I'm Meredith. Growing up, everyone called me Merry. When I was in 5th grade, I insisted on everyone spelling it "Merrie" because I was tired of my peers calling me Merry Christmas. I'm not even sure if it made a difference, but in my mind "Merrie" was much different than "Merry".
Then in Jr. High I decided I wanted to go by my given name, Meredith. No one seemed to catch on. They knew me as "Merrie" and I felt silly insisting on Meredith - even though I'd had no problem insisting on "Merrie".
I met my husband in high school at the beginning of my Junior year. It was the Fall of 1988. I still love the Fall for that reason. We married exactly 4 years later.
We moved to Logan, Utah to begin married life together at Utah State University. At this point, I had an Associates Degree, he had completed only ONE semester of college due to serving a 2 year mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. We were ready to take on the World.
It was at this time, I became Meredith. I asked Paul to call me Meredith, at least in public. We were in a new town. NO one knew me as Merrie or Merry. It was important to me to be called by the name I was given, mostly because I liked it!
Paul and I became the parents of 5 daughters. They are one of the reasons I was so drawn to Life Coaching when I was first introduced to Jody Moore's "Better Than Happy" podcast in the Fall of 2018.
But I need to back up a little bit. Around the time I had my last baby (2007), my oldest was becoming a teenager. Suddenly I had a different child, I just knew that I had done something terribly wrong and that she was not who she was supposed to be.
On top of this, we temporarily adopted my brother's dog (I'm not a dog person), moved to a new city, bought a house half the size as the one we couldn't sell due to the recession, didn't have enough money to pay our bills, and I didn't know anyone. I became a miserable person. All of life's circumstances were stacked against me and I didn't really like who I was anymore.
Meredith? Merry? Merrie? The help I needed was way beyond altering my name a little.
After about a year I got a job at Great Harvest Bread store. It was owned by a friend I'd made at Church. I worked Friday mornings and paid everything I made to the babysitter. I took the job to get away, not to make money, obviously.
The next year I tried substitute teaching in order to actually make money and not just pay a babysitter. But I didn't like the irregular schedule and not knowing what to plan for the next day should I get a call at 6am to sub. My life felt chaotic enough.
When that school year ended I heard about a new job possibility. A friend 's husband was a Psychologist and he needed a testing technician in his office. This position involved giving aptitude tests to people who were applying for Social Security Disability benefits or who had Traumatic Brain Injuries.
It was fascinating. I loved meeting the people I tested and hearing their stories. I worked only 10-12 hours per week and actually brought home a little money.
I was still barely coping at home though and felt like a terrible mother most days. I felt terrible because I didn't enjoy being a mother anymore, and being a mother had been all I ever wanted. I felt like my kids had let me down. They had made motherhood hard. Yikes, that's uncomfortable to write.
One day at work, I felt very strongly that I needed to talk to my Psychologist boss-friend. As in, I needed therapy. I'm a believer in a Heavenly Father. And I believe he cares about our mental health. And I believe he was telling me, "Go get some help."
It was one of those moments that turned me around. That woke me up to take charge of my life and who I was again. Harder than changing my name, but so much more effective.
Around this same time a friend introduced me to a book called Christlike Parenting by Glen Latham. It too, changed my life. It basically taught me that my kids were not motivated by religious and spiritual things or being told what to do all the time. That was my entire parenting style! It also taught me that my countenance told them how I felt about them. I bawled through the first two chapters and kept tissues nearby until I finished the book
And then I was ready to start again. I softened. I listened. I. SHUT. UP. I loved. I saw. I waited. I began to feel better.
8 more years would pass before I found Life Coaching. As much as I wish I would have found it sooner, I believe I found it exactly when I was supposed to. And I drank it up like a sponge, listening to podcasts for hours at a time.
All of my past behaviors and negative emotions suddenly had explanations. Happily, by 2018 I was less of a miserable person. But to know more about what created the misery was absolutely freeing.
I had created it with my thoughts. That meant I could uncreate it. Magical.
Why do I focus on Caregivers in The Sandwich Generation you may be wondering?
In 2014 I developed a close friendship with a woman who's daughter was born with Holoprosencephaly. Her needs will always require high levels of care. This friend taught me what Caregiving truly is.
In May of 2018 my mother was diagnosed with Pancreatic Cancer. She had been my Dad's main caregiver for 2-3 years as his health had been declining.
After Mom's diagnosis I began traveling from my home in Western CO to help them every month. I spent about a week cooking, cleaning, shopping, going to Dr. appts, and working on projects around the house. Dad also required help dressing, getting up from his chair and walking.
Even with my husbands' amazing support, while I was with my parents I'd think about my girls and worry if they felt abandoned. I'd hope they were getting their homework done or practicing their instruments. One time my youngest daughter forgot about a band concert at school until after it had started. As I was getting online to watch the live stream, she called me to ask if she had a band concert that night. She slinked into the concert late and mortified, and I sunk in my chair hundreds of miles away trying to comfort myself over the guilt I felt for not being there. I did a lot of planning to make sure my job was covered while I was gone, but I couldn't control everything. And when I was actually home in CO, I would worry about my parents. The squeeze of being in the middle of The Sandwich is real.
I saw how the tools I was learning in Jody Moore's podcast could apply to all that life gives you, and they REALLY helped me as I cared for my Dad. He was not always fun to be around, and for years I'd been conflicted over both the love and anger I felt towards him. I knew I could help other Caregivers with the tools I was learning. And when Dad passed away in July of this year (2020), I was at peace with my relationship with him.
Mom passed away just 4 months after Dad. I felt her passing much more acutely and have an appreciation for grief and loss.
The idea of attending The Life Coach School began growing in the Winter of 2019. Two unplanned conversations with two different mentors within a weeks time confirmed my decision. In early May I enrolled and classes began in August of 2019.
I coach Caregivers in The Sandwich Generation. I believe that this important job you have volunteered for can be less stressful and more enjoyable. In Caregiving a lot is out of your control AND a lot is in your control! You may feel completely powerless, but you're not. Humans need connection through relationships; with our parents, our spouses or partners, our siblings, and most importantly, OURSELVES. And when we have ill feelings towards the ones we want to love, we feel guilty. Resentment. Frustrations. When you care for others, you cannot stop caring for yourself. Let's do this together.