The Soulful Artist

Life. Art. Transcendence.

I never really imagined that at my age I would be where I am today.

Don’t get me wrong, I love my life. It’s a life that is BETTER than anything I could’ve ever dreamed of, better than anything I could’ve ever asked for. I live a life that is on one hand very ordinary and unassuming, yet also amazing and extraordinary on the other.

For the majority of my life, I’ve followed “the rules.” You know the rules … Go to school, get into college, graduate, get a job, buy the house, have the children, yada, yada, yada. I’ve deviated from the path here and there, but for the most part I’ve stayed on track. I’ve played it safe. I’ve worked the job. Married the man. Raised the children. I cannot complain. Like I’ve said, I’ve led a life better than anything I could’ve ever dreamed of or asked form.

College graduate – 2 Associate’s Degrees, 2 Bachelor’s Degrees. Registered Nurse x 30 years. Married x 2, although it truly feels like I’ve only been married once. Amazing children x 4.

For a long time I placed labels and defined myself, who I am, by what I do, or what I have accomplished. Student, wife, nurse, mother. The truth is, I am so much more than these labels. Yes, it’s true that I am a happily married, mother of 4. Yes, I am a Registered Nurse. But the truth is, I am a multi-layered being. I have so many different interests. I am something different, and play a different role, to every person that I meet and interact with. I can look in the mirror and see one thing, while when you look at me you see something entirely different. External labels do not accurately define who I am as a person.

I am someone who loves and cares deeply for my family and I enjoy spending time with them.

I am someone who enjoys learning, so you can find me with my nose buried in a book, or taking a class to add to my education arsenal.

I am someone who loves and appreciates what my body can do and I enjoy movement and challenging my body to see what it is capable of.

I am someone who recently discovered and unleashed her inner artist, and can be found painting and creating to my heart’s content.

I could go on and on, but the gist is is that I cannot accurately define myself as there is so much more to me than the mere labels of what I do, or have done. We are so much more than the mere labels that we place on ourselves or allow others to place on us.

We are all multi-layered, multi-passionate individuals, so much more than what one sees on the outside. No one can know EVERY thing about you. We all have parts of us that we don’t want others to see or know about. One of my biggest fears is that people will find out who I really are and that they will stop loving me.

There are NO rules. Those “rules” are preconceived notions of what success once looked like as defined by individuals who believed that this was the road to happiness and riches. As a someone who once followed the rules, I can tell you that it’s a hard road to stay on track. I followed the rules to please my parents, and in turn, I lost myself, afraid of looking bad, or bringing shame my parents. When I finally woke up from the nightmare, I had to admit to myself that I wasn’t happy and figure out who I truly was. That meant stepping away from the road that I had traveled on for so long and forge a new path.

What did it take? It took me remembering who I really was and accepting myself as I am. That’s right the good, the bad, and the ugly. It is a difficult thing to truly accept who you are. But here’s the thing … All of our experiences, accomplishments, and every failure or setback that we have encountered have made us who we are today and have brought us to exactly where we are today. We need to own it. Own yourself. Be proud of yourself. If you are not particularly happy with who you are of what you have become, you have the ability and the power to change this at any time by deciding that this is not who you are and doing better, getting that degree you’ve always said you were going to get, moving, committing to yourself, etc. You get the picture. You’re not stuck. You’re no longer the little kid that was neglected. You’re far from the teenager who didn’t do well in high school. Commit to yourself to make the changes you desire to make to become the person that truly know you are capable of becoming.

We cannot live our lives for others, not for our parents, not for our children. We can only live our lives for ourselves. YOU are the only one that you have to answer to. YOU define who you are. YOU are the only one who can answer if you are happy or not. You can’t blame anyone else, nor can you expect someone else to make you happy. The responsibility of your happiness does not fall in the hands of someone other than your own.

Every day that you awaken, every moment that you take a breath, you have the ability to change your mind and go in a different direction. You are full of endless possibilities. Take hold of the pen, or the paint brush of your life. Refuse to hand it over to someone else, and be gentle with yourself as you write/draw/paint your story. You can create ANYTHING you desire. If you don’t like what you have written or drawn or painted – start over. Be kind to yourself and extend yourself the grace that you would easily extend to others. You are worthy. Give gratitude for ALL of your experiences. And, most importantly, ENJOY the process of creating yourself.

As Oscar Wilde once said, “Be yourself. Everyone else is already taken.”

Speak Your Truth!

Day/Card 7 of 39 … Speak Your Truth …

I’ve never been much of a speaker, not much of a vocalizer. I believed at one time that it was because I didn’t have much to say, or nothing important to say. But I realized that for the majority of my childhood, I remember being told to, “Shut up,” or “Be quiet.” As a child when you hear this over and over, you come to believe that what you have to say is unimportant and insignificant; you feel powerless. Hard to believe, but it led me to become that adult that spoke very little, or only when spoken to. I learned to bite my tongue, to keep quiet to keep the peace and to just get things over with. It took me a LONG time to learn to find my own voice. Even now, I might still at times reply with, “I don’t know,” (when I do), or “Whatever you want to do/eat/go.”

By doubting my own voice, I gave my own voice doubts. By giving my voice doubts, I did not speak my true truths. As I was subjected to such vocal restraints as a child, I resigned voicing myself in my notebooks and journals. I wrote and wrote instead of speaking, which is why I still think best on paper, and why I write out what I’m going to say to this day. As of late, my art has also began “speaking,” so my art has also become my voice. This was a disservice to my speaking voice. After being afraid and ashamed for so long, I found my voice, realized my worth, and changed my life. My voice, what I say, directs my life, and if I was afraid to use it, it meant that I was not living up to my full potential.

I’ve come to learn that I DO have much to say. I have an opinion. I am expressive. I am capable of using my voice. Over the years, I’ve become much braver in speaking out loud, even speaking to an audience of thousands!

The “Speak Your Truth” card encourages you to Speak! Use your voice! This is the key to being set free! I’m not talking about just being heard, but using your voice to speak your truth, give voice to your opinions and feelings, to validate and express yourself by saying what you feel and mean OUT LOUD. It gives you power. It gives you life, and in turn it gives your life direction! We all have something to say, regardless of how small. You have a voice … use it!

Surrender.

Day/Card 6 of 39 … Surrender …

To surrender, or the act of surrendering, leaves a bad feeing for many. It’s seen as throwing up one’s hands and giving up, however, this is FAR from what surrender actually means. To surrender is to be with what is, to feel it, to allow it, to see things for what they are. It’s not “giving up.” Giving up feels hopeless and like a defeat, leaving one feeling dark, empty, shameful, unaccomplished, like a failure or a loser. Surrendering is a letting go. It feels peaceful and gives one a sense of relief. Surrendering is like taking a break and coming back to whatever it is later. It’s being open for change.

When we surrender, it might feel like giving up, but it’s only a letting go of control. It’s releasing the white knuckle grip that we have on things we really have NO control over. When we surrender spiritually, we surrender to life as it is, not as we want it to be, but to how it is being presented to you. Surrender comes from a place of peace. Giving up comes from a place of fear. Surrender allows for expansion. Giving up causes constriction.

The “Surrender” card comes to you today to remind you that good things can and do happen when you let go. It allows for a relaxation, and when you relax you are able to see things in a different perspective. Things will happen as they are meant to, and when they are meant to – something you can’t see when you’re busy trying to control the outcome. Sometimes something BETTER will appear. There is no shame in surrendering. Let go of the illusion of control. Allow yourself to be open, curious, vulnerable. Things will happen. Life will happen. Turbulence may come, but remember that life isn’t always smooth sailing and that it’s only temporary.

Transmutation.

Day/Card 5 of 39 … Transmute …

To transmute, or transmutation, is the action of changing or the state of being changed into another form, like a butterfly and metamorphosis. When you experience transmutation the change is to become a completely different Being. It’s not a surface or superficial change that others can see and spot immediately. It’s sometimes subtle and only you initially know that something within you has shifted.

In the letting go of who we think we are, we allow our true selves to emerge. Many times this happens during times when we are challenged and are forced to pick ourselves up and continue forward. After an initial period of wallowing in our tears, and after we have worked through the hurt, we realize we are no longer the same people that we once were. We realize we are stronger, happier, amazing beings that was forced into a fire in an effort to grow, to step into our essence, and to show up differently. We release the parts of ourselves that no longer serve us and we emerge from the fire as a completely different being, one that is more true to ourselves.

The “Transmute” card reminds us to allow ourselves to welcome it, to allow it and appreciate it. When you recognize that you’re a being with infinite possibilities, deep and capable of many things. You vibrate higher. You make deeper, more meaningful connections. Your life changes as you allow superficialities to burn away, and you stand tall in all your essence for the world to see. When you step into the fire, it will not burn you. It will only burn what you are not.

Forgiveness.

Day/Card 4 of 39 … Forgiveness …

It’s happened to all of us … someone we know hurting us in a way that upends us, and causes us to be angry, resentful, or even revengeful. It could be that you grew up in an abusive household. A co-worker stole a project and made it theirs. A girlfriend began seeing your partner behind your back. Someone did something to cause you harm leaving you with a wound that can be so deep. A wound that festers as we hold on to that hurt, bitterness, resentment. Even years later, it can still evoke the feelings that were felt at the initial time of insult, and it may hurt even worse that it initially did.

Forgiveness is a term that is frequently misconstrued. Many believe it’s about giving the person who wronged you pardon, excusing them and forgetting about the incident. Forgiveness is NOT for the person who wronged you. Forgiveness is for YOU. Forgiveness is about extending mercy and kindness to the offender even if they don’t deserve it. It’s looking at it from a different perspective. It’s about letting go of the grudge so that you can move in with your life, releasing the anger, bitterness, resentment, hostility. It’s for you, not for the offender. Forgiveness allows for some peace in your life instead of suffering.

The “Forgiveness” card reminds us to extend grace to ourselves. It reminds us to forgive ourselves as well as those who wronged us regardless if they know that you have forgiven them. You don’t have to verbally tell them that you forgive them. It can be a silent agreement within yourself. Do it more for yourself. So you can live in peace. So that the wound will heal and not fester. So you can be of love. Love yourself enough to do that.

Slow Down

Day/Card 3 of 39 … Slow Down …

In life, it’s rare these days that anything is slow and deliberate. So many move at a rate that is fast and rushed, and moving at a slower pace is frowned upon and seen as a weakness. Minimal sleep. Multitasking. Fast food. Instant money transfers. Immediate replies via text or email. Everyone seems to always be looking for a shortcut. Everyone wants the answers and not work through the problem. Everyone wants instant gratification! Everything is just now, now, NOW! Like Veruca Salt in Wily Wonka and you know what happened to her!

There’s a discomfort in slowing down. Life already moves at a pace that whizzes by us that we shouldn’t want to add to the speed of this movement. We miss moments when we’re not in them. We miss watching our children grow. We miss the scenery and important conversations. We make mistakes. We stunt our growth and progress when we don’t rest.

When I deliberately slow down my mind, when I deliberately slow down my thoughts, it’s when I can hear myself. I can hear My Soul’s voice come through. I can rest and recover from the onslaught of what the fast paced world wants to throw at me. Live in the moment. Be present. Life isn’t about living so fast because so much can and will be missed, and you’ll find yourself looking back wishing you’d taken the time.

The “Slow Down” card is about taking time to do things deliberately and intentionally. To be present. It’s a reminder that life isn’t a race to be won. The metaphorical “finish line” isn’t one you want to get to so quickly. Rest. Take the time to enjoy the moments, make memories, breathe.

Connect

Day/Card 2 of 39 … Connect …

I have a confession to make. I am a self-professed anti-social. It started off as a joke between myself and one of my best friends and mentor. But in all honesty, I’m not one for large crowds or being around a lot of people. It overwhelms me. I like staying home. I’ve never been one to hit the social scenes, go to parties or events, or have a lot of friends. I have a small circle that I love and hold dearly, and, of course, my family, but that’s it. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve come to understand the importance of making the effort and taking time to connect with those who are important to me.

In 2018, I made a conscious effort to connect with at least 2 people in real life (in person) every month. This carried on into 2019 and was to carry forward again in 2020 until Covid-19 placed a protective ban on socializing. I was able to make several connections every month and I have to admit that connecting with the RIGHT people made a huge difference for me. But real connection is more than just reaching out and spending time with family and friends when life is good and easy. It’s more than just talking and sharing interests.

What I know, and what I preach is that in this life we cannot get by without the help and love of others. I tell my patients this when they are in my ER telling me that they didn’t/don’t want to bother anyone so they struggled alone. We were meant to have different purposes in life in order to help others with our strengths. We need others to help us see the bigger picture when we are struggling to see, to nurse us back to health when we’re ill, to guide us out of the dark when we’re lost. But the thing is, we need to reach out to others without fear of being seen as “weak.” Many fear that asking for help is seen as a sign of weakness, when it’s by far more of a sign of strength. When you’re at your lowest or weakest and having to ask for help takes courage. Connecting with others when you’re not at your best takes courage. I know this first hand because it’s difficult for me to ask for help or to be vulnerable with others which is why I was reluctant to connect with others in the past. What I know and what I’ve learned is that true connection doesn’t always require words or deep conversations, nor does it have to be with people who are close to us. I’ve made some really deep connections with patients that I’ve cared for in less than 2 hours.

In this time of shelter-in-place, wearing a mask so no one can see your face, no touching, no hugging, not able to tell if one is smiling … During this time of isolation and forced separation … The “Connect” card urges you to reach out, or be open when someone else reaches out to you. Listen. Have empathy and show kindness and compassion. You don’t have to have all the answers, you just have to show that you genuinely care. Real connections allow us to feel seen and heard. Real connections allow us to demonstrate our humanness, our love for each other, and to allow us to not feel alone. Connect.

“Imagine”

Day/Card 1 of 39 … IMAGINE …

Remember when you were young and you would have imaginary friends, and make you elaborate stories? When did you stop doing this? Who told you that you needed to come back to earth? Stop dreaming? Quit wasting your time?

When I was small, I had a HUGE imagination! I could vividly see things in my mind’s eye. I talked out loud to the “imaginary” people. I wrote out stories and random thoughts on paper. I made lists. I played out some of these visions. But I was told to stop because I had “duties” to do and because I was wasting time and paper. So I stopped. I can only imagine where I’d be today had I been able to continue imagining and dreaming because much of what I envisioned as a child came to fruition.

Your imagination is your first lead in to manifestation. Your imagination is a form of intuition! As children, when we are told to stop being “foolish” by talking to the imaginary and endlessly dreaming, we are not able to build that “imagination muscle,” and we become insecure in our abilities. Like a muscle, the more you work your imagination, the more efficiently it works, the bigger and better the results, and the ease you will have at trusting your visions and inner conversations.

The “Imagine” Card is your permission slip to start using your imagination again! Dream big! Be absurd! Be bold. Talk to your Guides, the Angels, Spirits. Your imagination allows you to visualize things and formulate images or experiences that cannot be seen to help bring them reality. And the more you’re able to do this, the greater your ability will be!

I did this thing! Created my own oracle cards!

My Cards of Self-Actualization

These cards are the manifestation come alive birthed from one casual conversation that I had with a friend a couple years ago about my art and how I made them into cards that spoke to the receivers. I didn’t know it then, but it was a conversation which planted a seed within My Soul.

I quietly worked on my art and painting, taking classes here and there, and signing up for masterclasses listening to other artists and soaking up their advice. It was through a master class that I was introduced to Justine Serebrin (@justineserebrin)an intuitive artist and tattooist who I began to follow on Instagram and I would place myself on her mailing list and drop in on her classes here and there and created some amazing things under her direction. Her classes were interactive and fun, and I was always able to connect with a deeper aspect of myself. So when Justine offered an “Oracle Card Creation Course,” of course I would sign up.

Up until the moment I was actually trimming my cards and getting them finished up, I had only brief, fleeting thoughts of how my cards would come to fruition. I trusted the guidance that was being given to me by Justine and believed wholeheartedly that they were already done. For 6 weeks, I worked on them alongside a few others as we collaborated and worked together virtually. What came to fruition is so much better than anything I could’ve thought of! How they were birthed and the information that was received was incredible!

If only I could adequately convey just how much JOY my own set of oracle cards brings to me. I love everything about them . I love way that they feel when I hold them in my hands. I love the energy that they emit. I love my art. I love their messages.

My cards of self-actualization. 39 beautiful cards. 39 is the Angel Number delivering the message that is related to my divine soul mission and purpose, reminding me that I am fully supported by My Angels and Ascended Masters!

Beginning today, Saturday, August 1st, and for 39 days, it is my intent to post a card of the day. I’m so excited to share them all with you and the world!

Over the last few weeks, a few people have asked me how I’m able to work in such a high stress profession as a frontline healthcare provider. They can’t seem to fathom being a nurse, especially once whose specialty is Emergency Room Nursing, in this time of pandemic crisis. It’s been stressful to say the least, and I won’t lie, it’s been wearing on me physically, and it’s draining me mentally. When I talk with my colleagues, they express feeling the same. This IS the most challenged I have felt in my 30 year career as a nurse.

Ringleader of the circus!

So, how do am I able to do it? How am I able to function at work, then switch gears when I get home? This is how. It’s in the knowing that being a nurse is only a very small part of who I am. I am so much MORE. I am able to leave work at work and come home to my family and pursue so many other things that give me JOY …

I am thankful to have a career that I actually love and enjoy, that has given me a sense of purpose, professional satisfaction, and that compensates me well. But outside of work I am so many other things, I do so many other things that also gives me purpose, personal satisfaction, and happiness. That’s my secret to how I am able to do what I do. It’s knowing that I am secure in myself to pursue other things that light me up. Be it visiting and spending time with my children, my black belt adventures in Krav Maga, my outlet of running and constant exercise and movement, shooting guns with my husband, writing out letters, or painting to my heart’s content.

Know who you are. Figure out the things that light you up and bring you joy and do MORE of those things. When you’re not doing things that you love and enjoy, you’ll find yourself stressed and anxious and questioning your existence. Take the time to get reacquainted with yourself. Seriously, take the time. If you’re sitting there thinking that you have so many other things going on: work, rearing children, housework, playing taxi driver, and whatever else you have doing on …. know this, I, too, was once there. Married, mother of 4 beautiful humans, major breadwinner working full time, always worried, stressed. I put everyone’s needs ahead of mine, and I was slowly dying inside. Here’s the thing, before I was married and had children, I was ME. I was and still am ME! I did things here and there that interested me, but I didn’t believe that I could pursue these things without compromising my family or work. What I didn’t know was that I was compromising myself! It took awhile for me to understand this and feel worthy of pursuing and doing things that I loved, and once I did, it was a game changer! Game changer! Life changer!

Work your happiness muscles! Take the time for your self! You ARE deserving AND worthy! Your life will truly be more fulfilling and joyful! Where you once had waning energy, you will find yourself charged up, lit up, and energetic! This is important! And if you need more convincing … as your children watch you following your passions and taking time for yourself, remember that you are setting an example for them to dream BIG, and to also pursue their passions, and live a fulfilled and joyful life! Life is more than just working and doing things that other people think that you should be doing. Life is about LIVING YOUR LIFE. Remember that and you’re good!

It’s been an interesting first quarter of this new decade. 2020 at one time or another seemed like a very FAR away time. A year that the infamous cartoon “The Jetsons” were just something to ponder about, wondering if there really would be robots and flying cars and whatever else it’s creator’s minds could conjure up. Except 2020 is here and now and there is still no flying cars, but there are self-driving cars, and there are robots programmed to do the work of humans. It’s pretty incredible times for the world we live in.

Most notably is that at this very moment in time – even as I sit here typing out this L O N G blog post on my phone – is that we – meaning The Entire World – is in the middle of a pandemic. Yep. The SARS2 Corona Virus, or COVID-19. Unbelievable.

My opinion, my measly two cents … I feel like it’s WW3. Biological warfare. I feel like it was an intentional unleashing of an unseen beast that has taken over and has illicit mass panic and hysteria in all parts of the world. Several thousands of people have been affected and have died from this human engineered virus. For what though? For world domination? For the control of the globe’s finances? What for? And, more importantly, WHY?

There is so much speculation about who released this beast. So much speculation about the lies told in an effort to cover up the truth. I don’t believe that we will ever truly know, so questioning “Why?” is pointless. Right now we’re in a mass lockdown. Self-Quarantine. “Shelter-In-Place” is what we have been asked/forced to do in an effort to protect those who may easily be susceptible to getting the virus, and to keep the virus from spreading. We are in a fight to protect each other. We are being asked to keep a “social distance” of 6 feet apart, and to wear a mask to cover our nose and mouths. Businesses have been forced to close. Travel is at this point, pretty non-existent – minimal flights, travel to overseas is discouraged, and buses are a no-go. Only those who are considered “essential” (hospital/healthcare workers, EMS, police, Grocery workers for example) are allowed to be out to go to work and serve the public. Others are able to leave their homes only for short periods of time and only to do things such as grocery shop, or go to the doctor if medically necessary. Group gatherings are highly discouraged. Restaurants are closed for dine-in services, only open for take out, and some have started delivery services. Gyms are closed. Most offices are closed. ALL schools are definitely closed, with classes being held in online forums. There will be no graduation ceremonies for the graduating class of 2020. Gone is the freedom to just leave your house and go to the mall, or to go workout with your friends at the gym. Beaches closed. There are even some cities fining individuals who are noted “hanging around” outside when they should be at home. People stockpiling toilet paper is the most amusing. Toilet paper, bleach, anti-bacterial wipes with rumored hopes to resell and profit from theses items at an outrageous mark-up. (That idea was shut down fast, by the way.)

I can’t even tell you how much havoc this engineered virus has wrecked. I couldn’t give you exact numbers, nor could I direct you to a reliable resource. In New York City alone, they have been the hardest hit state with thousands affected. Hospital ICUs in NYC have been inundated, shortages of nurses, doctors, hospital staff, equipment, medications, ventilators all in very short supply. The demand far outnumbering the state’s supply. We watched it happen in China, where the virus was initially unleashed. Then Italy. France. India. And so forth and so on … so much devastation.

When this started to all go down, my family and I were in the midst of traveling to St. Louis, Missouri to visit our youngest boy, Noah, who is currently attending Missouri Baptist College on a baseball scholarship. We had high hopes of watching him play at least 2 games over spring break, but as fate would have it, school was closed and the entire baseball season was cancelled right before we got there. Regardless, we made the best of our visit, getting Noah settled, finding him a reliable car, and just visiting with him. On day 3 of our trip, the hotel where we were staying was ordered to close by the governor of Missouri. Yikes! Thankfully, Noah’s roommates had pretty much vacated their apartment and we were able to stay there for the remainder of our trip.

Empty flight home.

Immediately upon returning, we heeded the shelter-in-place order, only leaving the house to stock our pantry and refrigerator that we had purposely emptied prior to us leaving for Missouri. I was fortunate to still have a week off of work, and debated on whether or not to give up that vacation. The decision was made for me when there were complaints and reports of hospital workers not being having adequate PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) provided to them and were actually being discouraged from using PPE. No way was I subjecting myself. Seriously, you want me to provide good patient care, but you don’t want to keep me or my coworkers safe?!? Yah, no. Nope. No way.

A week later on what was to be my first night back to work, I had a slight anxiety attack. I didn’t know what to expect. Would there be enough equipment? Would there be enough PPE? How many patients are afraid and coming in because of their symptoms? I didn’t want to be there. My body tense, my mind racing. Had I not been a nurse and known better, I would’ve thought I was having a heart attack. Luckily I knew it was just anxiety and I knew what to do. I sent a text to my son, Nathan, as he has always been my voice of reason. Matter of fact and straight to the point, he quickly asked me pertinent questions to my situation and reminded me that this is what I was born to do. He reminded me that I was a leader and that I knew what to do. He reminded me that I have done harder things than this. My anxiety subsided shortly after our conversation.

It was well rumored that my place of employment had locked down all PPE equipment. And that was exactly the case when I arrived to work. Where there was once a plethora of procedure masks, N95 masks, bleach wipes, antibacterial wipes, gowns, etc., there was now none to be seen laying around. All of it locked up and highly guarded, even tallied from shift to shift. Thankfully, my husband was able to secure me some heavy duty face shields, and N95 masks. I put together a bag of supplies for myself which included the face shields, masks, eye protection, heavy duty garbage bags for gowns should it come down to that. I was NOT going to get caught unprepared.

Work was now a different environment. The people I worked with were the same, yet the way we worked was different. The way we were interacting with our patients now appeared fear based. Patients are now greeted before they even reach the front door and asked if they were experiencing any shortness or breath (SOB), cough, fever. If any of their answered were yes, they were immediately labeled as a Person Under Investigation (PUI) and sequestered into a tent where the staff awaits them in full protective gear: gown, glove, N95 mask or PAPR, eye shield/goggles, gloves. Everything for PUIs happens outside in this sequestered area: triage, labs, COVid swab, EKG, X-ray, medications. It is then determined if they need a room. It’s really been quite the circus. But my coworkers and I follow the rules. We follow them because first and foremost we are thankful to have jobs and most of us like and enjoy what we do. We also genuinely care about others. We don’t want to get sick, we don’t want to take any thing home to our families to get them sick, nor do we want to intentionally harm others. We want people to be well. At least I know that I do. No one asked for this. No one.

Wearing PPE at work has been, not hard, just more of an adjustment. I can be found with an N95 and a procedure mask on for my entire shift. During flu season most of us wore procedure masks the entire time so it was just wearing the N95 for a prolonged period that took some getting used to. Where I once let my long hair flow freely at work on occasion, it’s now securely gathered in a tight ponytail and placed inside a surgical cap. We all have taken to wearing surgical caps. We seriously don’t want to get this virus. The gowns and face shield we usually don only when entering the rooms of PUIs or known Positive (+) CoVid19. I just pray every time I enter their rooms and I make sure that I have all my supplies otherwise it’s an ordeal to get my coworkers to help me out.

For me, I think that the most frustrating thing is having an assignment that has several PUIs or “Known Positives.” Having a one patient in isolation is difficult, but having 3 patients in isolation is even worse. Just having to don (put on) and doff (remove) PPE is an ordeal. And it must be done every time you enter and exit a room. It’s not that you put it on and wear it the entire shift. It’s only frustrating because sometimes there are coworkers who see and hear the call lights going off but don’t want to answer it because they would have to gown up, etc. I get it. I do. And there are times when’re are all busy, or when we all have isolation patients. I get frustrated when I come out of one room, only to be told, “Your patient in Room X wants something.” Aaaargh! I’ve only lost it once at work. I’m not one that publicly displays my emotions, so when I start losing it it’s for me to control my tears. My coworkers are great people. I work with an amazing group of people and I am grateful for all of them, but this has gotten to the best of us. We are all tired, stressed, worried.

It’s now towards the end of April so we’ve been at this for a good month and a half at least. It’s been trying. Many are afraid. I wouldn’t say that I’m afraid, stressed, yes, but not afraid. I’m more frustrated that we have no real end in sight, no real answers, that the media has been good about blowing it up, that there’s conspiracy theories, etc. We all want answers. We’re tired of blatant lies, half assed truths, and our leadership flailing. The economy is suffering. People are dying. So many stories are coming out of the woodwork that this isn’t going to end until a vaccine is formulated and we’re all vaccinated! I’m just over here shaking my head and wondering what happened.

Healthcare workers are being touted as being on the frontlines of this pandemic. They are being dubbed “heroes.” I don’t feel like a hero. I am only doing what I know how to do. I am a nurse, a good one, but I’m far from hero status. I feel guilty taking donations from the public for free food and for priority status when there are so many out there who have been out of work for the last couple months. Give the donations to them. It just feels … what’s the word? Uncomfortable taking all of these donations when there are so many out there struggling. I am thankful, for my job, my steady income, and my ability to serve. My job is to help others and that’s what I’m doing. Don’t get me wrong, I am TRULY grateful for the donations. Truly. I am just doing my job and am happy to serve you.

I would like to extend my gratitude for the many people who have been taking care of me during this time. My husband, Chris, first and foremost has been holding down the fort and building and amazing homestead. When I am at home, there is very little that I need to do as most of my needs are well taken care of. When I get home in the mornings, I have my robe and slippers waiting for me, a box to put my laundry in, and a warm shower ready to go. Everything, and most importantly, our daughter is well cared for.

There have been many people reaching out to me to make sure I am well protected. I have friends who have supplied me with N95 masks. Businesses such as Zenni-optical.com have sent me PPE equipment. And there are countless individuals out there who have been taking the time to sew cloth masks and scrub caps for my co-workers and I. From the bottom of my heart, I am eternally grateful and very thankful.

My heart breaks for the many people affected by this pandemic. My problems are minute compared to what they are experiencing.

My heart is most broken for my youngest child, my daughter, Grace, who is cognitively delayed and who is a graduating senior this year. This has truly disrupted and upended her entire schedule and life. No school, no after school CrossFit, stuck at home with her parents. Of ALL of my children, she has been the most excited about graduating from high school and was looking forward to walking up to get her diploma. It is unfortunate that she will be missing out on this milestone, but it’s been difficult because she doesn’t fully understand the magnitude of what’s happening. She has been out of school since mid-March and it has been confirmed that school will not reopen for the remainder of the year. She loves school! To say that she misses it is an understatement. She is such a social being. She never got to say good bye to her friends or to have closure on this important chapter of her life! I’m hoping that there will be a ceremony or something to provide this for the graduating class of 2020. It seems so unfair. Unreal. Disappointing.

I pray that everyone is taking care of themselves during this period of uncertainty. This “forced” shelter-in-place is a time to reflect and really take the time to slow down and to really breathe. I see a lot of people out there worried and complaining, not heeding the instructions to stay at home. I hope that behind all that they’re enjoying their time with their family, and taking the time to rest and regenerate. Just slow down. There’s really not much we can do about it so complaining doesn’t help. Find the things that you were once “too busy” to do. Read the books you’ve been wanting to read. Paint, draw, create. Write the book that’s in your heart to write. Play with your kids. Or … do “nothing.” There’s not shame in that. Sleep in. Watch movies you haven’t had the time to watch. There are no rules except to stay home. It’s important that you know your limits though and to reach out when it becomes to much.

We’re going to get through this. We will. Only time will tell what our new “normal” will be. Until then, help each other when you can. No judgements, only kindness please.