Little Love Letters

Little Love Letters

Shared love can be with anyone, not just between caregivers and loved ones! I ‘received’ lots of love this week and it felt good! Let’s all spread some love!!

While cleaning out my desk used for over thirty-five years, I uncovered an old leathery piece of history. I knew by the zipper around the edges of this once loved, soft, brown find, with the colorfully embossed school images, that I was holding my one and only autograph book.

Immediately, my thoughts shifted to friends from elementary school who wrote on those pages sixty-eight years ago. It was a different time and place I have seldom returned to since. I even had a flashback of a high school friend signing her name. Here was a real treasure.

Surprised to see it, I stopped cleaning and started remembering. I sat on the side of the bed and carefully unzipped the book. There in pencil, on faded and brown smudged pages, beside a small sticker of a camp I had attended two summers, I had written my name in cursive. I had noted it had been a present for my eleventh birthday from a new friend, one I remember being in my life until our family moved to another place.

A small gold and purple card fell to the ground, a reminder of a high school moment in October 1959 when I was chosen Panther of the Week my senior high school year, a warm memory. I put it between the back pages and read on.

It was fun to bring up memories of the sweet young friends who had signed their names, who had inscribed little sayings they had learned, or even had written personal notes, or their personalized poems.

“Roses are red, violets are blue….”
…Sugar is sweet, and you are too. Or
…Sugar is sweet, and I love you. 💖 Or
…You love Jim, and I do, too.  Or
…I like pecans, and nuts to you.”

And then,
“Down in the valley carved on a tree, are two little words, “Remember me!””

And,
“I’ll be yours ‘til Russia fries Turkey in Greece and serves it on China to the US.”
These were not likely political thoughts then, but just fun words.

Most entries were signed with full names, in various degrees of their cursive evolution. Some added a ‘closing’ remark, like:
“Your good pal,” or “Your best girl friend” or “Love ya,” or “The one behind you who pulls your hair,” or “The boy who draws maps.”

I found one entry from a friend who is still my friend, after sixty-six years!

There is one page with large swirling letters that reads: “Gene Autry,” a singing cowboy star of the day. I had asked him to sign after seeing him in a show back in those young years. I truly don’t recall the show!

I even found incomplete entries by my own two children when each had just learned to print. Like many kiddos, they probably had been ‘looking around’ and had found the book and wanted to sign it, too. I am glad their attempted ‘love letters’ were added twenty years later!

My book is signed by teachers, principals, school friends, church friends, camp counselors, camper friends, and even my six year old brother, ten year old sister, plus an aunt and uncle. It covers eight of my younger years. My life is reflected in those pages by people who have impacted my life, important enough for me to want them to sign my autograph book.

Of course, the universe ‘helped me find’ this prized possession just as Valentine’s 💘 Day appeared on the calendar, just in time for me to begin thinking of the importance of ‘little love letters’ that I could write when “time permits.”

What a collection to find! How fitting their words are, how they coincide with the memories that I recall about each person. The funny ones, the studious ones, the sweet ones, the jokers, the athletes, those I did not know well and those I had known since fourth grade … I can put a young face to most, but not all. It feels rather good, after these years, to know I did have those friends.

And more, it generates a sense of loving that part of my life, knowing that through the years I had so many ‘friends’ who even signed my book. That made me feel really good now, years later. Not one mentioned my myasthenia gravis issues. Not one made fun of my height that seemed to showup before others in my class. No one told me I wore clunky shoes. Oh, some said funny things, most had a touch of kindness, and some just signed their name. But what a wonderful, happy, loving, memory upon which I can reflect in these elder years. Those autographs from years ago became notes of love that still make me laugh or feel warm fuzzies today. Even cry.

As I was reflecting on how reading these pages made me feel so happy, I recalled a program online where we focus on gratitude, on appreciation and caring for others and how those others have impacted our lives. We think about, appreciate, and write out our thoughts.  Sometimes we go further and encourage others or thank them and acknowledge the wisdom they have shared.

In the end, we reassure ourselves of the love we have to give to others – not just to caregivers and loved ones.  

Happy Valentine’s Day, dear friends.

In the spirit of Love inspired by Valentine’s 💘 Day, I want to ‘encourage encouragement’ by spreading love through writing little love letters. I suggest topics below that might nudge you forward to spread some love, to let even just one someone know how much they mean to you…child, parent, friend, relative, co-worker, someone you know, someone you have never met. There is no boundary surrounding the potential of our love.

When the spirit moves, you can write to someone to leave a mark on their heart and in their memory, a warm fuzzy for them to open and re-read at some point, realizing the difference your words might make in their life, now or later, just as these autographs have done for me.

Ideas that come to mind now:

  1. a short note in a lovely greeting card
  2. a brief message texted,
  3. a handwritten letter with specifics
  4. a labour of love with photos and drawings illuminating your words.
  5. an easy peasy ‘tee-hee hapiness’ is putting hearts on paper with a quote and dropping them like confetti on the shelves of a store, grocery, pharmacy, bookstore, or anywhere that is open. Put them in mail boxes along your street. No signautre, just message of love. See Tee-Hee Happiness page here.

These ‘encouragers,’ in the spirit of Valentine’s 💘 Day, help us think of fitting little love letters for those who hold a meaningful place in our life. In the same way you as readers continue to inspire me to encourage you, I, too, hope to be inspired to reassure, comfort and lift others up throughout the year!


💝 Have a loving day.

Do something each day to make others smile and your heart sing!


Little Love Letters (c) 2021 Judith Allen Shone


💝 Remember, caregivers need love, too! 💝

Ice cream 🍦 and cookies 🍪 seem to be an appropriate sweet treat on Valentine’s Day!

Books available to order locally
or online from your favourite book site, or from AMAZON, anywhere…
or visit Caregiver-books.com Check-out page.

Press Release

Press Release

Oakville Author Shares Her Caregiver Journey with Video for Alzheimer’s Society Hamilton Halton

in Virtual Interview with Alzheimer Society Hamilton Halton
and Produced by Halton Hills Public Library

Oakville Beaver
Friday, January 29, 2021

To promote Alzheimer’s Awareness Month this January, the Alzheimer Society of Hamilton Halton, together with the Halton Hills Public Library in Georgetown, Ontario, conducted a virtual interview with Oakville resident, caregiver and author, Judith Allen Shone, to bring the many aspects of dementia, specifically Alzheimer’s and the role of caregiving, into the limelight.

This resulting YouTube video, A Conversation for Caregivers: with Judy Shone,  created for the public to get a sense of the life of a spouse-caregiver and her loved one with several diagnosis.

Shone, author of two books about her world of caregiving, “Is There Any Ice Cream?” (2019) and “Did You Hide the Cookies?” (2020), shared personal experiences in response to questions asked by moderator, Danielle Arbour, Public Education Coordinator for the Alzheimer Society of Hamilton and Halton.

Did You Hide the Cookies?” is the second book about Shone’s journey caring for one with Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia, (also known as mixed dementia) as well as anxiety and COPD. Robby Henes, a caregiver for her mother, explains on the cover of the book, “…Judith shows us what a deep well of compassion looks like and what is demanded of that compassion and love when you are a caregiver. She walks you through her personal minefield of helping someone with a disease that cannot be pinned down…”


See ACTUAL STORY as appeared in Oakville Beaver and InHalton.


Over 500,000 Canadians are living with some form of dementia. The intention of this video is to enable those living in the caregiving realm to get a glimpse into what it might be like from one who has lived nearly nine years caring for her loved one. The video also reassures caregivers that, during their journey, the services from their local Alzheimer Society can be a lifeline. Free education, counselling, programs, fitness and support groups are offered online, over the phone and safely in person if needed. Producers of this video, the Halton Hills Public Library, have taken a leadership position in reminding us how much on the forefront of education our libraries can be, especially when encouraging caregivers.

The two books make up the Accepting the Gift of Caregiving series. Find both books at the Halton Hills Public Library, or libraries in Oakville, Burlington, Hamilton, or ask the library in your area to order it. Both books can be ordered from local bookstores as well as online at Amazon or similar booksellers.

Information about the books can be found online at www.caregiver-books.com, and www.CaregiverAlzheimerStory.com. Shone also hosts a caregiving blog, Accepting the Gift of Caregiving, where she shares ongoing experiences, caregiver tips, educational resources, and related activities. In addition, former, as well as current, caregiver-guest authors share their stories. Visit her blog at: www.AcceptingTheGiftOfCaregiving.com

Social media connections:
Twitter: @CaregiverStory
Facebook: JudithAllenShone-author
LinkedIn: Judith Allen Shone
Instagram: caregiverstory
Goodreads: Judith Allen Shone

###

 Contacts:
Alzheimer Society
Call your local Alzheimer Society for support
At Home online
– – – – – – –
Halton Hills Public Library
Georgetown, Ontario
Phone: 905-873-2681
Website: www.hhpl.on.ca
– – – — – –

Press Release (c) 2021 Judith Allen Shone

Alzheimer’s Awareness Month

Alzheimer’s Awareness Month

Each January, in Canada, during Alzheimer’s Awareness Month, the Alzheimer Society of Canada makes information available to encourage the rest of us to learn more about dementia diseases and the impact they have on families.

Read brochure What is Alzheimer’s disease?

The Alzheimer Society of Canada specifically talks about the January Alzheimer’s Awareness Month and elaborates on topics so we can learn more.

Their suggestions are outlined:
1- Connect with a local Alzheimer Society
2- Learn more about stigma against dementia
3- Read stories of those who have lived with dementia and their caregivers
4- Share your story
5- Support Alzheimer Society initiatives to raise awareness


WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?

This is another opportunity for me as a caregiver of one with Alzheimer’s to help disseminate available resources, plus information the Society and the various regional websites, provide online.

Your participation may begin by sharing this information with someone you know. You might be the one to encourage a loved one, or a caregiver, or families and friends who want to learn so they can be supportive.

There are different Alzheimer Society websites and each one has information that might be ‘the one piece of information’ about situations and behaviours that spurs caregivers or unsuspecting loved ones to get help. We all can do a little, but the help to a floundering caregiver is huge.

The Alzheimer Society of Hamilton Halton has partnered with the Halton Hills Public Library to promote the aspect of caregiving during this Alzheimer’s Awareness Month.

I am honored that in their video, “A Conversation for Caregivers: with Judy Shone,” Danielle Arbour, Public Education Coordinator at the Halton office, will be talking with me, as we give a glimpse into the world of caregiving in hopes of shining a light that can help dissipate misunderstandings. My hope is that I have been able, in some way, to help do that. (Press release)

Visit YouTube video.:
A Conversation for Caregivers: with Judy Shone

Educating ourselves about the signs, hearing stories others tell, understanding how we can become support for those who deal with this on a daily basis will be of immense help to those who are living with this serious disease of Alzheimer’s.

Learning what we can includes learning from what is available to us online. In particular the Alzheimer Society of Hamilton Halton (Ontario) has developed an At Home program to make it easier to learn and participate and focus on the main areas that concern so many:

1-Education
2-Activities
3-Fitness
4-Support

Another source of continuing information is the Newsletter that societies put out. Ask to be put on their mailing list or sign up with the branches you would like to hear from and get their most updated event schedules, news items and information.

NOTE: To sign up for the ALZHEIMER SOCIETY OF HAMILTON HALTON Newsletter, see the right side bar here, just below the social media icons.

Remember, here on our site:
EDUCATION AND RESOURCES a variety of linked helpful resources
RSS FEEDS Reading Options of linked current articles and research related to Alzheimers.

To be sure, there are other resources to help with education related to the various aspects of dementia. Our libraries are excellent sources of knowledge, as are other caregivers, doctors, and other health organizations like Acclaim Health in Oakville, Ontario. Reach out to learn.


LINKS TO PROVINCIAL SOCIETIES

To read the information on their websites, bookmark these links, or return here to find them.
Also on each home page there is an opportunity to link to other Society websites, by province.

From the page Alzheimer Society Connections, here on our Accepting the Gift of Caregiving blogsite, the following links are to the home page of each region. In some cases, Society branches within the provinces will have their own locally-focused websites. Look for those within the provincial websites.

Alzheimer Society Canada
Alzheimer Society Alberta & NW Territories 

Alzheimer Society British Columbia
Alzheimer Society Manitoba
Alzheimer Society New Brunswick
Alzheimer Society Newfoundland and Labrador
Alzheimer Society Nova Scotia
Alzheimer Society Prince Edward Island
Alzheimer Society Ontario
Alzheimer Society Quebec
Alzheimer Society Saskatchewan


This month is an opportunity to learn about the programs, the initiatives, the events, related to Alzheimer’s taking place in your area. But we really do not have to wait for January to begin to learn. Reach out to learn.


Alzheimer’s Awareness Month (c) 2021 Judith Allen Shone

Caregiver Holidays

Caregiver Holidays

JOY TO THE WORLD

The sounds of strolling carolers, or neighbours singing, the church organ playing, music on radio and TV, videos on social media, CDs playing while making holiday cookies; meeting friends for a drink of cheer and laughter, or walking in the snow—all enhance the excitement of the holiday season for many families each year.

The words of songs and holiday stories stir up visions of happy times together with families and friends. Sadly, this year of COVID has intensified the lack of these experiences for many, but particularly for caregivers, who find their challenges have already diminished their moments of joy.

IT CAN BE DIFFICULT at the best of times for caregivers, especially for those caring for loved ones with memory loss, to feel hopeful and happy during the winter holidays. And even more so if they have been giving care to the same person for a number of years.

There is no doubt that caregiving is exhausting. Life’s little happy moments show up less and less, and caregivers can become numb to the glitter, glamour and excitement of the holidays. Sometimes it seems easier to just let the holidays pass, unnoticed. Sometimes a state of depression seems safer than trying to lift a heavy heart and gloomy spirit to join in merry festivities.

But articles and studies indicate it is not really healthy to withdraw from the social and iconic traditions of holiday festivities and gatherings. And perhaps, not really necessary. There are ways to maintain a healthy mental outlook to enjoy special times. It is worthwhile remembering that caregiving can be a long road and sustaining good mental health must be on top of the caregiver’s self-care list.

Good mental health for caregivers is important enough that it must be consciously addressed. Consider how you might help yourself step away from the suction of depression, the heavy heart and gloomy spirit, by spending a few moments, or hours in honour of your own care!

Whether a caregiver or someone who cares enough to support caregivers,
CONSIDER how these suggestions might be helpful:

ADD SOMETHING TO YOUR ‘GRATEFUL LIST’ or your Appreciation Journal, daily. In his book “Upward Spiral,” neuroscientist Alex Korb, M.D. explains that practicing gratitude is one of many pathways to an upward spiral to happiness.

It may seem counter intuitive but when we are ‘down,’ if we start counting our blessings we feel better. And when we feel better, we can care better. And when we care better, our burdens of caregiving seem less. Somehow, it works, beginning with being grateful.

CALL AND CHECK ON SOMEONE. It will make your life fuller to have someone new to check on. One time or more. But at the holidays especially. I am grateful to those who check on us time and time again. I know how good it makes me feel to hear their voice in a time when I cannot go out. And in turn, I can call one person and hopefully make their day brighter.

COLLECT UPLIFTING QUOTES. Hard as it may seem to believe, other people have walked in our shoes. Learn from them. Look for their encouragement in their words. Find and save quotations that make you feel good, ones you can read over and over and each time feel better than just moments before. Save them where you can find them, whether in a notebook or in a computer file.

 LISTEN TO FAVOURITE MUSIC. Music makes us feel better. “When you listen to a song you really like, dopamine [a neurotransmitter] is released into your brain. The effect of this is simple – you feel good! Brain scans have shown that this dopamine rush is at its peak when you reach the part of the song you love most or in the 15 seconds leading up to it.”

The dopamine spreads the good feelings and make you feel better.  Make a playlist of music to play or keep those special CDs close by. Get  up and dance if it makes you feel good. It is your mental health that is being soothed…’work it!’

BRING OUT THE FAMLY ALBUMS OR PHOTOS.  Holidays mean family to many, so it makes sense to explore more about your family during times you are together, zoom or by email, phone or even by going through your genealogy information. Good feelings arise when you reflect on former holidays spent together, good feelings surface when you see photos of those you especially are or were close to. Be the instigator of your own good feelings by finding photographs and put them where you can see them.

INCLUDE COOKING FOR HOLIDAY UPLIFT.  Sensory memories seem to last a long time. Associating certain foods with happy moments awakens those happy memories. Make cookies, or gingerbread, fruit breads, or even let wassail simmer on the stove. Cook a small turkey and dressing to fill the home with holiday memories. Take time to recreate whatever soothes your sense of smell to bring those ‘feeling good’ memories to life.

SHARE WITH FAMILY, FRIENDS AND NEIGHBOURS. In the pandemic we have missed meeting our social needs. If there are ways to share with friends and neighbours and family, drop a basket of wrapped treats, a book or a meaningful item on their front porch or inside their door. Better yet, make arrangements for a hand-off time and a quick masked smile and wave.

Perhaps, you can stand in the yard and they can stand on the porch and sing carols together. Sounds of music can go through the mask materials. Christmas cards are becoming less of a tradition because of the time it takes to write them out. So instead, write one Christmas letter and send it out. People who enjoy hearing from you will love getting it. They are ones you care about.

ZOOM / TEAMS / FACETIME often, with family members rotating in ‘the chair’ so loved ones get to be part of the festivities and close to loved ones. For those who need help, a phone appointment for a few moments might be a luxury but take it. People on both ends of a call benefit from connecting. Remember to ‘take a picture’ of the event, print screen, and send them a photo of the event afterwards.

REMEMBER TO BE THANKFUL for these opportunities. Let them warm your heart. Doing for others has a way of lifting us from our own depressed moments so we, too, can enjoy our special times during the holidays.


I wish you all a year ahead filled with love, awareness, kindness, gratefulness, and appreciation for the blessings we have had. May the hard times be dwarfed by the memorable moments you can return to over and over in your mind. I wish you good health, friendships, and easy times.

HAPPY HOLIDAYS, wherever you are, whatever you may celebrate.  May 2021 bring you all that makes you happy, all that is meaningful and all that is beautiful. May you know how to walk away from unhealthy situations to keep your world a kinder, wholesome place.

Amen. – Judy Shone

Each day do something to make others smile and your heart sing!


In paperback, hardcover and ebook

Holiday happiness for a floundering caregiver!!

Available online: from Amazon and other booksellers
Order locally through:
A Different Drummer Books in Burlington, Ontario
Barnes & Noble in US
Chapters/Indigo in Canada
Maria’s Bookshop in Durango, Colorado,
The Bookworm in Omaha, Nebraska,
or other local booksellers.


Caregiver Holidays (c) 2020 Judith Allen Shone