“You can drive in Switzerland, girl!”

My brakes close to failed as I was driving down a busy hill today. The car finally stopped 3 feet in front of a construction sign and a huge back up of cars. This was by far one of the scariest moments of my life as it could have easily ended horribly bad. But I have learned that through fear sometimes thinking up a funny memory helps to calm those nerves.

I had a resident years ago who we called “Cowboy”. I had driven a bus of residents to the Black Diamond Bakery for dinner. The whole drive he talked to me about all the times I drove him during the war. (Not sure what he thought my age was!) As we left the bakery he said, “I knew you could drive in the United States, but I had no idea you could drive in Switzerland too!”

This memory quickly entered my mind today as I felt like I was in a hopeless situation. Many times as I have been stuck in traffic or driven in stormy, scary weather, I would tell myself,

“You can drive in Switzerland, girl! You’ve got this!” And the nerves always disappear.

P.S. I am also so thankful my sister was on her way to meet me so I didn’t have to wait around for a car that won’t be ready until Monday. I love her more than she will ever know!

What I Learned as President of Aegis Living for a Day

Today I was promoted and demoted, all within 8 hours. Getting to spend the day with the president of Aegis Living was inspiring and educational.

Here is what I learned, not just from the president but also about the home office:

 

Lead a Team Without Fear:

You can tell how an employee immediately feels about their supervisor by the way they speak to them and about them. I learned very quickly (and have known for a while) how many people respect and honor Judy. You can see the trust people have in her and how seriously she takes that trust.

 

Be Humorous:

Anyone who says there is not room for humor and fun in the workplace is working in the wrong place. You can lead a team and have them respect and listen to you at the same time. Everybody was so happy today! Now I know it might not always be that way but EVERYBODY was happy to be at work and looked like they enjoy what they do. I think that is a direct correlation to our leadership at Aegis Living. It really is important to be happy, joke, and have fun at work!

 

There is A lot of Boring Stuff, But Important Stuff:

3:52:51… That is how long the monthly meeting was this morning. (And they get to do it again tomorrow!) And although breaks were scheduled, they did not get them because it was more important to offer support. Yes, this meeting could be deemed boring but it was important. I have always heard about variance calls but really did not know what was involved. No matter where census was for a community, the leaders patiently listened, cheered on, and coached those involved. These meeting could easily be turned into a negative experience but it really was a time to reflect, make goals, and support each other. There is a time and place for everything (including performance reviews) and the people involved in these meetings know this full well and mentioned how it was not a time to embarrass people or belittle but to support and honor hard work. And really that it is never okay to belittle or embarrass someone.

 

Say, “Thank You!”:

Judy says thank you to everybody. It feels nice to be thanked and it such a simple thing to do. I have recently been actively seeking opportunities to verbally say thank you and physically write a card of thanks to those around me. Judy is great at this. I have work to do at this.

 

Multi-tasking:

Judy works hard! Judy needs more hours in the day. I am so amazed at how she can do 5 things at once and not lose concentration or track of what is going on. Judy works hard because she honestly and truly cares.

 

Transparency:

Quote of the day, “Be honest quicker!” I mentioned that this was something I noticed about Aegis Living within the first couple months of working with them and something I had not experienced at other work places. We are humans, mistakes happen, but it is even more important to be honest and take accountability. I feel it is so easy to talk your way around situations but Aegis Living is wonderful at taking accountability and learning from experiences. It is obviously hard to be wrong, but oh so rewarding to not lose trust and respect by being honest.

 

There Are Coasters Everywhere:

Respect where you work! Aegis Living has done an amazing job of building an office where you can be comfortable, productive, supported, and inspired. There are quotes on the walls, inspiring art work and photographs, indoor and outdoor space. The bathrooms are amazing (and the woman’s bathroom walls are glittery!) They respect their environment and there was literally coasters everywhere to protect the beauty and amazingness of the warm and natural supplies used. (We asked a male employee to check the men’s bathroom so I could get a picture!)

I learned there is a difference between doing the right thing and a need to be financially stable and responsible. I learned Aegis Living will do anything in their power to help someone out, but being financially stable is also important in making sure buildings are properly maintained and that there is enough staff to do the work needed. It is not ALL about the finances, but they are important too.

I learned (already knew it!) how much I despise the word boss! I hope someday I can learn to be the type of boss Judy is. Judy leads with respect but does not hold herself higher than others. Judy cares about what she does and cares about the people she works with. Judy has obviously learned a lot and wants to mentor and teach and encourage those around her. Judy is smart! She is really smart!

I also learned I am not done learning from Judy! I want to learn more and have a list of questions to still ask her.

I was also reminded of all the amazing people I get to work and learn from:

Laurel Cline, my General Manager

Janaira Stokes, my Marketing Director

Chris Corrigall and Emese Crumb, the Vice President of Life Enrichment and Director of Life Enrichment

I have AMAZING MENTORS! I sometimes can not believe how lucky I am to work with such smart, supportive, and inspiring people.

And my greatest disappointment of all: I didn’t get a photo with Judy! But I did get one with the CEO and Owner, Dwayne Clark.

President for a Day

Tomorrow I become the “president” of Aegis Living for the day. What does that mean? I really have no idea, but I know I get to spend the whole day with the current president at the Aegis Living home office. I love working with seniors and really hope to learn more than I have already in my working career. I am excited to learn about the “other side” of senior living.

This caused me to reminisce on how I got started with seniors? I don’t know if I have ever written it down.

I say my love for seniors began when I was 14. At that age we were learning about the Renaissance Period and all that was invented, created, revived and learned. We were encouraged to learn about something we did not know about and to do something we had never done before. My grandma was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease so my dad encouraged me to learn more about it (She lived in Ohio, we lived in Washington). My mom encouraged me to then find a memory care facility where I could play my flute for seniors with dementia. (This was also when I was first introduced to A Bicycle Built for Two!!) I did my research and called a local facility to play at in Kent. (That facility is now an Aegis Living facility and I have happy memories every time I walk through those doors.) I remember being so nervous to play in front of people. It didn’t matter what population it was. I learned a couple important lessons this day.

Number one… if I messed up, they quickly forgot. SO there was no need to be nervous! I secretly hope everyday my residents will forget if I ever feel nervous.

Number two… seniors with dementia say WHATEVER is on their mind. As I was playing I could hear those sweet residents’ comments…

“Oh, look at that sweet child.”

“Her face is red. I think she is going to pass out.”

“BOO!! She is playing too loud.”

Number three… the importance of skin to skin contact and holding hands. After I played my flute I would massage the little old ladies hands and paint their nails. To this day I hold my residents hands as often as I can. There is trust in holding a hand.

Now that I think about it… a lesson I learned after the fact. I remember that every time I played the residents would be seated and ready to welcome me into their home. Ever since then, when a young person asks to play for my residents, I quickly say, “Yes!” and make sure my seniors are ready and waiting to welcome them into our community.

Throughout my youth there were many more opportunities to serve seniors. There were many times our youth group would go and sing in nursing homes. I would visit some home-bound seniors with my mom and bring them food from our church and just show them some little extra love and attention. (Oh, Sister Brown and her hugs!!)

And even one year getting stuck in an elevator with Santa, Mrs Claus, an elf and my family! (It was so hot in the elevator everything started to fog up!)

I forgot that I went and played my flute years later with my flute teacher and the same facility where it all began. (That photo was in 2001. Thank you daddy for digging it out!)

My senior year in high school my very smart and intuitive mother encouraged me to take the Certified Nursing Assistant transfer course. I did, I learned, I served… and while I was still in high school I got my first “real” job at a facility. What a learning experience that was! A naïve 18 year old getting pinched in the rear for the first time. To see the memory loss and how it affected residents and families on a deeper level. Being dropped off at the corner of the street because one of my residents eloped and needed a walk back. Death… the care and love and respect needed to care for someone as they were taking their last breaths. I learned to love unconditionally. To love a person and not get frustrated because of their disease. I learned that those you work with become your family and that the residents and their families become your family. I learned just about everything I know from that facility. I worked there from the age of 18 until just shy of 30. I grew up there and the residents were a big part of that. They wrote me while I was in college and gave me advice. I learned to be a caregiver, a medication technician, a server, a housekeeper, an administrative intern, a receptionist, and most importantly a life enrichment director (I even did some maintenance and substituted for the business office manger once while she was on vacation). I learned how to be creative with residents with memory issues, a skill which has helped me tremendously at Aegis.

After almost a 12 year relationship I cut ties with that facility. I always want to work for a

company that puts people above finances. As of today I have been at Aegis Living for three years. A long but extremely rewarding 3 years. Choosing Aegis Living was the right decision. I love being apart of the Aegis Living family. I love learning from the amazing people I work with. I love working for a company that values their workers and residents. They care! They truly care and it makes a difference.

So, as it is getting rather late and my brain no longer wants to function, I am so excited to learn more tomorrow… learn another side of the senior living industry. It can only help me in my future.

Long Days!

The second half of this week has been long and hard! I am so glad it is over and I only have one more work day until a few days off… My president of the day experience got postponed until Thursday which means next week I will have 2 DAYS OFF IN A ROW! After the past couple days, I really need those two days!

This week was also a hard eating week. I got so tired of eating the same foods since last Friday when I cooked it. Sometimes I just didn’t eat because I was bored of the food. AND, I was massively craving french fries again. 

Making the large wok full or crock pot full recipes is not working for me right now. I need a variety so that is exactly what I did tonight. I really, honestly didn’t think I would even have time to cook this week so I am glad I had an extra hour tonight. I will still need to eat leftovers once a day to clear out the freezer a bit, but at least there will be a variety now!

I found a turkey breakfast sausage that had no added sugar or ingredients besides spices. YAH! It tastes pretty good and while it was cooking it even smelled like Thanksgiving. I just whipped up some eggs, added the sausage, and some of the Healthy 8 vegetable mix from Trader Joe’s and TA-DA, I have breakfast!

At the suggestion of Emese I coated some chicken in eggs, rolled it in unsweetened coconut and instead of frying it I used the George Foreman grill. Combined with brussels sprouts makes me super excited to eat this dish! I couldn’t find smaller shavings of coconut so I will try this again for appearance sake.

I also George Foreman’d some all pork chorizo sausage from Whole Foods. Once again  no added sugar or unnecessary ingredients. I then sauted some vegetables in the chorizo drippings.  See those extra brussel sprouts? Only had a few left so I included them here. To add a little sweetness, I threw in a plum.

Lastly, once again using my good ol’ friend George, I grilled up some steak and put it on top of green beans and a handful of the Healthy 8 Vegetable Mix.

So much more of a variety!!! It makes me incredibly happy.

I also found a really good seasoning mix at Trader Joe’s I used in the steak and vegetables. I will take a picture at another time to share it!

 My year!

I have always wanted my own domain. So I did it! Emese calls this the year of Laura. My New Year’s Resolution this year was to do things for me and take care of me. I am getting a late start on it, but I am doing it. I am eating healthy and feeling good and can’t wait to continue on my journey.

Now onto my problems. I need to learn to cut my recipes down when I am cooking. I packed food for 7 days and this is still what I had to freeze.

That is probably 15 bags of butternut squash chili and Ground turkey cauliflower stir fry. I think next week is going to be leftovers week. 

Oh, and my brake fluid is leaking. Ain’t that something?