Home Eats

Back from the conference and then off to jolly ol England!

I’ll keep this short because my mind is on other things, like making sure I have all the things I need to head back up to Plymouth because I’ll literally fly back and head up. I did want to due diligence on one place I kept saying I’d write on and that’s places I love to eat when I’m home.

Ive mentioned my struggles with Home before. It’s hard for me to come home because I always feel I’m in a totally different place and a totally different person than what people see since I’ve started traveling. Some of the differences are good ones and some I’m not so sure are good, but everything comes together to make me CC. I firmly believe that seasons, low and high, are part of the plan God has for life. Not everything is roses and sometimes I have to accept that I struggle. Home is part of that struggle for me.

May issues aside, I wanted to mention another place I try my darndest to get to whenever I’m home, and that’s The Moutianeer Grill 

This is definitely one of those places I found because I happen to be somewhere else. I’m a long time AAA frequenter. My favorite travel agent in the world Tracey Brown hooks me up with great trips. The Mountianeer Grill is located next door to AAA, below Benny’s Boothill and beside/inside Mountineer World on Barnett Run Road.

I can’t say it’s the largest place in the world, but what it lacks in size it makes up for in great food.

My pick when I go is the steak salad. Their cooks know how to grill a steak and spice it like it’s meant to be spiced. I can have that salad sans dressing and be happy as anyone with my selection. I’ve had a few other things from there, but the steak salad has my heart. 😍

Short and sweet. It’s good, go eat there okay? I mean, I don’t have to rep a plaza too hard do I?

I have a couple of other places I’ll review next time I’m home. I mentioned the need to do this because it is important to explore your hometown as much as it is to  explore the places you visit. For me, it’s a matter of rediscovering Home I guess. Maybe I’ve changed, but I can still find things I like/love to do when I’m here.

Off to the next thing as usual. If we’re all lucky, maybe I’ll write you from England.

Until then?

Travel on road warrior

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Conference, conferencing, conferenced

Welcome back, friend. Frankly, it’s always nice to see a smiling face around here. Why come if not to smile a bit, yes?

Anyway, I’m fresh off the glittery high that is the travel conference. If you were there, I’m sure you partied too hard, and if you weren’t, you didn’t party hard enough. Okay, imma be honest and admit I didn’t party at all. Listen, I was asleep by 8pm every night I was in Vegas. I’ve never been much of a partier, but 7-8 hours of solid sleep? I’m down for that e’ery day of the week.

Before I talk briefly about the conference itself, a word of warning, if someone asks you if you want a discounted show and free lunch at the hotel if you’ll just sit through a timeshare presentation… say no. You’re welcome.

On to the conference. This was actually my third travelers conference, but the 10th annual celebration. There’s so much to see, do, and experience when you attend. The things I appreciate the most about the conference, and the thing they continue to do every year, is bring topics forth that drive forward the improvement of traveling itself. Need to know about tax home, multi-state licensure, being a traveler outside of the US, or RV-ing? They have a seminar/talk available to you. I love that I can find what I need there, even if I’ve attended the topic (taxes) before. It always applies, always helps me, always makes me excited to be a traveler.

There were something like 1400 people in attendance. Some people were dreamers, in school or working and just thinking about what traveling would be like for them. They were able to mingle with other travelers and talk to them about traveling. Seasoned travelers were in attendance as well. People who have been traveling as long or longer than I have traveled. They could find more detailed tips to make traveling better for them or find a new recruiter. Companies turned out in droves, trying to hook new and old travelers. I’ve been with the same company for almost 5 years, which isn’t the norm, but it was interesting to meet recruiters and hear what they have to offer.

The mingling wasn’t my favorite part, but I know how the industry works and the necessary relationship travelers have with travel companies. This was evidenced by the way companies subsidized the cost of the conference for us. A wide range of companies, and hospitals even, were present. They’re goal is to recruit nurses who want to travel. Most travelers work with 2-3 recruiters to find an assignment so the conference is a great place to find a company that suits your needs.

It’s also a place to find travelers you’ve worked with in the past. It’s amazing to run into someone you suffered through with on a terrible contract. The good times come up and they also make traveling worth it.

I encourage you to attend next year even if you’re just thinking about traveling. It’s an excellent opportunity for you to get a taste for what traveling actually entails. Both the business and social aspects that compose the act of traveling.

1400 people is just a taste of the travelers that navigate this world. We do what no one else is willing to do, go into a new place and hit the ground running. We are traveled and we come to help.

If you missed the fun, check out my instagram for some great photos of the conference. You can also check the #travcon2017 in instagram for more fun.

So where to next? Well, I’m off for a short trip to England before I head back to Plymouth for the fall and *shudder* first part of winter. I’ll be visiting and staying with friends who live outside of London and are nice enough to let me stay with them. They’ll show me England and help me explore London AND I’ll keep my travel costs low. I’ll post photos, promise

All the traveling, all the time. That’s my business! So, until the next travel waves carries me away…

Travel on, road warrior

Happy employee, happy business?

So it looks like you’ll get two posts this week! Lucky you, right?

Conference offically starts in a couple of hours so I thought, with the start of a conference for people who travel for a living, why not discuss a topic I’ve beat to death  talked about on this blog many times.

Why people leave.

(On a side note: I’ve been trying to ease back into Facebook of late. I’d stepped away for a host of reasons, the least of which was the feeling of a non reality. Facebook tends to cultivate hard feelings and an unrealness. People say what they want on there with little regard to how that makes others feel. Political and social issues that are important to me become things those I have respected in the past feel they can say whatever they want, reposting ugly memes a person would otherwise think twice about posting. No one wants to be in that environment.)

Getting to it, LinkedIn emailed a post out this morning that I felt was incredibly timely. The Real Cost of Poor Leadership talked about many of the things I go on about fairly regularly, which is people leaving jobs they aren’t satisfied doing.  A few highlights that caught my eye:

 

I recently had a conversation at work… okay let’s just call it a rant… on why nurses job hop or leave the profession all together. It’s the old attrition and retention talk that plagues every field. We make decent money no matter where we live compared to the average American, we offer a service of caring that can be uplifting, we go into our profession with the aim of helping. So why do nurses keep leaving?

I reject the idea that this is generational or the result of the attitude that “if this doesn’t work, I’ll do something else.” Why? Because most nurses start with a desire to be all they can be.

The article mentions bad bosses or management. It’s no back up when you need it. It’s infighting when we should support each other (nurses eating their young/new). It’s that feeling of helplessness, hopelessness, and that general feeling that no one cares if you make it.

No praise for slaving away on a night when things are crazy and you barely made it. No considerations when decisions that directly effect productivity are made. More about money and bottom lines.

When the CEO making more than every person working on the floor combined, gets a bonus every year and the nurses risking their lives have gone two years plus without a raise, we’ve got a problem.

I travel because I can seek out better. Yes, every hospital has its problems, but there’s nothing that says I have to stay and endure crap. And some places are definitely crappier than others. I can move around and explore and save myself headache. Maybe I’ll find that perfect place, maybe I won’t, but I only have to suffer 3-6 months at a time instead of my entire career.

Been there. Done that. Life is too short to suffer a terrible manager (middle or upper), or a terrible doctor(s).

We deserve better as a profession and until we get there the travel industry will get bigger while the nursing shortage also increases.

The number of nurses here is insane and seems to be reveled only by the number of companies here trying to gather business. If I’ve learned anything, it’s that this is a business and we are a commodity. It’s difficult to navigate it well so a conference that discusses all the information you need to know is important.

Now if I could just do away with the necessary, but annoying schmoozing, I’d do even better.

Anyway, it’s time to get this conference underway. Maybe I’ll surprise us all by doing a post tomorrow!

Confernce on, road warrior? ☺️😊

Have I Disappointed You?

It’s break time! I’ve completed a contract and as a reward to myself, I’m on vacation.

The first one starts this weekend. The travel nurse conference officially starts on Monday in Vegas, but why wait until Monday to go to Vegas when I can head there early and take in the sights. I’ll be reporting on the conference itself next Wednesday once it’s completed, but I’ll do two things now: tell you to come if you’re travel nurse because of the things you’ll learn, and tell you to watch my instagram for photos.

As many people already know, and after I nearly had a nervous breakdown over it, I’ve settled on where I’ll be for my next assignment. I’m staying in Plymouth. I had a couple other options, including returning to Charleston, WV, a place I’d worked at around this time last year. It was a very difficult choice for me and it came down to being at a place where I liked the nurses AND the providers I was around.

(Quick aside: I will be in Plymouth until middle of January, which is danger zone of winter for me. Someone is going to have to hold my hand if it snows)

The hard part of picking between two places I’ve been/am currently at, is someone is disappointed by my pick. I had to be reminded of a few facts that I hope I can share with you.

Frankly, disappointment has been on my mind for a few weeks. Not only in conjunction to this, but in other things. I’d considered doing a vlog on it just to talk through some of my own personal struggle with the subject.

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You see, much of my problem is people pleasing. I want to make sure everyone around me is happy with me in every way. I seek others opinions and try to make decisions so others are pleased with me. You can see how that gets dangerous for me, don’t you ? Am I doing things to better myself because it’s what I need or because it’s what someone seems to think I should do? Am I running the risk of resenting someone because I made a decision for them instead of myself? It can get out of hand and lead to a lot of confusion.

I have to step back many times and examine what is best for me. What was my first response to the situation? Where is my mind at? It’s good to ask opinions, but I cannot let others possible let down affect what I do.

Lets talk about it in the context of a travel assignment.

I was reminded, by a very good friend, that I as the nurse am the commodity or good. I am there to offer service to a hospital. If I choose not to go there, they have the option to seek someone else’s service because there are others available to fill that spot. I have to pick what’s best for me in this search and I can’t pick a place simply because someone may get upset if I don’t come to their hospital. I won’t be happy. They can find someone else and I can go where I’ll have the best possible assignment.

So what can we all learn from this? People pleasing only leads to distress not satisfaction, go where you’ll be happy, consult others while trusting your mind a little more, and not letting everything unsettle you. Keep what’s important to you in mind

We all know the things I say here are for me to remember. I’m over here trying to be a life longer learner in all things.

Travel on road warrior

Mitigating and Managing

Hello and welcome to the circus!

Seems wrong to call life a circus, but at times it feels like I have no idea what’s happening next (in my immediate sphere or outside of it) and how I’ll react to it. Maybe gasps. Maybe cheers of excitement. Or crying hysterically. Apt, don’t you think?

Well, in assignment news, a decision has finally been handed down. I won’t say too much until I’ve signed my contract because in this circus, the act can change in an instant. Just know I’m glad to finally have something done with 4 shifts left in this current assignment. It took a lot of reminding that things weren’t out of control just because I didn’t know what was happening next.

Now that I know I can move on to more exciting things. I’ve got a couple big trips lined up on my 3 weeks off. Both trips I’m very excited about for vastly different reasons, but excited nonetheless. One I’ll tell you about next week (travel nurse conference) and the other I’ll spring on you last minute as I’m trying to keep other parties calm on that front.

Thinking about my second upcoming trip makes me think on ways I mitigate and manage things in my life. We all have people, jobs, forces in our lives that we try keeping calm and juggling around.

I have a tendency to be majorly influenced by those who rotate in my orbit. It’s something I hate and appreciate. Appreciate because I have people whose opinions I value a lot. Hate because if they disagree with something I’m planning on doing, I can’t always shake off their strong opinion. Is it my decision not to do this or am I being influenced too heavily by someone? And how do I manage when said strong opinion becomes upset that I didn’t heed their advice? It’s been a life long struggle of mine to find the balance.

Mitigation and management come in handy not just in those moments in my life (it’s better to ask for forgivensss than permission by the way), but in work.

Negotiating pay packages. Advocating for patients. Dealing with bonehead doctors. Trying to figure out changes in insurance. Or why my HelloFresh box was randomly canceled. All things that require the ability to explain what you need, see the best solution to the problem, smooth ruffled feathers, and get the best for both parties if possible. While not screaming like a crazy lady

It’s not always possible to come to a solution that pleases everyone. Someone is going to walk away unhappy no matter how you try appease or conjole. But… I hope to have left the situation having handled it to the best of my ability

The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing 

from Proverbs 12:18 NIV

Frankly, my mouth gets the best of me. I’m trying to be levelheaded and calm because that’s what the situation requires, but the moment I’m affronted, cooler heads don’t always prevail. 🙈 Hey! Im trying to do better, be better, act better, but the tongue is a sword for a reason.

I need to heed the lessons I speak into this space. That means actually watching my mouth and trying to grant dignity to others. I just need to remember to not do those things at my personal expense. Sacrifice is important, but I tend to give more than I should to others. Balance.

Life is a circus. I’m trying to tight rope walk/juggle/clown car my way through it. Aren’t we all though?

As always, let’s all try to do better, shall we? I’ll lift you up a little and you extend the same arm to me until we manage to get there.

Until next time.

Travel on, road warrior.

Dust in the wind?

I typed out that title because my mind was focused a bit on some of the things going on in my life. I’m still not 100% sure where I’m going to end up, and with just 2 weeks left in my current assignment, it’s getting to be a little disconcerting.

My thoughts turned outward though. Not in a, “these people have it so much harder than you right now” kind of way, but in a reminder that sometimes my crisis isn’t all that critical. My uncertainty will resolve soon enough where others have a long list of things that may never see resolution. Never minimize your own struggles, but refocus on what’s fixable and what is ultimately just going to take time to get better.

We are in a state of constantly shifting current affairs. So much heartache, violence, and strife. That’s the world right now, but that’s been the world since The Fall (for those who believe in biblical teachings) and many times history repeats itself in the most horrifying ways.

There are moments of hope. News stories of people extending their hands to others in need. Saving animals and people alike. Being moral, being kind, being godly. Those glimmers are life rafts in an otherwise sad state of affairs.

Does that mean the terrible things plaguing us will disappear overnight? No. There are going to continue to be things that outrage, grieve, hurt, and scare us. That’s just the facts of life and our existence on this planet. I believe there are things we can do to make it bearable. Seeing the sick, praying for and meeting the needs of the poor, marching for the big issues, speaking up against things that are obviously wrong, and being the very example God called us to be. Don’t just speak Christian behavior, be Christ-like. Or if that’s not something that jives with your world view, be a better person than the person you dislike, up to and including treating them with dignity even when you’d rather not.

Have a good meal with a friend, help a person in need, examine your biases, and stay connected. We are finite, but our lives are worth so much and are worth living to the fullest with purpose.

I’m rooting for you so promise you’ll be rooting for me too.

Travel on, road warrior

Stop Me If You’ve Heard This Before

Well hello there, friend. Thanks for stopping in. Sorry I missed last week. I was back to work and sleeping was far more important than pretty much anything else. I picked up a weird 11p-11a shift that made me a zombie nurse and I’m just recovering (okay I’m not recovered at all).

4 weeks left in my current contract. I’m in the very spot I’m usually never in for reasons I’ve already mentioned. I don’t have my next contract lined up yet.

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Things have either fallen through, didn’t feel right, or weren’t happening. I’ve been doing a lot of mental pep-talking to convince myself I have nothing to worry about. Nothing. At. All. Something will pop up that will be exactly what I need and I’ll be happy. And even if it’s not perfect (because no assignment is perfect) I’ll have learned something about myself at the end of it all.

Which leads me to today’s post…

I’m sure I’ve discussed this topic before, but it never hurts to rehash it. Let’s do some definitions.

Bias: a particular tendency, trend, inclination, feeling, or opinion, especially one that is preconceived or unreasoned

Prejudice: 1. an unfavorable opinion or feeling formed beforehand or without knowledge, thought, or reason.
2. any preconceived opinion or feeling, either favorable or unfavorable

Stereotype:  a simplified and standardized conception or image invested with special meaning and held in common by members of a group

I don’t feel like I need to say anything more about any of those definitions apart from saying that everyone has preconceived notions. As humans, we classify things in order to have them make sense in our minds. It’s what we do, it’s not necessarily a bad thing… until it flips over into a behavior that causes us to treat someone else in a way that harms/disadvantages/holds them back.

The media, TV shows, and general news can reinforce them until they become rote in our minds. Bias hurts, prejudice hurts. Stereotypes I can work with. We can bust people out of boxes just by getting to know them. They become a person instead of an it because we’ve attached a face to their profession/addiction/sin/behavior. Then we find that, no, not all (insert people group) are like this just because I read it in a book. Unless of course you’re doing something truly awful then perhaps you are the thing you’ve been classified as by others. 🤔

As a traveler, I run into and try to overcome other people’s stereotypes concerning travel nurses. What’s a travel nurse? A regular nurse who travels. Haven’t ever worked with a good travel nurse? Wait until you work with me because I try my hardest to be a good nurse. Think travel nurses don’t care about the hospital or the job they’re at? Not true of every traveler. We’re there to work and be team players and I’ll work to show you that every time I walk in the door.

I’ve worked places that were hostile to travelers, where they worked to get them fired or ran them off. I’ve experienced places indifferent to travelers, where they didn’t care if you came to work or not as you’re just a body anyway. I’ve also worked at places that were grateful to each traveler who showed up. Everyone has an opinion about travelers; the work we do, the reason we do it, the money we make doing it, and I’ve seen the bias more often than not in the way they assign patients or treat the traveler in general.

All this to say, be teachable. Everyone is not the cookie cutter person you think them to be. It’s okay to have formed opinions and impressions, but give people the chance to blow your mind. You may meet a great travel nurse or friend that way. Admitting you have bias doesn’t make you a bad person, holding on to that bias and treating someone shabby does in my mind.

We can all do better, can’t we? Let’s start now.

Travel on, road warrior

Home is where the tasty food is

Alternative title: I came to eat!

So, things I know about myself are while I don’t mind change (I travel for a living!), I do like a little bit of control over how things go. There are travelers who can wait until the last week of their current contract before they start looking for their next one. That can work to their advantage as they find the highest paying at the moment because the need is immediate. It can also be a disadvantage if contracts aren’t plentiful or they are looking in a specific place or, or, or…

Forget. That. Noise.

Did you note my panic just typing out the things that could go wrong waiting until the last minute? All the things. I like some control so I look (and book) early. Some say wait until 4-6 weeks before looking and securing. I’ve gotten my next contracts within 4 weeks of completing my current contract. It’s how I have a little control over what comes next and, if I don’t like where I am or have worn out my welcome, I can say I know where I’m going next.

I start my next 5 week contract in Plymouth shortly. Unfortunately, I have no idea where I’m going next. I thought I did, was sure if it actually, but life is funny, ain’t it?

Anyway, I wanted to talk about one of – and of course I have more than one – my favorite places I have to stop at when I’m home.

Provence Market 

I may only be home for a week, but odds are good you’ll catch me here for lunch one day that week.

Listen, I’m not here to advertise or convince you to like or go to a place, but if I’m home and I want to go someplace to eat, I’m going here.

I can’t say I’m a lover of French food. I tend to think it’s a bit… perfect, pretentious, pompous… over done. But I like the versions of the food they do here.

They do a delicious French dip with some Brie added. A side of house made chips with truffle dip and I’m set.

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Or their Croque Monsieur – American style

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Atmosphere has an upscale air, but it’s not stuffy. Colorful plates with paper across the table, it has a nice feel that’s not off-putting in the lest.

The part I most appreciate about this place is the prices aren’t crippling. That French dip? $9. I don’t know that may be more than most want to spend, but with my eating habits (and subsequent food spending habits) that’s a deal daggonit!

I’ve eaten at more expensive places, but something about this one always draws me back. The heart (stomach) wants what the heart (stomach) wants.

There are places in my home town that I want to boost up and this is one of them. Homegrown restaurants aiming for that big city is worth noting.

Man, I need to change my title to say “Traveling Nurse: baby catching with a side of traveling and eating.”

Next up? Boston Comic Con plus their restaurant week, and then back to work. As always, get out there and enjoy where you are even if socializing isn’t your strong suit. And eat the dang cupcake. Until next week

Travel on, road warrior

I can work with that

And I’m a year older!

We’re post birthday (welcome to me in Year 33), and I’ve already veered off my tentative blogging schedule. My original intention was to have a twice a week posting, and last week didn’t produce said activity.

Look, I’m not going to sweat a schedule. I’m just going to be happy I manage it at all. We can’t be picky when we’re out here seeing the world. I’m conquering town, cities, states, and countries over here.

In case you’re wondering, my weekend was filled with pickles and lots of food. Picklesburgh, set on the Roberto Clemente bridge near PNC Park, was an interesting experience that reminded me of why I love the opportunities that traveling provides me. And why I’ll never have pickle lemonade if I’m ever offered it  🤢

You can see a lot by going not so far from home.

Pittsburgh is a short jaunt up the road (hour and some change depending on how long it takes you to drive), and the short drive brings you into a city with its own culture. Steel City, the home of Heinz, a city with a history rooted in industry that’s shown itself to be far more.

It’s interesting to cruise around a city that at times feels like it’s struggling to grow out of its industrial slump. I’m not going to lie, it reminds me of D.C. and it’s constant struggles with gentrification. The rundown houses butt right up to the hipster breweries. That’s any major city though, so I can’t fault Pittsburgh for the pains it feels at times.

East Liberty has a huge Target that seemed to draw people from far and wide into its doors. You pass the orchestra house and the ballet, both tucked into buildings that appear to have one time held factory work. Lawrenceville is home to many a hipster restaurant, and is the setting for an ice cream place whose idea, I was informed by someone, originates from Thailand. Check out NatuRoll, if you’d love some ice cream with a side of fanfare. Head over to the strip district for cool bars and a great (and wicked busy) Argentinan place. Gaucho, oh Gaucho, delicious food that makes your little heart sing. Stuck near the airport? Head to Settlers Ridge for Giant Eagle… I mean, a strip filled with stores and food to keep you entertained.

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Stuck at home? I believe every city has its strong points. There are things I do like about home and I’ll have to express that in a post sometime. The thing to remember is getting out. I don’t know how many native dwellers have told me they’ve lived somewhere their whole lives and never visited any of the major landmarks.

If you can’t travel, explore where you live. There’s simply no excuse. Festivals, farmers markets, parks, trails. Free, free, and free. When you know it, the city leaves its mark on you, so let it leave its mark.

In the immortal words of Stephen Stills, if you can’t be with the one you love, honey love the one you’re with. 

I’ll take my own advice every time I’m home.

Travel on, road warriors

Changing Courses

I’ve been the height of negligence when it comes to the blog. I think it’s time to change courses a bit, but first…

My birthday is coming!

*cue confetti falling from the ceiling and balloons popping up!

My birthday has always been an interesting experience for me emotionally. Parts of me dreads growing older, always has dreaded it. Maybe because of fear what the future holds or how much closer it brings me to death. Life is fragile and uncertain. Birthdays can be a reminder that time is speeding along instead of creeping, and for some reason that’s always left me feeling breathless and scared.

I have to actively stop myself from checking for gray hairs, folks! I also comfort myself with the fact that neither of my parents grayed early, as well as the fact that I don’t always look my age. Growing older isn’t a bad thing, but I’m not always ready for that idea. Especially when my mother occasionally asks me when I’m going to have kids. 🤔

One of my traditions, something I’ve done since I was in college, is to dedicate my new year to God. It’s a chance to evaluate the previous year, look ahead to the coming year, and offer that new 365 to God to shape however He wants. It has always added a different perspective to my birthday by changing my outlook in a very purposeful way.

I also celebrate my birthday like it’s a national holiday! That can mean a big international trip or something as simple as a nice massage. It’s important to celebrate self where you can in life.

As for work, I’m finishing up one contract here in Plymouth and then returning for a few more weeks after. I have some travel plans in the works, including the travel nurse conference and a big international trip.

I want to do something more with this blog space. Not monetize it because that’s everyone MO as of late, but I want it to at least be more prolific than it is currently. I’m hoping to write more in general, including reviews for local places and restaurants.

Writing is something I love doing and I just want to offer more of it even if it’s only in weekly doses. So here’s to more traveling, more writing, and birthday celebrations.

Travel on, road warriors