A smile is just a frown upside down

I am chilling before coaching this evening and listening to a new CD covers of Nat King Cole by Gregory Porter which includes ‘Smile‘ a brilliant old song which was written by the great Charles Chaplin.

As my blog featured yesterday music can transport us back in time to places and people and the song ‘Smile‘ reminds me of my great mentor, mother and best friend who used to sing this song if you were feeling a bit down. Music can life our spirits or as my fab mum used to say ‘get’s my motor running’ as she would dance around the house and I know exactly what she means.

Just think of any great film you have watched which would be far less amazing if not for it’s score. Music is part of all our lives for so many reasons…it’s our own sound track.

So if you are feeling lonely or down put some uplifting music on and remember a smile is a frown that is upside down..so turn it around. Dancing is good exercise…even Dad Dancing!

 

Dementia Action Week

During my privileged experience of working with dementia clients and their families I always maintain that getting to know the unit is vital. Making my sessions personal and enjoyable for the person facing the challenge of dementia has been my daily aim this will include working with all the senses to act as triggers for positive and happy memories. Music is one way of communicating universally with people of all ages and with all challenges including children with severe learning difficuties as well as those with alzheimers.

Last night when attending a local talk I discussed how I feel very strongly that nobody should be forced to attend a day centre if that is not for them and/or to take up painting or any other activity – if they didn’t like it before then don’t assume they will now! Encouragement yes by all means. I have heard how people have become agitated when placed in unfamiliar surroundings and one of the best and easiest ways to dilute anxiety is to avoid it.

Carers wellbeing is just as important as those suffering with dementia and too often pride prevents them from asking for help from those that believe they are coping better than they are. They need a break away from the 24/7 life with dementia which may have become their way of life and often making them a prisoner in their own home.

Sometimes carers lead a withdrawn life as they feel embarrassed by their partners behaviour or others have made them feel uncomfortable – we need far more understanding generally towards those families living with dementia.

I often write about dementia being similar to a bereavement and talking to children faced with parents with dementia this is so often the best way to describe how they feel as they lose the person they love.

If you are looking for a new charity to support then consider the dementia charities -Alzheimers Society and/or Dementia UK they need your help to fund care, research and support.

Dementia Action Week

Regular lovely followers will  know that I like to help with dementia awareness and this week it is Dementia Action Week. An extract from one of my articles follows:-

Benefits of communication for people with dementia

We are all aware of how dementia changes people’s lives and those around them. I won’t talk about worrying statistics but what I can recommend is seeking as much help and advice as possible. Sadly for those loved ones who might be the main carer they may just stumble upon a few leaflets in the doctor’s surgery but do not find time to explore just what is actually available.  I thoroughly recommend carers, friends and family to contact The Alzheimer’s Society – leading the fight against dementia. Please check out their website as they have an amazing library of extremely useful literature which is readily accessible and free. www.alzheimers.org.uk.

My theme for a Christmas project 2017 was  ‘Love, Kindness and understanding’ and I see these three ingredients as vital for helping those who are fighting this challenging and cruel disease on a daily basis.

The Alzheimer’s Society’s National Helpline is: 0300 222 1122

 

Being kind

Being kind and grateful feature frequently on my blog and I often say how kindness is not a weakness. Today I will quote a few words from ‘Alfie’ by the great Burt Bacharach to ponder:-

‘What’s it all about, Alfie
Is it just for the moment we live
What’s it all about when you sort it out, Alfie
Are we meant to take more than we give
Or are we meant to be kind
And if only fools are kind, Alfie…’

On speaking about kindness and being grateful with various pastoral colleagues it often seems that to some modern day people it’s uncool to be either…but I am an old-fashioned girl and believe we only get out what we put in and demonstrating kindness in all that we do, considering others… then we are happier ourselves. At the end of the day be grateful for any small achievement, success or happy moment and I promise you will wake up the next day feeling more positive and ready to face the day ahead.

Speaking to a recently bereaved gentleman yesterday; I reminded him to think about the good times and funny moments he had shared with his wife and after our unscheduled encounter he said he felt better and that made me feel grateful for my training too.

To the icecream man who gave me a free icecream this week after a hot afternoon invigilating- thanks for that tiny act of kindness Mr Whippy. You made an old girl very happy.

 

 

Struggling with dementia

Yet again I feel compelled to rant about the lack of support for families with a loved one facing the challenge of dementia. It is like a form of bereavement as partners and children see their loved one seem to disappear beyond recognition.

As a carer it is so very difficult to have any resbite and so often the carer becomes ill and emotionally drained. After all they are not trained experts but are sent away from a doctor’s surgery with very little knowledge or information on how to communicate with somebody who is living in a very scary if not frustrating world. Too often dementia patients are taking to day centres where they may not actuualy want to be, it can be intimidating and perhaps one-to-one interaction would suit them better so seek help from a professional locally to you.

For those that are struggling please seek help and remember the Alzheimer’s Society have great information available and all free. If you are looking for a new charity/cause to support then please put this illness on your list.

The many uses of music

Those that know me well know I am a music lover always have been. Music can lift our souls, get our feet tapping and motivate us in so many ways. Some say music breathes life into our soul and I tend to agree. Writing for songwriters is also therapeutic and enables them to tell their story.

Let’s be honest those epic films we know and love would be nothing without the music score setting the mood, the drama and emotion.

It is a well documented fact that those people with speech challenges i.e. stammering, their stammer seems to disappear when they sing.

Recently I watched a teacher (Christian Foley) using his amazing ability to rap making his lessons more interesting for his students with great results. It immediately reminded me of an old Welsh History teacher who taught us the Kings and Queens of England by reciting a rhyming poem/song – which to my own amazement I can still recite. Moreover I remain amazed he could recite them himself after a lunchtime tipple which was a regular event in those days.

I use music therapy within sessions with dementia clients to help stimulate happy memories and prompt discussions giving an insight into their lives with beautiful results.

For me life would be impossible without my music, an old fashioned girl; a loft full of vinyl and my little CD player still brings hours of joy whilst studying.

As my mum used to say ‘music gets my motor running!’ How true.

Old loves

Through our lives people will enter at various stages and leave an imprint on our hearts. As we grow older and often have time to reflect, often it is then that we truly recognise why and the impact they had.

Everything happens for a reason and we make decisions which may feel are right at that time for our own personal growth. But as my wonderful mentor used to frequently say ‘memories live longer than dreams’ and maybe the dreams we thought we wanted to chase don’t actual exist and the stars we try to reach for we actually already had.

As part of one of my  psychology study assignments I found myself confessing experiences and relationships and the fact that ‘feeling loved’ however long it lasted will of course keep us warm in our old age. Here’s hoping.

I will end on lyrics from a great musician and song writer Zarr

‘love is hard to find…I’m reaching for you but you are like the stars..far so very far.

 

Musical bumps

Musical bumps…and I don’t mean the game we played as children which I believe the fun police have said is now too dangerous!!

I am referring to when we hear a piece of music or a song and we are immediately transported back in time to a memory, a place or a person. These ‘bumps’ can of course be great prompts to bring back happy memories and in my work with dementia clients this can prove invaluable.

On the other hand one can hear a piece of music which may remind us of a loved one we have lost and we may feel reflective and saddened, but even those feelings are useful in helping us to allow our bereavement process and healing to continue.

Let’s face it the music score creates the scene, the atmosphere and the moods in any great film as the amazing John Williams has continued to prove over some four decades. Personally, I would be lost without my music whether it is lifting a mood or emotive to shed a tear or two.

My music list and appreciation is both long and eclectic and in case a certain man is reading my blog today…we had Barber.

Memories

A lot of my coaching work with my dementia clients and their families is obviously based around memory and sharing positive memories.

Smooth radio were doing their top 500 songs at the weekend; as Abba’s ‘Dancing Queen’ bellowed out of the radio I remembered that very hot summer of 1976, age 18 driving around Devon with my first boyfriend in his mum’s white mini. He later died a very young age of cancer.

Everybody has a story to tell and as I was discussing this weekend music often is the background to our lives and hearing a piece of music we can remember when and where we heard it. This can of course make us feel melancholy if the music brings back sad memories but what we don’t always appreciate is that sometimes that pain needs to come to the surface and letting go of our emotions is a positive thing.

I heard somebody say recently that ‘memories are the scripts of our soul’ as Aristotle famously quoted and believed.  As such our pain and joy associated with those memories must be equally embraced.

For anyone feeling sad about a loved one they have lost try and balance it out by remembering something really funny they did as they would want you to go on living and laughing.

I will end today’s blog remembering my amazing Mother leaving the room, dancing as she did, singing ‘Bring me sunshine’ and of course she did.

 

 

Missing the Ferry…sheer Irish magic!

Last night fans of ‘Missing the Ferry’ were treated to a sizzling hot night of great music at the Farmer’s Boy pub St Albans. The band consisting of three oh so talented brothers, Paul, Kevin and Chris Anderson and Kevin (the adopted brother and fourth band member). All three men have great voices as well as  skilful playing of multi-instruments throughout the night.

They played some of the really great Irish classics: Dirty Old Town, Galway girl, Black Velvet Band, Irish Rover and had everyone loving their St Patrick’s weekend set. The band also writes their own songs that avid followers love and expect…more please guys! They played some of my favourite, and most haunting Irish ballads with Chris on Mandolin and Paul on the penny whistle the pub was filled with what can only be described as ‘Sheer Irish magic’.

Paul confessed to having a cold, and having lived with a singer for many years I know this affects one’s voice, but I have to say he sounded even more like Bob Dylan brilliant. Kevin on bass guitar sings in such a natural Irish way..don’t think he realises just how good he is..so laid back.

Chris the youngest of the three brothers has a lot of energy and passion for his music and is an engaging frontman when required. All four members really complement each other’s varying talents, dynamics in the band work well. They are obviously are having so much fun and always ensure that their audience do too.

Well done to Kevin for his rendition of Johnny Cash’s Ring of Fire..really was party night and a great way to end St Patrick’s celebrations.