Everyone needs a little me-time but no one gets enough. Don't think of your time listening to an older adult as a chore on your to-do list; think of it as a breather from the list. Use this time to take care of yourself. Know that if you don't take care of yourself, you can't take care of anyone else – this includes the older adult and other people in your life. It's kind of like grabbing a cup of coffee or your favorite beverage. It's really not a lot of time out of your day but it's just a little something that makes you feel good. As I grow older myself and have more responsibilities every single day, I have come to realize that me-time is one of the two most valuable things on earth. The other thing? Genuine relationships. How awesome is it that listening to an older adult's story can help you achieve both things at once?
A couple months into the start of the original group, I wrote a blog post after I got home from the session. I entitled it, "Detox." I wasn't referring to the changes I saw happen in the older adults, which by then were obvious. I was starting to notice the changes that was happening in me.
Class felt nice today. We went half an hour overtime and we could have kept talking for hours more. Hattie said, “They must think we’re giving out money in here. We always leave the room with huge, silly grins on our faces.”
Today was one of those days when everyone had powerful thoughts that kept rolling and rolling. No one talked over one another. The seniors took turns reading, speaking and listening. And no matter who spoke, he or she got everyone else’s full attention.
I remember at some point, Helen said, “Of course everyone has a little heartbreak. Losing both my parents, losing a child, there are some events that I still haven’t gotten over yet. But I have, and I do have, a lot of happiness in my life. I do. I have happiness.”
What could you say to something so profound? Except – nothing. Saying nothing was the only appropriate thing the rest of us could do. And that’s what we did. Hattie, already moved to tears – was the first one who started clapping. Then the rest of us joined. We just sat around the table and clapped. I mean, where else can I sit in a circle with other people and just clap about the sheer power of a thought? It felt nice. Nice like spa-nice. Detox-nice. Feel-good-about-yourself-and-humanity-nice.