Friday, July 11, 2014

One year later

Okay, it's technically 14 months later, but whatevs. Let's not get bogged down with the details. In the time since my last post, I finished my assignment in Seattle, moved down the Santa Maria, CA, then returned to the hospital where I took my first travel job with plans of going home at the beginning of 2014....only to decide I wasn't finished yet. I ended up back in Seattle at a different hospital and have committed to staying here for the rest of the year. So let's just say that life has not gone according to my plan. Or at least my original plan.

People routinely ask me what comes next and I struggle to answer them. I honestly don't know what comes next. After traveling for the last 2 1/2 years, I'm not sure where I see myself. I desperately miss people from back home, but I'm not sure that I want to return. I really like Seattle and my current hospital, but do I like it enough to make a permanent move? My time in California was good, but I don't quite see myself there. Nashville seems to be an up and coming city, which intrigues me. But is that reason enough to move somewhere? I'm at odds with myself. Part of me loves larger cities and part of me gets a little weary. I really enjoy being at a teaching hospital, so does that mean I should look at places with teaching hospitals? The mountains, trees, and water feel right to me here.... and yet I recently find myself missing the ocean. I love watching the seasons change which is something I've missed over the last couple years. I've nearly been in a perpetual Spring/Summer, which sounds nice but leaves this Midwest girl missing autumn leaves and watching the snow fall. I'd like to plant roots next year, but I'm just not sure where that will be.

It can be frustrating at times, to have this giant unknown ahead of me. I'm caught between what was and what will be. Yet, I know it's going to be fine. I will end up exactly where I'm supposed to be. At some point, I'm going to wake up and realize that where I am feels right. And it's going to make me smile. I'll head to my local Starbucks for my chai tea latte, return to my new home, turn on the Gilmore Girls, snuggle up on the couch to read, create a little quilting nook where I can stretch out my latest project, cook dinner in my very own kitchen, and maybe even play with my new puppy. I'm excited for those days. I'm excited because I will know that all this uncertainty has led me there.

I've learned so much about myself as I've traveled. I've grown in ways I hadn't anticipated. I'm sure I've uttered those comments before, but they're true. And I've learned more since the last time I said them. I didn't realize I needed this experience to help shape me into the person I'm becoming and will be. However, God knew. He knew what I needed to let go and move on, he understood that living in the unknown silence would sharpen strength that I hadn't even realized I possessed. He knew that this was the turning point in my life. Living with Stalena and Sesha was a gift. A beautiful foundation of friendship and love, true community in its purest form. Those girls and their unconditional friendship had given me courage to step out. They were the start and this latest season is both an end and a beginning. I'm full of anticipation at what's ahead because the last few years have been so good. Not necessarily easy, but good. One day I'll share more specifics, but tonight I'm just going to soak in the fact that this time has had such an intentional purpose even though it's often felt like wandering. 

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Let's Talk Seattle

Y'all I've been in Seattle for two months and haven't blogged a thing. And at this point I don't know how to recap without this being insanely long, so let's just bullet point this business, shall we?

  • Stalena came out with me. It was her Spring Break and it meant so much not only to have time with one of my BFFs, but to also share this experience with someone so dear to me. I have some great moments as a traveler, but I often find myself wishing someone was here to share the experience. 
  • Chelsea was our tour guide and took us to Pike Place Market, Space Needle, Gum Wall, Top Pot (beloved donuts of Seattle), and the first Starbucks. We had a fun day with laughter and yummy food. 
  • The NICU has a single room setup. Each baby (with the exception of new admissions) is in their own room. It's my first time with this arrangement. Overall, I like it. 
  • The nurses have been nice and I've enjoyed my time there. I've loved on some babies that have stolen my heart. And, apparently, they like me too because they've asked me to stay a bit longer. I'll now be in Seattle until July. I'm excited not only because I like the hospital, but because it means I'll be able to see some of my favorite babies graduate.
  • The scenery of this area feeds my soul. The trees, the mountains.... I'm often speechless at the beauty. I love it. I also love the various neighborhoods that make up and surround Seattle. If it weren't so far from the people I adore, I'd seriously consider calling this place home for a while. 
  • The tulip festival in April was stunning. Stunning. As in I have waaaay too many pictures to share. My heart was full, my cameras were used, and I loved every minute. 
  • I've heard that the Pacific Northwest isn't super into church/ God, but I think God is here. In fact, I feel like God has used this place to bring together things that He's been stirring in my heart. So whether they want him or not, he's here and alive. 
Okay, so there are some photos to peruse should you choose, but it'll make this whole shenanigan longer. Browse at your own risk.

  • Miniature Donkeys... I giggled like a child for quite a while after seeing them.

    These girls are always up for fun.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

The Color Run!

Have you heard about The Color Run? It's a 5k where you get covered in color at various stations. Their tagline is "The Happiest 5K on the Planet". Since this is my first 5K I can't guarantee their statement, but I'm pretty sure it's pretty accurate.

I've been wanting to do a 5k for, well, years. But something always stopped me. (Me. I stopped myself.) When I discovered the run was going to be in San Fran while I was in the area, I decided to do it. I signed up, paid my registration fee, and told a couple people. This was the most proactive I've ever been in the whole 5K situation. As the time approached, I told even more people. I guess I was setting up accountability for myself. I also think this year of travel, working with Tamara, and simply learning about myself as I've been in California finally put me in a position of feeling like I could do it. Plus, let's be honest: this is not a high pressure situation. The whole goal is to have fun while being active. They welcome all fitness levels, walkers and runners, and anyone willing to have a good time. But as I was driving into San Fran today I couldn't believe I was actually doing this... and as I passed the halfway point I was amazed I was STILL doing it... and as I approached the finish line I was incredibly proud of myself. It was such a significant feeling to know I finally accomplished a goal I'd been thinking about for years. I was also impressed by what my body is capable of doing. It was the perfect way to end my time in California.

So, let's look at the race photos and discuss, shall we?

The requirement is a primarily white top to start. Check!
After reading a few past runners' experiences, I learned that sunglasses were highly recommended to protect your eyes from the powder. This was a great suggestion!! After the first color, my glasses had enough powder on them to cloud my vision. I can't imagine that going into my eyes!
I also wore a bandana to cover my nose/mouth during the powder stations. I didn't want my asthma to stop me, so I took this suggestion from the runners. My inhaler was also quickly accessible in case I needed it. With the bandana, I had zero trouble. There was even a moment where I inhaled at the wrong time, but I didn't have any issues. That might not have been the case if I didn't have some barrier.

I can't even begin to guess at how many people attended the run. There were gobs of people ahead of me and still others behind. I was in "wave 3", but I have no idea how many waves they used. Here's the great thing about it: people are just plain happy. Even after the race when the parking lot was a mess, the attitude was still upbeat and kind.

At the completion of every kilometer, you get covered in colored powder. I mean, it makes sense to celebrate that way, right?

(Thank goodness for the water station! I was getting a bit dry at this point.)
The Finish Line!!! 

You guys, it was so much fun. I'm so glad I did it. If you get the chance, totally do it.

Now, let's discuss what happens after. You're covered and you need to head home... in your car... which may have black interior or white or some such neutral. Some of the powder brushes off, but most of it doesn't. I put a beach towel over my seat, brushed/shook off as much as I could, put my backpack and such in the trunk, and my car looks the same as before the race. I wish there would have been a way to accurately show the coating on my arms. I wondered if I was going to be able to wash it off because I work tomorrow. I just don't think parents want their NICU baby having a stained nurse. I'm happy to report that most of it came off pretty easily. I do have a couple spots that are lightly colored, but I think a second shower will take care of that.

Here are some things you might be pondering:
My tub was not stained or colored in the least.
The color goes all the way through your clothing. All the way. So any unmentionables/undergarments you don't want permanently stained should be avoided.
My shoes are probably "ruined". I haven't tried to wash them yet.
I'm doing laundry tomorrow, so I have no idea how much color will remain on my clothing.

Well, it's time to celebrate today... by packing my apartment. I'm down to 3 days left in CA! Insane in the membrane.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Thanks, Beth

Do y'all have people in your life that have such a strong impact even though, well, they're not really in your life? There are so many variations on that concept, some positive and some sad. But what I'm talking about is a person that speaks truth and encouragement even if it's just across Twitter or live Bible studies. Beth Moore is that person for me. Over the last couple of years, the Lord has used her to bring good information to my ears.

Anyway, at the start of the year she had an invitation to join her in memorizing two verses each month. When I read the invitation on Twitter, I just instantly loved the idea of women across the world purposefully committing to place Scripture in their hearts and minds. So, I jumped at the chance to sign up. I thought it would be good, but here is what I am realizing:

God is not joking around. He is very clearly, very purposefully leading me through this experience.

I didn't even realize it at first. I thought the verses that I chose would be good to help my stubborn, strong-willed, sinful self remember to seek the Lord's will for my life. Here's what has actually happened:

The verses have come at times I clearly needed them. In moments I never could have anticipated, those verses have become my prayers. Yes, for the more obvious desire for God's plan to be clear to me. But my second verse did not really strike me until a month after choosing it. In fact, after I chose it, I wondered why. It didn't seem to fit where I was in my life. And, yet, God knew what was coming. He knew the moment I'd be in my bed needing to prayer those words over and over, soaking up strength from the promise in those words.

Now, five verses in, I can so clearly see where the Lord is gently leading me. He knows the skittish feelings in my heart.... the trepidation that makes it hard. He knows how to lead me and He gently does so. Not in anger or rules or rushing, but patiently and with endless love. I know what's coming and I know what He's doing. I can see it. And I'm humbled that He loves me so much that He wants the best for me, but more so, that he knows me so intimately that he knows how to best address me. It makes it so much better to see that it's His plan for things to change, not just me playing control freak like I want to do. It actually gives me peace and relief to know that it's not up to me to do it, but that God has it mapped out and under control. It takes away the fear of failure.

I'm so thankful that God used Beth to get me started on this path.   

Friday, February 8, 2013

Best Week Ever!

Y'all. In three days I went from unknown to secured job and housing. This is the fun of travel nursing.... Of course, it's always more fun when the process is over and you can think about the exciting places to visit.

But I would be foolish not to direct all of this back to God.  It's always my desire to go where He wants me. And I want it to be in His timing, but that doesn't stop me from asking. I kid you not that I prayed as I laid in bed on Sunday and when I woke on Monday for this to be taken care of that day. I wanted to be able to rest in the plan and not be stressed. And hours later plans were in motion. Plans that I had thought were a closed door.

God doesn't always work like that where I ask for it to be done that day and it is, but here's what I've been seeing in my life over the last year of travel: When I earnestly seek Him and offer myself to whatever he wants, he answers. It may not always be what I expect or want or in the timing I'd prefer, but he makes himself known. It's given me such a peace to know that He's listening. Sure, I've been told since I was a child that God listens and answers prayers. But I'm a planner and I like control and I'm a knucklehead. It's taken being in places where I don't have control to be able to see the full beauty of what He does. The most powerful moments where I've seen prayers answered are when it's by nothing that I've done other than to ask. Let me repeat that. The most powerful moments where I've seen prayers answered are when it's by nothing that I've done other than to ask.  In those moments when I'm earnestly seeking his will and presenting myself as a willing servant that He makes himself known.

So often I have wondered where God was or why he wasn't answering prayers. What I've come to see is that in those prayers I've been praying for my way and what I want. I've been selfishly asking as if God owes me anything. And then I can't figure out why he's silent or why it's not happening. Because let's be honest, I'm not really looking to do what's best or right, I'm looking to God like a vending machine or magic genie. He's neither of those and so he wisely ignores my pleas for what would be terrible decisions. However, when I present myself humbly with the desire to see Him and his will for my life, he answers. He wants to be known. God doesn't hide. That's what I'm most thankful about regarding travel nursing. It has put me in a position where I can't control everything and I have to trust that God will be faithful, as he has promised. And he has. Repeatedly. This season has led me to a place where I must go before the Lord, face down and humbled.

You guys. Every single time He has not only taken care of me, but he has far exceeded what I could have ever guessed He had planned for my life.

It's humbling and I'm so incredibly thankful that He's in control. I would have missed out on so many great things if life had gone according to my expectations.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Almost Perfect

Greetings from Northern California!

Please forgive my lapse in posts and let me cover a few bases. Happy Thanksgiving! Merry Christmas! I'm moving to Northern California for my next assignment!

Okay, so it's been about 20 days and here's what I've discovered:

1. The scenery is more my style up here. It's more lush, green, and inviting. Every time I drive home from work, I feel like I'm driving in a picture. When I'm driving to work, I feel nothing because it's dark out and all I can see are the tail lights of other cars.

2. It is insane what people pay for housing. And the cost of living is higher here. For real. I miss the Midwest prices. Because let's be honest: I don't get paid what the unionized CA nurses do, so I'm not living the posh lifestyle they can afford. I don't even want to tell you hourly wages I've heard because it'll make those of you back home weep.

3. I've signed up for quilting classes and a cooking class. I'll be learning how to make French pastries soon. Practical? No, but I'm hoping it will help to rekindle my love of cooking.

4. I have an actual stove/ oven in this apartment!!! No microwave, but at least my oven doesn't look like an Easy Bake.

5. I have yet to fully unpack. That goes completely against my organizational nature, which means travel is changing me. I'm used to living on less and I don't really want to unpack and repack. So if I need it, it'll come out. If not, it'll probably be sent home or donated. This is actually a pretty great discovery.

6. I'm a terrible plant parent. I bought a mini living Christmas tree (which I never decorated with the accompanying decorations) and neglected to water it. Seriously. I've watered it twice. The day I bought it and about a week ago. I should not be allowed anything other than fresh cut flowers which are expected to die. And even though mentioning this should make me water it, I won't. I have no emotional attachment to plants apparently.

7. This is the first time in 9 years that I've not had a washer/dryer in my home. A little annoying, sure, but it's certainly not the end of the world. Of course, my apartment is right across from the complex facilities. If I were farther away I'd probably be grumpier about it.... or when the times comes when I can't get in and wash my stuff when I want to. However, I will remind myself in those times that at least I have clothes to wash, a place to do it, and money to pay for it. I'm way too fortunate to allow an inconvenience to get me down.

8. Even though I've been away for 10 months now, I still miss you all so very much. I think about home often, long for it nearly daily, and wish I could be inviting you all over for dinner and games. I'm enjoying this season of life and I appreciate the opportunities and perspectives it is allowing me, but that doesn't mean my heart isn't with you all back in Missouri. We have it really good there and I see that clearer than ever now that I'm away. Besides, there are Andy's back there. I miss frozen custard.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Rethinking things

Today as I looked through my Twitter feed, I learned that Instagram will be changing policies a bit. In the new year, they'll have the right to sell our photos without consent and without payment. While I doubt anyone would want to buy my images (unless they are in the market for root beer or silliness), I found myself frustrated that someone could simply take and benefit from something that is mine. Maybe it's because I use Instagram to share a perspective of my life with people I know that makes it seem more personal, but I don't like the idea of one day discovering my photo out in public. Particularly if it's a pic I've taken of a friend's baby or my sisters. I guess really people could have been snagging my photos this whole time illegally and I'd likely never know.

But this morning it has me thinking or rethinking about this need to share. Because really I could just snap a picture and text it to those I love instead of publicly posting it. So do I use Instagram for validation or to show off? If so, that's not really the person I want to be. I feel like there's this dangerous slope of living for ourselves versus living for God or to serve others. All this to say, I'm thinking seriously about eliminating Instagram and maybe even Facebook. It means I'll have to be incredibly more intentional with my communication and I'll probably miss out on tons of pictures and important updates that some people post via Facebook. And if the post office goes under, then mail will become a bit trickier too. But.... I don't know. I don't want to live my life through technology. I'm not saying that I think Facebook or Instagram or Twitter or blogs are bad, but I'm just rethinking their place in MY life.