J Smiles cannot believe that her tried and true girlfriend get-a-way failed to rejuvenate her. She planned, packed and even peeled off a few pounds for that new swimsuit. The weather - perfect. Crew - solid. Sand and sun steady remedies. How in the world did this happen?
Caregivers must vacation, yes. The goal is to be refreshed and relaxed afterwards. Is there a better way, a newer way -- a different manner of vacay CGs?
In her comical narrative, J shares what she believes went wrong and potential solutions she has uncovered since. As always, listen until the end for the trademarked SnuggleUP.
Kasana Care (Single & Multi-day retreats in USA & Mexico)
Caregiving.com List of Retreats in USA
List of Wellness Retreats across the world
Caregiver Wellness Resort, New Mexico USA
Stonewall Farm Bed and Breakfast, New Hampshire, USA
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INTRO - J Smiles: 0:00
Finally, I was on vacation. And not just any vacation, with a small intimate group of good, good girlfriends. You know the ones where you've already told them way too much dirt. Way too many of the bones in the closets and the skeletons that's dug out in the woods somewhere. Where you can't break up. You got to be friends for life, otherwise, somebody's going to the penitentiary. Not just jail, the PET-ITENTIARY. This getaway was right on time. I needed to take my caregiver hat off. Or at least turn it backwards for a few days. We curated like a five day trip. Nothing but foolery and shenanigans on this agenda. Not henanigans, shenanigans. I know what I'm saying. I couldn't wait. I was so prepared that I actually rolled all of my clothes, holla if you hear me. All of my shoes and flip flaps, which is more fancy than flip flops. See, flip flaps got sparkly things and jewels on them. All of that went into individual shoe bags. I packed listening to music, sipping on a cocktail. Are you kidding me? This vacation was about to be heaven on earth for a few days. Okay, but for real for real? How come by day two, I was so frustrated. I was so not happy at all. The combos were mind numbing. I felt like I was suffocating. I was like hell, I can be gasping for air at home. A lot cheaper. Universe, what is going on? There is sand, sun, sangria. Shouldn't this be all I need? Why do I want to pluck my eyeballs out and stuff them in my ears?
INTRO - J Smiles: 2:30
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: 3:01
Hi, this is Zetty. I hope you enjoy my daughter's podcast. Is that okay?
INTRO - J Smiles: 3:13
Today's episode - So stressed vacation didn't work.
INTRO - J Smiles: 3:24
Parenting up family, no one did anything to me. Let me get that out front in this episode. There was no drama. No fighting over a new dude that we saw at the beach. Nobody took somebody's shoes, no money. No one was snoring. Nobody snatched somebody's spa appointment. Na uh. Looking back on it, best I can dissect my autopsy of the situation, I was having a major internal caregiver overload moment, like my system was about to implode. Yet, every girlfriend that was on the trip had not experienced caregiving, or at least not on my level. Therefore, there was no real relatability. It's not their fault. It's not my fault. It's no one's fault. Get this, it snuck up on me because I was not a caregiver newbie. I had at least eight, nine plus years in the game when this experience occurred. All of these women knew a bunch about my caregiver journey. I had shared with them individually, collectively, more times than I can count. So dang gone, J, what's the big deal this time? How come you are so bottled up and in a knot? Truth be told, hell if I know. How do we know why our moods change? What you like today, you can't stand tomorrow. What you love tonight, you hate it this morning. That's the same reason many people don't actually marry who the world expected them to. Aha! Anywho, I digress. I think that entire situation for me falls very neatly under the category of major life changes. Where you're flopping around in the world trying to find your footing; you're a fish out of water, or a bird with a injured wing. We have heard countless people describe when they first enter sobriety, they stopped drinking, they stopped doing drugs, not when they're unsure. But when they really are like, boom, I'm sober. And that's it. And I'm not going back and I have crossed over into the clean side. And the struggle, is how do they relate to people who are clean in those moments when they have stories to tell. Or deep, dark memories that they want to share. But they don't really want to go and be around addicts. Right? They need the fresh air and the freedom of sober people and stable lives. They go and hang out with addicts. Who knows what might happen? It's a long list. Single people who all of a sudden get married. Haha! I said, "all of a sudden.", that sound like I was discriminating, huh? Anyway, single people who then are married. Now they're a couple. And then they're just with a bunch of married people. But what when they have those moments where they want to reminisce? Individuals who go up off to college, and they come home during the break, or right after graduation. Everybody at home, " Auh, you've changed, all you talk about is college." Well, that's their reality. You go to the military. I'm not gonna even go into individuals who may have experienced combat, war. Veterans who have served and they return home and don't know where to put those conversations and thoughts. And the po' little tink tink, married people that get divorced, then they get kicked out of the little married couple stuff. But they not regular single because they talking divorce stuff. And regular single people like me are like, "Huh? What you talking about? And why your eyes drooping? And are you crying again? Huh?" We can't go to the club if you crying. And ohh wee, them recently saved people. Wooooo, let's take a moment. They gone bring you to that water, won't they. Whew. Whether it's Jesus, it's Mohammed, it's Buddha; whatever religious spiritual journey that has caught them and taking them to the sunshine. They decide to put that whole sun on your face and they gonna burn you up with it. You don't have a choice. I mean, kinda, obviously, you can just cut off ties with them, or hang up on them. But the point is, they can make it rather uncomfortable. And the vegans, y'all see how it goes. Right. It's a list. The vegans, "How you are killing the planet. You're killing your intestines. And why would you want to do that?" But they're passionate and they have this conversation, but they're your really good friends, but how do you manage this new universe that they reside in? That you have no interest in speaking about, or learning more. Clearly, in the instances where you want to learn about any of these categories, then Kumbaya, you join forces, and someone has converted. Oh, I gotta throw one more out there. The weight loss fanatics, and I'm saying fanatics, very much so differentiating some weight loss aficionados from the fanatics. By my definition, fanatics are those who firmly believe only their approach works. "J Smiles, I got it. If you stand on your head as soon as you wake up in the morning, and take three teaspoons of cod liver oil, and stick a Q tip in your ear, and then drive around the block one time, and then boil 12 eggs, but don't eat them. You just supposed to inhale the water and the gaseous fuels that the eggs emit. Do that for a year, you will lose 100 pounds." Okay, alright. Newbie caregivers, OG caregivers, I've found myself in a very peculiar position. These women love, support, respect me immeasurably. And they adore Zetty, yet and still, I felt like there was a construction wrecking ball going through my head and heart every day on this vacation. And my expectations were so high, put a pin in that, of how wonderful this vacation would be. So it made it extra stinky when it sucked. You know what I'm saying? The weather was good. My body was right, my bikini, okay, anyways, this is not a visual, but just trust that the best my body could look at that age, it was happening, alright? The dudes were looking, seagulls and bros were all flocking around. And I didn't want to say anything to them. As a matter of fact, I did not say anything to them. What am I supposed to say? "Hey, why don't y'all turn the subject to something sad like dementia and caregiving and Alzheimer's, and how effed up it is, and how even though it's been seven or eight years, I'm still doing it, and it's even worse, because it ain't get no better." When you start off as a caregiver, in my experience, there is an adrenaline and an energy of "let me just get a system in place to help my loved one get stable. And any minute there's going to be a cure, or I'm going to find enough help from somewhere that I can return to the life I used to have." Some part of that nursery rhyme plays in your head. It played in my head and I've heard that be affirmed by many other caregivers. A couple of things kinda make that nursery rhyme end up a nightmare. Or shall I say a lifemare? Because it ain't just at night. It's the daytime and for the rest of your life while your LO is alive. Uh huh, lifemare. Your LO progressively gets worse, their needs increase. You are aging, therefore, your limitations become larger. You may actually take on greater responsibilities at work or in your community. It gets tougher. Back to this vacation that I was so looking forward to. It's their vacation too. What kind of asshole do I want to be to poopoo all over their vacation? I'm not their responsibility, right? They paid their money, they took off from their jobs, and left their families, friends, communities, blah, blah, blah, bluh, bluh, bluh? Who the hell am I to rain on their parade? By the way, if you've ever gone to a parade in the rain, provided it wasn't lightning and thunder, it's actually kind of fun. Usually, because there are not a lot of people. And then you get all of the gifts and the tokens. Haha. Ain't thought about that, did you? I want to fess up. In the southern part of the United States, fess up, is a good old country way of saying, "I want to confess." The part I can completely own, and there may be many other areas that I should own that I'm just unaware of, is that I fear being a broken record. Returning to my confidants, with the same weary, dreary, worn out record. "The day was hard." "What was hard, J?" "The same shit." It's like the Groundhog Day movie with Bill Murray. I'm Bill Murray. Like I'm the only one that knows it's the same. Yes, I have caregivers. Yes, I have a lot of support. But everyone else returns to their other life every day after their shift, but not me. Yeah, no, you know what I'm saying? If you haven't watched that movie, Google: Bill Murray, Groundhog Day and see how sad he is. Even though it's a comedy, because he's like, "I gotta drink the same coffee, wear the same outfit, do the same thing every freaking day!" In my instance, a lot of the repetition is very healthy for Zetty. What she's eating, what she's wearing, her routine keeps her stable. And guess what, it's working. She is beating the statistical odds of what her health would look like this many years into the disease. So I'm not about to change it. But on that vacation. Alright, I've always promised to be honest. My own pure honesty, this is what went down. So, on vacations like this, we have take it to the grave moments. To be quite honest, what was being shared did not resonate with my soul or my brain. I love the people who were talking. And I was absolutely concerned about their welfare, and their mental, emotional, and spiritual stability. Their surface conversations about romance. The really quick catchups about work. A little bit of this and a little bit of that. They just lacked the depth that I needed at that time. I was not in a footloose and fancy free kind of space. A few times, I attempted to just talk about something a little more intellectually charged. I thought, "Okay, well, I don't want to talk all heavy about caregiving, but maybe if we go into something that's a little more politically charged or environmentally charged or historically relevant and purposeful, that will feed what I need." But nobody bit. They all like, "J, what are you talking about? We are on vacation. We closed our laptops and left that at work. No, ma'am. Okay, we are here to drink, and foolery, and shenanigan." I was like, "Right. Right. Right." You got to respect the majority. Plus, I knew, that's how it always went. I was the outlier who arrived with different needs. I didn't know I was going to be so irritated by the loosey gooseiness of the conversations. Everything was so light hearted and so free spirited, that it made me nauseated. I was boiling over with huge heavy, deep life issues. And everyone else really wanted to cover light and fluffy things. So that's what happened. And it was hard. So I came back from vacation unpatient. I did not complain or ruin the trip. I need everyone to understand that because it wasn't their fault. And I did the best I could to enjoy myself. Eating, drinking, spa, suntanning, the gym, dancing. I included meditation at the top and the bottom of every day to try to move this negative energy. But, J Smiles, these episodes usually help us figure out something that might make this stuff a little better. What you got? What you got? Aha, I got something, I got something for you. And Aha, for anybody who may not have picked up on yet, is a huge shout out and throwback to the one and only Eddie Murphy in one of his characters in the barbershop scene of the original Coming to America. So, there are actually caregiver respite and wellness retreats all over the world. Isn't that cool! There are places where you can actually go to vacay on purpose that are designed with the caregiver of loved ones in mind. Wow, somebody sees us and somebody knows us. What is tray magnific is that while each of these places may have its own itinerary agenda, and duration of stay, they are founded on the principles of: how can we relieve the stress of a caregiver. So they talked to medical staff around what it is that we actually do. So if they have a spa or a massage offering it's geared to the parts of the body that we use the most. There're therapy sessions, there're mindfulness, there're yoga, psychology, things of that nature is all around what it's like to see an aging loved one actually falling apart before your very eyes. That's really specialized, it's pinpointed just for us. And then obviously if you're there with other caregivers, if you feel like talking about your circumstances at home then you can but there's no pressure to do so. There are virtual and in person options. What! Come through, universe. They have Bed and Breakfast spots. They have camps, resorts. Listen, I can't wait for you all to pop up and tell me which one you picked, what you liked, and how your body and soul responded. Caregiverwellnessretreat.com is located in Santa Fe, New Mexico in the United States. They offer mindfulness, meditation, music, art, heart culturing, who don't want to get their heart on, and a bunch of stuff. Then in New Hampshire, also in the United States, Stonewall Farm Bed and Breakfast. There's CampForCaring. Retreat.Guru is a massive website that has general global options, or retreats all over the world. I will put these plus a few others in the show notes. Let me give a little clarification on the definition, typically of respite versus retreat. Usually, retreat is you show up, whether it's online, meaning a virtual experience, or you take your body to a place. But in either instance, you are being nourished and cared for. For respite opportunities, those facilities actually will care for your LO for a day, for six hours, while you go off wherever you want to. And then come back and pick up your LO. A very distinct difference, okay. Parenting Up family, its' true, as caregivers, sometimes you got to get away, you got to turn your hat backwards, so that you're not leading with that CG on it. You know what I'm saying? We never really taken off. As long as our LO is alive, we are wearing the caregiver hat. But when you get away, who are you with? Sometimes you need to go with family or friends who know you very well. Other times, you might need to go to a caregiver retreat where they can envelop you and cuddle you with caregiver related pampering services. Where you don't have to think and you don't have to explain. But if you want to, you can share without guilt.
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 1-404-737-1449 again, +1-404-737-1449. Of course, I'm gonna put that in the show notes.
THE SNUGGLE UP: 28:15
The snuggle up. Number one. Look for caregiver happy outings and events. Sure, there's tons of materials, conferences, and blogs about how to improve upon your skill set. You know, the knowledge about what you need to do to be a better caregiver. Anh! That's not what I'm talking about. I mean, find those places and people where you feel swaddled and loved and supported and heard and seen as a caregiver. Yea, a kind of milk and cookie, lullaby softness, where's some of those. Number two. When you're feeling emotionally tight as a caregiver, you can tell when you're off. When the responsibilities are burdensome and heavy. And all you can think about is, why me? Or this is hard as hell. I need some help. Why aren't more people around? Why is this my journey? There's so many other things I want to be doing. But if you are at a birthday party, or a wedding, or a vacation, or a friend's house warming, don't dump then. Try your best not to ruin things for others. I don't really know when you should let it out, or how it should seep out. Because it's tough. You are human with emotions, and you deserve to have aproper forum to release it. But don't become molten lava burning up everything in your path. Number three. There's nothing wrong with you. This ish is hard. Find your breaks and please watch your expectations. If you allow the caregiver responsibilities, and the stress associated with it, to build and build and build, because you're not giving yourself small breaks, or moments of relaxation. You can get to a point where you're about to explode, or implode. And then when you do get on vacation, or you're having what's supposed to be a fun moment with friends, it doesn't work because too much is piled on your shoulders. So don't wait, try not to.
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.