“Got drugs?”

Clean out your medicine cabinets. Dispose of your unwanted or expired medications safely. Take part in the DEA’s take-back program tomorrow, Saturday. Here’s the information:

April 28, 2012

10:00 AM – 2:00 PM

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has scheduled another National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day which will take place on Saturday, April 28, 2012, from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.  This is a great opportunity for those who missed the previous events, or who have subsequently accumulated unwanted, unused prescription drugs, to safely dispose of those medications.

Click here to find a locale close to you.

The Seal of the Drug Enforcement Administration
The Seal of the Drug Enforcement Administration (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

You’ll feel better knowing you are rid of that old stuff and that you’ve done your civic duty by not adding to the contamination of landfills or water supplies!

What ever happenned to wearing white?

Doll in Nursing Uniform
Doll in Nursing Uniform

My first nursing uniform as an aide was a green dress. Starched. With a belt. The next, as a nursing student, was a blue and white striped dress, covered with a white starched apron. And, finally, how good it was three years later as a graduate to wear white–a long-sleeved, knee-length dress with French cuffs. I’d worked very hard to earn wearing white.

That was back in the sixties. I was proud to wear white. I loved looking professional. I didn’t mind the extra laundry. My favorite was made of cotton with a standup collar, short sleeves, and drawstring waist. I bought two, so one would always be clean.

Patients at my hospital knew those of us wearing white with a black stripe on our caps were the registered nurses. The LPNs wore white with a gray stripe on their caps. The aides wore white, but no caps.

Then came the early eighties. The nurses in the hospital where I was working wanted to ditch their caps. An almost sacrilegious request until someone resurrected a study describing the plethora of bacteria that took up residence on nurses’ caps. But if we were to ditch our caps, how would patients know we were the nurses?

The solution? A bright red piece of plastic stating “RN” along the lower edge that served as a backdrop for a picture ID. This pleased the nurses as well as administration and patients. We achieved a smart modern look–I mean, doctors didn’t wear caps, did they? And we had no more worry of  bugs tripping off our caps into patients’ wounds or of bed curtains knocking them askew as we squeezed ourselves into small spaces to give our patients their baths.

By the eighties, I was teaching nursing. My uniform changed to a white lab coat over street clothes, attire I’d never dreamed of as a student. Until around that time, the only professionals wearing lab coats were physicians. I guess you could say I’d arrived.

But you may know what happened then to nursing uniforms. Scrubs. Those baggy tops with drawstring pants in all colors, some even in nursery prints–anything to brighten the pediatric patients’ stay and make nurses look more like entertainers than professional caregivers.

In recent years, patients have spoken up. They have so many people coming in and out of their rooms each day, they can’t tell a nurse from an aide from housekeeping from dietary. So some hospitals are adopting a color code. Yes, you read that right. We will be color-coded much like the socks in your drawer or the jumper cables in your trunk. And nurses vary in their enthusiasm about these new uniform policies. Click here and read: Some Nurses Blue Over Color-Coded Uniform Policy.

I’m wondering, have you ever wondered if that “nurse” in your life is really a nurse? And, what do you think nurses should wear? How would you like to see them identified?

Photo credit: VCU Libraries

Caring Lessons is “not just for nurses!” (a letter from a new friend in Lafayette, LA)


I was the single woman at [your grandniece’s] wedding last fall.  You sat at my table. As a 65-year-old, I quickly find a place to sit rather than stand in high-heels.  I enjoyed our visit at the restaurant.

When [your niece] gave me your book to read, I was quite impressed.  I loved it! Loved it! Loved it!  I enjoyed all the stories.  My hero, of course, was Marvin.  I am sure you wrote the book that way.  I am sorry that I did not get an opportunity to meet him the night of the wedding.

I hope your book does really well. Your story deserves a wide audience. It’s not just for nurses!

My son-in-law is a Nurse Practitioner in Psychiatry in Tucson.  He was just licensed for that field last summer.

A true story that was recently on TV is a book that I read in 2005.  A Smile As Big As the Moon.  The Hallmark channel played it on prime time a couple of Sundays ago and they will re-run it on the Hallmark Channel for a while.  Absolutely wonderful true story.

Perhaps someone will offer to buy the rights to your story. I think it would be great. And maybe Meryl Streep would be cast as Lois!

Why not dream big? I look forward to visiting with you again some day.

Linda Gard

Meryl Streep receiving honorary degree from Ha...
Meryl Streep receiving honorary degree from Harvard University. Harvard Commencement 2010 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Thank you, Linda, for your kind letter and permission to post it. My regalia from the University of Illinois is nearly the same color as the robe and hood Meryl Streep is wearing here. But I have a lovely royal blue velvet tam…after all that work for a doctorate, no mortarboard for me! I’m sure Ms. Streep could play me very well. Probably even an Oscar-winning performance! Dream big…

Writing as a Ministry

One day I was lamenting that I wasn’t giving of myself like I used to do when I was teaching nursing. I felt pretty self-centered spending much of my day sequestered in my study. It was Amy, my volunteer publicist, that corrected me: “You’re writing is your ministry now.”

Writing as my ministry. I’d never thought about it in that way. I’m sure I was too busy learning about the craft of writing to think beyond to the larger purpose.

Two days ago, I wrote about slowing down on promoting Caring Lessons and getting on with the next phase of my life. Part of my rationale was additional affirmation that I read in an essay by Angela Hunt, a prolific writer:

Writing is a job like anything else, neither higher nor lower than the calling of the Christian dentist, minister, teacher, or day care worker. We have to see ourselves as ministers to an unseen audience many months away, and trust that the Lord will place books in the proper hands.

When I read about trusting God “to place books in the proper hands,” I realized I was at a point that I could do this. The initial promotional work for Caring Lessons has been completed.

The whole of Angela Hunt’s essay on life as a published author encapsulated much of what my life has been like since Caring Lessons came out in September 2010. To get inside an author’s head, I urge you to read her essay here. You will feel how strongly her faith influences her as a writer and author.

St. Augustine writing, revising, and re-writin...
St. Augustine writing, revising, and re-writing: Sandro Botticelli's St. Augustine in His Cell (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Caring Lessons – Blog Tour Over – What Next?

I’m finished, ” I announced to my husband late last week. Always appearing a bit skeptical when I make such announcements, he said, “With me, or what?”

Of course, I had to say not with him, not with our fiftieth wedding anniversary coming up–I mean why would I trade down when we have a good thing going here–but I said, “With the active promoting of my book.” Then I gave him my rationale–it’s been over a year and a half of busyness–fun, but busy–and  I’m ready to go on with the next phase of my life.

So with the book blog tour over (thanks to all of you for your faithful following), and with five hundred (yes, that’s 500!) more postcards out, this time to nursing administrators in hospitals in the Midwest, I think we’ve covered much of the potential market for Caring Lessons.

at caribou, completing "my" assignment

I say “we” because I must again give credit to Amy Nagelkirk, my former student–a ’92 grad from Trinity Christian College–for staying on my case. Lots of promo things and lots of the hard work are thanks to her (and the friends she recruits to help her). With the second batch of five hundred post cards (the first batch went to schools of nursing), Amy “assigned” me only one hundred twenty. She and her friends have completed the rest, plus she did the search to find all the administrators’ names and hospitals in these states.

I also want to thank Dr. Sue Dunn, Dr. Patsy Ruchala, and Dr. Laurel Quinn, deans/directors  of the nursing programs, respectively, at Hope College in Holland, Michigan, University of Nevada-Reno, and Trinity Christian College in Palos Heights, IL. They helped promote Caring Lessons recently at the semiannual meeting of  AACN (American Association of Colleges of Nursing) for deans/directors in Washington DC.

So, what’s next? Another writer has stated my thoughts at this time about book promotion so well. I will reblog her essay on Wednesday.

Review: Mary Osborne’s “Nonna’s Book of Mysteries”

What were you doing when you were fourteen? Planning a wedding? I thought not.

When I was fourteen, I was in the ninth grade and just beginning to get interested in boys. Living near a grove dense with pine trees, my neighbor friends and I would nestle down on a carpet of pine needles and trade stories of who had a crush on whom. There was no dating—not allowed until we were sixteen—and the closest I got to a boy then was sitting next to one on a bus we took for our class trip. I don’t remember if he asked me to “sit with” him, or if I did the asking, but just the sitting together of couples was a big deal worthy of many pine needle discussions.

Now I’m a grandma and this memory came back to me as I recently read a young adult novel by Mary Osborne. I met Mary at the AWP conference a few weeks ago. She was at her publisher’s table, and I had stopped to browse. Discovering we were both nurses, she gave me a complementary copy of her Nonna’s Book of Mysteries, historical fiction that is part of a series.

Coat of Arms of Florence, Italy, traced off of...
Coat of Arms of Florence

Captivated by suspense planted already in the first sentence, I avoided doing anything but read for two solid days. At one point, my husband said, “If you would put that book down for one minute…” I was that engrossed in the life of fourteen-year-old Emilia Serafini living in Florence, Italy, in 1459. Other than my grandchildren living through their fourteenth year without incident, I haven’t thought much about my fourteenth year since, well, since I was fourteen.

In contrast to my life, Emilia’s father already had a husband picked for her—a man “ten years her senior, oil-skinned, humorless, and exacting with numbers” (p.7).

But Emilia wanted to become a painter, not an acceptable profession for women at that time. So, on the suggestion of her mother, Emilia dressed as a boy and got an apprenticeship with a famed painter.

Nothing goes smoothly, though, and the prose kept me hanging through the entire book.  Would Emilia have to marry the distasteful sounding fellow? How would her “nonna’s” book on the science of alchemy influence her life? Would she be able to fulfill her desire to learn to paint frescoes and icons like the great masters?

I felt as though I was fourteen lurking on the streets of Florence in the fifteenth century. Certainly different from my experience in a grove of pine trees. And, if you know nothing about the mysteries of alchemy, Nonna’s Book of Mysteries will surely captivate you too.

Read more at www.mysticfiction.com. And, in the current issue of Hektoen International, read about the horrific tragedy in Mary’s life that eventually led to her writing “Nonna’s Book of Mysteries”.

Photo Credit:  Wikipedia (traced off of file: Firenze-Stemma.png)

Caring Lessons / WOW Blog Tour – Final Stop

“You don’t need to be in the health care industry or education to like it,” writes Becky Povich, the tour host for this last stop, in her short and sweet review of Caring Lessons: A Professor’s Journey of Faith and Self.

Last week Wednesday, I introduced you to Becky’s blog, her prolific writing, and her audio clips. Remember “The Twist”? And last week she published my essay on Hot Fudge Friends on her blog.

Yesterday she told her readers her review of Caring Lessons was coming up, and today it’s posted. She is also offering a giveaway copy; readers who leave a comment through tomorrow will be eligible. Leave your comment and read Becky’s review here.

Mental Health Awareness Ribbon
Mental Health Awareness Ribbon

One more neat thing about Becky; her choice of quotes on her blog header gave me pause:

“Looking back you realize that a very special person passed briefly through your life – and it was you. It is not too late to find that person again.” Robert Brault.

Thanks, Becky, for taking part in my blog tour and for the privilege of getting to know you!

Wrapping up this tour, thank you readers for following along. I’ve gained new readers and new followers, especially internationally, and appreciate your support.

On behalf of all nurses and of those living with a mental illness, I urge you to consider a gift for that special caregiver in your life. National Nurses Week is May 6-12, and May is also Mental Health Month; mental health is a thread throughout Caring Lessons. Order here: Caring Lessons. All proceeds go to nursing scholarships at Trinity Christian College.

Coming: On 4/13, I’ll post a review of my own: Mary Osborne’s Nonna’s Book of Mysteries.

Photo Credit: Wikipedia