Spring is in bloom… it’s time to get out and volunteer!

I’ve waited so long and expectantly for spring…for sunlight, green grass and flowers and warmth. And I had hoped that my achy and tired body would respond with less achiness and fatigue. But unfortunately the ravages of age and all of the years of neglecting self-care, along with the fibromyalgia and arthritis that are lurking within my body still think it’s winter. I wish I could shout to every woman out there-“take care of yourself!”…”treat your body with love and kindness-it’s the only one you’ll get in this lifetime!”…so they don’t feel like me.

So today I’m choosing to focus on what I have to be grateful for, and choosing to have a spirit of gratitude instead of painful defeat. There are so many things to be grateful for…I can breath without a ventilator, I can still walk and use my arms and legs, all of my senses work as they should, I have shelter and food and all of my needs are met, and I am blessed with a loving family…I am so fortunate when I look at the lives of so many others that are not. All I have to do is drive downtown and see the homeless to remember this. These are the things I will now choose to put my focus on.

But there is something still missing, and I realized today what it was. It is my desire to volunteer in a few areas in life where I have been called to help for some time. I’m a procrastinator and was never able to find the time in the past to volunteer-and that needs to stop now. There are people who need things I have to give, and services I have to offer that can help someone. I strongly believe that we all have some type of calling and volunteer work or mentoring ministry we should be offering to the world, and I have waited far too long! So get in the back seat creaky painful joints and tired body – we are going to go head out to find our calling this week!

Wherever you are, whoever you are, and no matter how you “feel”, physically, emotionally, or mentally, someone in the world needs you. You are unique, skilled or experienced in some special area, and have something to offer that no one else does – and you have an obligation to the human race and to God to give unto others-and be the difference they need to thrive and survive. Crawl, climb, and scale over whatever wall is holding you back to find your own calling to give back to the world! Your life won’t be complete until you do, and it may just change your own life radically-for the better. <3

My Renovation Is Taking Longer Than I Thought It Would…

When I realized that I was at the end of myself in January and drove home to give up the ghost and befriend my bed for so many weeks, I logically figured in the back of my tired brain that I would give myself a reasonable period of 2 to 4 weeks to rest, recharge, and get back into the medical field. After a month, my body didn’t agree, in fact it got worse before it started feeling better. And guess what? I learned that this can be normal when you have gone for so long on overdrive and don’t stop along the way for oil changes and engine maintenance and it takes a major life changing crash to get your attention.

I am fortunate enough to see a wise counselor who has experience with many of the things that I have been going through, and she recognized signs and symptoms last year and was warning me for months to slow down and take care of myself. My worst mistake was not taking my counselor seriously enough when I began showing signs of collapse and I didn’t address it as I should have. I kept going along at full speed until I did actually collapse. My body and soul felt has felt as though it has been in a car going 100 mph and slammed into a wall head on. Pain, fatigue, depression, and inability to do what I had once done so effectively was not something I’ve been dealing with very well. I had to come to an understanding of why I was flat on my face, and my body was not responding to my commands. I had abused it so badly for so long, that I am paying consequences to this day.

If there is anything I can encourage young nursing students and nurses to do that are fresh and just starting out, or maybe you’re a mother and are juggling way too much like I did for so long…STOP – AND TAKE CARE OF YOURSELVES! I keep saying it, but sometimes we tend to be hardheaded and are perfectionists and we simply don’t listen or we think we don’t have the time. I could have carved out time, but I felt at that time I had too many irons in the fire and was too tired to carve much of anything in. I couldn’t let my family down, I couldn’t let my employer down, and I had to be strong and go go go…and all along it needed to be no no no…rest rest rest…

What is self-care? It can be different things for different people. You must get to know yourself and where you are very intimately, and then you can design your own self-care routine to fit your schedule and your life. And if you are physically limited in any areas, or have arthritis or fibromyalgia (as I do) or bad joints that need replaced – work around that and modify your routine even more – make it yours. Getting to know your body, it’s needs and limits, your emotional and mental needs, and developing a self-love and appreciation of the special person you were created to be is greatly important. Some people can read a book in the evening and do some yoga through the week and be happy. Others will go hiking, mountain climbing, and participate in triathlons! Some women knit, sew quilts, make jewelry (me), and having a creative outlet can be a balm for the soul. Getting outside into the fresh air and walking, running or biking can re-energize those empty storage banks, and some gentle Yoga for those who can’t do anything as vigorous may bring just enough movement and calm to the soul enough for you.

I like to use car analogies because it is like word pictures that I can get. We are each like a special model of a car…some are sports cars, some are jeeps, some are trucks, pick your choice. And each model needs a specific plan of care in place to keep it running smoothly and efficiently so the engine doesn’t blow up or the tires don’t fall off. If you are a BMW, you aren’t going to put Chevy parts into your car when it breaks down. If you are a big diesel truck with mud tires, you aren’t going to put unleaded gas into your tank and 14 inch tires on your truck.

Just like a car – your body has specific needs. You have personal and emotional needs, your body needs movement and good nutrition to keep its engine running smoothly, and your heart and soul need tended too as well. Develop a set routine of activities that you can incorporate into your daily life that compliment your style, fill your unique needs, and find things to add in your life that make you happy and bring you joy. Find a support system of positive friends that compliment your life and make you smile. I can promise you there will be times in life when the rug will get pulled out from under you and the sky will seem as though it’s caving in around you, and if you aren’t prepared and in decent health, or don’t have anyone to turn to – you aren’t going to cope well. I look back at my folly of self neglect and can only shake my head. I thought I could do all, be all, and do it all by myself. How foolish my thinking was.

I’ve got a long way to go yet. I have no doubt I’ll get there, but I get impatient and begin feeling useless and frustrated and have “discussions” with God about how “I” would like things to be, but I finally learned that it doesn’t work that way. It must be in His timing because I’ve given it to Him to fix. I’m forcing myself to do gentle yoga (I hate exercising), I’m eating better and losing weight to get my blood pressure and cholesterol down. I’m reading lots of healthy things, taking time to meditate, be mindful and present, and I’m getting to learn this old engine of mine intimately – and what it needs for the first time in a very long time. Our needs change over time as we mature. Though I’m not crazy about thinking about my car as vintage or antique…it still brings a smile to my face. I believe I’ll think of myself as an old 63 Chevy Corvette Sting Ray under renovation…what are you?


The picture above? That’s where I’m dreaming of being as I’m laying sick in my bed with a pillow over my head trying to not think about this terrible headache, or the truck that must have hit me and my family, or the droning sound of the non-stop rain outside, or that I need to go fix dinner for this house full of sick people…ugh.

I’m ready for warmth, spring, and new life sprouting up and out. I’m ready for the beach. I’m ready to feel good and healthy again, though God remains silent as to if or when that will be right now. Time-outs in life and pain teach us lessons, they say. I’m seeking to learn my lesson so that it can be over with, kind of like I used to in school. But I think I’m failing so far as it isn’t happening very quickly. No instant gratification this time.

I’d like to say I don’t mind the pain of fibromyalgia and arthritis, or that I don’t mind gimping around painfully like a 90-year-old woman with a bad knee that my kids and grandkids now laugh at and find so funny. I’d like to say that migraines make me think deeply about the meaning of life, or that while I’m learning to meditate I can successfully drown out the little recorder in the back of my mind reminding me of all the things yet to be done. So far, I can’t. I want to feel normal again…I want to be that fast, healthy and energetic nurse again who used to help people and make a difference. But instead, I feel like a woman without an identity-and I feel lost.

Maybe that is the piece I’m missing…maybe I’m supposed to just learn to rest and to take a time-out. To accept the pain for what it is and find other ways to cope with it. To find my identity in Christ during this unwanted “time-out” and who HE wants me to be now. To learn to be frugal and grateful when all the bills can get paid and there is food on our table, and I can still walk and breath. To practice clearing the voices in my head when I pray and meditate so that I may one day hear God’s voice rather than my own…maybe I’ll just hobble downstairs and fix supper-and be glad to just “be”… flu, pain, and all. After all, God is in control, that I know.

SOWING MY SEEDS: I’m a little intimidated…

Seeds…ahhh. I was so excited at first about my little winter herb garden, and now that I’m finally Googling how to best go about growing my indoor herb garden from seed correctly-not so much. My daughter tells me I’m a “cheat gardener” because I love to go to the local nursery and roam every inch of it while I pick out my spring and summer garden flats of flowers and herbs. She tells me this is not real gardening.

Last year, after we bought our flats of annuals to fill in around the perennials growing in our yard, and she just shook her head at my husband and I. SHE is the real gardener in the family because SHE planted her personal garden with SEEDS. So, now that I’m going to start my new herb garden indoors, will that make me a real gardener now?

So, back to my seeds. It seems I need to soak them from a few hours to overnight in warm water (depending on which site you trust). Seeds can have thick skins, and they also need warmth and moisture. I can’t sow them too deep, no more than 1/4″ one site writes, a little less according to the other. AND, Parsley does not like to be transplanted, so I should grow my Parsley seeds in pots large enough to move to the garden. It seems Oregano also takes longer to germinate than the others, so I will need to be patient with my baby Oregano. And fertilize carefully, as they need nourished. One site writes that I should “harden” my baby herbs, or in other words, expose them to the outside a little each day – to get them acclimated for their debut in my earthly garden, so that they will be hardy when moved outside.

So much to learn. I NEED do this just right. Why? Because I don’t want to be a cheat gardener anymore (well, I still always be one to a point…I can’t help that greenhouse addiction and instant garden gratification)…AND I want to prove my teenage daughter wrong (though she’ll never admit it because she’s Greek).

As I read this information, it seems that seeds are a lot like us…they can have thick, thin and different colored skin, they need warmth, moisture, and nourishment, just like us. Some like a lot of sun and attention – and others are just as happy to be left alone without much light or attention. Some are a little fussier and needier, some are just happy to grow. Some like it hot, some like it cool, and some – like wildflowers (my favorites – that my husband lovingly calls weeds) like it anywhere they can spread their roots.

I guess if we were to compare ourselves to seeds/gardens, I’d like to think I’m in the latter group of seeds/gardens/flowers in the above group…I’m just happy to grow and be alive, and I have finally learned to spread my roots wherever God plants me (with only a little kicking and screaming along the way). I’m content with what God has blessed me with, and not so concerned anymore about what I don’t have that I thought I had to have one day. If I give my seeds, and myself, just the right amount of light, warmth, nourishment, moisture and time, it’ll all be alright.

The hardest time for me is pruning my gardens. I hate when my husband prunes our trees – I cringe and swear I can almost feel their pain while he is cutting everything back to what seems like nothing, but they always return lovelier than before. I have a hard time when God prunes me too…I know the results will be worthwhile, but the pruning can be painful. Maybe that is why I sometimes envision God as our all knowing and loving Master Gardener, and we are His seeds and gardens. He’s made us into this incredible non-ending rainbow of color and beauty, and His will is that we would grow to our fullest, nourished to be healthy, and our beauty would shine to reflect His own beauty. I believe my seeds will be ok, and I believe I’ll learn to be a REAL gardener, just like my Father.

Cancer Hospital Discomfort: A Nurses Personal Perspective

I’ve been working in hospitals for over 16 years, and I’ve seen a lot of people who can’t stand them-or won’t even go into one. I never used to understand it. Didn’t people realize we were there to help?

Now I’m sitting in the waiting room of a hospital next to my spouse, a cancer patient, and guess what…I don’t like it. Not the fact that I’m the spouse and he has cancer, but the fact that we don’t like this and we don’t want to be here. We are lost and overlooked in a sea of strangers, and I know each person has a story. But now it’s personal-it’s happening to us, again, and it’s our story.

It’s different when you work in a hospital, because you are familiar with the staff, the layout, the inner workings. Being a visitor in a new hospital where you’re lost, and a bit uneasy with what the doctor is going to tell us-is out of my comfort zone, and I like being in my comfort zone.

We’ve waited a few months for this day. My husband is tracking down our car and finding new parking because of course we parked in the wrong area, and my knee is still too buggered up to run there and back to do it for him-so I sit here feeling helpless and guilty, and I wonder if I’ll be able to find it on my own one of these days, because this is just the first visit of many.

It’s ironic… I should be so much more comfortable than I am, but I’m not, at all. Maybe one day after we’ve been here enough times and get to know enough people I will be. But I hope it doesn’t get too familiar, or be one day more than it has to be. I will say that I am grateful for the kind staff at OSU, and the wonderful nurses that we met, and I am greatly impressed at the ability of ALL of the staff to show great kindness to us today, and we have a good doctor. That is a wonderful thing to be able to say. This is a good place that is saving lives, and I’m grateful for that. I just don’t want us to be regulars here, but who does?