Gary Tetz
Gary Tetz

In hiking or life, through any difficulty, there’s only one strategy I’ve ever found that always applies: Keep moving.
For long-term care staff these days, that might be the best possible advice.

Award-winning Ohio poet Maggie Smith understood this, and hit the pop psychology gold mine with her 2020 book of the same name — “Keep Moving: Notes on Loss, Creativity and Change.”

After toiling in relative obscurity, she’s now been elevated to literary self-help guru status.The project sprang out of crisis.

As her marriage broke apart, she decided to write a note of encouragement to herself every day, and, for accountability, to then tweet those thoughts out to the world. They went viral unexpectedly.

Smith calls herself a “recovering pessimist,” a label I embrace as well.

I am a human who lives in this world and struggles to stay positive in these challenging times. Maintaining optimism is a daily battle, and it commences the moment I regain consciousness at the start of each day.
Though Smith’s simple pep talks could induce eye rolls for some, for me they’ve been a welcome source of perspective and positivity.

Here’s one particularly apropos to the times we’re living in, when the desire to return to the way things used to be is almost overwhelming at times.

“Stop straining to hold the door to the past open, as if your old life is there waiting, and you could slip right into it,” Smith wrote to herself. “Stop wasting your strength, because you can’t go back. Muscle your way forward. Keep moving.”

In long-term care, it’s harder than ever to imagine we can ever return to a pre-2020, pre-pandemic reality.
Now with the staffing crisis, jobs that have always been difficult are close to impossible, and the relief that’s been long promised seems as elusive as ever.

That’s when longing for work lives that don’t exist anymore can be so counterproductive to the urgency of what’s required in this moment, and the needs of the seniors we’ve been called to serve.

“Live here now,” Smith wrote in another tweet that seems targeted to pierce one of our greatest human distractions — the longing for the past.“Give the present the gift of your full attention,” she continued. “Keep moving.”

Things I Think is written by Gary Tetz, a national Silver Medalist and regional Gold Medal winner in Humor Writing in the American Society of Business Publication Editors (ASBPE) awards program.