The Year of the Breath

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Go ahead, take a deep breath and let it out with a sigh. That feels better, doesn’t it? Go ahead and do it again. We all deserve it.

2020 will be known as the Year of the Breath

First, the Corona virus, with deadly consequences, took too many people’s ability to breathe away from them and even if we did not contract the virus symptoms, it affected all of our breathing. We took in a deep breath as we saw the struggles of patients and health care workers. Even the wearing of a mask brought new awareness of our breath as we feel it against our face and struggle with how to keep it from fogging our glasses.

Watching George Floyd have his breath stolen from him led me to want leap into my television screen and push Michael Chauvin off his neck. I saw the deaths of Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Philando Castile, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery, all of whom lost their breath and lives in unjust ways and found once again, the space for a deep, disbelieving breath.

Our yearlong political firestorm that, often, sucked all the oxygen out of the room, seemed to have left me and I know others, at times, gasping for some sense of understanding. I always seemed a bit unsure about whether I could discuss the topic with anyone other than certified members of my political tribe, but then a neighbor with an opposing yard sign to mine and I shared our perspectives on the election. A breath… of fresh air. 

All this has led me to believe that 2020 is going to be one hell of a transformation year. There will be a renewed belief in the power of science that will most help heal us all and perhaps inspire new faith in facts. The senseless deaths of those African Americans and other people of color may help usher in another period of changing thoughts and actions on issues of racial justice.

There are many opportunities for us to build bridges between and among ourselves that can create a bit more tranquility and ease for 2021.

And I know, it all begins by taking in a deep breath and letting it out with a sigh.


The Leadership Café 

Brenda Nevidjon, MSN, RN, FAAN  is the Chief Executive Officer of the Oncology Nursing Society (ONS), a professional association of close to 40,000 members committed to promoting excellence in oncology nursing and quality cancer care. After two decades in oncology clinical and administrative settings, she transitioned to health care executive practice, culminating with her being the first nurse and the first woman to be chief operating officer of Duke University Hospital. 

In this episode of The Leadership Cafe, Brenda discusses her career as a nurse and how she came upon teaching at the School of Nursing for Duke. She also discusses the challenges ONS and its members have seen in the past year due to the virus.

© Richard Citrin 2020

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