“If you are depressed, you are living in the past.
If you are Anxious, you are living in the future.
If you are at peace, you are living in the present”.
Living in the Moment – Why I’ve decided to make this my lifestyle experiment!
Still Alice (The Movie)
I had been avoiding watching this movie since it first came onto our screens in January, 2015. My father went and watched it straight away and wasn’t too impressed with the way it depicted Dementia or Alzheimer’s (as they like to call it in America). I held back from watching it because of the battle my own mother was having with the disease. I remember watching Julianne Moore as she was interviewed and the question that she was asked by one of the interviewers. The question was this:
“What did you learn the most by playing the role of Alice Howland in the movie?”
Her response sat uncomfortably with me as Julianne went on to highlight the importance of “Living in the Moment” when faced with such a resoundingly awful diagnosis of Early-Onset Dementia (EOD).
I remember asking myself – How the heck can you possibly “live in the moment” when your future is so completely and utterly terrifying and doomed?
I have witnessed the affect that such a diagnosis has on sufferers (strugglers) as well as the family and friends to whom are also casualties of this disease. I feared watching this movie because I feared getting this disease myself. I still do in a way, but I’ve learnt that it’s important to acknowledge and accept the fears and to confront them, in order to move on with the process of living.
I eventually watched the movie last December (yes, it took me 11 months) and as I lay in the spare bedroom in absolute solitude I recall being completely blindsided by the fact that I didn’t become overly emotional. Why was I not sobbing uncontrollably? Why (at least) was I not shedding any tears? This was not what I had expected, but I realised why….
The movie ended before the worst stuff happened. It ended before she was admitted to a nursing home, it ended before she could no long walk, talk, feed herself and live in a dignified manner. It ended before all these terrible horrible things were going to happen to her. All these horrible things are happening to my mother as we speak. It’s really not not a nice thing to watch. I think watching my mum go through all these terrible things is much worse than the carefully scripted movie that become one of the best sellers in Hollywood in 2015.
A different perspective…
Bare with me for a while – it’s going to get deep. Ken Wilbur… you sum it up perfectly.
Upon reflection, I understand why the producers decided to end the movie in such a way. The producers wanted to provide a positive slant to the nature of the disease because in the end, her attitude to the disease and her diagnosis was nothing but inspiring. I realise that she had no other choice other than to “Live in the Moment” and appreciate all that she had. She was inspirational because even though a diagnosis of Early Onset Dementia (EOD) was tragic, she had the insight to believe that her life had been anything BUT tragic. Her life WAS (at THAT moment in time) anything but tragic. She had the unique ability to accept what was going to happen and to acknowledge that she was still alive and living. How inspirational is that?
Her greatest wish:
“My greatest wish is that my children, our children, the next generation – do not have to face what I am facing. But for the time being I’m still alive. I have people I love dearly; I have things I want to do with my life. I still have moments in the day of pure happiness and joy. And please do not think that I am suffering. I am not suffering, I am struggling. Struggling to be part of things, to stay connect to whom I was once. So “live in the moment” I tell myself. It’s really all I can do, Live in the moment”(Dr. Alice Howland )
As I continue to observe and interact with people also struggling with this disease I am constantly reminded of how precious life really is. I really do believe that….
“the secret to having it all is believing that you already do”
Looking on the bright side.. Not quite just yet.
Believe me when I say that it took me about 12 months to get to this mindset. I did a lot of soul searching, worrying, a few visits to the psychologist, fights with family, university failures and honest home truths. I couldn’t seem to see the forest through the trees. I was worried about things that may not necessarily happen. I was resentful that I was wasting these days on earth simply because I couldn’t get beyond the goddamn awful fear that I may one day suffer the same fate as my mum. No one wanted to talk about it. I was frustrated and just plain SAD! But feeling sorry for yourself when you have a family to raise and a job to do was just not practical.
The definition of Irony.
The ironic crazy thing was that the only person that could have possibly settled my sadness and anxiety was the person that was sitting in a nursing home, unable to communicate with me. My mum…
All I could do was hold her hand and cry silent tears. This was therapy yet this was the shock that I needed in order for me to move on.
Onwards and Upwards
I was not normally a fearful person so I made an executive decision with myself to focus on “The Present”! How cliché is that?
I first of all had to remove myself from negativity and culled significant people in my life who seemed to take great pleasure in bringing me down. The brighter side of life and “living in the moment” made me significantly happier and gave me a total sense of purpose. Simply focusing on the positive rather than the negative was a massive mindset change and it freed my energies for bigger and better things. I decided that I was capable of extraordinary things (time will tell) and to commit to projects that I’d been “putting-off” for quite some time. It was time to set some crazy goals and ignore any cynics along the way. I started to write, study new things and mix it up with different types of interesting people. Life was good. I was chilled so my plan was working out. It turns out that “living in the moment” was the perfect strategy. I’m a true Arian and my honest and sometimes confronting approach is one that I am proud of. I have my faults but ultimately I’m a nice person with loads of loyalty and love to give. My husband can vouch for that!
This is me and this is how I feel. Although in some way I do feel “Lucky” I’m aware that the choices that I have made in recent months and the “live in the moment” attitude that I have adopted has lead me to being content, grateful and YES…. (dare I say It)… HAPPY!
My “Live in the Moment” Pledge
From this day onwards I will ignore the NOISE around me and focus on the things that I have influence over. My immediate family, My friends and most of all ME! I aim to get the best out of every day by taking time to notice those fleeting moments that give me pleasure. The silent “Ahhhh” moments should and will not be underrated. The moments where my son wraps his arms around me, where he whistles his way to the school bus, where my daughter dresses up in my clothes and wears my makeup, where the koalas grunt at night, where my husband and children dive under the waves, where we throw the stick to our stick fetching Jack Russell, where I accept a lick from my Chihuahua and where I ultimately look and feel pretty damn good. My aim is to have an adventure everyday, to tick things off my bucket list, to work on my weak spots and to make this world a brighter place so that my kids are able to acknowledge their abilities to do the same. I do believe there is power in Positivity. This is my “Live in the Moment” Pledge – My Lifestyle Experiment and I’m looking forward to sharing my journey with you.
Thankyou for reading this blog. Please comment or like. I’m not a fan of stalking but I understand that it happens. I’m totally ok with honesty and realise that I am opening myself up for certain levels of criticism.
I would love for you to read my Bucket List below.
What is on your ultimate Bucket List?
- To live in Hawaii for a while (preferably longer than three months);
- To renew my vows after 20 years of marriage (in Hawaii – no surprises there) – 7 years to go;
- To build a house from scratch (I’m 44 yrs old and still haven’t done that);
- To renovate an old beach shack, preferably located within a stone’s throw from the beach;
- To Pack up the family and travel around Australia (planning it as we speak);
- To write a children’s book;
- To run a marathon (New York and Great Wall of China – ouch)
- To be a feature writer specialising in Brain Health for a Lifestyle Magazine (any offers out there?);
- To watch my children, enter the workforce doing something that they love;
- To continue to age POSITIVELY.
- To see first-hand the power and force of the waves at PIPELINE or WAIMEA BAY. Love that beach;
- To learn to play “New York State of Mind” on the piano – Just like Billy Joel.
- To have Ian Thorpe come for Sunday Night Curry night. I’ve always loved Thorpey and welcome him at my house anytime.
- To introduce Brain Healthy curriculum into schools;
- To make more memories every day (good and bad).
- Detachment is not that you should own nothing. But that nothing should own you. (Ali ibn abi Talib)
- Never allow waiting to become a habit. Live your dreams and take risks. Life is happening now. (Paulo Coelho)
- If people sat outside and looked at the stars each night, I’ll bet they’d live life a lot differently (Bill Watterson)
- Respond to every call that excites your spirit (Rumi)
- Imagine all the wondrous things your arms might embrace if they weren’t wrapped so tightly around your struggles. (Sheila Burke)
- Sometimes you Win Sometimes you Learn.
Be an encourager, the world has plenty of critics already (Dave ?)