Patience – Lessons Learned – Viki’s Journey

July 8, 2010 by  
Filed under Ask Viki, Featured, Newsletter


Patience – Lessons Learned – Newsletter

Quote of the Month:

The individual is capable of both great compassion and great indifference. He has it within his means to nourish the former and outgrow the latter.
Norman Cousins

I love when life reminds me of the lessons that I thought I had learned, but then I find out I need a refresher course. This month’s newsletter is about having patience, but not just your average patience, instead good-natured and seeking to understand patience. There are two parts to this story.

The second part first:

Two weeks ago I had to make about 50 phone calls to set up the events for my book tour in July. As I was contacting different groups and reaching out to the community organizations that help those with differing levels of capacity, I was on a roll. Each call was a wonderful opportunity to connect with like-minded people about our common goals. I tend to be a quick person and was enjoying the speed with which I was accomplishing my tasks. Then it happened, I contacted some organizations that focus on helping those who communicate more slowly or differently, and all of a sudden, my world slowed down. The reason being, the people I needed to talk to also suffered from the same issues of communicating differently. What had taken me 10 minutes to accomplish on other calls, now took me 25 minutes.

I had a choice. I could politely excuse myself from the call and just move on to someone else. I could get frustrated or start multi-tasking while I waited for them to say what they needed to say. Or, I could be present, slow myself down, listen differently and be patient. I realized that patience was not about “waiting it out,” but it was about staying connected with an open heart as I remembered I needed to listen differently.

When I did this, I heard amazing things. One gentleman with bipolar disease told me that he hoped others would understand when he said, “I can do it – Until I can’t.” I had never heard this phrase but it was a gift to me because it so clearly explains the needs of someone with a fluctuating mental illness. I had understood the concept as this is exactly what I talk about throughout my book. Keeping people included and empowered, despite their limitations, until those instances when they need us to step in and protect them. But I hadn’t had such an easy way to say it. I am so grateful he shared it with me.

Part 1 of the story:

Back in March, when it was Brain Injury Awareness Month, I was fortunate to connect with a wonderful woman named Tammi Diaz. She suffered a traumatic brain injury when she was hit by a car, but she has overcome her injury, found a new way to be, and is a wonderful advocate for those in her community. I contacted her because I wanted to interview her on my online radio show because I thought it would be great for my listeners to hear first hand from someone who still deals with the effects of a brain injury. When I first spoke with her, I was acutely aware of her slightly slower speech. Not much slower, but just enough to notice. She shared with me her stories about the amazing way she advocates at the state legislature and her passion for improving the public transportation in her community. Coming from a show biz background as a child, I wondered if my listening audience would keep listening once they heard her voice. I realized I might lose some listeners but that was the whole point of the show, to get people to hear from people struggling with brain injuries. (You would have thought that a few weeks later, I would have known that I needed to be patient when I was making all those phone calls. But my own agenda and schedule got in the way. Lesson re-learned.)

I booked her on the show along with the director of the Brain Injury Association in Utah. What a wonderful and inspiring interview. I realized that we don’t hear these types of voices in the media or on television shows. This is a silenced community like so many who struggle with mental illness, dementia, developmental delays etc.

So what is in this message for all of us? I hope that you can remember to slow down and to listen differently when you are talking to someone with a speech or brain disorder. Don’t rush, don’t complete their sentences, don’t get annoyed and don’t think it isn’t worth your time. The gift of understanding that you may receive from someone who experiences the world differently is inspiring. I am so grateful that I got the opportunity to practice what I teach. Each phone call brought a gem of knowledge and a connection with a terrific person. Please role model this kind of behavior for your kids, your colleagues and for others in the public when you can see a store clerk growing impatient with someone with a disability. We can make a difference in the lives of others, by listening with a generous heart and a good-natured attitude.

Have a kind and respectful day.

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One Comment on "Patience – Lessons Learned – Viki’s Journey"

  1. Ethelle Lord, DM on Wed, 31st Oct 2012 11:22 pm 

    Research has widely focused on finding a cure for Alzheimer’s. Methods of providing better day-to-day care of persons living with Alzheimer’s have also a highly focused topic of Alzheimer’s research. We also know that Alzheimer’s can last as long as 20 years or more depending on age and type of diagnosis. Alzheimer’s has received a lot of attention from care to cure, and less philosophical attention.
    What is the philosophical side to Alzheimer’s? What is the meaning of life with Alzheimer’s? The more my husband progresses in his Alzheimer’s, the more I appreciate the meaning of life and value of the therapeutic process. Bernstein (2005) posited that compassion and unselfish concern by one individual for the well-being of another defines the therapeutic process. Nietzsche, the philosopher, suffered long bouts of illness accompanied by pain. He wrote:
    “Did you ever say yes to a pleasure?
    Oh my friends, then you also said yes to all pain.
    All things are linked, entwined, in love with one another.”
    I made a few philosophical discoveries while observing the progression of my husband’s Alzheimer’s. The personality traits remain intact, perhaps even stronger than before. My husband has profiled as an Empath® and according to Seich (2000) the following would be characteristics of an Empath® personality style:
    • Thinking ~ By proximity, they can tune into the emotional state of others; they are often unaware of their own intuitive power.
    • Working ~ These gentle individuals feel successful when they encourage others to be successful; they are natural-born teachers and instructors.
    • Emoting ~ Their emotions bubble over easily and unexpectedly; they may confuse being used with being needed (p. 19).

    I can attest that my husband, even in his advanced stage of Alzheimer’s, has always demonstrated this in different ways and at different times of the day. It is not true that Alzheimer’s steals the personality. I believe the personality can only be reinforced. In the absence of sound judgment and altered reality, distractions are at a minimum. The heart of personality is still very much active and clearly recognizable. As someone wrote, “…it is not my memories that make me myself…” (VIV, 2004, This is in contradiction to Locke’s theory of personal identity. He defined personality in terms of consciousness and memory.

    Knowing that Alzheimer’s will begin by dulling the memories and eventually erase them for good, Penelope Garner listed three tips to those individuals living with Alzheimer’s:

    1. From now on please don’t worry about the future – stay with what you already know and love.
    2. Appoint the person you most trust as your advocate – and ask them to read this book while you get on with your life.
    3. Forget all about the diagnosis – you’re very good at forgetting now, so use this skill to forget about dementia and get on with enjoying your life once more (James, 2009, p. 77).

    Perhaps we need to approach Alzheimer’s from a philosophical stance and instead of looking at the changes Alzheimer’s may bring; we can look at what hasn’t changed in the person living with Alzheimer’s. More people, including caregivers and the person living with Alzheimer’s, may begin to enjoy Alzheimer’s for what it brings instead of what it takes away. I know that my husband dreaded losing his memories, especially associating my name with my face.
    Now he is content and peaceful. The time we spend together is much more philosophical than physical or mental. We are able to enjoy the small things without worry. I read to him and we listen to music together. He holds me close for long periods of time without saying a word. I hold his hand and give him a tender kiss. Touch has become more important than words because hands and lips are overly sensitive to a person living with Alzheimer’s.
    Someone shared with me she was finally able to be more intimate with her mother now that her mother had Alzheimer’s. I think more intimacy can be achieved due to Alzheimer’s effect on judgment. Judgment is obsolete with Alzheimer’s. Judgment requires a statement of opinion, who wants to state an opinion without an opportunity for discussion? The person living with Alzheimer’s does not care about opinions or facts. He/she cares only about philosophical aspects of life such as emotions, living in the here and now, and death. The awareness of life and death seems even more remarkable for a person living with Alzheimer’s.

    References for this article
    Bernstein, A. (2005). The practice of wisdom: A contribution to clinical philosophy. Psychoanalytic Inquiry, 25(4), 540-554.
    Nietzsche, Pain and Meaning. Retrieved from
    James, O. (2009). Contented Dementia (Kindle Locations 77-81). Random House UK. Kindle Edition.
    Johnson, T. (n.d.). Treating Alzheimer’s disease with Reiki. Retrieved from
    Seich, S. (2000). 3 Sides of You: Unlocking the way you think, work, and love. Huntsville, AL.

    About the author

    Ethelle G. Lord, former president of the Maine Gerontological Society in the State of Maine, currently is president and professional Alzheimer’s coach offering Alzheimer’s coaching and consulting with businesses at, and is a professor of Organizational Behavior at several universities. Dr. Lord has a Doctorate of Management in Organizational Leadership from the University of Phoenix. Her 10-year experience as a family caregiver originated with her husband who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in Jan. 2003. In that decade she has seen a daily influx of new Alzheimer’s cases. Dr. Lord realized there is an urgent need for a change in perspective with regards to providing individual and institutional care for individuals living with Alzheimer’s. She is married to Maj. Larry S. Potter, USAF retired, and lives in Mapleton, Maine. Dr. Lord is available for presentations, training, and Alzheimer’s coaching/consulting.

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