Are You Flutterbying?

Posted on November 2nd, 2013 by Vidette Todaro-Franceschi

I often say (and write) that “compassion provokes purposeful action.” When we care about other people (or I might add, other living things), when we feel love for them, it compels us to do things right-to follow the Golden Rule-to do unto others as we would have them do unto us. When we are able to put ourselves in another person’s place-whether good or bad, happy or sad, we acknowledge their humanness and our inextricable connectedness.

For many years I have used physicist David Bohm’s words at the end of my email signature: “To see that everybody not merely depends on everybody, but actually everybody is everybody in a deeper sense.” His words resonated with the findings of my philosophic work into the enigma of energy. It is all essentially one. The notions of butterfly effect, and what physicists Briggs and Peat refer to as butterfly power, combined with ideas of love and compassion congeal to form an ethic of care that takes us beyond ourselves to acknowledge the larger whole. That everything we do is not just reflected in the whole-it is the whole.

As I sat here working on an upcoming keynote, I remembered someone in the audience coming up to me after I presented my opening talk on Reawakening the Passion for Caring at the Barnabas Hospice and Palliative Care conference in New Jersey. She said that I needed to take my talk to the Tea Party and her comment got me thinking. My talk that day wasn’t just applicable to those working in nursing, medicine, social work, psychology, chaplaincy, and education. It was also applicable to every other human endeavor that contributes to the whole-and that of course includes the politicians. We all need to be cognizant of how our actions transform the one; we must continually remind ourselves.

Perhaps we need a word that will not only denote the subtle influences that can make or break our world (the butterfly effects) but one that could serve to remind us of the purposeful acts that we need to strive to do as we go about our day-to-day living and working. Something that represents and reminds us of the meaning and purpose in our lives and work. Something that gets at our individual and collective butterfly power.

The word that came to mind is of course related to butterflies: FLUTTERBYING. The term “flutterbye” is noted to be a childish way of saying butterfly-but we all know that children are very smart little people! Butterflies flutter and float, right? Since butterflies do flutter by, the word “flutterbye” doesn’t seem to be very childish to me. I think with the ‘ing’ it nicely denotes purposeful action and I plan on using it. My definition of flutterbying (for the time being, anyway) is: enhancing and transforming the quality of living-dying for all—through mindful awareness of our butterfly power and its effects.

Life is a gift, and an enormous responsibility. Every single thing we do transforms the one and our mindful awareness of this should provoke all of us to do whatever it is that we do, well; to meaningfully, purposefully and passionately participate in our wholeness-oneness…we can strive to do it with our flutterbying.

2 Responses to “Are You Flutterbying?”

BruceNovember 9th, 2013 at 9:06 pm

For disclosures sake, I have to first say that I am currently a student of Dr. Todarro-Franceschi’s, and happily so. The issues that consume and focus her considerable passion stem from a genuine response to a current undeniable need stemming a lack of focus on the quality of life for the terminal patient (and we are all potentially terminal patients) within our healthcare system.
As healthcare professionals, our consuming emphasis on technological based care coupled with the social and political constraints of the institutions and cultures in which we find ourselves practicing can corrupt the (hopefully) purer aspects that influenced our entering into the health care profession to begin with.
These disparities involve the complicated and conflicting processes arising from individual patient centered care versus institutional solvency as well as ineffective teamwork that fosters rather than dissipates burnout, among others.
How can we maintain an individualized holistic approach when the norm has been otherwise for so long and when financial constraints seem to be to be pushing us even further away from individualized patient care regardless of statistical evidenced based practice?
These are heady issues indeed and ones that require further discussion and shared common approach to problem solving. The political and economic disparities that seem to divide and polarize our country, as Dr. Todaro-Franceschi has articulated so beautifully in our classes, can be influenced in a very positive way by harkening back to the core ethos that has driven the healing arts and sciences from the very beginning. This ethos is grounded in predominantly humanistic concerns that include altruism, beneficence, and nonmaleficence.
How do we keep our focus on these fundamentals and above the concerns of politics and profitability that can undermine our ability as effective practitioners?
The answer must lie in a collective and team based approach to patient centered care. This has become a catch phrase, of late, unfortunately. Personally I, with a fresh set of 57 year old eyes new to inpatient care, have see all strata of the spectrum of health care workers both fall short and exceed in their approach and success with patient outcomes and particularly from a holistic (meaning whole patient) perspective.
Always these successes are the result of collaboration, teamwork, openness to all possible positive and concerned perspectives, and involvement from all members of the health care team, particularly when all members are able to focus, as one, on the individual patients ever-evolving prognosis. We need to foster team communication, including patient and family members as part of that team, so that everyone can be on the same page whenever possible. Of course, with a more common focus that is shared by all members of the team responsible for an individual patient’s outcome, it only makes sense that these approaches would achieve better individual outcomes.

Vidette Todaro-FranceschiNovember 14th, 2013 at 12:09 pm

Thank you Bruce, for your thoughtful reflection. Collaboration and teamwork entails having everyone on the same page–being mindfully aware of their collective purpose. In healthcare, if we (individually and collectively) do not lose sight of our purpose, which is to enhance the quality of living-dying for patients and their loved ones, it makes our choices that much easier, I think. With compassion and competence, we will strive to do what is best for those entrusted to our care. And that will result in a win-win for all.

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