1. Ferrell, Betty PhD, MA, FAAN, FPCN, CHPN

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60 Wonderful Things

The daily work of hospice and palliative care nursing is almost overwhelming to even consider. A quick review of the contents of just this issue of JHPN reminds us of the complexity, demands, and yes, the blessings of this profession. The articles address the caregivers' experience with an illness blog, barriers to end-of-life care for Latinos, clinical staff perceptions of what constitutes high-quality dying, and teaching end-of-life care by simulation. How do nurses perform this overwhelming, sacred work? How do they refuel to be able to continue to care for people who are seriously ill or dying?


We often talk about self care and genuinely intend to do it. But the daily realities of work and life often interfere. A year ago at this time, in fall 2015, I realized that in 2016, I would reach a milestone of life in that I would be celebrating my 60th birthday. Just thinking of it made me a little distressed, although, as all palliative care nurses know well, growing older is a privilege, and we have cared for many people who would have loved to live to see a 60th birthday.


As I looked to the year ahead, I decided that I should, indeed, celebrate this birthday, and I committed to what has become known to my friends and family as my 60WT list - a plan to do 60 Wonderful Things in 2016. I began announcing this plan last fall, and I could write an entire article just about the reactions I received. Several naysayers commented, "60 things in one year! That's crazy". Or "That's more than one a week! Impossible!" Others joyfully responded, encouraged the plan, offered suggestions for the list, and joined in. One friend sent me "The Big List of Self-Care Activities" from the internet. The two-page list contains so many practical suggestions for pausing for a minute, changing your pace, and dedicating a little bit of time to something fun, relaxing, and different! From "Go outside and watch the clouds", "eat your favorite ice cream", to "take a cooking class", there is something for literally every one of us on this list. Put the title "the-big-list-of self-care-activities.pdf" in your internet browser search box, have a look, and consider trying a few.


My year of 60WT is coming to an end. I'm on schedule and may just exceed the plan! My list has included some huge bucket list items with a trip to Ireland and a dream I have had for 20 years to visit Lake Louise in Canada. Other things on the list have been simpler but just as wonderful, including watching my grandchildren play on the beach at sunset, having a too long delayed dinner with friends, and other simple but precious times. All of these 60 things have been captured in a journal I have kept which has also been a really wonderful thing to do.


What I have learned from this year is how important it has been to truly commit to doing these nurturing things. I have been reminded of how important it is to refill our lives that are easily drained and how precious is the gift we can give ourselves to tend to our own quality of life.


And so, as 2016 comes to an end, I will relish the last of my 60 wonderful things and perhaps invite you to consider 2017 as a year you will dedicate to doing wonderful things for yourself. Who knows what could happen if there was an epidemic of palliative care nurses doing wonderful things?



Betty Ferrell, PhD, MA, FAAN, FPCN, CHPN