Choices. Beginning is half done. Make a decision.

Decision - Choose a Path - Photo of stream by Errol Thomas

It is in your moments of decision that your destiny is shaped. Tony Robbins

Making the decision to go forward is hard. Should we, is it a mistake, will we be happier, will we be successful, will we lose money? Will it just be a waste of time, money etc. We sit with whatever the decision is we have to make, unable to choose.

Sometimes we want to jump into a business, buy a house, start a family. We worry is this the right time? Should we ask the person we love to marry us, ask the person out we like, or ask someone to take a chance on us again?

We worry and think, think and worry, our indecision drives us crazy. Sometimes we stay undecided until the opportunity we were considering is gone. She couldn’t wait. He now has a girlfriend or she now has a boyfriend. The second chance opportunity is gone, everyone is now to bitter to consider it. We are down a road we don’t want to be on because we couldn’t decide to go forward.

It is usually worth going forward. We need to be willing to take the step and know we are strong enough to deal with what lies ahead. We want our life to progress, we don’t want regrets.

What lies ahead is not happily ever after, nor only good stuff regardless of our choice. When we make a choice we can unfreeze our self we can commit to a goal, a path, a life, a partner, a business, a career, a house, a family. Without the commitment we have none of it. We stay in the job we do not like. We stay living alone, we don’t build the family, business, life, we don’t start the painting, novel, song, exercise program, or join the group.

We have a decision to make because something needs to change. We are stuck, our life calls out for action. That action can’t happen until a decision is made. We know what we want, but we are afraid. If we listen to the fear we get what we have or sometimes we lose what we have. Life can’t stand still, we need to move forward.

Some of our important choices have a time line. If we delay a decision, the opportunity is gone forever. Sometimes our doubts keep us from making a choice that involves change. Thus an opportunity may be missed. James E. Faust

We all have decisions to make every day. What to eat, what to wear, who to spend time with, how to earn our daily bread. Most of these decisions we make almost automatically. We have hamburger in the fridge so that’s dinner. When there’s nothing in the fridge we might pop out for a hamburger or order in. Most of us have figured it out by nine o’clock.

How do we know what the right decision is? What if there isn’t a right decision? When my husband wanted to start his own business. He was offered a good job with the City. He went with the business. There are perks to having your own business there are perks to working where you have a pension and peers. What wasn’t okay was if he’d stayed where he was. Had he been unable to make a decision that would be the outcome.

Some of us have been stuck for years. Things we want to do are still waiting. Talents are unused, friends are unmet, families are not created, and businesses are not started. How many of us have seen something come to life, fruition, reality that we thought of? We didn’t do anything with it, someone else did and they reap the reward.

We can’t do something with everything that crosses our mind. We need to do something with enough of the opportunities that present themselves to build a good life. Life is one decision after another. When we can’t make a decision, we’ve still made a decision. If it isn’t yes, it’s no, there is no maybe in life.

There are no guarantees. We live it one step at a time. We don’t know going forward that this decision will never be regretted. We do know we regret more of what we don’t do than what we do.

It takes courage to give someone another chance you feel has hurt you in a way you never expected, and it hurts more than you can comprehend. It takes courage to buy a house and put every cent you have and will have for the foreseeable future into it and put down roots. It takes courage to say this is the man or woman for me. It takes courage to say goodbye to a secure pay cheque and go it on your own. It takes courage to start a family.

One decision starts us down a path, gets us off a path, detours from a path, creates a new path, or continues on a path. That decision determines our life going forward. We need to make the decision that gives us the best chance of living our best life. If we take the chance we will likely look back at this cross roads with a thankful heart, a fuller life, a grateful spirit.

We need to feel the fear, look at the consequences and be willing to face whatever must be faced to build the life we want. If we want a happy, fulfilling life we’ll have to take a few chances along the way. We need to trust it will be worth it in the end.

Take a chance on life. Make a decision. Go forward in hope and promise, trust we can deal with whatever is out there. Choose!

In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right things, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst you can do is nothing. Theodore Roosevelt

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The Best Yes Study Guide: Making Wise Decisions in the Midst of Endless Demands by [TerKeurst, Lysa]

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Dancing with Dementia. Making the best of what is.

Attitude Is A Choice - Photo of sweet pea by Belynda Wilson Thomas

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One person caring about another represents lifes greatest value. Jim Rohn

This morning I stop and watch a clip on TV before I come to write my blog. The topic is dancing with dementia. The muscle memory remains and the music enables people to regain closeness when dementia is closing doors. The goal is to have fun, physical movement, closeness. It looks like it’s working on TV.

We need to build closeness into our relationships at every stage. Sharing activities, accomplishments, friends, relatives these are all strings that bind us close. Music connects us in a way that few things do. Old age homes should be filled with the music the residents grew up with and danced to in their active years. Are there any fun old age homes?

I haven’t been in many. The one I was in, visiting someone with my mother was hospital quiet. When my late aunt was in a home she said she had to get out or she would become just like the other residents.

I hear we have romances and dare I say it, “sex” going on in some of these places. Why wouldn’t we? People are still people at the end of their lives does it matter so much if people have a little fun and excitement in their life? No one is getting pregnant, there are no social issues coming out of having fun in a retirement home.

The belief that all we need to do for the elderly is keep them clean, fed and safely tucked away is destroying lives. I’m reading there is a better way and it is being implemented in Ontario, it is called the Butterfly program. The man responsible for this program is Dr. Sheard from Britain.

They start in one long term care home. The walls go from beige to bright retro colors chosen by Sonja Hidas curator and educator with the Peel Art Gallery, Museum and Archives. The bright blocks of color help the residents with spatial problems navigate hallways that in beige look like endless confusing tunnels.

Sonia Hidas learns about the residents, where they come from, and interior designs that were popular in the decades when they were raising families or working. Brilliant colors are key because they are bright and happy. As children we enjoy bright and happy colors. When we become seniors colours come back to us. It’s part of being in the present moment and just enjoying what is.

What happens to a person is less significant than what happens within him. Louis l. Mann

People who are lonely and bored become frustrated and sometimes angry. The industry calls this “responsive behaviors,” saying it’s an outcome of dementia and other neurological problems. Sheard disagrees. He says it’s the result of frustration, loneliness and boredom, created by cold, clinical care.

A keyboard is brought in and one of the residents flips through song sheets, taking requests. The response to the music is that manic walkers no longer pace endlessly, everyone is calmer as the music taps into deep emotions. In the dining room cd’s are played.

A mini fridge is brought into the dining room. Residents are allowed to serve themselves any time of the day. Small pleasures bring back the humanity. There are other changes they want to make. They want to split the dementia unit into two. One side for residents still mobile. The Butterfly project realizes small homes are key. Most nursing homes are built to house 32 people per unit, an arbitrary number chosen years ago in the belief that bigger is better, particularly for operational efficiencies.

The staff has dropped the scrubs, street clothes are a requirement in the unit now.

Butterfly’s David Sheard says people with dementia can’t explain their emotions. Their emotions are best understood through metaphor. If the elderly woman is calling for her mother, what is she really seeking? It’s probably comfort, love or reassurance, so the Butterfly program says give that to her instead of the truth, “your mother’s dead.”

The staff has been trained in the old ways that dominate long-term care, focusing on systems and processes, not people. Butterfly relies on emotional intelligence, the ability to understand someone else’s feelings and respond with compassion.

The Butterfly project believes if you live in a sterile environment, it will kill your soul.

At the end of a year this care home passes the test and is recognized as a Butterfly home. It still has more changes to make but it has progressed a lot in treating the residents as people. It is now called by the person assessing it, a place of engagement and love.

The Peel council votes unanimously to keep funding the Butterfly project in this nursing home and to add it to a second facility. This Butterfly project has a financial cost but we have Politicians who would like to see the program adopted by the provincial government and expanded throughout all Ontario nursing homes.

This would be progress. Maybe we wouldn’t be so scared of ending up in one of these facilities if it seemed more like a home and less like an institution. We can’t stop the progress of age, disability and death. We can make it a little easier for those going through it. We can act like the people are still people. It is better for the people being cared for and the people doing the caring. Violence is a huge problem in people with dementia, caring for them like they are people seems to help.

We are moving in the right direction. We can put people ahead of profit. One small change at a time. We are learning to do better. We need to look at the positive changes being made. It is the goal of many people to bring positive change into the world. We need to acknowledge it when we see it. We need to be willing to embrace change. Things don’t have to be done the way they’ve always been done. We can make it better. We can fix the problems. We can start small.

There are only four kinds of people in the world. Those who have been caregivers. Those who are currently caregivers. Those who will be caregivers, and those who will need a caregiver. Rosalyn Carter

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Songs You Know By Heart: A Simple Guide for Using Music in Dementia Care

Songs You Know By Heart: A Simple Guide for Using Music in Dementia Care

Feb 25, 2016

by Mary Sue Wilkinson and Teepa Snow
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Autumn is here. Reaping and sowing.

Autumn is Coming Photo of pond by Belynda Wilson Thomas

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For man, autumn is a time of harvest, of gathering together. For nature, it is a time of sowing, of scattering abroad. Edwin Way Teale

Time to put on a sweater or jacket days are here again. Breathing in crisp cool air, and biting into crisp apples. The leaves are starting to change. Some parts of Canada have had snow already. It’s here.

It’s been a fabulous summer. Only a memory of a treasured time remains. A new time is here to treasure until it too is over. This is our life, we think it doesn’t change but it does. We should be treasuring these happy golden moments. A day holds so much hope and promise. Twenty four golden hours, ours to do with what we want, and what we must. What we must looks after our life and what we want feeds our spirit. A happy dance of the two gives us meaning and purpose.

I haven’t been down to my studio since the wedding except to look, sigh and promise I’ll be back to putter and paint. We never know when it’s the last time we’ll do something until looking back we realize that was the last dress we sewed. The last quilt we made, the last picture we painted, the last swim in the ocean.

It’s already years since I attended the soccer games my kids played. We often don’t know things are ending when they end. The last time you saw a friend you didn’t know it was the last. The last time I saw my dad, I didn’t know it was the last. We don’t know, we can’t know it is the  last phone call, the last touch.

Life is about endings and beginnings. If we are lucky, new people enter our lives as old ones leave. Knowing how to make friends is a skill, a gift that carries through life. Some people don’t know how to make friends, they are alone and lonely. People who know how to make friends may still be alone, but I don’t think they are so lonely. People can even be lonely in marriages. We need to reach out, make a connection to family, friends, husbands, wives, sons and daughters.

I don’t know how you learn to make friends. One of the things I’ve discovered is when you find like minded people, and I have found them in my toastmasters group, it’s easy to feel welcome and accepted.

At the gym I go to, no one talks. We grimly do our workout. If we take a class there is some interaction. Is it the group of people assembled there? Is it the solitary activity? Is it me?

We are social animals and soon we’ll be getting ready to bed down for the winter. In winter I feel it is even more important to have connections to other people. Poems and stories are written about cozy snow covered homes with smoke rising from the chimney.

There is something incredibly nostalgic and significant about the annual cascade of autumn leaves. Joe L. Wheeler

I grew up in a home with too few bedrooms for too many people. Now we mostly live in houses with too many bedrooms for too few people. Some people have show homes inside and out but I don’t think those are the happy cozy homes. The happy cozy homes are filled with bedlam, laughter, jostling for position and bathrooms.

We are all looking for belonging. Is belonging to a family, organization, club easy? That depends on the family, organization, or club. We play a part in that relationship, we can make it better or worse. We can be part of the fun and frivolity or we can be sour and judgmental. This choice is up to us.

I always feel autumn is the time of year for change. Probably because we spent so many years in school and autumn was the beginning of a new school year. Autumn still seems to me a time of new beginnings. After a summer of fun and sun I get back to painting. Back to the gym on a more regular basis. I look around wondering if there is something new I can or should bring into my life.

Life is great in all its seasons. Embrace the changes in your life. Reach out to people, rekindle old friendships and make new ones. Get creative. Become a volunteer. Host a dinner and enjoy fun and frivolity. What would you like to do you haven’t done yet? Could you start now? Autumn is here, winter is coming, there is much to do.

One of the great joys of life is living in a cozy home looking out the windows at snow covered trees and knowing you are happy and cozy with peace and plenty surrounded by loved ones.

I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers. L.M. Montgomery

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Ageless Soul: The Lifelong Journey Toward Meaning and Joy

Oct 10, 2017

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