Introducing Gail Sobotkin Otherwise Known as Happyboomernurse

Sunnie’s Thoughts:

“The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched.
They must be felt with the heart.”
~ Helen Keller (1880-1968)

Gail Sobotkin earned a nursing degree from William
Paterson University in 1974 and a Legal Health Care Specialist certificate from  Fairleigh Dickinson University in 2001. She did community health nursing for  many years and worked for the State of Delaware’s Chronic Renal Disease Program  before retiring in the fall of 2010. She loves to write inspirational short
stories that touch people’s hearts and also writes medical articles. Her work  has been published in the American Journal of Nursing, Chief of Police  Magazine, Police Times, America’s Intercultural Magazine (AIM) and the Delmarva  Quarterly. Since retirement she has been writing on Hub Pages where she  publishes health related articles, memoir vignettes and inspirational fiction  under the pen name, Happyboomernurse. She also has a health expert page on Self  Growth.com.

Favorite Quote:

“Most people are searching for happiness. They’re  trying to find it in someone or something outside of themselves. That’s a  fundamental mistake. Happiness is something that you are, and it comes from the  way you think.”  Wayne Dyer

This is Gail’s Story:

Everyone has people and events in their lives that mold their characters for better or worse and I am no exception. I was the middle  child of three and when my mother was pregnant with my baby brother she  developed complications that required her to stay in bed as much as possible,  something that was difficult to do with a 2-year-old (myself), a 6-year-old (my  sister) and a husband who was rarely home. Mom told me years later that she’d
been terrified that she would give birth to a stillborn baby, but that reading  to me helped take her mind off those morbid thoughts.  “You were an amazing little girl. You’d bring me drinks and food, get your own bottles and lie down next to me in bed content to listen and look at story books for hours on end. By the time Bobby was born I  discovered that you could actually read many of the words in the books.”  Because of that early childhood experience reading has always felt as natural as talking and breathing to me and I know the experience greatly impacted my future by giving me a life-long love of  books and making my later transition to school exceptionally easy and positive.

My favorite game as a child was playing “teacher” especially with my little brother and I had every intention of becoming a real teacher when I grew up but my career aspirations changed during my teen years when 3 more events led me in the direction of nursing. First, mom became disabled due to asthma, emphysema and depression and I spent a lot of my time taking care of her. Then my father suffered a massive heart attack and was not expected to survive. Fortunately he was rushed to a hospital that had one of the few
Coronary Care Units in the country and when his heart stopped beating, quick action by the nursing staff resuscitated him. When he recovered from the heart attack dad thought nurses were God’s angels and he was convinced they’d saved his life. The third thing that steered me in the direction of nursing was that I fell in love with a young man named Helmut, who had cancer. Helmut taught me the power of touch and compassion in alleviating pain. He died during my first year of college and I changed my major from English to Nursing, privately dedicating my nursing career to him.

A few years later I met and fell madly in love with the man who would become my  husband. Fred was a Vietnam Veteran who, having seen buddies killed and maimed during his two tours in Vietnam, seemed different from the other men I’d dated. He was more mature and certain of what he wanted to do with his life which was to become a teacher. Five years into our marriage we had a son, David, who is our only child and whom we are very proud of. We recently celebrated our 37th anniversary and though we’ve had many
challenges during our marriage our love and commitment to each other has always
gotten us through them.

In my forties I felt a great urge to write and my husband was very supportive of my efforts to do so. I began taking weekly Authentic Writing Workshops in Woodstock, NY, with a teacher named Fred Poole. The workshops were informal and they focused on writing from personal experience. Fred’s tutelage taught me to write from the heart and always strive to find the truth in my memoir style vignettes. One of his favorite sayings was that,
“Authentic writing is a process of self-discovery. If you’ve found the truth, it will most likely be something you weren’t even aware of when you first started writing a piece. It’s also likely that it will be something others may feel threatened by, but you can’t let fear of other people’s reactions keep you from being courageous enough to speak your truth.”  Fred’s workshops were a safe and accepting place to practice this kind of writing. No one was allowed to criticize, analyze or judge the subject matter that another writer had written about; instead Fred kept the focus on the quality of the writing. Did it have the ring of an essential and universal truth? Did it feel like the writer had held back, been
too emotionally detached from the subject matter, thereby leaving the listener feeling cheated? Fred also held readings in a NYC café and in Woodstock where his workshop students could read their work to a live  audience. Participating in the readings was intimidating but also exhilarating.

I moved to Delaware a decade ago and haven’t joined any more writing groups but I have continued writing and have had my work published in several journals and magazines. I retired from nursing in 2010 and started writing and publishing my articles on Hub Pages. One of the most gratifying things about Hub Pages is the instant feedback from readers. There is great satisfaction in knowing that something I’ve written has touched someone’s heart and I feel honored when readers open up about their own experiences adding depth and insight to my hub article through their helpful comments. I’ve discovered that  personal stories are more powerful than I previously realized and that they inspire others in ways you might not expect or they’re read by someone at just the right time to bring much needed hope when they’re in the depths of pain and grief. At the very least, readers learn that they are not alone in the challenges they face.

Sample Memoir Vignette:

The Night My Two Year Old Brother Got Drunk

One night while my sister and I were in the living room, Mom yelled out from the kitchen
that it was time for Bobby and I to go to bed. Jeanne was allowed to go upstairs half an hour later and I, being the middle child, had the job of putting our younger brother into his crib. But on this night Bobby wasn’t co-operating with me. In fact he was acting down- right peculiar. Every time he tried to stand up and walk his tiny body would sway from side to side and he’d take a few steps forward, then fall back down on his well padded, diapered behind. Thinking he was just fooling around I told him to, “Quit acting so silly and stand up straight.”

“Can’t,” he said, falling back onto his butt. Then he laughed and laughed and we laughed with him as he repeatedly attempted to walk. Jeanne and I started to imitate his actions and we were all staggering around like miniature drunken sailors until Mom stuck her head in the room and told us to, “Quit fooling around and go to bed.” I tried to lift Bobby up but he was like dead weight and kept slipping to the floor.

“There’s something wrong with him, Ma. I can’t get him to stand up. You try it
and see for yourself.” She did and all of a sudden we heard her gasp and say,
“Oh my God, he’s drunk!”

“Drunk?” Jeanne and I looked at each other and burst into another round of convulsive laughter. We didn’t really know what drunk meant except that it was something that happened to adults when they had too much beer or wine. Our baby brother was drunk. Ha! Ha! Ha!

Unfortunately, for Bobby and mom it was no laughing matter but I didn’t know that until years later when mom shared with me how scared she’d been that night. She felt so guilty for leaving the open wine bottle out where he could get at it. “Your poor brother puked and cried and rolled around in his crib with a bellyache for a few hours and nothing I did
could console him. At one point I thought I might have to take him to the hospital but then how could I explain how he’d gotten drunk? Instead I stood vigil by his crib even after he finally passed out, to make sure he kept breathing and wouldn’t choke if he vomited again.”

********

Forty two years later, mom, sis and I stood vigil around Bobby’s hospital bed, waiting for him to die from alcoholic cirrhosis of the liver. This time Jeanne and I were crying, not laughing about the end result of his abuse of alcohol and poor mom was again caught up in a morass of guilt, fearing that she’d been a bad parent and had somehow caused his death. She was inconsolable after he died and slid into another one of her deep depressions.

Websites:

Hub Pages Profile Page   http://happyboomernurse.hubpages.com/

Self Growth.com Health Expert Page    http://www.selfgrowth.com/experts/gail_sobotkin

Dear Gail,

Thank you so much for all the support you have given me throughout the last eight months. I wish for you a beautiful life and continued joy in all you do.

Sunnie

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12 thoughts on “Introducing Gail Sobotkin Otherwise Known as Happyboomernurse

  1. Oh my Gail, what a laugh you gave me talking about Bobby being drunk. My son Craig at about the same age as Bobby, was left momentarily sitting in his high-chair next to the dinning room table, where his dad had happened to leave a glass of whiskey. To our horror, Craig climbed out of his high-chair and we found him sitting next to an empty glass on the table. I panicked all night too in case he would be sick, but fortunately for us, he only slept. But then when I read the last part of your paragraph in which Bobby died from his drink related injuries, I soon realised the sadness of the story altogether. I am so sorry to hear about your loss.

    You are a very sweet person, one of only a few who make meaningful comments when replying to hubs, and I want you to know that you have touched my life, and I admire your strength. I truly enjoyed getting to know you a little better.

    Sunnie, my dear friend, thank you so much for all your awesome interviews. You are still my shinning star.x

    • Hi Annette,
      Dear Annette,
      Wow, it’s probably far more common for toddlers to find and drink partly finished glasses or bottles of alcohol than we realize! For 30+ years that story about Bobby being fall down drunk was something my sister and I recalled with humor. Wasn’t until he started going in and out of alcohol rehab centers and my mom confessed to me how scared she’d been the first time he’d gotten drunk as a toddler that the story took on a serious tone. One knows it was just chance he found that first bottle and yet it’s chilling that it eventually becomes the main theme in the story of his life. The poor guy earned the nickname of “Rebob” among his friends (what few he had left toward the end) because he went in and out of rehab and had been close to dying so many times before he finally succombed to this horrible disease. I appreciate your condolences.

      Thanks so much for letting me know that I’ve touched your life and that you enjoyed getting to know my background a little better here. I felt exactly the same way when I read Sunnie’s feature article on you and have also been deeply touched by many of your hubs. Am so looking forward to reading your memoir when it comes out.

      Sunnie’s energy and talent is amazing and as big as her heart and generous nature. I feel so blessed to be watching her grow and develop into a published writer.

  2. Hi Sunnie,
    I feel so honored to be included in this wonderful website amongst other writers whose work I admire and new writers whose work I am just discovering. Your heart is big and generous and I feel blessed that we met on Hub Pages. It has been such a pleasure watching you transition from your “retirement” into a whole new career in writing. Thanks again, for thinking to include me in this website. Annette is right, you are a shining star and may I add that your star is illuminating the way for many other writers. You are a shining example of what can be accomplished through natural writing talent and a whole lot of hard work to hone and perfect, publish and promote your own writings and those of others. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

  3. I’m on my way to follow Happyboomernurse in HubPages. Thank you for introducing this lovely lady, Sunnie. I’m so sorry about your brother, Gail. Your ‘story’ delights and shocks – I wish the ending was not so sad.

    • Hi Martie,
      Thanks so much for your kind, consoling words, they are greatly appreciated.
      Your own story on Sunnie’s blog touched my heart and I look forward to following you on HubPages also.

  4. Dear Sunnie and Gail,

    Oh my, what a wonderful introduction of a new friend, who is truly an inspiration to me in just a few days. Gail, thank you for your lovely words to me- I do feel as though we have much in common.
    The story of your brother was poignant. Your mentor surely taught you the meaning of authentic writing and I greatly look forward to getting to know more of your work. All my best, Maria

  5. Dear Maria,
    Sometimes we meet kindred souls even in cyberspace and that is how I felt when I started reading Sunnie’s hubs and how I felt when I read the introduction that she did for you on this site.
    Somehow (I like to think of it as through God’s grace and love) we’ve each faced trials in our lives and emerged humbled, yet compassionate, strong, and for the most part focused on our blessings.
    Thank you for your kind words about my brother and the story I wrote about him. Your feedback is greatly appreciated.
    Looking forward to reading more of your own work.
    Best Regards,
    Gail

  6. How lovely to know the lady behind the name. Gail, your story is like a book with so much happening when you were a child. And you have become an incredible and loving woman. It is an honor to know you. Joy in Jesus, Brenda.

  7. Sunnie, thanks for this inspiring bio. There is so much to learn form Gail Sobotkin. Happyboomernurse has always been supportive to me. And I love beauty in her works.

  8. Gail, when you said your bio was on Sunnie’s blog, I came straight on over to read it. You are right; we do have much in common. What a joy to discover someone with a heart such as yours, whose words pour straight from your heart. When you can write this authentically, you share a direct inroad to your heart. Love it!

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