I’m always surprised when I hear friends or colleagues say that their families rarely get together for reunions. That’s because between me and my husband, there are at least a couple to choose from every year. So we usually pick one and set aside some vacation time for it.
As National Women's Health Week comes to a close, my thoughts turn to physical activity ... or lack thereof, which has been my problem. As a working caregiver (for both of my parents), I am typical: I focus on those two necessities of my life first and taking care of myself falls to the bottom of the list. It's a terrible conundrum - I can't let my work or caregiving slip, but there are only so many hours in the day. Plus, I've gotten out of the habit; it's hard to start up again once you stop.
Do you find yourself at an imaginary tea party? What about slaying a dragon with a cardboard sword? Rolling down a hill at high speed? Listening to Justin Bieber? Laughing repeatedly at knock-knock jokes? How about umpiring a wiffle-ball game?
As the jukebox blared, we all danced and raucously sang (OK, shouted really) out the words to "Bye Bye Miss American Pie", "Aimee" (my personal favorite of course) and yes, even "Paradise by the Dashboard Light" at the top of our lungs. I looked around the circle of about 35 of my college sorority Chi Omega sisters and it felt like thirty years had simply melted away. Our early 1980's hair and clothing may have changed over time, but our character and the essence of who we are - separately and together - is still there. We have all had our challenges during these years apart, but on that weekend I know I was not the only one who felt a bit levitated in spirit.
Taking care of my parents involves juggling many aspects of their lives. At times, their health issues seem to overwhelm everything else. So much of our time goes to doctor appointments, physical, speech and occupational therapy, and dealing with my mom's cuts and bruises. I know, of course, this is critical to keeping them as healthy as possible. But I believe that quality of life is pretty important, too. Even if we have good health, without the moments of joy, what are we fighting to stay alive for? So I make it a priority to inject fun into their lives - and mine too.
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