What is Palliative Care and When Is It Appropriate?

Recently speaking with a friend whose mother was sick, I suggested she should look into palliative care. The response was a look of shock and surprise. “She’s not dying.”

Deborah Araya, Physician Assistant at University of Maryland Charles Regional Medical Center (CRMC), said she gets the same response when she talks to patients because “they don’t really understand that palliative care is not hospice care. They are two different medical sub-specialties.” They both have a “holistic approach that helps both the families and the patients”. The founder of palliative care recognized that if hospice care “worked so well at end of life, why would you wait to end of life to provide this care? So let’s move it back to the time of diagnosis of a life threatening illness…. So palliative care is holistic patient-centered care that can be provided while the patient is being treated for the illness and long before they are ready for hospice.”

In the video interview below, we also covered how to discuss advanced care directives and how to approach end of life care with family and caregivers. Mary Hannah, CRMC Manager of Population Health, said it’s best if families discuss this well in advance of being at the hospital and the “conversations happened outside the acute care environment, not once they are in the hospital in distress or when the patient can no longer make their own decisions. …. sit down prior to that point, around your own kitchen table, rather than waiting for your family to make those decisions in an ICU waiting room, which is the hardest time.” Mary conceded that, even then, the conversation can be difficult so she suggested a number of resources including The Conversation Project.

Other resources Mary suggested are:

I read the recommended book, Being Mortal, a few years ago and it was truly life changing. I wish I had read it prior to caring for my mother when she was being treated for pancreatic cancer. I think I would have done a better job being her caregiver and also helped relieve some of the stress and guilt I had as a caregiver.

Palliative care can be helpful to not just the patient, but to their entire care giving team — and in many cases will not only improve the quality of their life, but also the quantity. I hope the video interview helps you start important conversations in your family and provides some understanding on how palliative care can help you.

palliative care is holistic patient-centered care that can be provided while the patient is being treated for the illness and long before they are ready for hospice


Danielle Dardashti taught me and a very engaged live audience about how to discover, write and tell a story that engages your audience and retains their attention so you can move people and get results.

“Storytelling is the best way to sell a product or make a friend and connect people because it’s a way for us to make sense of everything that is happening around us and create a narrative around it using emotion, and conflict and transformation. Everyone experiences similar emotions, similar conflict, even if they are dealing with life in a different context. Stories allow us to relate to other people’s experiences versus just facts, figures and data.”

Danielle said there are three steps to creating a great story and the first two are before you ever start to write it:

  1. Understand your audience
  2. Mine your life experiences to find great stories
  3. Craft the story

Other topics that we discussed were:

  • what makes a great story
  • how to use emotion to help your audience feel what you felt
  • how to remember great ideas and use them in your story
  • how to get over fear and embarrassment when speaking
  • the difference in how to tell a story in a live versus virtual speaking event
  • how to encourage youth to develop the art of storytelling

And great news… Danielle will be teaching a five part workshop on Strategic Storytelling for Public Speaking which includes one-on-one time to craft your individual story. At the end of the workshop you will have your own complete 5 minute story ready to tell for your audience. If you sign up between now and June 23rd, we are offering a $75 discount…. yeah!

Storytelling is the best way to sell a product or make a friend and connect people because it’s a way for us to make sense of everything that is happening around us and create a narrative around it.

Core Values of Management – Discipline, Affirmation and Tools

Over the years of owning and managing companies, I’ve narrowed the core values of management down to three main concepts. These core values apply whether I am managing an individual, a team, a project or my entire company. They are discipline, affirmation and tools. Let me explain…


Discipline comes in many forms. The first and most important is setting the rules for people to work within. Inherently employees want to do a good job and clearly stating WHAT you want gives you the best chance of achieving that goal. I’ve seen too many projects go poorly because the manager at the END of the project expresses what they want and their dismay that their staff did not deduce what they wanted. Clearly stating the end goal gives you the best chance of getting there. In addition, giving the rules of the road makes sure your staff has the best chance of success. For example, if you don’t want them to work overtime to complete a project, they do and then your project’s budget is blown, it’s not your staff’s fault… it’s yours.


Just as important as telling your staff what they should and should not do, is reassuring them that they are in indeed on the right path. People want to hear they are doing a good job and telling them helps ensure they continue to do so. Employee recognition through “pat on the back” type awards, “employee of the month”, and public recognition at employee events are all good ways of making sure your employees know them and the work they are doing are valued. Simply encouraging your managers to tell employees on a regular basis they are doing a good job is even better. Don’t assume they know… tell them.


Give your employees the tools they need to do a good job. You can’t expect them to dig a hole if you haven’t given them a proper shovel. Frequently tools are tangible items like a computer or cell phone. For example, as a software engineering firm, it’s important that employees have up to date computers and software that help them produce quality products fast enough to meet their customers time constraints and budge

Having all three elements will ensure you have productive employees who stay with your company and feel good about the job they perform.

Integrating New Staff Members: Hiring, On-Boarding, and Inclusion

Margarita Rozenfeld and I chatted about the best methods to onboard new staff members during and after COVID-19.

Margarita pointed out that most important step happens well before you hire the person. She said an organization needs to be “clear about who they want to hire and how they want their hiring process to be.” You need to think not only how that “person needs to be from a functional perspective and what skills they need to bring to the table but also how they need to fit culturally.” She gave an example of a non-profit she recently worked with that helped survivors of domestic abuse. In addition, many of the staff members had experienced trauma themselves….. so it was very important they brought in someone who was sensitive to those issues as well as a strong leader and someone that people could trust.  The team spent a lot of time writing the job description and how the new staff member would be on-boarded. They formed a committee that included all levels of the organization from executive director to line staff members to ensure it was not just a good functional fit but also that the candidate felt truly chosen. The result was that the “candidate could not have been a stronger fit.”

The best way to ensure someone is a good match for your organization, is to clearly articulate their role, function and key culture-fit traits – including in a job description – and to test for this fit throughout the recruitment and interviewing process.

Communication is key before, during and after hiring a new staff member. Ask people what works for them and make it clear that they are welcome. “Ask thoughtful questions.”

Other topics we discussed?

  • How to onboard an employee when the new employee will be teleworking (either permanently or during COVID-19).
  • Managing and motivating off-site employees.
  • How to re-integrate employees into the workplace after teleworking during COVID-19 and when there is a mix of new employees and those that worked on-site prior to COVID.
  • How to do a timeline presentation for existing and new employees so they understand the history and culture of the organization.
  • How to do a virtual tour of your organization and workplace.
  • Understanding the emotions your employees may be feeling as they reenter the workplace – from fear to anxiety to optimism and how people deal with transitions.

How To Use Writing to Work Through Grief

Grief comes for many reasons… the loss of a child, a parent, or friend. It also comes from the loss of what “could have been” – the marriage that didn’t last due to divorce, a health issue that keeps you from doing loved activities, moving from active partner in a relationship to active caregiver. In all these instances, writing can help us process the pain and move forward into our new role. For me, when my mother died, I started a blog to help me feel better by sharing and hopefully helping others.

I was fortunate enough to sit down with John DeDakis who bravely shared his story of his son’s death due to drug addition and how he used writing to help him process and move through the grief. I met John a few years ago when I attended one of his workshops on writing. John is a journalist, novelist, and writing coach and a former Senior Copy Editor for CNN and White House correspondent. He is the author of five novels in the Lark Chadwick mystery-suspense-thriller series, Bullet in the Chamber, as well as his most recent novel, Fake, which is a winner of the 2020 Reviewers Choice Award. John regularly teaches novel writing at literary centers, writers’ conferences, and bookstores around the country and abroad.

John suggested that professional guidance is helpful and said that Wendt Center for Loss & Healing was where he found a supportive environment. Journaling is a good first step to understanding your feelings and “don’t write for anyone but yourself” to start. It doesn’t have to be perfect grammar or even make sense as it’s a way to get your feelings on paper.

“You don’t want to be falling apart all the time – you want to be a functioning member of society – but profound grief has a profound emotional impact and if you are the kind of person who tends to keep it inside and tough it out, it doesn’t make the grief go away. It just keeps it bottled up inside which can be corrosive. It will find a way out, and that can be counter-productive, as we will anesthetize our grief by using sex, or alcohol, or work — or anything — to escape from the pain.”

The fear of not being with that person again is scary, but writing can be a first step in healing by allowing us process and move towards our new positive and fulfilling life.

Success! You're on the list.

Scientific Research: careers, education and what researchers actually do day to day

Forrest Bowling answers our questions about his education path as a doctoral candidate in Biochemistry at Stonybrook University and what exactly a scientific researcher does.

We discuss what a doctoral candidate in science does day to day – I was surprised to learn that they don’t attend a normal class setting after the first year or so. We also discuss different career paths and the process of scientific research. Forrest taught me a bit too about the research he is currently doing on protein structures and how they might be able to help in the fight against cancer. Perfect view for anyone thinking of a career in science (high school, college level or adult) or anyone just curious about how scientists work and develop cures in medicine. Forrest was recently published in Nature Chemical Biology with his research (https://www.nature.com/articles/s41589-020-0499-8) . #science #biochemistry #PhD #education

Background, lighting, Audio, and Camera Placement for Online video

Stephanie Cosby of Career Puppy and Prism 360 Media shares tips for online meetings and videos including:

  • staging your background
  • lighting
  • camera placement
  • audio

Stephanie has over a decade of experience as a producer, videographer, director and editor in the area of workforce development. If you are looking for the selfie rings that Stephanie recommended you can find them here: Clip on Selfie Light and Selfie Ring Light with Stand

The streaming program I use for my interviews is Streamyard. Clicking on the link will get you a $10 discount (and me a small referral fee.) I’ve tried a couple of different programs and like this one the best because its the easiest to use and you can stream to both Facebook and YouTube simultaneously which saves me a ton of time. You can stream directly to Facebook or YouTube without a program but you can’t do both and you can’t easily have a second person in the video so the broadcast program is essential.

#video #backgroundstaging #workathome

What Mother’s Really Want For Mother’s Day… and Every Day

I bet there is some young father right now scrambling to figure out what to get his wife for Mother’s Day. Because of COVID-19, restaurants are closed, most stores are closed for shopping, and you can’t travel. But I have a secret…. I can’t speak for ALL moms but I think for many moms … what they really want is know they are appreciated.

I remember when my kids were toddlers and they would bring me a fistful of weed flowers in their fat grubby fingers. It made my heart melt. Why? Because it was a sure sign they were glad I was their Mom. It was pure, unadulterated love and appreciation.

Photo by Danny De los Reyes on Unsplash

Years ago, when my kids were that age of fat, grubby fingers and fistful of weed flowers, and I was exhausted from both a lack of sleep and the 24/7 role of motherhood, my husband gave me the best gift ever. He took the kids for the entire day away from the house and left me to do whatever I wanted. This was real love. Not because of what he bought or a card he signed — it was love because he saw what I really needed and then gave it to me. It showed he appreciated me and saw the hard work I was putting in as a mother. I didn’t do anything exciting that day. I think I even did some laundry. But I also took a nap … and I felt appreciated and loved.

A day without kids may not work for every mother — it wouldn’t work for me now as a mother of adult children — but I bet if you pay attention there is something that the Mom in your life really needs and it likely does not require a credit card.

So, if you are pondering what to get your Mom or wife or grandmother…. just show appreciation. Notice what they really need and make it happen for them. Tell them you love them and think they have done a great job being Mom. It really is what Moms want more than anything!

You Can’t Change how people act, but you can change how you react

This morning I was out by the river at South Hatton and I was thinking of a story I read before bed (if you want to read it you can find it in this book – Being Ok Just Isn’t Enough).

A couple spent each morning meditating and during their meditation, their neighbor’s carpool driver showed up and honked his horn. It annoyed the husband and so he said to his wife, “I wish that guy’s tires would fall off.” His wife reminded him that wasn’t so nice to say so later that day he changed it to, “Well I wish his horn wouldn’t work when he was near our house.” And then later that night, before they went to bed, he remarked, “Actually honey, what I really wish is that I meditated so deeply and so well that I never noticed that the horn was honking.”

It reminded me of what I’ve told so many people and constantly try to remember myself. You can’t typically change how people act but you can change how you react to them. You can spend your life frustrated with people — your spouse, your friends, your coworkers or politicians. Being frustrated with them won’t change them. But you can feel better and make a different in YOUR life, if you change how you react to them.

This is the video I posted while on the subject while I watched the sun come up this morning.

This subject comes up a lot in marriage. The wife wonders why her husband is watching TV when there is a full sink of dishes that she thinks he should notice she is busy cleaning. The husband is just enjoying his show. So the wife has two choices — she can continue to be angry and wash dishes or she can do what most men really want – just say what you need so he knows. (How many times have you heard a man say… “I’m not a mind reader.”) How she reacts makes all the difference to their evening.

Being angry won’t change his behavior or her feeling like he doesn’t care. Saying, “hey honey, do you mind helping me with these dishes?” does change his behavior and makes for a better evening for them both. Walk in someone else’s shoes for a bit and see it from their perspective — the man honking his horn just wants to to notify your neighbor he is there, the husband is just enjoying his show and doesn’t mind helping — he just needs to know you need it.

Suddenly Homeschooling? Tips Tricks and Sanity During Remote Learning

Benita Wicks gives us some tips to help us survive and even thrive while our kids are learning at home in this video filmed live. Benita has a BS in Early Childhood/Elementary Education and is certified K-6 and middle school ELA and Social Studies. She taught in the public schools for six years then stayed home with her children where she home educated four children over a sixteen year period. Two were home schooled to graduation. Another is currently in a charter school and one is in a private school – all home now during COVID-19. Benita is currently teaching Catholic full day preschool and has led home school support groups both in person and online. #remotelearning #homeschool #covid19 #crisislearning

%d bloggers like this: