You Can’t Make This Stuff Up is this week’s new episode of The Adventures of Nurse Niki. Niki’s easy shift while floating on pediatrics takes a turn. If you’re new to the blog you may want to catch up by starting here, Chapter 1
The air temperature was below freezing, and because of all of the rain earlier in the week, the streets were frozen. Lots of car accidents were reported on the roads.
Because I walked to work I didn’t think too much about it, but as I progressed closer to the hospital the sidewalks, and particularly the asphalt streets became more slick with ice. I was wearing the wrong sort of boots and had to tread carefully to avoid slipping and falling.
Most interesting about the experience was that when I came to an intersection I waited to let the cars go first:
1. Because I had to walk gingerly, and slowly, and
2. Because the cars could slide too, and I didn’t want to be struck if they did.
Surprisingly, some drivers were annoyed when I refused to go first after they waved me on. One was so upset he shouted, “I was just trying to be polite to you!” from his vehicle as he passed. Intending to be thoughtful I had affronted him by not accepting his gesture of kindness, as though we were characters in an O. Henry story.
It made me think about how we are the stars of our own lives, and as such, often interpret the actions and motives of others through the lens of their effect on us. The driver didn’t understand I was being considerate too (and concerned for my safety). It didn’t occur to him that the road was as icy and slick for pedestrians as it was for those behind the wheel of a car.
I don’t know who originated it, but before reacting to someone’s words or actions it’s helpful to remember the meme, “People are not against you, they are for themselves.” I know I do it too, judge others’ actions by the effect they have on me. I hope I can become more mindful of doing it, and less self-focused.
It’s Not All Cute Print Scrubs and Bunny Blankets is this week’s episode of The Adventures of Nurse Niki. Niki ruminates about floating from PICU to pediatrics. If you’re new to the blog you may want to catch up by starting here, Chapter 1
Don’t forget to follow Nurse Niki on Twitter
After a long hiatus, I’ve posted a new episode of The Adventures of Nurse Niki, Chapter 54. I almost forgot how much I enjoy writing her. Look for new developments in the life of the nurse blogosphere’s favorite fictional pediatric intensive care nurse in the weeks to come!
“May your coming year be filled
With magic and dreams and good memories.
I hope you read some fine books
And kiss someone who thinks you’re
Wonderful, And don’t forget to make
Some Art – Write or draw or build or
Sing or live as only you can. And I hope,
Somewhere in the next year,
You surprise yourself!”
One of my favorite readers sent this wish to me in an email, and now I pass it on to you. Thank you, Mary and the same wish for you.
The problem with committing to writing or drawing something for 15 minutes every day isn’t finding the time to do it. The problem is convincing yourself that 15 minutes is worth the effort in the first place, which is funny if you think about it. I mean, if you were starting an exercise program for the first time, 15 minutes would feel like an impossible amount of time to run in place or around a track. 15 minutes of laps in a pool would be a goal of achievement to an out of shape swimmer. Hell, meditating quietly for 15 minutes is hard to do for the initiate. But for an artist or writer, 15 minutes of creating something feels barely worth the effort. For most artists and writers, (notice I did not say bloggers, a genre of creatives who often boast about how fast they can whip together a post) it takes 15 minutes of staring into space or working out a puzzle just to limber our minds enough to type a thoughtful sentence or paint a meaningful stroke on canvas. Once it’s in place, we are known to again stare into space, read, or work a puzzle for another length of time before inspiration strikes and the next sentence or gestural stroke is generated. 15 minutes? Why bother?
Here’s what I’ve discovered in a few days about committing to writing or drawing for 15 minutes everyday: during my waking hours, whether home or at work, I now find I am thinking about what I plan to create when I get home and set the kitchen timer for 15 minutes. This post in fact, began vaguely in my head sometime after lunch today while I was at work. By the time I came home and ate dinner, I couldn’t wait to get to my computer and start writing. How did this happen?
Actually, I already know the answer. It’s because what you focus on expands (Wayne Dyer). It’s very New-Agey to talk about intention, and mindfulness, but intention and mindfulness are euphemisms for “Pay attention!” as in when you were a little kid and your mom or dad yanked you by the arm out of the way of something or someone, and hissed, “Pay attention!” Or maybe you weren’t spanked as a kid, and instead your teacher dropped a book on your desk in front of you because you were daydreaming and not following along with the rest of your class, and then said loudly, “Pay attention!” until someone complained about that teacher, and now when someone doesn’t pay attention someone else makes a new rule and everybody has expend for the kid who wasn’t paying attention whether or not they were.
Self-discipline, the foundation of personal progress, is like that. If you pay attention, you can accomplish almost anything, and that’s why no one should think 15 minutes everyday isn’t enough time to change a behavior. It is. Give it a try.
Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like hard work.
Wishes do come true, whether you believe or not. The caveat is that the answer doesn’t always align with the expectations of the wisher. This is why about half of the human population believes in wishes, prayers, or manifestation, and the other 50% does not.
This is also how someone like me finds herself in a fortunate predicament: my wishes were granted. I’ve obtained the proverbial three vocations I love. One makes money (as an oncology nurse navigator), another keeps me in shape (running and barre classes), and the third allows me to be creative (painting, drawing, writing, and blogging). Often the first and third converge as demonstrated in this local new feature.
The oncology nurse navigator role that I love so much is newish for me, and as such, takes hours a week of research and continuing education beyond the actual job. It is also a 40-hour workweek kind of job. Prior, I worked nearly, but not quite full time. That little bit of edge apparently makes a difference in my creative out put. I have not abandoned painting; for instance these portraits I made as a Christmas present for a family member.
More often, however, I get off work, make myself go for a run or to the exercise studio, and then, once home, gravitate like a moth to flame to the biggest time-waster for all creatives: the Internet. Weekends are consumed with household tasks. I realize most Americans live by this routine, and if I were suffering from creative block perhaps I could live with it too, but the truth is I have as much inspiration for writing and making art as ever. What I’ve lacked is the discipline to prioritize my time. Starting with baby steps, one of my goals for 2016 is to write or draw for 15 minutes every day. It can be a chapter of The Adventures of Nurse Niki, a post for this blog, a journal entry or a quick sketch of my sofa, but everyday I will make something. I’ve already started. I set a kitchen timer to keep me honest. Most days I end up going for more than 15 minutes.
Has anyone else had this experience?
I was at work with a headache. In the past, when I worked on nursing units, if I had a headache I did one of two things:
- Bum a couple of ibuprofen from a coworker
- Borrow a couple of ibuprofen from the satellite pharmacy, which is more honorable than leaving your shift because of a headache
Now that I work in an office, without a home-base nursing unit I had to fend for myself. So I took the elevator from the Lower Level (read “basement”) of the building where my office is to the first floor where the outpatient pharmacy is located to buy ibuprofen the way I imagine non-nurses do.
Staring at the shelf I was instantly confused by the small, and what appeared to be identical, generic boxes labeled “pain reliever.” I fished my glasses from out of my purse to read the small print labels so I could distinguish acetaminophen from ibuprofen, and aspirin-they were all packaged very similarly. Once that was accomplished, I had to further identify the dosage I wanted- 200mg tablets, from the low dose, “junior” strength of 100 mg tablets. I’m still confused if “junior” means suitable for children, but by now my headache was worse so I let that go for another time. There was also a formula for both doses labeled “sleep enhancing.” I assume that means it contains diphenhydramine. I just wanted #old-school #ibuprofen #thankyouverymuch.
I finally found the product I wanted. I waited my turn at the cash register. The box of ibuprofen cost $4.19. The clerk patiently waited for me to count the dollar bills in my wallet. I had four. I knew I had a bunch of change in my coin purse, so I told her I would pay in cash.
Has anyone else had this experience? I stared at the handful of coins in my palm trying to count out nineteen cents. Except for the pennies, I couldn’t tell the coins apart! When did quarters shrink to nearly the size of nickels, and what happened to the pictures of Jefferson, and Washington? The Roosevelt dimes looked familiar. The rest of the coins resembled foreign money.
The clerk showed me I had to turn the quarters over to find Washington, and I discovered there is new nickel, which is the Return to Monticello nickel bearing a full-face image of Jefferson, replacing his profile. She waited while I counted out nineteen cents. She said she has a difficult time telling them apart too.
My headache was raging by now. Furthermore, I suspected the clerk of being polite. After all, she serves the ill and the elderly all day long. I wondered if I had just experienced the first sign of oncoming dementia. I was spooked.
Since then, I’ve been reassured by friends and coworkers that the coins have indeed changed. They have stories similar to mine. I guess I should empty my coin purse more often. I can’t help but wonder, however, between the look-alike packaging of generic drugs, and our changing currency, how are patients getting by?
The first thing people usually say to me when they find out I’m an artist is, “Gosh, I can’t even draw a straight line.” My response to that statement is, “Nobody can. That’s what straight edges are for.”
When these same people discover I am also an oncology nurse, the second thing they say is, “Painting must be so therapeutic, after dealing with so much death.” My response to this statement is more complex than the first.
First, there’s not really “so much death” in oncology, as treatments improve and many cancers are managed as chronic conditions, which is great. There is still sorrow, however. Ironically, when I’m most engaged in a real life human drama, that’s when I find it the most difficult to unleash my creativity. On those days, I’m more likely to calm myself by going for a long run, or knitting, which I consider hobbies.
For me, the creative act of painting is often as uncomfortable as a difficult day of patient care. This is because, I believe the difference between art as therapy, and art as art, is that art as art usually begins with a question or inquiry, and most importantly, results in an insight. Art as therapy requires neither. However, if art as therapy results in an insight, it can also meet the status of art as art. Simply speaking, strong works of art, like strong nursing, involves critical thinking, not simply performing rote skills.
Attaining insight is the reason I believe it is so important for nurses to open up to creativity. Insight leads to an understanding of motivation, our own, and that of others. When we understand our motivations, we are better able to communicate with others. In this dynamic time of The Affordable Health Care Act, nurses need to publicly communicate our role in health care now more than ever.
For instance, the nurse blogosphere is full of posts championing Advanced Practice Nurses as primary care providers. Proponents focus on filling the gap created by a shortage of Family Practice physicians, and reducing the cost of care. While these goals are admirable, the time is now to take creative control of the Nurse Practitioner image by promoting the characteristics differentiating medical science from nursing science: an emphasis on preventive care, in-depth patient teaching, and patient-centered care, which are in some ways superior to that offered by medical science. By creating an image, or branding, if you will, for APRNs, they are appreciated as a unique profession, not as a watered down brand of medicine, or “doctor lite.”
Unflattering, and inaccurate images of nurses are created through tradition, novelists, and outside observers, but rarely by nurses themselves. In order to dispel the nursing stereotypes we despise, nurses will need to rise up and create new ones through visual art, novels, screenplays, and films of such quality that our vision of ourselves transcends into mainstream culture.
Note: This post originally appeared in March 14 2013 on RNFM Radio: Nursing Unleashed!
Starting a new job has kept me super busy the past three months, and carves into the time I have to paint, draw, and write.
So, I’m really grateful for the two felted knitting kits I received as Christmas gifts last year from my mother-in-law. To be honest, I probably wouldn’t have picked these for myself, but that’s what’s so great about a gift: you don’t always know it’s what you need or want until you use it. Turns out, making these little bags has filled my need for creativity, without having to do anything except follow directions. They were actually quite fun to make, although sewing all of those teeny-tiny beads to the apple bag was a little challenging at times.
Anyway, they’re pretty cute. Nora J. Bellows designed the kits, found at nonipatterns.com.