On the Eve of 28

It’s hard to even get my head around everything that has happened so far this year.  I started the year off with one of the worse cases of flu I’ve ever had, even though it technically wasn’t “the flu” when I was tested so I couldn’t take tamiful to shorten the duration. But despite feeling like a truck ran over me, I still managed to sit for the NCLEX-RN and pass on my first attempt with the minimum number of 75 questions.  I happily added RN to my signature on January 8th, exactly two years after I started nursing school.  Then I had the best chance to celebrate by traveling to Disney World to run my first marathon!  It was a great trip to Florida, but in the aftermath of that 26.2 miles, I had a rough couple of months before I found my first nursing job.  In full disclosure, I had two failed interviews at the hospital where I had dreamed of working since my externship in 2014. However, I followed those with two successful interviews at another hospital system. With two offers on the table, I chose the hospital that I thought would be the best fit for me and started working in March.

Adjusting to working as a “real” RN was one of the most difficult periods of my life. Nothing truly prepares you to actually practice except jumping right into it, but the past 6 months have taught me so much about patient care and how to survive a hectic 12-hour shift. In the in-between-work times, I managed to travel to Texas to visit my beautiful Phi Mu Little and to Costa Rica on a yoga retreat. Both trips were transformative in so many ways. This has just been a year of transformation!  It seems that hardly a day goes by that I don’t gain a new perspective on some aspect of my life.

But the changes don’t stop there!  In a series of fortunate coincidences, I met a friend of a best friend who works at a top-ranked hospital (not only in my state, but nationally), and she offered me an opportunity to shadow here on the floor. An interview followed by an application (yes, I did that in reverse order), and I got a job offer!  The funny thing is that I got the offer while I was in Costa Rica without cell service, so it was the first voicemail I received when I landed back in the USA. I’m going from a Med-Surg position to a Neuroscience ICU floor – and I’ll be getting a huge upgrade in nursing skills.  Very good news!  After some negotiation with the timing of my start date and my “last day” at my current hospital, I am set to start later this month.  And I will also be making a move closer to my new job.  The 40-minute commute I have endured most of the year would turn into 70 minutes without the move, so a move is necessary.

Ever since I got back from Costa Rica, it’s just been a constant series of adjustments as I prepare for my next steps. I’m nervous to be shaking my life up in so many ways all at once, but I’m thinking of it sort of like ripping off a band-aid. After all the dust settles (probably not until December, I imagine), I’ll be ready to have a little tranquility in my life.

Tomorrow I officially turn 28 and I’m pretty sure I’m about as far from where I thought I’d be at 18 as it is possible to be.  I’m a nurse, not a geologist/environmental engineer.  I’m a runner, not a couch potato.  I’ve been living with my boyfriend for over a year now, though my 18-year-old self probably thought I’d be married with kids by now.  I’m a dog person, no longer a cat person.  Probably the only thing that has stayed the same is my outgoing personality and my impressive ability to procrastinate and yet still get stuff done.  I wonder where I’ll be at 38…will the next 10 years fly by as quickly?

Springing Into Action

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This week has been just splendid so far!  Once I got beyond an odd, fleeting illness on Fri/Sat, Sunday started off on the right foot with a kayaking trip.  We were out for over 5 hours and paddled over 10 miles!  I had no idea the journey would be that lengthy, but despite the fact that I wasn’t quite back to 100%, I handled it pretty well and had a great time. James only had to rescue me a few times, haha.

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We even met some neighbors who live down on the water who told us about a show, The Blacklist, that we’ve started watching together.

Monday was another day off for me, and I used it quite productively. Got outdoors with a couple of nice walks, cleaned up around the house, did laundry and food prep for the week. And when James got home, we ate dinner outside and played with the puppies. Spring is such a glorious time of year because it’s both “not too hot” and also light out until after 8pm.  Just like I seem to forget how quickly it gets dark in the fall every year, I seem to have forgotten how much daylight we have during spring, but this time of year it’s a happy surprise!

The other happy surprise Monday was the early arrival of my new ChargeHR fitbit!!!!!!  I got it all set up and ready to monitor my every heartbeat.  My “track everything” mania may have just switched into overdrive!

IMG_7048 (Results from my AM run + 12 hour shift Tuesday.)

Tuesday started out on the right foot with a 2-mile run before work. I survived my first shift with 5 patients.  I’m officially in the final stage of orientation with about 4 weeks remaining.  Now I’ll really be pushing myself in terms of time management and critical thinking, but I’m confident I’ll get it down before I’m on my own! And I’ll never be totally on my own because I have a great team of coworkers, especially my charge nurses who are always there to lend a hand.

This has really been a weird week, because I had Wednesday off as well.  Started my day off with a DELIGHTFUL 6-mile run.  First run of this duration with my HR monitor, and I’m so intrigued by my data.  Later in the morning, I had an appointment with my new PCP for a health screening.  He gave me a clean bill of health, my vitals were solid (BP 103/58, HR 60), and he said my weight was within a healthy range. He also gave my new sugar-less eating plan a stamp of approval, because he’s EXTREMELY against processed foods/added sugars/HFCS/low fat/etc.  Then I ran a few other errands including joining the gym (I get a major discount as a hospital employee) and enjoyed the outdoors. In the afternoon I took care of some tasks for work, and got everything ready for the arrival of the James from his day.

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We ate dinner outside again because it was too beautiful not to! And this evening we have been just hanging out. I felt inspire to blog, so I did.  James felt inspired to play Destiny, as per usual. Tomorrow and Friday are both day shifts at work.  Saturday and Sunday I have fun events planned.  And after that…I’ll be taking it one day at a time.

I’m just feeling very upbeat, calm, and collected. Happy with how this new eating plan is making me feel, overall.  My strategy is to limit my food types to meat, veggies, eggs, nuts, cheese, plus my favorite sugarless gum and Mio Energy.  It’s a bit quirky, but my clothes are fitting better and I’m adjusting my lifestyle accordingly.  It was time for a change!

Big Changes in 2015

I don’t even know the last time that I blogged, and I’m not going to break the momentum of this post to check it now. But I’ll just cover all of 2015 so far to be safe. Briefly, though, because I have a lot of recent stuff I want to discuss.

2015 started off in a whirlwind. I rang in the new year with some variation of the flu that was untreatable (except with rest and fluids), and suffered some of the worst aches/pains I’ve yet experienced.  But I did survive, and I was distracted in part by the NCLEX that I took a week later. That test was so surreal, and I’m not supposed to talk about it even if I could remember any of the content (I can’t…it was such a whirlwind).  But even though I thought I failed (the test cut off at 75 questions, the minimum possible), I found out the following day that I passed!

Just in time to pack my bags, drop off the dogs, and head to Florida to run my first marathon! James accompanied me on the vacation, and we visited both of our families.  While we were in Disney for the race we hung out with Kelly and Cody. Sidenote, when Kelly and I finished the race, I would STILL say that I was in more pain after the flu I had earlier in the year.

Then, upon our return, it was a matter of finding an actual nursing job. I ended up going on two interviews that were unsuccessful followed by two that were, and because the latter two were with the same hospital system, I had the good fortune to have both offers on the table simultaneously. I ended up choosing the smaller of the two hospitals because I felt more comfortable there and knew it would be a great learning experience.

But let me tell you, the period of time between when I returned from Florida and got hired was rough. I struggled with running, self-doubt, and a fear that I would never be good enough to be hired as a real RN. And while the period since the job started has been a definite improvement, it has not been without its struggles. At work, I keep feeling like I know nothing and I am constantly running around, accomplishing very little. Away from work, the erratic schedule has been tough to cope with.  I feel like I barely have time to get done what I must, and I can’t get a handle on how to fit in what I actually want to do.

However, I have had two revelations recently. I had a dental cleaning and my dental office has hired a new hygienist who is absolutely splendid.  Not only did she do a very thorough inspection and cleaning of my teeth, she explained everything as she was doing it and she also provided me with oral education and answered all my question. In a roundabout way, that’s how i want to structure my patient care. I’m going to start off each day not only asking what their goals are but explaining to them what my goals are for them, based on their health status and reason for hospitalization.  I was to feel more in control of each day and I also want them to feel in control and understand how we are providing care for them.

In terms of my health, I have also taken a big leap. I’m joining James on a sugar-free diet for the next two weeks.  This also included no fruits or artificial sweeteners (hits me hard with gum and diet caffeine drinks), and limiting carbs even from veggies and nuts.  My mainstays are meat, cheese, green veggies, and nuts. And lots of water to try and keep my mouth from tasting odd.  It’s been a struggle and my first day back at work this week (tomorrow) will probably be the worst yet.  But I’m trying to make it the full two weeks and hopefully see some marked weight loss and overall improvement in my control of food.  I had really started to lose control of my sugar consumption AND that was even more of a problem because I’ve been running so much less.  I don’t think I’ll be able to keep this up indefinitely (and I only plan to do so until I lose the 15 or so pounds I have put back on), but I’m hopeful that the long term change will be a drastic reduction in all processed foods in my life.

What else? Things with James are pretty good.  We’ve worked through most of our disagreements at this point, so all that remains is how to decide what to do with our limited time together.  I’ve only been at this job 2 months, so there are still kinks to work out.

I haven’t been seeing nearly as much of my friends, but now that my spring classes have ended, I’m hoping that will change for the better.  And I’m starting to make friends at work, which will only improve with time.

All in all, a pretty good start to the year.  Hopefully I can finally get an even keel and move forward confidently in terms of my career growth and my health.

All the Small Things

This past month or so has been the biggest whirlwind of my life.  Even just on the other side of it, I’m not sure how I got through it.  It seems my last post was just after my 18-miler.

In between times, I did lots of schoolwork.  I ran a rather disappointing half-marathon with Kelly.  Running with Kelly was (and is) always fun, but I didn’t have a good run physically.

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I also spent a little time with Carlie & family for the first time since August.

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I worked a double shift on Thanksgiving this year, because that’s what you end up doing in healthcare.  It was a pretty good day, and the hospital provides family-style meals for the patients and staff on holidays, so that was enjoyable.

The beginning of December started with a bang! Had our last day of clinical at the hospital, for starters.

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I also ran 20 miles last Thursday.  I didn’t actually blow up social media with it this time because I wanted to leave the focus on my friend Regan’s wedding that weekend.  But it was a great run and I also had the support of James who biked with me from miles 7.5-20.  He carried my water/food and provided much needed moral support.

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And then…the wedding!  I was a bridesmaid Regan’s beautiful wedding and we spent the whole weekend together, starting with a trip to the nail salon and the rehearsal dinner on Friday.

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Saturday morning, the day of the wedding, I started bright and early with a run.  And then we all spent time together while getting ready with hair and makeup.

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I was pretty pleased with the final results and also with the arrival of my beautiful little 🙂IMG_5524

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And then we put on finishing touches before heading to the ceremony.

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The beautiful cake…and my handsome date 🙂

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And more of me and my beautiful little. Followed by some end-of-wedding shots.

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And this is how I spent my Sunday:

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So yes, lots of pictures.  Lots of fun with friends.  And now school is almost over. I can hardly believe it, but there it is.  The rest of December should be busy, but at a calmer pace. Lots of studying, some holiday celebrating.  Oh, and celebrating graduation THIS WEEKEND!  Can’t wait!

Barely Legal: Running 18 Miles

It has been a tumultuous couple of weeks since my 16-miler. Lots of good, fun things. Also lots of stress and work with school. I even managed to pick up a shift at work-work.

To start, Halloween was uneventful, but it was followed by the beautiful wedding of my friend Stephanie.

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And she had a photobooth there as well!

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Pretty uneventful couple of days following that. I managed to make it to the polls on election day, despite scheduling difficulties.

I also took a brief trip to my hometown. I visited my friend Teddy and my grandmother, while enjoying the foliage.

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I’ve been running quite a bit. I did actually have a terrible run while on my trip. I tested the limits of my treadmill tolerance and found them. I cut a 10-miler short to 9 miles, which is so rare for me. But as Jess says, you have to have a few bad runs to enjoy the good ones.

I actually had a panic-stricken weekend as I got stressed about all of the homework I had on top of the test (which is actually this Monday) and all of the other things going on in my life (like my 18-miler). But I took a step back, rescheduled a few things, and got my head back on straight. And I ended up having a great week!

My 18-miler was a bit of a strugglebus, however. I started out by driving the route and leaving water bottles and snacks for myself at strategic locations (3,6,9 miles). It was raining just the tiniest bit, but there was no rain in the forecast, so I decided to chance it. And it was cold. So I set off, and the rain picked up. I almost turned around. But finally it cleared up and I carried on.

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The toughest moments were just before the 9-mile turnaround point and the 17th mile. At both of those points, it just seemed like the run would go on forever and I would never make it. All-in-all, it was a pretty flat route, not too many cars, and the temp was cold but not intolerable.

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At the end, I was so happy to be done that I jumped for joy! But really, I was just sore and quite tired. I spent the rest of the morning recovering with food, an ice bath, and a shower. Then I got ready for a show that evening!

I met Rhea at the mall downtown where we grabbed a quick dinner and then walked to the theater. It was a great show, and so awesome to catch up with her.

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Also, bonus walking around the mall, combined with my run steps, added up to over 45k steps…a new record!

But because I didn’t get home til after midnight, I slept in and just had time for a short recovery run before Rebecca came over for some Doctor Who.

The rest of this weekend will be spent studying, running, and heading to a Mexican-themed birthday party.

Running my Sweet Sixteen the day before Halloween

So this marathon training is starting to get real. Up until my birthday and the half-marathon that I ran the day-of, I had really just been in my typical training mode.

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But October has seen two long runs in excess of the half-marathon distance. The first was 14 miles with Kelly. My camera didn’t save our selfie, but I did capture the delicious donuts I bought for us. I ate one right before & after, because I have the running stomach of a champ!

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The second was today, my first 16-miler. Sadly, I was solo. Happily, the weather was phenomenal and other than getting tired by the end, I had no pain or other mishaps. It was definitely more of a mental game than anything. Three hours is a long time to convince your body to do anything as taxing as running, even if said running is slow.

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In other tangentially running-related news, I carved a pumpkin earlier this week. While mine wasn’t the most elaborate (congrats Cathy), it did have the desired effect: a bit of “pumpkinspiration” to get through the coming weeks!

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Continuing to wind back the clock, last weekend I received a long-awaited visit from my BFF Jess! She came to cheer me on at a Halloween 10k, and was a real trooper as I dragged her out the door when it was still quite dark. Luckily she is a fellow runner, so she gets it!

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And after the run, we embraced our inner children with a trip to the pumpkin patch, complete with hay-bale ride, corn maze, and jumping!

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Needless to say, it was an amazing weekend. A real run-cation!

But not EVERYTHING in my life is about running. Just a few weeks ago, I celebrated my beautiful friend Regan’s upcoming wedding at her shower.

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The theme was Disney Fairytale, and I won one of the games by tying with another bridesmaid for most number of correct Disney songs matched to their movie. It was a delicious, delightful day!

And it came right on the heels of another fun week-long even: visits from familia de el James (pardon my Spanglish). His mother came to stay with us for about a week, during which time we dined elegantly and visited some local attractions, including my beloved giraffes!

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We also overlapped a weekend visit from his brother and sister-in-law. It was so nice to meet them, host them in our guest rooms, and even work out with them!

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I’d say that about sums up my month. Oh yeah, and intermingled amongst all of that have been 2 tests, clinicals, a paper, and lots of other reading and assignments for my 15 credits of insanity. It’s nice to know I am capable of all this, but that doesn’t make it easy. I think I will probably look back on a lot of this as a blur, which is why I am trying to savor what I can.

Today was Cool!

First, apparently today was the day the first episode of Full House aired, which officially makes me old.

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I love this day on TimeHop, because it represents such different phases of my life. Here, I was enjoying sorority recruitment with my Phi Mu sisters:

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The following year, I was gathering data for my senior thesis project in geology.

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After I graduated, I joined AmeriCorps NCCC and the Green Unit!

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In the subsequent years, I had more time to reflect on life and connect with news & politics as I was getting started with my new career.

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And finally, last year, my relationship with James was just beginning and this was one of our first outings, our first photo as a couple, and definitely my first big social media update proclaiming that he was my boyfriend.

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Today has been rather grumpy…it’s a Monday and I didn’t get a run in before class (where I had a math test). Hoping to turn the day around and decrease my stress level. But yesterday was lovely! Did my 12 mile run, got some studying done, Regan and Matt came out to visit and we had Mexican for dinner. James and I took his new motorcycle and also stopped for handmade ice cream on the drive home. Here’s us in the afternoon and also on the bike in the evening.

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It’s kind of grainy due to poor lighting but it’s the best I could get.

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