2021 ONE LITTLE WORD — INTENTION

It’s the middle of February and I am not feeling my original 2021 OLW. Let’s change it.

At the the end of 2020, I had picked what I thought was the perfect one little word (OLW) moving into the new, hopeful year of 2021 – maintenance. Despite the chaotic and unexpected year that was 2020, I worked hard to create healthy and suitable habits in many aspects of my life regarding physical, emotional, and financial health.

In January 2021, maintenance sounded like a great goal to have! Of course I wanted to keep exercising 5x/week and read everyday, because my biggest personal accomplishments in 2020 were a direct result of those habits. But here’s the thing, it doesn’t feel possible or sustainable at all right now to maintain these habits, at that’s okay. Because the fact of the matter is I’m not working out 5x/week, not even 3x/week, because I don’t have the motivation or desire to do so. What I want to do for myself and my mental health is run outside. But that’s also exactly the thing I am not willing to do in the middle of February when the average temp is mid to low 30s. So what’s the deal? Am I unmotivated? Lazy? No, I don’t think so. It’s just not the right time. I had the best of intentions for myself, but my lack of progress signals to me, this isn’t working. And instead of being upset with myself or engaging in negative self talk, I can just change my word. Simple as that.

That brings me right now, February 14th, 2021, at the time I’m writing. Yes, Valentine’s Day. I found myself standing in Kroger, waiting to order a Starbucks drink and sandwich [because #treatyoself] and as I looked around at all the people buying bouquets and chocolates, it hit me. I’d lost touch with reality. On the surface I knew it was Valentine’s Day; I’d seen the advertisements. The romance book recommendations. The cute red and pink heart decorations at work. Even enjoyed the heart shaped donut Kyle brought home from Dunkin’ for me the day before. But it wasn’t until I was standing in the grocery store that I realized I hadn’t made a single effort or attempt to celebrate or acknowledge the holiday.

From there, my mind began to spiral. Christmas effectively came and went with little to no lasting impression. No stockings. No wrapped presents. No family gatherings. And yes, obviously this was due to the pandemic. All to say this reminded me of the promise I made to myself that 2021 would be different. I’d be more present, despite how depressed I felt or how chaotic work became. No matter the excuses I made for myself. Then a new word hit me like a ton of bricks.

Intention noun
1: thing intended; an aim or plan
2: what one intends to do or bring about
3: a determination to act in a certain way, resolve

Intentional adjective
1: done on purpose; deliberate
2: done by intention or design, intended

What a cliché OLW, I know. But it feels right.

Here’s the ways in which I hope to be more deliberate moving forward in the year 2021, guided by my new OLWs, intention and/or intentional.

Environment
Last year, I fell into the habit of sitting on the couch with my laptop, purely due to comfort. Less time sitting at my desk resulted in less journaling, less time spent being creative, and my desk became cluttered, unruly, and unmanageable. Definitely not a sight for sore eyes.
1 | sit at my desk to check emails, write blog posts, journal, engage in creativity

Similarly, Kyle and I fell into the habit of eating meals on the couch as our schedules got crazier and crazier as the year progressed. We used to set up the dinner table and enjoy dinner together, sometimes with candlelight, and I want to get back to that.
2 | eat more meals with Kyle at our dining room table

I had some initial success with working out at home when all the gyms closed, then really fell into a routine running outside which gave me such mental clarity and emotional stability in what would prove to be the hardest year of my life professionally. But anymore, my desire and motivation to exercise in the home is non-existent, even for a 20 minute work out.
3 | return to the gym (when safe to do so), walk and run outside when the weather allows

“A place for everything, everything in its place.”
— Benjamin Franklin

Time
I have dozens of ideas in my head of creative projects, some I think I should do, some I want to do. Also a handful of mundane tasks that have been on my to do list for 3+ years. It’s time I either buckle down and complete these projects or determine what the barriers are limiting me from completing these tasks.
1 | ditch the creative ideas and projects that aren’t sparking joy, alter expectations

In 2020, I lost sight of maintaining healthy boundaries with work. There was a point where I was working every weekend, feeling obligated to my employer to work 6 to 7 days per week because work was sparse at times in the middle of a pandemic. In December I realized the extra $120 on a paycheck wasn’t worth it. The bliss of having an entire day away from work did so much for my mental health than the extra hundred bucks a paycheck.
2 | prioritize time with and for myself aware from work without guilt or shame

I’m notoriously bad at maintaining a morning and nighttime routine. I’ve fallen into the bad habit of sleeping in on work days if I know my schedule is lighter than usually, which often back fires because things always pop up. I justify these actions by convincing myself I’m spending time with Kyle when in reality, his sleeping body is just next to my sleeping body.
3 | wake up at the same time every work day, despite having a ‘short work day’

Time is the most valuable thing a man can spend.
— Theophrastus

No one can know what the future holds, but this is a good enough place to start.

Until next time, Meryn


2020 ONE LITTLE WORD – DOCUMENT
2020 ONE LITTLE WORD – MID-YEAR UPDATE
2020 ONE LITTLE WORD – END-YEAR UPDATE

A LOVE LETTER TO THE SNF THAT RAISED ME

Welcome to my diary entry, stream of consciousness on the pain and grief felt having been given one weeks notice that my position at my first job was terminated due to a dissolved business agreement.


How do you say goodbye to a place that means so much?

How do you accept leaving a job not on your own terms?

But the terms of a dissolved partnership?

I thought I would get to decide when my last day was.

I thought this was my decision to make.

I thought I’d leave on my terms.

Not the terms of management.

I get it, life’s not fair.

I know.

How do I say goodbye to the coworkers that made each day better than the one before?

To the patients and residents that made me a better physical therapist?

More so, a better person?

More empathetic.

More patient.

A better communicator.

A better listener.

With improved confidence and conflict resolution skills.

How do I say goodbye?

I wasn’t given the chance or the privilege to say goodbye to those taken by the COVID virus.

I think about them everyday.

Jane,

Betty,

Lee,

Lupe,

Arden,

Rick,

Don.

I’ll feel that pain for rest of my life.

How they died alone.

So unnecessarily.

But remember,

Life’s not fair.

I know, I know.

I walked in a fearful new grad.

Scared out of my mind.

Into a building with a lot of heart.

And a lot to offer.

A team with so much to learn from.

And I leave a better PT.

I leave a better person.

From the bottom of my heart,

Thank you,

Meryn Frey, PT, DPT

2020 IN REVIEW: THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE UGLY

The year 2020 was a lot of things:
unexpected, transformative, eye-opening

I had no idea that I would:

Start a blog and publish 50 blogposts

Read 56 books and start a bookstagram

Complete a whole30

Run a half marathon

Lose 30 pounds

Start trading in the stock market

Negotiate a $2 raise in a global pandemic

Amass a six figure net worth

And grow closer in my relationship with my partner

But also:

Lose 13 patients, so unnecessarily

Sob uncontrollably at work

Mourn and grieve those I never had the chance to offer a goodbye

Put my patient’s health and well being ahead of my social life

Become a telehealth physical therapist

And as a society we didn’t expect to:

Lose some 400,000 American lives to the cornavirus

Bear witness to horrific events of racism in this country

Mourn the losses of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and hundreds more

Watch our nationals capitol be stormed and defaced at the hand of white supremacist, Trump supporters

But there was some good:

Bread baking, puzzle building, reading, working out at home, playing board and card games

Carbon dioxide emissions declined

Shelter intake was down 24% compared to last year due to the increase in pet adoptions

NASA launched an advanced rover to Mars and landed a spacecraft on an asteroid

A SpaceX rocket sent American astronauts to the International Space Station

Mass production and distribution of the Pfizer and Moderna COVID19 vaccine

Record number of Americans turned out to vote in our national election, despite the pandemic – best voter turn out in 120 years

Inauguration of President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris

Resources:

1 | 18 Actually Good Things That Happened in 2020
Huffpost article linked here

2 | 20 good things that happened in 2020
The Washington Post article linked here

3 | 50 positive things that happened in 2020 (so far)
The Columbus Dispatch article linked here

4 | Good news in 2020? Yes, it’s true! Here are 100 positive things that happened this year
USA article linked here

5 | It wasn’t all bad: Here are 20 good things that happened in 2020
Fox29 article linked here

6 | These are the hobbies everyone has picked up during COVID-19 outbreak
The Ladders article linked here

Until tomorrow, Meryn


CURRENTLY // JANUARY 2021

Reading

Planning

For the year of 2021, scheduling time off for weddings, weekend getaways, short trip to Nebraska in October, purchasing our first home, financial successes

Watching

News coverage regarding the attack on The Capitol, Inauguration of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, Booktube’s favorite books of 2020, beauty Youtube’s 2020 favorites, news regarding Reddit’s impact of GameStop stock

Cooking

Romaine salads with weird toppings like green beans, hash browns, chicken sausage with ranch and/or barbeque sauce, various chilis and soups, taco salads, pork carnitas stuffed sweet potatoes, potato crusted frittata, hot cocoa cinnamon rolls with marshmallow icing

Eating

Afternoon appetizer’s at Manhattan’s Pub ‘n Cheer to celebrate coworker’s last day

Drinking

MAAANGO! IPA and Azaccazilla Hazy IPA from Zipline Brewing Co., iced black coffee with occasional coconut milk from Biggby

Pinning

Home interiors and inspiration, mid century modern design, ideas for book bullet journaling, chocolate, peanut butter, and coffee desserts, monthly habit trackers, beautiful home libraries

Making

Hand lettering wedding envelopes, 2020 half marathon jams Spotify playlist, reviewing 2020 finances

Going

To the library 2-4 times/week to pick up new books, Kroger about once a week, Biggby like 2-3 times/week still sipping on that iced coffee, a few neighborhood walks (it’s still way too cold)

Loving

Listening to audiobooks during my daily work commute, Toledo Public Library, buddy reading sci fi with my brother, Bernie Sanders inauguration sensible mitten meme (linked here)

Feeling

Embarrassed to be an American with the attacks against our Nation’s Capitol, pissed off by a 2% wage cut, empowered to negotiate a better rate, I thought I’d feel proud when I argued a higher rate but I felt kinda slime-y inside, but I also hate management of the companies I work for so screw you

Listening // Podcasts + Books

Book Riot: Episode 422 Our Favorite Reads of 2020, Episode 426 2021 Spring Preview
Hood Feminism by Mikki Kendall, So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo, and Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng

Listening // Music

Driver’s License by Olivia Rodrigo, Good Days by SZA, Save Your Tears by The Weeknd, Paradise by MEDUZA, Lana Del Ray, The Kid LAROI

Celebrating

Second dose of the Pfizer COVID vaccine, Cleveland Brown’s winning season 12-6 and play off appearance, preliminary steps for getting pre-approved for a mortgage, successful negotiation for a $3/hour raise (“During a panny? A panorama? During a Patricia? In this ECONOMY” source here)

Learning

Online CEU: Imaging in Physical Therapy Practice: Medical Screening & Integration with Clinical Decision‐Making, about the life and legacy of Hank Aaron, how to purchase a home as a first time home buyer

Supporting

My own mental health and well being, creating boundaries and upholding them, choosing not to overextend myself for a company that doesn’t outwardly express gratitude for my flexibility, dedication, skill, and reliability – we aren’t here for that in 2021 hunny

Buying

Board games and card games with Christmas money, domain name for this blog, candle from Handzy Shop + Studio and sent to California as a late Christmas gift, maid of honor dresses from Lulu’s for May wedding

Monthly Mood Board

Until tomorrow, Meryn


BIDEN / HARRIS INAUGURATION DAY REFLECTION

January 20, 2021

A historic day for women

Kamala Harris

Now officially Madam Vice President

The nation’s first female, Black and South Asian Vice President

The glass ceiling?

Shattered

 “I may be the first woman to hold this office.”

“But I won’t be the last.”

Jill Biden

Dr. Jill Biden

Once Second Lady, now First

Wife

Mother

Teacher

Educator

In the White House

“Teaching isn’t just what I do, it’s who I am.”

I’ll tell my children about this day

With tears in my eyes and pride in my heart

The chills I had every time I heard the words, “Dr. Jill Biden”

Because it’s not easy being highly educated and articulate

And it’s not easy being a woman

It’s harder to be both

I beam with pride every time I hear her name

Speak her name

Dr. Jill Biden

“Mr. President and Dr. Biden”

I was once ridiculed for studying too much

Too focused on school work in college

But what did it get me?

The title I hold so near to my heart

Dr. Meryn Frey

Doctor of Physical Therapy

Today I exclusively signed my name Dr. Meryn Frey

In Dr. Biden’s honor

I’m proud of my degrees

I’m proud of my hard work, determination, and dedication

I’m proud to hold the title Doctor

I allow no man to make my feel inferior for their little self worth

Until tomorrow, Dr. Meryn Frey


SNF PT POV: COVID-19 JANUARY 2021 UPDATE

December 22, 2020

For the first time, in a long time, I have hope

I chose to get the COVID vaccine for myself, but more importantly, for my patients

I can’t bring back the 14 patients who have died unnecessarily at the hand of this virus

But I can do my part to protect myself and my patients, from this day forward

January 12, 2021

Today, 21 days later, I felt excitement and thrill receiving my second dose

I’m proud to stand with science

To trust the scientific process

To support the scientists and researchers who made this vaccine possible

In record time

I’m proud to advocate in my personal and professional lives

On the importance and impact of vaccination

Because I’m done with the heart break

The mourning

And the grieving

I’m ready to close this very difficult chapter

The tears I’ve shed have evolved over the course of this pandemic

First, in fear, with uncertainty and unknowns

Second, in happiness, as my patients started to recover

Now, in hope

Hope for new, better days ahead

I hold onto hope

Until tomorrow, Meryn


2020 ONE LITTLE WORD — END-YEAR UPDATE

A quick recap on what One Little Word is by creator, Allie Edward: “a word to focus on, to live with, to investigate, to write about, to craft with, and to reflect upon as I go about my daily life. These words have each become a part of my life in one way or another—a process I document via simple creative monthly prompts from January to December.”

To read my OLW introduction, click here, and to re-visit my mid-year update, click here

End-Year Update

1.
meryn made blog

Status: GOAL MET
I crushed this goal, if I do say so myself. Since it’s inception at the end of March, I’ve posted 50 blogposts in total in 2020, which just boggles my mind. My plan was to write about art, creativity, inspiration, physical therapy, and health and wellness. But, plot twist, what I’ve posted the most about is books and reading – so unexpected!

2.
Happy Planner daily fitness planner
Happy Planner daily journal

Status: PARTIALLY MET
Sitting undistributed and unopened for months, I blew off the dust and cracked open my fitness planner to see that I haven’t written in it since August 30th. That’s not to say I gave up on fitness in the second half of the year – quite the opposite, actually. As the summer days turned to fall and the cooler weather set in, I found myself wanting to run outside more, compared to exercising at home in our living room. Running became a very real form of therapy for me in October when COVID was running rampant in my nursing homes, taking the lives of so many. As a result, I stopped writing and reflecting in my fitness journal completely. I did continue to track my weight and measurements in my excel spreadsheet and the FitBit app through October 1st. But after I ran my quarantine half marathon on Halloween, I took the first 3 weeks of November off all exercise.

In a similar way, I kept up with weekly decorative planning in my happy planner through September, but fell off in October when COVID struck at work and never got back to creative daily planning. I continued to utilize my planner for planning, obviously, but it was pen and highlighter only.

3.
Card/invitation ring book
Beer stickers pocket pages
Travel stickers pocket pages

Status: NOT MET, NO PROGRESS
Yeah, I just never got around to any of these, but at least have an idea of the barriers limiting my progress, I think.

In regards to the card/invitation ring book, the hold up in my head is that I think everything that I need to complete this project is scattered all over the place, in various boxes both here in our apartment and back home. Which really shouldn’t be a barrier, I just haven’t prioritized this project.

I feel the same about the beer and sticker pocket pages as I did during the mid-year update – I just don’t want to invest time, energy, and money into a project when I can’t be certain myself or anyone else will actually look at it. Kyle and I did go through some of the beer stickers and turned them into magnets for our small beer fridge in our wet bar, so some of the (duplicate) stickers are on display.

4.
One Line a Day (OLAD) journal

Status: GOAL MET
I definitely met this goal and my OLAD is one of my favorite things I worked on this year. I started this journal thinking it would be so interesting to track the first 5 years of this new decade. Little did I know on January 1st, 2020, that this year would be simultaneously the best and worst, most transformative year of my life. And I have daily entries highlighting it all, for better or for worse!

I will say that I didn’t keep up with my daily entries like I would have hoped. In the last quarter of the year, there were times when I got 10-14 days behind and had to go back through my daily planner, camera photo roll, Instagram, and Twitter to fill in the one line prompt, but we made it work.

5.
Letterfolk passport update
2018 South Dakota/Wyoming road trip Mixbook
2019 Denver, Colorado trip vacation Mixbook
2020 Breckenridge ski vacation Mixbook

Status: NOT MET, NO PROGRESS
Yeah, literally no progress made on creating photobooks of the last few vacations I’ve taken. While I love the idea of having these memories and pictures in a physical, bound book, I rarely look at the one I made in 2018 for my trip to Europe. Maybe when Kyle and I have our own home and a proper place to store and display these books, I’ll feel more inclined and inspired to revisit this project.

Also never cracked open any of my Letterfolk passports, which could be due in part to little to no traveling this year. Honestly I never thought of them at all this year, out of sight out of mind I suppose.

Until tomorrow, Meryn


CURRENTLY // DECEMBER 2020

Reading //

Planning // reading plans for Kayla’s #buzzwordathon 2021 (blogpost linked here), goals and intentions for 2021, TBR list for 2021

Watching // marathoning booktube content from Kayla of BooksandLala (youtube channel linked here), dipping my toes in fellow Canadian booktuber Ariel Bissett (youtube channel linked here), The Bachelorette finale spoilers and highlights, Jessica and Tyler Braun’s vlogmas content, Amber Burns’s vlogmas content

Cooking // Half Baked Harvest chipotle cheddar corn chowder, Half Baked Harvest 4 cheese sun-dried tomato and spinach pasta bake, dutch baby, funfetti mug cake, The Defined Dish black pepper chicken

Eating // Mancino’s baked potato pizza

Drinking // drinking Nebraska and Colorado craft beer from James and Rikki for the First Annual Frey Family Beer Exchange

Crafting // 2021 family photo collage for mom’s holiday card, wedding envelope lettering practice, book cover collages

Going // to watch Kyle play indoor soccer at the sports dome, Red Cross blood donation (COVID antibodies not detected)

Loving //drinking tea in the evenings while reading, muji 0.38 fine tip pen, Taylor Swift’s ninth studio album Evermore, flipping through my One Line A Day journal

Dreaming // of a fresh new start with a new year, my second COVID vaccine dose, Cleveland browns Super Bowl

Feeling // careless and stupid for rear ending a van on my way to work (hit a patch of black ice), tears of joy receiving my first dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine , accomplished having read 56 books this year, proud of my 30 pound weight loss this year, impressed with my finances and year end net worth, above all else, hopeful for 2021

Listening // Podcasts: Book Riot, Books Unbound

Listening // Spotify: Taylor Swift’s new album Evermore (top 3: coney island, no body, no crime, and long story short), Michael Bublé’s Christmas, Today’s Top Hits playlist, my 2020 Half Marathon Jams playlist

Celebrating // FDA approval of Pfizer’s COVID vaccine and mass delivery out of in Portage, MI, two more custom wheelchair deliveries, surpassing reading goal of 30 books with a total 56 this year

Learning // Airbnb IPO set for 12/10, intubation protocols from Kyle, Kamala Harris’s political and personal history through her autobiography

Supporting // local and small businesses for the holiday season: Paige Poppe artist, Flourish in Fibers fiber art, Wax Buffalo candles, Peripeti candles, MAME soy candles

Buying // board games and cards games with Christmas money, Ohio City Oatmeal Stout, new Whole30 book Cooking Whole30

Monthly Mood Board //

Until tomorrow, Meryn


CURRENTLY // NOVEMBER 2020

Reading //

Watching // Regan of PeruseProject on youtube, Tik Tok creatives collaborating on the fictional Ratatouille the Musical, Cleveland Browns 8-3 baby!

Cooking // homemade cornbread, Buck Naked Kitchen Thanksgiving turkey meatballs, Half Baked Harvest beer bread, Half Baked Harvest carnitas, homemade meatloaf and mashed potatoes

Eating // traditional Thanksgiving Day grub from work

Drinking //

Going // Slow Brew at the Toledo Zoo (unlimited samples from local roasters and coffee exhibitors)

Loving // cute thank you letters at Thanksgiving from local students, first snow fall of the year, borrowing books from the Toledo Public Library, posting on my MerynMade Instagram – lots of book stacks!

Feeling // frustrated after being mandated to work the COVID unit after the building realized the lost revenue, like a true healthcare hero – finally, mildly depressed being alone for Thanksgiving, defeated with 100% of patients testing positive for COVID19, hopeful, we have to be, thankful for my health and the health of my family, friends, and coworkers, love-hate relationship with new responsibilities as a telehealth PT

Listening // Spotify: This is Lennon Stella, artist Dua Lipa, Adele, Normal People Official Playlist

Celebrating // President elect Joe Biden and Vice President elect Kamala Harris, announcement of a new Biggby on Airport Hwy

Supporting // local fiber artist Flourish in Fibers (Instagram, Etsy), Garden Harvest Marketplace and Deli (buying local Ohio and Michigan beer for family Christmas beer exchange)

Monthly Mood Board //

Until tomorrow, Meryn


THANKSGIVING DAY REFLECTION: COVID-19

It’s Thanksgiving Day, 2020. Here is what’s on my mind:

I’ve spent a fair amount of time reflecting on the past few weeks and months living and working through the COVID-19 global pandemic. This public health crisis has brought forth a lot of change, for good and for bad – I find myself repeating this has been a transformative year, but more on that later. While there is much to be thankful for, including my health and the health of my loved ones, job security, a roof over my head and food in the fridge, I am not one to ignore the emotional pain and grief I’ve endured this year.

I take no shame in fully engrossing myself in my emotions. I promised myself long ago that I would never feel embarrassed for having or displaying my feelings, which, in the past few months, has manifested itself as sobbing at work, unapologetically. I sobbed as residents were discharged following positive COVID-19 test results, uncertain if or when I’d ever see them again. I sobbed as the positive cases grew, first it was 2, then 4, then 7, 13, 19, then it was 100% of residents. Finally there were moments of tears of joy when residents started to recover and were moved off the COVID unit.

Nothing has been harder than holding the hands of my dying Hospice patient, only to learn she passed alone 2 hours later. I felt hopelessness and fear watching a 31 year old receive CPR, to hear time of death called, then to see her lifeless body alone in her room. The tears have slowed down overall, but they visit me when someone asks how I’m doing or how work has been. Or now, when I spend intentional time thinking about the patients, the friendships, I’ve lost.

At this point, I’ve lost 13 patients, a majority of whom I’ve known and cared for since the first day of my career as a nursing home physical therapist. These are people who died unnecessarily at the negligence of others, my heart will always hurt for them. In an effort to honor them, I’ve kept a running list of their names alongside fond memories or stories I’ve shared with these special people.

  • Cynthia showed me the importance of gratitude and appreciation for those who help others
  • Beverly taught me you’re never too old to play video games, especially until 3AM
  • Don showed me a few words was enough to let your needs be known
  • Lupe taught me the time is always right for a cup of coffee and a cookie, especially at the end of a PT session
  • Ed showed me how my words impact outcome and patient trust
  • Lee taught me the importance of knowing what you want and standing your ground – “but I don’t wanna” and “I’m lazy”
  • Arden taught me the only correct answer to the question “how are you?” is “finer than frog fur”
  • Richard showed me strong men cry
  • Betty taught me you’re never too old to appreciate a cute pair of shoes
  • Jane taught me the key to being simply the best grandma was to rest as often as possible
  • Rick taught me no matter how hard you try, the worst of circumstances can fall on to the best of people

I hope I don’t have to add many more names and memories to this list, but it is likely the number will grow. COVID cases are rising, expecting to get worse as we head into the holiday and winter season. In conclusion, wear a mask, wash your hands, distances yourself from others when able, and treat others with kindness.

Until tomorrow, Meryn