Standing By Those Affected By Alzheimer’s Disease

I want to tell you how much I miss my mother. Bits of her are still there. I miss her most when I’m sitting across from her. Candy Crowley, Broadcast Journalist

In 1983, President Ronald Reagan designated November as Alzheimer’s Awareness Month. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, at that time there were less than two million people living with the disease; today there are more than six million.

In my book, MOM’S GONE, NOW WHAT? I share stories of loved ones who, like Crowley, missed their mothers most “when I’m sitting across from her.” I also learned from caregivers that one of the important things friends can do to help is to listen, just “be” with them. Also, do what you can to ensure they’re taking care of themselves by dropping off simple meals, sitting with the loved one so their caregiver can get exercise or run errands, and let them know they’re not alone.

Affirmation: I care about those suffering from Alzheimer’s disease and their families. 

Coaching question: What role do you want to play in the fight against Alzheimer’s disease?

I Did It Badly, Slowly, Fearfully

Do it badly; do it slowly; do it fearfully; do it any way you have to, but do it. Steve Chandler, Author of Reinventing Yourself: How to Become the Person You’ve Always Wanted to Be

In the beginning, I did it badly. Just ask my editor, Elena Hartwell. But then I rewrote and rewrote again. I did it slowly—it took me three years. I did it fearfully. Believe me, revealing dark corners of my life then sending them into the world is my definition of fear. But I did it! I published Mom’s Gone, Now What? on my 75th birthday. 

I was called to write this book in order to make a difference in the lives of daughters who have lost their mothers. I had to do it any way I could!

Affirmation: I did it!

Coaching questions: What do you want to do? What are you afraid of doing? What do you think you do badly but want to do anyway? Follow Chandler’s advice, “Do it any way you have to, but do it!” 

Shut Up and Dance!

Getting physical and improving is how we can continue to thrive among the living. Twyla Tharp, choreographer

In her new book, Keep It Moving, renowned choreographer, Twyla Tharp, 79, gives readers a piece of her mind writing, “Shut up and dance!” She goes on to write, “With the time you’ve got choose to make your life bigger. Opt for expression over observation, action instead of passivity, risk over safety, and unknown over familiar.” In other words, make the most of your life. 

One of the ten steps to help daughters move forward after mother loss in my upcoming book, Mom’s Gone, Now What?, is “Stir Up Your Creativity.” Another step is “Take Care of Yourself.” As we take these steps, we embrace what Tharp is suggesting—express yourself, be active, take a risk, and “shut up and dance!”

Affirmation: I am creative and take care of my body.

Coaching question: What risk, action, expression will you take to expand your life and make it bigger?

Photo by Laura Fuhrman on Unsplash

Taming COVID-19 Anxiety With Creativity

Just make something. Todd Brison, author

In a recent Medium post, Todd Brison wrote this about creativity endeavors, “This is your space. You have complete dominion. Hope is found here. Peace is found here. Silence, too. Acts of creation cannot heal a broken past. They cannot repair a world of despair. They cannot guarantee future hope. However, they can provide shelter in a storm.” 

My research and personal experience tells me that what Brison writes is true. In fact, Step Four in MOM’S GONE, NOW WHAT? is “Stir Up Your Creativity.” Generally, people don’t become more creative in spite of tragedy, they turn to creativity because of tragedy. They use creative endeavors to calm the anxiety related to uncertainty brought on by loss…and, there is no doubt, we are experiencing a heightened sense of loss right now. Paint, knit, cook, garden, learn a language, color…stir up your special creativity to bring you calm as you shelter in the storm.

Affirmation: I find comfort in creativity.

Coaching question: How will you tap into your creativity? 

(I’m coloring – see photo)



Listen To Your Heart

The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of those depths. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, author of On Death And Dying

Helping a daughter move forward after the death or abandonment of her mother feels like part of my mission in this world. My mother lost her mother when she was three, I lost mine when I was eight. 

Using what I’ve learned about our losses to make a difference in the life of another by writing about it feels like important, heart-felt work. And, believe me, it is work. Although I published a small book about 17 years ago, I’m glad I didn’t know what I was getting into when I started down this path. Sometimes ignorance is bliss but, ignorant or not, doing what your heart tells you to do always works out in the end.

Affirmation: I listen to my heart.

Coaching questions: What is your heart telling you to do? What legacy do you want to leave behind? What’s a step you’re willing to take toward realizing your dream….no matter the cost?

Blank Book Cover Mock-up

You’re Not As Alone As You Thought

We are lonesome animals. We spend all of our life trying to be less lonesome. One of our ancient methods is to tell a story begging the listener to say—and to feel—‘Yes, that is the way it is, or at least that is the way I feel.’  You’re not as alone as you thought. John Steinbeck, author

Sunday was the first anniversary of the death of the lovely lady in this photo who died of Early Onset Alzheimer’s. Her story, her daughter’s story, and her mother’s story are in my soon-to-be-released book, Mom’s Gone, Now What? What a difficult two days for these precious ladies. A first Mother’s Day followed by the first anniversary of death. But I know them to be strong women, I heard their strength in their voices and I see it in their actions. They were brave enough to tell their stories even at the height of their despair. 

One thing I know for sure is that telling stories to a trusted person helps us feel less lonesome, as Steinbeck says, as it helps us move forward after challenging life events. As a friend listens, nods, understands, and perhaps, relates to our story, we feel validated. We begin to understand how our experience was not only meaningful to us but also to another person. 

Affirmation: I will be a listener. 

Coaching questions: To whom can you tell your story? What difference will it make?


Celebrating My Life

When I throw my bread out upon the waters of life, it comes back buttered. Mershon

It’s my birthday! I’m seventy-four. It sounds old but I feel like I’m in the prime of my life. Although it’s been a wild ride starting with my mother dying when I was eight, a heart-breaking divorce after twenty-five years of marriage followed, eight years later, by the sudden death of my second husband ten months after we were married, there’s been much joy. In addition to good health and the blessing of faith and friends, I had three wonderful children who turned out to be amazing adults, eight grandchildren who are all brilliant and charming (of course), a precious third husband, and an abundance of step kids, step grands and step great grands who I love dearly. 

In the last four years, my husband and I started a whole new life on Marco Island. I now have new friends that feel like family, organizations that keep me vital, and the benefit of living in a beautiful, peaceful environment. I’m on the cusp of publishing a book on a topic I’m passionate about for an audience for whom I care deeply. Mom’s Gone, Now What? will be part of my legacy along with gardens lovingly planted, a kid or two who can now speak English, memorable tea parties, policy changes in the fields of mental health and aging, plus some people to whom I’ve brought love, support, and adopted babies. 

Early on I learned that life can be short. This lesson taught me to live each day with exuberance and joy. Because my mother and grandmother both died in their thirties, I’ve considered the last forty years of my life to be “gravy.” To me, the next twenty or so years will be “frosting on the cake” (you can tell I’m a Foodie).

Affirmation: I live my life with exuberance.

Coaching questions and request: Take time to celebrate your life. This isn’t an egocentric exercise. This is about gratitude for what you’ve endured, accomplished, and who you have become. If you’re thinking, maybe not, ask yourself, what’s holding me back? 


Together We Make Change

Each one of us can make a difference. Together we make change. Barbara Mikulski, former U.S. Senator

In the last few days, my blog was visited by people from Canada, Hong Kong, Italy, India, China, Ireland, Russia, South Africa, Germany, United Kingdom, and the United States. The power of the Internet never ceases to amaze me. I started my blog on March 12 and have blogged everyday since (missing one day without Internet).

The blog was created to promote my yet-to-be-published book, Mom’s Gone—Now What? but it has turned into so much more. I know a few of my followers count on it to show up in their email everyday to read with their morning coffee. I do it for them. Some readers are the daughters I interviewed for my book. I do it for them. I write it for myself as well….to probe the depths of my heart and brain, to share thoughts that may resinate, to make a difference.

Affirmation: I can make a difference.

Coaching questions: In what ways do you make a difference? In what new way would you like to make a difference? Take one step today in that direction.