I strive to be beautiful every day. No, not through make-up and hair products, through my actions.
I work as a therapist in a nursing home and by far, it has been the most life-changing experience, ever. Now, to understand just how life-changing this was/is, we’ll need to flash back to last summer, June of 2014 to be exact.
Throughout my entire life I’ve always wanted to be a counselor or therapist of some sort. Being in college opened my eyes to the world of social work. I began college as and Education major, but didn’t like it… so naturally, I went back to my passion, social work. I figured my main target audience would be children (as I worked in a day care for two years and started in education). But alas, I could not find any internships that 2014 summer. I was so nervous I’d never find myself an internship.
Now, my mother works in Cedarbrook nursing home and said she could find me something there… uhhh, what? Me? In a nursing home?! I didn’t even know the first thing about working with the elderly! But, I was heading into my senior year of college with no internship experience, I was desperate. A bit reluctantly, I took an internship in Cedarbrook Nursing Home’s Therapeutic Recreation department.
Day one: I FELL COMPLETELY IN LOVE.
It was and still is the best experience I’ve ever gone through. My residents teach me every single day that life is short and live and love every moment as much as I can; never take anything for granted. I started appreciating every moment, every opportunity, and every day with every thing I had. I never started yearning for more, but rather thanked God for what I had. They also taught me not to worry about the little things, but look at the whole picture: work towards what I want to do and don’t let people bother me.
Not to be morbid, but those residents are old and I don’t know how much time they’ll have left, so I always make my one-on-one conversations with them count. I love them with everything I am; they have become my life. I know it’s not appropriate in social work to get attached to your clients, but what can I say? I love them. They’ve taught me so much about life and about love.
It was then and there (and presently, every day) that I learned I had so much to give to these residents that I never knew I even had. I’m not bragging when I say this (I say this with the utmost humility) but I have had several residents tell me that I have made a difference in their lives’ and hearing that just overwhelms me with chills and emotions and it’s then that I know God put me there for a reason.
Long story short, I was hired as a Therapy Aide just after 2 weeks of interning. I thank God for that and the differences I am able to make, the smiles I am able to put on my residents faces, and for the second chance I have gotten. My second chance to work with the elderly, as when I was younger I didn’t fully appreciate my grandparents’ presence and I regret that so much. But, I thoroughly believe God has put me in an environment such as this county nursing home so that I can have this second chance. Now, no, they are not my grandparents, but some of my 500+ residents feel like family to me and I have created such deep and unbreakable bonds with them and for that, I am so thankful. I know my grandparents would forgive me for the time I missed out on and be proud of me as they look down on me from Heaven.
My grandparents were like second parents to me (as I probably have spent an equal amount of time at their house when I was younger as my own house, they watched me when my parents were gone, they acted as supplemental parents so my mom didn’t have to have the burden of watching me and my sister by herself, they took us shopping as my mother didn’t drive, and I was closer to them than my own father- hell, even my grandfather took me to a daddy/daughter night at my preschool), so nothing will be quite the same as them, but these residents teach me everyday that time is not endless and appreciate the time you have. I can’t change the decisions I have made when I was younger, but I can make a difference and pave my future for a better life and a better tomorrow for not just myself, but for others and to make God happy.
So in all this ramble- Live each day helping others, and your beauty will shine through.
Smile and enjoy every moment,
Ms Ari Marie