A journal of healing

Archive for the ‘growth’ Category

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.

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New Diversity Role

blue-ball

Just when I think things at my job are going to crap and that I need to do something else, the spirits come together and things change. I am the type of person who works for a purpose.  I do not do well when I feel I am not doing something that might make a difference either in the workplace or community.

Where I work just went through a big change. Our CEO, VPs of Finance, Clinical and Quality are all new, as is most of their staff. Our Corporate Compliance officer is new. We took over a small homecare agency and have whittled their management staff down to five. We changed our team structure and how we do our daily operations. The last year has been one of transition and uproar including decreasing our workforce significantly. They let three of the directors go and only replaced one. I felt very vulnerable all year as I watched peers being downsized. Budgets were cinched and hacked at. It was an environment of uncertainty and I was not sure what the future was going to hold for me.

My education program has grown. I was allowed to hire a part time instructor at the end of the year. The position had been open for over a year with no bites. Now I have the perfect person who seems to do a bang up job. But most of my staff is very self-sufficient and I try to instill empowerment to grow on their own and take up causes, which they do. They are well thought of and often the resource of knowledge on many things. I have nothing to do with that, they are just amazing.

After three years, the company finally understands the power of blending learning and using the on-line training system I have built. Although I am sole proprietor of the program, it is still not enough to make me feel useful. The last couple of years, I have abdicated from committees because of one person in the company. She finally was found out and fired last spring. I also completed the Lean certification process and I am only the second person in the company certified as a practitioner. But even that is not satisfying.

I have three more years until I can retire. I figured I would keep my head low and wait it out, even if I was bored.

My biggest passion is to work with the staff to learn to become empathetic and compassionate. I have brought in great instructors and currently have someone teaching compassionate care in our orientation program. We had a meditation class too, but that instructor moved on to open her own coaching business. I tried bringing alternative therapies approaches, but even that met dismissal from the old VP of Clinical. I am going to start again to work on programs as now they are looking for them and accepting them.

For three years, I was the facilitator for our Patient Family Centered Care program. At one time, that was very big within the company, but as the years went by, the focus was on trying to save the company financially and overhauling Leadership. PFCC went down the tubes. Now, we have a new VP who sees how the visit experience is as important as the clinical portion and has set up a new committee and asked me to sit on it.

On Friday, we had a meeting that I was dreading with a group from DSRIP which is a State Medicare funding group. We had submitted a survey about our Cultural Diversity and Health Literacy programs to them and it was not a good result. We looked terrible in our diversity training and practices. I figured I was going to get hammered and left hung out. The CEO, all the VPS and two other directors were in this meeting.

AS I sat down to the table, I kept my head down and waited for it to begin. I sort of recognized one of the gentlemen, but I was not sure. As we went around the table, at his turn, he started with “HI Jane, it’s good to see you again.” At first I was unsure, but then realized he had headed up a committee I was on at the University. He is the nicest gentleman, and brilliant. The fear was gone. The discussion started and my turn came to share about our existing programs. I explained much of what I teach in my Cultural Diversity Class and other classes. On the survey, the VP had answered we did not do any Cultural Diversity training and I do not know why she did that. It was not true at all. Dr. Byrd smiled at me and said, “I knew you had this covered.” You should have seen the faces of the others, especially the VP who filled out the survey.

After we talked, they (DSRIP) talked about what they will be doing to help us grow our Diversity program more. But one of the things they require is someone to be the Champion for the project. I figured that the VP who filled out the survey and who is now heading up the Patient Experience was going to speak up and say she would be that person. It would be something she would have done, but Dr. Byrd, looked at me and just told the board it was going to be me.

So now I am the Champion of the Cultural Diversity program at our company. Our Mother Ship, the University Medical Center, has also just jumped on the Diversity wagon and has formed a big coalition and program there. It is timely, especially now with all the hatred and blatant ignorance which seems to be more and more condoned by people.

I am up to the challenges that come with this. I am excited to be working with Dr. Byrd again. There is funding and expertise that comes with this affiliation so I am not going to be working under a dire budget. But most of all, I feel like I can have an impact with this. This project is not the same fight of the 60’s and 70’s with just discrimination being the main focus. It is about educating people about the differences we all have and becoming inclusive. It is about being aware, compassionate and even a tad empathetic when working with our patient population and also within our workforce. This brings me back to the reasons I took this job.

 

 

 

 

Ostracized

island in the fog

I have been taught that we need to live in the present moment and not let our history dictate our lives. It is an impossibility. We base our life choices on our experiences. At this point in my life, there is more history than future unless I live to be 125. I doubt that will happen. But we can use the life lessons to realize and cope with things that our thrown our way. It became very evident to me this week when something happened and I had a strong, painful reaction to it.

There is a group at work that was hand selected to be the leaders of Lean as we wean ourselves off from the Med center’s direction. I had spearheaded the project since last summer and was told that I was going to be put in a role of leadership for that group.  In May, they had a clandestine meeting that I knew nothing about until the next day as I was home sick. They had picked five people to be in the Lean Steering Committee, and I was not included. I was devastated and was embarrassed and a whole slew of other feelings. This secretiveness was not needed and also affected others in the agency. I still have not figured out why they did what they did. The next day, the CEO came to my desk and explained the membership choices and then invited me to also join. It came up in the meeting by the members of the committee that I should be there. I knew more about Lean than anyone in the group. It was all very awkward and uncomfortable for me. This set off a huge PTSD episode that lasted about three weeks.

The committee, including me, has had three meetings and the hurt and other feelings seemed to lessen. Then, at the last meeting on Wednesday, something else happened that left me and another person out of a choice. I read it in an email. It triggered such a reaction in me that I did not sleep the whole night. I perseverated on the matter. I know I am not explaining much here because the details are not the important thing I am writing about.

Being ostracized again and again is what is important. The revelation hit me this weekend in a quiet moment in the garden. This is a pattern of my whole life. I do not like it and have a strong reaction to it. It opens a flood gate of painful feelings and my reaction is so strong it almost scares even me. I could not figure out why I was so upset until I clearly saw the pattern.

It started as being the youngest member of a dysfunctional family. I saw a path of being left out of things because I was “too young or a girl.” I also realize that between the brazen display of favoritism by my mother and the absolute distain of females by my father that the setting of being ostracized was set early on in my life.

As I sat in my garden chair, I could easily parade through the relationships I have had in my past and see a pattern of being ostracized by people who were very close to me. I looked at my failed first marriage and saw a blatant path of being put out by the other relationships of my husband. His family did not like me and made it known early on. I was not Catholic and came from what they thought was a high- society family. He chose his band over me many, many times. But he took ostracizing me to a new level when he became a cop. So much so, that when we divorced he admitted he had done that to me. I will never know why.

This post is not to whine about this situation but a place for me to work through this. I have lists of relationships that for some reason fell apart because I felt like I did not fit in. From the cliques in high school to my adult groups I participated in. I stopped going to things like my musical group and my spiritual group because I felt so strongly that I was on the outside looking in. It is a painful feeling.

I work in an environment where I will never fit in. For almost five years now, not being a clinician has been thrown in my face at every turn. I think that is one of the many reasons why I really am so unhappy there at this job. I like the work though. It is not ever going to get better and this last event has sealed that. I also see now the ostracization of being older in this young workforce. The group chosen as Lean  leaders is very young. This is something that will be everywhere if I continue to compete in the current workforce.

After much soul searching, I know these feelings are self-inflicted based on my history. But the reality is: there they are. As long as I try to participate in group activities, including work, I will have to face that my feelings of inadequacy will put me at risk for being very hurt. My current family situation is fairly safe as I think my husband is very loyal. Even with his daughter coming back into the picture after 12 years, I think and hope that my home, garden and my relationship with him is a safe haven.

I do not want to isolate myself and not participate in things. I see I have done this a lot more lately. It is a dichotomy of my life that I want to be involved in things yet I do not want participate from fear of being hurt. My life evolves in circles that touch people and then I move on. I am not sure that is so uncommon in our world.

What I need to figure out is how to not get so hurt by it all.

 

Anticipation

Louie 1

It is in the air. I can smell it and I can see the change in the light. I can hear it in the morning in birdsong. Spring is coming soon. This is by far my favorite time of year. The anticipation of the warmer air, flowers and gardens and the freedom to be outside is part of the reason I love this time of year. I get weary by August of the hot air. Fall is gorgeous but the dread builds with the coming of the cold and snow. Winter to me is horrible. I like the first snows and I like the holidays, but the darkness and immobility because of the snow and ice makes me hate winter.

rhoda 1 2015

There is more for me going on that is making a difference. I finished the training at work and the big project I have been working on for me is pretty much done. I was training three two hour classes a day for the last two weeks and the exhaustion was palatable. For over five months, I lived and breathed this project which was filled with lies and deception. I do not work well with people who say they are going to do something and then don’t. The two leaders of this project were way in over their heads and their way of dealing was to give orders and then disappear. Fortunately for me, I had control of the education portion and it was completely successful. The next pill I will have to swallow will be when they take credit for the success in the project even though they had little to do with it. Actually, they almost tanked it. I learned a lesson in boundaries. Work is work and as I grow older, the significance of my identity being dependent on my work has lessened greatly. I think it is the first progression towards retirement. I am not going to have a problem of walking away from this job one day.

u of bunnie

I am also anticipated starting a new drug for my Psoriatic Arthritis. I have been without any medication for also the past five months. The pain has grown exponentially. I am now to the point that more than five hours of sleep is difficult because it hurts to lay there. No one can understand what this disease is like unless you have it. From the outside, I look fine except for patches of lizard skin and the dandruff from the psoriasis. I have noticed people do not have tolerance for fat people who struggle to move. I work very hard to not let this disease slow me down or imped my mobility. But there is nothing I can do right now. I am limping, my ankles give out and the pain in my back and neck comes on with very little walking right now. I can’t sit for long and so I have to get up and move, which also creates pain. Stress only exacerbates the situation tenfold. This will be the third drug in less than a year and I hope it works.

Azalea 2

Today is supposed to be almost 60 degrees out. We have a blanket of snow covering everything and I hope it melts. I know that underneath it I have snow drops trying to raise their little white heads. The garden shops open soon and walking through and smelling the dirt and moss is one of my favorite things to do. My spirit glows again with the anticipation of sitting in my garden surrounded by the beauty and serenity of nature.

lights 2015

Regrets and repair

clown 2

Is it ever too late? Is there a point when there is no way to mend a torn relationship? Can people repair situations or is there any way to change the outcome? Is the concept of changing such as Scrooge just fiction?

One of the toughest things about getting older is that is having regrets. When you have a lot of life to look back on, it is easy to want to change a few things or wish for a better outcome. I know I have a few honest regrets. Teachings indicate that regrets are a waste of time as we should always live in the present moment. I agree about living in the present moment. But a wise person can review their life and revisit the things they may regret. Then they have two choices: dwell or learn from them.

I have recently reconnected with someone whose life has been one I would not consider to be honorable. He made some choices that impacted his family in very hurtful and harmful ways. It was years ago and now he wishes to make amends, or so he says. And this too is an issue because no one trusts him.

But I truly feel for him and want to help him reconnect. He is older and not in the greatest health. And this sets up a dichotomy for me because I also do not want to be a victim or feel used. I am sure anyone in his circle is also leery of his attempts to repair relationships.

Boldt castle clown

So my thoughts this morning were about being vulnerable. This is the key to having an open and honest life. I also thought about reconciliation and healing and forgiveness. Judgment only closes doors and will only exacerbate the situation. These are things I have control over.

No one really can change the outcome of their history. It is done and final. But can we change the present moment and the future so that regrets are minimized or have a less negative impact. I think we can help others lessen their burden too as forgiveness goes a long way to help people heal.

What do you think?

 

photos: Plaster clowns on the molding of the children’s room at Boldt Castle.

A Different approach to goal setting

Hero dog

I am sure that when the year was coming to an end, you were saying in your head, next year I will start doing something different. I do this to myself all the time. I say I am going to change a behavior, and I do, but it is short lived. And then I feel like I failed and add guilt on top of that. Changing a behavior is tricky business, especially if you are a creature of habit, which most of us are.

This year I am going to take my Lean training and apply it to a few simple goals or behavior changes. A big difference to this approach is I am giving myself measurable and ACHIEVABLE goals. This will allow for altering the path and I am hoping also allowing for failure. Failure is not the end, it is only a result. It simply means this was not the way or the answer.  It will not be me who failed but the process that fails. It is scientific and objective.

So to start, one must decide on the object of change or the goal. You build it with this sentence: Wouldn’t it be great if….. Right off, it makes the goal friendlier by giving space for the outcome. When you think about the thing you want to accomplish, try not to make it so adamant that if you do not achieve it, something bad will occur. Human by design do not like to change and we set up our own road blocks or hurdles and just that alone can sabotage our efforts. By saying “it would be great”….allows for a positive, malleable start and not a wall to get over.

Then set the measurable goal. It needs to be clear and also obtainable. For example, saying you will clean out every closet it your house (and you have multiple closets jammed with stuff) is too much. But by saying wouldn’t it be great if I could clean out the downstairs hall closet by Easter. You have your action and your time line. And it may seem to be a bit too easy but then if you do complete it earlier, it will only make you feel more successful.

pretty doggie

Next is figuring out the hurdles or things that might impede your success. By writing down the hurdles or obstacles down you can seek solutions one at a time instead of becoming overwhelmed. It will also help to set up a game plan. For example using the closet project; one hurdle will be what do I do with the stuff as I am emptying the closet? I need to put it somewhere or I will become overwhelmed with the mess. Solution: I need a variety of boxes marked with keep, toss, donate, and relocate. How do I get rid of the toss or donate? Every Friday is trash day and so for a month, I will take one box of tossed items out on Friday. I will call the local volunteer group to come get the donate box by the end of the month, or I will take it there. These are measureable steps and small chunks to overall success of the project.

Step one is to get the boxes. Step two put them in a place that is visible and near the closet. Then start going through the closet when you have a moment. Work on it small doable pieces that does not overwhelm you. Make notes and post them where you can see the reminders such as take the stuff to the volunteer outlet. You want to aid in your own success with what-ever methods it takes.

dog face

If you are like me, you have a bazillion little projects that need to be done. You probably also have many things you would like to change in personal behavior. The biggest thing that stops us from being successful is that we take it all on. Try this experiment on one item. Just taking the time to plot the “wouldn’t it be nice” statement needs to be thought out carefully. Let me know how this goes for you.

 

Hurdles

mist

I think the hardest thing a human has to face is not diving into the drama of emotional turmoil. I believe that we are set on this earth to learn to overcome this. That enlightenment is learning to not cave or participate in the negativity that we are all born with and are force fed through our lives. The challenge is to believe in the higher force that is there to pull us out of the mire, however you achieve this relationship. We are given the tools, but like the treasure this knowledge is, we have to search for it.

Along the way in the journey of life, there are obstacles of huge and small proportions. How we deal with them is called Grace. The Higher-self is the Captain of the ship we call life and we are the sailor. The trouble is that we cannot always hear this voice, or we think the voice comes from without, and not within. It has to be a unique set of directions for each human is unique in design and creation. The internal navigation equipment in time can get obliterated with the noise and clutter we subject our over-stimulated lives with. The chatter in our heads is like the static of a radio fueled with the nonsense of television and other media. Ever notice how TV has transformed from simple comedies and joyful family life to intense drama and the emotional targeting of watching others suffer? People watch this stuff because it fuels the ego’s need for superiority. “I would never do that”, said in arrogance. “Look at that poor fat slob trying to lose weight,” uttered while shoveling potato chips in their mouth in the safety of their overstuff chair.

Many spend years trying to find their way using other people’s road maps, only to find the wrong destination for them. It is also easier to have someone else guide us; to have someone else create a chart for us. There are thousands of books out there to read on the “way to enlightenment”. There are multiple people willing to take your money to feed your junkie need to be told how to find peace in your life. We all want it, whether we admit it or not. We think we want to be safe, and that is part of it. The more difficult part is trust. I am not just talking about trusting others, because that’s a disastrous route. We need to trust in ourselves that whatever happens, it will be ok. And that is the tricky part.

In my situation and many others like me, grow up to learn that people cannot be trusted. What does that really mean? Trust in what; that they will do something for you? Protect you? Keep you safe? Somehow I must have been able to keep safe enough to survive and that is all that matters. The bottom line is trusting in others has to have some limitations. Drama occurs when you put your self-worth in someone else. Inevitably, they will disappoint you. The degree of infliction will vary, but your reaction to it is what will harm you for the rest of your life. Children expect and deserve protection and love. But I truly doubt that anyone gets through life unscathed in parental disillusionment. Friends disappoint and so do spouses and your own children. The only solution to this is the act of forgiveness and the realization that the infliction is harmless if you believe in yourself and are able to move beyond it.

We are programmed for daily doses of emotional targeting. Being human means being emotional. Media feeds into this by playing on your emotions in order to sell you things. Pay attention to the input that makes you feel emotional and decide whether that emotion is something you really want in your life. I truly feel that the news and other forms of media are helping to bring this world to its knees. We are bombarded with how imperfect we are, how horrible people treat each other and how we are poisoning the world. It is very difficult to more past this constant feed of negativity. Hence we become helpless, angry and emotionally crippled.

Do I have the answer? Yes and no. I have the where-for-all to find it for myself. And what I discover is meant only for me. How I achieve that is also my solitary path. I have been given the tools of discovery but I need to sift through the garbage floating in my head. I must be mindful that the destination is obscure and will never ultimately be reached. Life is discovery and that is the miracle. How we treat people along the way is our legacy. We all have the same opportunities yet each accomplishment of life is as individual as the person participating. For me, overcoming my own negativity, accepted people for who and what they are and learning to be non-judgmental are my biggest hurdles.

I originally wrote roadblock, but that implies the inability to get over something. A hurdle is something to get over. What are some of your hurdles?