Healing begins...by my resident junior poet
Healing begins...

I spent this Nurses Day in distance learning activities with my nine year old. Sipping on coffee while doing a lesson about fractions, I thought about dosage calculations from nursing school and the math test one takes before working at a hospital. During phy-ed, where the challenge was to inflate a plastic bag to bat in the air while running around a stool — I was reminded of some of the creative things I’ve seen patients, families and colleagues do to burn off some physical steam within the four walls of a hospital room.

My favorite lesson today was the peace poetry activity du jour with artist in residence, Marie Olofsdotter. The video session led us through inspiration and process for writing solar circle poems centered on the theme: healing begins. I was compelled to dedicate the healing rays on my solar circle to the four therapeutic practices of a favorite book and philosophy by Mary Koloroutis and Michael Trout: *See Me as a Person.

My daughter’s poem took the shape of a heart, complete with beams of things that make her happy. Engaging in this art reminds me of the value of poetry in practice. Try your hand at drawing a heart or circle around the words, “healing begins” and see where your pencil takes you!

*See Me as a Person review on Goodreads:

Today I'm getting a running start on my goal to raise $1000 for Children's Minnesota as a member of Team Superstars. I'm lacing up my running shoes for my 10th training run to prepare for the TC10 event of the Twin Cities Marathon in October 2020. You can support me by cheering, by asking how my training is going, and/or by making a donation to help me meet my fundraising goal to contribute to the Child and Family Services fund at Children's MN.

You may recall my hubby's "breathless proposal" some 15 years ago at this event. I'd be grateful for your support of the place that put us on each others' paths at a time when the world is fighting a pandemic and upholding health and healing every step of the way. There's no place I'd rather work or bring my own child for care, and your support of any type or amount will help ensure critical services in a time of increased need.

Minnesota is doing a #GivingTuesdayNow campaign to raise money for those especially in need at this time -- so this felt like a great time to get the word out!

My page and story:

What’s on your self-care menu?

This question was posed in a talk I recently heard among 200-some nurses. We were invited to consider options on the menu to create a S.E.L.F (stop, evaluate, learn, find your path) care plan. On paper, after identifying the cognitive, physical, behavioral, and emotional stress reactions that nurses are challenged to meet in practice, we chalked out a plan for home and for work to have a virtual first aid kit at the ready.

When I'm living what Oprah might call "my best life" -- I'm ordering up mediation and movement on the regular. When I'm not being thoughtful about self care, eating whatever isn't nailed down (preferably on the couch!) is my go-to. In all fairness, I think this indulgence has its place -- distanced from a go-to ritual!

Creating my own self-care first aid kit inspired me to sign up for a Meditative Movement™ 21-day challenge, starting on 2/29. The Meditative Movements™ technique embodies over 100 movements designed to release stress, to energize, or to center oneself in calm. I've practiced Meditative Movements™ for years, and I am excited to fold these exercises back into my daily routine. The three-week challenge (explained in detail in link above) will feature one movement each week, optimizing ease in habit-formation in less than 10 minutes per day.

Ellie Peterson, creator of the Meditative Movements™ technique is offering up the I Am Loved Meditative Movement™ this week as a warm-up before taking the leap on 2/29 for the three-week challenge to trial this habit in your self-care practice. The movement is like hugging a moment while picturing or simply being present to whatever makes your heart swell! A brain-body connection to keep the warmth of Valentine month cozy in your heart all year.

Meditative Movements™ are like a mailbox full of love letters addressed to stress-release, energy-boosts, or centering to calm. I practiced the, I Am Loved Meditative Movement™ while window-shopping on Valentine's weekend.

Feel free to reach out if you have questions about the challenge or the technique. I'm leaping beyond this three-week challenge to become certified to teach Meditative Movements™ by taking the leader certificate training on Thursday, March 12. Holler if you are moved to join me! natalie.lu.msn@gmail.com

An annual tradition of choosing a word over a New Year's resolution has been a steady practice of mine for some seven years. One word as a lens on the upcoming year. No lofty resolutions. This weekend I continued a tradition of creative shenanigans in the art journal to play with my 2020 word of the year: habits.

One thing I sometimes miss about bedside nursing is the habitual cadence of a shift. A myriad of regularly scheduled things happen like habit amidst dynamics that can feel beyond control on either side of care delivery. A focus on the habits that make up personal and professional practice feels like worthy territory to explore in this leap year that kicks off a new decade.

Two dear nursing colleagues joined me for my annual word-of-the-year habit. They brought 'joy' and 'peace' (their words) to a table filled with art supplies. We ceremoniously launched our words-of-the-year, inspired to find more ways to interact with our words in the days and weeks to come.

The Reflective Nurse will be partnering with Yoga Garden in March to gather together on our mats for a special offering of owner Laurel Van Matre's class: 'Your Year in a Word' - a 90-minute yoga class and session to explore your year through a word...on your yoga mat! Logistics to be announced soon - please message me with interest. Optional tea-time at a local venue following yoga for any nurses or partners in care who wish to steep in some conversation about taking what's learned on the mat into personal or professional practice.

Meanwhile, if you are looking for a regular serving of prompts to get your wheels turning, I've drawn inspiration from the online class: One Little Word® by Ali Edwards for some seven years, now.

Wishing you peace and joy in your habits of welcoming a New Year!

The Reflective Nurse 5th annual Nurses Week Salon lifted up themes of connectedness, transitions in practice, loss, writing, simulation, nursing education, and more. The pearl we all took away from conversation during our check-out was the value of a pause in practice: to poise ourselves in self-care, to care for one another in our work, and to make a human connection with the patients and families in our care. This is nursing.

Book suggestions, TED Talk recommendations, and journal references are some of the rich gifts of a conversation salon. Tonight’s discussion did not disappoint in the free-flow of suggestions to this end! In honor of Nurses Week 2019, please enjoy the following recommendation from one of my nurse mentors: “The Mother of All Hospital Administrators,” by Joe Tye, is a unique reflection published in Hospitals and Health Networks magazine about Florence Nightingale’s lamplight shed on the blueprint of modern day hospitals. One way you can honor Florence Nightingale’s birthday and a piece of nursing history is by checking out Tye’s piece at:


A special closing note of the night was an offering of a Blessing of Hands ritual by a dear chaplain partner in care. How important to be reminded of the value of spiritual caregivers in our work with this special tradition to touch our hands and hearts. My cup is full.

Happy Nurses Week!

A pause in practice for a Blessing of Hands ritual is a cornerstone ritual in Nurses Week, compliments of our partners in spiritual care.

On the shores of Bay Lake with Babe the Blue Ox and Thrive Behavioral Network.

Today I took a vacation day to travel North for an opportunity to facilitate a multidisciplinary salon on practice for Thrive Behavioral Network’s leadership conference.  This was the largest and most varied group of professionals I’ve been honored to serve with salon facilitation.  Our conversation was carried by mental health professionals, program administrators and support staff, HR, billing and payroll personnel, treatment directors, licensed alcohol and drug counselors, program managers, registered nurses, a lead chemical dependency tech, and president of Thrive Behavioral Network.

I’m humbled tonight as I reflect on themes that this dynamic group of mental health leaders presented to each other in our salon session.  Part of a three-day agenda, our salon prioritized time for these individuals to be present to each other in a forum that enhanced their connectedness in purpose and practice.  Participants checked in and out (Socrates Cafe style) by answering the question, “What’s on your mind about your practice and profession?”

Insights ranging from autonomy to resilience filled sessions before and after lunch.  A nostalgic resort setting served as our reflective space away from the daily grind.  What do we do with this conversation?  There are no minutes to assign duties or follow-up items from a conversation salon.  A question to hold onto as offered by leadership is one of resilience: how do we keep people here so we can all be assured to gather for another conversation like this in the future?

On a closing note, I was particularly moved by one participant’s statement about self-awareness in practice.  “I know I’m in a good place in practice when I’m ________________.”   He filled in the blank with something that fills his bucket.

I invite you as readers to fill in your blanks on your “good place in practice” scenarios.

Gratitude to Thrive Behavioral Network for a conversation that raised all our boats on Bay Lake, today.


Join me for my annual Nurses Week Salon!

Brunch will be served.  Come prepared to discuss what’s on your mind about nursing!  12 seats: will post when full. Feel free to invite a nursing colleague or partner in care! Logistics for arrival/parking furnished upon RSVP.

Sunday, May 6, 2018
Golden Valley, MN
RSVP to Natalie: 612-559-8353

Read more about The Reflective Nurse Salon:


What parts of your day can you document for yourself to reflect on the details of your current practice?

Day in the Life is a documenting project lead by one of my favorite lifestyle recorders, Ali Edwards.  It’s been a while since I participated in this meaningful opportunity to capture the details of the day.  I had the opportunity to meet Ali a few years ago in Florida when I traveled to experience this workshop in person...equipped with 16 photos I took (about one per waking hour) over the course of one typical day in my life.  I’ve since participated via Instagram and I always appreciate the finished product and nuances of normal life that are in the books to cherish for years to come.

Nurses and our partners in healing are no strangers to documentation!   If it’s not charted, it didn’t happen…right?   Many aspects of our work cannot be documented in photo or print for confidentiality reasons. But the personal details of a given day in our current practice can be captured: activities from the hour of wake, our badge, the time clock, our uniform/shoes, a typical break activity, a blank assignment sheet (aka: ‘brain’), the facility where we work as a caregiver, a snapshot of a base schedule...etc. — many details can be captured without compromising patient confidentiality.

Consider joining Ali (and me!) this Thursday to document your Day in the Life as you know it.   The images and reflections are fun to look back on in years to come. This is one of my favorite (and most manageable!) approaches to memory keeping.

No cost to participate.  Learn more on Ali’s site at:


Be sure to #aedayinthelife if you are on Instagram!


Essentials for a successful study session: a good article, a good ‘how-to’ outline, a great example to reference, pen, paper, glasses, and ear buds. Not pictured: coffee and research buddy!

Do you have a bucket list for your nursing practice?  Stuff you want to do beyond the bedside or standard work?  This year I’ve been presented an opportunity to realize one of my nurse dreams.  A dear colleague and I were accepted into the Research Fellows Program at the hospital where we work together as Quality and Safety Coaches.  We couldn’t be more excited to dive into the literature that will guide our proposal as principal investigators in our study to examine the culture of safety in our work.

I’d love to hear from you if you’ve participated in nursing research or share this bucket list item for your practice.

More to come!