Breaking Free

I am a wild black stallion. I am wild and free. I am full of energy and life and I can not be tamed. I can not be broken. Right now, you have me trapped. You know that I am at your mercy. You speak to me with words that belittle me. You punish me. You are now playing mind games with me. You are cruel. Regardless of what you think, you will not tame me. You will not break me. You will not defeat me. What ever happens, I will use all of my strength to break free of the reins, of the hold that you have on me. I will charge at you and knock you to the ground. In the end, you will be the sorry one.

I can’t go into details but I am in a difficult situation in my personal life. The outcome of this situation is either going to inspire me, require me or force me to make a change in an aspect of my life I’ve known for over half of my life. There’s so many different ways this could go. It’s scary yet exciting. There is another person involved that has made this part of my life hell and left me feeling defeated, helpless and vulnerable. No matter how hard I try not to worry, or how many people reassure me that what I’m worried about won’t happen, I am still afraid. I can only pray that karma will find this person and burn them to the ground.

I will use this situation as an opportunity to allow one cycle of my life to end and another to begin. I will rise above the ashes. It is a change that I’ve been considering for some time. I’m scared of letting go of what I’ve known for over half of my life yet excited about what could be.

 

Why Adult?

Why adult when you can go hiking? I am hiking as we speak. I am sitting in the woods on a log as I draft this in my journal. A lady and her two dogs just passed by me on the trail. She gave me a puzzled look as if she wondered why I was sitting on a log writing in a notebook. Hasn’t she ever seen a writer trying to get her thoughts on paper?

Aside from a few minor annoyances at work Monday and Tuesday, I’m having a decent week so far. Monday afternoon my surgeon was running two hours behind. As I walked down the hall past my patient’s room on my way to the desk I heard my patient’s simple assed family member summon me. “HEY MISS, she’s hungry when is the surgery”. I froze. I felt as if I was in a torture chamber room listening to someone repeatedly scrape their fingernails down a chalkboard. I despise being called miss really I do. I closed my eyes, took a deep breath and turned around to walk into the room. “Nurse, you mean”, I replied. Now I know that woman knows I’m a nurse because I introduced myself as her daughter’s nurse when I went to the waiting room to retrieve her. I apologized to the patient for the delay and explained the situation, which I had no control over. I turned around and left the room having felt like all of the empathy had been sucked out.

Yesterday I was pulled to a preop unit to preop the patients of a surgeon who’s types of patients I simply don’t enjoy taking care of. Unfortunately while I was at lunch, one of my coworkers was screamed at by my patient’s mother, demanding pain medication for her son as he demonstrated drug seeking behavior. So the surgeon came to consent the patient, I got a pain medication order for something “extra stronger” than he takes at home and all was right in their world, but not in mine. Sometimes even something as small as being called “miss” and being yelled at by a drug seeker take their toll on a nurse’s humanity.

So here I am in the woods on my day off. I have adulting to do today but it’s going to have to wait until being in the woods has cleared my head and re-energized me. I’ll be busy this evening and tomorrow evening with something at my daughter’s school. If it doesn’t get done today, it wasn’t meant to be. With one kid in college marching band and the other kid in high school marching band I make it a top priority to hit the trail during my weekdays off because there’s no guarantee I’m going to have time on the weekends in the fall.

My husband and I look forward to hiking longer and different trails in the future but right now it will have to wait. My daughter is a freshman in high school and in her first year of marching band. It has been a thrill to see the experience and all of the firsts through her eyes. Her beautiful clear blue eyes that look as blue as a Caribbean Sea when she puts on that navy blue uniform. She’s so happy and we are at her marching band events, we are there with her, in the now and not on the trail.

The Appalachian Trail continues to call for us and remains part of our subconscious minds though. Whether it be day hike, a section hike or a thru hike, we want it all. We do research, read trail journals and I’ve read several books about people who have thru hiked. Now is not the time for us to thru hike but we will have time to section hike soon. Our kids need us. It’s ok.

On a positive note, I’ve learned a few things about myself as a hiker. I’ve learned that I need to eat and hydrate after each three miles I hike. I’m learning to use a compass. I’ve learned that I can carry more weight on my back than I originally thought I could. I’ve learned to follow a trail alone and how to find the trail again if I wander off trail to look at something. I’ve learned to hike my hike and enjoy my hike. I try so hard to let time limits go when I am in the woods. When I leave the woods my mind is in a much happier place.

 

 

 

Getting Real with Myself

I saw something a few days ago on Instagram that made me not like myself as a writer. I follow a few writing accounts on Instagram. One of them recently posted a photo with a quote by an unknown source that read, “A real writer doesn’t just want to write; a real writer has to write”.

Ok, let’s psychoanalyze me for a moment here. I’ve been told by several that I’m a good writer. I’ve never published anything yet or won any contests but I haven’t given up. I have this blog. I enjoy writing BUT, I don’t write everyday SO, I’m not a real writer.

Here’s my sob story. I am a nurse. I work in a perioperative unit. My job is to prepare patients for the operating room. I watch the clock all day. It’s busy, there’s always an unexpected task to complete, the surgeons move quickly and I need to be on my toes with what’s going on with my patients. It is mentally and physically exhausting. I spend Monday-Friday in a sleep deprived trance.

I get up at 0430 four days a week during a Monday-Friday week. I have my alarm set for 0351 and I proceed to hit snooze every nine minutes until the very last minute I can get up which is 0436. I sit at the side of my bed and then the toilet feeling sorry for myself because I have to be awake, promising myself I’ll come home and take a nap. I drink coffee and eat a carbohydrate. I’m more awake by the time I’ve hit the shower but now I really have to haul ass out the door because I’ve wasted too much time feeling sorry for myself that I have to get up at the ass crack of dawn and moving like a snail. I begin work at 0600. Once the caffeine has kicked in, while I am working, I write in my head about whatever pops into my head. I say to myself, “If I were home, I’d be doing…..”. Yes ok whatever Jen, if you were home you’d be lying in bed drinking coffee and enjoying morning dog time with your dog”. I get home from work, shower, nap, dinner, get whatever kid to where they need to be and then let myself off the hook with, “I’m too tired to write”, which most of the time is the truth.

So that’s why I don’t write every day, because I don’t have self discipline and I can’t get into a rhythm of when to write and I can’t put my phone down. I tried getting up 30 minutes early but I found myself in even more of a sleep deprived zoombie state than I already exist in. So I need a new gig.

I don’t like myself as a writer because I don’t write everyday. It is a known fact that a writer improves their craft by writing everyday. I’ve seen it on countless websites and books about writing. This tidbit of information is like a nagging voice in my that won’t go away. It follows me wherever I go and says I told you so when I “think about” writing or find something else do waste my time with when I could be writing. It too tells me I am not a writer. It’s like the scene in Animal House when Pinto’s date passes out and he’s deciding whether to take advantage of her or not. It’s that person standing on my shoulder, criticizing me, helping me kick my own ass for my lack of.

I would like just one month to get into a routine of something good for myself on the first of the month and carry it through the entire month. Then it would be a habit. So I did some google searching and remember something that I’d tried a few years ago that’s still in the ibooks section of my phone. It came from debbiehodge.com’s 365 Prompts. Each set of prompts is divided into months and the writer has to answer a different question each day.

My plan is to put my phone down when I go upstairs for bed, answer the prompt and journal after I answer the prompt. If I can do it sooner in the day, great. I know I can do it. I’ll check in and let you know how I’m doing. I’d better get to writing now because I’m getting sleepy and I don’t want to hear that nagging voice.

Hearing the Call

Life happens. If we open our minds and follow our hearts we will allow synchronicity to occur for us and lead us to people, places and experiences we might not have imagined ourselves in as our adult lives began.

In recent months, through a series of my own synchronicities, I have heard the trail calling me. The trail meaning any trail I choose to hike. I approached it with cautious baby steps at first but now I enter it with confident great strides. I belong there. It welcomes me, embraces me and shows me it’s true beauty each time I visit. It’s a necessity for me now. For inner peace, for inspiration and for exercise.

I hiked my favorite trail today. Blue to red to blue to orange to blue. The woods were wet from the heavy rains we had last night and I could smell the earth. There was no humidity or bugs, a plus. My eyes are always scanning the scenery as I hike along looking for anything I haven’t seen in a previous hike.  Although I know my landmarks, it always looks different to me. I haven’t seen any deer in the last three hikes I’ve taken but today I saw five! For as hard as I look for them, poof all of a sudden they just appear as if something is pointing my head right in their direction. They stand still as we make eye contact. If the breeze blows their way, I can see their nose lifting slightly into the air and I know they have inhaled my scent. I stand there for as long as they’ll tolerate it without them getting spooked and running off. I whisper to them. I tell them how beautiful they are and that I promise I will never shoot them. I thank them for visiting with me and when they finally run off, I continue on.

My husband and I have future hikes on different trails planned. These hikes are baby steps leading to great strides and longer distance hiking. We have a pretty cool date scheduled for 7PM on September 9, 2016, We will visit our local sporting good store to attend a class entitled “Planning Your Appalachian Trail Hike”. Yes I said it. The Appalachian Trail. It’s calling me and I can’t ignore it. I won’t ignore it. Our plan is to hike the 41 mile Maryland Section of the Appalachian Trail over four days in the fall of 2020 after we’ve both turned 50. I’d love to as my brother says “check out and hike the entire trail” but I know now is not the time for that. Why hike the Maryland section in 2020 and not now? Because our second child, our daughter will be a freshman in college and she says she’s “so going away to school”. Our son will have graduated college that spring. We’ll be empty nesters who won’t be committed to a high school marching band season for the first time in eight years. We’ll be 50. It will be our time to redefine who we are in a new phase of life and give something back to ourselves. Why not strip technology and comforts away for a few days in the wilderness to do that?

Four years seems like a long time but it really isn’t. My daughter’s time in high school will fly by probably faster than my son’s did. There’s much to learn and much hiking to do to prepare our bodies for a long distance hike like that. One thing is for sure: Each hike I take is one step closer to the Appalachian Trail.

I am a Nurse. That’s what I do.

I am a PREOP nurse. Four days per week between Monday-Friday, I rise at 0430, put on the scrubs and drive my jeep at warp speed so I can begin my 0600-1530 work day. I prepare patients for surgery.

Two weeks ago, my hospital opened up a surgical unit for Orthopedics. All of the Orthopedic surgeries now go through PREOP/OR/PACU on their own floor. Today I got pulled to the Orthopedic Surgical Unit. It was my first shift there. I had a wtf moment when I saw my assignment: 0830, 0840, 0850, 0910, 1140, 1250. These patients had multiple health problems, were on a ton of medications, could barely walk and a few were hard IV sticks. The surgeon I worked with often moves fast and runs ahead. The orthopedic OR staff is also a little impatient. I felt like I’d been hit by a train. On top of it, here I was getting used to a new unit for the first time. Different geography, newer equipment and a different unit flow. At one point one of my charts fell apart because I was so frazzled I forgot to close the three ring binder before I closed the chart. I felt like a new grad today. Somehow I managed to get through it all without being removed in a straight jacket. My patients went to surgery safely and on time. The surgeon didn’t yell at me and after my first four patients I could finally exhale. I did it because I am a nurse and that’s what I do.

My husband is not a nurse but today he had to report to work at 0600, two and a half hours earlier than usual because of an extremely busy day for his department. Today at 2;46PM my husband sent me a text stating that he needed a nap. I told him to welcome to my Monday-Friday weekly sleep deprived trance. He said he didn’t know how I managed to get up at 0430 every day. My answer is simple. I am a nurse and that’s that I do.

On July 20, in my Social Media post, I mentioned a dying coworker. Four days later on July 24, she passed away in the early evening. Less than 12 hours later, I was back at work at 0600. I went through the motions of my work day, double checking my work because it was difficult to concentrate. I took good care of my patients. I reassured them their surgeries would turn out fine. I smiled. Behind my smile though was a broken heart for the loss of a good nurse that I’d worked closely with when she and I worked together in the Emergency Room. I had less than 12 hours after her death to get to bed, have a terrible night’s sleep and get to work to take care of my patients without any free time to take a moment to reflect upon her life and the purpose she had in mine. Nurses don’t get the luxury of putting our work on pause. We get a grip and just keep moving. All the time. I am a nurse and that is what I do.

Hiking Through

The Appalachian Trail is only something that has recently entered my subconscious mind. I’d heard people mention it but never really gave it another thought because I was unaware of it’s significance. One day while we hiking our favorite trail, my husband told me about this couple he knew of when we were in our 20’s (friends of a friend)  who were going to take several months off to hike the Appalachian Trail right after they got married. They’d spent months planning, preparing, buying gear and taking practice hikes. Four months before their wedding, the groom dumped the bride and the hike was cancelled.

Curious about the significance of the Appalachian Trail I decided to look for a book.  I downloaded a book onto my nook entitled “Hiking Through: One Man’s Journey to Peace and Freedom on The Appalachian Trail” by Paul V. Stutzman. The author of this book tells the story of how he lost his wife to cancer. After his wife died he continued to work at the restaurant he’d spent his entire career at until he realized he couldn’t do it anymore. In just two months he planned his hike and headed to Georgia to do the Georgia to Maine 2176 mile 300 mountain hike on the Appalachian Trail. His reason for this hike was to work through his grief and find his purpose again.

The author openly discussed his wife’s illness, his childhood, past and his regrets. He’s a deeply religious man and his relationship with God was a strong influence throughout this experience. In the book he stated that hiking the AT “mirrored his spiritual journey” as he sought out the gift of hope and new life. His descriptions of nature, the people he encountered along the way, the culture of the AT, his struggles on the trail, what he learned and his conversations with God left me feeling fulfilled when he completed the AT hike. I read this book last week. I loved it and absolutely could.not.put.it.down. It made me feel good and gave me great admiration for those who have hiked through the AT.

Spiritual Journey? Physical Challenge? Long distance hike? Nature? Count me in! I’m putting this on my bucket list. I told my husband about this book and asked him if he’d be interested in hiking the AT. He quickly said yes. I don’t know how or when this will materialize for us but I do know the universe will present it to us at the appropriate time. Until then, it’s research and lots of practice hikes. I’ll be in the woods if anyone is looking for me.

 

 

 

In the Wake

I am sitting in a boat on a mountain lake. The sun is shining bright on the water illuminating the green trees and the beauty of the mountainside. My skin is golden tanned and my hair is wavy and windblown. I have spent all week on this boat, allowing the lake to seep into my soul. 
The boat is moving. I sit with my back against the driver so I can see the wake. As the boat moves through the water, the outboard motor creates an arrow shape in the water, the wake. Sometimes the boat turns and the water splashes me. It is in the wake of the boat that I realize I’ve found my center. I feel rested and back on track. During these days on the lake I’ve established a new rhythm of life. My lake life. 
Each day I wake up early and drink coffee in bed. I meditate. I read while I eat breakfast, then I shower and write. By late morning we as a family choose our lunch plans and afternoon activities. There is always a boat ride involved. During these afternoon boat rides, I am a quiet observer, shifting my attention between the wake, the cabins and the trees. We stop for icecream and ride the boat until we feel the heat of the sun grow less intense and the air grow cooler. We head to the cabin for supper and a campfire to watch the sun set and the day end. 
Tomorrow we will return to our city life. Monday I will rise again at 0430, shower, put on my scrubs and return to work. In the up coming weeks our freshman in high school will begin her marching band season. Our freshman in college will move into his college dorm and begin his marching band season. School starts for both kids at the end of August. We are headed for a busy fall. 
I fear that the first time shit hits the fan at work and I become angry and burned out, or when the marching band bomb goes off in our house that I am going to be thrown off my center that lake life has given me. 
I know my husband agrees with this next statement. We belong on the lake. It is our dream to own a place of our own for our family and friends to enjoy in years to come. 
We practice The Secret and have asked the Universe to grant us this. Jim Carey once spoke of his use of The Secret when he was trying to establish his acting career. He said “I’ve already achieved this. I just haven’t accessed it yet”. Our cabin on the lake is out there waiting for us to make our home. We just haven’t accessed it yet. 

Daily Prompt Burn

This is a response to Daily Prompt- Burn.

When I think of the word burn, I think of my childhood in Buffalo, NY in the 1970’s. We didn’t have all these music groups my kids listen to today that make wonder who in the world they are listening to and why this is music. We had Saturday Night Fever, The Bee Gees, and Disco. We didn’t sit in the house all summer long watching Netflix on our smart phones and playing XBOX either. We were outside where we belonged. We got dirty, played kick ball and rode our bikes. We ate homemade popsicles made from juice frozen in tupperware popsicle holders. If we didn’t like the babysitter we’d stage a water balloon fight minutes before my parents got home so they would be annoyed at the babysitter and all the deflated balloons on the lawn and not ask her back. We also had the game Burn.

Burn was a game my brothers, our friends on the street and I made up. Each player had to stand with their backs and arms flat up against the garage door. The object of the game was to dodge the ball being thrown at you without removing your back and arms from the garage door. If you removed your back and arms from the garage door you were disqualified. The person throwing the ball hurled it and if the ball hit you, well it burned. It was a good game of Burn if you had welts all over you where the ball hit you. At some point someone would break out in song,  the song by the Tramps “Burn baby burn, Disco Inferno”.

We’ve long since outgrown the game of Burn and moved out of that house.  We are all now in our 40’s and can’t move as fast as we used to. I am sure if we had a rematch today one of us would end up with welts. Probably me. In my mind I can still see that garage door and feel the welts on my skin. I always think of the game Burn when I hear “Burn Baby Burn, Disco Inferno”. A memory burned in my brain and frozen in time.