Tag Archives: self-help

Making a List of What’s Going Right

I started my gratitude practice as my mother was wading into dementia, as a way to stay connected, compassionate, and sane. The more I notice the good things, the happier I seem to be. I really resonated with this blog from my friend Karen Rowinsky and I wanted to share it with you.

 Making a List of What’s Going Right

From Guest Blogger Karen Rowinsky

Feeling overwhelmed?

Can’t catch a break?

Nothing seems to be going your way?

If you are having one of those days, weeks, or months, this tip is for you.

gloomyInstead of reciting to yourself, or others, the list of events that are stressing you out, try documenting the things that are going right.

Start with real things that are going right like:

  • Even though my head hurts, my feet don’t.
  • I don’t know where the mortgage payment will come from but at least no one in the family is sick.
  • My spouse is really getting on my nerves but at least I know he or she will be there in a pinch.
  • Stress at work is getting me down but it’s not raining and I can get outside for a breather.

Once you have gotten some “at leasts…..” on your list, then begin adding things that are positive or funny:

  • I have good friends.
  • My dog loves me.
  • I have food to eat today.
  • I’m having a good hair day.
  • No one has “unfriended” me on Facebook lately.

imagesI’m not making light of your troubles. I am suggesting a way that you can get some relief during a time that is challenging. Self care even for a few minutes is better than none.    #

Karen Rowinsky, LSCSW, is a licensed clinical social worker.

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

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Trusting The Loss Of Your Identity

I met Mary O’Malley when I interviewed her for an article in Natural Awakenings Magazine. She inspired me then and she continues to inspire me. I am honored to share an abridged version of her post with you.

Trusting The Loss Of Your Identity

From Guest Blogger Mary O’Malley, author of What’s In the Way IS the Way

A friend of mine lost her husband about a year ago. She was his caretaker for many years, and before that, she cared for her ailing parents. She feels like she doesn’t know who she is anymore and is trying to figure out what she is supposed to be doing next. She feels like her identity has been taken away. I believe just the opposite is happening. Life has taken away the caretaker role so she can get to know who she really is.

butterflyI too have experienced what it is like to have the old identity ripped away. It feels like a butterfly whose wings are wet and cannot move. Often times our self-worth is tied to how much we accomplish or how much we can get done. When part of our identity is taken away from us, it is painful and scary. And our poor little mind goes crazy because it has always found a sense of safety through the illusion that it is in control. The mind is a tool for maneuvering through reality, but it is not reality.

I believe Life is preparing us for being birthed back into the vast spaciousness of who we truly are. But, it can be confusing and scary for the ego. As the Tibetan Lama Chögyam Trungpa Rinoche says, “If there were no confusion, there would be no wisdom. Chaos should be regarded as really good news.” When we lose a part of our old identify, there can be so much confusion and grief that it feels like death. But, actually something new is being born. Remember that, although birth is wonderful, it is not neat and pretty. A human birth has pee and poop and blood, and it is painful. So it is important to do our Lamaze breathing, whether we are birthing a child or Life is birthing us! We can resist this process, or we can recognize that Life knows what it is doing as it takes this away and that away.

The next time you feel challenged, try asking Life for help by saying, “Help me through this passage, and show me how to see what you are showing me so I can be healed to my core.”

To read the entire blog, visit:  http://www.maryomalley.com/2015/04/05/trusting-the-loss-of-your-identity-2/

To be further inspired by Mary and her work, visit: http://www.maryomalley.com/books/

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

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Creative Splashes

Sometimes I am around many creative people and I soak up their energy and ideas. Other days, I work alone. On those solitary days, I use these quote to inspire and ignite my creative spirit.

creativity 1 “We have to continually be jumping off cliffs and developing our wings on the way down.”  ― Kurt Vonnegut

“To be creative means to be in love with life. You can be creative only if you love life enough that you want to enhance its beauty. You want to bring a little more music to it, a little more poetry to it, a little more dance to it.”    ― Osho

creativity 3“There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and will be lost.”   ― Martha Graham

“The creative is the place where no one else has ever been. You have to leave the city of your comfort and go into the wilderness of your intuition. What you’ll discover will be wonderful. What you’ll discover is yourself.”  — Alan Alda

Deborah Shouse is the author of Love in the Land of Dementia: Finding Hope in the Caregiver’s Journey.creativity 2

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Three Reasons to Give Life Meaning by Giving Back

IMG_0491Even when she was traveling the globe, designing and creating family-oriented projects, such as children’s museums, farms and gardens, Vicki Stoecklin made time to volunteer. She’d work on projects in Thailand, Saudi Arabia, and China, but whenever she was home in Kansas City, Missouri, Vicki shared her time and talents with non-profit organizations including the Girl Scouts, the local food bank, a boy’s home and more.

When Vicki was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s, her life radically changed; she had to give up her dynamic travel schedule and her demanding and rewarding career. But she never considered giving up her volunteer activities; in fact, she consciously began seeking more opportunities to give back to her community.

Many of her normal activities were no longer viable: she couldn’t drive, read or cook. Her normally stellar math skills were impaired. Suddenly, instead of having to make every minute count, she had nothing but time. Within these limitations, she had to reframe her life and find new activities that stimulated and engaged her.

IMG_0494As Vicki pondered what to do with her life, she thought of Sheffield Place, a local shelter for single moms and their children. These women were struggling and rarely had enough money for any personal extras. Vicki decided to make necklaces for the mothers in the shelter. She enjoyed buying the beads and learning to string them in an artistically pleasing way, creatively combining colors, sizes and patterns. She also crafted a special gift bag for each necklace, decorating each with brightly colored stickers. When Vicki delivered her creations, the women and the staff were so grateful and so pleased. Their gratitude gave Vicki a sense of completion and connection.

One day, riding home from an appointment, Vicki noticed a dog shelter.

The thought floated into her mind: Wouldn’t it be fun to make blankets for the dogs?”

So, she made small, cozy blankets for the animals in the shelter. She enjoyed picking out colorful flannel, sizing it, then cutting fringe around the edges, and tying two pieces of fringe into knots.

“Making these blankets was relaxing and therapeutic,” Vicki says. “The cutting and tying helped me maintain my fine motor skills and the easy nature of the project allowed other people to get involved.”

When friends saw the fabric lying across Vicki’s lap, they asked, “What are you making?” Vicki explained and soon her friends were sitting beside her, tying away.

“With my dementia, I have a hard time finishing a project, “Vicki says. “These art projects allow me to complete a craft and give me a sense of accomplishment. Plus, learning new skills stimulates my brain.”

For Vicki, being a productive person and making a contribution to society, rather than just sitting around, has given her a much-needed sense of creativity and purpose. She encourages others with a similar diagnosis to seek what brings them joy and open up to new ideas and activities.IMG_0506

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Finding ways to give back offers people a sense of purpose and a connection with others.  Seek projects that are:

Tangible, finite and easy to finish
Fun to do alone or with others
Aligned with an organization the care partner can relate to
Connected to non-profits that can communicate gratitude

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

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Ten Tenets for Choosing Movies to Boost Memories and Moods

Cinema can fill in the empty spaces of your life and your loneliness .    Pedro Almodovar                                                              

images

Invite Connections Through Watching Films Together

Most of us who visit care facilities have witnessed the dreaded “people slumped over in front of the television” syndrome. Of course, you don’t want to park your beloved person in front of a screen. But watching an appropriate movie together can be a meaningful experience.

Movies can stir up positive memories and invite conversations, such as discussing a favorite actor, a memorable scene, the old movie theater just a streetcar ride from home, or a special date at the movies.

According to Alzheimer’s.net, a good movie experience can leave a person with Alzheimer’s in a better mood and more engaged with others. A film can also help bridge generations, giving grandparents, children, and grandchildren something to share.

When selecting a movie for viewing, chose a film that is:      watching movies

  • Fun and uplifting
  • Easy to understand in terms of plot and characters
  • Under two hours
  • Void of violence, illness and death
  • Appealing to the person who has Alzheimer’s

Choose a comfortable setting with minimal distractions so you can talk during the film, discussing any memories, ideas or questions that the film inspires.

Familiar musicals, such as The Wizard of Oz, Camelot, or Guys and Dolls, often resonate with people who have Alzheimer’s. Other favorite films might include  It’s A Wonderful Life and Singin’ In the Rain.

Comfort and Console Yourself with Cinema

Movies can also recharge your spirit, during times when you need a little relaxation and entertainment but you’re too tired to leave the house. My friend Karen Rowinsky, LSCSW, (http://www.overlandparkcounseling.com/) wrote about cinematherapy in a recent blog. She’s an expert on self-care and I wanted to share her suggestions with you.movie collage

Here are Karen’s ideas:

Need a laugh, a cathartic crying session, or some excitement in your life? Instead of selecting your next movie by analyzing Rotten Tomatoes, let your choice reflect the mood you desire.

Here are some ideas that may fit the bill:

  • Need to getaway from it all? Watch a film from another country.
  • Haven’t laughed in a while? Pick an actor or genre that always gets you going.
  • Want to release tension? Select a thriller with lots of suspense that will leave you spent.
  • Feeling wrapped up in your problems? Find a biographical movie with an inspiring story.
  • Desire some mental stimulation? Documentaries or films on a topic you know nothing about can help.

Most of us get stuck in a rut when it comes to movies. Services like Netflix divide their movies into genres and sub-genres. You can look for comedies but then narrow your choices down to dark comedies, slapstick, spoofs, romantic comedies, etc. Trade lists of favorite movies with friends. Better yet, start a film festival with your friends or family, using a theme, a decade, or genre to make your choices.imgres

Self-care can be as easy as a DVD and some popcorn.

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

 

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