Accepting the Truth of What Is

Conceptual Image - Stairway to change/freedom/creativity etc.Michael J. Fox was interviewed in the April/May 2013 AARP Magazine (page 42) and said the following about his health:
“My happiness grows in direct proportion to my acceptance and in inverse proportion to my expectations…If I can accept the truth of ‘This is what I’m facing – not what can I expect but what I am experiencing now’ – then I have all this freedom to do other things.” Talk about positive thinking! I gotta say, I am an expert whiner when I get sick. After all I say about positive thinking, it is hard for me to get upbeat about being sick. Lately, while suffering from an upper respiratory infection, instead of whining, I have just accepted the present and let go of expectations. Interestingly, I have somewhat enjoyed the down time given to me. I have rested and relaxed for long periods of time. I don’t get that much down time when I’m feeling great, so this goes to show that every illness has a gift embedded in the experience. Sometimes it’s just hard to find. So I now commit to following Mr. Fox’s advice by letting go of expectations and accepting the truth of what I am facing. The truth shall set me free, right?



Stress Management and Healthy Aging

Geriatric YogaI am excited about attending the AARP Expo in Las Vegas next week. I just turned 60 years old and I think I will fit right in. I have spent years teaching nursing students about stress management and health care. Now that I am not longer teaching full time, I am wondering: What are the differences between younger and older people regarding stress management? Do the same tips work for both groups? It is obvious that the two groups have different stressors because they are at different stages of life. Are the Stress Management PEARLS I talked about last week equally applicable to all ages and groups? Hmm… that gives me something to think about. Honestly, I don’t think there is any research done about this but I will see if I can find some. I’ll also ask people at the Expo what their stressors are and what are the best methods they have used to manage their stress. Stay tuned!

Stress Management PEARLS

PearlsUse this easy acronym to remember essential stress management PEARLS:

P – Positive Thinking Notice what you are thinking and then pay attention to positive thoughts and watch negative thoughts fade away

E- Exercise regularly  Find something that you enjoy and works, and then do it at least 5 days a week.

A – Activities with family and friends It is so important to connect with others. If a day goes by where you did not feel a connection to someone else, reach out.

R – Relax Small bits of time spent relaxing every day pay big wellness dividends. Just taking some deep relaxing breaths for less than a minute a few times a day will make a difference.

L – Laughter Laughter has big benefits. Tell a joke. Laugh at a joke even if it isn’t funny.

S- Sleep  The more we learn about sleep, the more important it is. Get 8 hours every night.





Holistic or Integrative?

charlie-embracing-lifeI had a great conversation with a holistic nurse yesterday who has a book about integrative nursing coming out in December. We talked about the difference between the terms holistic and integrative. It’s been interesting how terminology has changed in the past few decades. It all started out as allopathic medicine vs. complementary/alternative medicine. Then there was a discussion about traditional vs. non-traditional medicine. That was just plain confusing because no one knew what was traditional. I grew up with the tradition of going to our family physician, so allopathic medicine was traditional to me. Others grew up using herbs and natural remedies (yet another term that causes confusion) so they think of alternative healing methods as traditional.

The other challenge in this discussion about terms is the use of the word medicine. My understanding is that physicians practice medicine. So if I am a non-physician who uses massage, music therapy, or natural remedies, it would be incorrect to say  that I am practicing complementary or  alternative medicine, or even integrative medicine. As a nurse, I don’t practice medicine. I practice nursing within the healthcare field. With all these terms flying around, it is no wonder our healthcare system is in need of repair. We can’t even agree on semantics!

Back to holistic nursing vs. integrative nursing. Let me just say that holistic nursing is a way of being with a person, taking into account their entire being, including mind, body, spirit and environment. Integrative nursing focuses more on a way of doing or practicing nursing, taking into account all of the options for treatment, including allopathic treatments and non-allopathic treatments. As a holistic nurse, I want to be able to have a wide variety of treatment options for my patients. So I guess I am practicing holistic integrative nursing. Or integrative holistic health care. Or…. What new words will we come up with in the coming decades to describe exactly what we do? This is an age-old challenge for nurses. Patients know that nurses make a difference, but nurses have trouble describing what we do. And if we can’t describe it, then it is hard to get paid for doing it, and it is hard for nursing to continue to move forward and so what we were educated to do. Now, are you as confused as I am?

The picture I have posted with this blog is Charlie McGuire, the founder of the American Holistic Nurses Association. I know when she founded the organization 33 years ago, these same questions about words were discussed. I really like how her hands are open to the possibilities…


Memory Mapping

Clark HomesI am certainly no artist, but I just learned a fantastic tool for sparking memories from long ago. This could work great for people who want to write about their personal history, or increase memory of cherished events. I call it Memory Mapping and it was taught to me by Kathy Loveless, a prominent professional speaker. Her’s how it works: Pick a time in your life and draw a map of your neighborhood. You will be amazed how many memories flood back while you are drawing the map. I chose the neighborhood I lived in when I was in 6th grade in Flagstaff, Arizona. Until I drew the map, I had completely forgotten about how I used to save my money to buy Beatles albums at the local Safeway grocery store, or how a bully followed me home from school and teased me mercilessly. I haven’t thought about my friend Debbie Street for decades, and yet her name came right up when I drew her house on the map. You can use this tool to map just one house you lived in, or maybe a place you worked. But seriously, if you want to get in touch with some memories, try this Memory Mapping, and let me know how it works for you. Have fun!

Holistic Nurses

AHNA Past PresidentsAs I contemplate Nurses Week, I am reminded of the many nurses I have met while I have been involved with the American Holistic Nurses Association. I came across this picture of three past presidents of AHNA: Veda Andrus, Deanne Aime, and Lynn Keegan. I will soon join the ranks of past presidents and feel inadequate and humbled to be in their company. Their servant-leadership is transformational  and I so admire their energy, love and dedication to improving nursing care for all. We can all be leaders in our own way, with our own style, and with a profound influence. It is time for nurses to find our voices and speak our truth. Thanks to all nurses. We are all leaders.

In the Shadow of Nightingale

Florence NIghtingaleIn honor of National Nurses Week I have been looking at some pictures of nurses and came across this one of an attendee at the 2009 American Holistic Nurses Association conference in Madison, Wisconsin.  I assume she is a nurse. As I view the photo I am struck by how the shadow on the wall reminds me of Florence Nightingale. Nightingale was a statistician and prolific writer and this photo evokes the spirit of scholarly inquiry and reform that Nightingale represented. Nurses not only help the helpless and give hope to the hopeless, we base our care on sound evidence. I am indebted to those nurses who have gone before me and in whose shadow I practice. Please join me in participating in a Nightingale Moment on May 12 at noon your time. Perhaps just take a breath and give thanks to those who have done so much to improve all of our lives.

Celebrating Nurses

DancersIn honor of National Nurses Week, I have been looking through my photos for interesting pictures of nurses. This one is from the American Holistic Nurses Association annual meeting in Snowbird, Utah last June. It shows nurses having fun and letting loose. Self care is so important for nurses and everyone else. Laughter really is the best medicine. Every year the AHNA conference always includes some “nurture the nurse” time to remind us to intentionally care for ourselves if we want to care for others.And I can’t think of a better way to care of myself than dancing and laughter with friends. Well, there’s also meditation, reading a good book, napping, hiking, exercise, positive thinking, getting a massage…. Taking care of myself is a big job!

Happy Nurses Week

HNYHappy Nurses Week! It has been my pleasure to work with outstanding nurses in my career. As president of the American Holistic Nurses Association I have been inspired by the recipients of the Holistic Nurse of the Year award, many pictured here. They exemplify the caring art of nursing, informed by evidence and best practices. They have improved the lives of not only their patients, but other nurses who look to them as examples of outstanding nursing practice, research and education. I will look through my pictures this week and post faces of compassion and caring. Faces of nurses.

Daily Mind Body Spirit Practice

mindbodyspiritI am working from home now and just as busy as I was when I was a very busy Dean of Nursing. Staying organized is a challenge because the day seems to get away from me pretty quickly. I know there are some things I need to do for myself every day so I can create balance and take care of myself. Things like exercise, housework (yep), hygiene (I did not take a shower yesterday – yuk!), learning, and taking time for regular spiritual practice. Well, I  found a way to combine some mind-body-spirit “musts.” I ride on my stationary bike for at least 30 minutes per day. I used to catch up on some favorite TV shows, but I have moved the bike to another room with no TV. So now I use my Kindle Fire while I am riding. I read scriptures (spirit) for 15 minutes then I watch a TED Talk (mind) for 15 or more minutes, all while exercising (body). So I am killing three birds with one stone, so to speak, and I feel good about it. The added bonus is that moving while studying actually increases retention, so I remember what I read or watched better because I am biking. Now, I am not a proponent of multitasking. I understand that focusing on one thing at a time is best, but it is nice to get certain daily “musts” out of the way, and it gives me a real sense of accomplishment and a nice start to the day, which manages my stress. And I am caring for my mind, body, and spirit. Life is great.