English: Old luggage at Arley railway station ...

English: Old luggage at Arley railway station on the Severn Valley Railway (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A weeks ago I came upon a thought-provoking posts titled “What Are You Packing on Life’s Journey?” which immediately brought many thoughts to mind in the form or questions and songs.

This is the first of two posts related to this article. I invite you to join me on this packing journey.

What would I pack if I could only take a suitcase of stuff from my home and no more? To prepare, pull out the largest suitcase you own. It will help set your constraints. Imagine you won’t be coming back to the items left behind. For the purpose of this experience lets assume your family and pets will be coming but don’t need to fit in the suitcase. Look at the items. Why are they important to take?

Here’s some of my must have list:

  • My laptop (I use it so much for personal and professional life, I think I would miss it.)
  • My iPod (My preferred music and music for work is housed here.)
  • My glasses & contacts (Seeing is so important)
  • Key paperwork (id’s, etc.) and a couple of photos of my family.
  • My buffalo drum (As much as I’d love to take my guitar, it won’t fit in my suitcase. Not having an instrument with me would be difficult. This drum fits well in a suitcase.)
  • I’d pack a minimal number of clothes – jeans, shorts, a skirt, a few tops, undergarments.
  • A candle, some lotion and some essential oils for comfort.

As a distant caregiver, knowing what you most need might assist you in quickly pack should an emergency arise. If you are a caregiver across town or a city away, it might help you be there for 24-48 hours should the need arise.

As an elder care employee, I have been in situations like hurricanes that required extended hours at work, Knowing what you need allows you to more calmly assist those living in senior living communities to prepare for events.

What am I carrying around in my physical world that I don’t need? How can I unpack the items in  my physical world that no longer serve me?

You just identified the items they can easily move with you. There are often larger items (like my guitar) that are also important. Having a bed on which to sleep, a chair in sit are important. Art work can inspire us, setting a mood or a feel. Books can feed our minds. The government expects us to hold onto financial records for a period of time.

But there can come a point at which our items begin to take over our space. There are some great sites and posts that speak to “uncluttering” our surroundings. The amount of clutter necessary may vary from person to person, from situation to situation. Sometimes we need assistance with decreasing clutter. One site that has ideas is Uncluttered.

As a caregiver, we need to be sure our environment supports us in maintaining a healthy attitude. For someone requiring the care, clutter can become a safety issue.It can be a difficult process for them. Search the web the resources to assist with your specific needs.

What am I carrying around in my psychological suitcase that I don’t need? How can I unpack the items in my mind that no longer serve me?

This may be a more challenging part of the exercise, As a caregiver, our emotional baggage and past experiences may prompt us to respond in less than positive or helpful manner. For a person requiring care, the same is true.

There are many memories that help us and those that negatively impact our response to events. Being aware is an important first step.

Now that we acknowledge the memories and emotions, we need to decide what to do with them. If you or the one you care for are burdened with emotional baggage, please seek professional assistance from a  religious leaders, counselors, therapists, psychologists, or psychiatrists. These people can help explore ways I off load items that no longer serve you.

Our emotional well-being deserves our attention and time. Packing and packaging our life can sometimes assist us in this process. And, a little help from time to time can make all the difference.

In my next post, I’ll address the following three questions:

  • What special issues (if any) do caregivers carry?
  • How might these affect the care they provide?
  • How can I assist others to do the same unpacking in my work?
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