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.
  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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November 21

I need to have some fun tonight, do some dreaming and scheming. 

I wish…

I wish I was in the woods, sitting in front of a campfire that I built. 

I wish I knew where I wanted to live and if I really wanted to buy a house or just keep renting. 

I wish I had a teardrop camper to take out into the woods for a quick weekend getaway. 

I wish I lived in Colorado; or maybe not, maybe it is possible that actually living there would ruin the beauty and the magic? I doubt it. 

I wish Covid would go away and life would go back to normal for my residents and family members. 

I wish I could go to Las Vegas with my friends for New Years Eve. 

I wish the people that lived in my apartment building would wear masks. 

I wish I was independently wealthy so I didn’t have to go to work everyday. 

I wish I wasn’t so tired. 

I wish both OU and OSU could win tonight, but I know it doesn’t work that way. 

I wish I could spend another magical weekend in Oregon running, writing, and spending time with an amazing group of women. 

I wish my Mom could see my Aunt and that we were all together to celebrate the holidays. 

I wish I was brave enough to turn my wishes into reality.  

What do you wish for?  

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November 20

November 20

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I thought I knew what I was going to write about tonight, its Friday and Friday is my official weigh in day so I thought I would probably write about my weight loss journey that currently looks more like a board for the game Chutes and Ladders. But tonight I am working on “feeling my feelings,” and not trying to push them back below the surface with food, wine and either zoning out in front of the TV or getting lost in other people’s posts on social media.  I am working on feeling the feelings, allowing them space because I understand all too well that if I don’t I won’t loose weight.  Food is my drug, food is my security blanket, food is my companion and I am working on learning how to eat when I am hungry and stop when I am satisfied and that’s not so easy to do when there is a part of your brain screaming at you to JUST PUT THE COOKIE IN YOUR MOUTH! because that’s what you always do when things get tough and the cookie will make you feel better for about 5 seconds.  

So here’s the deal, because I know my Mom and Sister might actually read this I want to start off by saying that while I am not 100% Okay, I am actually okay. Am I tired after 3 solid weeks of work with 1 day off and averaging 10 hr days, yes. Do I feel a sense of responsibility – guilt, anxiety, even a little depression – about the fact that 7 of my residents have tested positive for Covid-19 in the past 2 ½ weeks?  Yes, I do and you know what, that’s okay.  It is okay for me to feel those things; what I am learning and working on is how I create space for those feelings, how I offer them a seat at the table, but I don’t allow them to drive the bus.  I can have those feelings, but I don’t have to allow them to change how I show up, how I choose to take care of myself and how I react at work.  Yesterday was not a good day, I let anxiety take over and my responses weren’t always what they should have been. What I am grateful for is that I am much more self aware and open to noticing when this happens, learning from my response and working to be better prepared for the next time because I am certain there will be a next time and it could very well be tomorrow. 

Tonight I am tired and I am angry that the world seems to be continuing to carry on like 250,000 people didn’t die from Covid-19, that my company has to compete with the likes of the NFL and the NCAA for testing supplies, that I spend more time on tracking, reporting and keeping up with the regulations than I do actually caring for the people that call my community home.  I feel guilty that this most recent outbreak happened on my watch, I think through all the things and wonder what did we miss, where was the gap, how did we let this in; even though my rational brain understands that I can’t control all of the variables, it’s still how I feel tonight.  But instead of letting myself drift slowly into the dark place I am welcoming those feelings in, I am allowing them to be, but not dwelling in them.  They are there, I know they probably won’t just go away anytime soon, but I don’t have to let them pull me down.  Keep me from taking care of myself and stop me from reaching my goals.  

Putting these words and my darker thoughts on paper is a little scary, but it also feels good to just put it out there, to write it down and let it go into the universe.  And know that if you are struggling tonight, struggling with heartache, uncertainty, fear, and anxiety; you are not alone.  I see you, I love you and you are not alone even though we are not together.

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November 19

Authors Note: One of the things I’ve wanted to be more brave about is sharing my faith. I know that I have friends that don’t neseccarily think well of “the church,” and Christians, but I do self identify as a Christian and it is a part of who I am. So tonight I am choosing to be brave and to share a little bit about what I believe.

I believe 

I believe in God the Father almighty Maker of Heaven and earth and in Jesus Christ his only Son our Lord.  I believe in the Virgin Mary.  I believe. I believe that there is still good in the world.  I believe that there are courageous leaders in the church willing to speak up for what is right and working to help the institution that is the United Methodist Church truly be the church of Open Hearts, Open Minds and Open Doors.  I believe that Y’all means ALL, not just those that look like us, act like us, love like us, live like us.  I believe. I read the bible which is full of flawed people picked by God to change the world.  God loves imperfect people and while I can only speak for myself I am definitely an imperfect person; I believe that I am a child of God and that God loves me. 

I was born and raised in the United Methodist Church, worse than that I am the child of a United Methodist Minister.  I’ve survived the crisis of faith that can occur when one learns first hand that their Minister (ie Dad) is not a perfect person either.  I had a brief stint as an ordained elder in the Presbyterina Church, but always seemed to find my way back home to the UMC despite its many flaws.   I still believe.  I have a 90 day streak going in the Bible App, my record being 390 days, and I am proud. I pray, I pray hard, I pray for miracles and fully expect them to happen.  I keep a Virgin of Guadalupe candle to burn, next to my Buddah and Krishna candle holders.  I believe in the power of Holy Water and the intercession of the Saints.  I believe I can make my own choices, and sometimes I make choices that aren’t as good as others; but somehow I always find my way back to where I belong.  I believe. 

I love Christmas music; hymns and carols, songs of joy and hope, the promise of peace on earth and good will to men.  I love the story these songs tell and the message that has been passed down for centuries.  I believe that Christmas is not over until the wise men come.  I believe.  I believe that it is my job to figure out how to share a message of love, of light and hope.  To feed the hungry, clothe the naked, give to the poor, heal the sick.  I can’t profess that I do any of this well, more often than naught I fall very short.  I am not well connected to my professed church home, probably miss virtual church more than I attend, and I haven’t done much to help the poor, sick, naked, and hungry people in my community.  I also believe that God is not always found in the walls of a church, that God is in us and with us and that worship, true worship can occur wherever you are. Some of my favorite “churches,” do not have walls. I believe. I believe that I will find my way, that we are all children of God and that we will find our way through the wilderness.  I believe that there should and can be room at the table for all and I want to speak up and move my chair over to help create that space. I believe.  

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November 18

I was so surprised to learn it’s only Wednesday and apparently we all need to be out stocking up on toilet paper again. Tonight I am pulling out another sample from my Wilder Retreat Notebook to share with you all. So please enjoy the following sketch based on the prompt, If They Chop Open My Body:

If They Chop Open My Body

If they chop open my body they will find a cup of coffee with just the right amount of almond milk; coffee being one of the early morning delights I share with my Mom.  If they chop open my body you will find a ½ empty bottle of red wine, I’m not able to finish an entire bottle on my own before it turns. If you chop open my body you’ll find a heart full of love for my nieces and nephew, and corgis!  I love Corgis, and once you love a corgi it’s not possible to love any other breed of dog, I’ve tried… 

If you chop open my body you’ll find the boxes of old papers, college notebooks, and other miscellaneous items that I carry  with me from place to place to place.  As a self proclaimed gypsy you’d think I wouldn’t pack and carry around so much stuff. But alas we like to save things in my family, you never know when you might need that empty butter tub and how can I give up that brilliantly written paper on complexity theory in nursing homes that earned me an A+ from the toughest professor in my grad school program.

If you chop open my body you’ll find a pile of laundry stacked on top of my kidneys, always waiting to either be worn, hung on a hanger, or folded and placed neatly in a drawer; but never making it there.  If you chop open my body you’ll find a bachelors degree that holds no relevance to the work I do now.  If you chop open my body you’ll find a heart that sometimes beats to its own rhythm and not always in a good way, but something I continue to ignore.  If you chop open my body you’ll find adventures and paths that lead to forests and high mountain meadows with streams that run on and on with fish that jump and boulders and rocks, and clear blue skies with high mountain vistas.  If you chop open my body you’ll find a heart that loves my work, is grateful for the life I’ve built and the people that surround and support me.  

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November 17

November 17 

Today was hard Y’all, I suspect that tomorrow will be hard too or at least present a new set of challenges. I’d like to share some of the specifics, but I haven’t completely worked through how much I can share and keep my job.  Here’s something I do know, I think this act of writing everyday has helped, is helping.  It’s late and it has been a very long day so I am going to gift you with a kick gratitude list: 

  1. My Director of Nursing, she’s kind, compassionate, and hardworking.  She’s right there by my side when I need her. 
  2. My Sister, Niece and Mom who are willing to go pick up Eloise at the drop of a hat, when her Mother is stuck at work. 
  3. A good grilled cheese with tomato soup; I know food doesn’t fix our problems but it sure makes you feel better at the end of a long day. 
  4. Getting to the last episode of Dash & Lilly on Netflix, it was delightful! 
  5. Finally, I am grateful that my coping skills have improved since this pandemic started; it surely makes life a little easier. 

Friends; please, please, please wash your hands, wear your masks and practice physical distancing. Covid is for real and I’d really like to be able to take a few days off. 

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November 16

“What single brave decision do you need to make today?” 

That was the quote on the top of the page of my planner today.  And I had all kinds of brave thoughts this morning on my run. Thoughts about sharing things here that I haven’t thus far worked up the nerve to talk about, I’ve hinted around but never directly discussed our shared in this space before.  I was going to be brave, but now?  Now, I’ve reached my capacity for being brave after a day spent encouraging my team, dealing with upset family members, and trying to convince the Volvo dealer that a sunroof that won’t close truly is an emergency that needs to be dealt with promptly. 

Now I want to crawl under my new, weighted blanket and not have dreams about aliens abducting me and drilling into my brain – which I did last night and I am pretty certain is a metaphor for all the Covid testing we’ve been doing recently, unless aliens really did abduct me and drill into my brain, but I am pretty sure that didn’t happen.  I am learning to recognize and listen to my body and to my brain when it is seeking relief from the pressures of the day, that thoughts are just thoughts and don’t need to lead me face down in a bag of tortilla chips with a side of salsa or eating the entire package of Ben and Jerry’s Cookie Dough Bites.  I can handle this, is the mantra I’ve repeated to myself all day and I am almost starting to believe it’s true.   

So sorry, tonight I am keeping this short and sweet and I am choosing to not be very brave. I promise to do a better job of capturing my brave thoughts in the morning tomorrow.  I promise to lean into the voice that is telling me what I should share and that I should honor my promise to not self edit or self censor.  Tonight I am letting myself off the hook, giving myself grace. It’s only Monday and there’s a lot of week left to go!  Friends, don’t forget now more than ever is the time to be patient with ourselves and with each other.  This is all unchartered territory for everyone, and there’s no play book for navigating the holidays in a global pandemic with the backdrop of a crazy election cycle that just doesn’t seem to end.  So be kind, do your best to live the golden rule and let’s work on loving each other and ourselves.  Even if it’s from a distance. 

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November 15!

November 15th! Woo Hoo, I am halfway there, just 15 more days to go with my challenge of positing everyday to my blog.  Thank you so much to everyone that has taken the time to read even one post, or share a comment, I am humbled and grateful.  

Today was my first day off in 8 days.  Covid has definitely reared its ugly head again and that means more work, more documentation and more regulatory hoops to jump through as we work to ensure our residents and employees are safe. It feels like we’ve been locked in battle with this invisible threat for more days than I can remember. Life is not normal for any one that works in long term care or calls a long term care facility home. My days are spent worrying about PPE, ever changing regulations, and restrictions; I feel like we spend more time talking about what we can’t do instead of what we can do. 

Early on during the first or maybe even the second waves I struggled to lead.  The feeling of absolute overwhelm was hard to fight.  Somewhere, somehow I lost myself in the global pandemic.  I was no longer a leader that tried to find ways to buck the traditional norms of long term care, I was now the torch bearer for enforcing all of the rules; lest we end up on the news, another tragic statistic that is the constant vilification of my industry.  I was bound and determined that I would do everything possible to keep Covid out.  In that effort I lost who I was, I let the grief, shock, depression take over.  

Now that we are in the third wave, (for real people stay home and wear your mask, this third wave is not going to be pretty,) I have learned how to step away, to breathe, to care for myself, to look for the loopholes and find the nuance in the rules.  To figure out how to walk the line of safety and protection; but also finding joy, living life and connecting with others.  It’s not easy, none of this has gotten any easier; my heart still drops when the news of a new positive employee or even worse a new positive resident comes my way, but I am learning everyday.  Learning how to stop saying, “I can’t handle this,” and to start saying, feeling and thinking, “How will I handle this?”  How will I lead?  How will I continue to find light in what can sometimes be a dark world?  (Thank you Jennifer Louden! 

I CAN continue to lead my team through this pandemic 

I CAN Take Better Care of Myself 

I CAN Continue to Share My Story and My Experiences 

I CAN Continue to Bear Good Fruit  – “Remain in me, and I will remain in you. A branch can’t produce fruit by itself, but must remain in the vine.  Likewise, you can’t produce fruit unless you remain in me.” John15:4 CEB. 

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