What Gator Head Windchimes Can Teach Us About a Healthy Advocacy Practice

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My husband and I moved 14 months ago to Florida. Since then, each time I’ve been on the highway, I’ve seen billboards which have fascinated me. They advertise the Florida Citrus Centers which are roadside tourist stops where you can buy (yes, you guessed it) – oranges, grapefruit, limes and other fruit, plus other Florida-related souvenirs.

But until last week, I had never stopped at one of the Citrus Centers, despite a 14 month curiosity…

The curiosity is right there on that billboard photo above: Gator Head Wind Chimes. What on earth would an alligator head wind chime look like? Would it be one alligator head with wind chimes hanging off it? Or would it be a big circle with alligator heads hanging from it, knocking against each other to create the “chime”? (clunk, clunk, clunk)

Then, of course, because my family members are all a little whacky, with great senses of humor, I pictured my brother-in-law opening one of these monstrosities for Christmas… Just thinking about it made me laugh out loud! I had to get one!

Last week my husband and I left for our vacation, driving north to visit family and friends. As soon as we hit the highway, we saw the first of those billboards….

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You Can’t Do Life, or Business, Without Plan B

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You know Plan B. Plan B is your go-to option when what you thought would work, didn’t.

It’s the answer to the question, “What will you do when life gets in the way?”

I was reminded of Plan B last week when, after days of internet problems due to some new construction in the area, the internet was finally stable, and I had taken a very relieved deep breath and settled into a nice big project online….

…When BAM! Down went the internet again! Only this time the outage was caused by some workers next door digging up the edge of the neighbor’s garden, and slicing our underground internet wiring in two. Poof! And it wasn’t like they could fix it! Of course not! (Not to mention how rude they were about the whole thing – another story for another day…. )

You can imagine what came next. Since the outage was caused by a crew that was digging, who had not gotten permission to dig (which I’ve since learned is against the law!), there was absolutely no hurry on the part of our internet service provider to fix it. It wasn’t their fault, and we were only one customer. They had other bigger outages affecting many more customers to attend to. When I phoned, they said they would put us on the schedule for next Wednesday…. WHAT? OMG!

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A Rose by Any Other Name Might Ruin a Client Relationship

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Words matter. Descriptions matter. Names matter.

And we, as advocates, need to pay attention to words, descriptions, and names – and take steps to use them correctly, and as desired. The problem is – sometimes we don’t know when we’re violating that axiom.

I was reminded of this a few times recently, not the least of which caused my husband some consternation.

He and I have different last names. We were older when we married, and because I was already professionally known by my maiden name (Torrey), I didn’t want to change my name. Before we married, we discussed my wish to keep my maiden name, and he was surprised I would consider doing anything but keep it! So that was that.

However, in these ensuing 10+ years, my maiden name has caused him some pause and opened his eyes. Last week, for the umpteenth time, he was called “Mr. Torrey”, and later that day when our postal mail arrived, and there were two pieces of junk mail addressed to “Mr. Warren Torrey”… Well – let’s just say that he didn’t look favorably upon any of the guilty parties. It’s not HIS name, and he takes umbrage to someone assuming it is.

Women, especially, get that.

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An Anniversary, Meltdowns, Blessings, and Fuel for Advocates

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Please indulge me today. I’m going to share a very personal experience I rarely think about anymore, in hopes it will propel some good advocacy.

Sometimes months go by when I barely give it any thought. Other times, like lately, it seems like everywhere I turn, I just can’t escape it. So here you go:

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Advocates Are Afraid to Do This – Until They Love to Do It

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Earlier this year we hosted one of our APHA Workshop weekends*, with about 30 individuals who are somewhere in the process of growing an advocacy practice.

The APHA Workshops were originally designed to support the BUSINESS of advocacy only. The idea was that most advocates have abundant skills and abilities to advocate – they’ve advocated for themselves and loved ones, and sometimes non-family patients for years. What they didn’t know was how to successfully start and run a sustainable business / practice to allow them to do their advocacy work.  For five years, we hosted those original workshops all over the country, and student-advocates provided feedback indicating they were worthwhile.

Until… about a year ago it became clear that there was one major piece in the teaching of the budding profession of advocacy that was missing, a piece that no one had really named yet. Those of us who are leaders in the profession could describe it, but we had trouble honing in on a concise description, or definition, or better yet, a single word that would allow us to communicate about it.

This became even clearer at this year’s first workshop, mentioned above, where we added a component to address that missing piece. Some attendees, those new to advocacy, struggled to solve the real life patient / caregiver problems we posed. Observing some of the struggle helped me figure it out….

So today I’m going to name it, describe it, and then ask YOU to provide examples.

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