Integrity

Nasty Woman, 2016- The Art of Integrity

sherri-jacobs-001scan-160712-0013On the tail end of the contentious and ugly US presidential campaign of 2016, the third and final debate  perpetuated the animosity the candidates have toward one another.  As the debate sank lower into depths of mudslinging, Donald Trump proved yet again that he could not control his mouth, facial expression, temperament and overall vitriol. The gem of the evening however, came toward the end, when Mr.Trump had the audacity to lean into the microphone to interrupt Secretary Clinton  and express to the audience with a clown worthy frown, “She is a nasty woman.” Secretary Clinton, as usual, did not bat an eyelash, or respond.

The results of that bizarre interruption one day later? The meme “Nasty Woman” has quickly become a new battle cry for the rights of women, and has fueled the quest to keep a mysognist from occupying the highest office in the land. This election is no longer about which party voters align with, but something much, much deeper as Secretary Clinton elegantly expressed multiple times throughout her campaign. What kind  of country and people do we want be in this century?

The real story of each debates that each ninety minute session has looked and felt a lot like domestic violence. It takes so little to provoke Donald Trump, yet the verbal abuse, heckles, threats, facial expression, tone, stance, words, accusations and personal insults to Secretary Clinton have been met with integrity and humor.  Imagine the same tone of these debates taking place between two people behind closed doors, but the female not having the strength and will power of Secretary Clinton. THAT is domestic violence.

The truth of this election is that we have a 20th century man attempting to win over a 21st century audience, and turn the clocks back to an earlier era when our nation didn’t have as many rights and privileges of being truly free and celebrated for our differences.

My hope in the next eighteen days is that all of the Nasty Women out there who endure daily tirades from angry men not only decide to go to the polls and vote on November 8th, but also recognize that being a Nasty Woman means living a life of integrity.

(Artwork- handcut paper cut by Sherri Jacobs)

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Alzheimer’s Disease and Art Therapy

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Ready to be frightened by the future? Please don’t stress about a zombie apocolypse, because it looks like the next big thing to fear is Alzheimer’s disease. Due to the demographic shift of an aging species, the predictions are that by mid century, humans over the age of 65 will outnumber the amount of children living on the planet. Among this population, The World Health Organization predicts that diseases related to memory loss will triple, to reach 115 million people worldwide by mid century. Does this number shock you? It should. Sadly, there is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease.

People diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and their caregivers often travel down a seemingly tragic path, as able bodied and independent adults slowly lose the ability to function at their optimal level of living. The choice for family members or loved ones is to follow them on their devastating path or create a new reality of living in the moment.

As families and caregivers move beyond the grief that accompanies this disease, often there is an opportunity for a new way of living. Once a person with dementia loses their ability to perseverate on the past or contemplate the future, there is a freedom with living in the present tense. While outsiders often find memory care units tragic and frightening, insiders/caregivers all recognize the surprising  beauty of living in the persent tense. In well run facilities, and when stress levels are diminished, really the primary emotion flowing in these places is love.

As an art therapist who has worked with the dementia population for the past seventeen years, my observation and experience is that what happens in “the moment” can have a residual impact on the rest of the “moments” in a person’s day. For years, I have observed people with dementia respond well to an environment of integrity. My fledging theory I am creating for working with families with dementia is called, Integrity Systems Theory.

Webster’s dictionary defines integrity as: the state of being whole and undivided. When the entire system supporting the person with Alzheimer’s shifts their focus from what was to what is, there is surprising opportunity for creating moments of integrity, and FIND the whole person who stills resides behind the memory loss.  The result? Lowered stress levels all around, making everyone’s day to day living slightly less stressful.

Art making and listening to music are fantastic avenues for reaching people who seem to have disappeared into their disease. Please take the time to watch the riveting documentary on the power of music/creativity with this population:  Alive Inside.