Mindful Monday no. 1: Why Mondays?

Today we’re introducing a new weekly feature on the blog: Mindful Monday. These posts focus on, you guessed it – mindfulness!

mind-page-001

Monday is a great day to think about and practice incorporating mindfulness in to your life. Many people feel high levels of stress on Mondays while imagining and facing the many things they feel must be accomplished in the next five days. It can feel exhausting and overwhelming. If you’re reading this and thinking that trying to add a mindfulness practice in to your week is the last thing you have time for, I invite you to consider the following: mindfulness is a tool that can help you manage stress and feel calmer. Mindfulness can teach us how to listen to our bodies, hearts and minds, so that we can give ourselves what we truly need.

"When mindfulness embraces those we love, they will bloom like flowers.”

Today, I will leave you with a few links to quick, mindfulness meditations that you can try at any time of day. Take five minutes  and let the voices guide you. If you’d like, try writing down how you felt. Try not to judge yourself for feeling any particular way, simply notice and record.

Three Minute Mindfulness Meditation

Three Minute Relaxation Meditation

Finding Peace in A Frantic World

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Fantastic Friday no.1

Introducing Fantastic Friday! This will be a weekly list of things to read and look at on the internet, related to self-care and care giving. Any fun local events will also be included. Enjoy!

A few reasons why support groups are helpful.

A workbook for working through some of the stressful areas of life.

Looking for something free and fun to do this weekend? Why not check out the Granville Island Jazz Fest!

A reading club for adults from the North Vancouver District Library.

A good resource: Mind-Body Workbook for stress

Book review

 Mind-Body Workbook for stress: Effective Tools for Lifelong Stress Reduction + Crisis Management.   Stanley H. Block & Carolyn Bryant Block

 This practical, hands-on book is designed as a guide to help you navigate through the bumps of life. Using accessible language and an appealing visual layout, the authors provide tools for uncovering the beliefs, actions and values that are contributing significantly to one’s stress levels.

The Mind-Body workbook acts as a gentle yet coaxing guide for working through the challenging areas of life that may feel discouraging to explore without some kind of structure. Fears make way for positive transformation. Unproductive belief systems, make way for new and relevant perspectives.

Water scene-colour retouched

Some of the themes covered include:

Aspects of self-image

Becoming aware of relationship patterns

Noticing your signs that you feel overwhelmed

Working more effectively with emotional trigger points

One place you can find this book: odinbooks.com

I have appreciated sharing some of the exercises with our caregivers. The activities are helpful for working on alone, and then sharing in a supportive group or with a trusted friend. Writing, visual mapping and charts all help the discovery process. Our caregiver groups have found this a helpful tool in practicing self-care.

I hope you receive some kind of encouragement from the book as well!

Karyn Davies

Profile Of A Caregiver: Jacqueline Leech

bonnie-angel-and-jackie-leech

Jacqueline Leech has a bright outlook on life. A Tsleil-Waututh elder, she spends much of her time speaking to interviewers and the public on behalf of her community. Jackie holds a wealth of knowledge and has spent most of her life caring for others.

When asked who she is and what her family is like, she responds without hesitation. “My name is Jacqueline Leech, my maiden name is Thomas. I have three sons, six granddaughters, two great-grandsons.” It becomes clear very quickly that family is an integral part of who she is. Jackie’s house is filled with pictures of her family and mementos. Her diploma and awards of recognition are laid out on the dining room table, each solidifying examples of her work ethic and value to her community. She explains her accomplishments with pride, but spends the most time describing her loved ones. She shares pictures of her wedding day and large family photographs on thewall, telling stories about each person pictured. She has a calm and strong presence, and not more than a minute goes by before her mouth breaks in to a smile and a chuckle quickly follows.

At different times in her life, Jackie has been a caregiver for children, family members, her husband and her son. When she was 60, she decided to enrol in Gateway Careers’ Home Care Diploma program. While attending school, Jackie was diagnosed with colon cancer. Thankfully, she didn’t need chemotherapy and was able to return to school after surgery. “So that was a challenge,” she says of the experience. “So, then I got over that and went back to school. I always tell people I did that so I wouldn’t have to be a grandma babysitter.” Jackie breaks in to laughter. “I tried to get a job but of course you’re 60, who wants to hire a 60 year-old person? But Pyramid did hire me. The second week I was called and told to go to a house to do bed transfers – three in a row, one right after the other. I phoned the coordinator and told her if you do that one more time I’ll quit. I’m too old to be transferring three people. And she said, ‘But you’re the only one who can do it!’ So I said, what are you doing with the other ones?! How are you training them? They’re all younger than me!” Her mouth breaks in to a smile and she laughs again, throwing her arms in the air. It’s not that she isn’t aware of the hardships in her life; it’s that she chooses to focus on the humour and positivity that surrounds her. Her outlook on life is infectious.

aware of the hardships in her life; it’s that she chooses to focus on the humour and positivity that surrounds her. Her outlook on life is infectious.

Perhaps part of the reason Jackie has such a positive outlook on life is because of the support she receives from her community. She says she does not struggle with asking for assistance, though she acknowledges that other people she knows may. Jackie and her family have help with everything from health care needs to garden maintenance. “[The band] really helps you with everything. They keep phoning over here to see if you need anything… they even come for the elders to do our lawns and cut the bushes. This community is so easy to get to – the lab is right up the road. We’re fortunate. If we lived up north, can you imagine if we had to come down here?” Jackie lived off reserve for 60 years. “I looked after children right after I finished school in my younger years. The principal of the school told me some people were looking for a live in housekeeper to look after the children and take care of the house so that’s what I did. Three boys, can you imagine? And I had three boys. The younger one couldn’t say Jacqueline so he used to call me ‘Queenie.’ I was fixing and changing all the beds, so I used to put it all on the stairs and we’d slide down. Did their mother ever get after me! We had a little fun.” Jackie smiles at the memory and laughs again.

Jackie takes things in stride. When asked how she takes care of herself, she laughs and says that sometimes she yells, “…but they’re used to that!” She shrugs and explains, “Sometimes it gets frustrating… but why worry about it? Because if you worry about it, it gets worse! I learned that years ago – don’t worry. I was talking to my son once and I couldn’t remember something. He came up the stairs and said, ‘Haven’t you heard that song? Don’t worry, be happy!’ So that’s what I do every now and then.”

Words by Cassandra Van Dyck

Excerpt from North Shore Community Resource’s Family Caregivers’ Grapevine newsletter.

Get help with “Difficult Conversations”

Recently I read the book “Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss What Matters Most” by Douglas Stone, Bruce Patton, and Sheila Heen.  The authors say there are 3 kinds of conversations, your contribution to a conversation is as important as the other person’s, also, don’t leave feelings out of the conversation.

Learn to accept criticism and admit that your motives are sometimes selfish, while at the same time, not selfish.  The authors call this, the “and stance”.  Although it is a somewhat intense book it is well worth the read.  The audio CD of it is available at West Vancouver Public Library: http://catalogue.westvanlib.org/  You may choose to purchase the book and have it on hand as reference when a particular issue comes up. It is available at:  http://www.amazon.com/Difficult-Conversations-Discuss-What-Matters/dp/0143118447.

This should be required reading for anyone who wishes they had taken a “Life 101” course at school.

Happy reading!

Peacefully yours,

Calm Pond

Out and About: Things to Do in Vancouver this Summer

Canada Day 2012 Vancouver, BC

The days are long and much warmer than usual. We are lucky to live in a city that provides lots of low-cost or free events to participate in every summer. Here’s our list of rejuvenating, inspiring, and most importantly, fun activities to do this summer in Vancouver, BC.

Visit a Farmers Market

Kitsilano Farmers Market - Tomato Festival

The quantity and quality of Vancouver’s farmers markets continues to grow. Not only can you find fresh produce and goods from local farmers, you can browse through the creations of local artisans, grab lunch from a food truck and let musicians set the soundtrack to your afternoon.

Vancouver International Jazz Festival

Vancouver Jazz Festival 2012

June 18th – July 1st, 2015

Every year, Vancouver plays host to both world-renowned and up and coming musicians to celebrate jazz music with locals and tourists. This year, the Marquee Series features artists such as Erykah Baduh and Buddy Guy. These concerts cost money, but many city-wide free shows are also offered. For a list of all the happenings, click here.

Go to the Beach

Heisholt Lake

It may seem like an obvious idea in Vancouver, but it’s not one to be overlooked! There are so many incredible, often overlooked, beaches that are not too far away. Perhaps you could treat yourself to a mini-vacation and explore one just outside of the city!

Do you have any summer time activities that leave you rejuvenated? We’d love to hear from you!

Words by Cassandra Van Dyck

The Power Of Music

Whether or not we actively search for and listen to songs, sing, or play an instrument, music plays a big role in our lives. It’s played at graduations, birthday parties, weddings and anniversaries. It’s in our cars, in busy downtown streets and can even be heard through other people’s headsets or through open car windows. It could be argued that it is almost impossible to live life without having music associated with memories. Some of those memories might be happy – the song that was playing when you were first kissed or the lullaby that was sang to put you to sleep when you were little. Others might be sad. A man once shared with me that he is unable to listen to Amazing Grace without crying because he had heard it at so many people’s funerals.

For those living with dementia, listening to and participating in musical activities can have many positive effects. “…music – like art and other creative forms of therapy – can stir emotions and memories, enhance enjoyment and self-esteem, and enrich the lives of people with dementia.” Some studies have shown that “…improvements of mood, behaviour, even cognitive function – once set off by music can sometimes persist for hours of even days in people with dementia. Researchers are only beginning to study the secrets of why and how this happens…” “People with dementia can feel isolated with the loss of language skills. Music therapy can reduce anxiety and stress, and enhance emotional wellbeing through verbal and non-verbal expression, increased social interaction and cognitive stimulation. It can encourage the use of knowledge and abilities stored in the long-term memory such as lyrics from familiar songs, and encourage listening, singing, movement and music making.” It is estimated that 65% of music therapists work with alzheimer and dementia patients. Because of the emotions tied to music, the limbic system is activated when patients participate.

If you are interested in connecting your loved one with a music therapist or a group that uses music to connect with patients, please visit the following links.

Music Therapy Association

Alzheimer Society of BC

UBC Neurology

Globe and Mail article

Here’s to Hoping We Lose Bad Memories If We End Up in Dementialand

We thought we would share this post, which suggests a fresh perspective on how we might see some benefits in the ‘letting go’ of difficult memories, which can happen through the dementia journey.

Welcome to Dementialand

There are certain memories that never fail to make me smile.

In elementary school, my friend Heather and I spent a lot of time producing radio commercials. We had a tape recorder that was state-of-the-art. We wrote a script. There were sound effects. Heather’s little brother, Brian, played a supporting role. I specifically remember making commercials for vacuum cleaners. We said they “sucked” but in a good way. (See what we did there? Looking back, we were pretty clever.)

I don’t think our mothers were all that impressed with that particular commercial. In 1985, second-graders weren’t really supposed to be using the word “sucks.” We were in uncharted territory. You might call us rebels. I’m smiling just thinking about it.

Then there’s our wedding. It’s a good memory for all the reasons people typically say their wedding is a good memory, but what makes me smile the most is when…

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