Catching Up

Whew! Not sure how it’s already the middle of July…anyone else feel like June just kinda disappeared?

There are still, oh, about five posts in my head about my experience at the ACNM meeting in DC at the end of June…suffice to say, it was an amazing experience and I promise, I’ll be writing more soon.

For now, a few photos and little tidbits of my summer term (only 7 credits, my friends, I feel so…FREEEEEEEE!!!!)

Açai bowl summer yumminess...

Açai bowl summer yumminess…


Hey Green Journal, what up? I actually had to tab all the articles I wanted to read!

Hey Green Journal, what up? I actually had to tab all the articles I wanted to read!


Squish babies. That's what I get to do all summer! For credit!

Squish babies. That’s what I get to do all summer! For credit!


Knots. There is yarn. Everywhere. In. My House. And. Car.

Knots. There is yarn. Everywhere. In. My House. And. Car.


Hey, you again! My brain! It continues to evolve...there's now a phone triage cheat sheet on back!

Hey, you again! My brain! It continues to evolve…there’s now a phone triage cheat sheet on back!


For those who have been following the thread about my note-taking sheet that I use on the unit…I’ve made a few changes, including moving the birth details so that the full front half of each page can be used for one patient, rather than having to flip back and forth. The back side now has space for two triage call notes. You can download a .pdf here: Lena’s IP Brain_Summer2015.

What are you all up to this summer? Do share, either here in the comments or on Facebook!

Monthly Chai: 1


I’ve been wanting to join Stephanie over at Feminist Midwife in her Monthly Chai posts for a while. I love the idea of pulling up a virtual chair and a real cuppa chai and settling in for a chat about life, the universe and everything. So, in the spirit of developing more community and connection across the Digital Divide, welcome to my inaugural Monthly Chai post!

As I inhale the spicy sweet aroma of my chai, I’d excitedly share that I had the chance to meet another midwife blogger this weekend, for the chai photographed above. Robin, who beautifully blogs over at The Mindful Midwife, happened to be in town, so we met up. We were both feeling a bit bummed that we couldn’t be in Denver for the ACNM Annual Meeting, but it was lovely to have an impromptu “satellite” meeting. I got to hear about her first week in her new job, and she shared some great advice about how to develop those hands-on skills that are so essential to midwifery care (getting my hands on every round object possible to start teaching my hands how to measure dilation, for example). I left feeling a bit more inspired and confident that I’m on the right path and grateful for the support and encouragement that seems to flow from every corner of this wonderful community of midwives.

While savoring the warmth of my chai (spring in Portland means I go back and forth between wanting hot chai or iced chai–today’s a warm chai day), I’d sigh a little bit about the hoop-jumping of school right now…but then I’d reassure you that really, overall, this term has been a good one. In terms of my clinical skills, I finally feel like I’m honing in on being able to do a full assessment and chart it before 9am…as long as I’m only responsible for one patient!

Sipping slowly, I’d sheepishly admit that I haven’t been the greatest at self-care this past month or so…especially in the realm of physical activity. It’s easy to get into that funk…”oh, I haven’t been for a run in a week. Ugh. Why start now?” Well, let me be the first to say it, friends, I feel pretty cruddy and can definitely tell that I’m not sleeping as well because of it. I am grateful that my clinical this term is close enough I can walk, which creates a lovely 30 minutes three days a week of walking…but let’s be clear–that is not the same as an aerobic workout!

I always know that things are moving fast when it’s been two weeks plus since the last blog post. Times like these are a good time for me to remember the sage advice of my patho and pharm professor, who would assure us that we would still learn all we needed to learn by doing it in smaller chunks: “You can’t eat the whole watermelon,” she’d say. “One slice at a time…and if you feel like it’s still too difficult, you can slice it even smaller.” Just don’t look at the rest of the watermelon waiting to be sliced on the counter.

So, yes to starting small. One slice. 30 minutes of jogging, with no attention to distance or speed.

As I approach the now cooling chai, I’d reflect a bit on the wonderful questions that Stephanie poses in her Monthly Chai:

What definition of may most resonates with you this month? For what are you expressing gratitude lately? How is your emotional health when you think about the short and long term of this life? What is coming up for you next? What fiction and reality and teaching and learning are reflecting on your work? What do you hope we could talk about next month, that you could put into writing now, and perhaps make it intentional going forward?

I’d reply that I’m fully embracing both the expectation and desire of may…as in, “I may be more excited about my upcoming summer practicum on L&D/MBU than the current GI stuff I’m studying right now.” Or, I may decide to not worry about the NCLEX until after I take a three week study-vacation to Mexico in September…because I refuse to buy into the group angst about this one exam…and because I technically have until December to pass!

I’d share that I’m constantly expressing gratitude to my husband B, for his patience with the way that my school life sometimes overruns our relationship…and his honesty when enough is enough and we need to regroup.

Getting down that part of the cup where all the concentrated spices have settled, I’d laughingly point to the stack of books on my night-stand, most of which have sat unopened since April. However, I’d wave my hands in excitement if you’ve been reading Emperor of Maladies, by Siddartha Mukherjee. The chapters are short enough that I can usually squeeze in one before bed and it’s such a well-written analysis of the intersections of medicine, politics, research and money in the “War Against Cancer.” And I’d point out that both Ruth Ozeki’s A Tale for the Time Being and Chimamanda Adichie’s Americanah beckon enticingly, purchased over spring break in a momentary hopeful in “Maybe I’ll have time for a fiction read this term!”

Finishing the last drops, I’d also excitedly share that I’m about to get involved with the planning of a reproductive health elective course offered each year on campus…which, to me, represents being just one step closer to being able to focus on repro health full-time. One slice at a time.

What are the “slices” of your watermelon that you’re focusing on now? What are the things you’re looking forward to this week, month, and summer? I know one thing that I will be exploring this summer is really focusing on building my practice as a clinician…starting to integrate the discrete skills into a holistic way of being with those I serve. I look forward to talking more about that process with anyone else who wants to share a chai next month!






I don’t know about you, but I’m a list maker. Whether written by hand (groceries), typed in an app on my phone (books, new movies, etc), or stored away on Ravelry (knitting!) or Pinterest (recipes), I’m always filing things away for future enjoyment.

Sometimes, I even write my emails in lists…it helps me stay organized, or less overwhelmed when I feel like I want to write a huge long novel but know I need to keep things focused.

So, here’s a current list of my spring break and transition into the fourth of five terms of nursing school. It’s a glimpse into the whirlwind of, well, everything.


1. New Music: Mala Rodriguez. Oh, man, one of the things I love most about visiting my friends K&L is stocking up on new music. They always know the latest and greatest. I’m loving this fierce Spanish rapper. What a great way to practica mi español.

2. To Do: Finish the on-boarding training for my clinical site this spring. Epic, glucometer testing (again?! sigh…), HIPAA, Pyxis. Also, my first practice NCLEX. I’ve finally starting coming to terms with reality and have been reading the strategy section of my study book I bought.

3. For Fun: Get started on this beauty (people, there was a 50% off sale on yarn at this wonderful store in LA…I may have come home with 6 skeins of worsted Malabrigo in the most delicious colors!).

4. To Read: Just started Ruth Ozeki’s A Tale for the Time Being. Fiction!

Yes, spring break has been lovely, my friends, but dare I say it…I’m looking forward to getting back into the swing of things. This term is going to be:

1. Hard
2. But filled with lots of practical learning.
3. That is all.

Full Moon Musings

Maybe it’s the fact that there’s less than two weeks left, finals lie ahead, and I have a class presentation tomorrow today…or, just that the light from this gorgeous full moon is stirring the cauldron of thoughts. Whatever it is, I just couldn’t sleep.

So in a moment of what I’m sure I’ll think of as brilliant decision-making later this afternoon in pharmacology, I silently padded out of the bedroom around 3am and into the office and pulled out some of the post-it’s that have been stuck in my planner. (I’m a post-it gal. I especially love those little square ones that fit perfectly in my daily planner columns, and with so many options, I can color-code to my heart’s desire.)

On one little post-it was a note to check out Brené Brown’s TED talk on vulnerability that came out in 2010. i’ve seen it passed around on Facebook this summer, but “just didn’t have the time” to watch it. I’ve been so consumed with all the transition this summer that I haven’t really been in the space to spend twenty minutes watching a video on vulnerability. Unless you’re a counselor/social worker/psychologist what-have-you, I imagine for most people this topic doesn’t really sound…fun. Count me among them. Plus, these kinds of videos often come across as a bit preachy, which is always a turn-off.

But, oh!

What a lovely twenty minutes.

It comes at a time when I’ve just been feeling so…full. Things are falling into place with school in a really awesome way. Today (yesterday) in clinical we reviewed where we’ve been this term and where we’re going next term (chronic care). It was a bit stunning, really, to see just how much we’ve learned in 9 weeks. I left with clinical with that tingling anticipation that comes right before confidence, thinking, “Ok, I’m doing this…I’m actually going to be in the clinical setting next term.”

You know that feeling where life is so full and it’s mostly amazing, everything feels aligned, and sometimes you just start to randomly cry at the beauty/chaos/joy of it all? Yeah, that’s about where I’ve been. So, to watch this video in a moment in which I’m feeling so open was…well, awesome. There are so many layers of the experience of vulnerability that Brown unpacked that are relevant in different arenas of my life: as a student, a life-partner, a daughter, a sister, a peer pregnancy-options counselor, a teacher, a nurse and midwife in formation…

As a new nursing student, I know that I am not alone in feeling a bit of the “imposter syndrome.” We put on our scrubs, wrap the stethoscope around our necks, glance through our checklists and pray hard that we’ve remembered it enough to pass competency tests. And still, we feel like we’re pretending. They must have sent the letter to the wrong person! It’s an uncomfortable feeling, sometimes, to know how little we know and how soon we’ll be directly involved in patient care. I wish I could say I sit with that discomfort a bit more gracefully than I do in real life (sorry, honey, for some of those cranky evenings this summer).

But I’m learning to sit in that discomfort, to linger in the vulnerable places. And when I’m really honest with myself, I kinda like it here. I can try on different ways of being a nurse. I can observe my teachers and try on their hats for size. This fall I can be the one who says, “Um, I’m a student…can you explain that?” and not get too many dirty looks for slowing down a rushed report in the morning (well, I hope, anyway).

So, here it is. Nothing new, for sure–vulnerability is a core element of the human experience and I’m pretty sure we’ve know that for a long time. But perhaps this presentation of it will stimulate something your heart/mind/body as it has for me. I’d love to hear about it if you’re willing to share.


Solstice Weekend Retreat

Here we are, launching full-force into summer, the longest day of the year. This weekend’s full moon is supposed to be spectacular. What an auspicious time to be starting school.

Last week we learned that B’s grandmother has been admitted to hospice care. After several episodes of major bleeding, her doctors are fairly certain she has uterine cancer. She’s 96, one of the strongest, most graceful women I know. She’s made clear she’s not interested in heroic interventions. There will be no biopsy, no radiation, no blood transfusions. B decided this past weekend to travel back to the Midwest to be with her. I’m so glad. The doula in me wants to be there, holding her hand, holding space for this journey she’s about to take.

My journey looks different, however. This is my last weekend before classes start. Since B’s away, I’m on my own, and actually, there’s a part of me that’s grateful for this time. I’ve decided to take a solo retreat this weekend, just one night. I’ll rise early on Saturday and drive to the coast, where I’ll camp for the night.

I want to literally stand on the edge, to feel in my body the open expanse that lies ahead of me over these next three years. I want to breathe in the salt air and fill up my reserves with the power and fluidity of the ocean. I want to remember how to be silent, how to listen, how to be curious.

I want to be reminded of the basic elements, of the constancy of change.

I want to dance under the full moon and build a Solstice fire and bask in the heat and flame. I want to walk through the enchanting green forest that still makes my heart sing and soak in the vibrancy of growing life.

I want to celebrate this new beginning…and I want to give back to the ocean that which is no longer serving me. I want to name my sadness and call forth my courage and give thanks for my journey so far.