Raindrops on Roses and Music from Elders

Is it possible to discuss “favorite things” without having visions of raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens?

It’s a challenge but I’m going to try to branch out from those whiskers on kittens, thanks to a Mama’s Losin’ It writing prompt: list your five most recent favorite things.

Favorite Things

Here are mine:

Music Therapy

Specifically, the music therapist from Big Bend Hospice who has visited my father-in-law twice. Although I am grateful for the many services provided by Big Bend Hospice, I have jokingly referred to this process as “the revolving door of people who are ‘here to help you,'” inferring that it is an additional chore for me to coordinate them all.

I had put the music therapist pretty far down the “necessary” list, under the nurse (definitely, for health reasons), shower aide (definitely, because Wayne and I can’t do it at this point), social worker ( sanity, please), and incredible volunteer Jim who told him, “yeah, I have a DNR (do not resuscitate) form too,” a perfect response to divert my FIL’s attention from the always-present reminder that this is a very final process.

I had definitely put our music therapist, Marisa (sp?) into the “nice but not necessary” bucket …….. until I heard my FIL, always a man of few words and subdued emotions, SINGING ALONG WITH HER. It really is true about music … it can unlock a person’s heart in a way nothing else can. (Music therapy is especially effective because it doesn’t demand cognitive functioning to succeed. More here via the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America.)

Side note: the music therapist uses a little tripod stool like hunters use in the woods (sample here) … and says she can only find ones with camo designs. Anyone know someone who makes little stool covers with music notes (or other non-camo designs)? There has to be a way.

My New Part-Time Job

When I wrote about trying to sharpen my memory recently by using Lumosity, I didn’t know that something else was going to come along that would challenge my brain and shape up my life in other ways.

While I love my contractor work for Weaving Influence, I am also happy to have taken on additional work that adds to our family bottom line, provides needed structure to my days, and challenges me every single time (even though I have had to part ways with my beloved Oxford comma in the process).

In my independent contractor work for a digital B2B company, my duties so far include searching for news items related to certain terms, summarizing news stories into concise (yet informative!) two-sentence summaries, and contributing to the curation of industry-specific newsletters.

Observations along the way:

  • It’s humbling for an editor to be edited
  • Having to be “on duty” at a specific time (7 am) is the best thing in the world to keep me from a slow, easily-distracted slide into the work of the day. Having to report in to someone, and knowing others down the line are waiting on me, is BIG
  • I should have gone to AP Style boot camp at some point in the past; I definitely feel l like I’m doing catch-up on that front
  • It’s humbling to be at square one with a job again. ALL THE QUESTIONS
  • This arrangement was the kick in the butt I needed to file for my LLC
  • It’s so funny to me to be full-circle back at supporting myself by summarizing the news (one of the ways I supported myself during my New York years was by working at a place where we typed summaries of the news FROM VHS TAPES (yes, I’m that old))
  • I’ve been sufficiently a part of the gig economy long enough now that this doesn’t surprise me anymore, but it’s still so interesting to be working for and with people who you aren’t going to run into at the water cooler or trade funny quips with (yet)

All that said, I’m so fortunate to have the challenge of being an independent contractor for Smartbrief. Check out their website and choose a newsletter that fits for you — here has to be something among all the options, ranging from leadership (my fave!) to supply chain. For career opportunities, click here (but leave your oxford comma at the door.)

Writing

Maybe writing isn’t a “thing” like a smartphone, key chain, or cronut, but it’s a perennial favorite with me. Since I’m not running (for now), it has taken on even more of a role as my outlet.

When I write for myself, I process my thoughts. When I write to try to convey a message to others, I am forced to see multiple sides of the issue, and that is not a bad thing.

People Who Give Me Tools to Advocate Effectively

When I wrote my #One20Today-inspired post in advance of Inauguration Day, I committed to various acts of advocacy in the face of an administration headed by someone who did not receive my vote, and whose administration’s choices threaten the rights and peace of mind of many of my fellow Americans (and me).

The challenge is: the craziness, threats, and insults to the integrity of our democracy are coming so fast and furious, it’s easy to be overwhelmed and get paralyzed by indecision (and, frankly, fear of speaking out).

One incredibly bright and insightful friend I met via Shot at Life has created a periodic (at least weekly, sometimes more) list of 4 action items (something to read, a concept to understand, an action to do, a donation to consider) that can help us break out of the paralysis and do something.

As she said, “We don’t get to reimagine history to make ourselves better. We get to be loud right now or we’re not better.”

Here are four of my favorite examples, taken from the action emails:

Read every executive order President Trump has signed so far

Understand why the United States’ signature on the 1951 Refugee Convention and the 1967 Refugee Protocol impacted (prior to the stay of the Executive Order) choices by government entities to try to revoke peoples’ ability to board planes and to keep them from setting foot in the US

Do pick something you care deeply about and write a letter to the editor (LTE) of your local newspaper. Here’s a guide and here’s an example. Side note: it’s always a good idea to be aware of your newspaper’s guidelines for an LTE. Increase your chances of getting published by adhering to those rules to the extent possible (i.e., if the limit is 200 words, don’t send 325 and make it harder for them to use your piece). Also, it is a good idea to have civil and friendly relationships with your local journalists. No one likes always being asked for something — it’s totally acceptable to chat with them about the weather or praise their cute puppy pictures if you happen to be involved in their social media streams. AND — not everything you submit will get accepted. Don’t take it personally. (Sometimes if I don’t get something accepted, I run it on my blog. Medium is another choice. Your thoughts/opinions still matter.)

Donate to the International Refugee Assistance Project

If you would like to be on the list, let me know and I’ll put you in touch with my friend!

Naps

When our incredible hospice volunteer, Jim, arrived recently,  I said, “I’ll be working on something in the bedroom.” Do you think every hospice volunteer knows “working on something in the bedroom” means “napping”?

One of the huge benefits of working from home is that it is so much easier to customize my life around my energy needs and fit in a 15-minute power nap around 3 pm. As this article states, power naps are beneficial for alertness and motor learning skills. I am not sure if “and making Paula a lot less irritable” is documented anywhere but I tell you, it’s a thing.

If/when I ever return to the traditional office-based workforce, I can only hope I find someplace with nap pods.Google says “no workplace is complete without a nap pod.” That’s what I’m talking about! Maybe Google will open a Tallahassee branch in the future!

FOR FUN

I asked my Facebook friends what they thought I would say. Although they didn’t hit on the five things I listed above, they were all spot-on (good job, friends!). Here are their answers:

  • Green pens (yes!)
  • Audiobooks (oh yes yes yes)
  • Hidden Figures (yes!)
  • Global vaccinations (for sure)
  • Exchanging pleasant conversation over a good meal (the best thing ever)
  • Disney
  • Wine (for sure)

Good job, friends — you get me, you really get me.

Several people also shared THEIR favorite things, which was fun to see! Also a great segue to the end of this post.

What are your current faves?

Favorite Things

26 thoughts on “Raindrops on Roses and Music from Elders

  1. Paula, Thanks for posting yet another thought-provoking blog. I, too, have begun feeling overwhelmed with the recent stream of news events so perhaps I need to focus, today, on my five most recent favorite things. 🙂 And.. (2nd Filler word) Congrats on your new part-time job! Take care my friend.

  2. I love all these (and your friends’ choices as well) You’ve included a little bit of everything – I think my favourite is the napping (although I’m not sure 15 mins is enough for me!)

    • NAPPING. Oh how I love napping. I know the period of time that works varies for everyone — it would definitely be nice for the workplace to somehow accommodate this biological need. It would pay off in productivity and morale, I think.

  3. Congratulations Paula . You have many great links and thoughts in this post. It is incredible how the brain can remember song lyrics yet not a person’s name! Choice between a nap pod and my bed for a quick power nap, my bed every time. I know no one is snapping a quick photo of me there.

    • I didn’t really understand that music therapy/basic brain connection until I read a little bit in preparation for this post — it makes sense and I’m excited about it. (Apparently dating a music therapy major for much of college didn’t lead to a discussion about this topic!). And oh napping — I feel like I should do a whole “ode to napping” post!

  4. I love how important music is. It gets me through some darkness, my friend.

    I am also digging having a kitten, and the current state of the world dictates that I have a project to keep me from losing it. I am gluing things on stuff. It helps. xo

    • Our cats are walking a fine line right now — the elder FIL/cat pairing means cats get let out (he goes outside to smoke his cigar about a zillion times a day) and I get irritated and ….. let’s just say that particular piece of it is not qualifying for “favorite” right now LOL. And YES to gluing things on stuff. Very therapeutic! Thanks for commenting.

  5. I liked how you made links inside your post to get a bigger picture.

    I agree with music being therapeutic. Although I have not had experience in your current setting, I know what inspirational music does to me personally. It’s comforting, inspiring, soothing, and healing.

    To have politics numbered in your list of favorite… wow! You are definitely politically driven.

    • I’m still quite astounded by that music therapy breakthrough! And it’s not so much that I love “politics” but at a time when I feel more compelled than ever to speak up, I am so grateful for the people and resources who help me sort out the facts and make concrete suggestions for what I can do regarding my decisions. 🙂

  6. I’m all for napping. And I love a good Oxford comma, so I’d be kind of sad if I had to stop using it. So far in my technical writing career, an editor has never pooh-poohed its use, as long as it makes the sentence make more sense.

    I’m a political junkie and have started emailing, calling, and Tweeting my representaties to give them my opinion. I attended my first protest last month – it won’t be my last.

    • When I was on Capitol Hill last year for the Shot at Life summit, one of my fellow attendees was a college student who had grown up in Colombia. She was AMAZED that any individual can go to the office of their representative and say what they think. She got into a conversation with a rep from a completely different state than ours in the hallway, wanted to take a selfie with him, and he took the phone and did the honors. Later that night, she was commenting about how in the country and time when she grew up, that just didn’t happen — that a person from any walk of life could make their views known to their government representative. That was a really powerful statement/moment for me. Ou system is highly imperfect but so far we have privileges some people will never enjoy in a lifetime.

  7. I have worked with Hospices in three places at the end of loved ones lives. The staffs at all three have been incredible beyond words. Glad you are finding the same. And you keep on getting that project in the bedroom taken care of while Hospice is there! It is important to do so.
    You are going to need all the energy you can muster for the advocacy tasks that appear to lie ahead. Good golly. It is exhausting, but essential. And there is strength in numbers.

    • I agree — hospice is awesome and beyond what they DO is the whole mindset about allowing the ill person to have dignity in their final choices. Thanks so much for your comment and your kindness.

  8. I wrote on Mama Kat’s 5 favorite things prompt also – although my favorites are not near as lofty as yours! Congratulations on the enjoyable new job. Doing writing from home and getting paid sounds like a win/win. And I’m sooo with you on Audiobooks, Hidden Figures, good dinner conversation, Disney, and wine!

  9. Oh wow, I don’t know where to start. So glad the music therapist made such a difference. I studied music therapy in college but ended up changing my major. I love a good Oxford comma as well. And napping. And writing, although what I really mean is blogging. I apologize for sentence fragments. 🙂

    • No apologies needed! I find myself changing my grammar to reflect current times even though my sixth grade teacher Mrs. Bowen would be modified — for example I will start sentences with “And” occasionally even though she would have flunked me for it!

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