Happy New Year! It’s that bookend Sunday night that marks the end of the holiday slide...and the eve of what feels like the formal/routine beginning of the new year: the first Monday! I love the reflective nature of the days between Christmas and the New Year. We’ve popped the cork on 2021 and the last couple of days have provided for some gazing in the rearview mirror before beginning down the path of the year to come. If you are a fan of Schitt’s Creek and you haven’t seen their version of 2020 in review…I highly encourage Googling this for a giggle.
We spent a lot of time connecting through screens, last year. I’m sure it wasn’t the, ‘Year of the Nurse’ that the World Health Organization (or Florence Nightingale) had in mind...but I was moved to participate in some creative endeavors honoring the nursing profession, some dear colleagues, and our partners in care. Virtual concerts, virtual nursing salons and conferences, all kinds of orchestrations that relied on screens to see unmasked faces.
One such opportunity came by way of riding a wave of “quote quilts” stitched together by Nicole Ostertag, a dear nursing colleague of mine. The photo below on the left shows just a glimpse of a ‘collage of collages’ she put together; involving hundreds of nurses in the end! “I wanted to do something special to honor nurses and to create a way to come together during Nurses Week. One quote collage quickly became many...an unexpected hobby for me,” Nicole shared. Nicole's project was nothing short of a real-life opportunity to play out a part of the scene in the popular movie "Love Actually" - relying on cue cards to get a message across.
One participating nurse, Jordan Palma, had this to offer, "I absolutely loved Nicole's idea of putting this project together for Nurses Week. The quote I participated in was, 'Not all superheroes wear capes, some wear scrubs," perfect for being in the middle of a pandemic! We show up for work only to cover up our faces with PPE, and we continue to love and care for our patients the best way we know how through these new barriers."
Among other friends on the sourdough starter Zoom led by Master Baker, Bekah with www.sagespoonliving.com ~ was my longtime friend and nursing colleague, Amy (photo above). In an enthusiastic text exchange after virtual class, Amy shared some rich insights into the parallels between baking bread and nursing.
“I think the process of making bread today has a lot of parallels to nursing practice that were good reminders. (The notion) ‘Your starter is where it is meant to be today,’ - this is not unlike meeting your patient or families where they are today, or even knowing I am where I am meant to be…accepting what is in the moment, being present to it, and moving forward from that place. It is something that can so easily be forgotten, but so refreshing when you brush up against it again.
You think you’re learning to make sourdough for the first time, but Bekah had a way of teaching that also sparked self reflection throughout the day. Like am I more scientifically inclined, or artistic? Where am I at with control vs letting go or letting flow? I observed, sometimes I want all the details spelled out...and sometimes I want to just play a little…it’s an interesting study in noticing. I’m excited to explore a little more!”
Amy and I have exchanged some impressive sourdough crumb snapshots since May…and I’ve marinated on the reflective questions Amy posed above every time I bake. The analogies she drew have also been helpful to me in my full-time nursing work as a quality and patient safety coach; coaching conversations are richer when the learner is engaged in the study of inclination in practice.
I support the front line in my nursing practice and am humbled to have a role that helps those so close to the tragedies we’ve seen on both sides of care delivery, and to still have some opportunity to be patient-facing amidst the challenges we are navigating. When pressed to consider topics like burnout and empathy fatigue, I've observed that the things that have impacted my resilience in practice the most are investments of time in the healing arts, and in safe-distance or virtual community with others, when possible.
I'll be launching a virtual healing arts studio on this platform in 2021 to invite you along for activities that keep our reflections and connections thriving. More on this soon! May hope and health be in your hearts and beings. Happy New Year!