Time to look back

On the 27th December 1992 I started work as a Registered Nurse on the Children’s Unit at Hull Royal Infirmary. I was 21 years old and full of enthusiasm for my future career. Nearly 27 years on I can say it has been an adventure, and one that I would not change.

As I am about to start a new adventure as a Senior Organisational Development Practitioner and Coaching Lead (for the same hospital, I am not that adventurous), I thought I would reflect on my 27 years working on the Children’s Unit.

So it all started on Ward 12 (Hull Royal Infirmary) in December 1992. Well actually my first day was on Ward 130 East as Ward 12 had closed over Christmas week.

Ward 12 was the Children’s ENT and Ophthalmology ward, so cared for mainly elective (planned) patients, with a few emergencies. By the time I started the ward was progressively getting quieter and quieter as the nature of surgery changed and lengths of stays shortened. Ward 12 eventually closed and was merged with Ward 130 East which was the Surgical Ward on the floor above.

This coincided with me starting my Registered Sick Children’s Nurse qualification in March 1994, at the short lived Humberside College of Health. Humberside College of Health was situated in the old orthopaedic unit at Dela Pole Hospital, which at that time was still a working Psychiatric Hospital. We were often joined in our lectures by interested inpatients. To be fair they appeared more engaged in the subjects, than some of us. The majority of the students on the course were from either Hull or Grimsby, or Scunthorpe, but we did have two students from the forces, one from the navy and one from the RAF which created a new dynamic. When I think about my fellow RSCN students from Hull, there are only 2 of us that still work at Hull Royal.

After qalification I went back to work on Ward 130 East. Between 1995 and 1997 I worked on this ward, and I would say this was the time when I learned the most about nursing children. It was an incredibly busy and challenging time. We cared for some very sick children and it took it’s toll both physically and mentally on a lot of us.

As a result of this challenging time I decided I needed to learn more about caring for very sick children, and I went to work in ICU. I learned a lot working on ICU and still have a place in my heart for the place and the team despite only working there for a year. The difficulty I had was that I spent most a lot of my time caring for adults, and my heart was still with caring for children. So I went back to the Children’s unit. I did however go back for a few months on rotation.

On my return to the Children’s Unit I was placed on 130 West (medical ward) . After a year I was promoted to what was then an F Grade (Band 6 today), and I became a Father for the first time.

In 2001 I joined a brand new team on PHDU (high dependency unit). I worked there for a year, a year I loved from a work perspective, however it was probably personally one of my most challenging years.

In 2002 I became the Charge Nurse on Ward 130 West. Even though I struggled with my mental health during the 11 years I worked there, I generally have very fond memories of this time. I worked with some incredible nurses during this time, and I feel honoured to have worked with them and manage them. We had some really challenging times and some truly incredible times including winning a regional award for innovation. Every single one of us made a difference to children’s lives, and we should all be immensely proud of what we did during this time.

In 2013 I moved on to being the Teacher Practitioner for the Children’s Unit, the job I am about to leave for a job that over the past 3 years has become by dream job. During my time as Teacher Practitioner, I learned to manage my demons, and was exposed to coaching. Coaching has changed my life, and has reignited my passion for care and compassion. I found a job that gives me the exact same buzz as I got caring for people as a junior staff nurse.

I will be forever grateful for my time on the Children’s Unit, and will always have a place in my heart for all the incredible Children’s Nurses, Play Specialists, CSWs, Auxilliaries, Housekeepers, Ward Clerks, Domestics, Caterers, Consultants, and Trainees I have worked with over those 27 years.

August! An emotional month.

Vialetters live at Humber Street Sesh 2019

I always knew it would be an emotional one, especially with the background that is going on in my family (something I alluded to in previous blogs, but do not yet want to go into details).

The month started with a bang, when Ben (the Bass player on the right in the picture above) and with the Vialetters played Humber Street Sesh (our local festival and smashed it. It was truly a proud moment, and must admit I did shed a tear when I looked around and saw how many people were watching and cheering them on.

As well as that Jack (my youngest) whose band where not quite ready for this years Sesh volunteered during the festival, helping to set it up and manned one of the stages. I know it is a bit sentimental, but I feel so blessed to have such amazingly talented and generous sons.

What a wonderful weekend that was.

Then halfway through the month Ben got his ‘A’Level results and secured his place at BIMM Manchester (British and Irish Modern Music Institute) to study Music Journalism, which was his first choice. That was a strange day, I was immensely proud of what he had achieved, but was tinged with sadness, with the realisation that he was really going to be leaving home.

To top this Vialetters have managed to secure 2 pretty amazing support gigs. The first is on the 14th September playing at Bonus Arena Hull (the biggest venue they have ever played in) supporting a local band Bud Sugar, and the other is supporting one of the most exciting new bands in the country, Cassia in October. I tell you my head is beginning to spin.

This week (all too fast) Ben left home to move into his shared house in Manchester. He has gone early to settle into the area and find a job. The prospect of him leaving was heartbreaking. Since he has left, I think I have spoken to him more frequently than I did when he lived here (mostly my doing). I am sad for me and Lisa as our life has to change and that is difficult to adjust to, as we all love to cling on to what is familiar and comfortable. On the other hand I am excited for Ben and so proud of the young man he has become. So I will cry as I mark the passing of my old life and smile at the opportunities my new life brings. After all we have to do this all again with Jack next year. I am starting to cry just thinking about it.

Yesterday myself and Lisa traveled to Manchester to take the rest of Ben’s stuff, and take him shopping. We went out for lunch with Ben and Liv (his girlfriend, who is staying with him for a few days, I think to organise him) and they took us to a vegan diner. That was a first for me, I am still not quite sure what to make of it. It was nice enough but it is still resting heavy and I fear it might take a few days to digest. His house is really nice and is just on the edge of Manchester City centre. You can see the skyscape of Manchester changing from his bedroom window.

You can just make out the Hilton in the distance

Before we came back we did a food (inc Beer and Wine) shop with him and Liv. I found that really stressful and emotional. I am still trying to understand what I was feeling during that shop. It might be coming to term with endings and leaving him behind, I am not sure. What I do know is, that I am proud of the man I helped forge, and I am certain he will be all he wants to be. I think the hard part is playing less part in that and not always be able to witness his life first hand.

In my own world there is potentially some exciting news coming up, I am reluctant to share publicly yet, but once I have more details I will share.

What a life-changing month this has been.

My writing has taken a back seat recently, and my book is collecting dust. I will get back to it soon, once I get my mojo back and clearly define my new direction and purpose.

Onwards and upwards. Follow your interest and realise your dream.

That was a long week!

I think it was the heat, but boy that was a long week! A lot of great stuff happened but I am knackered today,I am certain we had 2 Thursdays this week.

Monday started with some inspirational meetings,talking to some truly brilliant people. There are so many talented and committed people working in the NHS. The first meeting was to discuss the support I could offer to the development of unregistered staff. My next meeting was with the wonderful Louise who is going to support me with the back office functions of our coaching network. That meeting was so positive and was like having a weight lifted off my shoulders. To be honest I was shocked this all happened this week! I was certain this all happened about 2 weeks ago. Such a long week!

I spent Tuesday morning delivering a Insights Discovery workshop. I love delivering. I particularly enjoy challenging peoples perceptions, and helping them connect with themselves. I even managed to sign up a couple of coachees for our coaching network.

I spent the first part of the evening with a private coaching client. It was a great hour, shifting perceptions and introducing the idea of being truly present.

Straight after the coaching session we raced across the city to watch our eldest son’s band (Vialetters), play there first headline gig. They were majestic and truly did live up to their headline status. It was the perfect warm-up for their slot at Humber Street Sesh festival next weekend. for those of you going, they are playing the Strummerville Stage at 4:15. If you are going pop along to see them, you will not be disappointed.

Wednesday and Thursday were just hot a sweaty days, and were a struggle, so much so that I am certain we either repeated a day or time just slowed down. The highlight was going to the pub after work on Wednesday.

Friday at last was cooler. I spent the morning with the wonderful Janis and Sandra making plans and setting dates for Clinical Supervision training next year. We didn’t get chance to make work through our planned book on Clinical Supervision, we will get chance soon. In the afternoon I met and contracted with a new internal coachee,which is always a pleasure.

This morning I went for a refreshing run, helped Ben with his student s accommodation application, now writing this blog watching the Challenge Cup semi-final. A restful day.

It has been a long tiring week, but on reflection a really productive and enjoyable week. Yesterday I was feeling a little frazzled and was I think concentrating what was causing me frustration. This exercise today has helped me concentrate on what is positive, and productive in this week. There is an awful lot to be thankful for this week.

We all have a choice

I read a tweet this morning by Paul McGee (@TheSumoGuy) that invited us to make a choice today. We could choose to be grumpy about whatever was irritating us or getting in the way of our life, or choose to be grateful for what we have and what is around us.

I was out walking the dog when I read this tweet and it made me think of my surroundings and look around at the beauty of where I live. I took this picture.

Now to you, you might be thinking, that is nothing special, but to me it sums up a walk through my village on a Sunday morning in the summer, and how lucky I am to live here. 2 minutes earlier I had been irritated by someone saying something annoying on Facebook and by my dogs insistence on sniffing every blade of grass. This tweet reminded me to not forget the reasons to be grateful.

I and I am sure most of you find it easy to focus on the negative, to expect the worst, look for what is going wrong, expect that people cannot be bothered to do a good job. This is our default setting, this was how we were taught to think. These neural pathways have been trodden on for years. So seeing life through an alternative lense is not easy, new pathways need to be formed. Also it would not be helpful at all to have a wholly positive outlook in life, for one you will seriously piss off your friends and family and two it is just dangerous, you have to keep your threat sensors on. The world is tough so you must be aware of dangers around you.

What is important is to have a choice, of an appropriate response and give equal air time to the negative and the positive.

There is a lot in my life right now that makes me feel sad and grumpy, and so it should because it is horrible, so I have been practicing everyday to give it air time, to appreciate the emotion, but not to stay there for too long. I have been trying to look for what there is right now to be grateful for, and boy there is an awful lot to be grateful for, in fact a lot more than there is to make me grumpy or sad.

The stuff that makes me really sad is important and big but is out of my control, so all I can do is articulate what I am feeling and give it the attention it deserves, amazingly that gives me the space, and energy to appreciate all the wonderfulness I have in my life. So in a way I am grateful for the bad stuff, as it has made me really examine what matters to me, I wish it hadn’t happened but it has and therefore I need to accept what it is, and move on. So I have chosen to be grateful, but only when I have chance to be grumpy. Being grumpy takes me to the place where I can see what I am grateful for.

Thank you @thesumoguy for your inspiration.

Doing what I love

This week a calm seems to have fallen over me. As you will no doubt know life for the past few months has been challenging and is likely to be challenging for some time to come. As I mentioned last week I am learning to roll with the punches and keeping picking myself up when I get knocked down. This and last week I have been talking a lot about purpose and how important that is to being resilient. For me this gives me the strength to carry on. I generally know if I am talking a lot about a subject it is because I am wrestling with it. I am trying to fully understand it, to devise personal meaning of it. Over the past couple of weeks I have been grappling with what is important to me, I have been examining what I value and connecting back up with my purpose. In fact as I have said before actually writing this blog helps me articulate and understand what is swirling around in my brain.

As I am writing this, I am noticing my feelings about my core value. My core value as you may remember was being useful. My sense of usefulness has been sorely challenged over recent weeks. There has been things going on in my life that I have been unable to control, unable to make better. With regards to these subjects I have felt useless. I have felt like an impotent bystander, watching something awful unfold that I have no influence over. I felt that I was not living up to my core value, and letting myself and my family down. This is the story I have been telling myself. As Brene Brown would put it, this is my first shitty draft of my story about what is happening to me. I can tell you, now I have articulated that this draft certainly is shitty and is completely inaccurate. Now I think about it, this week I have been demonstrating to myself where I am useful, what I do that makes a difference. When I apply my usefulness to what I have been doing as a family member over the past few months, I have been useful, where I could influence things, however there are a lot of situations in life that I can not influence and I need to let them go, and stop trying to wrestle them to submission.

My usefulness comes from doing what I love. I love listening and talking to people, I love showing people the wonder of gentle communication. I love sharing the magic of curiosity and the incredible power of empathy. When I do this overtly I am on cloud 9. That is what hooked me to nursing, then clinical supervision, and now coaching. I do have ever practice empathy and listening with fascination all the time which obviously has less of an impact on me and I can and clearly do not pay as much attention of it’s worth to my resilience. I derive my sense of purpose from helping people feel connected, care for and listened to, which in turn satisfies my core value of usefulness. For weeks now I have been fighting and losing with uncertainty. Trying to accept uncertainty is really hard, but paying attention to what you are winning at seems to diminish the impact uncertainty is having on me.

So this week I have delivered clinical supervision training for 2 days, coached and delivered a careers session to school children. This has most certainly restored me and connected me back up with my core value, and at the same time reminded me of what my purpose is.

Having a purpose gives you somewhere to go to recharge your batteries when life gets tough and keeps knocking you back.

Are you clear about why you do what you do?

Thank you Boys

I have mentioned a few times in various blogs about my love for music, and how music helps me keep an even keel when my resilience is being challenged. At the moment my resilience is being tested. Now part of being resilient is accepting that there are times in your life that will hurt, and occasionally it will hurt so much that you find it hard to imagine anything worse. Now I am not quite there, but I have been there before. Accepting emotional pain is so hard to do. The key is making space, which is not the same as letting your pain takeover. Allowing pain and happiness equal space and attention is the answer. You have to actively do this, we will automatically move to and pay attention to the pain and then try to get rid of it.

As Paul McGee would say, allow yourself some hippo time (some time to wallow in your self pity, but don’t make it a place of residence. It is then time to look for what makes you smile, what you value. Now my go to for evoking positive emotion is music. I will always go to my playlist and find something that fits my mood.

I am super lucky, as I have 2 boys that are musical. Both are in bands, Jack’s band is in it’s early stages so their is no music to listen to yet, but I cannot wait to share there first single. Ben however you will remember is in a band called Vialetters and they play live regularly and have just released their third song on all platforms. Listening to their music has got me through some challenging times recently. So as a huge heartfelt thank you to Ben and the rest of the Vialetters here is their latest offering Genera.

Don’t let love, compassion and connection get lost in the rhetoric of protectionism, and difference.

I was having a discussion at work yesterday with with some wonderful people (Anthony Brookes and Janis Hostad) about resilience and how we can support people to recognise and embolden their resilience. We were asking ourselves what enables resilience and we started to dissect Coutu’s 3 behaviours of resilient people. As we were talking I noticed that we were talking about spiritualism, a sense that we are all connected. I said it out loud which now seems a bit ridiculous telling a Chaplain that what we are talking about is spiritualism, as if he hadn’t already realised. He was however very patient with me, and really rather excited about exploring how to create a message of connection, meaning, and compassion that does not appear to be wedded to one religion our other, but is accessible to all regardless of faith or lack of it.

This got me thinking about the latest video of Brene Brown with Russell Brand, where they discuss at length spirituality and where a seeming denial of it can lead to the blind pursuit of wealth without regard of wider society. This was something that really resonated with me. I spend a large part of my working life spreading the message of compassion, both self-compassion and compassion to those around yo, to create connections, which creates collaboration, which can create meaningful long lasting outcomes. But then I come home and turn on the news and hear the rhetoric of hate, difference, and protectionism. Lesbian couples being beaten up on buses, young women being racially abused on the tube, a father and young child drowning trying to get to a better life, politicians encouraging disconnection, politicians being physically attacked in the streets. I am sure I could create a longer list, as there is always something new reported everyday, reminding us of our differences, creating fear. It makes my heart sink, some days it feels like I am swimming against the tide trying to get people to view the world through another lens, that lets us see the connections we have with our fellow humans. A lens that encourages us to see them as human beings, to see them as mums, dads, sons, daughters, cousins, aunties and uncles, with hopes, dreams, fears, and optimism. As Brene Brown says it is difficult to hate someone close up, so move in. Move in and recognise your hopes, dreams, fears and optimism in theirs. We are all complicated, and flawed, we are all contradictions, so lets recognise, reconcile and appreciate.

Don’t get lost in the rhetoric of fear and protectionism as that denies our innate desire to search for and find connection with those around us. It is biologically necessary for us to nurture and support our species. Don’t fall for the de-humanising language used by people that want us to create disconnection in their desire to accumulate personal wealth. Connection and compassion creates more sustainable wealth for all.