Tag Archives: low wages for direct care workers

Staff Empowerment and Problem Solving




In this post I will address how the Green House Project’s core value of staff empowerment creates a work environment that better utilizes the ability and motivation of direct care staff to solve problems. Please bear with me as I take a bit of an indirect route…

One of my favorite games in elementary school was “Telephone.” In Telephone, one person whispers a message to another, which is passed through a line of people until the last player announces the message to the entire group. The original message is inevitably changed in some significant way, often absurdly. There were those of us who took advantage of the anonymity and helped the process along by purposely changing keys words. Thus “Miss Austin says that London Bridges will be falling down at 2 p.m. next Tuesday” became “Miss Austin says her big britches will be falling down with b.m. today” much to the delight of her entire 4th grade class. But the lesson remained the same.

The object of the lesson was to teach us the impact of gossip and rumors. You simply shouldn’t believe something just because someone says it (an idea that seems to have lost ground with the advent and popularity of social media). And perhaps it was also meant to teach us the value of clear and precise communication.

I remember actually playing a version of Telephone during an inservice training class. Again, the focus was on gossip and rumors, but also to demonstrate the importance of written communication and to help explain why health care in general seems obsessed with documentation. Of course, this part of the lesson didn’t say much about the fact that written communication can distort the truth as well, indeed more powerfully and often more by design than by misunderstanding. We were left to surmise that part of it ourselves.

There is something else that happens to both verbal and written communication as it is passed down the line. Not only can the literal meaning be altered, the significance of the message can change. In other words, the message is often most important to the person who initiated it and it can lose a measure of importance with every link in the communication chain it passes through.

I experienced this both as caregiver, and later as a storekeeper responsible for keeping a 730 bed facility and its 300 busy nurses supplied and happy. As a caregiver, I learned that it was often quicker and more efficient to bypass the official line of communication – that is, through my supervisor – and go straight to the person who could help me solve the problem. Plugged toilet in Room 237? I knew the extension of the maintenance person responsible for plumbing issues and I knew he would come up to the unit ASAP if I asked because we had a good working relationship and he knew I wouldn’t expect him to drop what he was doing unless it was really important. And it was really important, because Mr. Verlander absolutely refused to use any toilet except the one in his room and would rather risk defecating in his pants then sit on an unfamiliar commode. And the clock was ticking.

Normally, I would inform my supervisor of the problem who would then instruct the unit secretary to create a work order that would be sent to a maintenance supervisor who then delivered the work order to the plumber’s desk. While the literal meaning of the problem – a plugged toilet – doesn’t change, with each step the immediacy and significance of the problem fades and thus the motivation to address it promptly diminishes as well. While no one wished for Mr. Verlander to crap his pants and understood it as – in the parlance of moderately over-educated professionals – a “negative outcome,” it had the greatest meaning first to Mr. Verlander and then to me. My supervisor, the unit secretary and the maintenance supervisor may or may not have been present and able to respond quickly – they weren’t always where I wanted them to be. And besides, they all had their own problems that no doubt had higher priority to them.

As a storekeeper, I got to experience being at the other end of the service chain. Every day I would get requests for nursing supplies from caregivers who chose to contact me directly rather than go through their supervisors. While I completely understood their reason for doing so, it did create a few problems for me, like the phone constantly ringing and a bit of flak from the people in my own department who insisted that I was subverting the requisition process by responding to requests from “just caregivers.”

But I knew something about these workers. That is, the ones who pestered me the most were also the best caregivers. I knew this because I had worked on the nursing units with them, some for several years. I was well aware of the kind work they did, how they treated the residents and how important they were to their residents. They were willing to do whatever they needed to do to get the job done, even if it meant breaking some rules and going outside the facility’s official procedures. Bad caregivers tend to hide behind the rules and use them as an excuse not to act.

I should also note that while I knew these caregivers well and trusted their judgement, they also knew me well and thus felt comfortable coming directly to me. In a sense, this relationship empowered them, albeit unofficially.

Recently, I sat down with a small group of shahbazim from a local Green House Project home. When one of them used an example of dealing with a broken bed to illustrate how problem solving differs in a Green House verses a traditional institutional setting, I knew exactly what she was talking about. No one could understand better than her the particular difficulties the broken bed created for one of her elders and thus she was the one most motivated to get the problem resolved as quickly as possible. Not having to go through any chain of command or requisition process, she made the appropriate call herself and was able to state the urgency of the situation directly to the individual that could help her solve the problem. In one person, she represented the authority, the responsibility and the motivation to resolve the problem in a way that benefited the elder most. And make no mistake, such problems are routine in a long-term care setting.

Given the appropriate tools and support, no one is more capable of creating a “positive outcome” for a resident than a motivated caregiver.

A Culture of Empowerment




In my last post, I listed the structural elements that enable the Green House Project’s core value of empowered staff to become a reality. In this post, I will begin to tackle the less easily defined dynamics of empowerment.

Whenever we talk about staff empowerment, we need to keep in mind the reason behind it. While the title “shahbaz” denotes respect for the caregiver, it is actually the elders that are being empowered. The Green House model simply recognizes that in order for elders to be empowered, those closest to them and know them best must have the means to facilitate that empowerment.

Obviously, caregivers in traditional institutional settings play a critical role in how a resident experiences life in in long-term care. Both the nature of the work and the manner in which caregivers engage residents guarantee that central role. For many long-term care residents, the quality of their relationships with their caregivers determines the quality of their lives.

However, when it comes to actual power – the ability to make day to day decisions that most directly impact residents and the accountability for those decisions – the traditional model provides the caregiver with a distorted version of power, created more by default than by design. While caregivers report to a unit supervisor, much of their daily routine is conducted without the direct involvement of that supervisor. The nature of the long-term care business demands that a manager’s time and attention be occupied by matters not directly related to the details of daily care. Simply put, a supervisor has limited awareness of what goes on down the halls and in the rooms.

In this vacuum, individual caregivers are compelled to make decisions regarding the use of limited resources – time, especially. How they prioritize these choices is often influenced by an informal, but powerful subculture in which the caregivers with the strongest personalities sent the standards. Sometimes, this actually works well and supervisors even learn to rely on these caregivers to help manage the unit. But all too often, it leads to mistrust and petty bickering among caregivers. The relationship between caregivers and managers is commonly characterized by conflict over authority, self-promotion, stonewalling and manipulation. Good work is not rewarded and poor work is left uncorrected. This is not the kind of “power” that contributes to a meaningful life for residents on a consistent basis.

By providing the Shahbazim with real decision making power, the Green House Model formalizes and expands the caregiver subculture. In doing so, it changes the dynamics of the relationship both among caregivers themselves and between caregivers and the individual charged with holding them accountable, the Guide. Leaders will still emerge within the group, but everyone is expected to grow into leadership roles. Along with the guide and clinical staff, the strongest and most experienced shahbazim are charged with coaching newer staff members into those roles.

Furthermore, the Shahbazim are held accountable in a way that caregivers in a traditional setting are not. While caregivers are always responsible for their individual actions, the ultimate responsibility for what happens on an institutional unit falls on the licensed supervisor. In the Green House Model, the caregivers assume that responsibility. The team is self-managed and while there can be a degree of flexibility in some matters, they have a vested interest in following their own rules and developing a cooperative work environment.

While the Guide expects and encourages the Shahbazim to make decisions, he or she is much more aware and involved with the day to day details of the home than a traditional manager. Not only does this allow the Guide to be effective in the coaching and support roles, it leaves less room for the kind of finger pointing and lack of transparency so prevalent in traditional settings. Issues are more likely to be dealt with directly and in the open. Again, this is aided by the small size of the home compared to large institutional nursing units.

In my next post, I would like to talk about how an empowered staff’s approach to problem solving differs from the approach taken in a traditional institutional setting.

The Issue of Low Wages in Direct Care




When we talk about low wages for direct care workers, it’s important not to confuse two separate issues. The first has to do with our personal satisfaction regarding the work, best summed up by the regularly repeated phrase: “It’s not about the money.” The second issue is about the impact of low wages on the quality of care and on the workers who provide it.

Many caregivers will tell you that they experience significant emotional benefits from the work. They find meaning and fulfillment in making an immediate and real difference in the lives of other people. However, personal satisfaction with the “work” doesn’t always mean contentment with the “job.” The work we find so fulfilling is only one aspect of the job, which also includes things like wages and the work environment.

For some caregivers, the emotional benefits outweigh all other considerations. They find the work so deeply meaningful that they are willing to endure the impact that low wages and difficult work environments have on their lives. It is a noble sentiment.

While the sentiment is genuine, it is also a highly personal one. Meaning is not so much found as created and how we create meaning in our lives is an intensely individual enterprise. It is not something one person can do for another; the most we can do is accept and respect another person’s sense of what brings meaning to his or her life.

It is not a contradiction to accept and even admire the notion that caregiving “is not about the money” on the one hand while condemning low wages and poor working environments on the other. The former is about the choices and perspective of individual caregivers, the latter is about a bigger picture.

Low wages is a major contributing factor to high turnover rates for direct care workers. This has a profound effect on the continuity and quality of care. In her May 5th blog post “Addressing the Difficult Issue of Money,” Paraprofessional Health Care Institute’s (PHI) National Director of Coaching & Consulting Services, Susan Misiorski, sums it up thusly:

“Low wages for direct-care workers has a trickle-down effect on the elders and people with disabilities for whom they provide care. We know that care continuity correlates strongly with care quality, but low wages encourage high turnover rates. Organizations that continually must hire — and train — new staff members likely aren’t providing the best possible care.”

Beyond quality and continuity problems, the issue of low wages has wider social implications. Since wages and benefits in long-term care are impacted by inadequate government reimbursement rates, the issue of low wages is a matter of social policy and a true reflection of the value society places upon direct care work. Misiorski tells us that 22% of direct care workers fall below the poverty line and 43% live in households that rely on some form of public benefits. The very people we depend on to provide quality care often struggle to take care of themselves and their own families. Does it really make any sense to tell workers how much you value what they do and then expect them to live near or below the poverty line?

Yes, we want workers to be properly motivated. But expecting to be compensated fairly for what you do does not equal a lack of compassion. We are all motivated by different things and genuine compassion is expressed through action, not good intentions. While we can admire the notion that “it’s not about the money,” we must reject the idea that caregivers who express concern about their wages don’t belong in the business. We lose too many good workers that way.

Protected Concerted Activity




I’ve come across a number of posts on the CNA Facebook pages that express frustration over LTC managers not responding to caregiver concerns regarding their working conditions. If you’ve already raised an issue as an individual through the normal lines of communication within your facility and feel like you’re not being heard, there is something else you can do. It’s an option that most caregivers – and perhaps many LTC managers – are not aware of.

It’s called “Protected Concerted Activity.” This is involves a Federal labor law that protects your right to act together with other employees to improve your pay and working conditions – with or without a union.  This means you can collaborate with your coworkers and voice your concerns as a group and your employer cannot punish you for acting as a group.

According to the National Labor Relations Board website: If employees are fired, suspended, or otherwise penalized for taking part in protected group activity, the National Labor Relations Board will fight to restore what was unlawfully taken away. These rights were written into the original 1935 National Labor Relations Act and have been upheld in numerous decisions by appellate courts and by the U.S. Supreme Court.”

The law does not cover all concerted activity. Again, from the NLRB website:

“Whether or not concerted activity is protected depends on the facts of the case. If you have questions, please contact an Information Officer at your nearest NLRB Regional Office, which you can find on this page or by calling 1-866-667-NLRB. The Information Officer will focus on three questions:

Is the activity concerted?

Generally, this requires two or more employees acting together to improve wages or working conditions, but the action of a single employee may be considered concerted if he or she involves co-workers before acting, or acts on behalf of others.

Does it seek to benefit other employees?

Will the improvements sought – whether in pay, hours, safety, workload, or other terms of employment – benefit more than just the employee taking action?  Or is the action more along the lines of a personal gripe, which is not protected?

Is it carried out in a way that causes it to lose protection?

Reckless or malicious behavior, such as sabotaging equipment, threatening violence, spreading lies about a product, or revealing trade secrets, may cause concerted activity to lose its protection.”

I am not qualified to give any kind of legal advice and this post is for informational purposes only. I would urge anyone considering concerted activity to do their homework first. Check out the NRLB website www.nlrb.gov  (click on the “Rights We Protect” tab) and also speak to a NRLB Information Officer (1-866-667-NLRB).

Since our work involves residents we have to be careful not to violate their rights while we assert ours. However, there are many instances when the two overlap. In particular, I’m thinking concerted activity may be useful for issues regarding things like access to proper equipment and the availability of adequate supplies.

If you’ve already raised an issue and you feel your concerns are not being properly addressed, you may want to consider exploring your right to protected concerted activity.  Sometimes it takes a group.

It Ain’t About the Money, Honey




$2.83. That is the balance of my checking account. Two dollars and eighty-three cents to last me for the next five days. I checked it repeatedly, as if money would magically appear if only I willed it…It didn’t.

“Well, Alice, rent is paid. Nothing is going to be shut off this month, you have plenty of ramen, cereal and milk that is only mildly questionable”, I thought to myself as I laced up my sneakers, strapped on my back pack and headed out to work.

I always chuckle to myself when I hear other caregivers say that someone is only in this field “for the paycheck”.  WHAT paycheck? Honestly, you could make more money and have more room for advancement and growth in the fast food industry than in the long term care system. Anyone who takes on this gig hoping for a lucrative future either has bad business sense or is delusional.

Our world is not the neat confines of the office. Our language is not the detached, clinical observations of the doctors or nurses who visit occasionally. No. Our place is on the floor, with the people. Hands on.

It is a gritty, raw, deeply emotional reality filled with equal amounts of devastating loss and bodily fluids. It requires a unique skill-set; an adaptability and stamina that few are able to maintain for long periods of time. If done well, this job will break your heart every day. If done correctly, it will test your limits in every way. It is not for everyone.

So why are there “bad” caregivers? Why do some seem to phone it in? My best answer, in the most simplistic of terms, is that it is an emotionally, physically, mentally exhausting job that usually goes unappreciated by those in charge. Often, the only incentive we have is to not get fired. We are underpaid and overworked by people who do not understand what we do. Many caregivers burn out because they cannot see past that wall.

Well then, what makes “good” caregivers? Simply put, they do not give up. They do not let the deeply flawed system define them. They reach down and discover their own personal reasons for their commitment to this field and hold on to it when everything else seems to fall apart. They find their own leadership and they never stop learning and growing. It is an emotionally fulfilling, physically challenging and mentally stimulating job that never goes unappreciated by those for whom we care. Even if they don’t or can’t say so. The truth is in the moments and the moments on the floor are abundant.

As for this caregiver, I never lose sight of the fact that having money and being rich are not synonymous. I do not underestimate the value in what we do or the depth it has added to my life. For me, it far outweighs the difficulties we have to face in order to do it.

Good, bad or indifferent, it isn’t about the money. It’s about the perspective. We make an impact on the lives of other human beings, sometimes breaking ourselves in the process. There is no way to put a price tag on that; no adequate way to measure the give and take required to do this job the way it should be done. I only know that it is so very worthwhile.  $2.83 in my checking account and I wouldn’t trade places with an heiress.

An Obligation to Testify




A quick review of CNA related Facebook pages will show that no group of people get more upset over media reports of court cases involving caregiver abuse of nursing home residents than other caregivers. After expressing their shock and disgust, caregivers will often add that they have no problem reporting other staff members who mistreat residents.  There is nothing in these comments to suggest that both the strong emotion and the claim are anything but genuine.

Not all forms of abuse are equally severe.  When determining charges and sentencing, the legal system itself takes into consideration such things as the intent of the accused, the severity of a crime and – important for our purposes here – how the victim experienced it. Obviously, some acts are particularly heinous and deserve harsher sentences.

Caregivers are obligated both morally and legally not only to report incidents of abuse that they’ve witness, but to intervene on behalf of the victim.  Silence and inaction are forms of collusion and zero tolerance is the standard policy. Zero tolerance means that the relative severity of mistreatment cannot be used to relieve long-term care staff of the responsibility to intervene and report.

How a resident experiences our interactions with them is a primary consideration. As caregivers we may not intend to mistreat, but if we fail to give reasonable and adequate attention to how a resident perceives any given interaction, we could be guilty of a form neglect or abuse.  Perhaps not a severe or overt form, but under zero tolerance it is a violation and we are required to intervene and report.

The quality of life for residents in a long-term care setting depends on much more than how they experience their interactions with their direct caregivers. While the factors that determine their quality of life are diverse and complex, there is at least one universal standard that should be applied in all situations: how does the resident experience it?

No one is more aware of how residents experience life in a nursing home than their caregivers. Direct care workers accompany residents through that experience on a daily basis.  They see and feel the impact of when the system is working  – and when it fails. They are familiar with the flaws of long-term care in a way no one else can be: in intimate detail and within the context of the lives of the people in their care.  No quality assessment tool or inspection protocol can adequately replace that unique perspective.

This is a perspective that informs the worker of how things such as inadequate staffing levels, an unstable work force and insufficient or inappropriate regulation negatively affect residents. Because of the way residents experience that impact, it is nothing less than a systemic form of abuse and neglect.

While systemic forms of mistreatment are not intentional or overt, under zero tolerance do we not as witnesses have a moral obligation to report them like any other form of abuse?

If so, the question then becomes how do we respond to this obligation? How and to whom do we report?

Another Angle on Anger




Two recent posts on CNA Edge dealt with negative emotions: “Anger Management” by Edison Terrell and “Out of the Night” by May. While they take different approaches, these two posts share at least one very important idea: don’t allow your anger and frustration to become a problem for the people in your care.

In his post, Edison confronts his inner rage demon. The piece serves as more than a simple catharsis in the “confession is good for the soul” kind of way. As caregivers, we all have to deal with anger at one time or another – and if we’re honest, every single day. By his public confession, Edison demonstrates that it’s possible to have these feelings and still be compassionate and caring if we properly manage and process them. His post helps free us from the trap of denial and projection.

May’s post was equally introspective. But instead of a battle with her inner demons, she refuses to surrender to the negative influences of her work environment, in particular the perpetual listing of grievances by some of her coworkers. Instead, May makes a deliberate choice: “I stay despite the circumstances.” Through this simple act of will, she takes control and responsibility thus liberating her – and her residents – from the wearisome self-victimization displayed by her workmates.

Negative emotions are common in the work environment. Any time you put people together in a stressful situation there is going to be a good deal of politics and personality clashes. With egos on the line and blame to shift, some level of discord is to be expected. The same is true in any line of work. Due to the nature of our work, the stakes are higher and the emotion is amplified.

As we work to process our emotions, I think it’s useful to make a distinction between the routine frustrations of the workplace and the genuine anger engendered by problems that are endemic in long-term care. It’s difficult because the two things overlap so much. However, when we are able to separate them we elevate our awareness of something that is nothing less than a social injustice. We are not just workers; we are first hand witnesses to how the elderly and sick are directly affected by inadequate staffing levels, high turnover rates for caregivers and the poor utilization of resources due to misplaced priorities.

And here the rule applies doubly: the righteous anger we feel over this social justice should not become the residents’ problem. They are the primary victims. Don’t make them pay twice.

This brand of anger should instead be directed elsewhere.


Wages and Compassion




The issue of low pay comes up frequently on the CNA Facebook pages. While it is widely accepted that caregivers are underpaid, there is a counter theme running through these discussions that can be summed up thusly: “It’s not really about the money, we love what we do.” In and of itself this is a commendable sentiment and without it long-term care could never hope to find and retain enough workers. It’s difficult enough as it is.

Some take it a step further and claim that if you seem too concerned about what you’re getting paid, it’s an indication that you lack compassion and you shouldn’t be working in this field at all. As if compassion isn’t possible without self-sacrifice and that talking about money only taints the nobility of what we’re doing. That in fact, we should feel ashamed to expect more.

I reject that notion. As a CNA, you should never be made to feel ashamed simply because you recognize that you’re underpaid for the work you do. While the work can be fulfilling on a personal level, it has value beyond the emotional benefit you receive from it and you have every right to be compensated accordingly. There is nothing about expressing that opinion that means you’re less compassionate and caring then those who happily accept low pay. And it doesn’t mean that you’re there “just for a paycheck.”

The idea that we must be willing to sacrifice monetarily to keep our motivations pure is actually a form of backdoor egoism. It puts the focus on us and our motivations and intentions. The real value of what we do derives not from what we sacrifice or why we care, but from how the residents experience the care we provide and the quality of our interactions with them.

Some would argue that it is not possible to create quality care and interactions without the “purer” kind of motivation. I submit that there is nobility in working hard to support your family – and yourself – and that things such as a sense of duty, an awareness of the value of the individual and a profound respect for the trust you’ve been given are powerful motivations to excel as a caregiver, quite apart from one’s willingness to struggle with an inadequate income. 

To be sure, there are disaffected caregivers who look at our work according to George Carlin’s dreary dictum: “Most people work just hard enough not to get fired and get paid just enough not to quit.” But it’s a mistake to lump those of us who expect to be paid fairly for an honest day’s work in with those who skate by doing as little as possible.

One problem is that we are confusing two separate issues. Let me put it this way: once I walk through that door to go to work, the residents are going to get the same commitment and same level of care from me whether I’m making $8.00 an hour or $20 an hour, but to get me through that door in the first place is going to take something closer to the $20 then the $8.00. Some high-minded caregivers would regard the second part of that as a kind of blasphemy. 

Some are concerned that higher wages would result in retaining workers who really don’t care that much about the residents. The logic here is baffling. Workers can be dismissed or otherwise disciplined according to their performance regardless of what they’re getting paid. The real problem is that on one end we constantly lose good workers who leave for better wages and on the other end employers are left to hire from a smaller pool of candidates. It’s a bad combination.

The reality is that most caregivers who work in long-term care need every single penny they can get. They give so much of themselves every day and while society can nod and smile and call them angels for the wonderful work they do – or alternatively, demonize them based on media reports – the system they work for does not deem their contributions significant enough to offer adequate compensation. Some are paid just above minimum wage. Many work second jobs or put in several hours of overtime each week just to help make ends meet. “Fortunately,” there is plenty of opportunity for overtime due to a chronic shortage of direct care workers – see the preceding paragraph.

The combined effects of long hours, physical and emotional stress, and financial struggle can wear down a caregiver often making him or her feel used and used up. As if the system regards its front line workers as disposable. That’s the real shame.

Jumping the Gun




Two weeks. It took every bit of two weeks to adjust to the idea that I could embrace a new opportunity that fell into my lap. An opportunity that I didn’t even know that I wanted.

A few months ago, my frustration at the low wages and dysfunction of my current work environment led me to apply for a position in a new facility. A friend of mine was employed there and she had been encouraging me for months to give it a shot. One day, she hand delivered me the application, I filled it out, dropped it off and promptly forgot about it…until they called to set up an interview.

Suddenly, what was a fleeting notion became very, very real. My first thoughts were about my folks. I’ve been caring for them for nearly 7 years! I BLEW THE WHISTLE in order to save them from terrible owners and cold showers! How can I just ABANDON them?! How can I just walk away from my co-workers; the good ones who trudge forward through the challenges? Can I actually put my own needs for a decent working wage and benefits above their needs for quality care and consistency from a caregiver they trust? It was a maelstrom of conflicting and deeply held thoughts and emotions.

Thanks to the support of friends and family, I slowly came around and warmed up to the idea. Friends said that I’ve EARNED this chance, that I’ve worked very hard and it is an opportunity to love some new people. They said I can visit my folks and it’s time to try something new, to not have to struggle quite so much financially to do what I love.

By interview day, I was equally torn between the excitement of a new opportunity and the heartbreak of leaving my current folks, but I had reached the conclusion that it will always be heartbreaking to move on for me. I am a person who invests my heart fully, but just because it is difficult doesn’t mean it’s not the right choice.

I left the interview elated. They all but showed me in writing that I had the job. I was open and honest, I made eye contact and smiled. I had the perfectly pressured hand shake. I even wore jewelry. I spoke with passion and humor about why I love being a direct care worker. I NAILED it.

The next few days went by in a blur of work and outside commitments. In between activities, I would find myself planning for a life on third shift; my mind leaping ahead, despite my best efforts to not put the cart before the horse. The facility is huge and beautiful. Two more dollars an hour means less Ramen noodles. I was even planning out a visitation schedule so my folks would know that I’m still a part of their lives and what I would put in my written two week notice to my current employers.

So you can imagine my surprise when I got a call saying that they are sorry, but they went in another direction. I was completely dumbfounded. Somehow, I managed to thank them for their time before the wave of crushing disappointment washed over me. That’s when the “what ifs” kicked in, quickly followed by the “whys”. What if I’m no good at this? Why don’t they want me? What if my flaws are all anyone ever sees? Why did they lead me to think I had the job? What if I always have to struggle so much? Don’t they KNOW the emotional roller coaster this has been?

After a few glorious hours of reveling in my own misery and boohooing, I stopped, took a deep breath and reassessed the situation. The whys and what ifs do not matter. It is what it is. I owe myself more than picking myself apart because I didn’t get a job. And no, of course they didn’t know the emotional roller coaster I was on. Even if they did, it is not their responsibility to tip toe around it. Plus, I have a job; a job that I love despite the dysfunction. The pay is pathetic but money follows purpose.

For whatever reason, it’s simply not time for me to leave yet. There is joy that I still get to be there for my folks. I’ve been making it so far and Ramen noodles can actually be tasty if you doctor them up a bit. It was both a humbling and eye opening experience. I know now that when the time comes, I will be able to move on, as difficult as it may be, but part of me is very grateful that the time isn’t today.