We are almost halfway through 2021. I’m carving out a little time on an early Sunday morning to read, to write, and to take a pulse on the year. Time flies, and I don’t want to miss the plane!

I’ve been spending a lot more time in the private pages of my journal in lieu of posting to the blog. This time last year, I was halfway through a two-month furlough in the throes of how the pandemic impacted pediatrics. I’ve been revisiting some of the art, ideas, and activities that refueled my tank during that time away from my standard work in patient safety. Returning to standard work after what felt like a sabbatical inspired curiosity about how to bring some of the richness of that break back to work-life balance. Amidst a myriad of challenges that continue to contribute to context in caregiving, a year later, I’m thinking about how to sustain the art and science of caregiving.

Three muses who have my attention as I reflect on what’s inspiring me, these days: James Clear, Zig Zag (The Pulse) podcast, and Jean Watson.

My Dad and I have been working our way through James Clear’s, Atomic Habits, this year. We talk on Sunday mornings about the chapter we tackled during the week and how we might apply the lessons to our lives. I am reminded of the power of tiny changes that can lead to remarkable results as we make our way through this book! You can sign up for James Clear’s free weekly newsletter at: www.jamesclear.com to get a flavor of this inspiration ‘on the regular’ in your inbox.

Zig Zag (The Pulse) podcast is six, bite-sized, interactive engagements in navigating wherever you are in your career. I’ve had more fun sharing this with some of my favorite people and I’m grateful to the one who put it on my radar! Check it out to fill in the blanks on where you’re at — and on what you wish for in your career.

Caring scientist, Jean Watson captured my nurse heart from my first exposure to her wisdom on “caring science” in my first nursing theory course. She has consistently delivered on an impactful first impression by way of her writing and professional development offerings for caregivers. I’m contemplating a deep dive into the science of caring with her Caritas Coach program. A recent article reminds me of the power of professional development grounded in securing your own oxygen mask before hooking others up to O2: https://www.watsoncaringscience.org/files/PDF/CCEP/Evaluating_Changes_in_Caring_Behaviors_of_Caritas.7-2.pdf

The trumpet is about to blare on CBS This Morning -so I’ll shift from the deck to the couch to soak up my next source of Sunday morning muses. Taking my own pulse on what’s inspiring my reflections these days is a mental inventory that I know I’ll love to look back on...what’s your pulse on reflective practice, these days? I love hearing from readers in response to reflections on the blog at: thereflectivenurse@gmail.com

Join me for my 7th annual nursing salon in honor of Nurses Week! Grab a mug of your morning beverage of choice and saddle up in a cozy corner for a Zoom conversation that is sure to inspire what’s on your mind about nursing. You can read all about the salon concept on the ‘salon’ tab of The Reflective Nurse website.

To register for this free virtual event, email Natalie at: thereflectivenurse@gmail.com - I look forward to connecting through the screen to reflect about our profession and practice!

I’m holding virtual space for a ‘One Little Word’ event...and you’re invited!

When: Saturday, 1/9/21, 9:30-10:30 CST on Zoom

For seven years, I have anchored my year with a *word* instead of a New Year’s resolution. This practice has given me an opportunity to learn and grow through one word as a lens.

In this practice, I have followed memory-keeper extraordinaire, Ali Edwards, link: https://aliedwards.com/one-little-word-2021 among many other writers, artists, and even yogis who approach the new year with a word to keep as a companion on the journey.

You are invited to join me in this practice...

I’m hosting a virtual mini-course and conversation about this practice of choosing and journeying with a word for the year to launch The Reflective Nurse Healing Arts Studio! In THIS Saturday morning Zoom call, I’ll be sharing all kinds of things that I’ve done over the years to keep my word on my radar. You’ll find a connection to creativity, reflection, and healing arts at this and future sessions held in a spirit of community education.

These classes are for anyone!

I started The Reflective Nurse blog, website, and community to have a creative outlet for my nursing practice. What I have found along the way are practices that have enhanced my nursing practice and my life practice! Over the years, this hobby has swelled to inspire a deeper connection to creativity that I’m eager to explore in community together.

To register for THIS Saturday’s Zoom course on 1/9 from 9:30-10:30 CST, email Natalie at: thereflectivenurse@gmail.com

Course fee is $10 and will include some resources (via email) to get your word-of-the-year wheels turning!

My One Little Word in 2021 is: rituals! I hope you can join me for this special *ritual* in anchoring the year to come!

Emerging from the 2020 cocoon with some butterflies for 2021

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."

Amy Hoelscher, RN and sourdough baker extraordinare!

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!

While the morning coffee brews: Grabbing a gratitude vibe with the Thank You, Thank You, Thank You, Meditative Movement (me, left) and a few extra zzz’s (Rocky, right).

As the time-tested recipes come out to play today, I’m mindful of how ingredients matter in orchestrating a feast. The same can be said about pulling a day together! Meditative Movements have been a critical ‘ingredient’ in my recipe for self-care in 2020. Reciting “thank yous” this morning by the fire while holding dear the gratitudes of family and friendship, of eating well, and of slowing down a little this holiday.

We are being called to find new ways to connect with ourselves and others. I invite you to try the Thank You, Thank You, Thank You Meditative Movement today (or any day!) to keep gratitude on the menu.

Happy Thanksgiving!

I recently read an article on surge capacity...and how the test of our reserves has come in some interesting packaging in 2020. Topics that weigh heavy have proven to be more of a marathon than a sprint, and finding a new center of gravity (on repeat) is proving to be the constant in this season of change. When things are spinning, I search for sources of strength to surf the waves of surge capacity.

Practicing Meditative Movements™ and earning my teaching certification this year is going to be one of those things I look back on and attribute to how I navigated the depth and breadth of change in the cocoon that is 2020.

Join me for this special course offering on Meditative Movements™, a technique that combines meditation and movement to go inward for strength. Let's meet up to practice this technique together via Zoom on the second Tuesday of the month, October 13-June 8. Meditative Movements™ creator Ellie Peterson is generously offering this course (regular $197) to essential workers for just $49. 

Details in link: http://meditativemovements.com/YesToLifeSeries.html

Roles and relationships are changing to accommodate stressors in care delivery. Please join us for a reflective webinar to channel perspectives from nursing's history as we address current and future context for practice. Participants will learn survival tips for societal challenges influencing practice from a nurse historian and reflect on time tested values to navigate the future.

Founder and President emeritus of Creative Health Care Management, Marie Manthey will engage and challenge us to consider how to find perspective in relationship to the times and to one another.

To register, email Natalie Lu at: thereflectivenurse@gmail.com

Monica Gikiri, DNP, Phd, RN, is a career mental health nurse who has primarily served health needs stemming from persistent mental illness, chemical dependency, and trauma. Monica currently works in an inpatient setting to address mental health in children. Her education and life experience have prepared her as a nurse leader and educator to engage inquisitive minds and to continue challenging knowledge to answer the call-light of our generation. On this Juneteenth, Monica asks nurses and our partners in care to consider honoring the day with a personal and professional plan of care and a wake to allyship.

This past month has been a container for strife and hope. It was devastating to see a father, brother, son, cousin...dying for no good reason. I was disheartened over opportunists who prayed upon this moment to loot. I was desolated to see some Americans show more outrage for damage to a Target store than for the devastation of a daughter losing a father. 

All the while, I have been uplifted by masses of friends and strangers that marched with me. I was encouraged by demonstrations of empathy and mourning.  I was heartened by all the black families that came out to support each other. 

Why should I care? I am a nurse, I don’t do politics! 

As nurses, we are community leaders in the agencies of life-saving acts of fellow humans, often silent and without accolades.  We herald and recognize Nightingale as the founder of modern nursing, but perhaps more important is to credit her (and many other examples in our profession) as leaders of community health movements.  It’s time to channel the nursing process for the greater good; to level-up caregiving as a movement for community leadership.  This work will take more than a 12-hour shift, requiring multiple phases of care, and a myriad of multi-disciplinary influences.

Try considering George Floyd as your patient; crying for breath, for help, for safety...looking to you for intervention and a plan of care.  Watch the video footage and consider these cries for help from a population that is presenting deficits of Maslow's hierarchy of needs.  The lack of safety is affecting a collective population’s well being. Imagine watching that video like it’s a patient in your assignment and then going back to business as usual. 

This is a primary prevention issue. Through assessment, we have identified that a population is at risk.  We have identified that some intervention is needed to remove that risk, and we need a plan of care. It is time to put together a care plan for our community that closes the gaps on well-documented disparities and that up-levels our nursing narrative in addressing these deficits in community health.  

I don’t pretend to have any answers. I just know that if George Floyd was my patient, I would be digging deeper to understand how to rally a broader, more multi-disciplinary team. I would be asking for a care conference.

I cannot imagine being the person that was recording the death of George Floyd and how helpless they felt. This is not an isolated incident of an African American voice going unheard. We have identified that there is a systemic failure as evidenced by George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tamir Rice, George Brown, Eric Garner, Sandra Bland, Zachary Bear Heels to name a few. There is so much we can do as nurses in our community. We can demand better stands from the police force. As a mental health nurse I am trained to deal with dangerous patients every day. I have been trained to de-escalate and to find ways to keep both my patient and myself safe. We have a social contract for safety. We need to change the mindset of punishment to serving the people. 

Like in health care, for this plan of care to be successful, we need to get the right specialists doing the right work.  

As citizens and health care professionals, we have an obligation to consider the state of our community through personal and professional lenses.  This is not a one-day appearance on the lawn of the capitol if we are going to truly understand vulnerabilities and voices that need lifting and radical listening to heal.  Over the past month, I have had inspiring conversations within the community that serve my hope. 

I would like to share some videos that inspire me to consider my role and responsibility in answering the call-light that is ringing on a vulnerable population.  These links provide actionable ideas for intervention. May they bring you the eye-opening wake I feel in the face of writing my next care plan to abolish the disparities in health care.

More than funny

Black murder is normal 

Racism: what will it take to end it?

Let’s get to the root of racial injustice 

What I am learning from my white grandchildren - truth about race

"What we once enjoyed and deeply loved we can never lose, for all that we love deeply becomes a part of us." ~Helen Keller

The ripple effect of this angel’s wings will be felt beyond this world. A woman and fellow nurse who left an indelible mark on my heart, personally and professionally. Your grace preceded you, dear Erin.

Erin’s story: https://youtu.be/bFvtsjCtqtU

Image: METAvivor Research and Support Inc.