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***How I Do It All

Disclaimer: Do not try to sue me for medical malpractice after you've read this blog. Every procedure that I did not follow was done so in order to save the life of a person in need.
Now that that's out of the way....

Celebrating with my Day Ones. Note Husband and kid in the back.
I recorded a podcast on The Boonie Breakdown last week. Boonie, the host, asked me "How do you find balance?" She wanted to know how I make it all work. How I continue to grow my business, spend time with my family and find time for self care. Up until today, my response to that is always "There is no balance. When you need to focus on something, you have to tilt the scale. It will not be balanced. That's just life. Trying to find balance is a real source of stress for people. It's like a unicorn. It doesn't exist." But in retrospect, that's just not true. I schedule and stick to my schedule. I don't work after certain hours. To make sure I take care of myself, I don't check email until I've completed my morning meditation and workout and I document it on my Instastory for accountability. For the most part, I stick to my routine and have systems in place to eliminate distractions so that I am making the best use of my time. i.e. No notifications on my phone at all. No text notifications. No social media notifications. No email notifications. I check it when I come to a stopping point. Yes, some days I skip my morning work out session to get some work done. Yes, I may let some work sit until the next day so that I can spend time with my son or go on a date with my husband. But today, I realized that my career in healthcare trained me for this entrepreneur life and iainteemknowit.

Can't keep deodorant in stock.
I have someone in my close circle who is just beginning their entrepreneurship journey and has asked me multiple times "How do you do it all? You always seem so happy and not stressed out." I've been telling them "I just do the best I can. That's all I can do. If I've done my best, there's nothing to stress about." Of course I have days when I know I didn't do my best but I don't dwell on it. I forgive myself and use my poor performance as fuel to do better the next day. And there are days when I'm giving it all I've got and nothing seems to be going my way. That's just life. However, I am always making an effort to constantly improve and that is totally different than being hard on yourself. But I never thought about HOW I got that mindset. How did I learn to do that? Like to read it? Here it go...

I worked in the blood bank for all of the 14 years of my career in healthcare. I have seen a lot of tragic situations working in Baltimore City hospitals and in the infamous NIH Research Hospital. There are three types of patients who can possibly bleed to death if they don't get the right type of blood and get it quickly. Gun shot and stab wound victims, certain types of surgery patients, and mothers giving birth. I worked at night for the first 4 years of my career. Two days out of my five day work week, I worked alone. One night, I was working alone and there was a mother of four who had delivered her fifth child. She started to bleed. They asked for 4 units of blood, then another 4. I could hear the panic in the nurse's voice when she was calling me to ask for the third set of 4, making it a total of 12 units of blood they'd be transfusing. That night, in a 250 bed hospital, I knew I only had one patient to tend to, the bleeding mother. I would not have time to deal with any other patients that night. So, I called in one of my co-workers for
My Old Life
back up. We ordered more blood products. We prepped the next batch of blood to go out as soon as they took one batch. We did everything in our power to give the patient care team what they asked for and QUICKLY - including bypass some steps in the procedure. At the end of the night, we had given that lady 21 units of blood, 4 units of platelets and 10 units of plasma. To put things into perspective, a standard transfusion is 2 units of blood, 1 platelet and 2 units of plasma. Transfusing 10 units of blood replaces all of the blood in an average adult body. The women eventually stopped bleeding, recovered and went home to take care of her five children. We did our best. We helped save a mother's life. We felt accomplished and high-fived each other at the end of our shift.

What's the point of that story? I had to remain calm so that I could communicate with the patient care team effectively, make sure I was giving them the correct blood, and properly document where every unit of blood went (cuz you do NOT want to have to be the one explaining to the FDA where you THINK a missing unit of blood went). Imagine if you are the nurse, standing in front of a bleeding patient, a bleeding mother of five, calling for help and the person on the other end of the line is just as frantic as you are. That's not helpful. I spoke with urgency and clarity but never frantic. Praise Jehovah that she survived. There were some nights when the patients did not survive. But EVERY night I "did my best" and that's all I had control over. Imagine how stressed out I would be if I owned every patient death as if it were my fault? Death comes with the territory in healthcare. No one wants blood on their hand - pun intended - but, all you can do is the best you can do and that's it. 

If you give it all you've got and everything comes together perfectly, that's amazing! But if things are spiraling out of control and the tunnel is pitch black, no light in sight, all you have control over is yourself. No matter how bad a situation looks, it always works out in the end. Always give your best performance and be open to whatever the outcome may be. Sometimes it might not be what you had in mind but it's usually for the best.

So there it is, almost 30,000 hours of experience in a blood bank being put in hundreds of situations where I had to be the calm in the eye of the storm, doing my best work to keep someone alive. Even though I knew that they could possibly die anyway EVEN if I "do my best". That's deep. It makes any other thing you go through in life seem trivial. Just thinking "If I panic, someone could die" got me sitting here taking slow breaths. My experience as a Specialist in Blood Banking has trained me to "do my best" and let the chips fall where they may. Who would've ever thought about it that way? LOL! See, this is why it's so important to embrace your journey. Life has so much to teach you if you pay attention.

When you do your best and still lose.
When talking about the 3 stars in the title of  her hit song "Flawless", Beyonce refers to the time the group Girls Tyme had practiced and given the best performance of their lives on Star Search and still lost. She said, “The reality is: sometimes you lose. And you’re never too good to lose. You’re never too big to lose. You’re never too smart to lose. It happens.” She knows that sometimes, you do your best and it's not enough. You don't stop being the best you can be and you don't beat yourself up. You just keep going. Being thankful for opportunity to learn what worked and what didn't. Accept it with grace and enjoy the journey to your best life.

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