When I get to college, I will finally get the freedom I have been seeking. My life will finally begin.
When I get married, I will finally start living the life that I desire.
When I have a child, I will finally be complete, and become the woman I know God wants me to be.
When I get that promotion, I will finally have a successful career.
When I get more money, I will finally have the home that I can properly entertain in.
When I lose weight, I will finally be able to buy cute clothes and be in the family pictures.
I have spent a good portion of my life looking towards the finish line. When I finally reach that white powdered line, then all will be good and content in my life. I have never uttered those words out loud, but I haven’t needed to. My inner tape recorder, implanted firmly between my two ears, keeps replaying this same message of the glory and myth of the finish line, as far back as I can remember.
The past three years of my nursing career have been challenging. I have found great satisfaction with my patients, but have been less than enthused with my career in general. I can look back and see mistakes I have owned and others that I was unjustly accused of. Shame, regret, and anger slowly brewed and created an inner cynical spirit that has made moving forward nearly impossible.
A former coworker, turned supervisor, urged me to take a class called The Ripple Effect. I am passionate about delivering excellent patient care, so I knew that the class would interest me. But honestly, I was more interested in taking a class on “How to fix everyone else.”
I sat out in the parking lot of the sister hospital where the class was going to be held and simply whispered a prayer asking God to open my mind to the possibilities. I had promised myself and my husband to give nursing three more months, and its deadline was quickly approaching. Now, I was going into a class, where a former business woman, who never worked in healthcare, was going to teach me how to take better care of my patients.
I’ve been a nurse for 17 years and I have been a patient with cancer. What is she going to teach me?
I walked into the class, and Diane, the instructor, warmly welcomed everyone. She was engaging, contagiously energetic, passionate, and had a great sense of humor. Combine that with her incredible taste in clothes, shoes, and the best darn yellow handbag ever made, and I was flat out intrigued.
But anyone can act happy for two hours, right?
Her first statement, hit me like a ton of bricks. She said, “When you enter this class and enter each patient’s room, I want you to keep this in the forefront of your mind: Please be responsible for the energy that YOU bring into the room.”
I wrote it down as soon as the words slid off her tongue. Twelve simple words created a new tape recorded message inside my head.
This well dressed business lady was onto something. Maybe I was going to learn from her after all.
I started silently repeating this to myself in the car when the wait in the carpool line was getting too long at my son’s school.
I started silently repeating this to myself when a child wasn’t being kind to her brother and sisters.
I started silently repeating this to myself when a difficult patient showed up at the triage desk at work.
As a mom, I have the ability to set the mood and tone of my home. When my child forgets that they have a huge science project due the next day, I am responsible for my response to that child. My response directly influences the entire mood of our home and the other five people living in it. There is tremendous power and responsibility in that.
As a nurse, I have the ability to give my patient the best possible hospital experience, even when the patient arrives irritable, in pain, and just sick and tired of having to come into the hospital for one more dang treatment. There is tremendous power and responsibility in that, too.
I found myself looking forward to these classes and listening to my terrific classmates talk about their experiences in applying this (and other) principles. I was visibly seeing and hearing everyone change with each class. And for me, my family and friends noticed.
Last week, I took Samantha to a class in which she was the pediatric patient and physicians were videotaped applying what they have learned in a simulated patient experience. It was amazing to see the providers recognize how much good care they naturally provide to patients on a daily basis. I was also able to pick up things to add to my practice as a nurse, wife, and mom.
Today was the last class. After everyone left the room, I simply touched Diane’s arm and told her that I wasn’t ready to be without her. She smiled and laughed at my awkward statement. My conversation with her that followed was life changing and affirming, and I look forward to seeing where the relationship takes us.
Diane urged me to stop focusing on the end and to enjoy the middle. She also stated that the best way for me to take care of my family and my patients, was to start by taking care of myself first. To be kind to myself.
I am heeding her advice and starting with me. The better care that I give myself, the better energy that I will bring into my home, to my neighborhood, to this blog, and to my work. Whether I am a nurse for three more months or thirty more years, I walked away from this class a better person. And at the end of the day, the only person I can change is myself. Even though I knew that, it was a much needed reminder.
So today, I encourage you to be more aware of the energy that you bring into the room and to be kind to yourself.
Let’s enjoy the chaos and joy that is found when our feet are firmly planted and engaged in the middle of the race. It’s scary and exhilirating to allow ourselves to be in that somewhat uncomfortable, dangerous position. As we let go of the bumpy beginning and move forward, that is when the good stuff happens. The best is yet to come.
Blessings sweet friends – JennyTweet