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“Sing, Express!”

What would my game in the world be? I knew quickly it would be a singing or musical event among senior citizens and residents from nursing homes and skilled facilities. Their children and grandchildren will be watching their loved ones perform in a “recital”, a great term my committed colleague, Sean Peterson, offered.

Creating milestones was the hardest thing to do, especially starting from the end. I learned that “just doing it” in the face of not knowing whether it made sense, caused several possibilities – unimagined – to come true (miracles, in short). Standing in the possibility of the game of being alive, inspired, whole and complete made sharing the vision easy and clear. Conversation with Grace Lengkeek, Activity Director of Artesia Christian Home, went natural and free flowing. She expressed that she had been thinking of the same game for her residents. When she took it on and owned the game, I was elated. Seeing her fulfilled, fulfilled me! It’s like watching a little girl run off with my toy that I shared, she kept it, and I didn’t cry. This game showed a true leader, obliviously loving, caring, generous, her participants would ask her “what were they singing again?” and she’d whisper…then they sang and sang…who says they have dementia? Some played the piano, accompanied another to sing, a legally blind woman showed her knit work and ceramic pottery.

I had a hunch that singing causes relaxation, who disagrees? But my bigger hunch was it relaxes the mind of the elderly to a degree that they start sharing their life stories. During the enrollment stage of this game, I shared this vision with Salermo. He left the room quickly when I asked if he sang. He came back with a dusty guitar and started serenading me, then told of courtship days with beautiful Nellie. In the week prior to the event, Salermo was admitted to an emergency room (he was a frequent visitor). On his first day back at home, coming from nothing, I invited him again…he said he would take the bus if he had to. I proposed that his children give him a ride (Unity among family was my underlying commitment).

That didn’t happen (I meant the ride), but, I know opportunity had opened for this family. I, Carmelita, learned generosity quickly and provided the ride. Salermo was an astounding entertainer. He sang three serenade songs in his own language and entertained us with his life stories. Stories we would not hear of if he did not participate.

At the break, I have witnessed what Power to Create did. I was clueless, but, I declared that this Game will show the three generations honoring and celebrating each other, there’s magic in singing, the family experience of love, contribution, fun, relatedness, generosity. They were singing — Row, Row, Row Your Boat, or whatever. This one mom was singing an unfamiliar song with her operatic voice, and her son was lip syncing, enjoying her.

I hid when confronted by something “gigantic” which was not so big after all. I was about to quit when the other home could not deliver one day before the event, and Meg, my coach, supported me to be with what is so…no matter how small the crowd could be, it still made a big difference to the lives of who were there last night, and those who were there spiritually. Thank you for your stand. My report came in late, I chose to sit, watch an old favorite movie, instead of sharing my experience and excitement with you – and that’s what I give up, being stingy in sharing my wins!

I have not experienced so much love and generosity. It’s like a miracle for me! Giving up being right created the miracle of partnership – people took care of themselves and came up with other ideas. (Arlin, the back-up lady, will give this idea to a lot of homes to have more people invited.)

I have seen three generations singing to each other, honoring each other through music. One guest couple said, “This is a great idea!” when I declared this is going to be statewide. I am waiting to have an appointment with a congresswoman, Linda Sanchez. I say it will be a contest in different categories, one resident said “That’s silly!’ and her children said “Nope!”

I think the win is: the message was delivered – HOLDING THE SPACE FOR LOVE IN THE WORLD, LOVE COME HOME!

— Carmelita Tiongson-Manzanares, Team 1, Quarter 2, Team Los Angeles

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