Thursday, June 6, 2013

Seeking Peace at the Grassroots


I've retreated to the woman cave for the evening.

Today was a weird day, I didn't have energy for anything physical. I don't know what was wrong. I was tired, and I felt like I needed more sleep. I did get up early and started writing by 6:15, and didn't stop until after 10:30. Then I took Iris out for a quick run, as Isabelle did not want to go despite my offer to take her to Starbucks. It was getting warm.

After I brought Iris home I went back out intending to do 10 miles but I didn't feel like it was going to happen. I got to the Power Trail and was dragging my butt. So I turned around and came home. I decided a nap might be a better idea. I didn't feel ready to take a nap though, so I ate lunch and read a few articles out of my literature review and then played with the girls.

I finally got into bed around 3:30 pm and slept until 5:30. Then Dennis came home and I wanted to go for a run, but I still didn't feel like running. So I went out and walked. I needed to think, anyway, so I thought a walk would be perfect for getting into my thoughts. Unfortunately I couldn't get a peaceful moment. I walked through the neighborhood, past the Mormon church and to the schoolyard, and there was noise everywhere.

The most obnoxious of which was the ice cream truck. I can't believe those things still exist. They are so loud and annoying, playing that tune, whatever it is, over and over. I could hear it from blocks away. And finally when I got about a mile from my house, I could hear it again, it followed me! Aaargh! Then there were a lot of kids playing in the streets, on bikes and skateboards. School is out so it's much more lively in our neighborhood. I finally decided to just go home because I wasn't getting the quiet I needed in order to lose myself in my thoughts.


The flowers are going crazy in the garden. All the purples bloomed first and now the oranges and pinks are coming out.



I'm pleased that the words have been pouring out of me. I was looking at the grass and thinking about the concept of grassroots. It's what fuels my passion. I so believe in the power of people, that it can be harnessed to create good, to improve things for other people in ways that big organizations and institutions don't accomplish.


That's why I like Pearl Izumi, and being part of what they call their grassroots team, of runners in the community who can talk to other runners, being more in touch than having only elite runners represent them. To ordinary runners, it can be intimidating to approach an elite runner, no matter how down to earth that person is. I was just thinking of Scott Jurek at Runners' Roost a few weeks ago and how some of the people at the gathering acted like he had some kind of magic aura surrounding him, that he wasn't really REAL, but he was the friendliest, most approachable guy you could imagine. Another human being. Same flesh.

Being a nurse, you come to understand how other people are really made of the same flesh. They hate to be poked by needles, hate invasive procedures, have the same fears for themselves, their health, their families, and are afraid of the things they don't understand. They can be taught, explained to, communicated with, and their anxieties relieved to varying extents. Every single person, regardless of where they stand on the socioeconomic ladder, is made of the same flesh. It is my sincerest belief that all people need the same thing, to be treated with the same care and respect, and that no one deserves better or worse treatment because of where they came from, what they have or don't have as far as things, money, or talents, or what they look like.

So before I depart from this topic of nursing, that I've beating into the ground both on and off this blog, I want my readers understand where I'm headed. I have plenty to say about nursing and I'm saying it all the time now, in a different place from here. I just feel that there are things that need to be said here, to wrap up that topic, to illustrate what drives me and why, and how it relates to running for me.

I feel that a grassroots approach is needed to transform nursing as a profession, and my project off this blog right now is focused on working toward that. There are a lot of people working on it besides me, but my piece of it is a personal writing project. Nurses are hurting everywhere and need advocacy for their own survival. Nurses spend all their time advocating for patients under conditions that are far from ideal or even helpful for providing effective patient care, so nurses need advocates for themselves. Otherwise I think much of the profession is doomed to obsolescence.

If you're not familiar with Amanda Trujillo, she is a nurse in Arizona who was fired over her attempts to advocate for a patient. She is still fighting the Arizona Board of Nursing. Arizona is a backward state in many ways, I know that from living there myself. It's a fascinating, but sad and frustrating story. She's paid a huge personal price for her refusal to back down and continues to stand up for what she believes is right. If you click on her name above you can go to her blog and find out more about her story. I want to share an excerpt from what she says, she so inspires me. I've used this piece with permission from Amanda, so I thank her again. I believe in my heart that she will end up on the right side of history. Amanda advocates for a grassroots approach to changing nursing.

"The most important thing….I’ve learned…is to never stop talking, never stop putting your passion and ideas out there—-Never let your voice, your heart, be silenced. The moment it happens happens you are invisible to the profession–both its present and future. With each nurse who is rendered silent we lose a shade of color from the color pallete that is our profession, we become less of an art... and we become grayer…..we lose the possibilities for greatness and influence and growth, we lose out on someone’s gifts and their own unique light. With every nurse who chooses to succumb to silence we lose what could be the next great leader, the next great theorist, another potential role model….you make change by staying loud and finding a way to contribute your own gifts in your own special way, and I will debat until my last breath anyone who tells me "There is a right time and place to do it." It's BS, sorry. If there was a rule book I didn't see Martin Luther King flashing it around or Cesar Chavez recommending it to everyone during his movement either. They relied on their dreams and what they had in their spirit. ….For me, its writing…and once I get into a new home with my daughter and get settled—it will be continuing my volunteer work as a nurse, writing my nurse memoir, working with the state legislature to enact a law to protect nurses in Arizona from retaliation, and advancing NAASA–the advocacy org I want to make into a non profit. Though I have fires to put out and much going on right now I have determined what my contribution and legacy will be to Nursing and how I will have made my profession a little bit better. What I will not allow is for a profit and politically driven healthcare system to render me inept or irrelevant. I have too much love and too much passion for nursing to ever EVER allow Banner Health or any BON to do that to me or my spirit." --Amanda Trujillo

When organizations and institutions get too big and powerful, they impede progress. They get unwieldy and awkward. They become too complex, and too divided into hierarchical levels to serve at the human level. This interferes with their ability to impact individual lives in an effective way. It's part of the political and economic landscape we live in. That's not to say it's okay or forgivable to operate this way in the context of the present time. It's just the reality of what we live with now. It needs change. I intend to do whatever I can to work toward that change, in my own piece of things. Nothing changes if you keep your mouth shut. People need to be more vocal and assertive, and put more energy and force into getting their needs met. The people at the tops of organizations are human too. Same flesh.

I am hopeful that someday we will move away from the tendency to form huge conglomerates, monopolies and mergers and return control to people and their communities, for the human beings who have to live in this world. I don't know if that's too idealistic, or if it's ruined beyond change at least in my lifetime, but there has to be a breaking point.

Running is a human endeavor. It reminds you of your own strengths, weaknesses, potential, and limitations. It takes away all the crap that the outside world piles on top of us every single day. We can sweat it out and it flies off into the breeze. Running is one way of keeping yourself grounded and sane in the crazy world we live in, that takes us so far away from the human animals we are.

I think it's important to have a constant reminder of the fact that you're an animal occupying this planet, with other animals. Dogs are great for that, they make us more human, and the more we can be like them, the better off we are.


The girls are my companions, they like to go in and out the door while I work out here.

Iris has the evildoer look on her face, but she's sworn to secrecy.


I want to thank the readers of this blog for staying with me through my tangents from running. I hope I've been able to show you how, in my eyes, it's all related.

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