Story Break

A little storytelling for you as a break from my usual work/travel/life lamenting. If stories aren’t your thing, come back next week and I’ll get at you with that usual stuff.

Halfway through NaNoWriMo so I thought I’d hit you with a small sample of my writing. This is a very short story, about 300 words. Titled Beauty Queen. Have Maroon 5’s She Will Be Loved playing in the background to help move you along.

“I believe we’ll have to tuck things in a bit here.”

Patricia’s mother smoothed a hand down her bare side, pinching the skin by her hip. She looked at the hand in question, the skin dotted with aged spots that didn’t match the seemingly ageless face behind her in the mirror.

Her mother would have her freeze her face in perpetual youth as she’d done hers, as she continued to do. The plastic surgeon was on speed dial, second only to the country club she drank at every day. Her mother took her drinking seriously.

“I’d rather not have anything done, mother.”

The timidness in her voice made her cringe almost as much as her mother cupping her breasts through her brand new vermillion bralet. Her breasts were already overflowing the cups.

The ugly way her mother’s face twisted in the mirror made her stomach twirl. The pinch of nails on the sides of her breasts was unbearable, but she stayed still as was expected.

“Patricia Ann, beauty queens do what’s necessary to stay on top.”

She didn’t want to be on top. Patricia wanted to be sixteen and using her height for playing basketball instead of showing off her legs to gross male judges. She wanted to talk to boys her age instead of being touched by guys her father’s age.She wanted to be anything except a beauty queen.

She wanted to be Patty.

Her mother turned away and then turned back with one of the crowns she’d recently won. The gaudy crown settled on her head and she felt its weight in her soul.

“You’re nothing without your beauty.”

It was obnoxiously big and riddled with diamonds. An ugly reminder, like the trophies and gowns and shoes overflowing her room, that beauty was all there was to Patricia.

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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

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.

The good and the bad of leaving home 

I’m off to my next assignment soon. Not heading far, as I’ve mentioned. It’s not at home, but it’s close enough to home that my mother is pleased as punch and is already planning visits. Other than pushing my start date back a smidge, it’s not been much that’s made me more worried than normal about beginning a new assignment. Except… 

One of the things I’m distressed/worried/wondering about is how my appearance will be received. My hair is natural and colored plus I’m proudly sporting a nose ring that I have no plans on removing any time soon. Will that cause issues? 

There’s talk of the appearance of the nurse affecting care, or the patient’s  perception of the nurse’s ability to provide care. I’ll save this topic for another post, but where I stand on that is if I treat you with the dignity, respect, and care you deserve, what does a nose ring and hair color have to do with it? 

This brings me around to the topic that’s been brewing in my head since I’ve been home. 

The Good and the Bad of leaving (and coming) home. 

Many new travelers struggle with leaving the first few times. One of the biggest issues travelers face is homesickness. You’re somewhere totally new with people who don’t know you or what your capable of doing a different routine than what you’re probably used to from home. Add to that being in a new city all a lone and you run the risk of spiraling into depression and succumbing to homesickness. Most people quit if it gets too bad. I’ve always loved being on the road so it’s never been too big of deal to up and leave. I battle the anxiety of a new routine, but have learned to remember what I’m capable of and that makes the first few weeks easier to get through. 

I’ve mentioned that I’ve been traveling for three years, and while I like being home, I find it exceedingly difficult. I’ve been examining why and settled on the conclusion that I’ve changed so much that being home reminds me how much. 

Some of the changes are great. I recognize my worth, I know what I can take on without getting overwhelmed, I know what I won’t tolerate, and I know I’m a good helper. I’m a good nurse. Even when I’m anxious about so many things, I know that. I also know I can be an independent person who goes out and explores without needing someone else there with me. 

Some of the changes haven’t been so good. I’ve grown impatient with others, I’ve fallen into some habits that aren’t healthy (physically or spiritually), I’ve developed a potty mouth 😳, and another of other things that I don’t feel comfortable splashing over my blog today. And let’s not talk about my backsliding as a women of God. Everything has consequences 

It’s also tough on relationships, traveling. I find it easier to move on than take a chance when dating is the way it is currently. It’s hard coming home and seeing everyone in solid relationships, having babies when not sure it’ll ever happen for me. Side note: I’ve wondering how my mother would do arranging a marriage for me. Hm… 

Working at home gets tough because I see clearly what needs changed and I can’t tolerate when I see how poorly the staff is treated by those high in leadership. Church is tough too because they know how I was before and I feel like I’m struggling too much to pretend I have it together like I used to. When you’re out in the world that’s when the test of who you’ll be is given. Who am I right now? Human. Admittedly, I know God can use everything and I need to let Him led. I’m still learning. 

Traveling has helped me become someone better and different. That’s what happens when you’re on the move. Am I where I’m supposed to be, doing what I’m supposed to be doing? Yes, I believe that in spite of the struggles I battle against on many levels. I’m stronger in too many ways and I feel like more strength (as a nurse, as a woman, as a Christian) are coming. 

Leaving and coming home is an experience every time. And while I’d much rather stay on the road, everyone has to come home to rest. 

Travel on, Road Warrior 

Bias, stereotypes, and prejudice. Oh my?

In case you didn’t know (and because I’m a closet selfish person who thinks it’s a holiday), tomorrow is my birthday. 

The older I get the more I contemplate things in my life. No need to recap my history, but I’ve been alive long enough to understand some things just by observation. 

Like we can be good, but the bent toward evil plagues us all. For all my backslid ways, I recognize and acknowledge the hand of God and our innate battle to do the right thing. I battle it everyday. 

I also recognize that many times there’s something good that crops up out of terrible situations even if we can’t see it until years later. 

Another thing that is always apparent to me is the role bias/prejudice can play in how we deal with people. We are human and mentally require a way to understand things in our lives. We are prone to classify things in boxes to keep things sorted and that sorting can end up with labels that affect how we interact with our world. 

I’ve harped on stereotype and prejudice because they aren’t the same. One can be harmless and the other can lead to lynchings and shootings. I’m going to give a short, sparkly talk on what’s on my mind and perhaps one day I’ll do a better post on this. 

First my definitions of things. 

Stereotype: super simple view of a group. All women… All little girls wear pink. All men… 

Prejudice: when those views are morphed into something not found in truth leading to hostility, fear, and violence. 

I expect people to have some stereotypical views especially when you’ve never encountered that people group. What gets hard is when people refuse to recognize and let go of those stereotypes. When you can’t see how you may be biased, you can’t understand the struggles of the other group. 

Let me mention my own bias that I recognize. When I’m at work, I automatically see all doctors as nasty demagogues who treat nurses like crap. That’s my experience and it’s hard to shake that particular bias and how it affects my relationships with physicians. When I work with drug users who put their newborn at risk, I also struggle. I also see my own fear and bias when I live in a predominantly white/rural area. It was in a rural area that I had my run in with someone shouting racist epithets. Nothing is scarier and isolating than a true terror that comes when you aren’t sure if your skin color could result in someone attacking you. I’ve met many welcoming people, believe me! It’s not an unfounded view, but it’s hard to shake it when I’m somewhere more rural. 

I struggle against my bias. Mine is more of how the behavior of others can hurt me, but I’m sure I hold other beliefs that make me avoid helping those I should. 

Our current social climate is tense. We as a people group don’t realize how deep our collective bias/prejudice runs. We can’t see it so we don’t change it. In movies, it’s the automatic roles that those of color or women fall into and the way we don’t question it. The gangster, the bimbo, the ghetto queen. Those stereotypes stem from our own incomplete understanding of people.things rutted in age old beliefs. 

Bias can and does affect certain people’s ability to get a job. How many studies exist showing how equally qualified individuals are side by side and interviewers don’t even give the person with the more ethnic name a chance. People argue that it’s the company’s right, and I’m not disputing that. What I’m trying to get people to see is that the bias exists and people are ignored and put at a disadvantage because of it. 

We all like to believe we are sinless when it comes to sexism, racism, any ism but the truth is some of our isms are societal and taught. It’s engrained and subtle. We are not absolved just because we say “society made me think it”. We have a responsibility to recognize and change our prejudices. There is no free pass simply because you are a Bible believing Christian. You need to open your eyes and see if your bias is making you treat others as less than. 

For example…

If you ever said,”they should get off their butts instead of leeching off the government and support themselves.” What makes you say that? How is it changing your willingness to be a possible champion? How does it help you to ignore the need in this group? 

I’m no wrist slapper and I’m not here to shine a light in anyone’s eyes except my own. But… If your pupils dilate and you see a little better, everyone wins. 

So, back to traveling, huh?

Travel on, road warrior 

“I’m so glad you’re working tonight.”

Hello from New England. Summer has officially crept in, which means I’m down to 3 weeks remaining on this assignment. It’s all downward slide from here. For me, it means I’ve reached that point where I’m not quite coasting, but I’ve hit my stride and see the light at the end. 

This hasn’t been a bad assignment. Once my anxiety from the previous assignment diminished, I was able to see how this could be a good place to work once they fixed their staffing issues. Honestly, hands down the best physicians/clinicians I’ve worked with ever. Respectful, collaborative, and not condescending. It’s like a dream. I’d take these docs and midwives and add them to my dream hospital. Seriously, you should come work for me because my dream hospital is going to be Ah-Mazing. 

I’ve oriented a lot on this assignment, which is strange. I’m a traveler, how am I going to teach you what you need to know to do well at this facility? I mean, I can show you how to manage a labor, but the individual intricacies of your work place? I just know enough to make sure I don’t overstep my boundaries as a temp worker.

I have knowledge and experience specific to L&D, but I’m no teacher anymore. Okay that’s not true. Once a teacher, always a teacher especially as a nurse. I just don’t always feel comfortable teaching as a traveler. Telling you what I know to be true in labor and what your facility wants isn’t the same thing. 

A girl I’ve oriented here told me the day before she was always glad to see me at work. She said she felt better because she knew I knew what I was doing. That made me feel… Like a grown up. Haha. 

I’ve turned into someone a younger/newer nurse could look to for advice? When did that happen?? 

What I am is an encourager. I like to cheerlead new hires or transfers to a floor. I like to tell them they can do it because they can. I like to offer words of advice and a smile that says go get ’em. I like to ask if they are doing okay and need help because it’s nice to know you have back up in a crisis. 

I’m still learning and my true teaching days are on hold, but (like I said) you’re never truly done teaching. It’s exciting and challenging to realize that 10 years in, I’m not a baby nurse anymore. Someone is glad I’m working that night because they know I’ll help. 

Here’s to teaching and being always teachable. 

Travel on, road warrior 

Acknowledging the past, not ignoring it. 

It’s the start of week 9 here and it’s been a lot of radio silence. I apologize for that. Some could be the result of residual indifference I feel on this assignment. 

Odd to be feeling that way because in many instances it’s really not been bad. Great providers! Shoot, many doctors expect to be called by their first names and seem to listen and respect both the nurse’s opinion and the patient’s desire for a vaginal delivery. They tend to hold out on surgical intervention until it’s absolutely necessary, which I appreciation. I’ve not encountered too many high risk instances here that feel outside of my particular level of expertise. Even faced with such a nice set up, I still battle some of the worst anxiety I’ve felt in a long time, don’t really feel that usual connection I get at work, nor feel any desire to remain there that I usually consider at this point in my assignment (when things haven’t been bad). 

I can’t put my finger on it, but I know with 5 more weeks remaining, I’ll be moving on to somewhere else soon enough. 

Ambivalence aside, I wanted to discuss something that I encounter a lot as a labor nurse. And no, it’s not the self-important anesthesiologist who seems to expect the nurse to wait on him hand and foot. That’s another post… 

I’ll get a patient for admission, someone at the end of their pregnancy and in a committed relationship with their husband/significant other. I’ll start to browse through their history and read something that goes a little like this… 

Patient has (an STI/history of drug use/something serious in their past), HUSBAND DOES NOT KNOW. 

Uh oh. 

This puts me in a spot where I have to attempt to get a clear history, including medications they are on and sexual history that may affect the baby, but I have to figure out how to do it with them in pain as their significant other supports them. 

I understand what it means to have a past you don’t want to discuss and how it would be hard to bring it up, but I question the level of trust you have with someone you’re married to if you didn’t feel safe enough to reveal a big part of your history that directly impacts them. 

The basis of a marriage is trust and adding a child to that is asking for more trust between the two of you. Opting to withhold things that could damage established trust when it came out later could be detrimental. Is it a matter of acknowledging you’ve picked the wrong partner or exploring why you don’t trust them enough to reveal yourself? 

Plus you’ve got me in a bind as your nurse in trying not to be the one to ruin your relationship by accidently spilling the beans. Revealing secrets and ruining marriages, I’d like to not to add that to my résumé thankyouverymuch. 

This makes me think of things I still keep hidden. It’s hard to open up, but holding back when you’re in an intimate relationship (friendship, family, love relationship, discipleship group) can definitely breed more mistrust when truth comes to light. I guess it’s a matter of creating that space in your relationship to be honest or asking what holds you back from honesty. 

Bottom line: don’t make me have to be your secret keeper in labor. I’m not a good liar. 

Travel on, road warrior. 

Skill set talks 

And laziness (sits at the desk and does nothing) walks. 

I’m holding off writing another post for… reasons, but something else is on my mind anyway. A little self reflection after being home for a bit. 

In case you didn’t know it, I’m a little bit of a perfectionist. I’d not go so far as to call myself type A, but I’m definitely an overachiever. Perfectionism, for me, has a tendency to devolve into personal nitpicking and self-criticism. Anxiety and depression are also symptoms. 

I say this because I’m really really sensitive to other’s talk and behavior. Which includes talk of other people. Who’s lazy or doesn’t pitch in or not a good clinician. I pay attention, wince, and force myself to work harder. 

The desire to get it right every time can make me overextend myself. I never ever want to be spoken about by others as the lazy/unsafe nurse. They’re always talked about at work because they do more talking than actual work

I fear being seen that way, but know I’m not a perfect nurse. 

Every shift ends with me remembering something I forgot to do that I promised I would, me rehashing events and seeing ways I should’ve done better, or me feeling inadequate because I failed to measure up to my personal standards of care in even the smallest thing. That can be crippling and it’s something I struggle against daily. 

I always say I’m open to gentle correction. If you think I’m lazy or missing critical thinking steps, please tell me as nicely as you can. I don’t want to continue on in a way that puts myself or my patient at risk. But while I’m open to it, I also fear it for the same reasons. My mind can’t help thinking I shouldn’t have missed the mistakes anyway. How critical we are to ourselves at times, right? 

I’m sure I’m not alone in the struggle. It’s a double edge sword in that it makes us strive to be better nurses/people but it also traps us in a cycle of anxiety at work. 

In case no one has told you (or has told you many times and you refuse to believe it), hear me right now when I say this to you… 

You are a good nurse. 

Let go of that attitude that says you have to kill yourself mentally in order to be successful. Do everything you can to make your shift safe and a good experience for your patient, but don’t take every little mistake home with you. You are valuable, important, and offer things that make the floor better. See your potential and personhood for what it is, a way to be light to others. And in case you missed it, here it is one more time: You are a good nurse. 

Read that again to remind yourself, okay? I’ll try doing it as well. No one’s perfect, bottom line, and we all have missteps in our career. Own it, but don’t let it unravel you. 

Travel on, road warrior.