My friend who teaches Pilates and mindfulness was approached by one of her students after class. The student said, “I really appreciated your words of mindfulness, especially the part about, “Letting go of your assh*les.”
My friend, who I’ve never heard use that particular word in causal conversation, much less during a meditation, was taken aback. She could not recall saying it. She asked the student, “What did I say?”
She repeated herself, “I really appreciated you saying, ‘Let go of your hassles.”
Hassles. Ah yes, that makes much more sense. “Let go of your hassles.”
Since my friend told me the story, I’ve considered the hassles I want to let go of in the New Year 2017.
The usual suspects come readily to mind: Rude comments from others, drivers who take my pedestrian safety into their own hands by running stop signs, miscommunications of various species, the neighbor who parties and plays loud music until 4 am on a Monday morning when I have to go to work. I considered forgoing Twitter to avoid finding out US international policy changes before I’ve had coffee in the morning, but those tweets pop-up in the national news and Facebook immediately, so there’s no point.
While reflecting on hassles, it occurred to me that letting go of mine isn’t enough. It’s a principle of universal attraction that like attracts like. In other words, we attract to ourselves the energy we send out into the world. Simply put, the only way to let go of the hassles, is don’t be a hassle.
To not be a hassle requires mindfulness. It requires choosing to respond to hassles (especially those manifesting in the form of other people) with care and thoughtfulness. Letting go of hassles requires empathy and compassion. It requires restraining yourself from placing a wireless speaker against the wall between you and your neighbor’s home, and turning up teeny-bopper heart-throb boy band music really loud at 6 am on a Monday morning when you get up to go to work, with the intent of preventing your hung over neighbor from getting to sleep after partying all night, which kept you up when you had to go to work the next morning.
Letting go of the hassles requires not being a hassle.
Letting go of the hassles is an ongoing job, a moment by moment, day by day thing. It requires renewing the commitment to doing what’s right everyday.
It takes practice. I don’t expect to get it right every time.
“But I’m tryin’ real hard to be the Shepherd, Ringo. I’m tryin’.”
The above paintings are original works by Julianna Paradisi, and may not be used or reproduced without permission.
This year, I’ve had a few opportunities to try on the art of public speaking, a newish skill for me. The topics revolved around breast cancer, and oncology nurse navigation.
Recently, I was asked to speak to a group of inpatient oncology nurses about the role of nurse navigators for breast cancer patients, and the application to the hospital setting. Integrating the patient experience throughout the continuum of cancer treatment is a prominent part of what nurse navigators do, and inpatient nurses wanting to learn more (and earned CE) about oncology nurse navigation is exciting. It demonstrates ONNs have an impact on patient care.
For the occasion, I decided to learn a new skill: creating a Power Point presentation. I know, I know, some of you were making Power Point presentations since your first elementary school book report, but you probably can’t write in cursive as well as an older nurse, or use a real typewriter.
Here’s the stipulation: because I am also an artist, I have a thing against using clip art or stock images from the Internet to illustrate my words. If you are familiar with my blog posts for Off the Charts you already know this.
So, not only did I learn to create, and present a Power Point slide show, I used jpegs from a series of paintings I made of mountains, illustrating the presentation from the perspective of my personal practice. For many, the word navigator connotes images of the ocean or GPS, but as a breast cancer survivor turned ONN, I see myself as a sherpa, someone who has climbed the mountain, familiar with its terrain and potential for treachery. I lead patients up the mountain, summit, and then come back down. The paintings of mountains also suggest the barriers to care ONNs are tasked with removing for patients. The theme was woven into the closing remarks of the presentation.
Most of the paintings depict Mount Hood, the dominating peak and iconic symbol of Portland, Oregon, my home.
I gave the presentation with a sense of creative satisfaction in finding another way to merge art into my nursing practice.
Recently I had a unique experience as an artist and nurse. At the hospital, I was stopped by someone I vaguely thought was a former patient, or perhaps a family member or supportive friend of a former patient, I really don’t remember.
This person, however, not only recognized me, but knew I painted the art hanging in the infusion clinic where I once worked.
“You sold the horse print.The one over the reception desk.”
“I really liked it. It was good. It was a print, right?”
“Thank you. Well, actually no. It was an original painting. I used oil sticks to make it.”
“What are oil sticks?”
“They’re similar to oil pastels, but big, like cigars. In fact, painting with them feels like how I imagine painting with a big, greasy cigar might feel. But they air dry over time, unlike oil pastels.”
“That sounds really messy, but your painting looked neat and precise.”
“I really liked it.”
“Thank you. So what do you think of the painting of Mt Hood I made to replace it?”
The the expression on her face gave her away, so I threw her a bone.
“Not so much, right?”
“It’s okay. I liked the horse.”
“I really appreciate your comments,” and I meant it.
As an artist I’ve stood through many gallery openings and art receptions. It’s rare for anyone to ask about what inspired the art, or how it was made. No offense intended to anyone, but a common experience for artists at gallery receptions is being approached by people wanting to talk about themselves or their art, not yours. They didn’t come to view the art.
I’m enchanted by this woman who spends her time in an infusion clinic considering the artwork on its walls; becoming fond of a particular painting, and wondering how it was made. She wasn’t there to view the art either, but she did. Not only that, but she had access to the artist, who is a nurse going about her nursing duties, until this brief respite, when the two of us discussed the art.
I do not believe such things happen very often to artists or nurses. I am grateful it happened to me.
This year I took a summer vacation, one of the joys of which was time painting in the studio.
I’ve migrated to three different studios over the years, but a single constant in each was my old pair of nursing clogs, converted to painting shoes.
In their earlier life, they spent ten years traipsing across a PICU, and even flew in a helicopter a time or two while transporting sick children in Oregon to Portland.
When I transitioned from PICU to adult oncology, they retired. In their new-found leisure, they started a second career as my painting shoes, where we continued to do good work together.
Anyway, over the weekend I returned to the studio and painted, changing out of my street shoes into the old, faithful clogs. They felt funny. In fact, one foot was suddenly closer to the floor than the other. I looked down, and entire sections of the right foot clog’s rubber sole had disintegrated and fallen off in chunks. As I moved about, the left foot clog did the same. I stared at them in disbelief. I had not foreseen their imminent demise.
I did not have a second pair of studio shoes to change into, so I continued wearing them while painting, standing and walking, balancing on what remained of the core of their sole. We made one last painting together. I tried remembering the last patient I’d nursed while wearing these clogs, but could not.
When I finished painting for the day, I washed my brushes, and swept up the trail of black, crumbled rubber left behind on the studio floor. Removing the old, familiar clogs, I put on my street shoes, and placed the paint spattered, destroyed clogs into the garbage.
Move on. They’re just an old pair of clogs.
Besides, there’s another pair, retired when I left the infusion clinic for the oncology nurse navigator job, waiting in my closet at home to take their place in the studio.
“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.
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.
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.
Because I’m an artist, one of the pervading themes of this blog is art.
This week, I had the pleasure of being recognized, along with two other artists who are nurses, in an interview by Meaghan O’Keefe, RN for Scrubbedin (the Blog) at Nurse.com. Each of us share our perspective on art and nursing, and why they are uniquely paired.
In their April 2015 issue, the American Journal published Yazzie, a painting from my Urban Horses series, along with a short essay about selecting art for the health care setting. I’m honored to have a collection of my paintings and monotypes hanging the the oncology infusion clinic where I used to work, giving me a special opportunity to pair art and nursing in patient care.
This post was originally published on RNFM Radio‘s blog October 2013
I’m one of those nurses other people hate watching TV medical dramas with. I shout out: “Intubate her now!” or congratulate myself on guessing a diagnosis from a minimal amount of script information. People watching these programs with me say, “It’s just a TV show.”
But the truth is, it’s not.
When the same nurse characters are recreated over and over for public consumption by the entertainment industry they become woven into public awareness, and accepted as fact. I wrote about this in a previous post for RNFM Radio.
After my appearance on RNFM Radio earlier this year, I realized I want to create nurse characters closer to the truth, struggling with feelings of social isolation caused by intimate association to the trauma of others, and the accountability to act on it.
Nurses do not only witness the suffering of others, nor do we only hold the hands of patients in pain, or their hair out of their faces while they puke. We assess their needs, get them the treatment needed to alleviate their symptoms, and administer it. Other times, we cover their profuse bleeding with our gloved hands, yell for help, and initiate the ministrations designed to help them hang on.
Except on TV. On TV, physicians do all of this work. In real life, I have had the pleasure of working with doctors who actually did hold the basin while a patient puked, and I’ve even had one assist with cleaning a code brown. These are special people, performing outside of the work doctors are usually expected to do, not because doctors wouldn’t necessarily do so, so much as because doctors are not usually present when these things happen, and nurses usually are.
Anyway, in The Adventures of Nurse Niki, nurses do the work of nurses. Physician characters appear proportionately to how they normally do in real hospital units: during rounds, when summoned from the call room, during codes, procedures, and for admissions and discharges. Doctors are not constantly at the hospital coordinating and administering patient care, because that is not their job. It’s the job of nurses.
None of this information is new to either nurses or anyone who has spent a lengthy time hospitalized, but it appears to be new information for producers and TV writers who continue to populate TV hospitals with doctors doing patient care, while the nurses stand by waiting to, or asking for, help. Some TV nurse characters enter medical school, I suspect, so they too can get a starring role.
The Adventures of Nurse Niki is an attempt to make a 3-dimensional main character whose life is interesting because she is a nurse, not because she works in the proximity of doctors.