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  • Writer's pictureSusan Carr

It's cute when they do it...

I love the simple things in life.

Taking care of plants.

Watching the rain fall.

Drinking coffee while watching squirrels. 

And one of the cutest things about the squirrels is when they sit to eat a peanut. 

Perched on their hind feet, a peanut in their two paws, munching away. 

I don't know why it's so cute; it's just a little rodent eating his breakfast, but there's just something about the way they hold their peanut that's just adorable.

However, I didn't have the same response the other day when I was visiting with my mom. 

She has reached a time in her advanced stage of dementia where it is very hard for her to use utensils. She sometimes has tremors so keeping food on a spoon or a fork is very challenging. 

She picks up pieces of crinkle-cut carrots or cut-up ham, even if it is smothered in a brown sugar sauce. And she did the same with her mashed potatoes and gravy, pinching off pieces of the scooped mound to eat.

I don't usually have an adverse response to the changes I see in my mom because of her dementia. But this time I did.

I have aversions to certain sights. 

Snot coming out of a baby's nose. 

A toilet seat left up.

Dirt under fingernails. 

I recognize this aversion is one of the OCD traits that I have, and I've read about the science behind "disgust" to understand it better.

"...'core disgust' involves a more cognitive and sustained sense of the target's offensiveness and a sensitivity towards its contaminating potential."

'A sensitivity towards its contaminating potential.'

This quote is from a review of Daniel Kelly's book Yuck! The Nature and Moral Significance of Disgust and seemed to pinpoint how I felt upon seeing this new symptom of my mom's deteriorating condition. 

I feared I was seeing myself in 30 years. 

That my mom using her fingers to eat her food has a contaminating potential on me. 

I left her that day feeling more sad than I normally do, knowing that she continues to decline. 

But for Mom, this is one of the simple things in her life. That she is happy with. At least in her own cognitively-impaired way.

And when I think about this in the realm of my freelancing career, I realize some things.

I can embrace change.

As my mom's condition progresses, part of my caregiver role will require me to adapt my approach and expectations. There is a parallel here as this same adaptability is needed in order for my business to succeed.

Just like my mom's dementia will progress in unpredictable ways, the world of freelancing is constantly evolving and filled with unexpected challenges. Being adaptable will empower me to pivot my strategies and seek new ways to work through obstacles and go after new opportunities.

I can grow and learn.

I don't usually like change. But, I recognize that when I look at change as a growth opportunity, my opinion of it can transform. As I adapt to my mom's changing needs, I learn new skills that can help her, develop deeper empathy for her, and might even find some new hidden strengths within myself. 

This seems to mirror my new journey as an entrepreneur, where each challenge can be a chance to learn. By welcoming the unknown, I am expanding my skillset, refining my problem-solving abilities, and developing the resilience I need for long-term success.

I can find joy in the present and the simple.

While change is typically unsettling for me, I find that it can still open the door to some unexpected joys. My mom's simple act of eating with her fingers, despite the "disgust" it might initially evoke, reminds me to look for happiness in the little things. 

In my business, it's not just about the final edits I provide, the published article, or the landed project. It's about my growth, learning, and the unexpected connections I will make along the way. It's about finding joy in the present, in the process of discovery, and in the simple act of refining words that have the power to touch and move.

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