Wednesday, April 1, 2015

my too late friday reflection

By now, if you read any of the words I throw out on this blog, you realize that my writing doesn't have much of a theme, and I bounce around.  Which is ok, because that is the way I've always been.  I learn something, then move on.  For me, learning isn't about becoming an expert at anything.  The joy is in the learning.  One thing I am learning, and that the #Friday Reflection prompt supports and encourages me toward, is to take time to reflect.  Learning cannot impact your life if you don't stop to reflect that learning.  As far as I am concerned, if you wake up every morning and are breathing, you have the opportunity to learn.  That is why I chose the second prompt to respond to this week.  My Friday reflection is coming after a busy weekend with 3 of my 4 grandkids, with not much time for reflecting or writing.

I had some time to reflect, time to read a bit this weekend and think about the prompts as  I was racing around.  The prompt that resonated with me the most was the second one:
What is the most influential book you have ever read?

That is a hard question to answer, because there is no one book that has influenced me the most. That would be an impossible task.  I thought about this all week as I transitioned from one position to another in the organization I work for, and decided I would have to share a few, maybe three or four.  I could easily list 25 or more, but this is supposed to be a prompt for a post, not a novel.

Byzantine icon
The first book I remember was a coffee table book of art history.  I don't remember the title, but it was one of those beautiful, large, printed books you display on your coffee table when you want people to think you know something about a subject you know nothing about.  This book was located next door, on our neighbors' coffee table.  Frannie and John were good friends of my parents, with John and my dad stationed at the same Air Force base.  While the adults played pinochle in the dining room, I sat in a living room seldom used (back in those days we had dens, or family rooms, where the TV was located and real life occurred).  I couldn't have been more than 8 or 9, and was already drawing. What that book did was show me what art was about, the creativity of artists through the ages.  Where I saw my first Pieter Bruegel, Jan Vermeer, Michelangelo Buonarroti and so on.  My strongest memory was of my amazement in the difference in art periods, and especially from the Byzantine period to the early to late Renaissance.  My love of Impressionism and Modern Art came long after that first book, but what that book did was show me world history through the eyes and hands of artists.  I can still close my eyes, and feel the smoothness of the pages as I carefully turned them.
Pieter Bruegel

The second book I think about is one that was required reading during my Baccalaureate program in nursing.  From Novice to Expert: Excellence and Power in Clinical Nursing by Patricia Benner, PhD in 1984, it was a thin volume, and I started it with the intentions of getting through it because I had to.  But soon found myself taking in every word as I read about the acquisition of skills and experience in nursing.  Written for her dissertation by Dr. Patricia Benner, a nursing theorist and academic leader in nursing, it had such an impact on my understanding of the experience we gain as nurses, and how we go from being greenhorns straight out of nursing school to expert practitioners.  Benner's theory and research was qualitative, rather than quantitative, and she has been criticized for that, but I have found that the model she provided describing the acquisition of skills through experience have been mirrored by my own practice and transition through the five stages she described.  That particular book was a priceless gem to me as a nurse.

The third book I think about is the book that I enjoyed with my last baby.  Or rather that she enjoyed with her grandmother, my mother in law.  The Grown-Up Day, written and illustrated by Jack Kent, was written in 1969 and acquired by me for my children somewhere along the line, when I was collecting books for them and 45 singles for me.  Reading and listening to rock and roll were two things we did almost every day in my house.  I think that is a solid foundation for any kid, and it paid off with mine.  But The Grown-Up Day belonged strictly to Ma and Deb.  She was barely speaking when that became her favorite book, but after sitting in Ma's lap (we lived right next door) every day and hearing the book a thousand times, Deb had it memorized.  Ma would turn the pages as Deb recited it from memory, making it appear that she was some child genius who could read at the age of two.  What I learned from that book is that books have a way of connecting us as human beings.  They are a way of spanning the gap of generations and passing along knowledge.  As well as love.  That book was the love between a grandmother and her grandchild, and the joy it brought them both is something that I have never forgotten, even though that baby is 36 now.

And that is how books have influenced my life.  One at a time, each carries a message, and is an opportunity to go to a new place, learn new things, think new thoughts.  To expand our minds, and connect as human beings.

...laugh, life is good. ~cath
find me @jonesbabie on Twitter

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