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Our facility, like everyone else, is on lock down  and we are only doing 1:1 visits. Can you give me some guidance on how I should construct April’s calendar? I work in a skilled nursing unit and have it all planned but, obviously, will not be able to implement it. I am concerned about meeting the requirements of providing a calendar, not knowing how long our restrictions will continue, and how to word things on my calendar. I am working on different ways to provide 1:1 program, and will certainly put on the April calendar that the activity schedule is subject to the status of the virus. Is it OK to put only “All Day One to One Visits” everyday on the calendar? Your advise would be most appreciated. Thank you, and be safe out there!

The other day I was taking attendance and I called out “Luke”.  I called a second time, as I was looking around the room for him.  Suddenly, I hear laughter in front of the room, as Luke was setting literally right in front of me and I hadn’t seen him.  Why does that happen do you suppose?  That quite often we do not see what is RIGHT IN FRONT of our eyes?  It is as if our brains are searching for the item, person, place or thing, yet our perspective has limited us to a certain space.  Kind of the needle in a haystack concept… “ impossible search for something relatively tiny, lost or hidden in something that is relatively enormous – the first use of this expression, and its likely origin, is by the writer Miguel de Cervantes, in his story Don Quixote de la Mancha written from 1605-1615 (quora.com).  You know when you search for that lost earring back, and someone else walks right up and finds it immediately?  It’s all about perspective.  We were reading out of a math book the other day, and this student said “wow, Ms. B.  do you see the heart?”  I looked and looked but only saw the colorful cover of the book.  Then he pointed it out to me and said “gee it was right there!”.  He was indeed correct.  As we continued to look, each of the characters on the cover had a “hidden” heart on them.  This simply reminded me that no matter what we are looking for; an answer, love perhaps, an item or whatever, that often it can be right in front of us, and we just didn’t see it. 

The traditions of Valentine’s Day are broad and many. It is a time to exchange cards or small gifts. Chocolates, flowers, jewelry, and romantic dinners are the big hits of this holiday. It is a romantic event for lovers, and a fun event for kids and family. Many couples become engaged or marry on Valentine’s Day. For others, it is a day to fall in love.

The roots of Valentine’s Day go back to ancient times, when people paid honor to the Roman God of Fertility. This was known as the Feast of Lupercalia and was celebrated even then on February 14th. St. Valentine is the patron saint of Valentine’s Day.  In the early days of the Roman empire Christianity was discriminated against. Christian marriages were forbidden at that time. St. Valentine, then the Bishop of Rome, continued to preach Christianity and to perform Christian marriages. He was imprisoned for disobeying the emperor. While in prison, he continued writing letters and even converted convicts in jail to Christianity. He befriended Julia, the daughter of the jailer. When the emperor Claudius discovered that he was still preaching Christianity from his jail cell, he was executed (270A.D.). In his last letter to the jailer’s daughter before his execution, he signed it “From your Valentine”, which is where this holiday then got its name.

The custom of sending Valentines to each other may have come from the thought process of February 14th being thought to be the first day of bird’s mating for the season.

So, amidst all the chocolates and the red ribbon, bows and cards, remember to stop and think about those that came before us, and once again, sacrificed so that we could have the freedoms and the liberties that we have today.  To celebrate how and with whom we wish, without fear of repercussion. 

Me and my Shadow

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As we all know, the prediction of the next six weeks of weather rests on America’s most famous groundhog, Punxsutawney Phil.  Will he see his shadow which will gives us six more weeks of winter?  Or will he not see his shadow, like this year, which means an early spring?  The roots of Groundhog Day go all the way back to a different celebration, the Christian feast day of Candlemas, a day celebrated exactly half way between the winter solstice and the spring equinox.  On February 2, Christians traditionally bring candles to their local church to be blessed, which in turn bring light and warmth to the home for the remainder of winter. Germany created its own interpretation of Candlemas and incorporated hedgehogs into the lore.  As German immigrants arrived in America and settled in what is now Pennsylvania, Candlemas is one of the customs they brought with them. Because hedgehogs are native to Europe and didn’t exist in the wild in North America, the German settlers searched for another burrowing animal and found the groundhog. (Wikipedia) In thinking about the pros and cons of a longer winter or an earlier spring, it brings to mind a conversation I recently had with a pastor, who mentioned that he “prayed for NO rain as the church had an outdoor picnic planned that particular day.”  I followed it with a question that led into an extensive conversation about perspective of weather.  What if that same day of the outdoor picnic, a farmer may need rain for his crops?  He then would be praying/hoping for rain, so which would be best?  The same goes for Groundhog’s Day.  The children’s book, “Groundhog’s Dilemma” (Remenar) outlines so nicely, the animals that hibernate might like more sleep (six more weeks of winter) and those animals that like the spring air and warmer weather may not.  It’s all about perspective.  For Phil, he simply calls it like he sees it!

Lighting the Way

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VAAP salutes all the activity professionals out there that indeed are “Lighting the Way”!!! Celebrating “National Activity Professional Week” is a special way to honor and appreciate all of you that dedicate your lives and your vocation to the field of activities and recreation. While there are numerous ways in which your administrator/staff can recognize you, one way that would be so significant is if they supported your attendance at your states annual activity conference. It’s a way of rejuvenating, reconnecting and relaxing with your peers. Those that understand the ins and outs of the profession and the challenges that you might be facing on your day to day journey at your facilities. Please feel free to share how you were honored and recognized at your facility for all your efforts and contributions to the field. VAAP Salutes you.

Time Flies

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The expression ‘Time flies’ originates in a Latin proverb (which means, literally ‘time flees’) derives from the poetic works of an ancient Roman author called Virgil. This idiom was first recorded about 1800 but Shakespeare used a similar phrase, “the swiftest hours, as they flew,” as did Alexander Pope, “swift fly the years.” (Dictionary.com).  Typically when we stay busy with activities or work, spend time with friends and family or are on vacation/holiday the time seems to go by pretty quickly, yet when we are eager to be done with the day or wanting to get something “over with”, time seems to drag instead.  A person can experience BOTH in the same day.  The morning might fly by and the afternoon may slow down or vice versa.  In a recent conversation the person I was conversing with stated that “the years are flying by however the days are so long.”  This individual lost their spouse 10 years ago, but their day seems to have 48 hours in it rather than 24.  One thing is for certain, we cannot get back time, so we’d be wise to spend it accordingly. One of my favorite books, I came across a few years ago while having coffee at a Starbucks in Florida is entitled “The Traveler” by Daren Simkin.  While a very short story, its message is so immensely meaningful.  It discusses a boy named Charlie who is discontent at home, so he packs his suitcase full of “time” and sets off to find the “perfect” place in which to spend it.  He travels all over the world to several different places until he finds himself back at home, now an elderly man, regretting the fact that he didn’t spend his time wisely, but rather he lost it all along the way.  He was able to share this life lesson with others, which in turn has allowed me to share it with all of you.  Enjoy your time, even if its in small segments or short moments throughout each day.  You will be glad you did! 

I saw on Facebook today, the statement “I have already decided that 2020 is going to be ridiculously amazing!” I LOVED this statement. It made me smile and also gave me the inspiration for this blog. Thanks Natalie, you continue to be an inspiration! What a GREAT proclamation. Traditionally many people resolve to start something new, turn over a new leaf, or complete a task they have been putting off for some time, effective January 1st, of each New Year. The ancient Babylonians are said to have been the first people to make New Year’s resolutions, some 4,000 years ago. They made promises to the gods to pay their debts and return any objects they had borrowed. These promises could be considered the forerunners of our New Year’s resolutions (History.com). Personally I make daily goals for myself, and bigger goals to aim for throughout each year, rather than to wait for one set date as a reason to “start”. Why “put off” focusing on that “thing” that you wish to begin or accomplish? On a recent airline trip, I had the privilege of setting next to this amazing woman who lost her husband of 40 years a couple months back who spent the entire flight sharing all the things that she wished she “would have done” while he was still alive. The trips, the adventures, the special times that they were hoping to share “some day”, that now will never have the chance to come to fruition. She told me “she wished that she could have the attention of the people in this country, and every country for that matter, to tell them to live their lives now, and not put things off as today is a for sure thing and tomorrow is not.” Someone once said the following to me that I’d like to share with you… “May your worst day in 2020 be no less than your BEST day in 2019”

You are the Gift

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With the holiday season in full force, many people are running around trying to find that “perfect” gift, last minute gift or an item on their children’s wish list.  For many years, my children and I have not exchanged gifts, but rather we donate what we would have spent on purchases to charities such as Operation Smile and Giving Tree projects.  We enjoy the time together playing games, cooking, watching movies and simply sharing the time.  Like most, I usually give to my service providers; i.e. the mailman, UPS/Fedex drivers and hairdresser.  When I arrived at my hair appointment, I realized I had inadvertently left my stylists gift at my home.  I shared with her, that I had forgotten her gift and I would bring it the next time I came, and she replied with the words “YOU are the Gift.”  Besides being an extremely thoughtful thing to hear, I also found the words very meaningful, especially at this time of year.  At school, a fellow staff member put a key in everyone’s mailbox with a note that read “YOU are the key to our students’ success.”  Again, a simple yet profound gift.  However, you choose to celebrate, and whomever you spend the time with, you are wished the happiest of times. 

At this time of year, we frequently see the “bell ringers” in front of the store fronts, or the charities asking for donations for their causes.  I often feel guilty if I don’t donate, yet I can’t give to each charity that asks as my personal funds do not afford that.  The question then becomes, “which charity should I donate to?”  The concept of giving and not taking can be foreign to some, while being most familiar to others.  People can “give” in so many ways that are not monetary.  One of the best gifts can be that of time.  The holidays can be a very lonely time for those that do not have any family, especially when they see others celebrating with their loved ones.  While I understand that we are all busy with our jobs and lives, and even more so at this time of year, perhaps we can make an effort to seek out one person to share some time with that otherwise wouldn’t have anyone.  I recently saw a commercial that shows neighbors giving each other “gifts” on their doorsteps, anonymously, that spreads moments of joy.  I tried that concept out at my job last week.  I dropped off a simple treat on the desk of a few other teachers.  It warmed my heart to see their reactions.  The smiles and excitement that followed was worth the effort.  The concept quickly spread, and by weeks end several of the teachers had shared gifts and treats with each other.  JOY can come from even the simplest of gestures, not just at the holidays but all year long. 

Unconditional love is known as affection without any limitations, or love without conditions.

Often I hear people say to each other “ Oh, I love you unconditionally”, yet the moment they do not love or appreciate what the person is doing, or the direction that they are going with their life, they start judging and NOT actually loving “unconditionally.”  I saw a quote recently on a website (your tango.com) “Actual love, as in unconditional love.  It doesn’t mean that you love everything about the person.  It means you don’t need them to be different than they are for you to be happy.” 

In our day to day lives, in our workplaces, with our family and client involvement, we seem to be able to interact with them lovingly with NO conditions.  If they have a disability, or an ailment, or a behavior, we continue to work with them, care about them and assist them in meeting their goals and having meaningful life experiences throughout the day.  When it comes to “friends” and family perhaps that isn’t always the case.  Seems sometimes that tolerance levels may be different in our personal lives versus our professional lives.  Perhaps that can be the goal for the upcoming months, to work on acceptance of a person/persons that we may have had an intolerance for in the past.  Recognizing that we are all individuals.  In the meantime, we have those special critters in our lives to remind us that for some, its truly just affection without any conditions…