Sunday, October 14, 2012

Inspiring Dreams (Part 1)

What inspires people?  I have given some thought to inspiring other people here lately and have wondered just that.  Money?  Haha yes, of course, you usually cannot deny this.  But beyond money, I think that kind words can give someone the leg-up they need in life.  And in the words of John Cougar Mellencamp, “If you could get a leg up, you could get a leg over”. 
So what inspired me on this topic of inspiring others?  I have had multiple book signings these past two weekends and it amazes me how many interesting people I talk to at these events.  We are all so different, so diverse, and yet so much alike.  But that’s a blog for another day.  Most people are excited to meet me, get their picture taken with me, hear me talk about my book, or even tell me what they liked about it.  But what really has surprised me the most is the amount of people out there in the world with a book, story, or idea inside of them waiting to come out.  A lot of people approach me with “I always wanted to write….or to be an author….or to submit this manuscript I’ve written”.  To each and every one of these people I said “you should do it – what’s stopping you?”  Answers varied, “don’t have time” was very popular (I would then ask “why don’t you have time?”) usual answer, “well I work full-time, have kids, a spouse, etc”…(“guess what?” I would say, “I do too”)  “Really?”  “You bet!”  I work 40+ hours a week at my full time job as a nurse.  I have a house to maintain, a husband, a 19 yr old in college, a 3 year old, 2 dogs, 2 cats, an extended family, oodles of commitments, responsibilities, engagements,  lots of great close friends, a publisher (did I mention commitments), book signings (there is a ‘little bit’ of marketing time involved here, just a little, haha)….anyway, I think you get the point.  The folks on the other side of the table at the book signings soon understood that “not enough time” can be an excuse for 1 day, or maybe for 1 very busy week, but not for a lifetime.  It’s sort of like planning when to have children.  It’s never going to be the perfect time, but you go forward with it, do your best everyday, and well, enjoy every moment of it that you possibly can. 
The next reason people told me that they wanted to write, and had the desire, dream, and/or talent to be an author but didn’t do it was not knowing where to begin.  My advice on this is: you simply begin by writing.  Physically sitting down with you pen, paper and/or computer and start your story (your book, your novel, your poetry, your short  story, your memoirs – I love memoirs so much; that is definitely a blog for another day). But for now I say, just get started.  Write.
All in all, each person that approached me with questions about how to get started as a writer, I told them exactly the info they were asking me for about the writing process and the writing business, but more importantly, I told them to go forward and do it.  “Get started…It’s your dream…begin today…you can do this”.  It really is up to them now.  I believe in them, they just have to believe in themselves.  They all thanked me, left the book signing a little more inspired than when they walked in, and hopefully went home and started writing.  You see sometimes we just need to know that there is hope for our dreams and that someone else believes in us to give us the motivation to go forward and succeed.  Sometimes all you need in life is someone to give you a “leg up” in order to get a “leg over” that hurdle, doorway, or brick wall that has been in your way and holding you back.
What is your dream today?  I believe in you, and I am going to cheer you on.  Do not leave this world and allow your dream to die inside of you – get it out there.  Is there a book inside of you?  An idea?  An invention?  Sit down, work on it, bring it forth, take that first step and soon you will realize, “hey I’m doing it!” 
Imagine what would have happened if Margaret Mitchell had decided that she didn’t have enough time to write “Gone With the Wind”.  Or what if Mark Twain had decided that he just didn’t have the know-how to try and get his works published?   I can’t even think about it; it’s far too sad to think about.
Go forward with your dream, my friend, I believe in you and I know you can do it. 
All my love,


Monday, June 11, 2012


Anyone who knows me knows that I have a 19 year old who lives away at college where he studies pre-med.  Very early on in his pursuit to become an M.D., he realized that this was in no way going to be easy.  He and I talk on the phone regularly and I get to hear all about his day-to-day journey into the world of medicine.  As with any journey of accomplishment, some days are better than others.  So when he is in the midst of having one of those not so great days what do I do as his mother and greatest cheerleader?  I encourage him.  I know that he will be a great physician.  I know what it takes to achieve this and I know he has it in him.  There are just times when we all need to hear that we can do it.  Knowing that someone else believes in you often strengthens your belief in yourself.
Before I write on to illustrate my “case in point”, let me state the dictionary definition of encourage:  To give support to; To inspire with hope, courage, and confidence. 
I try to do all of the above when talking to my son, or anyone else who tells me about their hopes, dreams, and ambitions.  I absolutely love to encourage people.  After all, sometimes that is all a person needs to make something happen – the belief that they can do it.  I would hate to be on the other side of that coin, the person who does the opposite:  a discourager.  Let’s take a look at the definition of discourage: To hamper; To deprive of confidence, hope, or spirit.  Yuck!  That absolutely goes against every fiber of my being.

Remember now, I’m speaking specifically about how we react to another person’s dreams, ambitions, or calling in life.  Why would anyone want to let the air out of another person’s balloon?  Well we all know people like this don’t we? 
Personally I feel so good inside when I know I’ve encouraged someone in life.  In any way, shape, or form that I am able to do so I do it.  I mean it’s not as if there’s only a certain amount of success out there and it’ll be all used up if a lot of people achieve their goals.  There’s plenty for everyone, and then some!  Let’s all keep patting each other on the back with a smile and a confident word of hope.  Start by saying, “you can do this, I know you can”.  We will all get so much farther in life if we do.

Which brings me back to my case in point.  My son called me one day to tell me about a fellow pre-med student who was in tears over something that her Philosophy professor had said to her.  Long story short, he had cut her down in front of the class and basically had told her that perhaps not everyone in the pre-med program was cut out to be a doctor (meaning specifically her).  In other words give up girl – you’re never going to make it.  I was heartbroken to hear this.  It was first semester first year.  How does he know she doesn’t have what it takes? Why would anyone want to plant seeds of discouragement in someone else’s life?  I took it upon myself to reach out to this girl.  After all, someone had to undo the damage this man had done. 

I’ve been a nurse for over 20 years.  I’ve worked in ICU, PCU, post op open heart, case management, account management, and most recently catastrophic trauma case management.  Currently I’ve been with the same company for 14 years.  Along the way I’ve headed up committees, written articles for hospital medical journals, given public speeches, delivered educational seminars, received multiple awards, plaques, and various honors, but most importantly, I’ve helped thousands of people throughout my years as a nurse when they needed it most.  I’ve helped people recover, rehabilitate, and become whole again following illness or surgery.  I’ve sat beside countless bedsides as people left this world and I held their hand every step of the way because they had no one there with them.  I’ve stayed over after my shift had ended to lend support to family members as they made decisions about their loved ones that no one should have to make.  I’ve stood by doctors as they delivered the “I’m sorry” news to patients, and lent my support afterward.  And I’ve cried alongside a whole host of husbands, wives, mothers, fathers, children, and loved ones on their darkest days; my heart breaking in sympathy for the sorrow they were feeling.  So many lives I have touched, so many people I have helped when they needed it the most, and so many still to tome that I will be there for.  I am proud to say that the world of nursing and medicine has been a better place with me in it. 

So after hearing about my son’s fellow classmate, I reached out to this girl whose confidence had been injured.  She was very sweet, very impressionable, very naïve, but also extremely intelligent with high ambitions to become an oncologist (God bless her because it is such a special calling for folks that work in this field).  I told this girl of all of my years of work, achievements, honors, and awards from being a nurse.  Then I told her that when I was 17 years old, naïve, scared, and impressionable, and in my first semester of nursing school, one of my instructors said the exact same thing to me.  This girl couldn’t believe it!  Yes, it was true - one of the nursing instructors actually said to me that maybe I wasn’t cut out to be a nurse.  Guess what?  She was wrong. 

When I told my son’s classmate this, I noticed that her confidence shifted and so did her posture.  She stood upright and smiled as she agreed with me.  “Yes,” she said, “That nursing instructor was very wrong.”  I looked her straight in the eye and added, “and so is your philosophy instructor”.  She was beaming!  (Take that philosophy prof!).

So ignore the nay-sayers, focus on your goals, and above all please look for ways to encourage those who need it.  Sometimes that’s all it takes to change a person’s life for the better. 

Thursday, March 8, 2012

NURSE: A Career To Be Proud Of

               It was the end of June, just three weeks after I had graduated from high school.  Most teenagers my age were out and about enjoying their summer vacations.  It was college time for me, however, and I was on my way to school – nursing school.  I was seventeen years old; scared, naïve, and overwhelmed with the amount of work I was faced with.  Not to mention that following a full day of classes, I made my way to my part-time job as a waitress at a local restaurant.  For me, the start of college was a huge transition time in my life; and a time which demanded a lot of discipline for a seventeen year old.

               Needless to say, this never-ending pace wore very thin by the third week.  When the instructors spoke about what projects lay ahead of us over the semester, I was still worried about learning the beginning aspects of my nursing courses and the overall concept of nursing.  What was being a nurse all about?  Not what I had thought it would be about.  After finishing my first week of nursing school in the clinical setting, I went home and cried.  I had had no idea what was expected of nurses at the hospital or on the job.  Nursing school was very intense, and to call myself overwhelmed was an understatement.

               I sat on the couch at my parent’s house and cried that day, and I announced that I would be quitting nursing school.  After about an hour’s worth of persuasion, my parents had me convinced to stick with it, and to at least “try” to understand as much of what was being thrown at me as possible.  I agreed to “try”, after all, it was Friday and I didn’t have to think about school again until Monday.

               “Try”.  I didn’t realize how much meaning this little word has, but I was still learning.

               It was Saturday night and the restaurant where I worked was packed.  There were no available tables and a lobby full of people waiting to be seated.  I was working as fast as I could when I heard a shrill voice exclaim over the roar of the crowded dining room, “She’s choking! Oh my God! She’s choking!”  I looked across the dining room and saw a woman who looked to be in her late fifties, staggering down the aisle between tables.  The palm of her hand was across her throat.  Her face was red, and her eyes looked horrified as she looked around frantically.  She couldn’t speak, but her bulging eyes seemed to plead for help from those around her.  The people around her froze and I instinctively sprang into action.  I felt like my feet were moving to that woman in a way that was beyond my control – as if a magnetic force was pulling me towards her.  I knew I had to help her.  But what could I do? Just a few weeks earlier I had taken my BLS course for nursing school, but I did not feel prepared for this.  I had performed the Heimlich Maneuver one time in my life – on a dummy, none the less!  I was so young and unsure of myself, yet my mind knew that I had to get over to her.  I had to “try”. 

               When I arrived where the woman was standing, a crowd had gathered.  The people were encircling her – but no one could do anything to help her.  “Please let me through…Please let me to her.  I think I can help…”

               I pressed through the crowd and stood in front of the choking woman, her face was bright red, her lips were blue, and there was absolutely no air exchange.  I came up behind her, put my arms around her to the middle of her upper abdomen and gave a thrust inward and upward.  Nothing happened.  “Oh no,” I thought, “I knew I didn’t know how to do this!” It’s not working...What am I going to do now?”  Try again, a voice spoke inside of my head, and I gave it another good thrust.  Then another, and another - and that one did it!  This lady who a few seconds earlier had been just minutes from choking to death, was breathing freely.  It was truly amazing!  The woman’s husband was hugging her and patting me on the shoulder with continuous “thank you’s” as big tears rolled down his cheeks.  We all felt the joy of this moment and I thanked God for giving me the will and courage, along with the skills and basic knowledge to at least “try” and help.

               It amazed me just then how much I cared for this woman – this stranger. I didn’t even know her name; all I cared about was helping her.  As the evening wore on, I felt as if this all had happened for a reason. That night I answered a calling – and I never looked back. From that day onward, I better understood the concept of nursing, and I never again doubted that I wanted to be a nurse. 

Being a nurse is a “gift” from God.  To be able to help mankind when they need it the most is truly a gift.  By working with our knowledge and trained skills and by delivering a service from the heart, every nurse makes a difference in the world every single day; and that is a career to be proud of. 

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