Gary Tetz
Gary Tetz

Who am I to be giving advice? I have no proficiency in PDPM, MDS, CQI, RUGs, ISNPs or any other intimidating or indecipherable acronym. No one is begging me for my thoughts on staffing or infection control. I have yet to be asked to address an AHCA convention, though I was once almost trampled by Newt Gingrich after he and Michael Dukakis did. 

Now that I think about it, beyond an encyclopedic knowledge of old “Columbo” and “T.J. Hooker” episodes, I’m not really an expert in anything. But I am a human who lives in this world and struggles to stay positive in these challenging times, and I figure that gives me at least a little qualifying expertise. 

For a recovering pessimist like myself (and apparently the poet Maggie Smith, who I believe coined the phrase), maintaining optimism is a daily battle, and it commences the moment I regain consciousness at the start of the day. The fight requires an arsenal of early morning practices to help me recalibrate, refocus and drown out the din of social media and news for some calming respite before the inevitable onslaught of negativity and stress.

Always looking for another tool in the quest for peacefulness and equanimity, I was delighted to stumble recently across the book “Year of Wonder” by BBC radio personality and violinist Clemency Burton-Hill. The book celebrates classical music by highlighting one inspirational piece every day for a year. From familiar icons like Mozart, Bach and Beethoven to a 12th century composer named Hildegard von Bingen, her selections cross genres, time periods and composers. I start by reading the short entry in the book, then go to Spotify to listen to it, guaranteeing a few minutes of pre-cacophony meditation and solace. 

In a sad but still triumphant postscript, since this book was published in 2018, Burton-Hill suffered a massive bleed on the brain that left her unable to see, talk or walk, and she also contracted COVID-19 while in the hospital. But since then, she’s battled back, and is even slowly learning to play the violin again. So every page I read and every piece I hear seems imbued with a little of her inspiring positivity and resilience. 

Obviously, my challenges are not the same as yours, and for many people, starting the day with this kind of music would seem more curse than blessing. But whatever your job in long-term care, and knowing the daily challenges this profession faces, I’m betting you can use any moment of peacefulness you can find. So if this helps you like it has me, I’ll be delighted.

We can’t control much of anything that happens after, but we can at least control the way the day begins. Whether you start the morning reading something inspirational, meditating on a cushion, journaling, writing a gratefulness list or reading and listening to “Year of Wonder,” I’m a passionate evangelist for the mood-lifting value of positive daily practices. 

And don’t worry, this recommendation of a daily classical music experience isn’t technically a mandate. But if you choose not to follow my expert guidance, I am definitely going to need to see your religious or medical exemption

Things I Think is written by Gary Tetz, a two-time national Silver Medalist and three-time regional Gold and Silver Medal winner in the Association of Business Press Editors (ASBPE) awards program, as well as an Award of Excellence honoree in the recent APEX 2020 Awards. He’s been amusing, inspiring, informing and sometimes befuddling long-term care readers worldwide since the end of a previous century. He is a writer and video producer for Consonus Healthcare Services in Portland, OR.

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.