Tag Archives: arts

Transforming Attitudes Through Art

“Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time.”

    ~ Thomas Merton

artist at work

The art therapist shows up at our house, bumping along a rolling suitcase filled with supplies. Her hospice client, my life partner Ron’s 97 year-old mother Mollie, is slumped on our sofa, her head thrown back, her eyes closed. As forgetfulness nibbles away at her mind, her indifference increases.

“Hi Mollie, I’m Denise the art therapist.” Denise introduces herself again, even though they have met several times.

“Whatever,” Mollie says.

Denise unzips her suitcase and begins taking out art supplies: pink, red, yellow and green bolts of crunchy tissue paper, a plastic box of small colorful felt squares, hearts, circles, stars and triangles, two bottle of Modge Podge glue, and several paint brushes.  art tissues

Denise settles beside Mollie, with a black piece of paper and some red and pink tissue.

“What color do you like best?” she asks.

Mollie shrugs but points to the pink. Denise paints a strip of glue onto her paper and sticks a crumpled bud of rose paper.

“Mollie, what shape appeals to you?” Denise asked, offering a purple felt square and a red triangle.

Mollie points to the square.

“I don’t know what to do,” Mollie says, a frequent refrain. Her encroaching confusion has knocked the center out of her normal confidence and rendered her nervous.

art supplies“Just sit here with me and help me make this picture,” Denise says.

Denise offers Mollie a choice between lilac and purple tissue, then sea green and dark green options.

“You’re an artist,” Mollie says, looking at the tissue flowers that have miraculously bloomed on the page. A garden is beginning. “You’re really an artist,” Mollie repeats and Denise smiles.

“Thank you Mollie. Can you take this brush and spread the glue?”

The brush shakes in Mollie’s hand but she manages to even out the glue, preparing the page for a tangerine and lemon colored blossom.

“This is art,” Mollie says.

“You like art, don’t you?” Denise says. “You have quite an art collection.”

Mollie nods. As she spreads the next glump of glue, Denise asks her about the antique shop she ran for many years and about her travels to get art. Mollie answers but she seems more focused on the page in front of her, the new art that Denise is bringing into her life.  art cartoon

Deborah is the author of Love in the Land of Dementia: Finding Hope in the Caregiver’s Journey.

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Filed under Caregiving, Creativity, Inspiration, The Arts

Four Ways Stories Make a Difference

You may have heard that the world is made of atoms and molecules, but it is really made up of stories.   — William Turner

 Recently we listened to an excellent webinar featuring Marc Wortmann, Executive Director of Alzheimer’s Disease International. He said, “Sharing your stories is one way you can make a difference.” I asked several writers and storytellers to share their motivations and insights.

Sharing Stories Reduces Isolation

journaling“Journaling helped me maintain my sanity when faced with the unpredictability of my parent’s behavior due to cognitive decline. Sharing my stories with other caregivers helps us to realize we aren’t in the boat alone. As the saying goes, ‘A shared burden lightens the load,’ and hopefully reduces our stress levels and perhaps even elevates our coping skills.”      — Vicki Tapia, author, Somebody Stole My Iron.  www.SomebodyStoleMyIron.com

 

Writing Stories Clears the Mind

quiet mind 2

“Just writing down my thoughts on scraps of paper helped me clear my head and face my day. I wrote about the rough spots and about my changing relationship with my mom. I found it helpful to read my stories aloud to people in my writing group;  it was comforting to share and hear that people identified with me. As caregivers we often feel invisible. I wrote my book because I wanted to share my day-to-day life as a caregiver.”    — Martha Stettinius, author, Inside the Dementia Epidemic: A Daughter’s Memoir, http://www.insidedementia.com

Using Stories Ignites Public Conversation

dinner“When I was writing my book, I had one objective in mind:  I wanted to use our family story to ignite a public conversation about care.  Not just any old conversation — I wanted people to talk about social policy around the dinner table the same way folks discuss politics.  I wanted our story to be anyone’s story.”  — Donna Thomson, The Four Walls of My Freedom: Lessons I’ve Learned From a Life of Caregiving www.donnathomson.com

Telling Stories Makes a Difference           

“As a speechwriter, I’ve known that stories can make any topic come alive.  As a speech coach, I’ve seen that otherwise ‘ordinary’ speakers can produce ‘extraordinary’ presentations by including memorable stories. Storytelling has the capacity to make a difference anywhere. When my mother suffered a sudden stroke, I told her stories.  She couldn’t speak, but her face lit up as I spoke.  She liked the stories I’d tell her — simple stories about our friends, our home, the weather, and good times.  You don’t have to be skilled or sophisticated to let storytelling make things better.  You just have to get started.”       — Joan Detz, author of How To Write & Give A Speech  www.joandetz.com/speechwritingblog

Deborah is the author of Love in the Land  of Dementia: Finding Hope in the Caregiver’s Journey.

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Filed under Communication, Inspiration, Relationships, The Arts