CRAFTING WELLNESS STORY

"OPEN HOURS WITH NURSE JACKIE"

No Not That 'Nurse Jackie'

Nurse Jackie is a Chicago RN, Yoga Instructor, Nurse Educator, and student on her way to becoming a Family Nurse Practitioner. After not getting into Medical School, Nurse Jackie found her purpose. As a nurse educator, she is extremely well versed in the medical field. This interview has something for everyone!

TRANSCRIPT

SPEAKERS: Jaclyn Darling, Brooke Smith

Jaclyn Darling 00:00
When I was really young, my little sister was born with a congenital heart defect and that kind of got me introduced to doctors and nurses. And we spent a lot of time in the hospital and I was just obsessed with with the hospital and with the doctors and the nurses that took care of her. And so at seven years old, I was like, Alright, that's what I want to do. I want to be in the hospital, and I want to help patients like my little sister.

Brooke Smith 00:37
Hi, everyone. Thank you so much for joining our crafting all this podcast. On behalf of MDF Instruments. I would love to introduce you to Jackie. Hi, Jackie, how are you doing?

Jaclyn Darling 00:48
I'm doing good. Brooke, thank you so much for inviting me to join the podcast. I am a huge fan of MDF. I have been using your stethoscopes since nursing school, and have always been getting great comments. Oh, thank you so much for inviting me.

Brooke Smith 01:03
Oh, It is our pleasure. I'm so excited for everybody to get to know you because you have such a wealth of knowledge. Can you kind of just introduce yourself a little bit.

Jaclyn Darling 01:11
So my name is Jackie, I am a registered nurse from Chicago. I took kind of like a roundabout way of getting into nursing. But I always knew from a really young age that I wanted to get into healthcare. I wasn't exactly sure what that would look like. But I am a registered nurse. I now I teach. As a clinical nursing instructor, I teach bachelors students at a nursing school close to me in Chicago. And since the pandemic started, I also have been working as a community health nurse going out into the community to homeless shelters and long term care facilities, testing for COVID, basically, so I have been doing both of those things. And then I'm also back in school, I am getting my doctorate, my DNP. So that's Doctorate of nursing practice, to be a family nurse practitioner. So I have a huge passion for primary care and for social justice issues in relation to health. And so volunteer out in the community. So I am very active here in Chicago,

Brooke Smith 02:17
and healthcare community is so lucky to have you I was looking into kind of all of the things that you can you're involved in. And that was just like a quick highlight. And I would love to dive in a little bit more. To all of those things. Can you explain to everyone watching because a lot of our viewers might not know how they go about? Do they have to get a master's in nursing first in order to get a doctorate? Is that how that works? So did you get your already?

Jaclyn Darling 02:44
Yes, so that's a really good question. And as a nursing instructor, I explain this to my students all the time, especially the ones that are interested in going back to school. Nursing is very confusing, unlike the MD or pa route. And nursing has a ton of different ways that you can continue higher education and kind of move on. So to even just have an RN to have a nursing degree, you can have your BSN, a bachelor's degree, I believe you can still have an associate's degree as well, even though they are trying to encourage higher education with that. And then you can also have your master's. So I actually already have a Master's of Science in Nursing, because I kind of went, like I said, a roundabout way of getting into nursing, long story. But basically, I have a bachelor's degree in something else. And then, and then I went to get a master's degree after that, and a master's in nursing. So those are the three ways you can have your Rn licensing. After that if you want to be a recall, advanced practice registered nurse and aprn. You can go back and either get a master's degree or a doctorate degree. So you don't necessarily need a doctorate to practice as any sort of advanced practice nurse which includes midwives, certified nurse anesthetist, and nurse practitioners and clinical nurse specialists those before but you can either get a Master's or a doctorate degree, there's a lot of controversy on which people prefer Some people think that you know, why would you go get a doctorate if you just can spend less time and less money getting a Master's, but then on the doctoral side, you have people saying that, you know, one day we might be grant we might have to all be moved to have a doctorate if you want to be an advanced practice nurse. So you might as well do it now. And also with the doctorate You can also focus more research and do policy change, and all sorts of things like that. So there's kind of two camps on what people think about that. But yes, either you can get a masters or a doctorate to be advanced practice.

Brooke Smith 04:54
Wow, that is great information. Time Frame the same for the masters and doctorate, it's just what you're studying is different.

Jaclyn Darling 05:03
So the doctorate, it really depends on the program, which is another, it's really, it really just depends. But in general, the doctorate is a little bit longer, the biggest difference is that there's 300 extra hours that we have to do. But all of those 300 hours are almost completely research based. So we have to come up with, like a capstone or a doctoral project, we have to do all the research on the project, write a proposal, and then actually do the project and come up with everything for that. So those are, those are pretty much where those extra 300 hours go between the doctorate and the Masters.

Brooke Smith 05:43
Awesome. And then you were talking about policy, when you when you get your doctorate. Is that are you referring to things like by fighting for nurses to be able to have more safety as far as the numbers?

Jaclyn Darling 05:54
Absolutely. So it really also kind of depends on where your population focuses when when you get the doctorate. So if you if you continue education in acute care, I see you want to get acute care nurse practitioner or even just general nursing leadership, you could definitely work towards policies for safer patient ratios at the bedside, and, you know, better pay and different things for nurses in that acute setting. If you decide to go a different route, like if you want to do family practice as like a family nurse practitioner, you eventually could have an opportunity to do policy and resource for all sorts of things out in the community, from you know, food insecurity to violence in the community, to that to transportation, and and so many different things that affect health on a larger scale. So that's kind of where my more of my expertise is. Things like out in the community that really affects affects care.

Brooke Smith 06:55
Wow. Yeah. That's so interesting. Did you I know, you said that you study something else. You got your, your Bs and something else. Did you always know you said you kind of already knew you wanted to get into healthcare, you maybe just weren't sure. How can you tell us a little bit about this journey? And how you kind of got into it?

Jaclyn Darling 07:14
Sure. Sure. Sure. And, you know, I always like to start this when people ask me, I always like to start this story kind of going way back, because they kind of get it looking back. Now it really kind of makes a lot of sense. Like putting all the pieces together and kind of seeing how this journey evolved. And, and so I will start the story and say that when I was really young, my little sister was born with a congenital heart defect, called a PDA, it's somewhat common. in newborns, it's basically when you're one of your basically one of your valves doesn't close on its own like it's supposed to. So it's a somewhat common, but can be very scary congenital heart defect. And so when she was born with this, it at a young age, I think I was like seven or eight when she was born, it kind of got me introduced to doctors and nurses. And we spent a lot of time in the hospital. And I was just obsessed with with the hospital and with the doctors and the nurses that took care of her. And so at seven years old, I was like, Alright, that's what I want to do, I want to be I want to be in the hospital, and I want to help patients like my little sister. And so that's kind of how that started really early on. And I also grew up in a really interesting area in terms of the medical field. So I grew up in a neighborhood on the near West Side of Chicago that is considered the Medical District in that neighborhood is it's considered the Medical District because there's four major hospitals all within this one street block area. And so I grew up literally just right down the street from all of these hospitals. And growing up there, I always kind of I was just very curious and always kind of was wondering what was what was going on. And I a very young age was kind of exposed to the racial and economic health disparities that that existed within that community. And even though when I was young, I didn't understand what was going on. I always was really curious. And it's interesting because as I got older, in nursing school, we had to read a book by a doctor named David ancel. And in the book, he talks about that specific area and says that it's one street but two different worlds apart, right? Because you have on one side of the block on one side of the street. You have your private and academic owned hospitals where patients the only patients that can come is are you get a certain type of insurance and are very prestigious, incredible academic institutions and Then on the other side of the block, you have your public hospitals, you have your hospitals that that take anyone that take homeless patients that take uninsured patients that take undocumented patients. And so within these two hospitals, right, like same street, but they could not be more different in terms of who they care for, and the resources that are available. And so when I was young, we, you know, we would literally just walk around it, and you can tell right, even from just walking outside the hospitals, you can tell what's kind of going on inside. And I was always just really curious, why, why are there such differences, right? Like, why does one hospital have like flat screen TVs in a Starbucks in the lobby, and then the other hospital looks like the building's about to fall down. Right. It's, it was really interesting, was a really interesting place to grow up. And I think it exposed me to a lot at a really young age that looking back now kind of like sparked all this interest. So when I went to college, I was pretty sold that I wanted to go to medical school that I wanted to be a doctor. Back in college, I was also a very type a person, like very overachieving, you know, always had to be the MVP and get good grades. And it's funny now because I would never describe myself as any of those things. But when I was in college, I was also recruited to play ice hockey, I was an ice hockey player all growing up. And I was recruited to play division one hockey at University of Connecticut at UConn. And so I went to college, that was kind of the big focus that, you know, I really wanted to go and play, play my sport. I always did kind of, you know, I always did know that hockey wouldn't last forever, though. And I needed to have a career after so I was very ambitious. And I just was sold on medical school. So during undergrad I majored in physiology and neurobiology and kind of did the traditional pre med route. And then after I graduated, I applied to medical school. And I didn't get in, I didn't get in and I thought my grades were extremely competitive, especially, you know, trying to balance that with a division one sport and, but my the boards that you take to get into med school, the MCAT, I had a very mediocre score. And I knew that would kind of be my deciding point and getting it or not, so I kind of had this plan, okay, no big deal. I'm going to take your off, re study for these boards and then reapply to med school. And that's kind of the year that just changed everything for me. You know, I think get it not getting into med school was was really it was really difficult time looking back, I was really hard on myself and kind of had to evolve out of that, out of that, you know, idea that I had to be, you know, X, Y and Z in order to be, you know, be successful. And so I took some time off, I took two years. It ended up actually being two years before I decided to go back to school. But I started working in a clinical research lab at a place that's now called the Shirley Ryan ability lab. It used to be called the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, Ric, and it is one of it is the top research Rehabilitation Hospital in the country. I think it's been named number one since like 1991. And so as you do when you have a degree in science, after college, I started working in clinical research. And this first year out of college, it was really my first time getting out and really truly seeing what the different roles look like in the hospital. It was a very innovative place to be. They had clinicians, so doctors, nurses, nurse practitioners, and researchers, scientists all kind of working together and putting their research into real time. So it was a really incredible place to learn. And I for the first time was really explode exposed to nurses and to nurse practitioners and I saw how their care was so holistic and so patient focused that I just knew I just had this, this gut feeling that that was much more of the right path for me like it working with the nurse practitioners that really kind of it. I felt it on a soul level. I'm like, you know what, I think that this is what I'm supposed to be doing there. There was a reason why I didn't get in to medical school. And so after that first year, I decided that I didn't want to apply retry to reapply, I was sold on nursing. And so I went back to get a master's degree they they have a lot of these programs now. But it was a generalist entry master's program. So it was for everybody that already had a bachelor's degree in something else, and then wanted to go in to nursing. And so it was a two and a half year program to get into nursing and, and really Yes, you know, my experience working in clinical research, it just completely changed my perspective on on healthcare. And it really ignited this, this fire to start pursuing community health and public health. And I learned so much, and I was so grateful to see so many diverse patients. And it really kind of got me on the track of understanding health disparities even further, because we were a research lab at what at the top rehab hospital in the country. So we would attract people literally from all over the world to come to our study, to do our, to do our research. And so we would have these, you know, people, you know, everyone from a tenured PhD professor from Northwestern, to, to on the other end of the spectrum, we also did not require our patients to have insurance, so we would get homeless patients, we would get veterans, we would get people that, that had no other options for any sort of health care or therapy. So I'm really starting to see like the full spectrum of what of what health care could look like. Just

Brooke Smith 16:31
hearing your story, it makes me emotional, because just, you had such a unique perspective, so early on, just living where you lived, being able to see it and also being, you know, kids, when you're young, you don't have any sort of like filters happening. So you're really taking things in and seeing them completely real in a way that as we get into adults, we kind of skew our opinions and, and make justifications for why things are the way they are. But when you're seeing something through a child's eyes, and seeing like, why I don't understand this is the same street This is the same, so close to each other. Why? Why do we have one side that's not as equipped. And then we have this amazing side over here, like, Where's the balance. And I think having that experience so young, and with your sister and her congenital heart disease. And as your journey kind of progressed, and not getting into medical school, right away, and then deciding, I'm going to take, I'm going to study and I'm going to go back and then finding this job that kind of feels very destined for you. And I can, I know a lot of people watching, they can get discouraged when things don't happen. But I think the big lesson here is to know that things don't work out for a reason sometimes, and you might not see like the big picture. And in the moment you have to you have to grow through the growing pain of of the rejection or the hardship. Or sometimes it's just the setback. And knowing that it's just going to propel you forward into something amazing. Even if it's two years, three years, five years down the line, you don't know but everything you do today is going to affect that future you. And I just think it's a really beautiful story of how you kind of fell into this and where your heart is, I would love to hear a little bit about you said at that job, it kind of really ignited something in you with community health care. And can you talk a little bit more about what that was, and how that ignited in you and what you saw and just how you wanted to change it or how you wanted to help it or how you wanted to fight for it?

Jaclyn Darling 18:43
Definitely. And yeah, I completely agree with what you just brought up about kind of trusting your path. And I, I never really understood that expression before, and getting rejected for medical school. At the time, it felt like my world was just crumbling, like it felt it was probably one of the hardest things that I went through. And I'm sure a lot of people can relate to, you know, when you get rejected and you don't feel like it was enough and kind of coming out of the end of it and realizing that, you know, I have certain skills and a certain outlook and a certain perspective that is much better suited for a different role in healthcare and just kind of trusting that you have your specific set of skills, right, your strengths, that that are meant for a specific path. And I really do think you know that taking time to learn more about yourself and trusting that trusting that journey, you know, not to sound cliche, but trusting that journey that that you will find the right path that you're supposed to be on. But yeah, to talk a little bit more about my experiences at the rehab Institute. It really you know, I To this day, I I remember specific patients like I remember their names, I remember their faces, I remember their life stories. And we had a few patients, I remember one particular that was struggling to, to maintain his high blood pressure is struggling to maintain his diabetes to the point where he started experiencing neuropathy, which is really common in people that have uncontrolled diabetes, and this patient was had very unstable housing, you know, as a research lab, we would try to, you know, we would have to call patients like follow up with them. And his phone number would change every few weeks, because he was always, you know, his phone would go out of service, or he couldn't pay for his phone bill, or, you know, he was changing housing use changing the different shelters that he was staying at. And so when he would come in, you know, he had no form of health of healthcare, zero, no doctor, no primary care, no specialist, no nothing. And so he would come in, and over the years, you know, we would start treating him, like we were everything, like we were his primary care doctor, like I was, as a nurse, like I was his PT is ot is everything. And, you know, starting to see these these common trends right in, in patients that don't have access in patients that don't have access to health care, that don't have access to save transportation that live in neighborhoods where violence and gun violence specifically in Chicago is, is so severe that it affects their, their, their emotions, their you know, it gives them depression and anxiety, PTSD. And you see these trends, and they are so so common, you know, to the point where we would have people that would come in with, with diabetic ulcers, because their their, their diabetes was so uncontrolled. And why was it uncontrolled? Right? Like, that was always my question. Well, why? Why is it uncontrolled? Like, what's the problem here? Well, maybe the problem is that they can't afford their insulin, maybe the problem is that they don't have access to a nutritionist, right? Maybe the problem is, even if they had access to a nutritionist, do they have access to healthy food? Is it close enough for them to stop and get groceries? Do they have the means to pay for organic? And you know, fresh Whole Foods? Or do they live in a food desert where they need to drive to get any sort of healthy food? And why would they do that when they have five different quick marks, you know, right around their house where they can stop and get in, you know, chips and soda for a few bucks, right? And so, I really want to start kind of going down this rabbit hole, there's like no coming back, you start seeing all these problems, and you start realizing it's not the patient's right, it's not that this patient wants to have uncontrolled diabetes, to the point where they can't care for themselves to the point where they are developing these foot ulcers, it's because of all of these barriers that exist in the system, that are preventing them from getting the care that they deserve, or preventing them from getting the education to understand how the insulin is related to their their control of blood sugar, right. And so we would see this with with not just diabetes, that's just you know, that's just the easy example. You know, the same thing with blood pressure. And, you know, I started to kind of put all these pieces together. And that's kind of where Yeah, where I really started to think, big picture at these problems. What are the barriers to care? And also, you know, what are the bigger issues going on here? Because there's no denying, you know, in urban cities, not just Chicago, but across the country, and how racism and structural violence is affecting people's access to health care. And it Yeah, I am really grateful that I have those experiences, because it definitely projected to where I am today.

Brooke Smith 24:20
Yeah, and I think you you hit on so many amazing points. And, you know, we do a lot of stuff with blood pressure work. And there's this charity that we, every year we go and on skid row of the homeless, there's this big fair that happens. And it's only once a year and we're, you know, they're trying to make it more, but we just, you know, we take their blood pressure and it's just this thing that you can tell people don't want to be sick people don't want to feel bad. You know, they want help. They just don't know sometimes they don't have the information like or they don't even realize that something they're doing that they think is good for them. After learning like actually it has a lot of salt and it has a little sugar in it. It's not that good for you. They're just trying to do the right thing the best that they can, they don't have access to, you know, Whole Foods and all that they just have to get what they can at the 711 and trying to make the best choices that they can. But I think you hit on a really good point there and that you have a huge passion for healthy food. And I know you have a blog about that is that you find your passion a little bit through this with with healthy food,

Jaclyn Darling 25:25
and your blog. Yes, definitely, you know, my blog really started from a place where I needed a creative outlet. You know, in medicine, in any form of healthcare we are, it's sometimes it feels really limiting, when, you know, if you are a creative or artistic person, and you're really limiting and I have always been, you know, I've always had always thought about starting a blog and, and as I, you know, kind of started going through this healthcare journey, I realized that I needed some form of outlet to not just express myself creatively, but to kind of process everything that was going on, and also to kind of start these conversations. Right. And, and yeah, you know, for me, I, you know, have had my own journey with with food and you know, with quote, unquote, what's what's healthy versus what, what's not healthy. And it really did just just start to question, you know, what is going on, again, with the bigger picture in terms of food availability, and food access, and it's something that I am extremely passionate about. And in Chicago, like, again, most major cities in the US, we have such discrepancies, right? Like, you could be in one part of Chicago and see three different Whole Foods, it within a few miles, you go, you go south, or you go west, and you can't find a decent grocery store in miles. So did appreciate to use the blog to kind of start talking about these topics. I think when I first started, I was a little scared, I'm not going to lie about about talking about anything political, or talking about anything that was charged in a certain way. So in the beginning, I kind of kept things very, very light and very fluffy, like, you know, clean beauty and, you know, sustainability tricks. But, but now that I you know, I've kind of continued on in my career and my education and, and, and definitely, with the political climate right now, I think it's now more than ever, that we kind of have to use whatever platforms that we have, or that we can try to build, to, to talk about these things and to advocate and to bring awareness to these to these issues. Yeah, and you have a

Brooke Smith 27:46
unique perspective, you've studied so much, you know, a lot more than the average person when it comes to what is healthy, and all of the things that you've seen and all of the research, that you're in a great position to be able to offer that advice. And for people to say, Oh, I can trust her, I can trust what she's saying. And maybe she can help guide me in a way that I can live my life a little healthier, and maybe feel better. Because that's the goal. We want everybody to be healthy, and everybody should have access to health care, and should not be able to afford their medicine so that they have to be sick all the time. I mean, some of the medication is, you know, $1,000 a month, like who can afford that. We really have to do better for each other. And I think talking about it and having the conversation is is the only way to change it. Right? I completely agree. I would love to talk a little bit about I know that you lead a volunteer medical team for the nonprofit. I grow Chicago. Could you talk a little bit about that?

Jaclyn Darling 28:54
Yes, definitely. This is such a topic that I love talking about and it it really warms my heart and so I grew up Chicago is a nonprofit organization based in Englewood, which is a Southside community here in Chicago. Inglewood you know, I there is a notorious statistic that has been circulating the urban Chicago for a while and it's that the life expectancy from Englewood to streeterville, which is streeterville is a you know, very affluent, very nice neighborhood. Just north just north Chicago, that north of downtown. There's a 30 year gap in life expectancy between treater Ville and Englewood. So a 20 minute commute really a 30 year life expectancy difference which is just unfathomable, right. It's just you hear that you're like how there's no way that this is possible. There's no way so I was I got involved with igrow actually when I was in nursing school during my time Community Health rotation they asked us to our community health rotation in nursing school is always kind of an interesting thing to talk to nursing students about. Because your your rotations in nursing school in the hospital are very straightforward, right? Like you go to the unit, you go to the cardiac unit, you go to med surg unit, you learn how to put an IV is you learn how to take vitals, you learn how to draw blood, you learn how to do medications, all those things, very straightforward. Your Community Health rotation, however, it really is just kind of, it really depends on the program. And it's just really up in the air. And so for us, they we had a variety of experiences that I was really grateful for in nursing school, but one of them was to kind of just find organizations out in the community that were that were helping, you know, different nonprofits, or just different community based organizations that were trying to make a difference and to volunteer with them and go out there. And that was part of our nursing school clinical hours, we would literally just get hours for going and volunteering with these organizations. And so way back when, you know, when I was in nursing school, I started volunteering with aigrow. And I ended up taking a few years off, because my husband and I have moved around quite a bit. But when we came back to Chicago, I started volunteering back up with them again. And Originally, it was really fun, we were having these open hours, we would call them open hours with Nurse Jackie. But we would have open hours with Nurse Jackie. And we would have we would have neighbors in our in the Englewood communities come and stop by at the peace house we call the peace house. The mission of aigrow is to really get to the root causes of violence and in and trauma in these neighborhoods that experience a lot of that are marginalized, that experience a lot of structural violence, that experience a lot, you know, have a lack of resources. So I grew up there, we have a piece house where community members can come and we run all their programming out of the peace house. And so we I would have patients come in just for like a few hours a day, I would sit there I'd bring my blood pressure cuff, I would bring some handouts that I thought would be helpful. And I would just sit there and I'd have different different people just walk in, I would check their blood pressures, if that's what they needed, I would refer them to different healthcare resources, I would help them with their insurance questions, I would go through their medications and make sure that they knew how to take all their medications, it really, it really just kind of would depend. But then when the pandemic hit, you know, everything kind of changed. And all of a sudden, I couldn't go to the peace house to see patients anymore. And so we kind of had to go back to the drawing board, you know, how can we support our community, remotely. And so I ended up getting a list of about it started at about 100 families that were in our community that needed needed to be trapped on right like even within our within our igrow community. I'm not I don't quote me on the statistic, but I think it's up to 50% of our community did not have does not have internet access. So during a pandemic, when the regulations are changing, every single day, it seems like our community members weren't able to get work didn't have access to the most up to date information. And especially in the beginning, no one knew anything that was going on, right? Like, what what are the symptoms? What do we do if we're experiencing symptoms? How do we get tested, there were so many things up in the air. And so in the beginning, I started doing this myself or I would call up to 100 families every week to just check in and say, How are you guys doing? You know, what's going on is anyone having X, Y and Z symptoms? If they were then we would kind of you know, go from there. But in the beginning, I was checking in, you know, into all with all these families doing these wellness checks. And over some time, you know, it really gained a lot of traction. And then we started having more families that needed to be contacted. And so I was able to get in touch, I was able to recruit we'll say 10 nurses, 10 other nurses in the community in Chicago. And now we have a team of 10 Yes, there's 10 of us that we all make these calls to over 160 families, and we check in on all of their health needs. And we also check a check in on resources. So the do the families need any extra food or water or toilet paper or medications and we really just kind of troubleshoot and go from there. But it's been it's been extremely challenging. You know, for in this community, it's been they've been hit exceptionally hard by COVID. You know, I think some people, some people now, you know, like, we'll even say my group of friends and family, you know, I only know maybe a few people that have gotten COVID. Whereas I talked to these community members, and they've not only know, a dozen people that have have had COVID, but they've lost a few loved ones to COVID. And so it has been extremely humbling. And I'm grateful that you know, that I have my fellow nurses to help with the calls, then I know how, how needed it is with the community, but but it has been exceptionally hard. You know,

Brooke Smith 35:44
I can only imagine that that is, that's really, really incredible of you guys to band together. And it just goes to show you that through adversity, we all kind of stick together and what we can accomplish. And it may not seem like a lot, but it is it's like to that one person, you're making a huge difference. And then you started as one person and now you have 10, and then who knows how much that will grow. And you're changing lives, and just showing up and showing people that you you care and that you're there for them and offering Helping Hands on I think during the times like these that we're in, it's, it's just goes back to the humanity of things and shows you what really matters in life. And I think thank you so much for for doing that. Is that part of the COVID-19 testing project? Is that or is that different?

Jaclyn Darling 36:37
So that's actually diff completely different. Those are two Yes, but But no, it is there are a lot of similarities. So it is confusing, but that is a completely different project. Again, I just kind of started volunteering with igrow long ago. And then once the pandemic, you know, then once the pandemic hit, I know we really had to kind of step up to meet the needs of the community. But

Brooke Smith 37:01
okay, well, yeah, you're doing so many incredible things. It's hard to keep track. So there's also

Jaclyn Darling 37:06
I can't keep track myself, I know I have a lot of highlighters that keep everything organized my planner

Brooke Smith 37:15
that you'd like to share for anyone who's maybe in your area, or anyone who's far away, anything that we can do, we'll definitely link any information below if people want to donate donate supplies or anything like that you have.

Jaclyn Darling 37:31
Absolutely, if if you want to just check out aigrow either on their website, or I can send you social media links. If you are in a place where you can donate, that would be incredible. We are also accepting donations for all sorts of goods, we're supporting a lot of families that are managing having all their kids at home right now as well. You know, usually in these communities where the kids will go to school, and they'll be able to get lunch and they'll be able to get breakfast. You know, now that's not really the case. The Chicago the Chicago Public Schools are there we're closed here with with COVID. So, so we are accepting a lot of different resources and a lot of different school supplies to kind of help the kids get back to school. Great. We'll

Brooke Smith 38:15
definitely put all that information down in this video. So you guys can click and check it out. And please donate if you can. If you can't donate, please share it so that maybe someone will see it that can donate. And let's get let's get this going so we can help more people. I love that. I know I have a want to switch gears a little bit because I know that you do so many incredible things. Looking back so much. So I want to know, what does Jackie do to kind of get back to herself.

Jaclyn Darling 38:44
I'm so glad you brought this up because I am an absolute self care advocate. And as a nursing instructor, I try to tell this to my students all the time, start getting into your self care practices now, because once you're a nurse and once you're out there in the healthcare world, it is not going to get any easier, right? You have to kind of come up with these practices to support yourself now. And you know, I'm not gonna lie when when COVID hit I, I went through a really tough time, mentally and emotionally as as everyone did, you know, especially healthcare workers who you know, we were put in this position where you had to make hard decisions about you know, staying at work and potentially giving yourself putting yourself at a higher risk of exposure, not just for yourself, but for your loved ones for you know, for your husband or your wife or your kids. And so, when COVID happened, I experienced an amount of anxiety I have I have never felt before I was having panic attacks. I was constantly on edge I was you know, people say like fighter Flight that you either fight or flight in these stressful situations, I feel like I just completely froze in the beginning where I just felt like, I had no idea what to do, I just kind of wanted to crawl up into my shell and just fall asleep until the pandemic was over. And, you know, I immediately found a therapist, and I must, you know, I'm a huge, huge advocate for if you can find someone to talk to, especially during these times, I see I've been talking to my therapist weekly since the pandemic has started, and it has exceptionally helped my anxiety and you know, the bouts of depression that I think are extremely normal to happen right now. And so besides that, I have so many self care practices, I think it's really nice. I like to describe it as like a toolbox, where I just feel like I have my certain practices, and I know that they're there. And when I need to use them, I use them. The biggest one, I would say, that has been extremely helpful during this like crazy, crazy time, is I have my morning and nighttime rituals that just never change. So every morning and every night, no matter what's going on, no matter if I'm going to teach No matter if I'm going to swab. No matter if I'm you know, sitting in my office doing homework, I have the same morning routine that I stick to it, it's usually just you know, a hot cup of water and lemon that I go sit on outside and try to get into the sun. And then I do you know, a quick meditation, and then that's it. And then at night, same kind of thing I have like my hour, it's nighttime, it's usually a bit longer. It's like I have an hour where no matter what I will say I love you to my husband. And I will say I love you. But I'm going upstairs to do my little nighttime routine, where I you know, make myself a nice latte and I put on some calming music, and I do a quick little meditation and do like my luxurious skincare routine. And that's kind of what I come back to every single day, I do truly believe that there is something about finding consistency in your routines. When the world seems like nothing is consistent when the world is constantly changing. You know, it's the smallest tiny little things that if you can keep coming back to your rituals and your routines, I find that so incredibly helpful, is one.

Brooke Smith 42:33
It's wonderful advice, because, you know, life is gonna always do this, and especially now in a global pandemic. And there's so much chaos everywhere. It's really important that you know, like, you personally know what you need. If you really sit down and reflect with yourself, you know, you know what I need, I need to take you know, an hour to myself, I need to journal, I need to meditate, I need to take a bath, I need to go for a run, I need to there's a million things that you could do. But I think if you really self reflect and sit, your heart, your spirit, your body will tell you what you need if you just listen and take the time for yourself, because we can get caught up so much. And I have to do this I have to that I don't have time I have to study I have this I have this person is relying on me. You know, but you but you're no good to anyone else. If you don't refill your own cup, and give back to yourself and you have to make the time for it. You have to. It's good. I think it's also great advice to say that you set you set that habit up as early as you can. So that habit of saying I put myself I put myself on the list of priorities every single day, no matter what I make the list, I make the cut always and starting as early as possible so that you when things do get more chaotic and you do get busier in life as as things go on, you will only get probably more busy. It's great, because you'll have that habit already implemented into your life.

Jaclyn Darling 43:58
Absolutely. Yeah, I completely agree. And I think the biggest takeaway from this whole pandemic, in terms of you know, self, if you want to call it self care, is to also just not not being so hard on myself. You know, I think before I used to get really hard on myself if I didn't, you know, cook five nights out of the week, or if I didn't work out a certain amount of days of the week and since the pandemics happen I've really just tried to let a lot of that go honestly and you know, like with exercise I know I feel better when I exercise as most people do but right now it's just been it's there's days where it seems really tough to get those workouts in and so I'm kind of at a point now where you know, I'll go for a walk I'll just say you know what, if I can at least just try to go for a walk even if it's just 10 minutes, then I'm good with that. Right? I don't need to be doing you know these crazy at home workouts. I don't need to be doing you know riding the bike at home. It's It's okay, right? It's okay, we're all struggling right now just to kind of get by. And so if you can't find the motivation to work out or to cook every single night or you know, journal for an hour, start a new meditation practices like start small, right? Find like the one little thing that you want to try to do, and focus on that.

Brooke Smith 45:24
Be kind to yourself and take the pressure off. He was hard enough and people, you know, we go through hard enough things. We don't need to do that to ourselves. We need to love ourselves and accept ourselves and, and just come out, you know, if you wouldn't, if you wouldn't say to your best friend, don't say to yourself, you know, where, you know, like, that's all I could do today. And that was more than enough because it was great. Or you know what, I couldn't do that today. And that's okay, too. Because we all just have to love ourselves more, as well. Yeah, you said thank you so much for joining our crafting on this podcast today. It's been such a pleasure having you. We're gonna link everything in this video that so you guys can find her. I know that she is a huge advocate for you guys, a clinical nursing instructor. I'm sure she would love to answer questions. She has great advice on how to stay healthy. And we also in the body, mind and spirit. So please, please go follow her and check it out.

Jaclyn Darling 46:27
Thank you so much, Brooke. It was so nice to chat. And yes, I hope you take care of yourself as well. 


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