Friday, October 22, 2010

The Adventurer

Today I went out to brunch with a couple of nurse-friends from work. Last night, a bunch of work-type friends all went out (myself included) to a local club to listen to great music, and to bid farewell to a co-worker who's going to travel all the way to Australia for an adventure in nursing. Well, it's more that she wants to travel, and working in nursing pays hella-better than working any place else.

I'll be sad to see her go. She was my mentor when I first started out and we had some good times. But traveling is her "second life." She's an adventurer.

I often see that with nurses. They come to work and do their job and pretend to be stable, upstanding, normal people, but when they're not at work they have completely different lives and ambitions. Some are musicians, some run online knitting shops, some travel, some (like myself) are theatre-types. It's all 100% non-nursing. I suppose it's that coping mechanism. What can I do/love/try/share that doesn't have to remind me about the work that I love, but that stresses me out and often pushes me to the brink of sanity?

I knit. I bake. I'm trying to cultivate my green thumb (I bought mint, a small rose, and some more soil and fertilizer today!). I allow my collection of painful but fabulous shoes to grow so I have something absolutely killer to wear when I get the opportunity to go out. I especially like it when I go out with work friends and they're totally surprised to see that I have a liking for 5" heels because all they every see me in is slacks, tshirts and sneakers at work. The life I live at home often feels very different from the life I'm supposed to pretend I live while at work. But that's ok. Like I said, often these double lives are coping mechanisms for dealing with the illnesses and issues we have to try and "solve" while at work.

It's impossible to cure the kids at work. In mental health, kids often come to the hospital just for assessments and adjustments to their medications. We try and help them learn ways of dealing with their illness, but we won't cure them. I have a tough time with that. I think that's why I'm experiencing such burnout while at work. I can't fix them. If I was to work in a medical-type unit, I could bandage the wound, or give pain medications. The kids would get fixed. Cured. But I can't do that where I work now. I don't feel like I see real success.

And that's why it's important to have a second life from the one you live at work. We work to get paid. Hopefully, it's while doing something we like to do. But even the things we like to do can get overwhelming, and we need a break. That break comes the moment I let the doors at work close behind me, and I remember that I have tickets for a new play, or have all the ingredients in my fridge for making delicous apple pie.

So, what's your second life?


  1. My second life is eating delicious apple pie. I really need to find a creative inlet for this second life of mine...

  2. come over for dinner sometime! I've got home-grown apples and have plans to make both apple and cran-pear mini pies (tart sized). I'll need people to help me eat them!

  3. My only life is that of a student teacher. It's stressful and I'm always on the verge of tears, even for no reason. From what I've seen, a career as a teacher will be similar to your nursing career. There are so many kids, and you can do your best to help them, but you're not God, and you're only one person. I hope that when I'm no longer a student, I can develop myself a second life full of dance and singing performances. I'll remember how to knit, I'll scrapbook, I'll hula hoop, I'll hike and travel, and do things on weekends like normal people. I'll read for pleasure and I'll remember how to smile and laugh. Those are my hopes for my second life.