Sunday, June 28, 2020

Real Life Heroes Who Don't Wear Capes


When we think of heroes the pictures above may come to our minds. Who doesn't love a story about the heroes and how they win out over the villains.

In the times that we are living in currently, there are different kinds of heroes and these heroes are around the world. When Covid-19 first started off, it was taken seriously, along the lines of the Swine Flu. This quickly became so much more than anyone could have imagined. 

Businesses and schools just closed down and many started working from their homes. Teachers did zoom lessons for their students. That was somewhat problematic when many families did not have the technical devices or wi-fi to receive the instruction. New plans were being devised throughout the rest of the school year. By appointments, parents could go to the school and just as a drive-thru restaurant, they could drive by and the teacher would pass out work packets. Businesses that could work from home certainly did. They could still gather at times throughout the day by setting up Zoom meetings.

These options were not a choice for our real life heroes who don't wear capes.

The stress that this kind of work puts on their bodies must be tremendous. I really did believe that I understood that. After witnessing this in real time, I understand it even more after this weekend.

Let me start out by saying that my husband had an issue with one of his medications. I watched him closely, in case I noticed anything strange when he told me about it earlier that evening. I watched him and did not sleep well just wondering if he was going to be ok. Until 4:30 in the morning, I truly had not seen any difference in his behavior. Then I noticed how often he was going to the bathroom and his legs started terrible cramping. Once I realized that something was not right, I called the doctor to explain what was going on, I was told that I should get him to the hospital ER immediately. She stressed that it was very important and if I was able to get him to the car, there was no need to call 911. She would call and alert the hospital that we were on our way. They would have a wheelchair for him due to his dizziness.

Sure enough, there they were, waiting for us. Of course, I could not go in and I pulled over to the parking spots nearby. The nurse said someone would call me when they knew what was happening. So all I could do was sit and worry. I was watching the line up of people in cars going to the outdoor COVID-19 testing site. Trying to stay positive, I was thinking that at least we aren't dealing with that. Plus, being optimistic that this was one of the premier hospitals in our city, and all precautions were being taken to not expose anyone to this virus so that was making me feel better. Steve had his mask on, I gave him a small container of hand sanitizer for "just in case" scenarios. Just hoping for the best.

Within an hour, Steve's ER nurse called me to tell me that they have already run some tests, have him on a saline IV to flush his system, had an EKG which was good, and some lab tests were already back showing his kidneys were ok but his magnesium and potassium levels were askew. They would be keeping him overnight because even though it was early in the morning, they knew once they got him stable, they wanted to observe him. She said that someone would continue to call and update me. When they got him to a real hospital room they would call to let me know what the room number was so that I could call him.

I had two more calls from nurses who were wonderfully calm and very informative. Only through their professionalism was I able to make it through until Steve was actually able to call me. He sounded very positive and said that the nursing staff as well as the hospital staff in general were all working above and beyond what was expected. That was a relief. I knew that if he could not be home and had to stay overnight, that once he said that he had a large screen flat tv with so many choices of great movies, that he would be able to make it through the night. He had no more cramping in his legs and no more dizziness once they started the saline solution. 

Late on Friday afternoon, definitely after 5, I received a call from the doctor's office nurse who was the one who told me to get Steve immediately to the ER. She told me that there was no way she could not call to check up and see what happened. She said she could not be worried all weekend about it. Now, that is truly above and beyond in my opinion. I thanked her for giving us such good information and thanked her again for calling to follow up on what happened. The doctor's biggest concern was that of his kidneys but they ran that test first and all checked out just fine. Plus, so did the heart tests. 

Later that night, I told Steve about her calling and he was as amazed as I was. Such care! Steve said he has seen how the staff is working, and although he is not on a COVID-19 floor, these front line health care workers are most definitely heroes without capes. They deserve one! As these health care workers come home from work, after a 12 hour shift, they have had to make major adjustments, so as to reduce the risk of spreading the virus to their families. Their young children can't run up to them and hug them until they take off their scrubs, take a shower and become 'sanitized' again.They take all necessary precautions. 

Our county has had spikes every day this week with more and more people being tested and diagnosed with this virus. The number being admitted into hospitals is staggering. Other countries are looking at the US, as if we are out of control. And, yes we are. There is no real consistent guidance or leadership. One state is opening up businesses again and others are requiring masks to be worn in public, while some people are refusing to wear masks. It seems all chaotic. Sort of reminds me of a title of the Beach Boys hit song of the early 70's :

There are several medical experts who all agree that this virus is not just going to go away on its own. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the Director for the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases has stated that until there is a vaccine we won't have it under control. Truly our health care workers are the heroes.

Our health care workers are on the front lines battling this virus, with grace and professionalism, while others refuse to listen to the medical experts and come together to help stop this monster.

Sunday, June 21, 2020

Tidy Desk or Messy Desk?


As it turns out there is really not a right or a wrong way and I try not to be too judgmental if someone has the opposite style from me. What studies have shown over the years is that whichever way we prefer our desks to be, it probably influences how we think.

Psychological Science published an article that stated for the most part those who preferred tidy desks, were ones who generally liked their whole life in a neat little box. Not necessarily OCD, which can cover a wide variety of issues, but promoting socially acceptable behaviors such as generosity, sticking to the tried and true, along with a sense of healthy eating. Definitely, one would hope that a banker would have the neater desk with all of the important documents they must deal with.  

Whereas the messy desk syndrome tended to show that these people were more open to new ideas and out-of-the-box thinking. This is definitely for those creative marketing people. Have you known people like this, yet it is remarkable that when they need a specific paper or book, they can put their hands on it right away. Different kinds of work environments generally prove this same theory. A group of researchers from the University of Minnesota examined people, regardless of personalities, to find out if an orderly environment encouraged people to act in a more socially acceptable conventional way vs a disorderly environment encouraging people to seek novelty and display unconventional ways.

Groups of people were taken to a tidy room to fill out random questionnaires, while another group were taken to a messy room. On their way out they were presented the opportunity to donate to a charity along with taking a snack of an apple or chocolate. Eighty-two percent of those in the tidy room donated some money, while forty-seven percent of those did in the messy room. The same happened with the food choice. More in the tidy room chose the apple while the messy room participants chose the chocolate. Interesting results. 

One more experiment tested creativity. Each group were asked to think of ten new uses for ping pong balls. Both groups did so. They submitted their concepts  to impartial judges who rated the ideas. The outcome was that the people in the messy room had more interesting and creative thinking about ping pong balls than the other group.

Applying some of this research to the workplace can be tricky. Usually "the disorderly environments seem to inspire breaking free of tradition, which can produce fresh insights, while the ordered environments seem to encourage convention and playing it safe." This is a quote from Kathleen Vohs, who led the University of Minnesota research team.

"Employers need to tailor the environment for the behaviors they want," suggested Joseph Redden, a co-author of this study.

Many times people are judged on their workspace, and sometimes unfairly. If your workspace is neat then sometimes that person is looked at as being less productive than a messy desk. The messy desk seems to demonstrate so much work is getting done. In reality we all should be judged on our actual productivity and work quality, not the state of our desks. We are human beings who tend to draw conclusions from what we see. Sometimes it backfires. A messy desk could make people think that the work must be a mess too. Just as a neat desk could make one think nothing is going on, when in truth, all of the work is organized and filed neatly away.

The one take away that I have from reading about tidy vs messy is that there is no one right answer. It is just not that cut and dry. There are a lot of people working from home now during the coronavirus. Sometimes this means having Zoom meetings and quite frankly, I don't want to look at someone's messy pile of papers. Offices, when they can, will provide a larger meeting room where no one is crammed into a cubicle full of a co-workers mess. This is not always possible with webinars.

What matters most of all about your workspace is your own productivity. If clutter around you slows your productivity, it is time to start tidying up. If you want your mind to feel uncluttered then it may be wise to get some control over your clutter, at least weekly. There are pros and cons of each style. In my humble opinion I think perhaps that a little of each style works best. Take a look at your own desk and ask where you fall on the spectrum. It could help change some of how you think and therefore improve your productivity. 

I like to think that I fall somewhere in the "gray" area. I like organization and things tidy, however, while working on project, I don't mind a little clutter on my desk every once in a while. 

As you can see, TIDY or MESSY is not so simple.

Sunday, June 14, 2020

See the Good in Everyone


Let me say that I will be the first to admit that I do work on trying to find the good in everyone. I try hard to not be judgmental. It is okay to agree to disagree. Before I go on with this blog, I will just say that I have been quick to fast forward Dolly Parton songs when they pop up on whatever device that I am listening to music on. In fact, I actually made a statement more than once that her kind of music was just too twangy for my taste. That simply is not a totally true statement. Some of the songs that are fun to listen to and bring good feelings to my soul are songs such as Islands in the Stream, I Will Always Love You, To Know Him is to Love Him, and 9 to 5. These are just a small sampling of songs that are not twangy country songs that she is so famous for with country music lovers. I have always prided my diverse love of music and realized that I made an unfair statement once I researched Dolly Parton.

She is a cultural icon and has a heart of gold. I remember when our granddaughters were born, the hospital had our daughter sign them up for the Dolly Parton Book Club. Once a month a free book would be mailed to them. She wanted to promote literacy. What a grand thing to do for the children of Tennessee! She named it Imagination Library.

Dolly is more than just a singer and songwriter for which she is credited with writing over 3,000 songs and has won the Grammy Award nine times. She is also an actress that started off with The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas in 1982. This gave her a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actress. Just a few of the other movies that you may have seen her in  are 9 to 5 and Steel Magnolias. She came from a humble background in East Tennessee with eleven siblings and most definitely not much money. There is even a movie about her growing up in this environment, along with the song she wrote about it, Coat of Many Colors. She was born in 1946 and got her first big musical break at age 21. The rest is history. She did marry at age 24 and has celebrated more than 50 years to the same loving husband who has stayed out of the spotlight. They have no children.

In the business world, she helped create a theme park in East Tennessee called Dollywood. There are rides and shows, of course. But the Craftsman's Valley demonstrates how to make candles, soaps, butter and other items that some families still do in the Appalachia area. Lots of fun and education for the whole family.

She is well known for being a kind person with a great sense of humor and she never takes herself too seriously. In conversations during talk show appearances, some of her words actually turned into some very famous quotes from this woman of wisdom. Above all she has helped me understand through my daily positive mantras that it is important to live a life that I am proud of without the approval of others. In the times that we are going through now I just want to see everyone love one another and to be able to live out our dreams. The world would most definitely be a better place if we all could adopt this type of mentality.

Dolly is always wanting to make people feel better about life, love, aging plus everything that falls in between. Her love of living comes from a deep inspiration within because as she says, "When I'm inspired, I get excited because I can't wait to see what I'll come up with next." Some of the following quotes come straight from her heart based on the life that she has lived.

  • "The way I see it, if you want the rainbow, you gotta put up with the rain."
  • I'm not happy all the time, and I wouldn't want to be because that would make me a shallow person. But why shouldn't I be happy? I have everything I ever wanted and more. Maybe I am simpleminded. Maybe that's the key: simple."
  • "Smile -- it increases your face value. I always just thought if you see somebody without a smile, give 'em yours."
  • "I don't know what the big deal is about old age. Old people who shine from the inside look 10-20 years younger. The magic is inside you. I just don't have time to get old."
  • ** This one is starred by me because I think it is one of my favorites: "I'm not offended by the dumb blonde jokes because I know I'm not dumb, and I'm not blonde either."
Dolly Parton believes that our world needs more kind people. She encourages others to become empowered to be and believe in themselves. I know that she helps me to keep trying to make my life better as I move through the years.

Sunday, June 7, 2020

Music is the Language of the Soul


The true language of the human soul is music. Many beautiful phrases have been created to describe what music really is all about. Words do not seem to capture the way that it touches us. Basically, what we do know is that this world would be a sad place without it.

What music means to each individual is so varied that it would be too overwhelming to even begin to describe it. I can only speak for myself and even then I can't exactly explain what music or certain songs mean to me. I only know that when I hear certain songs specific emotions come to my very being. Sometimes, even being moved to the point of tears or being transported back to a particular time in my life. They could be tears of joy and happiness or sad tears. It was the music that took me there.

Music is most definitely one of the universal languages that can be understood and enjoyed by all regardless of culture, society or other kinds of differences. Music belongs to everyone. What a great way to soothe a restless child. I know that it worked in my office as an assistant principal. I had playlists ready to play depending on what the age of the child was and how out of control he/she may have been. Think about how a mother communicates her love for her baby through lullabyes. That baby does not understand a word that is being said, but the feeling of being loved speaks volumes. 

Music was used in Steven Spielberg's 1977 movie of "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" as a form of communication between the human race and beings from another planet through musical notes. Studies have shown that plants and animals react to music also. Music therapy is used with young children all the way through older adults suffering with Alzheimer's. In fact, it dates back to the ages of Greek philosophers. It was used to calm people, especially those suffering from mental disorders. Confucius and Plato recognized how music could help keep a person healthy in mind and body. During WWII, music was accepted as a valuable tool in aiding wounded soldiers recovering from their injuries. By speaking to the soul, it counteracts negative vibes from tension and promotes relaxation from within the body.

The magic of music remains a secret. We may never understand the exact science of it...what we do understand is that it brings pleasure to all of our souls. I can remember having an outpatient surgery. I did not have to be totally under anesthesia. I used my own technique of breathing to relax, when all of a sudden, my surgeon started singing opera while he was operating on me. My eyes flew open in surprise. One of the nurses asked me if that bothered me, she would ask him to stop. Surprisingly, it did not bother me. I could feel it not only relaxing me but more than likely him too. And that is not a bad thing in my book.

Doing some research, I found some music quotes on how it heals our soul. I hope that you enjoy reading them as much as I did in finding them.

  • "Life seems to go on without effort when I am filled with music."  ~ George Eliot
  • A great song should lift your heart, warm the soul and make you feel good."  ~ Colbie Caillat
  • "Where words fail, music speaks." ~ Hans Christian Anderson
  • "Music is to the soul what words are to the mind." ~ Modest Mouse
  • "Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything."  ~ Plato
  • "One good thing about music, when it hits you, you feel no pain."  ~ Bob Marley
  • "Music is powerful. As people listen to it, they can be affected. They respond."  ~  Ray Charles
  • "Music is a language that doesn't speak in particular words. It speaks in emotions, and if it's in the bones, it's in the bones."  ~ Keith Richards
  • "I see my life in terms of music." ~ Albert Einstein
  • "Music changes, and I'm gonna change right along with it."  ~ Aretha Franklin

Next time when you are feeling down and out, put on some music to lift your spirits. Music has that power to reset our thinking.  It is an essential part of human existence. Music can make you feel happy or sad, in love or angry. Hopefully some of these quotes fueled your soul and reminded you of just how strong of an impact music has on all of us.