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!




Data to drive change, furnished by Chikdren’s MN at the Twin Cities NEDA Walk

Awareneas and concern were raised at the Twin Cities National Eating Disorder Association Walk at the Mall of America, today.

I’m reminded of how meaningful the strides we take as healthcare providers can feel when we walk alongside a population of care outside the hospital walls.  Walking to support a cause serves an opportunity to see the people we care for in a state of wellness.  And taking a post to serve as an ambassador for the hospital where our standard work is done deepens the connection to mission and fellow colleagues.

Grateful for an event that brought me closer to my team and deeper in my understanding and support of those who are overcoming challenges and healing.

Engagement in cause and compassion: a team endeavor! Hats off to Children’s MN Center for Treatment of Eating Disordrrs. Humbled to support this work.

Dr. Laura Hill offers a TED Talk on Eating Disorders from the Inside Out at:

Lamp lit sidewalks and study carrols. I love a cameo moment back in college life!

The atmosphere on a chilly night’s stroll through a college campus is a blend of bustle and calm.  Full parking lots, activities, and classroom buildings bordered by quiet, paved walkways.  I’m grateful for a gig that gives me cause to connect with students who are advancing their nursing degrees.

It’s by invitation of a nurse mentor to join together in lecture once a semester at her Augsburg University course.  I get to talk to nurses on the path to completing their BSN about self care in the context of nursing theories that guide practice.  The best part of the night for me is hearing the students share why they chose nursing and how they are honing self care practices that integrate holistic modalities and concepts.

Care for the caregiver raises all our boats.  Who has role-modeled a caring touch that you aspire to deliver to the patients and families you serve?  Consider reaching out to thank someone who has enhanced your practice by modeling and role modeling within the profession.

Dr. Lani Hallenbeck, this is my offering of gratitude to you!  Thank you for your stories and for your ability to model the value of rituals in healing communities. And more, thank you for sparking curiosity in developing nurses about how to care for our practice and profession.




Retreat feels: cathedral windows featuring Mother Nature’s magic.

Aristotle said, "Life requires movement."

Yesterday I had the pleasure of attending: Experience the Magic: An Empowering 2018 Retreat, hosted by  Ellie Peterson, creator of the Meditative Movements™  technique.

Participants learned and practiced Meditative Movements™ that spark feelings of centering, energy, and release.  A portion of the retreat (during lunch) was intentionally silent, an opportunity to be fully preesnt to the nourishment on our plates and within some solitude.  We broke the silence by  popping a bottle of champagne to celebrate that which is new and toast-worthy as we welcome 2018.

I believe deeply in creating intentional, intimate gatherings like this retreat.  I'm so grateful to have moved into intentions for 2018 in the presence of Ellie and other participants at the retreat.  Now I'm charting a course to implement what I learned! For me, the retreat built on a daily practice I discovered last year when I was struggling to find a form of meditation that held my attention.

Self care and it's relationship to our ability to care for others is a common theme at nursing salons I host and attend.  I feel grateful for a practice that is serving process and outcomes that release, center, and energize!  You can listen to how I found Ellie and this approach to self care in the episode, Meditative Movements™ for the Relfective Nurse recorded with Leanne Meier, host of the digital talk Voice America talk radio show, Once a Nurse Always a Nurse.

Happy New Year!