With a Little Help’s 3rd Annual Care Conference March 8th & 9th, 2017

February 6th, 2017

Updated Poster

Sponsored by With a Little Help in Partnership with:
Care Partners and the Alzheimer’s Association

Care Partners Logo Jpeg 1


CLICK HERE to Register Today for With a Little Help’s 3rd Annual Conference

As part of our commitment to provide excellent training for our caregivers and community, we have put together an exciting lineup of local and national speakers and topics for our 3rd Annual Care Conference-Providing Excellent Care in All Seasons on March 8th & 9th, 2017.

The three workshops each day hold valuable insight for several audiences: Family Caregivers, Professional Caregivers, Nurses, Care Managers, Social Workers, Discharge Planners, Nursing Home Administrators and Guardians. All classes are CE and CEU accredited for professionals.

Want to learn more about the basics of memory loss or how you can find creative ways to engage with the person you are caring for? Want a deeper understanding of the role movement has in making a difference for people living with memory Loss? Wish to learn more about the wide range of cultural preferences at as you approach end of life? Do you know who should have a POLST form why? Are you grieving after the loss of a client or loved one? Below we have a list of speakers and their topics to help you identify what classes will be most useful for you on YOUR journey.

One of our priorities is to be a great resource and at the conference you will enjoy rich displays from our exhibitors so that they can be a resource for you as well. Here’s just a taste of the vendors who will be there: CarePartners, The Alzheimer’s Association, EvergreenHealth, Providence, CESCO Medical, Washington Poison Center, American Parkinson’s Disease Association, and Seattle Parks and Recreation’s Memory Care Program.

Don’t miss this wonderful opportunity to hear both national and regional speakers presenting pragmatic strategies for anyone engaged in caregiving or serving older adults. Join us Wednesday and Thursday March 8 and 9 at the North Seattle College campus for a few laughs and lots of great information. All of our workshops are affordable at $15.00 per CEU, but if you take 3 or more they become $10.00 per CEU.

Conference Speakers and Presentations

Steve Overman
Dr. Steve Overman
Dr. Overman has been a rheumatologist, UW professor & researcher, expedition physician, HMO medical director, integrated care innovator, a Boy Scout Troop Master, author and bicycle commuter. He collaborated with patients to do a Discovery Channel Mystery Diagnosis program, to write a book and twice to cycle the Oregon for the Arthritis Foundation. Having helped his wife navigate stage III breast cancer, he is again refocused on patient advocacy and empowerment and musculoskeletal value-based care.

(1 CEU) Help Your Client – Help Your Doctor – Help Us All
Do you understand how our healthcare system is handicapping our country? Does your care experience add to or lessen this impact? Do you know how to prevent being discounted or dismissed in a doctor’s office, or what to do if you are? What can you do about the doctor burnout problem, the rising costs of care and our overall population health? Let’s increase our awareness of the roles each of us can play.

GinnyGinny Moore
After a 35-year career in the corporate graphic design field, Ginny Moore made the plunge from sitting behind a desk to sitting in front of a human being. She has worked for With a Little Help for over five years. “Caregiving is wonderfully rewarding and consistently challenging. It builds character. I consider it a spiritual practice.” She is the author of Don’t Make Lemonade: Leaning Into Life’s Difficult Transitions.

(1 CEU) Let’s Connect! Gain & Maintain a Rapport with Clients
You are knocking on the door of a new client. Your stomach is churning. How will this go? What do you say? How will you make a good first impression? Ginny Moore has answers for you. From her own and other caregiver experiences, she shares ways to hit it off with new clients. Learn the importance of connecting with your client, and three simple words to always keep in mind for every shift.

ScottJeretta Scott, MS, National Trainer and State Outreach Rep OEI/Captel
Jeretta has spent her career dedicated to seniors and training for 25+ years. For the past three years she has served as the State Outreach Rep and National Trainer for the CapTel Captioning Telephone for OEI. OEI provides Outreach, Education and Installation on behalf of the free federal program for the CapTel Captioning telephone.

Working every day all day with people who experience hearing loss I have had the opportunity to truly understand the impacts of hearing loss far beyond the person who wears hearing aids. Sharing about hearing loss beyond the medical aspect to raise awareness to this high impact low discussion topic needs to be given a voice. Many resources, technologies and amazing professionals exist to provide the quality of life all deserve regardless of how good ears are functioning.

Life BEYOND and BEHIND the Hearing Aid
In this presentation Jeretta will help us understand the non-medical affect that hearing loss has on both the person with hearing loss and the person caring and communicating with them. She will help us understand the social and cultural impacts of hearing loss and the communities affected. Jerretta will also provide us with resources and communication techniques to open up better lines of communication for all!

D DesonierDon Desonier
Don provides coaching and mediation services to caregivers and families of loved ones with Alzheimer’s disease or related dementias. He has a Certificate in Gerontology from the University of Washington. Don leads a dementia support group for men through the Alzheimer’s Association. He is also trained as an Elder and Adult Family Mediator, and has a Juris Doctor degree. More information on Don’s coaching and mediation practice can be found

(1 CEU) Diffusing Conflict: The Magic of Listening and Language
Those who care for seniors – be they professionals or family members – want to provide the best, most loving and engaging care possible. We are all human, however, and thus conflict can often occur in interactions between the caregiver and the receiver of their care. Attendees will learn how empathic listening and the words they use are key tools to diffuse stress, anger, anxiety and fear.

M L PannenMary Lynn Pannen
Sound Options’ CEO and President, Mary Lynn Pannen, is one of the nation’s leading experts on Geriatric Management and Home Care for seniors and individuals with complex and wide- ranging needs. Her expertise and passion for quality care and advocacy makes her a well-known and resourceful voice and a sought-after speaker and advisor on both the local and national level. She has grown Sound Options into the largest private Care Management firm in Washington State.

(1 CEU) Music & The Mind
Caring for a loved one with dementia demands our creativity. In this presentation, learn how music can be an important tool for caregivers. See concrete examples of how music can increase quality of life and help connect individuals with dementia to their own story, their loved ones, and their community. You’ll take away resources along with the do’s and don’ts of making a playlist for your own loved one with dementia.

Siri McLean

Siri McLean, founder of Adelie Disaster Solutions, is a Certified Emergency Manager (CEM) with a passion to help people prepare for disasters and have fun doing it! She has spent the past 10 years working for both Microsoft and the University of Washington teaching personal preparedness classes, managing Emergency Operations Centers and facilitating disaster exercises. She has a master’s degree in Strategic Planning for Critical Infrastructure and is the co-founder of the Pacific Northwest Disaster Divas, a group of women emergency manager who mentor and support one another.

(1 CEU) Being Ready Matters: Preparing Yourself and Helping Your Clients
Over the past several years we have watched as earthquakes have devastated cities around the world and wondered could that happen here? The Pacific Northwest is not immune. It is not a matter of if, but when the next big one will strike. When it does will, you be ready? This training will identify the steps you can take to prepare yourself, your families and your home. Preparing for disasters can actually be fun!

Lisa SteubingCoach Lisa Stuebing founded Mud Puddle Fitness, a Medical Exercise practice. She is widely considered an industry leader in older adult health and wellness. Specialties include brain health, chronic pain management, movement disorders and fall prevention. She teaches for the Brain Injury Alliance of Washington, and speaks for the Arthritis Foundation and the American Heart Association | American Stroke Association. Coach Lisa is a member of the International Parkinson’s and Movement Disorder Society.

( 0.5 CEU) Feel Better, Move Better
These are exciting times in brain health. Scientists used to ask if the mind could change the brain. This is now widely accepted. It is even understood which circuit in the brain will help with both cognition and movement. In this fast paced session, learn easy, low cost activities to share with those in your care. Learn why these activities work. Challenge clients mentally, decrease falls risk (even seated) and stimulate muscle recruitment.

S CameronStephanie Cameron, RN
Stephanie is from the Pacific Northwest and has worked in the health care industry for 12+ years. She began her career as a caregiver and quickly discovered her passion for providing care for an aging population.

Stephanie began her care management career immediately after graduating from nursing school, and in 2015 she received her CCM (Certified Case Manager) certification. Stephanie is also a Certified Aging in Place Specialist and owner of Transitions Care Management.

(1 CEU) Keeping Your Client Safe & at Home
Stephanie Cameron, RN, CCM, CAPS and Amy Astle-Raan, MSW, Social Work Care Manager will provide hope, resources and support for caregivers in the role of assisting elders to safely preserve their independence at home. This “Aging in Place” workshop will cover the following topics and will include time for questions and answers:
• Basic fall prevention
• Managing and monitoring fluids, nutrition, sleep and medications
• Minimizing common causes of hospital readmissions
• Pressure ulcer prevention

S MehlStephanie Mehl RN, MS has served as a Clinical Liaison/Community Educator at Providence Hospice of Seattle for over 9 years helping patients and families make important end-of-life decisions. She has 30 years of health care and nursing experience with special expertise in palliative/end of life care, oncology, behavioral health/counseling, and clinical research. She has worked in several academic settings, including Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, Strang Cancer Prevention Center and the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center. She is thrilled to be a witness to the positive changes occurring in how we deal with end of life in our culture and is committed to community action to further the cause.She received her BSN from the University of Vermont and an MSN from Hunter College in NYC.

(1 CEU) Who Should Have a POLST and Why (About that neon green form!)
“Having the Conversation” and advanced care planning is finally getting the attention deserved in order to assure people’s wishes are followed during serious illness and/or end of life. But what is a POLST and how does that relate to the discussion and advanced care planning documents?
This hour long seminar will provide an overview of the POLST or Physicians Order for Life Sustaining Treatment. The 5 W’s (what it is, why it exists, when to use it, where it should be kept and who should use it) will be explored. A review of the form and case studies will be offered and discussed.
It is the ethical and professional responsibility to help seriously ill folks improve the quality of their life and have control over their EOL care. Health Care workers have a duty to assure this document is at least addressed by patients and/or families and included as part of the care plan.

Trudy JamesProducer Trudy James is a graduate of the University of Kansas and of Union Theological Seminary in New York City. She is a long-time, interfaith hospital chaplain who pioneered the concept of faith-based Care Teams for persons living with AIDS in the South in the early days of the epidemic and later in Seattle. She worked as a chaplain at the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance for five years. After retiring, she created a business called Heartwork through which she has facilitated over 60 end of life planning groups called “A Gift for Yourself and Your Loved Ones.” The concept for Speaking of Dying grew out of those groups, Trudy’s life experience and her compassionate heart. She is grateful to Jennifer Jones, videographer and Catherine Wadley, editor, and to all who participated in the creation of Speaking of Dying. Trudy passionately believes that everyone has the right to a meaningful, peaceful ending.

(2 CEUs) Sad isn’t Bad–Supporting Yourself and your Clients in Times of Loss, Grief and Death.
Loss and death are natural, normal parts of aging. Working with older adults increases the frequency with which one encounters these experiences. When you lose someone, the day to day work continues, but you are affected in many ways. We need to understand the various aspects of loss and our own unique responses. We will learn how to support ourselves and each other when loss occurs and learn some of the tools and resources that can support us on this journey.

E Bass Award Winning – Sandglass Theater ‘s
Eric Bass, Performer

Co-Founding Artistic Director of Sandglass Theater
Eric has worked for thirty years as a director, playwright, performer, and mask and puppet maker. In 1982, he founded Sandglass Theater in Munich, Germany, with his wife, Ines Zeller Bass. As a director, Eric has worked in America, Australia, Poland, and Finland, as well as the United States. In 1991, he was awarded the Figurentheater Prize of the City of Erlangen, Germany for his contributions to the field of puppet theater. He directed The Story of the Dog, a collaborative piece between Sandglass Theater and Sovanna Phum Theater in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, which toured Cambodia in 2005 and premiered in the U.S. in the fall of 2006. He served for five years on the board of the Network of Ensemble Theaters. In 2010, Eric received the Vermont Governor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts.

I ZellerAward Winning Sandglass Theater ‘s
Ines Zeller
, Performer
Ines Zeller Bass, Performer, Co-Founding Artistic Director of Sandglass Theater
Ines has been performing with puppets since 1968, when she became a member of the Munich marionette theater, Kleines Speil. In 1978, she created her children’s hand puppet theater, Punschi, which has toured Europe and America. In 1982, Ines co-founded Sandglass Theater with husband Eric in Germany and moved the theater to Vermont in the mid-1980s. Ines is the Director of Sandglass Theater’s children’s programs, collaborates with Eric on all of the theater’s programming, works with local schoolchildren, and directs workshops and residencies for puppetry students. She is a UNIMA citation winner, and in 2010, received the Vermont Governor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts.

K MurphyAward Winning Sandglass Theater ‘s
Kirk Murphy, Performer
Kirk has been both puppeteer and administrator with Sandglass since 2006, when he joined Sandglass Theater’s collaboration with the Cambodian shadow puppet theater Sovannah Phum. He has also performed in Amanda Maddock’s Mrs. Wright’s Escape, Company of Strangers’ Styles Under Sky, and developed a small repertoire of short pieces. He is a certified facilitator of TimeSlips (a creative storytelling method designed to be used with people with dementia and their caregivers), and has been a part of the D-Generation project since its earliest stages.

(1.5 CEUs) Empower & Encourage Through Story Telling
This workshop, based on 2016 MacArthur Fellow award-winning Anne Bastings’ Timeslips, offers an elegantly simple revolution in elder care by infusing creativity into care relationships and systems. In a time when we deny aging and isolate our elders, TimeSlips provides hope and improves well-being through creativity and meaningful connection. Timeslips creative approaches are used in care communities, museums, libraries, senior centers, and individual homes throughout the world. It opens storytelling to everyone by replacing the pressure to remember with the freedom to imagine.
TimeSlips is evidence-based, award-winning, joyful and person-centered. And you can be too!

T HersheyJPGTerry Hershey
Terry Hershey is an author, humorist, inspirational speaker, dad, ordained minister, golf addict, and smitten by French wine. He divides his time between designing sanctuary gardens and sharing his practice of “the power of pause” and “creating sanctuary,” to help us rest, renew and live with intention. Most days, you can find Terry out in his garden–on Vashon Island in the Puget Sound—because he believes that there is something fundamentally spiritual about dirt under your fingernails.

Caring for Your Client (and Yourself) with Dignity!
(1.5 CEUs) Care of any kind—compassion, generosity, communication, reconciliation, service, ministry, teaching, giving—begins with and is nourished by self-care. Or in the words of Charlie Parker, “If it ain’t in you it can’t come out of your horn.” Care—creating a space with dignity—begins with the intentional choices we make about being present. About passion, grace, play, laughter and wholeheartedness. We make space to see and to be seen. We make space to welcome, to offer comfort and hope.

D HaackDavid Haack
Vice President, Sales and Marketing for Living Care Lifestyles
Founder of the Northwest LGBT Senior Care Providers Network

For over 30 years David has been an active part of the Long Term Continuum. His Experiences range from Skilled Nursing and Compliance Management, to Pharmacy Automation and delivery pharmaceutical, as well as Assisted Living marketing and Sales Management. During his tenor in the industry, he has always been committed to provided LGBT competency and education in all Long Term settings, and seven years ago started the NW LGBT Senior care Providers Network.

Providing LGBT Competent Care

You will gain a better understanding of the specific challenges that many of members of the LGBT Community face, as they begin to make decisions around securing housing and provision of care while living the best quality of life. You will walk away with practical knowledge of the sensitivity required to be in tune to the challenges not faced by many of their heterosexual counterparts. Learn to provide welcoming spaces and use appropriate language in your materials and training.

Shawn In the Roses - CopyShawn D’Amelio

Before joining With a Little Help, Shawn worked as a private care manager for a client with Alzheimer’s disease. This experience, as well as her ongoing journey with her own mother’s having dementia led her to With a Little Help where she enjoys working with a team of caring professionals dedicated to providing excellent care with the personal touch she values. Shawn enjoys the process of bringing resources and people together, creating relationships that give peace of mind to families and their loved ones. In her role as the Director of Business Development she is guiding growth while keeping With a Little Help’s vision in sight, making sure that every client and employee is treated with respect and dignity.
Education being a passion for Shawn, she serves as Vice President for the Washington Home Care Association and after serving as chair for the statewide conference Blooming with the Boomers she has now turned over the reins and is now happily the Co-Chair. Shawn also serves on the EvergreenHealth Seasons of Hope Fundraising Committee which raises money to support their Palliative Care and Hospice Programs. Shawn proudly sits on the steering committee for The Art of Alzheimer’s.

N EtienneNikki Etienne
Nikki Etienne is the Client Care Manager at Home Instead Senior Care in Tacoma. Her experience is extensive, having grown up in industry. So Nikki has seen a lot. Her intention is to make sure each client has just the right caregiver in the home and encourages her caregivers to think outside the box to give them the best opportunity to connect with their clients.

(Fun & useful only, no CEU) Watch’ya Got In Your Trunk?
Shawn & Nikki will tag team on this fun topic! Are you prepared for every client every time? What do you always take with you? Running out of ideas for clients? Wish you could be a little more creative or change it up with your clients every now and then? Then come to Watchya Got In Your Trunk and we’ll see if you got the right stuff or if you could use some more items in your car.

J Maher

Joanne Maher, MSW, joined the Alzheimer’s Association, Washington State Chapter, in 2006. She holds a Masters in Social Work from the University of Washington. Joanne has 20 years of professional experience working with diverse adult populations in different settings. As Director of Programs and Services at the Chapter, she leads a team of professionals in 6 departments that work directly with families, friends, and relatives of persons experiencing memory loss, as well as those individuals with Alzheimer’s and related dementias. Ms. Maher works closely with academic communities, government agencies, and other social service providers throughout the State.

In addition to her work at the Alzheimer’s Association, Joanne serves on a number of community-based committees, and is actively involved in the planning of a several yearly conferences related to dementia, aging, and caregiving issues.
(1 CEU) The Basics: Memory Loss, Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease
Is dementia a normal part of aging? What is the difference between Alzheimer’s disease and dementia? This class will answer these questions and cover the basics, including risk factors, diagnosis, stages of Alzheimer’s, treatments, and resources. We will also discuss the benefits of early detection.
The one-hour class briefly reviews risk factors, types of dementia, and how the brain is affected by Alzheimer’s disease.

D OilandDonna Oiland

A certified laugh leader with the World Laughter Tour, Donna is skilled at creating great workshops for Cancer Lifeline, Swedish Hospital and EvergreenHealth. Training hospice volunteers for EvergreenHealth Hospice is a passion. Donna is a longtime member of the steering committee of the Washington End of Life Coalition an ad hoc committee of the Washington State Medical Association. She sits on Board of Directors of the Faith Community Nurses and Health Ministers Northwest and speaks for the Northwest Christian Speakers Bureau as well as the Snohomish County Health Leadership Coalition and is a trained facilitator with Honoring Choices PNW, an initiative of the Washington State Medical Association and the Washington State Hospital Association.

(0.5 CEU) The Serious Subject of Laughter
In a society where our right to the pursuit of happiness it appears to have become an obsession and the mindset of “hurry, worry, more, bigger, and faster” seems to occupy our thoughts, the subject of laughter and its benefits are often overlooked. We have been told that laughter is the best medicine but, unlike our commitment to take medication it is often left out of our daily routines. How do we change that?

S McLaughlin
Sally McLaughlin MA, is the Executive Director for End of Life of Washington and travels the state giving presentations on the many services provided by the non-profit organization: the Advance Directive for Health Care, the Alzheimer’s Disease & Dementia Mental Health Advance Directive, Washington State’s Death With Dignity Law, as well as a wide array of end-of-life choices.

(1 CEU) Cultural Perspectives on Death

Sally will provide an overview of dominant versus non-dominant cultural perspectives on death and dying. She will examine how these attitudes impact patients’ families, caregivers, and medical personnel intimately involved in patient care. The importance of language in the death and dying process, how anticipatory grief is expressed and addressed, and cultural sensitivities to the patient’s situational awareness and end-of-life wishes are among the pertinent topics we will explore.

K PetersonKavan Peterson

A journalist, entrepreneur and long-term care reform advocate, Kavan is co-founder and director of Dr. Bill Thomas’ ChangingAging Blog and Tour and president of Montana-based Harvest Home Care.

Kavan has worked on the cutting-edge of long-term care culture change with leading companies such as Amazon, AARP, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and The Green House Project. By tapping inter-generational wisdom, his innovative approaches to community building are revolutionizing home and community based services.

(1 CEU) Unleashing Your Potential on a Care Team
Do you sometimes feel isolated and alone in the world of caring? Wishing you had better tools to coordinate and collaborate with?
Discover and overcome by tapping into and unleashing the collective intelligence of the entire carepartner team, including care managers, social workers, staff and clients. This participatory workshop will introduce you to a simple set of tools to do exactly that.

R Crichton
Rebecca Crichton, Executive Director of Northwest Center for Creative Aging (NWCCA) has facilitated groups and workshops related to Positive Psychology and Creative Aging for many venues in the Seattle area. She has Master’s degrees in Child Development and Organizational Development and is a Certified Coach. She retired after 21 years at Boeing for 21 years as a writer, facilitator and curriculum designer. Heading up NWCCA is her ‘Encore’ Career.

(1 CEU) Happiness Is An Inside Job
Findings from research in Positive Psychology and Neuroscience demonstrate that positivity, gratitude and kindness are good for our health and well-being. We will learn some of the tips and tools researchers have shown can make us feel hopeful, happy and satisfied. While we each have a unique path to achieving well-being, we can learn from each other and share what works. And here’s a hint: learning and sharing are essentials for your happiness toolbox!

L A Kister

Lynn Ann Kister
Lynn Ann Kister has been a caregiver at With A Little Help for the past 8 years. For the past two years, she has been a certified Positive Approach to Care Trainer. Positive Approach to Care is a dementia care training method developed by the Occupational Therapist, Teepa Snow. Lynn Ann is also a professional writer & a landscaper. She enjoys singing & meditating in her spare time. She resides in Seattle with her husband, Michael Davis.

(1 CEU) Successful Approaches for People Living with Dementia
Participants will learn vital tools to successfully & skillfully approach people living with dementia. They will learn how to incorporate Teepa Snow’s Hand under Hand© and Positive Physical Approach© into their daily routine with clients living with dementia. There will be opportunities to practice these approaches ‘hands on’ during the workshop. There will also be basic education about dementia.


CLICK HERE to Register Today for With a Little Help’s 3rd Annual Conference

Happiness is an Inside Job – by Rebecca Crichton

February 1st, 2017

Rebecca Crichton, Executive Director, Northwest Center for Creative Aging

Rebecca Crichton, Executive Director of Northwest Center for Creative Aging (NWCCA) has facilitated groups and workshops related to Positive Psychology and Creative Aging for many venues in the Seattle area. She has Master’s degrees in Child Development and Organizational Development and is a Certified Coach. She retired after 21 years at Boeing as a writer, facilitator and curriculum designer. Heading up NWCCA is her ‘Encore’ Career.

Rebecca Crichton recently gave a talk entitled “Happiness is an Inside Job”. We learned that findings from research in Positive Psychology and Neuroscience demonstrate that positivity, gratitude, and kindness are good for our health and well-being. This article summarizes some of the points Crichton shared about positive psychology research and includes some of the practical tips and tools researchers have shown can make us feel hopeful, happy, and satisfied.

Positive Psychology

Historically, the field of Psychology started out looking at pathology (what is wrong). Starting over 30 years ago, a new, branch of research, Positive Psychology, has evolved that looks at Wellness instead. Martin Seligman is often referred to as the Father of Positive Psychology. You can watch a TED-talk by Seligman, here.

At its heart, Positive Psychology confirms what many of us already know: Our minds, our brains, and our feelings are all linked!! This is obvious to many of us, but science is now proving it via research studies.

Wired for Negativity

What we will find is that the more we focus on positivity, the better we will feel. Unfortunately, the way we have evolved means that we are “wired” for negativity. Work by neuroscientists like Rick Hanson indicate that, “negative experiences stick to us like Velcro, and positive experiences slide off like Teflon”. So we have to do a little extra work to make sure our minds and bodies remember the good stuff.

The good news is that because we are wired for negativity, we are able to react to stressful situations, or the proverbial “sabre toothed tiger”. What are your tigers? Is it the daily commute, the bed time routine, the meeting with your client? But the bad news is if these stress hormones are triggered all the time, then we lose the ability to relax.

What do we pay attention to?

Via Neuroscience we are leaning that our brain takes its shape from what it rests upon. It is sculpted by what we pay attention to – what we think, feel, want, and how we work with our reactions. Thinking the same thoughts over and over again will make us more prone to thinking those negative thoughts.

The things we do daily, even hourly, are the things that form our lives. Literally. So a good question to ask oneself is: “What do I pay attention to?” For many of us, we focus on what’s wrong, what’s missing. We see the world through a lens of “what’s wrong” instead of “what’s great”.

Also for many of us, this focus on what’s wrong is unconscious or sub-conscious. If we can bring into our awareness what it is we are thinking, then we have the opportunity to shift this. And if we do, the difference we can make in our lives is dramatic.

Change your Thoughts, Change your Life

The old story was that our brains don’t change, they just get worse as we age. However, thanks to the field of Neuroplasticity, we are discovering that our brains DO change. We can re-program them with our intention to do so.

Dr. Wayne Dyer is remembered for saying, among other things: Change your Thoughts, Change your Life. Check out a video with Dr. Dyer here.

There’s how we feel, and then there’s how we choose to think about how we feel. Worrying about feeling sad or upset generates even more stress hormones. Many philosophers have noted that “pain is unavoidable, but suffering is optional”. Suffering is the “second arrow” we throw at ourselves after something painful has happened to us. The *opportunity*, then, is to change how we think about how we feel, and begin a cycle of well-being rather than stress.

Developing research suggests that there are three things our brains need to keep changing: novelty, complexity, and a sense of purpose.  Here are the things that a wise person summarized for what we need in order to feel good: something to do, something to look forward to, something to believe in, someone to love, someone who loves you, and something to laugh about.

And finally, Barbara Frederickson, a well known Positive Psychology researcher described the ten elements of Positivity in her book, Positivity. They are generic ideas that each person needs to make personal and deepen their presence in their lives: joy, gratitude, serenity, interest, hope, pride, amusement, inspiration, awe, love.

A Default vs Generated Way of Being

Are you always busy? Do you often compare yourself to others? Do you have feelings of “not good enough”? You are not alone. This is the “default” way of being in many cultures, and certainly in the west. These ideas might take a little extra effort before they becomes a way of being.

Ask yourself, what do I do daily that is specifically focuses on my sense of well-being and wholeness?

Below are some ideas to get you started:
Generate More Laughter
Try to cultivate the habit of laughing a lot. Do you ever listen to what others laugh about and say, “what do they think is funny about that?” Believe it or not, we can pretend to think it’s funny, and with regard to generating positive hormones and feeling good, our brain does NOT know the difference! There is such a thing as “learned optimism”. Smiles change our internal chemistry. Consider smiling when as you go about your day and see what happens!

Did you know there is laughter Yoga, laughter yoga clubs, and even plain ole’ laughter clubs? Check out these links to get the giggles going.

What are the most-watched videos on the internet, and why? Cat and dog videos that make us laugh, because when we laugh we feel better.

Cultivate an Attitude of Gratitude
Gratitude has been proven time and time again to increase our sense of well-being. Ask yourself, what gets in the way of my feeling gratitude?

Try having a gratitude practice. If we cultivate an ever-growing awareness of our attitude, we can keep it in check. When my kids were growing up I found I had a mantra when they would have a complaint: “think about what you *have* instead of what you don’t have.” How many of us take for granted that we have water, warmth, and good health? Electricity? If we feel we don’t have anything to be thankful for, try being thankful that the sun came up this morning.

In the popular song “Yellow Taxi”, the chorus repeats: “don’t it always seem to go, that you don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone”. This does not have to be true, but in order for this not to be true, we must cultivate appreciation and awareness.

Here’s a practice you might try that will help build and strengthen an attitude of gratitude: every day, as a discipline, identify three “hopefuls” in the morning, and three “thankfuls”, things we are grateful for in the evening. Doing this practice daily can change your life.

Let in a compliment
When is the last time you really let a compliment soak in? Next time you receive a compliment, try this: look the person in the eye, smile, and say thank you. Your body will be happy you did.

Generate and Encourage Inspiring Conversation
Instead of asking people, how are you today, try asking them “What has inspired you today?” In addition, or if that seems too out of place, try attending a Wisdom Cafe’ offered by the King County Library System.

A Daily Act of Kindness
Here’s the golden wand: The single most reliable momentary increase in your own well-being is doing a daily act of kindness!!

And the beat goes on . . .
Here are some other daily practices that can lead to peace, health, calm, and happiness: journalling, affirmations, meditation, prayer, yoga/tai chi, walking, gardening, time with pets, time with loved ones, reading, aesthetics, exercise.

30-Day Wellness Challenge
Finally, while we each have a unique path to achieving well-being, we can learn from each other and share what works. Consider challenging your friends or co-workers to a 30-day wellness challenge, and factor in some time to share what each of you are doing.

Books by Martin Seligman:
♣ Learned Optimism: How to Change Your Mind and Your Life
♣ Authentic Happiness: Using the New Positive Psychology to Realize Your Potential for Lasting Fulfillment
♣ Flourish: A Visionary New Understanding of Happiness and Well-being

Books by Barbara Frederickson:
♦Positivity: Top-Notch Research Reveals the 3 to 1 Ratio That Will Change Your Life
♦Love 2.0: Finding Happiness and Health in Moments of Connection

Books by Rick Hanson:
♠Buddha’s Brain: The Practical Neuroscience of Happiness, Love, and Wisdom
♠Just One Thing: Developing a Buddha Brain One Simple Practice at a Time
♠Hardwiring Happiness: The New Brain Science of Contentment, Calm, and Confidence

Grandparents Are Caregivers Too!

September 12th, 2015

“Today, grandparents continue serving as quiet heroes in every corner of our country. From reading bedtime stories to their grandchildren to volunteering in their communities to acting as primary caregivers, they work hard each and every day while showing love and kindness to their families and those around them. Let us continue to show them the same, and let us forever honor their tremendous efforts to nurture, guide, and drive us in all we do.”


obamaThose are the words of President Barack Obama in his 2015 proclamation of Grandparents Day, September 13th. Obama speaks from experience. He, President Clinton, and several other famous and successful people grew up Read the rest of this entry »

Meet Dan and Ann Streissguth

September 29th, 2014

Dan and Ann Streissguth

Dan and Ann Streissguth

“My wife is full of life; full of happiness and joy,” Dan Streissguth confided to me when Ann rose to prepare coffee and snacks for our meeting. On her return they shared their inspiring story of partnership, devotion to community, and the development of Streissguth garden. It began with Dan’s first sight of Ann in the garden next door. “She was a young assistant professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the University of Washington School of Medicine,” Dan reminisced. He was already a well-established local architect and admired professor of Architecture at the University of Washington. Ann was new to the neighborhood but Dan had been living alone in his 4 story house for eight years. Through the foliage of their opulent backyard gardens, plants were admired, conversations began, and now, 46 years later, Dan relays his still delighted surprise with the exclamation, “I married my next door neighbor!” Read the rest of this entry »

Meet Jessie Strauss

February 28th, 2014

This is the first in a new series of blogs about people in our community that inspire us to be active, healthy and engaged as we age.

Jessie Strauss painting a habitat house

Jessie Strauss painting a habitat house

Jessie Strauss led a satisfying and full professional and personal life up until her retirement and she had no intention of slowing down. Now in her 70’s she’s used that free time to touch the lives of people internationally with her commitment to Habitat For Humanity and the Guatemalan anti-poverty program Safe Passage while locally she continues energetic engagement with family and community. Her humanitarian contributions and vibrant living won her recognition in 2012 as Senior Services Inspiring Senior of the Month and, in 2013, as Outstanding Senior Volunteer of the Year for Washington State.

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