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As the days get shorter, I love how the light filters through the trees, dusting the flowers below. These are my blue plumbago, subtly elegant in their beauty instead of being all up in your face with cloying sweetness. Despite their beauty they’re tough as nails through flood and drought, heat and cold. Despite their resilience if we get a hard freeze in the ground, they’re toast.

People are like that too. If we were going to keel over at the first whiff of trouble, we’d have died a long time ago. We can withstand a lot of pressure, heartache, and pain. Sometimes we get the idea we can withstand anything, but we can’t.

As a caregiver you have weathered plenty of hard circumstances, and as more difficulties arise you bravely rise to meet the new challenges. You see this pattern emerging, and it seems like you can be on this escalator forever. In your plans you will never get more difficulty than you can bear, and your capacity to deal with things will be infinitely expandable.

Actually, though, when that escalator reaches the next floor, you cannot keep going up. You have to get off. You can take more and more and more until you can’t take any more. How that limit is set for each one of us is a mystery, but that limit exists.

You don’t know exactly where that limit is until you get close to it, and by then you may not have much time left to make adjustments. If you hit the limit of your capacity you will be in crisis, not a place from which the best decisions are made. In light of that reality it is incumbent on you as a caregiver to put a safety net in place for yourself. You have a safety net for your loved one, but where will you go when you are feeling stretched, exhausted, or frustrated?

Make a list of people and resources you can call upon for practical help and emotional support. Do you have enough? Share what has worked best for you in putting a support system in place.

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