Time to Stop the Madness

I started out thinking this blog would be about my experiences consulting in prison. But as I wrote, I realized that my madness is outside the wire and inside my mind. It is the madness of producing and output. Measurable success, as determined by “them.” I don’t know who “them” are, but I do know I constantly strive to continue working, continue to produce; to be worthy, valuable, balanced and whole.

I taught a leadership course a while back, and part of the dialog from young nurse leaders, was that they worried that we, their boomer bosses, would not think they were valuable or productive enough because they left before 8pm at night to go home to their families. We, the boomers, had role-modeled complete imbalance in our lives, and these younger generations thought it was the way they had to be successful was to imitate us.

I recently wrote about looking at the “slow lane.” I have written about “preferment” instead of retirement; doing what I want to do professionally instead of what I think I need to do working full time. What I didn’t realize until recently, is that I am the cause of my biggest madness. Everyone I know my age is struggling with at least one health issue that makes them uncomfortable. Some are on their way to permanent disability. But they stubbornly resist retiring or working less-part time or per diem~not because of money, but because of perception. I thought I shouldn’t retire until I was disabled or unable to work. How messed up is that?!

Where did we aging, exhausted boomers get the idea that productivity equaled value? That working 70 hours a week was required? That taking time off during the “work day” to see a child play a football game is “cheating?” That we must work ‘til we drop from keeping 87 balls in the air? Is it in our nature as nurses to be workaholics? Are we avoiding tough things in our life? I have a dear friend that needs at least one major surgery she has put off for 8 years (!) …because she doesn’t have time (and doesn’t want to do it).

Part of this madness is the “women in the workplace” expectations of the eighties. All of our role models worked 15 hour days and every weekend. It goes right along with those stupid bow ties and pinstriped man-suits we all wore to be “taken seriously.” What the hell were we thinking?!! I am just now learning about balance and being whole. Progress but not perfection. That resting is not a weakness.

I have been a nurse for almost 42 years. It has been the most rewarding career I can imagine, and I have learned many things, including my experiences inside the wire (prison) which I will write about another time. For now, I am taking a well-deserved, long overdue nap!


Posted by Susan Odegaard Turner – MentorRN