Taking Comfort In Knowing That Feeding My Soul Allows Me to Care for the Ones I Love

By on April 30, 2020
Care

As a nurse and the founder of Comfort Keepers, the leading provider of in-home care for seniors, I think helping people is just in my DNA but that always came with one exception. I wasn’t always great about recognizing that it was okay to do things to take care of me. That is until I turned 50…or maybe until I was a year or two comfortably settled into my 50s. Either way, as they say, “With age comes wisdom,” and this is the time in my life that I wised up. I clued in and realized if I was going to be the best version of me to my husband, my kids, and my wonderful grandkids, I was going to have to be good to me. If I was going to give of myself, I needed to figure out what I needed to give to myself. What fueled me? What soothed me? What restored me? 

I knew I couldn’t change who I am, who I’ve always been. I wouldn’t want to. Besides, there has been scientific research that provides very compelling data to support the anecdotal evidence that giving is a powerful pathway to personal growth and lasting happiness. Experiments show evidence that altruism is hardwired in the brain—and it’s pleasurable. And that helping others may just be the secret to living a life that is not only happier but also healthier, wealthier, more productive, and meaningful. 

Think about it, have you ever noticed that feeling you get when you help someone? It doesn’t have to be anything big. It could be as small as picking up your neighbor’s newspaper and putting it on their porch during your morning walk. Now, imagine the delight on their face as they look down and pick up their paper and look around in hope of finding the thoughtful someone who brightened the start of their day. Bringing joy to someone else brings joy to you as well. And that could very well be among the secrets to living longer and happier. My point is it takes no time to make someone’s day. 

This is something that I learned when I was working as a registered nurse in-home health care. I saw that patients longed for companionship and someone to brighten their day with conversation and to lend a helping hand with household tasks and errands. It is what inspired me to start Comfort Keepers and it continues to be at the core of everything I do. It brings me joy. It brightens my day. 

So now, when I practice those little acts of kindness… those things that I’ve always done ‘just because’, I stop to think about what I get from it. And it really does give me joy, even when, and probably especially when, I know no one else is watching. Because then it really is just for me. 

CareEveryone’s situation is different and what brings me joy may not be what brings someone else joy, but now that I am firmly ensconced on the other side of 50, I feel quite qualified to let other women know to feel encouraged by this next phase of life. 

As moms and as women, we often put everyone else ahead of ourselves and it has taken us 50 plus years to get to this point. So now that you find yourself without all of the day-to-day stresses of raising a family, juggling and balancing home life and work life, and with that ever-elusive ‘free time’ that you’ve been chasing, like, forever, what to do? Here are a few suggestions that I have found helpful in my life. Some may sound a little more selfish than selfless, but I assure you I will never be able to fully shake that side of me that wants to do what makes my loved ones happy. 

  • Your best investment – This is a great time to invest in you. It’s a great time to learn something new. Maybe it’s a hobby or passion project, or maybe it’s an encore career. Whatever it is, it should make you happy and fill your soul. Do what you have always wanted to but just didn’t have the time. Now, more than ever, those opportunities are there, from online classes to community colleges to enthusiast blogs and organizations.
  • It’s not a pickle – If you’re part of the ‘Sandwich Generation,’ you can feel as if you’re in a bit of pickle. Don’t. Many women in their 50s, 60s and even their 70s fall prey to the guilt surrounding taking care of aging parents. That feeling like you need to ‘do it all.’ As a bit of an expert in this area, I encourage you to explore options for in-home care – even part-time – for your loved ones so the time you spend with aging parents can be more cherished and less custodial. 
  • Disconnect and connect – I love to put down my phone and go for walks. I find it head-clearing and the only time I can really calm my brain, reflect, and destress. Having said that, now we have time to connect and re-connect, be it with family members or friends. Maybe putting your thoughts to paper with a pen and addressing and stamping an envelope feels good and almost luxurious as a way to connect. Or if it’s instant gratification you prefer, and you need to hear their voice or see their face, with a phone call, Face Time or a whole family video conference, then pick up that phone. 
  • Be a kid again – As it turns out, some of the same things that we loved to do to pass the time when we were kids bring us the same joy as adults. I love adult coloring books and puzzles, only now instead of juice, a glass of wine (or two) is my beverage of choice. 

I have come to learn and embrace the notion that when I am happy, I am at my best and when I am at my best those I love are getting the best of me. It sounds like a pretty sweet deal to me. 

LivingBetter50 is a magazine for women over 50, offering an over 50 magazine free download for women of spirit!

By Kristina Butler, RN, and Founder, Comfort Keepers

Living Better

About Living Better

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Taking Comfort In Knowing That Feeding My Soul Allows Me to Care for the Ones I Love