The Sofa

We sat on the U-shaped, tan suede sofa, peeling our skin back like cellophane
Convinced we could save each other from life’s next affront
Just by the right combination of quotations, passages, and prayers.
Who did we think we were? This group of women munching on peanut M&Ms,
Sipping from our bottles of Mike’s Hard Lemonade and chardonnay?
Were we God’s messengers and warriors, or just another gathering of fools?
Always aware of this lethal game of chance we had entered into
Never quite mindful of the fact that even if the cartridge came up empty
We would still feel the bullet’s sting, as it unloaded on the next person in the circle.
Ever conscious of the ancient shadows of all the others who had played before us
We gazed ahead at the delicate angels etched in the snow, side by side, covered in frost
Awaiting the next scintilla of sunshine to melt away the remnants of our crystallized tears.

by Amy Jones

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When the Heart Breaks

There are the small disappointments in life,
Like not getting the presents you wanted for Christmas, or
The sting of an unintentionally thoughtless remark, or
The futility of trying to maintain an orderly house.
There are the bigger disappointments in life,
Like figuring out that our loved ones are only human, or
That after all this time on earth,
We still don’t know how to co-exist in peace.
And then there are the most unbearable, inexplicable,
Heart-wrenching and devastating disappointments.
Beyond one’s imagination or comprehension,
Inconsolable by any combination of words or gestures.

So immense is the pain my friend now bears, and
So great is this mother’s loss, that all I can do is weep for her
And save room on the couch when she is ready to join
Her Sisters of the Sofa once more.

In loving memory of Mark

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Healing Light – Writer’s Quote Wednesday

IMG_2330“The wound is the place where the Light enters you.”
― Rumi

I love the above quote by Rumi  and would like to share it for Writer’s Quote Wednesday.


How many times have we heard the sentiment that our trials make us stronger? How many times are we told to look on the bright side when things go wrong?  Often we may hear this from well-meaning people who seem to be living on the sunny-side and don’t have a clue about the hardships we face.  It can be extremely difficult to feel grateful when faced with one problem after another, and even more challenging to try to live up to other people’s expectations that we should rise above it all.

I have found that the truth about coping with hardships is somewhere in between. Eventually we may be able to look back and see how many ways in which the light has made its way through our wounds and made us stronger, more compassionate people. Yet the possibility of future healing doesn’t make  the suffering any less real when it is happening, and it is okay to acknowledge those feelings as well. There is a difference between pretending and being authentic, and becoming real can’t happen until we allow ourselves to genuinely express our feelings. That is why we often feel so much better after crying. The shedding of tears may be the only thing left to do in a particular moment, as we attempt to discern when to let go and when it is time to move in a new direction.

So I leave you with this video from Free to Be Me, which my girls used to love listening to when they were younger, and even sometimes now.

Near Death Words of Wisdom

The last 36 hours turned out to be very stressful. My dad ran into complications and ended up back in surgery. I am so happy that he is doing much better now and they seemed to have fixed the problem. When he told me this morning that he thought for sure he was going to die yesterday (which we all feared) I asked him if he had any near death revelations.

He said “near death experience is a bunch of crap”

I’m taking that as a sign that he is on the road to recovery and getting back to his old self again.

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Caring in this Moment

“Maybe this one moment, with this one person, is the very reason we are here on earth at this time.”  From The Caring Moment by Jean Watson

As we continue on our journey of helping my father to heal from his recent open-heart surgery, I am reminded of one of my favorite nurse theorists, Jean Watson. I first became familiar with her when I was taking a nursing theory class. I had become somewhat frustrated with some of the other theories which seemed too complicated to figure out how to put them into practice.

When I discovered Jean Watson’s Theory of Caring Science, I loved her message of authentic mindful caring. The essence of all caring is that brief moment in time when we can truly connect with another human being, and in that moment, create the essential bond that leads to healing at the deepest level.

I am thankful for each member of my dad’s healthcare team who have taken the time to get to know him, listen to him, and care for him.

It is hard to see this man who cared for me all those years in such a dependent state. Sometimes I become impatient with the baby steps he is making.  It is in those moments that I try to remember what is stated best in my favorite meditation by Jean Watson, beautifully illustrated in this Youtube video.

I’m hoping my dear father will be discharged from the hospital today, moving on to the next step into a cardiac rehab center. But it is in his time, not mine, that he will heal.

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First Drafts

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First Drafts

Left-handed smudges moving across an empty sheet of paper

Tentative words emerging from the charcoal clouds of #2 lead

Unfiltered, unrehearsed thoughts forming on the page,

Un-beholden to rules that constrict and deprive free thought.

First drafts are like the brief moments after awakening

When dreams seem more real than reality

They are like peering through the clouds as the plane descends

And catching the first glimpse of land below

First drafts, like the colostrum from a mother’s breast

Are filled with nutrients that stimulate the budding soul.

By Amy Jones

Photo by JA

Photo by JA

Angels in the ICU

I am taking a break from my long list of things to do to express my gratitude. My dad had his open heart surgery on Monday. It has been a roller coaster ride, but things seem to be going well right now.

For the most part I’ve been optimistic about his outcome, and there was only a brief moment when I became genuinely concerned based on what I observed and my limited nursing experience with cardiac patients. Fortunately, his medical team was on top of things and able to get him stabilized pretty quickly.

Which brings me to the topic of the care he has received. I have been so impressed with the nursing staff and all that they have to juggle working in the cardiac ICU and step-down unit. It blows me away when I think about all of the different aspects of his care for which they are responsible. I am so glad my dad was under their watchful eyes, as they recognized whenever his labs, heart rate, blood pressure, drains, tubes, oxygen levels, and appearance indicated the need for further intervention. Their level of proficiency makes me proud to be part of this profession. Nurses spend more time than any other healthcare professional at the bedside of their patients and must maintain a huge base of knowledge and responsibility.

Of course I am also extremely impressed with the surgeon and thankful for what he was able to accomplish with this complicated surgery. It is obvious he loves what he does and works hard to achieve the very best outcome.

I am grateful for all of the hospital staff who have been doing an excellent job. Everyone we have encountered thus far, the physical therapists, respiratory therapists, food service personnel, and hospital volunteers seem to have a real passion for what they are doing and it shows.

Among all these people caring for my dad right now, it seems there was also an angel there with him. When he told me that he felt like there was a female sitting at the head of his bed all night and asked about the guy sitting next to him on the bed (there was no one there), it made me smile and think, for just one moment, that maybe there were angels there with him when things started deteriorating.

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View from his window

Whether there were heavenly angels watching over him or not, I do know there were many real-life angels working side by side, with loving care, taking care of my dear old dad.

Coping with College Stress

I am enjoying my classes this semester and managing pretty well despite the increased workload on top of working full-time. I am excited that there is an end in sight, and I should be able to finish my master’s program by mid-August.

As hard as it has been, in some ways being an adult learner has its advantages, because I have a different perspective from this vantage point. I have made it through enough of life’s challenges such as balancing family and work, as well as some significant losses, to be able to fully appreciate this opportunity to continue to learn and grow.

Unlike my younger counterparts in college, I don’t have to deal with the same kinds of pressures they face.  Being away from home for the first time, navigating relationships, trying to live up to academic and athletic expectations, and making decisions about alcohol, drugs, and sexual activities can be quite daunting for these young adults at times.

Being a  young student can be an exciting and wonderful experience, and it can also be the source of a lot of additional stress, leading to depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues. It is so important for young people to know they have a place to turn when they experience emotional difficulties.

Finding the path – Where can college students go for help?

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Active Minds is a wonderful organization that is making its presence known on college campuses in order to provide support to students who are struggling with a mental health issue. They are working hard to diminish the stigma associated with mental health issues by hosting campus-wide mental health awareness events and helping students to navigate where to find help when they need it.

I applaude their efforts and wish there would have been something like that when I was an 18-year-old attempting to go to college for the first time. I could have used someone to help me find resources to deal with my anxiety and eating disorder during their early phases.

I don’t have any regrets now but I am a firm believer that the earlier one receives help for any type of mental illness, the better the outcome and less negative impact it will have on that person’s life.

Active Minds supports the goal to make it as easy to access mental health care as it is to access care for physical illnesses, by eliminating the obstacles like stigma and lack of resources that prevent people from seeking help.