If someone listens, or stretches out a hand, or whispers a kind word of encouragement, or attempts to understand a lonely person, extraordinary things begin to happen.
- Loretta Girzartis, Author
In American life, we think we are most free when we don't need anybody. Exactly what Alzheimer's represents is absolute dependency - That's what we all need to learn - how deeply we need one another.
- Stanley Hauerwas, Professor of Theological Ethics
Following the light of the sun, we left the Old World.
- Christopher Columbus, Explorer
Nothing is more revealing than movement.
- Martha Graham, Dancer
The deepest principle in human nature is the craving to be appreciated.
- William James, Philosopher
All real living is meeting.
- Martin Buber, Philosopher
I don't know what your destiny will be, but one thing I know: the only ones among you who will be really happy are those who will have sought and found how to serve.
- Albert Schweitzer, Missionary
You can't stay in your corner of the forest waiting for others to come to you. You have to go to them sometimes.
- A. A. Milne, Author (Winnie the Pooh)
Being unwanted, unloved, uncared for, forgotten by everybody, I think that is a much greater hunger, a much greater poverty than the person who has nothing to eat . . .We must find each other.
- Mother Theresa, Saint
They invented hugs to let people know you love them without saying anything.
- Bil Keane, Cartoonist
A good traveler is one who does not know where he is going to, and a perfect traveler does not know where he came from.
- Lin Yutang, Writer
Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.
- Ralph Waldo Emerson, Essayist
Memory Bridge Newsletter
06/10/08 - Innovative Programming: Meeting of Minds
Meeting of Minds is a program for people with early-stage memory loss offered by the South Central Wisconsin Chapter of the Alzheimer's Association. Twice a week, group members do tai chi-based exercises and collectively create poetry.
The tai chi exercises are adapted for the specific needs of group members and are accompanied by flowing music that mirrors the practitioners' movements. Group members comment on the paradox of feeling both relaxed and energized following a session. The consistent attention to breathing fully and rhythmically not only oxygenates the cells of the body but creates a sense of internal calm and spaciousness: the experience of being absolutely whole. One participant commented that the tai chi "just feels so good! I love it! I can't say what I want to, but... this feels beautiful. And it helps with my walking, too--my balance."
The poetry created by Meeting of Minds is inspired in part by Kenneth Koch's I Never Told Anybody: Teaching Poetry Writing to Old People, and John Fox's Poetic Medicine: The Healing Art of Poem-Making and Finding What You Didn't Lose: Expressing Your Truth and Creativity Through Poem-Making. At each session, the group facilitator initiates a discussion based on a theme. Questions are posed. Personal stories evoked by the discussion are crafted into a poem that the group together refines and edits. Regarding the poetry exercises, another group member stated, "It's kind of impressive, what we do here when we all join in. When it's read back, it sounds like something well put together. It sounds like we know something!"
The common language-related problems that often occur with a memory disorder, such as repetition, the use of metaphorical language, and word substitutions, are, in this context, not deficits to clear communication at all. The poems generated in this way make everyone feel capable of expressing their thoughts and feelings. The unanticipated connections that surface during these poetic rap sessions hint with inspiring frequency at the very purpose of our lives.
The following is excerpted from a poem, "Whole," which was collaboratively created by group participants during a Meeting of Minds session and is an example of an outcome of the creative group expression component of the Meeting of Minds program:
Whole is a feeling.
Whole is feeling NOT-stressed.
Whole is feeling satisfaction.
Whole is peace.
Whole is feeling connected:
Connected to others,
Connected within myself.
Whole is feeling I am all together....
Whole is what we are, together.
There is nothing that is independent.
We are interdependent.
We are all connected.
We are whole.
For more information about the Meeting of Minds program, please contact:
Jody Curley, MA
Family Support Specialist
South Central Wisconsin Chapter
517 N. Segoe Road, Suite 301
Madison, WI 53705