What day is it?!
Ooops! Missed the Monday Motivator deadline this time – it’s nearly Tuesday already!!
Many apologies if you were waiting with bated breath for it to arrive (!). My reason is a good one, I was practising what I preach and took the bank holiday as a day off, so much so I thought it was Sunday!
British Bank Holidays!
This UK Bank Holiday weekend was such a mixed bag of weather! Luckily it was sunny and warm when my Mum and went to see my Dad for his 81st birthday. Dad lives in a care home where he can get the kind of safe care he needs for his Alzheimer’s and I hoped we’d be able to get out into the garden so I took some soft tennis racquets. Once I managed to get his attention, he managed to hit a couple of shots and it made him smile. He used to paint beautiful pictures and downgraded to felt tips and eventually pencil crayons. Seamlessly, he adjusts to making the best of what he has got and lives in the moment. Dementia is a strange illness in that people are physically still in your life but the character and conversations that were so familiar are utterly changed. Or are they?
Every day can be a learning opportunity!
What happened next reminded me of a quote often attributed to Maya Angelou, one of my favourite ever human beings, apparently actually said by Carl W. Buehner: “People may not remember exactly what you did, or what you said, but they will always remember how you made them feel”.
When my Dad natters on incoherently, I can see in his face that he feels he’s making sense and that I understand him. I respond with smiles and nods and respond with lots of yeses. When I watch his face and listen to the tone of his voice I can tell that he’s making helpful suggestions and asking me if I agree. When I say ‘yes’, he responds with something that resembles “Good, good, ok, that’s sorted then” and I can tell he feels a sense of satisfaction.
What really matters
When people ask me about him I often mention the strange situation of someone ‘being there but not there’, feeling their old self has gone. But this weekend I realised that’s not quite true. I realised that even though anyone listening would not hear anything like a logical conversation, the exchange of emotion, intention and energy is just as it always was: Dad feels useful and I feel looked after.
What happens when you chat?
Isn’t that at the heart of our connection as human beings; the way we make each other feel?
With relationships at home, at work, with friends and even strangers we meet, tone of voice and energy sometimes say more than words. And people can be telling us so much if we ponder on their needs and intentions not just their words. After over 25 years of working with people on behaviour and communication I’m still learning and from such an unexpected source. My Dad is still teaching me! I only learn if I stay open to it, not focusing just on my objective or the words exchanged. He’s also reminding me of what I think is a key message to a good life: Live in the moment. If you all you have are crayons, you can still make art. If you can’t fix things, you can still express your intention to care. Whatever happens, you can always offer a smile.
Have a great week, enjoy the little things,