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Advocates Advocating Christine Thelker © 2020 Dementia For This I Am Grateful Living well with Dementia Silver Linings

Being Mentored and Mentoring

As you can see this blog is about Mentors and Mentoring. I have been priveliaged to have had and still have an amazing mentor. Someone who has helped me learn to trust in my abilities, to trust in speaking my truth. To understand that when you stand up and speak your truth, and fight for change, you will upset those that don’t want you to speak your truth, that don’t want you to use your vice unless you are using it to help propel their agendas. So when and if you go against the grain, you will be respected by many, hated by others. At times you will be required to shed light on things others wish to be left unearthed, and yours may be the lone voice, other times you have your voice along side many others, sometimes you will be using your voice to help bring awareness and change, that has been advocated for for years, and it becomes your turn to help carry the torch. Some will want to help lift you up others will try to tear you down.

But that in all of that, if you are advocating and using your voice for positive change, even if some are not ready for the message then you will always feel good and inspired by what you are doing. Your mentors will encourage and inspire, they will teach you, they will help you navigate the frustrations, they will celebrate with you the wins, no matter how big or small.

I can think of a few mentors who have truly made a difference and an impact in my life, a high school teacher, Mr. Copeland, who could see things in me I could not see in myself.

My boss and friend Marliss, who still today is a great mentor and inspiration. She really was the one that helped me understand that sometimes you have to stand up for what is right, even though it may come at personal cost, because it is the right thing to do it was at that time that I did and I was challenged, in the end it brought me to someone else who became a mentor of sorts, he was the CEO at the time, and within him he had the power to destroy my career, instead he listened, we both learnt from each other, some of my opportunities to advocate for change started through that meeting.

When I received my dementia Diagnosis and my life was forever altered, not the first time my life had been shattered and altered, the loss of my husband and my young age of 47, was another of those life moments, but in that shattered and tattered mess of being diagnosed, I came across an organization that had been unknown to me, Dementia Alliance International.

At that first meeting, I met my next mentor and inspiration, Kate Swaffer, so encouraging, so engaging, so willing to help you see things in yourself and encourage me too not be afraid to let the world see me. I have and continue to learn from her in every conversation, every text, every zoom. I know and feel I have grown so much with her guidance, encouragement. Always willing to let me rant when it feels like my voice is not enough or not loud enough. When somedays it feels like all the advocating and hard work are futile, because the tangible results are not there. She has also taught me about mentoring others, who are newly diagnosed, and mentoring does not always mean to mentor to have someone join you in the advocate role, but sometimes mentoring can just be helping them see the gifts they have to share and to encourage them as they move into their new life with Dementia. She has taught me about having grace, she has taught me about egos, and where and when and ego can be of benefit and when it can get in the way of true change. I could write a book about all I have learnt for Kate, and I could write and book about how much the friendship as come to mean to me.

But this blog, it about the importance of having a mentor and being a mentor. At this time thought it never hurts to say thank you to my mentors, so I thank you for all the ways you have enriched my life. It doesn’t take special training, it takes a willingness to look beyond yourself, it takes the real and honest want and need to help others. It is a gift that goes unmatched in my opinion, because it is a gift of self.

So today I want to encourage any and all of you to take up mentoring someone, in a big or small way, or let someone else mentor you. The personal growth and rewards will take you to places you never thought you would go. You will develop in ways you never thought, you will learn more about yourself than you can imagine. I am and will continue to work at mentoring others, because in my mentoring of others I again am uncovering pieces and parts of myself that where unlocked in myself. So next time the opportunity comes up take it be a Mentor or be Mentored.

By Chrissy's Journey

I am an advocate for people with dementia in Canada and globally, having been diagnosed with younger onset dementia myself a few years ago.

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