Paulina Van: Lyrical Poetry/Regalos

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Live and Love Again

A “Caritas Coach® is defined as a knowledgeable, experienced, reflective health care professional, who is prepared and committed to personally and professionally practice and model intelligent heart-centered approaches to health care by translating and sustaining the ethic, philosophy, theory, and practice of the Science of Human Caring into our systems and society.” (1)  Here, I give you a glimpse of how Caritas Coach® education experiences were an element that transformed me into being and becoming a giver of gifts for you and myself.

“I get to live and love again” is the last line of my first lyrical poem. That writing experience opened the flood gates of self-love, self-care, self-acceptance, and ultimately healing. I pondered an explanation for my transcendence: Was it the voice of the traumatized child within me? Was it the focus on self-love and self-care during my Caritas Coach® education journey or the promptings from my instructor to get out of my head and into my heart? Was it my daily meditation and gratitude journaling? Was it the love and caring from my new husband? Was it my brief guided expressive writing experience during a workshop with young African American female entrepreneurs? Was it my longing for a happy, healthy life? Was it the desire to be free of the constant fear (a reality from my childhood) of being hungry again? Was it the voices of those who passed on before me, letting me know of the hope and joy I could embrace? Was it the power of my Creator making His presence immutable?

I believe it was a little of each life experience which led to my expanded consciousness and the creation of over 100 healing narratives that took on the form of lyrical poetry. A loved one’s response to my writings was that ‘they were given to me and now I must give it to the world.’ These words led me to entitle my lyrical poems regalos—the Spanish translation of gifts. These regalos represent my Hispanic heritage and describe the channeling, downloads, nonconscious states during which these regalos immerged from within me. Each regalo reflects a unique glimpse of my life story. Each emits the power and energy of love, kindness, compassion, acceptance, self-love, self-care, resilience, forgiveness and is inspiring, transformative, centering, and calming.

A recent chat with Dr. Chinn gave me the courage and platform to share what I believe may potentiate your healing as it has mine. How might you use each of these regalos? Perhaps as a morning or nighttime readings or devotions, meditation/mindfulness focus, an afternoon reading to refocus, relax, reenergize, or as a centering guide before an individual or group session with colleagues or students.

This collection of regalos will be available in a book scheduled for publication later in 2021.

With my open, loving heart, I share two of my regalos. I look forward to your comments as you experience your journey with them.

“Touched”

I was touched
While teaching about death
I was touched
And had to take a breath
I was touched
By students vulnerability
I was touched
With their sensitivity
I was touched
And paid attention
I was touched
And made mention
I was touched
Their faces told it all
I was touched
Their words made me bawl
I was touched
Experiencing their transformation
I was touched
By their transcendence and formation
I was touched
Having entrée into the depths of their
Thoughts and feelings
I was touched
My students gave their lives new meanings.

©2021 Paulina Van

“Happy Today”

I’m happy today
I made myself sleep in
I’m happy today
There’s a sense of calm within
I’m happy today
Smiling, just because
I’m happy today
And living life with gusto and applause
I’m happy today
Facing unexpected opportunity
I’m happy today
Embracing my immense ingenuity
I’m happy today
Burdens are lifting
I’m happy today
No more weightlifting
I’m happy today
Reflecting on my vow
I’m happy today
In the here and now.

© 2021 Paulina Van

About the scholar/artist

Paulina Van, PhD, RN, CNE

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Paulina Van

Dr. Paulina Van entered academia after spending over twenty years in various executive-level positions in acute care, home care, and public health. She has held faculty or administrative positions in the Schools of Nursing at Samuel Merritt University (current), the University of San Francisco, the University of California, San Francisco, and California State University, East Bay (CSUEB) teaching at the doctoral, masters, and baccalaureate levels. In 2014 she retired as Professor and Chair of the Department of Nursing and Health Sciences at CSUEB and is currently working as a professor and researcher at Samuel Merritt University. 

Dr. Van graduated with a Baccalaureate degree in Nursing from the University of San Francisco. She earned a Master’s degree in Nursing Administration, a Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing degree and a Postdoctoral Fellowship from the University of California, San Francisco. She has also earned the designation Certified Nurse Educator (CNE) from the National League for Nursing. Dr. Van holds five additional distinguished certifications: Certified Instructor, Online Teaching & Learning (California State University, East Bay), Certified Mediator (The Center for Narrative and Discursive Practice), Reiki Master, HeartMath® Certified Trainer (HeartMath Institute), and Caritas® Coach (Watson Caring Science Institute).

Dr. Van chaired twelve DNP Project Committees between 2015-2020. She continues to support DNP students in this role as well as teach various DNP theory courses. Dr. Van also teaches in nursing pre licensure programs.  Her course load has included theory courses in research, leadership, introduction to nursing, and death and dying and clinical courses in community/mental health and senior synthesis/capstone. In her quest to continue to bring the latest technological advances to student learning activities, she constructed [supported by instructional designers] various multimedia projects using interactive visuals and quality audio. These learning objects were incorporated into selected graduate or undergraduate nursing research, education innovation, leadership, and general education courses.

Dr. Van is passionate about her program of research, which began in 1996 and is focused on the wide range of issues concerning women and pregnancy loss. This passion began with a focus on African American women and has extended to diverse women in the US and internationally in Mexico and Spain. Besides publications and presentations, a significant contribution to practice has been her development and dissemination of an emerging theoretical Model of Coping after Pregnancy Loss for Diverse Women. She has presented papers on these topics in the United States Canada, Columbia, Egypt, England, Greece, Italy, Mexico, and Thailand to multidisciplinary audiences of health care professionals. Dr. Van earned research funding awards from various organizations, including the National Institute of Health, National Institute of Nursing Research, Johnsons & Johnson, Sigma Theta Tau, University of California, San Francisco.

Beginning in 2014, Dr. Van introduced meditation and mindfulness activities to nursing students during on-ground class sessions to positively influence their learning experiences and overall academic performance. The results were so powerful that in 2017 she created online modules to provide similar experiences to doctoral students. The results of her initial work were recently published, and results from the online project are being developed for publication. Dr. Van’s most recent grant award is for the HRSA, Nursing Education Opportunity Program, Nursing Workforce Diversity Program (#1 D19HP31820-01-00). This 3- year grant award ($1,500,000.00)  provides for the recruitment, retention, and graduation of African American and Latino nursing students to enhance the number of registered nurses available to work in the diverse San Francisco/Bay Area communities. The various interventions are evidence-based and delivered by a diverse team of interdisciplinary professionals.

  1. Brewer, B. B., Anderson, J., & Watson, J. (2020). Evaluating Changes in Caring Behaviors of Caritas Coaches Pre and Post the Caritas Coach Education Program. The Journal of nursing administration50(2), 85–89. https://doi.org/10.1097/NNA.0000000000000846