Month: October 2013

A Killer Whale And A Human Walk Into A Bar…

What would a killer whale and a 37 year old female have in common?  A lot more than one would think…

I would like to preface this blog by saying that you should take the opportunity to watch “Blackfish” by Gabriela Cowperthwaite.  This 60 minute documentary airing on CNN  will give you some food for thought…for me, it highlighted the fact that all of life is really intrinsically linked.  We just don’t take the time to notice it.

Although the bulk of the conversation during the documentary centers on one particular whale at Sea World and aggressive events that have happened over the last several years, there are other interesting themes that are touched on during the discussion (i.e. money-the crux of a lot of evil).  Surprisingly, as I watched, I kept relating issues with this particular whale to myself, and things that have happened in my own life.

  • dorsal fin collapse-seen in most captive orca whales (take a look at an orca in the wild and one held in captivity and tell me that picture is not worth a thousand words..).  Then, look at yourself.  What happens when you are tired, depressed, overstimulated, separated from your family, overworked, unfulfilled and just plain bored?  The image of a slug comes to mind.  What happens if you are left to your own devices-in your own space doing what you love to do the most (while surrounded by the people who bring out the best in you)?  I’ll help you out:


Peace, fulfilment, physical satisfaction…note open posture and strong fin (or arms and legs) positioning.  A human in their natural environment-mentally, emotionally and physically.

  • aggressive/assertive/dominant behaviour-imagine yourself in your job…repeatedly asked to deliver on tasks, constantly being evaluated for performance, working alongside fellow employees but also being in some level of competition to be the “best”.  And what if it was a job you really didn’t like-one that served no higher purpose for you…one that may provide some financial security but does nothing to fulfill your innermost longings?  What if you were repeatedly sacrificing your own integrity…maybe for the sake of thinking “well, this is what I SHOULD be doing because I am a responsible person?”.  Could it lead to some of these feelings?  Yup.  Easy to extrapolate this example to an animal being made to perform to feed the financial hunger of some large corporation.
  • loss of spirit-at one point during the documentary there is discussion of the main performing whale…and his deterioration in “personality” and performance desire over the last few years.  There is a clip of this massive creative floating in one spot in his enclosure…for hours.  Strangely, it is not a “floating” image that you would equate with relaxation or contentment.  The whale is positioned awkwardly and it appears as though he has just given up mid-action.  How many times as this happened to you-beaten down, overwhelmed, feeling alone.  We’ve all had these moments.   When the fire inside is getting dimmer, it’s hard to harness the fuel to get it going again.

It is easy to forget, but amazing to remember how linked we all are and just how similar our behaviors and emotions can be.  When you watch a human being in their “element” (doing something that feeds them physically, emotionally, spritually and mentally) it becomes apparent that all life forms have an “element” and are only truly living when they are in that space.

Just Keeping It Real…

We were at the beach with the kids the other day enjoying quite a beautiful fall afternoon.  A crowd was gathering on the beach which I initially thought was just an impromptu family photo shoot for Thanksgiving.  Then, the people kept coming.  Then I saw a man in a tuxedo.  Wedding time on the beach.

Being the thoughtful people that we are, we scurried our children to the opposite end of the area so that the incessant squeak of the teeter totter did not interrupt the ceremony.  Other playground go-ers were not so…considerate (that just gives me more material for another post though…because…it really is all about me…).  Anyway, my ever-emotional husband decided to wrap his arm around me as we stood simultaneously watching our 5 year old play in the sand and spying on the wedding.  Those kinds of events bring out the mush in him (more about my fear of intimacy issues in a later post as well).  As the guitar player strummed something we couldn’t quite hear (but I’m pretty sure was an acoustic version of “Call Me Maybe”), the bride approached her groom and the ceremony began.  I could faintly make out the vows they were repeating…and it got me to thinking…where are the REAL vows?  Like really?  To have and to hold?  As I stand here looking at you in this gorgeous white dress-something you will NEVER EVER see me in again?  In front of all of these people-some of whom we only invited because we didn’t want to offend them?  Amongst these fragrant flowers with music quietly strumming in the background?  Nope…time for, what I like to call “Keeping It Real-Wedding Style”.

First of all, people should get married in the crappiest clothes they own.  Like yesterday, I went to put on a tank top and one strap had basically disintegrated as all of my money goes to clothe my children.  Something like that would be worthy.  After all, if they don’t love you like that…they don’t love you.  And forget all of the people at the wedding.  Four of the most important people in your life-and if it happens to be your two dogs and two cats-no shame in that.  Nobody needs to stand there and watch you “perform” like you are a circus clown.  Unless you want to invite lots of people and charge admission as an “entrepreneurial” endeavour.  That’s different.

Secondly, forget the flowers, pew markers, flower girls/ring bearers and any other of that money-wasting foolishness that people feel compelled to buy because they think they are “supposed to”.  A couple of lawn chairs, a bottle of Boone’s wine and some Chinese food.  Really, what more is there than that anyway?

Thirdly…the vows.  I have taken the liberty of re-working some of the more traditional wording into something I think works a bit better in terms of “Keeping It Real”:

“I, Amanda, have decided that I want you, Kolin Henderson, to be my husband.  I promise that I will keep my anger in check when I discover your socks in the bedsheets repeatedly and that I will attempt counselling before I go ballistic about the insanity of your family.  I will honor your need to watch “Pass Time” every night and the horrific gagging that occurs when you brush your teeth and stick the brush too far”.

“I, Kolin, have unfortunately come to the conclusion that you are the best I’m going to get for right now.  I promise to not get angry with your obsession with books (even though I have had to get a third job).  I understand that you have some underlying issues with intimacy and will not let my feelings get hurt when you give me a birthday card that is signed “Fondly, Amanda”.  I will try not to judge the fact that you have compulsive need to clean the house and organize the cupboards often leaving me searching for hours for a butter knife.  You have helped me to see that there is no shame in mental illness as you wear your badge proudly”.

***These are purely fictional vows and none of the above is true in any way.  Except the sock part…that is true.

Anyway, what I’m really trying to say here is that amid the pomp and circumstance, there’s some real stuff going on.  Like, love and stuff.  And maybe I’m weird that I find this strange irony in the fact that marriage is hard-core…just ask anybody who has been married more than 1 month!  It’s so hard-core that it’s funny to see people playing these roles in these fancy clothes repeating words that are really not…real.  Of course it’s about the love and all of that (intimacy issues…remember?) but there’s some not-so-nice things that happen in life too.  Like arguments, illness, money issues, job problems, forgotten property tax bills, your dog’s “lazy bladder”, your Aunt Hilda’s pyromaniac boyfriend…stuff like that.  And I think it’s just important to remember the real stuff.  Finding someone to share it with who won’t murder you in your sleep is quite miraculous when you think about it…

This Could Get Me Fired…

Or could it?  I don’t know…not sure that I even care.  I originally had this posted on my Facebook page but removed it so that I could write a proper, well-thought out response.  NOT!

My mother was a nurse.  I credit her with introducing me to people who are different than me.  May sound simple but it is actually a huge life lesson.  Often children don’t understand that people are actually not all the same-and don’t all have bodies that work in the exact same manner.  Mom used to take me to the nursing home where she worked from time to time to visit with patients.  Honestly, there were times that I was afraid-when you are young, a groaning man in a wheelchair can be a little overwhelming.  Thankfully, there was always some learning involved, and the glimpse into a different human experience stuck with me…

I became a nurse.  I became a nurse because there comes a time in everyone’s life where they need help.  I have been helped a lot through the years-I wanted to do something meaningful.  I wanted to pass along some of the good karma that I have received.  I wanted to engage my brain in learning something that would benefit others…and also myself and my own family in the process.  The body is an amazing machine-to understand some of how it works and what it needs is a gift.  I started my journey with good intentions.

When I graduated and started work, I began encountering some of the…ahem…issues that our profession is facing currently.  I have written about them before and don’t like to dwell on the negativity.  I will say that it has always fascinated me that a profession so ensconced in the art of helping is, in many ways, so toxic.  I wonder if it is simply because people simply can’t give, give and give without their being some sort of personal debt that ends up manifesting in some negative way?  At the risk of sounding sexist, I have also pondered the prevalence of the female population in nursing.  As a rule (and please note that I said “as a rule”) women tend to be a little more emotional than men.  Ironically, nursing is not always a profession where you will see a great deal of warm, supportive staff-especially towards student or new nurses (and this could also mean seasoned nurse who happen to be “new” to an area”).  What up with that?  Shouldn’t it be “the more the merrier”?  Just another point I have yet to wrap my head around.

And while I’m trying to wrap my head around something…how about this.  How can a government system dictate how a unit/floor/hospital should be run when often they have never stepped a toe in one other than for personal use?  By numbers?  By reports?  By how many patients are affected by adverse reactions (including death) because of staffing numbers?  Um…hello!!!  These are PEOPLE we are talking about.  Not papers, not oil, not the stock market-PEOPLE.  Somebody’s family member.  Somebody’s family member who may not get the care they need because we do not have the appropriate staffing levels to adequately help these patients.  Inappropriate staffing levels because there is a lack of funds.  Lay-offs due to lack of funds. Interesting.  Because I don’t think it is a lack of funds.  I think the government is just pushing the envelope…

And then our union.  We have a union.  Presumably because we are all working towards a common goal.  Interestingly, it is not one of my goals to move our union president into a fully furnished house in Fredericton with the surplus of dues left over at the end of the fiscal year.  It would be my goal to get those RN’s who have been laid off back into some sort of position I would think.  Because if the surplus is that large, we could certainly get a couple of them back to work.  The union president already receives a salary-a lives in a perfectly safe and comfortable home I would assume.  Yes…there are plenty of other, more resourceful ways, a surplus could be utilized.

There are many days where I am frustrated with my profession.  And, as this blog reveals, many days I am blessed by my profession.  When I thought about writing this, there was a concern in the back of my head that perhaps I am saying too much.  But, now that I think about it, I don’t think we are saying enough.  In one of my first years of nursing we discussed some readings that involved “finding your voice”.  Our profession has lost our voice.  We, as a whole, our not able to do our jobs because of restraints placed upon us by external sources (that means YOU…government…YOU!!!)  I also believe that there are some…discrepancies in how we are things are handled at an organizational level (read between the lines here OK?)

I would still have made the choice to become a nurse because of the incredible experiences I have had.  The time really has come now, though, for another choice to be made for me professionally.