Full Circle

Two posts in one month after going two months without posting at all? That’s what happens when my classes end, and I only work three days a week. [end gloat] Anyway, this post has been a long time coming so I figured why not just go ahead and crank this one out as well? So about two years ago around this time, I was working at the University Catholic Center. It was a Sunday, and I was doing my front desk receptionist bit. A friend of mine stopped in to spend some time in the Blessed Sacrament Chapel which happened to be located behind my desk. When he was done, he came out, and handed me a slip of paper he found in the book he had picked up while in there. Here’s what it said:

A NURSE’S PRAYER
Christ,
may we who are preparing to be nurses
work with devotion.
May we touch with gentleness;
may we speak with tenderness;
may we listen with our eyes
as well as our ears.
May we smile from the heart;
may we understand with deep feeling;
may we know the time to be quiet…
the time to laugh,
the time to sympathize,
the time to encourage.
And above all,
may we know
that the time to love
is now!

Lord, hear our prayer.
Amen.

It was great because at the time, I had just been accepted into the UT School of Nursing and was to begin that fall. It served as a great source of consolation and confirmation that I was following the right path. It also helped that the last few lines of the prayer roughly mirrored the theme of the Longhorn Awakening retreat that I had just been a speaker for: LA48 – “Now is the Time to Go Through the Door”.

So a couple of weeks ago, classes ended for the UT SoN Class of May 2012. One of our colleagues sent out an email wanting a picture taken of the group. Naturally I jumped on that bandwagon almost immediately. While uploading these pictures to Facebook, I ended up resurrecting an old Facebook note that I had written immediately after the aforementioned incident. I am naturally predisposed to get all sentimental at the drop of a hat, so I started thinking about that, and how far I’ve come in the last couple of years. The final verdict: I did choose the right path, and I am indeed in the place where I need to be right now.

A lot has happened: great and not so great clinical experiences, learning and practicing skills like starting IVs, hours and hours of classes that never seemed to end…the list goes on and on. But the learning has not been limited to the classroom or to clinical experiences. There are a lot of things that I have learned about myself in the last two years than I ever could have imagined: the importance of being comfortable in your own skin, the value of friends and family, what I am truly capable of. But most of all, I learned that the only thing really holding me back is myself.

And I feel as though it holds true for many people, if not everybody. It’s that fear that holds you back. What if I change my plans and those fail? That was the question I asked before I decided to switch into nursing. Had I let that fear bind me, I would probably have never experienced the joy and peace that I bask in now. What if I am rejected if they truly know me? Well, do you want a bunch of people to love their image of you or a few people that love you despite your flaws? Fear and inhibition blocks the freedom to love, the freedom to experience joy, the freedom to learn new things.

And this whole harnessing my fear and inhibitions transfers over into the nursing realm as well. Knowing what I do, and knowing that I don’t know everything makes me a more effective nurse. Instead of worrying about screwing up a skill and deferring it to my preceptor, I take the opportunities that I can to learn, and if I make a mistake, then so be it. That’s the point of having a preceptor: to guide and teach. But they can’t do anything if I’m too afraid to learn.

Now don’t get me wrong, I have my fair share of inhibitions and fear left in me, but I am also a work in progress. I know that this is a point where I can improve upon, and am taking action to do so. My point is that you have to make that conscious effort to lift your spirit out of the trappings of fear and inhibition if you even want a chance of truly setting it free.

Call of the Wild

It’s been a while since a new post, huh? Well, now that things are starting to lull between bouts of crazy, figured this was as good a time as any to get a new post up. Anyhoo, so this past Saturday, a buddy of mine invited me out to his parent’s house on the lake with a few of our friends. We had a bonfire that night, and I laid out a blanket on the ground (which caused a level of discomfort I underestimated), and got on my back, staring up at the stars. And a moment of clarity hit me. There was a perfect balance of the elements: the stability of the earth, the warmth and the light of the fire, the serenity of the water, and the gentle motion of the air. All of this was experienced under a massive expanse of night sky, littered with stars. I felt so tiny and insignificant, but at the same time, I had an awareness that I was surrounded by people that made me feel like that wasn’t so. And I felt this intense sense of peace and joy that swelled in my chest. It was beautiful. And all the while alternating views of the sky and back down to the ground where my company was laughing, joking, talking. But the noise was all drowned out by the soundtrack from my buddy’s iPhone playing in my car. It was like one of those scenes on a TV show or movie where they fade out the dialogue and it’s just a scene set to music. And the view of everyone enjoying each other’s company was amazing. It was simple. It was life. No computer screens, no cell phone constantly drawn at the ready…it was just us, the elements, and the music. It was definitely one of the most spiritual experiences I’ve had in a while.

So the point of this story is that in this moment of peace, joy, and clarity, I realized that I know what I want. Well not completely, but for the most part. I know what is truly important to me. And that is the connection. The connection between me and my faith, me and my family, me and my friends, me and nature, me and the universe. And, yes, I know that grammar Nazis are going to cringe at putting the “me” first, but whatever. I mean money and success are nice, but why do I want money and success? So that I can further reach out to the people around me. So that I can serve them further as a member of a family, the human family, not just blood. Why did I opt for nursing over med school (aside from OChem being intolerably disinteresting)? Because I wanted to serve, to connect with the community.

A lot of people define their lives by the status symbols they own: who has the biggest house, fanciest car, most money, yadda, yadda, yadda. It’s nice to have quantifiable figures, but for something to define a life with, where is the life in all of those? These structures, these possessions have no life. So how can they effectively determine the value of one? Don’t get me wrong, having shelter, transportation, and income is important, but for me, life is defined by the people and the connections in between. Love is out there, this energy, this spirit ever-flowing. It is up to us to open our hearts and our minds to let ourselves be receptive to this love, to be vessels of this love, and to continue to let this love flow through us to others.

In any case, right now is the beginning of a major transition point in my life. I have ended up my lecture classes for my undergraduate career. I’ve tied up the loose ends for one clinical and will end the other tomorrow. I start my 120 hours of Capstone clinical (which Emergency Room experience is something I am excited about) at the end of the week. And then it’s graduation, NCLEX, and jobs, and I’ll be a full-fledged adult. In this time of transition, it’ll be really easy to lose myself in all of the tasks and stressors. But knowing what’s important to me, knowing why I do things, giving myself a reason to do so, that’s what will get me through this.