If You Can’t See It, You Aren’t Living It: How To Visualize Your Best Life

After cancer treatment, my hair grew back in wild curls that I dyed platinum blonde, symbolizing my pursuit of a more creative life. “Now what?” I asked. How does one pursue a creative life?

photo by jparadisi

photo by jparadisi

The same way nurses create a patient care plan: with a focused goal.

“Huh?” I hear you say.

Nurses ignore hunger. We rationalize it’s OK we haven’t peed for 12 hours, because we haven’t had anything to drink either. Is anyone surprised we’re numb in the creativity department? If you need a Doppler to find your dreams, take heart! There are tools for restoring creative perfusion.

The first tool is rediscovery

For me, it was drawing, riding horses, writing, collecting seashells, cooking, and hiking. I made greeting cards. Not much about nursing. I wasn’t particularly athletic, but maybe you were. What did your childhood self dream of doing? Write it down.

Make a scrapbook of images 

  • This exercise clears clutter: Tear pictures from old magazines of everything that catches your eye.

    photo by jparadisi

    photo by jparadisi

Using a glue stick, randomly paste the pictures into an inexpensive scrapbook. Don’t worry what it looks like. This is an exercise in free association. Do it over several weeks, compiling enough images to spot trends.

Pay attention: Your subconscious is talking! I discovered myself clipping pictures of lofts with contemporary furniture, a far cry from my country-style living room. Pictures of clothing were elegant, urban fashions, not my uniform of jeans and comfort footwear.

Maybe your pictures depict people, not things. In that case, what are they doing: traveling, creating something, dancing, or playing a musical instrument? Are they back in school for that BSN or advanced degree? If a picture is worth a thousand words, what are yours saying?

This project can be accomplished using Pinterest. However, the paper version provides privacy, perhaps fostering candid responses. If Pinterest works for you, go ahead.

Create a vision board

  • Our brains are trainable. Vision boards are a visualization tool. Training your brain to “see” the life you want helps achieve it.

Using the information you gathered from the previous two exercises, glue pictures from magazines representing the life you want on a large piece of poster board. A single mother at the time, my pictures represented falling in love and a happy relationship, along with pictures of an art studio, places I wanted to visit, learning Rieki, and living into old age. I made mine during cancer treatment — your patients might enjoy making this project too.

Through these exercises, I discovered I was cleaning a rarely used guest room. My dining room sat empty because I preferred impromptu dinners with girlfriends served on the coffee table while watching a movie from the couch. Clearly, I dreamt of a lifestyle very different from the one I maintained. I changed that.

Are you living the life of your dreams or simply the one you find yourself living? If you are, how did you find it?

 

Learning to Observe, Observing to Learn

Street Art, unknown artist. photo: jparadisi

Here’s a collection of loose observations I made last week:

  • People who lie or cheat believe that everyone else in the world does too.
  • People who feel paralyzing guilt over a mistake they made believe they are the only one in the world who’s made one.
  • Nursing students and new grads still believe in patient centered care and patient advocacy (Thanks Nurse2be for writing about one of my posts. I feel relevant).
  • Precepting is an opportunity to develop a colleague I love to work with.
  • I am a preceptor even when I don’t have an orientee. What do I teach coworkers about nursing culture through my nursing practice and behavior?
  • A patient and I commiserated over frustrations with health care. I said, “I’d like to change it, but they won’t let me be queen.” He touched the ring on my left hand under the nitrile glove I wore, and said, “You have this ring; you’re somebody’s queen.”
  • Nursing is my profession, but it does not define my entire life. Good shifts, bad shifts, when I leave the clinic I return to the life I create.
  • It’s all about choices.

Summer Weekend Guests Part I

Salt bowl, chocolate, and spurtle photo: jparadisi 2010

This weekend David and I happily entertained out of town guests. Besides the opportunity to spend time with people we love, we get to see our city, Portland, Oregon, through the eyes of visitors. Here are a few of the fun places we visited:

Bob’s Red Mill: 5000 SE International Way, Milwaukie, Oregon, uses antique millstones to grind whole grain products, which they package and sell. On weekdays you can tour the mill, then head over to the grain store and restaurant to buy products or have a hearty meal. I had the eggs and grits for breakfast, but could have had French toast, waffles, or one of many other choices from the bakery or espresso bar. Family friendly, Bob’s Red Mill has a vast selection of gluten-free products too. Bob’s steel-cut oats are an international award winner (also available gluten-free). If you buy some to take home, be sure to buy a hand-carved spurtle (Scottish porridge stirring stick) made by artisan Tim Cebulla from native Oregon myrtle wood.

The Meadow: 3731 N. Mississippi Ave., Portland, Oregon. Okay, I know about sodium and high blood pressure, but it’s worth learning the discipline of moderation to shop at The Meadow. This unique establishment sells salt from all over the world. I think of it as geology for my kitchen. As a return customer, I already own one of their salt starter sets, and a bowl carved from pink Himalayan rock salt. So, I bought a bar of imported dark chocolate to melt directly in the salt bowl for dipping fresh strawberries and bananas into. The knowledgeable salesperson provided complete instructions on how to do it. Besides salts of the earth, The Meadow also sells a large assortment of fine chocolates, wines, and fresh flowers.

Pistils Nursery: 3811 N. Mississippi Ave., Portland, Oregon, is down the street from The Meadows.  A marvel of design in a very small space, Pistils is a nursery and chicken habitat in a converted old house. Nestled in a largely residential neighborhood, my husband wondered how they keep their free-roaming, exotic chickens within the fenced yard. I’m curious how they keep the neighborhood cats out. At any rate, this homey version of a full-fledge nursery is a delight for the senses. I am kicking myself that this was one of the rare times I was without a camera. You’ll have to go see for yourself.