AJN Best of The Blog Features Post by JparadisiRN

Manicure by Julianna Paradisi 2014

It’s an honor to have my post and illustration,  A Brief Meditation on Love, Loss, and Nursing, originally published on Off the Chartsthe blog of the American Journal of Nursing, featured in the February issue of AJN

Click on the link above to read the issue online, and find look for Best of the Blog, A Brief Meditation on Love, Loss, and Nursing, in the table of contents.

 

A Meditation on 15 Minutes

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?

ink drawing by Julianna Paradisis 2015

ink drawing by Julianna Paradisis 2015

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.

 

Challenging Myself in 2016

Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like hard work.

Thomas Edison

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.

Happy 2016!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Art & Nursing: At Scrubbed In Blog & in AJN

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.

Poll: The White That Binds Ornament

Readers, I’m doing some marketing research, and I need your input.

Last week during my interview on RNFMRadio, Keith, Kevin and I discussed creating an ornament with the image of my painting, The White That Binds (Pinning Ceremony).  I believe Kevin’s suggested I consider doing this in time for Nurses’ Day, in May, and June graduations. The ornaments would be available to buy on-line. What do you think? You can leave further suggestions in comments. Thanks for your help!

The White That binds (Pinning Ceremony) mixed media by jparadisi. )

The White That binds (Pinning Ceremony) mixed media by jparadisi.

Finding Self-Expression in A Profession of Permission

Nursing is a profession of permission.

I had this epiphany when a patient asked me, “Can I have a couple Tylenol for my

Twenty-One by jparadisi

Twenty-One by jparadisi 2007
Inspired by the paintings of the Chauvet Cave.

headache?” The automated medication dispensing cabinet with a drawer full of Tylenol was in plain sight, but I could not give the pills, because I did not have a doctor’s order. I called her doctor and received the order (permission) to administer it.

Anyone can walk into any drugstore in America, purchase a bottle of the stuff, and eat it at will, but in my nursing role, I cannot administer medication without an order (permission). However, there is a reason for obtaining an order first. If this patient has liver disease or allergies, and I am unaware, calling her doctor for something as simple as Tylenol may prevent a medication error; the safety net of redundancy.

On a bad day, this lack of autonomy is tiresome.

Another example is staff meetings. Someone once told me, “For God so loved the world that He did not send a committee.” I did not fully appreciate the meaning of this statement before working in healthcare. Gathering consensus among nurses is like watching a freighter turned slowly by tugboats in a narrow harbor. It seems to take forever. In my opinion, I have the answer to the problem the nurses are discussing. It’s simple and cost effective, but no, everyone needs to give his or her input and sign off on it first. By the time the change occurs, I’ve mentally moved on.

Even using the bathroom during a shift requires asking another nurse to watch your patients while you’re off the floor. Nurses ask permission to use the restroom.

Nursing is a team activity. It’s the nature of our work. As individuals, we bring our unique experiences and voices to this work. Finding a place for self-expression is vital to our humanity — the wellspring of compassion.

Where do we find creativity in a job requiring permission to use the bathroom or eat lunch — after a 12-hour shift of caring for the sick on sore feet? For many of us, home life is just as demanding — shuttling children to soccer practice and music lessons, grocery shopping, making meals, paying bills, and finishing housework. Make time for a little exercise, and you fall asleep exhausted as soon as your head hits the pillow. The next day it starts over.

“Creativity?” I hear you say. “Yeah, right after I figure out how to sustain life on Mars.”

Consider this: Self-expression is so essential that 30,000 years ago, prehistoric humans drew pictures on cave walls to tell their stories. Their daily activities revolved around survival. Food was hunted and gathered. Marauding tribes threatened to take away what small comforts they possessed. Still, they made art.

So, forget Mars and ask yourself: Where can I find self-expression in nursing?

 

 

 

It’s a Skill If You Can Repeat It

It's a skill if you can repeat it, right? photo: jparadisi 2012

Hey, I finished a second pair of socks, knitting two at a time on a pair of circular needles! This is probably a yawn for experienced knitters, however, I never knitted socks at all until this year, so for me it’s an accomplishment. Cross that one off of the New Year’s Resolutions list!

Blue Eyeshadow, Nurse Jackie, and Patients Care

The evidence I am overly tired from a long stretch of shifts appears when I swipe a brush

photo: jparadisi 2011

across my eyelid and it is the wrong color. Yeah, I wear makeup to work. I can’t do Nurse Jackie’s bare face and aerodynamic haircut. Nurse Jackie goes for a stripped down, ready for battle look, but to me, she’s given up from battle fatigue. I feel my patients deserve a nurse looking like she expects to have a good day, even if I am more than a little tired.

More than a little tired caused dipping the brush into the wrong color of the eye shadow palette.  I look in the bathroom mirror expecting to see a neutral shade of taupe. Instead, a blue eyelid blinks back at me. I’m not talking about Mimi Bobeck blue eye shadow. Even at 5:45 in the morning, and bone tired, I have better fashion sense than that. The blue eye shadow I own is a silvery grey hue called gunmetal. It’s pretty. I wear it for special evening events and gallery openings, but it’s a little dramatic for work. There isn’t enough time to redo it and be on time, so I brush it on the other lid, minimize the eyeliner, and add only a light coat of mascara. A pale shade of lip gloss and I am out the door.

At work my coworkers look at my face a beat longer than usual, letting me know they notice the blue eye shadow without mentioning it. I have no idea what they think, because Oregonians are nothing if not polite.

Where I work, nurses wear surgical masks while inserting Huber (non-coring) needles into a patient’s chest to access his or her port. We are busy this shift, and over and over again I wear off my make up by putting on and taking off the masks, accessing ports. I began to think that Nurse Jackie is right. Why not skip the make up and sleep in an extra fifteen minutes? It doesn’t stay on anyway. Why bother?

My last patient of the shift is an elderly woman, arriving for her appointment too weak to stand. I help her from a wheelchair onto the bed, and adjust its head to a comfortable angle. She is pale, and tired. Beyond the window behind her a September breeze shakes leaves off of the trees which line the street.  Her fragility is that of an autumn leaf.

I gather the sterile supplies needed to access her port. I don the surgical mask and she is wearing one too, so she doesn’t breathe her own germs onto the access site after I swab it clean. I look down into her masked face. Her eyes look up into mine, and I see that she is wearing gunmetal blue eye shadow on her eyelids too.