Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Here I go again...

Once again, as the new year approaches, I find myself feeling simultaneously defeated and optimistic. Defeated, because 2015 was such an awful year for me and optimistic because there are so many opportunities available to me for a successful 2016.

I began 2015 with a telephone call from my manager informing me that due to my injury and subsequent restrictions, I did not need to return to work until further notice. I thought nothing of it. I figured a couple days, maybe a week or two of resting my foot and utilizing the brace I was given and I would be back to work without an issue. Well, needless to say, that never happened. My injury hasn't healed, I was eventually terminated because I was no longer able to perform my job functions as a flight nurse. That day absolutely devastated me. Are there much worse things that could have happened this year? Of course there are. Am I generally grateful for my life, my family and my overall health? Of course I am. That doesn't, however, minimize the pain of being told that I was no longer good enough to continue in the job i loved.

I am grieving. Grieving a job sounds ridiculous, even to me. I have found, in retrospect, that as much as I didn't believe it, I had completely invested my total persona in my work. I had no friends outside of that "circle", I had no interests outside of my profession and unfortunately, I had no additional skills or education either. Now I must find out who I am now, as an almost 50 year old woman facing a major life change. I must balance my grief over the loss with the excitement and optimism of pursuing my passion. I suppose it's all in perspective.

It's time to refocus. To realize what's gone is gone and that not many people have the opportunity to work their dream job for as long as I have.  To embrace as my future the freedom and flexibility to be available to my family, to pursue my passions and my creativity and to build an empire of my choosing when I so choose.

2016 will be my year. I will see great growth personally, spiritually, creatively and professionally. I will defeat this monster black cloud that hovers daily in my mind and succeed beyond anyone's imagination. Don't tell me I can't for that will simply insure my success.

Here's to 2016, balance, success, happiness and prosperity.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

When September Comes (or August in South Carolina...)

I'm finding myself dreading Monday morning. Not for the same reasons as most. Because now that I am my own boss, I no longer have to rise at the crack of dawn to fight the masses, however THIS Monday morning by last child, my baby girl, will be entering high school. For the first time since she was born, I had the opportunity to be home and spend time with her this summer, REALLY spend time with her.

We had our own version of Camp Mom and it was FUN. Some days we binged on popcorn and Netflix others were full of Starbucks and the mall. Some days we did absolutely nothing at all and somehow STILL giggled our way through the day. Mostly, it was about making memories. Mixed in all of that was exposing (torturing) her to my "incredible" taste in both movies and music from my middle and high school years. This summer she has become a John Hughes movie aficionado, an 80's hair band devotee and once, i actually caught her with a side ponytail (although she might have just woken up)!! 

I enjoyed having this time with her. I know it won't be long until she is more interested in spending these days with her friends and (gasp!!) boyfriends instead of with me, so I will certainly cherish what she gives. I'm going to miss her Monday morning when she gets on that school bus.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Time flies, even if I don't anymore....

Ten years ago I sat outside on the sidewalk with my 4 year old daughter coloring, while the movers loaded up the townhouse we were renting at the time. Connor was running around the playground saying goodbye to the few kids there were in the neighborhood and all I could do was wonder if I'd truly lost my mind.

I was in the midst of a very stressful period in my life, wading through the depths of depression and barely functioning as an adult much less a mother. I was surfing the internet late one night when I stumbled upon a job opening in a land far, far away. A few keystrokes later, I had a new job, a new house and a short timeline. Never a fan of change and certainly not known for risk taking, I immediately regretted the impulsive (some may say manic) decision. I stayed awake nights trying to figure out how to take it all back. What was I thinking? I can't do this. Had I lost my mind? Maybe I was the one who needed psychiatric help...

As bad as I was with change, I was worse with showing emotion. I could not be vulnerable. I could not let the world know I had lost all control. I marched on, nauseous and doubtful through those last days in my"comfort zone." The girls who had held me together during the darkest times, the ones I spent all those nights with while we tended not only to the needs of our sweet preemie patients but to each other as well, those were the girls I couldn't bear to face. The ones that knew me well enough to see through the facade and realize I was horrified by this decision. The ones I didn't even say goodbye to. The ones that haunt me to this day. My only regret now is that I left without saying goodbye to some very important people, not because I didn't care but because I cared so much.

It was a long drive alone with two young kids. We arrived in Charlotte to our new home (rented simply based on what I could see online) before the moving truck, before utilities were turned on... that first night we spent at the red roof inn, eating hardees while Connor raved over and over about all the trees! He'd "never seen so much green!!"

Now, here I am 10 years wiser. It wasn't easy those first few years. That first neighborhood offered new friendships and heartbreak at the same time. We moved several times after that and experienced big changes in our family life. I never quite understood why I felt so drawn to this particular place, this particular job, until I was coerced into attending a St. Patrick's Day party with coworkers and friends where I met the man who would change our lives for the better.

Did I say I don't like change? It wasn't easy to let someone new in. It wasn't easy to allow myself to be vulnerable again. It was worse to think my kids were vulnerable now too. I didn't make it easy for Jeff Hill, lucky for me he doesn't take no for an answer.  So many things seem to have changed over the years and yet I've never been more "me". I've never been more satisfied, more comfortable.

Charlotte, you've been good to me. Thanks for taking me in and showing me how good life can be.
Bring on the next 10 years!!!

Thursday, May 28, 2015

since you hate starting over... STOP QUITTING!!

Why is it i feel as though the beginning of every month, sometimes every week, brings about a need for me to start anew with my quest for wellness? The past 11 months have really taken a toll on me physically and mentally. Following my foot injury, which is taking it's sweet time in healing, I have been forced into a sedentary, couch potato lifestyle. Granted, the injury only limits my exercise options, it doesn't force me to devour an entire package of double stuff oreos at 1 am or to stop at Chic Fil A every time I drive by for a fantastic vanilla shake... THOSE are choices I didn't have to make, choices that have contributed to my 40 pound weight gain moreso than my inability to exercise probably has. 

The lack of physical activity, the pain, the discomfort, the forced sabbatical from work, have shrouded me in a cloud of depression that is very difficult to lift. I have bad days. I have better days. I have very few GOOD days. I even got to the point where I was counting the days where I actually got out of bed, showered and dressed (including a bra!) ... the longest streak there was 4 days! I find myself embarrassed and ashamed of the person I have become. I have never been so large, so out of shape, so disgusted with myself. I know the only way to feel better about it is to DO something. I have purchased a membership at a cycling studio. I love spin class. They also offer barre and pilates classes, I love those as well. Or, I did love them. When I was 40 pounds lighter and had finally reached a point that I could actually stand to see myself in the mirror, in spandex no less!
Now I'm just embarrassed to be seen in public. I feel sorry for my husband and my daughter and ashamed that I have become THAT mom. You know, the fat one in the bleachers at the basketball games. The fat one with the slender husband and beautiful, skinny teenage daughter. 

So, that being said. Here we go again... I have invested $300 in myself for the summer. That is the cost of the unlimited summer class special at the studio. I MUST make some changes. I cannot live like this, I cannot stand to even look at myself like this. I cannot explain the anxiety I have and the fear that I face simply opening the door and walking outside in this physical state. What if someone sees me? What if someone wants to talk to me? How in the world am I going to walk into a new gym and face the judgment of strangers when I look like this. You know what I'm talking about, the fat girl at the gym. Yeah, that girl is me. Everyone says, hey, it's ok, we all start somewhere. It's so hard to  grasp that concept. So hard to see these now lean, fit bodies as anything close to the hippo I currently see as I attempt a star plank (which I CAN do even at this size!!). 

Hopefully at the end of the summer, I'll see improvements and start breaking free of this depression. Who knows what my job situation will be (that's an entirely different blog entry). At least the one thing I DO know is that my husband loves me, regardless of the weight gain, the depression, the perimenopausal issues... he loves me. he is an angel. 

I will take measurements as my "before" point and post them here so maybe even the smallest changes will motivate me. .

mid life crisis

Immediately following my high school graduation, I began to pursue a path toward my future which I believed I was supposed to follow based on my family's expectations. I floundered briefly in community college as well as a hospital based nursing program. Within a year, I dropped out to get married and start a family. I put my education and my career aspirations on hold as many life issues presented obstacles to my attainment of those goals. Years passed more quickly than expected. More babies were born. Marriages crumbled. Finances too. Eventually I found my way back to the road I had imagined in my dreams.

I enrolled in nursing school as a 30 year old mother of a toddler and was working full time as a paralegal to make ends meet. I immersed myself into the vision of a better life for myself and my child and became a deans list student while pursuing my nursing degree. I have been one of the lucky ones. I have been able to live my dream and be paid while doing so. I have reached the highest peak in my career both literally and figuratively. I clamored my way up from a bedside nurse to working on the flight team for the past 10 years. The years have taken a toll on my body. The schedule has been grueling. As I watch my children pursue their dreams and encourage them to do what they love instead of what they feel obligated to do, I find myself feeling insincere and hypocritical. All these years, while I have loved having the opportunity to impact so many people's lives, I have suppressed my own creative soul, my artistic heart.

I feel I have reached a point in my life where my family life is such to allow me to finally let go of the practical side of my professional career and finally let that inner artist free. Call it a midlife crisis if you'd like, I prefer to see it as a new chapter in my life. A new beginning in which I have become comfortable in the person I truly am and no longer feel as though I have to do or be something because others expect that from me. I have raised my babies into wonderful adults (or almost adults). I have been the responsible one, the capable one. It's time now for me to explore and develop the beauty that resides inside me and cries desperately to be released in some form of creativity.

I have chosen Interior Design as my new career simply for the obvious creative reasons, but also for the freedom it offers to the designer. Freedom to design, freedom to live, freedom to dream. It's time for me to let loose of the restraints and expectations of others and fly with my own dreams into a world that I can envision and create for myself.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Daring Greatly... unexpectedly

So. It's been awhile. I haven't met or even attempted to meet any of the goals previously mentioned on this blog but now I've decided to take this in a completely different direction.

I have recently been recommended a book that has the potential to change my life and so many aspects of it that weigh me down (pun intended). It's called Daring Greatly by Brene Brown and it addresses so many of life's issues simply by focusing on one aspect: vulnerability. That's a scary word especially for someone like me. I have been burned too many times because I've let my guard down, allowed myself to be vulnerable, been open and honest and honestly made a fool of myself. I don't like the idea of being vulnerable, I've spent a lot of time learning how to "protect" myself from hurt, embarrassment, fear, I don't want to unlearn those things.

However, as I read through this book, (I'm only on chapter 4) I'm starting to realize that if I'm going to get through and past a lot of the obstacles in my mind I'm going to need to be vulnerable. I need to face and talk about my fears, the things that I am ashamed of and feel guilty about. I need to stop waiting on perfection of my mind, body or spirit before taking that leap and doing the things I truly desire. I've lived my entire life never feeling good enough. I guess that's why I never step out on a limb, fearful of the laughter, the ridicule that comes from putting oneself out there while at the same time admiring those women who just don't give a damn what other people think and live their lives as they choose.

Brene Brown speaks of scarcity. I had no idea what she was talking about until she broke it down further. It's the idea of "never enough."  Never __________ enough. Never pretty enough, never skinny enough, never smart enough and the list goes on. We all know those tapes, we all have those voices. Unfortunately after the life I've lived, it's easy to believe them.

Two failed marriages due to adultery, yes I said TWO. TWO husbands who didn't find me good enough, sexy enough, pretty enough, smart enough, or just enough. This after my parents divorce in which, while I was old enough to know intellectually that it wasn't my fault, I felt as though I wasn't good enough for my dad to stick around either. Then there was the feeling that I wasn't a good enough mom to my first son because when I divorced his father, I gave up custody. I was in a bad place, I couldn't be the mother he deserved at that time in my life. Heaven knows I knew I wasn't enough for him. The shame and guilt I have burdened myself with over that decision has nearly paralyzed me. That is a topic I don't talk about or share with anyone. I am afraid. Scared of the judgment, the ridicule, the mommy-bashing we are so good at. I heard so much of that when I first made that decision, I no longer discuss it with people. Not family members, not my husband, not my kids. I'm embarrassed. It hurts. BUT, through this book I am learning that shame cannot live when it is spoken about. It thrives in the darkness. That's why it has burdened me for so long, because I've kept it inside. I haven't shone a light on it. I haven't allowed myself to be vulnerable.

My way of daring greatly this month is going to be a) blogging on this topic regularly and b) reaching out to my oldest and telling him all these things. Allowing myself to be vulnerable. Letting him in. Telling him how conflicted I was and still am about the decisions I made as a young woman. Letting him know that I love him now as I always have and understanding that I may not hear the words I want to hear in return. That has got to be the scariest thing I can think of right now.

When he was younger I kept telling myself I would wait until he was old enough to understand. When he graduated high school, I made him a scrapbook of the two of us and didn't send it to him (I was scared). When he got married, I made a gift but didn't send it (I was embarrassed so much time had passed). Each time his wife has had a child I've wanted to reach out and say "Wow, he looks so much like you" (what right did I have to force myself into his life now) and now that he's reached such a successful place in his career I want to pick up the phone and congratulate him (his success has nothing to do with me, why am I now reaching out).

All these occasions I keep waiting for the "perfect" time. I'm learning that I just need to put it all out there. If I am brushed off, if I am cussed out, if I am laughed at, at least I know I told him everything I felt. Am I running the risk of being terribly hurt? of course I am. Am I running the risk of having his family pass judgment on me? (who does she think she is trying to be part of your life after all these years? why is she trying to take credit for the man you've become when she had nothing to do with it? and the tapes in my mind go on and on) HOWEVER, if I am going to start to figure out myself and feel better about life, I need to take this step, I need to risk it, to be VULNERABLE. I might throw up.

Brene puts it much better than I could:

“Owning our story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it. Embracing our vulnerabilities is risky but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love and belonging and joy—the experiences that make us the most vulnerable. Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.”
Brené Brown  

So, here's to daring greatly and being vulnerable... oh, and to NOT throwing up.

Friday, January 2, 2015

What the future holds..

I have high hopes for 2015. The DH is embarking on a "new" old career in real estate. He has sold homes until the market crashed and he went on the hunt for a more reliable paycheck. Now that the economy and the housing market are picking up in our area, he has decided that now is the time for him to resurrect his passion. Our hope is to eventually start our own business in which he finds and sells the properties and I will assist with the design, remodel and décor.

I am searching for a change because I feel my days as a nurse are limited. I am suffering from a severe case of burnout and am ready to follow my true passion, decorating/design. For the time being I must remain in the healthcare field as that is what currently pays the bills, however, I am hoping in the not too distant future to be able to transition into a design career where I can be more in control of my life and my family time.

Nursing has been very good to me in general. I love my job and the idea that I can help someone on their very worst day brings me great pleasure and pride. I am finding it harder and harder to maintain those feelings as the landscape of healthcare changes. Nursing has taken a turn away from patient care and is now encumbered with massive amounts of regulations, documentation and subjective information which all take away from the integrity of the profession, in my opinion.

I miss the days when I could actually spend some extra time on discharge teaching with my ER patients before discharging them. I miss spending time teaching that new mom how to breast feed or swaddle her first baby. I miss holding the hand of the devastated spouse who has been given the worst news of his life... Instead, I am the cold, disconnected being behind the computer screen, without the time to even look up and make eye contact at the person complaining at the desk that they've been waiting for over 5 hours in the waiting room to see a physician to remove the splinter in their thumb. I have become that nurse I always despised as a new grad. The grumpy old burned out nurse who complains that all we treat are drug seekers, malingerers, crazy people and lazy parents who would rather bring a child to the ER for Tylenol than to stop at the 17 drug stores they passed on the way and do it themselves.

It wasn't supposed to be like this. I became a nurse so I could help people. To make them comfortable, help them heal or help them pass. Not so I could make 25 follow up (discharge) phone calls to be certain that everyone was happy with the care they received (hint: no one is ever happy or satisfied with their ER experience), or so that I could spend 24 hours a week on "projects" with no clinical significance. I feel like I'm in a never ending loop of the GEICO commercial "That's not how this works! That's not how ANY of this works!"

So many other health care professionals are unaware of the non-nursing demands placed upon nurses in their units and cannot understand the high turnover rates, burn out and frustration of nurses who previously loved the exact same job. I have had more than one physician or mid level provider express their shock and concern at the busy work assigned on a weekly basis. Don't misunderstand. Continuing education is necessary, however, we live in the 21st century. We should not have to come to work for seminars or conferences when the majority have access to FREE internet conferencing or education sites. Research is necessary, however, when a unit is short staffed, the clinical specialist or assistant manager should be able and willing to step in and take an assignment so that their team doesn't get hammered.  Everything doesn't need a committee. Committees don't need to meet for 4 hours every month in person (see internet meeting options). "Work Life Balance" is such a catch phrase amongst recruiters and human resources (oh, it's called "talent acquisition" now) however, it doesn't truly exist on the front lines. If you happen to be lucky enough to be employed in a non clinical position then yes, it's probably doable. Working alternative shifts, holidays, nights, weekends is hard enough. We all know that going into this profession, however, having non clinical requirements added on a monthly basis makes it very difficult to maintain a somewhat normal abnormal schedule.

I used to love my job. I hate the person it has turned me into. Maybe 2015 should bring about a change for me as well....