Monday, August 29, 2011

Why I Fight Dementia - Repost of Two Pictures

The Alzheimer's Association Walk to End Alzheimer's is gearing up all over the country. I am once again forming a team to walk. My mom had Lewy Body Dementia, the 2nd leading form of dementia. I walk to help raise funds to help people with dementia. I also walk to help raise awareness of Lewy. I wrote this a few years ago. It highlights why fighting dementia is so important to me.

Two Pictures

On the shelf in my cubicle at work are two pictures that tell a story; one of happy times and love, but also one of hard times and struggles.

In one picture I stand between my parents on my graduation day in 1998. My mother is a vibrant 57 year old. She smiles for pictures and tells people how proud she is of her daughter. This is the mom who taught me to be strong and independent. Mom raised me to be someone who pursues her dreams. She believed in me and was proud of the fact that I could do anything I put my heart into. Mom instilled in me the belief that I could do anything, be anything. In reality I am who I am because of my mother.

What that picture doesn’t show and that we didn’t know at the time was that tangles in Mom’s brain were beginning to change her. Lewy had already taken hold at that time and had begun its insidious creeping, overtaking, destroying.

In the second picture Mom is surrounded by my sisters and me; the strong women she raised. This picture was taken in May 2007 and is the last picture of Mom before her death. In the almost ten years since the first picture she has become frail, a shadow of her former self. Lewy has stolen her ability to do the basic things in life. The family that she raised is now taking care of her. She showered us with love over the years and the family returns that love.

It’s been almost four years since Mom died and I still think of her often. I still talk about Lewy and I still fight dementia. I won't stop until dementia doesn't exist or until I am no longer on this earth.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Art as Consolation

Friday we had the opportunity to visit our local art museum where one of the exhibits was by an artist named Joellyn Duesberry.

In one of the descriptions she talks about Mozart and his concept of art as consolation for the chaos in the world. As I pondered that thought I realized how true those words are. In a world full of war, poverty, national debt, murder, illness, etc we are blessed with beautiful paintings, photographs, music, writing to soothe our souls.

One of the paintings I especially liked was of a beach in Maine. I took a picture of it, but the photo doesn’t do the work justice.

Places will settle in my imagination as if they were people or acquaintances that I want to revisit. ~ Joelleyn Duesberry

Friday, August 19, 2011

Turtle Girl has a Friend

Turtle Girl has a friend. Do you remember Turtle Girl? I wrote about her here.

Turtle Girl and Peacock Boy have become friends. One day Peacock Boy told Turtle Girl that he is no longer a peacock.

“See, TG, I have this wig. I’m now a lion! You can address me as King because I am the new king of this zoo.”

Turtle Girl asks, “Why, PB, why do you want to be a lion?”

“Because the lion is majestic. People flock to the zoo to see him. He prances around his cage and the people ‘oh’ and ‘ah’. I want people to do the same for me. I can be just as good a lion as Lion Dude can.”

With that Peacock Boy plops the fuzzy wig on his head and parades around the zoo.

Turtle Girl watches as he preens and struts. The visitors stop and stare and laugh, then move on. Peacock Boy drops the wig and runs away.

Turtle Girl searches high and low to find him. She worries about him. Finally she finds him in front of Lion Dude’s cage. She hears lion as she walks up behind the boys.

“But Peacock, I don’t understand why you want to be me? You’re free to wander the zoo while I can only pace my enclosure. People can come right up to you in the park and are okay with it. If I were to be loose in the park people would run and scream. You have it made.” Lion Dude shakes his furry mane at Peacock Boy.

“Well, I can go wherever I want.” Peacock Boy nods. “But, people want to be you for Halloween. When was the last time you saw anyone being a peacock for Halloween? You are handsome and people are awed by you.”

Lion Dude looks over at Turtle Girl and the crowd that is gathering behind her. “Tell you what, PB. You know all those fancy feathers you’re dragging on the ground? Puff them up like you do. Strut your stuff. Be who you were created to be. Go ahead, do it now.”

Reluctantly Peacock Boy raises his tail feathers and turns around. Seeing the smiles in the crowd he primps and then struts. He busts a move and the crowd goes wild. Light bulbs flash as the paparazzi strain to capture him in all his glory.

Peacock Boy looks over at Turtle Girl. “They don’t even realize that Lion Dude is back there. They’re taking pictures of me!”

She winks. “See, LD was right. You are amazing just as you are.”

“You both are right. We are different, but that doesn’t mean he’s better than me. I’m gonna be the best Peacock Boy I can be and let Lion Dude be the best he can be.”

“Good plan, man.” Lion Dude roared his approval and the crowd cheered for both the boys.

If you don't do you, you don't get done and creation is incomplete. ~ C. McNair Wilson

Monday, August 15, 2011

The Experience of Dementia as a Journey ~ Author Unknown

My friend, Kathy over at Living with a Thief Named Lewy is an amazing woman. Her husband has Lewy Body Dementia. Kathy blogs honestly about the good and bad of being a caregiver to someone with dementia. She has experienced all of the tough times that Lewy brings, but she also knows those amazing, special moments that are buried in the world of caregiving. It's those moments that keep a caregiver going.

Kathy recently posted this story after finding it on one of her friend's blogs. I wanted to share it here on the mountain also. A lot of people who haven't been closely affected by dementia don't understand. I think this little story does a great job of presenting what it more than likely feels like to live in a world that no longer makes sense.

The Experience of Dementia as a Journey –Author Unknown

I am going on a long journey by train. As I begin, the city skyscrapers and country landscape look familiar. As I continue my journey, the view reminds me of times gone by and I feel relaxed and comfortable. The other passengers on the train appear to be feeling the same way and I engage in pleasant conversation with them.

As the journey progresses, things begin to look different. The buildings have odd shapes and the trees don’t look quite the way I remember them. I know that they are buildings and trees, but something about them is not quite right. Maybe I’m in a different country with different architecture and plant life. It feels a bit strange, even unnerving.

I decide to ask the other passengers about the strangeness I feel, but I notice that they seem unperturbed. They are barely taking notice of the passing scenery. Maybe they have been here before. I ask some questions, but nothing seems different to them. I wonder if my mind is playing tricks on me. I decide to act as if everything looks all right, but because it does not, I have to be on my guard. This places some tension on me, but I believe I can tolerate it for the remainder of the trip. I do, however, find myself becoming so preoccupied with appearing all right that my attention is diverted from the passing scenery.

After some time, I look out the window again and this time I know that something is wrong. Everything looks strange and unfamiliar! There is no similarity to anything I can recall from the past. I must do something. I talk to the other passengers about the strangeness I feel. They look dumbfounded and when they answer, they talk in a new language. Why won’t they talk in English, I wonder? They look at me knowingly and with sympathy. I’ve got to get to the bottom of this, so I keep after them to tell me where the train is and where it is going. The only answers I get are in this strange language, and even when I talk, my words sound strange to me. Now I am truly frightened.

At this point, I figure that I have to get off this train, and find my way home. I had not bargained for this when I started. I get up to leave and bid a pleasant goodbye. I don’t get very far, though, as the other passengers stop me and take me back to my seat. It seems they want me to stay on the train whether I want to or not. I try to explain but they just talk in that strange language.

Outside the window, the scenery is getting even more frightening. Strange, inhuman-looking beings peer into the window at me. I decide to make a run for it. The other passengers are not paying much attention to me, so I slip out of my seat and quietly walk toward the back of the car. There’s a door! It is difficult to push, but I must. It begins to open and I push harder. Maybe now I will get away. Even though it looks pretty strange out there, I know I will never find my way back home if I do not get off this train. I hear the door shut. They take me back to my seat. I realize now that I will never get off this train. I will never get home.

How sad I feel. I did not say goodbye to my friends or children. As far as I know they do not know where I am. The passengers look sympathetic, but they do not know how sad I feel. maybe if they knew they would let me off the train. I stop smiling, stop eating, stop trying to talk, and avoid looking out the window. The passengers look worried. They force me to eat. It is difficult because I am too sad to be hungry.

I have no choice now. I have to go along with the passengers because they seem to know where the journey will end. Maybe they will get me there safely. I fervently wish that I had never started out on this journey, but I know I cannot go back.

Friday, August 12, 2011

I am not a Homeschooling, Mormon, Mommy Blogger

So, a few weeks I started a post that I've been thinking about for quite some time. I had it all set to post and then at the last minute felt it wasn't quite right and took it down. That very same day my blogging buddy, Lisa over at That's What She Said posted this post about being a Mormon mommy blogger.

When I saw the post I about fell out of my chair because the post I pulled down for that day started out very similar to hers. It was if we were on the same wave length. Now, just for the record, Lisa and I only know each other through our blogs so the fact that we were having kindred feelings is pretty amazing.

Make sure to visit Lisa's blog and read her post. She and I are both just bloggers talking about our little corner of the world. This is the post I wrote that day...

Confession time. I’m not a homeschooling, Mormon, mommy blogger. I like a good craft every so often, but I don’t think up amazing crafts that people will pay for. I’m a writer, but not an expert who can teach you how to publish a book in 10 easy steps. I’m not a single mom making a difference in the lives of children in foreign countries and I’m not adopting sweet Ethiopian children.

I’m just a common girl making my way in life while learning to see God’s grace in the nooks and crannies of my world. It’s been said that life is a journey and for the last 14 years I have walked in the shadow of an amazing creator who loves me unconditionally and shelters me through the storms. He fills my life with an abundance that is immeasurable by the world’s standards.

Years ago I read the book Hinds Feet on High Places by Hannah Hurnard. This allegorical story follows the crippled Much-Afraid as she leaves her village to journey to the mountaintops to live with her Shepherd. As she starts out she is joined by two traveling companions. Suffering and Sorrow are definitely not the ones she would have picked to travel with her, but they are the ones the Shepherd has appointed.

The path is not easy and sometimes dangerous but Much-Afraid soldiers on toward the mountaintop home of her Shepherd. She finds that the Shepherd is only a call away. Through the high points that seem to be the summit and the valleys that threaten to overwhelm Much-Afraid, Suffering and Sorrow have to push her to keep going. However, at the end of the journey Much-Afraid finds that she and her companions have been changed by their trek. They reach their destination and find themselves renewed. It is the journey that has marked them and shaped them.

I like this story because it echoes my own. Once I thought that someday I would arrive at my destination and life would be perfect. I suffered the journey simply to make it to my mountaintop which I mistakenly thought existed this side of heaven. I kept waiting, hoping, dreaming. But I was missing out on life because of my waiting. I’ve figured out that life happens in the valleys as well as the summits. Over these last years I have been trying to make the most of my trip through this place called earth. It isn’t always easy, but my Shepherd is always near. He has filled my life with grace in the most uncommon places. I miss those uncommon places if I’m not careful.

The women in the first paragraph are all incredible women. They are living out their own path and finding grace in their uncommon places while on their own journeys. They blog about their lives and I am blessed, inspired, encouraged by their words. This is what I want for my readers, I want them to be blessed, encouraged, inspired in some little way when they visit my little mountain.

As a blogger I sometimes find myself wanting to be something that I’m not. It’s easy to look at other blogs and try to emulate them. In doing so I’m doing a disservice to you, my reader, and to myself. God hasn’t called me to be any of the things He’s called others to be.

He’s called me to be me. He’s given me a life that at times has seemed to me to be common and boring. But He’s nudging me to see the grace and glory right here amidst my own journey through the valleys and the summits.

I’ve been thinking a lot about this blog and what I am trying to do with it; what the take-away value is for you, my reader, who comes to visit. I chose the name Rocky Mountain Writer because of my love for the mountains and my love for writing. In the last months as I have prayed through my life and my writing career I’ve come to see Rocky Mountain Writer as something more.

Micah 4:2 says. “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob. He will teach us his ways, so that we may walk in his paths.” My goal in life is to continue going up to the mountain of the Lord and letting him teach me His ways. My goal for this blog is to share that journey and the lessons I’ve learned right here in my common life that is filled with uncommon grace. I pray that you are blessed by your visit and that you feel comfortable to share bits of your journey with me.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Long, Hot Summer

It’s that time of summer when the sun seems to beat down everything. The temperatures have been soaring and with them people’s tempers. The heat ripples and changes everything it touches. It has been so hot at times that I find the cat sprawled out in front of the evaporative cooler with his legs in the air. Sometimes I long to join him there.

(taken on my cell phone, so not great quality)

Along with the heat this year we have been very dry. Our winter was dry and that trend continued into the spring. Lawns are dry, brown, and crunchy. Rain drops were few and far between. Life is like that sometimes. We all go through periods of dryness and discomfort. Times when it seems the heat will warp us into something ugly and malformed.

Thankfully though the rains do come. In the last week we entered into what is loosely called the monsoon season. Mind you, it’s nothing like monsoons in other parts of the globe, but the rain has fallen. Last week we saw rain everyday and it was so very wonderful.

The refreshing rains have soaked into our lawns and souls. It has replenished and the green of new life is showing again. God is good that way; He provides renewal when needed.

You sent abundant rain, O God, to refresh the weary land. ~Psalm 68:9

Friday, August 5, 2011

15 Million Unpaid Workers

Did you know that approximately 15 million people* are unpaid caregivers to people with Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia?

If you've ever taken care of a sick loved one you can probably relate to the fact that caregiving is hard.  The job of caregiver is often a 24/7 position with little or no vacation and sick time. It's constant and it can be overwhelming.

One of the important aspects of organizations such as the Alzheimer's Association and the Lewy Body Dementia Association is the support they offer caregivers.

This is one of the reasons that I am walking in the Alzheimer's Association Walk to End Alzheimer's. It's a great way to help an important cause. You can find out more about walks in your area by visiting the walk page.

* Source: Alzheimer's Association

Monday, August 1, 2011

Who Says Christian Don't Have Fun!?!

Smoke seeped into the room. Heat pressed in from all sides as did the crowd. The noise level grew as the people came together in the dark chanting, “R3D, R3D, R3D, R3D.”

It was after 10pm and the first two bands had whipped the crowd into a frenzy and left the stage empty while the final band set up. People were eager for the music to start again.

Then they were there… Michael, Anthony, Randy and Joe and they were on fire! The music reverberated through the room as people danced with hands raised in the air. The hard driving beat of the drum intermixed with the lead singer’s words. The energy was incredible.

Copyright July 2011 by Wendy Zieres

Eventually a mosh pit formed in the midst of the crowd. The mass of humanity moved back to give room to those who felt the need to throw themselves at each other. I have to admit, I don’t understand the mosh pit. We were on the edge and I watched but never could figure out the appeal, but a group of people seemed to be having fun there.

Copyright July 2011 by Wendy Zieres

Yes, it was much like any other rock concert with one exception – R3D is a Christian band. Their music was intense and rivaled any rock band out there but they openly praised Christ on stage and their lyrics spoke of the hope and love that can overcome sadness and despair.

Copyright July 2011 by Wendy Zieres

My friends and I were a somewhat unlikely trio in the midst of these rockers – two forty-something women and a sixteen year old. My friend and her son have been fans of the band for a while now and they have shared with me how the music has ministered to them. When we heard they were going to be in the area it was a no-brainer to try to see them in person.

Copyright July 2011 by Wendy Zieres

I’m not a musician, but I love music and I loved the concert. In fact, I found myself dancing along with the music, clapping, and pumping my fist in the air right along with everyone else!

Copyright July 2011 by Wendy Zieres

Some people think that Christians lead boring lives. They believe that we don’t know how to have fun. Some non-Christians even think that we’re prohibited from having fun. But Wednesday night was living proof that we do know how to have fun and we do indeed have fun. It is possible to honor God while enjoying this life and rock n roll!

We were thrilled to be there at the generosity of Provident Music who is the agency that represents R3D. Many thanks go out to them for the opportunity to enjoy the show.

R3D is made up of four amazing Christian men: Michael Barnes, Anthony Armstrong, Randy Armstrong and Joe Rickard.

For more info about the band please visit the R3D web site.

Rock On!