A journal of healing

I know I am not the first one to turn 63 as I did two weeks ago. It should not be a big deal. But somehow, and I am not sure if it is the age or just the energy around these days, but it does seem harder and harder to get through the day. And it is not just me.

There is a HR manager who actually hired me. To look at her, you would think she was maybe early 60’s. She is small in stature and her still brown hair has never been dyed. She had eight children and 19 grandchildren. She has also been a ball of energy since I have known her.

But when I came back from vacation, she sat down at my desk with a heavy sigh. “You were missed,” she said. Heck, I was only gone three days. But we had a training class going through that was from hell. I thought there had been more issues, and there were. But that was not what she wanted to chat about.

She said, “I think it is time for me to retire.” I almost fell out of my chair. In truth, I did not expect it. She has been with the agency for over thirty-five years. We had just celebrated her birthday which marked 78 years. She has earned by all rights her retirement. But she works part time and has always said the job kept her going. I figured she would stay at least two more years.

She said she just did not have the patience to deal with stupidity any more. It was something I totally grasped and embraced. She was tired of seeing the repetitive efforts of our agency dealing with the same issues over and over with no better outcome. She said in general, she was tired of everything being a fight or lengthy discussion. She was also tired of the outcomes or consequences having no impact. She was tired of staff getting away with what they have been getting away with lately, like piss-poor documentation with no repercussions. I got exactly what she was saying. Management has an “everyone is a winner” attitude and coddles the clinical staff. But it is costing us dearly.

Earlier in the month, my dear friend and I had a similar conversation. She is one person who always looks to the good in people and is the very non-judgmental. But as we sat out in the garden chatting, she revealed her frustration with just getting through it all. She said she just does not have the patience for dealing with, (and I paraphrase), people.

I am right there with them both. I struggle with my impatience with the attitudes of people who seem to have no comprehension of way of things. Maybe it is that the way has changed and no one told me. I have no patience for those who are coming up who think they know everything and have no problem saying so. I listen to them at meetings coming up with things that have already been tried and failed. But they feel they are amazing and Einstein. They are rude and talk over people.  I really am turned off to their arrogance which they seem to drip with. I too struggle with the agency doing the same thing over and over hoping for a different outcome. And I am just tired.

They did a big injustice moving the retirement age up. I pity the next groups as I see them continuing to move the age of retirement up. It won’t matter as there won’t be any social security money anyways. There are a going to be a lot of folks in the next generations who will have a horrible time in their old age. They do not have clue about saving. Heck, they are still living at home until they are thirty.

What do I want truthfully? I would like to have an on-line flexible teaching job. I would like to have good health benefits that will continue with the treatment I am on. I already know that I will go to the recreation center which has wonderful programs for people with arthritis but the classes are for seniors and are in the morning. I know I am going to join the senior chorus that currently meets at 2pm. I have other plans for things but…. No can do now.

I need medical coverage. When I retire and go on Medicare, the drugs I am on that keep me going will not be covered. And Medicare is certainly not free. It costs my husband almost $300. 00 a month for it and his supplemental insurance. They take it right out of his social security monthly payment. NO choice. And the once a year, he hits the donut hole. The donut hole is now up to $4900.00 that you have to pay out of your own pocket annually. This is a whole other blog. But this is another reason why senior citizens are nasty and angry. We worked all our loves to get screwed by Medicare. My step-daughter who works on average 20 hours a week is on government insurance and she gets great coverage and it is FREE. That train ride will end soon.

Turning 63 and being close to retirement is like being on a diet in a bakery. Everything looks so wonderful and yet, you can’t have any. Am I turning into a curmudgeon? Absolutely.  But I am not alone. That gives me solace but it does not resolve my getting through it for at least the next two years. Some days I feel like I am being held hostage and have no choice about the direction of my life. I have to work and I have to work with the people I work with. And that gives me an attitude and I know it.

 

 

 

Obsolete

Getting older is a natural pathway we all cannot fight. It happens. I am turning 63 on Thursday. This year has been one of a lot of changes with me. I have not accepted them graciously. It has nothing to do with how I look as I don’t see a lot of change in the mirror. I think it is partially the fading of some of my vision. My physical condition has deteriorated a lot but there is little outside appearance of that other than a limp.

I have become obsolete at my job. It is very difficult for me to handle. I used to be enmeshed in every project, every improvement plan, and in charge of at least one major strategic initiative for the agency for the past five years. I felt needed. I thrive on multiple assignments. Now I am obsolete.

We became a Lean organization and it was my job to get Lean embedded in the organization. I was initially in charge of the whole Lean reorganization until the Medical Center decided to put someone from there who was much more experienced in Lean in charge. I was fine with that. But she took over everything. I will call her WtF. WtF was so dominating and controlling that many people struggled working with her, not just me. She got several people fired who had been with the company many years. All the time WtF was there, there was this undercurrent of fear that people had and rightly so. She had the CEO’s ear. She had her minions and she had her enemies. I was needed by her so I was neither. I know she permanently wanted to come into the agency but that was not part of her contract with the Med Center.

I was on the board that over saw all the projects. I was on about five other projects as a team member. The first project done was the changeover to a new capture system for billing for the aides. it was an ugly power struggle through out the project. The Director of the Aides (31 years with the agency) and the Director of IT (12 years) were the co-captains. They both ended up getting fired afterwards because of fighting or not getting along with WtF.

There was so much turmoil and change. Our financials were terrible. People were very unhappy, scared and some were just angry. It has been an unpleasant place to work for a long time.

About a year later, WtF was going to be leaving according to her contract and we needed a governing body to continue the Lean initiative. A small board was formed and I was not asked to sit on it. I was devastated. I knew it was because of WtF. They announced the group of five and they were all the minions of WtF. One of them had no Lean experience at all and was not on any committees. The next day after they announced the group, the CEO came over to my office and asked me to join the group. I was crushed and it showed completely. I did say yes, but by then, I was trashed. The damage was done. I was insulted that I was an afterthought. I look back now and I see that was the turning point in my career.

I was a captain of  the Culture of Improvement initiative and earning my certification to be a Lean Practitioner.I did complete my project and it took over a year. I would have been the first but  I had to fight with WtF  to get certified. She was in charge of saying who was getting certified. There were other people who were winding up their projects and those she liked got through easily. Those she did not, she fought with and had a harder time to get certified. It was so apparent and so unfair but the Administration was so blinded by WtF they allowed her. After she left, we certified five more people.

It will be two years this August when we first met for Lean. We won a huge award for the work done in the agency for Lean. The proposal for the award included a huge portion of the work I did in getting Lean imbedded the organization. The minions all went to the dinner and ceremony, even though they really had little to do with the initial projects that the award was based on. I did not go to the ceremony.

Meanwhile, these new younger folks are now the stars of the agency.  At first it was a slow progression of responsibilities. But now they are in charge of a lot. The one who had the least amount of Lean experience was made the Director of our Lean initiative. (Really, I know). I already see a slipping in the progress we made and projects stalling or failing.

I have watched several other projects that I was in charge of slowly slip out of my hands and into theirs. And of course, they don’t want my help. It is not their fault. And the truth is: I am not volunteering for anything anymore. I am not the first to raise my hands and say, “oh I will do it”. I am tired of working so hard for so long. So I am responsible for this change too. I do not trust anyone now. I do not want to fight and I do not want to get hurt. In truth, I want out.

I am the oldest Director in the whole agency now. I am older than everyone on the Administration team including the CEO. That’s scary. Four of the six administrators have less than three years with the agency. There were so many changes in the last three years. I guess it is a case of out with the old and in with the new.

I am hurt. I am wounded. I did so much for this agency for the last six years. And now I am being put out to pasture. I remember thinking that there were people who should retire when I first came there. There were many nurses and managers who had been with the company for over twenty five years. The Directors were my age or older with significant experience and education. (That’s another thing: Directors are supposed to have Masters and only three of the eight of us have a Masters.) Two of the original Administrators that were there when I started were older and have since retired or were made to retire. Only two of the directors who were there when I started are still there. Four directors were fired and one demoted.

How did I get to be one of the old fogies who need to retire?

It’s not like I all of a sudden became stupid. Yes, I walk slower but that’s because of my arthritis.  I see the committees I still sit on going through the same “stuff” that has been the issues forever there. It is like a hamster wheel and there are new hamsters. Life is a made up of circles and maybe now it is time for me to get off this one.

I want to either retire, or I want to find something that to do that will make a difference in the world. I prefer the second choice as I think I am still able to do something worthy. I think it is sinful how we treat our elders in this country. We remove them from being productive and then warehouse them until they die. I do not want to go that route.

I just loved this. What a new world we are creating. I hope one day, fat-shaming will be as unacceptable as racial bigotry.

Dances With Fat

Photo by Doug Spearman Photo by Doug Spearman  Dress by http://www.igigi.com

In that super questionable video I posted about, one of the “I’m fat but” statements was “I’m fat but I’m not glorifying obesity.”  No shit.  Because “glorifying obesity” is not really a thing.  Fat people being happy, doing stuff, living our lives, achieving things, being in the spotlight etc. are just being happy, doing stuff, living our lives, achieving things, and being in the spotlight.

I’ve been accused of “glorifying obesity” many times. Oddly, I am also short with curly hair and yet I have never been accused of glorifying shortness, or glorifying refusal to straighten my hair. That’s because this is about fat-phobia.  It doesn’t matter if it’s perpetuated by people because it’s their goal to create a fat phobic society, or if it’s their sincerely held personal belief that fat people should never be (or see any fat person be) anything but miserable…

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More Springtime views

  We took a trip out to the Lake last weekend. It was so foggy and gray. The streets are still flooded  in this little lake village of Sodus Point.        There is a street of shops and bars and houses that was  totally closed because of the flooding. We went to the beach and pier.

  The erosion on the beach was terrible.

   The beach was covered with drift wood and garbage. It is a mess and it will required a lot of clean up before they can open for the season.

  But there was some wonderful days during  the long weekend and my hubby and I took advantage and planted flowers and some new shrubs.

   I was not sure how I would fair doing with the planting but I completed planting all the pots and planters. I was in a lot of pain the next couple of days but it was so worth it. I realized I am better than I was the previous year because I got them all potted in a day. Last year it took me several days and I can remember crying being so frustrated with my fatigue and inability to garden.

  Every year is different and  every year I am amazed at how much my garden brings me joy. I am a different person. I long for the time when I do not have to work and can spend hours and days working in the soil and relaxing out there.  I will have plenty of company.

  The doves have been working on their next brood. They are so used to us now they fly in and out right over our heads. Sometime I will hear them cooing to each other in their secret language. On the other side of the deck is another bird house that had a sparrow family. We call them the Cheep-cheeps. The babies would squawk for food all the time and they looked like three little Muppets hanging out of their hole in the bird house. They have grown and moved on and now Mom and Dad are rebuilding the nest.

 Every fall I bring in some plants and then this year I had a bonus of several new amaryllis. I potted some lettuce also because what I had put in the garden was chewed.

  I do a few herbs and I will probably do basil and a few tomato plants this year.

  I had previously put in lettuce in the garden that is in front of the deck.  It really got chewed up. One night I was sitting out and the bunny, who totally saw me, came right up on to the deck and proceeded to chop away. He knew where and how to get around the sticks. We also have a chipmunk who dug  a tunnel with an entrance right in the patch. I closed it and he has now taken up residence under the deck…..

 ….Much to the delight of the dogs. One night this week, Browny actually caught the little bugger but released it. Both dogs thought it was a hoot and I think Browny surprised himself with the capture. The chippy was not hurt.  Now he thinks he is this big hunting dog and patiently waits for the next squeal.

  This little piece of the world brings much peace and serenity to all who visit. I am very blessed.

 

 

The Draft

It’s hard to believe it was forty –five years ago. It was so different from now. I was 18, innocent and trusting. The world was in turmoil as we were involved in Viet Nam. All the guys who I graduated with had registered with the draft. We all knew someone who went over and did not come back. It was an unjust situation. You had to register and you had to take your chances.

There were tons of stories on how to get out of being drafted but it was very hard to be 4F. My hubby was one of the lucky ones who was exempt for a medical reason. His number was 35 in 1968.

My sister had many friends who went over. My brothers all went to college and were exempt. My first close experience was in 1972 with a Vet who had returned. His name was John. I was going to college with my best friend from high school. We had sung as a duo since the time we met. Music was our lives. There was a big presence of returning Vets who went back to school at the college. She ended up marrying one. She and I joined the Jazz group on campus and went on tour to other colleges on the East Coast. John was in the group and played guitar like a dream. We eventually formed a group with another guitarist named John, also an older Vet, and the four of us called ourselves Synapse. We were good.

I had it for John really bad. He really was not that good looking. He was older and I think that had appeal. He also had his own apartment which for us who still lived at home was a super plus. He was also pretty messed up and did drugs. No one could wake him up or startle him. He would go bat shit if you did. There was a lot more, but let it suffice that although there were many firsts with him, it was not a stable relationship. But oh, could he play a 12 string.

Then I met my ex. He was also 19 and in a band. He was on the draft at a precarious 200 number. He would be called up eventually. He was not going to go to college and was working as a machinist. But at that time, his love was music too. He was in a band called Jaspur who played country rock and was very popular. He had long hair and a beard. He did not do drugs. We met, fell in love and made plans to go to Canada. It was my dream to have a farm and he was prepared, city boy that he was, to live in the woods instead of Nam. The draft ended in 1973 and the need to escape ended.

Later in our lives, he became a cop and fell in with a group of right wing supremist who were all ex marines. He blamed me for not going into the service. That is just another reason why he is my ex.

My family did have members who served. My sister-in-law is a lieutenant and actually served oversees during the Nam war. My Uncle and his son were/are both commissioned officers in the Navy. My oldest nephew had one foot out the door of high school and the other in the Navy. He served for over 20 years and just recently retired as a Master Chief. I won’t say he isn’t messed up because he is. He feels like life sort of passed him by and wished he had a family. My mother’s father served also. WWII was the cause of the death of my grandfather. He was really messed up when he came back and they thought he might have been gassed. He died in a sanitarium.

I think the fear of being sent to war made my generation hateful of the government and we do not trust it. Returning soldiers were not greeted at the airport with banners and flags. They were spit on. Nam ruined lives in many ways and this was before they had treatments for PTSD like they do now.  The generations after us have no idea what it was like to know that graduating from high school could be a death sentence. It is not like my parents’ generation where going to war was glory and honor. There was honor in my grandparent’s generation too.

I am not against the people who serve. I am against war. I abhor violence. I think we are still involved in places we should not be. I think it is crazy to sacrifice our young. But I know I would rally for a real cause if need be. I thank the people who served whether they had to or choose to. It is a true sacrifice. I mourn those who did not return. And I grieve for the lives ever changed by the horrors they saw.

I pray every day that the blond idiot in the White House does not get us into a conflict with his mouth.

 

 

  These are the loves of my life. The pups are Papillion mix and the legs are my husband’s. He went into the cheese drawer…enough said if you have dogs. I let their fur grow out all winter to keep them warm. The day this picture was taken, it was 85 degrees. It was an unusually warm spring day, and we were not prepared.

 This is Browny. He is a “special” dog as in the fact he is was pretty traumatized. I have no idea of the truth of their history other than they were very mistreated. They think they were around four and five when we got them and we have had them for four years.

  He is the sweetest baby ever. But he has manic episodes where he barks like crazy at anyone near our home. If they come into the home, its even worse. He has bitten someone. He will defend his partner, Cookie, if anyone tries to threaten her. We have no idea of the true relationship of the pair other than they are devoted.

   Miss Cookie seems sweet at first, but she is a bruiser. She likes to be dirty all the time. But she adores me and her Dadder, especially me. She does not like to be brushed so by the end of winter, she is pretty messy.

  She loves to roll in the snow, but hates baths. She will go out and roll in the grass or mulch and often comes in the house covered in “stuff.” So it was time for their summer haircuts. I finally found a groomer who has a van and will come to the house. Groomer on the Go. Eric was wonderful with them and I highly recommend him.

 Cookie was mad. She did not want her picture taken at all.

  But she looks amazing!

 The B Boy looks completely different. His fur was extremely long with a long tail. Eric cut his tail, which was necessary. But the view is completely different.

  He really fits the name Monkey Boy now.

Spring is everywhere, finally. We spent the day yesterday digging out the veggie garden out and turning the soil. We then planted some lettuce. I was so thrilled to be able to get down and actually work in the garden. It was at first scary getting down, it was even more scary trying to get up after being down on the ground for a couple of hours. But I did it. I am paying for it today, but that’s ok.

  Here is half of the garden with the lettuce protected from the bunnies. I put in some lettuce in pots without sticks and the chomped them down overnight. Sorry bunnies…. the sticks are back.

  Slowly the garden is getting in shape. I think of it as a canvas that Mother Nature and I work on together. Next week I will post pictures of the flowers and lilacs. It is beautiful.

 

 

 

Ripples

Last week I was chatting with my friend who is about the same age as me. We both agreed that the energy we have has dwindled and that it seems so much harder to get through the week. I am not sure if it is the weather, our age, our physical limitations, or all the above. So I sat and thought about it. I realized it was all the above but then there are other things happening that has definitely changed the energy of our world. Although I am not directly impacted, the ripple does affect all. These are some of the things I have observed.

The whole Trump situation is totally negative. Whether you are for or against, it sets up a very adversarial situation, since there are few who are not affected by his actions. I personally can’t stand the man for many reasons. But every time he opens his mouth, he sets off a ripple of anger. Either people are destroyed by something he does or people feel they have to defend him because no one trusts him. It has created a state of anxiety and fear and he is totally unaware of his actions. He is so far removed from reality that there is no way he could have an idea of what affect his decisions have. But the people around him do, and they are letting him. It is so out of control right now that it sets up an atmosphere of fear.

We have a severe water issue here in my area and upstate New York. I have a friend who lives on a road that is between the big lake and a series of ponds. Her house is slowly filling with water as her beach area falls into the lake. She said her basement walls are weeping water which will eventually dissolve her foundation. There are many in this situation. My beloved River is over her banks as well. Parts of Boldt Castle are underwater. They had to close down operations up there. That will really hurt their economy as they only have six months to make their money. Although it does not affect me directly, the idea of my favorite place in the world being in jeopardy does upset me.

I work in health care. It is the most regulated industry out there. We live in fear of audits. They are not fair. Our last audit they hit us for things that have never come up before. Stupid things. We had to go back and get I 9’s for all the volunteers. We have never had to do that. People who submitted an application electronically and who were hired had to come in to HR and sign their application even if they have worked for us for ten years. There were more stupid things.

Every week we get a letter called a Dear Administrator letter. The one for last week was about the requirements for Home Health Aide training. They changed the rules. So now I have to institute classes to compensate for a change in a regulation so we do not get dinged when they come in. We live in fear of this kind of thing all the time. This fear and constant worry about documentation and regulations permeate this field. It is extremely negative but there is no getting around it.

Maybe I am just getting tired of this constant negative world. I know I am not going to do anything about work for a couple of more years. I certainly can’t quit with no health insurance.

Well, this blog certainly did not cheer me up either. It doesn’t help to spread doom and gloom, so I will stop and go sit outside in the rain.