Last night we had our first frost of the season. This evening I spent some time in the beds, cutting back the frost-bitten. The peonies, tall phlox and some of the other perennials were tired, all brown and lackluster. I trimmed the daylilies and clematis back to the nubs. The finches are still feeding on the purple coneflower, so I left most of those dreary stalks. The remaining pepper plants in my raised beds seem to have been spared. They keep giving. I’ve been putting green peppers in everything lately, from salads to scrambled eggs. I will still probably end up canning some jalapenos. The irises, bee balm and black-eyed Susans are in need of attention, but my attention ran out. Sometimes getting started is the hardest part. Tomorrow is another day.
Yesterday at work, I gave an inservice for some of my favorite RNs and LPNs. We talked about burnout, compassion fatigue and self-care. Nurses have one of the highest burnout rates of all health care professionals. We discussed how important it is to find ways to feed their spirits, so they can give good care to their patients. I shared the story of our recent ER visit with them. I told them how I watched someone I love go from being guarded and scared to open and joking in a matter of hours. Because of the validation he received from the medical professionals treating him. Because he was listened to.
“That is power,” I told them. “As medical professionals, every time we hold someone’s story we have the power to validate or diminish. Simply by listening.”
But when your spirit is tired, listening well can be the hardest thing to do.
Lately, I’ve been having trouble caring about things that usually matter to me. As a mental health professional, I understand this is not a good thing. So, this morning, I forced myself to fill the bird feeders. I lit a candle and read some poetry. In the early afternoon, I sat in the sun under a crisp sky and breathed deep with the blowing breeze. I watched goldfinches play in the maple tree. I let the music of the wind in the trees speak kindness to my heart.
This is where compassion begins.