Nurses’ Week: A Narrative Poem of Light, 2013

She will come and be with you

Guiding you on that deep and personal journey

Shining a light ahead for you

A light that only comes from within

And creeps into your lonely places of suffering.


He will speak kind words in the dark of night

Opening your windows to fresh air

Holding your hand gently and bringing about peace

And acting as a guide for you on your path toward the unknown.


They will walk with you

On your personal healing journey

Supporting your capacity for healing, and ending suffering

All brought about by Love

And skills developed during the nurses’ own healing journey.


These nurses of healing and light

Inspired by Florence Nightingale and purveyors of human caring,

They are shining the light into the darkness of healthcare

They are healing the heart of the world.


Dreaming in nursing

I woke up at 0430 this morning with my heart pounding. Occasionally this happens, I have a “nightmare” about nursing.


In this particular dream, I was working a night shift and at the end of the shift I was chatting with the nurses. I was getting ready for report, and I couldn’t remember seeing any of my patients; no names, no faces, no recollection at all. I began to feel anxious and I asked one of my fellow nurses, “Gee I hope I finished my charting” and she replied, “No I don’t think you closed out your charts.”

In a panic I ran to the charts. Of course in the dream they were not electronic, they were huge paper charts, perhaps as big as they could be about 6 inches thick, with hand written notes. I was trying to decipher the handwriting and figure out what was going on with a particular patient. As I read through the chart I realized I had not assessed this patient. I must have slept through entire shift. How could that be? Clearly from the diagnosis this patient would have needed pain medication, turning, toileting, and so on. Who was caring for this patient? I had nothing to chart and I realized that I would, at this last hour, have to go and check on all of my patients, assess them, check their meds, and then chart. My 5-year-old daughter arrived in the dream and wanted to play and I had to tell her no.


Somehow, I woke up and had to convince myself it was just a dream, nobody was harmed, I was safe in my bed. For the record, I haven’t work the floor since the late 1990’s, though I worked as a hospice nurse and taught clinical in the hospital until 2005. Around that time, I finished my PhD, and began to focus on just honing my skills as an educator while I had two babies and raised them into young children.

I have this type of dream several times a year. I suppose I could do a dream analysis, look for the Jungian archetypes, or focus on my own life-anxiety and how it is related to my work. But I am really wondering about here is the dreams that nurses have: the good, the bad, the sleep time dreams, and the awakened dreams.

What is it that our hearts desire in our practice? What are we “dreaming of” in nursing practice and education… and how do we get there? Do we find reward in a broken healthcare system and as the largest providers of healthcare in the nation, how do we take back our practices of caring and compassion? How do we partner with others to create change? How can we use the Nurse Manifesto created by Peggy Chinn, Richard Cowling, and Sue Hagedorn to our benefit?

I would love to hear nurses’ stories about what they desire. I myself wrote a story about what nurses experiencing versus what we desire and you can read about that here:

This story was recently published in Creative Nursing journal. I am also presenting this story and supporting nurses in creating a personal plan of action at the American Holistic Nurses Association Annual Conference in Virginia Beach, VA this June. I hope to see you there!

International Association for Human Caring Conference 2012: Part II

On the second day of the conference, the key note speaker was Dr. Sigridur Halldorsdottir. My knowledge of Dr. Halldorsdottir’s work was that it is based in caring, but I found myself truly appreciative of the amazing work she has done to define what caring is. Her Speech was entitled,  Caring or Uncaring: What nursing is and what it is not- Revisited. Those of you familiar with Florence Nightingale’s work will recognize the idea of “what nursing is and is not”.

Sigridur provided us with a model that stated that love is the essence of caring. Caring is supported by the nurse’s courage, wisdom, authenticity, generosity of heart, and self knowledge. Patients can sense when caring is genuine and hospitals need to value caring to support nurses in their work.

Dr. Halldorsdottir also listed 9 competencies for caring. The competencies include caring in the sense of the existential, real caring, the ability to educate, ethical approaches, cultural competence, interpersonal communication, education, empowerment, and self development.The idea of being able to align caring with specific competencies demonstrates the advances we are making in developing a caring science of nursing. The downside which cannot be ignored is that if a caring nurse is placed in an uncaring environment, she will most likely leave that environment. This could be part of the body of evidence as to why so many nurses leave the profession.

It is difficult to capture here the essence of Dr. Halldorsdottir’s caring presence as she presented these ideas; she threaded some healing pictures from her homeland of Iceland throughout the presentation, but I was honored to be able to experience her heartfelt wisdom.

International Human Caring Conference: Part I

I think that those of us interested in creating change need to find ways to gather, to heal ourselves, and to support one another in and through the change process. It is a blessing when we as professional nurses can be with other professionals of like mind and like goals.  I was privileged to attend the International Human Caring Conference in Philadelphia, PA this week. There were dozens of trade show displays and booths, of variou new and old non-profits aiming to better the world. As always, the key note speakers were amazing and inspiring: Dr. Jean Watson and Sigridur Halldorsdottir.

Dr. Watson focused on the heart space and unitary patterns, how we are all interconnected and how our own thoughts, intentions, and heart spaces can impact the greater field. Though these are not new concepts for Dr. Watson to express (many of them are mentioned in her 1999 publication Post Modern Nursing and Beyond), there seems to be a growing body of evidence to confirm that the transpersonal human caring states and states of personal peace that come from a heart centered space are able to create a greater unitary space and pattern of healing. Human caring therefore becomes about a unitary place of peaceful connectedness. This concept is confirmed by the fields of quantum theory, the unitary world view, caring science, and the ethics of belonging. Our true power as nurses and healers comes from taking action from a place of an evolving higher vibration consciousness and human caring – peace intentionality. Watson emphasized in her presentation the idea that love and peace are the highest level of unitary consciousness, and it is by dropping into heart space, and enacting our heart ways of being, that we can manifest peace and healing in meaningful ways.

Universal, Unitary Heart

Many people may read this and wonder just how to interact within the heart space; they may assume that it takes great practice and effort to relate to others from a heart space. Watson (1999) did however remind us that we have this power within us already; it is not so much about learning or adding in something, it’s about getting in touch with and remembering who we are- spiritual beings, interconnected from our roots. I like to remember that we all came from our star dust origins.

Some simple techniques to enter into the heart space may include closing your eyes, setting an intentionality for caring, communicating, and healing from the heart. Next, one may start from closing the eyes, focusing on the breath moving in and out of the nostrils. Next take the minds’ intention, by focusing on the “third eye” space or the space between the brows, and from there internally-visually dropping one’s attention into the heart space. Notice how it feels to dwell from this space and intend to be in this space throughout the day. Send the love you feel for and from yourself out to your loved ones, family, friends, pets, colleagues, administrators, your challengers, and the world. This can be done in 1-2 minutes, and one can remember/ return to this practice throughout the day; always returning to the heart space which is the core of our being.

For nurses this should be good news. In a just a few steps, you can begin to create the sort of caring-healing practices that make our work worthwhile and meaningful. Additionally, consider that the more one practices self-care and healing techniques, the easier and more natural it becomes to enter into the heart space. Practices such as yoga, Reiki, meditation, contemplative prayer, and tai chi can help one become familiar with the heart space, and prepared to enter it more easily. Taking good care of one’s being through diet, exercise, and sleep are basic health factors that also enable us to better relate to others from the heart. Within the heart space, nurses can generate peace and wellness for self, others, and all beings of the world. From this place of peace, we can create change within our profession, as we strive to support nursing in our emancipatory process.