28 December 2010

Wonder of the season

For the past few weeks, we have gathered with loved ones and friends to celebrate the blessings of the Thanksgiving and holiday season. Like most, our family has many special holiday rituals. One of our favorite rituals is assembling on Christmas Eve to read children’s books we have read as a family since the birth of our first child. We take turns reading the slightly tattered pages, worn over the years by the touch of eager and loving hands. It’s not the books so much that matter, but the sharing and remembering that bring the magic of the season alive. Caring for and about one another inspires the spirit and joy of the season.

Many of us are caretakers. In our family, caretaking comes in a variety of shades and colors. As a nurse, I am a caretaker of my patients and, as an educator, a caretaker of my students. Our middle child is completing the senior year of her nursing program, and she, too, is a caretaker.

When asked what attracted her to nursing, she responded: “I didn’t always know that I wanted to be a nurse. It wasn’t until my senior year of high school, when I took a health-care class, that I decided nursing was for me. I realized I wanted to help people, and over the course of four years in college pursuing my nursing degree, I discovered that nursing is so much more than helping people deal with their illnesses. It’s about patients putting their trust in me and sharing their fears, emotions and memories. Recently, my grandma asked me if I could picture myself pursuing any other career. I thought about it, and the answer is no. No other career would give me the opportunities and endless possibilities nursing will bring.”

Our daughter and I are not the only members of our family who are caretakers; my husband and our son are caretakers of the earth. As scientists, they strive each day to care for our natural resources—to use science to protect our land, water, and air and save our planet. Our youngest daughter is a caretaker of the earth’s furry and feathered creatures. Like the rest of our family, she is a passionate animal lover.

Many of you know that the great blue heron is the anchor of this blog. This incredible bird represents a quiet capacity to sit calmly while others lose patience. I love the great blue and, a couple days ago, was surprised with a wonderful gift. For more than a year, the wall directly opposite my desk in my new office has remained empty. I have often pondered just the right hanging for this blank and imposing wall but, because I couldn’t make a decision, it has remained bare and cheerless.

Then, on Christmas morning, I opened an expertly wrapped, large, rectangular gift. It felt like a picture frame. Oh, so curious. As I pulled away the paper and revealed the gift, imagine my delighted surprise as I gazed into the eyes of a beautiful, stately and majestic heron. This thoughtful gift from our daughters will prominently grace the wall of my office forever, reminding me to reflect calmly amidst an impatient world.

For Reflections on Nursing Leadership (RNL), published by the Honor Society of Nursing, Sigma Theta Tau International.