Reflections on the Importance of Knowing One’s Purpose: Blogging 101

Carol A. Hand

“I really HATE that report you’re working on!”

Imagine hearing this this every morning as you walk through the door to do your job. Delivered in a strident nasal tone, this was my supervisor’s greeting and her commentary on my efforts to develop the first-ever report on the demographics and services for elders in the state. Each morning, my response was the same. “I welcome any specific suggestions you have to improve it.” None were ever offered by my supervisor, but fortunately, the director and staff all provided assistance, ideas and support as part of a team effort to write, organize, and illustrate the final product.

AW cover

Photo Credit: Aging Wisconsin – Cover Page

The report, Aging Wisconsin: The Past Three Years: 1984-1986, was so popular that the first 6,000 copies went quickly. Even during tight budget times, the report went through a second printing and generated hand-written letters from elders thanking us for creating something to make their lives better. My supervisor never liked it, but I now realize she really wasn’t the audience, nor were legislators, administrators, or academics. The report was written to help elders learn about the range of services and supports available to improve their lives. Focusing on task completion is important, yet I also learned an equally important lesson about the value of process from my supervisor, although not the one she probably intended. Any project can be approached from a coercive power-over stance, or from a liberatory joyful stance. The staff and director, often easily divided by petty issues, joined together to produce something that was fun and gave them a sense of purpose and pride in their work.

AW nursing home

Photo Credit: Aging Wisconsin – Long Term Support

AW transportation

Photo Credit Aging Wisconsin – Transportation

AW caregivers

Photo Credit: Aging Wisconsin – Caregiver Support

AW home delivered meals

Photo Credit: Aging Wisconsin – Home Delivered Meals

AW housing

Photo Credit: Aging Wisconsin – Housing Options

As I look back on this experience, I realize how grateful I am that I had the opportunity to work on this report shortly after graduating from college. I am grateful to the director who believed that I could do it, and the staff who offered their support, assistance, ideas, and encouragement. I am grateful to the elders who penned hand-written thank you notes. And interestingly, I am grateful to the supervisor who kept spurring me on to do the best I could with what seemed like an overwhelming, impossible task at the time. Today, looking at the photos we gathered for the report so many years ago, I am grateful that I didn’t give up trying.

AW fiends 1

AW friends 2

AW volunteer

AW adult daycare

Photo Credit: Aging Wisconsin – Community Support

I left that job decades ago, but this memory resurfaced this morning as I reflected on today’s blogging 101 assignment, reviewing the About statement for Voices from the Margins.  The memory and the assignment both remind me that it’s important to be mindful of purpose. Not everyone will like what you do, and that’s as it should be. Knowing that I was hired to serve elders in the state, not the whims of my supervisor, helped me find creative ways to build a team to be successful any way. Clarifying the purpose of the blog I share with a partner helps keep us focused. Just like the team effort that resulted in a report that was helpful to elders, my partner and I have attempted to explain our blog’s purpose. It’s a space that celebrates diversity and welcomes creative team efforts to resist status quo critiques. a place to give voice to different “truths.” Like all bloggers, we hope people will read what we write and engage in dialogue, but we also try to speak about what we see as important during these challenging times. In order to let people know who we are, we added a second “about” section entitled  A Little About Us.

We are both interested in learning from others who see the world through frames that are different than ours. We welcome feedback about our explanation of purpose and our description  of who we are, and we welcome your visits, comments, and submissions.

(A final note: I just couldn’t decide which photos to share so I went a bit overboard I fear 🙂 )

Work Cited:

Carol Hand (1988)(Ed.) Aging Wisconsin: The past three years – 1984-1986 progress report on the Wisconsin State Plan on Aging. Madison, WI: Bureau on Aging,  Department of Health and Social Services.

Copyright Notice: © Carol A. Hand and carolahand, 2013-2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Carol A. Hand and carolahand with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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19 thoughts on “Reflections on the Importance of Knowing One’s Purpose: Blogging 101”

    1. Thank you, Peter. I so appreciate your comments about the photos. It was difficult to decide which ones to post because I liked them all 🙂

      Yes, changing the font color sometimes works to highlight links – sometimes it changes the whole line of text …

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  1. I agree with Peter, a picture is worth a thousand words, so you wrote quite an extensive blog with the photos. Your topic was in sync with my thoughts today, purpose. What I really want to do with SACRED and the rest of my life. Much to reflect on. The course is inspiring you and as always you are producing thoughtful and worthwhile work.

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    1. Thank you so much for your comments, Skywalker. For some reason, this was a hard post to write. I let it sit all day after editing and reediting this morning. When I came in after hauling wagons of dirt and planting a new little garden, hours of messy heavy work, I made some more edits and decided to post it. Still, I wondered if it really held together.

      I look forward to catching up with SACRED soon, and hearing more about your thoughts about purpose.

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  2. I really liked this post.You showed how your determination to do good prevailed despite others’ negativity. While most people don’t think about becoming older and losing their abilities until it starts happening to them, the fact is that it happens to everyone. Approaching others with compassion is really showing love for oneself. Thanks for giving us this perspective.

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    1. Thank you, Anne. I appreciate your thoughtful comments and insights about aging and compassion. Your comments remind me of one of my professor’s who thought elder abuse was warranted given “what a drain older people were on others and society.” My response was to give him a campaign button that read” Aging – all the best people are doing it.” Fear of one’s own aging sometimes leads to these kinds of attitudes. (I loved the post you wrote on this topic.)

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  3. Carol, quite often while I’m reading your posts I think of that adage “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” Some people in our lives could so easily squash our creativity, our visions. Over and over I see your strength standing up for what you believe in. So lucky were those elders to have you working on their behalf. I loved the photos, too. Never too many for me!

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    1. Thank you, Mandy. Your capacity for kindness and for seeing the strengths of others never ceases to amaze me, a testament to your ability to overcome adversity, becoming stronger and more compassionate in the process. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I had a social worker friend who worked in a non-profit agency that supported Alzheimer’s caregivers (mainly with overnight respite care and day treatment services) until the mid-nineties. At that point Carter and Sacramento slashed their budget and she quit the jobs. Because they no longer had the funding to offer real services, her job became little more than pushing paper around.

    This has been a consistent trend in social service funding and services since Reagan first began cutting them in 1981. For the most part, families have been forced to pay the price – and depression and suicide rates among Alzheimer’s caregivers have skyrocketed.

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        1. It sounds like Clinton continued the trend that Reagan ushered in with block grants, social service budget cuts, and popularizing mean-spiritedness toward those in need.

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      1. Thanks for the advice, Dawn. I have already taken care of this for my daughter’s sake. I had to serve as my mother’s legal guardian when she developed Alzheimer’s and didn’t want my daughter to face those challenges.

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  5. Thank you for sharing this story Carol. It is interesting to see how you handled, at a young age, such discouragement. And then used the discouragement to your own advantage. No, I don’t think you used too many photos. They gave me as a reader a glimpse back into time and the importance of your project.

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