Cherishing the Joys and Embracing the New Year

A message from our Founder, Dr. Kathy Hull

For our newest staff members, who I may not yet have had the opportunity to meet, let me introduce myself. I am Kathy Hull, wearer of many hats here at George Mark: Founder, Staff Psychologist, member of our Board of Directors. On a more personal level, I am a collector of sundry things that feel special to me: books, recipes, holiday décor (have truly gone over the deep end with Turkeys, Santas and Snowmen!), quotes, friends, and experiences…both challenging and exhilarating.

Turning the calendar page to December (I am quaint, and sufficiently old fashioned to still use a paper calendar…and write chart notes by hand!) is always a bit startling to me: Holy Moly! Another trip around the sun completed and a year gone by. Month twelve also seems to lend itself to reflection on the year that is ending…the triumphs, large and small; disappointments; poignant times; moments of delight; the accumulation of experiences, some hard — others joyful, that mark the last 365 days. This year has been a transformative one, pushing us all to create new ways of thinking and being.

2021 will certainly be remembered as year two of the pandemic…the enormous relief of vaccine discoveries; the continuing challenges of new variants; the cautious gatherings with people we love and have missed seeing. Who knew that the most valued wardrobe accessory would be masks?! This last year has felt off kilter; we haven’t regained our balance as much as we had hoped. Yet, in the midst of feeling unsettled, there is the chance to reimagine the way we handle things. For many of us, our perspective on priorities and what feels most important in life has significantly changed. As Cecily Tyson reflected: “Challenges make you discover things about yourself that you never really knew. They’re what make you stretch…and go beyond the norm.” I have watched with pride as each of you stretched to reimagine how best to care for our fragile children/young adults and their families. Together, we drew on strengths and overcame enormous challenges, to create a safe, Covid free workplace for staff and a sanctuary for our patients.

So, as the year draws to a close, the most compelling feeling for me is one of gratitude: for welcoming, open arms at GMCH to embrace the families who so need our services; for those who comprise our dedicated, quite extraordinary staff; for my own enormous family who offer much welcomed encouragement, support and love. I think that J. McIntosh shares wisdom in her words: “Accept the pain, resolve the regrets, cherish the joys.” May the New Year hold many joys to cherish… good health, positive experiences, and more than a few serendipities.

Dr. Kathy Hull is Founder and  Staff Psychologist at George Mark Children’s House (GMCH), The Center of Excellence in Pediatric Palliative Care. She has been active in clinical psychology for more than 30 years. She has devoted the last several years of her professional life to developing and sustaining GMCH, working directly with our children and their families in providing holistic pediatric palliative care.

Listen to Kathy’s TEDtalk, where she shares powerful stories of patients and families and their experiences at George Mark.