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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November 14

November 14

I’ve been reading back through some of my note books from my Wilder Running experiences and thought I would share some of my writing because my brain is barely functional.  So tonight I present Behind Her Face: 

Behind her face is someone that no longer remembers the name of her husband even though he spends every night sitting by her side, helping her eat dinner.  Behind her face is a woman that used to travel the world, served dignitaries, celebrities and diplomats; but now can;t remember why she has clothes on and is constantly trying to disrobe in public.  Behind her face is a teacher, a wife, a mother, an artist, a survivor of World Wars, a banker, a realtor, a scientist, a writer.  But all of that is gone now, the memories erased as the sections of the brain begin to die and are wiped clean like an eraser on a chalkboard.

They are loved deeply, learned much and witnessed the world change in ways I can only imagine. But today they will need someone to wake them, bath and dress them, take them to the bathroom, help them eat their meals, play bingo, work a puzzle and remind them that they live here now and that the child that died years ago is okay. You know the sense of loss you’ve seen it in so many faces over the years.  Men who built spaceships and helped Neil Armstrong step on the moon, unable to remember your name; but they think you are pretty and want to know if you want to go out on a date.  Behind her face is more life than you will ever be able to live and yet she remembers none of it, a blank slate.  Behind her face are the children that don’t understand, she might look like your mother, but mother is really gone, robbed of her memories by the cruelest of cruel disease. 

Behind her face is the inability to cry, to tap into the fear, pain, grief that is just underneath the surface.  Behind her face is a brain that wonders how many more years can she put up with the regulatory environment that says you’re guilty until you prove yourself innocent, that asks you to do more but pays you less. Behind her face is a person that cares deeply, takes time to hold your hand, comfort you when you have glimpses of the person you used to be, the life you lived and the children that abandoned you in the nursing home. Behind her face is someone that loves. 

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November 13

Happy Friday the 13th! We’ve survived another week of 2020, congratulations y’all. It’s been a long week and I am worn out and facing another weekend of work as I try to figure out the CDC’s reporting for our Point of Care Antigen testing and we brace for the pending 3rd wave of Covid-19 which is definitely building. So tonight I am going to choose to find a few things to be grateful for this week:

  1. My family, my sister is a public school teacher and her life and work is no picnic right now; but she called to check on me tonight.
  2. I am grateful that thus far my family has been safe and healthy, there are a few of us that are in the direct firing line of Covid-19.
  3. I am grateful that right now we have the supplies we need.
  4. As a nursing home administrator I am extremely grateful I don’t live or work anywhere near the gulf coast so I don’t have to worry about Covid and hurricanes at the same time.
  5. My soft comfy bed that is calling my name.
  6. Whole Foods Curbside pick up
  7. The magic of a Hallmark movie, there’s no way any self respecting hospital would allow a nurse to take 2 weeks off at Christmas but I love make believe and happy endings.
  8. Friends that can make you laugh even when they’re in Kansas City and Montana.
  9. The team I am fortunate to lead that just doesn’t quit, they are true healthcare heroes.
  10. I am grateful I am done with the list so I can attend to item #5!

Good night friends, stay safe!

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November 12

Good evening Friends!  We are very close to surviving another week of 2020, Yay Us!  I am starting to enjoy this little project of mine, posting on my blog everyday in November for anyone that is late to the party.  I am paying more attention to what happens in my day and how I feel, not just pushing through the day.  How often do we just move through the day going from one task to the next without stopping to be present and in the moment. Today I was on a work call when I got the news that two of my peers were moving up the corporate ladder, this will make the 3rd this year.  I can’t say that I blame them, life in long term care is pretty challenging. I have to confess that I felt a little pain of jealousy, they hadn’t been in the job as long as I had; why were they moving up and on and not me? 

Why were they moving up and on and not me?  I thought about it for a few seconds and then reminded myself of the vision I had when I was in Colorado.  That vision did not include moving to Michigan, Florida, Maryland, New Jersey and definitely not Houston.  While maybe a new fancy title would have been the goal once upon a time I can safely say that’s no longer the end game.  I recognize that while my vision does include eventually being able to travel a lot more and being able to spend a lot more time in Colorado; I am right where I am supposed to be.  My goals, my dreams, my wishes have changed. The things I used to value have changed. That’s not to say that a shiny new title is out of the question.  I just need to fully flesh out what the vision is and the steps I need to take to get there.  I need to decide exactly what I want and then ask for it.  

I remember growing up I never really had a clear picture of what my life would be.  I knew I wanted to live in the big city, I really wanted a BMW and was all about labels and brands; hello Coca-Cola Shirts, Swatch Watches and Keds.  And now, well I do live in the big city, and I drive a sweet, bright red Volvo that got better ratings than the BMW, and I have a few labels in my closet; but really I am more interested in experiences, time with family, friends and time outdoors. But I never had a clear picture of a house with a partner and 2.5 kids, things just sort of happened to point me in the direction I needed to go.  But now?  Now I am finding it easier to see the life I want to live in the future.  I know I don’t want to make the sacrifices that are necessary to climb the corporate ladder and honestly I love my community and my team and the work I do, not everyone is meant for life in long term care.  It feels really good to know and understand where I am right now in life and that I am starting to piece together the road map for many more new adventures.  Now I have to do some hard work, I need to spend more time fleshing things out, building the vision and how I will get there. I hope you are able to dream, to wish and to dare to reach for new things.  It’s never too late, you’re never too old and it’s never going to be the absolute right time so let’s get to work. 

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November 11

I have a secret that I’ve been planning to share here and while I haven’t really thought this through I can’t think of anything else to write about tonight and I need a break from talking and thinking about Covid.  Also I saw a post from another writer imploring people to be brave and share their stories because you never know who needs to hear that they are not alone.  So let’s delve into the dark, deep secrets of Jen Fox…  I have gained some weight.  While it’s not really 19lbs I refer to it as my, “Covid-19.”  There’s really no secret to why I’ve gained weight; I’m in my mid 40’s, my life has been a veritable pressure cooker since mid March with a pretty steady stream of Cortisol pumping through my system and well food is my primary drug of choice. So there you go there’s my bombshell for the evening.  

To be honest, I want to lose weight, I don’t like the way my body feels or looks.  I know what to do; I own almost every diet book ever written and I had a pretty successful career as a Weight Watchers Leader back in the day; but it’s just not that easy.  I am working on being kind to myself and accepting and loving my body where it is, but again it’s hard.  Hard when you have to buy a bigger size of pants, hard when you know how you can feel and look.  It’s hard to convince your brain that you don’t really need that 5th Chicken Mini because you only planned for 4 and are you really hungry or are you tired, stressed, and maybe a bit thirsty?

I realize that my standing routine of running 3 ish miles in the morning is not enough to get my metabolism going and that really it’s about what I put in my mouth; pro tip Ritz Crackers with mayonnaise are not the route to weight loss.  Over the past 3 months my weight has bounced around by about 3-5 lbs, I am happy that I seem to have found a set point and I am not going past that point.  But now I am ready, probably at the worst possible time, to start getting that set point to move in a downward trajectory.  I am tired of my pants not fitting, of not feeling good about how I feel and how I look (vain maybe but it’s true), I also want to find some better coping mechanisms and to learn from this process.  To learn more about myself and to dig in a little deeper.  I want to be strong and healthy and I want to learn to love and accept my body no matter what the scale says.   

So here we go, I am going public with my goal, I want to lose 25lbs so I can continue to be active and healthy, to feel good and look good! I’ll share more about the approach I am taking and promise to post updates here.  I think going public with this journey might just be the nudge I need to dig in and get this done.  So here we go!

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November 10

Does anyone really know what time it is? Actually I am having trouble tracking my days, its been awhile since I’ve had to work more than 6 days in a row (for which I am grateful) and I am all kinds of confused today. I was shocked to figure out it was only Tuesday at the end of the day, Tuesday! Anyway, I am happy to report that I am still here, still writing and managed to leave work before 7pm! Yay Me! I also managed to get a grocery order in and picked up; pro tip you can buy wine from Whole Foods with Prime and they bring it right to your car, very convenient, prepped myself a healthy lunch for tomorrow and did a 10 minute yoga for bedtime routine; I am killing it. Except my apartment is a mess, my dog thinks the staff at the Pet Suites is her real family, and I don’t even know where to start with the pile of binders and paper on my desk at work.

This quote was the basis for the Daily Calm meditation today and I thought it was very appropriate for the week or weeks I am having. It is very easy to get mired down in all of the bad, so I want to take an opportunity to acknowledge and see the good:

  1. 1) Covid has caused my world to shrink, but I’ve also had the opportunity to open up to new possibilities and ideas.

2) Our challenges this week have shown us where we need to tighten up our processes and do a better job of communicating. Perhaps the lessons learned from this relatively small outbreak will help us prevent a larger outbreak later on down the road.

3) I’ve had more time to spend with my Mom, Sister and Niece; but I am really missing my niece and nephew up in Oklahoma.

4) I now realize that I love being outdoors and its time stop thinking about someday and just go out and do the things I want to do.

5) I work for a company that provides us with the supplies and resources we need to manage an outbreak effectively. I can trust that I will have what I need to keep my residents and staff safe, and I realize I am very fortunate that Erickson Living has put the health and safety of its employees and residents over profit this year. I know others are not so lucky.

6) I ‘ve been forced to assess what is really important to me and for the first time ever, I really want to plan for the future and take control, not just let life happen.

7) I am grateful I made the decision to move closer to where I work, where my Mom lives and where my sister and brother in-law live, I appreciate a having a much shorter commute and not having to deal with traffic on 75 everyday.

8) I now value the ability to step outside and breathe without restriction, those of you that work in N95s will definitely understand how good it feels to step outside, take your mask off and take a good deep breath.

9) My team has cultivated a very special environment at work, one in which our family members trust us, value the work we do and support us. I hear time and time again from family members how much they appreciate what we are doing for them and for their family members and we continue to navigate through some choppy waters. But we laid the foundation long before Covid hit and that has made all the difference in the world.

10) I am grateful tonight that I am where I am, I know it is where I am supposed to be right now and I can’t describe how good that feels. I know that might be an odd statement to make when I’ve started talking about planning for the future; but it’s true. I think the ability to understand and appreciate this feeling makes planning for the future possible. Regardless, I am grateful that I am where I am.

Stay safe out there friends! Wash Your Hands and Where Your Mask!

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November 9.

Good Evening Friends –

I don’t have much to say tonight, it was a long and busy weekend of work thanks to Covid; that just bleed right on over into Monday. I am tired and need some sleep, but first I wanted to share a few thoughts.

I don’t care who you voted for, here’s one thing I know for sure – Covid -19 is not a hoax, it is very real, so real that the current administration continues to enforce stringent regulations and restrictions on long term care facilities. I just wish everyone could come and experience the life my residents live, little to minimal contact with their family members, very little contact with their neighbors, 3 meals a day served to you in your room in disposable containers, everyone around you in masks and varying forms of PPE. If the Covid doesn’t get them the isolation and accompanying depression and decline will. My own family’s experience is that Mom has only seen her sister once since March and I’ve not seen my aunt since February as the case counts continue to rise in Oklahoma. I don’t mean to be a downer here, but this is my story and my journey and right now I am back in the swamp that is Covid-19.

I still remember the first time a resident tested positive for Covid, I was devastated. We had worked so hard to follow all of the rules, pulled up the drawbridge, battened down the hatches, and laid in our surplus of supplies. We had done everything right, but yet someone tested positive. I still remember crying in the car on my way to go pick up Eloise, feeling like I had failed. Little did I know that I would experience losses and challenges that would make my first brush with Covid pale in comparison. Now, while it angers me that we’ve had an exposure and I wonder, I am almost numb to the experience; almost. I almost don’t care about the results of our infection control surveys, but at the end of the day I do care. It pains me to tell family members that their loved one tested positive, I worry. I worry about me, I worry about my staff, I worry about the residents. I can’t help it.

It is hard. It’s emotionally and physically draining. So tonight I am proud of myself for coming home and still doing the dishes, cleaning the litter box, and getting the clean sheets on the bed. I am proud of myself for taking a few minutes to keep my writing streak alive, for returning my sister’s phone call, and doing 5 minutes of legs up the wall (google it if you’re not a runner.) I need to tell myself that I am doing a good job, I am good at what I do, and I am hear for a reason and grateful that I was directed to the community I’ve worked at over 5 1/2 years ago. I think it is important to be your own cheerleader sometimes.

So with that I must wish you all a good night, it is way past my bedtime and there is no way to know what surprise are in store tomorrow.

Wear your mask, practice physical distancing and wash your hands!

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November 8

Tonight I need to feel a little hope and to sense that there is some good in the world. I spent the day at work navigating through yet another infection control survey from my friends at the Texas Department of Health and Human Service Commission, our state regulatory agency. I’ve lost track of how many infection control surveys we’ve been through since Covid hit. I wish I could describe what its like to work in long term care right now, State and Federal regulations that seem to constantly change, residents that just want their lives to go back to normal, staff screenings, staff testing, family members that don’t follow the rules, continued vilification of the industry you work in by the media. I love what I do and the only real change I would make would be the ability to spend more time in Colorado, but I can’t for the life of my fathom why anyone would willing choose to become a Nursing Home Administrator in today’s environment. Sorry, that’s just where my head is and I know that I need to change that mindset. So tonight I am turning back to my trusty partner and present tonight’s gratitude list:

  1. I am grateful that despite 2 employees testing positive for Covid this week, all of my resident and other employees are negative, safe and reasonably healthy.
  2. I am grateful that I have a small crew at work that I consider my ride or dies – when I put out the call for help on a Sunday, they show up without question and I couldn’t do it without them.
  3. Great oratory, I truly appreciated President Elect Biden’s speech last night and I do have hope for our country. (Sorry not sorry this is my blog.)
  4. I am grateful that two years ago someone did not pay their deposit on a sweet, little corgi puppy and that I was able to claim Eloise the Blue Corgi as my own.
  5. I am grateful for the staff at the Pet Suites Murphy – Eloise has grown up with them and I love how they care for her. If you are in the Far East Plano Suburbs I highly recommend them for doggy day care and boarding.
  6. I am grateful for a good run this morning, a good run just makes the day better.
  7. Comfy Ugg Slippers and being in my PJs before 7:00 pm.
  8. My sweet, red Volvo now has a tow hitch, let the adventures begin.
  9. Friends that talk you off the conspiracy theory ledge.
  10. Drinking a Tank 7 (one of the best beers ever from Boulevard Brewing Co. in KC) on November 7th.

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November 7

Day 7! Hooray for me, 7 days of carving out a few minutes everyday to share  my thoughts.  I am a big fan of celebrating my successes and this is definitely a success for me.  Some nights I just didn’t want to do it; I was tired, tapped out from the day, but allowing myself the option of a gratitude list has made all the difference.  It’s also been fun to dip my toe back into my writing prompts.  The unexpected benefit of this little challenge has been the connection with friends near and far.  I’ve heard from so many of and I am so grateful and appreciative for your support, feedback and just dropping into my life of physical distancing to say Hi! 

I want to go on a journey, I want to share my stories with all of you just like you share your stories and experiences with me.  I want to go on a journey and while this is my journey and much if it is up to me to figure out, I don’t want to go on this journey alone. I saw a post on instagram recapping a talk that Stacy Abrams gave in NYC last year that really spoke to me today and I’m using it as my jumping off point for tonight’s post.  She said, “1. Refuse to edit your ambition. If you edit your ambition, you do the work for them. 2. Don’t go it alone. Do something messy and more powerful. 3. Don’t forget the pain. The pain reminds us to wake up and try again.” (thank you @drlesko for sharing).  I think this quote is appropriate for many of us on many levels. Here’s what spoke to me: “Don’t go it alone.”  If I’ve learned nothing else in life, it’s that it is far better to share, to bring others along with you and to help them chart their own paths.  I am successful at work because of the people I work with, they make me better and together we accomplish great things.  I’d like to apply that philosophy to my personal endeavors so here we all are, I’m bringing you along on this truly messy journey.  

Don’t edit your ambition! Hello… How many of us need this reminder?  We shouldn’t try to make ourselves smaller or less than just to make others more comfortable or to try to fit into what we think others want us to be or should be.  How often have I thought, I won’t post anything because who cares what I have to say, my words aren’t as important as someone else’s or who really cares about my 5 year plan or that I like to watch Hallmark Christmas movies.  Here’s the thing, we have no idea who is watching what we do, who is waiting for someone to be brave, to break the mold, shatter the glass ceiling (Thank you Kamala!), to say hey you are not alone I want to do the same thing or I’m thinking or feeling the same thing.  If we edit ourselves down just to fit some preconceived concept of who we are supposed to be, think or act we miss out on so much and others might miss out too. 

Finally, Don’t forget the pain.  2020 has definitely been a year of pain for many of us.  The pain is something that we can learn from, grow from and build from.  Beautiful things grow from loss and destruction. I have definitely felt more than my fair share of pain this year, that pain has been both professional and personal and honestly I’ve been reluctant to share that pain.  My go to status is to just push it all to the side and carry on because everything is fine.  With each post I am working up the courage to write about some of those painful experiences, to explore what I’ve learned and to maybe start to heal.  

Thanks for sticking with me for these first 7 days. I am grateful to have you all along on this journey and I promise to actually start to talk more about where I think I am headed.  Tonight I am excited, hopeful and looking forward to the promise of a new day. 

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November 6

TGIF Friends! We survived another week in 2020, congratulations to all of us.  Today has been a day. It’s late, I’m tired and slightly distracted by an episode of Schitt’s Creek so I am turning to my trusty bag of writing prompts for tonight’s post.  I sincerely hope that you all are finding ways to break from the shit show that is our current electoral process and the prolonged pressures of Covid-19.  My suggestion; listen to music that makes you feel good, spend some time outside, and connect with a friend or someone you love. 

Tonight’s prompt is 25 Things About Me! 

  1. I love Laura Ingalls Wilder and the Little House on the Prairie books, in fact I just downloaded a book about the Long Winter.  The Beautiful Snow, and I can’t wait to dive in this weekend. 
  2. I could happily survive on chips and salsa
  3. I enjoy driving fast while listening to the Beastie Boys cranked up on the stereo 
  4. I’m in the market for a teardrop trailer 
  5. I am letting my hair go gray, no more color for me! 
  6. I want to be a writer when I grow up. 
  7. Last night I laid awake worrying that I am not feeding my overweight cat enough food. 
  8. I’ve learned that I don’t enjoy running races, I’d rather run because running makes me happy and I feel better when I run.  
  9. I worry that I’ll fall and hit my head and Eloise and Gracie will eat my body to survive. 
  10. I love Mary Oliver 
  11. I firmly believe that the “Best way to spread Christmas Cheer is to sing loud for all to hear.” 
  12. My work is hard, but I love what I do; but I am working on a 5 year plan that includes hitting the road and living in Colorado for at least part of the year. 
  13. Starbucks suckerd me in today with their offer of a “free,” cheap plastic cup 
  14. I love Christmas lights
  15. I live alone, but I also manage to lose my socks 
  16. I own way too many pairs of running shoes 
  17. Most days, Eloise will only eat if I sit on the floor next to her and let her eat by hand 
  18. I wish I was capable of only eating when I am hungry 
  19. I want to hike the Grand Canyon 
  20. I am working up the courage to do a solo camping trip 
  21. This list is really hard to write tonight 
  22. Everytime we have a surveyor come into work, I ask my Mom to pray for us. 
  23. I am a born and bred United Methodist, okay I had a brief stint as a Presbyterian, but I keep a picture of the Virgin of Guadalupe at home and in my office, and I light a Virgin of Guadalupe candle each morning.  I think every little bit helps. 
  24. I like to move every 2-3 years, but that doesn’t stop me from spending countless hours looking at homes for sale on Zillow and Redfin. 
  25. I’m very happy this list is complete, I’ve had a very long day dealing with all things Covid today and it’s time to head to bed.  Good Night!  
Little Miss Independent eating dinner on her own.

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