In my art therapy session this afternoon with Millie,* I would almost go so far as to say that it was enlightening. OK, it was enlightening.
When I got there, Millie was to recline, rather than sit at the table with me. As is usually the case with most art therapists, we are usually adept at adaptation. So I pulled up a chair and we reviewed her portfolio, with me hovering the watercolor book within easy range of her vision.
We both "oohed and aahed" over her work over the past few months; she a shrewd observer for many things, but especially line and color. I shared with her some of the topics I introduced this week in my two different psychology classes at Ringling College of Art and Design. I mentioned that I am a Certified Coach and explained that as a coach, I work alongside with, and encourage people who are committed to pursue meaningful careers.
Millie rarely speaks much, yet today her words spoke volumes, not just in content and quantity, yet in the profoundness of her message. Here is what she shared when I asked her advice on careers:
As far as a career path, she says that you should, “put yourself in a place where you would learn, pick up, and go and do.” I began to ask her to expand a little and she said: “Well, prepare yourself when you're ready; and the next thing I was going to say is that you have to sit down and work on it and use whatever you learn. Study, practice, do it.”
“You have to make sure that what it is you want to do, is right.”
And then I asked her how it is that we decide what's right. “How do we get there?” And she said, “With the people.”
“You have to give first to the person who is willing to help you. They've got to make the way and then the friends will help them along the way.” Millie smiled. I told her she was so smart. She smiled more and said, pointing to her head: “It’s there. I'm not sure who put it up there, but I'd like to make use of it.”
I said, “So you help one another?” And she nodded, “Yes, it's a gift. It's a give and take. Yet, you can't dump on people. You cannot take on their responsibilities because it won't work out. You have to be your own person and do it the way it should be done. And you can't be dumping on anybody. You have to decide your own mind, what you should do.”
Millie continued, and I got goose bumps: “You don't do what you really don't want to do,” she said, “because otherwise, it's rotten.”
Wow. “You don't do what you really don't want to do.” I had to repeat it aloud.
She continued: “Get yourselves in order. Put things right. Keep at it, and be grateful. This is what you need to do. You have to be in a position to do something that's wonderful. Whenever they have chosen, you become people's people.”
“People’s people?” I asked? “How do you become people's people?”
Millie in earnest now: “People who enjoy other people and put them in their pocket.”
“Yes, their pocket. And it's up here,” and she reached her hand and lightly touched the left side of the soft curls on her head.
Millie continued, “You have to keep at it. You have to work through it the way they are and what they are. And they have to get themselves and do it in their own way. And absolutely, do not turn them away from the way that they choose. They have to choose it, live it, make it good. Don't try to change them. And they need to accept it and other people too, and make themselves the better for it. And be grateful.”
I am grateful for Millie, who teaches me profound messages each week.
Which people's people can we put in our pocket?
*Millie (not her real name) is a 91 year old lady who is labeled in our medical society as someone with advancing Alzheimer’s. I label her lovely and will definitely keep her in my pocket.