Showing posts with label Alzheimer's Association. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Alzheimer's Association. Show all posts

Monday, May 23, 2022


Ikigai is a Japanese concept meaning a purpose for being or "a reason to get up in the morning."

Everyone, according to the Japanese, has an ikigai. Finding this deep meaning, this purpose in life can vary for all of us and it can change as we journey through life. But it usually requires a deep and often lengthy search into one's self. And like all journeys, in the very end, it is often that journey that is more significant than anything, or everything one may do, or accomplish, or even achieve in their lives.

For the journey can often be the purpose. It can be the meaning and the reason for getting up every single day and allowing the spirit of wonder and expectation to enter. To focus the energy of being, the spirit of wanting to learn, to know, and to grow to enter. And then to access that deep inner energy, that drive, that creative impulse to center and to ground to become one with that purpose.

Pronounced :                                                    
"Uh key gay I"

For me, my 'Ikigai' has always been about using my gifts - physically, mentally, spiritually, and emotionally - in service to the greater self. And the greater self for me, is expressed in helping others. Sometimes, it has been someone I already know and care about. And sometimes it has not. 

Sometimes, people are directed into my path or found along my journey. Sometimes our meeting is for a reason, or a season, or a lifetime. I never know which until the path unfolds.

This journey has always been a challenging one for me. I always know what I had to offer and it can vary from day to day. I always know what I want to give, to do, and to be in a greater sense. 

But that has so very often conflicted with what I had to do, or to give, or to be in order to fulfill this purpose, this meaning, this greater destiny of spirit catalyzed into action here on earth.

The word "ikigai" is usually used to indicate the source of value in one's life or the things that make one's life worthwhile. Secondly, the word is used to to refer to mental and spiritual circumstances under which individuals feel that their lives are valuable. It is this combination that creates the spiritual impetus for doing good for doing that deeper spiritual impulse's purpose in this life, through love and not ego.

The term "ikigai" is composed of two characters : iki and kai. Iki refers to life and kai is a suffix meaning roughly "the realization of what one expects and hopes for."

As we mature, as we realize our own courage, our own deep need and our abilities to survive beyond all that which we think we are capable of, all that we think we can achieve, and are often surprised to discover that it might not have been what we originally thought we were meant to do, to give, and to be in this lifetime.

And so today, I share my doing, my passion, my being, in one tiny little form..creating from fabric and bringing forth the manifestation of a greater gift..the gift of love, of giving, of doing and creating. Not just for myself, but through myself for others. My reason to get up in the morning.

So, today I ground myself, my purpose, and my spirit with ikigai. I share this little embellished art quilt begun a very long time ago when my mother was still alive. My mother who loved all things Japanese, all things with deeper meaning, never knowing that one day, her own family, my own family with have members of Japanese descent that we love dearly marry into our family and begin the process and finalization of the healing of many wounds from World War II. 

A war that cost one of the five members of my Alaskan family his life by the hands of one once seen as the enemy but now seen as part of ourselves, our family, our earth, our humankind.

We gave up the anger, the blame, the polarization that leads to division and separation of our true spiritual self and our incarnated soul. It's not easy to stay in spiritual radiance. One has to always remember who we truly are and what it is we were sent here to this earth to be and to do.

I honor that journey, this earth, my life, and the grounding that I find along the way - that balances the darker shadows of life and its challenges as I always do.  I use.with the brilliance of the light, the sacred power of divine energy and that desire to do more, be more, and give more. 

One of those things in life that never fails to give me joy is creating.  All of these little quilts were begun during my work with the Alzheimer's Art Quilt Initiative and my caring for my parents in my childhood home on Douglas Island, Alaska. 

I made and donated my 75 little 8.5" x 11" art quilts to AAQI from 2006 to 2013 for sale on site or at auction for them to earn money towards research funding towards finding a cure for Alzheimer's Disease.  The ultimate form for not remembering who we truly are. 

And perhaps for me, the ultimate reason for getting up with love and purpose each and every morning.


Caring for my beloved mother over the 9 years of her disease progression was an act of steadfast love and determination traveling back and forth from Oregon to Alaska as many as 4 times a year as I was needed by my dad who cared for her with the help of other family members the rest of the time. 

It was hard, hard work but still filled with love and joy no matter what, each and every day. And in between I sewed and donated my 75 tiny art quilts to AAQI. The most blessed and deeply personal work of a lifetime of service and volunteering with and for others. 

I treasure that journey of its purpose and its creation and I bring those energies into my new day. Quilting with grace and with purpose and with deepest meaning and joy.  

A journey and a process and a joy created with love from my heart and with my hands.

I blog on a Galaxy Note 9 mobile phone using only mobile data signal in a no wifi home.. Not easy but I am a determined woman who doesn't give up easily 🤣

Michele Bilyeu Creates With Heart and Hands as she shares her imaginative, magical, and healing journey from Alaska to Oregon. Creating, designing, sewing, quilting, and wildcrafting from my heart and with my hands.

Sunday, May 08, 2011

I Love Me My Little Mama

It's Mother's Day weekend and I'm missing my sweet little mama.

I know that I was just with her in Alaska just a short time ago....but with how things are, how quickly they can change and plunge downhill...that only makes me miss her all the more!

I am so grateful that one of my brother's, his wife, and children were able to bridge the gap of transition in one huge step and begin spending the nights and virtually moving in with her next door to their own home.

I do what I've always done. I phone her and love how she perks up and laughs with me...even when she might not be totally sure what either of us is laughing at. I'm so grateful we've always had the gift of our silly laughter and corny jokes that only the two of us have ever found funny. Now, those are bridges and transfer paths for connection between us and a way to keep her one with me emotionally, energetically,and spiritually.

And in my other world of sewing here in Oregon, well...I make her more quilted bibs. Adult bibs are used all day, every day and they get so shabby in a hurry from the constant washing. So, now...two more.

Making an Adult Bib

I loved discovering fabric I received from donation has two cowgirls with my mother's names..Nell and Grace under their sweet faces. Growing up as a little French girl in Louisiana, Nell was most likely the french nickname for Antoinette, but my mom has always been Nellie or Nell and Grace as her middle name has been so appropriate and so perfect for this time of needing the blessings of true and pure grace.

So, two more adult bibs for my own little Nellie Grace..the survivor of stage 3B inflammatory breast cancer ...8 years cancer free now....and now of course, advanced Alzheimer's her sixth year of its challenges.

My sister-in-law said the most interesting thing to me on this last care giving visit to Alaska. She said 'it's easier on you, Michele, because you just accept it all. You accept how she is and what needs to be done for her.'

I'd never thought of that, but she's right. I never got upset, threw a fit, felt angry or that life is unfair because she'd already 'beat' cancer. I didn't fret and rage over how it changed my own life or took away from my free time. Heck, I sewed some of these bibs at her house and did it with one good arm and one broken one. And while that was incredibly hard, it was also strangely empowering and fun ;)

Now, I see how fear and denial that most family members feel is what makes it so hard for themselves. They have to fight themselves, the changing parent, and the disease...all at once. It causes absolute havoc in the family and each person's own personal life.

You thought you were done parenting? Forget you parent your own parent. You thought you were done feeding someone, lifting and carrying them, changing their diapers, wiping their face and hands and giving them baths..nope, they are just as precious.... only a whole lot bigger to take care of.

As the only daughter who not only saw what needed to be done earlier, but saw the disease itself, sooner...I got a 7 year head start on care giving from my other family members but now, they have to do it day in and day out when I'm not there. So, it all evens out, you see. Knowing I gave my best and lived with them for 3 out of the past 8 years..months added all together.I only have gratitude for what I could give and all that I've learned.

And now..I sew bibs, and make photo cards that others can read out loud to her and remind her how much I love her and that there is still happiness to be had and a good chuckle to share.

Love you my sweet little mama. And I'm thinking of you today, and every day with lots and lots of love!

Today, my 95 year old mother-in-law is brought out to breakfast by her three of who is toting my gift bag of new blouses and blank greeting cards. My own little brood of three will arrive later on...bringing their own beloved and significant others along with them. They will cook for me, and give me my own mother's day! Some days it's nice to be the sandwich in the sandwich generation! Especially, when hubby and I are the only baby boomers in this least no one has moved in to take care of us (yet;)

Happy Mother's Day to all of you who mother in any and all ways!
And of course, if you know me...I also quilt for AAQI ;)... so I'm off to do a little quilting before my kids arrive!

Why I Quilt for AAQI...what having Alzheimer's in my family means for and to me!


Notes and Links:

Alzheimer's Association Educational links and forums and what you can do to keep track of bills as they go to Congress:

Who will be mothering you..... when YOU are in diapers and bibs once again?
"Generation Alzheimer's: The Defining Disease of the Baby Boomers," sheds light on a crisis that is no longer emerging – but already here.

Read all about what this means for ALL of us

Candlelight Tribute Rally

Sunday, May 15, 7:30-8:30 p.m. Join the group at the reflecting pool on the west side of the Capitol

Light a virtual candle
Unable to come to D.C.?

Honor a loved one during our Virtual Rally....
a place to light a candle with the name of your loved ones

All of my 'Coping With Alzheimer's' Posts

Why I Quilt for AAQI: The Alzheimer's Art Quilt Initiative
AAQI: Liberated Quilting Challenge
Liberated Challenge Webpage at AAQI

Michele Bilyeu quilts for AAQI..the Alzheimer's Art Quilt Initiative. Won't you please join us? :)