"Shining star" employees -- or associates as we call our employees here at Lenbrook -- stand out by their nature and tend to receive frequent recognition. But what about associates who work behind the scenes, or in less visible positions and provide invaluable momentum to the team and the organization as a whole? That's the delicate but critical balance we've aimed to achieve with our new associate recognition program. 

It takes the efforts of every individual to make a successful team and hence a successful organization. This is especially true at Lenbrook.

I happened to be born in St. Thomas the same year aviation pioneer Charles Lindbergh landed on our island. As a child, I watched as huge equipment dredged the Mosquito Bay located adjacent to Lindbergh's landing strip and transformed it into Lindbergh Bay. Perhaps that's how I came to be so interested in aviation and now, at 89, am getting ready to publish a documentary about aviation in the U.S. Virgin Islands from 1921 to 1971.

Everyone says time goes faster the older you get. If that's the case, I'm getting older really fast. Actually, I prefer the alternative explanation which says, "Time flies when you're having fun." Naturally, it's easy to have more fun if you're actively engaged in doing what you love. That's how I'd describe this past year at Lenbrook -- a year filled with enjoyment in our community as residents engage with life and pursue what's meaningful to them.

When my husband of 58 years passed away in April of 2009, I knew exactly what I was going to do. We had visited a friend from high school in Dallas, Texas, who lived in a lovely CCRC ("Continuing Care Retirement Community"). I couldn’t forget it, and immediately set about getting my Dunwoody house ready to sell so I, too, could make this kind of a move for the rest of my life.

Research, Sale and Move

I heard an analogy not too long ago from an advisor at Jackson Spalding and it stuck with me ... so much that I used the analogy to kick off a monthly resident information meeting. It's about the making of a cake. 

Most cakes are made with simple ingredients: flour, butter, sugar, milk or water, baking soda, eggs, and of course flavoring -- vanilla, chocolate, etc. When you see a cake, whether it's a sheet cake or a seven-layer cake, do you see the eggs? Not really. Why not? Because all the ingredients combine to make it into a fluffy, delicious dessert. 

For many years, we lived happily in our older home in Buckhead's Tuxedo Park in the summer and in our patio home in Tequesta, Florida, in winter. In January of 2013, however, our Atlanta home was burglarized while we were away. Then, in February, a large pine tree fell on the roof during a storm. All of this prompted us to begin thinking about the next phase of our lives, which would likely involve simpler living arrangements.

Doing Our Homework

Who would have thought the name of a fruit -- "apple" -- would become the name for the world's most valuable company? Apple co-founder Steve Jobs said he chose that name because he thought it sounded "fun, spirited and not intimidating." Ultimately, that name set the tone for Apple's culture as a creator of easy-to-use, innovative products. It got me to thinking about how we select the names for our programs and services at Lenbrook. 

Lenbrook was the natural choice for us when my wife and I decided it was time to move into a senior living community. It was the right choice for several reasons. For one, my parents chose to live in a CCRC (continuing care retirement community) way back in 1964. My father lived there nine years and my mother 22 years. Those were happy years for them in Penney Farms, Florida. So I’ve known what a CCRC is for a long time.

At our age, there's plenty to get grouchy about -- creaky knees and achy joints to name a few. So to help keep things on the brighter side, I work out regularly in our fitness center and I stay active on resident committees and community activities. But one of the best ways I've found to lift my spirits is to keep a "gratitude journal." It's amazing how this simple habit works so well and in so many ways.

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