<h1>You have got to be kidding me. How in the world did he get mud all over the carpet?</h1>

I had planned ahead and had him take his shoes off while I ran upstairs to get another pair.  Really, he can find the dirty shoes and put them back on before I make it back down with the new shoes.  You have got to be kidding me…..

 

This is just an example of a frustrating event that really happened on a recent w20140712_105218eekend with my dad.  Alzheimer’s is such an unfair disease.  This is an obvious statement I know, but it is becoming more and more a part of life with my dad.  Dad was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease 9 years ago.

 

I have been traveling for 18 months, spending 3 days per week with my dad, caring for him in his home.  He is in great physical shape but the mental decline is getting trickier for me to deal with.

 

I am more than capable of problem solving situations like the one above, it is just that sometimes you think you have to handled it only to have him do something unexpected .  You often never dream he would do the things that he does.  Especially when moments before he could be totally lucid and can do something like tell you what time it is or ask you how work is going.

 

There are many reasons why my husband and I have chosen to have me spend almost half the week away from home.  The most important one to me was to keep my dad at home and to enjoy the time I have left with him.

 

I have noticed in the last month it was becoming increasingly more difficult to enjoy the time I have with him.  As I stepped back to examine this, explore why and pray about how to change it, the muddy shoes happened.  We had attempted to work in the yard doing very similar tasks as we did about this time last year.  The adventure was not near as successful this year as it was last.

 

My dad’s ability to understand and be helpful has significantly declined.  Yes, that is what Alzheimer’s is, a disease of decline.  But like all things that change gradually we often don’t see the change until something happens that calls our attention to it.  So yes, he has changed.  Now how do I adjust?

Gratitude.  Don’t you love it when God has you working on something He is really wanting you to learn not just in your head but in your heart and life?  Gratitude!  I have been researching and thinking a lot about Gratitude in preparation for the 21 Day Gratitude Challenge which starts June 22nd, 2015!

 

To be present with my dad and not to allow the heart ache of what he can no longer do affect my time with him, I must focus on where he is now, not what he was.  I feel I have done this pretty well up until now.  But that is not enough because those things which he can do are more limited than ever.

 

Now, I have to move into being grateful for him and the time with him.  Not because of what he can or can’t do but for the amazing person he is and was.

 

The key to having gratitude make an impact on your life is to truly stay focused on what you have.  It is so easy to look at a situation and fall into the land of comparison in order to find things to be thankful for.  True gratitude is focused on what you have in that moment.

 

As I have immersed myself in gratitude I have found more peace in the moments of life with dad.  I am so thankful God has shown me how gratitude makes life better.  

 

Dad’s illness has not improved but my heart of gratitude has helped me to handle it with more love, grace and peace.

 

For gratitude to impact your world you have to practice the art of gratitude daily.  Are you ready to learn to live in gratitude too?

There are many different studies on gratitude and its impact on the lives of those in the study.  The studies I used in creating this challenge had people express their gratitude in different ways, so the 21 Day Challenge offers 3 of these activities for you to choose from each day.

 

1.        The 3 Blessings exercise.  It was created by Robert Emmons, at the end of the day you are to list the 3 things, big or small, that you consider being a positive experience from the day.  Taking the time to evaluate the day and finding a least 3 things to record in a journal can have a great positive impact on your life.

2.       Say more Thank You more.  Take the time to write Thank You notes to those in your live who you might not always remember to thank.  There are tons of people in our lives that make life easier and better, so be sure to take the time to say thanks in a concrete form.  You might also make it a point to offer a verbal Thank You to those you run into in your daily life.  Thank the cashier, barista, the man who stopped to open the door for you and even the family member who does something nice for you.  Taking time to express your appreciation will help you find things to be grateful for in your everyday life.

3.       Stop & Smell the Roses.  Stop for 30 seconds, take in all the good around you and then offer a prayer of Thanksgiving! Literally stop and smell the beautiful scents of nature around you, whether you are in your kitchen cooking up a quick meal or outside on your way to your car to or from an errand, be mindful in the moment.  Express your gratitude to the Lord right then and there!

Practicing Gratitude for 21 Days will put you on track to establishing a new habit. 

 

I am so glad you have learned how to focus on gratitude.  Though you might not be able to participate in my 21 Day Gratitude Challenge you can always do one of your own.   I would love to hear how it goes.  Leave a comment below.  Thanks, Rayna