Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Back to the Drawing Board, Wherein the Heart and Mind Discuss the Future

Back to the subject of my (currently non-existent) work-life, although the job-share position was ostensibly approved by the powers that be, the nurse practitioner with whom I was planning to share said job has accepted another position. Thus, the job-share is now defunct, and a vast blank drawing board appears on my horizon. Yikes.

So, when faced with a blank drawing board, what does one do? At first, nothing. The blank space is kind of nice, isn't it? See how the light reflects? Notice how that blank space is one upon which any number of potential futures can be projected? Why don't we enjoy it for a while?

But then the Mind in all its glory jumps in, grabs some (thankfully erasable) markers, and goes to town.

"So," the Mind says. "We have Option 1: return to full-time job as planned, and decide to stick it out for another 6-12 months. See all of the gains and stress reduction from the leave of absence erased in a matter of weeks. Hmmm. Maybe not such a good choice." The Mind looks puzzled.

"Well, then," says the Mind. "Option 2 seems better: return to work for the required 30 days, close up shop, say our goodbyes, terminate with patients and colleagues, and skedaddle asap, no looking back. Not a bad scenario, if I do say so myself." Some skeptical interest is perceived.

"Or how about Option 3, perhaps?" asks the Mind hopefully. "Offer to work per diem for old employer after fulfilling 30-days of full-time work in order to fulfill leave-of-absence obligations. String together several other per diem positions---one of which is quite close to home, actually---and have a renewed sense of professional invigoration? Let "The Mrs." carry the health insurance benefits, and take this golden opportunity to cut loose from the 40-hour grind! Work when you want to---some weeks will be extra heavy, others can be quite light. What freedom! What a concept!" The mind smiles.

Then the Heart steps up to the plate, chiming in. "Oh, God! All of those patients with whom we have cultivated intimate working relationships for seven years! How would we say goodbye? How would we terminate? What would it do to them? To my colleagues? To the workplace? How can I handle so many goodbyes?" The Heart wrings its hands.

The Mind rests a reassuring hand on the Heart's virtual shoulder. "Look here, cousin. Don't get so worked up. People leave jobs all the time, even ones in which long-term therapeutic relationships have been nurtured." The mind smiles reassuringly as the Heart looks dubious.

"We all have to say goodbye and move on at some point," the Mind continues. "Patients know that clinicians come and go. It's part of the process. Perhaps your leave-taking will cause some of them to become more self-sufficient, more empowered. Just imagine the relief you would experience when you released yourself from the responsibility you feel for those eighty people and their well-being!"

The Mind and the Heart sit in silence for a while.

"Y'know," says the Heart. I need some time to consider these scenarios. It's just too much to process today."

"I understand," says the Mind. "Change is always hard. Take your time, enjoy the rest of your leave-of-absence, and know that this is all happening for good reasons. Remember that drawing board? We can leave it blank for a while."

"Thanks," says the Heart. "I can only take in so much change at one time. It was enough to accept a six-week leave-of-absence. Let's clean the basement, then we can make dinner and watch a movie."

"It's a deal," says the Mind. "We'll put the drawing board in the corner for now. Let's tackle that basement."
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