Shannon Ingram's Place

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Location: So CA

Musings of a woman who left her corporate career to become a caregiver for elderly parents, wrote a book and found her way back to corporate - with love, instead of fear, leading the way.

Friday, May 27, 2011

To Oprah with Love

I wrote a letter to Oprah last night. Work kept me from watching her final show, but I finally learned how to record using the DVR to be sure I could tape the show. Little did I know that DVR thing is so easy! And little did I know I would cry all the way through Oprah's finale.

My tears were mostly happy ones - happy because I've always been one of those silent Oprah fans who simply takes what she says, does and recommends and puts it to use in my own life. I wrote the letter because I wanted her to know that during the past two and a half decades she has been my therapist, mentor, minister and friend - without ever knowing me. And yet she has always spoken directly to me - to my heart, mind and spirit. She makes me laugh, too. Some of you know that I wrote about "Oprah therapy" in my book.

A few years ago, I met Stedman Graham at a "Wake Up, Succeed" conference here in Orange County. He was a keynote speaker. He was also very personable. I loved that he said something like, "Admit it. You're not here to listen to me. You're here to see Oprah's boyfriend." That brought the house down. I could tell then and there that Oprah and Stedman had a healthy relationship even with her being the more famous of the two. Standing next to him for a photo-op, I chose to simply smile, thank him and not say anything else. Later I had a flash that what I did was what Oprah would have done if she were standing next to my husband!

I'm really happy that Oprah is now showing us that it's okay to leave a comfortable and prosperous place to take a vacation, relax, refresh and move onto something new and even a little risky. Many Boomer women have an opportunity to do that now, whether or not they want the option. Some are being downsized. Others are starting new careers after age 50 as I did a couple of years ago.

Oprah has taught me that no matter how blindingly successful (or even terrible) a person appears, they are just a human like me. I choose my attitude. My attitude is positive thanks in part to what I continue to learn from Oprah.

Love you, Oprah. And from now on, I promise to use my DVR more often!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Alcatraz and Angry Birds

There's something wonderful about being a "wide-eyed learner" this lifetime. Discovering a new place, pastime or passion can be exhilarating at any age.

Recently, my husband and I spent a weekend in San Francisco. We've both been there many times, but we had never visited Alcatraz, the infamous island prison that closed several years ago and is now a historic tourist attraction. It was the thing we most wanted to do and we were able to get tickets online a few days before our trip. The day we went to Alcatraz was undoubtedly one of the most beautiful days I've ever experienced in the amazing city by the bay - warm, calm waters, blue sky, sailboats and sunshine.

The island did not disappoint. We took the audio tour of the cell blocks and enjoyed a leisurely stroll around the rest of the compound. I was amazed at the English garden that was planted for the prison's residential staff to enjoy and is still in bloom. It's a marked contrast to the run-down buildings and the sometimes terrifying stories of deadly prison breaks and angry inmates of the past.

Once back on the mainland, we walked around Fisherman's Wharf, had lunch at Nonna Rose's, drank wine and watched the gazillion tourists from the Disney Wonder cruise ship which was in port its the way to Alaska for the summer. There were almost as many tourists as there were pigeons and seagulls.

Which brings me to another new experience. This week I got an iPhone. Forget all the cool app's and fabulous graphics, I had to have it because I want to be able to play the game, "Angry Birds," with my grandson, Keegan. At six, he already has an iPhone - or maybe it's an iTouch - but anyway, he plays "Angry Birds" all the time. And now I do too. Today I told some of my associates at work that I may be a candidate for "Angry Birds" rehab. Marcelo replied, "Addiction runs deep!" The truth is, I find this little game to be quite stimulating and VERY funny. That's a good combination for a new pastime, but maybe I need to play outside a little more. I'm passionate about the outdoors too and it's still springtime during which the face of nature is new and different every day. And the birdies are pretty darned happy in my backyard.

Friday, May 06, 2011

Happy Endings

I received this photo today and simply had to share it and the story it represents because for me, it's a Mother's Day gift. The little white dog on the right is Bailey, my mom's beloved toy poodle. He's playing tug-of-war with his "brother" at Silverado-Newport Mesa. When my mom passed away in January 2010, my husband and I took in Bailey. After a couple of months, our landlord informed us that we could only have two dogs. Unfortunately, Bailey had made three, in addition to our shepherd mix, Vanna, and corgi mix, Bindi Sue. Bailey was extremely overweight at that time and I was very anxious about finding the right person or family to adopt him. My heart was still broken over losing Mom and I felt as if I was losing her again by having to give up her dog.

Then a co-worker suggested something I hadn't even considered. Why not ask a Silverado community to adopt Bailey? After all, our residents are seniors and they love pets. Bailey had been living with my mom and dad at an assisted living community for three years. As great as it sounded, I knew that our company had rules about the kinds of pets they can adopt. I needed to make a decision quickly, so I sent an email to a few of our community administrators. Amazingly, Liana, Administrator of our Newport-Mesa community asked if she could meet Bailey. The rest is history.

A couple of months ago, a tiny, hungry, mangy male Yorkie was found in LA at a construction site in Watts. He, too, had the good fortune of finding his way into Liana's heart. She and her staff named him "Watson," and he instantly became Bailey's "little brother." Occasionally Bailey and Watson get scrappy trying to woo "Precious," the little female white poodle who also lives at the community. But mostly, for these little guys it's all about enjoying life with the residents, staff and each other. And for me this Mother's Day, I know my mom is smiling about the wonderful place where her "baby doggy" discovered his happy ending.

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Cheers for "The Silverado Story"

Big news from New York City today...If you're a frequent reader of my blog, then you know I work for Silverado Senior Living at the corporate offices in Irvine. One of my favorite projects of the past two years was to help Silverado's co-founders, Loren Shook and Steve Winner, write a book about their extraordinary company. Last November, their book, "The Silverado Story-A Memory Care Culture Where Love is Greater than Fear," was published by independent publisher AJC Press. The book was truly a labor of love for all involved, from the authors to Silverado associates who shared stories and photos. It was especially meaningful for the editorial-design-publishing team who worked very long hours to make it a reality - Patty Ledezma, Marcelo Soares, Tara Zoumer, Ellen Reid, Sean Glumace and the amazing Audrey Knoth of Goldman & Associates Public Relations. We put in several all-nighters to make the publishing deadline. And when the first real book arrived, we cried happy tears!

Today we are gratified that Silverado's goal of changing the world in the way that the memory-impaired are cared for may be happening in an even bigger way thanks to the broad reach of "The Silverado Story." We learned this afternoon that the book has won a Silver Medal in the 2011 national Independent Publisher Book Awards (IPPY) in the category of Aging. What an honor! Congratulations to Loren, Steve and the team!!