December, 2020

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BE Happy!
BE You!
Don’t BE ME, I’m Already Taken!
Find Your Inner Glow and let it Flow…

Make Choices!
Follow the fork in the Road and Challenge Yourself
Learn from Mistakes
Turn Mistakes into opportunities…

Forgive yourself and accept others for their uniqueness
Remember being the SAME can BE Boring but BEING SIMILAR – well that is another story…

Find purpose!
Do not let others diminish your dreams!
Your success belongs only to you and you are the one that identifies it…

Who said you CAN’T?
STOP listening to that inner voice that pushes you off the ledge,
You can make decisions… (don’t be told differently.)

Be kind to others even when they are not kind to you,
Meanness is ugly and you are not,
You are the sunshine, and your rays are warm embraces…

Life is not predictable!

We do not enter this life with any guarantees, we must create the footsteps that will take us from birth to death,

Do not waste your time, live it!

When obstacles show up on your path, approach them, and turn them into positive energy.
No one is obstacle-free – when necessary ask for help,
Asking for help will make you STRONGER, HEALTHIER, and EMOTIONALLY HAPPY!

Take that first step, age is not a barrier, you can change your thoughts from sad to pleasing to JOYFUL! 

We all have an expiration date, so find yourself before…


transforming darkness into light Kristi Horner 12_23_20

With this being the week of the winter solstice, it’s fitting that our topic is transforming darkness into light. The solstice means there’s nothing but longer days ahead, and the darkest days are behind us. We’re seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, but I think we may be getting that metaphor wrong. I think WE are the light.

We’ve all survived a lot this year. We’ve faced fears and found courage. We’ve experienced pain and found ways to cope. We’ve fallen down and gotten right back up, perhaps many times. In other words, we’ve faced the darkest times, and we’ve been able to turn them into light. This is also called resilience, and it’s something to CELEBRATE.

So, congratulations! Not only have you survived the winter solstice and 2020, but you’ve also done many hard things throughout the year to make your own light. Many of those things were probably unexpected, and you may not have even known you were capable of doing them. Perhaps you found your “why” this year – your motivation for your healing journey and personal growth.

Yet, I know that during difficult times, it can be hard to keep the darkness from overwhelming our thoughts. For me, it literally feels like I’m drowning and can’t get enough air sometimes. I know it’s OK to not be OK, but still, it’s not a place where I want to set up camp, so I try to recognize when I need help. I don’t want to spend days, weeks, or months without seeing a way out of the darkness.

If you feel overwhelmed by the darkness, don’t try to “get over it” alone. Reach out to friends, family, or anyone in your support group. Is there someone in your life who truly inspires you, who brings light to you, who always seems to know just what you need? Or, there are many 24/7 crisis hotlines that are always available – such as, in Cleveland, the Crisis Hotline at 216-623-6888 or United Way Cleveland’s 211 Help Center – or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255.

Remember, you’re NEVER alone. The holiday season is time to celebrate, and at Courage to Caregivers, we’re celebrating YOUR resilience … your ability to turn darkness into light and to do hard things every day. And we know we can do the next hard thing, too. We’ve got this!

Kristi Horner
Founder and Executive Director
Courage to Caregivers

This Holiday Season Kristi Horner

This holiday season certainly is different in many ways. Due to the pandemic, many of us are doing things differently by minimalizing our activities, staying home, and celebrating with smaller groups of people.

But as families and caregivers supporting those we love living with mental illness, we’re no strangers to “different.” And we know that “different” doesn’t mean “bad.” It can also mean opportunities and possibilities.

Much of my inspiration for this week’s commentary came from this article on planning for success in the pandemic version of the holidays. I think it hits the mark on how many of us are feeling about this holiday season:

“The social isolation, uncertainty about employment, income, health and the health of Covid vulnerable people you love has posed a unique challenge for us all. It is completely understandable for you to have some apprehension about the upcoming holidays.”

“So, instead of talking about the typical mental health messages to use self-care and recalibrate expectations, I recommend that you take a different approach. You need to assume that things will be difficult and that there will be some casualties, kind of like a battle between the Holidays as we used to know them and the Pandemic version of the holidays. You need to learn from the approach the Navy Seals and successful survivors of difficult, painful and dangerous events employ. In short, you need to be prepared to deal with difficult things, knowing that it will be difficult, and make the measure of success your ability to get through with your mental health and physical health intact.”

The article lists five ways to be resilient and thrive during difficult times:

  • View the current pandemic (and any difficult situation) as a challenge to be mastered and an opportunity for something to be gained.
  • Reframe stress as something that is inevitable, that occurs every day, and is desirable.
  • Set your goal on living your life with moral integrity, and assume that it will take effort.
  • Analyze what went well and why, instead of focusing on what was disappointing or upsetting.
  • Focus on service to others.

The article also says, “Start telling yourself that the 2020 Holidays are a time to clarify what really matters about the holidays and to figure out how to honor those important values of family, worship, community or charity. These do not require holiday parties, lots of gifts or large gatherings to fulfill. You will need to get creative to express the holiday spirit pandemic-style.”

In other words, this “different” holiday season is no different from other challenges we face during our lives. It’s also an opportunity, full of possibility and HOPE, to be creative, to honor our values, and to celebrate those we love.

Kristi Horner
Founder and Executive Director
Courage to Caregivers

Memories fill my mind and inspire me…

It’s the first Day of Chanukah- although last evening was the first Night

It’s hard to explain but it’s how we celebrate as Jews

TRADITION is the word of the Day to make this weird system, OK!

So on the first NIGHT we lit candle #1 but we actually lit two

Confusing at it may all seems there is a rhythm to this scene!

As my mother would sing, “Oh Chanukah, Oh Chanukah, come light the Menorah…”

We three kids, Gary, Joel, and I, gathered around for the potato latkes and gifts!

A latke is a potato pancake fried until it’s golden crisp and yet mine never gets that crispy like my momma’s or Baube’s.

Latkes with applesauce or sour cream were such a delight (still is) and waiting with bated breath for a wrapped gift was supreme.

I don’t remember what my brothers used to get but I knew if I got a new coloring book on Night #1 – crayons or colored pencils would be on Night #2.

The gifts we received were modest at best, do you remember getting a magic slate?

We played dreidel for fun spinning it to see who would win, and often getting a history lesson on Nes, Gadol, Hayah, Sham – “a great miracle happened there,” referring to the miracle of the holiday.

It was a time for family, and each night another miracle would occur as my parent’s always found a way to get us gifts that would make us smile and enjoy.

Even when we unwrapped a package with underwear, we would smile and say thank you, it’s just what I wanted!

The simplicity of this holiday in our home are memories I will hold on to forever.  And the reason we had two lit candles last night, and tonight we will have three is because one is called the Shamash, you light this candle, and this candle lights the others each night for 8 nights.

Oh Hanukkah, Oh Hanukkah
Come light the menorah
Let’s have a party
We’ll all dance the hora
Gather ’round the table
We’ll give you a treat
Sivivon to play with and latkes to eat

And while we are playing
The candles are burning low
One for each night, they shed a sweet light
to remind us of days long ago
One for each night, they shed a sweet light
to remind us of days long ago.

Also published on Medium

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Courage to Caregivers_Kristi Horner

As we begin a new month, our new theme is spirituality, and this week, our focus is on a Higher Power.

I consider myself a woman of strong faith, and I use my faith and spirituality in my caregiving journey every day. I rely on my Higher Power to love and support me through anything … whether it’s a traumatic accident, a disaster, the challenges of being a good caregiver, or just life. And when I “let go” of all the things that I think I am supposed to be – the outside expectations of perfection, other people’s definitions of success, and the notion that I’m not good enough – I am able to recognize that I DO MATTER, and my God loves me just as I am.

Yet, at Courage to Caregivers, we realize that everyone’s journey to find and connect with their Higher Power is an intensely personal one. That’s why we don’t focus on one definition of a Higher Power in our work. We invite our participants, who come from ALL faith experiences, to find, rely on, and connect with THEIR Higher Power. We understand that a Higher Power can be different things to different people. It can be a religious deity, a spiritual power that guides your choices and decisions, the power of nature and the cycle of life and survival, or the power of a like-minded group that supplies support and guidance.

For me, connecting to my Higher Power has been part of my quest for greater meaning, understanding, and clarity of purpose. I’m continually reframing my relationship with my Higher Power, and it starts with the belief that there is something at work in my life that is far greater than just me. I believe that sometimes you have to allow yourself to be guided by something bigger than you. I also believe that we meet every person for a reason. I do not believe in coincidence.

And when I think of connecting with a Higher Power, I know it can happen in all kinds of ways, including prayer, mindfulness, connecting with nature, journaling, exercising, meditating, helping others, or therapy. If you’re still searching, just be open-minded, listen to your own internal voice, and keep searching.

The concept of a Higher Power really starts with YOU.

Kristi Horner
Founder and Executive Director
Courage to Caregivers

PS: Interested in pre-ordering our NEW custom 2021 journal? Email Kristi to get on the list – so we don’t run out!