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60/20 Tour: A Heartfelt Welcome, Harmonica Frenzy, and a Busted Fuel Pump


A single stop today, and a great one.  LindenGrove in the suburbs of Milwaukee is an innovative organization always willing to embrace change and a long time iN2L supporter. Their CEO, Linda Joel, is one of those rare people who can hold true to the passion and mission of the organization and simultaneously run a successful business.  Linda has a rec therapy background. It’s a huge benefit for the company when CEOs have that experience, as they inherently grasp the power of engagement.  LindenGrove throws a great party, bestowing honors on Leslie and me from all directions. I’m up to birthday cake #47 on the tour, with more than 2 months left.

Every week, heck, almost every day, something new pops out of the resident bag of tricks.  I thought nothing would top the yodeling from Missouri,  but at LindenGrove a new experience blows me away.  Originally, we had not planned any cruising and crooning,  but after seeing the videos we’d already made and the stories those videos tell, they changed their mind, so at the last minute, we decided to throw one together. So, who to pick?  Out of the corner of my eye, I randomly see one of the residents cranking on the harmonica! What? This guy had to be our star, so I approach him cautiously (it’s sometimes hard to explain to residents what we’re doing).  His name is Harris, and as I start talking to him, I realize in addition to his musical skillset he’s a WWII vet!  Harris was so, so cool. He had a box he carried around with him that contained 13 harmonicas,  many from the 30s and 40s.  I’m totally blown away but trying to play it cool to gently nudge him into cruising and crooning,  I tell him about my dad’s experiences in WWII,  and he’s in! What a trip! Harris is 92 and a tad frail, but when he starts blowing his harmonica, he’s a 20-year-old. His body strengthens, his volume and vocabulary pick up…it was totally transformational.  I cannot wait to see this video; it offers such an example of the transformational power of person-centered programming

So, I’m riding off my “harmonica high”, ready to head to Illinois. But the fuel pump on our van had other ideas. I hoped it was out of gas or maybe just needed to cool down, but it’s a problem. The engine won’t turn over, so we’re stuck in New Berlin, Wisconsin (thanks Debbie for your hospitality). Late at night, we get it towed to a local dealer, and it strikes me that our colorful 60/20 van looks like a carnival vehicle on the tow truck.

I’m not sure what to expect tomorrow,  but resiliency will play a part…

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