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There’s No Glory in the Grind. (Grind Anyway.)

I recently shared news about a significant (to me) achievement – publishing a book* I’ve been working on for a while.

I was stunned at the number of people who congratulated me; it was a lovely surprise. I was also shocked, though, at the number of people who said things like, “I don’t know how you do it all,” “Is there anything you can’t do,” “I’m so impressed with this accomplishment,” and the like.

I don’t mean to downplay the achievement, but really…anyone can do it. Anyone who has enough perseverance and persistence, that is.

Because there were a few days of “glory” – people celebrating the moment with me, which I absolutely love, but there weren’t that many people who were doing the same the 600+ days the project was in the works. Very few people saw the early mornings, late nights, weekends of paper and red pens; the grind of it all wasn’t glorious. It was mundane. And boring. And painful. And stressful.

Yet, it was worth it. Because there is no glory without the grind, and the grind makes the glory-moment pretty spectacular. So much so that it completely took me off-guard with surprise emotions.

There’s no glory in the grind.

Grind, grind anyway.


* The book mentioned is Your Guide to Cancer Prevention, which was written by oncology nurses as an extension of care to the general public. 25-50% of all cancers are preventable; see what the evidence says about the strategies and the myths related to modifiable and non-modifiable cancer risk factors. 

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The Beauty of Reflecting on Your Work

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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From Breaking Destructive Patterns to Nursing Nurses: A Nursetopia Reading & Education Mashup [Part 25]

NursetopiaMashupCroppedI’m forever saving articles, hoarding items in my RSS feed, favoring tweets, and emailing myself with items to look up. I’m never short of reading material, and many times I am overloaded with information that is just collecting electronic dust. This week I cleaned out my inbox and other online warehouses. Here’s some of the eclectic information I reviewed recently:

Am I the only one that does this? Surely not. What great reading is lurking in the electronic piles you keep?

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In Memoriam: Lindsey Miller, from ‘i am a liver’

On May 21, 2014, the world lost a light and beautiful writer, Lindsey Miller; she was 28.

While I never met Lindsey in person, I found her blog, i am a liver, early on in her pancreatic neuroendocrine cancer journey. As a young adult cancer “liver,” as she put it, her posts were poignant and beautiful and raw and real and inspirational and full of life.

I read Lindsey’s words as her posts crossed my inbox. I will miss her voice. She touched my life. I remember her.

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“Pulse: Voices from the Heart of Medicine” Now Accepting Poetry Submissions Through 11/30/13

Pulse: Voices from the Heart of Medicine is a lovely site publishing literary work pointed at health, wellness, illness, and care to “[foster] the humanistic practice of medicine.” Overwhelmed with healthcare poetry, Pulse paused on poetry submissions for some time. The time has come to submit your healthcare poems, though.

A single author can send up to three poems – each as separate attachments – to by November 13, 2013. Submissions are accepted from all. Editors will review the submissions and notify authors of acceptances or declines during December 2013 and January 2014. Accepted poems will appear in publication during 2014 and 2015. There are specific submission details that all interested authors should follow; please see Pulse’s submission guidelines for poetry (or haiku or prose or other categories) for additional information.

Will you submit a piece to Pulse? I hope so.

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When Something Has To Give – Give, Give Away

I have the current privilege of helping open a brand new cancer center. My family and I have relocated to a new city. Over the course of one weekend, I got a new job with new responsibilities and new colleagues, my husband’s business changed, our home physically changed, my children got a new school with new teachers and friends, and we started attending a different church. Whew! It has been really, really great. Even good stress – eustress – is still distressing and exhausting.

Writing has been my self-care literally since age 10. I haven’t been able to write recently like I’m accustomed to, like I’d really like to do so. There just hasn’t been enough time. And that’s okay. Something had to give, and that something was writing. It doesn’t mean I’ve given up writing or blogging by any means. I simply needed to focus on the most vital of life pieces, which for me, will always be my family.

Life in recent weeks has been full of work, yes. But, my restoration and renewal has come at the hands of tiny people, high-pitched squeals, lamp-lit nighttime childhood reading, cuddled television-watching sessions, spontaneous date nights with My Love, and quick trips to visit parents and siblings.

It has been divine. And exactly what I needed. At first I guilted myself into writing an article here and there, but then I forgave myself and gave up the masochistic emotions and self-inflicted stress.

My writing is starting to return as the everyday stress of learning a new role, new people, new roads, and new environments dissipates.

Daily stress seems to be increasing in every healthcare role. Something has to give. And when it does, give, give away, Friends.

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From A New Designer Drug Alert to the Lasting Scars of Socioeconomic Stress: A Nursetopia Reading and Education Mashup [Part 14]

MashupHere are some of the highlights of my reading (and viewing) this week:

What are you reading?

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“Should Be” Moment-Stealer

I should be writing.
I should be running.
I should be sleeping.
I should be reading.
I should be writing.
I should be gathering school supplies.
I should be cleaning.
I should be doing yard work.
I should be writing.
I should be analyzing data.
I should be folding clothes.
I should be reading journal articles.
I should be writing.

I’ve found I should be has woven its way into my brain as well as my language. I’ve also found its the thief of present moments. No more.

Oh look at that; I finished writing.

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Censoring Myself

Nursing is not always holding a patient’s hand at the bedside or listening to a family member grieve or welcoming uncomplicated, new life or being a knowledgeable and present professional in times of crisis. No, there are some not-so-inspirational nursing and healthcare moments rarely discussed in print.

Writing is vulnerability in print. It’s realization. Even as I work to be honest and open, you only see and read portions that I allow you access.

At the moment, I’m broken-spirited. I’m angry. I’m hurt. I’m confused. I’m shocked. I’m disappointed. I’m a whole range of emotions I don’t think are necessary.

I’m experiencing one of those paradigm-shifting circumstances. I can only think of one other time in my career in which I’ve felt like this, realizing my views (about many healthcare issues) are, indeed, morphing.

There are really so many things I could write about at this moment, but I’m not going to do so. At least not for an audience.

My self-induced censorship is purposeful but transparent. As much as censorship can be.

Are there any other writers that live this conundrum?

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The Thread of Nursing Across Generations and Continents: Care

Mary J. MacLeod, S.R.N., author of Call the Nursereceived her nursing training in the post-war United Kingdom. I have never had a guest post within the nearly three years of Nursetopia for several reasons. However, after reading Call the Nurse (which you should absolutey read!), I wanted to personally learn more from MacLeod; I wanted to hear her voice on nursing and her historical perspective of nursing. Below is what she shared. Enjoy!

My training began in 1949/50 and would be unrecognisable to the nurse of the 21st century. I imagine things will have changed similarly in those 60 years in the USA, but you will all know more about that than I do. (When I was in school, some of our examination questions began ‘compare and contrast….etc.’ Well, I think there is going to be more contrast than comparison in this little piece.)

Most young women, aspiring to take up nursing, attend college, obtain degrees or other qualifications and appear on the wards apparently fully fledged and very knowledgeable. And there is much to know! Ever increasing numbers of new drugs, advanced and inexorably advancing technology for diagnosis and treatment, the ability to take blood, give transfusions, tailor diets to conditions, iterpret X-rays, scans and so on. In many cases, there seems to be an overlap into the doctor’s world. One could say, rather cynically that nurses are paid less than doctors so why not have them do some of their tasks?         

MacLeod_WordsAnd among all this ‘clever stuff,’ where is the actual care of the patient, I wonder. Washing him, feeding him, making sure that he has water to drink, a clean and comfortable bed, any wounds dressed, drugs administered at the right time and properly checked, reassurances given, his record and plan for his ongoing care kept up-to-date so that nothing is ‘overlooked’ – the modern word for ‘forgotten.’

What am I really talking about here? Compassion, respect, discipline, and accountability, as well as knowledge. All the ‘clever stuff’ as I have called it, will not help a patient if he is dirty, thirsty, unfed, given the wrong drug, misnamed on his record, or ‘overlooked.’

Back to 1950. Our training was much less technical because, for instance, there were fewer drugs – penicillin and streptomycin were the only antibiotics available, less intricate surgery was done – heart surgery was in its infancy, brain surgery yet to come, and many cancers were considered inoperable. We had to rely on good nursing care to cure or alleviate many conditions so our training was tailored to that end.

We began training straight from school at 18. We were not the sophisticated young women of today with their own flats, their confidence and self-esteem, their concept of ‘rights’ – some even married. We came straight from home and found ourselves plunged immediately onto the wards. We were housed in a Nurses’ Hostel in tiny, unheated bedrooms and had to be in by 11 PM. We often worked 50 to 60 hours in a week, but we didn’t notice. (In fact, I have only just worked it out!) We were paid 5£ [~$7.68 current US] per month and no overtime. We expected nothing more.

Our uniform was supplied – starched dresses (how they rubbed), aprons, and caps. Hair had to be ‘off the collar,’ no jewelry, very short nails, regulation rubber-soled shoes. It was like boarding school – but with patients! We were roused at 5:30 AM by the housekeeper’s booming voice, ready to start at 6:30 AM. Late comers were sent straight to Matron! Our working day would include making beds, ‘doing backs’ to prevent bedsores, washing, feeding, injections, temperatures, B.P.s, prepping for ‘ops,’ dressing wounds, etc., but learning all the time. We had 30 or 40 beds in one huge room with beds down each side. No ‘disposables’ then like syringes, surgical receptacles, bedpans, etc. All these things were reusable and so had to be sterilized constantly. Cleanliness was paramount and there were fewer hospital-born infections then than now!

Every year, we had two months of college classes where we soaked up the more technical stuff, took, and hopefully passed, examinations. Most of all on the wards and in college, we learned compassion (if we did not already feel it), respect, discipline, and accountability. We did not talk of career opportunities or personal advancement. The nurse was there to NURSE with no thought for herself. Perhaps such attitudes were extreme, but, as always, the pendulum has swung the other way now, and it seems to be all about the nurse: her conditions of work, her pay, etc. But I hope most aspiring young women still feel a genuine urge to care for the young, the sick, and the old. (I won’t say ‘a calling’ as this implies a religious motivation – just a humane concern is all that is needed.)

My down-to-earth training stood me in good stead in the 70s when I was a district nurse on a remote Scottish island. Conversely, a more technical training is needed for the forefront of medicine, surgery and other specialised areas of care. I think we can combine both because that is the word – CARE.