Friday, April 17, 2009

Catching My Breath

Returning home from a day out in the big old world, the screened-in porch, a hammock and a cold glass of water are so very comforting as I settle in to catch my breath.

Whether it's working as a nurse, doing volunteer work, grocery shopping, or navigating the technology-saturated world, remaining a human being amidst all the human doing sometimes seems like a Herculean feat.

At work, I juggle multiple responsibilities, practicing "smart triage" as I make decisions about what's highest on the priority list. Juggling innumerable connections with colleagues and other professionals, balancing clinical and clerical duties, it's all about balance and walking the line between overwhelm and surrender.

We nurses are trained to be efficient, precise and organized, and this carries over into our personal lives. Such efficiency can sometimes bleed over into obsessive compulsion, driving us to distraction as we attempt to create the same order at home as we demand of ourselves in the workplace. Do our loved ones suffer from our desire for order when we try to run our kitchen like a crash cart? Do I attempt to organize the refrigerator at home like my vaccine fridge at work? I should hope not, but the desire is admittedly there.

Nurses can thrive on chaos, as can anyone who lives in this world if they try. Sure, I can walk in the chaos, yet order is assuredly my preferred modus operandi.

In the hammock, staring out at the trees, music wafting from the house, Mary puttering in the kitchen, my nervous system recovers from the perceived assault of traffic and Babylonian noise in which our errands were accomplished. Out there in the world, amidst the noise and chaos, synapses slide so easily into overload. Here at home, I rest from it all, and remember that the peace I seek is to be found nowhere but within my own mind.
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