The Delicate Balance: Embrace Your Fear

feather and stone balance

Inspired by the ancient book of wisdom; The Tao Te Ching: Verse Thirty Five

Hold the great image. All under heaven will come                                   They come without harm, in harmonious peace                                               Music and food, passing travelers stop                                                               The Tao that is spoken out of the mouth                                                            Is bland and without flavor. Look at it, it cannot be seen                   Listen to it, it cannot be heard. Use it, it cannot be exhausted

                                                                                                                                                                                                                           Lao Tzu


 What gives you enjoyment? This question is usually answered by your belief systems. Your belief systems are your core values that give shape and definition to your life’s experiences. Do you define yourself at the mercy of other’s opinions? Do you believe in life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness? Does life just happen to you without rhyme or reason? Do you welcome each morning or struggle out of bed hoping you’ll make it through the day?

I am frequently asked how someone can add more joy and contentment into his or her life. I honestly don’t have an answer for them. What I do offer is a challenge that could lead to the outcome they seek should they have the faith and courage to dive in. Get well acquainted with the things that cause you great fear.

Dedicate a significant amount of time over the next several weeks to really get in touch with your demons. What scares you to death? Do you fear loss of a relationship or loss of a job? Does the possibility of losing your health or function make your blood run cold? Does the prospect of having to redefine yourself without the aid of an addictive substance or professional or personal role terrify you?

How does the reality that nothing is certain, nothing is within our control and nothing is permanent make you feel? Well then, that is where you begin. As the wonderful Tibetan Buddhist teacher Pema Chodron often advises, start at the place that scares you the most.

 As you explore each unthinkable scenario ask yourself what life would really be like if the worst happened. Be gently. Be patient but be relentless. As you make your way through this challenge the answer will slowly begin to come to you. Life goes on. Yes! That life may be quite different from what you or others may have envisioned. It is even possible that it will be better than what you know right now. But you will adapt to whatever happens.

So the answer to how to do I add more joy and contentment into my life is simply. Just let go. Let go of worrying about change. It is inevitable. Let go of trying to stay in control. You never had control to begin with. The only thing we need to focus on is now. You need to redirect your energies into being present in the moment and aware of all that is around you so that you can milk every last drop of joy and contentment out of it.

Open you heart so that you can experience love, compassion or pain. The past is done. The future is an illusion. There is only now. Let go of fear-based living and begin to live your life welcoming whatever shows up. Don’t waste one more minute trying to avoid the unavoidable.

Caring is a Delicate Balance: The Profession of Nursing is Not a Sprint, It is a Marathon

Welcome to my new Vlog, Caring Is A Delicate Balance

                                                    This Vlog is to be dedicated to informing professional and family caregivers, raising their awareness for the need for good self-care and celebrating                                  the compassion and generous natures of caregivers.


New Book: Rediscover the Joy of Being A Nurse by Phyllis S. Quinlan, PhD, RN-BC

From the author of The Delicate Balance A Mindful Approach for Self-Care for Professional and Family Caregivers

Rediscover the Joy of Being a Nurse

A Holistic Approach to Recovery From Compassion Fatigue

 By Phyllis S. Quinlan, PhD, RN-BC

I’ve conducted numerous coaching sessions both privately and at conferences around the country. I am struck by the number of seasoned nurses in true pain. Many no longer seem to have the same sense of mission or derive the same sense of satisfaction from rendering care as they once did. A growing apathy has steadily replaced their empathy and practicing nursing has become more and more of an effort for them.

These nurses verbalize a desire or need to distance themselves from patients, family members and, to some degree, other professional caregivers. All these nurses would cite the personal discovery that they had had enough as part of their motivation. They could no longer find the energy to continue on their present career course.

Does this describe how you or someone you know is feeling about practicing the profession of nursing? Are you feeling the need to distance yourself from something that once meant so much? If so, Rediscover the Joy of Being a Nurse: A Holistic Approach to Recovery from Compassion Fatigue can offer both mundane and holistic tools to assist you in reconnecting with and sustaining a sense of joy in practicing nursing.

To purchase your copy:       Kindle version: 

Rediscover The Joy of Being A Nurse.indd

To learn more about Dr. Quinlan and read the recommendations from her clients, go to:



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The #1 Trait Women Need To Soar Is… A Guest Post by Nancy D. O’Reilly, PsyD



To master her external environment, a woman must first master one internal skill:  Courage. 

It takes courage for a woman to push herself forward into a world that often feels unwelcoming (if not outright hostile). Without the support and encouragement of our sisters, few of us would carry on. While we strive to be more courageous, it’s also important to take time to bring our women friends together to celebrate our successes. Affirming our progress together encourages us to tap into our feminine skills, unlock our personal power and create a better world.

Author and courage expert Sandra Ford Walston, writes that the bull’s eye that we women must learn to hit consistently is the true self. Courage is about acting from the heart, from the center of your innermost being. In my book Leading Women, 20 Influential Women Share Their Secrets to Leadership, Business and Life, Sandra offers these tips to help women discover how they can harness their courage to hit the bull’s eye every time.


Focus on your true self. The false-self limits us. It fills us with self-doubt and fear of failure. Far too many women mistrust their own vision. By focusing on our true self, we access the empowering virtue of courage. We take aim at the true target of our life’s work, and being more on target makes us happier and more self-fulfilled. Ask yourself if you cherish your work. If you could chose a job you would love to do, what would your heart’s wish be? If you are disengaged at work, reflect on your aim and bring your own goal into view. Practice developing the skills that manifest courage at work and you will slice through your lack of self-contentment.

Become courageous by being courageous. Celebrate the courageous and noble acts you make in your day-to-day life. Take risks to continually reinvent yourself. Set challenging goals. Women with courage develop new business models when the door to an old model closes or the existing model no longer works. When asked if they have courage, they respond with an enthusiastic “yes.”

Ask yourself if your ego or mind is throwing you off. Start to notice if you are focusing on negative external factors rather than listening to the affirmation of your heart. As Eckhart Tolle writes in his book, The Power of Now, “say ‘yes’ to life and see how life suddenly starts to work for you rather than against you. Are you willing to say “yes” to courage? Assess, recognize and employ your underutilized strengths so you hit the mark more often.


Let go of unhealthy behaviors. To awaken your courage, you will need to let go of some unhealthy habits such as complaining or accepting mediocrity. As you invite an overall healthier perspective about who you are, you miss shots in your professional life less often. This takes energy, but it also releases energy that makes life fulfilling.

Do some form of meditation. Courage-centering begins with learning to stop and reflect so that you can live from the inside, from the core of your true being. Finding a meditation practice can help to reveal your unconscious motivations and awaken your courage. Meditation techniques promote focus, centeredness and spiritual awareness. Proven meditation techniques, such as prayer, yoga, therapy, reflective reading, playing a musical instrument, writing and so on, help to connect you with your spirit. Adopting a contemplative discipline begins the practice of targeting the bull’s eye, the self, in all aspects of life.

Notice other courageous women. Observe other courageous people like you: the person who confronted a bully on behalf of a peer, the person who volunteered for a challenging project, the person who lifted her voice above the crowd to speak the truth, or the person who did a job (any job) well from her heart-centered courage. Courage can be contagious and can transform the workplace.

As women sharpen their skills, they will continue to advance in the formerly off-limits areas of corporate business and government. Look around you. Reach out to other like-minded women in your world so you can help each other. When a woman meets success using her feminine skills, she can and should help other women do the same. Together we can accomplish the powerful results we want to achieve. As Aristotle wrote,

“Courage is the first of human virtues because it makes all other virtues possible.”



The Caregiver Bill of Rights Adapted from the book, CareGiving: Helping an Aging Loved One, by Jo Horne, published in 1985 by the American Association of Retired Persons

Healer's outstretched open hand surrounded by random wise healing words on a rustic stone effect background
Healer’s outstretched open hand surrounded by random wise healing words on a rustic stone effect background


I have the right…to take care of myself. This is not an act of selfishness. It will give me the capability of taking better care of my relative.

I have the right…to seek help from others even though my relatives may object. I recognize the limits of my own endurance and strength.

I have the right…to maintain facets of my own life that do not include the person I care for, just as I would if he or she were healthy. I know that I do everything that I reasonably can for this person, and I have the right to do some things just for myself.

I have the right…to get angry, be depressed, and express other difficult feelings occasionally.

I have the right… to reject any attempts by my relative (either conscious or unconscious) to manipulate me through guilt and/or depression.

I have the right…to receive consideration, affection, forgiveness, and acceptance from my loved one for what I do, for as long as I offer these qualities in return.

I have the right…to take pride in what I am accomplishing and to applaud the courage it has sometimes taken to meet the needs of my relative.

I have the right…to protect my individuality and my right to make a life for myself that will sustain me in the time when my relative no longer needs my full-time help.

I have the right…to expect and demand that as new strides are made in finding resources to aid physically and mentally impaired persons in our country, similar strides will be made towards aiding and supporting caregivers.

The Delicate Balance: Imagine

feather and stone balance

Inspired by the ancient book of wisdom; The Tao Te Ching: Verse Thirty

The one who uses the Tao to advise the ruler
Does not dominate the world with soldiers
Such methods tend to be returned; the place where the troops camp
Thistles and thorns grow. Following the great army
There must be an inauspicious year                                                                                                      

A good commander achieves result, then stops
And does not dare to reach for domination
Achieves result but does not brag. Achieves result but does not flaunt
Achieves result but is not arrogant. Achieves result but only out of necessity
Achieves result but does not dominate. Things become strong and then get old
This is called contrary to the Tao. That which is contrary to the Tao soon ends

                                                                                       Lao Tzu

Anger has served as the fuel for manifesting many necessary social changes such as human rights. However, it is far from the only means to effect positive changes. Our American media venerates hostile personalities. The image of Clint Eastwood staring down at an opponent and stating, “Go ahead, make my day” is iconic in the hearts and minds of many.  Biting sarcasm intended to be hurtful and to ridicule its target is somehow reworked to be accepted as funny. Lao Tzu cautions that these approaches will only eventually implode and backfire quickly.

There have been many debates about the horizontal violence or nurse-to-nurse hostility within the healthcare industry. As ugly as this all sound, it is very real and there are many that have come forward with scenarios that range from minor instances to tear jerking accounts of brutality. On many of the occasions when I became angry I felt justified, almost noble.  I rationalized that the importance of the principle that I was championing washed away the ugliness of my words, attitude, or demeanor.

How does one get to the point of being angry? Most authorities will agree that anger has its roots in frustration. Sources of frustration may be internal or external. Internal frustration stems from an actual or perceived personal need or blockage to a goal that builds inside causing one to feel anxious until it is met. These internal needs or blockages can range from the inability to be patient to an inability to be accepting of another’s ideas. External frustration can be provoked by simple traffic situations or by issues as serious as resolving financial issues. The outcomes are the same. Whenever frustration is allowed to build to an unmanageable state it becomes the catalyst for an inappropriate display of anger.

So the question now becomes, what is the root of frustration? My answer is the need for personal power. Many people describe the state of frustration as feeling a loss of control over a given person or situation. I believe that this statement is very accurate. Frustration is a perceived loss of personal power. Therefore, it follows that reestablishing a sense of personal power relieves the frustration. Fundamental to gaining and maintaining true personal power is the knowledge that the person who has true power is the person in control of themselves in any given situation. Not the person yelling the loudest or coordinating unrest in the situation.

It is vital to understand and accept that no one internal or external source of frustration makes us angry. We allow ourselves to get angry. We must own our inability to manage our frustration in a way that does not lead to the angry outburst. It is no one’s responsibility to keep us from getting angry. It is our own responsibility to ensure that we have the personal skills to recognize and manage our individual frustrations and control our response to the emotion of anger.

What is the cost of anger on our inner selves? Many people think that keeping your negative feelings pent up can cause you to develop illnesses such as cardiovascular disease. I believe that this is partially true. I don’t think it is the unreleased negative emotion that is doing the physical harm. I believe it is the negative emotion itself.

Dr. Masaru Emoto, a doctor of alternative medicine in Japan, has completed extensive research on the effect that thoughts, words, and ideas have on water. His initial research centered on the water on the plant. He discovered that water samples obtained from pristine environmental sources that were frozen and photographed showed beautiful crystal formations. By comparison, water samples obtained from polluted environmental sources that were frozen and photographed showed crystal formations that were dark and distorted.

He then wondered if polluted thoughts and emotions could possibly affect human beings in a similar way noting that approximately 80% of our cellular makeup is water. His further research demonstrated that pristine water exposed to harsh, destructive, negative language then frozen and photographed showed crystal formations similar to the configuration of polluted water. Pristine water exposed to supportive, loving, positive language then frozen and photographed showed crystal formations of a spectacular nature. The message Dr. Emoto extrapolated from this research is that negative emotions effect the human body at the cellular level. Our cells can literally be affected by negative or positive feelings. No wonder it can take so long to forgive and heal.

Just think of what we are doing to ourselves by not managing these negative emotions and the expression of those negative emotions better. This goal is within each of our grasps. It takes a commitment to earnest personal work to change the way you view your world so that you can change the way you choose to respond to it. It could take years with many failures and successes happening along the way. Eventually, the successes will outnumber the failures. Just imagine the feeling of well-being you can experience by letting go of the need for anger. Just imagine…

Water, Consciousness & Intent: Dr. Masaru Emoto


The Delicate Balance: Circle of Influence

feather and stone balance

Inspired by the ancient book of wisdom; The Tao Te Ching: Verse Twenty-Nine

Those who wish to take the world and control it
I see that they cannot succeed. The world is a sacred instrument
One cannot control it. The one who controls it will fail
The one who grasps it will lose. Because all things:
Either lead or follow. Either blow hot or cold
Either have strength or weakness. Either have ownership or take by force.                                                                                                 Therefore the sage: Eliminates extremes. Eliminates excess. Eliminates arrogance

                                                                                                Lao Tzu

I found my way to eastern philosophy as a result of my dissatisfaction with the western approach to health and wellness. The formative years of my nursing career were spent practicing critical care and emergency trauma. My reverence for the need and value of these specialties never faltered but after about seventeen years of practice I found myself unsettled.

I used my knowledge and skills to offer lifesaving and therapeutic interventions to my patients but I was being haunted by a sense that somehow it wasn’t enough. I felt helpless to truly influence or control the human situation that came to my emergency department in endless waves of need.

I struggled with this inner unrest with my profession for years until I finally had an epiphany. I accepted that my torment arose from a sense of lacking within myself and not my profession. I committed a very common error. I looked outside myself for answers instead of having the wisdom and courage to look within.

In verse twenty-nine, Lao Tzu counsels us to let go and to acknowledge what is truly within our circle of influence. He gently guides us to embrace that it is folly to try to control anything in the outside world because our perspective is littered with blind spots of personal needs that make our judgment unreliable. It is impossible for anyone feeling a sense of no control to believe that all is as it should be.

I believe one of the dominant themes of the western approach to life is singular achievement. This mindset ultimately drives us into isolation. I have come to realize that this is a recipe for unhappiness. There is no finish line. You never belong. You never arrive.

The essence of the eastern view of reality is the awareness of the unity and interdependence of all things and events. The world is composed of the threads that weave the fabric of the phenomenon of basic oneness. All things are an inseparable part of the cosmic whole. Peace of mind (wellness) is rooted in the trust that all is as it should be.

Eastern core values can be summed up in three points. The first is to be mindful of thoughts, speech and actions. The second is to meditate with the intent of developing insight and understanding. The third is to lead a life of self-respect and respect for others. These things are the only outcomes that we can drive and truly control. These core values create our true circle of influence and ultimately offer us the ability to lead an awakened life.

Investing in developing your inner world will create a powerful magnetic energy around you. When you align with the Oneness of all things you will discover how comforting and irresistible your inner light can be.  You will attract what you want into your life. This is not magical thinking. It is being in the flow.


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