In the closing paragraph of The Dutiful Daughter’s Guide to Caregiving, I say, “…this is what I know to be true. I really am okay. And you will be, too.”

Since writing the book, I’ve been spending more time exploring what “I’m okay” really means. Well, actually, what “I’m better than okay” really means. A lot of it focuses on rediscovering who I am after releasing long-held identities as a caregiver, and (yes, I’m that old) as an employee. Big stuff. BIG stuff.

Of course, this will be different for everyone, but, just like caregiving, there are always common threads that run through the experience. And also just like caregiving, this is a journey made richer by traveling with friends like you who find yourselves on the same road.

So, here’s the plan. We’re going to do some exploring, tap into our creative side, and gather up big handfuls of joy. Along the way, I’ll share my own low-budget journey of self-discovery, art and writing prompts that go deep, inspiring conversations with women just like us, and tons more goodness.

Of course, there’ll still be lots of support and encouragement for those still walking the caregiver path. You are, and always will be, my people. Just think of this as a mini-retreat where we open ourselves up to possibility, and embrace the potential for what comes next.

What’s In Your Caregiver’s Purse?

Truth be told, I’ve had a thing for purses since the age of four. Back then I used to carry candy, crayons, and a picture of my cat, Mooney. Later, my handbag contained the usual keys, a wallet, a makeup pouch, a cell phone, and a damp washcloth in a plastic bag, (oh, wait, that was my mother). When I became a caregiver though, the contents of this over-the-shoulder life support system quickly expanded with my new reality. Now I carried:

Hastily jotted sticky notes, which sometimes stuck to my butt as I ran errands. One evening, I spent an entire hour grocery shopping with a sign attached to my pants that read “Fleets enema.” Trust me, that’s a back-story you don’t want to hear.

A dozen to-do lists. Actually, it’s pretty normal for me to juggle multiple lists, partly because there’s something so damned satisfying in being able to line through something.

A pound of change in a baggie for the parking meter at my mother’s rehab center. Twenty minutes for a quarter, which is about what my time was worth.

A key ring to make a custodian jealous. It held twelve keys, including my office, house, and car; my parents’ houses and their safe deposit box, along with an assortment of scan thingies from Stein Mart and TJ Maxx for retail therapy.

My cell phone. Instead of salivating like Pavlov’s dogs every time it rang, my body’s response was a spray of adrenaline up my spine that wore me out. To keep my sanity, I would change ring tones every few weeks.

Tweezers, for pulling inch long chin hairs that literally sprang out of nowhere. What’s with that? And of course, I never noticed them until glancing in my car mirror while sitting in traffic. Who can pluck while everyone’s watching??

A pocket calendar with laughably small squares. Does anyone’s life actually fits in those one-inch boxes??

Mooshed up Kleenex for those times I was so exhausted and a stranger would say or do something kind. I’m not a crier, but that would always bring me to hot, messy, nose-running tears.

My parents’ healthcare forms including: HIPPA letters, durable powers of attorney; healthcare surrogate documents; and living wills. I didn’t think it the least bit odd to also carry their DNR’s (Do Not Resuscitate), as well. It is always about being prepared.

A list of my parents’ doctors. Unfortunately, my dad was doing a great job of alienating most of them, so the list was constantly changing. One physician told him he had an anger problem and suggested counseling. When my dad actually called to schedule a session, he got a voicemail recording, and left a string of four letter words that I can never, ever repeat.

Last, but not least, I rarely went anywhere without a twisted sense of humor; because, as we caregivers know, despite all our preparation and planning for the unexpected challenges of this role, sometimes laughter can save us when nothing else will.

So, in the spirit of sharing, tell us what’s in your purse today?

Take A Breath

As a caregiver, does it often feel like you don’t even have time to breathe? I’ve been there, believe me. And, the thing is, most of us aren’t doing it in a way that provides the maximum benefit. Our breathing is shallow because we’re not taught any differently. This is such a shame because deep breaths can lower your blood pressure, slow your heart rate, create a state of calm, and can even help with digestion. Below is an excellent exercise that I do daily. Give it a try and see if it helps!

You Deserve A Kind Word

Most of us would not dream of speaking to someone else in the same way we speak to ourselves. Yet, we don’t realize how deeply self-talk can affect our mind, body and spirit. Harsh words or criticisms can create anxiety, make us feel less capable, and unable to cope with some situations, while soothing words and loving comments can lower our blood pressure, calm our heart rate, and make us feel generally more positive.

This isn’t about ignoring difficult situations and only allowing yourself to be cheerful, no matter what. It’s about giving yourself the same compassion you give to others every day.

What kind words can you say to yourself right now?

HeART Full Creative Workshops

Getting immersed in a creative project can be one of the most relaxing and enjoyable gifts you can give yourself. But lengthy time commitments and having to purchase tons of supplies can make this activity just too hard, sometimes.

That’s why, beginning this Fall, I’ll be holding in-person HeART Full Creative Art/Writing Workshops in Tampa FL, specifically for women in need of a self-care break. Did someone say “Caregivers?” These two hour mini-retreats (with all materials included) are about exploration, joy, and realizing you deserve the same time and attention you give to others. 

If you’d like to be included in my workshop email list, head to the Workshop page of my art website for a little more info, or simply email me via This means you’ll be the first to know the details on each upcoming event before they fill up. Our first event is in September, so don’t delay!

I so hope you’ll join me. Your body, mind, and spirit will thank you!!

The Dutiful Daughter Newsletter Is Back!

I’m excited to announce that the Dutiful Daughter’s Guide to Caregiving newsletter is back in circulation! You should receive an emailed copy on November 13th, 2022 if, at some point, you joined my list of subscribers. Be sure to check your Spam filter, just in case. This website is still the place to visit if you’re a caregiver looking for encouragement and down-to-earth practical advice. You’ll also find inspiration and suggestions for rediscovering yourself through art and other creative pursuits, which can be a powerful form of self-care no matter where you are on your caregiving journey or beyond.

So, pour yourself a cup of coffee or tea, pull up a chair, and keep reading. Just like my book, I want you to feel like you’re sitting down at the kitchen table with a good friend (albeit a mouthy one) who understands what you’re going through.

I do hope you’ll stay with me!


Caregivers Make Things Happen

A few weeks ago, I was talking with a good friend who is a caregiver for her beloved mom, recently diagnosed with cancer. The thing is, it’s not enough of a burden to be worried about the disease itself. Often, it’s also about the financial aspect of a major illness, especially medication costs that can be prohibitive, regardless of insurance coverage.

Amazingly enough, my friend was able to obtain grants (based on financial need) to pay for her mom’s cancer meds through two foundations. One is the Lilly Cares Foundation and the other is the PAN Foundation.  In a nutshell, The Lily Cares Foundation helps with certain  medications they make and market by providing the drugs to eligible patients at no cost.  The PAN Foundation will cover out-of-pocket medical costs for eligible participants.

I was thrilled for both her and her mom, yet she was hesitant to take any credit for making this happen, saying that all she did was fill out forms. Since the application was based on “need,” she had no influence to exert over the outcome.

That’s when I realized how important it was to share this thought with her and with you. Caregivers are the unsung heroines and heroes of our society; continually making things happen for those you care about, and very often working behind the scenes with little or no recognition. Non-caregivers may not have a clue, but those of us who’ve been in your shoes understand just how much time and energy it takes, and you are seen, heard, and appreciated.

“Take the kudos,” I told my friend. “You are freaking awesome.”


Early Morning Inspiration


Instead of staring at the ceiling when it’s 3 AM and I can’t sleep, I go on the Internet and make lists of helpful links to share with my newsletter subscribers. This batch is definitely worth checking out during  your caregiving journey and beyond.

Happy Healthy Caregiver
Founded by Elizabeth Miller. Her focus is integrating self-care and caregiving. Elizabeth’s many offerings include helpful caregiver resources, coaching, and product recommendations.

Working Daughter
Founded by Liz O’Donnell. The subtitle of the site is “Eldercare, career, kids, and life.” That pretty much says it all. Liz also offers an active FaceBook page and a paid membership option.

Caregiving Advice
Founded by Michelle Seitzer. She hosts a wonderful Monday (11 AM EST) coffee chat for caregivers via Instagram. Love how she openly and honestly explores both the ups and downs of caregiving while offering emotional support, helpful apps, websites, and tools.

Six Great Questions To Ask Elders
One of my deep regrets as a caregiver was not seeking out my dad’s opinions on a variety of subjects as he got older. He had a great fear of becoming irrelevant and I know now that taking time to really talk with him about his thoughts and feelings would have been a gift for both of us. This list of questions would be a great conversation starter around the holiday table.

Easy Crafts For Adults
Honoring your own creativity can be a powerful form of self-care both during and after caregiving. Even fifteen minutes a few times a week can give you a chance to breathe, and offer a break from the pressures you’re under. While not on the list, don’t forget coloring books (there are tons of them geared to topics like florals, mandalas, Zen Tangles, etc) and a variety of crayons, colored pencils or paint markers can be found at a variety of stores.

If you have a few favorites links of your own, email me at They may show up in future blog posts and I’ll be sure to credit you for the recommendation!!

Caregiver Postcard Set Available

I’ve been wanting to create a Caregiver Postcard Set forever – a bit cheeky, while letting  you know someone understands what it’s like to be a caregiver. You’ll find one or two mild swear words (at least compared to my vocabulary), but most of all I’m hoping their gentle humor will make you feel a little less alone in your thoughts and feelings.

If you’re interested in getting a closer view of each card or purchasing an assorted five-pack of them with envelopes, they’re available to view or order HERE , the Gifts & Cards Gallery at my art website, Once you get there, just fill out the purchase form and I’ll send you a PayPal/Credit Card invoice. Quantities are very limited at this point, so don’t delay!

NOTE: A set of cards coupled with a copy of the book makes an awesome gift for someone!

Finding A Creative Identity

For the past few years, I’ve been on a journey of self-discovery that includes creating art, writing, teaching, and even gardening!

The catalyst was caring for both my parents in the final phase of their lives – kind of like a roller coaster ride in the dark, but with moments of joy, laughter, and deep connection. From that life-changing experience came The Dutiful Daughter’s Guide To Caregiving. It was pretty much everything I learned during that time, and written so other adult children might feel supported, understood, and less alone.

Although the process of writing the book turned out to be incredibly healing, there was still that struggle of trying to figure out who I was now. Getting in touch with my own needs more and more, I discovered a desire to explore thoughts and feelings beyond words – something more visual, drenched in color and light. So, in 2016, I picked up my mother’s well-used art supplies, carried home with me after her passing, and began to paint. It was love at first stroke and the rest is history, as I went from caregiver to artist with a book in-between.

As a Grade A over-thinker, making art is the one thing that happens in a judgement-free zone for me. Unlike caregiving, where we tend to second-guess our decisions (as if there was actually a perfect answer to anything), my only question has become, “Oooh, what happens if I try this!”

And that, my friends, brings me to now and my website,, where I post new artwork as it comes available, and share observations about life and self-care, quotes/poems, readers’ words, art tips, and much more on my blog – Late Bloomer.  Sound interesting? Then grab a glass of wine or a cup of coffee and come on over. If it makes you laugh or smile, let’s keep in touch.

You may even find yourself inspired to begin a creative practice. I know putting yourself first is hard, yet even a half-hour once or twice a week can give your tired brain and body a big mental and physical boost. In addition, it’s a powerful tool, along with writing, to answer those “Who Am I/What Now” questions that sometimes arise when the role of caregiver comes to an end.

Strong hugs to you all.

Resistance Is Futile

Addie was not just any cat. I’m quite sure she was a gift from my father – a man who believed a house was not a home unless it included a feline or two. 

I was still thinking about my dad as I pulled into my driveway after work one evening. It was the five-year anniversary of his passing and my mind had been flooded with memories all day. Glancing at my front porch, there seemed to be a piece of crumpled newspaper lodged under the plant stand there. Getting closer, I saw it was actually a small black and white cat with eyes the size of Oreo mini’s.

My first thought was, “Oh, frick.” All my life, this was how I came to own pets. As if a cosmic “down” arrow hung over every place I ever lived and said, “Come here and you will be spoiled and adored.”

This time was different though. Well-intentioned friends had been urging me to get a pet for awhile, but after the six year roller coaster ride of caring for my parents and processing the grief that followed, I felt fractured by love and loss. I’d also decided to write a book about all I’d learned to help other adult children doing the same. In my mind, this meant shelving any kind of caregiver role for the foreseeable future.

Since neighborhood cats often strolled by, I took that as a sign that this furry little visitor was no different.  Hearing my half-hearted “shooing” sounds, she ran and hid under my car, and I went inside to cook dinner, figuring that was the end of it.

Of course, the next day, there sat the cat at the front door with a look on its face that said, “Let’s try this again, shall we?” I stood there still resisting the inevitable, but decided it wouldn’t hurt to feed her before she moved on. Yeah, I know.

Since nothing in the house resembled pet food, I opted to make oatmeal, adding extra water until it resembled the gruel in a scene from Oliver Twist. The cat attacked the bowl with gusto, making growling sounds to let me know that sharing was not an option. After finishing every last bite, she followed me into my room, hopped up on the bed, and stretched out on her back, purring loudly. Is there anything more irresistible? Laughing and shaking my head, I reached down to stroke her soft white belly and suddenly caught a familiar whiff of my dad’s favorite pipe tobacco. At that very moment, we both looked over at the same corner of the room and then looked back at each other. Five minutes later, I was heading to the grocery store for a litter box and kibble. Addie Jacob – Addie, a name I’d always liked, and Jacob, my father’s middle name, was curled up in the sheets, sound asleep.

The rest of the story? Turns out she would need her rest. Becoming my writing “mews” was going to be a full time job.

 NOTE: Addie J is no longer with me, but the gift of her presence is one I still carry in my heart.