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Happy New Year! It's 2020, a leap year. The Chinese New Year Festival will be celebrated in January, and according to the Chinese zodiac, it is the Year of the Rat. The rat is the first of the Chinese zodiac animals and is viewed as a sign of wealth and surplus. Rats are clever thinkers, successful but content with living a quiet, peaceful life.

 

All cultures celebrate holidays. But what is the purpose of holidays? Holidays are celebrations of religious or cultural traditions, but they also remind us of some important things in life-things like gratitude and forgiveness. One might say that a new year is a good time to pause, reflect, and think about the last 365 days so that you can move forward on your life's journey.

 

In reality, by the time you are reading this, the holidays have passed. The excitement, joy, and exhaustion of the holiday season are over. Most of us start the new year with resolutions, but by now many resolutions have been broken or are about to be. As I was looking for inspiration about what to focus on for this letter, I stumbled on some reflective questions to ponder as we embark on this new year-2020.

 

WHAT WILL YOU REMEMBER 2019 FOR?

What were the highlights of 2019 for you? What are the moments worth remembering? When you talk about 2019 in the future, what will you say? For me, a highlight of 2019 was serving as president of the National Association of Clinical Nurse Specialists (NACNS). Leading NACNS has been a privilege and a great opportunity, but at the same time not without its challenges. In a few short months, I will complete my term as president and start looking forward to my next opportunity to grow and evolve. On a personal note, I will remember 2019 as a year of a challenging personal struggle. It started with the death of my father. He passed away the day following his 76th birthday as a result of a long battle with chronic renal failure and multiple other comorbidities. This was just the beginning. During this time, I came to realize that my mother suffered from dementia. I have learned that dementia is a horrible degenerative condition. I learned the meaning of caregiver stress. On a good note, because of my experience, I am learning how to ask for and accept support from my coworkers, friends, and extended family.

 

WHAT WORKED GREAT IN 2019?

From an NACNS perspective, I think the Executive Committee worked well as a team. NACNS continued its transition to a new management company for the better part of the year. The benefit of an aligned Executive Committee helped us stay on track with all the different moving parts that comprise NACNS. Thank you to Anne Hysong, Sean Reed, and Carrie Doyle. The other thing that worked great in 2019 is my relationship with my husband, Mike. Looking back, I realize that because of all the stress we experienced helping my mother, we have never been closer or more in sync that we are right now. My relationship with my 4 boys is also great. They have been extremely supportive of Mike and me over the last year.

 

WHAT ARE YOU PROUD OF?

In 2019, I am most proud to have the opportunity to serve as president of NACNS. It has been and continues to be a valuable learning experience. Along the way, I've had the opportunity to meet so many incredible CNSs, such as the members of the California CNS Affiliate. In November, I was asked to speak at their annual conference. What a great meeting and awesome group of CNSs! They are engaged and passionate about the CNS role.

 

WHAT WAS YOUR BIGGEST CHALLENGE?

Things to ponder for this question-what did not work last year? What was the lesson that this challenge taught you? In 2019, my biggest challenge was to realize that I cannot do it all, that it's OK to ask for help. This was hard for me. With everything going on in my personal life, trying to stay on top of things at work, and serving as president of NACNS, there were times when I failed to meet a deadline or some other deliverables. But, the good news is each time I was challenged, either my team at work or fellow Board members had my back and ensured that things continued to move forward. My learning lesson from this is that it's OK to rely on and trust others.

 

WHAT DID YOU LEARN ABOUT YOURSELF?

What did all the challenges, troubles, conflicts, emotions, highlights, and successes teach you about yourself? As I reflect on this, I learned that I am somewhat of a control freak, and trusting others is a challenge. I am learning to let go and allow my family, friends, and colleagues to support me-to be my wingman. In the airline industry, a wingman is a pilot who supports another in a potentially dangerous flying environment. The wingman's role is to add an element of mutual support to the aerial combat (Wikipedia). In my case, allowing others to be my wingman means that there is strength in numbers. Whether at work or serving on the Board-it's a team sport. No one person can have the impact as that of a team.

 

WHAT WORD DESCRIBES YOUR LAST YEAR THE BEST?

Try to characterize your year with one word. For me, the word is breathe. The single greatest advice that I received in 2019 was "just breathe." It's a reminder to take a moment, when the going gets tough, when life is hard, and so on, to breathe. It's amazing that such a simple act can be so powerful.

 

As we move forward into 2020, I found this quote by Danish Philosopher Soren Kierkegaard that puts everything in perspective:

 

Life can only be understood backwards, but it must be lived forwards.

 

In 2 months, the 2020 NACNS Annual Conference will begin-March 10 to 13, 2020. We will meet in Indianapolis to celebrate NACNS's 25th anniversary! There will be outstanding podium and poster presentations along with forums and a pharmacology preconference. Another new addition to the Annual Conference is the CNS Education Forum, formerly known as the CNS Educator's Forum. We are thrilled to connect this event to the Annual Conference. The CNS Institute will also be inducting the second class of CNS Fellows during this week. Please go to the NACNS website to register. I hope to see all of you there!

 

The NACNS Board in partnership with Virtual, Inc, our management company, is focused on ensuring the financial health of the association in order to better serve our members. A strong, thriving membership supports the organization in so many ways from finances to education and expertise to advocacy and innovation. You, our members, are our focus. I am grateful for the many members who volunteer their time and expertise to make NACNS the best professional association. Thank you for all you do! If you have not volunteered to serve on a committee or other initiative, please consider doing so. It is a great experience and helps move the organization and our policy agenda forward.

  
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Last, have you seen the 2018 CNS Census? If not, please go to the NACNS website, https://nacns.org/professional-resources/practice-and-cns-role/cns-census/, and check it out. The 2020 CNS Census survey will be coming out later this year. Be on the lookout for it, and make sure you are counted among the more than 70 000 CNS' currently practicing in the United States.

  
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