For the last 18 months I've been more or less a full-time caregiver for my parents who are in their mid-eighties. My dad is an in-home hospice patient due a terminal diagnosis is of both pulmonary fibrosis and Alzheimer's dementia.
He's on supplemental oxygen 24/7 while my mom also has a multitude of disease states; they both require medication multiple times per day; neither drives any longer, and as you can imagine there are a lot of things to take care of each day.
Although my two sisters do their best to help out, they both live an airplane ride away and 99 percent of the responsibilities fall to me. At this point, I'm both physically and emotionally exhausted, hence the reason for traveling to the UK and France in mid-winter...to seek respite and time alone to simply be myself without the responsibility and stress of caregiving.
The decision to travel in mid-winter might seem odd, but with a dear friend of 41 years living in the English Midlands (my caregiving responsibilities prevented me from attending his 60th birthday bash last year), and a deep need to reclaim parts of my life that I've let slip away, I made it nonetheless.
my minimalist business makes it possible
As you know, a MB makes working from anywhere a real possibility. So, while I'm freezing my backside off in Western Europe (the temps there are currently from the mid-20's to the high 30's F), I'll also be working. I have a technical proposal consulting assignment from my former employer (a relationship that always been positive despite them laying me off three years ago) that I've begun this week and I'll be working on that project from cafes, pubs, and my Air BnB lodgings.
In addition, I'll be engaged in some detailed planning for MinBizAcademy. I currently have five courses that I'm contemplating launching this year and I want to have them in place by year's end. They include two free courses and three premium courses. All will help you become the digital nomad that you want to become and built a thriving MB that allows you to travel at will.
the focus on reclamation
Because of the decision to move from my seaside home in Santa Cruz to my parent's home in Silicon Valley, my life has changed in numerous ways. Gone is the solitude and privacy I treasured and needed after my youngest son moved out in 2015.
It was then that I was molding my own MB consulting practice into a vehicle that would propel me around the world and develop the kind of location independence and autonomy I'd long desired.
Then came the call from my parents that they needed my help. It was a game-changer and I didn't hesitate for long before coming to their assistance. However, over the last 18 months the daily duties and responsibilities have worn me to the point of desperately needing this time away.
My Personal Theme for 2017
Once each month I attend a local Live Your Legend group. It's a movement started by the late Scott Dinsmore and now carried on by his wife, Chelsea and a world-wide community who meet each month to share and encourage one another in our efforts to live our own legend.
I just took over the role of facilitator for the Silicon Valley-San Jose chapter in December and in January's meet up I challenged our members to come up with one word that characterized their intended direction for 2017.
My own word is reclamation. For me, reclaiming the identity and personhood that I inhabited before the caregiving mission started is essential for me to further evolve.
I hadn't any idea how stressful and intense this experience would be. Having to shoulder it alone has been the hardest part. And as I look back over the past 18 months I see that the Baz I'd become in previous years, in a large part disappeared into the ether of the mission of caregiving itself.
Reclamation via mini-missions
I figured that an effective way to reclaim my life and identity is through a series of missions, well...mini-missions anyway. Like a military mission to capture a bridge or a city, my mini-missions (while infinitely less risky than combat) are sustained activities aimed at reclaiming portions of my life that have gone by the wayside.
My mini-missions include:
- Fitness Missions (I actually renewed this commitment with great results in September) I joined a gym, started cardio and weight-training regimens, and until two weeks ago when I tore my right pectoralis major and dislocated three ribs on the bench press, I was making great progress. I'm nearly healed but learned an important lesson about listening to my body as I ignored the slight twinge I felt in the warm up period. My goal in this areas to to return to best physical shape of my life by the end of 2017.
- Stillness Missions - My memoir, The Practical Buddhist, is a meditation primer and general guide to Practical Buddhism, a form of Buddhist practice that works for me. During the last year my practice has been anything but continuous or regular; these mini-missions are aimed at reclaiming my medication and contemplation practices.
- Adventure Missions- January's journey to the UK and France are examples of making travel a regular and recurring feature in my life. Last year at this time I took a train trip across the country visiting friends, my kids and grandkids along the way. I followed that with a week on the East Coast in a deserted hideaway at the end of the world. In June of last year, I rode my BWM R1150GS across the US and back and this journey reawakened my desire to travel more. Those trips were completed before my dad was actively dying and they awakened my appreciation for the experiences travel brings.
- Business Missions - A continued effort to build a six-figure MB from writing, teaching, and coaching. MBA is at the forefront off this mission via the launching of courses that provide targeted training for those wanting to build a thriving MB.
- Service Missions - Choosing activities of service that help others via the volunteering my time and resources to organizations and causes that I am aligned with. This also includes serving my parents in their time a need and continuing to act as their business administrator and executor of their estate while my father is alive.
Having said that, my life will continue to unfold. I will need these mini-missions to both remind me of what's important in order to keep evolving as a human, but also to provide a series of touchstones for moving forward in difficult times.
my challenge to you
Might you also have a one-word theme that describes your direction for 2017? Could it be freedom or autonomy? Escape or expansion?
I issue a gentle challenge to you to start thinking about the one word that best describes what you wish to accomplish, achieve, or realize this year. It's a great use of your time and could help position you for an incredible 2017.