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Coming alive

I suspect some of you at one time or another have felt overwhelmed, restless or frustrated, maybe even desperate for something else. Perhaps you’ve said to yourself, I need to go back to school. I need a vacation. I need time off from work.  This might not feel like a great place to be, but it really…

I suspect some of you at one time or another have felt overwhelmed, restless or frustrated, maybe even desperate for something else.

Perhaps you’ve said to yourself, I need to go back to school. I need a vacation. I need time off from work. 

This might not feel like a great place to be, but it really is. It means you’re realizing you’re on the wrong path.

When we find ourselves longing for change, for a break and think to ourselves, I need to do something different, but I have no idea what to do”, we can ask ourselves a simple question:

When was the last time I came alive?

Consider the last time you felt the most satisfied, joyous and invigorated. What have you always loved to do, but don’t do as much anymore?

That’s the thing you should do.

You might be shocked to realize the last time you felt this way was when you were a child.

Maybe it’s swimming, drawing or writing. Or perhaps it’s dancing or knitting that makes you feel alive.

It doesn’t matter if it seems like a ridiculous, self-indulgent idea. It doesn’t matter if it pays the bills. It doesn’t need to.

What matters is that you do what makes you come alive. It might just be the only way to living a happy, interesting and satisfying life, when your work that pays the bills doesn’t do it for you.

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The difference between urgent and important

The opioid epidemic is an urgent problem.  Decreasing opioid prescribing is important. Safe injection sites and needle exchange programs are urgent. Identifying risk factors for addiction is important. Distributing fee naloxone kits is urgent. Preventing opioid use is important. Creating opioid contracts between prescribers and clients is urgent. Seeking alternative treatments to opioids is important….

The opioid epidemic is an urgent problem.

 Decreasing opioid prescribing is important.

Safe injection sites and needle exchange programs are urgent.

Identifying risk factors for addiction is important.

Distributing fee naloxone kits is urgent.

Preventing opioid use is important.

Creating opioid contracts between prescribers and clients is urgent.

Seeking alternative treatments to opioids is important.

Treating addiction is urgent.

Tackling the social determinants of health is important.

Trauma-informed addiction therapy is urgent.

Helping people cope with adversity is important.

It’s easier to set up supervised consumption sites. Harder to look at someone who’s struggling, stay out of judgment and have an honest, brave conversation about their story.

Easier to give out naloxone kits than it is to help people acknowledge their problems, overcome their shame and believe there are other ways of living in the world.

Urgent things demand immediate attention and action. Important things have an essential, wide-spread, long-term effect on survival, health and humanity.

When we pay attention to the important things, the urgent things start to go away.

The reverse is rarely, if ever true.

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Accepting incompetence

It can be tough to accept when we’re at the limits of our abilities and ask for help. This is especially true when we’re faced with high expectations, demands of our time and limited resources. Plus, it can be a real struggle to balance our desire to be independent with our need for help. No…

It can be tough to accept when we’re at the limits of our abilities and ask for help. This is especially true when we’re faced with high expectations, demands of our time and limited resources.

Plus, it can be a real struggle to balance our desire to be independent with our need for help.

No one wants to admit incompetence, and yet no one is competent at everything.

When I first started working as a nurse practitioner, I was the primary care provider for over 700 clients. It didn’t take me long to recognize that I was in over my head. When I realized I couldn’t competently care for some of my more complex clients, I identified who they were and worked with my team to transfer care to other providers who could help these clients better than I could at the time.

Finding a solution was the easy part. The hard part was admitting incompetence and getting help.

And so we have a choice:

  1. We can ignore our incompetence and act as if we know what we’re doing (when we don’t). Or,
  2. We can acknowledge it, accept it, talk about it and seek resources to help us become more competent.

Asking for help puts us at risk for being judged and feeling vulnerable – there’s an even greater risk if we hide our incompetence and pretend it’s not an issue. 

It’s not easy to confess when we can’t do something or when we don’t know something. But being honest with ourselves, the people we work with and the people we care for is the best thing we can do.

Faking competence for the sake of what other people think just isn’t worth it, and rarely makes things better.

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Your work matters

It’s national nursing week in Canada – a time to admire and recognize nurses and the work we do. When I think about my recent hospital experience that brought my little boy into the world, I couldn’t be more proud to call myself a nurse. I felt heard, respected, empowered and supported because of the…

It’s national nursing week in Canada – a time to admire and recognize nurses and the work we do.

When I think about my recent hospital experience that brought my little boy into the world, I couldn’t be more proud to call myself a nurse. I felt heard, respected, empowered and supported because of the hundreds of little things my nurses said and did. Warm blankets, fresh water without asking, and expressing concern for my well-being – it mattered a lot.

It’s the little things, the small decisions we make, that make a huge difference for people.

It’s the little things we do that set us apart from other professions and make us successful.

It matters when we dare to speak up, when we notice problems, when we do things we’re not asked to do, and when we choose to practice our values and maintain boundaries.

The people we care for care about these things. They care that we notice, listen and seek to understand them.

We are at the heart of health care and play an important role in people’s lives. We have an enormous opportunity to lead and make a big difference by making small decisions that matter.

Thanks for your work, for showing up when it’s hard and giving people the kind of care they deserve.

We need you.

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Staying out of judgment

Brene Brown states a simple, but hard truth: Life is better when we assume people are doing the best they can. It keeps us out of judgment to focus on what is, instead of how people could or should be different. Unhappy colleagues, upset family members, irritable clients, struggling parents and controlling bosses – try…

Brene Brown states a simple, but hard truth: Life is better when we assume people are doing the best they can. It keeps us out of judgment to focus on what is, instead of how people could or should be different.

Unhappy colleagues, upset family members, irritable clients, struggling parents and controlling bosses – try assuming they’re doing their best with what they know and what they have right now.

Who’s disappointing and frustrating you today? Maybe they’re doing the best they can. You’ll never know if they are, but it helps to believe it.

 

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