In Part 1 of our focus on America’s exploding numbers of caregivers, we recommend Benjamin Pratt’s guide for caregiving—and give you helpful data (including a colorful chart) that you can share with friends to build awareness. This is a valuable, timely topic for small-group discussions in communities and congregations. Then, here is Susan Stitt’s Part 2 in our series …
Caregiving takes a real toll on those who are burdened with caring for a loved one. According to the AARP (American Association of Retired Persons), 23% of Americans say caregiving has made their health worse. In Part 2, this week, I am sharing more of the diverse resources we publish that can help caregivers.
Caring for Children with Preschool-U
Caregiving children is especially challenging. Filling the many hours of the day during this pandemic with children who are used to being active and socialized in daycare or school is especially demanding. Pre-School U by Detroit Public Television is a guide for parents and caregivers providing early childhood education for children under the age of five. This Detroit Public Television community outreach project is a multimedia book, meant to educate parents on the five domains of early childhood education through video tips and advice from experts. The five domains of early childhood education are cognition, language and literacy, physical well-being and motor development, social and emotional development, and approaches to learning. By taking advantage of daily activities, chores and playtime, parents or caregivers will learn how to make daily life a wonderful learning opportunity for their child.
Sadie Sees Trouble by Linda Jarkey is a unique invitation to parents or caregivers to engage children with the delightful tale of Sadie the dog as she tries to lure her little girl Penny back into active play around their home. Responding to nationwide calls by educators to reduce “screen time” among young children, veteran educators Linda and Julie Jarkey developed this first book in a series of Sadie stories so that it literally opens doors in family literacy.
Well, first, the doors to your kitchen cabinets! All of the book’s colorful artwork was produced with items typically found in a family’s kitchen. The components are listed at the back of the book, from strawberries to mustard. After reading the story the first time, readers can download free black-and-white illustrations of Sadie and Penny to color along with the characters and expand the entire story. The authors welcome readers to visit the book’s website and share their ideas of ways to turn common foods and household materials into art supplies. The authors even step outside and include blades of grass clipped from the lawn. This first book is an open invitation to enter Sadie’s world and spark creative ideas in your home.
‘Finding God in Unexpected Places’
Caregivers often find themselves with hours of time to pass with those they are caring for. Finding God in Unexpected Places is a collection of stories told by master storyteller Rabbi Jack Riemer. “Rabbi Riemer offers us the kind of wisdom that we need in order to survive and thrive,” writes Dr. Bernie Siegel, best-selling author of a dozen books about spirituality and healing. The late Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel adds, “Jack Riemer’s words are songs of hope and faith. Listen to them as I do.”
What do a professional baseball player, Elizabeth Taylor’s jewelry box, a hurricane, a garbage dump and a blue blazer hanging in your closet have to do with each other? They’re all turning points in Riemer’s stories that lead us toward universal questions we all confront at some point in life, including:
Is there a dream that gives meaning to your life? What are our duties to the people we love? How do you make a decision when you’re caught between two conflicting values? And, what would you do if you found out that your time on this earth was almost up?
Reflecting on Riemer’s wisdom about life, retired U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor writes that the rabbi “is obviously a person with much understanding of the human situation.”
Word of warning: The stories in this book may surprise you and perhaps make you chuckle, but they could change your life, as well. Enjoy reading and sharing with those in your care and watch the hours fill themselves easily.
Caring for Someone Battling Cancer?
“It’s cancer.” The words devastated Heather Jose. As doctors warned about tough odds, Heather faced the challenge head on. She pulled together friends as caregivers, her own inner resources and the best in medical care. She also wrote letters to her daughter Sydney so the little girl would remember Mom, just in case. A hand-lettered sign, “We are killing cancer every day,” traveled with the family on a long journey that ended in success. Every Day We Are Killing Cancer by Heather Jose is the story that is inspiring cancer thrivers and their caregivers nationwide.
If you are caregiving someone with Leukemia, both of you will enjoy A ‘Cute’ Leukemia by Rodney Curtis. Like millions of Americans, Rodney Curtis feared for his life and his family when he was diagnosed with leukemia. But what that deadly acute leukemia didn’t know was: It was dealing with the Spiritual Wanderer, the popular columnist who is famous for finding humor and wisdom in daily life.
Rodney started by renaming his foe: “A Cute Leukemia.” He explains, “Nothing makes cancer madder than belittling it and pinching its darling baby cheeks.” If you’d like to try chuckling in the face of fears, join Rodney on his quest to recover both humor and health.
Rodney doesn’t take this life-and-death challenge lightly. “I won’t kid you that this was all fun and games,” he writes. He’s not poking fun at anyone trying to survive either unemployment or a diagnosis of cancer. He knows the stark fears of such a double-whammy, but he is bravely charting a fresh course through these challenges. He proves that the first task in any recovery is recovering one’s good spirits. In these 86 short chapters, Rodney provides either a quick read guaranteed to lift everyone’s spirits.
Rodney offers some unique ideas in his stories. Like taking what might be another somber birthday and turning it into a “re-birth day”? Like eating a favorite dinner in a warm bath to soothe the ills of therapy. Or inviting friends over to enjoy a movie night “on” the house; yes, literally projecting a movie on the outside of your house on a warm summer night so friends can gather in lawn chairs under the stars. You won’t forget A Cute Leukemia, because you’ll keep drawing from it for years.
If you are caregiving a wife or girlfriend with cancer, you will love Suzy Farbman’s Godsigns. Suzy Farbman was a successful author who Oprah introduced to the world as an expert on the tough challenge of saving a marriage. But, behind the scenes, Suzy’s world was falling apart after an ominous diagnosis from her doctors.
For years, Suzy had traveled widely as a writer for magazines including Better Homes and Gardens. Back from Betrayal, the popular memoir by Suzy that Oprah recommended, told how Suzy and her husband repaired deep problems in their own marriage. Suddenly, readers nationwide were seeking Suzy’s advice about relationships. Yet, at the height of this success, Suzy privately knew that her body was failing. Facing the same tough journey that looms for millions of Americans each year, this tough journalist suddenly found herself scared. This athlete suddenly found herself weak. This big-hearted wife, mother and grandmother worried that she didn’t have much time left to enjoy the relationships that defined her life. Fear. Weakness. Facing death.
These are life’s deepest spiritual challenges, Suzy discovered. Searching for solutions, Suzy also found that America’s wealth of medical expertise is equaled by our wealth of spiritual resources. Like millions of Americans, Suzy searched for the best doctors-but she also called on her colorful circle of friends and tried everything from psychotherapy to contemplating angels, from ancient prayers to a hope in miracles.
Her warm, suspenseful and often funny journey of mixed disciplines is far from a dead end! Suzy realized that God reaches out to us through all of these resources-from doctors to spiritual teachers. As a veteran writer, Suzy quickly picked up her pen and now invites readers into her journey of survival and spiritual awakening.
Best of all, none of the awakenings that Suzy describes in this moving story turned out to be miracles. Instead, she argues that anyone can look for the same kinds of GodSigns that broke through into her world on a daily basis. Anyone can find hope with Suzy as their guide through one of life’s biggest challenges. If you’re meeting Suzy for the first time, you won’t find a better storyteller to take your hand through America’s diverse wealth of medical and spiritual treasures.
Other books about recovery and spiritual transformation lead readers to more blind alleys than bright doorways. Suzy specializes in finding the light in the most unlikely of places. Other books about survival are grim. But, as you turn the pages of GodSigns, you’ll find yourself smiling, occasionally even laughing. You’ll meet surprising people in these pages. Think of the startling truth and eye-opening adventure of Eat, Pray, Love. With Godsigns, you’re in the hands of another great American writer.
Coping with Grief?
If sadly your caregiving duties end with the passing of your loved one, let me refer you to this blog post which has detailed descriptions of several books that Read the Spirit books and Front Edge Publishing have published for those who are grieving. We have several books that will help you as you mourn your loved one or are wonderful gifts to give someone who is grieving.
Note: All of the books above are also available on BarnesandNoble.com and the Front Edge Publishing bookstore. Books purchased through the Front Edge Publishing bookstore result in a 15% higher royalty for the author. Prefer to shop elsewhere? You’ll find our books listed on an international array of online retailers. Simply Google a title and author to discover more options.