Phyllis Myung is a freelance communications and social media consultant and a blogger at Napkin Hoarder. Phyllis is learning to prioritize self care, but still struggles with caregiver guilt.
Where and when do you feel most competent? Probably at church – the expectation is not to be perfect, so I feel like I can stand confidently in my mess alongside a whole church full people and their messes. There are moments when I feel the most competent when I am working or accomplishing something – like painting a piece of pottery or writing. If I can control it, show you a product or result and do it well, then I feel competent.
With what do you struggle? So many things… where to begin? I probably struggle the most with balance. I have a hard time compartmentalizing things and so everything usually runs together in my life. It’s hard to stay in the lines. I also struggle a lot with being far away from my aging parents and not being able to support them fully – in my physical presence and financially. I struggle with guilt, too.
What one thing do you wish you had more time for? I wish I had more time for my family, especially my parents.
With what do you wish you had more help? Cooking, cleaning, keeping the house together and in taking care of my parents. I feel like I need at least 10 clones of myself.
Where do you find support? I find support in my husband, my daughter, my friends and those who are in similar situations as myself. Also, I find a lot of support in online communities. Sometimes they are strangers, but they are my peers and I feel that they “get” me.
What is your best habit? Is it ok that it’s a new habit? Going to the gym or getting exercise outside. I have become a believer that taking care of your health helps to cope, de-stress and stay positive. Self-care is a must.
If you knew then, what you know now… I would’ve moved closer to my parents’ home and I would’ve spent more time talking with my dad – recording his stories and finding out more about his family. I also would’ve spent more time improving my Korean.
What is your dream retirement? To travel, grow old with my husband, live near my daughter, spoil some grandchildren and to be a snowbird, if I still live in Boston. Maybe golf and write some more books, too.
What would you like to see employers do more of to help caregivers? It would be great for employers to be more flexible about time off, scheduling and being able to work remotely. I know this isn’t always an option, but having flexibility with job security is extremely helpful. Working daughter: Having flexibility with job security is extremely helpful. Click To Tweet
What would you like to see medical professionals do more of to support caregivers? I would like to see medical professionals be able to involve the whole family – the family that surrounds the caregivers – and to make sure that they ask how the caregiver is doing. We often neglect the health – emotional, physical, mental – of the caregiver because we are so focused on the person who is receiving the care. I think knowing what support services are out there would be helpful, too. A simple referral would be huge.
Who are your heroines? My mom and my grandmother, Oprah, and Shonda Rhimes. The way my mom has been taking care of my dad is remarkable. My grandmother took care of my grandfather on her own and I was amazed by that as well. The sacrifice, love, commitment and strength to do that really struck me. Oprah never stops reinventing herself – I love that. Shonda Rhimes has found great success and has helped other women of color to reach success also. She’s also using her success to be able to bring women of color into media in a way that it wasn’t done before. If I can achieve her kind of success, I hope to do the same.
What do you admire in/about other caregivers? I admire their steadfastness and their willingness to care in a way that doesn’t always come naturally to me. I also admire their bravery. I am always afraid when it comes to caregiving because I’m not always good at controlling all the different emotions that come about from it. It takes a lot to be a caregiver and to do it day in and day out.
What is your motto? I have three, but have yet to somehow cleverly put them into one: One day at a time. Self-care to take care. Go with your gut.
What is your superpower? Multi-tasking and having pretty good EQ.
Caregiving: a blessing or a burden? A little bit of both. I think it can be a blessing because it can be a tangible expression of love and because it can show you a lot about yourself. It’s a burden because it’s hard, it sucks and the person receiving the care could be in a terminal state. Feeling hopeless is a terrible place to be. I also feel like I am in a constant state of mourning or loss as a caregiver.