“When you know better, you do better.” Maya Angelou

When I retired and closed my store (a children’s clothing store), I never dreamt that within a couple of months I would be caring for my parents who were coping with my father’s “sudden” onset of Alzheimer’s disease. Nor did I realize that exhaustion had exacerbated my mother’s memory “issues.” This was back in 2006 when I began my journey as a caregiver for both parents.
When my father died in 2009, we had barely returned home from his funeral when my mother, too, began her journey with Alzheimer’s. I decided, then and there, that I would “do better” as Maya Angelou often said. (Her quote is…”when you know better, you do better.”)
Since then I have written an ebook about my personal journey of caring for both parents with Alzheimer’s disease…a journey of acceptance, forgiveness, love and compassion – the many gifts that I have received and continue to receive while caring for a loved one with a dementia-related disease. Caregiving transformed me – it opened my eyes (and my heart) to a different way of accepting disease and illness – one that reminded me that when we accept our new “normal” or our new life, then, and only then, can we embrace each moment in life and find joy again in the small, in the insignificant, and in the simple things. Oh, the small, insignificant and simple moments…truly what I savour the most in life.
Since I wanted others who are new to this journey to be aware that we don’t have to “suffer” along with our loved one, that if we shift our energy to a loving, kind energy, then we can transform the journey from one of suffering and sadness to one of acceptance, kindness, and compassion. I have witnessed that our loving energy can transform a loved one’s energy. You can be a change agent! That’s what motivated me to write an ebook that I intend to be free and accessible to anyone. I want others to experience the shift – our energy, our perceptions, and our thoughts can transform those around us.
My intent is that readers will find comfort and support from my words and realize that we are all in this together.  We are all connected. Once we truly understand that we are all connected, our stress, sadness and grief can be shared by all. A lighter load!
My intent is also to dispel some of the myths about this disease; it’s a mysterious thing, the brain! And the wonder of it and its functions and dysfunctions inspire me every day that I sit with my mother and try to make sense of her stories. Sometimes the lesson is just to let go! Some days, the story has no sense. It’s just a story. Letting go is another lesson!
I also hope to dispel some of the stigma that is attached to dementia-related diseases. Most people shudder when I tell them that both my parents had Alzheimer’s. (My mother is still alive and living in a long-term care facility.) My risk of getting the disease increases because both parents had (have) it. I get that. But when I accepted my father’s disease, and then my mother’s, I accepted the Now. What is, is. I have embraced E. Tolle’s message to accept our reality and just live in the Now. And my Now is this present moment. So, no…I don’t fret about the future and my chance of getting Alzheimer’s. But I don’t ignore the facts, either. I lovingly care for my own body, mind and spirit…and I hope to blog about that, too.
At the end of the day I ask myself…Did I live my day in loving kindness? What am I grateful for? And then I say to myself something that I have been saying since my father’s death (since he appeared in my dream and said to me “Thank you.”) which is…
“I am doing the best that I can. And that is enough.”
And I say these words with kindness, loving kindness, because that is what I have learned…the greatest gift of all…loving kindness begins with me!

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