Monthly Archives: December 2020

Grateful for the Chance to Make a Difference: Day 7 of Gratitude Week

The photo is of Greta Thunberg, the young woman who has made such an incredible impact in terms of awakening the world to the threats of pollution and climate change. She, and her generation, will be inheriting a world that is far more dangerous for many reasons than the one I grew up in. One thing we CAN do for our children and future generations is mitigate the harmful effects of pollution and associated climate change. There is not a moment to waste! This, as much as anything, is an issue that Florence Nightingale would have advocate for strenuously. As nurses we know that environment has a huge health impact. It is one of the metaparadigms of nursing. Time for us all to get on board.

Good news in my science feed today: researchers from the University of Rochester have published their findings regarding how to be happier in 2021. It turns out, “If you want to make a New Year’s resolution that really makes you happy, think about the ways in which you can contribute to the world, because the research shows it’s not just good for the world but also really good for you.” Here is the source:

So I have an easy solution for myself in 2021, I will focus on reducing my own impact on the climate and advocating as strongly as I can for environmental issues. It’s important! It’s my children’s future! And it is something that is 100% do-able. Plus, it’s a prescription for being happier in 2021. This concludes my week of gratitude and honestly, it’s been a great week. I won’t flood my blog with any more posts, but this has become quite a promising habit. I wish you all very happy holidays and health and joy in the new year. I hope you will all embrace your power and enjoy greater happiness in 2021 by finding your own way to make a positive impact.

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Grateful for my Co-workers: Day 5 & 6

I work for an organization which is always under fire. Every time I go to work, there are protesters outside yelling at us and yelling at our patients. I don’t believe they are accomplishing anything other than adding to some people’s misery, but I have to defend 100% their right to protest. I attend protests as well. They generally involve things like protesting against pollution, climate change, lack of government action, and quashing of women’s rights. But my beliefs are not everyone’s so if I have the right to protest, so do they.

But my co-workers are solid. We are in this to take care of our patients, no matter what. We take care of patients of all socioeconomic strata, all colors, all genders, and all gender identities. We treat everyone with respect and do the best we can to provide them the highest quality, compassionate medical care possible.

How can I not love my co-workers? They are hard-working, dedicated, compassionate, full of life and humor, and just the most supportive, fantastic co-workers I have ever had. May I say that I LOVE my co-workers. We work long hours and never leave until the last patient is seen, taken care of, and ready to go home. But we all do it with heart and intention and integrity. The best job I ever had. These people are my inspiration and my support system. One could not work with a better team!

The photo is of two of my colleagues (and me) who drove 45 minutes with one of their daughters to attend our Christmas party last year. Forty-five minutes ONE WAY. An hour and a half in total. But they were there, and they were not the only ones I work with to drive so far just to be together at the holidays. I regret that we did not have our annual Holiday Open House this year, but next year will be better than ever. And I will hold these women in my heart forever. Happy Holidays!

Grateful for the gift of Yoga: Day 4

“Submerged in the here and now”. That’s a phrase my favorite online yogi just used during savasana, the final resting pose. Interesting concept, and a good one for today’s phrenetic world.

I was first introduced to yoga when I was competing in triathlons. My training buddy, an exercise physiologist and far better athlete, suggested that I needed to do yoga to “slow myself down”. That’s me and her in the photo, after the Copper Man Triathlon in 199? I told her I could not possibly do it, all people do is lie around on the floor and chant. Wow, was I wrong.

When my friend Mary Connor (for real, that’s her name just like in Terminator) finally got me to try a class. I was amazed. It was hard! It was physical! It was good! I was hooked! I am now a Registered Yoga Teacher and have been teaching it myself for about 5 years. As I age, and my body does not want to do the things it did when I was younger, I find that yoga offers me plenty of challenge and opportunity for growth and improvement. At 61, I can finally do a full backbend (wheel pose). This took 10 years. Pretty exciting.

But truly what yoga offers is not just a physical discipline, it is a philosophical invitation to explore spirituality and mindfulness. It is an interior journey. It’s just what people need during this pandemic! We have a videoconference meeting this afternoon for the RN staff about resiliency and self-care. I’m pretty much there already. My life has been anything but linear. If I were not resilient, I could not have worked two jobs while supporting two babies and a young husband who went back to college. Never mind myself. As the children (including my husband) learned to take care of themselves, I was able to re-focus on my own mental and physical health. Every day is a new challenge in this regard, but with the good fortune to be living in a climate where I can go out and jog most days, then follow up with a yoga practice, I am doing alright.

Now is the time! If you’ve ever thought, “I could benefit from doing yoga”, you were right. You WOULD benefit. There are a million YouTube Yogis out there waiting and ready for you to stream their videos for free. What are you waiting for? Do it today. You’ll be glad you did for the rest of your life.

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Grateful for Old Friends: Day 3

Do you have a photo that always makes you smile whenever you catch a glimpse of it? This one does it for me. I have it framed near my desk. This is my book group, many years ago, celebrating a beautiful holiday gathering at the perfect log cabin in the woods. We were so young! We have gone through so much since then – divorces, deaths of parents, re-marriages, and an unfortunate falling out. The rift that was created was so profound that this great group of women who had met and supported each other through more than a decade dis-banded and meets no more.

But we still keep in touch and keep the hope alive of meeting again, at least with most of the group. No matter what happened or “whose side you are on”, I know I could ask any of these women for anything. If I were ill or in need, they would come to my aid, and I would help them in any possible way as well.

The memories we share are rich and filled with joy, love, pain, family, community, personal struggle and redemption. To have such deeply heart-warming memories to recall, to know that there are women in your life you can depend upon no matter what, these are tremendous gifts for which I am truly grateful.

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Grateful for Frank and the Gift of Giving: Day 2

My Godfather, Dr. Frank Verley, was a Jamaican geneticist. He came into my life when I was 8 years old. He was loving, gentle, kind, wise, and truth be told I wished he had been my biological father, but that’s another story. He not only guided me throughout my life, he also help guide my children and even took care of my youngest on occasion when I was working Hospice and got paged. I was devastated when he passed away, and worked hard to establish a scholarship fund in his name at Northern Michigan University where he had taught for years. After much fundraising we were still a couple thousand short and my mother was kind enough to just fully fund the scholarship from her own savings. That was about 5 years ago.

Yesterday, I received my first thank you note from a Frank Verley Scholarship Fund Recipient. It was from Mikayla, a young woman from another tiny town, Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin. She is graduating with a degree in biology and intends to attend medical school. Her brief note let me know she has already submitted her application to a couple of schools, and has always been a part of NMU’s pre-med club. It is a particularly good pre-med club with great support and personal interaction between professors and students so I am assuming she did well enough on her MCATs and had decent essays. Having participated in my daughter’s own medical school journey, I know what she is in for – a LOT of work. And a LOT of debt. Mikayla enjoys her studies and enjoys being a Resident Advisor. She indicated that the scholarship will help her focus on her studies and her job as an RA. She included a photo.

I had to just cry. I miss my “Uncle” Frank so much. I had wondered if the scholarship fund was ever going to earn enough to provide assistance to a deserving student. I think Frank would be happy. He encouraged my daughter, Cate to persevere. He suggested that she major in Cellular and Molecular Biology, which she did. He was my rock, and her rock, and we all loved him beyond measure. And now, another young woman will be encouraged to and assisted with attending medical school with assistance from Dr. Frank Verley. I am SO grateful to have been instrumental in making this happen.

A very talented, altruistic woman from my little home town has been making her mark on the city of Detroit, by starting a non-profit that teaches disadvantaged kids from the inner city to play the violin. I have been contributing what I can do her organization since I found out about it. Instead of buying presents, a great holiday idea is to contribute to a charity that either speaks to your heart or to that of the recipient. I urge you please, check out Detroit Youth Volume and, if you can, give them a little love either with a financial contribution, a post on your web page/FB/Twitter/Insta. Or both! You will not only feel gratitude, you’ll feel great!

Check them out here:

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Gratitude. The Antidote to 2020.

I have not written for quite some time. Life got busy. A pandemic hit. My husband lost his job. I went back to work full-time. Each of my grown children had their own crises to sort through. I started two different non-profits – one sewed more than 5000 masks for local health care providers and the other continues to inform our local community about how to stay safe and where to get tested. I resigned from both of the organizations I started when it became apparent that trying to lead them plus work full-time plus help kids plus try to be a respectful and supportive partner was just too much. I got sick. I got better. I got tired. I resolved to return to part time work in January and that’s just what I’m doing.

I work in outpatient surgery/women’s health so, although several of our patients have admitted to testing positive after coming to our clinic, my exposure is NOTHING like that of my daughter (a hospitalist) or her husband (a critical care specialist) who lead teams devoted to caring for critically ill COVID patients all day every day at work. They both got it early on, when their hospital was short on PPE. They are young and recovered, but nothing can help you recover from the daily emotional trauma of families cut off from their failing loved ones.

It’s long. We all have pandemic fatigue. What can we do to keep ourselves healthy? Other than excellent nutrition, conscientious exercise, and appropriate precautions, it turns out practicing gratitude helps. A recent article in the online news journal MD Linx describes the multiple health benefits of gratitude including reducing inflammation, BP, HR, and improved mental health and overall well-being. Sure, I thought, that’s great but how to be grateful? Other than the election which saw the demise of the Trump dynasty, there’s not a lot to be grateful for. Thank goodness the article described in depth how to do it. Here’s an excerpt and the citiation:

“All of this raises an important question: How do you start cultivating feelings of gratitude? According to some health experts, one of the best ways to do this is through writing. In his interview with NPR last year, Dr. Fox said that journaling can help condition the brain to feel more grateful more often. Fox, who completed his PhD on the neural bases of gratitude, began his own gratitude journal while grieving the death of his mother. While it didn’t stop the pain, he said he helped make the ordeal far more manageable and changed his perception of the tough time he was going through.

Gratitude journaling can take many forms. You can write down all the things you’ve felt grateful for in the past 24 hours, or you can focus on one good event and try to write down all the details of it. You can even write letters that don’t intend to send—simply the act of writing could help train your brain to acknowledge the positive sides of life well into the future.So grab a pen, get comfy, and consider all the good things in your life—from significant long-term relationships to minor things like a nice coffee break.”

Since my handwriting is atrocious, I grabbed my computer. Same thing. So day one I will focus on being grateful for my continued health and ability to financially withstand reducing my hours to part-time in January. These are not small things to be grateful for. In fact they are HUGE. So many Americans cannot make those statements. So, ok, your turn. Let’s take care of ourselves the best we can, and try to include gratitude every day. I am grateful to anyone out there that may be reading this, and especially grateful if it helps you.

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