Running for Office again!

Dear Neighbors:

While elections may be popularity contests, governing is about doing the hard work required, every day, that our community demands and deserves. To me, part of my job is to be available- that’s why I answer your questions on Facebook, NextDoor Now, email, phone, at the grocery, and even running into you while we’re at the park. I’ll do what I can to help and get you the answers you need- because that’s what everyone should do for their friends and neighbors.

In our current contentious political environment, it’s easy to lose sight of what’s most important- living in a community that cares about each other, in good times and in bad, and rallies to make sure that people affected by tragedy know their neighbors care and want to help.  That’s not a democratic, republican or independent thing- it’s a human thing. I look at the role of Supervisor as one where I can help make sure our roads, bridges and even digital infrastructure is in good repair; where we can foster events like the Holiday Village Market to bring people together and celebrate our community while supporting local artisans and business people; and where we can deal with thorny issues like regionalism and cooperation in fire and safety, and come to a conclusion where everyone wins.

Servant Leadership. Doing what’s best, even if it’s not in your own self- interest. Helping whenever and wherever you can. It’s simple, straightforward, and it’s what I do every day.

Thanks for being a neighbor here in our wonderful, diverse community.You can read more about me, my accomplishments, and the race for Township Supervisor by clicking the button below.

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Dementia

My mother-in-law has dementia. She had been pretty good at hiding her slow cognitive decline for a long time, but gradually, not even those of us who would have preferred to be in denial could avoid the truth. We needed to move Nancy out of her home and into a community where she could receive care and help with things like remembering her medications.

I went down three years ago, at about this time of the year, to help my sister-in-law make the move and set up Nancy’s new apartment. We could bring some things- but not everything to her home. And there were a lot of things we needed to go through, deciding what needed to be saved, given to siblings, relatives, friends or simply donated or thrown out. Having been through that, cleaning out my dad’s home after he passed away, I had a little experience with it- and it’s never easy.

Nancy is now in a great community, but she will need to move into memory care soon. We can’t avoid the fact that she’s having more problems, and needs more supervision. It’s no longer that she can’t figure out how to watch TV or tell the difference between a show and commercials. It’s getting confused, getting lost, or forgetting what she’s doing. I think it can be scary for her, a lot of the time, and that’s the one thing I wish I could fix for her- make it so she isn’t scared or worried so much of the time.

I work with a senior living community for my “day job” in digital marketing, and I talk to residents who have had spouses, friends and parents who have had various forms of dementia. The stories are all similar. There is a sadness about gradually losing someone you love, while their body is still there. You get to see glimpses of them from time to time, the sense of humor, the smile, the recognition of voices, or stories- and that feels amazing. But there are times you watch them wander in the deep, dark woods of their mind, a vacant expression and a look of being lost in the middle of something like a meal, no longer sure of what they like and what they don’t, and not sure what happens next.

When we get the periodic calls that Nancy has had an incident and ends up going to the hospital or has a crisis that needs to be addressed, I feel badly that I can’t be there- she lives in Florida, close to my sister in law, and all we can do is be supportive on the phone, keep in touch, and wait for the next visit. I want to be close and help- to help Nancy as she helped me when the boys were born, coming to stay, or coming for visits and always being someone I could talk to, confide in, and ask questions. She loved all of her family unconditionally and with an acceptance of all your good points and warts- and loved them all.

I miss Nancy. She’s still here, and we can talk to her on the phone, but it’s not the same. It now feels like talking at her than with her, more and more. We look for her and rejoice when we see the real her, but those glimpses are getting farther between, and no one knows when her mind will finally just give up, I guess.

Dementia is a horrible, hard disease that is difficult for the whole family.

All I can say is never take your loved ones for granted if you can help it. They may be gone before you know it- even if they are still here. Dementia robs many people of years of joy with their family. But remember people with dementia still have feelings- they love you, and feel things deeply, even if what they say doesn’t make much sense. And if you can just go with them to the place they are every once on a while, you will get to see them again, and that is worth the trip.

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Reflection

2020 has been a crazy year. It doesn’t seem to be slowing down much, either.

The pandemic has given me time to reflect about what’s important, and what I believe.

This morning, I was thinking about how I was raised with certain core values. Others I have come to over time, but here’s a list of what’s important to me.

  • When someone is working on something, offer to help.
  • Do the best that you can- don’t take short cuts.
  • That said, don’t make the job any harder for yourself or others than it has to be.
  • There is honor in hard work. People who labor and sweat for a living deserve our respect, and their hard physical labor makes much of our life possible.
  • Do your part. Contribute. Make a difference.
  • Do work you believe in.
  • Personal integrity is important. Don’t forget that. Remember to draw the line when people are asking you to do something that puts this at risk.
  • Be kind and generous with others. Trust people to keep their word.
  • This may mean you are taken advantage of by others from time to time. Regardless, you will always know you were doing the right thing, even if they weren’t, and you’ll be able to sleep better as a result.
  • Forgiveness is important. Try not to hold a grudge.
  • Most people are doing their best every day. Sometimes their best isn’t good enough. That disappoints everyone, but mostly those who are trying but face uphill battles that we may not appreciate.
  • We all need to experiment and try new things. Not everything will be successful. But over time, if you’re observant, you get much better at designing new things and have many more successes than failures by not repeating the same mistakes over and over. Learn and Iterate.
  • When someone is nasty, they are often acting out of pain or fear. It may be a reflection of what is going on with them, not you. Try to be kind to them, even when it’s hard.
  • Turning the other cheek doesn’t require you to stay there and take it repeatedly. Get out of the way. You learned the lesson- don’t be a masochist.
  • Stand up for yourself. You teach people how to treat you by what you put up with. Draw lines when needed.
  • Remember that the words you say can leave a mark, so be careful with them, especially when dishing out frustration and anger with your kids.
  • Remember to say you are sorry. Not “sorry, but..” with a rationalization, but a heartfelt sorry and apologize when you are in the wrong or have hurt someone.
  • Tell people what you need, and even what your failings or shortcomings are. We aren’t perfect, but if you tell people where your challenges are, they are almost always understanding and can work with you and help you where you struggle. Covering up or hiding the bad stuff doesn’t make it go away. It just makes it a nasty surprise later on, when everyone figures it out, anyway.
  • Know when to talk, and when to be silent. This isn’t easy, especially when you like to think aloud.
  • Sometimes you can’t tell people everything you want to. You have to learn how to keep a confidence without keeping secrets.
  • Find people you can trust. Keep the ones you can trust completely close and cherish them. That said, don’t give people the keys to the kingdom on first meeting- trust is something you earn over time. Dole it out in doses.
  • Love people in your life unconditionally. Be there when they need you,
  • It’s ok to help even when someone doesn’t know (yet) they need it. Sometimes they don’t want to ask, because they are worried they will look weak or will feel like a burden. Spend time with them and the simple things often help the most.
  • Trust your gut- and remember, when people show you who they are, believe it the first time. But don’t let the bad apples change you completely, even if their actions leave a mark. They made those choices, not you.
  • We get to choose how to respond to events in our lives. Make good choices as often as possible.
  • Be kind to yourself. Forgive yourself. Try not to wallow. You may never forget the pain, but let it be instructive rather than destructive.
  • Look for the unexpected gifts life brings you. Even in the pandemic, I’ve learned to appreciate my kids for the adults they are becoming, and cherish the time together, even if it wasn’t what any of us chose or how we thought we would be spending this time in our lives. There is a gift even in this time of confusion and sorrow.
  • Most of all, do what you believe in. Put your money where your mouth is. Volunteer. Get involved. Work hard.
  • Show people you are determined and aren’t going to wait around and hope someone else solves the problem. If not you, who? As my friend Jennifer Iannolo says- No one is coming. You have to rely on yourself- but don’t be afraid to ask for help or guidance when you need it.

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Notes from the Trenches

I was talking to a health care worker the other day, and they mentioned that they have several types of machines to do COVID tests in the hospital. The one machine they started with has been running pretty much 24 x 7 since March. It recently broke, and the hospital won’t get a replacement until September- maybe longer. The replacement machine they were supposed to get this month, to replace the broken one, is instead being deployed elsewhere where the need is more acute.

One thing we haven’t discussed enough is how long things like testing machines run before they break down? How long can the people in charge of testing go, before they need a break or need to be replaced?

The failure of putting the defense production act into effect early means there will still be supply chain problems of testing supplies, especially as other hot spots pop up. And thinking ahead, if the Fall brings another surge, will the testing equipment and supplies be in place at that time to meet the surge, or will it come down to choosing what location has the most acute need?

In the case of rationing, we know that will likely mean people will be undiagnosed, cases untraced, and more people will be infected. We’re starting to see PPE for medical professionals run low again-because when everyone gets sick at once, they can’t maintain supplies of both human and PPE capital required.

There are also worries about what will happen with the Fall flu season. In some ways, I am hoping that if we keep up good masking and social distancing habits, the flu season should be milder than ever before- people will be keeping their low-level infections to themselves, keep up better sanitation and hand-washing practices, and all of this can help prevent the flu as well as COVID 19.

But as we see cases spoking in communities like The Villages in Florida, it’s clear that our government’s failure of planning and ability to manage the worst will leave us in a precarious position- along with the rest of the world, might I add- for the forseeable future.

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Joy and Loss

There’s a lot going on for everyone right now. We’re all struggling with new rules and parameters on things we can or should do, and things we can’t. Some people seem to look for endless loopholes to justify their personal decisions, and others just shrug and understand that a little sacrifice now helps everyone in the long term.

When Corona and a pending shut down became evident, I started sewing face masks. I wasn’t sure if my husband and his colleagues would need them, or just our friends and neighbors, but I got to work.

I had been a quilter for a while when the kids were small, and have quite a decent sewing machine. I also have a stash of fabrics I bought with dreams of various quilts to be made- some with fabrics where I just loved the colors, and others with themes from the beach or outer space- many of these did not come to be, but the wonderful and gorgeous fabrics stayed safely tucked away in my basement.

When I went down looking for fabrics to use for face masks, I discovered all these old gems- and how much I still loved them all. There’s fabric leftover from the Harry Potter quilt I did make James, and dolphins with sunglasses I got with my niece and nephew in mind. There’s Liberty of London William Morris prints, nautical prints, and lovely blues and greens that make me happy when I see them. Even after all this time, I still love all of these fabrics, but it’s now time to put them into production- not for an art project, or a quilt to keep a baby or family member warm- but to potentially save a lot of people in my community from getting sick with what could be a deadly illness.

So far, I’ve made and donated over 200 masks, and I’m still dewing. 100 went to a local retirement community, 50 to another one, a dozen to the local hospice. Some have gone to friends, neighbors, and co-workers, and others to people in the community who need them most.

My husband recognized early on that this gave me something constructive to do, and a way to try to protect everyone I know and love. I know these masks aren’t really magic, but hopefully the people they get them and wear them will know they were made with love.

Part of me is sad to give up all this beautiful fabric, collected so long ago, but the other part of me is so happy that its magic will be spread out and help even more people than I ever could have imagined buying a fat quarter here and there or a yard or half yard of this or that.

My younger self has provided for my current self in ways I could not have imagined at the time- and what may have looked like a little light hoarding now is more useful that I ever could have imagined. I’ve even donated a couple of bags of fabric and extra elastic I ordered early on to other sewers, so we can multiply the ability to produce masks for everyone who needs one.

So I spend part of my day, usually early in the morning, a bit at lunch and then after work cutting and sewing these memories to be distributed around to help as many people as possible. My son has started to help string the elastic and iron the fabric to help things go faster, so we’re getting to do this together, which is incredible. When people offer to pay, I could not even think of what to charge, so I ask them to pay it forward- help the local food bank or help someone else in turn.

After all, my younger self gave me this gift, and now it’s time to pay it forward.

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