With the passage of another month, I find myself pausing with my chai for some reflection and gratitude for those in-between spaces of life. Noticing that I’m ordering hot chai’s once more (ahhhh, iced chai, see you again next summer!), I invite you to join me as we enjoy this pause between summer and fall together.
As I mull over all the changes of the past month, I find myself drawn back to an early clinical experience from last summer. We weren’t even in the hospital yet–it was a clinical lab on sterile technique and one of my all-time favorite clinical instructors was giving us a demonstration on how to put on sterile gloves. He carefully explained where we could touch the package, methodically opening each edge while talking through his process. We all watched as he slowly, slowly, lifted the first glove and inserted his hand, then the second, some of us even taking notes. Each movement was purposeful. Hands now gloved, he laced his fingers to ensure the gloves were on tightly, then closed his eyes and paused.
Glancing down at his hands, he took a deep breath, looked up again, and said “Every time I put gloves on, I always take a pause, just a breath, a moment, to ground and center. It’s a moment I gave myself to remember why I’m here, an opportunity to become fully present for the patient I’m working with.”
That pause stuck with me. It was only a second, really, but once I started clinicals, it was a life-saver. I knew I could rely on that pause to help calm my nerves when I was about to start a new procedure for the first time, whether it was inserting a Foley catheter, starting an IV, or simply helping to bathe a patient. I am so grateful for Aaron’s foresight in sharing that pause with us.
Taking another deep breath and then a sip of my spicy chai, I continue to ponder both the idea and practice of pausing in my life. I am currently on a four week break in between my accelerated RN year and the nurse-midwifery program. It’s a short pause, to be sure, but I’m trying to make the most of it. One of my strategies has been to unplug from Facebook this month. It’s an idea I’ve been toying with for a while, but to be honest, I’ve been too scared. I know I rely on Facebook a lot for social connection…and it’s a connection I’m intensely grateful for. Case in point: this week I’ll be in Baltimore for the GLMA Nursing Summit and Conference…and I’m staying with a fellow nursing student I met through Feminist Midwife’s blog. Yup, that’s the world we live in…new media = new friends.
That said, taking the plunge into a Facebook pause has been just what I needed to really savor this break. I did it partially to help me focus on NCLEX studying (rah rah!), but also because I recognized that my Facebook use had shifted from casual to borderline addiction. Indeed, the first few days were quite uncomfortable. I found myself reaching for my phone all the time. It was shocking to realize how much of my day was spent on Facebook. This pause has allowed me to recalibrate and refocus on how I really want to spend my time. Ultimately, I know I’ll be back…it is an invaluable communication tool that has allowed me to connect with nursing and midwifery students around the country. I hope, though, that a month pause will give me a chance to reestablish some other self-care practices into my routine.
Are we already halfway through the chai already? My goodness, I haven’t even asked how you are doing! So, please, do share..how are your days flowing? When do you find yourself pausing, whether for a breath or for more sustained periods of quiet, or raucous, joyous dance and movement? Taking another sip of my cooling chai, I’ll share that if you get a chance to ever see Brandi Carlile live, DO IT!!!! I splurged on tickets to see her with the Oregon Symphony last weekend and it was, hands down, one of the best concerts of my life. Seriously. The woman can sing. She’s funny, She knows how to raise energy. Did I mention her voice? It was truly a magical evening. This fall she’s doing a tour she’s calling the Pin Drop tour–no PA system at all. I’m so jealous of the folks in Chicago, VA, and WI who might get to revel in the glory of hearing her perform without electronics in the way.
I would perhaps also sheepishly admit I’m using this break to get ahead on some fun events for the fall. My friend Steph and I are now the co-leaders of our campus chapter of Nursing Students for Choice….and one of our first events we’re planning for the fall is a Pregnancy Options Counseling 101 workshop. Between Steph’s experience on the Planned Parenthood hotline in MA and mine with Backline, we both knew this is where we wanted to start. This is how I know I’m recovering from being in school–I have energy to take on the projects that make my heart sing. I’m starting to get really excited for all the fall will bring (but, that’s a post for another day).
As I slurp down the last drops, I’ll also encourage you to run, not walk, to the nearest library or book store and get your hands on a copy of Margaret Atwood’s MaddAdam trilogy. I’m so deeply sucked in…halfway through the second book, The Year of the Flood. I’d almost forgotten what it’s like to get lost in a world of imagination…but if anyone can create that world, it’s Margaret Atwood. With that recommendation, I’ll let our pause together wind down. Have a wonderful month. Savor the moments–this glorious Super Moon, the lingering summer light, the brisk mornings that make you pull out your favorite sweater and socks and put the kettle on for a cup of hot tea. Before you know it, it will be October and life will be swirling again.