Grumpy nurse

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I have a confession.  I don’t know if I like people.  This is insane, right?  I am a NURSE, for heaven’s sake.  I work with people ALL DAY.   OK, so maybe that right there is the ticket,  maybe the fact that I work with people all day is the reason why I don’t like people.  I am sure that all of us at some point have seen “grumpy cat”, that beloved feline image that has taken over the Internet with his lovable yet snarky little pout.  Grumpy cat is my favorite.  If I were a cat, I would totally be grumpy cat.  He is cynical yet lovable.  Just like me, I think.

My days as a nurse practitioner have turned into this exercise of endlessly suppressing my inner grumpy cat. Mostly so I don’t get fired.   I think that many nurses, teachers, social workers, secretaries, customer service representatives, or anyone who works closely with people 40+ hours per week can relate to this at some point in their careers (or at least I hope so!).  I am hopeful that, as my mother would say when we were kids, “it’s just a phase”, and that I can start looking for the good in people again instead of just naturally zoning in on the things that irritate me.

I feel a great deal of angst and guilt over my aforementioned grumpiness because, a) I am waist-deep in a career that is all about helping others, and b) I am a Christian.  I don’t feel like either of those identities permit me to have those feelings.  Or if I have them, I certainly can’t express them without feeling very awkward and vulnerable.  I am supposed to love and serve people, not look at them through a cynical lens.

Enter, my favorite book in the whole wide world, Carry on Warrior, which led me to my most favorite blog, Momastery.  This woman makes me feel normal.  She is a brave, bold, teller of truth and a self-proclaimed spreader of hope.  She has a really big online community associated with her blog which is truly like a family.  One of my favorite things that they do is something called “Love Flash Mobs”.  During a LFM, her online community will raise money for a particular cause in a set time period, usually 24-48 hours.  And the rule is that no one can give more than $25.  I had the opportunity to participate in a few Love Flash Mobs, and it was awesome.  Just awesome.  To sit on your couch, in your comfy pants, give $25 through PayPal, and watch countless other people do the same until, whammo!  Suddenly a group of people has raised a million dollars in 48 hours for refugees in Europe fleeing from war in Syria and landing, soggy and destitute, on the shores of Lesvos.  Or raising enough money for those within their communities undergoing financial hardship to buy Christmas gifts for their children, and then some.  One particular Love Flash Mob I participated in was aimed to raise money for a maternity center in Haiti, called Heartline.  This online community of sisters raised over $475,000 in 24 hours for Heartline to add another wing to their maternity center.  And just like that, my faith in humanity slowly started to be restored.

This is is where the saying, “it is more blessed to give than to receive” comes from, I think.  I love the idea that very few of us could afford to give half a million dollars to help a maternity center in Haiti or Syrian refugees fleeing war.  But if everyone helps out a little, there is such power in that.  It’s like we all need each other in order to help each other.

And so, I began reading about the Heartline Organization, and learned that they offered missions trips.  The medical missions trip interested me because of my bucket list.  I asked Jeff if it was OK with him if I go.  In true, laid-back, easy-going, Jeff-style, he shrugged his shoulders and said, “it’s OK with me.”  16 years ago, my newlywed self may have misinterpreted that to mean that he wasn’t excited about it.  But the experienced Mrs. Wright knows that he is always really chill that way.

I am still troubled by my people burnout, and I wonder why it seems like it will be easier or more desirable to love and serve people in a foreign country, instead of the people I come in contact with every day.  But maybe I have to start somewhere.  So, if you see me and I’m grumpy with you, be patient with me.  I’m working on it.

On Haiti and bucket lists

 

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I made a huge decision last week, a few days before Christmas.  I am going to Haiti on a medical missions trip in April 2016!  Admittedly, this is the primary reason I am starting a blog, so that my friends and family can journey along with me as I prepare for this trip.  It was a decision fraught with a mixture of excitement, fear, and self-doubt.

I turned 40 this summer, which turned out to be not as bad as expected. I actually found 38 and 39 more difficult than 40.  There is all this anticipation and buildup that comes with turning the Big 4-0.  Your late 30’s starts to turn into one long episode of Doomsday Preppers.  But then you get to The Big Day and you realize that rather than being the anticlimax, it’s a fresh start, the first clean sheet in a new notebook.

There is a certain amount of soul searching that happens with a milestone birthday.  About 9 months ago, our office was interviewing a new physician.  I got to spend a little time with him, and one of the things he asked me was, “what do you like to do outside of work?”  Turns out when he wasn’t being a surgeon, he was making his own wine, and pursuing a long-ish list of other such interests.  He asked me that question, and I had a panicky moment where I didn’t know what to say.  I strive to strike a balance, but much of the time I am just treading water, trying to keep afloat with the weight of responsibilities from parenting and a full-time job.  Plus, at the time, I think I was knee-deep in the second season of House of Cards, and I couldn’t very well tell this classy surgeon who made his own wine that I spent my days daydreaming about the moment I could get the kids into bed, get in my pajamas, and binge on Netflix.  I think I bumbled something about spending time with my family, which is not a lie.  I do love to spend time with my family.  But somehow all the stuff for me, the stuff that got me excited and looking forward to my future, had just passively and insidiously seeped out of my life.  Most of this was driven by sheer exhaustion, mind you, mixed with the demands of having young kids.  It is the kind of thing I never really thought I would let happen to me, but it did, because the reality is, there is only so many hours in a day, and only so much of my energy to go around.

So I have been working since that time to reclaim not just some hobbies, but some passion.  My friend Mary introduced me to trail running, and I am hooked.  It is like therapy to me.  More on that another time.  Also, I started a bucket list.

Doing my bucket list turned out to be ridiculously challenging.  I am very pragmatic, so I would think of something to put down on the list, and then immediately think of about 5 reasons why I shouldn’t write that item down and talk myself out of it.  I just felt like if I wrote it down, I was somehow making this committment to see it through to completion, and that seemed really overwhelming to me.  My inner dreamer would say, “I want to see the Greek Isles!”, and my inner critic would say, “where will you get the money to do that, hmmm?  You probably wouldn’t have enough vacation time.  Also, you have to save up for college or your children will be vagabonds.  Go home, you’re drunk.”  This went on for some time, and the page in my journal stayed blank, staring back at me.    I finally had to ignore my inner Debbie Downer and just write a bunch of stuff down, even if they seemed unattainable.

So, a medical missions trip was on the bucket list, and that is partially how I came to a decision point.  I didn’t let myself think about it all too much because, again, my inner Debbie D. brought up a lot of excellent and sensible reasons why I should put it off for a few years.  So I just sent off an email and decided to seize the moment.  There is more to the story, that I will speak to at a later time.  All stories have many facets to them, so next time I will zoom in through a different lens to give you a different perspective.
Image credit-Image by Tuomas_Lehtinen at FreeDigitalPhotos.net