All posts in Executive Director Blog

Have you ever been told you are “too honest” or “brutally honest”? I get told that frequently. .and it always makes me smile, as I think it’s a great thing.. as well as between my integrity and my Christianity, it’s impossible for me to be anything but! I was pondering this point and reflecting on the numerous people I have encountered both personally and professionally over the past couple decades – I thought it would be REALLY neat to HIGHLIGHT a few people, and then ask you all to do the same. So from MY current state of Virginia~(in addition to my daughter Kelly Bradshaw) I’d like to “TIP MY HAT” to Tina Guthrie of Hampton Roads..and her level of dedication and commitment to the field..she definitely is told she has NO filter, yet she has done so much for the activity association since I met her as a student back in 2001. Also I’d like to mention my immediate VAAP Board members who work tirelessly each year to put on conferences and educational offerings for the members…here’s to Jo, Tricia, Robin, Natalie & the other board members… NOW, won’t you join me in sharing someone from YOUR state that gives their all, asking nothing in return?!!(Tracy Byrd, Keeper of the Stars)

The expression “step up to the plate” among other definitions, also refers to “voluntarily assuming responsibility for something.” As I have traveled across the United States the past 21 years, I have had the opportunity to meet some real dynamic activity associations that are led by volunteers who have committed themselves to the success of the group for the betterment of the profession. They are as someone in my past once referred to them as, the “workhorses”. Typically, they are the board members that have been on the board for more years than they can remember and seemingly exist for the sole purpose of organizing educational conferences and business for their membership. Sure, these folks might shift positions, titles and/or responsibilities, but generally even after soliciting for new blood, the result remains the same. I came across a photo of a Board of Directors that I have been serving on for 12 years, and everyone in the picture is still on the board. Where did the level of commitment go? Is it there, just manifested in a different way? Is it the age of technology or instant gratification that has made the concept of setting around a board table nearly a thing of the past? I don’t really have the answer, yet the expression that comes to mind to those that judge or are critical of these few, dedicated individuals in each association, is “put up or shut up”..which really translates to either stop complaining or do something to improve the situation. Step up to the plate, get into the position and actually SWING…help the team, win the game!

This proverb references when someone gives you a GIFT (the horse) to not look it in the mouth. As the practice of evaluating the age of the horse was to look at their teeth (long in the tooth – old). Point being, when someone does something for you, appreciate it! Rather than analyze it or shun it, simply enjoy it for all its worth. The “window of opportunity” for the ADC Track 6, is a prime example of this proverb. There are individuals that now do not need any college classes, and most are obviously happy, those that have worked their entire careers in the facilities yet never attended or perhaps were not afforded the opportunity or put in a position that allowed them to complete any formal educational classes. One of the Track 6 requirements is that an individual have CURRENT activity documentation training to be certain that they are well versed in the mandatory forms and procedures set forth by CMS for SNF’s. I had a person contact the office last week stating how “unfair” it was to be forced to take a class on documentation practices. She said “why do I need to know about the MSDS anyhow, it’s not like we complete it, the nurses do”. After sharing with her the difference between an MSDS sheet and the MDS, I then shared with her that she didn’t have to take advantage of the opportunity, if she’d rather pay for and attend the 12 college credits, it was her choice, to which she said “YES, I’d rather go to college than be forced to take a stupid class on care planning”. No more than 10 minutes later, she called to inquire how to get the 10 hours of CE’s as the college told her each class would be $2,740.00 per credit hour….hum. Moral of the story, don’t inspect it to make sure it matches some standard you have, just be grateful!

There are many thoughts and ideas of what heaven truly holds in store for individuals after they pass. Truth be told, there are many that do not believe that there is a heaven. Everyone is certainly free to believe how they choose of course. With the recent deaths in my life, I have heard a multitude of expressions from well-meaning individuals to include; “you will see them again someday” or “atleast they are no longer in pain” and even “well they can now have drinks with my momma”. Again, all nice thoughts and sentiments from those not knowing what to say, yet trying to say something that will give the grieving person hope and perhaps lesson the grief in the process. I have thought a lot about this in recent weeks, wondering what could possibly be said that would be any “better” or more “helpful” than the common statements that most share. I typically try to focus on the person that is still here. I like to share with the person how much of a difference that being in their loved one’s life made while they were here on earth. How their love and involvement when they were alive, made all the difference in the world. I think it goes to the thought process of appreciating individuals while we still can. MY BFF’s hubby recently posted this on his facebook page “ Make the most of your day. You never know when God has you on his guest list for dinner”. I truly believe those words. Have you done the most with your day? Activity professionals have this down to a science when it comes to their residents/clients in their facilities. They can assist their folks in meaningful live experiences. What about for yourselves?? If tomorrow never came, are you pleased with how today will end? Thoughts to ponder…..

Certainly, we are reminded nearly daily to count our blessings, to appreciate what we have while we have it, because as most of us know, the stable calm, comes before a storm and POOF things can change in an instant.
You know that feeling of being completely exhausted, feeling like a night snuggled up on the couch in your jammies with a good book sounds like the best thing since sliced bread? Then just when you get to that point, the phone rings, or you receive that email, and POOF you are back up and running at full speed to help that someone in need…my mom used to say “I help everyone, yet who helps me?”. I realize that many people wish to help, would like to help, wish they could help, yet cant. Then there’s those that COULD yet choose not to for whatever reason, yet the first thing out of their mouth is “let me know how I can help”. Hearing those words now makes me chuckle. I simply smile and say “thanks”. I also had someone say to me a few days ago, “well I would offer to help Cindy but I have a job/I have to work”..not even sure how to respond to that, or “I’d help but I’m busy”, think I have that down pat!

Guess what I’m trying to say is that just when we think we can’t do any more, we somehow find it in us to do more and more..I committed this new year to start doing a better job of taking care of ME. While I can assure you that it already isn’t the most popular choice to say NO, and to actually focus on my sanity/peace of mind, it is a necessary – as life isn’t a dress rehearsal and don’t we deserve the same wonderful, kind, attention that we give to others… I was told recently it isn’t all about me, and while I’m VERY clear of that, it should be about me once in a while, agreed! I encourage all of you to take that stand with me – and start doing for YOU what you do for others.

When asked if my cup is half-full or half-empty, my only response is that I am thankful I have a cup..

Typically, I attempt to share something inspirational, thought provoking and even a bit educational, with a bit of Cindy thrown in the mix…for this posting, I am giving you a gift of sorts, as I wish to share a piece of the BEST with you – I met this “UN I QUE” person at a national activity conference nearly 20 years ago. First I had heard her share with the group at a session. In response to a participant question of “how could they do something for a resident”, the speaker replied, “well unfortunately that can’t be done”. Nancy jumped up started flailing her arms and said “NOT”, and proceeded to inform the group that there is no such thing as CAN’T when it comes to the residents, that it is THEIR home and what they want they should get no question, no permission, just plain and simple make it happen. You see to Nancy, she didn’t just say it, she lived it. She took a man on a pontoon boat to fish, called me to share how happy he was. The man couldn’t barely talk he was so excited he had caught several fish. Another lady called me from a restaurant and said “Zig”, my nickname Nancy used – guess what I am eating???Guess, guess, guess – then she proceeded to tell me that she had consumed numerous things that she could no longer get at the facility. Homemade recipes that took her back to her childhood. Out of her own pocket, Nancy transformed the facility for all the events. No such thing as a party with balloons and a cake, oh heck no – we spent hours painting black bricks on yellow carpet and gluing paper plates to line the sidewalks with “lolly pops” for her Wizard of Oz party, gathered gallons of sand for the beach party, and brought in the actual players from spring training for the annual Steelers party, just to name a few. She dressed up for every holiday, in head to toe costumes, shamrocks, easter egg, lady liberty and so forth. She was all kinds of crazy, often wild and a bit eccentric personally, yet she took her profession quite seriously. She encouraged others to become NCCAP certified, gave out scholarships for people to take the MEPAP classes, served on the national board, and would’ve given anyone the shirt off her back. Her legacy will live on through all the lives she touched, all the residents that had quality experiences as a result of her efforts, and through all of us who loved her BEST….

I used to say “It’s not that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, but rather that we run out of tricks to teach the dog”.. HOWEVER – during this transition of old to new, I’m beginning to challenge that statement. Seems just when I begin to understand a version of windows, POOF, there’s an even newer version to start the learning process all over again. Don’t you ever wanna just say NO, I don’t wish to learn new things, I like my old phone, or the older version of windows or the way things used to be??? Not only are we in an instant gratification society – where a person calls and leaves a voicemail demanding to be called back within 15 minutes, but now we also must adjust to these innovative tools in a shorter amount of time. Craziness if you ask me. Six steps forward, four back, six steps forward three back. Take the recent elections for example, a tremendous amount of communication, clarity and support are garnered by “said congressman”, just to see that he or she wasn’t re-elected. So, you smile, shake it off, and introduce yourself to the newly elected individual who may or may not possess the same invested mentality on the topic of choice. I just wish I could hit the PAUSE button for a spell. Am I against progression, NOT AT ALL – do I wish things would just slow down a spell, YES I DO. Sit, speak, recite the alphabet…wait what?? Until next time

Someone once told me to NEVER look up and say “what else could happen” without being prepared for the answer…WISE WISE advise. Since April the copy machine died, the postage machine became extinct, our “21 year” valued employee retired, our clerical person left the country, we got a new accountant, the microwave quit working, the toilet overflowed, my AOL account froze, the computer blue screened and the printer on my desk smoked then ceased functioning – oh and did I mention we had floods in Virginia Beach over Labor Day, hurricane Matthew came for a week long disastrous visit and we ended that storm with a dash of a Nor’easter on top…tired yet? SO, in the past three weeks we have installed new computers, now use GMAIL and have transitioned from Windows 7 to Windows 10 version! SO in keeping with my quest to focus on the positives; since April, NCCAP had its highest attendance yet at a symposium, we had over 20 people from out of the country, we have started the ADSC credential for those in Adult Day Services, been invited to participate in over 12 conferences, have vended at 6 venues, have raised over 4,500 to assist the facilities affected by the WV floods, have taught over 89 instructors in 11 different locations the MEPAP refresher, have completed a Bridge class for NM individuals wanting NCCAP certification, and so much more. “Pause, breathe, cry if you must, but keep going”, author unknown.

Remember the days when you actually knew your friends phone numbers? Barely right? We don’t need to know them as we can just push a button on the smart phone, or direct the smart phone to dial a number to talk. What about when we used to consider buying something and then decided against it after a couple days, now we simply wish for something direct the computer/phone to google it and poof within seconds it’s been purchased. I even have a friend that can order items through her touch phone without even looking at her phone. I don’t know about you but I have been at jobs where if the internet is down, work ceases for the day. Now I can do some things without internet access, yet as the society becomes more and more dependent on technology so are we here at NCCAP. Thankful for a really great friend who just happens to be an IT geek – and he actually thinks that’s a compliment – LOL. In any event – thankful for SMART phones, my genius daughter (and NCCAP staffer) Kelly who keeps me abreast of all the things I’m supposed to be changing, or better yet simply does it for me, grateful to my amazing friend Jon for the IT help, the pretty consistent internet and the improved technology that can only prove to assist more people in a more efficient manner. So, I will give you a call…wait, what’s your number??? Until next time –

While my schedule is always SO crazy busy and quite diverse, this time of year is even a bit more full with the addition of all the fall activity conferences that I have the privilege of being invited to speak at each year. Something like 32 states hold their activity conferences in the fall, sometime between the end of July and early November. I thought it would be fun to give a SHOUT OUT to those AWESOME core group of people that work SO tirelessly to make certain that the activity conference comes off without a hitch for their participants. You know the “work horses”, the ones that hold down the fort, often go through sleepless nights tying up all the loose ends the night before the event? Those crazy, amazing folks who care SO much about their association and the activity profession that they do whatever it takes to make the venue most successful? The Marys , Annes, Pattys, Vickys, Tias, Lindas, Johnnys, Kathys, Christinas, Jos, Tricias, Joan Maries, Sharons, etc etc etc etc etc and numerous others out there that often go unthanked for all they do. On behalf of the profession, the activity personnel that benefit from your efforts and myself, I thank you for ALL you do – you truly are TOPS in my book!