As I sit in front of my laptop staring at the screen displaying the live Cornell Bird Camera on full screen, mesmerized by the sunset in the background across the pond, and music is playing in the background from my Spotify playlist, I reflect on the pandemic and the past few weeks.
I am reflecting on my emotional breakdown earlier in the day while I was watching the live broadcast of Pope Francis’s Urbi et Orbi world blessing with my children. I was so moved by the event I spilled copious tears, releasing all my anxiety, fear, pride, and anger as I united my spirit with my family in the living room, my brothers and sisters throughout the world, and my very ill 24 year old daughter in the master bedroom isolated from everyone, except me, for the past five days.
I am exhausted, to be honest and forthright, overcome with thoughts, and the multitude of activities I’m engaged in, like keeping isolation protocols, using appropriate personal protective equipment when I go into the room, cleaning, ordering supplies, or at least trying to order supplies which are so limited during the pandemic. I have been in “nurse” mode for the past week ever since I got a message from my daughter telling me how ill she was.
My nurse’s training has helped me in this difficult situation, but it has not helped me deal with the disconnect in my mind and spirit during the pandemic. This brief self-reflection and self-awareness cut to my core.
Since becoming a board certified Integrative Nurse Coach through the International Nurse Coach Association’s program several years ago, I have developed a deeper understanding of the practices of self-reflection, self-awareness, and self-care, and how incorporating these practices daily enriches my overall health and well-being.
The Theory of Integrative Nurse Coaching (TINC) developed by Barbara Dossey, Susan Luck, and Bonney Gulino Schaub “believe that the TINC is essential to the continued evolution of the Nurse Coach role” (2015). They also believe “Nurse Coaches with their leadership capacities, interactions with clients/patients, and other interprofessional collaborations, are leaders in the evolution of healthy people living in a healthy world”.
The first component in the Theory of Integrative Nurse Coaching is Nurse Coach Self-Development which includes self-reflection, self-assessment, self-evaluation, and self-care.
According to Dossey, Luck, and Schaub, “self-reflection is being in a present state of mindfulness with the inner awareness of our thoughts, feelings, judgements, beliefs, and perceptions that brings us into the present moment.” What I discovered through self-reflection was the absence of something I needed but could not quite identify. By continuing to be present in the feelings and allowing myself to fully engage in the practice, I began to embrace my reality.
I did not have a clear understanding at the beginning of this pandemic what I was experiencing, but by continuing to travel along the path in my feelings, it culminated in the release of emotion during the world blessing.
I realized what I needed. It was hope. The same hope I have at night when I close my eyes to rest, that I will open them again in the morning to a sunrise filled with many opportunities. I wanted to hold onto my hope that my daughter and myself would make it to the other side of this illness and darkness.
Hope cemented my inner being, body, mind, and soul for the next few days until she did recover and finally went back home. It is hope I cling to each day, even after recovering from my own dark, long illness not two weeks later. What has equally become crystal clear to me is that I also need my faith.
This intersection between hope and faith led me to explore the depth of my spirituality in this present moment.
I thought about how I used this knowledge previously in other difficult situations in my life such as the loss of my mother unexpectedly, the loss of several unborn children, and the loss of my relationship with my son for a period of time when he moved away from home. I recalled how I could reconnect, deepen, and grow through this experience as I had previously through prayer, journaling, connecting with others who were grieving or exploring their spiritual roots too. I gained more insight into my strengths, areas I had not explored or known, and how in times of unknowing, I found those who were willing to walk alongside me in my journey.
I was ready to let go and trust, knowing that the roads I had already traveled down would help to guide me in this journey. As an Integrative Nurse Coach, I often walk alongside others who are experiencing soul pain as I was and I have the privilege of holding space, being present, listening, caring, and transforming with them. I consider it one of the greatest callings in my life.