I Blog For Books

29 January 2010

One Small Room

This week, part of our class had to do our 6 hour clinical rotation in a nursing home. I have had little experience with nursing homes, and was rather apprehensive about the few hours I'd spend there. The visit was mostly an observational one, to give us a better picture of RN duties outside the more traditional hospital setting. From the time I entered the facility until the moment I walked out the front door at the end of the rotation, the only thing that matched my preconceived notions (and past experience) of nursing homes were the residents!

When I say the residents, I mean only that I expected senior adults to be living there, and that is exactly what I found. Absolutely nothing else about this visit was what I expected it to be. As we wound our way through the residence halls, two things struck me right away: the cleanliness (it was cleaner than some hospitals I've been in), and the attitudes. That's right, the attitudes. Without exception, every single person on the staff that I encountered during my 6 hour visit was pleasant and willing to answer questions, displayed care and concern to the residents, and presented themselves in a very positive manner. It was obvious that they cared about the jobs that they were doing.

What stood out the most in my mind was the individual living arrangements. This particular facility has a very high number of private rooms; the rest of the rooms are doubles (two residents per room). The administration spoke briefly with our group, giving us a bit of history and a glimpse of future plans. While some administrative people you encounter sound like a walking PR firm, this was not in the least scripted (or certainly didn't sound like it!). It was a story from the heart about people who are passionate about the service that they provide and about the people who become part of their family. We heard funny snippets about shared rooms being divided into two distinct parts (if you ever shared a room growing up you will completely understand!). For the residents at this facility, it truly is HOME.

Look around you, if you're at home. If not, visualize the place you live. Now constrict your vision and realize that you will be living in one room. Just one room! You obviously can't take everything you own ... what matters most? That socked me rather hard. What does matter most? What would I take with me if I had only one room? If I had to condense my life into one small room, what would I take to make it as much home as possible? The one constant that I saw in almost every single room I had the opportunity to view was pictures. I don't know if they were friends, family, or both, but nearly every single resident had pictures on a wall in their room. I think about my living room as it sits right now. Never mind the shoes that need to be put away or the hoodie thrown over the back of the couch, never mind the books stacked in at least two different locations ... there are pictures on almost every available surface. Pictures of our families. They are there with us because our families cannot be. It's no substitute for the real thing, but it's definitely better than nothing.

What would you put in your room, if one room was all you had? I'd definitely have pictures, maybe a rocking chair if room was available. I'd have my Bible, and probably more books than allowed if my eyes let me still read. What else? I don't know. I don't want to think about it ... but maybe I should. What better way to get your priorities in order than to realize that you, too, might be living in a single room someday? What matters most?

In What Matters Most, author Hyrum W. Smith guides you through setting goals and formulating a personal mission statement. Does that sound familiar? Smith founded the Franklin Quest company, which later merged with Covey's Leadership Center to become Franklin Covey Company, one of the best known providers of time management training to both individuals and companies. In a nutshell (and without going back and rereading the book), Smith's book asks that you break things down to their very basic components to determine what is the most important thing in your life. For most of us, an answer wouldn't be difficult to come up with. What matters most to me? My children, my husband, my family, my friends. When you get your priorities in order, your life flows smoother. What should be my first priority? What matters most?

My relationship with God is at the top of my list. Without Him, I have nothing, I can be nothing, I can do nothing. Because of Him, I am blessed to have three beautiful children, a loving and supportive husband, family that loves and cares for me, and friends that I can depend on. Because of Him, I have reasons to live. Because of Him, I have a future. I never need to lose sight of that simple fact. God, I am humbled by the richness of my blessings. What I have done to deserve such bounty, I do not know, and may not know in this lifetime, but I am eternally grateful. Please continue to lay your hand upon me and guide me along the path that you have determined is mine.

"To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices."~Mark 12:32-34 NIV

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