IMG_1094This morning I’ve been thinking about how my routine has changed through the years. When we babysit for our little granddaughters, I am reminded of how important it was to maintain a routine during the baby/toddler years. During the years I worked in television advertising, my daily routine was frenetic, because I was also raising a family and trying to provide long-distance support to my parents.

When Alex and I left New Mexico and moved to Oregon, for the first time in our lives, we had the luxury of time. We were able to decide what we wanted to do and when we wanted to do it. Every day for nearly fifteen years, we went for a three-mile walk. We live very close to a beautiful nature park that has paths that lead through woods, farm land and along the banks of the Willamette River. Our walks kept us close emotionally, because we talked at length about things that we would probably wouldn’t have discussed over dinner, and it also helped keep us physically fit.

In the last few months as Alex’s back condition has worsened, we haven’t been able to walk more than a few blocks. In the last two weeks he’s had more injections in his spine, but they’ve had little or no effect. On Friday he’ll have an MRI, and we expect to be told that he needs surgery. We aren’t excited about the prospect of going through that again, but it appears we may be out of options.

In the meantime, I have stepped up my exercise routine. I am going to my exercise class and walking every day. I know I must stay strong physically. I also know that exercise releases endorphins in the brain, reduces physical pain and helps fight depression.

As we age, our bodies suffer a lot of insults, and there are a lot of things over which we have no control. However, I know I can control my attitude, and I can control how I spend my time. So when the alarm goes off at 5:45, I may groan before I get up, but I’m committed to maintaining an exercise routine so I’ll have the physical and emotional strength to help Alex get through whatever lies ahead.

If you are caring for a loved one who can no longer do the things you enjoyed together in the past, I hope you will find a way to incorporate some time for yourself into your daily routine. Nothing will make this journey easy, but taking care of yourself can help make it a little less stressful.