Pause.

I have a bump out room off my kitchen. We call it the sun room. It’s about 10 feet by 12 feet. It has a sliding glass door on the front wall and a deck attached. On the left wall is windows. My desk and writing space sits up against this wall. I can open up the blinds and gaze out the window when I write during the day.  My husband’s Ikea Poang chair sits in the corner between the sliding glass door and the left wall. The right wall has a futon and a television. We have a throw rug on the floor and the walls are painted with a warm oatmeal color. The roof is slanted with sky light windows. In the sixteen years and six months I’ve lived in this house I’ve watched plenty of bad weather through those sky light windows.

Tonight while watching an old season of Top Chef, I glanced up at the sky light windows and noticed that the sky was gold. I asked my husband to pause the television and we rushed outside the front door to look at the sky. On the left, the sky was dark and grey. On the right it was yellow. In the middle of the yellow sky was a patch of clear sky as if the other side of our neighborhood was experiencing a sunny evening. It soon began to rain hard and we went back into the house.

I returned to my futon and continued to watch television. I glanced up at the sky light windows and noticed sky was now completely grey and it was pouring down rain. I listened to the rain hitting the glass. One of my favorite sounds, especially when I am home. At that moment it occurred to me that there was no place on this earth that I’d rather be than cuddled up with my dog watching a storm through those windows. An intense feeling of gratitude embraced me.

I’ve learned to pause what I’m doing and observe in silence moments like this. For me, they help me experience gratitude at a deeper level. Sunrise, sunsets, nature, weather. These moments come to us for a reason. Stop. Be silent. Enjoy.

 

 

The Overthinking Perfectionist

Today I did a paint night with my mom. I had purchased these tickets as a Mother’s Day gift for last year but the event was cancelled and we finally got an opportunity to use the vouchers we were given. I looked forward to this for two reasons: time with my mom and a chance to nature my inner artist as a writer by doing other forms of creative activity.

My mom and I had a nice lunch with poor service at the restaurant the paint night was being held at. The poor service at the restaurant had me a little worried. Sometimes when I get bad vibes about something that annoys me before a writing session, my writing session ends up being crap because it throws my ju ju off. I was having fun with my mom though and that was the positive thread that held this together for me.

There were only six of us, all women and we sat in tables of two. Almost immediately, one of the women stated she would not be painting the painting that we would be doing, instead she’d be painting a picture for her girlfriend of twelve years sitting next to her. It wasn’t the relationship that annoyed me, it was the fact that she had to draw attention to herself. People who have to be the center of attention in a group annoy the shit out of me. Every relationship is meaningful in some way. I don’t indulge information about my personal relationships in public to a room of strangers. She frequently interrupted the flow of the painting lesson to ask which colors to mix up to get the color she wanted. At one point the hostess artist came around and asked her to tell her about the painting and it’s meaning to her. Everything in the painting represented an aspect of their relationship. The painting was symbolic to her, ok. I can accept that, but I still didn’t want to hear about it.

The selected painting is wine glasses . We began by making a basketball sized circle with white paint in the center of the canvas. Next we mixed blue and white together to make a blue circles around the white circle in the center and mixed a little blue in the middle. After that we began to draw the wine glasses. We started by drawing the oval shaped opening of the glass, followed by the body of the glass and the stem. I quickly became frustrated with how my strokes were looking how my wine glasses were shaped. The painting wasn’t coming together for me and I couldn’t envision what the end product would look like. I was on the verge of a temper tantrum and this painting was headed for disaster.

The hostess artist came around and made some suggestions and also said something that resonated with me. She said, “you are over thinking your strokes”. That was it. That was my problem. I’m a perfectionist who was over thinking her paint brush strokes and trying too hard because I’ve never considered myself artistic and I wanted to make a pretty painting. I had lost the essence of the activity. I looked over at my Mom. Her painting was awesome and she was having fun. That made me happy. Here I was about to act like an ass and throw a fit because my wine glasses didn’t look right. So I quickly regrouped. I used a few tips that the hostess artist had showed me and I fixed my wine glasses by outlining them with black paint using the smallest brush. The strokes I outlined the glasses with in black paint came more naturally and I added some of my own color to the top. The painting came together nicely and in the end I was pleased.

The other added bonus was that we had a short intermission where we went outside to take one shot at Corn Hole. Whoever got their bean bag in the corn hole won a free ticket to another Paint Night. When it was my turn I took my time, aimed for the hole and swung my arm in alignment with the hole the same as I do when I play Skee Ball. I won myself a free ticket to Paint Night. Even better than that though, this hostess is at this restaurant every Sunday. After football season ends my Mom and I agreed to come back again. I look forward to taking the time to nurture my relationship with my mother and my inner artist. If you haven’t tried a paint night, I’d highly recommend it. Even if you don’t consider yourself and artsy artist, you’ll surprise yourself.

It made me happy to look at this painting as I was writing this blog post. I am also proud to announce that I am on a writing streak. I have written sixty five days in a row. I journal and practice gratitude. I am nurturing my inner artist and getting to know myself again through my writng. Today was perfect.

Off to bed now. Tomorrow I have to be nurse.

The Girl in the Mirror

Change is good. Change is necessary. Change is a gradual process that requires nurturing and vigilance. Change within ourselves is an exciting journey of evolution. Along the journey of our own evolution there are signs pointing us to synchronicities that fall into place and enable us to change. Even as I write this I am receiving signs. I am in the process of change.

It drives me bat shit crazy that I can not sit down at my computer and write a story. I can blog about myself, I can write business letters and thank you notes. If you threw research at me and told me to write a 20 page paper for a college course I could do it and I would enjoy it. But I can’t write a story. I am a life time reader. I wrap my head around a book that I am reading and think to myself, “wow, this author really researched their topic well”. Somewhere in the fibers of my brain it is inscribed that I can’t write a story unless I research first. I am my own worst enemy and I am guilty without question of kicking my own ass too many times.

In December, a friend told me about a book, “Miracle Morning” by Hal Elrod. Naturally I was curious if there was a version for writers , which there is. I read the book from front to back and devised my own miracle morning routine which I began on January 3, 3017. As part of that routine I integrated the teachings of another book, “The Artist’s Way” by Julia Cameron. The Artist’s Way is a twelve week program designed to recover the blocked artist. Each week has a set of tasks. The ongoing task of the program is “Morning Pages”. Get up every morning and write.

Through morning pages I learned very important things about myself: First there are things about myself and my life that I want to change but I can’t because I complain too much about what I don’t have instead of being grateful of what I do have. My mind is never in the now. It’s always looking at something else and wishing it were mine. That’s not gratitude. Second, I’ve learned that I live in fear. I have more fears than I care to admit to myself or anyone else.

 Among my dreams is that I want to be a successful, published writer. I realized that in order for me to reach for this dream or any dreams in this life that I must let go and reach deep into my soul to change my beliefs and break through the barriers that have been present in my subconscious mind for too longe.

So what am I doing about this? Ironically I have been able to use the Nursing Process to help me. In the Nursing Process there are Five Steps.

1. Assess: I am not grateful and I live in fear

2. Diagnose: In ability to reach for her dreams related to ungratefulness and fear

3. Plan: What steps am I taking to change my beliefs about myself?

Step 1: Gratitude. Last year I purchased Rhonda Byrne’s book, “The Magic”. Of course I didn’t finish it. This book is an exercise of 28 Days of Gratitude. Each day has a lesson  and the student is to first thing in the morning write ten things they are grateful for and why and follow the instructions for lesson of the day for 28 days.

Step 2: Breaking negative barriers. There’s tons of information on the internet on topics such as this. I decided to focus on the one teacher who’s words resonate with me. Deepak Chopra. I have an Ananda Meditation app on my phone and I meditate a few days a week. Prior to each meditation, Deepak speaks about whatever the meditation is about. I take notes. I knew that buying a Deepak Chopra book was the way to go. I chose, “The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success” by Deepak Chopra because with my Ananda meditation app, I’ve already meditated using those laws and I knew it would be easy to adapt to the written teachings into making the changes I want to. In an Amazon review of the book, someone who’s a certified Deepak Chopra teacher had written in with how he uses the teachings of the book with his students.

4. Implementation:

The first thing I do each morning is to get up and practice gratitude. On work days I get up 35 minutes early, shower and get to my computer. On my off days when I wake up, I go downstairs, grab some coffee, look at the sunrise through the window and sit down at my desk to enjoy the silence. I’m midway through The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success. 

5. Evaluation: How am I doing? What adjustments can I make?

It seems like every day at work is busy for me. A few days ago on Wednesday at work, due to circumstances that existed during that shift, I found myself becoming annoyed during a preop interview with a patient. Something weird yet awesome happened. My mind all of a sudden started playing the movie ET theme song, “Heartlight” by Neil Diamond and I imagined my heart lighting up like ET’s. “Turn on your heartlight. Let it shine where ever you go. Let it make a happy glow for all the world to see”. I turned on my heartlight that day, kept those lyrics in my head and continued went on with my day. It made me feel so good and grateful and even though I’ve known this for a long time, it finally clicked. Love is the greatest power in the universe. If I can feel love and gratitude even through hard times, I can break my barriers.

I am midway through The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success and I know that I’ve made the right choice. I read when I have the time and my mind has the ability to focus on and absorb what the laws are teaching. This book suits me and I look forward to finishing the book soon so I can begin the practices.

I am on day 27 of gratitude using the Magic Book. Through the practice of gratitude I’m learning to to observe what is right in front of me and be grateful for it. I’m finding that things in my daily life are falling into place easier for me and I’m not feeling as negative or afraid. I simply feel that the solutions I am seeking are on their way. I look forward to getting up each morning to express my gratitude on paper. It makes me feel centered for the day and puts me on course to practice gratitude for the rest of the day. The practices in the magic book do indeed work when I put it into the universe. 

Today’s practice was entitled “Magic Mirror”. It instructed me to say thank you to myself each time I look in the mirror today and come up with three things about myself that I am thankful for. It referenced Michael Jackson’s song “The Man in the Mirror” and today’s message was clear to me: Change the person in the mirror and your world will change. So I listened to the song a few times, printed the lyrics to the song and high lighted the verses that speak to me so I can refer back to them.

I know that I have not yet mastered the art of gratitude but so far, I am pleased with my progress. Getting up earlier than 0430 on work days sucked in the beginning but once I got used to it, I learned to like it, and need it. So I’ll try harder not to hit snooze as many times so I don’t have to rush on work days.

Tomorrow is day 28 of the Magic. I will go through each of the 28 days of lessons and jot some notes down so I can begin the magic practice again on Monday with day 1 to apply what I’ve already learned, refine my practice and integrate the seven spiritual laws.

So there it is. I’m starting with the girl in the mirror. I’m asking her to make that change. No message could have been any clearer. She’ll make her world a better place. She’ll make that change.

 

 

 

 

30 Day Writing Challenge Day 1

Tonight while scrolling through the blogs I follow, I came across someone who was doing a 30 day writing challenge. I’ve never done one of these before. I have no idea where he got this from but hey what the heck let’s try it out. Hopefully he’ll do one everyday because I don’t know where to find this.

Make a list of 10 things that make you really happy.

These are not in any specific order.

  1. Morning Coffee
  2. My dog
  3. Reading a good book
  4. Laughing so hard I can’t breath
  5. Hiking
  6. Family and Friends
  7. Driving a stick shift
  8. Comfort food
  9. Listening to the rain when I have no where to go
  10. Music. Music on the radio, music my children play.
  11. Blog followers

Holiday Series Part 3: Music

The stage was decorated with poinsettia plants. The auditorium was dark. The band wore Santa hats. People who know this band and have kids who’ve played in this band look forward to this song each year. The audience sat quietly as the band prepared to play it’s final selection: Sleigh Ride. I’m listening to the video I filmed during the concert as I write this. I can’t help but to smile. My son was a member of this band during his junior and senior years of high school. My daughter is a freshman member of this band, this gifted and talented band.  I smile because I’m so proud of the preparation my daughter put into preparing for this concert and playing this song. She was delighted to have been given second trumpet music. One day, several weeks before the concert, she admitted to me that she lost her place in class while rehearsing this song and that when she made contact with the band director he knew she’d lost her place too. She didn’t like that feeling so she took the problem to her private music teacher. Together, they tackled it and she learned to play the piece with confidence, without difficulty and without getting lost. The following evening we attended the Guitar Concert at the high school and a few days after that I attended the Christmas concert at our church, where my daughter performs in the Youth Band.

Music by far puts me in the holiday spirit, especially music that my children are playing on their instruments.  I don’t need to hear it 24/7 but when it’s on the radio I do enjoy it. I prefer songs related to the birth of Jesus but I do have a few other favorites.

Here’s my list, in the order that I remember.

Do You Hear What I Hear?

Sleigh Ride

Silver Bells- Motown Version

Ave Maria-don’t all Italians like this song?

Christmas Night

What Child is This

Away in a Manger

Silent Night-the Stevie Nicks version.

Little Drummer Boy-Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band version

Hark The Herald Angels Sing

Happy Christmas- John Lennon

Joy to the World

Christmas Is the Time to Say I love You-Billy Squire

Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer

Chipmunks Christmas

White Christmas- I’m from Buffalo, NY and I like snow on Christmas!

Christmas All Over Again-Tom Petty

O Come All Ye Faithful- ok I’ll admit it was the Brady Bunch season 1 Episode 12: The Voice of Christmas that got me into this song at a young age. Carol Brady had just miraculously recovered from Laryngitis to sing this song for her church on Christmas morning. Listen to the words though: O Come all ye faithful. Joyful and triumphant. O come ye. O come ye to Bethlehem. Come and behold him, born the King of Angels. O come let us adore him. O come let us adore him. O come let us adore him, Christ the Lord. I have no musical ability what so ever and I have to get really drunk to even consider singing Karaoke. This song however makes me just want to stand up and belt out a song during Christmas Eve Mass. So I sing and try not to kill the people in the pew in front of me with my off tune voice.

Here’s my least favorite song of all time: Wonderful Christmastime by Paul McCartney. This song agitates me so much it makes me want to throw myself out of a moving car.

That’s all that nurse has to say for now. Have a great week.

 

 

 

 

 

Why Nurses Do What They Do

Several years ago, the week before Christmas, I entered the nurses station at 0700 in the Emergency Department I worked in for morning report. As I did every morning, I scanned  the patient tracking screen to look at how many patients we had and if I recognized any familiar names. I spotted a patient who I’d taken care of multiple times and who I enjoyed taking care of. Naturally, I jumped at the opportunity to take care of him again. I asked the night shift nurse for report and looked forward to entering his room.

I quickly learned that my patient was not doing well. The doctors suspected that he was now in the terminal phase of his illness. Through the course of the eight hours I took care of him, even after I’d infused over three liters of IV fluid and transfused two units of packed red blood cells, I could not control his pain or keep his blood pressure stable enough to give pain medication and he was beginning to display signs of organ system failure. I spent hours in that room that day not only caring for him, but helping his wife accept what was happening.  After I transported him to intensive care and helped him get comfortable in his bed, I put my hand on his, got close to his face, looked him in the eyes and told him to take care. Our eyes were locked for several seconds. He said thank you and wished me well. He died twelve hours after I transported him to intensive care and I still relive looking into his eyes for the last time.

The holiday season isn’t an easy one for nurses. Not because we work long hours, sacrifice and miss our own holiday gatherings to care for others. Because we see how illness impacts people’s lives. To be present to watch patients and their families experience these things on the holidays leaves a long lasting effect on healthcare workers. Why?  Because we see the look of desperation in our patient’s eyes where we know they are wondering if this illness is going to pass, be chronic or even life threatening. We observe families trying to be brave for their sick loved ones when we know they are afraid. We hear the screams from the room where the cardiac arrest was just pronounced dead. We see the look of fear as our surgical patients are being wheeled to the operating room with all evidence of the human being they are having been stripped away from them and replaced by a hospital gown, colorful footies and a warm blanket. We walk through the surgical waiting area and see the blank stares of families as they wait for a surgeon to come out and tell them if their loved one has cancer. We try to do everything we can to cheer up our inpatients when they are stuck eating hospital turkey on Christmas day or can’t eat at all because they are too sick. We observe our Dementia patients roaming the halls of the long term care facilities and wonder what they were like before Dementia robbed them of their memory. We thank God profusely that our own loved ones are healthy and waiting for us to come home. Our shifts end and we go home, shower and try to shake it off. Deep down inside, over the years memories similar to the one I shared resurface for all of us.

The brightness and warmth of the summer sun replaces the darkness of December and the months fly by. Six months after my patient passed away, I’m at work one summer afternoon and I hear my name being called from across the ER. I turn around an realize it’s my patient’s wife. She quickly walks up the me, hugs me and tells me she’s doing fine. She’d just been the see a chaplain whom she was seeing monthly. She said she’d come down to the ER to specifically find me and tell me how she was doing and to say thank you. I was so moved by that I rushed right up to one of my good buddy coworkers to tell her. Her response was simple, powerful and true, “This is why we do what we do”.

 

Holiday Series Part 2: The Gators bring it in

Despite the cold winds and low temperatures, the streets were lined with a large crowd. Families and friends bundled up in coats, hats, scarves, mittens and blankets. People standing, sitting in chairs or even sitting on the ground, holding coffee or cocoa to keep warm. People of our community watching each group march by. Finally, Santa’s sleigh arrives and the crowd began to cheer. I didn’t come to see Santa though. The highlight of the parade for me was the last group to march down the street.

I spotted her immediately. The Santa hat was secured to her head, allowing her hair to flow down. Her clear blue eyes were focused forward. She looks so sharp in that navy blue uniform. Her lips were pressed to the mouthpiece of her trumpet. The trumpet, decorated with red and white tinsel was aimed high, demonstrating discipline and confidence. Last year my daughter refused to even go to this parade. She said she needed a break before it was her turn. I think she just didn’t want to walk in my son’s shadow.

Walk in my son’s shadow in this marching band, she has not done. This was his marching band for four years. Yes’s she’s marched with some of his remaining friends but this is her marching band now. This year, this marching band marched in five field show competitions and scored higher than they ever have. As the underdogs, they competed against twelve other bands for the state championship and came in second place putting the band, the band parents, and the band directors on a huge emotional high. The following week they went to Mid Atlantic Regional Championship and became the first band in our county to qualify for the final round. I’d say my daughter has blazed her own trail in this marching band. My son, the awesome big brother that he is, simply showed her the way to the field and stood on the sidelines to cheer her on and enjoy her triumph.

Each year, this parade is the final event of the marching band season. By this time, the band’s competition season has been finished for a few weeks. The kids enjoy decorating their instruments with cheer, playing holiday songs and letting their hair down for one final march of the year. This is the fifth consecutive year my husband and I have had a child march in this parade. For us, it hasn’t gotten old. Standing in a shopping center in the cold with my husband and our band parent friends waiting for our kids to round that corner to complete the parade after Santa passes by always makes me smile.

#OptOutside

The sound of passing cars slowly fades as I put one foot in front of the other and settle into my hike. My head moves from side to side as I observe my surroundings. Fallen branches, dry leaves of all colors on the ground, bare trees , the faint smell of pine needles, and the sound of my boots hitting the dirt. I am so thankful to be here. It has been 37 days since I last entered these woods and although I’ve hiked this trail many times, each hike is different. I have to pay more attention to the trail because the leaves cover the path. The woods feel eerie today. The bare trees stand at attention in the absence of a breeze. The river is low and looks more like a pond than a river. The sky is gloomy gray  and there’s only 2 more hours of daylight left giving me the feeling of urgency and excitement to hike through these woods before dark.

My children’s Christmas lists are to my left as I type this. This is the same spot they place their lists each year. They are teenagers and no longer believe in Santa. I shop from their list and throw in a few surprise things too. Today is Black Friday. I don’t do malls on Black Friday not ever. I’d end up on the 6PM news with the headline of “Nurse went shit house crazy because the mall was too crowded and people were in her personal space”. With that said, I usually begin my online shopping on Black Friday and do at least 90% of my holiday shopping online.

I’ve had a busy fall and I’m finally starting to feel grounded again. In addition to the person who is making one aspect of my life hell, I attended 11 consecutive weekends of college and high school marching band events for my kids. I have no regrets and I am so very proud of my kids but constant motion without downtime on the weekends wears me out. Last Friday with the help of a committee, I executed a successful major fundraiser for the non profit organization that I volunteer for. Last Saturday my butt found the couch. I’ve managed to maintain my sanity through this long 12 weeks but barely. Today I decided to reclaim myself and my inner peace and strength. REI, the Outdoor Gear retail store that my husband and I frequent, remained closed today so their employees and customers could “Opt Outside” and spend the day outside instead of shopping or working. Instead of a day of online shopping, I went hiking.

Recently, I watched a National Geographic Documentary about when Long Distance Hiker Jennifer Pharr Davis hiked the Appalachian Trail in 46 days in 2011, setting a speed hiker record.  What resonated most for me was when she referred to hiking by stating, “There’s something very healing about the physical forward motion” and goes on to say “what makes hiking unique is the cadence and rhythm of moving through nature at two to three miles per hour, which is a pace at which you can really appreciate things. It gives you time and especially space to think, to process the big questions in life”.  In a nutshell that is why I hike and will continue to hike.

It is now 9PM. My belly is full and my legs and buns are sore, reminding me of the perfect hike I had today. I’m about to declare it “pajama time” and I just refused to go buy a refrigerator with my husband so it is doubtful I will get to any online Black Friday Shopping this evening. I don’t care. I opted out. I went hiking.

My Shelter Dog

On Sunday after mass, my priest invited the parish community to return to church at 5PM for the Blessing of the Animals to celebrate The Feast of Saint Francis of Assisi, the Patron Saint of Animals. I graciously accepted the invitation and my daughter and I brought our dog. As I stood there and watched the priest recite the prayers and then walk around to bless the animals with Holy Water, I reflected upon what a blessing our dog has been to our family.

A friend once told me, “You don’t pick the Animal, the Animal picks you”. I began looking for dogs on Petfinder in the spring of 2012. Of course I was looking for a puppy because everyone wants a puppy. During my search I spotted a black mini poodle, male and 2 1/2 years old. A black mini poodle.  Exactly what I wanted! But why was a 2 1/2 year old dog up for adoption? I kept looking. During my frequent online searches, I kept going back to the black poodle. I couldn’t get past the look of sadness and rejection in his eyes in the pictures that were listed online. I emailed the shelter about the dog and my husband and I decided to take the kids and go meet him. We agreed that if it didn’t feel right, we would not bring him home.

The dog was playful and full of kisses when the woman at the shelter brought him out to us. I fell in love with him the moment I saw him and I knew I had to have him. We took turns walking and playing with him. My husband wasn’t sure. He’d never had a dog before. It took me almost two hours to convince him that this dog would be good for our family. We filled out papers, paid for him and took him home. I sat in the back seat of the car with the kids and the dog as we drove home. I knew taking him was right because he put his head in my son’s lap and sighed with relief as if to say, “I’m going home”.

I remember the morning after my son was born. I was critically ill, whacked out on pain medication and magnesium sulfate, and the nursery nurse brought my son to me for a feeding. In my drug induced fog, I realized that I had no idea how to feed a newborn and wondered what I’d gotten myself into. We felt the same with this dog. The idea of having a baby or adopting a pet seems lovely and heartwarming at the time, but once you get into the nitty gritty, you realize it’s going to take patience, trial and error, education and a lot of love. We had no idea what we were getting ourselves into with this shelter dog. My friends said it would take a few months for him to adjust. I believed them and remained hopeful.

One evening shortly after we adopted him, the dog was sitting at the screen door barking at our neighbor who was outside mowing his lawn. The barking became excessive and my husband who was sitting on the couch, rolled up the magazine he was reading and smacked it against the side of the couch to distract the dog to get him to stop barking. The dog cowered as if he thought he was about to be hit. The dog did not allow us to touch all parts of his body. We couldn’t go near his lower back closer to his tail and hind legs. Once we tried to wipe some remaining poop from his backside and he almost tore my husband’s arm to shreds. We also discovered that he had moments of insanity where he’d just lose it and start spinning and chasing his tail. We also discovered he went crazy at the groomer and at vet appointments to the point we worried he was going to rip their arms to shreds. It was obvious that this dog had inner demons from his past to work though. We were fortunate to have found a groomer early on who was familiar with shelter dogs and made some recommendations which our veterinarian agreed with. We tried distraction, behavior modification, Prozac, a shock collar and nothing could break him of this excessive spinning and chasing his tail. The groomer recommended Acepromazine, a dog anti anxiety medication for grooming days, vet visits and situations that will be stressful for him. We also brought a trainer into our home for an afternoon. The trainer taught us techniques to break him of his spinning and to, in dog language, show the dog that we are the alpha, not him. It really has taken patience, trial and error, education and a lot of love but I am pleased to say he’s doing great.

It has now been exactly four years and five months since we adopted him. We have given him more love than he has ever dreamed of and he has learned to trust us. We have learned what his triggers and social limitations are.  We take him on vacation with us because we don’t want to board him and make him think he’s being surrendered and we don’t put him in situations that will stress him out. He’s a good boy. He doesn’t have accidents in the house and he doesn’t tear anything up. He knows our routine of family life and he’s part of it. He has a unique relationship with my each member of our family; my husband, my son, my daughter and myself. He’s a sweet boy and he loves to cuddle. He comforts us when we are sad, he’s our buddy and a trusted friend and confidant. He gets presents for his birthday and on Christmas and we allow him to put his nose in the bag to drag each present out. Our friends joke and say this dog owns my husband and I. He does.

My friend was right about the animal picking the human. This dog picked me before I even met him. The look of sadness and rejection in  eyes in his petfinder picture is what called me to him and made me bring him home. I never want him to feel that way again. I have absolutely no regrets about adopting this shelter dog and I encourage others to give shelter dogs a chance. They have so much to give. We gave this dog a home and feeling of security, love, tons of toys, good food, lots of playtime, discipline, health and grooming. In return he has given me the ability to love a dog in a way that I never knew I was capable of. He’s the best dog ever.

 

Getting Real with Myself

I saw something a few days ago on Instagram that made me not like myself as a writer. I follow a few writing accounts on Instagram. One of them recently posted a photo with a quote by an unknown source that read, “A real writer doesn’t just want to write; a real writer has to write”.

Ok, let’s psychoanalyze me for a moment here. I’ve been told by several that I’m a good writer. I’ve never published anything yet or won any contests but I haven’t given up. I have this blog. I enjoy writing BUT, I don’t write everyday SO, I’m not a real writer.

Here’s my sob story. I am a nurse. I work in a perioperative unit. My job is to prepare patients for the operating room. I watch the clock all day. It’s busy, there’s always an unexpected task to complete, the surgeons move quickly and I need to be on my toes with what’s going on with my patients. It is mentally and physically exhausting. I spend Monday-Friday in a sleep deprived trance.

I get up at 0430 four days a week during a Monday-Friday week. I have my alarm set for 0351 and I proceed to hit snooze every nine minutes until the very last minute I can get up which is 0436. I sit at the side of my bed and then the toilet feeling sorry for myself because I have to be awake, promising myself I’ll come home and take a nap. I drink coffee and eat a carbohydrate. I’m more awake by the time I’ve hit the shower but now I really have to haul ass out the door because I’ve wasted too much time feeling sorry for myself that I have to get up at the ass crack of dawn and moving like a snail. I begin work at 0600. Once the caffeine has kicked in, while I am working, I write in my head about whatever pops into my head. I say to myself, “If I were home, I’d be doing…..”. Yes ok whatever Jen, if you were home you’d be lying in bed drinking coffee and enjoying morning dog time with your dog”. I get home from work, shower, nap, dinner, get whatever kid to where they need to be and then let myself off the hook with, “I’m too tired to write”, which most of the time is the truth.

So that’s why I don’t write every day, because I don’t have self discipline and I can’t get into a rhythm of when to write and I can’t put my phone down. I tried getting up 30 minutes early but I found myself in even more of a sleep deprived zoombie state than I already exist in. So I need a new gig.

I don’t like myself as a writer because I don’t write everyday. It is a known fact that a writer improves their craft by writing everyday. I’ve seen it on countless websites and books about writing. This tidbit of information is like a nagging voice in my that won’t go away. It follows me wherever I go and says I told you so when I “think about” writing or find something else do waste my time with when I could be writing. It too tells me I am not a writer. It’s like the scene in Animal House when Pinto’s date passes out and he’s deciding whether to take advantage of her or not. It’s that person standing on my shoulder, criticizing me, helping me kick my own ass for my lack of.

I would like just one month to get into a routine of something good for myself on the first of the month and carry it through the entire month. Then it would be a habit. So I did some google searching and remember something that I’d tried a few years ago that’s still in the ibooks section of my phone. It came from debbiehodge.com’s 365 Prompts. Each set of prompts is divided into months and the writer has to answer a different question each day.

My plan is to put my phone down when I go upstairs for bed, answer the prompt and journal after I answer the prompt. If I can do it sooner in the day, great. I know I can do it. I’ll check in and let you know how I’m doing. I’d better get to writing now because I’m getting sleepy and I don’t want to hear that nagging voice.