Archive for July, 2016

An Idea for Our Time—Slow Caregiving.

July 25, 2016

Slow_Caregiving_2Slow Caregiving is not about doing this work more slowly, although that’s sometimes what happens. It’s more about adopting a mindset, and choosing an attitude, which you then carry out in as many ways as you wish each day.

Slow Caregiving is rooted is what’s called the Slow Movement which had its unlikely beginnings in Italy in 1986. McDonald’s was about to open its first franchise in Rome. Such an idea did not go over well with food-conscious Italians. A protest movement sprang up, as protestors waved signs and brandished bowls of penne pasta at the site where fast food was about to invade their country.

What did they object to? Food that was not the most healthy. Food which was shipped in from elsewhere, having been prepared in bulk. Food associated with a conglomerate rather than locally-owned operations. Food that was cooked quickly, served impersonally and presented unappealingly. And food that was designed to be eaten swiftly too, clearing the way for another paying customer to sit down.

These Italians didn’t want fast food—they wanted slow food. They wanted to linger over a meal, to savor all the tastes, to leisurely enjoy one another’s company.

The Slow Food Movement took hold and before long it spread into other directions—Slow Living, Slow Travel, Slow Cities, Slow Architecture, among other approaches.

And now I’m proposing Slow Caregiving—caregiving that is done not unthinkingly but thoughtfully. Caregiving that is not always in a rush to be completed but in an easy, more relaxed manner as often as feasible. Care that is provided not with absoluteness but with a certain flexibility, not with aloofness but with kindness.

If Slow Caregiving isn’t necessarily done slowly, then what are its earmarks?

  • Above all else, Slow Caregiving means that you make yourself fully present to the other person as you provide your care, whether they are aware of what you are doing or not. (In time, they probably will be.)
  • You hold the one in your care in deep regard. Perhaps you love them, perhaps you respect them, perhaps you are simply concerned for them. Whatever your feelings, you value them for who they are, for what they’re going through, for what they’re facing, and for what they must be doing on their own.
  • You give each act of care its appropriate time and attention. You refrain from moving quickly through each act, ready to check it off your list when it’s done. Sometimes you linger. Sometimes you may pause and converse. Sometimes you choose not to “do for” but to “be with.”
  • You also pay attention to yourself as a caregiver, monitoring your energy, your desires, your feelings. You do not neglect your own needs but you strive to find ways to meet those needs without compromising your caregiving responsibilities. In doing so, you realize you’ll be a much better caregiver.
  • You allow others to provide care with you and for you so you’re not entirely on your own. You look for alliances and supportive relationships. You guard against any loneliness that caregiving sometimes engenders.
  • You remain alert for and open to any of those daily experiences that offer you beauty, joy, and contentment, knowing that you must sometimes be proactive in doing this.
  • You make time to reflect upon the lessons you’re learning and any meaning you’re finding. This may include sharing these insights with others, including possibly the one in your care.
  • If your situation allows for it, you develop a reciprocity with the one in your care so that you are not only and always on the giving end of things, which requires that they be always and only on the receiving end of things. You remember they usually want to give to you in some ways too, even if it’s very different from the kind of giving you do.
  • You locate yourself always in your body, bringing this dimension of who you are to your caregiving, calling upon and utilizing all your senses. You bring also your mind, your heart, and your soul so that the fullness of who you are can meet the fullness of who this other person is.

In other words, remembering how limiting the fast food approach to eating and to life can be, and how limiting and unfulfilling fast caregiving can be, you provide other options. You do this both for yourself and the other person. You hurry only if the situation absolutely requires it. You make it a point to savor what there is to savor. You take time to connect, to communicate, to reach out, to touch. You look people in the eye as you talk. You place value on the congenial, the convivial, the hospitable. You stay open to the possibilities. You trust. You affirm. You hold hope.

Mostly, you just care, the Slow way.

Our Newest Inspirations—For Caregivers. For You.

July 25, 2016

Newest InspirationsWhen you open your daily email, you’ll find waiting for you one of these four types of Inspirations:

A Photo-thought.

Receive one of Jim Miller’s beautiful photographs from nature with a quotation embedded in it, offering encouragement and hope. You can save it to be viewed whenever you wish. You can even print it in full color to hang somewhere or to place within a book of your own making. You’ll find a sample of one photo-thought here.

A Video.

Each video (there are over 100 of them) gives you Jim’s artistically-orchestrated photography and a meaningful message in his own voice, accompanied by original music by Eric Clancy. All videos are between one and three minutes long and can be viewed time and again, even for years to come. Here’s a sample of one.

An Audio.

Jim narrates a short true story from the lives of family caregivers, some famous, some not so famous. Each audio segment offers a single helpful message designed for caregivers everywhere. These are between two and three minutes in length—long enough to engage and inform you and short enough to preserve your limited free time. You’ll find one of the audios, this one about Mohammed Ali’s wife, here.

A Writing.

In a couple hundred words, accompanied by one of his photographs from nature, Jim shares a piece of advice or a useful perspective from his own life as a caregiver, as well as from other caregivers he has known. Occasionally he shares excerpts from one of his books. Here’s one such sample, about something called “healthy denial.” 

We’re gratified that Daily Inspirations for Caregivers is finding a ready audience. Here are two examples of what people have written us:

“What a wonderful, uplifting way to start the day! What makes these extra special and meaningful is that they nourish one’s spirit in so many different ways.” (Sharon K.)

“Each morning I can hardly wait to experience that day’s Inspiration, knowing it will somehow stay with me and guide me. I don’t know how you’re able to do this as well as you do day after day.” (Paul J.)

See for yourself. Sign up for a free 14-day trial on the Willowgreen homepage here.

You can also order your own subscription there. Better yet, use this coupon (InSight5), available only to readers of InSight, and you’ll receive $5.00 off when you place your order on our shopping cart.

Caregiving is an enormous undertaking. We at Willowgreen want to support you in this way and in other ways too.

Our “Thank You” to You—Free, Signed Books.

July 25, 2016

Book Montage

In appreciation for your supporting Willowgreen in whatever ways you have (your orders, your kind words, your spreading the word, your subscribing to this newsletter), we’re offering you your choice of six books by Jim Miller in a variety of subjects:

The Caregiver’s Book. Learn the eight principles of effective caregiving, accompanied by beautiful photography and meaningful quotations. This is the book version of the DVD The Grit and Grace of Being a Caregiver. (List price $14.95)

Change & Possibility. Full-color photography of the seasons illustrates the three-fold process of all human change. Helpful suggestions and wise quotations are spread throughout. The DVD version is called Nothing Is Permanent Except Change. (List price $14.95)

Autumn Wisdom. Take in ten insights related to healthy older age…or just about any age of adulthood, for that matter. You’ll also find full-color photography in this deluxe gift book. (List price $14.95)

A Pilgrimage Through Grief. Savor the blend of poetic writing and striking nature photography built around the theme of allowing a time of loss to become a time of spiritual pilgrimage. (List price $12.95)

The Art of Listening in a Healing Way. Learn a multitude of specific ways about how to listen well to someone close to you, especially someone in your care. It’s the companion book to The Art of Being a Healing Presence. (List price $7.95)

The Gift of Healing Presence. Discover the ten basic thoughts that simplify the process of being a healing presence to others. Enjoy the quotations, the full-color photography, and the encouragement too. (List price $5.95)

How do you go about receiving your free, signed book? Just place an order of any size, however small. Then tell us which of the six books you’d like and we’ll send it along with our compliments. Jim will hand sign each book and even inscribe it to you or to the person of your choice if you wish.

Moreover, you can choose an additional free book for each $50 in purchases, even taking into account any discounts you may receive.

All this specialization is more than our computerized shopping cart can handle so we ask you to send us an email ( or give us a call (260.490.2222) when you place your order and we’ll handle all the details you request.