Here’s our new Caregivers Calendar: Plan ahead with us and … Life can be a REAL box of chocolates!

GET READY for some fun! I’m your host at and this week we welcome Dr. Benjamin Pratt for more ideas about creatively reinventing our Caregivers Calendar. (In his first column, Ben explained the importance of this idea.) And, here’s a link to my own previous column. I’ll be back next week!
Heather Jose

By Benjamin Pratt

Fine Chocolates in a boxSince January, I’ve been inviting readers to tackle the calendar and rewrite the holidays. Please, pitch in and help! Email us with your holiday ideas at [email protected]. We’re certainly not alone. Today, ReadTheSpirit Editor David Crumm recommends a brand-new children’s book based on the same idea, called World Rat Day.

Here’s my own new crop for the second quarter of the year …

I know that life can, indeed, become a box of chocolates—if we plan ahead. In the small, lively City of Fairfax, VA, where I live, we hold an annual Chocolate Lover’s Festival. Hundreds of people venture in for a two-day extravaganza of tastes, smells, sculptures of chocolate. Why shouldn’t we borrow this idea and enjoy a little taste of chocolate every day? You  might pair your rich dark chocolate with a rich red wine and get more enjoyment plus health benefits. It will be fun adding all those flavonols, antioxidants and resveratrol for your heart and skin. You will savor each small sip and bite. Of course, not a lot—but a daily delight like this, with your feet up, will keep you well directed in your vital task of caregiving.

Maybe you will call it “Doodling” day because you can’t imagine yourself as an artist. I invite you to just let your mind wander and wonder—to let your hand follow along as a way of distracting and calming yourself. Surprise yourself. Put your coffee or teacup in your opposite hand and draw an image that reflects your mood. Clarify your feelings with honesty. Remember, it is what we don’t face honestly that will bite our backside. After drawing to clarify, you will probably want to share your insight with a close friend.

We caregivers are givers to our core. We know ourselves and appreciate ourselves best when we are giving. Ironically, we often feel like we can’t give another thing. When you are having one of your Blues Days, I suggest you shift your focus from your primary care receiver to someone else. Just for a short time. To whom could you give a gift that will raise her spirit and your own? Make a cake or cupcakes in your kitchen and surprise others. Your own heart will be lifted!

Oh, so simple. Take a nap every day!

Start with the mirror and, looking yourself in the eye, say, “I love you. I am grateful for you.” See how many people you can genuinely give the gift of those words in the course of a day. It will come back to bless you as you have blessed others.

Take at least an hour each day and at least one longer segment of time each week—time for yourself in a way that calms, quiets, relaxes you. We have a dear friend whose husband is dying. He naps every day. She takes that time just for herself. Some days she calls my wife and the two will chat for three hours. They both are nourished, comforted, renewed. Be a little selfish—care for yourself by taking time for you.

Once again—it’s your turn! Email us with your new holiday ideas at [email protected]. Or, leave a Comment, below.

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