Love Matters

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I had an interesting conversation today with a teacher as I was giving her a flu shot.  When I asked her what grade she taught, she said she taught grade two and went on to tell me that she felt lucky everyday to come to work.

How often do you hear that?

She told me that she really loves her students, but went on to say that maybe she cares too much, becomes too attached to her students and maybe that wasn’t such a good thing.

I told her I actually thought the opposite was true.

The more you care about those you serve, the more you know them, the better you are able to teach them.  When a child feels that you actually care about them, can depend on a connection, they are more apt to listen, be more open to taking risks in their learning and stretch to meet expectations.

Love matters.

For me, it’s the patients for whom I’ve stayed up late at night researching drug therapies for, those I’ve called to see how their chemo is going, how their son’s depression is, and those that I’ve checked on by email when I am away; the connections I have with those patients make me a better practitioner.  They remind me that the better I get to know a patient, the more I know about their family, what matters to them, how they feel about their health and other matters in their life, the better able I am to advise them, help them make decisions regarding their therapy and teach them how to manage their illnesses and disease.

Love matters.

If you love what you are doing, ultimately you are happier.  If you are happy in your life’s work, whether it’s education, health care or other pursuits, you will do a better job.

As that teacher walked back to her classroom I thought, “That’s the kind of teacher I wish I would’ve had as a child.”

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Bridges

ccFlickr shared by Dave Pearson

 

A question can become the bridge that connects us to the lives of others; to those we love and to those we’ve only just met.

I have a friend who, no matter what is going on in her own life, always asks questions of the person she is talking to.   Whether the person she is speaking to is four or ninety-four, she will ask about their family, their work, their day to day, often remembering the smallest details from previous conversations.

The beauty is not that she asks the question but that when you answer her she is completely in that moment.  She has a beautiful way of making the other person feel like she is totally focused on them; that what you are saying is of utmost importance to her.

It took me awhile to discover what it was that made people in her presence feel as if they were receiving a gift. It is in the listening.

So often I find myself listening with an agenda or with the intent to reply rather than with the intent to understand.  I may think I am listening but my hearing is selective, deciding what the person’s meaning is before they have even finished talking.

In the five years of our friendship I have received this gift of being listened to over and over again. But the real gift has been in having this type of listening modelled to me which reminds me always to work at improving selfless listening in my own life.

 

 

“What have I done?”

A few weeks ago a colleague warned me that in the first year of owning and running a new pharmacy I would conclude that I had made a huge mistake.

Yup….that happened well before turning the sign to “open”!

The two weeks leading up to my opening day were chaos.  I’ve never slept so minimally, had my “to do”list grow so fast, nor seen my children so little.  As I heard repeatedly, “Mom, are you coming home late again today?” I figured I had made a mistake.  I am a clinician; I love the “care” part of health care, and here I was, steeped in putting a business together. Spending hours on end away from my family, and even when with them my mind was racing with all the things I needed to handle.

So when I walked into my brand new pharmacy on day one and flipped the sign to open, I wondered whether I had jumped into something I would resent, or at the very least not enjoy.

Then came patients through my door.  Just a few at first, and a few more each day, and I found myself in a place of privilege.  As I provided health care, I heard their stories.  Stories about caring for terminally ill spouses, stories of how difficult it is to live with chronic pain, journeys through chemo and disappointment with the system.  Even stories of past jobs and places they had visited in their life time.  As I immunized many against the flu I also shared a lot of my own story.  How I came to be in this new pharmacy, growing up in Saskatchewan, how I had started a pharmacy in Chemainus when I was very young.

It struck me once again that the connection made and the care given are what brings me joy.  Having my own pharmacy means I can structure and set up to practice the way I want.  I have control over how I care for the people who walk through my door.  There is no one to tell me I must meet a certain quota or promote sketchy treatments or unproven products.  In the end, it is worth all the headaches that I am sure will come.  So it is to the people who came through my door this week that I am grateful to, for reminding me what it’s all about.

Tidal Wave Changes

cc licensed Flickr shared by Chris-Håvard Berge

For the first time in 8 years I am not homeschooling any of my children, and after 18 years of practicing pharmacy in someone else’s dispensary, I will practice in my own.  I’ve made a huge leap, with the support of my family, into what I hope will be a rewarding new phase in my personal and professional life.

Those who have read my blog, or visited my professional site, know that I have complained a little (and sometimes a lot) about the struggles of wanting to practice pharmacy in line with my philosophy of patient engagement and focus on learning.  So I’ve made the leap to “putting my money where my mouth is” so to speak and, along with some great partners, am opening a pharmacy in Stony Plain.

As I embark on an exciting new phase of my career, my children have also had to adapt and grow.  They have taken on full time school (here’s Noah’s remarks on that), more chores, my babysitting,  and a different way of learning at home (less time with Mom to explore cool stuff together.)  My spouse has moved his office home to be more available to them and they have embraced the changes with more enthusiasm than I had hoped.

I’ve experienced, over the past year, small ripples of growth and change and had no idea where they would lead.  As the ripples converged into a wave, I’ve received much support and encouragement from family, friends and global connections.  I have much to be grateful for. And yes, even though I’m sending them all to school, on their first day they still got cake for breakfast.

Happy Birthday, Blog!

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“Why do you blog?”

This is a question I’ve been asked more than once.

It’s true, it is one more thing in a busy life.  As well, it can be vulnerable to put yourself out there, being open to negative commentary or the permanence of publishing thoughts that change over time.

It’s been a year since I started this journey with “Examined Life.”  I have learned and grown as a person and as a professional in ways I couldn’t have imagined when I started.

Blogging, for me, is all about connection.  I could write in a personal journal if I just wanted to reflect for myself, but blogging involves a dialogue; the sharing, reflection and refining of thoughts and ideas, considering others’ points of view I had never thought of, being challenged on my words and actions.  All of this adds up to me being stretched as a person and as a professional.  In essence, I am better because of it.

As I’ve connected more on a global level, I have seen some of the amazing things both friends and colleagues are doing and it has taken away some of the trepidation in my own life regarding change; to be more adventurous, less afraid of moving in directions I had not considered.  I have had to look outside of my personal box, which was quite comfortable, and consider the many different ways of approaching life and health care.  I have segued into consulting which I had never even considered, I’ve rediscovered my passion for my work and continued to adapt how I teach my children. It has helped me live more in the moment and be more grateful for my life.  Thanks to all of you who have read my ramblings and to those who have furthered my own learning with your comments and emails.  Happy Birthday, blog!

Digital Literacy and our Kids

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A few weeks ago, as I was checking out some articles on Twitter, I stumbled upon a post that had the same title as one of mine.  Awesome, I thought.  Not a lot of writing out there in the pharmacy field so I checked it out right away.

I was surprised to come across my own article being used to narrate a video for Palm Springs Home Care.  It was unnerving hearing my own words and thoughts being spoken by some guy I had never heard of.

This had me thinking about digital literacy and our kids.  Kids are posting on social media, they are reading and writing blogs, using google personally and for research…basically creating and using Internet content.

The use of the Internet as a source of information has become ubiquitous both at home and as part of school learning.  While there are some administrators and teachers addressing the issue of digital literacy in our schools, in most cases, the mentoring of our kids in this area is lacking as kids are often far ahead of the adults in their lives in their use of and creation of content on the Internet.  When our kids are entering a status on Facebook or writing a paragraph on scorpions, it is imperative that we teach them the proper use of content: how to read and evaluate information online as well as safety, privacy and ethics when posting.

We wouldn’t leave our kids alone in a grocery store and say “Figure out heathy eating” why would we do that with Internet use?

We cannot leave it up to our teachers to teach our kids digital literacy.   (Keep in mind that it is not even happening in many schools).  We need to be involved in our kids Internet use, model for them how to use and create content and be partners in this essential area of their education.  Using tools such as Creative Commons, showing kids how to cite Internet resources, how to determine what is “good” information verses not so good information, criteria to consider before you post/publish; these are just a few components of digital literacy.

As adults we must be cognizant of our own digital content as well.  When we post or use content we must be positive models for our kids, allowing them to step into our own digital footprint as a path to follow.

Catching Hearts

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I often say that when you become a parent you should just stamp the word “guilt” on your forehead and be done with it.

At the end of the day I look back and often feel regret.  I could’ve done better.  I could’ve loved more, could’ve been more present.  I lectured that boy too harshly, I didn’t respond to the request to play because I had to do dishes and pack lunches, I cut short bedtime reading because I had work to complete, I listened with only half an ear to the ‘who did what’ in the latest fight.  And that’s when I’m home.  Not to mention the guilt of missing a championship soccer game because I’m in the pharmacy…that was last week.

I read this exquisite post by Ann Voskamp, appropriately called “How to Make Any Relationship Better.”  In it she says:

Everyone is always saying only one thing: “I just want you to love me.”  But this is what I do.  I get caught up in tone and semantics, when I could just catch hearts.

Isn’t that the truth.  Adults and children alike look for the reassurance that we are loved.  Indirectly with our words and actions we say it over and over again but don’t recognize the root of it in each other.  In our impatience, our disagreements, our queries and requests of each other, the underlining current is “I need you to love me.”  But instead of recognizing the vulnerability behind our daily interactions with those we love, we focus on the minutiae, the unimportant, when really we could just catch hearts.