Not every day is sunshine and roses, some days it’s hard for many to get out of bed, myself included. I am often asked how I stay so positive, its a hard question sometimes to answer. I am not always positive, some times I feel frustrated, angry, and just plain sad, some times I feel like I am being swallowed up by never ending grief. But that is not every day, sometimes it ebbs and flows through a day, from happy moments to absolute despair. For me it is not at all about being positive every moment of every day, surely I would end up in complete depression trying to master that, but rather it is about accepting and acknowledging all the different emotions I feel and being unapologetic for feeling the things I do feel.
Society spent years telling us to suck it up, or dry your tears and get over it, instead of embracing all those different emotions that allow us to be whole and complete. When bad things happened we were told to put it behind us, things weren’t talked about, leaving us today trying to help people understand and deal with all the unsolved traumas and how they impacted and still impact their lives. Feeling sad is ok, failing is ok, winning is ok, being happy is ok, feeling angry is ok, feeling frustrated is ok, it is what we do with all those feelings and how we learn to channel them that matters.
So when people ask me, I am very honest that not all days are easy, not all days are good, but that I try to acknowledge where I am and then find it easier to move on and I do try to do a “grateful list” one in the morning and one in the evening.
I don’t want to get stuck in all the doom and gloom we hear. I try to keep it in perspective, for example, climate change, yes in my opinion it’s very real its something we all need to take seriously, do I think we all need to do our part, absolutely, if we don’t we will be the ones to blame for the destruction of mankind. But I don’t let it overwhelm me, I do the things I can do, the little things that can make a difference. I pick up trash and bottles and cans when I am out exploring, I recycle and reuse and repurpose everything I can. I am very careful with the water I use, I only do full loads of laundry, I only run a full load in the dishwasher, I try to purchase things that are not in plastics, its not always possible but I do what I can. There are lots of little things we can do, so it feels positive, it doesn’t take on the doom and gloom aspect.
Then theres the opioid crisis, the homeless crisis, the health care crisis, those to can overwhelm us, put us in a state of depression if we let it. I live in what some say refer to as one of the worst areas of town, I however feel like I live in an area that offers many conveniences for me, no it is not perfect I really need a space where I can have a small garden area, where I can get my hands and feet in the dirt, its grounding, its healthy and its one area that I am lacking, but instead I have a house full of plants, they give me good clean air to breathe they offer beauty on even the dullest of days, I sing and dance to them, sometimes I’m sure I can hear them shutter ( hahaha), its important to have things to care for, yes I also have my dog, who showers me love, and we care for each other. I don’t ignore the crisis right outside my door, I donate what I can to the soup kitchen, I take any clothes, boots, shoes etc that I can, and the biggest thing I can do, is acknowledge those who are living on the streets, say hello, tell them to stay safe, tell them to have a nice day, offer them a little bit of basic decency, acknowledge that I know they are there, that they too are people.
So many things we can do, again they may be small things, but if we are all doing small things it can all add up to a big difference. I can and do advocate not only for those with dementia but for the homeless for those caught in the opioid crisis, I advocate for changes and I mean actionable changes in our health care system. Yes it seems endless at times, at times I wonder if any of it is worth it, I too am human and I too have those thoughts, but I do it, this allows me to live more fully, live in joy, live in gratitude. There is a desire in me to live centred in this place of peace. Peace within myself, to be able to live a peaceful life despite all the things going on that tell me I shouldn’t be.
I have taken up trying to read again, I haven’t read for a few years for it left me in a state of frustration, not because I couldn’t read but because I no longer retain what I read. But I always loved reading and have some books that I really want to read, so I challenged myself to work through the frustration, and know I am reading again, I am reading a book right know called Dancing with Elephants its a great book I am really enjoying it, although I couldn’t tell you what I read yesterday and last night, I can tell you the joy it brought me to make a cup of tea and curl up with a book, thats the important piece, not whether I process or remember it but that I am enjoying it in the moment I am doing it. If I read the same book over and over then some of it will eventually go into long term memory and stay there, allowing a memory or discussion to bring it back into focus. This is the gift of Dementia, having the ability to find ways and working through things to continue to do things that matter, that help me have a great deal of peace. I don’t fight my illness, I work with it. Its a a wonderful thing to be able to look at it and see the gifts it has bestowed on me instead of just the devastation. This has not been an easy place to get to, it has taken me years, I work at it everyday, but somehow most days it doesn’t feel like that hard of work, not like in the beginning. In the beginning I was sure I would not or could not survive it, let alone live with it, and thinking about that, feeling a sense of pride in myself for making it this far, for not quitting, for not giving in, for finding a way to live a life of peacefulness, to learning to embrace it all. I thought about this last night and fell asleep with a smile on my face, and I awoke this morning feeling like although the weather may seem dark and dreary outside today, I feel bright and cheery.