You may say I’m a dreamer But I’m not the only one

“You may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will be as one”

~~ John Lennon

Baby circus elephants spend the first year of their lives tethered to a stake in the ground by a 6-foot length of rope around their leg.  After that, a trainer can control them with a thin nylon cord tied to the same leg because the elephant thinks it can’t go any farther than the rope allows.

How many good people feel tethered to caregiving jobs, having personal desires for the future, but feeling hopeless and helpless, directed by the ringmaster – disempowered and unable to break free to grow, learn, and explore their own dreams and aspirations?

Four years ago we had a dream for our company, and we had goals to create a Senior Housing Organization guided by goodness, loyalty, faith, and fun.  It has been a successful and a beautiful journey, growing and learning together personally and collectively.   Like many senior housing companies, while we have had rewarding successes, we have also struggled with the employee retention dilemma in some of our communities.

Our executive leadership has attended conferences and webinars, read books, brainstormed at corporate retreats, studying the numbers, and taking a hard look at employee retention strategies. Some of us have read the book by Matthew Kelly, Dream Manager.  Kelly says,  “An organization can only become the best-version-of-itself to the extent that the people who are driving that organization are striving to become better-versions-of-themselves.”    From Kelly, I got new insight and raised questions.

We have defined our company hopes, dreams, and aspirations – What are the dreams of our care teams?

We are imagining how our team members would feel about a recruitment, hiring, and onboarding process where they  not only learn about the vision, mission, values, and expectations of the new company they are joining – but are also invited to share their own hopes, vision, values, and dreams  for their own lives. Paying a fair wage, employee appreciation programs and bonus structures are all good. But the bottom line is that our leaders must connect heart-to-heart with our teams.  To do that, we must become well-known to one another.

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Care team members at Desert Peaks Assisted Living, Las Cruces, New Mexico

All of us want to work in places

  • Where we feel immediately part of a nurturing team.
  • Where we are excited about making a significant impact on the world.
  • Where we are working and playing with people who have our back.
  • Where we are sharing our personal dreams and goals with the organization and one another.
  • Where we are encouraged and supported to reach for our dreams to be the-best-version-of-ourselves.

Finding a way to create an environment that helps employees-become-the-best-version-of-themselves – while at the same time growing each Senior Housing Community to-be-the-best-version-of-itself may seem like the purposes are diametrically opposed.  But they are actually complementary.

We can ask “What is the purpose of the employee?”   most would answer, “to help the company achieve its purpose.”  But this actually misses the point.

The employee’s purpose is to become the best-version-of- him-or-herself.  Popular opinion is that the people exist for the company.  The truth is that the company exists for the employee.

A new breed of company loyalty

Years ago, company loyalty was based on hanging around for a certain number of years in order to get a pension or a benefit.

Matthew Kelly says “The new breed of company loyalty will be built on the principle of ‘adding value.’ An employee is responsible for adding value to the life of the company, and the company is responsible for adding value to the life of the employee.” 

As a leader, I am not here simply to motivate, set expectations, produce results, and inspire.  I do this, certainly – but my greater goal (and dream) is to add value – to help my company and our employees to thrive!

I believe there is wisdom in Matthew Kelly’s observation that people who are driving organizations must be striving to become better-versions-of- themselves.  We as transformational leaders are looking to unleash the power of our teams, connecting them with our company’s vision, mission, purpose, and dreams. – and helping each person set goals for their own dreams, achieving more than they ever thought possible.  It’s a win-win!

When a company forgets that it exists for its customers, it quickly goes out of business.  Our employees are our first customers and our most influential customers.    Our company can only become the best-version-of-itself to the extent that we as leaders are striving to become better-versions-of-ourselves.”  


About the Author: Jean Garboden is the Director of Education and Innovation at Compass Senior Living, located in Eugene Oregon. Jean is an Elder Advocate and Eden Alternative Educator with over 30 years’ experience in not-for-profit and for-profit healthcare organizations. She is honored to lead the mission and values culture development for Compass Senior Living. Jean lives in Las Vegas, Nevada where she enjoys the weather and volunteers with the Nevadans for the Common Good, advocating for caregivers and elders in southern Nevada.

 

Wisdom from Annie – Give life a second chance

Annie G lives at Peachtree Village Retirement Community in Roswell New Mexico and is our guest author today.

Annie teaches us that hearts can bloom suddenly bigger, and that love can open like a flower out of even the hardest places.  Annie is a beautiful woman who has experienced trials, struggles, loss and has found her way out of the depths.  It’s about overcoming obstacles; that’s the key to happiness.

Giving Life A Second Chance: Believing In Yourself And The Power Of Love – Annie G.

I often think about how I got to where I am today and how somehow everything that has happened, big or small in my lifetime has made me a better, happier, wiser and stronger person.

Now, this is coming from someone who’s lost a parent, struggled with depression and suicidal thoughts among a boatload full of other things. If you have ever heard the saying, “you can learn and grow from every experience,” I want you to know that this is indeed true.

When I look back to some of the hardest moments of my life, I can tell you that honestly each of these experiences has taught me some of the most important things you’ll ever learn:

  • Love can heal.
  • There are good people out there if you allow them in.
  • Memories of loved ones live on forever.
  • You cannot love anyone until you love yourself.
  • You alone are good enough.
  • Words can kill.
  • Friendship is sometimes bitter sweet.
  • You cannot please everyone.
  • And most of all, never settle or give up because life is a journey full of roadblocks and failures but the best comes when you refuse to let one closed door break you down and acknowledge that there is a purpose for everything.

When people ask my age, I say, “I’m 14 turning 15 in September!”

Whenever I tell people my story, they often ask me “Why are you so resilient? How can you be so strong?  What makes you so positive?” I usually laugh or smile in response. The truth is sometimes you don’t have a choice.

When you fall into really bad situations, you cannot waste a second feeling sorry for yourself. You have to survive, build a wall around yourself and push on.

Whenever people ask me, “How did you get through losing your dad at such a young age?” I always say “Sometimes you don’t get through it.” There were so many days when I couldn’t get out of bed. I was a mess always breaking down and other times I felt nothing at all. Grief spiraled me into so many different directions. Sometimes I felt like I wasn’t living, just floating around like a lifeless fish.

For me, I found peace and happiness through the kind hearts of friends, teachers, counselors and other who kept me going.

Even though I still struggle with grief and many insecurities, I find so much joy in knowing that I have a purpose. I am meant to do amazing things, not just because that’s what my dad wanted, but because I know that I am good enough.

I want anyone out there who may be at a bad point in their lives or have been through similar experiences to know that life isn’t all a dark cloud.

There is light at the end of every tunnel and sometimes the rainbow you were looking for was right in front of you all along. Never ever give up on yourself because I promise you that there are people out there who care.

You are meant to be who you are. So never give up on your dreams or your goals.

Picture this – all of the hard stuff you’ve gone through is not what powers the stove. They are rather minor parts of the elements on the stove top that allow you to run smoothly. Their experiences do not define or dictate who you are. Never forget your past or where you came from but use them as motivation to be a better person.


Thanks to the Author:

We are grateful for the wisdom of Annie and the gift of her life-lessons.

In ancient times, the Elders carried the wisdom of the tribe. In today’s world that tribe is fractured and dispersed, as families are more transitional, and may not have elders to call upon.  The world needs the wisdom of our elders more than ever!

I have discovered a nonprofit organization named ElderWisdomCircle™ that was made possible in part through a generous grant from Google.

Jean Garboden, Director of Education & Innovation at Compass Senior Living

The Elder Wisdom Circle is an online inter-generational program pairing advice seekers with a network of seniors (“Elders”) who provide free and confidential advice on a broad range of topics.  Their mission is:

  • Provide an opportunity for all seniors to utilize their life experience and wisdom to help others.
  • Offer thoughtful and helpful advice to younger generations.
  • Elevate the value and worth of our senior community.

I encourage you to ask advice of the elders around you. If you work in senior housing, you have a lot of opportunities to learn. Or you may meet an elder at the supermarket or in your church. Most are willing to support your growth.  You may be surprised to learn that elders are still growing, and learning and evolving…just as we all are!

If you are an elder, I invite you to share your wisdom as a True North Elder in this forum as well.   You may contact me by email to submit a story.

Youth and Elders transformed and connected – Music makes Memories!

Isaac, student intern:”Music is an important part of my life,. When I am feeling down, music inspires me and takes me to another place. Giving music to elders is such a small gift of kindness with a powerful impact. Every elder deserves music in their lives!”

Isaac is a sophomore in high school.  He is interested in music and science and is fascinated by the power of music and how it improves his own sense of well-being as he plays guitar or listens to his tunes.    Isaac and I and another student, Bella partnered as student interns for high school credit on a Compass Senior Living project. This was inspired by the documentary Alive Insidewhich features  Olver Sacks, a neuroscientist, studying the impact of music on the limbic brain.

The Administrator and Life Enrichment Coordinator at Sundial Assisted Living in Redding California invited us to partner with them.  They recruited Eli a young volunteer who plays guitar to work with us so that the program could continue after Isaac and Bella left.

Isaac and Bella interviewed elders and worked all evening creating the play lists and downloading them onto mp3 players.  The next day they brought the headphones and the tunes. The smiles and evoked memories continued for days.

Isaac and Billie

Amy, the Business Services Director at Sundial Assisted Living said, “Billie came into my office this morning to tell me about how amazed she is at our brains. She started thinking about all the songs she has stored in her brain and the marvel is that they are all there after all these years. She also shared how much she enjoyed interacting with Isaac. Talking about music made her start thinking about other things… like who the members of the Rat Pack were. She even got into a conversation with another resident this morning about it and he helped her remember the one she was missing. I love it that she is walking around excitedly celebrating the wonder of music and memory and that the interactions of the last couple of days have stirred in her a desire to talk and think more about how music has played a significant role in her life.”


Another Compass Senior Living community in Las Cruces New Mexico, Desert Peaks Assisted Living & Memory Care has begun the process of implementing the Music Makes Memories Program.  Life Enrichment Coordinator, Adriana Garcia prepared this 3-minute video of what they are discovering!  WATCH THIS VIDEO!

The secret key to evoking memory actually emerges in the discussions with the elders AFTER listening to their playlist.

Adriana Garcia, Life Enrichment Coordinator

“Watching the transformations in the elders was breathtaking. Having watched ‘Alive Inside,’ I was already moved by what I had seen; but having it unfold before my eyes, with residents that I spend every day with, sent shock waves of emotion through me. It’s almost as though, just briefly, they were back to their old selves again. They knew who they were, where they had been, who they have known, and it was beautiful. The son of one of our residents who saw the video we made was taken aback. He couldn’t believe that she could remember something that had taken place when he was only 2 years old. His reaction was powerful, and it was incredibly special to be able to share these moments with him. I’m so grateful for this program and very excited to continue on this journey. The next obvious step is involving the families of the residents more and giving them this gift to use at any given time. I would encourage anyone to try this with their loved ones who may be suffering from memory loss. You can’t really appreciate the impact has until you are right there with them.”  Adriana Garcia, Life Enrichment Director


To learn more about the Music Makes Memories program, contact Jean Garboden

About the Author: Jean Garboden is the Director of Education and Innovation at Compass Senior Living, located in Eugene Oregon. Jean is an Elder Advocate and Eden Alternative Educator with over 30 years’ experience in not-for-profit and for-profit health care organizations. She is honored to lead the mission and values culture development for Compass Senior Living. Jean lives in Las Vegas, Nevada where she enjoys the weather and volunteers with the Nevadans for the Common Good, advocating for caregivers and elders in southern Nevada.

 

The day of the eclipse August 21, 2017

st louis eclipse path

I was traveling to St. Louis by plane the day of the eclipse, as the path of totality began its journey across the United States.     St. Louis got literally sliced in half by the path of totality, and the airport and the Arch did not get totality.

My plane landed at 1:00 pm, and I knew totality would be at 1:18.   I ran through the airport, past baggage claim and outside where people were looking up.   It was bright and sunshiny.   I  took my eclipse glasses out of my briefcase and stood with the onlookers.  I was able to see the eclipse as the moon covered most of the sun. Several of us started sharing our eclipse glasses with one another.   Everyone was very quiet.   There were only a few seconds when the light dimmed.  A great moment!

I was headed to Illinois where we have 5 Assisted living communities in Waterloo, Columbia, Red Bud, and Millstadt.  The residents and the employees celebrated the eclipse with gusto.  A once-in-a-lifetime experience for employees, families, and our 80 and 90-year-old residents!

The path of totality started in Oregon, where our home office, Compass Senior Living is located.  While our Eugene office was not in the path of totality, one of our new construction projects, Juniper Springs Senior Living, located in Redmond Oregon was.

For the elders, families, and our employees in Oregon, California, Arizona, New Mexico, Wisconsin, and Illinois – we will always remember where we were during the 2017 United States Eclipse!

KEEP WATCHING THE VIDEO.  AT ABOUT 15 SECONDS, YOU WILL BEGIN TO SEE THE PATH OF TOTALITY OVER REDMOND, OREGON


About the Author: Jean Garboden is the Director of Education and Innovation at Compass Senior Living, located in Eugene Oregon. Jean is an Elder Advocate and Eden Alternative Educator with over 30 years’ experience in not-for-profit and for-profit health care organizations. She is honored to lead the mission and values culture development for Compass Senior Living. Jean lives in Las Vegas, Nevada where she enjoys the weather and volunteers with the Nevadans for the Common Good, advocating for caregivers and elders in southern Nevada.

 

 

Adios and thank you, Glen Campbell for teaching us to ‘Try a little kindness” 1936-2017

Glen Campbell, the upbeat guitarist from Delight, Arkansas, whose smooth vocals and down-home manner made him a mainstay of music and television for decades, has died, his family announced on Facebook on Tuesday. He was 81. In 2012 he wrote and recorded his last new song, Adios.

He inspired us in many ways and showed us in the last few years that those living with Alzheimer’s are whole, complete beings who can inspire and teach us.   Go to his Facebook page to say goodbye.  And in gratitude for his life, let’s all show a little kindness.

If you see your brother standing by the road
With a heavy load from the seeds, he’s sowed
And if you see your sister falling by the way
Just stop and say, you’re going the wrong way
You got to try a little kindness
Yes show a little kindness
Just shine your light for everyone to see
And if you try a little kindness
Then you’ll overlook the blindness
Of narrow-minded people on the narrow-minded streets”


 


About the Author: Jean Garboden is the Director of Education and Innovation at Compass Senior Living, located in Eugene Oregon. Jean is an Elder Advocate and Eden Alternative Educator with over 30 years’ experience in not-for-profit and for-profit health care organizations. She is honored to lead the mission and values culture development for Compass Senior Living. Jean lives in Las Vegas, Nevada where she enjoys the weather and volunteers with the Nevadans for the Common Good, advocating for caregivers and elders in southern Nevada.

“Every time an old person dies, a library burns to the ground.”

“If history were taught in the form of stories, it would never be forgotten.”– Rudyard Kipling

The Power to Transform

Stories have power. They delight, enchant, touch, teach, recall, inspire, motivate, and challenge. They help us understand. They imprint a picture on our minds. Our storytelling ability, a uniquely human trait, has been with us as long as we’ve been able to speak and listen. Not only do people love to tell stories, people love to hear stories!

Listen to this tiny story of Betty Meeks, who lives at Peachtree Village in Roswell New Mexico.  What a wonderful tiny story from Mrs. Meeks’ library of her lifetime! (read the transcription below the story)


Betty Meeks, storyteller

Rusty, Dusty, and the shoe

I named the story “Rusty, Dusty, and the shoe.”

Betty Meeks Tiny Stories-page-001[1]I taught first grade and one day, while the children were out playing during the lunch hour I was in my room grading papers. One of my little girls came in crying and I asked her what was wrong. She said, “Rusty and Dusty got my shoe and threw it over the fence!’

So I went out with her and I went over into the vacant lot and got her shoe, brought it back and gave it to her. I was not saying a word to the boys. They had seen me come out, so they knew that I knew what had happened.

So I let them play, and when the bell rang to come in and resume classes I brought my children in, got the rest of the class seated, and assigned them some spelling words to work on. Then I took the two little boys, which were identical twins down to the Principal’s office. They stood before the Principal’s desk, and I stood beside them and told the Principal what had happened. Then I stepped behind them because I wanted him to have their full attention.

So he said, “Did you really do that to Julie?” One little twin said, “Oh we didn’t, we didn’t,” and the other one popped in and he said, “Oh yes we did!” I was so shocked and amused that I had to clamp my hand over my mouth to keep from laughing out loud.

Well, the Principal went ahead and reprimanded the children, and I think he gave them a swat. Then he said, “You boys go back to your room and sit down and get to work, I want to talk to your teacher.” And so they left, and the Principal said, “Mrs. Meeks, in the future, when you bring children down, please do not stand behind them and laugh. Couldn’t you tell how hard it was for me to keep a straight face?” I said, “Yes, I saw it.” Well, we both had a good laugh and I went back to my class.


“Every time an old person dies, a library burns to the ground.”  African Proverb

The Elders are truly ‘human libraries’  with stories ripe for harvesting! I just got back from a community in Illinois and was captivated by the tiny stories I heard.

We have a unique opportunity to harvest the wisdom, the humor, and memories we hear every day. We are in relationship with elders who have journeyed almost a full century on this planet. Through their stories, we connect with one another while giving our resident storytellers the opportunity to reconnect with what was once taken for granted. We give them the opportunity to share their memories for generations to come. And, the tiny stories can be preserved forever in digital media and libraries.

Through the simple process of capturing these adventures, challenges, and wisdom acquired on their life journey –  we create a profoundly enriching experience for both the storyteller and the recorder.


To hear more tiny stories from Elder Storytellers around the United states go to the Tiny Stories Page, and get ready to smile, and be filled with the legacies of elderhood preserved here.

If you are interested in preserving your own tiny stories, or the stories of someone you love, please contact me, and I will be happy to help you save your library of tiny stories too!


About the Author: Jean Garboden is the Director of Education and Innovation at Compass Senior Living, located in Eugene Oregon. Jean is an Elder Advocate and Eden Alternative Educator with over 30 years’ experience in not-for-profit and for-profit health care organizations. She is honored to lead the mission and values culture development for Compass Senior Living. Jean lives in Las Vegas, Nevada where she enjoys the weather and volunteers with the Nevadans for the Common Good, advocating for caregivers and elders in southern Nevada.