The Power of EASE

Ease rarely comes naturally.  In my experience, it’s the result of lots of up-front effort & energy.  And once won, it is beyond worth.

All of my dreams last night underscored the importance of appreciating seeking winning ease in what I do.  Ease isn’t necessarily easy.  Martha Stewart’s high school yearbook quote was, “I do what I please & I do it with ease.”  No one thinks that Martha Stewart is prone to cutting corners, but she finds the best way to do things with the greatest ease & personal enjoyment.

An adage of the business world is that success is based on finding the simplest way to make the most marketable version of your product that’s easy to replicate.  Brand Voice Bulletin was a hit because a) the title of the online Prudential Healthcare employee newsletter said what it was; b) each opened with a bulleted list of the topics, so people could see if & where there was info of interest to THEM; and c) the text was pared down to basics, not ruffles or flourishes.  It was simple for readers to see if anything in a particular newsletter related to them, easy to read & to apply to their work.  Because it was online, which was radical back in the early 1990s at Pru, it could be easily shared across a broad spectrum of “stake holders.”  It wasn’t, in my opinion, anything innovative or ground-breaking – – PHCS had a serious problem, I’d been to a multi-day workshop in Chicago on how to write for the Internet, which let me come up with a viable response where others were flummoxed.

Ragan Communications, who gave the workshop, instilled in me dos & don’ts that serve me to this day, almost 25 years later.  Keep it simple.  Keep information spare & relevant.  Don’t gussy things up.  Reach for informative rather than clever.  Brand Voice Bulletin said exactly what it was – an online bulletin about correctly using & protecting Prudential Healthcare’s brand, which was being misused & abused by associates creating their own marketing materials without thought of the legal consequences.  Keep your language as simple as possible.  Aim for a sixth grade reader.  Make it easy for readers to know if anything in it relates to them or can they delete.  Ease ease ease.

Brand Voice Bulletin looked like it took an immense amount of time to put together.  Only in the beginning.  I quickly learned how to gather current hot issues, where to send them (usually Corporate Legal), never used regional sources because they were getting different information, always got a documented sign off on any answer.  It didn’t take long for a system to emerge that made the doing easy.

My days in the Corporate world are proving invaluable in our current work.  Take Tuesday’s Creativity Jam for Age Justice.  The venue made most of my work a snap.  The moment I set eyes on the small white room, which had been redesigned from a storage to a meeting space, it was clearly an ideal setting to show off art work.  And Judith Sachs’ sigh of appreciation when she first walked into the adjacent church hall confirmed my sense that it was an ideal performance space.

Experience with our joint art shows, with being The Cupcake Lady of our local farm market, has taught me not to stress out over opening days.  I brought that same laid-back approach to the Creativity Jam.  Whether it was artists declining or performers canceling, I took it in stride, which contributed to the overall sense of ease.  I didn’t fret about how many people would attend, which was good since wild & wooly weather kept all but seven valiant souls at home.  I planned as well as I good, followed through as best as I could, let whatever was going to happen happen.  That wasn’t being a slouch – it was doing these sort of things enough times that what was once hard & challenging is now predictable & easy to do.

Making ease a priority benefits & blesses everyone.  When we did cupcakes at the Bryn Athyn Farm Market, I learned to make it our norm that no matter how pushed & stressed we’d been prepping & packing up, the moment we slid into the front seats, we’d take deep breaths, consciously relax, find our core.  Locate our ease.

By the time Tuesday’s Creativity Jam rolled around,  aiming for ease & finding our stable core had become our norm.  Requested to leave up the art display through Thursday, when there’d be a supper & annual meeting in the hall, we didn’t take it down until Friday.  As we were dismantling, someone from the church office strolled in, looked around with keen appreciation & commented, “This must have taken A LOT of work.”  She seemed disbelieving when both John & I replied, “Thank you!  But it seemed to unfold rather than take effort.”  Perhaps she thought we were being modest – not so.  It’s the bonus of experience – we’ve found short-cuts, easier ways to do what looks like difficult things, how to simplify & to make maximum use of our time.

Remember what I learned at Prudential – find the simplest way to do something effectively, well & easy to repeat.  John & I are old hands at putting on art shows, but what we learned getting here helps us make doing the new & untried easier.  Leaving more time than we expect, asking more questions, getting things down in writing, spending time & energy wisely, prioritizing.  Learning techniques to keep us from getting in our own way.

There is great power in aiming for ease.  It rarely comes easily, but with experience, awareness, appreciation of one’s time & energies.  A lot of it is noticing, which some people do & others don’t.  When we were packing up to hang the art show, I grabbed all of my black file boxes – covered with white cloth, they were perfect resting places for paintings (we weren’t allowed to hang any on the walls).  Maybe achieving ease is as basic as putting proper systems in place to take any load.

Some things are never going to come easily, but that doesn’t mean we can’t do them with ease.  It’s in our mindset, our intention, our follow through.  Our noticing & sometimes doing all that we can, then letting whatever is going to unfold come forward.

Do what you please & do it with ease!

Older athletes – steadier, surer, savvier

Naturally, a hot-off-the-presses book titled Play On:  The New Science of Elite Performance at Any Age is going to grab a playfulness coach’s attention.  In core ways, that’s MY message – Jeff Bercovici focuses on sports, John & I focus on elite performance in LIVING.  He talks about people delivering peak performance;  we want that, too, for our older friends & clients – peak performance where they are, given whatever their situation or circumstance.

Was introduced to Jeff & his book through an engaging interview in the NY Times.  My favorite question & answer:

Q. What are some of the psychological differences between younger and older athletes?

A.  In sports we often glamorize some of the traits that we associate with youth, like extreme passion, single-mindedness and punishing oneself for failure. We tend to think of these as being advantages.

But they can also be disadvantages. We all know of athletes who have had emotional meltdowns or choked in a big game. It turns out that emotional consistency — the ability to not get too high when you win, and to not get too low when you lose — can be its own kind of skill. And it’s something that comes more naturally to older athletes. There’s research showing that their mastery over unwanted emotions is stronger. Older athletes are better able to keep strong, unwanted thoughts and emotions from affecting their performance.

That’s my favorite q&a.  My favorite comment comes near the end of the interview.  Jeff explains that writing the book changed his approach to exercise & sports.  He mentions becoming more mindful about managing his fatigue & simply listening to his body.  How a “big change has to do with movement. I have a much more sophisticated understanding of the connection between injuries and movement limitations. I spend less of my time working on getting faster and stronger and a lot more time working on the quality of my movement.”

He goes onto talk about how what “enables their greatness much more than their speed or how much they can bench press is the quality of their movement. For me that means things like paying attention to when I’m developing a range of motion limitation, or a strength imbalance, and trying to fix that proactively before I develop an injury.

Neither speed nor strength allows older athletes to be steadier, surer, savvier than youngers.  They’ve mastered the game, experienced all the times that plays didn’t work as planned & how to adapt, learned how to take moments that morphed into impending disaster & bring them right  – how to bring emotional consistency to the game,  They’re better at managing highs & los, at keeping deflating thoughts at bay & negative feelings from affecting their performance.  Ditto with many of our older friends & clients.

Movement is essential to our well-being, yet too many times too many olders are encouraged NOT to move.  “Wellness professionals” were shocked, even horrified, that John & I rarely encouraged Anne to use a wheelchair.  While the staff where he lived & even members of his family talked about Richard never walking again, we couldn’t see how he couldn’t get back to walking,  even if he needed an arm to lean on or a walker for balance, His banged up back muscles had been badly bruised, nothing was torn or broken. It was the bed rest, not the injuries, that had did him dirt.

Movement is essential to our well-being but the cold hard fact is that many continuous care communities & other care-providing senior residences encourage use of wheelchairs – it’s easier on the staff, with far less risk of possible litigation.

Do John & I put olders at risk?  Yes, we do.  Life is risk.  They might be decades past their  “Faster, Higher, Stronger” self, but every older elder ancient can rediscover their here & now elite performance, every year can be their current peak age.  Play on!

The Power of SIMPLICITY

Gosh – no posting since 05/13! 

With good reason – was putting on Tuesday’s A Creativity Jam for Age Justice, which was as magical as they come.  Complete with wild & wooly weather, a complete clear double rainbow that arched over a beautiful landscape, astonishing lighting turning the lush green treetops to golden.  Only seven people braved the elements to make it, but they were the RIGHT seven, seven who delighted in the art show & enthusiastically joined into the wondrous Judith Sachs dance energies.

I’m baaaaaaaaaaack & ready to share lessons learned planning & executing the event.  Putting on the Jam turned out to be more than a fun event.  It was a learning experience. Some lessons were new, some were reminders of things learned long ago:

I drive people who organize everything to a T nuts because it looks like I’m not doing anything & then it comes together & is great fun & they can’t understand how it could have happened with at least a dozen lists & weekly meetings.

It is important for the organizer to enjoy the event as well as the participants.

I work best within collaboration.

Don’t tie your stomach in knots over things that aren’t working out as you’d expected – if you can do something to remedy it, do it;  if you can’t, come to peace with it & set it aside.

You can’t control the weather.

Focus on the people, not stuff.

For me, it works to let things unfold & happen, but it would not have been the success it was if it weren’t for detail-oriented people partnering with me.

All of it was possible because of having a terrific side-kick in John.

Above all, the event brought the power of keeping things simple.

Simplicity is a 2-edged sword – – people value hard work & overcoming difficulties.  Keeping it low key & simple – not so much.  And let things unfold, tapping the Universe as a event planning partner, and onlookers can get their stomach in knots with worry that things won’t work out, distressed over the apparent lack of focused organization – and then they end up inwardly seething when it all turns out & it turns out their worries were for nothing.  My older sister explained that my greatest accomplishments were mere trifflings they came too easily to me.  “Only things that create pain have value.”  Yikes!

But she was more right than wrong.  That is how the majority of people seem to think.  One woman in serious need of our playfulness coach services, with plenty of money to kick up her heels, balked over our rate, which was a bargain considering she got two for one.  She wondered “why should I pay when what you do isn’t difficult & you enjoy it so much?”   Am still sorry about her – she had the funds to do things most of our clients couldn’t dream of – Road Scholar trips, great bridge parties in her senior residence’s solarium, going to delightful restaurants or take in wonderful concerts in enchanting settings.  It was just too simple.

There is a tendency to think of people who brood & are dark natured are inherently intelligent & that people who are sunny & bright are probably a bit of a dim bulb.  There is the same expectation around the energies we put out to get something done   My oldest brother impressed all of us with how super smart he was because he WORKED so hard to do well.  I grew up thinking he was honors all the way – turns out he was okay, but short of Honor Role.  My #2 brother & I picked up things easily, so naturally we didn’t think much of our brain power because in school & at home, expending lots of effort was emphasized, not finding the best way to get something done easily.

Praise be for my quarter century in corporate America, where I learned that the Holy Grail of business is a product or service that hits the mark, can be produced as easily as possible & easily replicated.

And then there was Molly Donato, who rocked my world when she asked, “Are you prepared to let this task be easy?”  Was I willing to set aside my bias for hard word & prejudice against “Simplify!  Simplify!?

It is strange looking at the Creativity Jam through my rearview mirror.  It worked because I kept it simple.  If I forgot to ask someone or follow up, didn’t beat myself over the head for it.  Kept my mantra – “The people who are supposed to show up, will.”

I took basic proactive steps.  Finding the perfect space – well, it actually found me.  Was delighted to hear Judith praise the charming church hall where she danced our feet off.  Both the art & performances spaces could have been designed with the event in mind.  I purchased 30 yards of white damask to cover the PERFECT 6′ x 18″ tables displaying the paintings & sculpture, ceramics & jewelry; printed out & matted quotes about living expansively (thanks to John for trimming);  made water-proof exuberant signs for the entrances;  bought serpentines & scrunched green paper at accents.  Then I let things unfold.

Clayton & Ceri & Elizabeth, whose support were part of the rental price, were invaluable in keeping me & the event on even keel, the heart-centered detail folks who were ideal counter-weights to my loosey goosey self.

My goal, above all, was to keep it all simple.  I did, it worked.

John &  I  aim to root our playfulness coaching in simplicity.  Rambles, ball parks, dog parks, country inns, diners, bbq joints & tea rooms.

With Anne, nothing was more rollicking than eating in her senior residences Club Room,  a table for four typically sitting six or more, all of us having a rousing good time.  In the dead of winter, we’d head upstairs for Coloring With Sinatra – fun with crayons & Frank crooning in the background.  In the nice weather, it was off for a ramble, hopefully a glorious sunset, or just nip over to IHOP for a scoop of ice cream for Anne.  Simple, powerful fun.

With Richard, we’d ramble or – if it was icky weather – we’d put on a film fest in his room.  We’d stop by Feast & Fancy on our way, getting cheese sandwiches for us, a thick seafood salad for him, then settle in for a classic film – –  Fred Astaire & Audrey Hepburn were great favorites of his, with Funny Face watched several times.

Keeping things simple creates unexpected barrier s to success.  People trust massively expended energies.  It’s why humans tend to make a project MORE work, not less – one that takes a minimum of well-placed energies doesn’t get the respect of one requiring blood toil sweat & tears.  It’s why even corporate big wigs avoid taking simple preventive measures but have not qualms spending mega bucks to clean up a mess.

Simplicity gets no respect.

But I am a simple soul & intend to stay just that!  Instead of hemming & hawing over degrees I need or training I should get or all the different masteries I should master in order to be taken seriously by elder care professionals, will look to what I have that they don’t – – my deep personal experiencing with older family & friends.  Mine & John’s.

Keep things simple.  View your strengths & see where they can take you now.  Learn new skills & brush up old ones, but don’t complicate things.  Don’t wait until plunging into something you want to do.  Don’t shrug off taking preventive steps to avoid calamity – we realized we had to take the Creativity Jam sign from a rarely used entrance & put it opposite where the event happened because the balloons meant Smark the hard-to-spot entrance were literally a wash out.

Aim for simplicity.  Always.  Make it your priority to be effective as efficiently as possible.  Make it your gold standard.  Enjoy more moments, help others to do the same.

Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.  ~ Leonardo da Vinci

 

Sort of a miracle – A Course in Well-Being

Oh my gosh – it feels like the universe has given me the very best sort of hug & kiss!  The other day, I discovered Andrew Parker’s PapaPals, which takes one of my dearest wishes – tagging up older people with engaging youngers – to heights I hadn’t imagined.  And now this – – joy of joys,  professor Laurie Santos, who gives Yale’s wildly popular course on HAPPINESS (1,200 students!),  is offering it on Coursera (starts May 21).  WHOOT  WHOOT!

This is a course that EVERYONE should take, especially people working with olders elders ancients, who too easily feel that happiness is behind them, that well-being means not falling, who needed their equivalent of more Frisbee throws & kicking back in the quad with friends.

I’ve loved Laurie Santos since first reading about her in January, when her course blew all expectations of enrollment out the window – ¼ of the Yale student body enrolled to learn how to bring more balance & happiness to their lives! 

What she offers on Coursera is available, with a certificate, for $49 ~or~ for FREE without.

Grandkids on demand – connecting generations

I love Andrew Parker!  He is doing, real time, what I’ve dreamed of for years – taping into a huge reservoir of engaging care partners ideally suited for the burgeoning number of olders elders ancients needing non-medical, life-expanding support. 

I love his description  – “We try to get to people before they need care.  If you have multiple chronic diseases and you’re bed ridden, you shouldn’t use PapaPals. But if you’re 90 years old and you’re fine, you just don’t have a car, or don’t drive one, that”s where we support you.”  Couldn’t have said it better!

Come back with us a few years.  Parker’s grandfather – Papa – had dementia.  His family kept running into problems arranging quality care.  It was less meds & daily maintenance support, more transportation, companionship & life enrichment.  His grandson had a flash of genius & hired a college student to be Papa’s “grandkid on demand.”  Worked like a charm for all parties.  Parker saw the potential for something special. 

While he didn’t have any experience in Computer Science or Product Development, Parker knew a winning idea when he had it.  And his market research told him that the two generations identified as most at risk of feeling isolated & alone – – the elderly & Gen Z (18-22) – – are also the two that studies show have a natural affinity for each other.  “Intergenerational solidarity” makes college students – Parker typically recruits aspiring doctors, nurses & medical care professionals  – – and olders an ideal match. 

While Parker couldn’t create the app – he farmed most of the work out to a firm in Argentina! – he knew what he wanted it to do.  He took a winning situation for his family & turned it into an app others can access. 

Although he sees his app as ultimately delivering a wide range of services, Parker’s presently focusing on PapaPals, where he recruits “high quality individuals” to help olders with non-medical needs. A student might drive an older to an appointment, wait for them, take them shopping on the return trip.  Once home, he or she might help prepare & share a meal, talk about world events or recent movie releases, maybe watch some television together or share a game of backgammon.  They might take older friends to family events, hang out at the pool or beach, even record or journal life stories.

The mobile app lets individuals & families or care coordinators schedule same day care or future support.  Parker started developing Papa in 2016 & it is now live on the App store. 

I feel like kicking up my heels with joy that SOMEONE is utilizing the huge supply of mature but young care partners who can deliver non-medical care – transportation, household chores, technology – served up with the bonus of lively, interesting companionship.  Amen to Parker’s comment, “It’s a completely different experience from the traditional care.”

Papa Technologies LLC is taking it slow but sure;  they’ve recently expanded beyond their initial South Florida base, to Tampa & Sarasota.  Although requests are pouring in to expand to more areas of Florida, they put ensuring the quality of their provided services over rapid growth.

Let there be dancing in the streets!  Andrew Parker & Papa Technologies LLC  are living my dream –  connecting olders elders ancients with interesting care partners who can provide engaging conversation along with day-to-day care & enrichment support, who can chauffeur them to the doctors & wait, the ferry them back home, or be their “plus one”at a wedding.  My heart goes pitter patter reading,  “Papa helps reduce the stress from family caregivers and boosts seniors’ mental engagement with younger generations.”

What a great gift for Andrew’s Papa, what a wonderful legacy for his grandfather to leave.

About Papa: Papa is a startup that is based in Miami.  It opened in late 2017 and has close to 200 Papa Pals providing assistance to members throughout South Florida, Sarasota, and Tampa.

URL: http://www.JoinPapa.com
Twitter: https://twitter.com/join_papa
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/joinpapa/
Download App: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/join-papa/id1105425605?mt=8

https://itunes.apple.com/us/developer/papa-technologies-llc/id1105425604?mt=8

Patient gifts

Last week, a young woman dear to my heart graduated from medical school.  My pride, even now, spikes tears in my eyes.

Bethany brings such gifts & graces to the medical profession, including depth of years – she started med school in her early thirties.  She started after NOT getting accepted on her first try, strengthened areas of perceived weakness & made the cut.  The time from first learning she was considering becoming a doctor to the day, less than a week ago, when she really & truly did was a period of indescribable adventure for me, getting bits & pieces via Facebook & her parents’ letters.

She came to mind today, reading a NY Times article pondering the ethics around a physician giving gifts to patients, “…whether it be a stuffed animal, a small amount of money or an old winter coat.”

The writer, a 3re –year resident at Brigham & Women’s Hospital, Boston, first recalled when she was a med student, finding herself in the hospital gift shop, thinking about an elderly patient who was about to be discharged to home hospice.  The woman’s metastatic cancer was incurable & she’d reached the limits of medicine.

There was nothing her doctors, let alone a medical student, could do to cure her body, but the young woman’s instinct, “ingrained in me from my Italian-Jewish family,” suggested that maybe a stuffed animal – a plush black puppy – could lift her spirits.

It is to weep, thinking of how the woman must have felt, the feel of the stuffie’s “fur” in her hands, the knowledge that someone had thought of her, had also held that wee small dog – powerful medicine for a happy heart, if you ask me.

A fellow medical student rebuked her for the gift – “You can’t get a patient a present,” it would set a “bad precedent” & start her down a “slippery slope.”    She gave it anyway, excusing it as okay for a medical student, that she’d create “appropriate” boundaries, rules once she became a “real doctor.”

There is apparently a good bit of discussion in the medical community about if & when it is okay for physicians to accept presents.  Talks about doctors gifting patients?  Not so much.

One doctor who gave a patient money to fill a prescription received a formal rebuke after being reported by a resident who was shadowing him.  Dr. Gordon Schiff, also of Brigham and Women’s Hospital, used the reprimand – for “unprofessional boundary-crossing behavior” – as a teachable moment, writing a fairly blistering editorial piece for the Journal of American Medical Association.  He acknowledged the need for certain boundaries, but reminded his fellow physicians that they should be judicious & not be used as barriers to providing HUMANE (my caps) care, that taken to extremes “risks encouraging detached, uncaring, arms-length relationships.”

Personally, I can think of a lot of situations where a prescription for a stuffie would do a world of good for a patient.  But then, I am a long-time believer in the healing power of stuffies.  When Mom was in the hospital for a mastectomy, we brought in Benita to keep her company – a plush grey hippopotamus.  It seemed like the hospital staff loved her as much as Mom did – they’d come in & stroke her or play with her.

Guess what happened when she became Dr. DeFilippis?  She still gave some patients presents.  A word search book for a man tethered to his hospital bed & chair.  A plush heart after a young woman’s transplant, weeks after waiting in the hospital for a viable organ.  She had me at, “I believe that alleviating suffering involves providing comfort, solace and coziness, even if that takes the shape of a fluffy golden teddy bear.”

Dr. DeFilippis wonders if she gave that elderly woman the plush puppy as a way of facing her own sadness over medicine being only able to go so far.  She wonders if her giving them a small token of  “I see you” might help them feel more connected to life.  Or maybe a way to express hope & best wishes for the future.  As she prepares to start a fellowship in cardiovascular medicine at New York Presbyterian Hospital-Columbia University Medical Center, she still hasn’t created those boundaries her med school self imagined.  “Boundaries serve a few purposes – they avoid improper expectations, legal liability and confusion of personal and professional relationships. But they also can disconnect us from the patient experience, from the human experience.”

Or, to quote Dr. Schiff – “In weighing such risks, however, we need to be clear whose risks we are considering.  Many of these risks are actually more risks to physicians, rather than to patients. …  While there is nothing inherently wrong with protecting caregivers against overwhelming time demands or burnout, let’s not pretend we are imposing limits for patients rather than for our own best interests.”

My own thoughts, had I been asked to share them last Friday at the Sanford Pavilion, as the Class of 2018 graduated from The University of South Dakota Sanford School of Medicine, would have focused on the softer side of medicine, the human side.  I’d remind them that a baseball might do a powerful amount of good for the patient facing a medical crisis, a fluffy golden bear could provide comfort at 3:00 a.m., a Sudoku book could stimulate the mind of the bed bound.  That they might not be the sort to equate actual gifts to quality patient care – would they give the gift of an extra moment of their time?  Would they ask a question that would give a personal response?  Is their instinct to see the patient or stay detached?  Would boundaries do they consider inappropriate?  And how might they feel if they were the patient?  If it was their parents partner child?

I’d ask them to consider, as they sat there, freshly minted doctors, and throughout their practice – – What is their version of that small black plush puppy? 

Tag along with Stacey Burling to a eye- & heart-opening conference

A double dose of thanks – to Stacey Burling, whose 05/08/18 Inquirer  article let me listen in on Monday’s Alzheimer’s Association Delaware Valley Chapter Annual Conference ~and~ to Rabbi Dayle Friedman for the link to it!  Blessings on both!

First up was Dr. David Wolk, a neurologist & co-director of the Penn Memory Center,  who introduced me to the jaw-dropping potential impact of “precision medicine” on treating Alzheimer’s.  I knew about the astonishing impact of brain imaging on identifying  a patient’s specific type of cancer, never thought about its application to detecting & treating forms of dementia.

It’s been tough for doctors to effectively treat dementia.  It takes many forms & – seriously – could only be accurately diagnosed after death;  it took an autopsy to conclusively identify the brain changes & presence of certain proteins.   It feels like a Ouija board would be more useful than traditional x-rays.  Now, brain imaging allows doctors to spot, even in very early stages, markers of Alzheimer’s, like shrinkage,  the presence of amyloid & tau proteins, and other biomarkers.  Amazing.

Next up in the article is Stephen Post,  a psychologist at Stony Brook University School of Medicine, who reminded everyone to never dismiss the value of  people with dementia (aka the deeply forgetful).   Bravo, Dr. Post, for ballyhooing the power of creativity in working with dementia patients, that the areas associated with art poetry music seem untouched by its destruction.

Makes me think about the client that my John had, a 90-something woman with profound Alzheimer’s – she was basically non-communicative.  Her daughter, who lived in the Midwest, had read Berna Huebner’s book I Remember Better When I Paint & wondered if being with art might have a similar impact on her mother.  It did!  John sat with her, colored pencils or water colors at the ready, drawing paper awaiting her touch.  At first, she just sat, unresponsive.  An aide suggested taking her back to her room.  Instead, John asked her to get the woman’s beloved stuff bear.  The look on the old woman’s face when John gently placed the bear in front of her & suggested, “Grace, would you like to paint this?” – – she barely moved, but her eyes came alive, we could all feel a life force swell up.

Her caregivers & John differed in their response to the older woman – they treated her like she wasn’t there, while he always saw the life force within.  His work with her baffled them, but I had the joy of watching my husband call out to a fellow artist, experienced him connecting with the whole self within.

John will resonate with Dr. Post’s message.

Last & surely not least, Stacey turns to Dayle Friedman‘s presentation.  As my readers know (check out my March blog posts), I am a super fan of Rabbi Friedman’s & am over-the-moon grateful for getting a sense of her presentation.

What a blessing to be reminded that along with the heart-break of caring for a loved one with dementia comes learning, remembering to live more fully in each present moment, staying open to joy & love – – IF we allow ourselves to remain open to accepting the powerful lessons of dementia.

Rabbi Friedman goes to the heart of what I believe are the gifts we are offered in being present for our parents & other loved ones in times of dependency & debility – – those states can help us see past the physical temporary transient to the reality that has nothing to do with intellect memory cognition & everything to do with spirit.  They strip away what doesn’t really matter to get down to what does.  Just as we can recognize that the person is not intellect memory cognition, we can move past their faults & flaws to see them as simply human.  And when we can see that in them, we can see it in the toughest person of all – our self.

Mega thanks to Stacey Burling for her eye- & heart-opening article.  This meager synopsis is a bare nibble of her wonderful share from Monday’s conference.  A must read!