Being a Carer
I am not necessarily speaking about daily life; it might be wise and beneficial to be involved in daily work, self care, and paying bills as well as the laundry, dishes, dinner, and letting the dog out. I’m talking about the constant feeling that you have to do something for everyone and everything. For anyone who has a big heart and simply seems to care so much that you don’t know where to start regarding the needs and calls to service around them, I definitely feel you.
Do you find yourself falling into this category? You find yourself being a general carer … not just by what you do, but you find that it is part of who you are. I’ve decided to add a definition to the term, “carer.” I find that a “carer” is an individual who authentically cares about whatever issues are presented to them in everyday life, relationships, and media to the point that they have a strong desire to fix whatever that issue is in order to help and improve the wellbeing of those involved. Does anyone see the problem with this? Have you succeeded in consistently helping the causes of hunger, homelessness, loneliness, urban renewal, racial inequality, child development, plastic use reduction, saving the forests, natural disaster aide, political corruption, affordable healthcare, saving endangered species, quality education, local businesses support, human trafficking, immigration, responsible pet ownership, livable wages, women empowerment, and cleaning up the Great Pacific Garbage Patch? If you are some sort of wonder person who has succeeded in consistently making a difference in all of these areas, PLEASE clue me in to how you do it and still have time to eat, breathe, and sleep!
Oh … wait … so you can’t help with all of that at the same time? Give yourself a break and get in line behind all of the other “carers”. If it makes you feel better, you have already taken one big step in the right direction … you care. You are already leaps and bounds ahead of a lot of other individuals. The first step is realizing that there is a problem.
I have a hypothesis regarding how all of these causes can receive some aide. In my own life, I have personally found that since I cannot begin to help all of these causes on a consistent basis, the best I can do is work within my community and my niche. I do not stop caring about all of these causes, but in order to prevent exhaustion and discouragement I have learned to reflect on my life, my past experiences, my passions, my relationships, my circle of influence, and my abilities to refine the list down to ones that my abilities, passions, life stage, and location can best serve.
For example, from the various facets of my life I have learned that it is best to narrow my efforts to consistently help with wildlife conservation, the four R’s (reduce, reuse, recycle, and replenish), quality education and teacher support, responsible pet ownership, homelessness and food shortages, and a few others. Why these causes?
- I have a huge passion for the environment and wildlife both locally and globally
- I have always been and am surrounded by teachers and have seen their pains and struggles firsthand
- It bothers me to no end when someone is without healthy food or ever feels like nobody cares about them. All I want to do is hug them
- I am a repurposing crafter and love to save as many “trash to treasure” items from the landfill as possible
- I have volunteered at shelters and wildlife centers and have seen embedded collars, emaciation, wildlife kept as pets, and other consequences of irresponsible pet ownership and spur of the moment “can we get a puppy” decisions
How do I help them in a sustainable and consistent manner?
- I support and share wildlife conservation organization news constantly with hope that more individuals will become aware and act accordingly
- I support local teachers and schools, and promote governmental candidates that have education at the forefront of their priorities
- I will only get my pets from rescuers or rehoming, am a fierce advocate for researching pets beforehand, and properly taking “orphaned” wildlife to certified rehabbers
- In Harrisonburg there are two primary thrift shops that do amazing work in supporting struggling individuals … since about ¼ of my home came from thrift shop purchases, it suffices to say that they receive my consistent financial support. And I never shy away from giving a homeless individual a hug and letting them know that they’re valued
- I donate to local food pantries and my husband and I have two sponsor children in Uganda, Gerald and Ivan, that we’ve been supporting for 9 years (they’re both 13) and write to regularly
- At home we compost, recycle, plant new trees, make a certified National Wildlife Foundation backyard wildlife habitat, and use reusable bags when we go to the store.
This is not to toot my own horn. When you look at this list, does it look like any of these acts will “fix” these issues? No. Do I still enthusiastically support, promote, and help other needs and causes when they arrive at my doorstep as our means allow? Of course! Does my choosing mean that the other causes are any less valuable or any less deserving of my attention? No! My point is that you cannot do it all. And you should not beat yourself up that you have to pick and choose. I beat myself up for the longest time, but you cannot help anyone when you are burnt out. You shouldn’t be annoyed that you are a “carer”, even though sometimes it can seem like just as much of a curse as it is a blessing. That is a gift and that gift should be used.
Do you know what you can do? You can make sure you are not letting your “caring” simply sit in idea status. Make sure you are actually doing something about your select causes.
Do you know what else you can do? This is the one step that definitely should not be overlooked if you want to get any of those other causes any assistance … If a friend, family member, coworker, child, checkout cashier, gas station attendant, or anyone else confides in you that they are disturbed by a cause that they see on the news, hear on the radio, or witness in their community, do not be shy about encouraging them that they have the power to do something about it. Inspire them that their seemingly small “doing” would make a difference, and give them some ideas of sustainable and consistent ways to help that can be incorporated into their everyday lives with a little practice and mindfulness. People are so wonderfully unique and individually gifted that I bet that if every single person chose 3-5 “carer causes” to aide and support on a consistent basis, pretty much all of those societal issues would have someone in their corner. THAT is the one way that we can help all of the causes that we “carers” just want to make better … we do it together.