I really missed Steve yesterday. It was his job to trim the shrub in the front yard. I’m not really tall enough to reach all the places on the shrub, and get dizzy easily when wielding the electric trimmer. But I sucked up my determination and went for it. There was a long electric cord that had been repaired with duct tape in several spots. I attached it to the trimmer and fired it up. After about two minutes, the trimmer quit working and I could see that I actually cut right through the electrical cord! That explained all the repairs to the cord. Did Steve have the same thing happen to him a few times? I’ll never know. I just know it was an expensive mistake as I went to purchase a new cord. He could have repaired it for free I think. When I finally finished the shrub trimming I dug up and repaired a sprinkler. I found myself saying, “I wish Steve were here to do this.” Then I remembered that sprinkler repair has always been my job. I guess not having a back up person here threw me off a little. Anyway, my spring cleaning has begun, starting with the yard work and graduating to cleaning out the garage and storage shed. So many memory-laden things to take care of.
I’m off to Florida this week for the American Holistic Nurses Association annual conference. I’ll be teaching a workshop on dreamwork. I’m looking forward to seeing all my friends there. After the conference I’ll visit my son and his family in Atlanta. Life is good.
I had another wonderful encounter on the train (we call it the TRAX) yesterday coming home from campus. I happened to sit by a nursing student. I taught her in Health Promotion a couple of semesters ago. She told me about how overwhelming the summer schedule is for her. Sixteen credit hours, 5 classes and tons of homework. She has 3 children and her husband is out of town. It struck me how much we all don’t know about each other. Currently I teach 8 clinical students who I see twice a week. I’m in the dark about what they do when they are not in my class. I give them assignments and assume they have plenty of time to complete them. But they are getting assignments in other classes too and they are very busy. College can be so stressful. I imagine students don’t know what I’m up to when not in class with them. My point here is… hmmm…we just can’t judge each other. We don’t know each others’ “whole story.” Our perspective is narrow and limited. We have windows of opportunity to love and respect each other and we should take advantage of that, and release judgment. We can learn so much from each other.
This morning after tai chi I was tired and watched a movie, Temple Grandin. It was no coincidence that it was about how a woman with autism perceived the world, and how we really cannot judge someone with a disability – they see the world differently. They are different, not less. We all have unique ways of being in the world. We should honor and encourage each other. I cried watching it because it allowed me to remember that although my daughter has a mental illness, she is different, not less. We are all doing our best with what we’ve been given.
Anyway, it’s interesting how my experience on a train and then watching a movie can be connected and promote my learning. I can learn so much if only I pay attention.
It’s hard to decide sometimes what to blog about and what to just not mention. There’s been a lot of drama in my life lately. I don’t like drama, so I don’t like to blog about it. So I will write the short version. My daughter has become homeless, without transportation, and deeply in debt due to someone taking advantage of her generosity and lack of clear boundaries. She is living with me now. She has a job but will soon be downsized. And she broke her shoulder while biking home from work. Trust me, what I just said is just the tip of what’s happened. Trips to the ER, trips to Ogden, dropping her off at a homeless shelter and a psych hospital, and oh the list goes on. She is diagnosed with bipolar disorder and a personality disorder. Mental illness is a terrible thing to live with, for the patient and for the family. I used to think she would get better as she ages. But she is 38 now and not well at all. I used to rescue her a lot but I just don’t have it in me anymore. I have realized I can’t live someone’s life for them. I’ve been enabling her to depend on me being the safety net. My focus now is to allow her to help herself and solve her own dilemmas without me running to the rescue. I think that’s best. It’s hard, but I can do it.
I had the strangest experience on Monday. Perhaps you can figure out what it means. First, I was on the elevator on campus (where I work – the University of Utah College of Nursing). A lady entered and I said, you look familiar. She said “You don’t know me but I know you as Glenda the Good Nurse. I have seen you present at a couple of conferences.” That’s unusual because I’m really not famous. Her name is Elois and she is the director of the Psychiatric Mental Health Doctor of Nurse Practice program at the College of Nursing. She is very interested in holistic nursing, functional medicine, and integrating nutrition education into the curriculum. We just had so much in common, we decided to have lunch together. We just talked and talked about our common interests, focusing on nursing education. I loved it.
Glenda & Jolene Wilkinson
Secondly, I went to the Honors for Nursing award ceremony in Salt Lake City to honor Steve’s hospice nurse Jolene who received an award (I nominated her) for outstanding, caring nursing. There were 500 in attendance. Afterwards, I got aboard the train for home. I noticed a nurse was sitting by me who had an award in her hands so I said “Congratulations!” and we started talking. Get this: She is very interested in and committed to holistic nursing and like me infuses holistic nursing principles into her teaching at the College of Nursing. Her name is Sheila. She is only on campus on Tuesdays, and I am only on campus on Thursdays, so we have never met. And guess what? She teaches with Elois, who I met for lunch that day. They also work together in the same clinic. Again, we just talked and talked about our common interests, focusing on holistic nursing. It was so fun!
Now seriously, what are the odds that I would meet Elois on the elevator and discover how much we had in common, and then out of 500 people I would end up sitting next to Elois’ colleague on the way home, with whom I also had a lot in common? I don’t really believe in coincidences. This was a synchronicity. What does it mean? On the way home in my car I giggled and looked up at Heaven and asked, “What are You up to?” My best guess so far is that this is a message that I am on the right track when teaching holistic principles in my nursing courses, and there are others on faculty with the same interests. This is a big change from just 10 years ago when I was the only certified advanced holistic nurse in Utah and the only one on faculty (at another college) who was interested in holistic nursing. At this point, I will remember this synchronicity and see what unfolds.
Marlo, Lincoln, Brad
This was our first Mother’s Day without my husband Steve. The kids weren’t sure exactly what to do because Steve usually invited them all over for a barbecue. I didn’t want to do that because, well, it’s Mother’s Day and I’m supposed to relax and let others take care of the planning, right? My son Brad and family said they would come visit me after church. I was running late to church and wondered if I’d be OK without Steve there. As I rushed down the hall toward the chapel, I looked up and to my surprise there was Brad and my grandson Marlo waiting right outside the chapel doors for me! This meant SO MUCH to me. I don’t know how Marlo sneaked out of the house in his suit behind my back! Steve would have been so proud. It was just so thoughtful to get everyone all dressed up and in church just for me. I didn’t have to sit alone, and I was surrounded by loved ones on Mother’s Day. Perfect! It brought tears to my eyes, knowing how much I am loved. Aren’t kids great?
After church we had a wonderful visit and Brad gave me a foot rub. So relaxing! Then we talked to my son Andy and his family on FaceTime. They are wonderful. And then I went to Sid’s new house and spent some time with his family. It was a GREAT Mother’s Day. All the way to Sid’s house I was smiling and giggling. And then I won 2 rounds of BINGO at Sid’s house! I am a blessed woman. Oh, and then when I got back home my daughter Pepper and Marlo had cleaned the living room and kitchen to shining perfection. Whoever invented Mother’s Day – THANK YOU!
Well after all the bragging I did about canceling cable TV, I have a confession: I ordered it again. Not that I watch that much TV, but I found it a drag that Hulu, Netflix, local channels and Amazon Prime don’t give me the option to record things. I got tired of roaming around looking for something to watch, and I missed the Guide telling me what was on. And honestly, I miss Dancing With the Stars!!! So I called Comcast (Xfinity) today and signed up as a new customer. Because I get internet and land phone through them, it was a lot cheaper in their bundle than it was with just straight DirecTV. I’m spending about $100 a month less on TV now. So that’s good. I hope I don’t regret it. Do I feel like a failure? Nah. I gave it a shot. I’m hooked on the ease of use in cable TV. But seriously, technology is so expensive!!
I’m reading a great book by Herb Benson called The Relaxation Revolution: The Science and Genetics of Mind Body Healing. Since I teach nursing students to relax, it’s great to have a book about all the research behind the relaxation response, and how it can contribute to optimal health. It can also help students to retain more of what they study, and get better grades. I recently taught students how relaxing during an exam enables them to access the memories of what they studied much more easily and naturally. Just before a big final exam last week, six nursing students joined me in a quiet, dimly lit room on campus. They sat in seats just like the ones they would test in, and then I guided them in deep breathing and remembered wellness. I asked them to remember a time when they took a test and passed with flying colors. How did that feel? Then we did some guided imagery to their “special place” where the answers to the test could be found, just waiting for them whenever they wanted them. At the end of the session they appeared to be very relaxed. They were a little concerned about joining the chaos of pre-test jitters with the rest of their cohort, but I suggested they just sort of keep to themselves before the test. After the test I touched base with a few of them and they said it helped. Now…where do I go from here? I can do some research about relaxation before a test. Or I could simply begin holding relaxation sessions before every test and encourage other faculty to do so. Or I could set up a room on campus where students can go to relax when they are feeling overwhelmed. Or… lots of possibilities. I feel this topic calling to me and I want to follow up and advocate for nursing students who are stressed. Nursing is considered one of the highest stress majors in college. And the nursing profession itself is stressful. So I am committed to help future nurses to learn about coping and self-care. I’m excited! Perhaps I can start my own Relaxation Revolution.
I was working on my extensive To-Do list last Wednesday when the Executive Director of the American Holistic Nurses Association (AHNA) gave me a call. She said Lourdes Lorenz, the president-elect had been taken to the hospital and was unable to speak at the Scripps Integrative and Holistic Nursing Conference on Saturday morning. She asked me if I could take her place. I love Lourdes and the AHNA and I know Scripps is doing important work so I did not hesitate to say yes. On top of all that, my girlfriend of 50 years lives there and I would be able to spend some time with her. So instead of grading the ton of papers I have to grade, I took Lourdes’ PowerPoint and did my best to wrap a speech around it, entitled How to Get Involved in Holistic and Integrative Nursing. I focused on getting the audience to interact with each other, figuring the less I said the better. The audience participated and I met some wonderful people at the conference and was so glad I went. Holistic Nursing seems to be finally coming into its own, making a difference in health care and the lives of patients and nurses and staff. I feel like a tidal wave is coming. Attendees were very excited to “be the change we want to see.”
After my speech I spent the rest of the weekend with my friend Carol and her family. It was just so very relaxing and fun. I attended church with her (Unitarian). It was fun to see religion from a different view. We mostly just talked all weekend, you know those deep conversations that lifelong friends have, without judgment, and a sense of exploring our world together. I am blessed with wonderful friends and colleagues.