Confessions of a Nurse

Propelling Forward: 2017’s One Word

by Nursetopia on January 1, 2017

The one word I’ve chosen for 2017 is intentional. 

I want to be intentional with my time and energy and relationships and money. I want to strongly pursue my passions and have courage to say no to those things that are not my calling or purpose. I want to be a wise steward of the time I have with the people I love the most. I want to think through my hours, days, weeks, year before they simply happen and pass me by.

Are you using one word for 2017? If so, what is it?

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In Retrospect: Nursetopia’s 2016 One Word

by Nursetopia on December 31, 2016

Rather than resolutions, I pick one word each year to guide my thoughts and actions. I’ve done this for the better part of a decade, and I have chronicled each of these one words on Nursetopia since the blog began. You can find past one word summations for 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015, and I’ll post my one word for 2017 tomorrow, but today I’ll review my one word for 2016 – “stretch.”

Boy, howdy! (That’s “southern” for holy cow or O.M.Gosh!) Stretch was an appropriate word as I kept it at the forefront of my mind on many occasions. I used it frequently to encourage myself to “lean in” rather than “push away” from uncomfortable or unplanned moments throughout the year or to rise to presented opportunities.

For example, I directed a second, different healthcare service line – cardiovascular services – which expanded my background and experience. An oncology nurse running the CV services? Yeah, it actually worked, and it helped me realize that my nursing specialty isn’t only oncology but, rather, nursing leadership; it was great experience to see that healthcare really does look and work very similarly behind the curtains of every service area. With that, though, I worked more this year than I ever have in years passed (even when I opened a new cancer center), and I almost pulled a heart-string in the process, feeling pummeled in every way and like a failure both at work and at home. For a self-proclaimed overachiever, it felt hopeless at times – like I didn’t have enough time or energy to cover everything that needed to happen to realize our service line strategies. I felt like I was doing a disservice to my team members, my organization, and my family.

What I didn’t anticipate is that my stretching throughout 2016 included actually saying I needed a change in my work and giving that work to another leader so I could have happiness in both my personal and professional lives. It was hard to say so, but I did it. It stretched me greatly, and it was humbling.

My stretching continued by working diligently to maintain margin in my life – margin for the priorities that matter most to me.

Earlier in the year I applied for a large role; I didn’t get it. That was stretching, for sure, and while I didn’t say so at the time of writing, I shared about it and how those similar moments have shaped – and stretched – me.

I submitted the largest writing piece of work I have done to-date in my career, editing a healthcare book for the general public. That was quite the stretch: working with the publisher, developing the table of contents, finding all the authors, and then editing the entire work. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and I am excited to see it publish around May 2017.

Personally speaking, I picked-up a forgotten hobby – theater – for my self-care, and I am so glad I stretched in that way; it fed my soul in so many ways.

In addition in 2016, my family and I decided to begin our long-dreamed-of foster-to-adoption process. What stretching moments that has encompassed!

How was your 2016? Did you have a one word or resolutions that guided you?

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The Beauty of Reflecting on Your Work

by Nursetopia on February 13, 2016

Have you ever paused to reflect on your work from previous years? Like really paused to reminisce about your life’s work – what you’ve spent your minutes, hours, and days doing? It’s self-care in and of itself.

I’ve been blogging for over five years now, and I use nifty tools like most bloggers to bookmark topics or repost content I’ve written previously. Technology is quite amazing, no? Every once in a while I’ll see someone share a link of my writing that I forgot I penned, or I will catch something in a conversation that makes me think of an article I wrote several years ago. I’ll sift back through the articles and begin re-reading my work. Strangely enough, while I write many articles in moments of emotion, sometimes I cannot even recall what caused me to write my passionate words when reading them retrospectively. And, inevitably, as I’m looking there, I begin to see moments of encouragement intended for others over the years but that equally uplift me in that moment. And just like that – I’m thankful. I’m thankful I wrote down the permanent vulnerability. I am thankful for my creative outlet of writing. I am thankful for time well-spent. I am thankful for my friends through my writing. I am thankful for my days.

The same is true for my nursing work. When I pause to self-reflect, minutes turn into the brain’s quick page-turning yearbook of highlights that lift my soul. Even the dark moments have light flecks of hope in hind sight, faded by the brilliance of much more luminescent times.

Busy-ness can eat us away, Reflection pauses time to bring energy to the moments ahead. It’s beautiful self-care we overlook all-too-frequently in today’s six-second, microwave, drive-through 140-character culture.

Pause and think about your past year, five years, decade, or score. Relish your work, and be renewed for the work ahead.

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Pressing Forward: 2016’s One Word

by Nursetopia on January 1, 2016

stretchKnowing I’ll live with my one word for a full year, I take quite a bit of time to consider my next one word. After much consideration, I’m drawn to stretch. 

[Gulp]

As much as I tried to move in a different direction, I feel it coming for 2016, so I won’t resist but, rather, embrace it. Better yet, I’ll apply it to my entire life.

Stretching isn’t meant to “be stretched thin.” Stretching in physical activity, for example, serves the purposes to warm up and cool down the muscles, reduce injury, improve balance, increase range of motion, reduce stress and tension, and enhance performance. Stretching should not be painful, should not be omitted, and should be a part of daily physical activity.

I’ll stretch my relationships, my ideas, my writing, my work, my health, my encouragement, my finances, my business ideas, and my time as part of daily work to better balance, reduce strain, and enhance my overall life.

What’s your one word for 2016?

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Nursetopia In Retrospect: 2015’s One Word

by Nursetopia on December 31, 2015

onewordEach year I select one word to help guide my efforts throughout the year. It’s my form of a resolution, I guess. It’s quite amazing to think of the word weekly or daily in some cases and actually implement it in various efforts, and it is always beautiful to reflect over the goodness that word has helped bring into my life. Since doing this one word effort, years 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2014 have been quite interesting and enlightening, and I’ve smiled reading back over those end-of-year perspectives, marveling at the threads that have woven into my life far deeper and more brilliantly than I anticipated.

2015 has not disappointed.

My one word for 2015 has been give. And, boy, did I.

I found myself giving more to my family, to my work, to people around me. I gave my time in ways I never have before – stepping onto organizational boards of directors for not one – but two different, wonderful organizations. I volunteered more time to students and precepted eight undergraduate nursing students and two graduate nursing students throughout their nursing leadership courses as well as several business students and community leaders who asked for time with me. I bought more lunches and coffees than I may have ever done collectively in my years prior. I gave more thanks than ever in my life, writing over 1,200 thank you notes as best I can tell from various calendars and documents.

As much as I gave and gave and gave, I will transparently tell you this has been one of the best years of my life – filled with more joy and contentment and, yes, even wealth, than I have ever experienced. I have more meaningful relationships; I feel a sense of contribution; and I do not miss any of the money I have spent or donated over the last 12 months, but I do recall the warmth of those lunches and coffees and time and money well-spent with others or on meaningful efforts. It’s amazing how that has happened.

I have always believed in principles of giving – reaping what you sow…tithing…”give and it shall be given unto you” (Luke 6:38). I have tested that principle this year in all forms. It remains true.

I am thankful for the gift of giving in 2015, and I hope to continue it into 2016, but that’s not my one word for the New Year. I’ll share that tomorrow!

Did you have a one word for 2015? If so, what was it? What are you looking forward to in 2016?

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Missed You Bunches and Bunches

by Nursetopia on September 4, 2015

Long time no see! Yes, I am still alive. And well.

I always wonder when blogs – in general – suddenly stop. What happened? Is that it? 

Well, I could share reason after reason for not writing over the last two months. I’ll spare you, though, and just tell you I missed you bunches and bunches instead.

I did. Bunches.

In transparency, I’ve been nurturing a long-time dream, and it has taken a lot of my creative energy. I’m excited to share more when the time comes…which will be in about nine or ten more months…I think. You know how the creative process goes, right?

Anywhoooo. Good to see you again!

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Just Ask: Getting Over the ‘No’

by Nursetopia on July 18, 2015

She Could Say NoThere once was a time in my life that I would assume some of my ideas or requests would automatically be squelched with a “no” answer. My assumption would actually limit me from even asking or discussing the request or idea. One thing is for sure -the answer will always be “no” to something that’s not asked.

I had to get over the fear of “no.” In light of many other things in work and care, being told no is not really that big of a deal, but when you’re told no over and over again, you can start to think your ideas are rubbish and simply stop generating ideas altogether. That’s not good for any organization.

“No” for the sake of “no” has never really set well with me; I have always wanted to know the why behind the answer. Most people are this way, which is why leadership communication is important to validate ideas and questions. Just because the answer is no doesn’t mean the idea or request wasn’t valuable. I’ve learned that both when I’m told no with an explanation or I do the same thing with those who follow me, often times a subsequent idea results to overcome the explanation’s barrier. It’s a beautiful thing – respectful, transparent communication.

Receiving a “no” answer is really no big deal, but it does take practice – just like everything else – to maintain professionalism and competency within the situation. “No” comes in all forms, but it mostly signifies the opportunity to grow – to research more, collect additional data, strengthen a business case. It’s a stepping stone rather than a stumbling block.

Get over your fear of “no.” Just ask.

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Cure a Case of the Mondays with Gratitude

by Nursetopia on June 12, 2015

I had the case of the Mondays. You know the feeling; everything seemed to fall apart at work or be too busy for me to catch my breath.

Amazing, though, how gratitude washes away the Mondays – or fear – or anxiety – for me, at least. As I pulled away from work in my air conditioned vehicle, with tires in great shape and full gas tank, I drove on paved roads – passing an ambulance on its way to the exact place I was leaving for the day. I picked up my smartphone and called my family who was all safe and sound within our home, getting ready for an evening of rest. I had the luxury of silence on my way home, able to process the day, and I thought about the coding specialist who identified cost savings, the nurse who agreed to write an article for professional publication, the physician looking for ways to expand our integrative medicine capabilities, the manager diligently filling her team with the right candidates, the manager who secured emergency resources for a patient, the nurse who identified process improvements, the social worker who protected a patient from harm, the nurse who offered to come into work if needed, the pharmacist who spoke up about an environmental concern, the leaders who entrusted an issue to my hands and mind, the colleagues who helped me with an intensive, new process…and those are the examples I thought of in the first five minutes. I paused thinking of how blessed I am to work with such exceptional people.
And as I realized how blessed I am at work, making a prosperous wage, I pulled into my home driveway and entered my air-conditioned home, warmed by the love of a healthy family who needn’t even think about where the next meal will come from because the scent of supper, from a bubbling crockpot, was filling the rooms. I took a warm shower and put on clean clothes, only to be met by one of my children asking to spend time with me.
Rough day? What rough day? Gratitude is self-care for my soul.

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Looking Ahead: One Word for 2015

by Nursetopia on January 1, 2015

With much thought, my one word for 2015 is give.

Simply, I want to give more financially, spiritually, emotionally, and physically. I want to give my time and energy to impactful efforts and meaningful moments. I want to give anonymously and without desire or want of return. I hope to give more thanks and donate more to my community.

Give. I’m really looking forward to 2015!

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In Retrospect: 2014’s One Word

by Nursetopia on December 31, 2014

One word has helped guide my life and work each and every year for the past decade or so. I’ve chronicled these one words ever since Nursetopia began, and it’s nice to look back and see how the single word, kept on the forefront of my mind throughout the year, really did shape my actions.

2014’s one word was relationships. After 2013’s change and newness of a different job and city, I wanted 2014 to focus on solidifying my community. And that all boils down to relationships.

I started 2014 with a race with my siblings that I ended up simply walking – and talking – with my sister; it was great. I also moved my family to a different rental property because we were going nuts in our other one; it turned out to be a really great thing for our family as a whole. I burned through handwritten notes for friends, coworkers, and clients. My birthday was an Austin Color Run team that friends and family members joined. I shared a beach vacation with 22 of my family members; took a cruise with my mom and older sisters; and worked hard to ensure date nights continued. I remembered my one word each evening as I read and sang my littles to sleep – as much as I felt pulled to clean the house or prepare for the next day, I remembered what was really important – daily relationships and moments that add up to much more. I gave more of me to the people I worked with and those who wanted to learn from me. Many times I stopped what I was doing (e.g. working, writing, playing on the computer or scrolling through social media) to spend more time with the people I love. I had the honor of caring for my grandfather, who passed away Friday from head and neck cancer; I spent a great amount of quality time with him, listening to his stories and enjoying his company. I wouldn’t have wanted to spend that time any other way.

Relationship. My one word worked exactly as I needed it.

I’m so thankful for 2014. And while it’s still the same year, I’ll put away my computer, and spend time with those that mean the most to me, welcoming 2015. Tomorrow I will share my one word for the New Year.

Thanks for reading and being a part of my “relationships.” I wish you and yours the best this evening and into 2015!

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