Category Archives: Kindness

The Aviary

My decision to accept a staff nurse position in mental health hospital was, at best, disconcerting to my husband. It perplexed him that after working solely with girls and women for 40 years I would consider and/or be able to care for adult men. He worried about my transition from the worlds of not- for-profit and privately- owned facilities with strong religious/spiritual missions to a state run, government culture and systems. It confounded him that I would go back to bedside nursing after years of management, entrepreneurship and community activism. Finally, it seemed most unreasonable to abandon beautiful, comfortable, modern buildings with nice equipment and ample supplies. After waving all the yellow, cautionary flags he said, “Do what you have to do.”

Please know while I appear confident and eager, I am not fearless, in optimal physical condition nor the quickest thinker at age 65. Day three of orientation, participating in Bridge Building Class was a first- time experience. Bridge Building skills are critical to employment. It entails de-escalation techniques and the use of physical and mechanical restraints for patients who become a danger to themselves or others. This was up close and personal, live demonstrations, practice and return demonstrations. Physical deflecting, blocking pads, spit masks, 2-4-way restraints and ‘the chair’. (recall Hannibal Lector, sans metal face cage). It was a lot to take in.

Nervous about the risks, in an adrenalin afterglow, I shared the day’s events with my husband while icing my knee. He was unusually quiet. In retrospect, I sense his concerns for my safety. I am typically close-mouthed about work. My spouse usually presents dinner and shares the details of his day. He tries to draw me out to share mine. His efforts go afoul as he tried to be comedic referring to patients as criminal, crazy and the like. I think the first time or two, I tried to ignore my ire- unsuccessfully. The third time- I gave my best Aretha Franklin, extended-arm, flat handed: “STOP! You better THINK about what you’re tryin’ to say to me!” “You can no longer talk like that! Those words are derogatory and mean. That language demeans me, my colleagues and my patients.” He was stunned. He is not a mean person. He simply didn’t know. Neither of us knew until that moment. Our rules changed. Both Maya Angelou and St. Mother Teresa have been credited with the adage, “When you know better, you can do better.”

Bless his heart. My spouse announced his newest brilliant idea a couple days after my patient/self-protective declaration. Excitedly, he announced, “I will now refer to your workplace as the Aviary and the residents as birds and various species! What do you think?” Our shared memory of the bird sanctuary in Liberty Park in Salt Lake City and our brief stint owning chickens held fond memories. “Brilliant!”, I agreed. As so it is.

I have no idea the social acceptability or if this breaches some mental health profession decorum. What I do know is that this is a way we can peripherally discuss our daily lives and for me to contain the anonymity of patients in a manner of loving observation and respect. The most fun comes with the wide variety of synonyms, idioms, and slang related to birds. For example; to bird- to watch, a lot of our work is observation and reporting. Giving the bird- this happens often and is ok if it’s a patient giving this sign of disapproval. It’s not ok for staff to act in kind. We have people who (WHOO) are owlish or nocturnal, and pacers who never take flight like emus or penguins. Sometimes patients repeated come to the nurse station or swoop like gulls and aggressive patients or those with a proclivity to escape reminds me of raptor behavior. But here a home I often am asked, “How were the loons or your loons today?” I kind of love this and them, the entire mismatched flock.

Soul Soothing in Recovery

Carrie Newcomer & Jana Stanfield

Carrie Newcomer &
Jana Stanfield

Music is reliable tool to shift my mood, thoughts and attitude.  It is often a passive prayer with me a quiet watchdog. Music is a terrific driving companion leaving less room for negative thinking.

It has often been an extended hand when I’m awash in turbulent waters of depression, grief and even anguish.  My spirit experiences the vibration of certain chords, the pulse of rhythm, the dance of melody and resonance of harmonies, reminding me that I live and breathe.  Music can nudge me into a sense of hope andlightness.

Jana Stanfield is dubbed the Queen of Heavy Mental, a writer and performer of social work songs. I was listening to her before having much knowledge of 12 step programs of recovery.  It tickles me how I missed the screamingly obvious messages in songs titled, ‘Next Right Step’ and ‘Let the Change Begin’ and ‘Here and Now.’  I just picked up a CD and on the back cover is a coin bearing the Serenity Prayer.  Who Knew? Needless to say, the songs helped me long before I was aware.

Indiana Songwriter, Carrie Newcomer, creates songs and poetry that feed my soul.  She shares her rich appreciation and fascination with “the common things” in life that are remarkably extraordinary when viewed through her lyrics. Her work has fueled and guided my spiritual rebirth and growth.

Wise and peace loving, song after song supports a willingness to love wholeheartedly, inclusively. I am drawn to tales of justice, forgiveness, and relationship. I have learned to thrive in light and dark, and all the shades of grey in between, by learning that the sacred exists in simplest of things.

Music is as personal as fragrance.  It’s a chemical reaction in my understanding. It’s likely we may not enjoy the same sounds or artists. I share this suggestion to explore music as a component to health, a  gentle friend or a good coach.  Thank you, Jana Stanfield and Carrie Newcomer, for being minstrel teachers. You’ve helped me to recognize and appreciate so much beauty. Thank you. I’m glad to be a grateful, sober messenger.

Just Peachey: Bearing Fruit

Just Peachey: Bearing Fruit, 20th Anniversary Edition was launched in the fall of 2014!

This new cookbook begins our largest fundraising effort in the history of the Catherine Peachey Fund. We are committed to this project and to raising our goal of $1 million dollars for breast cancer research at Indiana University!

51DpwsNmoTL._AA160_ (1)Just Peachey: Bearing Fruit is a beautiful hardcover cookbook featuring a collection of recipes, entertaining tips and breast health information born from the passion and commitment of those who want to see advancements in breast cancer research continue to “bear fruit” in Indiana. 100% of the Bearing Fruit net proceeds will go to breast cancer research and programs at the IU Simon Cancer Center. The Catherine Peachey Fund has a team of over 30 volunteers working to sell and market the cookbook. This new book is poised to become the foundation for our continued funding for research.

I’m sharing this with the primary intent of connecting with other foodies, bloggers, cookbook lovers, and anyone willing to spread some love and encouragement to sell Just Peachey: Bearing Fruit. Maybe you have a connection with writers, media professionals, and families touched by breast cancer. We need help, a lot of help to meet our goal of $1 million!

We are open to ideas, more volunteers and the right marketplaces. Did I mention this is a long ardous story?
It’s a love story. A historic drama. More to come on the old stuff.

You Can get your copies at:
Cookbooks available at Bright Ideas (Indy), Cerulean (downtown Indy), Joe’s Butcher Shop (Carmel), Goose the Market (Indy), Beauvoir Aesthetics (Fishers) and Hoosier Salon (Carmel) and at www.peacheyfund.org. and amazon.com.

Celebrating Mommy Milestones – Book Review

Fresh, Funny, Wise,    Whimsical

Fresh, Funny, Wise, Whimsical

Celebrate the Mommy Milestones™ by Lanelle Vasichek
Fresh, funny, whimsical and wise describe the brand new book Celebrate the Mommy Milestones™ by Lanelle Vasichek. It is validating, encouraging and totally focused on the mommy when all else centers around the baby, she refers to as The Boss.
Vasichek admitted feelings, challenges and roles seldom talked about as anything but hormonal shifts and sleep deprivation. Nothing is off limits; bowels, boobs, intimacy, reality colliding with expectation are addressed with wry humor paired with fabulous stylish illustrations by Annette Wood. I found the the running editor, words crossed out and replaced with a gentler version, extremely honest and engaging. I gained appreciation for women of with more modesty and privacy needs than I had before.
Mommy Milestones is a lifeline to mommies that they are awesome no matter how sticky and messy things might be for a while. This book will offer hope, relieve critical self talk and guarantee laughter. Vasichek’s unique Mommy Milestone book will encourage, entertain and delight.
I can’t wait to share this with my daughter in law (I’ll make BIG points in understanding!) and all of my nieces and nephews in the baby time of their lives. It should be in all hospital gift shops, OB offices, and maternity and infant shops.

Wounded Warrior Notes Delivered

I saw a Facebook post about writing to Wounded Warriors at Walter Reed Medical Center before the holidays. My reaction was I CAN do THIS. Later that day I finished some hand crafted cards and wrote half a dozen cards. I invited my husband to join my effort and he wrote a couple. We both felt good about doing this. So I posted a challenge to my FB friends. Robin and Elizabeth took the bait and began writing. Each of us experienced joy and satisfaction from these simple acts.

A few weeks later, one friend and then the other said their notes had been sent back to them as undeliverable. Sure enough ours came back too. Having heard my friends’ disappointment I chose a different reaction. I saved my cards and thought, there’s a Veteran’s hospital in my city. I bet they can use these.

I visited the local VA hospital on my tiny mission and got so much more than a bargained for. A window of time on my schedule opened up unexpectedly giving me just what I needed to accomplish this task. (More about that later) Being a nurse gives me a lot of familiarity with the inside operations of healthcare and removes many barriers experienced by those unfamiliar. I felt certain VA would have a spiritual care program. That was my target.

I was efficiently directed to the chapel and the Chaplain Services office. I briefly explained that I had cards and wondered if they may have a use for them. I was treated graciously and the chaplain explained how they likely could be used. He showed me their chapel and offered more opportunities for service. The chaplain was trying to get a fix on my purpose, motivation, and connection. He became more suspicious when I asked to do a quick video of the two of us. He asked, “How are you connected?” This perplexed me slightly. I replied,” I’m a citizen interested in kindness.” I left with a big smile on my face.

As I said earlier this little side trip revealed many things to me. But for this story on note writing to veterans teaches me four things.
1. Being selfless without attachment to the outcome produces internal joy and can be shared.
2. It’s easy to be moved to act on behalf someone/thing exotic, foreign, or well recognized-
often that same need lies within my midst, in the same city, maybe even right next door.
3. Little adventures can lead to opening senses to endless possibilities and opportunities.
4. No act of kindness is wasted.

VA 1 VA 2