Jun 2, 2017

Lessons Learned Part 21

We learn and adapt our behavior in the small things we do and notice every day. In 2017, I'm keeping track of these tiny lessons and adaptations in my life.

It's Good to Ask for Help
My foster son moved to his aunt's home this week and while I'm very happy that he's able to reunite with his family, he leaves a big, quiet hole for me to fill and lots of questions about how to handle these new relationships I have with his family. I attended a support group this week that was one of the best things I've done all year. I didn't even speak but hearing the viewpoints and advice foster parents are able to give one another felt refreshing and, well, helpful. 

Keep Asking Why
Critical thinking skills are so mandatory these days that I have to remind myself to continue questioning my own opinions about everything I read and see. For example, this week I learned that we all view FL (myself included, though I am a native Floridian) as a state full of people who act silly. We love to poke fun at Florida Man but we only know about him because of Florida's extremely progressive open government policies. The question isn't, "why is Florida so crazy?" but should be, "Why don't we know about the crazy happening in every other state?" 

Time to Sharpen Those Coping Skills
After the transition of my foster son from my home to his aunt's home this week, we had planned for me to watch him twice this week to ease his transition (and mine). Unfortunately this plan got canceled at the very last minute - i.e. after I was already at the meeting place, had made dinner for him, scoped out activities, and prepared and brought a snack - and so I was left in a puddle of disappointment at not getting to see my favorite 2 year old. I gave myself about 10 minutes to just feel sad and then had to move on and accept without placing blame. I wish I could have made it through without a sob, but I'll get there one day. 

Keep Trying New Skills
I am pretty good at baking bread after practicing one recipe a bunch of times, so I took it to the grill this week to see if it would work. Did it? Kind of, but it wasn't my best batch. A bit scorched on the outside and underdone on the inside, but still tasty. I shared a few pieces with various friends who stopped by and they all (said they) enjoyed it. 

Previous Lessons Learned
Part 20
Part 19
Part 18
Part 17
Part 16
Part 15
Part 14
Part 13
Part 12
Part 11
Part 10
Part 9
Part 8
Part 7
Part 6
Part 5
Part 4
Part 3
Part 2
Part 1

May 26, 2017

Lessons Learned Part 20

We learn and adapt our behavior in the small things we do and notice every day. In 2017, I'm keeping track of these tiny lessons and adaptations in my life.

Be Brave
I read a book to my foster son called I Am So Brave every day. It's really helped him whenever he enters a new situation to have a pep talk and to remember that he's brave. It's a lesson I could use, too. We Facetime with his mom nearly every day and I still get nervous every time. I'm sure she does as well. This week I'll have to make a new relationship with my foster son's aunt, who he'll be moving in with at the end of this week. There's so much potential for everything to go right and everything to go wrong and everything in between, but nothing happens until I'm brave enough to reach out and make it happen. 

Do It Even If It Hurts
Becoming a foster parent was not a light willy-nilly decision, but nothing could prepare me for the joy and the sadness and the confusion and uncertainty it has brought to each day. This week will be bittersweet because he's leaving my home to be with relatives. It's good for him but selfishly it will be excruciating bc I will miss him so much. I think it's worth it to do this, though. I am proud that I was brave enough to say yes and to leave myself open to this vulnerability. 

What About Bob is Still Relevant
It's one of my all-time favorite movies. Someone at a high level work meeting brought it up today in the context of us as an organization needing to take baby steps towards all our goals. Otherwise the organization freaks out and can't get anything done. 




Previous Lessons Learned
Part 19Part 18
Part 17
Part 16
Part 15
Part 14
Part 13
Part 12
Part 11
Part 10
Part 9
Part 8
Part 7
Part 6
Part 5
Part 4
Part 3
Part 2
Part 1

May 19, 2017

Lessons Learned Part 19

We learn and adapt our behavior in the small things we do and notice every day. In 2017, I'm keeping track of these tiny lessons and adaptations in my life. 

Leave Room for Creative Connections
This week I had the honor of participating in a Swedish Embassy disaster risk reduction workshop where the subject of interviewing survivors came up - a known key to improving disaster response and preparedness. It dawned on me that we could use the same technique in cancer by interviewing patients who did join a clinical trial to find out more about their journey. I don't think it's been done. 

Again With the Strategic Patience
My foster son teaches me so much and he surprised me twice this week. I finally found his favorite show Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and when we watched an episode together I realized when he participated in the call to "Toodles" who is the character who helps Mickey solve challenges that he does this whenever he's solving a problem. He shouts, "Ohhhh Tooooooooooodles" in a sing song voice. The other time was when I asked at daycare pickup, "Are you ready to go?" and he answered, "Fired up!" - in our first week together I said, "Fired Up, Ready to Go" about 4 times but hadn't said it since then. He really listens and remembers everything. 

It Feels Good to Be Organized
Several years ago a family friend who frequently takes me fishing when I return home said, "You forgot to get organized" He is notorious for being a very good organizer but I was not. I have done a lot in the last few years to be a better organizer, though, because I notice that when I am organized for my day or week or goals or whatever, I am much more relaxed and can get much more done and can be present with many more people. This week I did a good job and it was therefore an excellent week. 

Be Ready For the Heartbreak, But Don't Dwell On It
I learned this week that I don't have much more time with my foster son because he'll be moving to an aunt's house in about 10 days. I've been intellectually preparing myself for this moment for over a year but now I'll have to find out if I'm emotionally ready for it. As a friend's 5yo foster daughter reminded her recently, "Don't be a crybaby!" I love and agree with that notion and I will savor and enjoy these moments with my foster son and continue to make sure he feels safe and loved every minute he's with me without dwelling too much on how much I will miss him. 

Previous Lessons Learned
Part 18
Part 17
Part 16
Part 15
Part 14
Part 13
Part 12
Part 11
Part 10
Part 9
Part 8
Part 7
Part 6
Part 5
Part 4
Part 3
Part 2
Part 1

May 12, 2017

Lessons Learned Part 18

We learn and adapt our behavior in the small things we do and notice every day. In 2017, I'm keeping track of these tiny lessons and adaptations in my life. 

Having a Good Network is Everything
This week I had the honor of being interviewed about a new social good project and about a resilience and data project for NetHope. I also found a job description I really liked and was able to make some connections with the hiring managers because of my network. I love when I feel like I've built a fabric of connectedness I can walk on with all the support I need. I wish this feeling for everyone. 

How to Own My Self-Care
My office has a very nice gym in the basement, and before the 2 year old I would go there most every day after work. This week I returned for 1 day, and I went at about 2pm during a time I didn't have meetings. Somehow I saw every person I know and work with on my walks to and fro the gym. I felt ashamed and embarrassed because I figured they were all thinking that I was taking precious work time for myself. I was. Then, I thought, this should be the norm. To have a healthy, prevention focused workforce is to have a cheaper workforce, so we should all be encouraged to hit the gym when we have a moment. 

Living with Sickness
I have been sick with flu like symptoms basically since my foster son moved in and started daycare. This week I had a particularly painful bout with fever and sore throat, but since this is happening about once/week I have to just push forward and live and work through it. It makes parenting much more exhausting but I think I've been faking it well. 

Make Time for Yourself
For the first time since I became a foster parent, I hired a babysitter and went to a concert with some friends. I worried about doing this so much, but everything went well and I realized that if I continue to be a foster parent during the years to come, I will be able to lean on support to also continue to take care of myself. 

Previous Lessons Learned
Part 17
Part 16
Part 15
Part 14
Part 13
Part 12
Part 11
Part 10
Part 9
Part 8
Part 7
Part 6
Part 5
Part 4
Part 3
Part 2
Part 1

May 5, 2017

Lessons Learned Part 17

We learn and adapt our behavior in the small things we do and notice every day. In 2017, I'm keeping track of these tiny lessons and adaptations in my life. 

Always Welcome Guests
I love guests in my home. Surprise guests are more stressful for me because I really like to make sure everything is clean and ready and I have something to offer. This week my foster son's daycare teacher hopped in his social worker's van and came home with him and ended up hanging out in my house for a while. I've gotten used to a parade of people in my home because ... foster care ... but this threw me! I am happy I was able to welcome her in and hopefully make her feel comfortable. 

Have Some Strategic Patience
I had the pleasure of seeing a friend and former colleague this week who informed me that my former boss still carries around my white paper ideas and is beginning to implement some of them, a full 1.5 years after I left. I guess this is flattering and am happy there is some value in them, even if I'm long gone. 

Leave the Door Open for Blasts from the Past
I connected with 2 people I last worked with in 2007 this week. How funny to revisit that time in my life twice in one week. I was happy to hear from and offer counsel to both.

Enjoy My Birthday Moment
I had a birthday this week. I secretly usually have a bunch of expectations for fun on this day, even when my brain tells its emotional parts not to, but this year I was just excited to have my foster son home from his weekend with relatives and to have friends willing to come over for some carryout thai food to share after bedtime. It was probably one of my happier birthdays in years. 


Previous Lessons Learned
Part 16
Part 15
Part 14
Part 13
Part 12
Part 11
Part 10
Part 9
Part 8
Part 7
Part 6
Part 5
Part 4
Part 3
Part 2
Part 1

Apr 28, 2017

Lessons Learned Part 16

We learn and adapt our behavior in the small things we do and notice every day. In 2017, I'm keeping track of these tiny lessons and adaptations in my life. 

Waiting Can Pay Off
I bought my first home in late 2012. During my search, I thought for sure I'd be living in an area called Mount Rainier just outside DC, so I put myself on the wait list for the local coop pool. This week in 2017, I finally emerged at the top of the wait list and was invited to join.

Eat the Whole Thing? 
This week marked my foster son's 2nd birthday. I got cupcakes for him and when I handed him one, I didn't think about removing the paper around it first. He ate it paper and all! I tried to take it from him and convince him it wasn't for eating, but he did not believe me. He didn't suffer any digestive complications, thank goodness.

Think About What You're Doing
I changed a poopy diaper today just before bath time and in the chaos I forgot to put the poopy diaper in the genie before getting the 2 year old into the bath. Big mistake. Huge. The dog came up and had her most ideal dessert.

Previous Lessons Learned
Part 15
Part 14
Part 13
Part 12
Part 11
Part 10
Part 9
Part 8
Part 7
Part 6
Part 5
Part 4
Part 3
Part 2
Part 1


Apr 21, 2017

Lessons Learned Part 15

We learn and adapt our behavior in the small things we do and notice every day. In 2017, I'm keeping track of these tiny lessons and adaptations in my life. 

Institutional Racism is a Tough Nut to Crack
Even really smart and accomplished PhDs have major blind spots when it comes to institutional racism, and I heard plenty of it this week. If a cancer disproportionately affects a minority group but people from that group rarely join clinical trials because of eligibility requirements, then we aren't testing the right things. 

New Ideas Are So Fun
I had the opportunity to brainstorm with a friend/colleague who is launching a startup this week and came up with a few viable ideas for his team to research. It feels so good to think of what's possible. This is my favorite kind of work. 

Learning to be a Parent is Humbling
I am enjoying it so much more than I thought I would, and I am finding wisdom about how to be better at it in unexpected places. 

Previous Lessons Learned
Part 14
Part 13
Part 12
Part 11
Part 10
Part 9
Part 8
Part 7
Part 6
Part 5
Part 4
Part 3
Part 2
Part 1

Apr 14, 2017

Lessons Learned Part 14

We learn and adapt our behavior in the small things we do and notice every day. In 2017, I'm keeping track of these tiny lessons and adaptations in my life. 

It's OK to Take a Break
I took a couple of weeks off of lifelogging my lessons to just pay attention to my young foster son (fs2). It was a wonderful time of being in the moment and focusing on building a happy little life with him and making sure he's as safe and well as possible. I'm sure I learned more life lessons during these few weeks than all my other weeks combined, but I didn't write them down and that's ok. They're in my heart. 


Previous Lessons Learned
Part 13
Part 12
Part 11
Part 10
Part 9
Part 8
Part 7
Part 6
Part 5
Part 4
Part 3
Part 2
Part 1

Apr 7, 2017

Lessons Learned Part 13

We learn and adapt our behavior in the small things we do and notice every day. In 2017, I'm keeping track of these tiny lessons and adaptations in my life. 

You Can Do This
There is a 2 year old in my care. He came into my house, cried a little, and immediately called me mommy. Here we go! I will spend this whole week getting to know him, and learning the many things I'm sure he has to teach me. 

Previous Lessons Learned
Part 12
Part 11
Part 10
Part 9
Part 8
Part 7
Part 6
Part 5
Part 4
Part 3
Part 2
Part 1