Seattle

Kindness Fridays

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Caring gumby figuresThis week’s kindness centers around the dining industry where waitstaff work their tails off for us gastronome-wannabes and oftentimes receive little thanks for it, other than what I hope is a decent-sized tip for excellent service.

My sister is visiting me from California, and with her visit coming on the heels of my publication contract, (see Irene Frances Olson – me! – has signed with a publisher) she wanted to take me out to lunch to celebrate. In between touring the Seattle Art Museum and attending the Northwest Flower & Garden Show, both in downtown Seattle, we settled in for a delicious lunch at Palomino Restaurant.

Our server for the day was a fine gentleman named Sam. After he introduced himself, my sister announced that she was treating me to lunch to celebrate my book contract. He was astounded, genuinely impressed that one of his customers was soon to be a published author. (I wonder if perhaps he is also a writer – or perhaps an actor – and therefore fully understands the enormity of the situation. Writing is like acting: many people want to break into these industries, but find little success in doing so.)

He asked all the appropriate questions about manuscript publication, honing in on the details of my novel’s roll-out process. He then asked what we would like for our beverage and I chose a half diet, half sugar loaded, Coke. My sister also ordered a Coke. He walked away to get our orders but returned within a minute’s time and said, and I paraphrase, “Wait a minute, you got a publishing contract and a Coke is what you’re ordering to celebrate? You sure?”

Unfortunately, I was sure, because if I had imbibed on my 1st choice – a margarita – the remainder of my day’s efforts would have fallen by the wayside. He complied with my request, and throughout our time at his table, served us attentively (but not over-attentively … we all know what that feels like). At one point during our lunch I told him I would be featuring his kindness for my weekly Kindness Fridays column. He asked for my blog website address so he could have a look-see when it’s published.

Toward the end of my our lunch, he asked about the storyline for REQUIEM FOR THE STATUS QUO. He was touched by its origin, saying how intrigued he was by the story, and sorry for our family’s experience.

I guess the way I would describe that day’s kindness is that I felt important and appreciated. I felt special.

And who doesn’t want to feel special now and again?

 

 

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The man in the tree – Seattle, Washington

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city-skyline-693502_640It seems we’re so trained to treat the world as our own personal entertainment venue that when it comes to a mentally challenged man’s fate, we don’t give a shit what happens to him. We the inconvenienced public stand at the base of an 80 foot tree into which he’s climbed in one of the busiest sections of downtown Seattle, Washington and we shout:

“Shoot him!”

Jump!”

What the hell is wrong with us that we so carelessly thrust our complete lack of empathy at this man with words that could very well have ended his life right before our eyes?

Frack you

those who treated this human being’s frailty with such callousness!

Frack you!

 

My plea for print news media

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I love, love, love to read my local print newspaper, The Seattle Times, each morning.

 If a daily edition is late due to inclement weather, I will read the paper on my tablet, but only if I’m quite certain the print edition won’t arrive, e.g., snow, power lines across the roads, the end of the world as we know it, etc.

But I don’t want to read the paper on my tablet  – or sitting at my computer – as  my only option.

NO!!!!!

The other local area newspaper, Seattle Post Intelligencer, switched to online-only several years ago.  I’m thrilled that the Seattle PI is still available to readers but I fear the remaining local newspaper will end up with the same fate.

Why do I think so?  Read the rest of this entry »

Are you a listener?

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Talking and listeningAnd when you think you’re listening, are you really listening or are you constructing a response to the person who is talking to you?  All the instructional teachings I’ve read about being fully present in any given situation indicate that true listening can’t afford the luxury of distraction.

True listening honors the person with whom you’re connecting.  Conversely, being distracted reveals ones disregard for someone.  Read the rest of this entry »

Positive community activism

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Seattle Profile – Volunteering and Civic Life in America.

The Seattle Times newspaper posted an article touting Seattle’s stellar volunteer rate for 2013:

34% of Seattle area residents volunteer ranking Seattle 4th among the 51 largest volunteer locations.  After researching that article, I found the attached report detailing my area’s community service activities.  You can locate your State and city in the report to discern the degree of your community’s civic life.

Community hands together to volunteerThis report shines a light on content that I recently provided in two articles posted to this blog:  Restless in retirement? You don’t have to be, and The importance of good neighbors.

38.7 percent of Washington State’s Baby Boomer population volunteered in 2013, ranking my state’s volunteering Baby Boomers 6th out of 51.  See?  You’ll be in good company when you turn your retirement restlessness into service for others.

64.9 percent of Washington State residents participate in “informal volunteer activities” defined as doing favors for neighbors.  Wow, that’s a lot of people getting to know their neighbors and “having their backs.”

You don’t have to give up all of your free time to help others.

Community and the world volunteeringI’ve heard people say time and again that they can’t spare another 40 hours a week to become a volunteer.  Who asked you to?

There are countless volunteer opportunities that only require a couple hours a week.  My best friend volunteers as a companion to a disabled person who needs transportation assistance to shop and/or to attend doctor appointments.  A fellow Bar Method exerciser volunteers once a week at a local food bank to provide much needed sustenance to those in her community.  Wow, such a small commitment of time that provides a service for which others cannot do without.

Thank about it: if you spent two or three less hours a week watching television, or two or three less hours working on home projects, or two or three less hours sitting at the computer (point taken), you’ll still have oodles of free time left after spending a fraction of your week focused on someone else.

Wow, when put that way, volunteering sure sounds easy, doesn’t it?

(All images courtesy of Pixabay)

Dead Inside

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What a horrible title for an article.

It’s also a horrible concept, don’t you think?

But many with dementia are dead inside without any means of engaging with others in meaningful conversation.  Heck, they might not even be able to talk to themselves: a practice I engage in quite frequently.

What an isolating state to be in: you’re there, but not there.

My daughter & I outside the Varsity Theatre, Seattle, after viewing the documentary.
My daughter & I outside the Varsity Theatre, Seattle, after viewing the documentary.

Fortunately, those with Alzheimer’s, dementia, or other cognitively restricting illnesses, have a chance to awaken their memories – and therefore their history – but not without the tools to do so.  Alive Inside, the 2014 Audience Award winner at the Sundance Film Festival, is a one and a quarter hour documentary film that touts the benefits of personalized music therapy for those who are living dead inside.

Dan Cohen, social worker, Founder and Executive Director of Music & Memory, started this awakening project several years ago.  Here is a description of the project, taken from the film’s website: “Music & Memory … promotes the use of digital music players with individualized playlists to improve the quality of life for elders, regardless of their cognitive or physical status … Dan has spent most of his career helping individuals and organizations leverage technology.  Music & Memory operates in hundreds of long term care homes across the U.S. and abroad.”

Watch the 2.15 minute trailer on the provided Alive Inside website to witness a few of the individual awakenings spotlighted in the film.

Even if the film is not scheduled to appear in your area, you are still able to help awaken the millions of people in the United States and abroad by your participation in Mr. Cohen’s project.  Whether it’s feet on the street or a click of a mouse to donate funds, each of you can become a part of these efforts.

Additionally, if you know someone, or are caring for someone with cognitive decline, put together a personalized database of music for that someone in a digital music storage device, then connect them to it with a set of headphones.  You might be able to awaken him or her with that simple effort on your part.

Driving Under the Influence of Dementia: Part 2

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STOP signI addressed some of the issues of Driving under the influence of dementia in an article I wrote in November 2013.  Back then I hadn’t planned on writing a Part 2 for this article, but after a couple local incidents involving DUI of dementia, I must provide the following.

Yesterday afternoon in a suburb of Seattle (in Bellevue), an 89-year old woman with early stage Alzheimer’s left her house for her normal daily routine of going to her favorite pancake house, then to several retail locations.  She never returned home last night and as of today, she is still considered missing.  I hope the outcome of her case is better than that of another elderly person with Alzheimer’s who also went on a brief errand, but never came home.  (Update as of 12/28/13 6:45 pm: this woman was found safe approximately 16 hours after she first left her home.  She was found 20 miles away from home.  Unfortunately, she wandered 20 miles away from her normal driving area.)

On Saturday, December 21, 2013, Joseph Douret left his Seattle area home (in Issaquah), to grab dinner.  He was reported missing the next day by his wife who stated that he never came home the previous evening when he left to grab some dinner for the two of them.  Mr. Douret, who was suffering from Alzheimer’s, was found dead in his vehicle on Christmas Eve.  Police indicated that he appeared to have died of natural causes.

Taking away the keys to a vehicle – or getting rid of the vehicle as need be – are both very difficult tasks, but these are tasks that must take place if a loved one with dementia still has access to their automobile.  “But he/she is only driving a few blocks to pick up a couple items; there’s no way he/she will get lost.”  Unfortunately, what should be a routine drive can become a death journey because nothing is routine for the person with a brain addled by dementia.  Nothing looks normal or familiar;  the anxiety ratchets up several notches; panic sets in; and the countdown begins for that person’s last hours of life on earth.  Even if the person is eventually found safe, he or she will have endured a very uncomfortable time emotionally and physically.  The positive outcome of that incident, however, is that it will most likely be the catalyst that spurs people on to remove all driving options from their loved one.

Please make the decision today to take action and do the responsible thing on behalf of the person with Alzheimer’s or other dementia.