This year has been a huge year for my family, and there have been many life lessons that have played out inside these four walls.
The two biggest lessons that I learned this year are that it’s never too late to learn something new and to never give up on your dreams.
Last year, if I had been asked to describe my life, I probably would have said, “Basically over.” I am my mother’s Alzheimer’s caregiver, and as such, I have pretty much given my life over to taking care of her. The hours I spend isolated behind our front door could sometimes seem very bleak and depressing. The hours, days and weeks dragged by with no relief in sight. My future seemed to stretch out in front of me like Interstate 40 while driving through Texas, with me doing the same exact thing today that I had done yesterday and the day before.
I began writing about our life and what I was feeling as a way of releasing the pent up grief, fear and loneliness. You see, when you deal with someone who suffers from dementia, you have to hide your feelings and emotions all of the time. After months of swallowing down the loneliness, heartache and frustration, I developed an ulcer and knew that I was going to have to make some major changes in my life.
I started publishing my stories and writings on my own blog. When I first began, I didn’t know anything about the computer. I had never been on Facebook and had no clue what a tweet was. The first story I wrote was published by Alzheimer’s Reading Room, and I was thrilled when people reacted to it and wanted more. The problem was I didn’t know what a URL was, so how could I tell people where to find more?
That was the very beginning, and this last year has been all about my ongoing education. Not only in Alzheimer’s and caregiving, but also about writing and publishing. The more I learned, the more I wanted to learn. I became fascinated with the process itself and have been gearing my studies to include more technical development.
The more I learned, the more confident I became in all areas of my life. The more I put myself out there, the more connected I felt. I was able to find people who knew what life was like for a caregiver and learned valuable lessons that have improved our lives and the quality of care that I am able to offer to my mom. I found people who could teach me all of the technical ins and outs needed to compete in the crowded world of blogging and writing. I fell in love with an aspect that I had no idea existed until I started blogging myself, and that has changed everything!
These days, instead of going through the exact same things over and over and over, I am thriving in an environment of like-minded individuals who build me up when I need it and offer tough love when I get down. I gained the confidence I needed to chase my dreams and have the education to know what to do with them when I finally caught up to them.
I still have a lot left to learn, but I know that life is going by quickly and that we all need to make every moment count. It doesn’t matter how old you are, never give up on your dreams. My dream has always been to become a writer and because of all the hard work I’ve put in and the support of so many others, I recently finished my very first novel! And there’s still so much more to do.