Feb 25, 2010

Just Feeling Blessed

This morning I woke up feeling blessed. I have felt this way when waking, for days at a time or in a special moment in a day. I also have days where waking up with chronic illness and too much to do feels like a burden and too difficult. I am no different than most having my good days and bad.....
By Angil Tarach-Ritchey RN
Alzheimer's Reading Room

Many philosophers and religious leaders for thousands of years have taught the basic principle of what you focus on expands. When I focus on my blessings, even in the toughest of days, I seem to feel and experience more blessings. If I focus on problems and stress that also seems to multiply. I really like the feeling I have when I feel grateful, and terribly dislike feeling stressed. There is a certain peace I feel when even in the midst of a difficult situation I take a moment to find the blessing. Typically coming to some sort of answer or resolution even if it only addresses part of a problem, make me feel grateful.

So in this day where I feel very blessed for just marrying the man of my dreams, having wonderful family, friends, staff, and business associates, and blessed because I have a career I love that allows me to help people and feel like I’m fulfilling my purpose, and all the comforts of a warm home, I think about those who don’t feel so blessed today.

I think about the people diagnosed with Alzheimer’s every 70 seconds today, and the family caregiver’s who are having a tough and frustrating day, and I hope that for even a minute in this day, those people also experience something that makes them stop and feel blessed.

These thoughts could be about any situation, or any people going through something difficult, but my thoughts are often with family caregiver’s because I know the difficulty of their days. I know the sacrifices they make, and the inability to claim their life as their own.

I also know that there are many blessings when you care for someone. There are moments that are shared that are never shared between two healthy people. There are moments of accomplishments, and satisfaction, and gratitude for the ability to keep a loved one home. There are humorous happenings, and unexpected facial expressions of thanks. Loving touches and hugs. They may not last very long or come frequently but they do come.

Some days can be so difficult that it seems impossible to recognize a blessing, but they’re there. Family caregivers are very special people, and usually don’t understand just how special they are. It’s hard to understand you’re special when what you are trying to accomplish doesn’t happen, or a loved one with Alzheimer’s is being aggressive towards you, or can’t remember who you are, but it is in those moments that you are more special than ever. You are special because you try, and you stay, and you don’t give up. You’re special because the love you have for the person afflicted with the horrible disease of Alzheimer’s is more important to you than living the life you imagined. You give when there seems to be no more to give, you put one foot in front of the other every day you’re exhausted, you keep pushing through the medical maze when it seems like you’re getting nowhere, and you still love deeply, and unselfishly.

This unselfish, unconditional love is a very special and a huge blessing in itself. Many people will never know that kind of love. It’s the Mother Teresa kind of love. I know what you’re thinking…and you’re having a hard time swallowing that one, but it’s true. Mother Teresa had an unconditional, unselfish love. Whether it’s to thousands or to one, it’s the same kind of love.

So I guess I just wanted to say I and many others think about our blessings, and those who don’t feel so blessed today. If you are a person just diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, or you are a family caregiver and you don’t feel so blessed today, I want to tell you, you are special, you matter, and we care. If that makes you feel blessed today, I am happy for that!

If you can take a few moments to yourself every morning or every night and acknowledge your blessings, I promise you it will give you some peace in your days. If the only thing you can come up with is being grateful for being alive or being able to eat and bathe, than at least be grateful for that. As you start to think about the little blessings in your life you will be more aware of the moments that put joy in your heart.

In conclusion, I will leave a few wonderful quotes from Mother Teresa that I hope you turn to when the blessings just don’t feel there, and they can remind you that love is indeed a blessing.

In this life we cannot do great things. We can only do small things with great love. -- Mother Teresa

It is not the magnitude of our actions but the amount of love that is put into them that matters. -- Mother Teresa

It is a kingly act to assist the fallen. -- Mother Teresa

The success of love is in the loving - it is not in the result of loving. Of course it is natural in love to want the best for the other person, but whether it turns out that way or not does not determine the value of what we have done. -- Mother Teresa

Personal Update: I was married to a wonderful man on Feburary 13th in Riviera Maya, Mexico. My husband, Bernie Ritchey was a family caregiver to both of his parents until they passed away.  His mother died of Alzheimer's, so he understands, supports, and appreciates the work I do. Unfortunately I was never able to meet his parents before their passing, but I know the love he feels for them and the sacrifices he made on behalf of that love.

I am sure I will write more about that another time, but for now, I just wanted you to know you may see my name changed in some places, and not in others until I get the name change process complete.

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Angil Tarach-Ritchey(RN GCM) has over 30 years of experience, and is a nationally known expert in senior care and advocacy. Angil is also the owner of Visiting Angels in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Original content Angil Tarach-Ritchey, the Alzheimer's Reading Room