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Work hard, play hard

I had THE most wonderful cross country ski a few weeks ago. Now, you might find it hard to believe considering the very unusual weather we’ve had this winter, but somehow, I ended up with a day off AND fresh snow!

It was a perfect winter day! The air crisp, the breeze cool, the snow fast, and slivers of bright sun streaming through the trees (you can picture it can’t you!)…ahhh…does it get any better?!?! #winterlove I was so awestruck by the beauty of my surroundings I couldn’t help but stop. Literally. Stop. Breathe. And take it aaaaaaaall in.

Interestingly, in the very same moment that I was soaking up the beautiful, winter day, and although I don’t often think about what it was like, to be given a chronic illness diagnosis, that’s where my mind went that day. I had a hard time finding the care I desperately needed when my RA reared its ugly head, and an even harder time processing my “new normal.”

So…in that moment…the sun, the snow, the quiet…I was reminded there was a time I thought I would never be able to experience winter like this ever again…ever!

But here I was…doing it. 

I was truly overwhelmed – grateful, thankful, sobered. I literally stopped in the middle of the bush, skis locked in the track and allowed whatever emotion was just below the surface to find its way out. 

There I stood. Poles dangling off my wrists, tears streaming down my cheeks, eyes closed in reverent pause, hoping every bit of this moment would find its way deep, deep inside. Thankfully, no one came zipping along from behind or zooming around the corner up ahead or I think I might have gotten a few strange looks LOL.


It was such a great day!

But not all my days are great.

Through the pandemic, we had some hard, hard shifts at work #nurselife. Not only were we short-staffed, our patients quite unwell, but there was a sense of uncertainty that found its way into everything we did. Fear of the unknown perhaps? Would we have what it takes to get through all this? Without getting into the nitty-gritty of what went down during those shifts, the truth is that we each did WAY more than the work one person should have to do and really, truly gave it our all to deliver the best care we could, given the circumstances.

Delivering good care as an individual and as a team is extremely important to me; safe, accurate, timely, person-centered care. So, by the end of many 12hr shifts, my feet would be sore, my back would ache, my muscles weak, my eyes dry and my mind so tired I could barely string together a few words. I just couldn’t help but stop. Literally. Stop. Breathe. And take it all in.

It was truly overwhelming in all imaginable ways: body, mind, soul.

I often asked myself, “How did I let myself give more than I had to give…again?” I have a really hard time when I see a need, knowing I have the knowledge or skill to help, not step in and take it on. I know full well it’s not my responsibility to “fix” things, but I feel compelled to help, even when it’s to my own detriment. 

After those tough shifts, I found it helped to walk home giving myself time to collect my thoughts; breathe deeply and feel some fresh air on my face. I would walk for a while and wait for all the emotions I had been holding down to come to the surface. Thankfully, it was usually late enough that no one passed me on the street while I muttered away to myself, or I’m sure I would have gotten some strange looks LOL. 

Those were hard days.

I had done too much, pushed too hard. I was D.O.N.E. done. But once home, it was into the shower and off to bed. It’s incredible what a good night’s rest can do and thankfully, most mornings I woke up feeling a bit better, as I made my way back out for another 12.

My post-shift aches and pains often “push” me to reflect; perhaps on the shift I just finished, or even more importantly, the role I play in my own destruction. You know…how our greatest strengths that make us the incredible humans we are, also become our greatest weaknesses? Ya…those…I need to stop and let those moments sink in too, way in. Hoping I can reflect, learn, and move forward, creating new, healthier patterns…a girl can dream right!?!

What stops you? What moments give you pause? If you’re anything like me, you’ll try pretty hard to focus only on the wonderful, beautiful, positive moments and ignore or just “get through” the tough ones…but that’s not really life, is it? Or at least it sure isn’t mine.

How do you process those hard days, those hard moments when you know you’ve got some work to do…maybe establish some new boundaries…learn and stick to your limits…leave behind things that aren’t yours to fix? Not easy. Not at all.

Today, may you all find some space in your lives to Stop. Breathe. And soak in those moments that give you pause.


person with rheumatoid arthritis