What’s Stopping You?

Today while leading activities, the above quote was mentioned. I loved it… and told my oldies I needed to write it down so I remembered it. They always laugh when I write things down, only because they get it.

After reading that quote, one of my residents asked if I said hi to strangers. I couldn’t say yes. I find myself staring at my feet when I am in public and avoiding eye contact with the strangers that could be my friends. It reminded me of a little experience yesterday. After lunch in Bellevue, we were leaving the parking garage as a lady was crossing the street. She was smiling. Not just smiling, but grinning. She wasn’t wearing headphones, she wasn’t on a phone, she was just smiling. I said, “Man! She is happy to be alive. Why can’t I be that happy?” I discussed this with my residents. What stops us from smiling ALL THE TIME? We made a list. A rather long list of reasons why. I then erased it wrote the question on the bored again and asked one more time what stops us from smiling all the time. Before anyone could remake the list, one of my little old ladies called out, “Nothing!”.

How true is that? Nothing is stopping me from smiling all the time and saying hi to my future friends/strangers. Tonight on my way home I drove with a BIG smile on my face. I wasn’t listening to music, I wasn’t talking on the phone… I was just smiling. I looked to the left at a stop light to see a lady pointing at me and I waved. Mr. Rogers was right. At that moment, my red light stranger was a friend.

Happiness Day 5

I have never considered myself an artistic person. Creative, yes. Artistic, no. When I transferred to Aegis of Kent, we restarted doing weekly art lessons with my memory care seniors. It was a stretch and at first hard. After commuting for 4 years I kind of lost touch with hobbies and things I liked to do. It has been hard to get in touch with that again. I told myself I wanted to learn to be artistic, or at the very least to enjoy it. I am lucky to work for a company that is dedicated to bringing life enriching experiences to our seniors. Friday I went to a regional training where we experienced art. White chalk/pencils, watercolor pencils, and canvas rolls. It is so encouraging to receive training and support. I can not wait to bring these mediums to my seniors, AND to experiment more with them myself.

Happiness Day 4

My best friend said there are pretty much four levels of creativity. Below Standard, Normal Standards, Above the Standards, and Laura Standards. She said most people like to one up others but I “two up” people. This year for our family holiday party at work I am doing “fancy” invitations. It makes me happy to do things creative. Especially for others.

Right Place Right Time

Happiness Day 3

This makes me happy! I mentioned yesterday service makes me happy, but serving those who are important to me is even better. I work for Aegis Living and they featured one of my dear residents and myself today. I work for a company that challenges us to create magic moments.

It is a challenge that has changed and impacted my life for the best.

I am lucky!

And, it makes me laugh that I was hashtagged as a millennial. There is so many stigmas associated with millennials. I do not feel I am a normal millennial BUT I hope I can be an example to other millennials.

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.