Greetings one and all…
This weekend I received an email that truly touched my heart. A gentleman in the Midwest wrote to express his appreciation of a podcast I created and offered over the past four years – a series of conversations regarding the caregiving journey. Serving as a caregiver for numerous family members throughout his life, he noted that my podcast served to inform as well as to inspire. One particular comment resonated in my bones—“Your voice was heard.” Such a simple statement, yet so profoundly important. I am once again reminded that what we say can and does affect unknown people in unimagined ways. Thus, it’s important to be mindful of the messages shared, because our voices make a difference.
An Invitation to Be Heard
In the coming year, let’s make a difference in the world by giving voice to our stories of caregiving and thereby share the lessons learned along the way. Having presented thousands of educational programs over the past 15 years, I realize that ideas are best conveyed through storytelling—creating a captivating narrative that allows the listener to relate to the story in a personal way. Stories serve to:
- Establish common ground
- Provide opportunities to share information and inspiration
- Connect caregivers in meaningful and beneficial ways
- Open our minds and hearts to life-giving possibilities when called to care
Our Stories Normalize the Experience of Caregiving
Listening to the stories of other caregivers doesn’t magically resolve the inherent challenges of caregiving. However, the stories of others serve to:
- Normalize the journey of caregiving
- Mitigate the sense of isolation and loneliness
- Reveal that there are others who “get” the challenges of caregiving
- Guide us through the twists and turns of caregiving
How Will You Be Heard?
You may be reading this reflection and wondering how in the world to make your voice heard. Although you may not have an obvious platform from which to speak, there are a myriad of ways for you to be heard.
- Share your caregiving experiences informally with family and friends who seek your guidance and support
- Serve as a caregiver support group leader
- Volunteer with a disease specific agency to support and to serve family caregivers
- Express yourself through word and deed—reflect the essence of care in your daily interactions with others
In closing, some final thoughts. Far too often we minimize the importance of our “message.” Why would anyone want to listen to my stories of caring for my family, friends, and clients over the past 50 years? Why would anyone want to listen to your stories? Well, people want to hear a kind, caring, compassionate voice that resonates in their heart and mind—a voice that rings true. A voice that articulates the thoughts and emotions they as yet have no words to express. A voice that says, “Yes I know this is hard, but you are not alone.” A voice that makes a difference in their life! Today, that voice could be yours. So don’t be shy. Share your story and make a difference in someone’s life. Blessings to you and yours……jane
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