Happiness- Day 2

Being around senior citizens is something that really makes me happy. Being able to love and serve them is my passion. As a life enrichment director I try my hardest to find ways to enrich their lives. They have given so much to our society and changed our history that I feel it is the VERY least I can do. Recently someone from my past moved into the memory care unit where I work. Through reconnecting those relationships (more about that later), I have been able to bring my residents to my elementary school and read with the second graders. These 8-10 residents afflicted with dementia get so much joy being around the youth and return home with the biggest smiles. Most of the time they do not remember an hour later that we went, BUT the joy stays with them for days. I received an email from one of the families regarding these outings (names removed for privacy!):

 

Good morning Laura,

I’m ******, ****’s daughter. First, I want to let you know how much I have appreciated your efforts to organize and implement the school reading program. The stories about the visits and the photos are so uplifting. 

I also wanted to share one of those “circle of life” kind of things about this for me and Mom. When I was young, maybe from the ages of 8-12, Mom used to take me to the retirement home near where we lived to visit the residents and read the Bible to them. It was challenging for me at first. I had the benefit of many years with both grandparents, but some of the elders we visited were not well, or suffering from advanced dementia or were seemingly unaware of our presence. 

But Mom was there with me and assured me that I was bringing love and companionship to people that might be very lonely. I learned to be more confident by reading out loud to people I didn’t know well. But most of all, I learned that giving my time and talent was valued and important.

I still remember some of the laughs and stories some of the elders shared with me. Some were reminded by me of their own experiences when they were young. For me, it was a lifelong gift to have learned at an early age to appreciate and value the lives of people in the last years of their lives. It also gave me the ability to feel comfortable with people of all ages as a young person. 

Thanks so much for giving Mom the opportunity to be with the children in their classrooms, Laura. Mom loved school and just being in a classroom with the children is such a gift!

My mom, too, encouraged us to serve. Along with church groups and visits with my mom, I was exposed to seniors from a young age. I am so honored to serve this population AND to share them with the elementary school. I find a lot of children these days are afraid of old people. We are all growing old so if I can impact the future caregivers, I am glad to do so.

 

I am so thankful for my parents who instilled a service oriented attitude amongst our family. I feel I am a much more rounded individual because of the values they taught me. Today I am happy I am able to serve.

Happiness- Day 1

My general manager challenged us to retrain our brains on the concept of happiness. As humans we say “If I do this, or get this, or have this… I will be happy.” Sometimes happiness can come first. When I was blogging, I felt happier. Just to express myself felt good. And although I do not feel like a talented writer, I am going to blog more often. It takes 21 days to retrain your brain!

Try something new…

I told myself I needed to try something new. Transferring to Aegis of Kent I have been reinvigorated in trying new art. I do not consider myself an artist AT ALL, but I am trying something new. I am trying and enjoying it. It has proven to be a great way to decompress in the evening. Tonight I attempted a lion and used chalk pastels.

BFF

I have been thinking a lot this weekend about an interaction I had with one of my seniors. I took her to the doctor last week. That medical campus is torn up leaving very few parking spots for the bus. She is completely capable of walking so we parked far away. It was a bit of a walk so I apologized to her. She said, “Exercise never hurt anyone. Well, maybe it hurts you. I know you just had a baby!”

Wwwhhhhaaatttt?? When did that happen? I just brushed it off because it is her reality and there is no sense breaking it.

When inside the clinic she proceeded to tell everyone about my tall husband who gives her hugs and is just the nicest person alive. (I really cannot wait to meet him!) She told everybody that her parents abandoned her to get a divorce and that I am taking care of her and am her best friend. I am pretty sure she thinks I am older than her. She told everybody about how my husband, new baby, and I took her in. As we walked back to the bus swinging our arms hand-in-hand she leaned her head on my shoulder and thanked me for always being there for her. I wanted to cry…

Today her husband came to visit. She thinks he is her father so she was so happy that she wasn’t abandoned anymore. An hour before he came I told her I was going to take her with me to pick up another resident from visiting his wife. I walked outside to say hi to her family and she told her “dad” she needed to leave because we had a friend date. She told them I was her best friend ever. They just said, “Thank you for being her best friend.” Again, I wanted to cry…

I can not even explain how humbled and honored I feel to take care of these sweet seniors with dementia. Days can be hard, my patience can wear thin, but I just think of all the times these seniors have leaned their head on my shoulder, as their best friend. It is a tremendous responsibility to have this trust. A responsibility I do not take lightly.

So, I now have a baby and a tall-handsome husband and will let my dear, sweet resident live her reality being my best friend in my best life with my new little family. I am glad she gets to live in my dreams for the future.

Turkey Feathers

I slept horribly last night…. HORRIBLY. I woke up at midnight, could not relax and just lay awake. When I finally started to feel drowsy I put on my meditation/hypnosis app. It was talking about imagining a feather… any feather… any size, and as I would breathe in and breathe out, it would rise and fall. Of all the feathers I could imagine, I imagined turkey feathers. When I was a kid we raised turkeys as an “experience”. I remember my dad saving the turkey feathers and coloring the ends black to use for Cub Scouts. Imagining a big turkey feather with the end colored black, as I breathed in and out, was strangely comforting.

This Day in History

I love that feature on Facebook! It brings back good and often funny memories I would have probably forgot about. I was suppose to blog about this on January 17th… but there is nothing like procrastinating so close to New Year’s.

This FB post popped up from a mall walking excursion with some of my past oldies. I remember the look on these men’s faces and couldn’t help but laugh.

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And another memory from that day… a year later:

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Out of the Mouth of a Child.

I have said it multiple times that being an Aunt is the best thing in the world. I can only imagine the love a parent has for their children because I love my nieces and nephews a lot.

This is my Lizzie-Bear! She is spunky, and silly, and loves my makeup, and always knows the right things to say. She makes me laugh and makes me cry happy tears. Part of blogging is so I remember things I want to remember. And this is one of them.

Lizzie

My brothers birthday was recently and I went to his home to celebrate. I was having kind of a bummer week and  as I walked in Lizzie said (in her super cute little voice), “Auntie Lala, you’re my best gal!”

I melted! I needed to hear something so innocent and loving and sweet. It was simple… but it made my day!