Thursday, May 2, 2013

To Blog, or not to Blog...and about WHAT?

Yes, I know….I’ve promised several times to resurrect my blog. But this time I’m determined. The direction, however, is a bit unclear. I suppose it’s a good thing to have multiple ‘passions’; do I blog about baseball (especially since the Red Sox have decided to rekindle the flame this year)? The blog was originally about being in the trenches of nurse education, where I am still slogging away. But since I’m on sabbatical (thank you, Endicott College) and my project is just about finished, maybe a hiatus from all things academic would be preferable.

But then…there’s hiking. My friend (virtual, electronic friend) John Compton blogs about hiking, and has rewarded his readers with some incredibly interesting information about more obscure hikes. In addition to blogging about beautiful views, conditions of trails, etc., he’s pointed his readers to hikes with unusual ‘twists’…obscure hikes often overlooked by all but the ‘locals’. The first hike that I did on his recommendation was to Mt. Surprise over in Maine, where there still exists wreckage of a plane crash. Not able to find it on our first trip, he graciously gave me explicit directions to the site. Although its not a ‘secret’, really, it IS a place at risk for vandalism and those who respect and treasure this site are not prone to publicize it.

Check out John's blog:   1HappyHiker  He has some great photos and ideas for hikes (although, really, John?  The snake photo did not exactly encourage me to get out in the woods this week.

Because many of his hikes are well within the ability of those of us of a ‘certain age’ who are beyond peak bagging but not yet ready for the rocking chair, he’s been a great resource….thus spurring me to dedicate this blog mostly to the trials and tribulations of the aging hiker, with an eye towards encouraging older or differently abled hikers to get out on the trails this summer.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

"Boy, I'd like to have YOUR job!" I wish I had the proverbial nickel for every time I've heard that recently. Of course, for those seeing the obvious life of leisure that I am now leading, its understandable. School has been out for a week, and the endless summer is stretching before me. My Facebook page is beginning to yield photos from this mountaintop or that, 'check-ins' at baseball stadiums, airports, and pubs. Ah, the life I lead! I don't fault the envy of some people, even the bitterness of a few. For the perception is, indeed, that the life in academia is one of plentiful days off, periodic week-long vacations, and, of course...the three months off in the summer. I will not try to refute the fact that there are definitely benefits to my job. I DO enjoy what I do (about 95% of the time) and can't imagine doing anything else right now. But, as any teacher who does his/her job correctly will tell you, the schedule during the school year is not one to be envied. There are times I long for a job where I can 'punch out' at the end of an eight hour shift, and not have to think about work again until I punch in again the next day. Days when I spend two unproductive hours driving home, knowing I have at least four more hours of work ahead of me when I get home. (Frequent comment from husband: "Are you STILL on that computer?) Weeks when I have multiple three hour long classes (that's a class that's three hours long, not three one-hour classes!)which take at least that long to prepare. Of course, my audience of yawning, bored, i-Pad and laptop armed students, are spending all their time on Facebook or texting, because face it, folks, its hard to 'entertain' for three straight hours and keep them all engaged. I bore myself sometimes. And the truth is, teaching is only a small part of what I actually do as a college professor, which is hard for most people to understand. Meetings, committee work, office hours, trying to do research or publish (which although isn't specifically 'required', is definitely part of my job) takes up probably more time than actually preparing lectures and standing in front of a class does. But, I digress. The point is, if the job of teaching was a 48 or 50 week a year job? Well, then you could 'take this job and shove it', because the toll that would be taken on one's mental and physical health would be outrageous. The pace would be grueling were it not for the summers off and the interspersed vacations. (Full disclosure....summers and school breaks are not totally 'off'...students email constantly with requests, and preparing for the fall semester starts at the beginning of August). So, if you ever feel tempted to say to me "Boy, I'd like to have YOUR job", I'd like to invite you to spend a week in my shoes...say, oh....mid February. After hard can it be, right???

Friday, March 9, 2012

Yes, its that time of year....

Panic is setting in for our senior nursing grad jobs are hard to find. Understandably, students are frustrated...cries of "Its not fair, I've worked SO hard!" and "I've sent our fifteen applications, and haven't gotten ONE interview" are echoing the halls. So, here's some advice to all you wanna be nurses out there. First, get over it. Welcome to the real world of the state of the economy. For years now, although the unemployment rate has been high, new grad nurses have enjoyed the luxury of being able to pick and choose from among a plethora of job offers. But now, for the first time in many years, health care is being affected. Understand that you are graduating with some basic skills, a license (hopefully) but you are still an expensive proposition for hospitals. It costs a LOT of money and time to orient a new grad to the point where they can work autonomously. Its all a matter of dollars and cents, don't take it personally.

So, what can you do? And although my students are sick to death of hearing me say these things, I am going to go down the list once again.

#1. NETWORK, NETWORK, NETWORK! Hospitals offer CEU programs. See a hospital you like? Call and ask what they're offering. Go to a program, introduce yourself to everybody and anybody. The person you impress MAY be your future nurse manager. Contact former students of your program who are working...they may have inside info of available jobs and would be happy to put in a good word for a fellow alum.

#2. Sent in an "online application"? Well, that's very nice...but follow it up with a hard copy. Preferably handed to the HR office in person, if possible. Hospitals get hundreds of online applications; take the time and effort to deliver something tangible.

#3. Do the research. Find out the name of the administrator (clinical leader, nurse manager, etc) of a unit on which you'd like to work. And send him or her a copy of your resume directly, with of course, a personalized cover letter.

#4. Don't be put off by "experienced nurses only" or "not hiring new grads". Hospitals may SAY that, but a week later may be in a position where they would be interested in considering your application. Apply ANYWAY.

#5. And this is probably the most difficult concept of all for students to accept. Be prepared to SETTLE. Please don't overlook positions in MD offices, clinics, rehabs, long term care, and (now, don't roll your eyes..) community health. I know its not your dream job, but you know what? The longer you sit around with that scarlet "NEW GRAD" logo emblazoned on your shiny new scrubs, the more competition you will have. A year from now, you'll still be a 'new grad', and your ambitious friend who took the job at Sunny Acres Retirement home will be an experienced RN who will have the opportunity to nail that hospital job.

So, good luck to all the about-to-be-new-grads out there. I have confidence that a year from now, you will all be working your butts off, looking back fondly on your last days as a nursing student, and longing for the academic schedule with its long winter break and summers off. And no doubt, you'll be making all your former nursing instructors proud.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Losing Davy Jones

The news didn't generate the public displays of wailing and grieving that were triggered by the deaths of Elvis, John, Michael, or even Whitney. But for the millions of fans of Davy Jones, the loss is being felt deeply and profoundly. And it is indeed a 'loss'; certainly not the dimension of loss being felt by his wife, his daughters and the rest of his family; but for us, a loss of a different kind. Those of us who spent two years of Monday nights watching the original show, buying Slicker lipstick by Yardley, writing "Mrs. Davy Jones" on the inside cover of our notebooks, have lost a part of our adolescence.

Reruns on MTV allowed us to share this with our own children, and many of us were fortunate enough to take these children to Monkees concerts...the concerts, of course, that we only dreamed of going to when we ourselves were twelve. Except for the reunion tours, Mickey, Peter, and Mike all kind of disappeared from our lives over the years, but Davy...he grew up with us.

We didn't see his name in the tabloids...didn't hear about brushes with the law, drug use or stints in rehab...stories that littered the careers of other celebrities, because there were none. He appeared at casino shows, state fairs, theme parks...always allowing us a trip back in time. Music critics have always found the Monkees and its members easy targets, but nobody made fun of Davy Jones more than he himself did. His shows were pure entertainment; song, dance, and groaningly bad puns.

The last two shows I attended, I was fortunate enough to sit right in front of the stage. I can tell you than nobody had any more fun than Davy did. Although I was lucky enough to meet him once, I never felt I could say I 'knew' him. But through Cindy Bryant and her Purple Flower Gang, I've come to know people who DO know him, and have found out that with Davy, the stage persona and the real persona weren't all that far apart. He genuinely, truly, cared for his fans; he was the real deal.

All this makes his death even more sad, if that is possible. Davy wasn't done yet. We knew that they'd never be another reunion tour; after all, tours are tough business even for the young bands. But there were going to be more solo shows, and I guess that is what I'm having the hardest time with. There will be no 'next time'

So, while people gather in Beavertown, PA this weekend for a fan-organized memorial service, those of us who can't attend will mourn Davy in our own way. Sharing fond memories with others who love him, playing his music, and remembering the boy who made our hearts skip a beat, who grew into the man who was loved and admired for his loyalty to us, his fans. And we will be smiling through our tears, grateful for someone who has brought us so much joy.

Rest in peace, Davy.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Things I am thankful for.....and Sports Adventures

Thanksgiving, of course, is a time for reflection. Naturally, there are the 'usual' gratitudes: I'm thankful for my three daughters, wonderful husband, my parents (and the fact that I'm so fortunate to still have them), and my work 'family'. But there is another family to which I belong, and to which I am forever grateful. It's a bit of an unusual family; not one of blood ties, certainly (unless you count the Red Sox blood flowing through our veins), but a family whose members gather once a year in Ft. Myers to play baseball at the Sports Adventures Red Sox Fantasy Camp. We all originally went for the same reason, I think...that is, to have an opportunity to 'play' at being a real major league baseball player, if only for a week. But the similarity stops there. Some of us, perhaps, were college baseball players being scouted by the majors, yet a career ending injury destroyed our dream. There have been others who have faced serious illness who have given this gift to themselves to celebrate their recovery. And for a handful of campers, Sports Adventures Red Sox camp has given the opportunity they were denied as young girls growing up in the pre-title IX days. There are almost as many 'stories' as there are campers. But since this post is about gratitude, I will tell you why I am grateful for being a member of this Sports Adventures family. It is a family of kindness; we celebrate the births of children and grandchildren, marriages, retirements and all the good times. We mourn when we lose a member of our Sports Adventure family, and we support each other when we lose a member of our real families. Every year we enroll a few new family members, are happy when they tell us 'this was the best week of my life'. We embrace and tolerate each others differences, quirks, moods, and (sometimes) practical jokes that go awry. We forgive, forget...and then go out and play two.

So, as we go into the holiday season, and we count our blessings, I know that, for a group of us, Larry Marino and his awesome organization will be on our list. And, of course, we're all counting down the days to our next 'family reunion' at the end of January!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

ER: 2:00 am

I am not deaf, I am not blind.
I am not immune to your words, unkind.
My clothes are soiled, and I need a bath.
But what have I done to deserve your wrath?
It’s cold outside, and I have no bed.
I’m really not sure when last I was fed.
I DO know my name, and (maybe) the date.
But who is the President of the United States?
That’s always the hard one; I used to know.
Carter, I think? No, wait, don’t go!
I can tell by your face what’s going on in your head
“Just another drunk vet who’s gone off his meds”.
But I once had a home, and a family, too.
And a job, and a car, and future, like you.
I have a college degree, and I’ve written two books
So please refrain from those disgusted looks.
Because there’s really no difference between you and me
Except a little bad luck and some brain chemistry.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Time flies....

“Marry my daughter? The answer is no.
Too young, no job, years of college to go.”
The father stood up, and pushed back his chair.
Sized up the young man, barely nineteen, with long hair.
“I’ve made my decision. Young marriages don’t last.”
The boy walked away, with his eyes downcast.

The boy, now grown, takes the father’s arm
Helps him over the rocks, keeps him from harm.
The climb has been steep, despite the tram ride
But at the top of the mountain, there waits a young bride.
With another young groom holding her hand.
She smiles as she sees them, her grandpa and her dad.