WARNING THIS POST MAY INCLUDE EXTREME VULNERABILITY
Do you like sailing? When my husband first talked about getting a sailing boat I thought, that sounds nice. We would go to the boat show down at the expo center and look at different boats (and let me tell you there are some pretty fancy boats out there ).
He talked about how romantic sailing would be as he pointed out the differences between motor boating and sailing. At one point I actually said I liked how the sailboat moved with Mother Nature in the water while the motor boat just ripped right through her. (Mind you I had never been on a sailboat and had absolutely no idea about sailing - just like my two grandbabies pictured here on the boat for the first time).
So, my husband bought a sailboat a couple years ago and I have been officially introduced into sailing. Since that fateful day I have struggled to find any redeeming qualities about his cherished pastime!
Every boating outing has consistently been fraught with some kind of 'disaster' (according to me). Of course my husband looks at all these 'events' as learning opportunities. He repeatedly tells me we are never in danger of 'going down with the ship' but I have struggled to believe him.
We have a running joke at my house that my Danny is the patron saint of perpetual projects and the boat has truly confirmed his appointment to this post. He loves puttering with the boat, tweaking this, fixing that and recently decided the boat needed a new furler for the jib (a furler is the long pole at the front of the boat that unfurls the jib sail).
Fast forward to yesterday (Saturday) when my husband asks me if I will go on a 'shake down' cruise to test out the new furler. He knows I don't want to go but he also needs someone else to go with him and he knows I love him madly so I will go despite how I feel about sailing (that's true love guys ).
So, we are driving over to where the boat is moored and I am very quiet in the car. My husband checks in on me "are you ok?" Me: "yeah, I'm fine" I say, meanwhile I am talking myself off the ledge inside my head. "We'll be fine; There is nothing to be afraid of; We won't be out too long; It's pretty windy out there; I wish I was a better swimmer; I'm starting to feel sick ".
We get out to the boat and it's a beautiful day. It's windy and I'm glad I brought my sweater. Danny is buzzing about turning things on, checking stuff down below and I am being very quiet trying to will myself to be brave. He loves this boating thing and I don't want him to sacrifice his joy because I am such a chicken.
He offers me the little bands you put on your wrists when you feel queasy but I decline. I just want to get this whole thing over. Dan turns the engine on and releases the boat from the mooring. We motor out a bit before he tells me he's going to put the jib out. I offer to help and he directs me to what he needs and we are off.
The boat responds to the wind, the sail fills taut with air - we are moving with Mother Nature and as we are, with my back to Danny, tears are falling from my eyes. I'm scared, I don't want to be scared, but I AM SCARED.
I turn my face to the sun and close my eyes. The fear keeps getting worse and worse but the feeling of the warm sunshine on my face feels good, feels safe. I am praying on the inside and begging for this feeling of fear to leave me, tears running down my face.
All of a sudden I imagine that the tears falling from my eyes are actually the fear leaving my body. I envision it and let the tears flow freely knowing it's the fear leaving me.
The warm sun feels like a friend in this moment, the warm wind, her arm around me. The water beneath the boat reminds me of a much loved water mattress I had a kajillion years ago.
I opened my eyes and saw the jib sail full as the boat leaned to one side (my husband loves that) and all of a sudden I felt OK, I felt like I could do this, I could sail with my husband, I could even enjoy it - maybe).
I was quiet for the rest of our little adventure, paying attention to my surroundings, taking in how I was feeling about being on the boat in that moment. What had happened?
We returned to the mooring as the sun set. I wanted to tell Danny what happened to me out there but wasn't sure how. Would he think I was a nut? (I am a worry master black belt)
I waited until this morning (Sunday) to tell him and as I was sharing my experience he looked at me and said: "You let go of the oars". My eyes filled up with relief and joy.
I let go of the oars, I stopped resisting. I let go of the fear of not being in control, the fear of not being able to manage Mother Nature, and in letting go I found a peaceful sense of acute presence and awareness to the beauty and blessings that were all around me.
So, you might ask what does this have to do with the NICU, what does this have to do with me? I'm hoping it has a lot to do with you and the service we are called to in the NICU.
What you resist persists. I resisted enjoying sailing because I was afraid of not being able to control the experience, control the outcome. The more I held this belief the more overwhelming my fear became. Resistance isn't a straight line. What we resist is often pretty convoluted and messy with subtitles and subterfuge.
What do you resist?
Some folks resist change but that begs the question, why resist change? Everything changes, we change minute by minute, day by day. However, change can make you feel insecure and take away your super powers of expertise and confidence (like kryptonite and SuperMan). When we resist change over time the fear of change, the fear of loss can paralyze us and keep us from growing and expanding in our practice and as a human being.
Some folks resist collaboration. The idea of shared decision-making, sharing 'power' with other disciplines is super threatening to folks, especially in the hierarchical world of healthcare. But then again, you have to ask the question why? Why is sharing threatening to some folks? Is the 'power' they imagine they have in the workplace compensating for feelings of powerlessness in other areas of their life?
You know these people and I'll bet sometimes they can make your life crazy (just like I am sure I made my Danny crazy). But getting annoyed doesn't help anything get better. The only thing that does help is love, patience, compassion, and understanding.
Holding space for people to change themselves is the best we can do.
My Danny has been holding space for me for a long time and I am grateful for his patience, love and kindness. Can you hold space for your colleagues, your patient's family, even your own family and friends?
What I know for sure is you can create any reality you choose. You can choose to be afraid, insecure, and resistant or you can choose to trust, share, and be vulnerable.
The choice is up to you.
Take care and care well,
P.S. To learn more about how you can become a leader for change and a champion for trauma-informed care for infants, families and professionals schedule a Get Acquainted Call with me this week!
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