while I was writing my book. I never gave social media a thought and had never written a blog before, though my love for writing started in my 40s. Although I was wallowing in grief, I forged ahead with passion and energy because my desire to help others was so much greater than how sad I felt. I was compelled to write my book and wanted my readers to find inspiration, comfort, connection, feel understood, experience support and find hope. In February 2015 I launched my blog and the San-Gen-Woman Facebook page (formerly known as The Sandwich Woman). I also went on to create Twitter and Instagram pages in May of 2015. 45 countries are represented in my social media and it has been a blessing to be able to touch so many lives in a positive and heartfelt way!
My book includes several of my Caregiver Zentangle Inspired Art designs that affirm and support Caregivers. The book also includes 33 letters written to the readers to help them to navigate the emotional journey of caring for another. It’s meant to be read on the go, in no particular order. If a reader can’t focus or doesn’t have time to read, the images throughout the book will inspire and affirm. The paperback edition will be out in July on Amazon. Whether you are at the beginning, middle or end of your journey, this book is written for you. Here is an excerpt:
You are the captain of the USS Caregiver, and you are in command of a host of people who are helping you sail the Caregiving seas. You make decisions every day that are correct to get to your destination, which is tomorrow and then the next day and the next. You weather all kinds of conditions and you do it with class and joy. Who could ask for a better captain than you?”
Who is a Caregiver?
Caregivers come in different ages, both boys and girls, men and women, teens, young adults and seniors and typically that person has a huge heart. There are Caregivers/Carers all over the world and we are the most diverse population possible! Though my Caregiver experience is based on my relationship caring for my parents in their senior years, the concept of caring for another follows us throughout our lives. We learn to love and to care for others from the time we’re toddlers. People of all ages can read this book and benefit from the emotional support through my words and my Zentangle Inspired Art. My book is your companion, letting you know you are understood and not alone. I hope you refer to The Artistry of Caregiving throughout your lifetime and you share it with others. May my book bless you and comfort you as you navigate the emotional journey of caring for another.
Instagram: Carole Brecht @San_Gen_Woman