Chronic Illness or an Aging Brain (How to Die Smiling Book 1)

ByJarem Sawatsky

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Readers` Reviews

★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
This book is very helpful for people with dementia, Parkinson's who have money, friends and family to support them and I'm not demeaning the content of the book at all! There is some great advice and though I know dementia, Parkinson's is, bottom line, a solo journey, I know I'd be very comforted if my retirement money hadn't all been lost in a Ponzi scheme, that I had the kind of wonderful support network this man is so fortunate to have. Great advice but most of it doesn't apply to my situation. Maybe I'm missing something. Would recommend it to others.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
tyson e dewsnup
A life lesson. This book teach us how to live life, but nor only throug illness but through health as well. Jared show us to focus in what really matters and to fully enjoy everything we do, not only when we are experiencing a rough time but every single day of our life's.
I received an advance copy of this book but reviewed it voluntarily
Thanks Jared for sharing your life experience with us. And thanks for letting some of us read an advanced copy of this inspiring book
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
murat demirci
I received an ARC copy of this book. What follows is an honest review.

The author has Huntington's disease. As the disease progresses in a human body the person loses control over their movements. Some have likened the lack of control to that of an elephant dancing, hence we have the name of the book.

When faced with a disease like Huntington's of which there is no cure, one has to decide what they will do with their life and what remains. Many will try to fight it, some, like the author will embrace it. This does not mean they will not hold on to every bit of life they can, but that they will live a life where there will not be a lot of drama. Decisions will be made before they need to be, arrangements made that need to be done. That is the thrust of this book.

One needs to get support not just for the person, but to their love ones as well. In this book, the author suggests making circles of people from all walks of life, that can treat each part of you, not just the medical ones the doctors can.

It is a well written book. I would recommend it to any going through a terminal illness, of their own or a loved one. I also found many inspirational moments in the book as well. While I have cancer, it is a slow moving one so I do not have the same trauma that many do. Still I think many just going through life could gain from this as well.
Wishful Drinking by Fisher - Carrie (2009) Paperback :: Scrappy Little Nobody :: My Girls: A Lifetime with Carrie and Debbie :: Twist Me: The Complete Trilogy :: Postcards from the Edge
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
stephanie leonardo
Mere words cannot express how thoughtful and lovely this book is.

The author teaches us through his experiences, and his journeys with mindfulness training how to deal effectively with not only the good times, but catastrophic adversity in all its forms.

He teaches that we can take hardship and make it ours, so we can deal with it more on our terms than on being a victim of it.

The author also puts forth a great resource of his teachers and programs he attended along his journey. That would be the part of the book that some of the negative review people were blind to for some unknown reason. I guess you can lead a horse to water, but you can make them drink sort of thing.

The book is an easy read if you can empathize with what is before you. If you can do that you will reap a greater understanding on how to live better, and not be a victim even with severe road blocks ahead of you.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
sandy f
This excellent little book is full of insights that are helpful for both those who are living with long term illness personally, but also for those who relate to them as family and friends. As someone with Huntington's Disease in my family, I was eager to read early drafts and I wasn't disappointed.

I especially appreciated the interviews with Jon Kabat-Zinn, Patch Adams, Lucy Kalanithi, John Paul Lederach and Toni Bernhard.

Although sobering, the author's personal anecdotes are humble, hilarious at times and full of hope.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Sometimes we need to read a book like Dancing With The Elephants, to remind us that life is full of challenges but we can learn to overcome the difficulties and focus on what we still have in our lives. Sawatsky who developed Hunnington's disease chose to take action and make plans for his family and himself for the future. I loved the chapter on having a circle of care set up and not letting your disease take over everything in your life. There are bright spots in everyday if you will look for the them. This was a great book for those who have loved ones with Dementia. Read and apply some of the applications in your own situation. This book is a very personal journey that will affect the family caregiver and the loved one with a long term disease. A must read.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
dunya dianne mcpherson
I first "discovered" Jarem Sawatsky's books in my search for authors who wrote from the heart about the art and science of peace-making. After reading "Justpeace Ethics" and "Voices of harmony and Dissent" I jumped at the chance to join an Advance Readers Group to have an opportunity to read this book early. I wasn't disappointed. Jarem writes profound prose with a poet's heart.
"Dancing with Elephants" brings the reader face to face with the reality that Life, Death, and everything in between, are sacred if we embrace them and realise that every moment we have is precious. It's not an ordinary Mindfulness Training book. Though Jarem teaches Mindfulness with depth, clear prose, humour, and honesty, there is the ever-present reality that he is facing a chronic, terminal illness. I've never experienced a book that elicited both grief and inspiration as I read, to the degree that this one did.
In my opinion, it's a unique book. If you're into mindfulness - buy a copy! If you want to be creatively inspired to live your live with the courage to love, laugh, and dance - buy a copy!
You'll also learn how to dance with an elephant!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
I barely just finished reading this book and I'm simply overwhelmed. I had no idea what Huntington's disease is and it breaks my heart to think of people both having to experience it and having to watch loved ones experience it. I feel like Mr Sawatsky's attitudes and approaches are nothing short of amazing! I found this book to be incredibly inspiring and I deeply value the content included. I love how he put links right into the book so I could get directly to the videos; I appreciate that he included his own poetry and such poignant quotes from others; and, I think most of all, I value the suggestions and tools he offers for anyone dealing with any type of struggle. It's true that my story is as different from his as night is from day, yet I found numerous bits of advice, information and perspective that I believe will help me to live in a more loving and compassionate way. Thank you, Mr Sawatsky, from the bottom of my heart for sharing your story, insights, intentions, love and humor with the world!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
kjersti johanne
The honesty and knowledge written throughout this book had me flagging pages as I read because I wanted to remember the words and teachings written. Being provided a glimpse of what life is like when a person is "Dancing with Elephants" like Jarem is, was a truly a gift. This book encourages the reader to embrace fear, to embrace weakness, to embrace pain and surround it with love and compassion. I read this book out of interest and because I have a family member who has lived with chronic pain for nearly 40 years now. While reading this book, I found I had been given an invaluable lesson on how to live my own life to the fullest. This book and the man behind it are an inspiration.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
horacio maya
I am a psychotherapist and most of my work has been with grief and loss. I have learned so much on a visceral level listening to this book read by the author. I continued to be awakened, so to speak, with every chapter, every line. I am completely grateful to Jeremy Sawatsky for writing and reading this marvelously funny and compassionate book that opens my imagination to the wonderful, life-affirming ways we can respond to that persistent knock of decay and death at our door. It's a journey and their is a mysterious light at the end of the tunnel, but you have to go through the tunnel!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
steven askew
This is a must read for every person. Jarem gives us so many tools about how to live life fully; how to learn to live with debilitating health issues and to plan for the future - especially for families; the value/importance of a strong support group (with a wide variety of gifts/people); he's candid about the situation he finds himself/themselves in and doesn't ask for pity. Provides some good laughs!! A book with awareness of what Huntington's is all about - I had no idea.
Book I'd strongly recommend for a book club. Have already read it twice.
Thanks Jarem for sharing this gift with us.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
I saved this book for a 13-hour airplane flight and was not disappointed! As I read, each chapter captivated and won "my favorite chapter so far" status. Sawatsky's suggestions for navigating difficult journeys can be put into practice even for non-medical challenges. His sense of humor demonstrates the benefits of looking above and beyond the crap that life can throw at you, allowing you to find joy in your personal journey no matter where it leads. Never having had the opportunity to be a student in one of his classes, I am thankful for the vulnerability and wisdom shared via his writing.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Jarem Sawatsky’s Dancing with Elephants is a gem - Jarem Sawatsky’s Dancing with Elephants is a gem and a gift. It is personal, evocative and powerful. It equips us to suffer mindfully, with profound hope, not on our own, but in the company of others. I suggest that this book could be a resource for every pastor, chaplain, caregiver and every person who feels overwhelmed by circumstances beyond their control. This is a book to be returned to again and again; a grace and insight-filled book to drink from for all that we encounter along the journey of life. (2017)
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
paul davies
You might not think this book fits your life story, but after all, don't we all have "aging brains" and elephants in the room? I know I do, in addition to a couple of chronic illnesses.
I was uplifted, felt "lighter," as my friend who recommended the book said, after reading Dancing. If Jarem Sawatsky can hold a party to celebrate his diagnosis of Huntington's, surely I can overcome my far smaller life's challenges!
This is a deceptively simple book that includes wisdom culled from interviews with Jon Kabat-Zinn, Patch Adams, Lucy Kalanithi, John Paul Leadarch, and Toni Bernhard. Sawatsky, a Mennonite with a background in conflict resolution and a terminal disease, is uniquely qualified to take us with him on his journey toward health. Yes, health. In all the ways it most matters.
Anyone who seeks positive change or to find joy among the pitfalls of an ordinary life, should read this book. It will change you if you let it!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
kate fruehan
I got an early copy of the book from the author and read it in an afternoon, although the thoughts lingered with me for long afterwards. I was deeply moved, and found the writing to be both engaging, filled with nuggets of wisdom and snippets of humour. It explores an alternative way of living with a chronic illness, with mindfulness, joy and deep humanity. I highly recommend it!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
I initially purchased this book as my brother was recently diagnosed with multiple myeloma. As I read the book for myself, I found it a treasure trove of inspiration for everyone, sick or well. Jarem Sawatsky's brave personal story is woven together with encouraging suggestions and advice from himself and many other gurus in the field of living mindfully and lovingly. Thank you, Jarem. This book is a gem.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
fredrik k hler
I received this book early as part of an editing group and I loved it. It reminds me to be ever mindful as I live my own life. Our daughter-in-law's mother recently passed away from HD and I've seen what this illness can do to the individual as well as their family. Thankfully our daughter-in-law does not carry the gene, but Jarem, through his book gives lessons for us all.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
karen a
This book really touched me! I've been struggling with reading and so listening to the audiobook was wonderful- I enjoyed the narrration. What made this book special is that it encourages us to embrace the life we do have and to find joy in it. There were examples from poems, interviews, and life experience. I felt the author's self compassion in his words and how he described living his life. He had practical applications for mindfulness and self compassion woven through the book. Highly recommended!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
rita amado
I'm from a family with Huntington 's Disease, the same debilitating genetic, neurological disease the author experiences. I've given away numerous copies of Dancing with Elephants to family and friends. Written in short, focused chapters, it is a wonderfully accessible book. The book is richly spiritual but not limited in meaning or usefulness to either the author's own Mennonite Christianity or the socially engaged Buddhism of which he makes such compelling use. As a professional hospital chaplain, I recommend it to anyone who works in healthcare. As a person, I recommend it to anyone asking deep questions humanity, purpose, and life.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Wow! I just don't have time to give the thoughtful review I would like for this beautifully touching account of defining one's own reality in response to incurable disease. It's also a smart book; planning ahead is smart. Dozens of page markers give testament to many passages I want to remember. Very highly recommended.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
claudia ivette
voking for people of all walks of life - Dancing with Elephants was a delightful read - insightful, inspiring, honest. I'm a healthy 23 year old, but still found the book very relevant to my life and encouraged me to consider how I could live in more mindful, peaceful, loving ways in everyday life. Concise chapters filled with stories of the author's life made for an easy but engaging read. I would certainly recommend this book!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
david willis
Jarem writes with great courage, humor and an unflinching humanity. The lessons offered in this book provide insight into living with dementia, chronic disease, or an aging brain (so basically everyone!). Unlike many other books in this genre, "Dancing with elephants" doesn't provide a road map, a game plane or guide to battling or overcoming disease. This book rather, offers music for the dance and a more profoundly human way of interacting with the elephants in our lives. Highly recommended.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
june kornatowski
Jarem is one of the most reflective and enlightened writers in the peace making world that I've met in a long time. I have been a faithful reader of his blog and just picked up this book! This is stuff to learn from and I hope that it does not become just another "inspirational book." What Jarem writes comes from years as a peacemaker and scholar. I highly recommend this book and even purchased 4 of them to give as gifts!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
dennis dallaglio
Warm, wise, and wonderful! - Sawatsky shares from his own experience, as well as bringing on board several other intriguing voices to join the conversation. And that's what the book feels like - a friendly and helpful conversation. It has certainly helped me in my quest to dance with my particular elephant!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Engaging, enlightening and real! If you are willing to read with you own soul as exposed as the authors, you will not only dance with the elephants in your life, you will belly laugh, you will heart cry and you will become a more peace-filled and compassionate person.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
stephanie porusta
Dancing with Elephants is a unique perspective on the possibilities of mindfulness. I recommend this book to those of us seeking a new lens as we navigate this journey of life and death. The book is poignant, funny, full of practical considerations, and leads to helpful reflection and insight. Read it if you yourself are living with a closer awareness of mortality, read it if you are a caregiver, a parent, a dog-owner, or someone who could imagine lying in a snowbank. This is a great book, and highly recommended.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
I absolutely love this book! It brings such hope in the midst of struggle. Jarem has transformed my view of fatal illness through his raw experiences. I also love the mindfulness excersises that i could participate in. He even creates space for community and connection with others journeying in this same struggle-- beautiful!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
I know that the wisdom and inspiration given freely in this wonderful book will guide my husband, now living with Parkinson's Disease, and me. As his care partner, we are both on this path, and will journey on it together, with love rather than fear.

The lessons and messages of Jarem Sawatsky's personal experience were inspiring, thoughtful and "catching". Visualizing and living the "dance" makes all the difference!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
trish leja bloom
This book is a gift to all of us but especially those those who are living with a life limiting illness and those who support them. Jarem Sawatsky invites us into his personal journey with Huntington disease with honesty,vulnerability,hope, humor, and courage. I highly recommend this book. You may even come away with a renewed spirit and a willingness to walk your own journey with courage and hope.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
We all have elephants in our closet--those things about ourselves we wish didn't exist. For Jarem, it's Huntington's disease. And he is determined to learn to dance with his elephant instead of trying to eliminate it. Jarem is open, vulnerable, courageous and fun as he shares his learnings. I'm inspired and hopeful as I take a few beginning dance steps with my own elephant.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
sandee westmoreland
It may seem as if Jarem's official career as a professor came to an end prematurely because of the onset of Huntingdon's Disease, but in fact, Jarem continues to be an amazing teacher and has given us a rich learning resource in his book, Dancing With Elephants. Read it and be inspired by his practical insight in living well with challenging health issues. I highly recommend this book.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
pamela bond contractor
Whether a person is learning to live with a disease or with the natural decline of increasing age, Jarem's book provides strength for doing so with insight, humour and grace. It deserves repeated reading for all in the last third of their lives.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
carolyn martin
Jarem Sawatsky has written a challenging book. Faced with an incurable disease he shows the reader better ways to live than fear and depression. He also includes very practical suggestions for anybody facing tough situations.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
This is a very courageous write; though I suspect you see nothing in writing it. I guess your faith gives you great strength in the situation.

We have a family friend who married into a Huntingtons family, unknowingly, and have witnessed her life over the past 40 odd years, so I feel I have some empathy with your situation.

★ ★ ★ ★ ★
ankimno novakowski
Life can be joyful, even while living through a terminal illness. Attitude is everything, and we can choose to be happy rather than sad. The author, who has been diagnosed with an incurable condition, gives insight that can change lives for the better. Read this book -- you will be glad you did.
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
lihini wijesinghe
This is a book of desperate clichés that isn't helpful at all. I waiting patiently for some meaningful advice but it never came. Maybe writing poetry about one's medical condition can help some people but wasn't for me. There are plugs for global warming and some anti American sentiments so maybe that's the real intentions of the book.
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