One of the benefits of living in a small town is the opportunity to share your joy with the community. When my book The Caregiver Coffeebreak was published, the local paper wrote a lovely story and helped announce the book launch - which would be held at my home. We brewed coffee and tea, baked a few cakes, ran the vacuum and crossed our fingers that someone would show up. At 2:00 pm on the dot our guests began to arrive and by 3:30 we had a house full of laughter, new friends, and a literal book launch. We borrowed a T Shirt Launcher from a friend and stuffed a book down the tube and launched it into the field. It was a hoot and a lot of fun.
The best small town part happened the next day (Sunday). As I relaxed in the afternoon in my pajamas and spent quality time with my daughter and old movies on Netflix I heard a knock on the door. I bravely approached the door and saw four ladies from town, with eager smiles waving at me through the glass in the door. They were so excited for the open house! I opened the door (robe and all) and invited them in and explained that the event was yesterday. The looked crestfallen, so I suggested they come in anyway and we sat at the table and talked about lots of things. One woman was in the midst of caring for her mother and we all talked about ways to help her situation. It was an unplanned and extremely casual Caregiver Coffeebreak - but it was the very best kind.
Breeda Miller knows a thing or two about caregiving. In fact, she actually wrote the book on it.
“I wrote the book I wish I’d had when I was taking care of my mother,” the Manchester Township resident explains. “I love Roslyn Carter’s quote: ‘There are four kinds of people in the world: Those who were caregivers, Those who are caregivers, Those who will be caregivers, and those who will need caregivers.'”
As an “accidental” family caregiver, Miller soon learned that her feelings of isolation and frustration were common. Unlike motherhood, there were no “play groups” where caregivers could get together and share ideas or release stress. “I didn’t know what I didn’t know,” she admits.
So after her mother passed away, instead of storing away all the things she had learned during her years as a caregiver, she started sharing her experiences via public speaking, including on The Moth on NPR. She encouraged fellow caregivers to “Take a Break … before you break.” Often, family caregivers are women; usually mothers; and they often feel stuck between the intense and often wildly varying needs of parents, spouses, and children (and even grandchildren). She calls this the “Caregiver Sandwich.”
Breeda took her show on the road, speaking at a variety of conferences and other events, but every time she spoke, she realized that there were equally as many more people who couldn’t get to these sites … because they were at home taking care of their parents, spouses, children, and grandchildren. And likely, juggling those responsibilities with the demands of a career as well.
Eventually, in addition to speaking, she realized that a small book of collective wisdom would allow people to look back at some of the tips and resources she had gathered from her own experience as well as those she’d gathered during her speaking engagements.
So, she wrote the Caregiver Coffeebreak, “a breezy 76-page tip book filled with clever ideas, helpful resources, and distilled wisdom designed to support caregivers and others.”
This little gem will soon be available on Amazon for $12.97 plus shipping, but right now is available here in Manchester. Breeda is celebrating the publication of her new book at her home, on Saturday, February 3, from 2-5 pm. You’re invited to stop by and purchase a book for just $10. Also available are “Caregiver Gift Bags,” which include the Caregiver Coffeebreak book, a small coloring journal with pencils, and a squeezable stress toy in the shape of a coffee cup, which make an ideal Valentine gift to show a little love and appreciation to a caregiver in your life!
Coffee will be served, of course.