When You Want to Escape Problems

At its chrysalis stage, a future butterfly can’t go very far. It remains stationary as the butterfly inside matures.

Once the butterfly gains its wings, though, it has options, as long as it has a food source, favorable winds and protection from predators.

Eventually, the cycle starts all over as a butterfly deposits eggs to reproduce. A new caterpillar evolves into a chrysalis that affixes to a new branch or leaf. A transformed creature breaks free and follows nature’s beckoning.

Butterflies hold much significance for many people I know. My friend Mary Nell loved them. They hold significance for many Holocaust survivors.

When We Want to Fly Away From Problems

I heard Jennifer Granholm interview Maria Shriver in a Commonwealth Club of California broadcast recently. It was a broad interview covering territory that included her childhood, her family, her political aspirations (virtually zero), and her father’s battle with Alzheimer’s (among other things).

I was multitasking as I had the interview on, so I missed some of the fine detail, but I did catch and immediately jot down this sentiment:

When you run away from something, the  universe just puts it right back in your lap.

The context of her comment was how she wanted to get away ….. from an aggressive life of politics, Democrats, and the public eye.

Then she moved across the country to California, eventually married Arnold Schwarzenegger, a Republican politician, and remained very much in the public eye.

We are Emotionally Healthier When We Consider Alternatives to Running Away

Maria Shriver was absolutely right. We can replace things about our environment — where we live, what we do, who we hang around with — but making a lasting change and connecting with inner serenity is immune to most of those attempts (in the long run).

I do think a change can be good sometimes, but to augment an effort to deal with something rather than eliminate whatever it is that needs to be dealt with.

Heidi Priebe wrote about trying to get rid of issues by change alone, “You’re trying to grab at something new with full hands and yet you cannot figure out why you keep dropping it” and “the further you run from your problems, the further you run from yourself.” Her entire piece, Here Is What Happens When You Run Away From All Of Your Problems, is thought-provoking.

Taking Time to Think Things Through

Have you ever been to a butterfly garden? I have been to the one at Callaway Gardens and, more recently, the Butterfly Rainforest at the University of Florida.

Before entering a butterfly garden, there’s a procedure where you have to go to an intermediary room that is protected from the outside (and the inside) so none of the butterflies escape. You have to repeat the same procedure when exiting.

Steps of exiting:

Enter “protective intermediary room.”

Stop and wait, to make sure you aren’t taking a butterfly with you accidentally.

THEN LEAVE.

What if life worked that way? If we had to stop and take a minute (or, for the big decisions, a day/week/month) whenever we wanted to escape our environment to think it over and make sure our hands were no longer full of the problems we had gathered along the way?

problems

Photo by Chris Keats on Unsplash

Note: This post is in response to a prompt from The Sway, “Write a post inspired by this word: butterfly.” Coincidentally (or not), a butterfly is one of the images in the coloring book for Alzheimer’s patients and their families created by Maria Shriver.

Wife of one, Mom of two, Friend of many.

Until Alzheimers is Cured, Let’s Do This

When we prepared Wayne’s dad’s obituary, we designated Big Bend Hospice for donations. BBH definitely deserved this prominent place, and has earned any and all donations people choose to give.

However, another cause that merits attention is Alzheimers Disease. Although Dad didn’t technically have Alzheimers, his short-term memory and cognition were sufficiently impaired that he qualified for the services of our local (and awesome!) Alzheimers Project here in Tallahassee.

Our Experience

Because Dad had experienced several mini-strokes in 2012, his short-term memory was affected. (Note: This dry sentence doesn’t really begin to address what that meant in reality, as it played out in our day-to-day lives.)

This is a bit of a layperson explanation, but he had difficulty remembering events or details that had just transpired, while it was often easier to recall long-term memories. He would ask, for example, if something we were watching (that was obviously (to us anyway) a film) was occurring live. He asked my husband Wayne if he was married (sigh….).

Things changed about the way he processed the world. He didn’t care about personal hygiene. His laugh wasn’t a humorous laugh — it was a haunting expression that always unnerved me — and I could never just put it in some category of “that’s because of his condition.” I am sorry to say that almost to the very end I was sniping back “that’s not funny” and slamming doors (often over the all-too-frequent cat escapes that he facilitated).

Most importantly (and this is a mixed bag), his memory deficits prevented him (I think) from really comprehending how sick he was. Melanie, our incredible social worker, said “that’s probably a blessing” and she was right, to a degree, but I always felt it must be scary as he** for him to see all of us buzzing around, acquiring equipment, administering medication, transforming his room with a hospital bed, for reasons he couldn’t figure out.

Alzheimer’s and dementia are different for everyone, but the challenges are numerous and share common threads, both for the patient who doesn’t fully comprehend the path their life has taken and for the caregiver trying to be compassionate without losing their own mind.

The Alzheimers Project has many services (free), including support groups, respite services, counseling and more. I tell everyone to go to support groups (although (cough cough) I never made it to one. But we did get so much benefit out of the respite care, where an Americorps volunteer comes to the home to care for the patient for a few hours each week. Thanks to respite care, I was able to work, nap, and run errands (and Dad was able to interact with someone new). They were godsends. Here is Alex, who was with us almost until he passed away.

Alzheimers Advocacy

(Note, to read more about the role of Fordham Afghan pictured here in our lives, please click this link.)

Ways To Support Alzheimers Efforts

Like I said in the beginning of this post, it is important to me that the world know how much benefit we received from our local Alzheimer’s Project, and how much we want other families with Alzheimers (and similar issues) to receive support, along with our hope that research will eliminate this terrible disease. If you are a family dealing with Alzheimers, call their hotline 24/7 at 1.800.272.3900 or visit their website by clicking here

If you aren’t currently personally dealing with Alzheimers, but still want to help

Buy a Rivet Revolution Product

Rivet Revolution sells beautiful handcrafted jewelry and donates $10 from each purchase to three Alzheimers-related causes: Part the Cloud, Hilarity for Charity, and The Women’s Alzheimer’s Movement. Here is mine; isn’t it beautiful?

Alzheimers Advocacy

Rivet Revolution notes these facts among the reasons why they feel so strongly about ending Alzheimers (besides the fact that each of the three founders has a personal connection to the disease).

  • One in 10 people age 65 and older (10 percent) has Alzheimer’s dementia
  • Almost two-thirds of Americans with Alzheimer’s are women
  • Alzheimer’s Disease is the 6th leading cause of death in the United States
  • Every 66 seconds someone in the United States develops the disease
  • More than 44 million people worldwide suffer from Alzheimer’s

Do Charity Miles for the Alzheimers Association

Did you know you can walk, run or bike and help the Alzheimers Association earn funding just by using the Charity Miles app?

Here’s a memory from some Charity Miles I did last year (which seems like a lifetime ago for many reasons).

Alzheimers Advocacy

If You’re in Tallahassee, PARTY!

Seriously, if you’ve never been to Parrothead Phrenzy (it’s coming up on August 26!) or Purple Craze (This year’s has already happened but I imagine there will be a 2018 event), you’re missing out! These events help the Alzheimers Project and show you a great time while you’re at it!

Donate

There’s always the option of straightforward donations! To donate to the Tallahassee Alzheimers Project, click here (a donation as small as $2.50 can provide a replacement band for a Project Lifesaver bracelet). On a more national level, you can donate to the Alzheimers Association here.

Think About Your Words

Although I have my definite (and many, and very strongly held) opinions about our current president, it unnerves me to hear people diagnosing him on the basis of his tweets and behaviors. To me, it dilutes the specificity with which we need to address Alzheimers and related dementia conditions. Let’s be deliberate with the words we use; actual patients are paying a price every day for something that didn’t get diagnosed by strangers second-guessing.

Lastly, a word from Maria Shriver…

Alzheimers Advocacy

Note: I was provided a complimentary Rivet Revolution bracelet.All opinions, though are my own and I will be at the absolute front of the line to do be a part of eradicating Alzheimer’s. 

Wife of one, Mom of two, Friend of many.