It's the Little Things: Part Two

As I wrote about in It's the Little Things: Part One, there is no time available in my long hard days as a caregiver to engage in the self-care techniques so often suggested to people in my position. Instead, I have found small self-preservation techniques that I can embed into my day to lighten the load just a bit.

In today's edition, we look at the accessories that provide a little hygge-ness (hygge: a practical way of creating sanctuary in the middle of a very real life).

Blanket Scarf

THANK YOU fashion trends for making it socially acceptable to wear a blanket around everywhere I go! This blanket scarf plays so many roles that it’s close to being my favorite earthly possession (behind my Keurig, of course).  Here are just a few of the reasons (oh yes, I’m going to count the ways) I love my blanket scarf.

#1: It looks beautiful and trendy.

#2: It covers up whatever shirt I’m wearing, which is helpful in getting dressed, covering up the coffee I spilled in hour one of a thirteen hour surgery day, or for the big reveal of snarky t-shirt verbiage, as mentioned in It's the Little Things: Part One.

#3: It does this magic thing where it makes my hair look fluffy and delightful and/or makes my hair a non-issue because people can’t see beyond the beauty of the scarf.

#4: It keeps me cozy and warm and protected. Some children wear weighted vests to help with regulation and comfort. This scarf does that for me.

#5: It gives off the signal that I’m not here for long. “Oh, this appointment? Just a blip in our day. Our lives are totally NOT consumed with medical appointments. We’re just flitting in on our way to bigger and better things.”

#6: It’s one less thing to keep track of at appointments. None of that leaving the scarf in your sleeve, or dropping it on the germ-infested floor. Your body is its coat rack!

#7: Listen to the title: “BLANKET scarf.” There is an actual BLANKET built into this fashionable piece of clothing. Those well-deserved and much needed cat naps that happen whenever able are suddenly a bit cozier thanks to the BLANKET you’ve been looking fabulous in all day.

#8: Because it’s a SCARF it’s completely reasonable to wear it day after day after day during the endless winter months in Minnesota. After wearing the same shirt a few days in a row, people might start to judge, worry, or both, but not a scarf! You’d be considered irresponsible if you didn’t wear it every day. Think about the health and safety of your neck in those subzero temps!         

See how calm and cozy and lovely I look at 5:30 am, preparing to send my husband into yet another surgery? Thanks, blanket scarf! 
Five minutes to take a nap? I'm ready.

cute winter hat

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Much like the blanket scarf, this is an accessory that:

-prevents you from needing to style (by which I mean wash) your hair,

-you can wear it day after day in the winter without judgment,

-it’s like a weighted vest for your head, allowing you to be cozy and secure through appointment after appointment after appointment,

-it signals that you’ve got places to go and that your life certainly does not revolve around going to the clinic.

Besides, everyone knows that hat signals are kind of like bat signals - they can’t be ignored.

Socks

In response to It's the Little Things: Part One, a fellow Fanconi anemia caregiver warrior shared, "A pair of socks that I got from a friend and love to wear says, "Kick today in its sunshiny ass." It doesn't announce itself to the world (because, sometimes I just don't want to explain anything to anyone), but it's there and I remember that it's there and it keeps me on track with what I need to do." Amen, sister. Here are a few of my favorite pairs. 

jewelry

Sometimes slipping on something seemingly small, like a bracelet, before taking on a heavy day of caregiving can make a big difference. It’s like a stylish security blanket when it’s not cold enough to justify wearing your blanket scarf.

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This one, “Well-behaved women seldom make history,” (Laurel Thatcher Ulrich) is a nice reminder on days when the Minnesota Nice threatens to drown out the “You just made what mistake regarding my precious husband’s health?” It’s also a passive aggressive way to show the staff you mean business without even opening your mouth. 

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Though I don’t love it when people use military terms like, “You’ve got to fight this!” or “Just get through this battle!” to describe what they think Sean should be doing as his body is attacked (there it is again!) by illness, and I especially don’t appreciate it when people tell me to be strong, this WARRIOR bracelet to me feels like less of a directive and more like when I slip on the Wonder Woman t-shirt. It’s a declaration and a reminder to myself (and anyone else who’s looking) that I am tough as nails, that I have been and continue to go through hell, and that I’m still somehow standing.   

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This is not a trick or a tip, but just one of my favorite pictures that I had to include. This is Sean’s wedding ring, on my ring finger, on one of many surgery days. It always feels so very tragic when, in the midst of preparing to be wheeled off into surgery, they make him take off his wedding ring as well. As if the divide between me in the waiting room and him in the operating room doesn’t already seem cavernous enough, it’s as if they are un-marrying us with this act. All day during surgery his ring clinks against my own and that sound is both comforting and haunting. I am glad to have a piece of him with me, but in reality, it’s not the piece I want.  

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And, for the days that no sock, scarf, or cute phrase will do, take a breath, put this treasure on, and follow its directive.