Thursday, February 17, 2011

Shopping blues

I, like many women out there, like to shop. I also like a bargain and rarely buy unless I think I have gotten a “deal,” so shopping has been difficult lately. It might be what I’m shopping for—a house, some furniture—or simply my perception of a deal!

The area where I am house hunting has weathered the financial storm pretty well, looking at it from my side of the fence. I hear stories from people who live here that most home prices have fallen more than a hundred thousand dollars, but they still seem pretty pricey to me!

The issue is the elementary school. It’s rated at the top in the state and I firmly believe it has helped maintain property values, because people want to start their children off here. I refuse to move my kids from this school, as they have settled in nicely, love their teachers and are thriving in the before- and after-school care program. And what a program! They’re taking TaeKwon-Do, participating in science clubs and my girl has attended two sessions of cooking classes—all this in addition to homework assistance (run by the teachers) and an excellent staff! Needless to say, we are not changing schools, so the search continues. So far, I have seen several homes I like, but none I love and, since this is, potentially, a home we will live in for several years, I want to love it!

One thing I did manage to buy yesterday—a new car! I had been driving a 2001 Suburban, which I loved and hated to give up. It was comfortable, old enough that I had ceased caring about the kids eating in it, and I knew how it responded in most conditions. It responded poorly. It was not a four-wheel drive, and it had a tendency to slip-slide on almost anything. Having been built in 2001, it lacked any significant safety equipment for the rear seat, where my most important riders sit.

All of these drawbacks led to some pretty white-knuckled drives down from the mountains. Many days, I was thankful for the heavy traffic, because it kept speeds down and I could drive slow, not feeling pressured to push the limits of my aging ’burb! So, last night the kids and I headed off to see our friendly Ford dealer and we are now the proud owners of a new 2010 Explorer—old body style, truck frame, all the bells and whistles for safety and heated seats! We are pretty darn excited!

But—out of the mouths of babes—my boy just told me, “Mom, you should have bought the more expensive thing first; the house, then the car.” Thanks, son. Maybe you will stay home today while I go out and test our new toy, driving to the mountains! We will table the home search for a few weeks; we have nothing but time!

For Reflections on Nursing Leadership (RNL), published by the Honor Society of Nursing, Sigma Theta Tau International.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Keepin' on bloggin'

Maintaining this blog often competes with other priorities—cleaning house and grocery-shopping, to name two. I am so thankful to Sigma Theta Tau International for providing this forum and for Jim Mattson, editor of Reflections on Nursing Leadership (RNL), who ensures that what I say makes sense and helps keep me on track. A couple times, he has sent an e-mail asking if I plan to continue posting, a very polite way of encouraging me to get typing!

So, recently, in the midst of a rare Saturday morning without my children, I managed to write three posts and even looked over the blog design and statistics. I had no idea there was a way to see how many people had accessed the site and where they were from. I was pleasantly surprised to see there have been more than a thousand hits since my blog was created almost two years ago. Now, I realize that really isn't much when compared to many others out there, but it gave me a little lift to think of all those people reading what I write.

What was fascinating to me was all the foreign countries where people access my blog: Malta, South Africa, China. What do those people think when they look at what I write? Why did they land on this page? Are they nurses? Are they looking for information on Afghanistan? Are they Americans living abroad or are they native to those places?

I also took time to update the “blogs I am following” link (click on "Lori" under "Contributors" in the right-hand column) and was a little sad to see that some people had stopped posting blog entries. One of the soldiers on the team we replaced had stopped updating his blog when he returned home from Afghanistan, in the summer of 2009. I enjoyed his writing and hope he has returned to the “peace-loving lifestyle” he was so looking forward to.

I also added a favorite website—“
The Pioneer Woman.” If you’ve never visited the site, I encourage you to check it out. Several months had passed since I had last viewed it but, after receiving her cookbook for Christmas, I plan to become a regular again. Her humorous reflections on farm living always lift my spirits. I also—finally—updated the link to Meg’s blog, “Soup is not a finger food.” Meg is an old friend who frequently has a sassy way to state the obvious. Reading her posts brings a smile to my face, as I remember the days I spent hanging out in the ’hood.

For Reflections on Nursing Leadership (RNL), published by the Honor Society of Nursing, Sigma Theta Tau International.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Greener pastures

Many of us who spend the majority of our time in military medicine see private practice as so much better. No inspector general visits, no “working for the man” and no threat of deployment. We often feel as though, with meeting access demands, completing medical evaluation boards and fulfilling all the required military training (frequently on our own time because of patient care demands) with no end in sight, we are on a hamster wheel.. But, as two of my good friends have discovered, the grass is not always greener!

One of my friends, a physician, left the military to join a large group practice connected to a large hospital. He enjoys the time off, choosing his own hours, and the increased time he haswith his family, but he is considering rejoining the Air Force, because he senses something is missing. There is no camaraderie within the practice, and he misses feeling that he is serving a greater purpose. He still has pressure to see patients and sees changes to insurance reimbursement limits as potentially detrimental to private practice. He also realizes the impact of walking away from the retirement money. As he puts it, “I still work for the man; it is just a different man and I get to choose the clothes I wear to work!”

Another friend left the military just a few years short of retirement. She was dissatisfied with future assignment opportunities and wanted her spouse to have stability in his non-military career. After a recent move, she struggled to find a job. Medical-provider positions are not typically listed in a newspaper and she almost resorted to going door-to-door or hiring a headhunter. Now, working in a practice she enjoys, she can still tell stories that would make most of us military medical members’ toes curl! She discovered the medical assistant wasn’t wiping her exam tables after every patient, and my friend recently returned to work after a vacation to discover she was double booked and, because a colleague unexpectedly needed time off, had been volunteered to take on that provider’s schedule.

So, on those days when I feel like the hamster wheel is more challenging than usual, I remind myself that the grass is not always greener. When it comes to medicine, you can change the clothes you wear to work or the “man” you work for, but that elusive “perfect” job or practice may not exist. Sometimes, you have to find the “perfect” where you are and focus on that; and hope you don't fall off the wheel!

For Reflections on Nursing Leadership (RNL), published by the Honor Society of Nursing, Sigma Theta Tau International (STTI).