How do you maintain a blog or a world in which you are filtered? One in which you are afraid to be who you are?
You don’t. About a year ago I severed full time ties and then four months later severed permanent ties with my previous employer. In that world, I, for a short time, wrote about being a flight nurse. I wrote about my life, my feelings and about how playing a small role in such a small world affected me and those around me.
Enter a risk averse employer, a helicopter crash, HIPAA and professional backlash for the blogger. Even the professionally responsible blogger. As I sit on my couch, quietly listening to Blue October’s metamorphosis album Sway, I am suddenly struck with the realization that I experienced the same type of awakening over the past year. For some reason, I always expected to break out of a cocoon with the extreme conversion visual of a caterpillar to butterfly but the change in my mind and my heart has taken almost a year.
The year was spent weaning off of anti-anxiety and depression medication that the hyper vigilance of potentially, ever present threat of life loss, crashes, job loss, uncertainty of relationships and the world will drive one to needing. In retrospect, the loss of my ability to write in a medium I grew up with was the most devastating hole left by the world I was in.
I shut down, losing myself.
Letting go of the world I created and believed I needed to survive was horrifying and terrifying. Who knew that by doing that which I feared, I would find myself. My true, real, self.
Or, at least give myself the space, the time and the opportunity to do just that.
I want to write, just to write. To return to the reason for my blogging a million and a half years ago. Not to have a driving purpose or a reason for every paragraph, comma or sentence. Someone recently pointed out that I plan to plan. That things just don’t get done that way. True my brain says, but the ‘dress right dress’ side of me needs structure. It needs standard work, a framework and a path.
There should be reason for doing a thing. Even if that reason is a simple because I want to. Time is one of the few things in life which you cannot get back. It cannot be borrowed, bought or stolen.
It can be saved, however. Being present is the key.
For me this means proactively acting. I cannot be present when succumbing to an inappropriate level of stress. This means following that pre-agreed upon path but remaining flexible to the ebb and flow of reality. It means maintaining a semblance of organization. Searching for that which is misplaced leads to stress, stress leads to frustration, frustration to mindlessness.
Being a flight nurse led me to the path of standard work. This bled into my physical presence in many aspects of my existence. Every tool has its place. Every project its methodology. Every idea its developmental structure.
The key is to maintain presence and not get lost in the procedure but to utilize the mechanism for positive production. A slope I need to be more vigilant to not slid down.
A woodpecker is pounding on the cedar siding of my home, breaking the peace which is my reality this morning. Lucy, Steve and Bougie the cat are curled up in their spots on the furniture watching the birds through the floor to ceiling windows overlooking the autumn trees.
It is so easy to berate myself for being inside. For not working on something possessing a due date, or taking advantage of the amazing Michigan October weather. Instead, I am convincing myself that the cup of french press and listening to the dogs snore is just as important.
My home is a place of semi-solitude. One of peace and beauty simultaneously insulating me from the elements but letting those same elements in. A constant reminder of the things to be done.
For now, in this moment, I will accept the peace and watch the bluejay lift his head from the birdbath, only to fly away in search of that which I will never know.
The past few weeks have changed the way I look at social media in the grand scheme of both who I am as a person and a professional. I am currently in the basement of the BOB (Big Old Building) watching people tour the installations of ArtPrize waiting on a hand crafted beer in the city that claims the title of Beer City USA. What am I doing here? Blogging. Seriously. On my laptop writing.
To me—this is heaven. The hum of the conversations, the dark lighting and the view of John doing what ever magic it is that brewers do.
This journey back to blogging was mired with emotional strife and an immense amount of personal struggle as I battled, and still continue to battle my way through an ultimate diagnosis of clinical depression and generalized anxiety disorder.
Two years ago I mentioned the possibility of being open with these diagnoses and beginning to blog about it to Sean and Mike. Two of my social media mentors. They highly encouraged it, but the depression wasn’t well enough and my life circumstances were not close to being in order for me to do so.
So now, here I sit with 2 years, three different antidepressants and countless therapy hours under my belt. I have lived, which is something I wasn’t certain would be the case and I find myself ready and wanting to write.
I want to write.
How blissful that statement is to a soul that utilizes words as an expression akin to my version of art. Especially this time of year, which traditionally sees me at the bottom of my emotional reserve.
There are times when I want to sit and write about the simple things. The things I avoid writing about because I don’t think anyone would care. Mainly wrapped around my daily life. For example, yesterday I finally figured out the best way to utilize my wood stove to heat the house. Oh did I make fire!
I participated in a revamped version of our annual skills day at work and the fact that I am surrounded by brilliant coworkers was reinforced in spades.
And last night, my two closest friends wrapped their arms around my heart and reminded me how much I am loved and how much I am really worth.
This morning we launch on a flight and I watched the sun peak over the horizon from 1,500 feet AGL and light up a world covered with a fresh blanket of purifying snow.
Keeping a blog alive for any amount of time takes an immense amount of work, patience and dedication. Those who possess this dedication to stay the course have my respect and admiration.
Today marks the eleventh year of my niche in the blogging community. Eleven short, long insane years that saw me a student first, a provider next and now a teacher who is all three. My deepest passion is still in flying the ill and injured, but my body and my mind feel the weight of attempting to be strong while striving for perfection.
The news of Robin Williams successful suicide stuck a cord in so many, myself included. It was my hope that his death would not be a waste. It was my hope that those fortunate enough to never have depression creep into their lives would open their minds to the deep painful suffering it inflicts.
Depression does not inflict the weak.
Depression is a consequence of the strong–shouldering heavy burdens without relief.
Slow motion as time slips through my knuckles
Nothing beautiful about it, no light at the tunnel
For the people that put the passion before them being comfortable
Raw, unmedicated heart no substitute
Banging on table tops, no substitute
–Macklemore & Ryan Lewis
I started flying 7 years, 7 months, and some odd days ago. It is strange to look at the other flight nurses and realize I am on the side of the “old timers” now. My face has changed. The aircraft looks different. The world is different.
But I still get nerved up. I still have to look things up. I still question my abilities. I still love what I do. I am still proud of what I do.
My heart is still raw. Being in nursing really is a passion—and not comfortable.
My 10,000 hours. I am still banging table tops.
There is no substitute.
Ten years is a long time in blog years.
I have witnessed the community evolve:
-writing anonymously to
-writing semi-anonymously to
-“being out” (if I am allowed to borrow the phrase) as an individual to
-writing (or not writing) due to corporate clamp down to
-changing writing to only blogging professional topical content to
-blogging with corporate semi-acceptance to
-blogging being accepted and an expected resume replacement to
This doesn’t include the changes brought about by social media and the 140 character, SnapChat world.
Today, after a good amount of contemplation and thought, it occurred to me that through this evolution, blogging for me lost what I loved about it. It went from being a place for me to express who I am and what interests me at a very raw, semi-uncensored level, to believing I needed to make it into something more educational or professional.
As many of my intellectual projects go, it took quite a long time for my subconscious to put all of the pieces together. It was something that could not be forced. Looking back, it is now obvious that my blog love is based on exactly me being me. Some of the pieces included:
–Sean and Mike completely against me changing the name from crzegrl
–While on a flight to Indianapolis, I ran into a dedicated reader who I corresponded with for a time
–During a shift change for the OR, someone saw my full tattoo sleeve and said they were glad a professional had the guts to commit to the art
It is the little things that sometimes need to stew. Luckily my mind was in a place of peace, or enough so that this became much more simple.
My entire life, thus far, was spent battling the fact that I am a girl who loved to be told she couldn’t do something. Being a professional, is very much about me being me. My intensity, my intelligence, my flaws, my choice to be who I am in an open and honest way that most people cannot understand. If this scares someone away from me, then great. Come back when you are ready. If it inspires one person to be more adventurous, open with their heart, or love who they are with an attitude, then my openness is worth every minute.
I will not live a censored life.
My name is Emily Bennett. I am 38. I am a flight nurse, a Michigander, a skydiver, a knitter, a reader of many things, a geek, a masochist, a wife, a step-mom, a sister, a daughter, a friend, a lover, a foodie, a flawed human, a writer . . . and a woman.
As 2014 is looming on my door step, I am once again reflecting on the past, and thinking about the future. The fact that my blog is now 10 years and 2 months old has enhanced my pondering the past. What have I done? What did I accomplish? But most importantly, what did I give back?
As a professional, I receive and read a lot of information from different organizations. The American Association of Critical-Care Nurses is one that is important to me and receives most of my reading attention. Each new organization president introduces a theme or mantra for the year. This is supposed to lead the organization and its members to thinking and acting in a specific way. A guide for the year I suppose.
This led me to wondering why I don’t do that as an individual. Why don’t I have a theme for the year guiding my self exploration and growth? In fact, why don’t I have a personal mission statement?
The year of 2014’s theme for me:
I am going to take the time to explore things that are both new and old. The new will be to broaden my outlook on the world around me. The old will be to keep the things I love, and discard those that are dragging on my consciousness both in mental and physical energy. The new will allow me to identify that which I want in my life and the old which survives will be there for me to explore at in a deeper, more significant way.
To do this successfully, I will need to let things go. In other words, clean out the things that sit in my house reminding me that I have home projects not completed, books paid for but unread, craft supplies collected but unused. It is now time to whittle them down to what I really enjoy or decide is important. The rest will be donated or hired out for completion.
Time is the one thing you cannot get back, and I need to focus on making it worthwhile. So, the next part of the theme is:
Give It Away
While I am exploring and letting things go, I also need to focus on the moment. I always have a huge project list that simply multiplies instead of shrinking. Robin Roberts was quoted in USA Today a few days ago saying, “If you are depressed, you are living in the past. If you are anxious you are living in the future. If you are at peace, you are living in the present.”