One Cause At a Time – Archive

An Archive of Chicago Now One Cause at a Time Posts

Archive for February 2019

Caregiving, Self-Care, and Staying Connected

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One of the most brutal effects of this past winter has been its effect on my caregiving and my own self-care…and nearly cost me my sense of connection with others.

It may sound obvious, but one of the critical issues facing adult caregivers is the balance of caring for a family member and maintaining their own health. (In my case, my mother is my primary responsibility which started with a foot infection, and is now followed by her daily struggle with type 2 diabetes, chronic heart disease, and other related maladies). Between personal illness (I’m getting better – I promise!) and the struggles of maintaining a job search and other creative endeavors, my energy level has been low. Not low enough for depression, but low enough where I never felt I was getting enough “done”. Even efforts to drive a passive income, such as my writing Patreon, were being left in the dust…not out of apathy or laziness, but with limited emotional and physical resources.

(Thankfully, I have been engaging in some self-care behaviors to work through many of my issues. However, one of those behaviors – writing on a basis – was limited to journaling. That’s part of the reason why this blog has been a bit dry.)

small-biz-saturday-25Winter and caregiving also took a toll on my social life, as well…and that proved nearly fatal to my self-esteem. Being physically limited (after all, who wants to head out in thirty below wind chill weather) resulted in my attitude shifting towards negativity. Think of it less as “fear of missing out” and more towards believing that, at best, I was a minor player in my friends’ lives. Like many others, I was spiraling towards caregiver burnout and compassion fatigue, assuming that my life (as I knew it) was over, that my options were limited, and that quite honestly, I could easily fade out of my friends’ lives without being missed. Yes, I would be mourned if I passed on, but not acknowledged if they merely passed me by.

Luckily, there was a gradual progression in several aspects of my life that made caregiving and self-care easier and boosted my confidence. My networking efforts towards freelance consulting and full-time marketing work have progressed slowly yet evenly. (Revising my resume after a recruiter informed me that I needed to “beef up (my) resume before (she) could even consider working with (me)” was key…especially since I learned I didn’t have enough “bullet points”). Smaller victories like seeing a recent short story published by Airship 27 Productions and a Doctor Who panel approved by C2E2 helped boost my self-confidence). As my health improved, my capacity for self-care increased as I was spending more time tending to my physical health and establishing healthy boundaries.

(Spending less time on social media and more time on face-to-face interaction when I could help).

TARDIS at Pumping StationBut two events this past week helped place my self-care as a caregiver and my personal connections into sharp contrast. The first was a surprise birthday party thrown for me at a recent Chicago Doctor Who Meetup – with my schedule being crowded over the next month, a volunteer chose to throw it sooner rather than later. The other, sadder event was the sudden passing of a friend and colleague who I knew through the Chicago TARDIS Charity Auction. She wasn’t much older than I am, and her passing hit me hard. (I’m working on a tribute to be coming soon). But both events reminded me of something that, as a caregiver, I take for granted;

I have people in my life. I matter to them. I may not always experience it directly, but I have to work at connectedness in order to stay connected.

All of this reminded me of last year’s post around social media and friendships, and so next week – my birthday week – I’m going to be heading out and engaging friends and others when I can. Tuesday night will see me running the Chicago Doctor Who Meetup out of LaCatrina Cafe in Pilsen. Wednesday – my birthday proper – I have no plans, but I’m staying open. Thursday night will see me reading at Open Books. Friday night will be my “unofficial” birthday party as I will be attending Raks Geek, and Saturday afternoon (if I’m able) I hope to catch Chicago Nerd Social Club’s Almost Pi Day at Open Books.

As a caregiver, I can easily avoid self-care and maintaining connections. After all, it is always easier to focus on the negative aspects, listening to the voice that says “Caregiving is all I can do at this point – no one will hire me, I have no other activities, and my life is over”.  But part of my role as caregiver is precisely self-care, allowing me to nurture my own emotional and physical well-being enough to carry out those roles. Part of my caregiving role also includes allowing my friends to be supportive…even if it’s just knowing that they’re concerned and want the best for me.

This year, the best birthday present I’ve received….Ok, it’s a copy of Doctor Who: Scratchman by Tom Baker. But personal growth, healthier self-care behaviors and the importance of staying connected? Definitely great gifts as well.

If you have comments or questions, please leave them below or join the conversation on our Facebook page. If you wish to contact me directly, please feel free to use this email contact form.

And as always, thanks for reading!


Written by gordondym

February 28, 2019 at 11:21 am

Meet Your Neighbor: E G Woode

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Long ago, I consulted for various neighborhood businesses and organizations which helped me indulge my two loves: local community development and repurposing old buildings. (Much of the latter stemmed from living in a rehabbed furniture warehouse in St. Louis). So when the opportunity came to learn more and write about E G Woode (a new commercial development on Chicago’s south side), I felt that this was a story worth sharing…and a neighbor to get to know.

Especially since LISC, working with of JPMorgan Chase and Fifth Third Bank through the Entrepreneurs of Color Fund and Benefit Chicago, recently closed a loan with E G Woode. Thanks to LISC’s efforts to provide local partners with capital and support for community-based projects, many organizations like E G Woode are able to better serve their communities.  

E G Woode is a unique business-real estate co-op model providing needed resources and services (like marketing) to minority entrepreneurs who may not traditionally have access. Located at 63rd and May, E G Woode provides small and expanding businesses an opportunity to leverage resources and foster growth while rebuilding both a commercial corridor and repurposing a formerly vacant building. (Travel further east on 63rd into the Woodlawn neighborhood, and you’re near similar initiatives like Greenline Coffee, Sunshine Enterprises, and University Cowork).

And it all sprung from the mind of a person who wanted to provide opportunities for his fellow community residents.

Dean Lucas

Dean Lucas

Growing up in East Garfield Park and North Lawndale, Dean Lucas has a strong interest in architecture since he was 16. As a high school student, Lucas won the Newhouse Architecture Competition and interned at Smith & Smith Associates. As a volunteer for Teamwork Englewood, Lucas met and conversed with a variety of entrepreneurs who were eager to engage the city’s Neighborhood Opportunity Fund and Retail Thrive Zones. However, many of those entrepreneurs believed that they were unable to fully participate on their own. Seeing a unique opportunity, Dean Lucas had a creative solution that would allow for smart business growth…

Rather than compete for these funds, why not collaborate and build on each other’s skills?

With that in mind, Dean Lucas formed a collaborative with other business owners to assist each other in applying for these grants. When all of the businesses within the collaborative were awarded funds, Lucas believed that this approach could benefit a wider range of entrepreneurs and small business owners. Three businesses (Powell’s Barber Shop, Marie Wesley Consignment, and Beehyyve Design Studio) occupy 3,900 square feet with the main building, which is available for community use (including private events) in the off-hours. Tenants and entrepreneurs who are part of E.G. Woode collective own  51% yet retain 100% ownership of their businesses. (Members of the collective also share the cost of marketing, accounting, and other business resources).

With a greater shift towards fostering the growth of small businesses and social enterprises in the Chicago area, E G Woode takes a creative approach to foster neighborhood business growth. Collaboration and communication effectively foster strong community advocacy efforts, so taking a similar approach to foster neighborhood-based entrepreneurship should not be that surprising. With a unique approach and philosophy, E G Woode is one collective that hopes to drive small neighborhood-based businesses and mobilize other like-minded organizations.

And E G Woode is one neighbor worth knowing.

Please feel free to comment below, or join the conversation via our Facebook page. If you wish to contact me directly, please use this e-mail form.

As always, thanks for reading!