What Sparks Your Joy ?

I enjoy making my home feel like a warm welcoming place to my family and to friends as well as to myself  . A calm happy home gives me the ability to relax as well as work hard. However, I do own some clutter and although my home is clean I have spots that need organising . So this week I bought the book “Spark Joy” by Marie Kondo- it is about keeping items in our homes that make us feel joyous and getting rid of things that do not . Whilst reading it I was suddenly struck to consider what “sparks my joy” in midwifery? What should I cherish love and hold onto ? 

I would keep public speaking/social media , being an advocate for women , MatExp and being a mentor. I would also extol the virtues of being a “radical” Here’s why 

Public speaking and Social Media 

I really didn’t realise this until I spoke at Uclan to the future midwives and then at the Breatfeeding Festival in Manchester. Truthful feedback is imperative to me as it enables me to develop and see myself through others eyes. My focuses as a speaker are to impart knowledge , learn myself , inspire others to leave feeling they can make a difference and change the way they seen themselves perhaps to consider presenting themselves . I have to feel a positive sense of connection with the audience and I make a solid effort to achieve this as  it’s definitely important to me that presenting is a two way process . I ask questions and I learn from the audience . As well as talking about my passion for midwifery I also openly admit that I can’t know everything . I like to involve humor and also poetry – I feel so happy when others laugh and learn with me . The other reason I love attending conferences is that I network with other midwives and people who have a shared goal in making the NHS and especially maternity services even better . I see one of my key roles as tweeting at a conference to share the experience and agenda with the global midwifery network . I have made many real friends through twitter and I will continue to reiterate Eric Qualmans words “We don’t have a choice on whether we DO social media , the question is how well we DO it” I am privileged to have just written a section in an article with Teresa Chinn MBE about this topic . Teresa’s website HERE and she is the founder of We Communities which has changed the digital face of nursing midwifery medical and allied health professionals on line . Click HERE to find out more . I never in a million years realised that Twitter would connect me with such a community of compassionate and driven people . Social media is a vehicle that helps us to share information, learn and enable . This immeasurable crucial part of the infrastructure of global healthcare gave me the courage to become a blogging midwife and connect with the MatExp team but even more reinvigorated my passion to learn even more about midwifery the NHS , leadership , kindness  and start to cherish my own long hidden rebelliousness . Through THE SCHOOL FOR HEALTH AND CARE RADICALS I e found it’s ok to be radical and that change takes time and committment – if you want to learn more join the next cohort which starry this February – you will not look back (click HERE ) 

Being a mentor 

My other joy is being a mentor I love to ask future midwives how I can facilitate their learning and yet learn from them . I see myself as a radical mentor I talk about, teach and observe for compassionate care , courage and good communication. When working with students of any discipline  I feel it’s so important to hear their voice and also to be honest to them about obstacles they may encounter to prepare them for their future roles . I am a truthful mentor and it’s just so crucial that the first meeting is positive. My goal is to melt their fear or apprehension as soon as we meet  – to let them know that I am a teacher, a learner  and also that I am helping them on a journey . I do like to give spontaneous teaching sessions and find it hard to contain my excitement when future midwives tell me about  new research or publication. Mentoring also includes being a role model to peers , newly qualified midwives and reaching out to give others  help, inspiration and guidance face to face as well as through social media. I have several key mentors in my life and career who assist me through coaching and reflection which in turn aids my development as a mentor .  I love to hear news from colleagues and students as well as sharing with them new things I’ve read via social media , recommend blogs or books  to read and upcoming conferences . 

An advocate for women 

I will have been a midwife for 23 years this June. I see myself as constantly evolving and realise that I will never reach my destination – I don’t want to though I want to keep growing each day . By having this approach I  hope that I am open to women’s families and colleagues voices .I extol the long term and short term virtues and benefits of skin to skin contact at any opportunity .  Being a midwife means being a strong communicator and embracing oneself as an ambassador for global women . It’s about being current and modern despite age or experience – this ethos should apply to all who work in the NHS . Choice and consent should be embedded into our role as advocates . Cotinuity of carer must be a priority plus a positive communicative relationship  between the midwives  and  women all embedded into what we do just as much as a building needs a roof , windows , a door and warmth .  

MatExp 

Mat Exp is all about maternity experience . It’s a change platform where anyone can participate , discuss and suggest new ways to assess , plan, implement and receive care – putting the family first in Maternity services . MatExp is also about staff who are involved in this specialty and how we can improve their experiences too. This is why I adore it – everyone has an equal and valid voice – there is no hierarchy and ideas are constantly flowing . MatExp HQ exists in a virtual digital sense – it’s everywhere and a testament to the true power of social media . Due to MatExp I’ve learnt more about PostTraumatic Stress Disorder due to birth trauma which can affect men as well as women . I understand  more about the feelings of families when their babies have been stillborn or died after birth . I have been able to connect with women, families, health professionals and radicals to  spread the word about why collaboration works because we are actually doing it  . I have also met the most amazing people from all walks of life and feel I have connected with them in making a difference . Just search #MatExp on twitter or take a look at the website HERE to read about who is already involved and how you can get involved . 

So now you know what sparks joy in me- I’d like you to visualise Change as a form of  decluttering – it’s not necessarily forgetting about the old – but it’s making sure it’s archived so that we can look back as well as forwards and see why it’s so important to keep moving shifting and changing. Let’s make NHS care “Spark Joy” in the people that use it and the ones who work in it .

As a form of reflection think of four things that Spark Joy for you within your own work and life and write about them . 

Thank you for reading 

Jenny ❤️ 

Ps To my grown up children , my family and friends you also spark joy within me and you are and always will be in my heart – thank you ❤️

The UK Blog Awards 

I have entered this years UK Blog Awards in the Health Category to raise the public profile of midwifery in a positive light . 

Compassion is a crucial part of any midwife’s role and I find that blogging helps me to open the window of my midwifery soul through the written word.

It’s crucial that women and families have access to midwifery support now and in the future . Social media is a great way to connect to others and also to learn , inspire and lead. 

You can vote for me BY CLICKING HERE

Thank you for your ongoing support and for reading and sharing my blog . 

With love from Jenny 💛 

 

 The gifts we can’t unwrap 

Christmas and New Year are times when a lot of people seem to dash about . Their focus in this time of the year is to give gifts and to make sure that each gift is exactly right for the person it’s meant for . The New Year can symbolise a new start but for some it might be a time of difficulty and sadness if things have not changed or challenges still exist in their lives . 

It’s pressure sometimes to fulfil this aim and perhaps time to reflect on what other things we give to others throughout the year. So below I’ve written about a few things that I feel are important to give to others . These gifts are all priceless in their own way and can’t be bought but can be shared to help others to feel better about themselves . The gifts can be given to anyone – friends , family , those we care for , those we meet . 

TIME

Giving someone your time might mean helping them in a way you see as small when actually this will make a huge difference to that person . Sending a private message on Twitter, a text , a chat on the phone, a card or a letter  – it might not necessarily mean actually seeing each other face to face – but whatever you do shows the other person you care enough to contact them and let them know they are in your thoughts . I’ve just written an article about the concept of time in relation to midwifery for the January 2016 issue of The Practising Midwife ‘Viewpoint’. 

As humans it’s important to share your time in order to be an part of the way the world works – humans are made to socialise and to care for one another . 

Showing a woman or family that you are caring for that you have time to talk can be displayed in various ways  . As a social or health care worker sitting down at the same level as the person you are communicating with can show equality, empathy and is also a visible sign of listening . An open body language can also improve communication and break down barriers – looking at the person you are talking with means you are committed and have patience to wait for their responses – sitting with someone means connection and it symbolises ‘we are the same ‘ ‘I am here for you’. So many times those in  need require to know that we are committed to hearing what they need to say . 

I know a retired cardiac surgeon who always greets people with “Namaste” and he exudes warmth and kindness – it is a beautiful greeting but when he says it the meaning is real and tangible. He retired many years ago but still gives his time to the hospital to help raise funds and make a difference for others . 

Giving your time to someone else is a wonderful thing to do and it means you value that person well as a fellow human – it will also make them feel good about themself and you might be surprised to find it helps you just as much as them. 

Kindness 

What exactly is kindness ? It’s an understanding and openness that is a way of showing warmth towards someone – it’s asking someone if they are ok , giving a smile or a touch on the shoulder to let them know you care . I blogged about this HERE – on the importance of showing one’s heart .  In the book Roar Behind the Silence edited by Sheena Byrom and Soo Downe and published by Pinter and Martin there are numerous references to compassion and kindness .  Several chapters in the book are structured to help those in healthcare and especially the NHS to investigate the practice in their own place of work. We need to challenge the assumptions of others by putting kindness and compassion at the heart of care . There are many examples and ideas  to try and put these virtues into place in the clinical setting and I urge you to read this book and share it with your colleagues, leaders and managers. 

Hugs and Words 

To receive a hug from a fellow human is a display of care and also of friendship . I’ve received virtual hugs on social media and sent them to others and I do use a hug as a form of greeting to people I know . The other week I met someone in an emotional state and I said “do you need a hug ?” They replied yes & I felt the emotions spilling out of that person – we then talked and the hug helped her . I’m not saying hug everyone you meet but assess the situation and be humankind .  Kindness helps us to thrive . 

When someone wants to talk it’s good to listen and to avoid saying “you need to do this – you need to do that “. Words as a gift should be carefully chosen as most people remember not just the words but the way they are delivered . Think about the way you speak and the language you use does it depict a caring personality ? As a person who like to send letters and cards I try to give positivity through my words I thank my friends for supporting me and I consider how I speak and communicate when I am working. Try reading an email you are about to send to someone as if you are the recipient – how do you feel reading it now ? Would you change anything ? Does your email embody the values of the NHS trust that you are employed in ? Is it true to your beliefs and moral beliefs? 

It’s a good thought to hold in your mind every day that there are people out there who care and that good things are going to happen . If you are feeling low in the New Year tell a friend – contact a support group , go and see your GP – there are organisations, groups and individuals out there specifically trained to help . 

Take the first step , tell someone or if you recognise that someone is not their usual self spend time with them and be kind – you might just be the one who helps them start the journey of becoming well and addressing their problems 

I wish you all a peaceful 2016 – thank you for reading and I’d like to thank all my wonderful real friends I’ve met through Twitter , life and midwifery for all their kindness and positivity towards me in 2015 .   

With love , Jenny ❤️