“Just Figure It Out!”

Ha! Ever heard that one before? Hate it as much as I do?


The Part I Already Figured Out

There are two parts to my job. One is the part you’re most familiar with (and the part I love, love, love): helping you.

When I get to work with awesome families, or when I get a call that lets me know I said or showed something that made a difference…that’s nirvana!

When I get an email that says, “Thank you very much for your professionalism, assistance and all the love (yes, we felt it) that you gave with it,” in that moment, I could die happy.

I could leave this earth knowing I’ve fulfilled my mission.

But that moment is fleeting. And so is that feeling.

Because there’s always someone else who’s going through this journey. People who need to know they aren’t alone, that there’s a way to navigate through this, and help is available.


Have-to vs. Get-to

And that’s what brings me to the other side of my job: running a business.

That’s the part where I often feel like a rube. When I spend six eight ten hours on a Saturday trying to figure out a technical issue on my website, it’s hard not to.

That’s the part that makes me want to throw my laptop through a window.

But I don’t get to quit, because then I wouldn’t be fulfilling my purpose for being on this earth.

Like my brother (the brilliant poet and memoirist Brian Turner), who has to write, I have to work with people living with dementia and their families.

And when you have to do something like that, something you’re passionate about, something you’re compelled to do, well…it’s far more than a “have-to.”

It’s transformed to a “get-to.”

As in, you get to have a delicious dinner out with friends. You get to go on vacation. You get to do something you love, something you feel passionate about, something that makes your soul sing because you’re fulfilling your purpose in life.

I get to work with people living with dementia and their families.


The “Just Figure It Out!” Part

Which brings me back to the running a business side of things, the technical details. That almost never feels like a get-to to me.

In the course of trying to solve a tech issue, I came across a video advising me to “just figure it out.”

On the one hand, I appreciate the bootstrapping mindset.

On a far more practical (and real) level, that was the most unhelpful load of crap and waste of time I’ve come across in a long while.

If I could “just figure it out,” I wouldn’t be searching the internet for help, now would I?

If I could “just figure it out,” you’d be reading this blog post on my website, because the issue would be resolved. [Note: Obviously, I did ultimately just figure it out. I’ve still got a bee in my bonnet about it, though.]

This whole tech thing/”just figure it out” episode got me thinking: as a dementia care partner, do you ever feel like you’re in the “have-to” leaky life raft instead of the “get-to” cruise ship? (Be honest!)

Have you ever asked for help and been told, essentially, to “just figure it out”?

I would love to hear your experiences with either/both of these things. (Seriously. Feel free to unload in the comments section, or send me an email!)


My Longest Day

All of this brings me back to The Longest Day, which was this past week. It’s held on the longest day of the year to bring awareness to how exhausting it is to be a person living with dementia or their care partner.

This year, I marked the occasion by spending the day canning. I finished a few minutes before midnight. For the effort I put into it, I feel I should have enough items to stock a mini-mart, at least.

I filled part of one shelf.

Although I generally love being in the kitchen, it was feeling like a great big have-to at a certain point.

(Certain point=around the time I realized I’d run out of the pickling solution, and sugar, and jars(!!!) and would need to go to the store. Again. At 5:30 p.m.)

The other low point came as I was exhausted, my back ached, my ankles were the size of tree trunks, it was 10ish p.m. and I realized I was gonna have to stay up to see the pasta sauce pressure-cooking through to the end.

Now, back to reality: who cares about any of this?

It was one day and I got through it.


Your Longest Day

You did, too.

And you woke up the next morning and went through it all over again. Because dementia doesn’t stop. It doesn’t go away after 5, or on weekends, or on holidays.

Last year’s graphic, clearly. Not all technical issues have been resolved. 

It doesn’t just show up on The Longest Day.

You get to spend time with a person you love. You may very well have to be a carer because of dementia.

“Just figure it out!” is worthless advice. (And mean.)

So, please, do comment and let me know your thoughts. What would be most helpful to you?


Christy Turner is the founder of DementiaSherpa.com and has enjoyed the privilege of working with 1,123 people living with dementia and their families. Follow on Facebook, Google+, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, and YouTube. Content varies across platforms.