Archive for March 2009

One Year with Millie

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Twelve months ago today Miss Millie joined our family. Why is making the one year mark so significant that I had to blog about it? Well, you see, of the last four pets we've brought home, this one has had the longest staying power.

The following creatures are listed below with the duration of their life as a Carpenter and HIS subsequent fate.

  • Buddy the hamster: two whole weeks; chewed through the metal cage and escaped at least 10 times. The final escape was out the back door never to be seen again.

  • Zeke the white kitty: two months; decided to go outside and for some reason ran up to the top of an 80 ft. tree. He stayed up there for two days and nights. The fire department doesn't respond to such situations any longer so he took the matter into his own hands and jumped. Along the way he hit a few branches, landed on the fence and broke his leg. As a result he had internal bleeding among other issues and was put out of his misery by the vet.

  • Tigger the orange kitty: four months; He was the best cat ever. We adopted him at 8 months old and he was perfect for our family. Unfortunately he wanted a little more adventure than indoors could offer and began wandering out into the woods after dinnertime. We think he probably became dinner for an owl, raccoon or another critter larger than himself. R.I. P. sweet kitten.

Even though Millie has wandered off a few times, eaten some items that didn't agree with her and endured a couple of doggie illnesses, she appears to have more lives than both of the felines but together. Must be a girl thing!

Happy one year Millie! Here's to one more!


A Modern Day Hero

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Perhaps you've never heard the name "Paul Levy." This is one of those stories that popped up on my Yahoo homepage for about five minutes a couple weeks ago. I fully expected it to be plastered all over the morning news shows, People magazine and USA Today. At least I was hoping it would. No such luck. It seems that nowadays only the negative and dramatic is deemed newsworthy. I think we would all agree that a little dose (or a big dose) of inspiration would be a welcome visitor in all of our lives lately. It's a shame we have to search high and low to find it. But these stories ARE out there and this one ranks up there at the top.

Paul Levy is the CEO of Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital in Boston. In light of the current economic climate, of which no industry appears to be immune, this man defied all reason and logic to protect the livelihood of his organization' s lowest ranking employees. Oh how I wish others would follow suit. But I guess they would have to hear about it to get the idea.

I tried to post a link to the article on the Boston Globe website but was unsuccessful. I've copied it below. I hope you'll be inspired and pass it on.

Mr. Levy, you're my hero. God bless you!

It was the kind of meeting that is taking place in restaurant kitchens, small offices, retail storerooms, and large auditoriums all over this city, all over this state, all over this country.

Paul Levy, the guy who runs Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, was standing in Sherman Auditorium the other day, before some of the very people to whom he might soon be sending pink slips.

In the days before the meeting, Levy had been walking around the hospital, noticing little things. He stood at the nurses' stations, watching the transporters, the people who push the patients around in wheelchairs. He saw them talk to the patients, put them at ease, make them laugh. He saw that the people who push the wheelchairs were practicing medicine.

He noticed the same when he poked his head into the rooms and watched as the people who deliver the food chatted up the patients and their families.

He watched the people who polish the corridors, who strip the sheets, who empty the trash cans, and he realized that a lot of them are immigrants, many of them had second jobs, most of them were just scraping by.

And so Paul Levy had all this bouncing around his brain the other day when he stood in Sherman Auditorium.

He looked out into a sea of people and recognized faces: technicians, secretaries, administrators, therapists, nurses, the people who are the heart and soul of any hospital. People who knew that Beth Israel had hired about a quarter of its 8,000 staff over the last six years and that the chances that they could all keep their jobs and benefits in an economy in freefall ranged between slim and none.

"I want to run an idea by you that I think is important, and I'd like to get your reaction to it," Levy began. "I'd like to do what we can to protect the lower-wage earners - the transporters, the housekeepers, the food service people. A lot of these people work really hard, and I don't want to put an additional burden on them.

"Now, if we protect these workers, it means the rest of us will have to make a bigger sacrifice," he continued. "It means that others will have to give up more of their salary or benefits."
He had barely gotten the words out of his mouth when Sherman Auditorium erupted in applause. Thunderous, heartfelt, sustained applause.

Paul Levy stood there and felt the sheer power of it all rush over him, like a wave. His eyes welled and his throat tightened so much that he didn't think he could go on.
When the applause subsided, he did go on, telling the workers at Beth Israel, the people who make a hospital go, that he wanted their ideas.

The lump had barely left his throat when Paul Levy started getting e-mails.

The consensus was that the workers don't want anyone to get laid off and are willing to give up pay and benefits to make sure no one does. A nurse said her floor voted unanimously to forgo a 3 percent raise. A guy in finance who got laid off from his last job at a hospital in Rhode Island suggested working one less day a week. Another nurse said she was willing to give up some vacation and sick time. A respiratory therapist suggested eliminating bonuses.

"I'm getting about a hundred messages per hour," Levy said yesterday, shaking his head.
Paul Levy is onto something. People are worried about the next paycheck, because they're only a few paychecks away from not being able to pay the mortgage or the rent.
But a lot of them realize that everybody's in the same boat and that their boat doesn't rise because someone else's sinks.

Paul Levy is trying something revolutionary, radical, maybe even impossible: He is trying to convince the people who work for him that the E in CEO can sometimes stand for empathy.

Kevin Cullen is a Globe columnist. He can be reached at
© Copyright 2009 Globe Newspaper Company.

1 Comment »


Thursday, March 19, 2009

Right now this is the most annoying word in the English language for me. It feels like it's been my response to pretty much every question I'm asked these days. Actually I think it's been my answer for the past two years. We are not a culture accustomed to waiting and I'm probably ranked somewhere near the bottom when it comes to the "patient meter.". I like "fast." I talk fast. I drive fast (but NEVER more than 5 miles over the speed limit) I think fast. I eat fast. I make quick decisions. One of the only things I do slow is get out of bed in the morning.

In my growing frustration with the "waiting place" I have also wanted to make the most of the growth that accompanies this space. I must admit that, more often than not, I resent being here. I'm a "doer" not a "waiter". Yet, I sense that surrendering to the waiting will bring me to the exact place I need to be--and prepare me for the next challenge. In the meantime, I listen to this song--A LOT. Sometimes more than once or twice a day. You may not currently be in a place of waiting but eventually we all find ourselves there. Sometimes it's brief. More often it feels like eternity. When you get there, I hope this video will be a source of comfort and patient expectation for you.


My Kind of Book Club

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Aren't they cute?? And a bit dorky too but so darn lovable. As if I don't have enough of the male persuasion in my life, I've somehow found myself at the mercy of these four adolescents for an hour every week. The above photo is from the Thursday Reading Club at the middle school. As you can see, they are very into the current classic they've been assigned to read this semester. And as their bonafide "advisor" I got in trouble from the teacher for taking this picture during our scheduled reading time. What a great role model I am, eh?


A Lenten Challenge

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

As much as I hate to make this public, I'm hoping that my sharing of both struggles and triumphs will be, in someway, helpful and encouraging to whomever happens upon this blog. Letting others know you have committed to make a change in your lifestyle is opening yourself up to hyper-accountability. Something I'm not known for welcoming in my life. Kind of like announcing you're on Weight Watchers and every morsel of food that enters your mouth has your family members asking: "how many points is that??" It's so much easier to focus on others' shortcomings than look at our own.

This year, as Lent approached, I considered what habit or addiction I could give up for 40 days. I haven't deprived myself of anything for the Lenten season since I was a young Catholic schoolgirl. And even then, I think it was the same every year: bubble gum. What a sacrifice! (especially because I was rarely allowed to chew it) I went through the list in my head: coffee, chocolate, wasting time on the computer or eating more fruits and vegetables. Then it hit me. "Complaining. Give up complaining." What???!!!! I'm not a whiner. I tend to think of myself more as positive than negative. I've never been called "Eeyore" nor was I drawn to those with his gloomy outlook. I decided I was up for the challenge but I'd keep it to myself. I didn't need my family and friends to remind me when I slipped up. I decided I would tell them on Easter and ask if they noticed a change in me. If they hadn't, then I'd resume where I left off on February 25th and would be no worse for the wear. Yet I've felt like it's not a secret worth keeping. Especially if even one person out there was the least bit encouraged by my story.

It has been an interesting journey as I'm amazed at the number of times I've caught myself ready to spew negative talk. I do it without even thinking. Most of the time for no good reason. I started keeping a gratitude journal and every day I try to look for one little bitty thing I can be thankful for. Somedays it's as simple as being able to breathe and other days it's been an unexpected blessing that blows my socks off. What a difference it has made to look for something edifying to say--particularly when life seems to get more and more difficult.

So now I've gone public and risked the reminders waiting for me when I fall short. Instead of worrying about that, I'm praying that others will feel challenged to give it a try themselves. There are still 32 days left until Easter.

1 Comment »