January is the Recombobulation Area of the Year

January is the Recombobulatin Area of the year. We go through the excitement, the rush, and sometimes the stress of the holidays and find ourselves on the other side of the season needing to put ourselves back together, clear our heads, and figure out where we are going next. If you have ever traveled through the Milwaukee Airport, you know how lovely it is to see that sign at the end of security, greeting us and giving us permission to gather our things, take the time we need to put our shoes and belt back on, and check what gate we will be flying out of for our trip. The New Year is that sign, and January is that area of benches. Now in February, we are put back together and ready to march on. We have a clear vision for where we need to go and what we would like to do and see. Hopefully, we are excited about what the next 11 months will bring.

An old grainy photo from my college days of the Delta (then Midwest) terminal’s Recombobulation Area

We all had a dickens of a time in 2020, but that doesn’t mean it was all doom and gloom. Much like life with dementia, it is never ALL bad. Where are the gifts? Where might we find joy? When we are going through a dark moment, what can we put in our back pocket to make today better than yesterday?

I limped into 2021 with the best of them. It was not a sprint through the finish line of the year, but a hobble. Many things occurred in my professional and personal life that made it so, some a direct result of the virus, others are simply part of the journey I was already on. I had the opportunity and time to think creatively, transform my work, and examine if I was on the path I wanted to journey on in the next chapter of my work and life. In the rubble of lost work, unpublished blog posts and videos, mixed in the ashes of tech issues and unfinished projects, I started a monthly e-newsletter, The Monthly Memo, I was on 2 podcasts and 3 webinars, I presented and trained digitally, I continued my education in significant ways, I invited others to help me create an Advent reflection book that was an enjoyed by 35 families, and I learned once more what it means to be a family care partner. These are the gifts of last year. What are your gifts? What joy can you find while looking back on 2020? There has to be something! Something small, perhaps? Maybe a positive life change. Finding the good, the gifts, and the joy doesn’t mean it was always pleasant or easy. Good is not the opposite of difficult.

I have felt a disconnect between what is going on in the industry, what our clients and residents want to see, and what I had to offer for a while. It felt off, and 2020 put a magnifying glass over what I was experiencing and my desire to serve to my fullest ability. It showed me new depths of how egotistical, narrow-minded, and un-creative our industry can be. But, on the flip side, is we now can see the next generation of aging and dementia professionals and their excitement and desire to enter this field. We need to foster their desires. I see the eagerness to create, to make anew, to put out into the deep. I see community care staff opening up to the idea that actives and CNAs can work together to provide enriching programs for the residents and clients. I see new thoughts about what it means to age in this country, what it means to live with dementia today, and what it means to be a care partner. We have work to do, but it is on the heels of an energy that is new, exciting, and hopeful.

In the weeks ahead, I will share my thoughts on how we might take this hope and put it into motion, and the work I am doing to take some of the first steps. I will also start publishing those backlogged blog posts, uploading those long-ago recorded videos, and as always, will continue to walk with you on your dementia journey. May we write a beautiful story for 2021.

Published by Kathryne Fassbender

Creative Gerontologist, Speaker, Catholic Innovator. I am also the granddaughter of someone who lived with Vascular Dementia.

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