Several years ago, I began using Facebook to chronicle my “Gratitude Journey.” In my search for things to be grateful for, I found myself focused on the idea of perspective. My journey became about finding moments that connected me to my core purpose: meaningful connection. These last several months, in particular, I have been challenged in this new world of social isolation to maintain meaningful connections.
One meaningful connection for me over the past 20 years has been volunteering with AACN. I learned that AACN wanted to recognize Nurses Week in a special way this year; they commissioned a group called Dear World to capture and preserve the experience of nurses during the COVID-19 crisis. I admired the humanity behind the group’s work celebrating the amazing professionals who responded to this unprecedented time in healthcare, so I blindly signed on! I came to understand that Dear World began as Dear New Orleans, my hometown, after Hurricane Katrina, and that the group’s primary mission is to “document stories to be remembered or discovered.” I was immediately immersed and forever grateful for the “moment” we were about to discover.
This moment of discovery had everything to do with a new perspective for me after over 15 years in nursing leadership. I started working evening and weekend shifts, to ensure leadership presence in the off-hours. My new perspective came with deep admiration for these professional nurses who were thrust into a new pandemic staffing model. But the one thing the nurses continually expressed was their gratitude for the experienced nurses and other providers who “had their backs.” Teamwork was the new normal while we treated the sickest of the sick! As a result of this new perspective, I was asked to select 10 to 20 nurses whose stories deserved to be told.
Selecting just 10 to 20 nurses became the impossible task. In typical nursing selflessness, everyone wanted to highlight someone else as a hero. This will stand out as one of the proudest moments in my nursing career. Ultimately, I shared 40 nurses’ stories with the production team.
To say I am grateful for this opportunity fails to convey how awe-inspired I am by the nurses who shared their stories. I am grateful for the Dear World team, whose vision and creativity brought to life the passion and commitment our nurses have to relentlessly pursue excellence at every turn for our patients. But most importantly, Dear World illustrated the resilience and renewed commitment that nurses demonstrate to be their best, with every patient and during every interaction.
I have chosen to show my gratitude daily in this world behind the mask, by ensuring that I look directly into people’s eyes, truly see them and let them know that I see them. It makes a difference in how I face each day.
In what ways do you connect differently now?