UP FOR DISCUSSION … The day-to-day challenges of caregiving can feel like a relentless assault of bad news, negativity, and loss. Lots of problems, few easy answers, and everyone we meet seems to want something more from us. I was reminded today that it is so important to remember all the rainbows I have had in my storm clouds and to bring every one of those rainbows with me whenever I face a new issue.

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Maya Angelou has long been an inspiration to me, and I watched a YouTube video of hers today that reminds me of why that is.  This writer, poet, and civil rights activist has long inspired me to look at things differently and be more open to life’s experiences as opportunities to grow, learn and develop – always a positive role model, Angelou taught us to face challenges in the most optimistic of ways.

In this short two-minute video, she introduces the 19th century African American hymn “God Put a Rainbow in the Clouds” and goes on to talk about all of the rainbows she has had among her many clouds.  She references people’s kindnesses, their encouragement and wisdom even when they might have had little in common with her.  She talks about bringing that same kindness and wisdom into everything she does – not only because of what it taught her and the help it gave her, but as a reminder to constantly endeavor to “be a rainbow in somebody else’s clouds”.  Simply, her strength and courage came from all those people who had supported her along the way; her purpose was to do the same for others in every way possible as she participated in her life journey.

I am reminded of the community of caregivers that I belong to and all the rainbows that I have encountered in this multi-year journey I never really signed up for but have lived for so long now.  More than just finding that I am far from alone, all the support, suggestions, laughter, and strength I have gained along the way from others have been a large part of why I can thrive, almost now looking for those rainbows among the clouds.  The storms seem less severe, the promise for some colorful and bright outcomes seem more likely.

In the video Angelou shares that she consciously thinks “come with me – I need you now” every time she tackles a new challenge.  She brings with her the many rainbows from storms past.  Armed with a lifetime of rainbows, the task at hand seems easier to do.  And she challenges each of us to “be a blessing to somebody” – be a rainbow in someone else’s storm.  I am taken with the simplicity of this.  They are brief encounters.  Moments in time that made a big difference.  Small, seemingly insignificant, flashes of hope and optimism through a simple kindness.  Encouragement and perhaps a promise of better days ahead.  A recognition that no storm lasts forever.

I feel privileged and committed to the idea of being a bright spot for a moment in someone else’s journey.  A warm hug.  A written note of encouragement.  A humorous text.  A phone call.  A couple flowers in a vase.  A candy gram.  A warm meal.  A morning paper brought up to the door.  I am a better caregiver because of all those who have shown me kindness, and I can try every day to bring that same kindness to other caregivers I encounter along the pathway.  A community, caring for one another and bringing light and promise into the gray and stormy skies of each other’s lives.  It does sound easy, but it must be practiced purposefully.  We are all just walking each other home!



UP FOR DISCUSSION:  Do you experience rainbows among your storm clouds?  Will you share them with us?  What do they look like, and do you consciously consider how to be a rainbow in someone else’s clouds?  Please share your comments below.


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