Combat Queen

11 Jul

I’m not the best at exercise.  I go to the gym a few times a week, but I rarely ever look forward to it.  It’s more just something I do so that I don’t eventually have to wear a seat-belt extender on a plane and so I live long enough to see my grandchildren have children of their own.  But I do look forward to classes at the gym every once in a while.  I attend one class called Body Combat that is 60 minutes of nonstop cardio.  I often find myself pretending to be Sydney Bristow from Alias or Katniss from the Hunger Games to give myself a little more edge in class.  Whatever, it works.  I like Body Combat because it requires no thought or planning on my part… I just show up, mimic the instructor (to the best of my ability), and dread how sore I’ll be the following day.

I took Body Combat a few months ago with my friend Lindsay, which always makes the class more entertaining.  We can roll our eyes at the girls wearing only a sports bra and spandex (we get it, you’re hot), laugh at each other’s mistakes (often), and together we can count down the minutes until class is over.  Another female instructor was filling in for our regular girl on this particular day and she was extra perky.  If I closed my eyes, she sounded just like Dora the Explorer.  “We can do this!” “We can do anything if we do it together!” “Let’s do this team!” “Donde esta mi mochila?!” Okay, not the last one.  But seriously… team?  I don’t even know these people.  I get it though, some people like a cheerleader type to push them through a workout… those who know me know that I don’t respond well to overexcited motivational bits at the gym (ahem, Firas).  I guess I’m just a body combrat. Sorry, had to do it.  

Anyways, we got to a certain routine that involved turning our bodies to the side, slightly bending our knees, and slicing the air with our right hand.  I was shocked when the instructor said, “Straight for the scrotum! Aim for the scrotum!” I felt super awkward considering there was a man in front of me, and our other instructor had never been specific about the damage we were doing with these combat moves.  I also didn’t understand how a man’s scrotum could possibly be at the level of my arm, so I continued to squat lower and lower to make it more realistic.  Not easy, and kind of disturbing.

A few days later, Lindsay and I were talking about Body Combat to a few co-workers and I mentioned to her that I had told Firas about the scrotum experience.  I told her that Firas was appalled and said, “SEE?! That is why I am never taking one of those classes with you – they’re clearly designed for women only!” This is when Lindsay interjected and said, “Oh my God, Jaclyn…. THE STERNUM, AIM FOR THE STERNUM!”  

Oh. Whoops.



Speak Your Mind Monday

17 Jun

There have been many cringe-worthy moments in my career.  Working with residents with dementia is an honor, but it also presents many opportunities for wishing I could pull an Alex Mack and turn into silver slime in three seconds flat.  I remember a woman from my senior internship, my very first experience working with the elderly, who had absolutely no shame in speaking her mind.  She might tell you that a particular hairstyle didn’t work for you, that she wasn’t crazy about the banana cream pie, or that she would rather not participate in exercise because she was old and wasn’t looking for a man.  Or she might pull something like this…

There were over 200 residents from the Assisted Living, Independent Living, and Health Care units gathered for a concert in the theater (this place was very upscale) and I brought a few residents from the memory care unit to enjoy the show.  This was always a treat for them, and whether or not they remembered they had attended it once returning to their room wasn’t important… for an hour or two, they were just ordinary people attending a show.  On this particular occasion, I remember the show ending and getting my residents ready to leave.  Men and women from the other units were making their way down the aisle, and before I could stop the thought that I should have known was forming from hitting her tongue, I heard, “THAT MAN IS BOWLEGGED!”  Oh,  and just in case you weren’t able to hear her yelling across the theater, she was also pointing at him.  Cringe.

It’s a Hard Rock Life

5 Jun

I found an old notebook from my first couple years as an activity director, where I would jot down one-liners, memorable moments, or reflections from my work experience.  Let’s just say that I was laughing for the majority of the evening after finding this gem, especially as I read one-liners from my most favorite male resident of all time.  His name was Tony, and he was a dirty old New Yorker with a heart of gold.  Imagine his delight when a 23-year old girl took over as the activity coordinator for his nursing care unit.  His wife lived one floor down in assisted living, but this didn’t stop him from offering me a ride on his lap every time we walked down the hall together.  Luckily, his wife had a bit of dementia and found it quite amusing as well.  Just to be clear, as tired as I was some days, I never accepted.

One of my favorite Tony-isms occurred during a game of bingo.  He was always making the ladies blush with his compliments and winks, but he really outdid himself on this particular occasion.  A daughter of a resident was visiting and standing beside her mom to assist her with bingo.  I noticed that Tony kept looking at the daughter’s Hard Rock Cafe t-shirt and then back at me with raised eyebrows.  He then proceeded to put his hands in the air toward the woman, while turning them like doorknobs, and said, “Hard as Rocks, eh? Prove it to me.”


It reminded me a lot of the “Tune in Tokyo” scene from Girls Just Want to Have Fun.

Por favor?

24 May

We have a resident who is notorious for her terrible hearing and she’s the first to admit it.  On top of her hearing impairment, she often misconstrues what she is being told by assuming the person is saying what she thinks they might say, which is rarely the case.  For example:

Resident: “Do you think you could pick me up some floss the next time you go the store?”

Jaclyn: “Yes, but I probably won’t be going to the store until Friday.”

Resident: “So what you’re saying is that I have to wait for the van driver to take me to the store next week to pick up my own floss?”

It happens on a daily basis.  But this resident always finds a way to make me laugh without even trying.  I overheard a conversation in the hallway yesterday morning between this resident and a housekeeper whose English is somewhat limited. The resident went on a long tangent that sounded something like this: “I spilled cranberry juice on the floor of my room and it’s all sticky, and the maintenance man told me that I shouldn’t have food or drink in my room, and I don’t know what to do about the juice on my floor, but do you think you could mop it up?”  This was followed by three seconds of silence and I found myself imagining the housekeeper’s puzzled face when I heard a quiet “Por favor?” from the resident. Yes, that’ll do it.

She then called into my office from the doorway as she always does: “HELLO? IS ANYONE FROM ACTIVITIES IN THERE?” I quickly yelled, “YES, COME ON IN!” and she says to herself, “I guess nobody’s home….”, and this is when I scoot out from my desk and wave my hand at her to come into the office.  Every. single. time.  This was our conversation yesterday:

Jaclyn: “What can I do for you?”

Resident: “I am working on a project that would require some real adult scissors and glue.”

Jaclyn: “Sounds good.  I’d be happy to let you borrow some real adult scissors and glue.”

Resident: “Thank you.”

Jaclyn: “Do you need the scissors and glue right now?”

Resident: “No, I’ll be here all day.”

Jaclyn: “Okay, I’ll see you later then.”

(She wheels back in 30 seconds later)

Resident: “Would it be okay for me to use the scissors right now?”

And so the story goes…


10 May

mexToday, I introduce you to Ethel.  HIPAA, before you get your panties in a bunch, I assure you that’s not her real name.  Ethel is a one-of-a-kind resident.  She is vibrant, animated, stylish, the life of the party, and has the short term memory of a candy bar.  I love her.  I love walking by her and hearing her say, “Ooh honey, what a beautiful necklace”, and then walking back by her 20 seconds later and hearing, “Ooh honey, what a beautiful necklace”.  She will make anyone’s day.  I love that she spends the day in pink pajamas with perfectly applied makeup and a pair of beautiful purple earrings dangling from her ears.  She is quite the fashionista.  I love that she knows all the lyrics to every Spanish song ever written and calls out “Ay ay!” between verses.  Needless to say, Ethel adds a lot of entertainment to our little community.

Our music therapist led a session yesterday with a “Fiesta” theme.  Considering our population is predominantly Hispanic, this really was quite the fiesta!  Especially for Ethel, who loves to sing and dance.  In between songs, our music therapist likes to get the residents talking and reminiscing, which is always therapeutic for them and fun for us.  She started off by asking the residents what comes to mind when they think of Mexico.  Right off the bat:  “Tacos!”, “Enchiladas!”, “Cerveza!”, “Tamales!”, “Tequila!”, “Burritos!”… yes, I heart Mexico. We all laughed and the music therapist tried to get them to think past the food and drink of the culture.  This is how the session went:

Music Therapist: “What country does Mexico border?”

Ethel: “TAMALES!”

Music Therapist: “What separates the United States from Mexico?”

Ethel: “TACOS!”

Music Therapist: “What is the weather like in Mexico?”


Music Therapist: “What do people often have at birthday parties in Mexico ?”

Ethel: “TAMALES!”

The other residents helped her out and would chime in with the correct answers, but Ethel never got off the food kick.  She shouted out each answer with such energy and conviction.  It was one of the best music therapy sessions I’ve ever attended.

And little does Ethel know, tacos actually bring the U.S. and Mexico together.

Hello, hello again. Shaboom, shaboom.

25 Mar

I miss writing.  I was re-reading a few older posts from “All the Sweetest Winds” and it hit me just how much I miss it.  I suppose it’s normal to go through waves.  I started to feel like my writing was a bit forced… hell, I wrote a blog post about glitter pinecones.  Spell-check is trying to tell me that pinecone isn’t one word… since when?  I can’t promise that I won’t write about nonsensical, insignificant things once in a while, but I also want to get back to writing about stuff that matters.  Stories about my residents.  Moments that made me laugh so hard I cried.  Events that broke my heart.  And so on.  Perhaps I’ve been a tad more emotional these past six months because I had grown accustomed to processing significant life events through my writing.  Or maybe I’m just emotional.  I’ll let my family be the judge of that.  Well, maybe not, since they still look back fondly on the days of standing at my bedroom door as I sat looking in the mirror and crying while furiously writing in my Lisa Frank diary and talking out my problems.  If nothing else, at least I can claim to be a multi-tasker.  And a 5th grade drama queen.

On a side note, I have a new role model.  She is in her nineties, wears a big fake flower in her hair every single day, looks for her “missing teeth” on a weekly basis, and busts a move whenever she gets the chance.  We celebrated St. Patrick’s Day with green “beer” (O’Douls) and Irish tunes last week, and it’s characteristic of her to believe that she is consuming actual alcohol during our occasional happy hours.  Before we knew it, she had downed 2 green “beers” and was throwing her head back while shouting, “I just want to DANCE!”


Me too, friend, me too.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

14 Feb

We promise to get back to blogging somewhat regularly soon, but to tide you over until that actually happens… a few funny valentine cards.

Happy Valentine’s Day from Lauerland!

Happy Valentine's Day from Lauerland (and Meat Loaf)! Lauerland: Happy Valentine's Day! Ha! Happy Valentine's Day from Lauerland!

Can't believe how much I'm not sick of you... Happy Valentine's Day from Lauerland!

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