What a week this has been!! Some people really struggle with Mondays so I recently began posting a Motivation Monday LEGO build on my social media accounts to get the week started for people in a positive way. But this past Monday I was the one who needed motivation because the day started with some pain! I learned last week I needed to have some dental surgery to replace some bone that had disintegrated. They worked me in on Monday morning to do the surgery and it was a lot more involved than I thought it would be! I ended up with a mouth full of stitches and some pain too, which was concerning because it was also going to be a VERY busy week for me!
After the surgery I rested most of Monday and then on Tuesday afternoon was a guest on a podcast called Will Gather hosted by the amazingly compassionate Nicole Will! It was soooo much fun, and thankfully I took some pain meds before the interview so I could bring my smile and joy to Nicole’s audience!! I could really feel those stitches after the interview!
On Wednesday I gathered with my favorite partners Johns Hopkins and facilitated a session of LEGO Serious Play for Caregivers where we Built Hope! It was another powerful session where people left with renewed Hope! One woman arrived in the session feeling overwhelmed by her never ending caregiving responsibilities and sent me an email after the session to say that I was a gift to everyone and that she would be keeping her LEGO model in her home to cheer her on each day! Her email is the best possible validation for what LEGO Serious Play does for individuals!! It’s not just notes you may take during a support group meeting, the LEGO models we build can serve as inspiration that people can see and touch to keep them going on tough days. They can also change the model whenever they like to reflect how their caregiving role changes over time. I could really feel the stitches during the session but the relief and the JOY of the folks participating outweighed any pain I was in.
I was most concerned about Thursday because I had a Zoom presentation for Olney Senior Living at 12:30pm and then I needed to drive for 50 minutes to a live event that was to start at 4:30. I wasn’t sure how back to back presentations would go with the stitches and talking that much, but I couldn’t have asked for a better day! The online event was so much fun!! People had great questions about some of the tools they could get to lighten their caregiver loads and it was a very lively session!! As soon as I disconnected from that session I jumped in my car and listened to Spa music on the drive down 95 South, which can be very challenging some days! Storms were also forecast for the exact time of the event but I try to never worry about things I can’t control. The storms definitely impacted attendance, BUT everyone who needed to be there was present.
I was giving my Building Joyful Caregiver Experiences with Humility, Hope and Humor presentation and in that session I talk about the Book of Joy by His Holiness The Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu that has had a huge impact on my life. In that book the Spiritual Leaders share that the way to make Joy a lasting way of being is to heal our own pain by turning to the pain of others. It’s called the Virtuous Cycle: and works as follows The more we turn to the pain of others, the more joy we experience, and the more joy we experience, the more joy we can bring to others. I created a Really cool animated slide to reflect that cycle and the crowd absolutely embraced it.
The session was amazing and included both Harbor Chase residents (even some with mild cognitive impairment) and families of those living at the gorgeous facility. My mouth was really bothering me as the session came to an end, BUT when it was over I immediately went over to one of the participants who had been very emotional during the entire presentation. She pulled herself up from the chair using her walker and gave me a big hug. She was at Harbor Chase taking a respite from her husband who has dementia, and it is likely she will place him there soon. She was in a lot of emotional pain and told me how much the session had changed her life. Thankfully the chef had made soup and sandwiches with no crust for the event so I was able to carefully eat as I sat with my friend. Quite a few others joined us and also shared their stories of the family members they were caring for. There was no way I was going to leave them until they were ready to leave. I forgot about my pain to listen to theirs. Even before the session started I met the coolest guy named Bob and we too became friends. He is one of 6 people in his family to have been diagnosed with dementia, but he followed my presentation well and even answered questions that I asked of the group during the session!! As I sat chatting with others, he put a note in my hand before he left the room. The note read “I need to control how I respond to others and tonight you gave me hope I can do that”! I simply fell in love with those folks, and thankfully I get to see them again because the presentation was the first in a three part series I’ll be doing there. Even a friend Monica I met 12 years ago as we walked the MS Marathon together came to the event with her husband and took quite a few photos of me during the event, which was always Tim’s favorite thing to do. They started a home health care company during the pandemic and we reconnected in person last month and will be partnering on a few upcoming events! It’s been so Joyful to be reconnected with her after 12 years! I left Harbor Chase exhausted but full of JOY!!!
After resting on Friday, yesterday I had the opportunity yesterday to do something I’ve never done before!! One of my friends / partners from Johns Hopkins LOVED the LEGO Serious Play sessions I’ve done for them so much that she asked me to facilitate a LEGO event for her Birthday party at her home in Baltimore. If you know me well you know I’m always ready for a challenge, and this event was going to be challenging. With Covid in our midst there were going people in the Living Room, the Dining Room and on Zoom and my job as facilitator was to ensure that everyone could fully participate and feel included. I had mailed the LEGO bricks to the five people who would be attending on Zoom several weeks ago. After a delicious dinner and solving an audio issue for those on Zoom the party was by far the most successful LEGO Serious Play event I’ve ever facilitated! We had asked folks to bring their own tablets or phones so they could see the Zoom folks from wherever they were seated and that worked tremendously well. The questions participants built LEGO models about were their favorite memories with the birthday girl and what they loved most about her!! She also wanted a question about her guests so I asked them to build their Superpower! To say that the evening of building and sharing was Powerful just doesn’t do it justice. These folks are all incredibly faithful people and they took me to church with some of their loving builds.
There were some issues with our virtual church this morning, but I was ok with skipping church because I believe that I went to church every day this week as I interacted with people who were in pain, and also with those who were feeling great joy! Church for me isn’t about the place we are in, it’s what we do and how we interact with people no matter where we are! My stitches finally seem to be starting to dissolve and I’m grateful for that. I’m resting today and glad this busy week is over, but without a doubt all the Joy I experienced with others far outweighed my pain!! May we all embrace all the joy in our lives in spite of all of the pain in our world!