The importance of self-care when you’re a caregiver


Two-years ago my life changed completely when I became a full-time caregiver to my sister. As a result, I stopped blogging. I wasn’t sure how to talk about my life when it meant talking about my sister’s, too. But I’m learning how to walk that line. And I’m finally starting to write about where I’ve been all this time and what I’ve been doing. For everyone who has stuck around even when it’s been quiet on the blog, thank you.  

Thanksgiving Day marked the two-year anniversary of when I became a full time live-in caregiver. On that chilly November morning two years ago, while I watched the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on TV with my husband, Ian, and the smell of turkey drifted in from the kitchen, our life was about to turn completely on its head.

Not long after the pumpkin pies were finished, Ian and I learned how unsafe my younger sister’s living situation had become. My sister is disabled and unable to work, and the family member she was completely dependent on was stealing her money and neglecting her needs. It was clear she needed to move out immediately — so she moved in with us that night.

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You don’t have to

You don’t have to be good.
You don’t need to emotionally flog your tired soul
when you don’t meet your own definition of perfection.
You don’t have to be right.
Your theology doesn’t have to pristinely answer
all of your lingering, haunting questions.
You don’t have to be certain.
Your waves of doubt aren’t going to drown you;
they’ll help you to finally begin to heal.
You don’t have to be pure.
You’re not some white gown that can be spoiled;
you’re an enchantress, a body, a soul.
You don’t have to be devout.
Your beautiful life isn’t measured in how many
holy books you chant or prayers you whisper.
You don’t have to be tame.
You’re wild like the wind and fierce as fire,
you just don’t know it yet.
You don’t have to be selfless.
You’re a creature of worth and dignity,
and you deserve your care and kindness, too.
You don’t have to save the world.
You’re not responsible for saving more than one person,
and that person is you.


The first line, “You don’t have to be good,” was taken directly from Mary Oliver’s beautiful poem “Wild Geese.” After reading the first few line of her poem, I felt like I wanted to make a list of what I don’t have to do or be; I so often need to be reminded.

When Self-Care Means Not Apologizing

Flickr CC Tara Hunt

Flickr CC Tara Hunt

Some days the apartment looks all cute and vacuumed but on other days I suggest we buy a few more packs of socks and underwear so we don’t have to do laundry. (When it comes to the art of organization, Lorelai Gilmore is pretty much my spirit animal.)

My organizational inspiration comes in waves. Sometimes the state of the apartment reflects how we’ve been feeling. Everything is in its right place because that’s how life is feeling, too. Sometimes it’s evidence that we’ve been busy or sick. And there just wasn’t enough energy  for putting away the clothes that’s currently piled up on the dryer. Sometimes it says we chose going on a date, spending time together, over doing the dishes.  When we’re laughing and talking and breathing in a beautiful, relaxing moment together, the dishes can wait. And sometimes it shows that we just didn’t get around to it. Read More