What happens when you are doing your REAL income-earning, bills-paying job and unexpectedly you MUST give eyeball care to your LO?
This unnerving experience is shared by J Smiles. She secured "help" for Zetty because J had a "live" performance. In the blink of any eye, Smiles was left without that "coverage" --- can she do her comedy show and care for her mom, should she even try to do both, will the stress break her?
J releases all the juices bits of what she calls "spirit shifting," why it is so hard and more.
Snuggle UP ...
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I was in my home studio preparing for a live show, ding, dong, dong ding, I get a text notification. No, it wasn't a doorbell, that really is my text notification sound. The CG on shift caregiver had a family emergency and needed to leave immediately! Two hours early. Now, y'all know, I have buku respect for prioritizing one's family, but excuse me, Miss lady I am going live in about 19 minutes and 12 seconds. What am I supposed to do? I didn't say that to her. My response to her was more like this (birds chriping sound) because in my head, I was trying to figure out what would be an equitable thing to say so that she wouldn't quit. I was instantly hot and cold and nauseous. Stomach gurgling, head pounding. Luckily, I was in my basement and Zetty was upstairs, but that's the key thing that is upstairs. How am I supposed to be JG and J smiles simultaneously? Hello, anybody? Anybody? Anybody? Well, we gone see. Parenting Up is the caregiving adventures with comedian J Smiles. It is the intense journey of unexpectedly being fully responsible for the well being of my momma. For almost a decade, I've been chipping away at the unknown, advocating for her, and pushing Alzheimer's awareness on anyone and anything with a heartbeat. Spoiler alert- I started comedy because this stuff is so heavy. Be ready for the jokes. Caregiver newbies, OGs, village members trying to just prop up a caregiver you are in the right place.INTRO - Zetty::
Hi, this is Zetty. I hope you enjoy my daughter's podcast. Is that okay?Episode Title - J Smiles::
Today's episode - Double Duty Caregiving and Working at the exact same moment!Speakers:
J SmilesTHE Episode::
Parenting Up family, a blessing in disguise was how little bit of time I had to panic. I had less than 20 minutes to freak out, put a plan together, do something with Zetty kinda, and get my tail on the video. The live show was not about caregiving, go figure, wouldn't that have been convenient? I could have waxed philosophically. Maybe come up with some bars had a whole hip hop rap song or some off Broadway, very off Broadway routine on the impromptu chaos that is the life and times of J Smiles and Zetty. But oh no mom for there, it wasn't about caregiving. It wasn't even a J Smiles cmedy show wouldn't that have been kind of the universe? I do comedy shows all the time, where a portion of the content is about Zetty or caregiving. But uh- uh this whole event was predetermined with other entertainers. We had guest and folks to interview slides and music a whole shindig. There was no room for me to adlib or turn things inside out. As they say in the deep South, "madda a fak", I don't know how you spell that. Madda a fak, probably M.A.D.D.A A FAK which is as a matter of fact. The show was based on political commentary. We were dealing with huge global and national political and social, racial concerns. What in the world, there was no way for me to even squeeze this in. So the only thing that I'm thinking about it was pressing on my heart has nothing to do with my job. And of course, it gets better at least to me, I hope you are tickled my entire position in this cast of characters, is that a political humorist, so, I am the laugh factory. Everybody else on the show is a pundit of sorts, like a real geographical based historian and a political pundit. We had a Republican and a Democrat and some international experts, blah, blah, bluh bluh bluh. And I was the light hearted person. How many of you wink so I can see you think I was in a place to be light hearted? Okay. I mean, just like that, light hearted flipped into dark hearted with one day ding, dong, ding. Oh, yeah, keeps getting better, uh huh, don't you dare change your dial? Because you might be thinking well J Smiles just wait your turn, wait for the camera, and then go into your stick. I'm sure you have some canned political jokes. Absolutely, I do. You know what I want about Jesus talking to Barack Obama? Right, all that kind of stuff, but this was live and remember we had guest that we were going to interview. And so each personality like myself had a specific person that we were going to interview and ask questions, to what listen and then promote our show, our interest as an adlib intertwine with the guests responses. Okay, are y'all feeling me? So I needed to actually use my brain in real time to listen, not only to the person that I'm communicating with one on one, but I'm supposed to be locked in on the entire frickin show, listening to my colleagues and their banter and add meaningful humor throughout. Ah luckily, I was able to let my team know what happened before the show went live. But that was merely a barometer for them to be able to read my temperature and recognize, okay, J is not going to be as witty or maybe as quick to respond. And lets not say hey, J Smiles what do you think you want to jump in here? I told him I said, "don't come to me anymore than is absolutely necessary. Punt the ball and the mic is far away from me as you can. I'm going to do my segment and what I'm assigned to do, but if any of you actually want to take my segment, that's okay, too." Because this was live and all cute and we had lead ins and moving zippy, little pictures and music, you couldn't even remove my segment without ruining the show. It's get, you get what I'm saying, are y'all feeling me? Like now I don't want to ruin the show for the rest of my cast that's selfish. I don't ever want to be a no show for audience members. Then you have those who have taken time out of their schedule to be guests. But above all things in this industry, you don't want to let down your colleagues because that's who books you, who everybody's trying to make partnerships and friendships and build a relationships to get these coins, otherwise known as currency that you use to exchange for goods and services. You can't just say dollars and money no more because you got digital stuff and Bitcoin and Coinbase and things. I'm not gonna get into that, but y'all know where I'm going. So before the show starts, the executive producer calls me and says, are you okay? Is your mom okay? I said, Actually, thank you so much for calling. We are both okay. I just have no idea how I'm going to pull this off because my sphincter is funk. Okay, y'all put that together and you know what that means? You can't look it up in a dictionary, but you know exactly what it means. And she laughed and I said, you know, the universe got me into it, the universe will get me out of it, I'm hoping. A huge saving grace is that I have cameras Zetty's bedroom, bathroom and her closet. Aha, I know what you're thinking, oh, Zetty is living large and she is. Zetty's closet is bigger than my bedroom and bathroom combined, but that's how it goes down. The best and the biggest and the brightest for my baby. And she doesn't really even have any clothes in the closet. It's just a nice place for her to go roam around in safely and I'm here for it because if she can roam safely, guess what? I'm calmer. Now, it does mean that my clothes are off in the corner, crammed up like I'm still a freshman in college, but listen, don't judge me. I'm getting through this thing day by day. I digress., but you all accustomed to this. The cameras, now let me tell you I do not have security cameras. I don't want anyone spying on my mom and ultimately, one day in court telling me oh, but J Smiles you paid for this service trying to keep out of burglar, so that's why your momma's whoha is all over the internet. No, that is what is not going to happen. I purchased Bluetooth cameras. I did not set up the DVR function and I never created the online account and set up any subscription to anybody not to the company where I purchased the cameras nor to any security system. The cameras are connected to my secured home Wi Fi and I have an app on my phone where I can see them. And they're not running continuously, only when I go on the app and turn the camera on because I'm not recording that sweet babies every movement. It's just when I'm looking for that heifer, remember I told her that word is okay, then she needs to be there. That did at least allow my eyeballs to stay in the socket. Each eyeball stayed in it's own socket getting ready for the show because I thought okay, I do have cameras that I can take a peek and recognize if Zetty is doing something harmful or trying to leave out of her space. About seven minutes before showtime, y'all should have seen me racing up those steps like I was running from something not running to something but running from a mountain lion, Loch Ness Monster, the IRS, whatever. But those of you who are not in the United States, the IRS that's who we pay our national federal taxes to and I'm more afraid of them than I am any mobster or gangsters or drug dealers. I thought it would be best if Zetty got a big hug and kiss from me before the show started. Usually with Zetty, she needs some touch points. Some live human touch points 20-30 minutes cannot go by why she's alone. You are asking for trouble and she's going to start roaming around, moving things around, exploring, and that's when the wheels come off the bus. I opened the door to her room, boom Hey Zetty! JG, JG! Oh, mama, I'm so sorry. Y'all all the momentum I had from the steps just threw me into the door with a little more force than I meant. I scared the poor baby. I gave her some juice in a cup that is spill proof. a little snack, a big hug and kiss. Now her face ended up looking like a clown because I played it so many kisses on her and hugged her so tight. That was more for me. My nerves were so bad and my face was made up cute. Okay, cuz we got to go on the air. So my face was beat. I mean, make up was tight. So I left a lot of red lipstick all over Zetty's cheeks and forehead. Thank goodness, she couldn't see it. She did not have a mirror anywhere near her. I leave her room hoping that my visit, the snack, the juice, will hold her for a good 20-30 minutes before she starts roaming in a potentially unnerving manner for me. I get back downstairs, I'm in the studio, I have like three minutes tops. And it hits me oh my goodness, if I have to go off air for any reason, I don't have an appropriate background because this is not a zoom call where you just or Skype call or any other video conference call, where you just go to black or put up a still picture of yourself. This is a real live virtual show. I can't just put up a still picture. Whatever goes up, needs to be professional and be studio quality. Great question. This was not my first time doing this show, but this was my first time being on the show and needing to maybe leave the show in the middle and come back. You feel what I'm saying. And there were times where I was just not on the show at all. Which meant I wasn't a part of the promo. I wasn't a part of the intro footage. So I didn't have anything to cover. But for the first time there was a potential gap that I needed to plug and I'm like, oh my goodness, what can I pull together? Thank goodness for the creativity and the tenacity of the Howard University and Stanford University combo of engineering and product design. The short, short, short version is I thought of a solution which was pretty much a very quick screenshot, full screenshot on my laptop of a photo rendering of my studio space. Which looked like I was going to be right back and I had on air with a little light blinking but it was all fake. Anyway, it looked really snoozy almost like I went to go get coffee. But that would go up just in case like Zetty was hanging out the window I hear in my microphone- "J Smiles are you there?" Yes, I am. Okay we're live in 12 Okay, okay. We're live in 10 , 9 you know the rest, I say ooh wee I didn't have anything to drink which was out of character, but I was on air, I was cute, and my mother had a snack, and the cameras were working where I could see her. The show was butter, smooth as silk, soft like a baby's bottom, just muah. It was not my best performance. I didn't come up with any new catchy one liners. But I'm proud of it because I didn't chicken out. I showed up. I did the job. I didn't let my team down. The show was almost over, I glanced down at the cameras like for the 1200th time to check on Zetty. Bedroom no Zetty, bathroom no Zetty, closet no Zetty. I make a little finger motion in the little chat thingy with the team to say, Okay, I gotta go check out my mom. We had like, probably less than 10 minutes in the show or something. Thank goodness, I had put together the little fake background. I run up there, she is in the one little nook between the threshold of the door by the bathroom and the closet, and neither one of the stupid cameras pick her up. I run in there screaming "Zetty, Zetty, are you okay? Are you okay?" She's running out. I sent her into a full tizzy. JG huh, huh, what's wrong baby? Where are you mama? I'm right here. Why, what are you doing? She said I'm doing this. Now she was just standing there, I don't really know what this is. And I looked at her and said well can you do this over here and I just made her come stand in the bedroom where that camera is of the whole room. I didn't know that we had a blind spot, but tell you what, that blind spot is gone now. I make it back to the studio in time to say goodbye to the audience, thank the guests for coming, and give a few words of the J Smiles summary segment. And you talking about cutting those lights off, camera, that laptop. I'm surprised I didn't shock myself for how fast I was snatching them cords out the wall. About the same time the next caregiver arrived there was always a night shift person coming other than JG. It was just that little gap, just that two hour window that sent my soul into a tailspin. Your girl had major plans to go out and celebrate that night. The live show was a big deal. It was a two hour show. We were handling topics that touched on viewpoints from all over the world. We had guest from multiple states with birth certificates from multiple nations. We have been planning and preparing for this for over a month. I put together all kinds of extra cute information and how I was going to put my J smiles spin on it. Haha ha, canceling plans with dear friends who have carved out time to celebrate a performance win of mine. I did not want to do that, but in that moment, I also knew I couldn't go hang out anywhere. I could not hang out with myself in my closet. Situations like this, exactly why I hesitate making planss with people ever. When I'm forced into an abrupt switch like that, JG to J Smiles back to JG back to J Smiles back the JD is like I'm changing spirits. It's not just changing hats for me. It's not the same as saying, Oh, I gotta go to church and put on my more formal voice and not use curse words and then when I get in the car, I'm going to put on some lewd music. Yes, I can do that. Those two, I'm not changing my whole spirit. I'm just filtering my language. But what I have figured out is for me to be JG the caregiver, my whole persona changes, my perspective, my vision, my heart, my interactions. That's the only way I can show up big time for Zetty not be frustrated by the shortcomings of her memory. If I stay in any way J Smiles, or who I am to my friends, or my family members, or comedians, or the guys I date, if I stay any version of that chick Zetty is in trouble, do you hear me? There aren't enough fish in the sea to count the times that I am tardy, and when I say tardy, I mean late as hell somewhere, to a meeting, to the airport, to church because something like what I just described happened and I had to change spirits. A shower can't do that. I can't just run, take a quick shower, have some coffee with some Bailey's or have some 1738 and then just go ahead and go to the brunch, or just go to church. If I got the flip really fast, from something to caregiver back to something, oh is going to be a disruption in the schedule of my life. The impact hits me hard mostly because it always matters so much to me. I recognize that all of these areas matter because I've accepted accountability. I decided to be J Smiles. I've decided to be JG. I've decided to be accountable to my line sisters, those are members of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Incorporated, who became deltas with me at Howard University in spring of 1991. But I decided that but there's some energy and effort that I have to be willing to expend. Now, I was doing all of that multitasking And that wooI am woman hear me roar. bacon in the pan, I can do everything, change the tire and change the oil, in the bacon in the grease and cook the cake. Oh, yeah, yeah, oh, yeah, absolutely. Work hard, play harder. Honey, I had every bumper sticker, t-shirt hat, and thong that said all of those. I'm the baddest chick in the room. Don't come for me unless I call for you slogans on it until my mama got Alzheimer's. A huge, monstrous song like a theme song for me was the Chaka Khan anthem, I'm every woman. "I'm every woman It's all in me. Anything you want done, baby." Then Whitney Houston did a remake and many other people have done remakes. You should look it up, it is a great song, very empowering. I did not do it any justice. Let me tell you something now as a caregiver, honey I'm not every woman, hell I'm not even every me, can't nobody do that. Because being JG for real requires everything I have. No other hat I've ever worn has ever required every ounce of me in the moment,JG the caregiver. I was Zetty's daughter before Alzheimer's, it never required every single ounce for me to stay in the moment enough to flow however she flows. That's the way I believe the Holy Spirit is able to guide me and help me bend and flow with her. So if if her shoe looks like a snake to her, I think that's why I don't get so pissed off with her anymore. When life threw the proverbial caregiver monkey wrench at me, I didn't get mad, I got migraines, that's what I figured out. Holding in all that stress was making me sick. What's the point of me being mad with Zetty, she can't even fuss back with me. You know, when I was younger, or a teenager or whatever, right, we might go back and forth, just having some regular disagreement. But I can't fuss with her, it's not even any fun. She can't even hold a good argument. Arguing with Zetty is like arguing with a nine month old, what you gonna get back? Oo we gooey, come on,you knowwhat I mean, that's not It's not fulfilling. Mentally, it's always tricky because I love being J smiles and I love being JG the caregiver. The problem is, when I have to pivot, back and forth, quickly, boom, boom, like tennis or volley, boom, boom, boom, boom, boom, boom, like what hey hold on I can't catch up, I can't keep up. My heart cannot keep up to then tell my mind what the response is supposed to be. Life continues to give me situations where JG the caregiver is thrust in the middle of something else I've already committed to, period. I imagine that is long as my mom is alive, that will continue to happen. I have 50% of it figured out. Meditation, that has been my saving grace because of it my expectations have changed. I no longer believe that my plan is going to go flawlessly. Is not that I'm waiting for something negative to happen. I just leave space for other stuff to be added. If I have plans for dinner tomorrow night, with a really, really, really, really, really, really good girlfriend, but a cousin calls me tomorrow morning and says "I have private dinner plans with Barack and Michelle Obama. Do you want to go with me?" Well, that's a new plan. I'm going to make room for that plan and the same way I would make room for that new plan, I've decided to keep an open mind around any addition to my schedule without labeling it negative or positive. It's just additive. Consistent meditation has also lowered my temperature. I just am not as impulsive. I'm not as quick to be offended, to have my feelings hurt about why that happened, I can't believe he said that. Whew what are we gonna do? I take a breath, I pause naturally now. I just don't get as hot headed. Before meditation, my hot headed it was internal, which is why I got the migraines. I've never been a person where I would start spewing out expletives and attack other people, but I was hot on inside, white hot, the top of the flame if I used to be disturbed at a nine out of 10, I'm now disturbed more and a five. Therefore, the way I think, and the opportunities for solutions and options on how I'm going to move next to get out of this predicament, or who might be able to help me come to me much quicker. And I get a bigger palette of simpler solutions because my head is clear. I have not had a harder lesson personally to learn than how to manage switching hats on a dime, pivoting quickly between being JG the caregiver, and whatever else it is I need to be. J Smiles the podcaster, J Smiles a stand up comedian, a cousin, a line sister, a church member any anything else creates a disturbance in my soul and the amount of time it would take me to snap back the recoil, it was like oh my god. When I first started, I might need a week to get my brain back now I couldn't take a week. I was just showing up to places kind of brain dead. I didn't even realize how much of a shell was showing up to places because I was just going through the motions and doing the talking but I was like oh man is this I gotta do better. I got to do better. So for me it was meditation for you it may be something else. If you're counting 50% figured out means there's 50% still out there dangling, dangling modifiers, dangling Chad. I decided to let that part go that 50% belongs to how other people will respond to me if I cancel plans, reschedule something, show up late tardy because of a soul switch that I had to do. I don't know how they're gonna take it. I used to internalize it, therefore more migraines. Now I don't I share as best I can what occurred, but for some people, maybe it sounds like a broken record. Their J goes again, something about her mama and something, she is always rescheduling, she is always 15 or 20 minutes late. Okay. All right. You could also not invite me, how about that, that's also your option. The real point is, I can't control how they are going to respond. I know that I'm doing the best I can. I know the circumstances that have me tied up in ways that I cannot always articulate. So 50% figured out and 50% out there getting figured.THE SNUGGLE UP::
The Snuggle Up- Number 1, I call it the emotional hangover. I now leave recovery time for it. Whenever I have a huge caregiver event, Zetty gets really sick, perhaps she has a very bad night, her memory, hallucinations, something jarring. I give myself a half day, maybe a full day, definitely at least a couple of hours to decompress. I cancel any and everything that I can. Number 2, if I'm the only caregiver on shift with Zetty I don't plan anything else. True emergencies may come up, something may occur that I'm required to give some attention to, but I don't schedule anything else meaningful. I might jot down a note or two, but nothing that requires my brain for finances, planning business projects, following up on significant emails, nada. I figured out the hard way, I cannot do both well, so don't try. Number 3, when life's unruly interruptions occur, I really do meditate. Now I may not have time to do a full formal meditation, but I take a few deep breaths and remember that I do not pivot and transition well between JG the caregiver and some other major spirit that I represent. Putting on another hat doesn't go well for me. If I go back and forth, I can change one time, but then I got to come back and then go back, oh, no, no, no. Taking those deep breaths, allows me to remember that that's not really a strength of mine, so it's okay that I'm a tad unsettled and a little uncomfortable for a few moments because it's going to pass. And I'm going to go ahead and put on that new hat. Put on that new spiritual garment. I'm going to become J Smiles or JG or the line sister or cousin or the curator of the sports collection, whoever it is, and I'm gonna come back to being JG caregiver, that's what I'm going to do. I just calm down. It's kind of like eating ice cream when you're lactose intolerant. You're not gonna die, but it's gonna be very uncomfortable for a few minutes.OUTRO::
Do you have a comment about today's episode? Is there a topic that I've never covered that you want me to handle in a future episode? Cool, text a purple heart to +14047371449, of course, I'm gonna put that in the show notes. We keep the Parenting Up caregiving content coming on YouTube, Facebook and Instagram. As well go to www.jsmilescomedy.com and sign up or Parenting Up newsletters. That's it for now, thank you for listening. Please subscribe for continuous caregiving tips, tricks, trends, and truth. Pretty, pretty please with sugar on top share and review it too. I'm a comedian, Alzheimer's is heavy, but we ain't gotta be!