To Bee or Not to Bee

Have you ever wondered if you’re living your highest purpose, if you’re on the right path? Have you ever received a sign from “the universe” that you took as an affirmation of your direction?

I often ask myself that question and watch for a sign. Of course, the ideal sign is a shaft of ethereal light beaming through the clouds and a heavenly voice that assures, “Yes, you are on your path.” But that’s never happened for me. My most recent sign came from a buzzing insect. Click here if you’d like to hear the story or keep reading if you prefer the written word.

Warmly, Deborah

Deborah Shouse is the author of Love in the Land of Dementia: Finding Hope in the Caregiver’s Journey.


Normally, I am afraid of bees.

But recently, I was sitting outdoors at a neighborhood restaurant, telling my friend Sarah about my new writing book called Creativity in the Land of Dementia: Finding Inspiration in the Care Partner’s Journey. As I talked about collecting expressive therapies to stimulate and engage people living with dementia and their care partners, the first bee cruised by my faro and fruit salad. The bee landed on the edge of my plate and reached out a tentative antenna to fondle a thin slice of apple.

I did not instantly jump away: instead I felt a sense of calm and connection around the bee. “Thank you for the good work you’re doing, “ I told the bee, hoping it would take the hint and move on. I continued telling Sarah about the renewal tips I wanted to write for weary care partners when a second bee buzzed by and danced around on an apple slice.

I put the two bee-spotted apples on a separate small plate and placed it on the far end of the table.

“This is for you,” I told the bees.

They enjoyed the apples for a while, then returned with friends to explore my salad further. I put all the slices of apples on the small plate and waved them toward that corner of the table.

But despite the fact that my plate now held nothing but faro, a plain tasting ancient grain, the bees returned to buzz around me.

Sarah and I changed tables, leaving our food behind. The bees followed.

Again, we moved to another table. And again, the bees followed, buzzing around me.

Finally, we agreed it was time to leave.

The next morning I received an email from Sarah. She was so curious about my sudden popularity with the pollinators that she looked them up in her animal medicine cards. She discovered that bees indicated:

It’s time to get organized and get to work on that idea that you want to implement and develop.

Approach your projects with commitment, diligence, and dedication, and you’ll succeed beyond your wildest expectations.

Involve several others in a cooperative and life-affirming venture, one in which everyone who participates will benefit-and if possible, one that involves the entire community.

Those sentences captured the essence of my project, a book that will benefit the community and that I want to organize, commit to, and involve others in.

I got a “buzz” just reading the description. I was also grateful for such a lovely affirmation; a sign that I was on my right path. And during a time when I was extremely busy, the experience also offered me an important spiritual reminder: “Just bee.”

Want to be part of Creativity in the Land of Dementia: Finding Inspiration in the Care Partner’s Journey? I’m looking for stories about people with dementia who are giving back to their community or living with dementia in an unusual and creative way. I am seeking renewal tips from care partners. And I am interested in fascinating creative activities that both inspire and engage.




  1. Mike Good on November 11, 2014 at 4:08 pm

    That’s a nice story but it makes me wonder about the hummingbird that follows me around the yard. Maybe it’s telling me that my recently discovered purpose of helping the dementia community is the right path?
    : )

  2. Maril on November 11, 2014 at 6:28 pm

    I love it! (the video)

    Yesterday at singing group, Dennis Moore was fooling around with one of the music therapy student’s guitars before we started. Soon he was strumming “Blue Christmas” (the Elvis version) and we were all singing/humming along. Melita, our leader, wisely noted this and said to our group, “Today we’re not going to do warm-ups in the usual way. Today we’re going to let Dennis lead us in another song. How about ‘This Land Is Your Land?’ Dennis?”

    Dennis, not to be outshone, winked and said to her and the group, “Gee, I don’t know if I know that one.” (It’s the one he sings almost every time he gets his hands on a guitar and he knows all the words.) We all laughed and then sang the song as loud as we could, while Dennis strummed and sang with us. At the end we all clapped for him.

    It was a moment of warmth, joy, love, connection, that I’ll never forget. Knowing that Dennis has Alzheimer’s makes him “special” to the whole group – we all watch out for him and make sure he’s included in everything. I was so glad he got to sing “his” song and we all got to sing with him. He inspires us.

    I think, if you haven’t already done so, you should interview his wife, who is his primary caregiver, and see what else he’s involved in – but for sure the singing group is one thing you could mention in your book.

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