An Attitude of Gratitude

The author of the series "Fired After 50" reflects on the changes this year has brought, and marvels anew at the small miracles of everyday life as a nurse. Nurses Announcements Archive Article

An Attitude of Gratitude

It seems hard to believe that another Thanksgiving is here, because like most folks my age, I feel as though they're coming faster and faster as the years go by. But all I have to do is look in the mirror and view the snow field where soft brunette hair used to grow in order to realize that time is indeed marching on, inexorably, toward eternity.

This is not necessarily an unhappy thought. As a nurse, I've seen enough human pain and suffering to understand that it's a GOOD thing that earthly life doesn't go on forever; as an aging Baby Boomer whose body is showing some wear and tear, I'm absolutely delighted at the prospect of one day moving on to a place where my knees won't feel like ground glass and my back will no longer ache. I'm not in a hurry to get there, mind you......but even if I didn't believe in an afterlife, I can't say I'm sorry it all has to end.

Which brings me back to Thanksgiving, which for me has always been a time to review the year that's fast departing, to reassess my priorities, and most especially to count my blessings. Ironically, much of this year has been filled with the kinds of events I couldn't imagine being thankful for: getting pneumonia in February which left me feeling weak and ill for over a month; my husband's health problems that eventually forced him into early retirement; my own knee problems and subsequently being laid off from a job I loved; months of unemployment and trying to survive on half our usual income; the depression and despair that accompanied the fear that I might never make it back........that my nursing career, and the lifestyle I'd enjoyed because of it, was over.

I didn't know that the right job was just around the corner. I didn't understand that God puts us exactly where we are supposed to be, not necessarily where we want to be (or think we want to be). When I didn't get any of the hospice jobs I'd applied for, I was bitterly disappointed; now that I'm where I was meant to be, it's easy to see why I didn't get any of those positions. All of the agencies where I applied have major problems; my assisted living facility has nothing more than a little sinus condition. I work with nurses from four different hospices and see how unhappy they are with their employers, how much driving and paperwork they have to do, how many hours they really put in without extra pay, and I'm thankful I have only that 40-minute commute to deal with and a nice warm building I can call my "home away from home".

I'm thankful that not only has my career risen like the proverbial phoenix from the ashes, but that I've landed in the kind of workplace that I'd thought existed only in a nurse's imagination: a place where management and staff work shoulder-to-shoulder, together. Where instead of getting thrown under a bus for making a tough decision that goes against the economic interest of the facility (but was the right one for the resident), I'm given the full support of my administrator and the corporation. Where the systems are firing on all eight cylinders and I've had to make only minor changes and do some staff education. Where the staff is willing and eager to learn everything I have to teach them, and they take direction in the spirit in which it's meant. I keep pinching myself, afraid that this is all a dream and I'm going to wake up back on the floor of that last nursing home where I just about ran myself to death. But after five weeks---long enough for the honeymoon to be over---I still feel like I've found Paradise.

I'm thankful that nursing still offers so much flexibility, even for those of us who are older and hold 'only' an associate's degree. While I was writing the "Fired After 50" series, I was shocked to find so many nurses in my position and worse; and even though I was extremely fortunate, I HAVE to believe that there are more jobs out there for seasoned professionals who may not have a BSN and/or cannot handle the physical demands of floor nursing. Hang in there, my friends.......somewhere, your perfect job awaits!

I'm thankful for finally achieving work-life balance. Even though I truly love my job, I also have learned to fully appreciate my family and home. There is now a place for everything: marriage, grown kids, grandchildren, church, hobbies, even a social life apart from work. I work hard, but I play hard too. I just wish I hadn't gained so much weight back from being so sedentary after my surgery and overeating thanks to the accompanying depression; guess I can't have everything the way I want it, eh? Besides.........that's what New Year's resolutions are for.

I'm also thankful for:

My son coming home from Iraq, safe and sound and considerably more grown-up than the young man we sent to war last fall;

Our "miracle baby", Hayden---a year ago, our daughter was facing a hysterectomy due to precancerous changes of her cervix and ovarian dysfunction. Then, the very week she was scheduled to ship out to Afghanistan, she found out she was pregnant. If I hadn't been thoroughly convinced of God's existence prior to this astounding series of events, it would have put me squarely in His court for good, because there's simply no way that it was an accident. Thank You, Lord!

Falling in love with my husband of thirty years, all over again. Now that he's retired and the kids are all grown, we've rediscovered each other as husband and wife and recharged our bond for this long final leg of the journey. We have fun grocery shopping together, talking about our hopes and dreams together, even taking naps together in our matching La-Z-Boys. What could be better?

And of course, I'm thankful for all of my friends here at I've been on this forum for over eight years, and though I've never physically 'met' more than a handful of you, I feel like I know you---and you know me---as well, or better, than most of the people I'm around every day. I've told you things even my husband and sister don't know, and I've always been able to count on you to set me straight whenever I was fresh out of answers and running a quart low on energy.

Most of all, I'm thankful for being able to maintain an attitude of gratitude throughout the hard times.......even when I'd reached my low point in August, even when it looked like we might lose our house because we couldn't make the payments and there were no decent job prospects in sight. I knew things could be a lot worse, and was grateful that they weren't; after all, there are no guarantees in life, and none of us 'deserves' to have anything handed to us. Many people have lost everything in this recession---not only their jobs but their savings, their homes, their way of life---and yet somehow, we managed to keep a roof over our heads and gas in the car. It was strange how things came together when we most needed them to do so; a little money would come in just when the lights were about to be turned off, or one of the kids would just happen to find a great sale on coffee or dog food and drop off their 'extras', or I'd pick up just enough hours of work to augment the unemployment checks without losing benefits entirely. Sometimes, it's these seemingly insignificant and random acts of Fate that keep a person going.......and for that, I will be forever grateful.

Happy Thanksgiving! May your homes be full of food and family, may your patients be stable, and may you always find something to be thankful for......not only today, but every day of the year. ?

Long Term Care Columnist / Guide

I'm a Registered Nurse and writer who, in better times, has enjoyed a busy and varied career which includes stints as a Med/Surg floor nurse, a director of nursing, a nurse consultant, and an assistant administrator. And when I'm not working as a nurse, I'm writing about nursing right here at and putting together the chapters for a future book about---what else?---nursing.

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Specializes in Gerontological, cardiac, med-surg, peds.

Thank you, dear Viva, for this marvelous reminder to always count our blessings and to cultivate an "attitude of gratitude." We do indeed have so much to be thankful for!!! What a wonderful prelude to Thanksgiving this year :) May we have eyes to see the miraculous in each and every day.

Thank you so much for sharing! Yes it would be very easy to dwell on the fact that I am 52 yo, living with my parents, working for minimum wage. Lost most everything is the real estate market (as a realtor). Not living in the big city as I prefer.

What I chose to focus on is the fact that I am finishing my pre-reqs this quarter hoping to start NS in the fall. My maternal grandmother (the best nurse in the world) is looking down and is very happy I am becoming a nurse. I am in a position to be around to help my aging parents both physically and financially. I work nights as a security guard which allows me plenty of time to do homework. I am healthy and thanks to the VA don't have to worry about medical concerns.

My prayer this morning was the same as it is every morning, very simple.

God, please help me to be the man you have always meant for me to be;

A good son to You

A good son to my parents

A good brother

A good uncle

A good friend

When the time is right, a good partner to the right SO

I am just rambling now, Oh by the way, it is November 22 and it was 80 and sunny in Augusta, GA today. Can't ask for much more.

Specializes in school RN, CNA Instructor, M/S.

It was a tough year for you and me both but we survivied a live to fight anotherr day!! God bless you and your family G'ma!! You are truly a source of inspiration and light when I am having a tough day caring for my husband or dealing with everyday challenges! I hope to meet you someday and personally hug and thank youfor all your positive energy and kind words. You hopefully have some idea of how much your allnurses family love and care for you and yours! Happy holidays!:heartbeat:heartbeat:flwrhrts:

Thank you so much for your words of wisdom. If I could only remember this each and everyday. :)

Specializes in LTC, CPR instructor, First aid instructor..

Yes Marla, we love you dearly here at Allnurses. You have been a true inspiration to us.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Specializes in Psych, Hospice, Surgical unit, L&D/Postpartum.

Hi viva, im glad you seem like your in a better place now. I always like to read your posts, there is something warm about you and the way you carry yourself. Enjoy your holiday..... You deserve it!!

I myself am hoping to find some luck and happiness. I have been struggling financially for a year and a half now. My unemployment benefits have run out without being able to find a stable job to replace them with. Im a single mom and its hard for my daughter, who will be ten next week, to see her mom struggle so much. I hope to find the light at the end of the tunnel before it burns out for good. I pray for help and a miracle but it hasnt found me yet. I guess I will keep moving forward in hopes of some financial help and maybe a good supporting job.

Thanks for being you, and goodluck with the family and your job.

Well written. I am grateful for my family and for our health.

Specializes in LTC, assisted living, med-surg, psych.

Thank you all for your kind words. I am humbled and very, very glad that some of the small contributions I've made over the years have made a difference in the lives of others. That's just about the best feeling in the world! :heartbeat

Specializes in Cardiac Cath Lab/Pacemaker/Geriatrics.

Thank you so much for writing this. It is easy to forget to have an attitude of gratitude. Whether in good times or bad. With faith there is hope. I pray that people who are in despair find the hope they need to continue and that they will find that "perfect job" or any job and that they will find the foothold they need to keep going, just the way you have. Bless you and your family. Happy Thanksgiving!

Thank you for sharing your very personal and very inspiring story. Nursing is more than a job or a career, but rather it is a passion that drives every nurse to strive to touch the lives of at least one patient. Making a difference is what makes the true difference in the lives of nurses. May God Bless you and your family, and may faith continue to strengthen your will to persevere. Happy Thanksgiving 8)

Specializes in Home health was tops, 2nd was L&D.

Thank you for a beautiful, inspirational post.

I, too have had a difficult year. In Feb. I resigned from a job I truly loved to travel back to FL to care for my dying Father. His smile when he got to come home was worth a million dollars to me. And after his death and returning in mid-April to my own life, my mother's cancer started to progress and she went down quickly. She came to live with me in TN in July after many falls in her own home. The job search, I had been on since mid-April remained fruitless....little did I know God's plan was for me to be my Mother's nurse. On 10/26 after many warnings from home health, then Hospice and of course me, she fell for her final time breaking her hip. Her cancer made her a very poor candidate for surgery so she decided against it. I stopped searching for employment and concentrated only on caring for her.

This week she has become semi-comatose for the most part. But,this evening she opened her eyes when she smelt my turkey dinner delivered by my beloved neighbor. I asked if she wanted to eat, she said no.."Dad already brought my dinner to me" I asked if he stayed to eat with her, she said no, he said he would be back. Then she closed her eyes and drifted back into her sleep. I know she may go with him anytime now but she is happy and comfortable.

And I am very thankful to have the ability and resources to have cared for my Dad and now my Mom. I was blessed in 1992 to care for my husband while raising two children and working full-time. He became bedbound on Friday evening after I was done seeing my patients and passed the following Tuesday early am....allowing me to be there every minute.

I wish everyone a very Happy Thanksgiving and hope you all have much to be Thankful in your lives. God Bless all the caregivers in the world, regardless of title or license. Your level of LOVE puts each and everyone at the highest place in the world. God Bless.