Sunday, September 30, 2012

Sunday morning smile

Good morning - I'm up early again.  I thought I'd share these few images I came across today.

I simply love this one!  Yes, that is exactly where I'm at.  This is finally a reality, not just wishing it was so:

I realize that the next one is truly meant to be destined for a kid's t-shirt, but for "some" reason, I feel that I really connect with it. 
Is that a sign of making the correct career choice, the one you've felt was your calling for as long as you can remember when thinking about career choices??? 
Well, I guess I am finally "growing up" when it comes to my career (second career)!  (OK, guess I'm a late bloomer, but "better late than never", is all I can say!!!):

And finally, this is the one I am MOST looking forward to coming true (hence the new "countdown to BScN feature in the sidebar....those who know me well know about my love of countdowns!!!):

Happy Sunday everyone!!!

Future Nurse Kate

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Second year BScN - one month in!

Yes, I'm still here.  Still in nursing school, still working on my fitness challenge, still a mom to three busy kids, still trying to somehow get a vague semblance of control over the chaos that was September 2012.

I am trying to get into our new routine and catch my breath. So much is going on, with so many extra-curricular activites, homework and assignments starting all at once, when school starts...for myself, my husband and our three kids!  At least the dog has her usual routine! (Yes, I am very grateful for the small things in life!!!)

I will write in much greater detail soon, I just need this one more weekend to catch up on so many things. For this year, I committed to being both a Brownie leader and a Sparks leader, with Girl Guides of Canada...what was I thinking????  I am sure (I hope!) that a new routine will emerge, and I will stop losing sleep thinking about all the stuff I still need to do.

Regarding my fitness challenge, I am very, very pleased to say that it is going full speed.  Honestly, I have never felt better.  I now run my "5 K a day" run, which I am now able to complete in under 40 minutes (I think 38 minutes is my personal best, so far).  The fact that I am running daily now astounds me completely.  I haven't run all year.  I just started this month.

A little over a month ago, physically I was the equivalent of a couch potato -- if one can be considered a couch potato without actually sitting on a couch!  Maybe "sedentary" is a better word -- I have a relatively active lifestyle given our family situation -- the kids keep us active -- but I wasn't doing any other activity as exercise.  I just moved when I had to.  Now I'm moving because I run every day.  And I love it.  I feel so incredibly good. 

I must say I owe the good, energizing feeling I get from running in helping me cope well with all the demands the past month has placed on me.

So even though my record keeping of my fitness challenge on my blog has faded, if I was keeping track, it would be a series of "5 km run" recorded daily...with a huge smile on my face.  What a feeling. :-)

If anyone is even remotely considering starting to be a little more active, or even start a project or hobby or even look into something they think they may find interesting -- just start.

And one final "poster" that brought a smile to my face:

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Remembering Sunscreen and Butterflies

This post ties in to my health communication goal. 

On the sidebar, you will see a graphic and link to a site called "Hands Free Mama".  It is an exceptional site, talking about realizing how much time we spend with our various electronic devices, Blackberrys, tablets, etc in our hands, and the impact it has on our lives. 

I love the message of the Hands Free Mama site so much, because it ties in with my career change to nursing.  In my case, changing careers goes way beyond simply changing what I do for a living. 

It is the privilege of being able to use one's talents to the fullest, to become a better person, wife, mother, daughter by being thoroughly satisfied with what I choose to do with my life, including career choice.  To feel that I am making something better in the world, that my day's work feels like it contributed to something good.  It is about becoming the best person I can be, to truly living my life fully and cultivating joyful experiences and memories with my beloved family and friends.  It is simply 'waking up' to living my life, not just going through the motions to get through each day.

And yes, I realize how extremely lucky and privileged I am to be able to have the choice to leave a secure, well-paying job to venture into this new medical adventure.  I am so grateful.

Getting back to Hands Free Mama, the blog's author, Rachel Macy Stafford, wrote an incredible piece a few days ago, about one woman's battle with melanoma.  There were two main messages in the piece: 1- the importance of using sunscreen/the dangers of UV rays, and 2- don't put off doing things you want to for "someday" when you can do them "now".

The dangers of young people using tanning beds has been in the news lately here in Canada.  The province of Ontario recently tabled legislation that would ban people under 18 from using tanning beds.  (And then there was the so-called "tanorexic" woman who made the news in the US, when she allegedly brought her young daughter to the tanning salon with her! But I digress, that was an extreme case...)

As a fair-skinned, blue-eyed, red-head, I know first hand the power of the sun in producing sun burns, and the importance of using sunscreen.  (And I also know how to seek out shade whenever/wherever possible!!!).  The risk of skin cancer has certainly been on my radar, and we use many bottles of the stuff year-round. 

Rachel writes beautifully about a beautiful woman, Christy, who recently lost her fierce battle with melanoma.  Please take a few minutes and read her story. Thank you.

I am posting the blog entry here in its entirety, as it is such an important message, and so powerfully written, to try to help, in my small way, to raise awareness about the risks and reality of melanoma. 

As mentioned, the link to Rachel's site is on my sidebar (, if you want to read more of her incredible blog posts.



Remembering Sunscreen and Butterflies

I think Christy would want us to remember sunscreen … but also everyday miracles like butterflies and the feeling of a child’s hand in our own.
When I decided to share my “Hands Free” journey with an online community, I had no idea what insight this would bring me. There I was striving to grasp what really matters and it appeared, what matters most in life, right in my inbox.

On January 20, 2011, I received a message from Christy.

A mutual friend had posted “Butterfly Part 2” and from that post Christy said she read entry after entry on my blog. She wanted to know if she could read the original, unpublished version of “Your Mother is a Butterfly.” She then added that she was going through treatment for cancer and had quite a bit of downtime with her recovery.

I sent her the butterfly poem and was pleasantly surprised when I heard from Christy a few months later. She needed to document her battle with cancer for a fundraising flyer but couldn’t seem to find the right words. Although I am uncertain about many things in life, I am certain of one thing; my purpose is to write difficult, beautiful words when someone else can’t.

As I worked on the wording for the flyer, I felt certain Christy’s story should be shared with as many people as possible. I asked Christy if she would allow me to write a blog post about her. Being a private person, Christy needed time to think about it. But ultimately she decided she would. I’ll never forget her selfless rationale: “If ten people use sunscreen this weekend because they read the post, or if a few more kids are lathered up because of me, how can I say no?”

Christy’s story became one of my most popular posts, and many people wrote to tell me Christy’s experience changed the sunscreen habits of their entire family. I completely understood what they meant. I, too, thought of Christy on a regular basis. I often felt compelled to drop her a line just to let her know I was thinking of her.

Once in awhile Christy would write back and let me know what treatment she was going through.

One thing was for sure; Christy was always fighting. Perhaps that is why the email message from one of Christy’s friends came so unexpectedly. I blinked back tears as I read her friend’s words, thinking surely there must be some mistake—not courageous, beautiful, strong, determined Christy … not the woman who had become a hero to me and so many … not the amazing mother of three who would defy the odds and outlive us all.

Christy passed away on September 1, 2012 in the presence of her loving family. For several days, I had no words, only heartache. But then inspiration came—I like to think from Christy herself—offering a chance to save one more.

The following pledge is how I will live out my days here on earth—inspired by Christy, the remarkable one whose life was the epitome of grasping what really matters.

In Your Honor

In your honor, I will wear sunscreen.
Even when it’s cloudy. Even when I’m in a hurry. Even I think a little color on my cheeks would be nice.

In your honor, I will smile at the surly cashier. I will smile at the grumpy school secretary. I will smile at those with no smile because I don’t know what battle their facing today.

In your honor, I will say yes to gumball machines and holding that big fat toad that will probably pee on my hand. Because this makes my kids happy—and one day they will remember I said yes to gumballs and toads.

In your honor, I will buy the pretty undergarments on the same day I say, “Yes, I’ll take extra hot fudge.”

In your honor, I will celebrate the rare occasion when my 9-year-old grabs my hand as we walk through a parking lot. And I will relish the unusual occurrence that she leaves her hand in mine far longer than necessary.

In your honor, I will let that agitated driver into the line of traffic even though I waited my turn. I will even wave and wish him well.

In your honor, I will pause for sunsets and butterflies that cross my path. I will acknowledge such things are miracles. Everyday miracles.

In your honor, I will take the stairs. I will take the scenic route. I will take a chance if it’s something worth fighting for.

In your honor, I will carry spare change just in case I see that man on the corner of Clairmont and 30th with a sign that says, “Can you spare some change?”
Because I always have a little hope to spare.

In your honor, I will schedule my mammogram and dermatologist appointments.
And I will pester my friends to do the same.

In your honor, I will slide my hand beneath the covers until I find my husband’s hand. Not for any reason, just because he’s there … thank God, just because he’s there.

In your honor, I will sing in the car. I will sing in the shower. Even though it sounds unpleasant. Even though I don’t know the words. I will sing.

In your honor, I will pick up live sand dollars washed ashore on Hilton Head Island and place them back in nourishing waters. Because you loved Hilton Head Island. And because you would save anyone, anything from pain and suffering if you could.

In your honor, I will stop prefacing sentences with “when I lose 5 pounds” and “when things slow down.”

In your honor, I will live life now, not “someday.”

In your honor, I will call my sister at least once a week. Even if it goes to voicemail. Even if all I say is, “Have you heard the new Citizen Cope album? I think you would love it.”

In your honor, I will listen to my child’s heartbeat at bedtime. I will let her listen to mine. Even if she does it to stall going to sleep.

In your honor, I will say, “I am sorry.” Even when it’s difficult to say. Even when I think the other person should say it first.

In your honor, I will visit my kids in the lunchroom until they say, “No more Mom. I am too old for that.” And then I will periodically ask—just in case they change their mind and need me to come one day.

In your honor, I will keep writing the stories providentially placed on my heart. For that is what brought you to me.

In your honor, I will bless the butterfly that crosses my path. For you taught me everyday miracles are abundant if we just open our eyes and look for them.

In your honor, I will not let life pass me by.

In your honor, I will wear sunscreen.


I leave you with Christy’s ultimate wish taken from her post, “Where The Sun Doesn’t Shine” …
“I would like to see awareness raised about melanoma. I would also like to see tanning beds banned. Teenagers are too young to understand the extensive damage that tanning beds can have on their skin.

People think that skin cancer can be easily removed, and then you just go on with life; I know I did.

People do not realize skin cancer can be deadly. It is the fastest growing cancer and affects more people than prostate, breast, colorectal and cervical cancers combined. One person dies every hour from skin cancer. I don’t understand why no one is talking about it.” – Christy B.

In honor of Christy, talk about skin cancer. Talk about sunscreen. Talk about living and loving like today matters, because it matters.

*Thank you for being a part of The Hands Free Revolution, a community of people striving to let go of distraction and grasp the moments that matter.

If you are interested in expressing love and support to Christy’s family, memorial contributions should be made to the Christy Barford Memorial Fund c/o any 5/3 Bank.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Confessions of a Student Nurse blog

Confessions of a Student Nurse

Here is a blog entry that caught my attention, and I feel it needs to be shared.  The author of this blog finished nursing school several years ago, but has kept her blog on the web for all to read.  It is a wealth of information written in a very humorous way.  Enjoy!!!


Advice for Nursing Students

Starting nursing school soon? Scared out of your mind? Don’t worry, so is everyone else in your class. One of the most popular searches that leads to my blog this time of year is: "scared to start nursing school." So you are definitely not alone!

My advice for soon-to-be nursing students:
1. Never forget that every other person in that
classroom is just as scared as you are. If they always look confident,
it is just an act. So don’t let them stress you out.

2. Be prepared to work hard. You will have to do a
lot of reading, and it will be very confusing at times. Do the best you
can to get through it, and highlight anything that might sound

3. Find a few classmates you get along with, and
stick with them through the whole program. At times when no one else in
your life fully understands what you are going through, they will. I
can’t emphasize enough how important this mutual understanding is, and
I guarantee that these people will talk sense into you every time you
are 100% sure you are going to quit.

4. Be prepared to feel lost. My first time doing
everything (including putting a patient’s sock on her foot), I was so
scared I was shaking. It is normal to completely forget how to do
everything (even the most simple tasks) when you are nervous. So don’t let this make you feel stupid or inferior- it is NORMAL!!


5. Ask tons of questions. If you are told by a
nurse to do something on a patient and you are not familiar with it or
are uncomfortable, ask for help. Don’t let it bother you that she rolls
her eyes at you, you have the right to learn, and your patients have
the right to receive safe care.

6. Be prepared to laugh at yourself. If you fail to
do this, you will be more stressed out than necessary. When you do
something stupid, laugh. Don’t be embarrassed, we all do dumb things.
Also, allow your patients to laugh at you. One patient told me that
watching me frantically search for my clipboard (the clipboard I was
holding in my hand) and then laughing with me when I realized my
mistake, was the highlight of her week.

7. Even though you are extremely busy, take one
night off. This means do not do any school work whatsoever one night
every week. Thursday night is my night off. I watch TV, catch up with
friends, just do whatever I want. On Monday, when I really want to
watch something on TV or feel unmotivated to work, I keep telling
myself that I only have a few more days until Thursday.

8. Find an outlet for your frustrations. This site
has been wonderful for me- I just write about what I feel, and even
though I usually don’t end up posting those things for the world to
see, just writing about them makes me feel a lot better. Although this
takes away from my study time, it is well worth it. I don’t think I
could keep going all those hours if I didn’t have some way to release
some steam.

9. Know that you are not alone!! If you need
someone to vent to or share your wonderful experiences with, leave me a
comment and I will get back with you (just don’t forget to leave your
email address).

Good luck!!

Those are definitely words of wisdom from someone who's "been there"!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Second year nursing school - starts today!

Well, technically, I went to a classroom yesterday, given that the schedule indicated yesterday as the start day...but that class actually starts a week from yesterday.  However, I wasn't the only one present, and had a chance to chat with a few classmates and meet new ones.

So here I am -- second year nursing school about to begin (for real!) later today.  What a difference a year makes!  This time last year, I was a nervous wreck. Well, only part of me was nervous about starting university classes again, this time as a (ahem!) "mature student".  The other part of me was in almost complete disbelief that I was actually starting nursing school classes.  That latter sensation partially lingered throughout the whole of first year, mostly due to the fact, that all the classes were lectures.  Had clinicals or some form of labs started first year, that vague feeling of disbelief of truly being in nursing school would have dissipated quickly.  I should also add that, typical for me, I worked at my job until the very last day before classes started, not leaving a bit of time to transition psychologically.  Live and learn.

Now, at the start of second year, my approach to nursing school is completely different.  I am looking forward to starting classes, to getting more credits completed to getting that BScN, and to getting out working again (6 more semesters --72 more weeks -- bring it on!).  I now know many of my classmates, I know that I am not the only non-18 year old in my classes, and I think this year I'll be getting to know even more of my classmates, as the labs start, and we're put in a situation where we have to interract more with random strangers who are our classmates. 

Last year I was so hung up about my age and being back in a first year university environment, especially after being in a professional workforce for so long.  But we have a diverse enough mix of students in the nursing class (like many nursing school classes, from what I've read about), that I don't feel overly old.  When doing my first degree, I remember vividly how the 'mature students' looked through my 18-year old now I am keenly aware of how ancient I must look to them!  And to an 18-year old, anyone over 26 looked positively ancient.  I must admit that I truly don't feel my age at all.  I definitely don't feel like an 18 year old anymore, but more like I did in my late 20s-early 30s.  Maybe this is the 'young at heart' feeling I've heard about.  I'd certainly like to keep that feeling, attitude and approach to life forever!!!

But as I start second year, I know I'm not alone as a second-career nursing student.  I hope that the high school kids have had a year of exposure to university life, and realize that it's not a homogenous group like high school was.  It's called reality, and is a situation they'll be faced with for the rest of their lives.  And frankly, I fully realize that I'm not there to 'fit in' as I did when I was doing my first degree.  My reality and life experiences are completely different.  All I hope to achieve from the younger set is a mutual respect as classmates, to co-operate and work together, and possibly even have some fun while at it.

The nursing school reality will set it later this week.  I'm researching stethoscopes ("toys" are fun!) in order to buy one, and figuring out what scrubs and lab coats we'll need for this semester.  Yes, I am now truly a nursing student.  Yay!!!

My self-proclaimed fitness challenge is going exceedingly well.  I am really pleased with that accomplishment, and fully intend to continue it.  It completely amazes me that I am able, within the span of just under two weeks, to go from mostly sedentary to running 4 km in 32 minutes.  I started running gradually, didn't overdo it, nothing hurt, and I was able to keep upping the distance and time.  I feel great, and am thoroughly enjoying that so-called 'runners high' feeling, that keeps circulating for hours after a run.

I'm starting to think about setting some running goals, a 5 km race, in the coming couple months.  But more about that later!

Onward and upward -- here's to second year!!!

Future Nurse Kate