Editor’s Note: This month, we hear from two familiar voices: VTI Executive Director Vicki de Klerk-Rubin and her mother, Validation Founder Naomi Feil. The pair recently wrapped up their final European tour (together) and shared a few musings on the experience and the future of Validation.
On the road with Mom
I’m writing this article from my Paris hotel where Naomi and I are enjoying our first day off after one week of touring. We’ve had workshops in Bonn, Germany and Roubaix and Paris, France. We will be going to Dijon, France, then to Frankfurt and Stuttgart, Germany. Naomi and I are doing ‘duo-workshops’ —alternating presentations throughout the day and harmonizing so that one section flows into the next—while also maintaining our personal styles.
We’re driving from place to place so it feels like a road trip. On travel days, we get in the car at 11 a.m. and drive three to four hours to get to our next hotel before settling in, meeting our workshop organizer and hoping that all the technical elements are okay.
First thing the next morning, we get to the venue, meet the tech person (if there is a tech person), test the DVDs, the mics and power points. Naomi makes sure that she can move easily between the ‘stage’ and the audience, since so much of her presentation includes audience participation. Sometimes I run the tech, sometimes not.
Naomi is a rock star in Germany and France, with groupies that line up to get her signature and take a selfie. We even had one woman who lined up for a half hour to have Naomi sign her name on her belly! It’s crazy. In one location there are 1,800 people in the audience while the usual number is 300-500.
Unpack the luggage, pack the luggage; a different hotel every two nights. Different workshop organizers have different styles of preparing for us. Each venue offers new challenges.
However, the people in the audience don’t change.
They are looking to Naomi and me for inspiration and answers to questions. How do I handle my mother who blames me for stealing her money? What do I say to the community resident who yells all day? Through role-play, exercises and dynamic interaction, the Validation lessons come across. We get standing ovations at every workshop.
Life on the road is hard and tiring. It’s also satisfying to reach out and touch the lives of so many people. This is how Naomi started Validation: by doing workshop after workshop, spreading the word, touching others with her words and role plays. Between the late 1970s and now, she has done more than 800 workshops all over the world.
Now at 84 years old, she’s still inspiring caregivers with me at her side, sharing the role.
— Vicki de Klerk-Rubin
Validation Will ‘Live On’
What a pleasure to share my life with my daughter. Vicki’s enthusiasm and skill in reaching people has given our workshops “pizazz.” I only wish that we could pack up, deliver our message and zoom across the world forever, but I know that Vicki will continue to inspire caregivers for many years.
I am grateful that my children have picked up where I left off, and expanded my work. With their help and knowledge, Validation will live on to ensure the dignity of the old person.
— Naomi Feil