Travel light

Originally written January 26, 2012

”Travel light in life.  Take only what you need:  a loving family, good friends, simple pleasures, someone to love, and someone to love you: something to eat, enough to wear, and a little more than enough to drink for thirst is a dangerous thing.”
~ Author Unknown

What weighs you down? How’s that for a start?  Oh my.

I’ve decided that being in over my head tops the list for me. It became crystal clear a couple of weeks ago at work. I had the kind of Monday where everything just kept piling on.  What sent me over the edge was that feeling that I might be in over my head.

I started the morning off with a good dose of “everything that can go wrong, did.”  I went to give an IV medication to one of my patients and his IV was missing.  There was no sign of it ~ lost without a trace. The nurse that gave me report said it was in his left hand.  Nope, not in his left hand!  One of the doctors wrote an order in the chart for one of my patients to have a procedure and the patient was to supposed to have nothing to eat or drink until the procedure.  Well, the doctor left the chart in the physician’s office and the order didn’t get entered into the system.  I walked into the patient’s room and she had just ate a hearty breakfast. Argh!  I ventured to the med room to get a certain medication and found out that it was unavailable on our unit, so I had the pleasure of visiting other units ~ a scavenger hunt of sorts with a race to beat the clock for added fun.  Who decided Murphy should have a law, anyway?

I kept trying my best to rise above and not let the circumstances weigh me down. At one point, I was talking on the phone to lab, and the unit secretary and dietary aide were asking me questions simultaneously, and a case manager walked up to me and told me that patient # 3 was being discharged to her skilled nursing facility in five minutes.  That would have been helpful information thirty minutes ago.  “You want me to make that happen right now?”  I kept stating my mantra, “I am only one person” but no one seemed to be listening.  I must have missed the memo to wear my Wonder Woman scrubs and pack my special powers for work that day.  The “pile” got heavier with two more patients admitted…THEN I received a patient that was an ICU downgrade that had a heart rate in the 180’s (normal is 60-100).   That sunk my battleship.  “Oh dear…God, please help.” I couldn’t find my lead nurse because she was busy with other urgent needs.  I felt like I was drowning and the tears started flowing freely.  I wasn’t thinking as clearly as the moment called for because I had been running a non-stop marathon for 9 hours without proper nourishment or breaks.  At least, I had the sense to ask for help and my tears seemed to indicate urgency.  Thank goodness Ester came to my rescue (she is one of our most experienced nurses).  She helped me critically think through my patient’s current circumstance.  Then, she helped review my patient’s orders. That took her another two hours of her time.  Then, Ellie (angel #2 on the scene) took care of a complicated discharge for one of my patients that also took two hours.  I finally said “NO” to one more admission because I didn’t have the bandwidth to safely care for yet another new patient.  7:30pm came and went and I ended my day an hour late.  I was worn down. Spent.  My shoulders and neck carried all that weight of the day.  I was in serious need of the Calgon fairy.  At least, I walked away with some satisfaction.  My workload was such that I had “employed” the help of two other nurses to get the job done. It was too much for me to carry.  A day from the chronicles of “h.e.double toothpicks.”

When the weight of the world comes crashing down – Are you a go-it-alone girl or an ask-for-help kind of gal?  I get that we all want to be responsible and carry our own load.  But often, I think we need help with portion control.  As women and talented multi-taskers, we tend to keep heaping loads onto our proverbial plates.  Of course, at work I don’t always have a say, but in my personal life I certainly have the choice to say yes or no.  I believe we tend to say yes more often than we should and we don’t exercise a healthy “no” often enough.   We take on too much by ourselves.  We think we can do it all or we will keel over trying. We all have competing responsibilities, desires and agendas coming from different directions.  We carry it all – not always in stride.  What’s a girl to do?

Tips for traveling light:
#1 Traveling light is a state of mind.
#2 Choose to leave some stuff behind.
#3 Intentionally create a packing list – take only what we truly need.
#4 “Easy-care” instructions are a must.

Let’s make a pact to travel lighter.  I hope you will join me by intentionally creating our packing list.  I expect the things I carry in my backpack will come in handy the next time I’m weighted down at work.   I’ve decided to step out in grace and confidence and share my lists with you. Will you share yours?

Learning to travel light,

Powerful Questions to Ponder:
What weighs you down?  How much does it weigh?
Could you give it a weight in pounds?
What do you need to leave behind?
What are you tired of carrying?
When do you need to ask for some help?
What lightens your load?
What benefits would a life of traveling light hold for you?
What’s in your backpack?
What are your essentials?
What are your special care instructions?

What weighs Cindy down?
rushing, being in over my head and not having help available, discord, feeling disconnected, not having enough time to get it ALL done, being late, making mistakes when I know better, an “unexplained silence” from a friend, ineffective people, and clutter.

What lightens Cindy’s load?
a listening ear, a good book, fresh flowers, a glass of ice cold water, a walk outside, a day at the ocean, snowflakes falling, rainy days, nature “singing”, prayer, hope, faith, girlfriends, a hug, a smile, a helping hand, words of encouragement, laughter with my happily-ever-after, spending time with family (especially my nieces and nephews).

What’s in Cindy’s “back pack”?
the communities I’ve been apart of, my Oak Street House family, Miss Cindy’s kids across the USA, bible verses, the love of Bradford Lee Steele, memories of games played with my family, memories of brad’s 50th birthday party, the ocean, memories with my grandparents, my iPad, my girlfriends, a cozy blanket, my Less Drama Queens, daisies, my orange chucks, my memories of New Hampshire, St. Simon’s Island and the Florida Keys.

Cindy’s Special Care Instructions:
Let her grow.  Let her make mistakes ~ she learns well.  She likes to give and doesn’t mind being on the receiving end. She needs hugs daily.  Fresh flowers make her smile.  Have lots of warm, cozy blankets to comfort her.  Her thread bare Old Navy blue hoodie holds lots of warm memories – don’t ever throw it away.  Give her words to play with.  Variety is her friend.  She loves to be snuggled.  Laughter is a must.  She loves pjs, dogs and rainy days.  Girlfriend time is oh-so important.  Talks with Brad fill her up.  She needs downtime.  She doesn’t like rushing, especially in the morning.  Take her to the ocean often.  Orange is her signature color.  A glass of Pinot Grigio or Passion Iced Tea provides refreshment.  She thinks painted toes are fun year round.  Chocolate chip cookies for breakfast are her favorite and will brighten any day that gets off to a rough start.

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