Tag Archives: Appreciated

Living a SANE life with the help of four words

We just passed the midpoint of January 2019. It’s not always an easy month—post holiday blues and “back to the same-old, same-old.” Here’s what I’m focusing on this year, this month, this day, this moment: Living SANE—Supported, Appreciated, Not Guilty and Energized. Whether you’re giving care, receiving help, or just living day–to-day, come out of your silo and live SANE:

  • Supported is knowing when and who to call for help. Make a list of those trusted people who make space for you to be brutally vulnerable, who listen to you with no agenda, and who love you every day.
  • Appreciated is living in gratitude and loving yourself. List all the things you love about your life and yourself. Keep that list handy.
  • Not guilty is no regrets—being gentle with yourself even when you’re not functioning at your personal best. Gentle is a good word to post on your mirror to remind you to be kind to yourself.
  • Energized is engaging in life physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. It’s your energy to give and keep. Make note of those with whom you have a happier, healthier, give-and-take of energies.

Here’s how I took a moment for myself today

I needed something different this morning. The pressure of the mushrooming to-do list almost stopped me, but instead, I played a game with myself. I picked up Roger Housden’s “Ten Poems to Change Your Life” and randomly opened to “Ode to my Socks” by Pablo Neruda, translation by Stephen Mitchell (pdf link below). I’m familiar with this one, but as with most poetry, something new awakened in me this morning.

Pablo Neruda has the capacity to celebrate the things right in front of us. I have had an affinity with this poem in the past because my feet are covered in papery-thin skin. I have my dad’s feet; we’re identical feet twins. Socks are important to me and I wear good socks—especially hiking or working in the woods.

But that’s not what this poem is about. Neruda reminded me to slow down and take a moment. Breathe in what is around me and celebrate it. Stop for one moment, shut off my critical mind-chatter telling me to “get going,” and appreciate the everyday, normal things. Like socks.

So I sat on the porch, closed my eyes and listened—a variety of bird voices, an airplane far above, the buzz of a bee circling me, cow bells in the distance, the rustle of the birch leaves—just for a moment.

I thought of my S.A.N.E. Method™  for caregivers, “This is Appreciation—to take time for oneself, even if just a moment.” (And believe me, I fought a little with myself over taking this time. We have a list, after all! It needs to be accomplished!) But the gift I received from this moment was just like an inexpensive trip to the spa. I feel more settled, grateful and have a renewed sense of energy.

Today I took a moment for Appreciation; this is what I want family caregivers to do. Find some small amount of time and instead of falling into the habit of another glass of wine (if that’s your thing) or one more episode of your favorite sitcom (believe me, I enjoy getting lost in the familiar characters, too), do something that shakes you up, something you don’t normally do. Or something that you simply want to try. What you gain from your moment will be different from what I found, but I trust you will receive a bit of mind rest. And that could make all the difference in your day.

Ode to My Socks

Making SANE resolutions after the stressful holidays (Wait…haven’t I already missed the deadline?)

You’ve just gotten through the holidays and next up is writing New Year’s resolutions. Ugh! I like the idea a friend of mine shared on Facebook; she writes a letter to herself at the end of each year, sharing her hopes, dreams and fears. She seals it up and reads the letter a year later. I may have to start writing my “letter” in November, however, because after the holiday hubbub, I’m feeling a bit melancholy.

I also feel a bit vulnerable when writing down what it is I want to achieve or do or be “when I grow up.” So I listened to Brené Brown’s TED Talk The Power of Vulnerability. What struck me this time was when she said, “We can’t practice compassion with other people if we can’t treat ourselves kindly.” Bingo!

impossible-possibleNow I can breathe, let go and figure out what I want for 2017. When I developed the SANE Method™ (Supported, Appreciated, Not Guilty and Energized) for caregivers, I knew it could also be used in many other life situations. Letting go of one year and looking forward to a new year is one such time the SANE Method™ can be used. Here’s how I used SANE™:


Support. I needed comfort and encouragement, so I called on a friend who could listen (without judgment) to my fears and hopes for the new year. Just the act of letting go of the negative allowed my dreams to spill out onto the page.

Appreciated. I am so thankful I asked for help. Finding ways to be grateful towards others is good, but self-appreciation can be even more important. It feels odd at first to purposefully appreciate your own actions, but just keep doing it. After a while, you will stop looking outwards for gratitude and start looking within.

Not Guilty. I used to feel guilty about asking for help (I grew up in Minnesota where we “pull ourselves up by our own bootstraps.”) But no more! I’ve learned from wise friends and life experiences that feeling vulnerable is my wake up call to reach out. I don’t have to be in charge all the time. Vulnerability reminds me that I am one person in a much larger village and that looking to others for help is okay.

Energized. Because I’ve worked through the first three letters in the SANE Method™, I have energy to face future challenges. Now when I tweak my resolutions, I can look at them in a completely new light and really unleash my creativity. Doing this brings about more zest for life. And if I start going down the rabbit hole of feeling scared, I simply revisit Support.

You have not missed the deadline for writing your New Year’s resolutions. There is no deadline. And whether it’s writing your resolutions or noodling out how you will fit caregiving duties into your already busy schedule, try the SANE Method™. I know it will work for you, too.

Feeling Appreciated…even during the holidays

If you ask some of my friends and family, they may tell you that I don’t like Christmas. That’s not true. What is true is that I’ve often felt let down at Christmas. Not because of the holiday itself, but, well, because it’s also my birthday. Celebrating my birthday always seems to be squeezed in between driving to the relatives and opening presents. Probably one of the most painful happy-birthday-christmas-bulbmemories I have is overhearing my grandma say to my sister, “Oh, I forgot Kari’s birthday. Grab a present from under the tree and we’ll put ‘Happy Birthday’ on it.”

When I started working on S.A.N.E.™ (Supported, Appreciated, Not Guilty and Energized) for family caregivers, I looked at aspects of my life outside of caregiving that would also benefit from my SANE Method™—Today I’m asking myself, “What can I appreciate about being born on Christmas Day?” Instead of expecting others to create a “happy day” for me, now I think of SANE™ and realize that feeling Appreciated is my responsibility.

How freeing it is to let go of expectations! Rather than planning my reaction to what doesn’t happen, I plan parts of the day and allow other parts to simply flow. Among other things, I appreciate that I’ve started a new tradition of birthday breakfast. French toast, bacon, coffee, and on the occasional year, a mimosa. It is that simple.

I came into this world at dinnertime on a cold Christmas Day and I took my time. Maybe that’s why it has taken me a while to learn how I can feel Appreciated on my own, from within. On this holiday season, I wish for you to find ways to Appreciate all that you do to create light in the dark winter. Know that feeling loved and Appreciated comes from within first, before it can be shared.