Category Archives: Community

Staying Connected in your Community

How My Co-Worker Got Three Heads!

Myself and two other ladies manage the front desk for six physicians. We try to be that friendly face behind the counter when you check in to see the doctor. But sometimes….

In actuality, its really quite simple. We just need a simple form filled out – front and back. The first dirty look comes when the patient doesn’t want to have to fill out the form. When we kindly point out that they missed the back side – they look at us as if we had two heads.

But today was the winner. One patient’s caregiver jerked the form back from my co-worker and glared at her – for merely indicating the back side needed to be completed. It was clear to see that this woman thought my co-worker was a three headed monster!

Being sick isn’t fun, and we try to serve with compassion the patients that come our way. Please don’t hate us for doing our jobs. You see, you may have had a relationship change and have a new emergency contact instead of your ex-boyfriend. If your test results show a major issue, we want to contact you right away! It’s a good thing your paperwork is up to date so we call your new emergency contact if we can’t reach you – instead of your estranged ex-boyfriend.

What if we quit treating people that ask a little from us as if we were banished to a penal colony? What if we respected people who did their jobs with thoroughness, instead of cheap, low quality work? What if we didn’t get angry with those who greet us warmly and connect us to vital healthcare?

Truly, we are not three-headed monsters!

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The Heretofore Underappreciated Value of a Complete Sentence

I had considered being a doctor as a child, but never a nurse. I just wanted to come into the room with all the answers and knowledge. I was never interested in giving shots or sponge baths. But somewhere along the way I fell in love with words and decided to explore writing and communication.

So when my mother-in-law, Edrine, broke her ankle and I was the only relative in near proximity and with a more flexible schedule, I ended up paying a visit to Georgia to assist her a little as well as my father-in-law, Klaus, (both are in their 70’s) in their primary caregiver duties to Edrine’s aunt.

Aunt Luella is 101! That’s quite an accomplishment. But age has taken its toll on her and she struggles with Alzheimer’s and dementia. Some days when you walk into her private wing at the end of my in-laws’ home, you never know what to expect. She’s latched on to a few words that are repeated over and over again along with a sprinkling of intelligible words. You have to understand that sometimes a gibberish word is standing in place of the other word that her mind can no longer get her mouth to say.

It took a couple of days for Aunt Luella to get used to me in the room assisting with care instead of my mother-in-law. I tried my best to follow instructions and keep to the exact same routine so as not to aggravate her. She spoke mostly to Klaus, but sometimes she would look at me and say a string of gibberish.

One day, as I cleared away her morning meal and brought her a nutritional supplement, Aunt Luella suddenly looked up at me and said, “I really like that shirt.” I was stunned and overwhelmed. I finally smiled and thanked her for her kind words. To hear that 101-year-old woman speak in a complete sentence was uncommon, but especially to someone new she was still getting used to. That simple sentence, a compliment about what I was wearing, is something I will treasure forever.

So here I am, full circle, realizing that I never wanted to be the one to do the sometimes nasty jobs of personal care on someone who couldn’t do it for themselves, yet that’s exactly what I was doing for Aunt Luella. Was it fun? No! I got peed on once and in one of her dementia aggravated moments, she thrashed and tried to get her diaper off – leaving quite the mess for us to clean up. But having that one interaction with her made it all worthwhile!

When someone speaks to you, take the time to listen. It may not be evident on the outside just how much it is taking them to speak in a complete sentence to you. Maybe it’s a child that is afraid to admit that they broke something. Maybe it’s a relative that has been distant for some years and is struggling to say that they want to be involved in the family again. Take the time to appreciate the value of a complete sentence.

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7 Ways to be a Better Santa Claus

So there is going to be a lot of gift giving during the Christmas season, right? Some will be doing so out of a sense of obligation, others out of love and connection. There are still others who just get caught up in the holiday spirit and shop till they drop. God bless their hearts.

Most of the time, we make a really lousy Santa Claus. Why do you think there are so many “Ugly Sweater Parties” at Christmas? The secret to being a better Santa? Well this is a blog about staying connected, so yes the answer is being connected. Take the time to know people and be a better Santa Claus. Here are 7 suggestions.

1. Get to know your neighbors better. They may not like fruitcake. Their house is already full of calorie laden gifts. Maybe they have a son in college that they miss very much. Stationery and stamps may be the best gift.

2. Get over the gift card. First of all, you’re paying taxes twice. You get taxed when you purchase the gift card and they get taxed when they buy something with it. If you must get a gift card, at least find out what their interests are and get one they’ll absolutely love!

3. Find the reasons they “don’t” do something. Have an aunt that used to bake all the time, but doesn’t anymore? Assumed she just got bored with it? Ask her way. Maybe it’s her arthritis, and mixing is difficult. Get a standing kitchen bowl mixer for her. You’ll be giving her two gifts in one, because she’ll also be getting back her love of baking.

4. Stop avoiding scrooge! Have someone that just isn’t into the Christmas spirit? Find out why. There could be a painful memory associated with the holiday season and each year they are reminded of a great loss or never ending battle. A gift that pays tribute to a lost loved one or a gift that says “I’m on your side,” could change everything this Christmas.

5. Give yourself. Time is one of the most precious gifts we have to give. Invite a friend or family member to spend time with you in a way that both of you would enjoy – a sports event, a concert, manicure, local community theater – and throw in a meal to make it even more meaningful.

6. Touch the saint’s heart. Is your family’s hippie driving you nuts about all the consumerism and commercialism at Christmas when people are going hungry? Pick a charity, pick a need and take them shopping for items for those in need. Not the shopping type? Visit http://www.adra.org and their really useful gift catalog. You can buy a goat for an impoverished family that will change their way of life, and you can have it done in the name of your friend.

7. Support and Encourage. Don’t know what to get that coworker for Christmas? Go to their kids’ school Christmas program and present a small gift to the child for a job well done. Grandma always works so hard to put on the great big family Christmas dinner, consider a personalized serving platter, “Grandma’s famous Christmas Dinner.” Give gifts that encourage people in what they love!

All these tips have one thing in common – taking the time to connect with people. The best way ever to be a better Santa!

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The #1 Enemy of Being Connected

Relationships require connection. You may pass the same newspaper guy on the street every day on your way to work, but there is no real connection, no relationship. However, if you always wave when you walk by, even if you don’t purchase a paper, there is some connection. Something is happening. Some form of recognition and awareness between two people.

Connection is important in all relationships from coworkers and distant, extended family to your best friend or your children. Because we are human, there are so many ways we can break that connection. We fail to stay involved in our kids’ lives then hit the roof when the principal calls and says little Susie is part of a bullying clique at school that caused another student to drop out of school. We don’t take the time to ask our coworkers about their families or how their weekend went and then wonder why they don’t invite us to their get togethers with other coworkers. Then there are the really horrible ways we break connections, like abuse, neglect and slander.

Painful as all of these are, they’re really not the #1 enemy of being connected. That “honor” is reserved for a false sense of security. Some may argue with me and say that couldn’t possibly be a contributor to broken relationships, but that’s their opinion. When you screw up, you pay the consequences. But what happens when you don’t even know you screwed up because you’ve been floating on the “I have arrived” cloud and stopped investing in your relationships?

It sneaks up on you like the iceberg on the Titanic. You’ve worked hard on your relationships and that hard work has paid off, so you just sort of check out and think, I’m done. I can just rest on my laurels now. I’ve arrived and now all I have to do is coast. Reminder, when you’re coasting, you’re going downhill.

The experts say that no fad diet is going to help someone lose weight, it has to be a lifestyle change. It’s the same with relationships. No little relationship booster is going to fix it for all time. Investing in your relationships is a lifestyle. This sneaks up on spouses the most. They think all is fine and suddenly they realize they don’t feel connected anymore. They stopped investing in their marriage.

This can be overwhelming to think about. You mean I have to invest myself in all of these relationships, from coworkers to my kids? Yes. That’s too much! It can be. That’s why you have to prioritize and decide which relationships you will connect with at a bare minimum level and which will you connect with at a much more involved level, such as your spouse or your children. You value what you invest in. Don’t stop investing in relationships. Make it a lifestyle and stay connected!

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Seven Disgusting Things about Moving

I’ve been unconnected! That’s what moving will do for you. Now that the settling in to my new domicile is beginning to take shape, time to get back to work! In this entire process, I didn’t find a single person who said they love moving. It seems to be a universal necessary evil. So here you have it folks. Seven disgusting things about moving!

1. Two times the work. Anyone who has ever moved knows this is true. Most moves don’t happen overnight, especially for a family of five like ours. Just because you turn in your two week notice doesn’t mean that you can slip into coasting mode. It doesn’t work that way. It would be lovely if you could wait until the last day of your current job before tackling paperwork for the Human Resources department of your new job, but again, it doesn’t work that way folks. Everybody wants a piece of you.

2. Packing in General. Really folks, where do you start? Unless you work for a place that will hire people to come in and pack your stuff and load it onto the truck for you, packing is a never ending nightmare! No matter how organized you are in your plan for packing (I had a four-phase plan on a spreadsheet), something will come up. See number one.

3. The house hunt! This is time consuming and frustrating. Again, refer to number one. You can’t house hunt at your new potential community for three months before informing your current employer you are resigning. They will eventually get suspicious of all the frequent trips out of state. This means most of us get stuck in a very short time frame of when we have to be out of our old house and into our new home. Some companies will pay for a few weeks in a hotel, but unless you go ahead and leave your family behind until you find a home, the hunt is a lot of work in a very short amount of time.

4. Boxes. Just what we need, pieces of cardboard everywhere to make us sneeze! Homes being packed start to smell like warehouses. It used to be that local stores were more than happy to get rid of their boxes to folks who were moving. As companies have become “greener” as well as leaner, we see more stores breaking down their boxes immediately and even recycling them. Have no fear, your local home improvement stores and even discount stores now sell moving boxes. That’s right, you have to pay for this torture! Then there are those, like my husband, who saves most original boxes for things we purchase. Up to the attic we go to get the boxes that still have the original packing material in them for everything from our large screen TV to an inexpensive set of champagne glasses. At some point, you have to wonder if those boxes smell too old and look too damaged to safely get your valuable possessions to their new location.

5. Change. Of course there is going to be change, it’s a move, right? You expect change. If you’ve had an opportunity to do a little bit of research ahead of time, you may have a good idea of what changes are coming your way. You poor deluded fool. You have no idea how many changes you’ll face. There is no way to be prepared for all of them!

6. Getting Reconnected. On this end, your phone provider tells you just transfer your service when you arrive at your new location. Upon arrival, you learn that your phone and DSL provider in your previous location can only offer dial up service in your new location. Dial up service? Seriously? It’s a great day when the lights are on, the electric is on, the internet is hooked up and life is good again.

7. Money Matters. Moving is expensive. It’s a pain. Maybe you’ll be lucky enough to have a nationwide bank that will be happy to issue you new checks with your new local address. But if you are moving to somewhere other than Dallas, New York City or Chicago, chances are you have to find a new bank. Each bank has its own rules, like a nine day holding on all new accounts. Then there is all that last minute stuff you just threw out, telling yourself you would buy new ones later. Of course the new house has things the old house didn’t and these have to be added in to the budget. Personally, I’ll take that extra cost for additional bathroom supplies. It’s worth it to have another bathroom in the house!

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What Tools Should You Have in Your Toolbox?

If you hang around neuro-psychologists long enough, you just might pick up a couple of their phrases. Going through the evaluations, various testings including follow-up MRI’s and so forth with Greta’s Acute Disseminated Encephalomyelitis (ADEM), we’ve spent some time with a great neuro-psychologist. One of her phrases that we love -Tools for your Toolbox!

Basically, this doctor, who is a favorite among all the kids and parents because she is just so awesome, says her goal is to make sure Greta has enough tools in her toolbox to handle dealing with ADEM in day to day life. Now nearly three years after that terrifying ordeal of seeing my little girl hospitalized and hooked up to all kinds of things, I realize that tools in the toolbox can apply to any of us. I’ve also seen that we’re a lot happier when we embrace this.

I’m getting ready to send my firstborn off to college. He has his own issues that he deals with, like being an intense introvert and being addicted to his routines. Seeing him being forced by circumstances to change his routine is like watching ants that have lost the line. So yeah, I’m a little nervous for him, but I’ve taken on Dr. Harder’s mantra and I’m doing everything I can to make sure that Michael has the tools he needs in his toolbox to deal with life as a college student hundreds of miles from home.

So what tools should you have in your toolbox? That’s easy, the ones that help you cope and deal with life – in addition they should be legal, moral and ethical. That usually helps. While there will be similarities, there will also be tools that will be different for each person. Greta, being very literal now and decreased math skills due to ADEM, needs tools to help her remember to ask people to help her when she doesn’t understand something. She needs to tool of asking others to slow down and help her until she gets that joke, because she’s so literal.

Michael, the extreme introvert, knows he would rather do just about anything before talking on the phone to anyone. So a tool in his toolbox is going to be a good friend willing to make a phone call when he can’t.

What tools should be in your toolbox? Find those things that help you cope with life and deal with the day to day stresses that living on planet Earth serves up on a regular basis. The amazing thing is, you’ll usually find tools for your toolbox in your family, church, community and friends.

 

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Filed under ADEM, Community, Family, Parenting

How Perspective Defines the Unthinkable

One of the things my husband and I enjoy presenting at our marriage seminars is the fact that the differences men and women find fascinating about each other at the beginning can become frustrations after they are married – but there’s hope! We teach people how to reignite understanding their spouse and give them tools to turn those frustrations back into fascination about the person they love!

The funny thing about these principles, and many others, is that they can be applied to many relationships, not just marriages. So we found ourselves having yet another discussion with the oldest regarding the youngest of our offspring. Here is the scenario.

Greta was told to wash her hands before handling a book. She went to the kitchen sink that was full of the dishes I had just used to make breakfast, instead of either of the other two sinks in the house that were completely free. Michael was dumbfounded. Why would she choose theĀ  most difficult sink to wash her hands in? That’s easy. For Greta, she just wanted it done so she could move on to the next thing and the kitchen sink was the closest to her. She went for it.

After discussing it further, we came to the crux of the perspective problem between the two of them. Michael finds it unthinkable that someone could care so little about a situation. We then assured him that it was equally unthinkable to Greta that someone would care so much!

We interact with other people on a daily basis and perhaps we even judge them because of something they have done that we find unthinkable! But we must bear in mind that the unthinkable is molded by our perspective. Let’s give others some grace that their perspective may be different than ours and therefore their actions may not be as unthinkable as previously thought.

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