family, leadership, personal, Uncategorized

Collaborating

Collaboration is more and more important these days – in work, in life. Things are so complex, how could we think one person/team/company can find success on their own?

A good friend of mine DJ Allen likes to say “Life is a Team Sport.” I don’t think there is a more true statement, even though for much of my life I’ve operated more on my own than with others. I’ve changed and am more aware than ever how much I need others. Whether it’s to accomplish a goal or complete a project at work, or to make a difference in a not-for-profit, or in having positive relationships with friends and family. If it t takes a village to raise a child, it definitely takes a village to be positive and productive in life.

Just because I’m more aware of the power and importance of collaborating, it doesn’t mean old habits don’t die hard sometimes. I slip into comfortable and “easy” approaches to things many times. Whether it’s finishing a presentation yourself instead of allowing your team the learning opportunity because “I can just get it done faster,” or sending an email when a phone call would build a better relationship or staying silent about something your partner is doing that bugs you instead of getting all the feelings out on the table. I’ve done these and many others, and I’m sure these resonate with some of you.

I use my daily affirmations to remind me the importance of other people in everything we do. Trying to stay focused on the new habits I want to stick with. It’s not always comfortable, but that’s the place of growth through our lives.

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family, personal

An Ailing Mom

I wrote once, and have said to many of my friends, that taking care of someone with Dementia/Alzheimer’s, is tough in part because you can’t really tell someone with Dementia that they are sick. Why would the brain think that? And there is no visual injury.

Since I’ve been taking care of my mom, she hadn’t had any medical issues. Until this week. She fell and broker her elbow. Now she had an injury she could see, but what I hadn’t contemplated was the interaction of a physical injury and the dementia condition. For most of the past few days, she has had to be reminded that she had a broken elbow. She fluctuates from remembering that she fell to blaming others for her injury; she confused the doctors moving her in her bed and causing some pain in the elbow with a mob of angry people breaking her arm.

So the fact that I can show and tell my mom about her injury doesn’t really help after all. Just one more frustrating aspect of this disease.

The good news is she is back in her memory care facility now, and between the nurses there and some home health care, we can hopefully get the elbow fixed. She is as feisty as ever, and won’t stop walking around the place already in her first day back. She now is just a little more top heavy from the big cast on one arm.

 

family, personal

New Year’s Resolutions 2018

I’d be disappointed in myself if I didn’t at least take a shot at some commitments for the coming year. So here goes. Given my “one word” is relationships this year, we will start with two within that realm.

Hold Joyce more. My love language is acts of service (if you don’t know what a love language is, or want to know yours, see here: http://www.5lovelanguages.com/); so I don’t use physical touch and other physical signs of affection often since it’s not how I like to be loved. Joyce’s love language is touch, however, so this year I want to do more to regularly show her affection. That means ore holding – hugs in the morning, arms around her when sitting, arms around her when walking from the car to the store, she likes it all. So this year I will work to do more holding.

Be consistent with important relationships. I want to be intentional about regular interactions with my best friends, my closest colleagues, and my family. Much of this is time management – not letting other people’s fire drills become my mission, the urgent taking me away from the important. That will free me up to make regular calls, texts and time together with my friends and colleagues, and give me more time to spend with my mom or calling my brother.

Time management leads to the first of a few for personal growth, make time for fun. I think this year it would be great to read more, play poker once in a while, and travel with friends.

Finally, two for personal health. First one will sound perfunctory, but I need to lose 12 pounds (picked it just so I could say one pound per month). I’ve needed to lose 12 pounds for several years now, but every year that goes by without doing it I’m putting myself at more risk of something stupid happening with my health. So I’m going to get serious about my eating this year, and train for the half marathon again. I’m also going to take better care of my teeth – I’ve spent two years doing Invisalign (including one start over) to get my teeth straight, so now time to brush and floss better, as well as take care of my gums which have had some loss in health over the years.

I will be happy if I get 2-3 of these done really well. My hope for you is to execute on your most important resolutions and make 2018 a great year.

family, personal

Random events with a purpose

Well am I glad I moved my mom out of Nokomis, Florida just over a month ago or what? Am I about the luckiest guy in the world that my wife convinced me to not give up when my mom suddenly changed her mind about moving. And how thankful am I that her doctor was able to convince her to move.

For those that don’t know, Nokomis is near Venice Florida, just south of Sarasota, and a bit north of Naples. Naples where the hurricane basically went right through.

I would have been worried about her with Hurricane Irma, but I wouldn’t have been preparing to help her or evacuate her. And then Irma shifted paths. And my mom would have been screwed. I would have had a really hard time getting to her.

Thankfully, random events lined up in our favor. Others won’t be so lucky. For everyone who can piece together a series of events and be thankful, others feel the sting of a series of “bad luck” events that put them in harm’s way. Some will suffer medical issues at the absolute worst time. We thankful ones need to be mindful of the unlucky ones, do what we can to help if that is possible. And give them strength when we can.

It is not for us to know the bigger plan, I suppose. But we know adversity is part of life; we have to support each other through it, rely on our faith and our humanity. Be self-aware and mindful enough to recognize when we are lucky, and be thankful. Be humble enough to know our fortune will not last. Be confident enough to know that bad times can be lived through, we can stand firm in our faith and in each other.

 

family, personal

Saying goodbye to a home

This past week, I went back to Florida to do a few clean up things for my Mom, like turning her car in. Part of my “itinerary” was to clean up the house. When Joyce and I moved Mom back, all we had time to do was clean out the perishable food, grab her clothes and some personal stuff, sending six UPS boxes home and bringing every suitcase she had with us. Thanks American Airlines, for free checked bags for Platinum customers!

In between trips, the realtor moved anything personal or not desirable for staging into the garage. So when I got back, I was faced with a manageable list of stuff to deal with:

  • The rest of the food
  • The remainder of her clothes
  • Personal items – mementos, etc.
  • House “stuff” like cleaning supplies, décor items, etc.

You would have thought food wouldn’t be a big deal, given it was just my Mom…but unfortunately people with dementia or related issues don’t remember what they have or don’t have when they go grocery shopping, so I ended up taking several large contractor bags of food to Goodwill, and threw away several other contractor bags of food.

Clothes wasn’t a problem, but the funny part is that as I was filling a bag with shoes, from one of those hanging shoe storage gizmos, when I found a set of car and house keys. Nice hiding place, wish I had found those several hours before when I had turned the car in…

Personal items took a while. My mom and dad kept a lot of mementos, pictures, cards, etc. And then journaled and scrapbooked and filed it all. Now I know where I get it from. I found some cool stuff though that we somehow missed when we were with my mom, like a whole album of stuff from her high school, and the book of my grandpa’s (dad’s side) poems. He was a great poet, also where my dad and I both got our writing bug I guess. And of course my mom had stashed even more of our school reports, pictures, and notes from when my brother and I were young.

There was plenty of other stuff too. So in between some work calls, I went for about 6-7 hours just filling contractor bags and boxes of stuff. Sent one box home for keepsakes, took 20 contractor bags to the dumpster or Goodwill, and several items were freestanding or were in regular garbage bags. My lower back was rightfully sore for a couple of days after.

The house still has all the furniture, if a buyer doesn’t want it I will get an estate sale person to deal with it. And I never did really get the garage cleaned out. That’s going to either be another trip or just having the estate sale person clean it out.

I rewarded myself for my hard work with a nice blackened grouper meal and a beer. Maybe the last seafood meal I’ll ever have in this little outpost of Florida. But not before a last wistful moment in the house, now almost empty, that my parents lived for almost 20 years. A house I may never see again. They spent the best years of their lives in that house, and for that I’m thankful. I said a quick prayer and hello to my dad, and looked forward to getting back and giving mom a hug. They definitely got the most out of that house as a home, and I am glad I was able to see it one more time.

family, personal

Getting an assist from a loved one

My wife Joyce has been an incredible partner, especially in the last few months. Allowing me to take several trips to “check in” on my mom; talking me off the ledge when I was there to move mom out of Florida and she “decided” she didn’t want to leave; being a calming force for my mom as she gets settled into a new place.

Life is not easy, and it’s especially hard when doing it on your own. I am very lucky to have Joyce, and my brother, and my friends, and my assistant Helen (yeah, flowers for mom, air conditioner appointments for the house we are selling, getting mom’s Nevada Medicare set up…too much) and colleagues – all of whom have been supportive, flexible, great listeners, and many other things for me. Sometimes we just give each other hugs, sometimes we laugh about the predicament, sometimes we cry.

I also have to say how much I admire professionals in the field of assisted living. Maybe I’d say the same about school teachers, but they have way more patience than I do and their grace in the midst of seeming chaos is unbelievable. Talk about unsung heroes, they are literally saving our parents lives. Not medically, but in terms of quality of life. My mom is getting three good meals a day, something she wasn’t really doing for herself. She does multiple activities a day with others, when she used to sit alone. And she is watched for any issues, like falls, that she used to be exposed to living alone.

All amazing. But let me come back to where I started. Joyce has never asked if she could help, she just has. She has never complained about helping, rather celebrates when we get good news about mom. She walks alongside of her, she gives her joy through her smile. She has been so unselfish. We still have both of Joyce’s parents and in good health (knock on wood). I am taking lots of notes on how she is supporting me so I can do the same when needed. I am eternally grateful for her support, it is priceless.

 

family, leadership, personal

Joint post from Rick and Joyce – Love Languages

Do you know your love language? If you haven’t heard of the five love languages, see here: http://www.5lovelanguages.com/ As I’ve discussed with my team at work, it is also a great way to talk about recognition and appreciation in the workplace (understanding that some modifications are needed, like “touch” takes on a different meaning).

We know ours. Joyce likes physical touch, followed by words of affirmation. She couldn’t find a category for “stare at me uncomfortably for several minutes while I smile and ham it up” so we will call that a form of touch…or it could be part of quality time, which is her third love language.

Rick’s is acts of service. If Joyce does a chore at home for me, I feel awesome. If someone at work goes above and beyond on a project, I celebrate that and have big thanks waiting for them. I also like gifts, something Joyce has adapted to – even surprising me (I’m very hard to surprise) with a framed picture of me and my Dad in advance of Father’s Day. She used to not even get me a card for holidays, so luckily I’ve apparently broken her of that by occasionally reminding her of my second love language.

Love languages can come in really handy. When Joyce goes too long without food, and starts to get “hangry” I know I can make her feel better by just holding her. Even though I might want do take out the trash because that would make ME feel better, that is the time to put the chores off for a few minutes and just hold and talk to Joyce.

Sometimes Rick gets too focused on tasks and getting things done, especially around the house (bad combination of anal retentive and OCD). Joyce can take immense weight off of him by chipping in and working on the chores with him. And it’s quality time together, which is Rick’s third love language. Words and touch aren’t his thing, but he is getting to like them more by engaging in those languages with Joyce.

Hopefully, you can improve relationships at home and in other areas of your life by exploring the five love languages.