My 1996 book of Alzheimer’s narratives has been out-of-print for a long time, so my current project is revising it as an eBook. This project, The Third Floor, has its ups and downs, and my outlet for expressing the vicissitudes is an “Artist Check-In” conference call which I make weekly. (An article describing the Artist Check-In, published in the fall 2012 issue of the SCBWI Bulletin, can be viewed here. artist check in article
This week on the check-in call, I reported on the steep learning curve I’m climbing to enter the world of e-publishing and promotion. I ticked off the research I logged this week on digital book cover designers, online stock photos, mail manager services, and Kindle Singles. I spoke to my midweek slump, when the project seemed worthless and impossible, and to the renewal that came from a friend who had read the original book I’m now revising.
My colleagues listened deeply as they always do. One thanked me for being out in the Star Ship Enterprise exploring where she had not yet gone. One gave me a link to Lynn Serafinn’s groundbreaking book, http://the7gracesofmarketing.com/And my reframing of marketing as offering my gifts to the world was clearly reflected back to me by another colleague. Their listening and feedback helped me understand — writing to change the world means I dare not skip the steps of learning how to get the writing into that world. Giving goes nowhere if I don’t do the work of identifying and finding my receivers.
What would I do without these sister artists? Lynnn Serafinn and Sherri L. McLendon (www.professionalmoneta.com), my local guru in mindfulness approaches to marketing, and Tami Simon of Sounds True. (listen to her being interviewed by Krista Tippet of NPR’s On Being show last week, 5/30/13)
Grateful to the max, I don’t have to do without them. And you don’t, either.
Yesterday a friend who read my out-of-print Alzheimer’s book stopped me to say how much it meant to her. She said it took her past the label into the humanness of those suffering with the disease. Bless her heart, she didn’t know her words came just when my revision project, The Third Floor, Tales from Our Teachers on the Alzheimer’s Unit, was slumping into author despair.
I thanked her and returned to work with renewed faith in the project’s value. Whether newly-diagnosed individual, caregiver or staff, family member or friend, all those who have been touched by experience with dementia, need every encouragement available in order to keep their own hearts open. Hope, that feathery thing, is so fragile. My friend spoke directly to my deepest hope, that The Third Floor may be a testament to the human spirit of individuals facing any form of dementia.
Beatitudes, an Arizona retirement campus’s advanced-dementia unit, has become a model of innovations in caring for people who “have trouble thinking,” terminology used by the director of education and research at the Beatitudes campus. A recent article by Rebecca Mead in the New Yorker describes Beatitudes this way: “Often the advanced-dementia unit, with its pervasive quiet and its slow-moving, kindly staff, seemed like an anteroom to another realm, filled with people in a state of suspended anticipation.”
This article caught my eye because I’m currently revising my out-of-print 1996 book of narratives, Tales from My Teachers on the Alzheimer’s Unit. I plan to launch it as an e-book called The Third Floor, Tales from Our Teachers. I, like the director at Beatitudes, often noticed that the elders with dementia, in the way they live in the immediate present, share a gift of truth with us. Many religions around the globe view being in the present moment as a spiritual practice. It is my hope that The Third Floor will provide a window through which a reader can look through institutional walls into the unique lives of these teachers.
I’d welcome your comments about experiences in this vein, which you may have had with loved ones, or your thoughts on the New Yorker article, which you can read by clicking the link above.
Did you know that women who lost their sons started Mother’s Day as a protest to the carnage of the Civil War? Women all over the world are still losing their children to war. Here is the original Mother’s Day Proclamation, written in Boston, 1870 by Julia Ward Howe:
“Arise, then, women of this day! Arise all women who have heart, whether our baptism be that of water or tears! Say firmly:
‘We will not have our great questions decided by irrelevant agencies.
Our husbands shall not come to us, reeking with carnage, for caresses and applause. Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn all that we have been able to teach them of charity, mercy and patience. We women of one country will be too tender of those of another country to allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs.’
In the name of womanhood and of humanity, I earnestly ask that a general congress of women without limits of nationality may be appointed and held at some place deemed most convenient and at the earliest period considered with its objects to promote the alliance of the different nationalities, the amicable settlement of international questions, and the great and general interests of peace.”
For the love of all mothers’ sons and daughters, let’s take Julia Ward Howe’s eloquent plea to heart. Let’s look around at our own lives, and search out where and how we can make peace. If you are so moved, please comment on how you will contribute to a peaceful world.