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  • Writer's pictureSusan Carr

You have to start somewhere, and more often than not, you start with nothing

Updated: Mar 24

When my mom was first diagnosed with dementia, I initially didn’t know what to think or where to start. As a caregiver within my family, I’ve walked through brain cancer, breast cancer, leukemia, and other chronic, terminal conditions. 

But none of those situations prepared me for a dementia diagnosis. 

With the other illnesses, at least there is a treatment plan. Even when the plans don’t work, and you still lose your loved one, there was at least an approach that the doctors took to try and heal them. 

In dementia, you quickly learn there is no plan, no procedure. 

There is only coping. 

And so I started there. I needed to learn how to cope with the rapidly, almost daily, changing behaviors I saw in my mom: 

  • Agitation

  • Increased anxiety

  • Paranoia

  • Inability to comprehend her condition (anosognosia)

  • Lack of personal self-care

I studied for hours, reading, searching the Internet, and looking for answers to better cope as a caregiver so I could provide better care. And I found many great resources, specifically within the Six GEMS States of dementia, that allowed me to recognize this: 

Dementia doesn’t rob someone of their dignity; it’s our reaction to them that does. – Teepa Snow 

I came to terms with the fact that my mother would never recover from this condition. With this realization and learning what I did, I was better prepared for the days ahead to provide her with the support she needed. 

But I started with nothing—no knowledge about dementia or how it affects people. And so, to be successful as a caregiver, I had to learn what I didn’t know. 

Many other people had to learn what they didn't know to find their success.

Ever heard of Sara Blakely? Unable to find the right undergarment for her cream-colored pants, Blakely created Spanx through extensive research and development despite having no prior experience in fashion or business.

How about Joy Mangano? Joy, a single mother of three, pursued her passion for inventing and created the Miracle Mop, among other household products. She became a successful entrepreneur despite not knowing anything about running a business.

Or what about Chris Gardner? Chris had a childhood marked by poverty and violence. After a divorce, he became a single father and homeless. Chris was interested in finance, stocks, and investment strategies but knew nothing about them. So, he spent countless hours studying financial markets, reading books on investing, and listening to mentors. The movie The Pursuit of Happyness is based on his life story.

The difference between those who succeed and those who don’t is the determination to learn about what they don’t know. 

I have a person in my life starting from the same place—the unknown—with nothing but herself. 

Now, by herself, she is enough. She is valued and valuable. She has amazing skills and talent. 

But she’s just starting, and her knowledge of the venture she embarks on is very limited, null in some areas. 

And that’s okay. 

Because she’s willing to do the hard work it takes to start her own business, which includes learning all she can about what she doesn’t know. 

I talk a lot about my own business building and becoming a freelancer. Today, as insignificant as this is in comparison to the other stories here, I wanted to talk about something different.

Growing herbs. 

They start out as tiny seedlings.

I’ve struggled with plants for years. Everyone in my family can take a cutting and grow amazing, hearty plants from nothing. I can kill cactus. 

But I’ve studied herbs for a few years, and The Husband bought me an AeroGarden to test my knowledge. Now, I’ve discovered how to care for and nurture herbs, and these plants have become a success story for me. 

Because I was willing to learn all I could about what I don’t know.

They turn into a green bounty!

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