Reflecting Upon Refraction

Aug 30, 2022 | Uncategorized

Nancy Ruffner holding a prismI’d like to introduce you to my little friend here, the humble prism. This little guy has taught me a lot! Because of this prism, I am able to see – and think differently.

The humble prism and its gifts are symbols, reminding me that I have the opportunity to think differently, to see things differently.

The humble prism and its gifts are symbols, reminding me that I have the opportunity to think differently, to see things differently. Most importantly, it reinforces the fact that things are going to look different as time passes. Every time it’s “prism time,” I am reminded of how much I enjoy having my thoughts provoked and looking at things differently. I do like to be made to think about things in a different light (yes, pun. Definitely).

For years and in every place I’ve ever resided, I’ve always hung a small prism in an area that would receive direct sunlight in the morning. Maybe it was an act of consistency throughout moving, a way to bring ritual, an act to make things “home” for me. I value that little prism for the gifts that it brings to me.

Refracted lightIt brings joy, pure joy. It brings simplicity. It stands for morning and freshness and provides for me a little bit of “Look what I can do” -inspiration.

And oh, what it can do! It takes what is and turns it into something else through its facets. The byproduct of colors across the spectrum that it renders is spectacular. And they change in intensity and length and location as each minute passes. Sometimes I like to give the prism a quick tap and watch the reflections dance around the room.

“I brake for prisms.”

I will stop in my tracks when I see a reflection cast by a prism and marvel. It is a stitch in time and a chance to witness something that is fleeting. I will, out loud, declare it to be “Prism Time”. Why do I value the images cast by the humble prism? Because it can do something amazing, something that many objects nor humans cannot do: it changes things.

I am visual, and I shared that in a recent blog. I see something, or I will experience something, and I watch for the message (and a chance to smile, or celebrate, to receive a gift!). Sometimes my gaze lingers on an object, or I find myself in a scenario, and something seems to beg me to pay attention for whatever reason. Sometimes a phrase or lyric rides around in my head for a few days. This morning I stayed with the prism, watching, like stopping to watch the sunset –all the way to obscurity.

This Prism Time concept applies to caregivers, patients, and to providers as well.


I once cared for a terminally ill patient, and it was her insistence once home that prisms be hung in her window. She’d say that drapes were there for quiet time and rest, but “prisms were there for joy!” she’d say. I learned a great deal from journeying with this woman.

As caregivers, many of us have learned that our outlooks are often changed by going through this process of caring for the people we love. We evolve in journeying with and in our own journey. We go through something, and we are changed.

Refracted light
I stop in my tracks when I see a prism because of what it would have me realize.


One stressful morning I saw a tiny prism-made rainbow in my kitchen. It manifested inside the door of my microwave, on the little strip of white casing and I saw it as I was reaching for the coffee I’d hastily reheated. I smiled and wondered if it was a gift or perhaps a message. I asked myself why it might be there, was there something I should reflect upon, notice? Or should I simply slow down and enjoy the simple beauty of this perfect tiny gift?

Today it occurred to me that I myself could be a prism of sorts to the families with whom I work. They are often faced with a new view that may not be very pleasant at the time. If I can pull them through and provoke their thoughts and provide new information, I could perhaps change their view. We can work to take something less pleasant and turn it into something marvelous (marvel-us!).

For me, the sight of the prism has become a power-full association.

For me, the sight of the prism has become a power-full association. Just as light is changed when passing through a prism, we and the families we encounter are changed through our connections with each other.  And through those family members, more change will occur. The colors of the prism will change, brighten or diminish. We are left with a sense that Prism Time will again occur.

If my clients and their loved ones are anything like me, they are likely already passing out their colors, experience, and education to ready those around them to change. They may begin slowly and grow to brilliance, even dance if made to do so, all to bring understanding to the challenge as others come in and go through.  

We all have the opportunity to see the prism and to witness the gift. Some days we have the opportunity to be the gift, the prism that, through us, can bring about a better outlook.



If you are looking to see things differently, looking for a better outcome – whether in healthcare navigation, in caregiving or aging successfully – then I invite you to contact me. We’ll set up a Complimentary Consultation to further your inquiry and for you to see if we’re a fit to work together. Visit or call 919.628.4428.