Sunday, 4 May 2014 (and cliches)

Often when life turns scary and strange, upside down and alien with change, we turn to cliches. We whisper those well worn words to ourselves, mantra's against the fear.
"A change is as good as a holiday"
"When one door closes, another one opens"
"The more things change, the more they stay the same"
Cliches, so oft stated, but still saturated with truth. Full of comfort.
And when the shit hits the fan, cliches can console and offer hope.
For we have all been there haven't we, hunkered down under the weight of the fear, arms wrapped around our heads as the beast of change looms and menaces over us, threatening life as we know it.
But someone wrote one of those cliches, and so they must have survived the shit storm.
I am not exactly sure of what I am trying to say. I have a cyclone of words and emotions whipping about me and yet I can't seem to pin anything down to express myself properly.
I do know that I am sorry for not keeping up with my bloggy buddies and posts but I have felt like I have been at the bottom of a deep black hole and no matter what I did, I just couldn't climb out.
I am leaving my job of over 11 years and I am in such a mess of emotions. One minute petrified, another hopeful. Angry to sadness. Apprehensive to liberated. Flip flop. Flip flop.
When I began my position as Lifestyle Coordinator (surely there never was such a silly job title!), I was a footloose and fancy free single lady, and my job was my entire life. I nurtured it and bestowed it with my attention and gave it all of my love and care. I made it grow and thrive.
I know it sounds crazy, but before my kids, my activity program was my child. The residents I cared for were my family.
My life, over the 11 years, has been intrinsically entwined with the often amazing, always inspiring, (and sometimes grouchy, crotchety, and bitter) people.
I have shared meals with them, laughed with them, grieved with them and for them.
I have helped them and been helped by them. Sat with them on their final journey and welcomed them with open arms as they arrived to join our little community.
I have learnt so much from these peoples experiences and occasionally taught them. (Wonderful professional moment of seeing an 100 year old woman get 3 strikes in a row on Wii bowling!)
These people have loved me and allowed me to love them. They have given me bridal teas and baby showers, and there is a gentleman who never ever forgets my kids birthday with a home made card full of well wishes.
I have embarrassed myself in front of them too many times to count. Dressed as a royal, a flapper, a ballerina, a parrot, Scarlet O'Hara and Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz. I've been French, Dutch, Greek, Italian and almost every nation of the world. Just so I could entertain them and hopefully get some smiles and laughs I would make myself as ridiculous as possible.
I've danced with them, stimulated and challenged them and oh-so-many times been challenged by them.

Even my dogs have been a part of their lives.

We have experienced so much together, and I have bid farewell to so many of these people over the years.
And soon I will be but another person in a picture, because for so many of the dementia riddled residents, they don't even  have the comfort of memory to fall back on.
 And the idea of not being a part of these peoples lives wounds my heart to the core!
But now as I prepare to leave them I must put my faith in another old cliche, "everything happens for a reason", and trust that the universe, in all of its crazy wacky wisdom, has a plan for me and will place me where I should be.
And so this week has seen me sallying forth in my most professional attire (thankfully not a suit! Never a suit!), plastering on my most confident, "I-am-super-and-clever-and-you-would-be-lucky-to-have-me" smiles and trying to ignore the heart palpitations, rivers of perspiration and mouth that felt full of glue and porridge.
And you know what? I didn't have a sudden embolism when the prospective employers bombarded me with tricky questions. The interviewers didn't eat me. I didn't lose the power of speech. I didn't even pee myself.
Yay! Go me!
Who knows what will happen in the future, but after a dark period of tears and sorrow, I appear to have turned the corner on my grief at leaving, and am beginning to feel strangely optimistic at my prospects.
And no matter what, there are more important things in life. Like these guys.
And when life has a hissy fit and turns upside down, these guys are what get me through. 


  1. Oh Brooke, I can FEEL how sad you are to be leaving your beloved job. All those wonderful photos attest to how big a part of your life it has been, and how much of your heart has gone into it. And even if they can't remember you, those residents have benefited and been touched by your effort, commitment and love.
    I do hope you find another job you love just as much. Yes, change is good, but it is also HARD. You rock, love!
    PS. You look bloody gorgeous too! xxxx

    1. Thank you, thank you. This post was so hard to write and I feel a bit raw still. I am still so sad but I am trying to think of all the possibilities in the future and all the new people out there who will become like family. XXX

  2. I felt this post Brooke. This community has meant the world to you and what a difference you must have made, you can see in the photo's just how much being there meant to you, what you did would have made such a wonderful impact to all of your beloved residents.
    I understand the cliche's so much here, I resigned from a job last year where I spent 5 years working with high school kids, there were many reasons why I left and the decision was not easy at all, it was a tearful and snotty nosed one but it was one of the best decisions I have ever made (for my own sanity as well) this last year has been one of my happiest, cliche 'everything happens for a reason' really did mean something, who knew! I wish you every success and who get's you will be bloody lucky! x x x

    1. Thanks so much Sandra. I do genuinely believe that everything happens for a reason so I am so glad to hear your tale of changing jobs and the happiness (after the difficulty of the decision and the snotty tears!) it has brought you. You have given me some more hope. XXX

  3. How wonderful to read how much love you have for your profession. I'm so happy that people like you exist, it makes having a father with dementia so much easier. You've enriched so many lives, not only of the residents but their families, too.
    No matter how sad you feel, you're right, things do happen for a reason. With your dedication I know whatever job you do it will be done with love. xxx

    1. Oh Vix you have brought tears to my eyes! I absolutely love my job and love the people I work with, and I know that I will find a new "family" to love. Your kind words have really helped - thank you. XXX

  4. I am sure you were a light to shine on them, but it must be time for you to shine on others.
    I am sure you bring happiness to everyone coming your way.
    Love youuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu

    1. Thank you, that is a truly lovely sentiment. XXX

  5. what a wonderful post. i can see how much you loved your old job ...
    at the moment my mum is searching for the right nursing home for her parents -my grandparents. knowing that there are people like you, doing their work with so much love and enthusiams, makes me feel much better.
    it's hard for a family to recognize, that the grandparents aren't able anymore to help themselfes ... even harder, when you have to notice that the (younger) members of the family can't handle the situation/sickness anymore too. but it's good to know that there are professionals with heart and soul that can help to make the last days-weeks-months of your beloved liveable.
    so, thank you so much for sharing!

    i wish you all the best for your future job. you deserve the best. :)

    1. I feel for all the families that have to make that difficult and heart wrenching decision to put their loved ones into care ( so much guilt!) but take hope because there are some beautiful homes out there full of professional and loving carers where residents live happy and fulfilled lives. Thank you so much for your good wishes. XXX

  6. What a wonderful and honest post. And I adore these sorts of posts from bloggers. It is so easy to see in your writing here how much you enjoyed your job and how you connect with so many people.

    I hope that the dark days move quickly, and wish you all the luck in the world!


    1. Thank you so much. I love my profession and I love the people I help. I also love that I can write about the dark days and can get so much support from the blogging community. XXX

  7. Hello Brooke!
    I nominated you and your blog for the Liebster Blog Award;

    xoxo Emma

  8. Thanks you so much Emma! XXX

  9. Dear Brooke, I must say, this intimate, reflective, soulful post brought a tear to my eye (we lost my mother-in-law last year to a stroke brought on by her Alzheimer's). Thank you for sharing so openly with us about what you've been going through as of late as well as some of the most special highlights of this venerable career path with us. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for everything you did and the countless ways you enriched these wonderful peoples' lives. Even if some of them may sadly no longer remember you once you're out of their daily lives, I'm sure you brought them tremendous happiness in the moment and that is a gift beyond measure for anyone to receive, or give, for that matter.

    You are an amazing, admirable, caring woman Brooke, I know that whatever life has in store for you next, you will excel at it and bring just as much happiness to the lives of all those you interact with.

    ♥ Jessica

  10. Isn't it funny how our jobs get entwined with our lives, sometimes to the point when you've got to say - enough already. I worked with older people once (and it was so hard for me that I only lasted a few weeks). So I can appreciate how much you put into your profession. Wishing you well.