London!!!

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Hello from London! I’ve been here for five days now. I tagged along with my boyfriend who has a work conference, so I have been spending most of my time exploring this amazing city alone.

I have always had a crippling fear of getting lost. I have no internal compass. Tackling and conquering a gigantic city like London is a huge accomplishment for me!! I may have taken the wrong turn here and there and had to turn around, but ultimately found my way. It’s a perfect analogy in life. Sometimes we feel lost, take the wrong turn, maybe go off the beaten path, but ultimately find our own way.

London Eye
London Eye
Cliche picture of phone booth.
Cliche picture of London phone booth
It is important to look both ways before crossing the road, but if you choose to look only one way, be sure it is the right way.
It is important to look both ways before crossing the road, but if you choose to look only one way, be sure it is the right way
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Your Mom Doesn’t Work Here….

I just finished the first of my last three nights on contract here in Sweden.  I am soon heading home to Florida where it is the temperature and humidity of an extremely premature infant’s incubator (that’s super hot and super humid).  I am making a quick detour to England before heading home where I plan to dance at Covent Garden, eat nothing but scones and clotted cream, and pay a visit to The Florence Nightingale Museum.

Do you find that no matter where you travel, the faces may change and the names may change, but it’s the same?  It’s no different overseas.  The hospital hosts the same issues, same gripes, same jokes as any hospital in the U.S.  It’s so interesting that it took traveling so far away for me to learn this.  I can think of many examples, but last night was a super funny one.

The following is a translation of a picture I took in our break room at work.  Even in Sweden coworkers leave nice notes for one another.  It reads….

“Tupperware that is left in the sink will be thrown out directly even if it is clean or dirty. You are not at home so you better get it together and clean up after yourselves. We would like to keep this place clean!

Sincerely,

The one cleaning up after your shit!”

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Happy Belated Mother’s Day

I’m almost two days late in wishing all the moms the world over a Happy Mother’s Day. Mother’s Day is not until the end of May in Sweden, so it is easy to sometimes forget. A very special Happy Mother’s Day to my own mother, Elaine. She, like most moms with their children, has supported me in my every endeavour. More importantly, however, she was the one I learned the importance of being kind, forgiving, and accepting. I’ve heard many times in my adult life that I am too soft, too kind, too nice. For a long time I accepted that there was somehow something wrong with being this way and that it made me weak. I even admittedly felt anger sometimes toward my mom that she had imposed these qualities on me. That was until I realized it was what I loved most about her. Thank you, thank you, thank you!! I now know that it is what makes me a better daughter, sister, friend, girlfriend, nurse, human being.

“Be the change that you want to see in the world.”

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Remembering Self

 

May 5, 2015

In a follow up to my previous post, I thought it would be nice to share a few ways to take care of you.  I call it a guide to remembering self while remaining selfless.

We live in an  ever growing,  fast paced, and egocentric society.  We are fed this idea of who we should be or how we should live and can easily become unbalanced in the process.  I come from the “becomes easily unbalanced” camp.

I am of the profession of giving.  My happiness comes from caring for the tiniest patients on the planet (premature infants) and their families, helping a friend or family member in need, or even a gesture as simple as holding the door for someone.    I became a nurse out of the innate desire to care for people.

At the same time, it is important to have something  left for oneself at the end of the day or we can be of no service to others.  It is easy to forget to care for oneself and this is where life gets tricky.  Here are just a few of my own personal routines that I use to stay balanced and can recommend to anyone that  is in need of a little balancing themselves.

1.  Regular massage

The benefits of massage are endless from improved sleep, pain relief,  relief of anxiety, depression and headaches to  the release of endorphins, the body’s natural pain reliever and mood elevator.  Even 30 minutes once a month helps.  I consider it a reward at the end of a few tough shifts.

2.  Epsom salts baths

Magnesium salts or epsom salts have many uses.  You can find them in your local health food store or pharmacy.  Magnesium is an essential element in the body that affects our heart, bones, nervous system, muscles.  My favorite way to use them is in the form of a bath.  Add 2 cups or about 5 Dl (for my European friends) Epsom Salts with a few drops of your favorite essential oil to a full, warm bath.  Soak for at least 15 minutes and exit revived and refreshed.  Try this after a massage and there you meet bliss.

3.  A regular yoga practice (whatever your yoga is)

It can be an actual yoga practice, going for a walk, swim, or a  run.  I can always tell when I have not practiced enough.  I have a trigger point  between my shoulder blades that start screaming for a shoulder opener.  Even if I only have 30 minutes that day to practice, I immediately recognize a difference in mood and energy level.

4  Friendship

Friendship is a balance of give and take.  Friends are there to listen when  all we need sometimes is to vent and vice versa.  They may not understand the depth of your despair after coming off a long night shift  having said goodbye to a little soul  that you know will have passed by the time you return.  They don’t have to get it.  It’s just about being there.  Being present.

5  A moment of reflection

It can be anything from a 10 minute meditation, a cup of hot tea, or reading something inspiring.  It is taking a time out.  It’s stopping whatever you are doing for just a brief moment to pause from the craziness, business of life.  I learned this after moving to Sweden.  Their moment of reflection is called fika (coffee break) and it is sacred here.

6   Gardening

Ok, maybe gardening is a bit of an exaggeration.  I live in a city where your garden consists of the flowers that adorn your window sill in the winter and your balcony in the summer.  While I claim to be no expert, there is truly something to be said for watching my orchids thrive in the five years since moving to Sweden.  I bought them in the dead of winter because they brought some light to the long, dark days of Scandinavian winter and  continue to do so today.

7  Love

Unconditional, honest, faithful love.  Some days it’s as simple as a video chat with my four year old nephew across the pond.  In our last conversation he concluded that he would buy me a red bike when I come home so that we can bike ride together (warms this auntie’s heart).  Other days it’s hearing my mom or dad’s voice on the other end of the phone.  The conversations (for as far back as I can remember) always begin with my dad greeting me with , “hi sweetheart,” or my mom greeting me with, “hi honey.”  Every day, it’s the sound of the keys at the door as the love and support of  my life enters the door with a smile after another day’s work.

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Taking care of you…

I think becoming a nurse was a natural path for me though it wasn’t something I planned early on.  I care.  Plain and simple.  I care about my family, my friends, and my tiny patients.  Often as nurses it is easy for us to get caught in the politics, the frustration of being understaffed, or being undermined by one another that we forget why we became nurses in the first place.  I think this is something common to the human condition, not just nurses.  Often I find myself in this place.  It is the little things in life that bring me back when I feel unbalanced.  Today I met a dear friend for fika (Swedish coffee break) and it seems this short brief meeting was all I needed to reset.  It is important to take a moment to  breathe, reflect, and let go in life.  Some days are better than others, but we must all try to take the time needed to take care of ourselves, something we often forget in life.

First ever entry…

Since moving to Sweden nearly five years ago, I’ve had many friends and family members urge me to start a blog.  I was always reluctant because I thought that I was  already active enough on social media.  The fact is that I love to read, write, and breathe inspiration.  I hope this blog gives those of us in need just a bit.  I remember as far back as the age of 14 or 15 that I dreamed of one day traveling and or living in Europe and here I am!!  It is through my nursing career (and a little love) that I made it here.  It’s not always easy, but it is possible.  My goal is to inspire you, share ideas with you, and in turn learn something myself.  Thanks for reading and look forward to the journey!!!

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