Hospice


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Had my training for becoming a Hospice Volunteer today. It was incredibly organized and informative. They don’t mess around–a bit different from the Soup Kitchen, I must say. Of course, it’s a whole different ball of wax. They depend on Medicare/Medicade  funding, so must tow the line, even when it comes to volunteers. We are dealing with patients, so have to follow the same guidelines that any healthcare providers do.

Luckily, having spent so many years in the business, I’m familiar with most of it–and how to deal with death and dying, and families, but it was great to get a brush up and hear their take on things.

The group was pretty big, with kids from high school right up to senior citizens. There was even another female paramedic! Only two males though, as the group was mostly women. It seemed like a really good bunch of folks willing to do a whole range of jobs. I wish I was more talented, so I could provide special things, like singing or music, but hopefully I will give something in my own way.

Once all my paperwork, tests etc. pass, then I’ll be clear to go around with a mentor and finally begin my own work with the patients. Some have no family of their own, but some just need extra. Many (most they said) have dementia or Alzheimer’s disease so might not recognize us from week to week. But that’s fine. As long as we can provide comfort of some sort.

I have some ideas of what I can do. And I’m honored to share this sacred part of someone’s life. To help give someone a good death is important. That transition can be so difficult, we must try the best we can to make it as easy as possible. For everyone: the patient and the family.

And so I step into this realm once again and take this journey with them, hopefully with something to offer.

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Meaning


It has been a week of contemplation and ultimately deciding to let go–surrender.

For months now I’ve been preparing (with the online course) and then trying to get a job here. For any of you out there  who have tried in recent years, you may know it’s no fun task. Online job searching and applying has become, it seems, like all our communication now: a distant and computerized grind. It takes anything remotely human out of the chore. There is no more going into a place (like a store for instance) and asking for an application, where maybe you might have a real person see you. Everything is handled by some invisible robot now.

So I have been reduced to my statistics, and sadly they aren’t good. And don’t believe the lies they tell you. This America we live in now (or maybe even before), isn’t the equitable place everyone may believe. No, it’s really about the bottom line. It’s not about knowledge or experience: age does not bring wisdom folks, it brings the fact that you may just cost too darn much. Or in their minds you might anyway.

It doesn’t seem to matter that younger folks may not have the savvy for a particular job, or the personal presence shall we say (at least in some instances). I’ve noticed that many of the ‘kids’ seem too busy checking their phones to really know how to talk to a real person. But bosses and companies don’t seem to mind this flaw as long as they can keep hiring these kids cheaply.

And I’m not even asking for a lot of money! I just wanted a job. So does my neighbor. But try as we might, we just keep getting rejections, no matter how stellar our resumes may look. So it was time for me to just take a breath, because honestly, my breathing was getting too rapid about the whole situation. I was getting Indeed.com anxiety. It was nuts!

Enough already.

During a meditation it came to me that it was time to give in. My arms were heavy from swimming against this current. Fair enough. So time to take another tactic.

I applied to volunteer at the local soup kitchen. Within 10 minutes they called me. I start tomorrow at 7 am. No, I’m not a good person. This totally isn’t about being generous. It’s about me. I won’t lie: this is doing something for me. I need to feel like I have meaning.

And it didn’t hurt to apply somewhere and have someone say yes.

You Can Teach Old Dogs…


So a while ago, when I was sitting at home, in the thick of my contemplating about my life and future–I had a harebrained idea: I would take a course. I wasn’t quite sure what I wanted to do, but what I did know, even though it was kind of intimidating, was that I would attempt to do it online.

This may not seem like a very big deal to many of you out there in computer-land, but to me, the gal who is a ‘hands on’ learner, it felt very strange. But on the other hand, I also knew that I was in no position to go schlepping off to some place for a class, nor did I want to pay a huge amount of money for some program that maybe I wouldn’t like after a few weeks. And I knew that nowadays there are so many courses offered online. How hard could it be?

So I started to search, and sure enough, our local community college had some very short and very inexpensive courses that seemed quite reasonable to explore. Hey, I had nothing to lose since my time was wide open, so I decided to sign up for the Veterinary Assistant class–actually a set of three of them (maybe I was a bit ambitious) which started today. In the long run I guess I hoped it might land me a job.

My job is to look beautiful

I literally had no idea what to expect when I logged into ‘my classroom’ today. But there were my lessons, a syllabus, some quizzes, some assignments (optional), a forum area to talk with the Professor (a Vet from Canada) and other students, plus other relevant stuff.

It was all fairly straight forward. Of course I couldn’t get my printer to work when I tried to print the lessons (I finally did after 2 hours), something suggested by the teacher and a good idea for studying for the Final to have for later on. Once the class closes, one doesn’t have access to the information again, so I will create a notebook for reference.

This kind of learning is actually perfect for someone older (like me) or busy…go at your own pace. And it’s basically open book for exams–who wouldn’t love that? I’ve always felt that in real life one gets to look up what we don’t know, so why memorize everything? It’s great.

I have a memory like a steel trap

Will I get a job out of it? Well, the funny part is that after I had already signed up for it, I got a call for a job interview for a job that I applied for about a month ago. I’d given up thinking about it actually, but it so happens it’s at the very college where I’m taking this online course! Imagine that. The interview went as well as expected, but I am still waiting to hear. Who knows?

But I will take this course anyway as it is designed with pet owners in mind also. Plus it’s fun and always good to stretch one’s mind. Maybe I will even use the information to volunteer…

And who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks….??

No tricks for me Mommy

Saving Me


Many years ago I did something that most think was to help someone else, but it was really to help me. It was actually not a selfless move to save a part of the world, but to save a part of me.

The journey began when I decided I wanted to adopt a baby. I am adopted as some of you may recall. It was not an easy journey, as I had criteria that made constraints that other people adopting might not have through their paths. It was my goal to stay within the US and to maintain birth order (my husband at the time and I had a 3-year-old), so when approaching an adoption agency, they showed us the ‘blue book’ of the “waiting children”–it appeared as though this might be impossible. Either we would have to take on siblings of 4 or teenagers. Neither of these situations seemed fair to my daughter.

But then the social worker mentioned foster care: the backdoor to adoption. At that time, 51% of foster children got adopted by their foster parents. It seemed like a reasonable plan to me, especially since I was a stay at home Mom anyway.

I won’t go through it all, because this is not what this post is about. Suffice to say, we became foster parents, eventually to a 2-year-old girl: mentally challenged, but high functioning, emotionally rocked by her first 2 years and HIV positive.

That toddler is now my 25-year-old daughter and she just had my first grandchild today–a little boy.

It has been a rocky road all along. My 3-year-old (now almost 28) has had a rough relationship with her, which has worsened as an adult. The birth daughter that came after her, has a distant, but OK relationship. And this daughter’s life has been one challenge after another. While her health is way better than anyone would have predicted (they figured she wouldn’t live past 9 years old), she has met with prejudice, job losses, school bullies and lots of tears.

She has been with her partner for many years, a young man who is also mentally challenged, more so than she. When she announced her pregnancy, we were all pretty upset. They are poor, with no jobs, living in abject poverty. While we help, there is only so much you can help those who often do not believe they need it.There was great concern for the welfare of a baby coming into these circumstances.

But she was determined, and her determination has always been one of her greatest (and sometimes most frustrating) attributes.
So today he was born. The doctors have taken every precaution, and so has she, that this baby be born HIV free. My daughter has tried very hard to take care of herself and many around her have been helping to get her hooked up with the proper services so there will be the best possible outcome down the road.

It is so easy to be negative, but success can’t happen unless we believe it is possible. Sometimes I think that she never thought much about her HIV and just figured she would live a normal life, so she has. And I understand her desire for baby, someone who belongs to her through genes, looks like her and comes from her. I get it when no-one else in my family may understand this–because we both have that connection, that mutual disconnect from our birth heritage.

So on this day, I will celebrate her decision and her new baby, my grand-baby. Because her adoption wasn’t about fixing her, it was to rescue a part of me.

The Best Life


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While almost everyone I know is most likely surrounded by friends or family celebrating one holiday or another, I am home contemplating my life and current situation…by myself.

You see, I am search of a new job again because last Friday my manager informed that I was too slow at my tasks. Since it’s a holiday I won’t bore you with the details, because complaining is not what this post is about. Rather, it’s about life, goals and hopes.

When I had explained to one family member what happened, she had put the blame on me, as though I was somehow inadequate. That I am always finding fault in everything and can’t stay put. Of course, me being me, I immediately thought this was correct: that yes indeed I’m a failure and I blew it once again.

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But luckily, I spoke with two other people who were more understanding: My Mom and another dear and wonderful best friend, who put the record straight. They reminded me that the goal in life should be satisfaction, whatever the cost. If it means giving up little piddly jobs, then so be it. If it takes months and months to find the right one, then fine. Sometimes good things take sacrifice and soul-searching. These things aren’t always handed to us, and because of this they are all the more sweet.

Leaving my home in the North and coming here took lots of sacrifice and maybe there is more to be had in my future. To attain the best life, one must persevere and not just give up and settle. How often do we do this because we feel we must? We put up with crappy jobs or miserable relationships or live in awful conditions because we are too fearful or don’t feel we deserve something better. How easily I had been convinced it was my fault that these jobs didn’t work out?

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The world is changing in my opinion. Others don’t try as hard as I do because my expectations are high. In fact, they have always been higher than others. So therefore I often get dashed expectations. It’s painful, but when they are met, I am the luckiest person in the world. Do I lower them just because others can’t lift up to a place of caring and worth? I’m afraid not. I’ll deal with the pain and disappointment. If we have high expectations, then if we’re lucky maybe we’ll get to the middle of them; if we have lower ones, then where will we end up?

So this holiday season my gift is that I realized that it’s OK to aim for the best life and not feel guilty or ashamed. It may not be someone else’s idea of a ‘best life’, but it will be mine. I know what it is and what it will mean to me and hopefully someday this dream will come true!

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Photo Shoot


I wonder if they will let me do the shopping today? This place is cool because it’s dog friendly as long as we behave.

That’s the owner on the left. Totally nice chap actually, but I liked his canine friend better. Unfortunately he wouldn’t sit still enough for a photo so it was just me. I do take a nice one if I don’t say so myself!

The Good, The Bad…


These are my new work shoes. Standing all day can be tiring, so I treated myself. It was interesting going into a big retail store–one of those gigantic chain athletic stores to find something. Now that I work in retail again, I could scrutinize the employees from a point of view as a customer doing similar work. Of course, I often evaluate these situations being a student of human behavior, but today I came at it from a purely retail perspective.

I interacted closely with two employees and had two totally different experiences. This store has no-one specific helping in the shoe department–they just mostly expect customers to wander around by themselves and randomly check things out. And then, if you should perchance find something you like, you can try it on yourself…OR if you don’t–then you might be lucky and find someone to help you. Maybe…

While I was doing the first option a young male employee came over to me and asked if I needed help, so I explained to him that I was looking for a shoe to stand in all day. I tried to explain to him what I was looking for, but he was very eager to show me something he thought would be the right shoe. So I looked at it (because I didn’t want to let him down)  and immediately didn’t like it (it was white and not my style of sneaker), but at least he tried to be helpful and nice.

So I kept wandering, found finally found the sale section! There I came across some decent running shoes in my size that would work. But I also came across another pair of moccasins that I thought were pretty cool. Sadly, they didn’t have a price tag, and I feared this could mean a great hassle in the check out. I liked them enough though, and have very few shoes since moving (I gave tons away before I did) that I figured it worth trying to get a price.

I flagged the next employee down I could find…another young man. He seemed rather put out, but said he would see what he could find out. He came back rather quickly and said: how much do you want these shoes (well actually I wouldn’t have asked if I didn’t want them dude) because it’s going to take me a really long time to figure out a price, and honestly (uh oh…lying) the last time I looked at the price tag it said like $100. I said: $100?? Really?? He said: Yup. Hmmm…??  I said: Never mind then.

My guess is he was simply too lazy to do his job and get the real price, which I doubt was $100. So, they lost a sale. But I did find another cute pair of shoes on sale instead.

When I got to the check-out the first guy was there and he rang me out. He remembered me and we chatted. He tried to get me to fill out some points thing (which I didn’t, even if I did let him down) . And I over heard him talking with another customer how he had been in recovery and clean for a while. He was friendly and did his job well. Took it all very seriously. World of difference from the other dude.

I suspect this guy had hit rock bottom in his life so he knows the meaning of gratitude. He doesn’t mind doing what he’s suppose to do, or helping out some old chick looking for a pair of shoes for work. He probably would have looked up the price of the moccasins for me and they would have sold 3 pairs of shoes that day. Oh well…instead, I had a good customer experience with him and will fill out the survey and say he did a nice job…whereas they other fellow did not.

 

 

Return To Silence


What’s the old saying: “Pleasure is 9/10 anticipation”.  Ain’t that the truth! Well, in some cases it certainly seems so anyway.

There are times where we can drum ourselves up into thinking that something will be way better than the reality of what actually happens. Then it can be a let down or a disappointment in some way. Or, at the very least, it can give us a new outlook on our lives, the way we do things or what we may have been thinking about our future.

That’s certainly what happened with the recent visit with my friend. Not that I had built it up into some great expectation. I have known this person for many years, and our relationship has gone through many convolutions over the past. So I knew the potential for the visit to be a certain way (boring, not what I might hope etc.) was very real.
But even when one knows ahead of time that things might not be wonderful, it’s still a bit of a downer when those expectations are filled! I guess as a hopeful individual, one can still think that another person might have changed a bit, or grown, or wants different things at this stage of the game.

In the end though, I’ve learned by now, that in order for people to really change in any way (great or small)–it takes very hard work and concentration, which most folks can’t give or don’t have. And most people either don’t realize or believe they need changing. Maybe they don’t either–it’s only according to someone else’s perception.

So where does that leave things? Well, a visit within tight quarters for almost a week can become uncomfortable and tiresome. For me, as someone used to living alone for many years now, I began to ache for my solitude. My patience and sense of being a good hostess begins to wan. All I really wanted was my space back…  It’s not that I disliked the other person, but I began to see all the little things about them that make me realize why I live alone now.

For years I have gone back and forth in my head about living alone. Will I be OK this way for the long haul? Is there something inadequate with me that makes it hard for me to be around others? Am I safe by myself? Am I truly happy this way? But I see others more and more living as I do and I find I am not so unusual. Many of us have come to this place after years of living with other people. And now we live alone by choice.

As we grow older, it is easy to become isolated, but the need for space and solitude also becomes a treasure. The years given in service to others–kids, spouses, pets, jobs, parents, families–can bring you to a point where the peace of one’s home is a blessing.

Having guests over is not a bad thing by any means, especially when they contribute to the well-being of one’s life and soul. But the return to the quiet when they leave is a sound I am also grateful to hear.

The Good Battle


There are certain moments in life where we are given a gift that sets us free. News that lifts us high and helps us to remember life is good and beautiful. Lately I have been given many of these moments and for them I am truly grateful.

It is so easy, with our fast paced, whirlwind lives, to take life for granted. To forget our connection to family and friends. We press on so hard into our daily tasks that we may not stop to look around us to see the wonders that abound. They are all around if we just take a second to see them.

Feeling compelled by life to have material wealth, we sometimes lose spiritual well-being. We take jobs that make us unhappy or keep people near us that really prove to have negative energy.

Because I am getting older and finally see the wisdom in serenity rather than money, my choices from now on will be very different.
This is my promise to myself.

As my Mother heals, I reflect on my good fortune to be able to be near her and help get her stronger. It is a blessing that such an awful thing can actually turn out to be something wonderful because it has bonded us so closely together. She is an amazing woman and together we are invincible.

And I also got a new lease on life today, which I will not take for granted. I’m grateful because I know that not everyone is as lucky as I am. I wish it could be so for all whom I love. But together we fight the good battle, and we’ll win anyway.

Because in the end, our spirits will all collide and meet somewhere someday anyway…….

Please Don’t Go!


So many of you who follow my blog know that I handed in my resignation letter today at work. Yes, this–April Fool’s day, just to add a little humor to my bosses day. NOT!

It turned out to be not the day I expected, after tossing and turning most the night about how it would go and all the reasons why I should definitely do it….

I walked in at 6 am to the peace I have all by myself first thing and was soon joined by a few others of the early comers. One was my partner at the desk this week, filling in for my usual front desk mate. She has been the charge nurse, and one that has been a thorn since I started.

She started in immediately yapping about how someone told the manager about how she talks on her phone all the time at the desk (which she does) and how it ticked her off. It is true that some of the time she is communicating with Doctors, but much of it is idle chit chat with men and it makes my load harder. So I admit, I may have been one that mentioned it in my speech the other day to the head boss after she yelled at me. But others have complained about her too.

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Stop causing trouble in the work place!

Long story short, I told her I understood her frustration about pettiness because I was resigning for that very reason. And she was shocked that I was resigning! I was shocked she was shocked. Begging me to stay and be on the desk next week too, she completely flipped her attitude and focused on me, how great I am and that I should not do it.

This gave me an opportunity to express my feelings about what goes on there and how it all makes me uncomfortable and unhappy. To which a fellow co-worker agreed! It felt good to get it off my chest and she seemed to understand and gave me a pep talk. It was quite a change.

Later on in the morning, I went into the big bosses office and he knew immediately I was resigning. Actually I had heard earlier, they usually just tell folks to leave right away, so I was prepared. I told him very nicely thanks but I just couldn’t handle it anymore. He took it well and said it was fine if I stayed the two weeks, so I figured they didn’t hate me anyway.

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Please don’t hate me……

When I was working the desk with my immediate supervisor, who I figured would take it very poorly, she was very dismayed. She wanted to know what was the final straw–even though I tried not to tell her. After hearing it, she too gave me a pep talk and said that she wished I would take the weekend to reconsider. Again, second shock of the day! If anyone was going to ask me to leave, I figured it would be her. And when the big boss stood next to her, he wanted me to reconsider too (even though it was an after thought…he isn’t a very strong manager).

So here’s the thing: many people came to me begging me not to go–even folks that haven’t been very nice. In the locker room I told the gal at the desk how I appreciated that she had been kind about my resignation, and that if I stay, we must try to work together well. I felt like I had somehow drawn a line in the sand today: no more abuse. Like things had turned slightly.

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Yeah, I’m turning slightly, but only to lick my back!

It’s hard to find jobs around here and I heard the home care stuff isn’t so hot. I just started my insurance today and have doctor’s orders that I’m suppose to take care of now. It’s a hard decision.

Will these folks be any better? There’s still one that was very standoffish today, but I can avoid her. I did feel like there was slight progress today. And I now know that someone is retiring and I can get her shift which will be easier.

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This is me making a rash decision..

I’m considering it. No rash decisions now like in my old life…. I’m honored that they asked me to stay, but not fooled into thinking I’m anything special. I know I do a good job, but I also know it would be really hard for them to start training someone all over again, and that’s probably why they don’t want me to go!