Breaking through

I am finding out so much about myself on this difficult journey to fight on the front lines of the health crisis, and I look forward to seeing where this journey takes me!

I have been one to generally shy away from difficulty. I have not had the patience to stick with something that I did not like or get right away. I have always avoided conflict, I have never liked anything hard or uncomfortable in my life, and I have always been one to walk away from certain strong personalities with whom I did not necessarily agree. I have been one to doubt myself a lot, and never gave myself enough credit.

However! After taking this humongous leap of faith and jumping off of the cliff, I am finding that I have this incredible inner strength that I didn’t know I had. I am finding that the risk is worth the reward, that the challenge is worth the benefits, and the struggle is worth the growth.

Maybe, my whole life has been pointing toward this moment of truth. Maybe, I just needed a cause bigger than myself to step out for. Maybe, I just needed to push myself. Maybe, just maybe, I needed to take this course to step into the person I am becoming, the person I was always meant to be. And maybe, when this is all over, I won’t even recognize myself. And maybe, I will be so much stronger and so much greater that I can have an influence on thousands and be a force that even I don’t recognize.

Isolation

The world has never been so isolated before. I know I have never felt so alone even though I am still surrounded by people at work everyday. Especially as a nurse! The amount of protective gear we have to wear is crazy but necessary. It is stifling, and restricting, and I am sure it is scary looking to a few of the elderly residents who are not completely alert and oriented. Even to those who are alert, it looks like something out of a movie scene (remember Outbreak?).

In a world with billions of people, we are left alone and afraid of our neighbor. We have lost the joy of human touch, and the personal contact that helps us to remain human. We are unable to reach out a helping hand, a loving hug, or even an encouraging smile because our faces are covered with a mask.

My heart goes out to those who have no one right now, to those alone at home, to those with no family, to those stuck in a healthcare facility with no visitors, to those healthcare workers like me who are afraid to have personal contact with their own families.

I was at work, and a sweet old lady took my hands, and as she started crying she said, “Don’t leave me, please don’t leave me!” And so, I took her hands with my gloved hands, and I looked her in the eye through my face shield, and I stood with her and comforted her for as long as I could even though she is sick, and even though she has tested positive for the coronavirus. You see, my first job as a nurse, and as a human being is to care, to love others and to comfort and lift spirits. I may not be able to fix the world situation right now, but I can make a little difference in this old lady’s life, and bring a little joy and comfort to those I come in contact with.

As we see our world literally changing around us, remember that we are still human. We are still beings who need each other, and are not meant to live alone. I used to think that I could live to myself and didn’t need anyone else. But I found that to just not be true. So, find other ways to reach out right now and make a difference. Send a text, make a phone call, talk on zoom, write a note, just be creative! We will pull through this if we stick together. And I believe, we can come out even stronger!

My Why

I never thought it would be like this, where the world basically shut down, and there is so much fear and doubt out there. Where we feel isolated and alone, and more disconnected than ever. But, here we are, and the fear and depression gives way to more of the same, which weakens our health and our immune systems, and makes it even worse.

So, why am I going to New Jersey to help out with the Covid response? Why am I sitting here alone with a mask on after just giving my family a tearful goodbye hug? Why would I risk my comfort, my “known,” and possibly my life? Why would I go across the country to help out in a place I have never been in a situation I can only imagine (and I am trying not to imagine the worst)? Why would I push myself and stretch myself, and put myself in danger? Why risk it?

I have had some ask if I am crazy, I have had some try to talk me out of it. I have had mostly positive support, and accolades of being a hero, although I don’t feel like a hero. I have had the flight attendants and workers come up to me to thank me for the sacrifice, and I can definitely feel the prayers and well wishes from everyone. But that is not why I am doing this.

I am getting paid a lot more than my regular rate to put myself out there. And I have gotten some help and free things along the way. I do like adventure, and am a bit of a thrill seeker. But that is not why I am doing this.

I am going because I know in my heart that I was put on this earth to do greater, to be more, to reach higher, and if I don’t follow this opportunity I will forever live with the regret of not taking this chance. I have a chance to go and do incredible good, to lift some spirits, to lend a hand, to give a smile (behind a mask), and to maybe be there so someone is not alone when they pass from this earth. And maybe to encourage that other nurse who is wondering why in the hell she got into nursing in the first place. And maybe to brighten someone’s day who is really sick, and maybe to be that family member who can’t be there with their loved one right now. And maybe, just maybe, to prove to myself that I CAN!

Yes, it is scary and a little terrifying and nerve racking, and filled with unknowns. Yes, I will miss my family terribly. Yes, there have been a lot of tears. But I know that I have been called to do this thing, and that I will come out so much stronger for it. So, here I go! Out of the plane without a parachute, into the deep end, all in. But. . . I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Uncertain Times

So where do you stand on this whole coronavirus thing? I waver between full-on panic, zombie apocalypse/it’s the end of the world type of response, and wanting to run away to a deserted island where no one will find us for years to come. And the truth is, reality is somewhere in the middle.

This past week has seen changes from what we considered normalcy to a completely different world. And all in just a few day! For us, the kids were on spring break, and we were planning for future fun and outings; and now we are all sequestered inside, except for me who works as a nurse, and is still needed in the hospital. We went from a carefree life to one of constant concern. And for me, seeing the changes first hand it is a little disconcerting.

You see, in the hospital, we were carrying on patient care one day, and the next we were being told that there would be screening tents outside and that we should call all patients that don’t need to be coming into the clinic right now, and tell them to stay home. And then each day, it was a new message, and more people with the virus. And as more and more things began to close, and businesses began to struggle, it was easy for the fear to set in.

So for me, last week was an emotional roller coaster with a couple days of slight depression where I let the fear take over, and did some processing of my feelings.

Thank God for my family, and for the support I have from my husband who kept telling me everything was going to be okay. Then, over the weekend, I was able to have a couple days away from the hospital, and get out into some fresh air, and enjoy the beautiful nature around me, and I was able to start a new mental perspective about things. I found some great talks that I listened to that were uplifting, and looked around me and realized I have so much to be grateful for. I do have work right now, when my husband doesn’t anymore. I do have healthy kids and a loving husband who are supportive of me. I do have the power and control to say what will control my thoughts and my mind. I do have a lot to offer that will help and encourage others to find their better life. I do have friends around me who love me and encourage me. I do have so many opportunities to thrive.

And just like that, when I changed my mental perspective, my whole outlook changed, my feelings changed, and my energy changed. I saw a change when nothing outside of me changed, but everything inside of me did. I still don’t know how we are going to pay all of our bills, or when the kids will go back to school, or what is going to happen tomorrow; but instead of resisting what is, I decided to surrender and I received so much peace. (Let’s see if I can keep this up!) LOL! I am a work in progress, but an incredible work nonetheless.

Knocked down but not out

So, I spent this past weekend knocked down on my ass because I didn’t listen to my body and pushed it too hard. Picture this, I am sitting in a ball, crying because I am exhausted, coughing, my nose is stuffy and running, and I am questioning whether all our dreams are just out of reach for us, and a cruel joke the world is playing on us. And I am thinking, how did I get here? What happened?

After some reflection, I realized that I had pushed myself to the point where my body stopped and made me take a break. I had been going and going and going thinking I can handle everything and I am superwoman and don’t need any rest. (Now, I am superwoman, but I still need a break now and then.)

You see, I can take care of everyone else, but I am not good at taking care of myself. I was good, until I wasn’t. LOL! I have such big dreams, and so much that I want to do, that I keep pushing and pushing. And then, when I get sick, I resist it, and pout like I can’t believe my body can’t run like a robot or computer system that isn’t human. (Too bad I can’t just reboot, and be fine.)

Although, like a computer, I do need to recharge and then I will be fine. Instead of fighting and resisting the fact that I am only human, instead of begrudging the fact that I need to rest now and then, instead of wishing I was superhuman, I need to embrace my humanity, and realize it is okay to need a break. It is okay to spend a few hours in bed, it is okay to drink some tea, and it is okay to have to cancel a meeting.

I realized that I get out of balance when I start focusing on “doing” and not “being.” I had started to focus on the activities that I was planning and the things going on, and not on just living in the moment. I had gotten away from appreciating the good, and focusing on the future, and had gotten wrapped up in the issues of the now. (Which is stressing.) So, my body gave me a reminder to stop and refocus on what is important. And, I think I will finally listen. (I guess I don’t have a choice. LOL!)

Breathing for relaxation

Do you ever feel frustrated? Anxious? Stressed? How about a little low in energy? I do, too, at times, and I have found that focusing on breathing for a few minutes can help to bring things back into focus and recenter my thoughts. When I stop everything else, and just breathe, I am being in the moment, and stop my thought pattern in the moment. When I can stop my immediate thought pattern and redirect it, it can change my feelings and emotions and change the trajectory of my thoughts which changes the emotions which can change my day and if I do this often, it will change my future.

So, aren’t I already breathing? What does it mean to focus on my breathing then? Well, normally, my body just breathes for me through the autonomic nervous system, which is our body’s way of keeping us alive. However, when I stop and focus on changing my breathing, it is very relaxing and interrupting to our immediate situation.

Start by breathing in through your nose and out through your nose for a few breaths. Then, start counting for 3 seconds breathing in, and then 3 seconds breathing out. After doing this a few times, lengthen your breaths to 4 seconds. Count out, 1. . . 2. . . 3. . . 4 as you breathe in, and then open your mouth and let your breath out as a sigh for 1. . . 2. . . 3. . . 4. Then, think as you are counting to 4 and breathing in that you are breathing in love and light and peace. And as you are breathing out with a sigh, think in your head that you are breathing out stress and anxiety and fear, and anything else that you want to let go of.

By this time, you should be feeling a little calmer by just focusing on your breathing for a couple of minutes. Just keep focusing on your breathing for a couple more minutes. And then, as you are counting your breaths in and out, start to make your exhale a little longer than your inhales. For example, if you are counting to 3 while breathing in, then count to 4 or 5 while you breathe out. If you are counting to 4 or 5 while breathing in, then count to 6 or 7 while you are breathing out. This is a proven way to relax your autonomic system and help with relaxation.

At first, it may be difficult, and you may only be able to focus for a couple of minutes, or only count to a couple of seconds with each inhale and exhale; but as you practice breathing more, you will become better and able to reach longer time periods. Also, as you continue, you can add a mantra in your mind that is calming or uplifting to you. Be creative, and repeat one while breathing in, and one while breathing out, or whatever suits you. Or, just continue to breathe in love and acceptance and peace, and breathe out fear and anxiety and doubt.

There is a lot of room for variety here, so don’t get too hung up on the details, just focus on the idea of changing your immediate thought pattern that is stressing or filled with anxiety or fear or anger. Let me know how it works!

The Impossible

Something has never been done before. . . Until someone finds a way to do it. When we open our mind, the ideas come to us. I heard this today on something I was listening to, and I was reminded again how everything starts in our mind.

You see, I have lived most of my life in a box that I created for myself. I grew up thinking there was a glass ceiling, that there were limits, and that I was not able to expand beyond those limits, so I didn’t even consider that anything was beyond that.

Then, one day, I was told I could dream bigger, reach higher, and go as far as I want; and I believed it. At first, I thought, what if? And then, I began to think about what it would look like if I pursued what I loved, if I reached a little higher, and then, a Lot higher! And once I started dreaming, I loved it and didn’t want to stop.

There are no limits to what can be done with determination and a little dream power. Allow yourself to dream a little. What does that look like? How long has it been? How does it feel to envision you doing what you love, or what life has told you is impossible? Take a few minutes with your eyes closed and just thinking of what you would love to do. See yourself in your dreams, and then go after that. Let me know how I can support you!