Knowing Where You’re Going

26 08 2012

Cruising with my AAF-BR crew

I just got back from a cruise.  While it was great fun, it was a working cruise. It was an Advertising Leadership Conference. (If you ever plan a conference, this is actually more affordable than booking a hotel/convention center.)  Club leadership from the district attend and share information on how to run a successful club.  I love my ad peeps, not only do we work hard, we play hard.  As I reflect back on the past several days, I realize this cruise was the culmination of some small and large personal goals.

I also learned that while it was a great time, my sweetie Steve and I are not cruise people.  Someone accurately described it as a floating Golden Corral.  I always say to support good design, well…let’s just say the boat’s interior would make an interior designer cringe.  I’m sure with cruises you get what you pay for and this was a budget cruise, so I’m not complaining. Just saying, we have no cruise goals in future travel plans.

Goal Setting

One personal goal was to lose some weight for the cruise.  I’ve been in training for the cruise for a few months now.  I lost the weight and now that I’m back, I have to stop eating and drinking things with umbrellas in them!  The larger life goal was that I realized I’ve gotten over my intense fear of public speaking.  I’ve heard that some people fear public speaking more than death.  I was almost in that group. I’m sure I’ll get that nervous feeling again, but being prepared, knowing your subject and continuing to put myself in front of an audience has worked.  I had a plan that I’ve been working on for four years and am still continuing to work on this skill.  It’s like that diet, you just have to stick to the plan. If you stumble and you will, pick yourself up and keep moving forward.

People who know me, found it hard to believe I had this fear.  I am not shy and tend to be loud.  I know I have a laugh that can be heard above a laughing audience in a packed theater. But I had that sick feeling in my gut and I would start to sweat and I could hear myself start to ramble when I stood in front of a large group.  It was at the workshop I gave on the cruise that I discovered that I wasn’t nervous any more in front of a group.

In preparing for that workshop I combined the two things that I’m very proud of and know well; being the president of my professional organization and being a Girl Scout leader—I was my daughter’s scout leader for 13 years. I married those two things in the workshop.

On my honor, here’s what I know.

• Set goals and break it down into bite size pieces

• Award achievement

• If you don’t have a plan, you might get lost.

• If your plan isn’t working, be creative and change it. That’s what being prepared is about.

OK, this photo really doesn’t fit, I just wanted to use it.

• Anyone is more likely to succeed if they doing what they’re interested in.

• Use the resources that are available to you. Ask for help when needed, listen to others and trust your gut in making decisions.

• It is often like herding cats and not everyone plays nice in the sandbox.

•It’s not about earning the badge, it’s really about the journey to get there.

I can teach you the hand motions to Kumbaya.

• When asked to sing along, say yes and join the fun.

Girl Scout Promise

Goal setting works, not only have I become confident speaking in front of a group, last year my Ad club won Club of the Year and I got President of the Year. And I really did take my Girl Scout troop to Italy.

Me and my Girl Scouts in Italy. We sold a lot of cookies to make this trip!


An Olympian Task

12 08 2012

Woman’s Hospital 1968

Woman’s Hospital has just completed an Olympic-size event. Woman’s built and moved into a brand new facility 6 miles down the track. The move happened during the Olympics and the parallels were strong. The years of prep, especially the last four years, hard work, pushing yourself, setbacks and finally making it to the finish line. I’m part of the marketing team and my main job has been about the branding of it all. But there are so many details about something this vast that it is remarkable that it happened as smoothly as it did. It feels great to be a part of something bigger than yourself.

Four Years Ago

Four years ago marketing did a logo inventory

Marketing started four years ago to refresh our brand. Our brand had become diluted over the years. Imagine our department was an ad agency and every other department was our client. It required a shift in focus and to convince our clients that the public saw us as one entity. We created brand guidelines and started shifting to our new look for every job/campaign/patient handout and on and on.  Woman’s had to reprint everything because of the move.   Our refreshed look is now accepted internally and recognized by the public externally. The biggest logo change was to become just Woman’s, which is what the hospital was already called in the community. Our corporate colors were updated from 80’s mauve and gray to magenta and black. Any time you see magenta these days in the Baton Rouge market, you know it’s for Woman’s.   In a rather conservative healthcare market, magenta is a bold marketing move.

Old logo and new refreshed logo

Outdoor campaign

We partnered with MESH to help with the advertising connected with the move. An outdoor campaign was created that has dominated the market for nearly a year. And Digital FX was added to the team to create a commercial that reflected who Woman’s is and not just be about looking at a new shiny facility. Woman’s really is a warm and fuzzy place. It’s about to pass the 300,000 marker for babies born since it’s 1968 opening, we truly are the Birthplace of Baton Rouge.

Requiring Different Strengths

Everyone in the organization has done different things and done whatever was needed to get the job done. There were things we didn’t know that we needed to know. Someone had to make the decision what caliber of bulletproof glass to use in the pharmacy (a scary realization). And that on move day, after each patient transfer, each ambulance had to be sterilized.

Mock move simulations with complicated patient stories were created to test all systems. When staff was asked to be actors for the roles, I said, “Sure.”   They didn’t tell me that they were making me a 475 lb. bariatric patient!  My actor  “husband” was a nurse’s 16-year-old son (who was drafted as he was home with nothing to do). As admitting was checking me in, I told them I was a big ole cougar!

I also signed up for the labor pool to move equipment. The real movers kept asking me why I was there because I’m so obviously not a manual laborer. But I rolled equipment from the loading dock to the department that it belonged to and even sanitized the wheels of equipment before it was wheeled into sterilized areas.

The Big Event

Ambulances staged and ready for the move

Interviewing patients and documenting move day

We hired an award-winning, cinematographer with years of experience to help us document the event. YES, we hired my fella, Steve (and it was great to learn how well we work together).  I was the interviewer and interviewed patients and staff. We had been practicing the actual move for months and it went off without a hitch. The patients, who were our top concern, came in with big smiles on their faces and there was a real excitement and energy in the air. Patients and staff were all aware of being a part of something historic.

Like a gymnast, I fell too

The day after the move, we had a ribbon tying, That’s right, not a ribbon cutting, a tying to symbolize bringing the community together. The only glitch was me falling down bringing some VIPs to get their photo taken. Yea, can’t have a big event without me falling down. (My falling down at ADDYs was months ago).

The New Woman’s

The Finish Line

Team Woman’s crossed the finish line in top form and it did feel like winning the gold. It’s time to start thinking about that next Olympian goal. But for now, I see a drink with an umbrella in my immediate future.

The Sandwich Generation

4 08 2012

My mom, my daughter and me at a family crawfish boil.

I was born on the cusp of the baby boom. What that has meant to my life is that I have been in the middle of every trend for the past 50 years. Schools were built to accommodate my generation. I’ve been a backpacker across Europe, a YUPPY, a DINK, a New Ager, married, older parent, soccer mom, Girl Scout leader, divorced, single mom, and online dater. I’ve been upsized, downsized, done yoga, fad diets and the no-diet diet, become a foodie and lover of good wine, done self-help and life coaching and now blogging. Every time I have discovered something new, it’s the next day’s headline of the country’s latest trend.

The hardest trend I’ve been a part of was joining “The Sandwich Generation.” This is the when you’re still raising your kids while caring for aging parents.

My parent’s wedding, September 2, 1955

My mom moved in the day my dad suddenly died from a heart attack. I’m an only child and my Mom has epilepsy, so because of Mom’s health and financial resources, this was the only choice I felt I could make. While the decision was easy, the reality was more difficult. In hindsight, Mom moved in as my marriage was falling apart. My ex and I suffered from having to have the last word, which made for long, loud arguments. Mom was often in the eye of the storm. I blamed her drawing inward on our family dynamics. I really related to a comment I heard Wynona Judd make—she said her family could suck the oxygen right out of a room.

I helplessly watched Mom’s health decline. I kept expecting her to “get a life,” and found it difficult to understand when I came home from a full exhausting day to realize she had just sat in her bed doing word puzzles. I couldn’t accept the fact that that it was her life and that if all she could do was watch TV all day that it had to be OK with me. I kept thinking she would soon start to blossom in her new life. I would make list of things I thought she should do: call the Council on Aging, contact the Epilepsy foundation, join a widow’s support group. What I came realize was that all she needed was a hug and for me to allow her to just be.

On the eve of the anniversary of my Dad’s death, she got sick with a bad cold that my family all had. It had her in the hospital in 24 hours, and in 48 hours I was discussing “do not resuscitate” orders with her doctor.  The immediate crisis passed but she was eventually in the hospital for over a month. At that time, I didn’t expect her to ever be the mom I knew her to be and longed for again. I believed she was at the end of her life and the next thing I’d be planning was her funeral. During this time I continued to work full-time, taking lunch breaks at the hospital, juggling my life and family’s activities.  I came to the realization with the loving help of my family and friends that I would no longer be able to care for Mom at home when she would eventually be released. She needed constant nursing care, 24hours a day and, no matter how much I juggled, I couldn’t do it.

I started the process of finding a new home for Mom. She had little awareness of anything during this period. By the time she left the hospital she seemed to understand and seemed perfectly comfortable with all the decisions I had made for her. I found a nice nursing home less than one mile from my house. And soon, I had her furniture, pictures and clothes in her new room.

She has made a recovery that no one expected. She slowly regained her strength and with the stabilization of 24-hour nursing care, her seizures have almost disappeared. She’s now got a boyfriend. She says she has no interest in getting married, but she did make her fiancé buy her an engagement ring. While still frail, she is once again the smart, clear-minded, feisty woman who loves to be outrageous and the center of attention. Most importantly, she got that life I was hoping for.

My Mom and me, 1961

She recently gave me a gift that I didn’t know I needed.  Even though I know she is in the best place for her I still had a deep hidden seed of guilt that I hadn’t done enough for her.  Then one evening my daughter and I dropped by. My daughter, Mom, her nurse and I were all looking at a bunch of cats that people had abandoned behind the nursing home. Mom said that she felt that there were some people at that home who were like those cats…abandoned. And that maybe God had wanted her to reach this stage in her life, so she could be there for someone who didn’t have anyone.  And I thankfully realized that Mom had reached another place in her life’s journey, just as I had.

And me…I’ve found love again with a widower. As my daughter grew up and moved out and I became an empty nester, he moved in. Yeah, over 50-somethings not bothering to get married, that’s yet another trend I’m part of.