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May 18, 2022 14 mins

After 15 years of caring for her mother, Nadine Roberts Cornish discovered her calling to support other caregivers on the journey of caring for a chronically ill loved one. That is why she founded “The Caregivers Guardian,” dedicated to supporting, guiding, and advocating for family caregivers. Nadine touches on the challenges and stigmas surrounding the role of being a caregiver, as well as the physical and emotional tolls this commitment can have on the body. She promotes movement, meditation, and mindfulness to prioritize the importance of self-care to be the best caregiver possible. This episode is a shorter version of our conversation with Nadine made for a shorter walk.

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Episode Transcript

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Speaker 1 (00:00):
Hi everyone. I'm Holly Robinson, pete, actor, author, advocate, do
it All mom, and I'm also a caregiver. And this
is care Walks, a podcast from my Heart Radio and
VOLTI in Arthritis Pain Gael. It's a show for family
caregivers who give everything to everyone and need to make

(00:21):
time for themselves through movement. Every episode is designed for
you to walk as you listen, so just think of
me and my guests as your weekly walking buddies. We'll
hear stories from caregivers and gain tips and insights from
health experts and advocates who know how important it is
to take care of yourself and manage joint pain due
to arthritis that often accompanies being a caregiver. Welcome to

(00:49):
our very first episode of care Walks. Everyone. I'm so
glad you're here and I'm so excited to be here
with you. You may not know this about me, but
my own journey as a family caregiver started when I
was just nineteen years old. My father, Matt Robinson, who
some of you may remember originated the role of Gordon
on Sesame Street, was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease. I love

(01:13):
my dad so much so when I was a freshman
in college and his health started to deteriorate. The choice
was very clear to me while I was in school.
I chose to also be my dad's primary caregiver. It
was not an easy road, and I took care of
him for twenty pretty challenging years, but I will never
regret being able to spend that time with my dad.

(01:34):
It gave us the chance to repair some of the
issues we had in our relationship, and I was able
to see him in a totally different light. And it
was just such an important and influential time in my life.
I only wish a show like care Walks was around then.
There was so much I didn't know when I was
starting my caregiving journey with my dad. I felt so
lost at the start. So my goal is to make

(01:57):
sure this podcast makes you feel a little less alone
in your caregiving journey and gives you some valuable resources
to help you also take care of yourself. As a reminder,
right now, you're listening to the abridged version of this episode,
but if you're looking to get a little extra inspiration,
don't miss a minute. Check out the full length version

(02:19):
of this episode in your podcast feed. All right now,
that that's settled, let's dig into this episode today. We're
talking about taking care of ourselves when we're taking care
of others. How do you make yourself a priority in
it all? You know, I think this is honestly the
hardest thing about being a caregiver. You give, and you

(02:39):
give so much, and everyone relies on you to take
care of things, and then when it comes to taking
time for you, it can almost feel selfish. But the
reality is self care is so important when you're a
family caregiver. You cannot feel from an empty cup. Remember
that you cannot run yourself into the ground and be
the best of yourself for the people you love. Taking

(03:03):
time to care for yourself and do things that are
good for your health, like taking a walk, will make
you that much better at everything you do for others.
To help us better understand the importance of self care
for caregivers, I'm gonna chat with Nadine Robert's Cornish later.
Nadine is the founder of The Caregiver's Guardian, and she's
gonna help us get over the idea that we need

(03:24):
to always put others first and give us advice on
easy ways to start taking care of our needs. But
before we get into today's conversation, let's begin our walk.
Every week, I'm going to help you start your walk
with a mindfulness exercise, So let's get started. First off,

(03:49):
celebrate yourself and your body for showing up today and
finding time to get active when you're a caregiver. I
know it can be really tough, but it is so important,
and I want you to keep telling yourself this every
time a thought pops up, reminding you of other things
that you have to get done today. So when you
have a moment, take a breath, a deep breath in

(04:13):
through your nose and let that air fill your lungs.
Feel the sensation of your stomach and your chest rising
with your breath, and now breathe out through your mouth
and let everything in your body relax as you release
that air. Self care is what lets us refuel to

(04:35):
be the best version of ourselves. Now, I want you
to find a good pace to settle into for the
rest of the show, and as you do that, I'm
going to share my conversation with our guest, Nadine Robert's Cornish,
and together we're going to keep you company and learn
more about how we can take better care of ourselves

(04:57):
as we care for others. Today, I'm joined by Nadine
Roberts Cornish, the founder of the Caregiver's Guardian LLC. She
founded the organization after her own experience of being a
caregiver to her mother for fifteen years. Nadine discusses her
story in her book Tears in My Gumbo, The Caregiver's

(05:21):
Recipe for Resilience. Nadine, Welcome to care Walks. Thank you
so m Tally. It's great to see you, great to
be here. Yes, I love the title of your book,
Tears in My Gumbo. Can you tell us a little
bit about what your experience as a caregiver has been like?

(05:42):
Absolutely so. My personal experience of fifteen years caring for
my mom was the experience of a lifetime. Uh one.
It was an opportunity for me to give back to
the person who gave me life right. But it was
probably the most challenging and difficult to experience I have
ever encountered. So it's been a heck of a journey.

(06:05):
It's been now almost twenty five years of supporting caregivers
across the country and helping caregivers recognize that they must
in fact make themselves the number one priority in their lives.
What I tell all of all of my caregivers is
that um, none of us choose this path. We all

(06:26):
want a different scenario, you know, we have a different
dream and vision of what our best lives is supposed
to look like, and when we embark upon the caregiving journey,
oftentimes that's not congruent what we thought. And so it
really is a resignation to the reality that life isn't

(06:48):
quite going the way we wanted to go, and we're
having to wear hats or step into a role that
we didn't see coming. But it really requires us to
change who we are. It does, and you're never really
prepared for how that manifests itself. Now just kind of
have to go with the flow. And that is one

(07:09):
of the hardest parts, at least for me. How did
you find your own voice during a time that's just
it's very hard to speak up for yourself. This is
good because it's so necessary. I had an advantage with
a background in public health. I knew how to advocate
for my mother. What I didn't know was how to

(07:30):
step back, to take care of myself, to let other
people take charge, so that I could recharge so that
I could really do the necessary work on myself. Oftentimes
we get really, we get it really twisted. We think
that we were supposed to give and give and give

(07:52):
and do and do until there is nothing left. And
we also have this complex around stopping to take care
of ourselves, this guilt associated for so many people, and
this this warped idea that self care, taking care of

(08:12):
yourself is a selfish act, when in fact it is mandatory. Yes,
and my book I talk about it not it being
non negotiable. Yes, you cannot take care of someone else
if you are not making yourself a priority in the

(08:32):
program and if you are not finding a way. And
I don't really subscribe so much to balance, because balance,
to me, is a fallacy. Harmony, however, you can find harmony,
and creating harmony when you are caring for a loved
one is absolutely essential, and sometimes that means giving up

(08:55):
on the idea of who's supposed to support you along
this journey. A lot of us get really caught up
in the idea that our our siblings are supposed to
help carry the weight, and many times, in many families
that simply isn't the case. But because the sibling isn't
willing to do it, we say no to everyone else

(09:17):
in community that would be willing to support us. And
so really releasing the idea of who it must be
and accepting whoever it is that shows up to support you.
And the journey is essential. Who that is a word
right there. It takes a community, takes a village, It

(09:40):
definitely definitely does. And how do you recharge, Nadine? How
what do you? What are your most vital self care practices?
Prayer and meditation? Now good, good, good, talk about that
a little bit. If you don't have a spiritual practice,
if you don't even know what that is, caregiving will
demand that you seek it out. You have to tap

(10:01):
into something larger than yourself in order to adequately complete
this assignment. That's not something that's done on an occasional basis.
It is a discipline, a discipline around making sure that
I'm recharging and I'm filling my cup because caregiving will

(10:24):
empty it every single day. There will not be a
drop left, Yes, it will. And how important is movement
and what are your favorite ways to stay physically active?
And movement is essential? I am now knocking on the
Door sixty two and on being active. Being physically fit

(10:45):
is really important to me. Dancing is a regular part
of my regiment. I love music, I love moving my body.
I can't necessarily do all of the latest moves, but
I can give it a world right. I'll bet you
can do most of them. Hey, I give it a
good try, that's for sure. Getting to the gym, and
when I can't get to the gym, walking, I'm a

(11:08):
power walker. And cycling was something that I never saw
I did, never saw myself as a cyclist, but during
the summer months, I live in beautiful Colorado and we
have some of the best mountain paths and trails in
the country, and I take full advantage of it. I'm
a cyclist, so I move, I move my body. It

(11:28):
is absolutely essential. I started caregiving at nineteen when my
dad was diagnosed with Parkinson's. But I never thought that
I should stop to take care of myself. I never
thought my my job was to take care of my daddy,
and that's what I was gonna do. Well. When you
feel better about yourself, you feel better about what you

(11:53):
have to do. You feel better about the um, the
task of caregiving. UM you show up as a better
version of yourself. You're not quite as miserable, not quite
as grumpy or unhappy as you become when you don't
make self care priority. Absolutely, Nadine Robert's Cornish, thank you

(12:19):
so much for being a part of care Walks today.
Your book tears in my gumbo. The caregiver's recipe for
for resilience is out. Everybody should get that. I really
appreciate having this conversation with you today. Thank you for
being an amazing caregiver. Thank you, Holly. It's been great
and I really appreciate all that you are doing for

(12:41):
caregivers across this country. Thank you so much. I want
to thank Nadine again for being my guest today. I
really appreciate our conversation touching on the stigmas of caregiving,
learning to prioritize your self care and be mindful of burnout,
to avoid losing your identity and caregiving, I, for one,

(13:05):
fully relate to the struggles around making yourself a priority.
That's it for today's episode. Thank you once again to
Nadine Robert's Cornish, and don't forget to come back next
week for another walk where our guest Dr Amanda Nelson
will share how movement and physical activity can help us
take better care of ourselves and combat joint pain, and

(13:26):
remember keep walking and don't forget to take care of
yourself too. Care Walks is produced by I Heart Radio
in partnership with al Teren Arthritis Pain Gael and hosted
by me Holly Robinson Pete. Our executive producer is Molly Sosha.
Our head engineer is Matt Stillo. This episode was written

(13:48):
and produced by Sierra Kaiser, with special thanks to our
partners at g s K Platform, GSK, Weber, Shandwick and
Edelman
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