Julie Thorson

Like so many of you, we have held off on in-person gatherings at our campus for months. As I write this blog, I am overwhelmingly excited about gathering in person for our volunteer appreciation luncheon today. 

I feel more excited than usual and even dressed up more than I have in a very long time. One of our crutches that helped hold us together during the pandemic was a much more casual work attire. Our thought was since we cannot formally see people very often, we don’t need to formally dress up as much. Isn’t it crazy how some things we never thought would become a norm turned into commonplace? 

Today, dressing up and actually wearing shoes with a bit of a heel was encouraging. (I might have forgotten how to actually walk in them, so today could be extra interesting.) Getting ready felt exciting, and, as I think of looking into the faces of our volunteers in person, I’m full of emotion. 

We continue to dig for the good that is coming through the pandemic. We intentionally look for the silver linings and consider how life will change once this fog has fully lifted. Leadership has been tested time and time again, and, in the midst of the pandemic, life hasn’t stopped in our communities. The challenges seem greater, the pressure seems stronger and the ability to lead is tested. 

However, the gratitude we feel for each other has grown incredibly. When I think back to the moments of, “How will we get through this?” I thought about days like today where we get to see each other, hug each other and celebrate each other. I promised myself that I would not, could not, ever take these moments for granted again. Pre-pandemic events like today’s were routine. Sure, we appreciated them, but for me personally, I didn’t always take the time to slow down and really be completely thankful for the gathering itself. That will never happen again. 

We have all spent so much time alone; leading without the interaction and energy from people is perhaps the greatest leadership challenge we have ever faced.  Appreciation, with no regrets for that time in our leadership journeys will make us better, stronger leaders… more compassionate for the power of people and the love for one another. 

*** There are four simple words in this month’s famous quote. It’s probably one of my favorites for many reasons, it’s simple and yet holds so much power. Next month, I plan to reveal every quote from every blog of 2021. I’m sure the anticipation has reached an all-time high. Never fear — all will be revealed next month. If you have figured out this quote or any of the others from this year, please drop me a note: 

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Julie Thorson was the 2018 recipient of the LeadingAge Dr. Herbert Shore Outstanding Mentor of the Year award. Thorson is currently a coach for the Leading Age’s Larry Minnix Leadership Academy.  Her “Living Leadership” blog was named the 2016 “Best New Department” Bronze Award winner by the American Society of Health Publication Editors. The president and CEO of Friendship Haven, a life plan community in Fort Dodge, IA, Thorson is a coach’s daughter at heart. A former part-time nursing home social worker, she is a licensed nursing home administrator and completed Leading Age’s Leadership Educator Program last summer.  

The opinions expressed in McKnight’s Long-Term Care News guest submissions are the author’s and are not necessarily those of McKnight’s Long-Term Care News or its editors.