Love is in the air! Every year at this time, advertisements everywhere are reminding us to express our love in sweet, wonderful l(and sometimes CRAZY expensive!) ways. As it goes, on this day we find unique and meaningful ways to express our love and gratitude for one another.
You know what? Our ALS community demonstrates love for each other in some of the most extraordinary ways ever throughout every day of the year. Granted, there may not be as much hype and glitz around every day, “ordinary” displays of love. But then again, the ALS journey is anything but ordinary. Love is found in the trenches. It is the day-to-day interactions that are the true extra-ordinary testaments of devotion, commitment, and love. Every day and in every way, we have the opportunity to show the depth of our love in how we care for each other.
Some days you will be the recipient of loving care. For others, you will be the provider. Loving care is not only found when caring for a loved one living with ALS- it is in caring for each other. This can be done in so many ways. Intentional exchanges throughout the day, checking in with your partner, spouse, family members, and friends, and asking “what do you need today? “Are you okay?”. We support each other one step at a time.
Love can show up in the most beautifully unexpected ways, and also on the messiest of days.
- Showing up and sharing the journey
- Listening to the hopes and the fears of another
- Being a non-anxious presence when life is chaotic
- Offering a gentle touch and a soothing word. Sometimes this is IT.
- Laughing to alleviate overwhelming stress
- Mourning what has been lost
- Advocating for the best care possible
- Adapting to changing wants and needs
- Committing to complete the journey
- Being gentle with ourselves and others. GRACE.
Speaking of grace, Valentine’s Day can also be a great time to show yourself some love!
- Stretch– if you are physically able to do so, and your doctor approves, take a few moments to do some simple stretches and relax tense muscles.
- Breathe– along with those stretches, take some deep belly breaths
- Have a tea party! -Treat yourself to your favorite hot beverage and/or delicious snack. While you are at it, take a moment to practice mindfulness by savoring the aroma of your drink, and feeling the warmth of the mug in your hands. Enjoy a few minutes to yourself or include your loved one in this “tea party” as a small Valentine’s Day celebration.
- Practice Gratitude. Appreciate you and all you do– Don’t think about your never ending “To do” list. Think about two or three things that you have accomplished today and give yourself a pat on the back.
- Listen to music– Listening to something upbeat may boost your spirits on a wintery day or listening to something soft may soothe and relax you.
- Laugh– A good laugh can warm the hearts of everyone.
- Share something special with your loved one– reminisce by looking through a photo album together or ask your loved one to share a special Valentine’s memory or tradition that was important to them in previous years.
Love is to be celebrated and embraced EVERY day of the year. It’s also important to recognize the signs of loving care and to acknowledge the importance of those signs.
What does loving care look like to you? Share your stories with me at email@example.com.
-Tonya Hitschmann- Managing Director, Care Services