I read a lot of medical journals and research statistics about what the world will be like, medically, in the coming years. Lots of people I know are posting about the health and illness of family and friends and that gets me thinking about the future. The statistics in the United States regarding dementia are staggering with no cure arriving in the immediate future. I remember sitting in the movie theater watching Julianne Moore in Still Alice and astonished at the course of her illness.
There is a lot written about the impact the arts can have on those with memory deficiencies. A song can trigger a memory. When someone smells a scent from their childhood they reflect on those memories and stories giving their loved ones a glimpse of the individual’s world and allowing the family an opportunity to recapture a moment in time of their loved one.
I decided to follow my own advice and go to my studio to capture a moment. One of my favorite experiences, in my life, was a trip to Japan back in 1990. I spent ten days visiting Kyoto, Nara, and Mt. Koya. It was a magical trip and drew me in deeper to my love of Asian culture. It shouldn’t be a surprise given that information that I went to my studio and pulled out a drawer of fabric filled with Asian inspired fabric.
Since that inspirational trip, I’ve developed an ongoing love of the Japanese people, their food, and their culture. One of the most memorable experiences I had was visiting the Zen rock gardens across the country. I’ve created a body of work where I the quilting follows the Zen rock garden designs. They are meditative pieces and I often use them in presentations because participants can do a finger meditation directly on the work.
I went to the studio today with the idea of capturing another memory that I can use as catalyst of the mental file folder I have of Japan. Every time I look at this piece it will take me back to an earlier time. It honors a culture that has taught me many valuable lessons. The work was a meditative experience in and of itself, providing me with studio time to be reflective emotionally and spiritually.
What moments do you want to capture? Is there a song, a poem, a photograph that sparks a memory? How do you use your creative energy to share your life stories? Remember, every creative venture leaves a legacy!
Years ago I read Michael Gelb’s book How to Think Like Leonard daVinci. Gelb gained access to daVinci’s notebooks and reduced his lifetime of work to seven principles. The first principle is Curiosite. I’m a very curious person. In addition, like daVinci I keep my random thoughts, findings, and explorations in notebooks. I’m always on the lookout for something new, intriguing, and inspiring.
Yesterday I saw an interview on The Katie Couric Show. She was interviewing the creators of a documentary titled Alive Inside. The movie focuses on those diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and the impact music has their lives. The creators beautifully demonstrate how when music is provided to Alzheimer’s patients we can tap into the recessed parts of the patient’s memory and experience. It reaches a part of their hearts and souls that allow them to feel connected to a life they and their families have lost.
One woman shared the story of her mother who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s at age sixty-one. The woman retreated into a world that was lonely and disheartening. Her daughter shared that the most hurtful part of the disease was the patient’s inability to have meaning or ability to participate in the lives of her family and community. She was provided with a device loaded with her favorite music. Once she heard the music the family and the cameras captured the outer shell cracking and what emerged was an ecstatic, dancing, and alive woman. The woman was transformed and it provided the family with a way of connecting the person they had loved for many years. She was transformed. Music was the key that unlocked the prison that was keeping her captive.
These are the stories we need to tell and hear. The more we’re able to tap into the arts as a treatment modality, the more we’ll be able to reduce suffering and improve quality of life for many.
I love music. When I was in high school looking for colleges I wanted to be a music therapist. Back in the day, there were only six colleges in the country offering music therapy as an option. Today there are many music therapy programs and other expressive arts therapy programs showcasing the healing power of art.
Personally I use music as supplements, improving my life physically, emotionally, and spiritually. When I hear music I walk differently. I express myself more fully because I have an energy that reaffirms my life force. I like to sing and find it as exhilarating as some people find exercise; it’s just a different form of exercise.
What makes you feel “Alive Inside”? When you find that creative expression that makes you feel “alive inside” grab on and don’t let go. Practice that creative expression often! Give yourself the gift of being “alive inside”!
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