Great movies about family relationships

I’ve been so busy lately, but I made time to see two great movies about family relationships recently. I highly recommend them both as worthy of your time and money.

Nebraska, the movie about family relationshipsNebraska was my favorite of the two movies. I thought this was a fantastic portrayal of how adult children must face the difficulties of aging parents. It runs you through the full spectrum of emotions in two hours – it’s a comedy, a drama, a horror story – all wrapped up into one. And then there’s a sucker punch at the end that really got me all teared up-well done! The best thing about it was how real it seemed. Families do have these kinds of problems, families do talk to each other this way, families do drive each other crazy, aging parents lose their minds and a filter on what they say. But in the end love is what keeps them together. I’ve got my fingers crossed for both Bruce Dern and June Squibb to win Oscars for their performances, which were outstanding, believable, and oh so painfully real.

August: Osage County, movie about dysfunctional familyI also saw August: Osage County and felt right at home with this dysfunctional family. Man oh man, Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts are so awful and wonderful in this at the same time. These relationships simmer with resentment and rage, just like in real families. The claws come out, the gloves go on, and this family really dukes it out after the father dies.

I’ve been given food for thought with both of these movies and keep rolling them over in my mind. In the end, I think it’s comforting to know that we all face issues and hardships with our family, but these complex relationships are the most important ones of all.

Still Alice will be a movie with Julianne Moore!

Still Alice will be made into a movie!Julianne Moore will star in Still Alice movieI’m thrilled to learn that “Still Alice” by Lisa Genova will make it to the big screen to help spread awareness of Alzheimer’s disease, and even more thrilled to see such a top notch actress as Julianne Moore involved with the project. This early-onset story will go a long way in educating the public that this disease is not just for the elderly and that a cure must be found.

How about you, are you excited to hear this novel will be made into a movie?

The Gettysburg Address to Alzheimer’s Disease

The Gettysburg Address to Alzheimer's DiseaseThe Gettysburg Address, only 272 words in length, and yet one of the greatest speeches of all time written by Abraham Lincoln. On the 150th anniversary of the delivery of the Gettysburg Address, I took the challenge to write a similar appeal on something important to me in only 272 words.

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Airing Dirty Dysfunctional Family Laundry on Survivor: Blood vs. Water

Survivor Blood vs. WaterI’m a big fan of the reality TV show Survivor, and I have developed a keen interest in this season’s Blood vs. Water twist pitting family members against each other. Specifically, I’m fascinated with Aras and Vytas Baskauskas, brothers whose thorny relationship practically screams dysfunctional family. These two have spilled enough backstory in the first three episodes to confirm my suspicions.

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Love in a time of Alzheimer’s

I wanted to share this video about a beautiful couple facing the final chapter of their 60-year love story. May God bless Verna and and Jerry through their Alzheimer’s journey.

I thought this video would be unbearably sad, but instead I am in awe of this couple and their devotion. It made me happy that Verna has someone she can depend on through her illness. How does this love story make you feel?

All parents and kids should watch the movie Bully

Bully, The MovieI finally got around to watching the movie Bully last night. I kept putting it off because I was bullied as a child. Over thirty years later, the memory is still painful, a wound that will never completely heal. I still remember the fear, the panic of not knowing what to do, not knowing who to turn to for help, and feeling trapped and helpless by such senseless victimization. I’m so glad I put that aside to watch this movie though. It was extremely well done, depicted the problem accurately, and showed the misery of kids who are subjected to bullying.

The magnitude of the bullying problem was best illustrated for me by a parent admitting through tears that going to the parents of the bullies didn’t help because those parents just didn’t care enough about what was going on to do anything about the situation. Two families documented in the film had children who committed suicide due to continued bullying. It was absolutely heartbreaking to hear these parents describe the hell that their children endured that forced them to end their lives. And the school administrators shown in this movie just didn’t have any answers about how to control the problem of bullying, they seemed to only acknowledge it existed without really doing much of anything about it.

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Caregiving lessons: hope for those called to help

caregiving lessons of hope

Photo courtesy of AlicePopkorn

Today I welcome the insight of a special caregiver. Cameron Von St. James has been kind enough to share his struggles and triumphs as a caregiver for his wife Heather. While every caregiving journey is different, we all share the same fears, frustrations, and overwhelming emotions that sometimes threaten to derail our efforts on behalf of those we love most. Read Cameron’s story here and then watch his inspirational video. I wish Cameron and his family many continued blessings and want to thank him for providing inspiration to help others dealing with similar challenges.

Being a Caregiver and Holding Onto Hope
By Cameron Von St. James

For my wife Heather and me, life completely changed on November 21, 2005. It was on that day that a doctor told us Heather had malignant pleural mesothelioma, a rare and very deadly type of cancer. On that day, I became her caregiver, and I quickly learned that I was not prepared for the job. Only three months earlier, we were celebrating the birth of our first and only child, Lily. We pictured spending the late fall celebrating Thanksgiving and getting ready for our first Christmas as a family of three. Instead, we spent it in doctors’ offices, and our lives quickly became characterized by chaos.

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Alzheimer’s disease, it runs in the family

Like mother

Like mother . . .

I helped collect donations last Saturday at a local Walgreen’s during the Alzheimer’s Association Forget Me Not Days, the second time I’ve pitched in for this important fundraiser. This year I was pleased that my thirteen-year-old daughter Annie agreed to come along and keep me company during my shift.

Annie is old enough to know that Alzheimer’s disease runs in families,  and she has started to understand the impact of that since my mother and her grandmother died of Alzheimer’s. We had a couple of hours to talk about it while we accepted donations.

My request remained the same for every Walgreen’s customer. “Would you like to donate to the Alzheimer’s Association to help find a cure?”

“I don’t want you to get Alzheimer’s, Mom,” Annie finally confessed during a lull in the action.

“Neither do I, and that’s why I help out in any way that I can with the Alzheimer’s Association. But the most important reason I volunteer is so that a cure will be found for Alzheimer’s before you are older.”

“But how much money could we possibly raise today, Mom? It can’t be enough to do much.”

like daughter

… like daughter

“No, not us alone,” I agreed. “But say we raise a couple hundred dollars here today. Add that amount with every location across the country that is collecting for Alzheimer’s research this weekend, and that’s enough to help. We can only do our best as a small part of a bigger effort.”

“So together we can all help.” It wasn’t a question, it was a definitive statement as Annie figured it out.

My volunteer time for the Alzheimer’s Association paid dividends in more ways than one this time around. How are you supporting the Alzheimer’s Association and their mission for a world without Alzheimer’s disease?


The Sound of Memories: Dementia Patients Respond to Music

Music stirs memories

Jukebox Jive by JeffHBlum

Music has been a powerful influence in my life, so it comes as no surprise to me that music has been shown to soothe the beast of Alzheimer’s disease for those afflicted by this hideous monster. For that reason, I took great interest in the local newspaper’s recent story, “Music & Memory program soothes, uplifts people with dementia” by Dean Olsen. The article explains the efforts of the program Music & Memory to bring personalized music to dementia sufferers to help trigger memories from happier times and improve their quality of life. I was delighted to learn that the Alzheimer’s facility in my hometown is a certified provider of the Music & Memory program for its residents.

There is a beautiful photo in the newspaper article showing a resident of the Alzheimer’s facility in town enjoying her favorite music. I couldn’t help but grin from ear to ear after seeing how happy she looked with her headphones on dancing around. This is such a beautiful sight, I just have to share!

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The Police Trifecta of Memoirs

The Trifecta of Police MemoirsI’m a huge fan of The Police, in fact huge doesn’t begin to describe my admiration for the band. The music of The Police saved me as a teen and has had a monumental impact on my life. For that reason, I’ve collected and devoured all three memoirs by the members of the band: Sting, Stewart Copeland, and Andy Summers.

I’ve now completed this Police trifecta of memoirs after just finishing Andy Summers’ book One Train Later. Yes, I know I’m late to this book party since One Train Later was published some time ago. But hey, better late than never! I enjoyed all three of these memoirs for different reasons. All three bring a new dimension to the authors, and each provides a different and fascinating viewpoint.

Broken Music by StingBroken Music is an intimate portrait of Sting’s formative years growing up in England and his musical path to eventual success. Interestingly, the book ends just as Sting takes off with the Police and doesn’t dish much on the band at all. It is a beautifully written recollection of Sting’s beginnings and what drove him to succeed as a musician.

Strange Things Happen by Stewart CopelandStrange Things Happen  is a hysterical ride through Stewart Copeland’s odd life and claim to fame. Just like his drumming, the pace of Copeland’s book is frenetic, loud, and in-your-face funny. He offers no apologies for the many tangents he explores, and his book shows how he embraces life and the strange opportunities that come his way.

One-Train-Later-Andy-SummersOne Train Later by Andy Summers tells the life story of the most experienced member of the band. Prior to his stint with The Police, Summers paid his dues in the musical trenches longer than the others before finding success. The book is a great testament to his love affair with the guitar and his perseverance in the music industry.

The bottom line is that these three musicians are my heroes; I worship the ground they walk upon as well as the page upon which they write. Broken Music, Strange Things Happen, and One Train Later will always hold a special place in my heart and on my bookshelf. I recommend these memoirs for anyone seeking to learn more about what shaped and drove the members of The Police from three vastly different perspectives. As with their music, all three musicians bring something different and exciting to turn the pages.

The Police were a band for far too short a time. The brightest stars always burn out all too quickly from the blinding intensity. Yet we can’t help but remember and cherish the greatness we witnessed, and here are three memoirs to help with that task.