I taught an art class this spring. We started the session by singing patriotic songs (it was Memorial Day weekend). These participants of few words
sang every word of every song with love in their eyes
and told stories of brothers who came home from war
and then they started to paint. They didn’t want to stop after an hour and a half. Their creative fire was ignited!
One I worked with said, “Wonderful..but we shouldn’t have it as an expectation that this (coming to life) will happen every time.” It struck me when it was said, and I realized that there’s a difference between ‘expectation’ and ‘mind frame’.
The difference is to not have an ‘expectation’ of the person with dementia, but to have a ‘mind frame’ that invites and allows his or her creativity to show up, to be expressed.
My mind frame of respect and regard for people allows me to create an environment of encouragement and excitement around these things. And I don’t expect a ‘thank you’, yet it’s given in the form of singing, the telling of life stories, the creating of a flurry of artworks.
When I believe people will sing, share, and create art, then I set the stage, open the door and invite them in. I’ve seen it happen every time, this emerging back into oneself, in one way or another. I ‘expect’ it because I welcome it; my ‘mind-frame’ is “Yes, creating this kind of time and place full of these experiences matters.”
It does me good, and it seems to do good for those around me. I’ll spend more of my life creating these experiences, without expectation, but with a mind frame that says “Why not? It’s a great way to spend time.” Provide the possibility of joy and connectedness, so it can find its way into your life, and the life of the one you care for.
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