I hope this message finds you well. And I hope I’m going to see you tomorrow night at our free workshop: Am I doing enough? Addressing Moral Distress Amongst Providers.
Moral Distress & Poetry
Did you know that April is national poetry month? This might not seem related to moral distress, but hang in there with me. When my daughter & son were in grade school, they were introduced to a new concept: Poem in Your Back Pocket during the month of April. They were encouraged to carry an inspirational poem around that their back pocket to share with other peers. They delighted at being stopped in the hallway and asked to share a poem with a friend. One child would pull a wrinkled piece of paper from his/her back pocket and proudly share words of inspiration. Giggles, smiles, hugs, and encouragement were abound. Some children kept the same poem in their back pocket all month, while others happily changed the script daily. It brought them joy.
On Wednesday night, we’ll talk about the importance of joy, but I thought I would share how this practice inspired me. After watching these children practice carrying a poem with them for a month, I quickly recognized the benefit of such a practice. Carrying something around with you that’s inspiring, well-rehearsed, and reliable creates a practice. Perhaps, you already have something like this? A picture of your children that you carry with you? A favorite saying or prayer card? A coin, token or words of encouragement? Often, when I work with providers or patients, I encourage them to have a script in their back pocket. Similar to a poem, it’s a go-to way of talking with patients, practicing a mantra, or practicing self-compassion. Often, with providers, they’ll ask me for a script on how to talk with patients about a particular topic (depression, sex, resilience, for example) so they have a reliable way of discussing something difficult or new. After a while, they develop their own way of discussing the topic and create their own script.
I thought I would share a script with you that might feel helpful, specifically related to moral distress and ways we can begin to provide ourselves with compassion. And, because we are entering the month of April, I thought I’d share a poem from my back pocket.
A Script for You
I can do many things. I can do anything, in fact. But I CAN NOT do everything. When I try to do everything, I am setting myself up for frustration and overwhelm. So, for today, I will focus my attention on what I CAN DO and not what I SHOULD DO. I am worthy of self-compassion.
A Poem for You
It doesn’t interest me what you do for a living.
I want to know what you ache for, and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart’s longing.
It doesn’t interest me how old you are. I want to know if you will risk looking like a fool for love, for your dreams, for the adventure of being alive!
It doesn’t interest me what “planets are squaring your moon”. I want to know if you have touched the center of your own sorrow, if you have been opened by life’s betrayals — or, have become shriveled and closed from fear of further pain.
I want to know if you can sit with pain, mine or your own, without moving to “hide it” or “fade it” or “fix it”.
I want to know if you can be with joy, mine or your own; if you can dance with wildness and let the ecstasy fill you to the tips of your fingers and toes! — without cautioning us to “be careful”, “be realistic”, or to “remember the limitations of being human”.
It doesn’t interest me if the story you’re telling me is true. I want to know if you can disappoint another — to be true to yourself.
If you can bear the accusation of betrayal and not betray your own soul.
I want to know if you can be faithful, and therefore be trustworthy.
I want to know if you can see beauty even when it is not pretty every day, and if you can source your life from God’s presence.
I want to know if you can live with failure, yours and mine, and still stand on the edge of a lake and shout to the silver of the full moon, “Yes!”
It doesn’t interest me to know where you live or how much money you have. I want to know if you can get up after a night of grief and despair, weary and bruised to the bone — and do what needs to be done — for the children.
It doesn’t interest me who you are or how you came to be here. I want to know if you will stand in the center of the fire with me — and not shrink back.
It doesn’t interest me where or what or “with whom you have studied”. I want to know what sustains you — from the inside when all else falls away.
I want to know if you can be alone with yourself and if you truly like the company you keep – in the empty moments.
~ Oriah Mountain Dreamer
Friends, I hope you join me this week – even if you cannot come to the virtual event live, we will send you the recording if you’re signed up for this free workshop. It will be educational, inspirational, and healing within community. We could all use more community right now.