I’m not good in a crisis. In my dreams, I’m this incredibly courageous woman who leaps tall buildings, laughing and bubbling with confidence. In my fantasies, I am an orator of note; able to express myself elegantly with witty wisdoms that make everyone shake their head in awe and agreement. In reality, I’m neither. I crumble with anxiety at the merest whiff of uncertainty, I cringe before the specter of responsibility, and I become tongue-tied and dumb with despair when confronted with a conundrum. … More Lesson #33: Crisis? What Crisis?
It’s not easy to share our health woes; there’s so much stigma in our cynical society. If you whine too much, you’re a hypochondriac. If you have something incurable, it’s all in your head. If you have something really wrong with you, you shouldn’t be out in public. Stop coughing and sneezing on us! Stop blocking the aisles with your wheelchair! Stay home, why dontchya? … More Lesson #32: Damned If They Do, Damned If They Don’t
Caregivers are on the front lines of the Alzheimer’s battle. And the battle isn’t about the disease, it’s about the stigma, negativity and fear surrounding it. If you or someone you love has Alzheimer’s, it’s quite likely that you have come up against a lot of ignorance, misconceptions, dread and horror when talking to people about this condition. … More Lesson #30: Less Lies, More Love
Happiness is a choice. Once you grasp the enormity of that, once you fully understand the implications of it, you can’t (and shouldn’t) let go. Because all throughout your life, at any given moment, in any place on this planet, no matter what the situation you find yourself in… you make the decision, consciously or not. … More Lesson #29: Hope Springs a Kernel
My mother is angry and I don’t blame her. If you were to wake up every day not remembering anything from the day before, if your home of 40 years suddenly looked unfamiliar, if there was a continuous parade of strangers hovering over you and asking you to do things, and if you couldn’t remember simple things like how to swallow a pill… well, most of us would be royally pissed off. … More Lesson #26: No Apologies Necessary
When the geriatrician said my mother had entered the “late-stage” phase of Alzheimer’s last year, I was alarmed. Late stage already? I took it to mean that the end was near, and I began doing more research, feeling the need to understand better. … More Lesson #25: Stages, On Stage and Scottish Accents
A decade ago, I had no idea what meditation was – beyond the ability to sit cross-legged on the floor with your eyes closed. That in itself is a challenge for some people. And I admit that, even after practising meditation for almost three years (daily for about one year), I still don’t know what I’m doing. But I have come to realize the benefits of this activity, despite my ineptitude. … More Lesson #24: Sit Still, Be Quiet!
I’m putting myself right out there with other family caregivers today, and admitting that I’ve been fiercely protecting my “me-time” this month… those oh-so-valuable hours when I can push away my worrying, do something positive, take time to recharge, and shrug off the heavy emotions that weigh me down daily. … More Lesson #23: Guilt, Grieving and Giving In
I became interested in Zach Anner, an up-and-coming YouTube celebrity, because of my friend Christine. She, too, lives life from a wheelchair, diagnosed with cerebral palsy at birth. Currently working on her autobiography, Christine’s memoir opens with “It was lonely being a child in a wheelchair. I was bullied.” In an online interview with Oprah, when asked to identify his biggest challenge, Zach makes a touching admission: “Figuring out that I’m worth this experience, because it’s hard for me to accept that I might deserve this.” … More Lesson #22: The Stink of Stigma
As Joseph Campbell† and countless sages have pointed out, all human fears circle endlessly around the topic of death. Fear of anything is, ultimately, a fear of dying. Whether triggered by spiders, poverty, speaking in public or being alone, it all comes back to a basic fear of being separated from those whom you love and/or that which is most familiar to you, which is life. … More Lesson #21: Death Be Not Shy