Guest Blogger Betsy Todd: Meaning

October 16, 2013
Virgil Thomas,

In preparing to facilitate an upcoming Certified Eden Associate Training, I started contemplating Principal Six and the power of meaning. I was thinking how a seemingly worthless item sitting on our Elder’s nightstand may have great meaning and worth.  That’s when I remembered a tiny pair of scuffed up red shoes that are sitting in my nightstand.

 Those little shoes have been hanging around our house for the past seven years since our daughter outgrew them.  I remember how three-year-old Mary’s eyes lit up at first sight of them.  They were red & sparkly with perfect tiny bows.  Every day, for the next year, no matter what she was wearing—dresses, blue jeans, swimsuit, jammies, snow pants—those shoes were on her feet.

By the end of that year, the glitter had rubbed off, the toes were scuffed and the bows were all bent, but it didn’t diminish her love for those shoes.   When she could no longer squeeze her feet into them, they sat on her nightstand for the next year.  Then one day it was over–she moved on to a pair of hot pink Converse High Tops and I found the little red shoes in the bottom of her toy chest. 

I put the shoes into the “donate” box and fully expected they would go to Good Will.  But as I took the box out of my trunk, I rescued the shoes at the last minute.  I went through this routine a few more times—each time looking at those little shoes was a glimpse of three-year-old Mary. 

The last time, instead of putting the shoes back in the donate box, I carried them up to our bedroom and put them in my nightstand. There they will stay. They even traveled from Illinois to Maui when we moved last year.  Each night when I reach for my book, those little shoes make me smile.  To me they are precious.  

It made me think about how we handle Elder’s belongings.  How many times did I carelessly I move an Elder’s “little red shoes” out of my way while I performed a medical task?  How many times have I missed an opportunity to hear a story about their treasure? 

Since Principal Six started me thinking, I have become more curious—maybe even a little nosey. Oh the stories I’ve heard!

9 Comments. Leave new

Jean Mensendick
October 16, 2013 2:13 pm

Thank you for that marvelous example. It struck a cord with me. I am a new Eden Educator and independent consultant. I so appreciate every opportunity to learn something that will help me become the effective and engaging instructor I seek to be.
Jean Mensendick, Evergreen Colorado


Guest Blogger Betsy Todd: Meaning via @edenalt #LTC #QoL


Thank you Jean. I’m a new Eden Educator also–this week I taught my second CEAT. I love using personal stories to convey the principles–it helps me to feel what I am teaching. It is so lovely that we can all learn from one another!

Jean Mensendick
October 19, 2013 2:45 pm

Betsy, I hope you will continue your posts. I think sharing in each other’s growth is one of the many great things about being a part of this movement. Yesterday I taught one of my own curriculums The Heart of the Matter: Compassion At Work, to a group of dietary care partners here in Denver. It appears that there is a great hunger for culture change that acknowledges each partners intrinsic worth.

barbara smullen
October 21, 2013 12:25 am

Oh, this is just wonderful…it would have been beautiful just mother to mother, which is what I was thinking as I first read, but then—when you came to the line about an Elder’s possessions, I, an Elder now for 8 years (and also an Eden Associate) was so deeply moved because I am known for having “so much stuff” but…..they are my treasures….one tiny shell…an acorn…a dresser scarf from Guatemala where I grew up – yes, it does collect dust…but it also tells the story of who I am…and I don’t want to hear one more time “the States will be upset about your stuff”….please do not take away all that is part of the soul of “Me”…Thank you!


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