A Swedish Wedding

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My apologies for the delay in posts.  In the past month I have traveled back to Sweden from Florida.  In that time, accompanied by family and friends, I married my best friend.  I thought I would take a quick detour from my usual nursing related posts and share with you one of the greatest days of my life.

One month this past Saturday, I married Nils Fredrik Brännström, a man I met ten years ago in San Francisco.  I had no idea that I would one day be living with him in his native Sweden and much less become his wife.  I have always been a bit of a rebel or have done things in less conventional ways in my life.  I never planned to marry, never wanted to have children.  In fact, I always imagined myself being the crazy old cat lady.  The thing is, never say never and I am proud to say that marrying this man was the greatest detour in life.

When we decided to marry, it was a simple question of where.  My family and friends reside in Florida, his in Sweden.  We decided in the end to have a small ceremony in Florida for family that would not be able to travel to Sweden and an actual wedding in Sweden.  We had our small family ceremony in Florida back in January.  What follows is a glimpse into our wedding last month in Sweden.

The Church 

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We married in a church marked as a World Heritage Site.  Dating back to 1492, Gammelstad Church  and its surrounding church village with over 300 cottages, has a long history in Fredrik’s family.  Everyone in his family for many generations has married here, been baptized here, and buried here in the neighbouring cemetery.  While Swedes are generally a secular people, they are still for the most part a traditional people.  Marrying in a church is still the most common place for a wedding ceremony.

The Procession

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A Swedish wedding procession is nearly nonexistent.  There is no maid of honor, no bridesmaids, no best man.  In fact, the father of the bride does not traditionally walk the bride down the aisle like back home.  The bride and groom walk down the aisle hand in hand, a symbol of entering their marriage together as equals.  We walked to live music played by the super talented daughter of a dear friend.

The Ceremony

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The ceremony is similar to an American ceremony with the, “do you take this man,” and “in sickness and in health,” only in Swedish.  Sweden’s churches are primarily Protestant led by both male and female priests.  Our priest spoke a bit of English to accommodate our English speaking only friends and family.  On a funny side note, our priest was hilarious.  He told us the first time we met that he was going to a party the night before our wedding, but not to worry.  He said he would not be too hungover on our wedding day.  Only in Sweden.

The Reception

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A Swedish wedding reception is a super fun evening of food, drink, speeches, and dancing. Ours was no exception.  We rented a restaurant in a cultural center for our reception.  We were served some of the most delicious local food of the area including local fish and reindeer and the most beautiful cake adorned with orchids.

The Toastmasters

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Every wedding reception is hosted by someone called a toastmaster, usually the best friend of the bride and/or groom.  The toastmaster’s job is to welcome all of the guests and coordinate the entire evening which is a tall order and a lot of pressure.  In our case, two of Fredrik’s best friends were our toastmasters.  They did a truly amazing job arranging the entire evening for us.  No detail was left unpolished.  It was a wonderful, magical evening thanks to these two.  Thanks, Jörgen and Marcus!!!!

The Speeches

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It is tradition at a Swedish wedding that anyone can give a speech.  The speeches usually begin with the father of the bride and continue throughout the night with other members of the bride or groom’s family and friends.  Speeches are at the center of a Swedish wedding reception and go on through the entire evening.  I was completely shocked and moved that our toastmasters had arranged for my father to give a speech remotely as he was unable to come to Sweden for the wedding.  It meant so much to me.  I don’t think there was a dry eye for that one.  Fredrik’s mom, pictured above, was one of many that gave a truly touching speech.  His sister, Therese, also standing, translated for his mom.  His family has been so wonderful to me through my ups and downs of acclimating to life in Sweden.  I have always felt the full support of not only Fredrik here, but his dear friends and family as well.

The Kisses 

Another tradition at Swedish weddings is that each time the bride leaves the room, every woman in the room lines up to kiss the groom on the cheek.  The same goes for when the groom leaves the room.  It is a super cute tradition that I can now say I have been a part of.

The Dance

Traditionally, the bride and groom’s first dance in Sweden is a waltz.  Being the always unconventional girl I am, I opted to choreograph our first dance.  It was  a last minute decision and we spent only two weeks rehearsing, but it went very well in the end.  We had the best time putting it together.

Fredrik & Lori’s Dance

Thanks to all of our wonderful friends and family that shared in our day with us.  And thank you for those that traveled so far to be there, some even leaving babies home to come.  Thank you to my amazing cousins, Jenn Ross and Diana Ross for all your support and help in preparation for and on the wedding day.  I guess to sum up this magical day and tie it in to the purpose behind this blog, my advice to those of you in a difficult time in life or just questioning what you are doing with your life is to follow your heart.  I came from a place of difficulty and uncertainty to a place of joy and acceptance.  Through it all, I found myself.  Your heart will lead you in directions you never imagined if only you allow it.  Trust the process.  Sometimes pain and difficulty lead you to your heart.  Trust your heart.  Trust yourself ❤

 

 

 

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A Nurse’s Vow to Her Patients

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Hello from sunny Florida ❤  Every winter, I head home for the warmth and light, embrace of family, and to remember where I come from.  Since coming home, I have been a little lax in my posting.  As a result, I will now be inundating you all with back posts 🙂

For me, being a nurse is so much more than having the skill to place an IV, the ability to detect subtle changes in a patient’s status, and the ability to deal with the multiple personalities one is confronted with on a daily basis.  It is equally important to be a good listener, strive to continually learn, and take the time to educate and advocate for one’s patients.  Our patients are not only those we treat at the bedside, but those we  are surrounded by in every day life including friends, family, and community.  A nurse is never truly off-duty.

In the last year, I have transitioned more and more away from my role as a bedside nurse to the role of maternal/infant health and education.  Patient education has always been my passion and in the last year I have been honored and privileged to offer maternal and infant education courses to expectant parents living in Gothenburg, Sweden, through a fledgling maternal/infant and wellness company.  My vow to each and every student is the same I offer my patients.  I strive to leave my own struggles behind and greet them with undisturbed enthusiasm.  I will learn from them as they learn from me and guide them with care and consideration on the journey to their baby.

The following is my vow to those I serve in my role as nurse  whether through care at the bedside or through community outreach ❤

A Nurse’s Vow to Her Patients

4Ways to Be a More Mindful Nurse

FullSizeRender-47In this week’s post for Mighty Nurse, I offer a few simple steps to practicing mindfulness.  Mindfulness teaches us to be more conscious of our thoughts, feelings, environment, and sensations.  We have all heard the phrase, you are your own worst enemy.  Learning to tame the monkey mind by simple observations and detachment can lead to a happier, less stressed you.  All it takes is practice ❤

4 Ways to Be a More Mindful Nurse 

Signs & Symptoms of Nurse Burnout

cropped-img_4226.jpgNurse burnout is an epidemic not just in the U.S.  It happens here in Sweden as well, the world over for that matter.  It’s called “hitting the wall” in Sweden and fortunate for any individual living here, there is both financial and emotional support for those suffering.  According to a 2010 study, “the hospital nurse workforce is experiencing greater workloads resulting from shorter hospital stays, rising average patient acuity, fewer support resources, and a national nurse shortage. Higher nurse workloads are associated with burnout and job dissatisfaction, precursors to voluntary turnover that contribute to the understaffing of nurses in hospitals and poorer patient outcomes.  Indeed, more than 40% of hospital staff nurses score in the high range for job-related burnout, and more than 1 in 5 hospital staff nurses say they intend to leave their hospital jobs within 1 year.”

Burnout is a very personal story for me.  It is a story I have not shared with anyone but my closest friends and family.  Until now.  Moving to another country, learning to communicate in another language, and working in intensive care in said language threw me over the edge and became my downfall.  I then lost someone dear to me, a support I had counted on most of my life.  I felt hopeless.  I would drive to work holding on to some hope that I would make it through my shift and regain what little confidence in myself as a nurse I had left.  I left most mornings with doubt, tears, and a feeling of hopelessness.  I couldn’t sleep at night.  I would toss and turn.  On my days off I was so consumed with a lack of self confidence and worry.  Something had to give.

Why share this extremely personal story?  Because I was in denial for a long time.  Because I thought it would never happen to me.  Because it did happen to me and I want to give those experiencing burnout some sense that their is hope.  Burnout does not mean the end of your career.  It is not a reflection of you the individual.  It is a series of misfortunate circumstances.

Are you headed in that direction?  The following are a few signs and symptoms to be aware of ❤

Signs & Symptoms of Nurse Burnout

6 Ingredients for a Succesful Shift

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“It is a simple fact that working with your tribe of people can sometimes make all the difference in the world. You know that no matter what, you have one another’s backs unconditionally. No matter how difficult the day, you have a second pair of eyes, ears, and another trustworthy opinion. Somewhere, in the calmer moments, you can have a laugh.”

A shout out to the amazing nurses, nursing assistants, and docs in the NICU at Queen Silvia’s Hospital for Children in Gothenburg, Sweden.  Here is my latest for Mighty Nurse…

6 Ingredients for a Succesful Shift

August Nurse Feature: The Journey of a Lifetime

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This month’s feature is more a dedication or tribute to one of the best nurses I have ever worked with.  I think nurses can do a better job of lifting each other up and supporting one another, so here goes…..

Anders, a Swedish nurse I have had the pleasure to work with for the past two years, is the chupacabra of nurses-he is a rare gem of a nurse.  He has every quality a nurse should strive for.  He is experienced, knowledgeable, pedagogic, calm, kind, and always helpful.  He anticipates others’ needs sometimes before they anticipate them themselves.

He, his wife, and five children recently made the big move from Sweden to the U.S. where they will settle in Colorado and start a new life together.  Before he left, we had a few moments at the end of one of our last shifts together where I was able to pick his brain over fika, Sweden’s sacred coffee break.

Where are you from?

Sweden

In what area of nursing do you work?

I  specialized in pediatric nursing  and am currently working in a highly specialized Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.

What inspired you to be a nurse?

I  worked in ambulance care as a nursing assistant for a total of 17 years.  I realized that with more knowledge I could do more for the patients and that always inspired me.  I enrolled in nursing school and got my license to work as a nurse 2003.  When I got my license, I quit working in ambulance care and took a job in a pediatric unit in a hospital.

What advice would you give to a new nurse?

 First of all “hang in there.”  It will get better when you have more experience and you know more what to do.  Second, and this goes for all nurses, don`t be afraid to ask someone else for advice if you are uncertain what to do (or think that you know enough not to).  In sweden we have a mentality that alows us to ask for a second opinion-either we want to ask for advice on some matter or we would like to confirm that we are doing the right thing, before we start doing it.
When I was new to the nursing profession, I was surprised that my fellow nurses that worked for many years asked me for advice or wanted me to check their med calculations. It was not until later that I realized that this was a good way of learning things. I had their trust to help them at the same time that they trained/educated me.
A few times when I practiced I would meet some “grumpy” nurse that would tell me that I should already know the answer.  In those cases I turned to another nurse and got an answer that made me certain I was doing the best for the patient (which is our mission).
What advice would you give to a tired nurse?
Don`t ever forget that it is not the core nursing (probably the reason why you became a nurse) that burned you out. It is most certainly external circumstances (lack of staff, high work load, etc.) that got you there. I have talked to some colleagues that were really tired of their work, but we all agreed that we love our profession, just not how we sometimes are supposed to perform it.
What do you do in your spare time?
I love working with my hands and with my head. When I was in high school, I took a vocational course in carpenty. I have never worked professional as one, but it has helped my during my life. I have a large family and during these years we have owned two houses that I renovated from top to bottom during my spare time. It is satisfying to create something with my hands that would last and that  I had to use my head figuring out how to do it and calculating what I would need.
Thanks for sharing, Anders!!  Wishing you and your family all the best in your new home!  To read more about his big move to the U.S. and get some tips if you are contemplating international travel, check out my interview with him for Mighty Nurse.  Be kind to one another ❤

A Crayfish Party in Sweden

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Happy Monday friends!  Today’s post comes from one of my favorite parts of Sweden, Skåne.  Last week I shared with you the splendors of Northern Sweden.  This past weekend we headed to Skåne, a region in the most southern part of Sweden, a short drive from Denmark.  It’s a three hour drive from where we live in Gothenburg.  Our good friends live there and this weekend invited us to a traditional Swedish crayfish party-kräftskiva in Swedish.

History

Although crayfish have been eaten since the 16th century in Sweden, then a delicacy savored by aristocrats, the crayfish celebration came later.  The history of crayfish parties in Sweden date back to the mid nineteenth century. Originally, parties were planned around the time of year fishermen were legally allowed to harvest crayfish from the sea, which was often the first week in August.  They were considered the last party of the summer.

Atmosphere

No kräftskiva party is complete without party hats, decorations, and bibs.  The hats are usually adorned with pictures of the guest of honor, the crayfish.  At the center of the brightly hung streamers and paper lanterns usually hangs a large and happy  paper lantern of the Man in the Moon.

Food

Crayfish is the highlight here-served cold with a delicious hint of dill.  The little crustaceans can be eaten alone, with a little aoli, or on fresh baked bread with aoli.  It is considered completely polite and actually a treat to suck the juice from the shell.  In addition, salad, delicious cheeses, and quiche of different varieties are served.

Drink

Traditional drink for a kräftskiva party is Schnaps of multi flavors, beer, and/or wine.  While I am not usually a fan of taking shots, I was all in for this party.  I tasted two different flavors-elderberry and cinnamon.  I loved the elderberry and according to our host, you have to let the Schnaps roll around in your mouth a bit to truly enjoy the flavor.

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Song

Swedes are known for their love of song, which usually preclude the drinking of Schnapps (snapsvisor).  There is a song for every occasion and a crayfish party is no exception.  While our party was a little reluctant, once the Schnapps started flowing and inhibitions dampened, we managed one song  to the melody of Popeye the Sailor Man.

A great time was had by all. Already looking forward to next year’s party.  Thanks to our friends Per and Malin for the invite!!  Thanks for taking the time to read!  Have a great week 😊