old letters, photographs and post cards. Every now and then, I’d have a few minutes to myself when my husband and mother-in-law were sleeping, and I’d indulge myself and escape into happy moments of the past.

This behavior began one day when I went into my home office to write in my journal. I was bored with making clinical notations on medications taken and changes in health status were noted. I sat back in my chair and allowed myself to relax. As I did, I began to visually examine all of the books, photos and mementos I had on my shelves.

It seemed I’d forgotten how rich my life was. So many memories came flooding back. Every object had a story, so I decided to let my mind take me where the stories led. Pictures of me with the first marlin I’d landed in Panama: I can remember the prop plane we took landing on a clay airstrip, raising a cloud of red dust that hid dozens of children that greeted us when we got off the plane. There was so much joy in their faces as they welcomed strangers to their village and escorted us to a launch that would take us to the resort where we stayed for a week.

I still have a visceral memory of fighting my fish for over two-hours. When it was over, it seemed as though only a minute had passed. My arms and back were throbbing with pain, but I was elated. I can remember the boat we’d board every morning at 5:00 to venture out with nets to catch our bait for the day and how our captain and mate celebrated every time we were successful.

I remember the dinners around the table where we were served family style with the ten other fishermen at the resort. It was the trip of a lifetime. A boat for every two people—it couldn’t have been more exclusive or more remote. The trip was something to savor forever.

In her book “Stitches” author Anne Lamott notes “We forget so much. All those memories of great meals, travel, landscapes, conversations, insights, theater, and scenes in distant cities; moments you swore you’d remember forever—so many washed away like Etch A Sketch drawings.” I found a way to return to those moments and redraw them.

Writing my memories down in minute detail, became getaways for me. Every photo, paperweight, knick-knack, figurine and souvenir had a story. Happy occasions. Troubles overcome. Parties attended. Friendships shared. Experiences enjoyed. So, while I often felt like a prisoner in my own home, revisiting the life I had led became a sort of mini-vacation. It served to take me out of a constant caregiving experience and into simple pleasures. It often served to boost my confidence seeing how I had worked through bad circumstances and grown from them.

Every one of us could benefit from learning tips and tricks to help us on our respective caregiving journeys. I began to really observe and derive satisfaction and joy from the most commonplace things I encountered on my path. A simple walk around the block can feed your soul for a whole day. It just takes one thing—making the effort to develop your power of observation.

Once you really begin looking at things in your personal space and the world at large, I suggest you start writing about feelings and sensations that come up. Something as simple as taking a shower or eating a carrot can provide material for the most creative writing—no one needs to see it; no will be judging you; you’re free to be as silly or serious as you want. But I found this exercise a great escape from the tedium of caregiving.

Try starting by writing a paragraph. Just a paragraph. Then go on to giving yourself a twenty-minute period to write in. In no time at all you’ll see just how much satisfaction can be gotten from even the most mundane things. Just ease into writing. Hyper-focus on almost anything and  you have a rich topic to be explored.

Remember—you’re not being judged. Just enjoy.

Photo credit: Deposit Photos/LilGraphie


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