Over half my middle-aged life ago, I was gifted a copy of a poem with the title, "Man in the Glass". I was a freshman in college trying to sort out who I was becoming, what I wanted to major in, and what motivated my impressionable sense of self. Homesick for the identity I felt graduating high school, I burned through calling cards (that was a thing when I was in college) with a cherished gal-pal from my hometown. We were on campuses separated by hundreds of miles and a state line. But we called 'home' the same place, and we held up the mirror for each other in those marathon phone dates to reflect on who we were becoming in our respective new contexts.
Our phone-date-philosophical was often substantiated in what research might call a moment of peer review. IE: we would take each other's problems to our moms (beyond peer in esteem, but you get the idea). The moms would respectfully chime in with pearls of wisdom. My mom did this over appetizers at our kitchen island on college breaks at gatherings of the gal-pals. My friend's mom took to snail mail to offer her pearls.
Getting mail at college or camp always served me with a sense of grounding. The day that, "Woman in the Glass" arrived in my campus P.O. box was no exception. My friend's mom whited-out all the masculine to change to the feminine. The poem was received on one of those days where I was paying attention to the universe. I took to heart a message about the value of reflection.
My friend's mom included a hand-written note, "Natalie, this is a pretty poor copy and I had to change it from the masculine to the feminine, but I hope the meaning still comes through." Signed with love, she also invited me to consider journaling on these three questions each day as I found my way:
1) What went well today?
2) What's something I would do differently if I had my day to do over?
3) What's something I'm looking forward to tomorrow?
Journal-writing on these questions became a compass for finding my true North. I fell in love with reflection as a source of enhancing my perspective on the practice of life. Answering these questions with pencil on paper helped me hone in on the patterns of existence that either suited or slaughtered my values. I remember thinking that if I could spend a time equivalent of writing to match the daily primp-and-prep time in front of a mirror, I'd be doing my soul a favor to reflect on its state of being.
Fast-forward 22 years, last fall, I found myself scavenging my 'smile file' full of feel-good fodder from the span of my life. I wanted to put my finger on "Woman in the Glass" -- literally and figuratively. Turns out, earning a Masters degree had me poised on a path of, now what?! I was struck with an, 'Alice in Wonderland' moment of, "Would you tell me please, which way I ought to go from here?"
A good friend and mentor grabbed my attention with some advice over happy hour as I explained my crossroads. "You need to write your own job description," she said. A physician who I had worked with at the bedside, her command struck me with the intensity of a proverbial doctor's order. The following week, I left a job that served a place on my path no longer leading me where I wanted to go, and I purchased this web domain. My hubby and I clinked glasses and The Reflective Nurse was born.
That same week, I found and framed, "Woman in the Glass" and hung it in the bathroom off our master bedroom. It's the food for thought for the job description I'm writing. It's the encouragement I needed to find my way back to bedside nursing after a five-month hiatus in a cubicle-job, followed by a five-week hiatus from work.
I am a staff nurse on a unit that inspires me...from population of staff to population of care. My complimentary career focus at this time is dedicated to building a community for reflective practice. This website is the real estate for The Reflective Nurse virtual community. I'll be keeping a professional journal (blog) here to enhance my reflective practice. I invite you to join the dialogue and the events I'll be hosting to enhance the professional path we share.
Serving nurses and our partners in healing with inspiration for reflection and action.