Rest.Stop.Ranch online and on-site programs, publications, products and places have grown organically from my personal experience as an unpaid family caregiver. I had to leave a full-time job to manage care for my mother who was diagnosed at the prime of her life with an unpredictable neurodegenerative illness.
I spent 24 months managing her care and 14 months actively recovering from the negative impact that chronic stress and my own lack of self-care had on my body/mind/spirit. While actively caregiving, I experienced a lack of social, emotional, physical and financial support in my local community and more broadly across the health and human services industry. My former career in the field of Web Usability/User Experience Design was transformed through this experience into a vocation that now focuses on Human Experience Design for families navigating extended illness. In my life and career, I’ve experienced no group of people that would benefit more from thoughtful experience design than caregivers and the individuals they care for who live daily with debilitating physical, mental and emotional challenges.
Throughout my days caregiving, through grief, recovery and renewal, I repeat to myself the mantra ”Rest.Stop.Breathe.” The regular practice of this living phrase within my body/mind/spirit in addition to six other wellness skills helped me to keep my “head above the water” and relative good health. I’ve recorded these “Seven Sustainable Skills” within a life-skills curriculum I share via our online and on-site Programs. Below I share a brief history timeline and highlights of our programs development:
- 2013, February: Free Cafe´Care Consults meet caregivers where they are at local coffee shops North and South of Boston, MA.
- 2012, July: On Independence Day, Care Consults are launched. Family members across continents are connected via web conference to discuss and prepare for a coordinating care-visit to a loved one in the U.S. The service offers an independent and experienced interacting-with-the-U.S.-health-systems best practices education as well as long-term-care planning tips for whole-family health and wellness.
- 2012, June: My Doable Self-Care Plan Small Group Tele-Coach program connects caregivers across the country via a weekly conference call. Each participant receives My Doable Self-Care Plan: A Playbook for Long-Term Caregivers 100-page 4-week vision/action planner.
- 2012, April: Rest.Stop.Ranch Guide Services, a life-coaching service supporting caregivers and receivers with self-care and other life goals, is offered for the first time via phone and at program locations.
- 2012, March: The Rest.Stop.Ranch Morning Report is published to marymacmissions’ Twitter page.
- 2011, November: The 0.1 mile MargFMac Front Garden Loop is completed, providing wheelchair access to: The Cut Flower Garden, Orchard Avenue, Fruit and Veggie Garden, Ornamental Tree and Shrub Garden, Raspberry Patch, Cedar Grove and Tunnel and Koi Pond.
- 2011, November: In honor of National Family Caregivers Month and Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month, we launch the Me Moments Collection, a free self-care media library, offering 2-, 5-, and 10-minute relaxation breaks via audio podcasts.
- 2011, October: I speak for the first time about Rest.Stop.Ranch, my life-changing experience, recovery, and renewal at Brooksby Village, Peabody, MA. The presentation is video-recorded and published to the playlist “Mary Speaks” on the marymacmissions’ YouTube Channel.
- 2011, April: We publish our first print publications, Take Care of Yourself: Seven Sustainable Skills for the Long-Term Care Journey journal and pocket guide, and introduce the practice of using them at on-site programs.
- 2011, April: We begin to lead on-site respite wellness programs for long-term caregivers North, South, and West of Boston. “Take Care of Yourself” respite retreats offer respite and recreation, coaching, wellness education, and self-care skill training.
- 2010, November: We launch the Rest.Stop.Shop and begin to offer thoughtful gifts and practical products for individuals, couples, families and professionals affected by extended illness.
- 2010, October: We introduce the website, rest-stop-ranch.com, and our first product (100% Sustainably Made North of Boston), the Restore and Reconnect! Yoga Kit, at our local regional fair, The Topsfield Fair.
- 2010, September: On World Alzheimer’s Day (9/21), our small team North of Boston launches the rest-stop-ranch.com website, and the Rest.Stop.Weekly, a weekly email and RSS delivery of 2-, 5-, and 10- minute relaxation breaks via audio podcasts. Within two months, we are serving subscribers in four countries. We produce the Rest.Stop.Weekly for twenty-five weeks and create 100 relaxation podcasts.
- 2010, April: I showcase the newly formed social enterprise at the Social Enterprise Summit and World Forum in San Francisco, CA, USA. I make a promise to attendees to deliver wellness programs for dementia carers within 6 months.
- 2010, April: I incorporate the social enterprise, Marymac Missions LLC, in the state of MA, USA.
- 2009, December: I start to write the Rest.Stop.Ranch Morning Report as an eco-spiritual grounding practice.
- 2009, February: I move into a single-level home North of Boston and experience it holistically as Rest.Stop.Ranch.
All of our services are developed sustainably by a committed team locally North of Boston to meet people where they are nationally and globally. We hope you will participate in the growing community of folks who benefit from taking a Rest.Stop., and ultimately feel that you have a level of social, emotional, mental, physical, spiritual and/or financial support that you may have not felt before.
Moving forward with a listening heart,
vision, inquiry and action,
Mary E. MacDonald, M.A.
Creator and Guide, Rest.Stop.Ranch
Founder and CEO, Marymac Missions LLC