About Paula Kiger

Wife of one, Mom of two, Friend of many.

Dispelling 3 Myths About Hospice

My father-in-law had two encounters with cancer over the three years he lived with us. The first was managed by radiation. When the tumor showed up in essentially the same place (his throat) a second time, our family concurred with his physicians that hospice care was the best option, since he was not a candidate for chemotherapy and the tumor could not be eradicated through radiation alone.

I don’t recall precisely the date Dad became an official hospice patient but it was in early 2017. Despite the fact that he was a hospice patient for months, it didn’t seem that people fully understood that he was under hospice care until he moved into the Hospice House June 27.

Because I have observed that there are several misconceptions about hospice, here’s my attempt to bring accuracy to three of them.

1 – Hospice is not always a brick and mortar place

Dad was officially a hospice patient starting sometime in February 2017 (I think). However, he still lived at our house until his move to Hospice House June 27 prior to his death on July 2.

He was not alone in being a hospice patient receiving treatment at home.

Although many of us associate “hospice” with a specific building where the patient spends their last days, the majority of patients receiving hospice care (58.9% according to data from the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization) do so at their own home, with 31.8% getting care at inpatient facilities and 9.3% rounding out the figure at acute care hospitals.

Hospice myths

Why this matters: It seems that people (and maybe it’s just my perception, but it’s a mistake I made before having a family member on “at home hospice,”) think hospice is primarily an in-patient facility. This leads to not understanding that your friend/acquaintance/co-worker with a relative “on hospice” may be living 24/7 with the stresses and needs of a terminally ill person. Although they receive medical assistance, some help with hygiene needs like bathing, music therapy and other volunteer interaction and provision of some durable medical equipment and medicines, it’s still, to an extent, all on them.

2 – Hospice is a business

This is another one that falls in the “maybe it’s just me” category regarding my understanding of how it all works.

Before having a family member on hospice (and seeing his Medicare bills), I had fallen into some gauzy idea that hospice is “nice” (which it is) and that it is primarily funded by donors (which it is not) and fueled by volunteers (which it is, to an extent – volunteers like Jim are indispensable both to the patient’s care plan and to the caregivers’ sanity).

According to the Kaiser Foundation, about a quarter of traditional Medicare spending (between $23,181 and $43,353 per capita depending on age) for health care goes to beneficiaries ages 65 or older who are in their last year of life. Hospice makes up roughly 10% of Medicare spending.

Debt.org says Medicare spent $13 billion in 2010 on hospice care, averaging $10,700 per patient.  .

Why this matters: This matters for a number of reasons, but here’s an example of why it matters drawn from my experience. Dad qualified due to his hospice status to have someone come and help him bathe several times a week. As his illness progressed, the activity changed from assisting him with getting to the shower and taking the shower, to sponge baths in bed.

One day, the aide did not arrive to help Dad with his shower.

I notified hospice.

The aide (a regular who had been to our house multiple times) called and insisted she had indeed come and he had refused. (Refusing was not uncommon — but the point is she had not come.)

Because I work from home, and my work space at the time was about five feet from Dad’s chair, I knew it was impossible that she had come and been refused. I said, “do you mean to tell me you walked in, tried to get him in the shower, and he refused while I remained oblivious?”.

*****pause*****

Aide: “oh wait I remember — I got sick and couldn’t come.”

Sigh.

I can’t confirm whether she billed hospice for the visit or not, but I also can’t confirm she did not.

It was not an issue of someone doing a nice thing for Dad failing to show up (that I could have forgiven, of course). It was an issue of the fact that it costs Medicare a certain fee for her to come (and she gets paid).

Accountability matters. When it comes down to it, our taxes are on the line here. 

3 – The Medical Care Economy is Complicated

When my mom approached (unbeknownst to us, in a way) the end of her two-month medical crisis in February, she was in ICU. My father was presented with the option of “putting her in hospice.”

I was not present for the discussion (I wish I had been), but I was an advocate for the hospice option. Apparently I believe the myths myself, because I pictured her in a facility similar to Dad’s situation — a lovely place with freedom for the family to spend time 24/7 with the patient and a different philosophy about end of life than a hospital has.

Turns out, she was put “on hospice,” but although that meant a change in her treatment plan, it meant she stayed right there in that ICU bed. Hmmm.

I’m not a medical economist, but I have to admit not being surprised when someone who had worked extensively in hospice and hospitals said, “hospitals don’t want people to die for accreditation reasons.” It would be very complex to unwind this, but it’s tempting as a layperson to say “surely an accreditation agency would understand a patient with a fatal condition dying.”

I do think my mom’s transition to “hospice” was necessary because there were related changes in how she was being treated that resulted in a more dignified end.

But I still have lingering questions about why it mattered (if it did) to the hospital to be able to change the coding sent to Tricare to “hospice” rather than “inpatient ICU.”

Why this matters: As our population ages, the boundary between traditional hospitals and hospice care seems certain to continue blurring. We may not see the financing details, but behind the scenes, they make a difference in how policy plays out and how our loved ones are treated.

To further explore one angle of this issue, the book And a Time to Die: How American Hospitals Shape the End of Life looks interesting. Here’s an excerpt:

…although most people die in hospitals, hospitals are not structured for the kinds of deaths that people claim to want. For example, Medicare’s reimbursement methods dominate what happens to the majority of hospital patients at the end of life. In its attempt to control spending over the last two decades, Medicare has systematically been eliminating its cost-based payments to hospitals and nursing homes, and hospitals are not explicitly reimbursed for providing palliative care. The institutional response to these cutbacks has been for nursing homes to transfer dying patients to hospitals to avoid the cost of intensive treatments, and for hospitals to discharge patients, once they are labeled “dying,” so as not to incur the cost of palliative care. Simply put, at this point in history, dying people are not wanted in medical institutions, and it shows. ~ Sharon R.  Kaufman

The Philosophy Behind Hospice

In addition to the three myths that I recommend dispelling, the most important thing to understand about hospice is that it is (in addition to not being solely a “place,” being a business and being a complicated part of hospital financing) an entity with a philosophy that gives its patients dignity and a semblance of control over the end-of-life process.

There are several good explanations of the hospice philosophy, but I like the American Cancer Society’s:

The hospice philosophy accepts death as the final stage of life: it affirms life and neither hastens nor postpones death. Hospice care treats the person rather than the disease, working to manage symptoms so that a person’s last days may be spent with dignity and quality, surrounded by their loved ones. Hospice care is also family-centered – it includes the patient and the family in making decisions.

Having a front row seat to a family member’s death experience, and being a part of the hospice process, deepened and revised my understanding of how to define hospice.

So many people say, “they [hospice staff/volunteers] are angels on earth.” I sure as heck don’t disagree (and owe a special enormous shout-out to our social worker, our  nurse, the music therapy students, and our volunteer). They all had a part in helping Dad have as peaceful an end of life as possible and keeping us as a family somewhat sane.

In sharing these observations, my hope is that the general public understands hospice a little better (and can have a more accurate picture of what it is when they are consoling friends/family members who are part of a hospice process).

I also think accountability is critical, and an understanding of the business underpinnings behind it all. Our taxpayer dollars are at stake, and our loved ones are too busy doing the sacred and essential work of dying to be able to intervene.

Hospice myths

Wife of one, Mom of two, Friend of many.

Five Minute Friday: SECRET

Today’s prompt: SECRET

I bought the sleep mask pictured above recently.

(I am going to bed exceptionally early (for me) and that creates a disconnect since inevitably I *just* get to sleep when my husband comes in to go to bed and turns on the television. I am not likely to convince him not to do that, so I sought help in the form of a sleep mask.)

When I went to purchase the mask, I thought about the cute masks Tenley used to get when she was a kid. They would have kitten eyes, or some other cute design. I also thought about how much I really don’t like to have anything on my face, and remembered what a huge frustration it was for my mom during her illness to have all the CPAP and BIPAP masks on, how she said she hated having anything on her face.

I couldn’t find a mask locally and didn’t make it to the mall to look at Claire’s, which is (I think) where Tenley got hers, so I headed over to Amazon and researched a few options on the Internet for people who need help getting their environments dark enough for sleep.

It was overwhelming!

So many options.

I was struck among many of the options, though, about the fact that the part that covers the eyes is so BIG. Wouldn’t it make sense for it to be flatter?

It turns out, the design is meant to allow the wearer to still be able to blink.

I suppose that idea has merit.

As I have begun using the mask, besides the fact that it looks like a tiny strapless bra for a small person…

***end of five minutes***

…I am still a bit struck by all that space. In addition, I have a really small face so the mask seems huge even though it is adjustable.

(The reviews also talked in detail about people who found it difficult to sleep on their sides without dislodging the mask. That has been okay for me.)

It is that space that still gets me.

I open my eyes, with plenty of space to spare. My eyelashes aren’t squished and I am looking out into darkness.

That space reminds me of something more permanent than the allowance for blinking and unsmushed eyelashes.

It reminds me how dark our secrets can feel —– trapped behind a barrier that can’t be breached —– floating around and getting in the way of our ability to see clearly —– all because we have chosen to give them room.

Five Minute Friday

Welcome to this week’s Five Minute Friday. Our instructions, via creator Kate Motaung: “Write for five minutes on the word of the week. This is meant to be a free write, which means: no editing, no over-thinking, no worrying about perfect grammar or punctuation.” (But I can’t resist spell checking, as you can imagine.)

 

Wife of one, Mom of two, Friend of many.

Five Minute Friday: INCLUDE

Five Minute Friday

Today’s prompt: INCLUDE

Today, at my work, I had written something summarizing another piece of information (it’s what I do at this job). The client asked for me to include a link to a different site that would help the reader understand more about the topic.

Don’t you want to be the hyperlink in others’ lives?

Okay, maybe it’s just me, so I’ll own it.

I want to be the hyperlink in others’ lives, the person who helps them think a bit more deeply about topics, talk more articulately about them, and (most of all) see other angles so as to be more accepting and open about the world.

I had hoped to write this post for Mother’s Day as a tribute to my mom, but we are going out of town so five minutes is it and she deserves so much more.

HOWEVER, she was the deepest hyperlink of all in my life.

We didn’t always see eye to eye, and it took me way too long to appreciate her selflessness, but it is only through her — through a girl who grew up deep in the country, in relatively bare bones accommodations, living off the land — the same girl who insisted on going to kindergarten at age 4 because she followed her sister to the bus and just demanded to go because she wanted to learn — that I can find the “deep” background that ultimately makes me who I am.

She deserved a different end to it all, for sure. I am grateful, though, that the way everything unfolded gave me time to sit with her and just “be” for about two months. I’m not sure how “deep” we went during those visits, but it was an important investment in each other before our hyperlink of life was deactivated.

Five Minute Friday

Welcome to this week’s Five Minute Friday. Our instructions, via creator Kate Motaung: “Write for five minutes on the word of the week. This is meant to be a free write, which means: no editing, no over-thinking, no worrying about perfect grammar or punctuation.” (But I can’t resist spell checking, as you can imagine.)

This post was originally published on Medium as Five Minute Friday: INCLUDE.

Wife of one, Mom of two, Friend of many.

Happy 15th Birthday, LinkedIn!

LinkedIn is turning 15. (The birthday is the subject of this blog, along with some interesting infographics about how the world has changed over the 15 years)

As part of their birthday celebration, LinkedIn is encouraging people to share their career aspirations when they were 15 years old.

LinkedIn

#WhenIWas15

I am actually taking this post in a different direction (surprise!) but I am nothing if not a rule follower, so to answer the question about career aspirations when I was 15, here goes:

I don’t recall specifically what my big career dreams were at 15. I was still heavily involved in music (band), but didn’t plan to major in music. I was probably already leaning toward psychology/mental health, but still had strong political aspirations and a business orientation. Given that the summer I graduated from high school (at 17), I spent the summer knocking on doors trying to save souls, I’m pretty sure I also was still considering being a missionary. Whatever I planned to do, I am sure travel was a must. It always has been.

And most of our pictures are packed away due to our house being for sale, so my “Me at 14” picture will have to do for the pic LinkedIn wants.

LinkedIn

Enough About Me, Let’s Talk About You, Birthday Site

It occurred to me it would be much more fun/interesting to talk about LinkedIn, which has changed so much over the 15 years. Here are 15 somewhat randomly organized observations about the good, the bad, and the mystifying.

1 – LinkedIn is an important part of the social media landscape

When Sree Sreenivasan presented How to Use Social Media in Your Career through the New York Times, he listed LinkedIn first among five social media options, noting it has 500 million members, calling it the “quintessential professional network.”

I tend to think LinkedIn is here to stay, having made it 15 years.

2-  LinkedIn is a useful and varied place to find content

One of my tasks at my freelance position is searching for timely posts about legal practice management issues that also meet specific editorial guidelines. When all my usual go-to options fail, LinkedIn is sometimes helpful.

If you’re not in a position of having to be picky about editorial criteria, I think you could find something about almost anything remotely business-related on LinkedIn.

I tried to think of something relatively obscure to search for on LinkedIn and came up with vinegar. That led me (through a content search) to:

LinkedIn

3 – Having to explain LinkedIn to someone else helped me understand it better

A few years ago, I had an opportunity to be an assistant in a LinkedIn workshop for sales professionals. Isn’t it always the case that you learn more about something by having to explain it to someone else? The experience gave me more confidence with LinkedIn as I helped participants figure out how to set up their accounts and how to get the most out of them. (Big thanks to Becky Robinson for her role in giving me this chance.)

4 – Posting on LinkedIn for a client is a great way to learn more about how to navigate LI

Two of the freelance positions I have held in the past four years have involved posting to LinkedIn on behalf of clients. Doing this has been another way to expand my LinkedIn abilities and give me a different perspective. Holding someone else’s professional image in your hands (at your keyboard?) or that of an organization is a big responsibility.

5 – When LinkedIn introduced live video as an option, that was an asset

I don’t agree with all the changes LinkedIn has made over the years, but this is one I liked. “If a video is available, 60% of visitors will opt to watch it before reading any text,” according to Replay Science. Presenting material through video is more likely to get someone’s attention (that’s what you want, right?). Also, the process of delivering material through video helps you practice your presentation and videography skills, something we all need anyway.

6 – Hashtags, on the other hand…

Call me old school, call me hesitant to change, call me whatever. I’m not a fan of hashtags on LinkedIn. I recently argued, during a conference call with a freelance team I was on, that they shouldn’t be used. Au contraire, they argued. Use them or don’t do our social. Well okay.

The thing is, the organization wanting the hashtags was right, as this post attests. Read more about Hashtags on LinkedIn here.

One reason I don’t like hashtags on LinkedIn is that, when I was posting for a client on Buffer or Hootsuite, I had to do their posting separately because a hashtag would give away the fact that I was bulk posting across several sites at once. It was a check and balance that made me try to add something unique to their LinkedIn posting. I guess I should just be happy for the streamlined workload. Maybe I just like doing things the hard way and am a glutton for punishment. I prefer thinking I care about my clients’ content being the best, most attractive, most compelling it can be.

7 – And GIFS, on the “other” other hand

I just learned that LinkedIn now accepts GIFS within its messages component.

Why, LI, why?

via GIPHY

8 – Writing articles on LinkedIn (along with other activities) can still be awkward and cumbersome

The LinkedIn user interface has improved over the years (hopefully we all get better with age), but it can still feel clunky, non-intuitive and confusing to me. Back in 2015, co-founder Reid Hoffman was quoted in The Next Web as saying:

I think some people find it very confusing. That’s absolutely the case and there’s definitely more work we can do.

Keep working on it, LinkedIn. Please.

9 – Keywords are of paramount importance

Keywords matter now more than ever on LinkedIn (and this, of course, is not unique to LinkedIn). This is one I am better at parroting than implementing, apparently, but I am learning. Former LinkedIn staff member Jeremy Schifeling of Break Into Tech says keywords are critical to making you “findable” when he lists the only four things that matter on LinkedIn.

10 –  I don’t know how long I’ve been on LinkedIn

I would have referenced how long I’ve been on LinkedIn if I could figure out how to do that. See also #7, about the difficult interface. Twitter has its faults, but one of them isn’t the ease of figuring out how long I’ve been there. (The discovery below took me one click.)LinkedIn

11 – Networking metrics are difficult to follow

This is another category that I have trouble figuring out sometimes. There’s a difference between connections and followers. I had to gather number of connections for a former freelance client, and every single month I had to dig through her profile in a byzantine manner to figure it out (it’s harder when someone has more than 500 connections). I got it right for her every month, but it was so frustrating to not have an easy way.

12 – Having a premium account gives you more benefits, but can be expensive

I have not yet personally seen the benefit of paying for a LinkedIn premium account, but it does give users more benefits. One of my clients had premium and I did have a bit of an “ooh-aah this is cool” reaction every time I used it. Here’s one breakdown to help you decide and here’s another.

13 – LinkedIn can be important to personal branding

[Note: I got this one from 5 LinkedIn tips to strengthen your personal brand (and I agree with its premise).]

Any senior leader who is interviewing, partnering, mentoring, and attending or speaking at conferences needs to create the right online impression to match their personal brand and values. – Sandra Long, author of LinkedIn for Personal Branding: The Ultimate Guide.

14 – I struggle to figure out how much to segregate the personal from the professional

In my mind, LinkedIn is for professional content mainly.

However, I don’t comply with my own beliefs.

I do think the site has become more blurry about personal vs. professional. When I was looking for vinegar-related content (see #2 above), there were several recipes and gorgeous food photographs to scroll past before I found a business article about vinegar. For a moment, I thought I may have inadvertently ended up on Instagram.

I still try to skew content to the professional side even if it is mostly personal. For instance, when I wrote about caregiving, I usually prefaced a link on LinkedIn with “your employees may be experiencing caregiving stress” or something similar.

Ultimately, though, I’m not that much of a “compartmentalization” sort of person (rightly or wrongly). What you see (or read) is what you get, and I bring my whole self to work, in general. In addition, since writing is part of my professional profile, pretty much everything I post is a potential work sample.

15 – LinkedIn is useful for job-hunting

LinkedIn is an effective tool for job hunting. Despite its good and bad points, it is a place to share your expertise, network and pursue opportunities.

Happy Birthday, LinkedIn

In the LinkedIn Turns 15 post, Allen Blue says the platform’s initial tagline was “relationships matter.” Although some of the interface issues make it a bit difficult to pursue those relationships sometimes, the platform does make a difference for those of us who commit time and energy to it.

Keep on making a difference, LinkedIn. And Happy Birthday.

Note: I am linking this post to a Kat Bouska prompt, “write a post inspired by the word time.”

LinkedIn

 

Wife of one, Mom of two, Friend of many.

Five Minute Friday: ADAPT

Five Minute Friday

Today’s prompt: ADAPT

Due to a temporary scheduling change at my freelance job, I have adapted to a drastically early wakeup time compared to my usual and (newsflash) I like it!

I do set an excessive amount of alarms, though, to make sure I get out of bed to do this work that I like so early in the morning. The oven clock alarm. About six alarms on my iPhone in five-minute increments. An alarm on the Alarmy app (it’s so cool — check it out!).

The early mornings have changed my nights, though. I think when I look back on this time, I will realize it has all been a part of this season for me. Previously, evening would be when I tried to cram in 7 more hours worth of commitments in about 4 hours worth of time.

Draft a guest post. Cruise social media. Take care of that annoying stack of papers I haven’t yet dealt with. I finally got all my emails cleared out this week, thanks to all the free time that came from losing my 10-hour-per-week part-time gig, so I no longer have to include “try to get Gmail down from 5,000” on this list.

Because we eat relatively late (we just do – after 25 years of marriage, this just isn’t going to change!), by the time we manage to prepare dinner and eat it, it’s time to iron Wayne’s clothes (yes, pin a medal on me for being such an awesome wife) and work my way to bed.

Maybe all those other things I tried to squeeze in over all those other hours in previous years needed to be winnowed down anyway.

Five Minute Friday

Welcome to this week’s Five Minute Friday. Our instructions, via creator Kate Motaung: “Write for five minutes on the word of the week. This is meant to be a free write, which means: no editing, no over-thinking, no worrying about perfect grammar or punctuation.” (But I can’t resist spell checking, as you can imagine.)

Wife of one, Mom of two, Friend of many.

Deciding How Many Kids to Have

A dear friend posted questions to  Facebook today in a “thinking out loud” way about how to make decisions regarding whether to have another baby.

Before I proceed to break down why I made the childbearing choices I did, I respect every family’s choice. I respect the choice not to have children or to have 18 children (or to have no children). But sharing our stories and rationales is helpful, I think, so here’s mine.

How many kids to have

If you know me, or have read my blog, you know I have two children.

How many kids to have

Family ties.
Credit: Mark Bass Photography

I was an only child (for all intents and purposes*). This was the main driver for feeling strongly about having more than one.

In retrospect, I went overboard in feeling sorry for myself about my only child status. My mom lost a baby at term two years before I was born. Now that I have been through two pregnancy losses (at much earlier stages than she lost my brother), I have a tremendous amount of respect for the courage it takes to keep trying.

I know that my children’s personal histories have many more years in which to grow and develop, but my fantasy was that they would be close to one another. I didn’t observe them to be especially close growing up. Maybe that will change as they grow further into adulthood.

Maybe I wouldn’t have been close to a sibling. But I always wanted to know.

I also feel the weight of having been the only egg in my parents’ basket. I can only imagine how frustrating it must be to pray for a child, lose a child, finally have a child, just to have a disrespectful, resentful daughter. (I know most teenagers go through a disrespectful, resentful stage but this still weighs on me, especially now that I have been a parent myself.)

Whether to adopt

In the comments my friend received about her decision, there were the “I loved being pregnant” people and the “pregnancy was the worst thing ever people.” I loved being pregnant. Loved it.

That said, I have seen so many positive adoption (and foster parenting) stories among my friends. I know I would have been sad to have not been able to be pregnant, but I like to think I would have been open to adoption.

I have a friend who is an advocate for foster parenting, and I admit I feel a little pull every time she posts about how great the need is for foster parents. I feel guilty for saying this, but we’re not there (ready) as a family/couple right now.

Remaining childless

My friend already has one child, so remaining childless isn’t part of her decision tree. But I feel compelled to address this. I’m not sure why society is so judgmental about people who decide to have children or not. Having a child(ren) is the absolute last thing you should do solely to satisfy a societal expectation.

For me, having kids is all I ever wanted. I have never regretted it. But it’s not for everyone at all.

On the flip side, the current spate of articles about how unbearable other people’s children are makes me wonder how we have abandoned tolerance and patience for the fact that children in public ……. are childish sometimes.

Summary: What I would tell my friend

My decision (regarding having a third) was made for me. I lost two pregnancies at early stages, then as I was trying again, I learned I was in early menopause. Boom! Decision made.

Society puts pressure on you to have a certain kind of family, with a certain number of children, a certain number of years apart. Try to shut off all that noise, confer with your spouse, and make the decision that is right for you.

Even though my children don’t (yet) have the bond I hoped they would have, I am thankful they each have a sibling. Right this very moment I am not overwhelmingly grateful that I am paying for two kids in college simultaneously (they are three years apart), but that’s one small period of time in the scheme of things that add up to a lifetime.

As I got older, after losing the two pregnancies (I was in my last half of my 30s by then), I thought often of all the things that could go wrong with my “old eggs.” My son was being tested for a developmental disorder at the time, so I was acutely aware of the increased chance of something going wrong. It turns out he was fine, by the way.

I kept asking myself, however, the opposing question. What if everything goes right?

I have a hard time in life in general not locking in on all the “what if’s.”

Even as an upper middle class American, I haven’t been able to give my children all things many of their friends had or all the things they wanted. But I did give them all the things they needed. Most importantly, I gave them unconditional love 24/7.

I ask myself every day if I have parented well. Whatever the answer to that is, I know I have parented with love. I am a person of faith, so I tend to believe I got, from a parenting perspective, what I was supposed to have.

Lucky me.

This post was written in response to the Kat Bouska prompt “Write a blog post inspired by the word: break.”

*I have two half brothers. We did not grow up together, but I love them.

Wife of one, Mom of two, Friend of many.

Five Minute Friday: STUCK

Today’s prompt: STUCK

I did something yesterday that hearkened to a different (but somehow similar) point in my life. Back when I lived in New York City, I had been working at my job (that I loved) for a few months, and my boss (who I also loved, mostly), wanted me to return to the Bronx (which I loved!) that night to participate in a Kiwanis meeting. I didn’t FULLY understand that it was not so much a request as a demand. He really liked us employees to be in Kiwanis.

But instead, I went to see the movie Pretty Woman. By myself.

I am sure all the introverts in the crowd can understand why I was able to recharge my batteries more by going to a movie by myself than going to a Kiwanis meeting (nothing against Kiwanis). I can almost still picture everything about that night — I’m pretty sure it was a theater on 86th Street.

I had a little damage control to do the next day (and as you can imagine it wasn’t long until I was a card-carrying Kiwanian (something I also grew to love).

That was sometime around late 1989/early 1990.

Here it is 2018 and I found myself staring at my email inbox, hoping for an email related to a job application I had submitted, an email/text from my realtor with an offer on our house that won’t result in us being underwater, or (best of both worlds) one of each. I was stuck in a cycle of waiting that no amount of wishing would change.

Therefore, I went to a movie (The Greatest Showman) by myself. I did offer my husband a half-hearted invitation, but truly I wanted to be alone (and he couldn’t join me so it worked out).

Nothing changed about my email inbox or text messages related to those two watched pots that hadn’t boiled, BUT it did my heart good to spend two hours immersed in someone else’s dream.

As they say in the movie, dreaming with your eyes wide open can be magical and powerful.

Let’s hope it can help me get unstuck, no matter the outcome of these two unresolved issues.Five Minute Friday

Welcome to this week’s Five Minute Friday. Our instructions, via creator Kate Motaung: “Write for five minutes on the word of the week. This is meant to be a free write, which means: no editing, no over-thinking, no worrying about perfect grammar or punctuation.” (But I can’t resist spell checking, as you can imagine.)

Wife of one, Mom of two, Friend of many.

When You Want to Escape Problems

At its chrysalis stage, a future butterfly can’t go very far. It remains stationary as the butterfly inside matures.

Once the butterfly gains its wings, though, it has options, as long as it has a food source, favorable winds and protection from predators.

Eventually, the cycle starts all over as a butterfly deposits eggs to reproduce. A new caterpillar evolves into a chrysalis that affixes to a new branch or leaf. A transformed creature breaks free and follows nature’s beckoning.

Butterflies hold much significance for many people I know. My friend Mary Nell loved them. They hold significance for many Holocaust survivors.

When We Want to Fly Away From Problems

I heard Jennifer Granholm interview Maria Shriver in a Commonwealth Club of California broadcast recently. It was a broad interview covering territory that included her childhood, her family, her political aspirations (virtually zero), and her father’s battle with Alzheimer’s (among other things).

I was multitasking as I had the interview on, so I missed some of the fine detail, but I did catch and immediately jot down this sentiment:

When you run away from something, the  universe just puts it right back in your lap.

The context of her comment was how she wanted to get away ….. from an aggressive life of politics, Democrats, and the public eye.

Then she moved across the country to California, eventually married Arnold Schwarzenegger, a Republican politician, and remained very much in the public eye.

We are Emotionally Healthier When We Consider Alternatives to Running Away

Maria Shriver was absolutely right. We can replace things about our environment — where we live, what we do, who we hang around with — but making a lasting change and connecting with inner serenity is immune to most of those attempts (in the long run).

I do think a change can be good sometimes, but to augment an effort to deal with something rather than eliminate whatever it is that needs to be dealt with.

Heidi Priebe wrote about trying to get rid of issues by change alone, “You’re trying to grab at something new with full hands and yet you cannot figure out why you keep dropping it” and “the further you run from your problems, the further you run from yourself.” Her entire piece, Here Is What Happens When You Run Away From All Of Your Problems, is thought-provoking.

Taking Time to Think Things Through

Have you ever been to a butterfly garden? I have been to the one at Callaway Gardens and, more recently, the Butterfly Rainforest at the University of Florida.

Before entering a butterfly garden, there’s a procedure where you have to go to an intermediary room that is protected from the outside (and the inside) so none of the butterflies escape. You have to repeat the same procedure when exiting.

Steps of exiting:

Enter “protective intermediary room.”

Stop and wait, to make sure you aren’t taking a butterfly with you accidentally.

THEN LEAVE.

What if life worked that way? If we had to stop and take a minute (or, for the big decisions, a day/week/month) whenever we wanted to escape our environment to think it over and make sure our hands were no longer full of the problems we had gathered along the way?

problems

Photo by Chris Keats on Unsplash

Note: This post is in response to a prompt from The Sway, “Write a post inspired by this word: butterfly.” Coincidentally (or not), a butterfly is one of the images in the coloring book for Alzheimer’s patients and their families created by Maria Shriver.

Wife of one, Mom of two, Friend of many.

Five Minute Friday: TURN

Today’s prompt: TURN

I wrote a post recently about Prana (PSA: you can still use code GGPK18 to get 15% off online!) and within the post, I discussed how one of the items they had shared with me could be great for yoga. I had all intents of actually doing yoga and taking pictures prior to preparing that post, but time ran out.

Today I am going to yoga. 

I have gotten so detached from fitness in general (and I believe yoga is about physical as well as mental fitness). I have also been doing Weight Watchers since January and, although I have had success and lost around 15 pounds, I keep thinking how much exercise would accelerate that loss (and make me feel so much better).

Is is time to turn around the long, sad slide of my fitness life.

I, admittedly, gave up about a year and a half ago when it became impossible to run without tachycardia issues even with beta blockers. Somehow, before I knew it, that turned into not just a halt on running but a halt on moving.

How? Why?

But it ends today. I suppose the thanks goes partially to the fact that my friend Diana is teaching a yoga class at noon, partially to a change in my work schedule that frees me up by noon, and the fact that I still feel I owe that blog post a session of yoga.

Let’s hope one session turns into many more.

Whereas my fitness life before was for me and my health, it was also for some public reasons (being a Fitfluential ambassador, being able to be in the “in” fitness crowd). Time to turn back to basics for now.

Five Minute Friday

Welcome to this week’s Five Minute Friday. Our instructions, via creator Kate Motaung: “Write for five minutes on the word of the week. This is meant to be a free write, which means: no editing, no over-thinking, no worrying about perfect grammar or punctuation.” (But I can’t resist spell checking, as you can imagine.)

Wife of one, Mom of two, Friend of many.

7 Personal Finance Lessons from Unexpected Sources

Taxes.

That’s what is happening after this post is done (or at least enough of the process to file an extension).

Therefore, this may be my longest post ever (just kidding).

One of Kat Bouska’s prompts this week is “List 7 things you would recommend to a friend this month.” Because finances and taxes are so heavy on my mind, here are seven interesting things I’ve read, seen or discussed recently ….. and a personal finance tie-in for each.

Goats Stranded on a Bridge

Two goats in Pennsylvania wandered out onto a bridge overpass and got stuck. The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation came to their rescue, using a snooper crane to position an employee so he could grab one goat, then coax the other one to safety by tapping (it probably wasn’t exactly a “tap” I guess) on the rim of the overpass.

Photo credit: Pennsylvania Department of Transportation Facebook Page

Tie-in

“They deftly walked along the beam with their very small feet,” the article says. Once they were out there, though, they encountered an obstacle and couldn’t complete the crossing. Sometimes we get ourselves into financial positions that we did not anticipate at first. 

Nugget McFluffyhead

Nugget the lamb is one of three lambs born to a Maine lamb. Nugget’s mom, however, rejected Nugget, whose two siblings were more aggressive and monopolized her two teats. That’s what led Greg Purinton-Brown and his wife Heide to decide to hand raise Nugget.

Personal Finance Lessons

Photo Credit: Toddy Pond Farm Instagram

Tie-in

“A ewe only has two teats, and the other triplets were getting there first,” the article says. As much as we would it to be the case, there’s never enough money or time to do it all; failing to speak up or assert yourself for your share may threaten your survival.

The Penzeys American Heart and Soul Box

Penzey’s Spices is giving away their eight-blend American Heart and Soul Box (a $34.95 value) for free. All customers have to do is pay shipping ($7.95)!

Personal Finance Lessons

Photo Credit: Penzeys.com

Tie-in

Penzey’s put together this box to highlight the soul that cooks of all different origins bring to our nation, calling some of the blends, “testaments to the ever-renewing role immigration continues to play in seasoning the American spirit.” Penzey’s also says one way we can help our nation be more unified is to cook. That’s it, to cook. It turns out cooking at home is good for the budget too. Save money by cooking at home.

Cosmo Loves Thumper

My friend and coach, Kristie, welcomed Thumper the bunny into her home. Cosmo the golden retriever turned out to be the most protective, loving, nurturing BunnyDad (BunnyBrother?) ever.

Personal Finance Lessons

Tie-in

Sometimes it’s worth taking a chance to love someone new, two-legged or four. In personal finance, too, there are times that make taking a chance worthwhile. Volunteering can turn into compensated work. Making the effort to share your work can get your name and brand more recognition. You might also help someone, which feels good in itself. 

Bless the Seeds Before They’re in the Ground

The La Semilla Food Center celebrated its 5-year-anniversary with a seed blessing. The non-profit says on its website that it is “dedicated to fostering a healthy, self-reliant, fair, and sustainable food system in the Paso del Norte region of Southern New Mexico and El Paso, Texas.”

They also have a cool/humorous sign:

Personal Finance Lessons

Source: La Semilla Instagram

Tie-in

I am taken with the idea of infusing the seeds at the earliest stage possible, before they have turned into a full-grown plant or yielded any fruit. I know this may sound like an exaggeration, but when I do social media for clients, I do see every tweet or other piece of social media posted as a sort of ministry (and I don’t mean that in a necessarily spiritual way). I can’t say this has panned out for me (yet), but be intentional and passionate about every stage of your work and it is more likely to pay off than if it is viewed as “just another job to do.”

Write Down Your Goals

I was the lone voice in the wilderness in support of this statement (on Facebook) this past week among people I value and respect deeply.

Personal Finance Lessons

NOTE: I added the “unknown” (because I don’t know who said it) and “unwanted” (because no one in the thread wanted this quote).

Here’s the thing — and maybe I made a HUGE assumption that because I have clung to the sentiment behind a quote like this (Brian Tracy’s “3% of people have written goals and the other 97% work for them) as one of my main life mantras for so long, then they should (or would) feel as attached as I do. AU CONTRAIRE.

To be clear, my love of the Tracy quote isn’t about wanting to be in charge of legions of people (my time doing that at Healthy Kids left me with lessons learned that will make me a different supervisor in the future). It’s purely about the fact that written goals are more likely to be attained than unwritten ones. Period.

Tie-in

When it comes to your finances, write down your goals. They’re more likely to be achieved that way. 

Get Naked

Oh wait ……… not THAT kind of naked. Naked with your partner about money.

As my husband and I try to resolve some issues we created for ourselves (that were somewhat exacerbated by my working part-time while my father-in-law was with us for three years), I think often of how the path that got us here hinges on our failure to have some basic discussions about finances and values early on.

Why Couples Need to Get Financially Naked recommends these types of questions early in a relationship:

  • What are the three most important money lessons you learned growing up?
  • What are your three biggest money worries?
  • What are your three biggest goals?
  • What are the three most important ways you want to use money to leave a legacy?

Tie-in

Being on the same page as a couple helps alleviate stress (because financial conflict will always be a part of any relationship).

Personal Finance Lessons

Personal Finance Lessons

 

 

 

 

 

Wife of one, Mom of two, Friend of many.