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  1. I saw the above meme and I started laughing. I quickly thought of the community and it made me wonder... Have you ever had a moment when you thought to yourself that it may be time to retire? Or, maybe you saw your co-worker do something odd and told them that it may be time to retire? Share your story below.
  2. Nurse Beth

    When Should I Retire? My Struggle

    Download allnurses Magazine Elephant in My Room I didn’t sign up for this annoying aging thing, but I am getting older. Apparently. I’m 66, at last count. Which I’d like to point out is my early middle sixties, not my late sixties, or even my late middle sixties, but...even so. Unacceptable. Actually, kidding aside, I’m really fairly OK with the aging. It’s not the getting older, per se, that is bothering me. It’s the big looming elephant in my room. Retirement. Until recently, it wasn’t even remotely on my radar. It was something that happened to other people. Other people as in old folks. I've been insensitive, especially when I realize that I've been able to work this long while others, even some young people, did not have that choice. But more and more, retirement seems like a real thing. For me. What I don’t love is how thinking about retiring is forcing me to examine myself. Signs it May be Time There are signs. Friends and colleagues around me are retiring like flies. I have to ask myself if they know something I don’t. Like when to quit. Sometimes I feel like the last one standing. There’s actually a small group of us my age in the hospital, and we fist-bump or high-five when we run into each other out and about in the hospital or in the elevator. “Still here, right?” “Yep!” We talk in low tones about “How much longer do you have?” knowing it’s not wise to talk openly about retiring at work until you’ve decided. I’m aware I think about retirement more often, sometimes daily. That’s a change. I think more in terms of not being at work than of being at home. By that, I mean I see it framed more as a loss than a gain. Recently I was awarded Nurse of the Year in my county by ACNL in the Lifetime Achievement category. Another sign that my career’s at the tail end? Then there’s my health. My back went out recently and I thought, “Is this it?’ but then I recovered. To work another day, month, maybe years? Weary Short Timer More and more I have the mindset of a weary short-timer. I no longer fight every battle, because maybe I’ll be gone before it all matters, anyway. I think I’ve distanced a bit, but then it never sticks. I haven’t quite reached that tipping point of disengagement. Sometimes I’ll sit back and see a decision being made and just shake my gray-haired head. But... no one asks me. Admin, "Beth, you've worked here as a professional clinician for over 10 yrs. What do you think? Will this new initiative work?" (scenario that never happens) Then again, it’s not that they ever did ask me, but my tolerance for repeated mistakes is lower. I’ve seen the pendulum swing to the right and then to the left and back to the right again on any given issue. It’s a bad case of “Been there, Done that”. I lack enthusiasm for the Flavor of the Month. I zone out if someone starts saying they want to “move the needle” or do or don’t have the “bandwidth” to “pick the low-hanging fruit”. Just don’t admonish nurses to be “more resilient” when taking away resources. It’s not an opportunity to “do less with more”, it’s short-staffing. So I guess I’m still plenty passionate. I just don’t want to hang on too long as that old, negative, jaded nurse. I love what Laura Gasparis Vonfrolio, nationally known CCRN guru and speaker, said when I asked her why she still works in ICU. She paused and said, “To be a pain in their a**” Grief and Fears Grief is not too strong a word when I think about my retirement. I’m grieving a stage of my life. The biggest, longest stage. Leaving my job is a loss. A loss of who I am and a loss of the community I’ve been a part of for 40 years. I’ll be in a new community. The AARP retirement community. Yikes. I’d miss helping nurses pass their Arrhythmia exam and connecting with the fresh and bright newly licensed nurses in each new cohort. I’d miss my work team and I still love my job. I’ve never been fearful. I wasn’t afraid to leave home when I was 16. I wasn’t afraid to leave an unhealthy marriage. I wasn’t afraid to attend nursing school as a single parent of 3 little ones, with no financial support. I wasn’t afraid to be a nurse manager and I wasn’t afraid to write and publish a book. I’m not afraid of taking exams or even of public speaking. But retirement? Terrified. Well, maybe not terrified. But maybe, yes, a little terrified. What’s so scary? At heart, it’s a loss of identity, of status. I dread the, “Hi! What do you do?” “I’m retired” encounter. If I’m not an experienced, competent nurse, then who am I? I like being an expert. What good are all my certifications and accomplishments in retirement? Is my ego really as big as all this sounds? Now that’s scary. Shouldn’t I base my self-worth on how good of a person I am? I thought I was secure but maybe I’m actually deeply insecure. And am I over-analyzing all this? Probably. Changes Then there’s finances. Have I saved enough? Will I be able to live with a new budget? Maybe I spend more money than I realize on work, like gas and potlucks and gifts and clothes, and I’ll save money like others tell me. Or will I have to pinch pennies to buy my grandchildren birthday gifts? How about my extensive work wardrobe? I work out of an office, some days I wear scrubs, and other days I wear clothes under a lab coat. I love expressing myself through my clothes and colors, and combinations. And shoes. And accessories. Will I be relegated to lounge wear? Will I schlep around in boring leggings, T-shirts and flip-flops? Vain much? Guilty. My vanity needs some structure. Or will I turn into a couch potato and not get dressed at all? Without my existing structure will I be lost. Is this the beginning of the end? What will being with my loving husband 24/7 day in and day out be like? Granted, we’ve been married for 21 yrs., but not during the work week. I’ll be switching my work wife for my husband. Options Maybe I’ll volunteer. But then I laugh and think, “Right!”. In less than 2 months, I’d probably try to re-organize and take over whatever poor, unsuspecting organization that takes me on as a volunteer. In other words, I’d be working, not volunteering. Fortunately, I do have other options. I have purposely built bridges to help me transition, such as my side jobs as a nurse writer and subject matter expert. I could definitely spend more time on my blog, nursecode.com., which I would love to do. But how relevant will I be as a blogger if I don’t know the very latest thing happening in hospitals? What if they initiate electronic white boards or robots or something and I’m not there to critique it, make all my jokes about it? Final Finale Thoughts According to Erik Erikson, I’m officially in the final developmental stage of my life- integrity vs despair. I choose integrity. That means not having regrets when I look back. But I do have to reflect on myself closely in order to move forward authentically and grow. In retirement: I can channel my creative energy. I have a huge amount of creative energy and I spend a lot of it for my employer in my practice as a Nursing Professional Development Specialist. Maybe it will be amazing to channel all of it on what I choose that day. Every day. I’ll write another book. I’ve always wanted to write a novel or maybe an autobiography. I’ll spend more time with family, and I’ll travel more. Garden. Maybe I’ll do take up mosaics. I’ll visit my sister in the fall in Vermont and watch the leaves change together. I love to learn, I live to learn, and that needn’t change. Maybe I’ll read the classics and Shakespeare and learn something new. Study a new language. I’ll sit with this upcoming shift in my identity. It’s my next major life challenge. Deep breath. I’m going to rest in the not-knowing and stay in this space, not avoid it. I can do this. I think I’ve decided. I’m not going to retire, not right now. I’m warming up to it. But I’m not there yet. Epilogue So my husband just sat down beside me and asked me what I’m writing. I told him it’s an article titled “Retirement: My Struggle”. He laughed out loud, which I wasn’t expecting. “Is that funny?” “Yes!” (laughing harder) “Really? So, what about it is funny?” (puzzled) “Beth, you’re not struggling!” “I’m not?” “No! You have too much fun at work! I watch you every day. Honey, you love what you do” Oh. Right. He’s right
  3. Carol Ebert

    Boomer Fest Quest

    I have a “side hustle” wellness business and as I continue to age, the population I want to work with gets older too. So I decided if that is whom I want to reach with my message of staying healthy as you age, then I need to find them. And how do I find them? Invite them to an event! Which I did. I created Boomer Fest – a Resource Fair for Baby Boomers. Drawing on my professional skills of program development and event planning I started from scratch by assembling like-minded professionals looking to reach this population. That was easy because I was already involved in a Networking Group who were trying to reach Boomers as well. And so we started the process of creating the event. Here’s a step-by-step approach of how it unfolded in case you might want to do the same thing with your newly found “free time”. Decide who you want to reach Because I am a Boomer and am keenly aware of the health and social issues we face at this age, and I am aware that not all Boomers are ready for the life of retirement, I wanted to help my peers find the resources they need as they age – that they don’t even know they need to know about. Decide what you want them to learn from the event I struggled with what the retirement lifestyle was all about and followed a trial and error process when I finally “retired”. I was amazed to find that no one seems to prepare retirees for the next phase of life which I call Your Third Act. My mission then for this event was to provide the resources I felt they needed to be aware of and the options available to them for all the dimensions of a wellness lifestyle: social life, work life, spiritual support, physical activity, intellectual stimulation, emotional well-being, travel aspirations, volunteer opportunities, and active senior housing options. Decide who can provide the answers Boomers are looking for Once I decided how well-rounded I wanted the event to be, I started making calls and visits. That’s when the fun begins because someone knows someone else who knows someone else, and pretty soon I had identified 30 vendors for the event. And having them get to know me and me them, got me in touch with the people, groups, agencies and facilities that deal with the Boomer population. Which in turn positions me as an expert who can help them in the future with educational health programs that I have already designed for the Boomer population. So it became a win-win for both of us. Secure a venue for the event A new event center had just opened in the community where I live and I thought how perfect it would be to have Boomer Fest there – not only because it was a perfect venue, but because it was brand new people were curious to see it and that alone might draw them in. Of course there was a fee for the space so I had to come up with the money! Create a budget This is extremely important so you don’t lose money. Our plan was to break even and that is about what happened. Of course I did not pay myself for all my work, and if we do this again that issue will need to be resolved! Revenue = $900 Vendors each paid $50 Non-profits were not charged Expense = $875 Room rental - $750 Marketing Consultant - $125 Delegate tasks This is a key issue not to be overlooked. I actually took on too much myself, but at least I delegated someone to arrange for music thru the PA and someone to sit at the registration table to check people in and out. Arrange for volunteers I did not think of this until the last minute when I didn’t have anyone to manage the registration table. Fortunately someone stepped in at the last minute, so I lucked out. I did discover later that there are a lot of groups including college students who are very willing to help out as long as they have prior notice. Provide incentives to attend I asked each vendor to provide a door prize at their booth, and we also had a grand prize drawing for a one night stay at the new adjoining hotel in a king room. In order to participate in that drawing I had each participant find the answers to questions from each vendor so I was assured that all vendors would have people stop and talk to them. The sheet of completed answers was then dropped in a box and we drew the winner from those sheets. We had 56 people complete the sheets and the winner was the perfect person. She had brought along two elderly friends who sat at a table while she went thru the exhibits. She was being very kind to them by taking them out for the day and I felt she was the perfect person to be rewarded for that kind gesture. The Universe works in amazing ways! Promote the event All vendors were responsible for promoting to their audiences thru newsletters, emails, social media, etc. We posted flyers around town and made up free tickets to give away. I contacted the local TV station who sent out a reporter and we were on the news at 6 and 10 that day. If we do this again I would contact the media at the beginning of the planning so they would partner with us and provide free promotion. Keep statistics 56 people attended, even tho I would love to have had 200. But everyone felt it was a good response since it was the first time we have done this and we only had 8 weeks to pull it off! Followup evaluations from vendors and participants I am still compiling evaluations from the vendors and most want this to happen again. As participants left the event and passed by the volunteer at the registration table, most mentioned that they loved the event and would like to see it happen again next year. Debrief with planning committee and plan for next year Our planning committee is very happy with the results and are on board to do this again. Our recommendations are: Start planning sooner – at least 6 months before the event Create a more extensive budget Include a fee for the coordinator (that would be me!) Secure sponsors to generate more revenue Charge non-profits $25 each Continue to charge vendors $50 each Provide refreshments because food is always a draw – with few dollars to work with, we did get apples donated and water was free. Consider having entertainment, round-table discussions, break-out sessions So why did I share this with you? Because it’s never too late to take on a new challenge that has meaning and can give back to others who might need your talents and time. It doesn’t have to be this involved of course. It can be just what you want it to be. And you don’t have to ask permission from a boss! Feel free to share new challenges you have embarked on to give your life more meaning in retirement.
  4. Carol Ebert

    Got 3rd Act Issues On Your Mind?

    Download allnurses Magazine Once you enter your Third Act all kinds of different thoughts start entering your consciousness. Here are some of my concerns I never had to consider before. I’m sure you have even more. Will I have enough money to live comfortably? Not everyone has retirement savings and social security is not enough to live the lifestyle you want. I can attest to that as I am on social security plus have no retirement savings so it is clear that you will need to prepare yourself with other revenue streams you might not have thought of before. I’m so passionate about wellness that I’m always creating new initiatives that can bring in more money (like the new book I wrote Too Busy for YOU? which targets busy professional women based on what I know about that lifestyle) What creative ideas do you have for generating more income? Will I eventually be disabled and dependent? I have been extra healthy since most of my career has been wellness focused and I have practiced what I preach. It has certainly paid off as I feel years younger than many my age, but that doesn’t mean some things are starting to deteriorate. For me it is little skin lesions that keep popping up and needing to be biopsied and excised. Or the cartilage in my knee needed to be trimmed due to wear and tear from all the exercise I do. So no matter how healthy you might think you are, there are things that may occur that could impact your quality of life. What are your thoughts about what you would do if you became disabled as you get older? What if my partner/spouse is gone and I’m all alone? It’s a fact that women will live longer than men so odds are you will be living alone at some point. The average American man will live to age 76, according to the latest CDC figures, while the average woman in America will live to age 81. What ideas do you have for dealing with the issue of being alone? What will I do with my time if I’m not going to work every day? Imagine having all the time in the world with no demands on your time. You’ve probably been dreaming about that for a long time but once you retire it will be a reality. Based on my experience with other friends who are retired, they seem busier than ever and I often hear this: “I can’t believe how busy I am, even more now than when I was working”. Additionally I hear some of my nurse friends who do enjoy the freedom for a short while are then itching to do some work again. What would fulfill you when you have plenty of time for YOU? What kind of living arrangement should I consider as I age? Remember the TV Show Golden Girls where 3 women shared a home together to share expenses and support of each other? That idea is starting to take hold. Online home-sharing websites, workshops and meetings for prospective housemates are booming. I’ve even been giving it some thought as an option. What examples of living arrangements have you considered as you get older? When should I consider down-sizing? It’s never too soon to start clearing out all the stuff we accumulate. This issue has really been on my mind because it takes a lot of time and energy to live with and deal with all the possessions we manage on a day to day basis. And why do we have all this stuff? In my case I have a large county property with several out buildings that are full since we live on a hobby farm. Every day I think “how long can I keep up with all this?” And wouldn’t life be simpler if I had less “stuff” to deal with. What surrounds your life that you know you could live without and how would it make you feel if you had less to deal with? Should I have a pet, and who will care for it if I die? This one is big for me because I have always had multiple pets and I know how important they are to my wellbeing. After I lost my last 2 dogs within one week I thought maybe I’m too old to have a pet, and what if I die and leave it behind. Who would care for it? So what did I do? I got a puppy! But the caveat was it is a breeding dog from another nurse who breeds dogs and needed this little stud to be farmed out to a great family to be raised (that’s me) and just go back to her for breeding purposes. Before I accepted that offer I said to her “What if I die?” She said “I’ll take him back”. I got the answer I wanted and now everyone is happy – especially me! What are your thoughts about having a pet as you get older and what is your strategy? The bottom line for all these concerns, and I suspect you may have other concerns as well, is to not postpone thinking about them but face them head-on and create an exit plan. I often wish my parents had done that for me instead of leaving us in a state of confusion about where everything was that needed to be tended to. And then having to make decisions about what to do with everything that they left behind. It is a daunting task but for us who might be more aware we can take charge and create a plan. It’s easy to remain in denial about the fact that we will die at some point so the more responsible approach is to get your act together and make those tough decisions while you can. I know planning isn’t everyone’s “thing” and I’m not great at it either, but when I do put a plan together it actually reduces my stress and gives me the feeling of being back in control. And your family will love you for it! Inspired by: Why Do Women Live Longer Than Men? House Sharing for Boomer Women Who Don't Want to Live Alone Benefits of Elderly Owning Pets The Upside of Downsizing What ideas do you have for making life in your Third Act as stress free as possible?
  5. Carol Ebert

    How to Remain Relevant as You Age

    1. Age related decline starts earlier than you think If you have been climbing the professional ladder and are deeply invested in being high up, be aware that there is a fall coming. For most people in most fields decline starts earlier than almost anyone thinks and nursing is not exempt. Scholars at Boston College’s Center for Retirement Research studied a wide variety of jobs and found considerable susceptibility to age-related decline in fields ranging from policing to nursing. It showed up in the professions that required mental processing speed and significant analytic capabilities which is what nursing is all about. The potential reason for age related decline lies in the work of the British psychologist Raymond Cattell, who in the early 1940s introduced the concepts of fluid and crystallized intelligence. 2. Prepare for a midway course correction Some nursing strengths peak early and then diminish Fluid intelligence is the ability to reason, analyze, and solve novel problems which nurses do every day. This ability to innovate is highest early in adulthood and diminishes starting in your 30s and 40s. This is why tech entrepreneurs, for instance, do so well so early, and why older people have a much harder time innovating. Some nursing strengths peak later and continue to grow Crystallized intelligence, in contrast, is the ability to use knowledge gained in the past. It’s all the wisdom you have accumulated. Because crystallized intelligence relies on an accumulating knowledge over time, it tends to increase through your 40s, and does not diminish until very late in life. The best explainers of complicated ideas—like the best teachers—tend to be in their mid-60s or older, some of them well into their 80s. This builds a case for us as we age to consider dedicating ourselves to sharing knowledge in some meaningful way. I’ve always thought nurses were great teachers and as you age you are even more so! This is so relevant for me as a member of the Third Act because I did transition out of clinical nursing in my 30’s where I relied on fluid intelligence and moved into health education. As I look back, I don’t think I could have continued the clinical side of nursing long term, but when I look at myself now as a health educator I feel I can continue teaching others indefinitely. I am fully aware that my wisdom from all my experiences (crystallized intelligence) is in full bloom and flourishing. In addition, I have always believed that nurses who remain in the clinical arena who are getting older would make great mentors and coaches for younger nurses beginning their careers. This idea would not only retain older nurses from leaving too soon because the work is too physically demanding while also supporting the younger nurses who might get discouraged and leave nursing too soon before they even got started. 3. Prepare to walk away Based on Hindu philosophy, Ashrama is a stage in life whose name comes from two Sanskrit words meaning “retiring” and “into the forest.” This is the stage, usually starting around age 50, where we purposefully focus less on professional ambition, and become more and more devoted to spirituality, service, and wisdom. This doesn’t mean that you need to stop working when you turn 50—something few people can afford to do—only that your life goals should adjust. The wisdom of Hindu philosophy—and indeed the wisdom of many philosophical traditions—suggests that you should be prepared to walk away from your professional rewards before you feel ready. Even if you’re at the height of your professional prestige, you probably need to scale back your career ambitions in order to scale up your metaphysical ones. Accepting the natural cadence of our abilities sets up the possibility of shifting our attention in our Third Act to higher spiritual and life priorities. This is where I am now and definitely feel the pull to give back, be of service, utilize my gifts and talents to help improve the health of as many people as I can. I hope to continue this quest for as long as I am able and do see this as a worthy spiritual practice. So the bottom line is to BE AWARE and PREPARE to remain relevant in your career and beyond in Your Third Act. It’s all good! Inspired by: Your professional decline is coming (much) sooner than you think (American Enterprise Institute) Early retirement might be in your future (CNBC) Does Age-Related Decline in Ability Correspond with Retirement Age? (Center for Retirement Research at Boston College) What stage are you in and what lessons have you learned?
  6. "I did my time in the hospital", I reply when asked what kind of nurse I was. You see, I am a retired nurse with approximately 50 years of experience, primarily in public or community health. During the 60’s in my BSN program at the University of Tennessee College of Nursing in Memphis, TN, those areas of clinical experience coupled with geriatrics were the last specialty areas I would ever have considered pursuing. Strange how things turn out, because those 2 areas eventually became the essence of my career as you will soon discover. Today, though officially retired, I maintain my North Carolina RN license via on-line CEU courses and volunteer as a nurse in several community settings working with all age groups. No, I do not carry out bedside nursing tasks, but I function in various capacities in out-patient clinics in our hospital network. In the OB-GYN Clinic I have taught prenatal patients about the Baby Friendly policies of the hospital where they will deliver and helped carry out time studies addressing waiting room wait times. In the Medical Clinic I assisted the case manager with follow-up of patients referred for specialty care similarly to work I had done as a nurse case manager years before. I administer flu shots to the large hospital staff annually and provided flu shots and education about hypertension as hospital outreach in a low-income barber shop in my city as well as providing tuberculin testing of future hospital volunteers in a special program off-site. Just this week I chaired the newly formed Patient Family Advisory Council for the Medical Clinic where I have volunteered. Currently, I assist patients in the GI/Endoscopic Clinic with enrolling in our hospitals patient portal in addition to assisting with the discharge of patients following procedures in the clinic. My penchant for community health was a partial impetus for joining the US Peace Corps with my husband in 2010-2013, at the age of 67. For 3½ months I was a community health worker in Niger Africa, but due to safety issues in that country we were reassigned to Armenia where I taught English but tried to incorporate health teachings into my student’s English lessons. An interest in community health has followed me over the years. Preventative healthcare and education outside the walls of the hospital continue to be a wide-open field for nurses where all the skills and knowledge one possesses are put to good use for the betterment of patients and the community. Ironically, my first nursing job was in a pediatric hospital where I was a staff nurse on the infectious disease floor. What an education that was! Like many new graduate RN's, I was given immense responsibility for many sick babies and children and did so rotating 8 hour shifts every week before twelve-hour shifts existed. I loved being there and loved the children, but the schedule was incompatible with my personal life. After 1½ years, in the mid 60's, I accepted a position as a general public health nurse at the local county health department in Memphis, TN. My treasured, starched white cap was traded for the navy-blue uniform of a public health nurse with the bonus of a black nursing bag which was part of that uniform. Education in the BSN nursing program was the guidepost for my practice as a new public health nurse. Later on, I completed national certification in case management to better function as a case manager in one of the health department's large neighborhood clinics during the overhaul of Medicaid in Tennessee during the 80's. I am sorry to say that I by-passed two different opportunities to return to study and become a nurse practitioner. That regret follows me into retirement. As sometimes happens, the timing for both opportunities was not right and I did not pursue that advanced degree. Now that my career is winding down and health care has changed drastically, I can see the tremendous value in community health that being a nurse practitioner would have been. The following are examples of selected experiences in various community health settings to better demonstrate why this is a specialty area filled with opportunity and fulfillment for nurses. A day's schedule varied with the year and the type of work or organization with which I was involved. As a new general public health nurse My work included well-child, prenatal and chronic disease neighborhood clinics. Home visits for public health issues as well as follow-up OB and infectious disease care were a part of each day, and I was responsible for health screenings and other issues for 3 schools in my district. Soon, I moved into the Tuberculosis Control Division of the Health Department. In that position I visited active tuberculosis patients in the Tuberculosis Hospital in our city to help prepare the patient for discharge as well as assure that all contacts had been tested and treated if necessary. Seeing patients in the TB Clinic for follow-up, dispensing medications and obtaining sputum specimens for diagnosis were regular assignments. Memorable Traveling to the rural home of a large household of contacts to a patient hospitalized with tuberculosis for the purpose of skin testing ... no one of the ten household members spoke English. Ages ranged from that of toddlers to grandparents. Communication was a challenge that day but everyone was tested with minimal crying and frustration for all. Next I taught Nursing of Children /Pediatrics in a hospital diploma nursing school where the first 2 male students were present in my senior level class. Hired and prepared as a BSN only nurse, a co-teacher and I worked hard and shared our knowledge and own experiences and research before each class. Memorable All of our students passed their State Nursing Boards in Pediatrics, hopefully due, in part, to our work with them. Home Health Care Following a brief stint as a public school nurse responsible for health education of middle school (junior high, at the time) students, home health care became the focus of my career and lasted 10 years. Community health covers all areas and home health fits right in. A wind-shield view of where I visited changed every day. Patients included those with serious medical conditions in addition to social and economic issues affecting their health. Trusting a family member to watch my car in a housing project while I carried out a nursing visit was not unusual. Visiting a patient at midnight when on call because of a clogged Foley catheter of several days’ duration was not rare. Teaching a patient to safely take their medications was routine. I once received a note from a patient with a severe visual impairment who had learned to draw up and give her own insulin after many tries. The note simply said, "We did good, didn’t we? Thank you for helping me." Memorable The patient I found on the floor in insulin shock, the patient with a lower extremity amputation who had maggots in his decubitus when I first saw him but whose wound soon began healing due to the cleaning of dead debris by nature followed by use of reputable wound healing dressings, the first patient to receive IV antibiotics at home ... memories of the 80’s and 90’s. And home health nursing continues in the community outside the walls of a hospital, just with changes due to the times in which we live. Home Visiting ... in the late 90's A new home visiting program was initiated at our Health Department in partnership with the University of Rochester and researcher, Dr. David Olds. The New Mothers Project was a study of nurse home visitation to first time mothers and their babies which theorized that these families would fare better in the future as a result of this intense period of health education and intervention. Of course, I jumped at the chance to participate. Most clients were teen mothers living at a poverty level and many were enrolled in school at the time of their pregnancy. Education about pregnancy, infant and child growth and development, dangers of smoking, drug and alcohol use in pregnancy, accident prevention, and attention to the young woman’s life course development were all parts of a strict protocol we home visiting nurses followed at weekly visits. Babies were followed either until 6 weeks of age or 2 years. The client and child were also interviewed and tested by research associates during the 2 years. This research continues now with the offspring and with their children. After 25 years, one of my clients found me on Facebook to report that she is finishing her doctorate in nursing in California and my "baby" is also studying to be a nurse. What a success she has become! This program is now replicated in clinics in forty-two states and several foreign countries under the title of Nurse-Family Partnership. Check if interested. There may be a clinic in your area. I am extremely proud to have been a part of that study and to see its positive outcome. I keep a small photo album of my babies and their moms as a reminder of those days in community health nursing and the lives led by so many who are less fortunate than myself. Memorable The pregnant teen who met me in her driveway to ask if the baby in her stomach was hungry because SHE was ... and had no food in her pantry. Note the teachable moments in this encounter. School health rose again as a calling I accepted a Charge Nurse position in the health department’s school nurse program which served medically fragile children in my county’s public schools. I shared responsibility with another nurse for twenty-nine school nurses in forty-nine schools including those who rode buses with the most fragile students. This job was the most challenging of my career and one I was not totally prepared for. Memorable I learned that management was not my "thing". I learned that hands-on contact and getting to interact and know my patients was much more my nursing style. I loved the children but never developed a close relationship with any of them due to management responsibilities and short staff. It was a fact of life and I learned from the experience. After 3 years in the above position, I retired but continued to volunteer in a primary care clinic for patients who worked but had no insurance. Soon a part-time staff position opened up and I took it. There I again saw all elements of our community and how poverty affects access to care. Carrying out tasks of a staff nurse in this clinic was perfect for me as well as the opportunity for health teaching and follow-up of persons with uncontrolled diabetes. My working career ended after 5 years when my husband and I moved to my current state. Here my volunteer efforts have been in out-patient clinics and community settings as noted earlier in this article … the area of practice with which I fell in love over 50 years ago. As they say, "Once a nurse, always a nurse". There was nothing mentioned in that adage about age! Community Health or Public Health, whatever the designation in your area, is a fertile field of opportunity and expanding rapidly, particularly with the emphasis on disease prevention, cost of insurance and issues with access to health care. Consider it seriously either before or after "doing your time" in a clinical setting. Times are more flexible and the work never routine. You will find many personal and professional rewards and an opportunity to continue being an active nurse for years to come. And finally, dear readers, think about continuing your education to a higher level so that you can offer even more to your community or setting, no matter what specialty you choose.
  7. Carol Ebert

    Is It Possible to Burnout in Retirement?

    And as I check in with others my age, I find several different paths that people take with their newly found free time. Take care of grandkids Travel Start hobbies Start a new business Go back to school for a new career Relax and hang out with friends Your path might be different because there really is not one path to take since the freedom you now have allows you to explore whatever you want. My path continues to be wellness because that is what I have always loved to do in my career and my passion has not stopped. What is different is that there is not a boss telling me what to do so I am free to do what I choose. And that is the reason I am writing about Burnout During Retirement. Can that be possible? I thought burnout was for those left behind who are over-worked, stressed-out, worn-down, exhausted and often depressed. As it turns out, when you aren’t answering to a schedule and the directives of an organization, you are still at risk for burnout. In my case, I blame it on my entrepreneurial nature which always directs me to seek more to explore, learn and do. And the result is that I find myself experiencing all the same symptoms of burnout that caused me to leave my last job in the first place. Here are some classic signs that employers report from their employees: Chronic physical and emotional exhaustion Sense of cynicism – everyone is bugging you, you don’t feel empathy for others Sense of ineffectiveness – you can’t see a path for yourself Lack of downtime – always “on” Lack of enthusiasm – can’t summon energy for what you used to be excited about Physical problems – headaches, stomach ache, bouts of cold and flu – especially if you don’t normally get sick Overreacting to requests I’m sure you are familiar with these or have even experienced some of these symptoms yourself. But if you are in your third act and happen to be an entrepreneur like me, you are still subject to this happening to you. I know that for a fact because I find myself overworking even more than I did as an employee because there is no schedule or corporate directive to tell me to stop and go home. I’m already home! So if you are entering the retirement zone, this is a cautionary tale – especially if you are an entrepreneur. But it is not hopeless. First step is to be aware that you might still burn yourself out if you have that busy nature as I do. So here are some excellent strategies to prevent this from happening. Tackle what frustrates you the most What stresses you out and leads to that headache? Pick it apart and see what you can change and what you can’t. Make the changes that you can and accept the changes you can’t. Surround yourself with inspiration Start and end your day with gratitude. Create a pleasant environment to work and play in. Listen, watch or participate in inspirational offerings Heed red flags Pay attention to the signs of burnout. Catch frustration early before your body starts to give you a symptom. (mine is a headache) Network with others your age who are entrepreneurs There is strength and support in numbers Find out what strategies they use to avoid burnout Do switch off Power down all your electronics before 8 pm to force downtime for yourself Create relaxing evenings before bed Get enough sleep We still need 7-8 hours/night Your body needs time to repair, restore, relax and during sleep is when that happens Talk things through Find someone you can talk to – friend, coach, therapist Find entrepreneur groups with your same interests who may be experiencing the same thing Take a break You may need to force this upon yourself because it is against our nature Keep a schedule and write it on your calendar Spend time with yourself Schedule time when you can purposefully do nothing Practice by working your way up from 5 minutes to finally about 30+ minutes. This inspired me. Hopefully, these strategies will be useful and provide you with a roadmap for creating a Third Act Retirement Plan that gives you the peace and wellness you desire while still honoring your busy nature. Your thoughts?
  8. Here is Lori’s story as an example of a nurse practitioner I have coached on retooling herself. Lori was a self-described “burned out nurse” ready to retire. “I don’t want to go back to any kind of clinical nursing” she told me. Instead, she started retooling her nursing skills to reflect a more holistic approach to health and got trained as a Wellness Coach, aligned with a nutrition company that provided business training as well as an online store of high quality nutritional products and began her new journey while remaining grounded in her nursing foundation. She is a lot happier now and doesn’t see retirement as stopping, but just transitioning into who she has evolved to be as a nurse. Her story reminds me of how easily our nursing education and experiences can be retooled into new and interesting directions whenever we need a change. If this resonates with you, here are a few tips to help start the re-tooling process: 1. Do you really want to change once you are retired? There are times in our lives when we’re forced to reinvent ourselves. For example, when my last job got so stressful and I knew it was killing me, I knew I needed a change. I was also close to retirement but still wanted to work, so I thrust myself into the world of the unknown – trying to reinvent myself without having a clue as to how to do that. I actually had never thought about what retirement would look like for me, but I knew for sure I would never stop being productive doing something. So, do you really want to change? YES or NO 2. Stop thinking of yourself as being retired. Let’s retire the word retired and focus on being re-tooled. Create a positive mindset about entering Your Third Act and appreciate all the surprises, challenges and joys that will unfold Make a personal affirmation to convince yourself that you are not done, but are taking another path towards a fulfilling life. Fill in the blank: In the future I will be joyfully working at _______________________. 3. Assess your work history for skills Evaluate your resume and highlight the skills you already possess Examine your job experiences and make a detailed list of all the things you do well and enjoy List the skills that that were never part of your job description, yet were required for you in order to succeed. List all soft-skills as well as hard skills. List educational presentations you have made that have been persuasive List research skills you have developed How skilled are you at writing and communication Consider all the extraordinary experiences you have had on the job that helped you develop creative thinking skills or sharpened organization capabilities. 4. Attach yourself to the right people. In today’s interconnected world it’s easier than ever to network with people from all over the world. While people have associated social networking with meeting new friends and finding job opportunities, you can also connect with people who can change you for the better. Linkedin is a great business social media site where you can connect with other nursing groups who may have interests that inspire you. Or connect with me for support. 5. Learn. Whether if it’s reading or attending a workshop or webinar, find ways to enhance your knowledge. It will make you a more well-rounded individual and help you grow both personally and professionally. Lifelong learning also makes you more motivated, develop mental skills, and introduces you to new people and thoughts. There are so many FREE Webinar Series with content you can immerse yourself in that you will come away with ideas, connections and motivation. Take a class for inspiration or develop new skills. Many colleges offer free tuition to retirees Find a local program that focuses on entrepreneurship if what you want is to run your own business. 6. Work part-time Volunteer Freelance in an area that fits your talents If you have always been a nurse but always dreamed about being a writer, then start writing a blog on your life experiences and ultimately it could be a book that generates some income. (I did that to create my book Too Busy for YOU?) 7. Find a mentor. Here are types of mentors: Direct. The mentor is in front of you and will guide you. Indirect. These are mentors who aren’t physically with you, like authors. Everything can be a mentor. If you have a mentor that insists that you do things their way, learn it their way and then do it your way. My favorite mentor is someone successfully doing what you want to do 8. Manage your finances. Reinventing yourself won’t always be free. For example, if you want to change careers, you may have to take workshops or college courses. Because of that, it’s important that you create a realistic budget so you have the funds to complete your transformation. Remember “it takes money to make money”. 9. Take one step at a time. Reinvention is a process that could take years. Don’t overwhelm yourself by getting consumed on the big picture. Take steps to accomplish your end goals. For example, if you want to get in better shape, than the first step would be going for a walk, the next step would be setting a schedule, then getting a gym membership and finally eating healthier. Take it one step at a time. 10. Believe in yourself. Once you leave your nursing job it takes a toll on self-confidence and self-esteem. But you must remind yourself of all of your personal accomplishments. You were good at your job, in fact, you were great! You achieved goals, impressed bosses and yourself, had grateful patients and you can do it again. Inspired by: Consider these Five Ways to Reinvent Yourself Five Essentials of Reinventing Yourself Entrepreneur How could you retool your nursing skills for a NEW third Act?
  9. Carol Ebert

    Aging or Ageless: What path are you on?

    Change your perception of YOU If you think you are old, you will be old before your time. Don’t act your age. Stop feeling guilty when you are drawn in the clothing section of a store when teens hang out. Their clothes are more exciting and fun than the ones you “think” you should wear. If dressing youthful makes you feel youthful, then your mind thinks you are younger too. Watch what you say Red flag language is: I’m having a senior moment I’m too old for that I can’t remember anything Replace your negative language about aging with positive words about how cool it is to be older and wiser. Look for positive role models My current favorites are Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin - both in their 80’s and still rocking! And what about RBG and Nancy Pelosi. There are more and more public figures who are showing us that older is even better. Activate personal healing practices Ask your body what it needs to flourish Reduce stress by establishing a habit of rest and restoration Create balance between activity and rest Embrace a daily nap Exercise daily but protect your body from over-doing it. Nourish your body with food it desires Relax with yoga, mindful practices, music, breathing, warm baths Grieve and release Be aware of past hurts, grudges, resentments that drag you down Create a ritual for release like writing it all down and then burning the paper Practice shifting your thoughts to something pleasant when old negative thoughts pop into your head Shout out loud – “get out of my head, I am done with you!” Forgive old resentments by praying for them briefly every day for 10 days and then feel the release Nurture relationships Nurture yourself first – how would you treat yourself if you were the love of your life? Protect your priceless energy by saying NO to toxic relationships, even family members Have fun with your friends Have fun with your partner Protect your space by setting healthy boundaries Say NO to rescuing others who need to rescue themselves Eat with Pleasure Treat your meal like an event Arrange to eat with people you enjoy who are not in a hurry Get excited about knowing that your body craves vegetables more than anything! Start with a ritual of appreciation for this wonderful nourishment for your body Look, listen and savor the food Slow the pace of chewing to slow the pace of the meal Pay attention to how your body feels Stop eating when you feel full Thank the food for nourishing your body Move with Joy Select movements that give you pleasure, stretch your muscles, get your energy flowing and make you feel alive If you like to dance but not go to dance classes or clubs, choose Jazzercise If you walk, change the pace and location If you want freedom of movement try NIA If you like being home put on music and make cleaning, dusting, gardening into dance moves If you sit all day set a timer every hour and get up to do stretches, hip swivels, yoga, tai chi Practice balancing on one foot at a time when on the phone, cooking dinner, watching TV Be Beautiful Look in the mirror every day and say “Hello gorgeous – you look awesome”. Do a morning beauty ritual for your face and enjoy the process, feel, fragrance and transformation Treat yourself to a professional beauty treatment in a salon and savor the process and feeling Wear only clothes that make you feel great even if they are “way out” Make an entrance into a room with head held high as if you are a movie star on the red carpet Connect with your spirituality Journal daily in peace and quiet and see what is revealed Remember to be who you really are and not what others think you should be Ground yourself by connecting with nature regularly Practice mindful meditation and see what comes up Connect with a spiritual community Create meaningful daily affirmations Personalize your environment Rearrange your living space to reflect good feelings and rejuvenation Purge and declutter one drawer at a time Create a small meditation alter or zone Locate a perfect place outdoors to replenish yourself Schedule daily time to be with yourself Affirm your true ageless self I will bring more pleasure into my life I will leave worry and fear behind I will be more joyful I will honor my spirituality I will live in the moment in alignment with nature I will have faith that what is meant for me will always come I will surround myself with supportive people Resource: Goddesses Never Age: The Secret Prescription for Radiance, Vitality and Well-Being by Christiane Northrup, MD Please share how you are embracing “Coming of Age” and your strategies for living “Agelessly”.
  10. Carol Ebert

    Your Third Act

    Isn’t there a better way to frame this time of our life? Well, the good news is that there is! A good friend turned me on to Jane Fonda’s TED Talk called “Life’s Third Act” and I was transformed! That is the language I was looking for. I’m in my Third Act – the last 3 decades of life - and I get to write my own book about what that means for me. As Jane Fonda says: this is actually a developmental stage of life with its own significance, as different from midlife as adolescence is from childhood. And we should all be asking: How do we use this time? How do we live it successfully? What is the appropriate new metaphor for aging? We have to get over the fact that older ages are not all about pathology. Many of us (me too) are not riddled with disease, but are healthy, vibrant, energetic, filled with potential and ready for more. Fonda also says: It turns out, most people over 50 feel better, are less stressed, less hostile, less anxious. We tend to see commonalities more than differences. Some of the studies even say we're happier. So this is all good news for those of us who struggle against a culture that tends to discard our value and not appreciate what we can offer. We - the over 60 generation who were such idealistic free thinkers in our youth are not going to go quietly into the good night. We are creating a new paradigm for aging and it focuses on being - and feeling - ageless. Dr. Christiane Northrup, OBGYN, women’s health pioneer and best selling author even wrote the book Goddesses Never Age referring to older women as Ageless Goddesses. I prefer thinking of myself that way as well because the number of my age does not correlate with how I perceive myself. In my mind I am still 35 which is about half of my chronological age. Jean Huston, PhD, scholar, philosopher and researcher in Human Capacities speaking to Oprah said “It started to get really good at 60. Your heartfulness increases, you’re always looking for the deeper aspect of anything, and you try to be of use.” Carol Osborne, author of The Spirituality of Age: A Seeker’s Guide to Growing Older says coming of age is the opportunity to not only grow older, but to grow whole. It is a life stage of value and purpose of its own. Sabrina Chaw, CEO of A Feminine Feast, says “as women coming into our own, we are discovering our own true path to light up our lives.” Gail Sheehy best-selling author of New Passages: Mapping Your Life Across time presents startling facts: A woman who reaches age 50 today – and remains free of cancer and heart disease – can expect to see her ninety-second birthday. To plot our route across these vast new stretches of Second Adulthood, we need a new map of adult life. From my perspective I feel like I’m just getting started. All those years of working and experiencing things was like an internship and now I am ready to go out on my own and prove to myself I can do anything I set my mind on. I am free from the shackles of working for a boss, in control of my time and destiny, healthier and more physically active than most at my age and looking forward to what I can create next. What about you? Is aging on your mind? What are your thoughts about your third act of life? Will you continue working in nursing? What dream do you have that you want to pursue beyond your nursing career? All these questions are valid and important for you to process, because your next 30 years might be the best and most rewarding of all. Please share your thoughts.
  11. The words "older adult" often produces a stereotypical image of someone who is sick, slow, frail and senile. As I age, I am guilty of thinking aging is all about decreasing... decreasing physically and decreasing mentally. The National Council of State Boards of Nursing 2015 Nursing Workforce Study reported 50% of registered nurses and 46% of licensed vocational nurses are over the age of 50. Institutions are exploring ways to retain these older nurses in a strategy to maintain the nursing workforce as nurse baby boomers retire. However, ageism is a threat to the profession's ability to maintain enough nurses in the workforce to meet the healthcare needs of our aging population. If you are in search of a lively discussion, just ask the question "At what age should a nurse retire? The conversation will most likely be divided and laced with stereotypes of older individuals. It is realistic older nurses experience more chronic disease and may find the physical demands of nursing challenging. This generation may also be less comfortable with the use of technology. However, negative stereotypes and myths of older nurses remain a threat to the nursing profession. Let's explore deeper the realities and myths surrounding aging nurses. Older Nurses Do Not Have The Physical Strength Needed For Job Role It is true the body does experience a small decrease in muscle strength from ages 40 to 65. There are many muscles in the body and they decrease in strength at different rates. Therefore, there is no one test that assesses a person's overall strength. A nurse with many years of experience has most likely developed successful strategies in meeting physical aspects of a job. In addition, nurses maintain muscle strength with the day-to-day walking, lifting and carrying that comes with the job. A benefit to a career in nursing is the diverse settings nurses, both young and older, are needed. Many jobs outside of the hospital and bedside nursing are less physically demanding. These jobs require the experience and expertise that is prevalent in older nurses. Nurse Educators- Nursing programs are currently turning away students, due to the shortage of nurse faculty, at a time when the need for nurses continue to grow. Outside of the classroom, older nurses experience is knowledge is needed to fill clinical instructor positions. Nurse educators are also hired by medical device companies, textbook publishers, community clinics and others. Public Health Nurse- These nurses focus on the health of a community, school, community organization and community health clinics. Occupational Health Nurse- Serves employees of a business to promote overall health, safety and injury prevention Older Nurses Think Slower And Are Less Productive Managers and co-workers are often concerned that older nurses have trouble meeting the mental demands of nursing. Posthuma and Campion (2009) synthesized over 100 studies on stereotypes of older workplace employees One theme that emerged is the stereotype older workers are less motivated and lack competence. It is true, especially with bedside nursing, that productivity declines with age. The Occupational Outlook Handbook (2016) reports 61% of nurses work in a hospital, however, many nurses successfully work bedside beyond age 65. In addition, the nursing profession offers jobs in a wide range of areas and settings. Older Nurses Do Not Like Change And Are Stuck In The Past. This is a myth and can easily be dispelled with 3 key points. First, baby boomers typical place a large amount of trust in leadership and in the strategies of their leaders. However, it is important to the older employee that they understand how change supports new strategies and how it will benefit or improve their ability to perform a job role. Second, older nurses bring knowledge that only years of expertise can provide. Through mentoring and informal teaching, older nurses can pass their knowledge on to newer, less experienced nurses. Third, older nurses stay informed of new standards, skills and healthcare changes through to their state board of nursing continuing education requirements and workplace training. Older Nurses Call Out And Use More Sick Time Although older individuals have more chronic illness, young and older workers actually have similar absentee rates. In addition, studies have shown younger workers have more acute illness than older workers. Consequences Of Stereotypes Ultimately, ageism in nursing negatively impacts the patient's experience. Stereotypes can make an older nurse feel unwelcomed and unappreciated. Older nurses may feel pressure to retire- leading to a staffing gap in a healthcare environment that is already understaffed. As our population continues to age, older nurses understand the aging experience. Having nurses on staff that understand their specific needs significantly improves the patient experience. Older nurses are valuable to the community and nursing profession. What you can do to address ageism in nursing Reflect on your own views about aging and the older nurse Be aware of common stereotypes and your own attitudes that reflect ageism Avoid telling or laughing at jokes with themes of ageism Avoid gossip about the performance of an older peer. Acknowledge how older nurses benefit the patients in your setting. A Final Thought Being aware of the realities and myths are the first step in supporting older nurses. Experienced nurses bring a wealth of knowledge that is valuable to younger nurses and patients. With the looming nursing shortage, it is important for the nursing community to continue identifying strategies to retain aging nurses. Resources: American Association of Colleges of Nursing, (2017). Nursing Shortage Fact Sheet, Nursing Shortage Nurse Journal (2018). 155 Super Great Non-hospital Nursing Jobs for Nurses. 15 Super Great Non-Hospital Nursing Jobs for Nurses | 218 NurseJournal.org Stokowske, L. (2008). Old but not out: the aging nurse in today's workforce. Medscape: Medscape Access The NTAR Leadership Center
  12. Maureen Bonatch MSN

    When the New Workforce Is the Old Workforce

    Many of us begin planning for retirement early in our career with most of our concerns evolving around financial planning. Although it's essential to plan for adequate retirement funds, it's just as important to consider the psychological adjustment that can occur with retirement. Although most of us never stop being a nurse, often we've attached some of our identity to our work. After spending years in nursing, retirement can bring feelings of loss, although many don't admit this. Society has conditioned us to believe that these are the years we've been waiting for, so it may feel wrong to express unhappiness or loneliness. You may feel as if you've lost a part of yourself, or realize you'd tied most of your social network to work. The nursing shortage has contributed to a demand for nursing staff. This may open additional opportunities for flexible, seasonal, or float positions that can allow for a gradual adjustment to retirement. Shifting into Retirement It might become apparent that although you've prepared financially for living expenses, those travel and other expenditures that you've put off until retirement are more expensive than you've budgeted. Maintaining a little nursing work may help fund your freedom to pursue your plans. Choosing to remain, or return, to nursing in a new or reduced role can help keep your mind sharp while allowing you to cash in on your skills. Your attitude about work might change as well when you choose to go to work, instead of feeling as if you must go. Take a Turn in Your Career You've spent countless years advancing your career through education and acquiring new skills, but long shifts, or too many days in a row, can be draining. There may be ways to explore new roles that allow you to utilize that clinical expertise with less physical strain. This could be an opportunity to transition into other positions or try something new such: Teaching - For schools or adult learning centers, as a wellness consultant, or by providing education on First Aid, or a nurse aide instructor Freelance healthcare writer - Keep current on new technology and changes in healthcare by researching and writing healthcare articles Travel nursing - Explore some of those retirement destinations Go PRN - Consider opportunities that provide more flexibility such as a substitute school nurse or in a casual, or PRN position to retain, or gain, an area of nursing expertise Back to school - If you've reduced your workload, and the kids are grown, perhaps now you have the time to pursue that extra education you've put off This is only a fraction of the different ways you can continue to utilize your nursing skills. The important thing is to explore what motivates you, or what career goals you may have put on hold. Retirement may signify the end of one career, but it may be the beginning of a new one. Put Recruiting in Reverse Many employers have always valued the expertise of their older workers, but the desire to recruit or retain them has become more prevalent with the nursing shortage. Rather than mourning the wealth of knowledge of a nurse nearing retirement, some employers are exploring ways to be more flexible to accommodate the needs of these workers. Such as by: Finding ways to work around the nurse who is semi-retired and wants to spend the winter out of state can prove beneficial when schedules are tight during summer vacations. Developing roles in orientation, training, or mentoring are often great ways to enhance the onboarding of new employees while allowing the experienced nurse to share their wealth of knowledge. The Road to Retirement Retirement doesn't have to be an all or nothing venture. Whether financial needs inspire you to keep your foot in the workplace, or you just enjoy working, consider that there are other opportunities available rather than feeling obligated to the same old job if it's left you uninspired. That opportunity may only mean reducing your work schedule or exploring a different role. But that small change might make the difference and allow you to take advantage of the years you've invested in your career.
  13. bany22

    Nurse Savings and Investing

    No, this post is not about bragging. It's about inspiring to help you see the possibility on what you can achieve with a bit of vision and hustle. So when retirement comes knocking, and you find your pension isn't quite buying all it used to, you won't end up staring at missed opportunities on the rearview mirror. In case you haven't read my first blog... husband and I are both nurses, ages 36 and 38 years old, living in San Francisco Peninsula since 2008. Prior to moving here, we had no savings and were both in debt. Since 2015, I only work 7-8 shifts per month, while the husband continues to work full time. SF Bay area cost of living is over 3 times the national average, with San Mateo County median home prices 3 times that of California and over 7x the US average. But, how did a couple of staff nurses, only initially armed with community college degrees, who just moved here 10 years ago, afford 2 properties in SF peninsula and a few more? No, we did not inherit wealth. No, we were not gifted money or win the lottery. No, we didn't invest in Facebook or Tesla stocks. (we all wish!) No, we didn't start a business nobody's ever thought of. No, we did not eat ramen and leftovers for the last 10 years, nor did we work 2 jobs or overtime while squirreling away our paychecks. No, we didn't stay homebound and avoided vacations. No, we didn't stay at home with parents rent-free. And no, we didn't go "Breaking Bad" either. But my belief has always been this: Hard work puts bread on the table. Extra hard-work may make savings and simple luxuries possible. But, it's through taking risks with sound investment that affords peace-of-mind. And at the end of the day. That's what we all want for our families-- financial peace of mind. How? Because of Passive income. It's the income you can make while not working. What do you need to initially put more? Risk. When you're young and single, explore and travel cheaply. Work the extra hours. Educate yourself. Read not just about nursing (or whatever profession you're in), but about life, spirituality, finance, philosophy, history, current events. Don't be afraid to learn from people. Life is not all just about work. Trust me, when you leave your workplace, your employer will not remember how hard or how long you've worked for. Life is about a multitude of things. Think twice about getting advanced degrees from fancy schools. Fancy schools = large debts. Be practical. If advanced degree from a fancy school = much higher earning potential than the non-fancy alternative, then it may be justified. If not, perhaps try a more affordable institution if you must go back to school. If you didn't get to start saving for your nest egg in your 20's, and now, you're in your 30's and 40's, it's still NOT too late. 1) Spend after you save. Don't live within your means; live significantly below it. When we started out, I was adamant with living on 1 income which was quite challenging with a mortgage. If 50% is too much, then try living on 70% of your income. If it's still not possible, find a way to earn more money through a side gig or overtime work. For us, we took in a roommate to help us out with travel money. 2) Change your mindset. Don't put your heart on material things. Remember, we bring nothing to our graves. So, don't buy unnecessary things. The point of saving and investing is to ensure your family and yourself are cared for. So, value experiences and relationships instead. Besides, true relationships are much cheaper and more valuable than that Gucci purse. 3) And if you must buy, buy gently used stuff. Even now, when I pass by a good deal, I buy used- like my China set, retailing at $500, which I got at an estate sale for $50. Avoid brand names just 'cuz the "Joneses" have them. I'm telling you, those Joneses are probably mortgaged and indebted to the hilt. 4) Drive that old car proudly! Yes, my 11 y.o. paid off Toyota lets me sleep more soundly at night, than that new shiny Benz. In general, maximize the life of any depreciable asset. This goes with tech gadgets and appliances. 5) Hold off on that pricey vacation! Delay until you have enough 6-months emergency savings if you're single and at least 1 year emergency savings if you have a family. Save and pre-pay for that trip. The drool-worthy Instagram pictures can wait. You will smile more genuinely when you have no credit card debts waiting when you get back to the grind. 6) Pay off your credit cards, student loans, car loans as quick as you can. 7) Pay off that home equity loan of credit (HELOC) faster too. After the first few years, fixed HELOC rates become variable and are at least 2% higher than previous teaser fixed rates. Also, HELOC interest is not tax deductible with the new tax laws. So, wait for that kitchen renovation when you can pay it off out of pocket. I can assure you, your food will cook just the same on a new or old kitchen stovetop. Have adequate property insurance. If you're renting, get a renter's insurance. If you own your house, get an earthquake on top of your regular homeowner's insurance. It doesn't hurt to have an umbrella policy either if you and your spouse have a higher net worth in case you come across an extra litigious person. 9) Have adequate life insurance in the event of an untimely death. I don't believe insurance should be used for savings, as insurance companies impose huge premature cash out penalties (some almost 40%) among other things. But life insurance policy from reputable carriers, held for unforeseen events is always a good idea. 10) Max out your retirement accounts. When you think you'd have more time, is when you realize you actually don't have any. So, take advantage of those pre-tax, employer matched contributions. To make it simple, if you are in the 25% fed tax and 10% Ca state bracket, for every $10k you make, the government takes $3500. Now if you set aside $2k in 401, the government only taxes $8k or takes $2800. In other words, from your $2k contribution, the govt. pays $700 while you pay $1400 into it. And when it gets taxed at retirement withdrawal, it would be taxed on your future lower tax bracket. 11) Find ways to invest your extra savings to beat out inflation. "Inflation is when you pay fifteen dollars for the ten-dollar haircut you used to get for five dollars when you had hair." Invest. May it be real estate, mutual funds, government bonds, REIT, annuities, 529 plan. Canvass online financial institutions such as vanguard and fidelity. They may have lower fees than traditional brick and mortar banks. 12) Make a budget. Since I started work at 15, I already kept a monthly budget. Writing you're your income and expenses on paper easily helps track of what's essential and what you can do without. (To be honest, I haven't stuck to the budget the past 3 years, but with my new goal of paying off our mortgage before 45, it's not a bad idea to get back at.) 13) Lastly, remember to give back, not lend out. If you must, only lend out what you're ready not to get back without destroying the relationship. Otherwise, save yourself headache and money. With this said, I'm a believer of giving back the blessings to the church, charity or a random homeless person. Donate whatever you don't need or barely use. I firmly believe your blessings will come back to you and... its tax deductible.
  14. Lindsey McGraw

    Retirement When?

    Passing visitors in the hall at my place of employment in long-term care with a confident, brisk gait-leaves not doubt I am "head nurse" for the evening, and very proud of it. Yes, my knees creak when I bend and any task kneeling on the floor is out of the question. Oh my, CPR class with a dummy. "Where is a table to place "resuscitate SP... Annie!" This is not funny! Dementia patients see my hair of white and call me "MaMa", wanting comfort from fright. When orienting one of my special friends that I am not "MaMa" but instead her nurse, she laughs out loud stating "You are full of it!" When emergencies happen, I no longer run because arriving short of breath or out of gas is very important. One has to guide the new nurses calmly through emergency procedures so when 911 arrives they will be impressed things have been done right. Compliments are spoken "What a great nursing staff!! There are times my mind is slower, but my tongue is sharp....quick to give opinions when needed or not. No "wham moments" staring off into space, with a blank look covering my face, have been noted, just an occasional bit of everyday forgetfulness. One day sitting in the break room a thought passed through my brain "Oh my, when should a nurse retire?" Laughing to myself, I begin reflecting on years past working with a few old nurses, ranging in age from 76-80 is the oldest, a list of warning signs came to mind. They are as follows: l. Staff nurses you work with make fun of you by imitating one of your many idiosyncrasies behind your back, like a tick or that habit of repeating yourself. 2. You begin to resemble some of the residents in the nursing home where you work and visitors ask if you need assistance. 3. When a code situation occurs, you have to take out your American Heart Association manual and thumb through the instructions on how to institute CPR. 4. During infection control rounds one evening you pour alcohol on a Bedpan...flame it with a match, light it on fire, and stand there in total disbelief as it melts slowly, realizing they are no longer metal, but made of plastic. Youth prevails, so as years pass by when I become this old nurse as described above, gently take me aside and say "Old Nurse, it is time...you are way past your prime." Make your list of things to do with your idle hours like a new hobby, books to read, and bingo games to play. PLEASE for the sake of us all "OLD SCARY NURSES...Enjoy Your Retirement!"
  15. VivaLasViejas

    After Nursing: Is There Life Out There?

    I knew it was too good to last forever. Today, in a meeting with my company's regional director of operations and the corporate nurse consultant, my Executive Director and I learned that we will both probably be let go if our building doesn't pass our re-survey next month. We got our butts handed to us during the exit interview last time, and we've had some challenges that have put us behind schedule in getting the new programs up and running in response to the problems found during the inspection. The timing couldn't possibly be worse; we expect the survey team back at any time after the first week of March, and we simply aren't finished fixing everything, let alone learning how to use all the new paperwork that Corporate put in place to address the documentation issues. Neither of us was surprised; we're both longtime directors, and this is a place we've both been before. The proverbial handwriting is on the wall. Still, the discussion had a surreal quality to it, especially before my boss was summoned to join the RDO, corporate nurse and me in my office. The RDO sat down in the floor supervisor's chair and gazed straight at me with his head cocked to the side, looking for all the world like a certain physician I see fairly frequently, and asked me the same type of questions Dr. So-and-so always does. "Are you OK?" he wanted to know, speaking in a tone that was more concerned than condemning. "How are you doing? I mean, how are you really doing.'' He was to repeat these queries at several more junctures during the conversation, which made the hair on the back of my neck stand up. I have never felt the need to inform Corporate about my personal health issues, but I got the sense that he knew everything and was just waiting for me to come clean. Fortunately, this was NOT my first rodeo, and since I don't use my 'nonconformity' as an excuse for being remiss in my duties, I said nothing along that line, only that I'm very stressed out and frustrated at the circumstances under which I'm working at this point. Which brought to mind something I promised myself back in 2010 when I realized that I'd lucked into the best nursing job ever: that this was it. This was the job I would retire from. Little did I know that this statement would come back to haunt me as I approach late middle age and realize how great are the odds against finding another nursing job. Especially one I can actually handle. I'm old. I'm tired. I'm cynical. I'm a train wreck, both physically AND mentally. And I've decided that if I do end up in the unemployment line, I'm done. As much as I've loved nursing, I know my days are numbered even if I do squeak through this crisis. I'm far too prickly now to just stand back and co-sign people's BS. I'm easily distracted and tend to lose focus when faced with piles of paperwork. I'm quickly overwhelmed, and easily undone by the stressors inherent in the work. Plus, I'm at an age where it's time to think about what I want out of my later years. Hmm, let's see....should I enjoy my home and family, or would I rather go on forever with the 50-hour weeks? And how long will my mind and body hold out if I continue to put myself through this day after day, month after month, year after year? I don't know. What I do know is, I need a Plan B. Of course I'll continue to work hard at keeping my job, because I really do enjoy it a good portion of the time (and the pay isn't half bad either). And if I do come through intact, I'm staying where I am until I can't take even one more snotty patient or irate family member. But I am just not going to put myself through another round of interviews for nursing positions.....if I can even get them, that is. I have an associate's degree, bad knees, and flat feet that can't run the floors anymore. A few years ago I could, and did, get away with it because my experience was so varied; now it's a different story, and with my lack of advanced education I'd be lucky to find a swing-shift job in a nursing home. Which I can't do. Great. So, to assist me in redirecting my energies, I'd like to know what you all think would be a good job for me. I mean, besides Wal-Mart greeter (which I don't think they even have anymore) and carnival barker. What do you think I could do that would make me reasonably happy AND keep my husband and me off the streets? I don't need a career anymore, but a job paying a living wage is a necessity. I look forward to your responses. (Friendly reminder: they do need to be in reasonably good taste, of course.) Thanks!
  16. VivaLasViejas

    No Experience Necessary

    I don't know about you, but I find perusing the job listings at my friendly local unemployment office to be quite entertaining. Where else could I find "opportunities" like working on an Alaskan fishing boat......becoming a cannery worker......learning how to make dentures? I wonder: who does that stuff? I worked on an assembly line in my way-back days and there simply wasn't enough in the job to occupy the mind (hence my frequent attempts to inject some interest into the days by spiking the water cooler with vodka or gluing the plant manager's phone receiver down so when he picked it up the whole phone would come with it and subsequently crash onto the desk). I was hell on wheels, but I managed to keep the same job for almost five years despite multiple write-ups and inter-department transfers. Fast-forward a couple of decades to my first nursing position, which lasted a little over three months. Still, it was a job I could really sink my teeth into---a job where I could use my hands AND my smarts---and I enjoyed being a nurse even if I wasn't too keen on being an employee. Unfortunately, however, the intellectual stimulation eventually became too much for my disorderly brain, and now I need to get out of clinical nursing because I can't handle the constant barrage of information that comes at one from all directions. So I've found myself in the unenviable position of changing course in late mid-life......and that's how I wound up at the unemployment office, scanning the hundreds of jobs available. Hmmm, this one sounds interesting: "Ticket Taker for XYZ University football games, 10 hrs/week, $8.95 per hour." Yep, I could deal with that---spending my Saturdays standing out in 45-degree temps and getting rained on while dealing with college kids who are full of attitude and beer......all for minimum wage. Wow. Better jump on that one before it's gone. Wonder if I could get into the games for free? Here's another: "Appointment setter for dynamic local business, 5 evenings/week, hourly wage + commission." Translated, it means being a telemarketer who gets cussed out and threatened by strangers. Wait a minute---as a nurse I put up with the same crap, and for about $25 more an hour. Guess I can cross THAT one off the list. Still another: "Earn While You Learn! Become An Exterminator at Kritters, Inc." Uh-huh. I can just imagine my arachnophobic, 54-year-old self crawling under houses with nothing but a hazmat suit and a ginormous container full of chemicals on my back to protect me. Do we know any more jokes? And look, here's a REAL winner: "No Experience Necessary! Work from home selling the nation's No. 1 cookware! Generous commission and incentives. Demo set $200, refundable after initial sales goal met. Call today!" I mean, what could go wrong? No, this business of changing careers---aw, let's just call it what it is, changing focus---at this stage of the game is some pretty tricky stuff, and I'm just an amateur in a world of professional job-hunters. In other words......I'm DOOMED. Maybe I should just stick with my happy, little, very part-time job doing admissions at my SNF and call it good. It's not real nursing, but it sure pays like it, and it doesn't tax my brain to the point of overloading and shorting out.....which beats Wally World in a landslide. Onward and upward!
  17. Carol Ebert

    Wellness Works if YOU Work It!

    And where would we be without WELLNESS? It used to be just a buzz word, but now it is a life and death thing. If we are not well, we can't survive and thrive. And yet we continue to get sicker, fatter, in more pain, and more miserable despite the abundance of fitness centers, yoga studios, massage locations, vitamin stores, advances in healthcare, bigger better hospitals, and on and on. What's wrong with this picture? I entered the wellness field over 40 years ago when I realized there had to be more I could do to prevent all the disease and ailments I was caring for every day as a nurse. By shifting from bedside to school nursing I discovered the fun of being with healthy people all day and being able to teach them how to get healthier and stay that way. That was my epiphany and I never looked back. And I have worked hard for a long time to help people take charge of their own health, take fewer medications and basically stay out of the healthcare system. So what happened? Why did I fail in my quest to help people reach higher levels of wellness? Here are some of the factors that stood in my way. 50 years ago the SUGAR INDUSTRY funded research that downplayed the risks of sugar and highlighted the hazards of fat. The great FAT SCARE from the 60's that made fat evil and so we needed to reduce it in our diet as much as possible based on recommendations from prestigious organizations like the healthcare system, the US government, the American Heart Association, etc. The UPSIDEDOWN FOOD PYRAMID that focused on eating more carbs than anything else because they have the lowest calorie load and we should power up with 6-11 servings per day. (This is absolutely the worst way to eat for health and we all got on board in full force and now look at what has happened.) The JUNKFOOD INDUSTRY that focused on giving us all forms of low-fat, no-fat processed foods to follow the government guidelines. And now many of us are afraid to eat fat and these products are still on the market despite the new science that says good fat is good. The TOXIC LIFESTYLE due to an overabundance of processed, refined, high glycemic, genetically modified, sugar infused, colored, artificially flavored and preservative filled foods plus an overabundance of toxic chemical exposure from our homes, workplaces and the environment and medications. The OVER-POWERING of the MEDICAL MODEL on our decision-making ability to determine our own health outcomes by encouraging medications and surgeries over prevention and wellness. And many of us still rely on our doctors for advice on how to get healthy when many of them don't have expertise on wellness to guide us in that direction. Despite all these forces working against us living a healthy lifestyle, once again we need to take charge. So here's what I do if you need some ideas of how wellness can work for you: Wellness concepts are my guide - I use a holistic approach and nurture all 6 dimensions Eat low glycemic food to maintain blood sugar control which releases fat as a side effect. Live fully by manifesting a life that fulfills my dreams Laugh a lot to keep those endorphins flowing Network with others to build relationships for ongoing support and good times Exercise daily for energy, weight management, and fitness Stress management practices that are varied and enjoyable - exercise, nature, Chi Machine, Tapping (EFT) Sleep 7-8 hours regularly - and take a short nap daily too! So how do you resist all the forces sabotaging our quest for optimal health and what wellness practices have you adopted to survive and thrive in your busy life?
  18. Carol Ebert

    X-ploring your X-Factor

    Emotionally, those with the "X factor" have a way of making us feel good or inspired. Challenged or validated. In the music industry, you either have "it" or not. You either have the makings of a star, or you don't. In that industry, they believe you are born with it and only a few really have it. Michael Jackson for example. But wait! I disagree that only a select few have this ability. You know who has the ability to stand out and help people feel good? We do! Nurses do! YOU do! I'll bet you've had many experiences when someone said "You made me feel so much better"; I couldn't have gotten better without you; You are amazing; You are an angel; You have inspired me". So let's explore your X Factor, how to recognize it and how to capitalize on it. Based on the dictionary, here is the definition of X Factor. A quality that you cannot describe that makes some very special. Let's go deeper and explore just a few features of the X Factor and how they may relate to YOU. I will start with my experience and you can think about how it applies to you. Exceptional In my case, I never give up. If I really want something, especially with wellness, I will do whatever it takes to get to where I want to be. At one point I wanted to teach wellness on a cruise ship so I defied the odds and made it happen. Holland America promoted a trip to Alaska and titled it "Wellness Cruise to Alaska" and I was the featured talent. I didn't think that was exceptional, but now I realize it was. What have you done that makes you exceptional? Gifted I have the gift of creativity and it flows out whether I call it into action or not. I used to think there was something wrong with me because I didn't think like others and always wanted to challenge the status quo, but now I know I'm just creative and it is considered a gift. What is your gift? Admirable I'm proud of having a lifelong unwavering passion for wellness helping others get well and stay well and have developed a reputation as being "Nurse Wellness". I'm also known as a "Creative Wellness Coach" guiding others using creative strategies they never thought of before. What character traits do you possess that you admire? A Calling For me, passion for wellness, helping others stay well, being a role model for health, being an inspiration and being a master teacher. At one point I met with a psychic and was sharing that my mother was a nurse, my grandmother was an on-the-job trained nurse, and legend has it that my great-grandmother was a healer. The psychic then said, "There are more ancestors who were healers and they are all standing behind you supporting you". Well, that blew me away, so I guess health has been my calling despite any other choices I might have made. What has been your calling and how have you manifested that in your life? Curiosity I have always been curious about health in any way, shape or form. I still find myself watching health shows, reading health literature, exploring and participating in health alternatives for healing. I never give up on learning new health-related things. What are you curious about? Super Powers I remember twice where I had to step in and demand better care for both my parents when the "system" was failing them and I knew they could be better if some rules were modified to accommodate their issues. I surprised myself that I had that assertive power within and in both cases I was successful in changing the course of their treatments which allowed them to live longer than they would have. Until you are tested, you don't know what strength lies within. When have you been called upon to be a "super woman/man"? Here a just a few more questions to explore for yourself to help identify the X Factor in you What makes you distinctly you and different from others? What makes you exceptional? What makes you unique? What makes you a national treasure? How do you convey a personal touch? What quality do you have that is rare? Once again, I believe we all have the X Factor and it is our job to identify it, magnify it and share it with the world is a BIG way. Have fun exploring your own personal X Factor and please share your insights.
  19. ThePrincessBride

    PSA: Don't forget to invest!

    I guess this is more of a public service announcement/reminder... I was talking to a bunch of coworkers and became deeply disturbed by a certain trend: many Americans are completely ignorant in regards to retirement planning and investing and too many are not saving enough for their golden years. Some fear the stock market and refuse to participate in it, others feel that social security will take care of them (ha ha), while a decent amount stick their heads in the sand. This post isn't directed to those who are living in destitute and can't afford to save anything. Obviously, not everyone will be able to put forth anything in an IRA or 403b. This is more towards those who are living above their means and/or aren't adequately saving for retirement: don't forget to invest for your future! Unfortunately, many hospitals and other facilities are cutting back on retirement benefits. Defined benefit pensions are disappearing, and some employers do not contribute anything to their workers' retirement plans at all; my employer has reduced its 403b matching savings for new hires while keeping wages stagnant. While I realize that some people are scared of the market (and that is completely justified) and find investing confusing, understand that historically, the stock market has always rebounded, with the S&P making average returns of 11%. And with feds keeping the interest rates low, it is even more crucial to involve oneself in the market, less one keeps real estate, wins the lottery or has a rich dead uncle somewhere. What does this have to do with nursing, you may ask? Everything. Nurses have such a high rate of burnout and on-the-job, career-ending injuries that it is imperative that we save now so that we aren't suffering in our older age. But how to get started in retirement planning? First, look to make sure that your employer has a retirement benefit. Most healthcare facilities should have a tax-deferred account, also known as a 401k or 403b (for the non-profit sector), available. In this year, anyone under the age of 50 can contribute 18k of pre-tax dollars, with people over the age of 50 being able to contribute an additional 6k per year. A 403b gives an advantage to workers by allowing them to save taxes upfront, letting their money grow, and then withdrawing the money presumably at a time when their tax liability is lower. Also, depending on certain circumstances, contributing to your 403b may not change you take-home pay. Awesome? I think so! When choosing investments, however, make sure you diversify (never put your eggs in one basket!) and check your 401k/403b expense ratios, as fees can erode your returns. Don't have access to a 403b? NO EXCUSE. Low-fee brokerage companies offer individual retirement accounts, also known as IRAs. The max is lower (5500 for those under and 6500 for those over 50), but both the Roth and Traditional offer tax perks to those looking to invest in their future. Taxable accounts, though not as advantageous as Roth or Traditional accounts, also provide avenues for those looking to participate in the market. And don't feel as though investing is an all-or-nothing. Most people who participate in their company program cannot afford to or don't max out their accounts and still manage to save enough to meet their post-work needs. The key is to start early, save often and be consistent. Start by getting enough to capture your employer's match (if they offer one)...NEVER leave "free" money on the table! Once you have an emergency of six or so months of living expenses and have all high-interest debt paid off, work up to at least saving 15% of your income, the percent that many financial experts agree will help you exit the workforce at the traditional retirement age...more if you started later and maybe less if you started saving early. Above all else, just save. The sooner you start, the more your money can compound and work for you!
  20. VivaLasViejas

    Hanging It Up

    It seems almost unreal: in six days, I will don my scrubs, put my name badge on, and go to work at the nursing home like I have almost every weekend since last July. I will pass meds, listen to hearts and lungs, change a dressing or two, greet visitors, answer questions, and do admission assessments in much the same manner as I have for the past sixteen-and-a-half years. Only this time, it will be for the last time. After many months of having one foot firmly planted in nursing and the other foot testing the waters outside of it, my career as an active, working nurse will be over as of next Sunday. It's actually been over for some time; I simply wasn't quite ready to acknowledge the fact until a month ago, when I looked at my December schedule and saw that I'd been scheduled for only four shifts all month. The reasons for it are many and have no place in this discussion; suffice it to say that the reduction in hours told me everything I needed to know about where I stand in clinical nursing. They say everything happens for a reason. Just as I was surrendering to the inevitability of going back to Vocational Rehab and begging to be retrained for something that didn't require me to ask customers if they wanted ketchup or fry sauce, I got the call offering me the position that had literally been my dream job for years. First reaction: That call did NOT just happen.....did it? Second reaction: Omigosh, what do I do now that I'm not the loser I thought I was? You see, when I lost my assisted-living management job last spring, I'd become convinced that I was branded and would never again hold any position of consequence, in nursing or anywhere else. And when I tried to recreate the magic I'd made the first time I worked at this LTC, I crashed and burned, disappointing not only my superiors and co-workers, but myself. That's when I knew it was the end of the line for me as a nurse, and I could almost feel my entire life beginning to unravel. No one starts out in nursing with the idea of being satisfied with mediocrity. We don't throw ourselves against a wall every day for decades just because we want a paycheck. It's when years of physical and psychological stress wear us down to the point where we can no longer perform to our own standards that we lose what made us good nurses in the first place, and burnout occurs. I'd been through it before; it had always been temporary, though, and I'd always been able to recover and come back stronger than before. Not this time. I will be 55 in a few weeks; I'm tired, and I've run my course, though that has less to do with aging than with mileage. Some nurses can maintain the required level of intensity in their 70s, while others should've gotten out in their 50s or even their 40s. When I put my bandage scissors and hemostats away next Sunday, when I turn in my badge and collect my final paycheck, the sigh of relief will probably be audible in every corner of the nation. This career has been good to me in many ways, but it's nearly destroyed me in other respects and I am ready to be done. I'm just thankful that there's a second act for this "semi-retired" nurse. I'll keep my license active because I'm a specialist in this position and need the credentials, but there will be no more shifts, no more running the floor with my hair on fire, no more 24/7 responsibility for too many residents with too many care needs. I can't work like that anymore. I can't LIVE like that anymore. Even if something were to go haywire with this new job, my days as an RN in any vital capacity are over. And as with every other decision I've made at gut level, I'll never regret this one. I may wish I could still nurse the way I used to, but I can't, and walking away is the best gift I could have given myself---and my patients---this Christmas.
  21. Carol Ebert

    Minding Your Mind

    Turns out it is all up to YOU! Either veg out or Mind your Mind! I keep thinking that because I forget stuff all the time it must mean I have early dementia. Wrong! It's because I'm too busy, doing too much, my mind is on overload and I don't take the time to slow down and take it easy. And the idea that being an expert "multi-tasker" - as most women think they are - is a fallacy. You can try to do a lot of things all at once and not do one thing well. The American Psychological Association describes how so-called multitasking is neither effective nor efficient. With all this "in mind", let's explore three wellness strategies that will keep your mind happy and healthy - and your physical body will benefit too! Mindfulness I always thought this word meant having a "full mind." But it really means being aware of what's happening to you in the present moment. I'm sure you've heard the phrase: "If you always live in the past or always live in the future, then you are missing what is happening right now." You can't control the past or the future, but in "this minute" you are in control and most likely all is well with you. It takes all the worry away when you are able to focus on the present moment and note that - I have a roof over my head, I am fed, I am safe, I am alive, I am OK. Try these steps right now and see if it helps you practice being more mindful. A - Awareness of the present moment B - Breathe slowly and deeply C - Collect your thoughts D - Decide on your next best move E - Execute your decision Meditation If I could give you a retirement gift that would help you relax, escape from worry, create better health, give you peace of mind, is NOT a DRUG and doesn't cost anything, would that interest you? It's the practice of meditation and so often we make excuses not to take the time. I know that when I meditate regularly I have a lot fewer stress headaches, I'm able to stop anxiety that causes me to have heart palpitations, and my mind opens to new creative ideas for my work and my life. Priceless! Here are a few 2 minute ideas on how to meditate. Of course there are many other methods as well. Slow deep breathing Close your eyes and begin breathing slowly and deeply Inhale through your nose to the count of 4 Hold your breath to the count of 4 Exhale slowly (as if you are whistling) to the count of 8 Relax and sink deeply into your chair while exhaling Repeat until you feel more relaxed Visualization Close your eyes and breath slowly and deeply Imagine you are in a place where you feel very relaxed (a meadow, on the beach, etc) Paint a picture of what it looks like in detail, and then really "feel" it. Notice how your mind and body feels Relaxing Music Turn on music that relaxes you. Have it ready on your phone or playing in the background "Spa" music that massage therapists use works great My husband who is a guitar teacher says "Music is medicine for a frowning world" Manifesting Did you know when you put your mind to what you want (and really mean it) you can manifest anything? You want a fabulous retirement? Then mean it! And take steps to make it happen. I can't think of anything better for the health of your mind then to be manifesting a life the gives you meaning and joy. Here are 3 beginning steps toward manifesting what you want from the work of Abraham Hicks, one of my favorite authors and speakers. Ask (the universe) for what you want. Speak it out loud to others, or pray for it, or write it on paper and post it where you see it everyday. Use whatever method works for you to keep your attention on it continually. Pay attention to signs you receive related to what you have asked for. Keep a running record of those signs to document that you are beginning to manifest what you want Eliminate roadblocks that might stand in your way of receiving what you want. Stop saying words like - that will never happen, I don't deserve that, I'm too old for that, that costs too much. These negative words sabotage the possibilities that lie ahead for you. Hopefully some of these techniques will help you "Mind your Mind" for your new life and adventures ahead. "All that we are is the result of what we have thought. The mind is everything. What we think we become." - Buddha Now it is your turn. Can you share how you are Minding your Mind?
  22. Carol Ebert

    Never Fear - Just Volunteer

    Of course, it will take some thought on your part to decide what will be the best fit for you. Seems like all the volunteers I see hanging around the hospital are retired employees and they are old and grey. And now I find myself in that category as well! But I don't feel like that stereotypical volunteer. I have lots of energy and would not be satisfied escorting patients, pushing wheelchairs, dropping of flowers. So I never gave it any thought to consider volunteering. Until Ace came along. Ace is a 10 year old handsome large golden doodle dog whom I rescued from a family who could no longer keep him as they were moving to an apartment. He is a country dog who loves to roam free and since I live in the country our home was perfect for him. After a few months living with and loving him, I realized he was just too nice, too smart, too gregarious to waste all his time laying around. So I decided to put him to work. He is now a fully trained and certified Therapy Dog and getting ready to make his first visit to the local Cancer Clinic where patients getting treatments are surely in need of the loving kindness and compassion of this very special dog. And for me, I found the niche I needed as a volunteer, and yes it will be at the hospital where I worked for 20 years. So my message for you is this. Yes, you might be burned out working in healthcare and can't see yourself returning anytime soon after you retire, but there is always a way to determine what it is you want to do with the rest of your life when it comes to giving back. And if you are a nurse you have that "giving" trait or you wouldn't have gone into nursing, right? And we do know that healthcare would be nowhere without all the volunteers who do all those important little things that need attention to keep patient care at the high standard we expect. So what ideas do you have for how you will give back in the future? Here are a few questions to consider for yourself. What talent do you have that you are willing to share? I love to teach about wellness so I am volunteering my time at a Senior Community Center providing monthly wellness education classes. Talk about an interested, attentive and appreciative audience. It does my heart good every time I go there. And it also leads to some health consultations I can provide as well. What need do you see that calls to your soul? There are endless organizations looking for help. All you need to do is find the one that speaks to you. Of course be careful not to over-extend yourself and get overly busy again. We do have to keep that "helping" trait in check so we don't get exhausted again. What talent have you always wanted to cultivate? One of my retired nurse friends loves being outside, loves building things, loves to travel. She put that all together and is leading groups to other countries building houses for Habitat for Humanity. She has never been happier. Here is a pretty exhaustive list that might give you insights into what could work for you. So this volunteering thing started for me with a dog named Ace who needed a loving home, and now I have new dog training skills, a new way to help patients heal, and the joy of knowing I can continue making a difference in the lives of others. And it is fun too! Finally What thoughts do you have when it comes to volunteering in retirement?
  23. VivaLasViejas

    Where Do I Go From Here?

    Isn't it always the way that once you've gotten one HUGE problem under a semblance of control, another rears its ugly head? My husband and I just received a new lease on life......and now I have to figure out what to do about work. I had a very honest--and very upsetting--talk with my boss on the phone yesterday after we'd gotten the great news from the university hospital about hubby's stage IV pancreatic cancer being treatable after all. Frankly, I'm shocked that all this emotional whipsawing hasn't triggered my bipolar illness--I feel like I'm on the rollercoaster ride from Hell--but my daily gut-checks tell me that I'm only experiencing the normal ups and downs associated with major life changes. Which is a good thing, even as uncomfortable as it is. Knowing this does not solve my dilemma, however. Yesterday I had to say No to picking up several floor shifts at the beginning of September, much to the dismay of my friend the DON at my facility.....and once again, I found myself having to explain why I couldn't do it. To say the least, I feel awful about it--as the fill-in, I feel like I've left her totally in the lurch, and from my own DON experiences, I know all too well what that's like. She's invested a lot of time (and company funds) in my orientation and training, so it's only natural that she's disappointed. She deserves better, and so do the staff and residents. Then came the phrase that ended any hope of extricating myself from this awkward situation with a modicum of grace. She said that she'd had so many plans for me "because of how great you were".......and with her emphasis on that one tiny word, she summarized everything that's gone wrong with me in regards to my career. Yeah, I was a great nurse. I'm not a great nurse anymore. I'm not even a good one now. In fact, I'm really not even a nurse at all anymore, even though I still possess a valid license that says I am, and I still hold a nursing job of sorts. But I know I'll never work as a floor-running, wound-bandaging, IV-starting, doctor-calling, shot-giving NURSE again.....and that absolutely INFURIATES me! I wish people could understand how hard it is for me to say "I can't do it". I wish they could understand how much it hurts to admit--even to myself--that my career is essentially over. What I don't say, of course, is that I am sick and tired of losing parts of me to bipolar disorder. I lost the job that I'd planned to retire from someday. I've lost a good deal of my dignity and self-respect. I've lost my ability to concentrate, to get and stay organized, to cope with ever-changing priorities. I can do resident admissions and paperwork, but that's it......and a trained high-school graduate could almost do that much. Bottom line, I'm losing a big chunk of my identity. Who am I, if not a nurse? Yes, I'm a wife, a mother, a grandmother, a sister; but so much of my substance has been inextricably linked to my work that I don't know how to untangle what I do from who I am. And where do I go from here? What do former nurses do to keep a decent roof over their heads and give themselves a sense of purpose? I've received several excellent suggestions from friends and family that, unfortunately, are difficult to pursue in a rural area, so my options are somewhat limited. (And since relocating is not on the table, I'm going to have to get creative.) Like me, a couple of these friends had to give up active nursing because of their own mental illnesses; they did it because they knew that even with medication and therapy, they were unable to practice safely. And much to their credit, they were honest enough with themselves to admit it before they committed a serious med error or missed a critical assessment that could have resulted in harm to a patient. I'm proud of them for having the courage to do that. Heck, I'm proud of ME for having the courage to do that. So why do I feel so bad?

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