Life in January

By Lolly Wigall

Sometimes it is hard to get going.  During this holiday season, I have taken several days off from work.  I have used the time to pursue one of my favorite hobbies – sewing quilts.  I have quite a “stash,” as we quilters say.

One of my resolutions last year was to not purchase more material until I use up what I have.  This particular day, I found a bag with material a friend had given me.  The color palette is very different from anything I would normally choose.  The colors are pretty, don’t get me wrong.  But, I usually purchase bright and clear colors.  This bag was filled with dark navies, heathery blue, creamy beige, off-white, and willowy blue.

Usually when someone is making a quilt, a pattern is selected and then pieces are cut accordingly.  Usually the quilt maker has an idea of how the quilt will look when it is finished.  And, it takes planning and a certain amount of fabric to produce a certain sized quilt. Quilt fabric is not cheap,  so careful planning is needed to avoid wasting money or time.

In fact, in one day I cut all the pieces and sewed them into a quilt top.  The quilt top was a simple three-by-five rectangular pattern.  Since I had an uneven amount of material, I just randomly sewed the pieces together.  I really didn’t mind where the different colors went.  When I started I didn’t even know how many pieces I had or how big the quilt top would become.  I just plunged ahead.  The only plan I had was to get this material into something usable.  I was grabbing fabric and making something.

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Each day as it comes

That’s how I am many days.  I just plunge ahead without a plan.  I just take the day as it comes.  I face each patient or person I meet without any idea of how I will address their hearing problems.  I see the next person on the schedule and listen intently to them.  I then try to analyze what they are saying so I can clearly understand their issues.

This can be good.  It means that I approach each person without any prejudices or pre-conceived notions on how I will solve the issue.  I am fresh.  I am present.  I am here. I am not daydreaming.

For me, floating is good when I am seeing patients.  It is my way of being present with them.  It is a way of listening to them.

The problem occurs when I float through every day and do not finish the chart notes for each patient.  It is easy to say that I will finish the charts at the end of the day.  Then, I have a stack of charts to open, make notes in the charts and on the computer.  I need to do the service repairs and order the new aids.  My end-of-the-day project can take hours if I have seen a lot of patients during the day.  Seeing 10 to 15 patients a day can suddenly create quite a burden at the end of the day.

It’s a New Year

openBut, to own a business means you really cannot float every day. It is January. There are beginning-of-the-year projects to tackle.  I usually have my marketing plan in place by January 1. I need to call payroll to set up each employee’s vacation, sick, and personal time. Their medical and dental plans must be in place before the first payroll of the year. I need to gather information for year-end books. The accountant will want to set up meetings for taxes.

I need to review the  performance of  employees to see how we compared to previous years. Analysis. Looking back and looking forward simultaneously. Comparing and contrasting. Dark colors and light colors. Making a pattern.  Choosing colors and a pattern. Create a design that is pleasing to the maker and to the viewer.

Life’s choices are not always clear when you make the initial decision to head down a certain path.

When I chose audiology as a career, I had an inkling that I would like to own my own business. But, it was luck and accident that created the opportunity for that dream to come true.  I have had to develop skills along the way.

I was at a party recently and met some new people.  The gentleman asked me what I did for a living. I said I was an audiologist and I just celebrated 25 years of owning my own practice. He questioned if I had other degrees, such as an MBA or a doctorate degree. I said no, just my Master’s degree in Audiology. “How did you learn to run the business?”  I replied, “By the seat of my pants.”  “Hmm,” he said, “most people don’t make it in business without an MBA.”

By the Seat of My Pants

Yes, by the seat of my pants I have learned new skills. By the seat of my pants I have just plunged ahead without a plan, just a gut feeling. By the seat of my pants I have developed mottos, procedures, business practices, marketing plans, and budgets, hired and fired employees, and made myriad of decisions.

Isn’t that how life is, mostly?

We choose a general direction and learn to make the most of it. You may think I spend all my time floating. It isn’t true; it may look like it from the outside. I am fairly analytical and value-oriented.  My floating is a conscious decision to listen to patients and treat them individually, just as I want to be treated. I like to be present. But, I also like surprises like making a quilt without any color placement or pattern. Our lives need some surprises sometimes.