I think everybody has tragedy in their life. Everybody has hurdles in their life. Everybody has tough things to overcome. My kids say to me, 'This isn't fair.' I said, 'Life isn't fair.' Everybody has their issues. It's how you handle your issues that distinguishes you.
The most important thing we can tell young people is not to be an imitation of somebody else. That their life is special. They are the creator of their life and their way and find something that they enjoy doing that doesn't even feel like work. It feels like a passion. And then just by doing that and bringing that to the world, they become architects of change.
People think, 'Oh my goodness! I have to do something really big.' You don't. Do what you love. There's a great quote from a poet I use all the time: 'Instead of asking what the world needs, ask yourself what you love,' because what the world needs is more people doing what they love.
There are so many places, particularly right now. Go and volunteer at a food bank. If you play the piano, go play the piano in an Alzheimer's home. Or read in an Alzheimer's home. Help a military family with babysitting. The opportunities are endless. People often think 'They want me?' or 'I can be of help?' What we try to say here is 'Be who you are.'Feel that, live it and pass it on.
Someone once told me not to be afraid of being afraid, because, as she said, 'Anxiety is a glimpse of your own daring.' Isn't that great? It means that part of your agitation is just excitement about what you're getting ready to accomplish. Don't sell yourself short by being so afraid of failure that you don't dare to make any mistakes. Make your mistakes and learn from them. And remember: No matter how many mistakes you make, your mother always loves you!
No matter who you are, what you've accomplished, what your financial situation is - when you're dealing with a parent with Alzheimer's, you yourself feel helpless. The parent can't work, can't live alone, and is totally dependent, like a toddler. As the disease unfolds, you don't know what to expect.