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Archive for June, 2011

I’ve written before about how incredible our volunteers are at Horizon, and I’m inspired to do so again. Yesterday was our annual volunteer recognition picnic, which this year was themed around the Wizard of Oz. What a great opportunity to put a lot of awesome people in a small space.

Our Development Coordinator asked me to say a few words and tie in my thoughts to the Wizard of Oz – I had fun with this, and here are a few of my thoughts:

• The entire movie is about Dorothy’s journey home. I think this is much like a volunteer’s journey – they know from the beginning what their goal and mission is, however it’s the twists and turns along the way that make volunteering rewarding.

• We discussed the three traits of a volunteer: Thoughtfulness (the Scarecrow), Courage (the Lion) and Love (the Tin Man). I realized that the thoughtfulness that every volunteer has is that initiative to start, to make the phone call, to reach out to an organization with their time and talent. The courage volunteers show is the commitment they make. Not everyone can give time and talent of themselves, so when volunteers make that promise, it is a courageous move. And finally, the love that our volunteers show is the magic, the act of touching someone’s life, the personal impact they make on our staff and patients. These three traits, when put together equal service. It’s an incredible combination.

• Our agency has grown significantly in the last year since we opened the In-Patient Hospice unit. It’s the volunteers who have taken us “over the rainbow” to a whole new level of service. Their flexibility, dedication, passion and personalities allow Horizon to go above and beyond when it comes to patient care.

All in all, I’d have to say I’m thoroughly impressed by our group. All with different stories, backgrounds and drive, but all coming together for a common purpose: Hospice. I thank every volunteer from the bottom of my heart, and I can’t wait to meet new volunteers as they join our family. If you are interested in becoming a volunteer, visit our website at http://www.horizonhch.org/volunteer or call 414.586.8341.

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Country singer Sara Evans performs to a capaci...

Image via Wikipedia

Sometimes a song just says it better. Sara Evans captures the healing steps after a breakup perfectly in her song “A Little Bit Stronger”. I think the first two paragraphs of the lyrics could be describing any type of loss. At times we miss these small steps toward healing because we are still engrossed in the intense pain, but like the song says “even on my weakest days, I get a little bit stronger”. Acknowledge yourself for all the small ways in which you have gotten a little bit stronger since your loss, whether it’s a breakup or a death of a loved one.

 

A Little Bit Stronger lyrics
Songwriters: Barker Aaron Gayle; Harbin Ronald Steven;

Sung by: Sara Evans

Woke up late today and I still feel the sting of the pain
But I brushed my teeth anyway
I got dressed through the mess and put a smile on my face
I got a little bit stronger

Riding in the car to work and I’m trying to ignore the hurt
So I turned on the radio, stupid song made me think of you
I listened to it for minute but I changed it
I’m getting a little bit stronger, just a little bit stronger

And I’m done hoping that we could work it out
I’m done with how it feels, spinning my wheels
Letting you drag my heart around
And, oh, I’m done thinking that you could ever change

I know my heart will never be the same
But I’m telling myself I’ll be okay
Even on my weakest days
I get a little bit stronger

Doesn’t happen overnight but you turn around
And a month’s gone by and you realize you haven’t cried
I’m not giving you a hour or a second or another minute longer
I’m busy getting stronger

 

And I’m done hoping that we can work it out
I’m done with how it feels, spinning my wheels
Letting you drag my heart around
And, oh, I’m done thinking, that you could ever change

I know my heart will never be the same
But I’m telling myself I’ll be okay
Even on my weakest days, I get a little bit stronger
I get a little bit stronger

Getting along without you, baby
I’m better off without you, baby
How does it feel without me, baby?
I’m getting stronger without you, baby

And I’m done hoping we could work it out
I’m done with how it feels, spinning my wheels
Letting you drag my heart around
And, oh, I’m done thinking that you could ever change

I know my heart will never be the same
But I’m telling myself I’ll be okay
Even on my weakest days
I get a little bit stronger

I get a little bit stronger
Just a little bit stronger
A little bit, a little bit, a little bit stronger
I get a little bit stronger

 

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College Graduation

Image by ajagendorf25 via Flickr

It’s graduation season. To me, it seems like we celebrate the “moving on” at many levels these days. From 4k and kindergarten graduation, to 8th grade, high school and college, we focus on the completion of one phase in life, and the beginning of another. 

Often, graduation is a celebration, a time for proud family members to honor the accomplishments of the one moving on. Yet, having graduated a few times myself, I remember that although there was such excitement surrounding it, graduation was a scary, unsettling time as well. 

My friend was telling me about her 4-year-old daughter’s 4k graduation ceremony, which they call “Branching Out.” For her, many children from the area go to the same 4k school, but the divide out amongst four or five school districts when it’s time to go to kindergarten. My friend told me that her daughter’s name will be written on a leaf, and she will cross the stage to place her leaf on her new school’s tree, and stand with the other children who will be attending that school in the fall. I think this is a beautiful representation that allows the kids to visualize that they are not alone, and that they will have friends and support when they embark on their new journey next September. 

Even the custom in high school and college of walking across the stage and having your tassle moved from one side of your hat to another holds some comfort. It represents a passage and the acknowledgement from the institution that you have gained the required knowledge to start a new chapter in your life. 

I’m writing this today, because I’m a little jealous of all of those graduates out there. Sometimes I wish there was some sort of institution watching over me and that every few years there was a ceremony to let me know that I’ve amassed an appropriate amount of knowledge and that I’m ready for the next step in my life. I wish for the assurance that I have completed something, and am now ready to start the next project. 

I imagine I’m not the only one who wonders when the next graduation ceremony happens. Whether it’s graduating from a job that no longer fulfills you to a new more challenging opportunity, graduating from raw, all-encompassing grief over the loss of a loved one to the knowledge that it’s okay to smile again, or graduating from a relationship that no longer works and moving to a more appropriate fit – it would be nice to walk across a stage and have an audience applaud your decision and encourage you to take the next steps. 

My wish for our readers today is to know that your mind and heart know when it’s time to graduate, and it doesn’t take a stage, an audience or a ceremony. You just have to learn how to listen.

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For the second year in a row, Cathi and I took the stage to perform our tap dance for the yearly recital. It’s a culmination of all of the hard work we put in throughout the year and it’s a feat of courage.

And as happened last year, many women commented to us like “I want to take dance class”, “I’d love to be up there with you both”, and “I always wanted to learn how to tap dance”. As we encouraged them to join us, the excuses inevitably began to flow—“I don’t have time”, “I could never get up on stage”, “When I lose 30 pounds, then I’ll take class”, and “I’m not sure I could do it”.

A wise hospice patient of ours told me the greatest lesson he learned was the difference between reasons and excuses. Reasons would be like “I never wanted to dance (or fill in the blank, whatever it is)” or “That doesn’t interest me, but I would love to ______”. An excuse on the other hand keeps you from doing what you want to do. And it’s usually out of fear. I know many of you may be defending your excuses, so let me stop you and tell you a sad truth. You will not take the class or do whatever it is that you want to do when_________ happens. Remember the saying “Someday never comes”. Well it’s true.

As we were waiting in the dressing room, Cathi stated that she lives by the philosophy that if something scares her, it’s not a good enough reason to not do it. She takes those challenges head on and does it. And she’s not afraid to make a mistake. All of the kids in the recital were like that. They knew they were going to make mistakes on stage, but they were thrilled to just be doing it. Somehow as adults, we think we have to know how to do everything and be perfect at it. But we are human. We don’t learn and grow unless we attempt new things and make mistakes. Don’t let life pass you by and have regrets later that you didn’t do what you want to do (whatever that is for you).

And don’t discount small whispers to try something new. I met a widow who had never taken an art class in her life, but a small whisper within herself told her to take an art class and it has changed her life. Cathi and I had never tap danced before last year and now we are hooked. What is it you want to do?

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