Starting over, again

Starting over in a new job is not easy. With each job comes new staff and colleagues (or what I like to call future friends!), new policies & procedures, and new rules and responsibilities. Earning trust and respect from those in a new organization is critical to your success in your role, and ultimate job satisfaction. You have to “prove yourself” to those who don’t know you and wonder about your level of competence and skills. Merely saying that you have been a nurse for close to 30 years is not enough; you have to show them you are worthy and that you know your stuff. You look at yourself in the mirror of the restroom to make sure that you don’t have dog hair on your black pants or food in your teeth, and you silently give yourself a pep talk, “you got this!” before you walk into the crowded auditorium.


During the excruciatingly long week of hospital orientation, I sit in a room full of young nurses, most of whom are just beginning their careers, and I feel so old. I don’t have much in common with them, but eventually we begin to talk about what brought us “here”. We all feel grateful for the opportunity to work in such a wonderful children’s hospital, so that is the common denominator, and where the glimmer of hope and excitement begin. We are all on our own individual journeys and yet we ended up together in this room…starting over, again.


I recently received a beautiful book, The Wisdom of Sundays (Winfrey, 2017), from my friend Sandra, that I haven’t been able to put down. The book has brought comfort to me during what has been a very difficult year of loss. In one of the chapters Oprah talks about grace and gratitude, and she points out that gratitude opens up a new channel within oneself where blessings can be more clearly recognized. Winfrey (2017) quotes Eckhart Tolle, “If the only prayer you say in your entire life is thank you, that will be enough”. I’ve experienced many changes in my personal life and career; for better, and for worse. With every choice I have made, I have learned something from it; sometimes that lesson is filled with sadness or regret, but mostly it is filled with gratitude and thanks.

Change can be difficult and scary, but it is inevitable; one cannot evolve or grow without it. Making changes and starting over in our professional lives can be even more precarious…especially as I am inching closer to my retirement. Fortunately, I am not afraid of change, it gives me hope that the best is yet to come.



Winfrey, O. (2017). The wisdom of sundays. New York, NY: Flatiron Books

Saying Good-bye

I have been a nurse for over 28 years, and in that time I have made many amazing friends and memories. You tend to form close bonds with those that share common experiences… good or bad. We remember our favorite and least favorite nurses to work with, the best and worst docs, and the patients who remind us why we continue to do what we do. We mostly remember the best and worst shifts, and share stories that make us laugh, cry, or just shake our head in disbelief that that just happened. But eventually, many of us move on, and decide to leave jobs that are no longer fulfilling, or the organizational leadership changes into something that you can’t support, or the decision to leave is made for you, or you decide to be brave and try something else, or you/your significant other relocate, or you accept an exciting career opportunity in a different unit or organization… or, we leave so that we can be closer to home, and be more available to help our family during a tough time… or a combination of the above… and we are faced with saying good-bye.

When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves“- Viktor E. Frankl

Saying good-bye is hard. I’m terrible at it. It is so final, and the thought of losing one more person in my life that has become important to me, especially after losing my father recently, makes it even harder. Sure, we say we will stay in touch, and see each other soon, and stay connected on social media… but it’s just not the same. It is a loss, and loss is painful.

I have made lifelong friends in all of my jobs… they are the best of the best… but yesterday I had to say good-bye to some amazing people that I have grown to love in only 3 short years. I was leaving for all the right reasons, and I was prepared to say good-bye; I had been gradually talking about my need to leave my job for a few weeks; saying it out loud to reinforce to myself that it was “for the best”… but that last day was the worst. I cried. A lot. It was embarrassing. No one died, and yet today, I am in mourning. I don’t feel sad about leaving the place, or the job itself (it was a very stressful environment and a helluva commute to be honest); I am sad about leaving the amazing people that I worked with and got to know on a deeply personal level. They are some of the hardest working people I know. It is not easy to work in a huge Children’s Hospital in NYC. It’s a tough place that is indisputable proof of Darwin’s “survival of the fittest” theory; only those who are able to adapt to an environment, and struggle for existence, can survive and succeed. If only I could transport these amazing people to my new job, close to home, I would do so in an instant. But it’s not possible, and it’s not about me.

I will always have this piece of my heart that smiles whenever I think about you.


When Words Become Barriers to Effective Communication

I am a person of few words…most of the time.  It’s just who I am. I tend to hold things in because I have been that person who can easily “put my foot in my mouth” and say the wrong thing. I have also been known to just say what I’m thinking… or not say anything at all and bite my tongue. Admittedly, when someone else is speaking, I have been known to cut the other person off, mid-sentence, because I feel compelled to add to the conversation. Whether it is coming from a sense of urgency to share information relative to the topic, or because if I don’t say it at that moment, I will lose the thought entirely and it will escape my memory. Nevertheless, it is rude, and I reprimand myself every time. I also end up regretting some of the things that I have said, or wish that I had said it differently. It is a constant internal struggle and I remind myself of the quote from Mark Twain “It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to open one’s mouth and remove all doubt“. Honestly, it is something that I wish I could change about myself…well, one of the things. I envy those who are quick-witted and can talk to anyone, or speak in front of large groups of people, in a calm, competent manner.

I guess what I’m trying to say is to try to use your words responsibly. Words can be a powerful tool for effective communication and can bring people together. They can also be a way to build barriers and destroy relationships. In my experience, words that are said using kindness, compassion, and truth are always the right ones to say out loud.


Last Time for Everything

Another one of my articles was published and featured on

This article was inspired by the Brad Paisley song, “Last Time for Everything“. Nursing gives us a firsthand view of how quickly a life can be taken away. We all experience many “firsts” and “lasts” in our lifetime unfortunately we rarely recognize them until it’s too late.

Please click on the link, or copy and paste it to your browser if you would like to read it.

Thank you!

last time

Defending your Life: A Nurse’s Story

defending-your-lifeheaderI recently watched the movie Defending your Life (again, for at least the 10th time), which is a romantic comedy that came out in the 90’s starring Meryl Streep and Albert Brooks. In the movie, Meryl Streep plays someone who lived an exceptional life on Earth; she was brave and generous in her life, giving of herself, and her love without fear. Albert Brooks, while a good person at heart, was someone who made some bad choices because he allowed fear to rule his life. The concept of the movie is that all who pass (with the exception of children and animals), must stand trial in Judgement City to defend their actions in life; both good and bad. More importantly, the ability to overcome one’s fears was examined in order to be deemed worthy of advancing into the next phase of their existence… or, be sent back down to Earth for a do-over. The plot is complicated by both characters falling in love during their brief time in the afterlife; and Meryl’s character, who was brave and faced her fears in life, was judged to be able to move on; while Albert’s character, was not. Not to worry (spoiler alert), in the end, good ole’ Albert finds the courage to fight to join Meryl in her tram ride to Heaven; and those who had judged him not worthy, saw this act of bravery, and decided to let him stay with Meryl. The end.
This movie always makes me wonder if I would ever be deemed worthy enough to pass into the next phase of existence. I am basically a good person; I’ve made mistakes, sure, but let’s face it, who hasn’t? If I were put on trial today, would I be able to prove that I overcame my personal fears? I would say no, not even close. My fears and anxiety have only grown as I have gotten older. Let’s be honest, we are in trying times right now; between our twitter-happy commander-in-chief, the potential for war with North Korea, the questionable future of the Affordable Care Act in healthcare, climate change and the environment, and having to wait until 2019 for season 8 of Game of Thrones, our future is uncertain. Of course I realize that losing sleep and worrying over these important issues isn’t actually solving any of those problems, just adding to my neurosis. The best thing that I have going for me is the work that I have done/do as a nurse. Surely, that has to hold a lot of weight for the big guy, am I right?
Nursing is a very demanding and sometimes, thankless job. We care for all patients equally, risking our own health (mental and physical) to work long shifts, 24/7/365; missing holidays/special events/dinner with our families/sleep/bathroom and meal breaks, etc… and that’s just touching the surface. Each day is an unpredictable adventure that brings new challenges and struggles: short staffing due to sick calls, train wreck admissions from the Emergency Department, patients “crashing”, c-diff, isolation precautions… fill in the blank. Are we perfect beings, no, but we work really hard and try our best every single day to care for those in need. Heck, just showing-up is half the battle and deserves some form of recognition; three 12-hour shifts in a row should be bonus points for earning a place in Heaven for sure. But are nurses brave? Abso-freakin-lutely! In New York and New Jersey, nurses were some of the first responders that were in a state of readiness after the 9/11 terror attacks at the World Trade Center; all employees were called into action, waiting for patients that never came; this realization was the most difficult to accept. We were greatly affected after Hurricane Sandy as well; many hospitals were running on generators and managing to run safely to care for patients with limited supplies that were delayed in being replenished due to the inability to receive new deliveries for several days. Many staff were unable to get to work; those who were already there, stayed, praying that their own families were safe and sound at home. A few years ago, nurses were trained to safely care for Ebola patients; that took a lot of courage. Many were nurses who volunteered to be trained, even after a nurse in Texas contracted Ebola after caring for an infected patient. That is what nurses do; we care for those who need us. We must always be in a state of alertness and ready to be called for duty to provide care in any situation. I believe that nurses overcome some degree of fear every day; you walk into your unit never knowing what the next 12+ hours will bring. It’s always a surprise, good or bad. I also believe that nurses help their patients through their fears; when patients are their most vulnerable, and most afraid, it is their nurse that sits beside them, holding their hand, and letting them know that they are not alone. Nurses truly defend and advocate for their patient’s lives every single day. I like to think that in the end, if and when we are called to defend our lives, that is what is most important.


Truth and Courage

Someone recently asked me “How do you find the strength and confidence to trust what your gut is telling you…how do you decide what is the “right” thing to do”? It is a complicated question because what is “right” for me, may not be for you, but one thing that I am absolutely certain is that no matter what, you must always be honest and honorable in your approach to speaking up, and even more, standing up, for what you believe in. It isn’t easy; actually, it’s very hard to do. Sometimes you can feel alone out there on that ledge, and sometimes, you may even lose someone that you thought was a friend. But your real friends, who know and love you, will hopefully trust that you are doing what you need to do, whether they agree with you or not. Be aware that there are risks involved in speaking your truth, and the consequences may not always be the end result of what you intended. In fact, it takes a lot of courage to be willing to risk losing something, or someone, by standing up for your beliefs.


Here’s a fun fact that you should keep in mind before you decide that you need to share your truth with others… take it from someone who knows all about this…make sure that they/he/she is open to hearing it. There is nothing worse than being vulnerable and putting your heart out there, and getting “things” off your chest, than finding out that your truth is not welcome, and is not something that they care about, or want to know. Then you just end up feeling like a fool, and it’s very hard to move on from there with hurt feelings, and resentment. To avoid this awkward scenario, I suggest finding out if the receiver of the information is open to having “the talk”. You can say something like this: “Can I be honest with you?” Simple as that; by asking the question, allows him/her to actively give permission to start the conversation. Or not.


Integrity means taking the path that may not be easy, or popular, but it is always about doing the right thing. At the end of the day, the choices that we make help define us; they become our values and our purpose; they create our reputation, or what we are known for by others. We must live with our choices, right or wrong. It is only through reflection where we see what we could have/should have done differently. We all make mistakes and bad choices; I know I have made many in my life. I have learned a lot about myself through my failures, but the most difficult thing is to be able to pick yourself up, move on, and try again the next day.

If we have ever chatted about how unfair things seem to be, or how mean or hurtful some people are, you know that I will always sit quietly and listen, and then state the obvious: we have no control over what others do or say, only how we respond to it/them. How we respond speaks volumes. As Michelle Obama said at the 2016 DNC, “When they go low, we go high”. Respect goes both ways, and people will treat you how you allow.    So to answer the question “how do you find the strength and confidence to follow your instincts and do the right thing“: truth is a superpower that can help you to know what is the right thing to do. You must always trust your gut; when something doesn’t feel right, it usually isn’t. And when someone shows you who they are, by their words and actions, believe them. If you are speaking your truth for the right reasons, and are advocating for yourself or others…then you must “speak the truth even if your voice shakes” (author unknown).