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In Spite Of

Great days in spite of the rain: The Alzheimer’s Walk on September 26, and my niece’s wedding on October 3.

Because of the enormity of rain we began experiencing in North and South Carolina, those two days had the potential to be very bad hair days…not to mention a walk organizer’s or bride’s worst nightmare! So, catch a glimpse of how a little tweak of attitude can make a rainy day, SUNNY! It’s all in the mind…and heart.

On the morning of the 2015 Alzheimer’s Walk, there was a little something extra that made this walk special. In truth, I still can’t quite put my finger on it.

• It might have been the fact that The Ivey’s team consisted of a record-breaking 80 people who signed up and showed up to walk with us!
• Or maybe it was the resulting recording-breaking (for us) ~$5,000+ raised for this devastating disease and the need for a cure. I was bursting with pride!
• Or was it the rain, causing you to bring either a poncho or umbrella to keep hair, clothes, and skin dry? Or after placing the umbrella under the table and adding an extra shirt for warmth, you went headlong into the walk, knowing you’d be soaked to the bone by the end. (For the record, I was the latter, and yes, a very bad hair day resulted.)

But here’s the beautiful thing: we had a really wonderful and fun time, in spite of the rain. Hugging and laughing with so many of our members, so many family caregivers, and so many dear old friends (one whom I had not seen in years) generated a palpable energy in the air – the sort of collective spirit and energy that you feel when big-hearted humans gather together for a cause.

The following Saturday, and the entire 4-day wedding weekend, was all set to be disappointing due to the predicted deluge of rain. Actually, there was potential disaster if Hurricane Joaquin made a wrong turn and veered over to the southeast coast of NC. And the first round of rain wasn’t even hurricane-related! My niece was understandably fretful, but because of the calm demeanor and excellent planning of the reception venue’s organizer, she learned that generators were on the premises and all gassed-up. So, not to worry – except for hair, makeup, beautiful dresses….but that was my worry!

Drizzly, light rain abounded on Thursday and Friday, but guess what happened on Saturday? The sun came out!! It was a beautiful day…as a matter of fact, a picture-perfect fall day. Hair, makeup, and dresses were flawless…and the best thing of all: a very happy bride, groom, and family for a beautifully traditional ceremony. As for Aunt Lynn (me), it was an event for the memory book with all smiles and a large ballroom full of friends from years gone by, with big smiles, hugs, and “remember when’s.”

In retrospect, those two recent weekends filled my heart with pride, happiness and love, in spite of feeling the rain against my skin – sensations seemingly at odds with each other.

In these two monumental events in my life, I recognize something new: the “in spite of” attitude. In our daily lives, we need this new attitude often: Is it possible to enjoy a day at the office in spite of challenging people and situations? Is it possible to enjoy a dinner out, in spite of a novice server? Is it possible to enjoy the holidays, in spite of a family’s challenging dynamics? Is it possible to treasure the time with a loved one, in spite of the fact that he or she lives with Alzheimer’s disease, and in spite of the emotional, logistical, and financial impact it has on the entire family?

Sometimes, I think these “testing circumstances” – the rain, work, bad service, family dynamics, or even dementia diagnosis –are thrown in front of us as gifts…incidental opportunities to accept, learn, grow, forgive, or reprioritize. Perhaps seen as delicious challenges served up to enrich the multi-course meal that is our life, they can be received as once-in-a-lifetime chances to appreciate the full experience of life’s now (the good, the bad, and everything in between)…and still have fun, in spite of it all.

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