Joy!

Joy to the World! Joy is the focus of my advent study this morning, Joy!  It seems somewhat fitting that it is a dark, cold, wet morning here in Texas.  Poor Eloise was forced to face the most terrible of indignities when she had to do her morning business in the cold rain with lightning and thunder.  She has taken to her hiding spot in the bedroom and is refusing to come out.  This morning is not a very joyful one for poor Eloise.  Eloise finds joy when she is around other people and dogs, she craves companionship outside of her Mother and feline sister.  Eloise’s truest expression of joy is when I roll the window down in the car and she sticks her head out in anticipation as we make the turn into the parking lot for doggie day care, Eloise’s happy place. But Eloise is also joyful at the end of the day when I pick her up and she runs down the hallway straight to her Mother. 

Joy!  Where is the joy in our lives and in our world?  As conflicted as I feel about the new Covid-19 vaccines being reviewed for Emergency Use Authorization by the FDA, I do think that joy can be found in the promise of a vaccine.  The current vaccines, and subsequent iterations bring the promise that life might eventually return to normal.  Joy can be a current state of being due to our surroundings or circumstances or joy can be found in the promise of a better tomorrow, joy that there is the potential for things to get better, be better, that we are not stuck in what can seem like an eternal wilderness or land of darkness.  That we do have the ability and gift of being able to look forward, to have hope and a belief that there is light at the end of the tunnel.  That tunnel might be long, but there is light at the end if you look carefully.

Poor Eloise can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel right now, her little doggie brain really only allows her to live in the moment which can definitely be a good thing, but when you face dark times; like this morning’s rain storms, isn’t it a gift to know that the sun will shine again, that the flowers and trees will look all the more beautiful in the Spring thanks to this morning’s rain, that sometimes there is joy in curling up on the couch under a warm blanket with your cup of coffee.  That there is joy in the dark when you plug in the Christmas lights and light a few candles or take a few moments to bake a rum cake for a colleague that has worked so hard and put in extra hours, there’s joy for me in knowing that this small gift will bring her joy.   I think it can be easy for us to be like Eloise and get stuck in where we are in the moment, to be mired down in the wet, cold, darkness.  I know I can be guilty of this, of getting stuck in complete overwhelm, but then I find a moment of joy in time with my sister, a walk through our local nature preserve, or just being able to prioritize the things that do bring me joy.  

Joy! 2020 has certainly not been a year full of joy for most of us; but I choose to believe that joy is still there.  That at the end of the day the promise of the vaccines is good, that while we traverse this wilderness there is a promise that there will be a better tomorrow; that day by day the tunnel will get shorter; the storms will pass, the sun will shine and we will see the rainbow that symbolizes God promises of peace, hope, joy and love. 

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November 30

Day 30! 

Here it is the end of the road for my daily blog post challenge.  If you are just joining in on the fun, at the beginning of the month I decided to challenge myself to post to my blog everyday in the month of November.  I wanted to challenge myself to get back into the habit of writing and I thought going public might be a good way to keep the challenge going and it worked!  Here we are, we ALL made it to day 30!  I wish I had something grand planned for tonight’s post, but I have to confess I don’t.  I thought I’d start a draft this morning, but when the alarm clock went off  I hit snooze way too many times.  So here we are, stuck with a free write to close out my November writing challenge.  


Before I map out what’s next, I want to thank each of you that has taken the time to comment, like and even read some of my posts.  Your participation means so much to me.  I truly value your time and thank you for taking the time to stop, click through and actually read my posts; I know how easy it can be to see a post, like it and not really read the post.  One of the things I’ve enjoyed most is the sense of community and connection that I have with each of you, and isn’t that one of the things we are searching for; meaningful connection with others.  I’ll be honest and say there were many days when I just didn’t want to write, but I am grateful that I have created a space where I can sit down and process the day, week, month or even the year.  I’ve enjoyed the opportunity to dig through some of my previous writings and share them in a public space.  Thank you for coming along for the ride. 

So what’s next? I’m glad you asked!  Moving forward I am committing to posting once a week. I have this idea to explore some of my favorite Christmas hymns during the month of December to coincide with Advent that I want to try to flesh out.  I also promise to provide a report of my first solo camping trip, coming up later this week, and I think I would like to post more about my future goals and weight loss challenges (hint it’s kind of stalled out, but that’s for another day). I do plan to spend some time reading and mapping out themes and future posts on my camping trip this week.   One of the things I’ve learned or re-learned through this process is that I am not a fast writer, and sometimes I need to sketch things out and let them percolate; I want to do more percolating.  I want to continue this practice because that’s what it is, a practice.  I want to continue to share my thoughts, observations, and experiences as I start to sort through am I really a camper?  Should I buy a house?  Will we all survive Covid-19?  I also want to share some of the resources that have inspired me, other people who have been willing to share their stories in either print, video or pictures have inspired me to step out and try new things; so I want to continue to figure out how to step out of my comfort zone and share my story in the hopes that it inspires someone else to do something new, something that they thought maybe one day all do that, let’s turn someday into today.  So there’s much more to come, I promise! 

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November 29

November 29

Authors Note: I had an idea to write about some of my favorite Christmas Hymns starting with “Come Thou Long Expected Jesus,” by Charles Wesley, for the advent season. What came out on to paper when I sat down to flesh out this idea was something very different. I am not 100% convinced that I have adequately expressed my thoughts or that my dime store theology is sound. So as you read this, keep in mind that if it weren’t for my challenge I would probably not post this until I had satisfactorily found my conclusion, it is currently evading me so it is possible I will re-visit this work soon. In the meantime I am putting this out to the world and ask for your grace, these are my thoughts on what is a tough and challenging season and I know that I need Hope now more than ever.

Today, Sunday November 29, 2020 is the First Day of Advent.  Advent is my favorite liturgical season; the waiting, the longing for something good to arrive, the promise of Hope! In the Methodist church we mark advent by lighting one candle for each of the 4 Sundays leading up to Christmas day.  Each candle represents a theme of Hope, Love, Joy and Peace.  Today we lit the candle for Hope.  Hope, what a loaded word.  I know for some Hope is a concept that is hard to grasp right now, where is the hope?  How do you hold on to hope when you’ve lost friends and family to a global pandemic that many have chosen to disregard?  How do you find hope when you’ve lost your job, are worried about being exposed to Covid-19 at your job, or you’re choosing to follow recommended precautions and aren’t celebrating in the typical manner with friends and family from far and wide?  This time of year, as darkness overtakes light, can already be hard to manage for many; but let’s just pile on in the grand manner that has been 2020. 

It can seem overwhelming; maybe we should just all crawl into our beds, pull up the covers and wait it out.  Surely when the clock strikes Midnight on December 31st, 2020 and we welcome in 2021 all of our troubles will be gone? But as much as I wish that welcoming a new year will solve our problems and lead us out of the wilderness, I have trouble thinking it will be that easy.  So where is the hope? How do we find, think or even dare to dream about hope in such dark times?  One of the Advent writings I read this morning (https://dianabutlerbass.substack.com) referenced back to Medieval times when the advent themes harkened of darker things – death, judgement, heaven and hell.  Those themes certainly seem more appropriate for this Advent season with the darkness that seems to surround us.  

But, here’s the thing, we can’t have one without the other.  There can be no light without the dark, life and death go hand in hand; at the risk of being trite, “It’s the circle of life.”  Yes, many of us are traveling a path that is hard, our burdens are many and we are weary.  Weary of the losses that seem to keep racking up, weary of people that seem to have no regard for the life or well being of others.  Weary of the discord, the disagreements, the separation, and the ever rising death toll.  I would offer that it’s okay, it’s okay to be weary and to not know when you will find rest.  We are most certainly in the wilderness, these are dark times.  But I do know that even in these dark times it is possible to find hope. Remember light cannot exist without the darkness.  

So where and how do we find hope?  Being the good Methodist that I am, I am an avid fan of Charles Wesley, brother of John Wesley who founded the Methodist Church.  Charles was a prolific author of poems and hymns, his reach goes beyond the Methodist church having penned many of the hymns and carols that are familiar to all. One of my favorite works is

“Come Thou Long Expected Jesus.”  Wesley penned this hymn in 1744, it is speculated that he took the following poem and turned it into song in response to the dark times facing many in England; the constant threat of war, division of classes and the poor treatment of orphans (Wikipedia, 11.29.2020): 

“Born your people to deliver, born a child and yet a King, born to reign in us forever, now your gracious Kingdom bring.  By your own eternal spirit, rule in all our hearts along; by your all sufficient merit, raise us to your glorious throne.”         

Wesley was waiting, looking for the child that would be Born a King. Looking for hope in a time of darkness like the prophets of the Old Testament (Haggai 2:7).  One of my favorite versions of this song has a plaintive and dark tone that gives way to celebration and light (https://youtu.be/R1Nrg6pVlG0). Yes, this is a time of darkness, but there is a voice calling out in the wilderness.  I don’t know why, but I think we are meant to be in this wilderness time, we are meant to journey in the darkness; but I think that makes this season of advent even more special this year.  It is important that we embrace the light when we find it and celebrate the hope; even if it is fleeting. It is there for all of us, waiting for the day when light overcomes dark, it happens every year when we pass the Winter Equinox and the days slowly start to become longer than the nights. And maybe this is the year when we take the time to find hope for ourselves by creating it for others.  By feeding the hungry, giving to the poor, healing the sick and clothing the naked.  Maybe this is the year that in the darkness we find and remember the true spirit of Christmas.

                 

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in faith so that you overflow with hope, by the power of the Holy Spirit.” – Romans 15:13 CEB                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    

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November 28

November 28

Two days and counting…  If you are just joining in, I challenged myself to post once a day, everyday in the month of November.  Why? Well I wanted to get back into the habit of posting to my blog, and also wanted to make carving out time for writing a habit.  I haven’t been as intentional about my posts as I would have liked, but I am learning from the process and it has helped me process a great deal of thoughts and feelings.  I didn’t know when I started this challenge that Covid-19 would blow up again and pretty much dominate the narrative of my life for the past 28 days, I should have known; but I didn’t really think things through when I jumped into this self imposed challenge.  I think that is something I am learning this year, to stop waiting for conditions to be perfect before jumping into something. If I had actually thought through this challenge I probably would have pulled the plug and not gone through with it.  But I had the idea and just jumped in and 28 days I am still going. 

Next week I am jumping headlong into another challenge, solo camping with a teardrop trailer.  Yes, I am going camping all by myself and yes I know it’s December, but again if I wait for the conditions to be just right I will keep waiting for someday instead of giving this a try.  For several years I’ve harborded this dream of going camping and of owning a teardrop trailer that I could take out anytime I felt like; and for years I’ve thought of all the things that could go wrong and just put it off, saying maybe someday.  Well, this year I’ve decided that some day is going to be today.  I had a lovely new tow bar hitch installed on my Volvo and I found a T@G Max that fits within my tow capacity available for rent on Outdoorsy.com.  I’ve hemmed and hawed on this for weeks, but finally pulled the trigger on the reservations for the teardrop this past week. I am super nervous, I’ve never pulled a trailer before, I’ve never set one up on my own before, I’ve never camped solo before; I know enough to know that I have no clue what I am doing and that it’s going to be cold; but I am tired of waiting for someday.  I want to give this a try and if it goes well I am going to consider investing in my own little trailer and I am already starting to plan a birthday trip to South Texas.  

So now I have something to write about in December, instead of a race report I am going to post a camping trip recap; what worked and what didn’t.  What I wish I knew and what I learned.  I’m not going too far from home and I promise I am taking my pepper spray, my Garmin InReach Mini and I’ll keep my cell phone charged. But this is something I’ve longed to do and I am tired of sitting on the sidelines watching other people out doing the things I want to do. So now it’s out there, and now I have to make this happen; because I’ve committed not only to myself but all of you.  That’s kind of scary too.  Well, stay tuned for more on my first solo camping trip.  I am not going to post specifics until I am home safe and sound, but watch this space for more  to come! 

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November 27

November 27 

Blah!  That pretty much sums up how I feel right now.  Even though I know that I actually accomplished a lot on my day off; ie I worked from home for only 3-4 hrs, I don’t feel like I accomplished anything.  My house isn’t really clean, the bed never got made, I didn’t make time to work on my writing practice (other than this post) and my choice of consuming leftovers and chips and salsa have left me feeling more than a little bloated and achy.  I woke up this morning and just felt out of sorts, it happens. I found myself drawn time and time again to that stupid little device known as my phone mindlessly searching social media for the answers to life.  I know better and I know that my, “no facebook,” until after I have exercised, prayed/mediated, and planned my day serves me well; but for some reason I broke that rule today and I feel like I’ve lost the better part of a day down the rabbit hole.  I suppose that my brain is probably trying to tell me it needs a real break, not a pseudo break and I need to learn to listen to that message and actually rest instead of feeding the endorphin cycle of apps and likes and posts of beautiful places and things on the book of face and Instagram.  

I know better, I know the answers I am seeking aren’t there.  That I am in a waiting period as things germinate and that I need to be patient.  I need to wait and continue to flesh out things, to let things settle and all will be well. So I’ve put the phone away.  I’ll allow myself to set my alarm right before I take Eloise out for our last potty walk of the night and that will be it.  No more endless scrolling through posts, looking for what I don’t know. And tomorrow morning?  Tomorrow morning I am committing to getting back into my morning routine that works for me: make coffee (actually Mud\WTR), walk Eloise, feed Eloise, plan my day, journal, mediate, run with some core work all before I will allow myself to check work emails and anything else on my phone.  I need to set myself up to have a great day.  I realize that sometimes it’s good to not have a plan for the day, but I also recognize I won’t start to make progress to get the answers I am seeking without forward progress, or movement. I am figuring this out one day, one step at a time. 

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November 26

November 26 

Happy Thanksgiving! I know for many this Thanksgiving has been anything but normal, but I hope that something good happened for you today. For me it was a good day, work was minimally intrusive – I didn’t have to go in at all and only needed to manage a few emails and text messages for which I am grateful.  My belly is full of turkey and pie and I am sleepy, so I am keeping this short and sweet with my gratitude list: 

  • I am grateful that I was able to talk to my Aunt today.  I haven’t seen her since February and it is a true treat when she calls!  Worth turning my run into a walk to have the time to talk to her. 
  • Time to rest, work has been pretty intense so I am grateful that things slowed down today. 
  • Sunshine and fresh air; I am like a plant I feel better with adequate water, sunshine and fresh air.  I am grateful for every step and every breath of my run/walk this morning. 
  • Pie! 
  • Time with people I love – virtual time and real life time, I am grateful that I can connect with others even when we aren’t together.

I hope you can each find something to be grateful for.  Happy Thanksgiving! 

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November 25

November 25  – Everything is permissible, but not everything is beneficial.

Tonight, on this Thanksgiving Eve; I wish I had more to say, more to share.  But I am tapped out.  I can’t think of anything else to share than my thoughts that I posted to Facebook earlier this evening. Now is the time to think about others, to understand your impact on the bigger world. 

Friends, I don’t know how else to say this; but please understand YOUR actions have direct consequences for people you don’t know.  The increased spread of Covid-19 is directly impacting me, my staff and the residents we care for everyday. I have residents that cannot see their family members on Thanksgiving, I have staff that are choosing to forgo family gatherings because its NOT SAFE or we need them to work because staffing levels are approaching critical.   Hospitals and Long term care facilities throughout the DFW Metroplex are being hit hard. Please think twice before meeting up with friends.  And just because an event is allowed to happen doesn’t mean it’s necessarily safe. “Everything is permissible for me, but not everything is beneficial.” 1 Cor 10:23

𝗜𝗺𝗽𝗼𝗿𝘁𝗮𝗻𝘁 𝗠𝗲𝘀𝘀𝗮𝗴𝗲 𝗧𝗼 𝗧𝗵𝗲 𝗖𝗼𝗺𝗺𝘂𝗻𝗶𝘁𝘆 𝗙𝗿𝗼𝗺 𝗢𝘂𝗿 𝗛𝗼𝘀𝗽𝗶𝘁𝗮𝗹 𝗣𝗿𝗲𝘀𝗶𝗱𝗲𝗻𝘁  

“Our caregivers have gone on record asking you to do what you can to contain the virus. We expressed concern in public forums based on facts and our first-hand experience in the hospital. We asked you then to follow CDC guidelines: wear a mask, socially distance, stay out of mass gatherings, and wash your hands…Now we have 72 people needing beds in our 60-bed hospital while the rest of the Metroplex hospitals fill up. We are asking again that for the safety of everyone you help us slow this surge.” ~ 𝑪𝒊𝒏𝒅𝒚 𝑷𝒆𝒓𝒓𝒊𝒏, 𝑻𝒆𝒙𝒂𝒔 𝑯𝒆𝒂𝒍𝒕𝒉 𝑹𝒐𝒄𝒌𝒘𝒂𝒍𝒍 𝑷𝒓𝒆𝒔𝒊𝒅𝒆𝒏𝒕

𝗣𝗟𝗘𝗔𝗦𝗘 𝗧𝗔𝗞𝗘 𝗔 𝗠𝗜𝗡𝗨𝗧𝗘 𝗧𝗢 𝗥𝗘𝗔𝗗 𝗛𝗘𝗥 𝗙𝗨𝗟𝗟 𝗠𝗘𝗦𝗦𝗔𝗚𝗘 𝗛𝗘𝗥𝗘 >> https://www.texashealthrockwall.com/…/a-message-to-our-com…/

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November 24

Squeezing this one in, just under the wire…

November 24

Wow, it’s late and I almost forgot about my post for today.  It has been a busy night, I made my first Pumpkin Chiffon Pie of the holiday season (yes occasionally I bake), did a little bit of storm spotting for work, when 2020 decided to give us a Tornado Warning tonight, and I’ve been researching ball mounts for my tow hitch as I prepare to embark on my very first camping trip with a teardrop style camper (I promise more details on that later).  So lots going on here and I have to work tomorrow so this post is short and sweet.  I just want to say that today for about 5 minutes, I felt it… I felt hope.  Hope that somehow we would see our way through this current wilderness period, that we were starting to get a handle on things.  That we might, dare I say it, be okay.  When you haven’t had much to be hopeful for it’s a pretty amazing and uplifting feeling.  If you happen to feel it I strongly suggest that you reach out and grab it with both hands and don’t let go.  Hold on to it for as long as you can. I feel like I’ve written these words a lot, but we have to find the light.  I certainly don’t want to make light of anyone’s situation, there is no possible way to directly compare our experiences in the wilderness that is 2020; but there has to be some light, some hope.  That an employee returns from bereavement leave at exactly the right time, that others are willing to flex their schedules and fill in the gaps, that not having our huge blowout Christmas party will allow us to decorate and light up our interior courtyards and maybe even have a special appearance from Santa and a living, breathing reindeer. I am not sticking my head in the sand and pretending that everything is okay, I am just looking for the pockets of hope and light.  They aren’t always easy to find, but they are there. Keep looking. 

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November 23.

One week and counting until I complete the challenge I gave myself, to post everyday in the month of November. I realize I need to start plotting out the future for this blog; figuring out a theme other than my random ramblings or maybe that is the theme, but piecing together an outline and a plan to move this forward after the month of November. But I also need to sit down and connect all the pieces, the glimmer of ideas that I have for life in general. But for now, its time for bed and its been another day on the front lines of Covid-19.

I’d like to congratulate Collin County Texas for surpassing the 10% Positivity rate (don’t ask me where that number comes from but its the one the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid use to determine how much misery they will inflict on long term care facilities in a given week,) for me that number means I have to figure out how to start testing my staff twice a week, how to communicate to family members the week of a holiday that certain visits have to be canceled, and how to respond to the pressures that other peoples behavior is placing on my residents and staff. Anyway, even if you don’t think masks make a difference would you considering wearing one to make my life and the life of my residents a little better? And may considering actually listening too and following the CDC Guidelines to prevent the spread of Covid-19, please?

Anyway, today was a moderately good day! I had to share bad news, another employee has tested positive; but also some good news, one resident is no longer testing positive and has no symptoms so she gets to move back to her apartment, by far the best phone call I’ve made in a while. I realize that relatively speaking we are in pretty good shape; I have the staff, supplies and resources I need to weather this storm; I worry so much about providers that are trying to manage with less. I wonder where we will end up as profession when all is said and done. I can’t say that I would willing recommend that any take up a career in Long Term Care right now, but I also feel a responsibility to help educate and prepare those that will one day take my place. To sit back and throw my hands up in the air would not be responsible; many, many people took the time to help me grow and develop as an administrator and I would not be where I am without them, so I need to start thinking about how I grow and cultivate the next generation. It’s just hard to be forward thinking when all you’re really focused on is the latest test round, the latest positivity rates, the latest staff quarantine, and the latest update to the regs. I guess I know what one of my goals for 2021 needs to focus on, developing a succession plan for myself, not that I am going anywhere anytime soon; but some day…

Alright friends I think that’s enough rambling for now, its well past bed time and I am ready to snuggle up under my new weighted blanket, which I LOVE! Stay safe and healthy.

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November 22

Happy Sunday! ‘Tis the season of giving thanks. Even though this year looks very different for most of us, there is still much to be grateful for. And my bedtime clock is saying its time to get ready for bed so I am giving a list of things I am grateful today:

  1. Time to read, the past few weeks have been very busy so it was nice to have some time to breathe today and sit and read.
  2. I am grateful for my teammates that did work today and made it possible for me to have a day of rest. The people I work with are amazing.
  3. I am grateful my company is allowing me to put my employees back in N95 masks; yes they are uncomfortable, but it is an increased layer of protection for my residents and employees.
  4. Christmas Wishes, everyone needs a little Christmas magic in their lives. If you have the means get out there and find a way to make someone’s Christmas wish come true. https://www.salvationarmyusa.org/usn/walmart-angel-tree/
  5. Holiday Traditions – I am used to the holidays looking a little different, I work in healthcare. But one thing I can always count on are our traditions so this week I am going to make my Grandma Reese’s Pumpkin Chiffon Pies. I am grateful for the holidays we when we would make these pies together. After her stroke, it became my job to help Grandma with the pies. Now that she’s gone, making these pies keeps her spirit alive.

Friends, I know it can seem like dark days with Covid rates rising and an election cycle that will not end; but there is still good in the world. We can still create good in the world. I hope you have something to be grateful for this week.

Helping Mom make the bed

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