Celebrate Silver Linings

When Teresa Jackson first pointed out to me my writing style was ….um, interesting, it sparked a curiosity in me that I would spend my life exploring. That was a long time ago, we both had different last names then but found each other in the same classroom. She as my teacher and me as a smart mouth, scrawny teenager.

Fast forward nearly thirty years and The Messenger asks me to start contributing a regular column. I’m happy to write but with a disclaimer, I am not a reporter. My journalism career took a turn. From the days of taking sports scores for Bob Brown in The Messenger Sports Department to sending Ann Kersten my Twist and Shout column every month to writing a regular blog for one of the country’s top long-term care magazines, McKnight’s Long-Term Care. My path took several turns for a while it even involved television even though I have a face for radio.

My quirky path found way it’s way to serving seniors, not the 18-year-olds in high school but serving the great generations ever…the ones that came before me. My parents, my grandparents, teachers, doctors and experts all older than me…more life experience. People that are either living with us at Friendship Haven, considering living here or adults researching either for themselves or their parents. We serve thousands of seniors.

This is a great connection I’ve grown to cherish between leading, serving and coaching. An interesting combination for sure and one that keeps surprising me and teaching me life lessons. As a newbie empty nester, we are rediscovering what a home is like without kids running around 24 hours a day, which in turn gives me time for more contemplative thought. I’ve also learned that this field of long-term care has much more to offer than most people realize. It uncovers truths about people that might otherwise go unnoticed or never even talked about.

I’m a true believer that many answers to our toughest challenges if examined closely enough can be found within the walls of Friendship Haven. This column is not in any way meant to be an advertisement for Friendship Haven but rather a closer look at life, leadership and celebrating silver linings. If there is ever a time to share silver linings it’s today. Realistic optimism is a muscle worth strengthening. Writing for me is a way to flex that muscle if even for a few minutes each month.

My hope? Sharing my realistic optimistic perspective with you each month or so may challenge you to consider the world from a different lens. For example, how has this pandemic changed your life? Has it changed your life? Do you want to really understand what it is like for residents, loved ones and team members? That is just one in depth perspective to offer in future columns.

There will certainly be other topics to explore. These walls have over 70 years of knowledge to share, combine that with my nearly 50 years of life experiences as a coach’s daughter, television anchor, sales counselor, administrator, CEO, coach and mentor we are sure to have a blast celebrating silver linings!

Silver linings are always there; sometimes in the darkness, sometimes hiding behind the clouds, sometimes right in front of us but we can’t get out of our own way to see them. I look forward to the opportunity of exploring and celebrating the silver linings of life with you.

Julie Thorson has served Friendship Haven as its President and CEO since 2012. She started with the life plan community that 360 people call home in 1999. The Fort Dodge Senior High graduate started her career in Broadcast news after attending Iowa Central College and The University of Kansas. She was the 2018 recipient of the LeadingAge Dr. Herbert Shore Outstanding Mentor of the Year. She contributes monthly to McKnight’s Long-Term Care News with her “Living Leadership” blog. Thorson is a coach’s daughter at heart starting her career in long term care as a part-time nursing home social worker, she is now recognized as a leader in the field of long-term care.


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