On which truths would you stake your life?

I read an article from a recent Oprah magazine featuring an interview with late night talk show host, Jimmy Kimmel. Oprah asked Jimmy “On which truths would you stake your life?” (Winfrey, 2018). Predictably, he responded with a joke… something about never putting ketchup on hotdogs… but then he answered seriously “do unto others…”. The golden rule. Good one. But the question resonated with me more than the response because I feel so strongly about my convictions and truths that I have often gone toe-to-toe with people who, in my opinion, are just plain wrong. The answer to this huge question is uniquely personal to all of us, but I believe that it tells a lot about who we are, and why we do what we do, every single day. I also think that it is important to consider what we stand for, and what we don’t, from time-to-time to check in with our own moral compass.

enemies winston churchill

The truths that I would stake my own life on are simple. I believe that you should always try to do the right thing, even if it’s hard and people get mad at you. I believe in honesty, fairness, equality, human rights, and animal rights, and I will do my best to advocate for those in need when I feel that there is an infringement on those rights. I believe that everyone deserves a second chance (after that, it’s a crap shoot), and even though it can be difficult, it is both necessary and important, to forgive others who have hurt you. You have to do it for yourself, not for them.

I’ve definitely made mistakes that I wish I could change. Looking back, I thought that I did the best that I could at the time, but regrettably I could have done better. If I did, I think my life would be completely different than it is now. I could have been braver, trusted more, fought harder, or let go faster. Live and learn. I think that it is extremely important to forgive ourselves for past mistakes, and try to not live life with regret/guilt/shame…these things can haunt you forever if you allow them to; trust me, I know.

Last but not least, a final truth that I would stake my life on is this…I believe that all DOGS are gifts from God, and if they are vicious, it is (only) because they have been treated cruelly and inhumanly by a human(s). Dogs will never judge you for making mistakes, they won’t talk about you to others to sully your reputation; they are always happy to see you, and they jump and wag their tail every time you come home from a long work day, or even just a short walk to the mail box… it’s like having a daily welcome home party! And they always love us even if we are far from perfect.

So I ask you…on which truths would you stake your life?

stand up



Winfrey, O. (2018, April). A stand-up guy. Oprah Magazine, 19(4), pp 120-121.

Nursing: I’ve Got a Soul, But I’m Not a Soldier

We live in a world that can be very scary and violent. Two days ago a 19-year old (expelled) student from Parkland, Florida went into his old high school with an assault rifle and killed 17 people (students and teachers), injuring many others. Their lives all cut short in an instant. Their friends and families will never be the same; for them, Valentine’s Day will always be remembered with pain and violence. Those of you who know me, know how I feel about gun control, however, without getting into politics, whether you support the right (for anyone, sane or insane) to bear arms, or not, this is wrong. The fact that it happened in a school makes it even more tragic and senseless. Nothing seems sacred anymore… not churches, schools, movie theaters, or even hospitals. Violence against healthcare professionals is a growing problem also. Nurses are victims of violence, or threats of violence, from patients/families, colleagues, and even those whom we trust to protect us, as we saw last year with Utah nurse, Alex Wubbels, who was aggressively treated and handcuffed by a police officer for following hospital policy, when she said that she could not get the blood sample from a patient without a warrant or consent (Manson, 2017). She was later awarded $500,000 in a settlement, and she promised to make a donation to help spearhead the #EndNurseAbuse campaign by the American Nurses Association (Manson, 2017).

work abuse

When you work in the world of pediatrics, the parents/family become an extension of the patient; they are treated as a unit, and rightfully so. Healthcare recommendations for patient- and family- centered care in Children’s Hospitals is considered best practice. If a child is admitted to the hospital, whether it is short-term, or an extended stay due to a serious/chronic illness, the entire family is affected. Nurses must also be able to respond to individual family needs and dynamics, which vary from patient to patient. Most parents are appreciative of the care that we provide; they see that we are on the same “team” to care for their child, and help them through a difficult time. Some… not so much. Some parents are angry that their child is suffering, or have been diagnosed with a serious condition. They are upset that their world has been turned upside down; they have to miss work, make arrangements to see who can take care of their other children at home, who still need to go to school and soccer practice…because life goes on, and time stops for no one. This is where it can be challenging to do our job. If something goes wrong, the nurses are often blamed. We are at the bedside and visible; we are the most convenient targets for misguided anger and aggression. We understand the frustrations of having to wait for things that seem urgent. Nevertheless, it’s not ok if we are/feel verbally or physically threatened. Most of us did not get into nursing because we crave danger; we did it to help people. Now, we must prepare for active shooter events, and we pray that it never happens to us. At some point, patient satisfaction becomes a gray area when it comes to realistically and appropriately addressing this issue regarding employee safety. So many of those who aggressively threaten us are gently chided, while leadership teams meet to discuss strategies to de-escalate potentially dangerous situations. When is enough, enough?


I have been hearing the song from The Killers, which is featured in the Samsung Mobile commercial (2018), with the chorus “I’ve got a soul, but I’m not a soldier” a lot lately because it is being broadcast during the Olympics. It reminds me about the power of hope and resilience. It reminds me of the patients that we care for, and the reason that I wanted to become a nurse. The chant speaks to me…I’m just trying to do my best. “The world may teach us “can’t”, but we are all born to do what can’t be done” (Samsung, 2018). One must have heart and soul to be a nurse, but we must also find the fight within ourselves to get through the difficult times, and do it again the next day.





Manson, P. (2017). Utah nurse reaches settlement. Retrieved from  https://www.sltrib.com/utah-nurse-arrested-for-blocking-cop-from-drawing-blood-from-patient


Samsung Mobile: Human Nature. (2018). [Commercial]. Retrieved from https://youtu.be/KIMBR5ZMEvo







Why I Pray

I start and end each day with a simple prayer, which I’ve done for as far back as I can remember. Some days I ask for strength to get through the long day ahead of me; other days, I ask for patience, or guidance in making decisions. I often do “off-the-cuff” casual prayers, because that’s the kind of relationship I have with the ‘Big Guy”; these are actually more like “pep talks” before I even step foot out of bed in the morning. Although in serious times, or when I am worried about something, I go old school with the classics and pray like the good Catholic girl that I was raised to be.


This morning, after a long, sleepless night of tossing and turning, I prayed for courage. I tried to mentally prepare myself to do something that has been weighing heavily on my mind for the last two months. I had to have an endometrial biopsy done, which really isn’t that big of a deal in the medical/surgical procedure scheme of things, but I was worried nonetheless. It hurt like hell, but I got through it… and so the waiting game begins…these results must be ok.

Each night, without fail, I say a prayer hoping to be a better person tomorrow than I was today. I always try to do/be better. I think about what I should have done, or said, to make a difference. The day’s events play over in my head and sometimes do not shut off. On good days, I sleep well and feel content that I made good choices. Other nights, I think of things that I wish I had said, or not said, and just listened (better). I remind myself to listen more than I speak. I get into less trouble that way.

Accepting Disappointment and Moving On

I cringe when I think about all the time that I’ve wasted worrying about why /if someone doesn’t like me. In the age of social media, “likes” can easily be confused with a measurement of popularity, acceptance, or even love. I recently heard a song with the lyrics “how many likes is my life worth” (TCS, 2018), and it hit close to home because I have caught myself noticing who has “liked” my posts, and even more disturbing, who has not “liked” them; the silence speaks louder to me. I am (still) learning that it is really important, for the purpose of self-preservation, to not pay attention to the negativity, because if you allow yourself to believe that others’ opinions are more valid or valuable than your own, you risk becoming an active participant in the judging and minimization of one’s worth. That is a slippery slope of which I have been guilty.

Not long ago I held someone in such high regard that they were placed on the top of a virtual pedestal of whom I thought was “above” all others in my profession. It’s not fair or realistic to put someone in that place. It is literally a set-up for disappointment; no one can possibly live up to such expectations. Instead of blaming that person for my hurt and disappointment, I had to look at what my own role was in the broken relationship. While I am not responsible for what other people say or do, I am directly responsible for how I react/respond to people and situations. It is during the dark times when you find that your true friends will always shine a light in your direction.

Doing Your Best

All one can ask is that we do our best on any given day. Some days our best is a reach; we are tired and not as patient as we aspire to be. That’s Ok though; forgive yourself. No one can be “on” all the time.  Just remember that when you try your best, it is always “good enough”.

example not opinion



The Chainsmokers. (2018). Sick boy. Retrieved from https://genius.com › C › The Chainsmokers



Nursing in Pediatric Rehabilitation

I currently work as a Nursing Supervisor at a magical place where FUN is a core value. The series of events that led me here involved a change in my career path due to the loss of my father, and the need to be closer to home to help my mother, who continues to fight her own lengthy battle with cancer. I firmly believe that we are often led to the place where we were meant to be. I am grateful to work for an organization that practices and leads with kindness and compassion.


As a pediatric nurse who has primarily practiced in the acute care clinical setting, it has been an enlightening experience to enter the unique world of pediatric rehabilitation. This area of specialty focuses on infants and children (aged 0-21 years) to help improve the physically-limiting disabilities and illnesses, and support/elevate the child’s level of growth and development (ARN, 2016). The pediatric rehab nurse provides a high level of skilled nursing care that fosters recovery and/or adaptation techniques to maximize the child’s potential as they recover from an injury, surgery, congenital anomaly, or chronic illness (ARN, 2016). They are strong patient advocates that ensure each patient’s physical, emotional, and developmental needs are met. Rehab nurses are also teachers; they teach patients, families, and caregivers everything that they need to know (GT feeding, ventilator/tracheostomy care, suctioning, wound care, CPR, etc.) so that their child can (one day) return home.

Rehab nurses get to know their patients and families well because patients can remain in an inpatient rehab facility for a long period of time; often for several months. Rehab doesn’t happen overnight; it takes time and patience. We celebrate the small victories, like tolerating weaning from the ventilator for extended periods of time, or slow decreases in morphine doses for infants who were born from a drug addicted mother.

The process for a patient who must re-learn how to walk, or how to manage/live with the reality of never walking again…or re-learn how to swallow, eat, and eventually speak, can be overwhelming and extremely challenging. It takes patience, dedication, and a lot of hope and faith. In the short time that I have been at my organization, I have seen remarkable success stories firsthand. Most recently, I witnessed a fifteen year old girl re-learn how to walk after sustaining a spinal cord injury from being hit by a car. I held my breath the first time I saw her walking toward me in the hallway with a huge smile on her face. She had worked so hard to free herself from the confines of her electronic wheelchair. Her success is celebrated and shared by all who participated in her recovery.  I am so proud to work at such a special place!




Association of Rehabilitation Nurses. (2016). Pediatric rehabilitation nurse. Retrieved from https://rehabnurse.org

Children’s Specialized Hospital. (2015). [Fight Face Video]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ugxns0hYZqo

Writer’s Block

I haven’t been able to sit down and write for some time. The words seemed to flow easily when I first started my blog; then again, it was during a very difficult time in my life, and writing became a way for me to find my voice when it was too hard to speak. Perhaps I have run out of things to say, or maybe I just need some inspiration? Either way, my blog is taking a hit from my writer’s block. I could really use some ideas…any suggestions?


Auld Lang Syne

It is the last day of a really difficult year for my family and I, one which will never be forgotten to be certain. It has been a year of loss and pain, but also one of gratitude for the time that we had with my father, and with friends and family. So many amazing people were there for us during our time of grief, and I don’t think that I will ever be able to repay them…try as I may. Many have shared their losses with me as well, and the experience bonds us with heartfelt compassion and empathy. For them, I am thankful.

But the hits keep coming… just yesterday I received news about the loss of a close friend of over 30 years, Ann Marie. Her passing was sudden and unpredictable; shocking really.

A few months ago I wrote a blog post about the “pros & cons” of cancer…some disagreed with me because they didn’t understand that there was anything “good” about such a terrible disease. But I believe it to be true, especially now :

The gift of cancer is that it gives us time to prepare, to let the inevitable sink in. It allows us the opportunity to go down fighting; to try everything that is available, from research studies, to proven protocols. Mostly, it gives us the gift of hope. And when we can see that the hope is fading, and our arsenal of medications are no longer working, it gives us the gift of saying a proper good-bye; saying what needs to be said before it’s too late. The closure that it can bring is the only thing that makes it bearable.

Traumatic, sudden accidents or events, such as a heart attack, 9/11, or a car accident, do not give you closure; death is unexpected. No one can possibly be prepared. There are no “good-byes” or “I love you”, or “I’m sorry”…. there are regrets. And to me, that is even worse than a prolonged battle with cancer.

We were great college friends; exhausted nursing students suffering through our exams and clinicals, but still finding time to have fun, dance, and laugh. I would have never gotten through our Psych rotation without her! She loved mental patients, that’s for sure (and I say that with the utmost respect of course)! She had a special way about her and she could literally talk to anyone and be genuinely interested and engaged. I envied that about her. She had a remarkable memory too…she remembered the craziest things about our adventures, most of which I had forgotten, or blocked out for my own sanity. She would randomly post an old photo of us on FB just because. Those memories were a surprise gift to remind us of the “good old days” and always brought a chuckle, if not a flash of regret for my fashion choices or tall hair (it was the 80’s, afterall). Below is our college graduation picture…Lisa, Ann Marie, and me. Great times.

Ann Marie Lisa and me college grad

We even worked in the same hospitals most of our careers, but I stayed in the world of Pediatrics, while she ventured into Nursing Research. We talked only a few weeks ago… she was checking in on me to see how Shea and I were doing coping with the loss of my Dad around the holidays. We only chatted for a short time, but even with both of our busy lives, she made the time to let me know that she was thinking about me. That was Ann Marie. She was a very special person. She was a wife, a mother, a daughter, a sister, a nurse, and a great friend to many.

She read every one of my blog posts and always left a kind word of encouragement to let me know how much she appreciated my writing. This blog post is for you… this is my way of saying good-bye. I hope you like it Am. You will never be forgotten my old friend. I hope you share a pint with my Dad up in Heaven…please give him a hug from me. I miss you both.

Should old acquaintance be forgot, and never brought to mind? Should old acquaintance be forgot, and days of auld lang syne?”. Never.


Blue Christmas

sad christmas

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas for those who have a light heart and jolly spirit… for others, it seems like work to wear a smile and “go through the motions” that most people expect during the holidays. This year everything feels different. It feels empty to me. I lost my Dad three months and 21 days ago and I have missed him every single day since. My Dad REALLY loved Christmas. Each year he tried to out-do the previous year. He would always leave a voice mail message on my daughter’s cell phone (even at the age of 24!) saying “Ho Ho Ho! Have you been a good girl this year Shea bird? Santa Claus is watching!”… and always with the warning that “if you’re not good, you’ll get coal in your stocking!” Shea still has last Christmas’ message from my Dad, her Pop-Pop, saved on her phone. It makes us laugh and cry at the same time.

I truly believe that my father knew that last year would be his last Christmas. He asked each one of us to think about something special that we wanted. Instinctually I knew that he was “preparing” and wanted his last gift to be memorable and to always serve as a visible reminder how much he loved us, and was always with us, even when he could no longer be. I chose a pair of earrings which I have worn every day since he gave them to me last Christmas Eve. I will treasure them always; they are a reminder of a Christmas past that will never, ever be the same.

As for this Christmas…I just want it to be over. It hurts too much. Thanksgiving was difficult…but Christmas is much harder. I recently found a Christmas ornament that symbolizes the loss of a loved one and says that this year “they will be spending Christmas with Jesus”. Did it help? No. It just made me cry.

I am receiving beautiful Christmas cards in the mail and I am struggling reading them all. I can’t seem to sit down and write out my own greeting cards. I am still grieving. I hope everyone understands.

This year, I am working on Christmas Day. It is ok though. The distraction will be good and I will not be able to withdraw into my own thoughts or sadness. It is a gift to be able to serve others and have a purpose. I will be spending the day with amazing people who selflessly work in a profession that no matter how much you give of yourself, you always receive more in return. The good thing about perspective is that it allows you to appreciate what you have, instead of what you don’t.

I know that I am not alone in my sadness this year. My friend Susan shared this song with me today and it expresses everything that I am feeling… everything that I was trying to say in my blog, but stumbled along the way with broken thoughts and memories. Susan knows the pain because she just lost her father yesterday… another friend just lost his beloved service dog last week… The thing about grief is that it is so overwhelmingly painful by itself, but going through it during a time that is supposed to be joyous and hopeful makes the sadness feel even more profound and lonely.

Merry Christmas in Heaven Dad. I miss you.