As Another Year Ends, A New One Begins

As Another Year Ends,

A New One Begins.

This time of year is always interesting to watch how others cope with another year that has gone by all too quickly and yet we have a great opportunity of another year before us.   Many people are sad over what was, others excited about new possibilities to come, but few people talk about the moment before them right now.

For me, I do my share of past and future, but I try very hard not to lose the moment I have in front of me right now.  I try not to go too deep on either side of the pendulum.  I will admit, I don’t always win that battle within myself.  It’s far to easy to get swept away by loss and sadness over what was.  It’s also a nice escape to drift off and dream about what could be.  The problem I have found over the years with both of these options is if I let myself stay in either place too long I lose the moment I have right now in my life.  I think so many of us forget the precious fact that it is these moments that create our past and effect our future.

I’ll give you a perfect example.  The other day, I went to the nursing home to visit my Mother.  Mom has lived there going on 12 years now.  I know the place well and most of them know me.  What I noticed hard and fast on this particular visit was the amount of staff and resident turnover.   The consistencies in service I used to take for granted were gone.

My mind started to wander feeling sad for all the loss.  I knew I had to acknowledge the changes but I could not let them overcome me, as it would do no good.  I could run off and complain about the staff turnover.  I could leave because it was depressing  and uncomfortable to have to start from scratch again getting to know staff and residents… You know, the list goes on.

Then my mind darted off to the future, where I visualized things were all in sync again.  There was no discomfort.  Things ran smoothly like a well oiled clock, just ticking away.  But truth be told the future was not “just going to happen” on it’s own.  People have to make choices and that includes me too.

Even when I think I’m not making a choice, or maybe even feel like I don’t have one, well I do.  We all do.  It might be a mindset, verse an actual task but we have a choice on how we are going to view things.  How we are going to process them.

For me it was in that moment I decided to come back and live and engage in the moment before me.  To make a difference, no matter how small.  To share with the new staff some of the knowledge I have learned my 30 year journey with my Mother’s Dementia and the almost 12 years of having parents live at this community.  I decided to be present and to lead by example.  Not to preach to them or scold and complain, but rather comment and explain typical personalities and reactions of not only my Mother but others.  Her friends, the other residents.

I decided to guide and have a calm pleasant manner about me. One that was not intimidating or angry, knowing my behavior would be picked up and mirrored by those around me.  It was really very interesting to watch what was occurring with the staff, who were so uncomfortable with some of the resident behavior.  They started to smile and even laugh at that which they did not understand before.  They started to appreciate new ways residents were communicating that they did not see before.  They also appeared to not feel judged and degraded by me for some things not going so smoothly.

By removing my judgement and adding a supportive style, staff seemed to feel more comfortable and confident.  Residents were also picking up on this energy shift and it was fun to watch.  Everything became much calmer.  Staff began sharing stories and tips to help one another with unwanted “behaviors.”

Staff started seeing these unwanted behaviors were just new ways of communicating old needs.  They seemed to put on their investigative hats and look for the clues so they too could calm the resident down.    We were working like that well oiled clock.

Now you may asked did it last when I left, and that I can’t not answer.  But I know in that moment when I was present, I felt the staffs presence and the residents presence and it was something special; even if it was just for a moment it was worth it for me to be there.  To be with them all.

So when you are looking back over 2012, I encourage you not to stay too long visiting the past or projecting the future, as you will give away the moment before you right now and you can never get that time back.  Respect and be grateful for the moment before you.

My you each have a blessed New Year!

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