Friday, September 30, 2011

Friday Five: Home Sweet Home

Songbird says: I've got home on my mind: what it feels like, how we make it, what we carry from the past and how we separate other people's leftovers from objects that really reflect our identity. My family has had one home for the past 13 years, the longest I've ever lived anywhere. As the time when all the children are gone comes closer, I wonder where my next home will be? So here are five questions about home.
1) Where was your first home? My first home was in Dubuque, IA.  I lived in the same house with my parents until I went away to go to college (and a short stint in the convent). I moved back after graduating and stayed in Dubuque until I was 27 when I left for the last time and moved to Minnesota. Form many years when I would go back to Dubuque to visit, I would think about the life I didn't have there and wonder what it would have been like if I had just stayed there as an adult.

2) Do you ever dream about places you used to live? Just last night I went again in dreams to the house I was raised in.  it is often the setting for some sleep saga or another, and I wonder sometimes just what it is I am still trying to work out with that place!

3) If you could bring back one person from your past to sit at your dinner table, who would you choose? My mother, without a doubt! We told our life stories in CPE this week and I have been really thinking about her and missing her even more since then. She has been gone since 1997, and has missed some pretty important stuff in my life, graduation and the start of my career as a psychologist, ordination, my wedding (though she was there in spirit I know).  The one thing I wish I could do is introduce her to my sweet husband.  She would love him as much as I do, I know, and be so happy to see us together.

4) What's your favorite room in your current living space? I have a confession that will only come as news to some people-I don't like where we live very much, and still miss my house in the little town on the prairie. We went from this large, charming old house with seven rooms and two porches, two garages and a large fenced yard to a four room/one garage townhouse.  It is really perfectly fine, has LOTS of storage space for its size and a great location for work, shopping, CPE, etc.  But it never quite feels like home. If I had to pick a "favorite" room though, I would say my bathroom! It's big and spacious and has its own linen closet.  I have decorated it to my taste and think it's kind of cute (as bathrooms go).  The shower is and full of great water pressure. I am trying to like the whole place better as we are there at least until next June and maybe beyond if we decide to be frugal and save money for our future adventures instead of more on housing.

5) Is there an object or an item where you live now that represents home? If not, can you think of one from your childhood? Well, I can't exactly call him an "object or item" but home to me is where ever R is.  He is what makes the space I am not so fond of bearable, and he is who I think about when I think of home.  It's not so much a place anymore as it is where I find him and we can spend time together.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

CPE Continues

CPE is moving forward, or perhaps more accurately I should say, I am moving forward in CPE.  I admitted to the group and my supervisor how anxious I was feeling about going onto the floor and actually seeing people, as well as the fact that I felt pretty bad about admitting that. I mean after's not like I haven't visited people in a hospital before, or that I don't know how to do this thing.  There were a lot of "shoulds" in my head about that, and it took a bit of humility to say out loud that I was feeling rather freaked. But it had a good outcome (as being honest about my feelings often does!) I got support from my peers and my supervisor offered the opportunity of shadowing him if I wished.  So yesterday I did one visit with him, he did one with me and then off I went on my own.  Yes, I do know how to do this (at least so far).  My patients were certainly ill, but not in an acute state,. and I found that I could offer presence and support for them as they faced whatever was before them.  Tomorrow I get to attend rounds for the first time and meet more of the staff. I'm looking forward to that as I think it will help me feel even more grounded in this place and  a part of the care team.

I also managed to figure out the documentation on the electronic system.  That too felt like a bit of a triumph!

I know there is more ahead that will challenge me and push my limits.  But for right now I'm feeling much more at ease and happy to be so.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

CPE Orientation Day 2

I say this with some chagrin and embarrassment, but I am feeling a lot of a sense of "deer in the headlights" as I come back from the second orientation day.  We spent the morning with the manager of spiritual care services who talked with us about....of all things....DEATH.  Well DUH....of course that is going to be a big part of what we do, what we deal with, why, in fact, we are there.  But the whole business just got very very real.  Death in the ER, death in the ICU, even death in the Family Birthing Center. Our role in supporting the family, in being present for the end of life with patients, in caring for the staff who dealt with a trauma, and of course in figuring out how we, ourselves, do self-care.

I had a job in a hospital once. Well actually twice...I was a Unit Clerk and I rarely had to even see the patients as I ordered supplies, did transcription and kept the station area functioning.  In my second foray I was a ccardiac monitor tech.  or more accurately I trained and oriented to be one.  My first day on the floor I was asked to go into a patient's room and change the leads on a person who had just had open heart surgery.  That was also my last day on the job.  Again I don't know what I was thinking or how it had escaped me that this would involve real patients with real wounds and I would be expected to DO something in their care.  Honestly, I really thought my job was to watch monitors, gather the strips of rhythms as they printed and alert the nursing staff about anything amiss.  I have to add that I was much younger then and things scared me even more than they do now, and when they did my response was to run and avoid.  I'd like to think that I am not only older and wiser, but also braver now. 

But I am not feeling very brave this morning.  D told us of her first on-call as a trainee chaplain.  A nine year old boy was shot and killed.  I am not expecting in our little suburban hospital that I will deal with much of that.  But there will be something.  There will be illness and pain and death. Running is not my option of choice this time. So I'll pray and hang out in trust that all will really be well as things unfold. One day at a time.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011


At long last after many tries at this I finally made it to CPE! We had our first seminar day yesterday and it was good.  I absolutely LOVE this hospital and all of the thought and intentionality that has gone into creating what they call "the Healing Environment" which is a part of their mission and values.  The environment is deliberately constructed to be patient-centered, affirming and soothing.  There is amazing art all over the place, and gardens and water features outside available to patients and staff. The interfaith prayer room (in what is originally a small Catholic hospital) has prayer rugs, meditation cushions, a tallit and malas, sweet grass and sage as well as the holy books from a variety of traditions. I continue to like my supervisor. We just "clicked" at the interview and listening to him yesterday reinforced and validated that further.

We are just three as a group, and that led to some tense moments yesterday as two of us sat and waited for our third partner to appear.  He had gotten caught in traffic, and while we waited and wondered about him, our supervisor told us that the other two people in our (former) group of five had dropped out and that we needed at least three to continue.  But then K appeared and all was well.  We may get one or two more people coming in who were sort of "wait listed" when we seemed to be at full-strength, and now will be offered spots. So we may grow a little which would be good, but I can be fine with D and K who seem like very solid and focused people.  We are all "of an age" and are on at least a second career call track. We are diverse with a Lutheran, and UCC-er and myself. Our supervisor is a UCC minister as well.  I have always had a feeling of connection and love for the UCC after some time as a church-member in that denomination in my past, and think if I weren't Episcopalian, that is likely what I would be.

We got our pics taken for the ID badge and had a tour which included meeting some of the most warm and welcoming staff I could hope for.  Everyone from the CEO to the housekeepers and security staff seemed genuinely delighted to have us among them. M told us that the Spiritual Care department is very valued in this place and that this welcome is the real thing.  Tomorrow orientation continues as we begin to learn about the role of the chaplain and various protocols in different areas of the hospital.  I don't know yet where I will be assigned, but anywhere is good as I just want to soak it up.  I'm a little anxious as I think about getting into the patient interaction in earnest, which I know is a little silly, as I did this both as a pastor and a psychotherapist.  I'm also a little concerned about balancing this with work (full time still...just condensed into 3 1/2-4 days  a week. That and trying to have a life and relationship with my husband who works his own quirky hours (4 am to whenever he is done M-T-Th-F and Saturday). So I know we will both have to be intentional about our time for connection and play in order to keep "us" healthy together as well as individually.

But for today, I am totally psyched and can't wait to move forward on this "next great adventure."

Friday, September 02, 2011

Friday Five: The Season You're In

kathrynzj says: "Headquarters for me is the northeast of the United States. Here school is getting back in session, the tease of autumn is in the air (or the hope for the tease of autumn is in the air) and church life is gearing up to full throttle. One thing I've learned with blogging and social media is that the where I live is not necessarily where you live. And so I want to know what September means to you, in your place of the world and time in your life.  This week's Friday Five is: What are 5 things that the beginning of September mean to you?Bonus: What's one thing you could do without?"

September is....
  • A month where being flexible about weather expectations is a very good practice.  Here in Minnesota anything can happen during this month.  The day I arrived here (lo those many years ago) on September 15th is was 95 degrees! Imagine my surprise as I had left all my summer clothes behind in storage thinking that I would not need them until next year. I went to Target and bought close-out shorts and they served me well for a couple hot weeks.  It can also snow in this month (and has!) I just heard this morning that there was a snowfall of 9 inches recorded in this month in this state! Can we say weather extremes? Be ready.  Yesterday it was in the 90's.  Today it's damp and 75. Layers are my friends.
  • A month when things begin again.  I have spent so much of my life either in school or involved with school schedules on one front or just always feels like when this time of year comes, I should be starting something! So this year that is precisely what will be happening! As of September 12 I am beginning an extended unit of CPE at one of local hospitals.  I am excited and a little anxious about balancing this with my full-time job as well as a little life balance (like ever seeing my husband!)  But I have been wanting to do this for a very long time and I'm going to give it a go.  This was not part of my formation for ordination as we did a local training process, and so it's a "want-to" for me rather than the requirement that some have. I'm thinking about this as a time of discernment as I think this just might be something that I am called to as a more full-time ministry.  Time and experience actually doing it will tell, I think. So I'm getting my book bag packed and figuring out how to get five days of my psychology job into four. Off we go!
  • The month when I begin to seriously dread winter.  I know this is not good,  I need to stay in the present moment and all that good stuff...but that is the reality.  I start to worry well in advance about bad roads and the general inconvenience. This year at least we are in an urban area and there should be no need for extended trips in the hinters.
  • The month (this year) when I am homesick for the prairie light.  There is different beauty here on this side of the state.  We live in the river valley now and it is rolling, lush and very green with many trees.  This is actually my home landscape and it has always soothed me.  But I did fall in love that light on the prairie in my years there.  Especially in the Fall, it is golden, luminous and has an almost touchable quality to it.  I even named my blog for it! So missing it now a bit.
  • And yes, the church year, though not liturgically, begins in earnest in September.  This too is different for me this year as I am a partaker more than a planner of congregational events.  our new church home is full of opportunities for groups and involvement.  Everything from Theology and a Pint to the "Heretics" Adult Ed group, a couples dinner and discussion group, and voice and bell choir.  I am also on the clergy supply list there and will be called now and again to preach and or celebrate the Eucharist.  A virtual feast, but again a discernment as I try to balance out what I want to do and what, realistically, I can.
  • While this is not about September per se, this beginning of a new season reminds me again about all of the changes and transitions that have taken place in this year.  It's my first Fall  in many many years without a house to get ready for the coming year.  No garden to put to bed, no gutters to clean, no leaves to rake, no reminder to call the furnace guy for the annual check-up. We did not sell our previous place, but as of October 1 we have renters who are willing to take all of that on.  We can rest assured that things will be watched over and that we don't have to make 6 hour round-trips for snow and maintenance. We are grateful for this solution to the burden of all that, but there is a way in which I miss the "have-tos" of having a house that depends on me to keep it going. 
As for the bonus....I love Fall and all it brings...if only it were not followed by Winter.  Really, that I think I could happily do without!