Monday, December 19, 2011

Lesson of the Day: Never Underestimate the Power of Enthusiasm!

Back to my blog home page:

Ginny is really been a show stopper at the facility! She is like the welcoming committee, party planner and "go-to person' who can be counted on for giving encouragement to those who are struggling. Thing is, she is quite confused, and half of what she says makes no sense at all.

It really doesn't make a difference, though, because her enthusiasm is contagious!!

One thing does make sense today....Ginny goes first thing this morning to the Administrator with a story and a plan...

"I wheeled past this amazing room yesterday!" she tells our leader. "I didn't know it existed! It was full of sun and there were some books in there!"

Ginny goes on to describe the sun room, which contains two bookshelves, about 2/3 of which are stacked with donated books, a sofa, a table and dining chair, an easy chair, and a large bird cage. It houses LeeRoy, the African Gray Parrot, who 

can whistle like a sailor, growl like a dog, say "fresh air!" and "whatever!"  Only on his terms, of course!

She tells the Administrator that she wants to "develop the library!"


Ginny was the school librarian in the middle school of this town for most of her life. I ask around, and no one remembers her in this role because she's been retired more than 25 years! Goodness sakes, she's 90!

I get wind of the request when Ginny rolls into the gym for therapeutic exercise about 10:30am this morning. She's ready tell the world that she plans to be the librarian here.

"I don't want to be paid! I want to volunteer." She makes me smile!

My mind goes into "how to make it happen" mode. Due to her cognitive deficits, we will have to modify a few things. I stroll alongside her as she wheels down to "show me" the library.

"Let's do a needs analysis, Ginny! We'll figure out what you need in order to get this rolling," I tell her.

"Well (pause), we need a card envelope in each book, a check out card, and I need to catalog the books."

In my mind, I am thinking, "No, no, no....Modification #1...." I will keep it positive but work to sway her line of thinking. Remember, she is old school.  Literally.

"Ginny, it's a great idea to catalog the books we have. What would you think about streamlining the borrowing process to a checkout log so you don't have to handle all those cards?"

"Well..." I can see she can't make the jump without my assistance.

I describe how it will look. "We'll have a binder in which each resident will sign out their book on a special sheet. There will be a column for who is checking out the book, their room #, title of the book, date they check it out, and the date it needs to be returned."

I ask her expertise about how long it should be checked out. "Two weeks," is her confident answer. I have her buy-in on the checkout log.

OK. One thing accomplished. We develop a checkout log on the computer in no time and print it out. While I am at it, I print out the list of Dewey Decimal classes from Wikipedia just to make her day.

You should see Ginny smile.  I have her punch holes and put it in a binder I have picked up just for her.

Enthusiasm is contagious. I begin to get excited for her, too!

A few times I have to redirect her. She goes into,  "Now, we really need to order some books for the middle school age, and I'd like to get some for the early elementary."

I remind her, "Ginny, this library is for older kids, ages 75 to 100!"

"Oh, like me!" she says.


And I count the number of times I remind her in an hour....five.

We brainstorm and make some great plans. Ginny wants to have a "book drive" to collect donations from employees and current residents. Great idea!

We will create cool bookmarks, and we'll ask the receptionist to laminate them. I'll bring in my hundred colors of embroidery floss and she can work on fine motor coordination by punching a hole and making a tassle for each one. Great idea!

We will start a book cart, and she will be the welcoming committee, deliverer of news and books in the building, and overall person of encouragement for those around her. Great idea!

Hopefully by then, we will have her fully ambulatory again.

The process has begun. We are assisting Ginny with integrating her life into long term care. We are giving her a reason to get up in the morning, an avenue to share her passion, and the ability for her to touch the lives of everyone else with her enthusiasm.

Ginny will not shrivel up and die. She will live gracefully, joyfully and just plain "fully" until she graduates from this life.

Never underestimate
the power of enthusiasm!


  1. Love it! Especially the bookmarks. I might have to make bookmarks with my old folks sometime too.
    I'd like to email you off the blog... I've got some questions. I didn't find a link to send a private message though.

  2. Hi, there! Feel free to email me at