The Caregiver’s Toolbox started with a God Bless You. Not the automatic response from a sneeze, but a simple closing statement in an email from an advisor I had yet to meet in person.

I was co-chairing a national workgroup to determine how healthcare could get consumers more engaged in wellness, and Peter was the advisor to that workgroup. He emailed to ask if I would meet him for a 7:30 breakfast meeting 40 miles away from my home to discuss edits to a report soon to be submitted to then HHS Secretary Sebelius.Carolyn's-Favorite

When you get to know me, you will find that words are sequestered in my brain until I’ve had my morning workout, at least a half hour of God-in-me time, and one or more cups of coffee. Peter was asking me to appear vivid and astute before the sun came up. But he had ended his email request with “God Bless You.”  Somehow, I knew that God was in the middle of this meeting, but the human part of me was saying, “this better be good.”

The meeting started with lofty technology and executive stories, until Peter offered a blessing for our food. In that moment, God took over. We opened our hearts and shared openly about our own experiences helping family members navigate through an exasperating health system all the while comforting a loved one through a disabling disease.

After a series of Peter-Carolyn meetings, edits, and planning phone calls, I knew that all the long nights of bedside prayers, endlessly rerouting travel plans to be with my Mom, Dad, Brother, Sister was God’s way of preparing me to help others walk the caregiver’s fire.

I developed a book proposal and submitted it to a literary agent I hadn’t worked with in 20 years. Within three days, he emailed me back with “I want this book.” In less than 10 days, he brought us a publishing contract and Peter and I began a two-year journey to get the Caregiver’s Toolbox into your hands.


Carolyn Hartley