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The Lord Is My Shepherd

TheLordismyshepherd

A little Sunday prayer to begin this lovely day!  Do you know this psalm?  It is one that my Mom taught us when we were little and we have taught our children to continue to tradition as it brings us all such peace and joy.

When I sit mindfully and present, sometimes I receive a song in my head or a prayer and this came to me this morning.  So in honor of my Mom’s bedtime ritual for us as children, I thought it was appropriate to post!

We still say this psalm with our Mom and it brings us all great peace.  May it bring you and yours peace today as well.

Shine On!

xo

 

Make A Joyful Noise

Make a joyful noise

I awoke this morning hearing Psalm 100 in my mind.  It is one that my Mom taught us as little children and one that we all still say together.  Being that it’s a Sunday, I thought it would be the perfect post!

Do you know this Psalm?  I find it gives much comfort when I say it.  Perhaps that’s because it reminds me of being a little girl.  At bedtime, my Mom would sit with my sister and me, helping us to memorize this Psalm and others that she thought were important for us to learn.

Do you have any favorite prayers or Psalms that you recite or remember from childhood?  Please share!

Shine your heartlights and make a joyful noise today!

Shine On!

xo

 

 

The Christmas Spirit Is In Action

christmas spirit

I adore the Christmas Spirit which comes during the holiday season!  It warms my heart when people are nicer, more thoughtful and loving.  I appreciate the extra kindness that arrives when generosity of spirit reigns.  How I wish we would continue the spirit of Christmas throughout the year!

Being kind doesn’t require anything spectacular.  It is simply being aware of those around us and being thoughtful of how others may be feeling.  There are many lonely souls who are quietly experiencing Christmas alone.  Neighbors, friends and even those who are in old age homes.  It doesn’t take much to reach out in a friendly manner to let them know that they are being thought of at Christmas.

A small card can make a difference, especially to those who have Alzheimer’s.  Even though they may not fully be aware that Christmas is upon us, to receive a card makes all the difference in the world.  I know that from experience.

Yesterday I brought cards to the Alzheimer’s home where my loved one resides.  As I am a frequent visitor, I bought a pack of Christmas cards and made one out for each of them.  It was a simple heartfelt gesture on my part, but the result made my heartlight grow tremendously.

As each lady received her card, she smiled.  While they recognize me, they do not remember my name, but they know I belong to my loved one who is one of their friends.  I had brought extra in case I had inadvertently forgotten someone and I was glad I did.  I ended up making a few extra cards right there when I realized I was to deliver a card to a lady who was seated with two others whom I really didn’t know and I wasn’t sure if they were aware.  But sure enough, they were.

Quickly, I went back and wrote the cards for the other two ladies and then delivered them.  I smiled and as I handed the newly written card to one woman in particular, her chin wobbled.  “I hope you didn’t think I’d forgotten you!  Here’s your Christmas card!  Merry Christmas!” I cheerily said to her.  She smiled at me and I walked back to my loved one’s table.

A few minutes later, this particular lady appeared, having summoned one of the workers to bring her to “that lady who gave her the card.”  As she sat in her wheelchair she was teary and said, “Thank you.  This was the nicest card ever.  It means a lot that you thought of me.”  That moment of a small action on my part touched her and it meant the world to me.  I reached out to hug her and I got teary too.

While some may think that just because those with Alzheimer’s don’t remember a lot, it doesn’t mean that a kind gesture doesn’t touch their hearts.  While I am not naive enough to think that those cards may not make it back to their rooms to sit on their dressers, it’s that moment that counts.  That moment of Christmas spirit, connection and as a result of a small action, ties two hearts in harmony.

So if you’re contemplating sending a small batch of cookies to an elderly neighbor or sending a card to someone, my advice is to do it.  There’s nothing like the magic of Christmas to make this world a better place.

Shine your heartlights my friends.  Together our lights ignite the sparkle that grows the Christmas and Hanukah spirit!

Shine On!

xo

The Tough Part of Being Present With Dementia

thetoughpartofbeingpresentwithdementia

I’ve told you before that I have had loved ones with Alzheimer’s and Dementia.  If you’re a caregiver or relative of a loved one with the disease, you probably understand more than most people.  Because it’s hard when they get confused.  It’s unsettling when they live in the past.  It’s sad when they don’t remember.  It’s a gift you give to yourself and to them when you just stay present in their world, however it is, in that moment.  But the part that hurts the most is when they admit that they know that they’re confused.

To me, that’s the toughest part.  To witness their fear, their grief, their feeling of being lost when they blip into the present with that knowing.  I’ve written about it before here.  As many times as we’ve had these moments of realization that they vocalize, it’s still just as heartbreaking to me as it was the first time we talked about the disease.

I can fool myself into thinking that they are just in their own world, safe and sound, knowing that they are loved.  For the most part, that’s how they live.  But for the blessed few times that they are able to articulate that for this moment in time, they know that they are confused, that the words that they want to say are fleeting through their minds at rapid speeds and don’t always make it to be spoken, well, it just haunts me.

I visit a memory care facility often and have become friendly with many of the sweet residents.  We interact during every one of my visits and I have come to enjoy their company as well.  Each with her own distinct personality.  Each with her own level of understanding.  Each and every one simply wanting to be noticed, to enjoy human interaction and to be shown love.

Some are like the forgotten souls who simply exist and are cared for by strangers who love them.  Some of them don’t get many visitors which makes me sad.  Some have daily visitations from family who they don’t always remember.  Some have bonded with the other ‘golden girls’ with whom they share meals and others are simply existing separately.

The levels of understanding and interaction are as varied as the people themselves and with memory care illnesses, they are changeable at a moment’s notice.  One must continue to flow with the present state of mind and ability in order to connect with them.  Being a caregiver requires incredible patience and caring.  It’s an exhausting job, but one that is so gratifying.

I’m sorry I’ve gone off topic again. The words simply flow out of me when I write about the disease.  For it’s not just my loved ones who have it, but an increasing number of people in my life now.  There’s a bond among those who have loved ones with the disease.  We understand what we’re enduring and we share the ups and downs of the journey as it unfolds.

Alzheimer’s and Dementia keeps us on our toes with its ever changing fluidity.  One piece that remains constant is The Presents of Presence and the peace that comes with our choice to embrace this precious moment in time, every time.

Shine On!

xo

The Brain Amazes Me

thebrainamazesme

Some of us may find it challenging to be in the present moment especially when change is churning up the peace which we crave.  To find the gift of presence may sometimes feel so hard in our everyday lives.  I understand that all too well.  Then I found that some people live with even bigger daily challenges and I wanted to share with you what I learned.

Our brains have always fascinated me, but so much more in the last few years since I’ve had loved ones with Alzheimer’s and Dementia.  I recently stumbled upon this interview while doing some research on the brain.  Because I have no prior knowledge of Multiple Personality Disorder, also known as Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID), I was intrigued by the interview (and no, I don’t have these illnesses nor know anyone who does).  I remember watching Sybil (with Sally Field) years ago so for me, only the Hollywood portrayals of Sybil and perhaps even Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde were the information I had about the subject.  But, that was all about to change.

The interviewer, Kyle Kittleson, host of MedCircle, had such an easy way about him that I figured I’d watch the segment for a few minutes.  Encina Severa, who has 11 different personalities living in her body, made me watch the entire hour.  The segment is called:  What It’s Like To Live With Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID).

I think what kept me watching was the way in which Kyle asked Encina about DID and the vulnerability in which she answered his questions and explained what she endures.  I found myself amazed by her courage in opening up on camera in order to help others to understand DID.  I don’t know if this topic interests you at all, but I will tell you that I stayed up past my bedtime in order to finish watching the entire interview and I was glad I did.

Have you had any experience with someone with DID or Multiple Personality Disorder?  Here’s the link to the interview in case you’re interested:  Click Here.

Shine On!

xo

 

Picking Up The Pieces

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When life throws you a curve ball, you have to re-evaluate your position in life.  You have to pick up the pieces from what’s changed and put them back together in a new way.  You may even have to release some parts of your prior life in order to make room for the new chapter that’s beginning.  We have to embrace the change in order to incorporate it into our lives and not be stymied by the upheaval.

There are many defining moments in life that create change.  What we forget in times of fluidity and peace is that change is inevitable.  Few of us get out of this life alive without challenges, for those are what make this life school a life-long learning process.  If we were only to enjoy smooth sailing for a lifetime then we wouldn’t have a chance to grow.  By enduring these challenges, we experience change.  Life school allows us to connect with others who have endured similar situations in ways that we wouldn’t have been able to otherwise.  Nobody can understand how devastating a cancer diagnosis is if you haven’t experienced it yourself.  Nobody understands the all-encompassing grief that comes with losing a loved one if you haven’t been through it.  Empathy comes when you’ve walked a similar path with compassion.

I confess that I would have preferred to not have endured many of the challenges presented to me.  I could have done without the trying times that threatened to drown me.  But I persevered and through faith, love and friendship, I am still here.

I’ve been through a plethora of life changes as I am sure you have too.  Some have been good changes, while others defined me in ways I never thought possible.  Breast cancer, deaths of friends, family and loved ones, divorce, financial difficulties, Alzheimer’s in loved ones, just to name a few of the big ones.  Through these defining moments of upheaval and life changing events, I have learned one thing for sure:  I can survive and remain who I am innately and even be improved by having endured the changes.  Challenges, failures and triumphs sprinkled with love, hope, faith and kindness make all the difference.

Keep shining your heartlights!

Shine On!

xo

Take A Lesson From Alzheimer’s And Dementia

takealesson

I’m a big proponent of passing along what I’ve learned through my various experiences.  Not to preach, but to connect with others who are enduring similar situations.  My blog is called The Presents of Presence which is all about being in the moment.  But as we all can attest, not every moment feels like a gift.  Sometimes we feel like we’ve been kicked instead.

With Alzheimer’s and Dementia, the lesson for me is clearly meant for my blog.  It’s in being in the present and finding the good in the now.  Finding the gift in connecting with others, no matter how brief it is, no matter how small it feels.

In my experience with my loved ones, I’ve learned that we can relax and just be and that this is, for the most part, how they now live their lives.  There’s almost like an amnesia from the dark past experiences that evaporates.  It is almost with childish simplicity that they live with the disease.  There’s not a lot of wondering what’s next or what happened before this very moment, except when sundowners hits.  It’s a focus on what’s right here that counts.  They live most fully in the now without reservation.

Think about that for a moment.  Can you wrap your mind around that?

What that means is no holding onto grudges, no revisiting conversations, no worrying about the future, no obsessing over the past, no self-criticism, no blaming someone else, I could go on and on.

It’s about, acceptance for the here and now in whatever form it takes.

I admire the people I know who have the disease for the courage to accept and be with the present at all times as I think that would be a hardship for many of us.  Yet, by their freedom, they are role models for us all.  Yes, I understand that they didn’t choose this disease.  Yes, I understand how heartbreaking it is when our loved ones have it.  But there’s a choice to mourn the loss by the disease or to find the positive in accepting what we deem unacceptable with the disease.

For me, I’ve got to find the positive and if that means, I have to change my way of thinking to expand it to gratitude for learning how to really find The Presents of Presence in every part of life’s journey and not just give it lip service, then so be it.

Shine On!

xo