I was recently asked to do a keynote speech at Piedmont Hospital for National Nurse’s Week. Keep in mind, I just lost my job there and this was going to be given after the fact. However, also keep in mind that this is the new career path that I would like to follow and, having never done a keynote speech before, I couldn’t think of a better venue –with all my friends!  How could I pass this up?

The theme of the keynote was “Caring for the Caregiver.”  You see, nurses are really SUPERHEROES, and we take care of everyone else first, and generally find little time to nurture or take care of ourselves.  Because we give everything that we have to others, it is vital that we make it a priority to take care of ourselves  —our entire self…body, mind and spirit!

The audience that day was about 70 people, all nursing personnel,  and most of them I knew.  They could relate- they laughed, some cried a little, and on one occassion , they even finished my sentence. In the end, I had great reviews. 

The speech was videotaped, and interesting — I found it very difficult to watch it once I was home. In fact, it was almost three weeks later when I finally had the courage to look at it! I was afraid that it really hadn’t been that good, that people had just told me they had enjoyed it because that was the polite thing to tell your friend!  Of course, I was looking for all the flaws and all the things I could have done better.  What I found, though, was a very pleasant surprise! I found that it really was pretty good!  The stories were funny and relevant; I looked comfortable and didn’t forget what I was going to say, and if I changed up the wording a little, well, who knew?  I was actually pretty proud of the speech! YEAH ME!! YEAH ME!!

And… YEAH to ALL Nurses, because we truly are SUPERHEROES!!!

Give yourself PERMISSION to pat yourself on the back for a job well done! We all deserve to say YEAH ME!

Great things are waiting!


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The Open Window

My sister and I have a thought  that  “if a blog is not updated at least once a week, then what’s the point in reading it-just move on!”   I’m having  to eat my words! 

The next several blogs will reflect my interesting  month- and, yes, I’m giving myself permission to let go, and move on!

As most of you know, I am a nurse, and I have been one for 26 years in the same hospital, doing one of 2 things- either orthopedics or IV therapy. I came straight out of school to this hospital, and I loved working orthopedics-people had broken bones, we fixed them, they got better and went home-perfect! After 12 years of doing this, as well as part time IV therapy, I dropped the ortho altogether and strictly did IV. This was great because you could travel throughout the hospital seeing many, many patients, nurses on different floors and we were considered “experts.”  I mean really-after you put in 10-20 IV’s a day for as many years as I have-you become an expert, and though patients weren’t excited to see us coming- I could usually win them over with kindness and a smile.

Most of the nurses on my team had also been at this hospital for many years-in fact there were 30 of us and the cumulative total number of years that we had all been there was 642!  That’s about 20 years average per person!  We grew up together-got married, had  kids, divorces, grandkids, hysterectomies, menopause, etc- we were family!

So who would ever have thought it?

Two weeks ago, the hospital downsized our department.  Eleven of us lost our jobs. Interesting, no one ever expects a nurse to lose a job.

Now, my father would have been stunned and extremely worried.  My mother, on the other hand, would have said, “when God shuts a door, He opens a window.”  And this is what I believe!  In fact, I believe there is something much greater out there for me and it is so much bigger than me!  For one of the few times in my life, I am very much at peace. I will miss my hospital family, but I cannot wait to see what waits through the open window!

Give yourself permission to let go and look for the open window!  Great things are waiting on the other side!


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Be Like The LADYBUG!

Yesterday, late in the afternoon, I was wandering through my garden-simply looking for new sprouts or buds, new blooms, listening to hear if the blue bird eggs had hatched- simply relaxing in the pleasant warmth of the sun. As I bent down to take a closer look at my iris bed, I noticed a ladybug at the base of one of the stalks.

I LOVE ladybugs! What a perfect picture opportunity this was! So I quickly got my camera, got on my hands and knees, assumed the “military crawl” position and proceeded to creep up on the ladybug-all the while snapping picture after picture after picture.  Perfect!

Interesting, though, as I was laying under the iris stalks, I discovered something! I realized that my world and the world of that ladybug were very similar.   You see, the ladybug was looking for aphids to eat.  She was taking care of her immediate surroundings…and she was doing this very well.

I’m sure if she had looked at how much surface area she had to cover, she would have probably been overwhelmed!  After all, she was so tiny compared to the size of that one iris plant… all those aphids! So little time!

Furthermore, if she had actually looked around to see ALL the iris plants in that section of the garden, she might have thought “no way” and  just given up! Instead, she just stayed focused on one little section at a time.

When things seem too big or too overwhelming, concentrate on one small piece at a time. When broken down into small chunks,  anything seems possible!

We should all learn from the ladybug! Give yourself  PERMISSION!

Great things are waiting!


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YES! Big Time S’Ploding

Ever since my 13 year old son was a little boy, whenever he really liked something, he would  squeal with delight and answer with, “YES! Big Time S’ploding!”  Whether it was a new toy, a fun game, or me asking if he knew how much I loved him, it was always the same answer: “YES! Big Time S’ploding!” To this day, that same phrase still rolls off his lips, and it ALWAYS makes me smile!

This past weekend, I had  (what I consider to be ) the unfortunate opportunity to go to Six Flags! Yes, it was an end to Spring Break Celebration-and my son picked the destination…along with a million other kids.

Trying to find a silver lining in this dreaded day, I decided to make a humorous list of what one can learn at an amusement park…

1. No matter how comfortable your shoes are when you leave in the morning, your feet will still hurt at the end of the day.

2. If the temperature is supposed to be a cool 74 degrees, don’t wear jeans.  The asphalt increases the temp by at least 100 degrees and you’ll be sweating!

3.  Parents should teach their kids better manners.

4. There must be special workshops that teach kids how to swing under the rails, climb over the rails, jump through through the rails  and look you straight in the face to say they “are not” breaking line.

5. If the sign says there is at least a 60 min wait, count on 2 hours.

6. If the line is short, count on the ride breaking down.


8. Plan to spend A LOT of money on funnel cakes and coke.

9. Silence never sounded so good as it does on the ride HOME!

10. At the end of the day, when asked if he had a good time, my son responded with “YES! Big Time S’ploding”! My heart melted and somehow, I knew we’d be back again next year!

Give yourself PERMISSION to find the “Big Time S’ploding” moments. They make it all  worthwhile!

Great things are waiting!


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The Red Fire Engine!

The other day my dear sister and I were going to lunch.  It had not been a particularly good day or good week for that matter, and though I am the “eternal optimist”, even I have a few days when I feel down. This was one of them.

As we were driving down the road, I was lamenting about EVERYTHING that had gone wrong, could go wrong or was about to! Frankly, if I were her, I would have probably told me to be quiet or get out of the car.  But she didn’t;  she just listened. As we pulled up to a red light, a bright red fire engine suddenly turned on its siren and started flashing its lights. It proceeded to pull out of the fire station, ran through the light we were sitting at and sped away in front of us.

“Susan, just be thankful that the fire engine’s not going towards your house”

At this we both cracked up laughing! …and YES!  I was very thankful!

Give yourself PERMISSION to laugh and find humor, even in the worst of times!   It won’t solve the problem, but I promise, your heart will feel lighter!

Great things are waiting!


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Garden Therapy

One of the places where I find the greatest solace and peace is in my flower garden.  I love all the seasons and though I am no expert, I have tried to create a garden that always has something in bloom.  Even in the winter, I find the bark of many trees interesting and on the few occasions that it snows, I marvel at the  magical white “blooms” that are a sign of things to come.  But… my very favorite time in the garden is in the Spring. The lush deep greens and textures of the infant plants, the surprises of what does/or doesn’t return and the newness of the blooms smiling at the sun, all breathe new life into my soul and make my heart sing.

And so it has been the past two days!  The weather has been perfect-sunny and warm with  the perfect breeze gently blowing against my face.  I have stolen every moment to be in the garden. Weeding, weeding, and more weeding.  Watching  the butterflies and huge bumble bees that zig zag and flit among the flowers,  and wondering where they might be going.  At the end of the day, I stand back in wonderment… how beautiful it is!  Once again!

Yes, this is my therapy.

Give yourself PERMISSION to find something you love to do… and do it!  Notice the small wonders that God has given.  Renew your spirit.

Great things are waiting!


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During the last year of my father’s life, he became increasingly dependent on me.  He no longer played tennis or golf and though his friends would call for lunches or brief outings, he usually turned them down.  His days became filled with reruns of Andy Griffith,  Matlock and CNN News.  How bored he must have been.  And, for the most part, I didn’t stray far from home except for work or to run to the store or a quick lunch with friends.

Dad was never a huge conversationalist, but in his last year we spent many “moments” talking about the kids, my work, my other endeavors, what was for dinner, the weather, the garden etc, etc.  None of these really touched on deep subjects, but it was just nice spending time in his company, so anything I could find to talk about was o.k. with me.  I guess, in that last year, I knew that we probably didn’t have that much time left together and somehow, I think he knew this too.

As the days went by, though,  he began to  almost never let me out of his site. As soon as I would come through the door, he’d call my name, or if I were in the garden he would come and find me, or if I had just lain down for a brief nap… I would hear him calling, “Suz,” “Suz,” “Suz.”  Frequently I would think to myself, “please just let me have a moment to myself”, and then the guilt of ” he won’t be here long.”  The tug and pull  of these two thoughts was almost more than I could bare.

One day I was at work and I was crying. My dear, dear friend who is like a sister to me and knew my father well,  simply looked at me and said, ” I absolve you of all guilt. It’s o.k. that you take some quiet time just for you; I absolve you of all guilt.”

From that moment, I gave myself permission to spend time alone- time for me -simple quiet time to gather my thoughts, pray, stare into space- whatever, but time just for me.

My dad passed away 8 months ago.   I am still taking those quiet moments for me-usually at 5 am in the morning when everyone is asleep, a brief drive in the car without the radio, a very long shower or time in my garden. Interesting, in the quietest of  those  moments I sometimes hear a faint call, “Suz”…  I know my dad is with me and it’s o.k.

Give yourself PERMISSION to find some quiet time. I absolve you of all guilt.

Great things are waiting!


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Birthday Girl

Next week, March 25 to be exact, is my birthday!  I LOVE BIRTHDAYS – especially my own! It’s the only day of the year that I can say “it’s all about me” and not feel guilty.  I refuse to work on my birthday, and I love to have people make a fuss over me-you know go to lunch, have the birthday song sung to me over and over, maybe a special dinner, etc. The interesting thing, however, is that when it comes to gifts, I am much better at giving them than I am at receiving them.  After all, I’m used to being the caregiver and giving to others.

I’m working on giving myself permission to receive, permission to take  in and embrace the gifts that others give from their hearts. The permission to not always have to be the “giver”, but to let others give to me.  It’s very hard!

I have a very, very dear friend-one I’ve known for at least 30 years.  We always take each other out for our birthdays. Last night we celebrated mine! We always go to the same restaurant, order the same thing,  have a drink and surprise each other with a gift that’s absolutely perfect for the other person.

Last night I gave myself permission to let my husband handle the home front so I could go have a good time. I gave myself permission to really, really enjoy the time with my dear friend, and I gave myself permission to receive her wonderful gifts!  She had picked them out for me- perfectly for me!

I’ve decided it’s o.k. to let others give to me. Better yet, it’s o.k. to receive  and cherish the gifts they give.

Now it’s  your turn. Give yourself PERMISSION.

Great things are waiting!


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Give Yourself Permission

Do you ever look in the mirror and think, “who the heck are you?”  This past year I did just that!  I looked in a full size mirror and did not even recognize the person looking back!   In fact,  I felt like I was looking at a complete stranger.  I had dark circles under my eyes, my clothes were a mess, and I’d gained about 70 pounds; and don’t  even ask what kind of activities or hobbies I  enjoyed- there were none.  You see, my husband, myself and 3 children lived with my dad, and his health had been declining. I had become so consumed with taking care of others-my father, my family and virtual strangers (I am a nurse),  that I had been completely left out of the equation. I remember moving closer to the mirror, looking deep into those green eyes and trying to catch just a glimmer of the vivacious, attractive blonde that once had a lust for living.  I remember thinking, “I know you’re in there”.  I also vividly remember thinking that  something had to change!  I was in my late 40’s and if I lived to be 90,  I was more than half way there! I better get busy!

I made a decision  that day to find me again. A conscious decision to love  and care for myself in the way I do for others. After all,  we are all we have- this one body and mind from birth till death – and if we don’t take care of it-who will?

I invite you to join me on this journey.  Give yourself  PERMISSION to take care of you!

Great things are waiting!


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