Some call it professional development…

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Some people call learning how to communicate more effectively professional development. Really, if you think about it hard enough, it is growing up and learning to be a decent human being who thinks of someone besides themselves from time to time.

I am at a loss for words when I see grown educated people who are unable to carry on a decent conversation in the work place. (Keep in mind, I used to struggle with this a lot more than I do now. Actually, it was not that long ago.) Looking back, I think some of my bad behavior was reactionary, or at worst, retaliatory in nature. Unfortunately, I cannot speak to you like you are scum just because we are not BFFs. I have to communicate in a civil manner. It would not be the end of the world if I were friendly even. When you see someone sitting in front of you, say “Hello.” Or, Hallo! If you want to quote my favorite worm. You see these people every day. Be nice. Find some damn common ground. It cannot be that difficult. 

I am often confused when people tell me someone is intimidated by me. Although, my apparent Resting Bitch Face does not help. I do not mean to be intimidating. Actually, if you get to know me you will find I am actually quite riddled with self-doubt and really want to be nice and friendly to everyone. I also assume (apparently also in error) you know all the same stuff I do. I figure you read the same things I read and you have the same innate curiosity. This is not my fault. I do not mean to wonder “why” all the time. I can’t help it. I want to understand.

When I speak to you in a direct and polite tone to inquire about a patient’s condition, you do not get to ignore me or refuse to answer my questions. The same goes for me. If you ask me a question or want to tell me something, I don’t get to refuse to acknowledge you. Sorry, that is not the way adult life works. More importantly, it is not the way professionals behave. Let’s take this out of health care. What if a teacher refused to acknowledge a child or parent who was speaking to them? What if a lawyer refused to speak to the bailiff? We are all adults. You don’t have to be buddies with someone in order to speak to them. It’s your JOB!

I have noticed certain behavior tends to lead to a higher likelihood of possible promotion within any business. You have to be able to get along with all kinds of people. Now, what do you do when you really don’t want to? Perhaps they have done something to insult you. Maybe you just don’t like the pants they wear. It turns out, you have to continue to be nice.

You cannot under any circumstances yell out across the room and demand to know the source of their douchebaggery. Don’t worry, I did not actually do that. (at least not recently.) I only considered it for a few moments. You cannot point out all the ways they have pissed you off. You cannot spell out how wrong they are about what ever topics you believe they are wrong about. You cannot stomp your feet and throw a fit. You have to be nice. Watch your tone. Don’t get defensive or offensive. Stay neutral.

It is hard. Sometimes your inner 12-year-old comes flying to the front of your brain, and it takes every thing you have to hold her at bay. Trust me, this is best.

Throwing a fit or retaliating will only lead to further breakdown in communication. In light of your desire to promote good patient care, you cannot afford to hamper effective communication in any way. So, you ignore your pride. You don’t let your fragile feelings be hurt. You know how to do the right thing. Just be nice. Dammit.

Daddy Issues Part III: Steve Jobs

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Steve Jobs was not a very popular movie. My son did not particularly like it. I loved it. This is probably due to my persistent romanticizing of any father figure who attempts, however awkward and clumsy, to connect with their daughter. Steve Jobs was not a good parent to his first child. I am left with the impression that he worked to rectify the relationship in his own way, and I loved it. Jobs certainly had issues. I am not sure I would have liked him, okay that’s a lie, I am completely drawn to people like him. He was portrayed both as brutally demanding and fiercely protective of his people. I relate to this. I am often passionate about my beliefs to the point I get a little excitable. It is a bit of a flaw of mine. I am admittedly a little jealous of those people who manage to stay cool and collected all the time. How do they do that??? Secretly, I bet they have skeletons in the closet. Maybe even real ones. People should get worked up about stuff sometimes. It is what makes us human. Dispassionate people scare me. Seriously. However, they seem to be more productive than the erratic ones. That topic is too big for Daddy Issues. 

I was also interested by the way Sorkin and Boyle handled the relationship with John Scully. John Scully addressed his relationship with Jobs in 2013 at the Forbes Global CEO Conference. You can watch the video here. I was struck by the amount of regret he still carries in regards to the relationship with his former friend. More importantly, I was impressed by his dedication to being a mentor. There were several times the movie alluded to Scully and Jobs having a father- son relationship. So, essentially John Scully was Steve Job’s Work Daddy. I tend to think most of us need one. At least I do.

My relationships with my former work parents remain strong. I still turn to them for professional advice and guidance. I still rely on their opinion and expertise to help me make good decisions about my future. I am sure they find this exhausting at times, especially since there have been so many potential jobs. I hope I adequately convey my appreciation. I really do understand it is an investment in their time and energy. 

I have been extraordinarily lucky to have the relationships I do with some of the most intelligent people I know. They have constantly supported me through my professional career, and it has been a bumpy ride at times. My work parents have taken the time to teach me lessons and to help me grow as a professional, they have counseled me and offered advice, and they have used lessons they have learned to illustrate how they understand my struggles. They never left me hollow and inadequate, they taught me. Just like good parents teach their children. Hence, work parents. (I know, TG says grown ups just have mentors. I have both!) 

So, as I continue on this interesting quest for adventure, professional fulfillment, and possibly even enlightenment, I must remember to keep an eye out for people who have something to teach. I continue to be amazed when I meet someone new who likes to impart information and experience.  It is even better when they take the time to help me learn how to apply it to my personal and professional growth. People come into our lives, and if we pay attention we just might get lucky enough to benefit from their experiences.

These relationships require a level of vulnerability that can be intimidating for some people. It is hard to allow someone to see your insecurities and faults. It takes humility to allow someone to judge your actions. You cannot allow someone offering you guidance to hurt your feelings. You have to leave your pride out of the equation. This is hard at times. I found myself wanting to defend my actions. Sometimes, it was not even the point I was necessarily wrong, it was just there was a better way to handle situations in the future. It is all about growth and progress. Growing pains hurt.

I still miss my old job. I miss having people I knew and trusted available at a moment’s notice. I am having to learn to operate in foreign environments and I do not always have all the information I would have readily available. I know much more about the EMR there. I know my nurses there. I know all the other physicians. It does make a difference. However, I keep telling myself this is a great opportunity to learn. I am learning so many new things. I can’t wait to see what I learn next. So, while this job is in some ways infinitely more difficult, I get to become a better Nurse Practitioner. This is only going to improve the care I am able to provide. So, I will struggle on and deal with the stress. It will be worth it. I hope. steve-jobs-movie-poster-800px-800x1259

I am afraid I am afraid

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I find it difficult to articulate my feelings about fear. I spend most of my time with a steady rumbling of mild anxiety vibrating deep within my thoughts. Decision making is agonizing for me. I tend to vacillate wildly from one option to the next weighing each one so carefully I cannot possibly pick one over another. Then, the waitress comes… and asks me if I need a few more minutes. Umm. No. Then I will simply have time to add yet another option to the mix. GRRRR. Someone force me to decide. I will have water. With lemon. Yes, lime is fine. 

So, if I am agonizing this much over my beverage options just wait until you see me reading my choices of entrée. Oh, don’t worry. I won’t decide. I will wait until the waitress comes over, takes everyone else’s order, and then panic. As soon as I finally make a choice, I will be filled with instant regret. This is just the way I operate. 

I hate going through things that require filling out forms and rounding up paperwork. I hate interviews and questions. I hate credentialing for hospital privileges. I hate job hunting. I don’t like to move. I hate packing and unpacking. All of this makes me a perfect candidate for locum work, right?

Well, yeah. I don’t have to make a decision. I can just do the next thing in front of me. If I don’t like a place or job, I am only committing for 3 months or so.

I am afraid of making decisions. What if I make the wrong one?

Turns out, even if I make the wrong choice there will be another chance to make choices in the future. I am enjoying the prospect of new and interesting places and people to meet. I am afraid I don’t have to be afraid anymore.

What happens when you realize life is meant to be experienced and not just observed? What happens when you stop letting fear stop you dead in your tracks? What happens when you let go and relax a little? It’s not like you really have all that much control over it all anyway. Stop agonizing over all the options and pick one already. And don’t just order the cheeseburger again. 

So, what am I doing to make the traveling a little more bearable? I got a new traveling buddy! Meet Boomer, my new traveling buddy. IMG_0779 IMG_0780 IMG_0782

Cameras on Planes

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So, I was bored. My son was doing his homework. I started playing with the camera.  

    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
 I really love so many of these. 

Some of them are pretty good. I loved the angle I was able to capture him at. This is what happens when my phone is dying and I am stuck on a plane. 

Social Media- It’s not all bad.

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We all know I have never been one of the cool kids. It’s okay. It is what it is. Let’s be honest, I would rather have the freedom to be exactly who I am instead of being held accountable to other’s expectations for me.

I was so fiercely unconcerned with fitting in, I was willing to be an outcast. I was perfectly satisfied being me. Unfortunately, this attitude has left me with only a rudimentary understanding of social protocols and I tend to be somewhat awkward.

A little over a year ago, I joined an online health club, which soon led me to join a gym and after a few months, I was boxing. Well, taking a boxing class. I started to “talk” to these new friends of mine, and eventually I started meeting them. Now, I can honestly say a lot of them are my friends.

I have people available to “talk” to 24 hours a day. Someone is always awake.

I get to go on adventures with new people all the time!

There is very little pressure with being FB friends. If I am not busy we can chat, otherwise it can wait.

So, for all you out there judging people who make friends in unorthodox ways, get on over it. Seriously, it is no big deal.

Okay, may as well prepare yourselves for lots of TM posts. Sorry.

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Dear Tough Mudder,

Hey there. Remember me? Yep. I am coming back. I know last time I was miserable and had a terrible blister on my heel, but time heals all wounds.

So, I am asking for you to please be kind to my group. Please let us have fun and let this challenge strengthen all of our resolve to live boldly and to continue to find new adventures and challenges.

I need you to know, I am bringing the most important person in the world with me to this course. Yep. My kiddo. Since you lowered the age limit to 16, I am letting him come along. Please look after him and make sure you don’t do anything stupid like break his bones. I need him to come home in one piece or my mother will kill me. I know there may be a few battle wounds, but let them be superficial. I want him to see this experience as a challenge he can overcome. I want him to experience all the fun my muddy buddies offer.

I hate to break it to you, I am still TERRIFIED of heights, and the gym and I have been estranged. I promise to do my best and try to keep my negative inner voice in check.

I am super excited about this, and I know you can’t wait to see me again. Please just let the photographers get one good pic of me. Please?

Humbly,

Lady Quirky

P.S. After this one, we only have one more planned. So, you only have two more chances to help me overcome some of these fears. I know you can do it.

Do I still count as Mom?

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My family does not look like a typical family. I am a single mom and I am not raising my son alone. I work a lot, and now I am traveling for work. My son does not live with me. My family takes care of all the day-to-day child raising stuff. My son’s Nana and Mamaw have been so gracious and kind to enable him to attend the school he wants to go to, and they make sure he has everything he needs every single day. They do all the hard stuff.

I suppose you could say I am the lucky one. I get to do all the fun stuff. I get to take him on trips and when we are together there is usually lots of movies and going out happening.

Actually, if we are being completely honest, my mother has assumed the role of primary caretaker for my son for almost all of his life. We could blame it on my age when he was born, or we could blame it on my limitations when it comes to organization, or we could just avoid placing blame at all. Yes, we all know I was entirely too young to have a child. Here is the thing, I love my son more than anything on this earth. I would give anything for him to be safe and happy. I am doing just that every single day.

I consider him in every decision I make. I consider how it will affect him. I may not see him every day, but he is the center of my universe. I work hard because I want him to see you can achieve anything if you do the work. I wish I could spend every day with him, and it is just not feasible. I need to support him financially.

I am not your usual mother. I don’t cook. I am messy. I can’t keep my schedule straight, much less his. I am your typical ADHD adult, who is just trying to muddle through as best I can. There is no magic answer. I see those moms who manage to juggle their career, marriage, children, and social lives, and I get overwhelmed. How on earth do they do that? Oh. I know, they don’t spend 30 minutes each morning pondering how their hair dryer works and wondering if there is a better way to make one. They dry their hair and get on with it. They don’t get distracted on the way to the shower by the pen and paper sitting on the table and stop to doodle.

Real moms can go to the grocery store with a list, and actually buy everything on the list. I usually lose the list on the way to the store, and end up buying pens. You should see the number of pens I own.

You know, I am a nurse practitioner, guess who I call when I am sick? Yep. My mom. Guess who I call if my son is sick? Yep. My mom. I lose every bit of common sense when it comes to real world application of my training. I can treat you in the hospital or the clinic, but if you have a stomach virus in my house, I am completely inept. You will likely just get a cold, wet wash cloth. (Those cure every thing, by the way.)

The problem for me, is that I feel guilty. I feel like I am less of a mom, because I don’t do all the stereotypical mom things. I work and provide. That is my role. I strive to provide a good life for my only child. I love him desperately, and I will do whatever it takes to provide a good life for him.

Why do we judge each other when we don’t know the whole story? Why do we hold ourselves up to a standard we don’t even understand? Families work and do what needs to be done. If we are lucky, we have all the familial support we need. So, what exactly is a mom? I don’t know. The only thing I do know, is that I would work every hour of every day if it made a difference for my son.

Does this make me less of a mom? IMG_0406

Everest.

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images-16I like Jon Krakauer. I found Into Thin Air to be a wonderful read, and it left me interested in the topic of extreme mountaineering as a topic of reading.  Not that I actually want to climb a mountain like that, that would be insane. I was insanely excited to see this movie, and the first chance I got I was in the theater anxious to watch the story unfold.

The movie was okay. I enjoyed a lot of the acting and cinematography. I was not impressed with the lack of investment in the characters though. There were several moments that should have reduced me to tears, they certainly did in the book, however I was just not invested in their struggle. Too many characters and not enough time.

One thing I was struck by is the disdain with which Krakauer’s character seemed to be portrayed. If you read Into Thin Air, I would find it disingenuous if you reported missing the sense of regret he seemed to have regarding the entire affair. He was heartbroken about the loss of his climbing mates, and the book was dripping with the pain he must have been experiencing. This movie failed to convey any of that. Instead JK was portrayed as a careless afterthought, and I find that rather rude.

Now, if you google any of this you will find a large number of people who don’t care so much for JK, and frankly, whatever. Who cares? Get a life. He wrote a book about his experience that left a lot of people on the edge of sanity. Seriously. It is a fantastic book.

On a brighter note, Jason Clarke was phenomenal and I have a bit of crush now. Josh Brolin has managed to steal my heart since I was a little girl and he was in Goonies. So, the movie was not terrible. It was not a documentary and it should not be taken too seriously. It was okay. I would recommend it to anyone who wants to see a movie about this disaster.

I wish the film could have spent more time discussing the ridiculousness of unexperienced climbers being allowed to attempt this trek simply because they have the funds to do so. It is a shame that the people of Tibet are being held hostage by this tourist trade, and that they are risking the lives of their people who act as Sherpas for these ignorant assholes. Who should be accountable for regulating this? When will these wealthy adventure whores start holding themselves responsible for making intelligent decisions, especially when they affect so many people? This is similar to the people who go hunt big game in Africa. They are putting so many people in danger for their adrenaline soaked fantasies. It really should stop.

I can’t make you love me.

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I imagine most of us struggle with the desire to have everyone love us. We struggle to be likable and to go along with the crowd.  The fight to keep our skeletons hidden and our vulnerabilities at bay is a daunting battle at best. Impossible, really.

There are secrets in the deepest recesses of our minds, and we walk through each day trying to keep them hidden. We don’t want people to see the us of our dreams. Sometimes these are fantastic fantasies, and other times they are brutally terrifying nightmares that we are barely able to escape. The bad dreams are not the only ones we want to keep hidden. We also hide our fantasies for fear of being judged.

It is the same old thing, too much and not enough all over again.

So, what happens when we become our true, authentic selves? What happens when we say exactly what we think, feel, and desire? What happens when we laugh that real laugh only a few people have ever heard? When we allow that tear to fall during the Folger’s commercial? What would happen if we were ourselves all the time?

It is not like it all matters anyway. When people like us for the watered down, socially acceptable version of ourselves we offer up for the judging, then we are painting ourselves into a corner and dooming ourselves to a life slightly less than honorable. We will be constantly looking for a way to fill the void that no one knows is there.

So, for all the people in my life who like the blurred edges of me, the me that is a little too loud, and often a little too much, I thank you. I love that you love me for me. I don’t have to hide or pretend.

For the rest of you:

I can’t make you love me. I don’t know that I want to. I would rather be that quirky girl who does not always wear socks that match. The girl who still loves to listen to bad music. The girl who secretly pines for a way to make a difference in this world. The girl who STILL can’t quite figure out punctuation, despite her intense desire to be a real writer.

So, what are you doing today to be you? How are you leaving your mark on the world? What colors are on your paintbrush? What words are in your story? Remember… I can’t make you love me, but when someone does, it is fan-freaking-tastic.

Sometimes my eyeliner is smeared and my mascara has clumped up beyond anything cute at all. Other times, I have deigned to show my face sans all the paint. You can like it or not. I can’t make you love me if you won’t.

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Tough Mudder- AGAIN?

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Getting ready for my next muddy adventure. This time, my son is going with me. I am stoked to see him go on his own personal quest to see what it is like to face a challenge with such a diverse group of people.

The most important parts of this trip will be sharing some history and challenges with my main guy. He has been there with me for so many of my “firsts” and I can’t wait to experience Philadelphia with him.

Tough Mudder is in some ways the bane of my existence. I don’t actually have that much fun out there, and I really have no business trying to do this. Oh, well. I am going to do this because I can. I can persevere. Honestly I am just thankful for the lack of elevation in PA.

So, 2015 is the Year of Adventure for me. I have learned some lessons, better underwear choices for playing in the mud comes to mind, and I have made some new friends. I have left the job of my dreams, and I am still okay.

Tough Mudder is not a race. It is a chance to be part of a group working together. I am not afraid of it this time. I am actually a little at peace with my phobias and fears. I am taking my camera and watching my boy have the adventure of his life. It is not always about me. It is okay for me to give up a little comfort for my son to have a life changing experience.

My son will get to meet Captain America, and he will meet The Blogger. There are several other superheroes who will be there with our group. I am excited to see where Ty finds his place among these men. I am counting on them to show him how to give back. I am counting on them to keep me from giving up.