I truly love the part of my job that allows me to be in class with nursing students. Watching them have an ‘ah-ha’ moment is both rewarding and encouraging…since they may be my care provider at some point in the future. I’m beginning to realize, however, how I need to rewrite some of my assessments as I consider the age group of my students. One question regarding ‘concrete thinking’ that used the cliche’ “a rolling stone gathers no moss” led to looThe Rolks of confusion on many students faces. Several students approached me during the test – they had never heard the saying before. I believe the closest thing to a cliché they may be aware of is “There’s an app for that!”

I thought about some of the clichés that I’ve grown up with. Did they add anything to my life? I tell the students to never use cliche’s with patients – they can be dismissive and don’t lend anything to truly trying to understand another’s pain. That aside, however, common sayings must have come from somewhere – my assumption is from someone trying to figure out their life. When I started reviewing some from memory, I did find some truths in relation to my own experience.

Into each life, some rain must fall… 

What would my life have been without some rain?  While I wish I could say that I was the picture of perseverance during every downpour, I do think that ‘rain’ along with age taught me resilience. I grew up in a broken home, lost my beloved grandparents in my early 20’s, had a marriage end in divorce, spent five years as a single-parent on welfare, and lost my mother in her early 60’s.  Each of those periods brought emotions ranging from a light summer sprinkle to a tornado rivaling Dorothy’s trip to Oz.  Each rainstorm, however, drove me closer to the optimism that comes from knowing the truth from my next cliche’…

This too shall pass…

Because it does…or it will…even though it’s passing may lead us to another bought of rain or the end of something that we are desperately trying to hang on to. Having my mother with me towards the end of her life was difficult. She had survived multiple strokes, and could not communicate due to her aphasia.  Her vision had suffered and my kids had not grown up with her, as I did with my grandparents. It was more like having four kids in the house. This time did pass – but due to her final stroke leaving her incapacitated and brain dead just as we thought she would be moving back to Texas.  This difficult time did teach me that sometimes we want the end to the difficulty without realizing the many forms that can come in.

Actions speak louder than words

I have had many moments of saying the right thing and following with the right actions. I have also had moments of saying the right thing, only to follow with actions that betrayed my words and showed my listener my lack of sincerity. I teach my students that your patients don’t remember how well you hung up the IV bag; they remember how you made them feel…but you still have to hang the IV bag correctly. I hope that more times than not my words and actions are congruent (ahhh..another vocab word for my students!) I hope that my words speak the overflow from my heart and that my actions are quick to follow. This…I will spend a lifetime perfecting as my heart has times when it’s focused more on looking good than acting good.

The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence

The rampant use of social media to document our highlight reel seems to be making this saying believable for many. My best friend taught me a better version of this one, however.  The grass is always greener…where you water it. I have learned that the grass that looks greener typically is not…it’s just astroturf! Everyone has ups and downs-we are just not privy to them. I think I’ll stick to watering my grass, enjoying my life and not envying what I don’t have all the details on!


When the going gets tough, the tough get going

This could be followed with “if you need something done, give it to a busy person.” If you’re the busy person, you have a love/hate relationship with this adage. Admit it…we secretly love being the one that can swoop in and save the day. I am finding however that this doesn’t always mix well with my peri-menopausal mood flares. My last swoop was followed with a few tough words to my boss who knew better than to remind me that I agreed to be the swooper. He’s a good man and obviously married since his wife has trained him on when to engage and when to have astounding amounts of grace. I’ll have to thank her someday.

Laughter is the best medicine

Always…it won’t cure cancer or delay dementia but it has an amazing ability to help us through the tough times. Erma Bombeck stated, “there is a thin line between laughter and pain, comedy and tragedy, humor and hurt.” There is something about laughing with friends that lighten the burdens and brings us closer together. I have to clarify with people that don’t know me that my laughter at my own expense is not self-degradation but just a way to connect. My weaknesses are not unique – I’m sure we all have some in common.  Wouldn’t it be nice if we could just laugh at them rather than try to pretend that they aren’t there?

I think we are seeing the death of the cliché as we know them.  I’m not sure if that’s a bad thing other than there is something comforting in sharing some universal truths with each other. In the age of technology, however, I’m sure there IS an app for that!  What clichés have impacted your life?

Posted by:Sheri Saretsky

I spent ten years as a single parent of three boys. I then married my wonderful husband and he was inducted into the world of boy raising. Now we get to add my peri-menopause to the mix! Its been a crazy life...one I wouldn't change a minute of....

7 replies on “The Rolling Stone and Other Clichés

  1. This too shall pass is one of my favorite and most comforting cliches, Sheri. It has gotten me through minor disturbances and major crises through my life and I will hang on to it even if cliches become extinct! Yes, pain and humor go together for me too. Humor has been so much better for me to turn to than depression but there is a fine line. I am forever grateful I grew up in a family that used humor to help us through life’s trials.


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