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WOW , I had an epiphany this week while speaking at the Florida Activity Conference (FHCACA) in St Pete’s Beach, FL, it was AMAZING! As I was sharing how we should eliminate the NEGATIVITY from our lives, it hit me, that I was being hypocritical, that I TOO needed to do JUST that! So, having said that, things look MUCH clearer this week, I’m much more focused and am READY to MOVE FORWARD in a POSITIVE way. Those that wish to do so with me, I welcome, those that don’t can pursue a different direction. It’s amazing how a little perspective goes a long way – I had such a support system in FL, and enjoyed the time tremendously. I encourage ALL of you to find those individuals that are supportive of all you do, that encourage and uplift you, that reward your efforts, and that remind you each and every day to Never Underestimate the Value and Important Difference you make in every life you touch, for the Impact you make today has a powerful rippling effect for tomorrow..”Put on a Happy Face” (1960 Bye Bye Birdie, {Van Dyke and Leigh} also sang by Tony Bennett).

I’m certain everyone knows someone that simply SUCKS the life/energy right out of them, if we allowed them to do so. Those that are seeming to exist off of negative energy rather than positive energy. Now while I realize that a true diagnosis of Antisocial Personality Disorder (ASPD) could exist in some individuals and therefore should be taken seriously, I am not addressing that specifically, but rather those that are simply NEGATIVE. The one’s you say “good morning” to that say, “what’s good about it”? Or the one’s that are only “happy” when you are doing something for them or giving them something, and even then often they barely smile or acknowledge your efforts on their behalf. I don’t know about you, I have adopted a NO UGLY policy in my own life. Therefore when those I come in contact with are less than polite, negative or just plain rude, I like you, have choices; SO, I either like the Bible shares,” If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat; And if he is thirsty, give him water to drink; For you will heap burning coals on his head, And the LORD will reward you.” (proverbs 25: 22-23). Or I choose to remember things that are REALLY important in life, such spending time with loved ones and appreciating jobs and blessings we have, or at the very least – I can LAUGH ~ sometimes I laugh so hard it’s about as good as doing 60 sit ups. “Negative people need drama like oxygen. STAY POSITIVE, it will take their breath away.”

If I might borrow that catch phrase from Susan Powter (1990’s nutritionist), it seems most fitting with regard to rumors of late. The NCCAP office won’t be the same without Audrey there, she has been way more than an employee to me over the past 20 years, she is part of my family, and she and I reminisce often of the “good old days”. Its baffling to me that there are those that think she was let go, as I have posted on the NCCAP Facebook page, and also in the NCCAP newsletter that goes out to ALL the NCCAP certified folks, as well as on this blog that she had to resign r/t medical reason beyond her control – I guess just some feed off of negativity, which is a shame. But, rumors are beyond our control – as we all know. While we have requested several times for the certified members to write Audrey and share their thoughts, well wishes and how she has assisted them or touched them over the past 20 years, she has received about 25 – 30 cards to date. SHE is LOVING receiving these letters/cards/notes – The other day she said “She didn’t know she was so popular, that receiving all these cards made her feel almost as if she was a celebrity” – SO please keep them coming!!!! Let’s exert our energies on positive things, and uplift each other, support each other and take every opportunity to show others how much we appreciate all they have done while we still have the chance to do so – until next time~ I wish you all peace.

You know how things seem kinda static for a spell, smooth sailing, calm even? Then POOF everything changes in what seems like a “Blink of an eye”. There are numerous poems and quotes about enjoying life, appreciating the moments in life, sharing with loved ones and friends how you feel about them or how much they may mean to you as you never know when that might be your last opportunity and so forth. WOW so incredibly true of late in my world for certain. Almost makes me a bit skeptical about becoming “too” comfortable, as one wonders if it’s the “calm before the storm” sometimes. I make it a practice to exercise every opportunity to let the people in my life know how I feel about them, the importance of the role they play in my world and how very much they are appreciated. Take the time to share with the people in your life….and remember “Life goes by in a blink of an eye, so be sure to appreciate the many moments with family and friends that make your life complete”

I have always associated that expression with the meaning of “someone that is so very important to you”, that’s indispensable, dedicated, supportive to a fault, and while I understand it’s an expression, I also ran into an individual at a store the other day, who literally was missing the lower part of her right arm. I watched her as she struggled to balance her items, give the cashier the proper amount for her tab and such (of course I offered to assist her) yet she was determined to do it independently. I pondered if I would be so brave to be doing it all by myself, so courageous to go about life and succeed at the activities of daily living after such a loss. I have utilized that expression with the recent void left here at NCCAP with the resignation of Audrey Stowers after 21 years of employment with NCCAP. NCCAP hired Audrey after she retired from the Civil Service, and we were so fortunate to have her all these years, answering phones, assisting so many if not all of you with your very individualized needs and requests and so forth. I met Audrey when my children now 26 and 29 were only 4 and 7 – she liked to reminisce in the last few years about how young I was and how she has loved to watch the family grow into what it has become today both personally and professionally. I’m not sure what I will miss the most; her ability to remember each and every person and their personal stories, her ability to understand everyone on the telephone, her willingness to do just about anything to help another achieve their goals of becoming certified with NCCAP, or the more personal things like my daily perfect cup of coffee, and my cheek being kissed each and every morning, with the words, “I love you Cindy and I love my job”. Yea..probably that last one…

Kathy Hughes recently posted the question on FaceBook, what were you doing 30 years ago? Some of the answers were fun and I added my response “Getting ready to give birth to my daughter Rachel”. After I posted that response, I spent the next couple hours reflecting on all that I was doing 30 years ago in the profession. Having recently moved to Colorado the end of 1984, I was looking for employment in the healthcare industry as a nurse. (I had done my nursing internship at a nursing home in Michigan, along with being a nurses aid). I came across this ad for a job being a “therapeutic recreation assistant” at a nursing home in Colorado Springs. I went to “check it out”, and walked it on the activity staff delivering Valentine Balloon bouquets for the holiday which is where I met the most amazing woman, Pegi Schlis, CTRS. I knew instantly that this job was for me. Pegi and I hit it off immediately, then came the interview with the facility administrator who asked me one question..”Why did I want the job?” That was an easy answer I shared that I LOVED old people. She responded with “Everyone says that, if you can tell me WHY you want the job, it’s yours” and she left the room. What I thought was an easy question had turned into a very thought provoking one indeed. WHY exactly did I like older people? I didn’t have any living grandparents, and realized that I was filling a void, one with very wise, wonderful humans that would still enrich my life nearly 30 years later! IF it hadn’t been for Pegi, and her insightfulness, and willingness to share her knowledge in the field, encouraging my involvement in the profession (CAPA) and then nationally, I may not still be working in the field of activities today. My wish is that we all take the opportunity to be the catalyst that encourages the NEXT generation of activity professionals.

I have been asked twice this past couple weeks “why I do not ask for help?” The first time I heard the question, I thought to myself (when I need help I DO ask, however I am not needing help at this time..odd question). However the second time I heard the question, I asked why they felt that way? The response was, that “they see me constantly running around, going crazy to make certain that everything is done by deadlines, to the point that I am physically and mentally exhausted by the end of the day.” While I do feel like that most days, I guess I have just chocked it up to “normal” or normal for me anyhow. Certainly I understand the whole issue of delegating, as well as the reverse of getting the task back completed incorrectly at the 11th hour, and having to redo it etc etc..Yet probably giving someone a task and then having them NOT follow through at all is a bigger pet peeve. While reviewing the evaluation forms after a recent activity conference, the comments from some were the usual things like “room to cold/hot”, “food good/bad” and other such things that have no real impact on the questions of HOW THEY ENJOYED the actual conference with regard to educational opportunities and networking venues that these activity boards so painstakingly plan for months in advance. Where are those very same people when the time comes to DO the work? Perhaps for some it’s easier to complain than volunteer/commit maybe? In any event, I have/do ask for help when I get to my “limit”, as I have never been a martyr, however I have been working on “asking” for more help BEFORE I get to that point, it not only helps me it also helps those around me feel useful (in different ways), gives them a bigger variety in their daily routines, and allows me to go home with a bit more energy. {life lesson} Learning to ask for help is not just good for altruistic reasons; it also makes good business sense.

I have heard that nearly my entire career and if no one else fits that description, I certainly DO! Having had a recent surgery and being told to take two weeks off, is like telling me not to breathe. I didn’t drive, I took the prescribed meds, I mostly stayed off my feet for the first few days, but REALLY? I was thrilled when I could actually hold the laptop ON my lap and stop answering emails on my smart phone. I knew the staff was more than able/capable to continue their day to day dedication to NCCAP in my absence, so why the need to work? I have pondered that of late, and also it was brought to my attention this very day that I tend to take care of others versus taking care of myself. I KNOW I am NOT alone in this, hence why it’s my topic of choice for today. For me it’s NOT to feel important, or to feel needed, not in this case anyhow. For me it’s a desire to not get behind. The volume of work that is produced between the three full time staff on any given day is already stretched to the max. OR… perhaps I have worked for so long and so hard that I wouldn’t know what to do with myself if I didn’t work? It is also NOT that I cannot have fun and do enjoyable things, I do those, I just simply fit them in to the already crazy schedule. Like today I answered emails, reviewed files, made dog biscuits, returned phone calls, drafted a bill made meatballs etc. Come on there must be some of you that can relate to this!!!!???!!! Well as you can see, I haven’t quite got it figured out this urge to stay busy, so thought what a better way to get ready for dinner, but then writing a blog! Until next time, stay well and as my wonderful friend frequently reminds me, take time to BREATHE

Okay we have all heard the expression, “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy” which is actually a proverb written by James Howell in 1869. It means that without time off from work, a person becomes both bored and boring.
I will be having some minor surgery next week that will require me to take a few days out of the NCCAP Office – a few people now have commented to me “Gee it takes surgery to get you to slow down.” I thought about that last evening, then again this morning as I gathered several items that I can work on at home during my absence from the office. My staff laughingly said, even when you take “time off” you are not really relaxing and letting go of work/responsibilities. Some of us truly just live off of being busy/productive and okay; pure and simple are indeed “workaholics”. That need to feel productive, get things done, stay on top of all the work etc etc etc – come on, some of you can relate, right??? Even the dog, fusses at me now when I am holding the smart phone at night clearing emails..I have to sneak it in while he is napping :>)
However in my defense and on behalf of others just like me, I did manage to make quiche, bake 6 dozen cookies, make a dozen pancakes, finish 2 loads of laundry ~ all while watching CNN last eve, so I can actually do both, and maybe for me relaxing IS doing those types of things for others.
So bored, definitely NOT. Boring? Not sure how others see me. Wait, let me ponder that as I sip my Starbucks, watch the ocean waves and thank the Lord for the QUIET times that I do manage to {{{squish}}} in between the daily grind, from time to time.

The term “Circle of Friends”, generally refers to the support systems surrounding children to enable them to feel more safe/secure in situations when they are not around their care givers/family, such as in school and other types of environments, where having an established group of peers, teachers, counselors etc. would allow them to feel safe. When I utilize the term, “circle of friends”, I mean it much the same, however have always felt that as a child, we have our families, yet as an adult we can CHOOSE for ourselves, those individuals that we wish to be in our “circle”. Whether biological or not, we get to pick who we consider “family”. I have a select few individuals that I have allowed in that “circle”, and jokingly refer to them as my “top 10”. One of those individuals that I hold so dear, that SO many of you have come to know, mostly via the NCCAP telephone is Audrey. I first met Audrey in 1994; as she reminds me that my children were just “babies” at that time. She has been with NCCAP for 21 years, this year. I get the privilege of seeing her each and every day, and look forward to my morning hug, kiss on the cheek and cup of coffee that only Audrey can make taste SO good. Audrey remembers details about certified people from the past 20 years, she can recall stories of things that have occurred, situations and keeps me grounded. While all of us have probably benefitted in some way from her commitment and dedication to NCCAP, I’m certain that I have benefitted the most as I am so blessed to call her “family”. Happy Birthday Audrey, I love you!!!!