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Saturday, June 22, 2019

When it’s Harder Than You Imagined

You guys. After working my tush off to be where I’m at: getting through nursing school, securing experience and letters of recommendation from doctors, hours and hours of studying... I almost quit nurse practitioner school. I can’t even believe I’m writing that. I’d had a really rough few weeks about a week ago or so which was exacerbated by a new med for me for migraine prevention that shouldn’t have had bad side effects but did...anyone else experience that with propranolol?? It made me sad and fatigued-quite frankly mirroring depression symptoms and calmed my anxiety to where I felt numb about everything. It was just recently that I discovered my anxiety actually helps me. It’s just enough. It’s not soul crushing inactivity provoking, but just enough adrenaline that boosts me forward.  I had a very hard exam, was doubting myself so much, was overwhelmed but uncaring (not a good combination). I was hating every second of school, even though I mainly liked it a few weeks ago despite being tough and time consuming. Long story short, I talked it out with my hubby, a friend at work, relaxed a bit, exercised and discontinued the med, and guess what??!! Success was right around the corner and I feel amazing.

Hardest exam of my life to this point I thought I’d failed and got a 94%. Then I found out my work is giving me a scholarship (small but still immensely helpful) to continue my schooling!!

So often we see success but not the thousand times we fall, fail or want to quit. Ladies, keep going. Success isn’t pretty. It’s ugly hot tears, it’s getting out of bed when you feel like it’s quicksand pulling you back, it’s studying when you’d rather do anything else, and it’s regrouping, refreshing and then getting back to work. It’s also knowing yourself. It took me a month of feeling crappy to finally ask myself what changed?? I knew it wasn’t like me at all to not care about getting up, hanging with my family, going to a job I like, and performing well in school.

I am on a quest to be more authentic in my life. My life and path is by no means perfect and I have and do struggle plenty, but it’s a darn good life.

Sunday, June 9, 2019

Nursemom Confessions Part 8: True Fact

When Matthew really wants to make a point about something, he uses the phrase true fact. He has been using this phrase since he was like 4, and it still very much is part of his vocabulary. Let's say he makes a statement about one of his classes. "Mom, this project is worth 100 points and we only have 3 days to finish it. True fact!" It is a Matthew-ism, and I have always giggled because facts, in essence, should be true, so it is a way to overstate something.
"true fact"

I have really been working on being more transparent and vulnerable with the people who care about me. I want to be genuine, not fake. Sure, at times my house does belong in Better Homes and Gardens and at other times it looks like I let four toddlers and a pack of dogs loose in it for a day and let them spread food and laundry (always laundry) room to room! Sometimes I look pretty put together, and other days my hair is dirty and in a bun, and I am wearing ripped but comfy leggings. I may run now twice a week, but often I "make up for it" with what basically amounts to carnival food which I love. Or carbs. Double love. Balance people, right? I am not naive enough to think that even every one of my social media friends wants me to succeed, I get that sometimes people just watch to see if you fall. But I don't care. I still try to be real. And real right now is that I am not super happy and school is not all. I didn't expect sunshine and rainbows really, but I didn't expect all the anger and frustration and feelings of failure. I am not all sunshine and rainbows either, though I think some people think I am.

 I have always been a good student and I have always liked school. Until the last 6 months. My FNP program is HARD, and to be perfectly honest...I HATE it. True Fact. Like, I muddle through and make myself do it, and I put in loads and loads of time I would rather do anything else. You guys, like I am excited to go to the dentist in a few weeks and be away from the homework for an hour (and I do not like going to the dentist at all). I tell myself it will get better. I loved pharmacology in my RN program (I am kind of a dork) and I hate it now. The material is fine but the quizzes and exams are like what the hell when did we ever talk about this?! When you've studied for 40+ hours you should not leave your exam in tears. I truly do not know if I just passed the last exam. We need an 82.5% exam average across 3 exams or we fail pharm. This is an actual possibility sadly. I will find out my score tomorrow. But even without that, I loathe this program. I knew I had no desire to work with adults, and that my heart is in psych, but I keep telling myself that I will get there, I am just not to the stuff that floats my boat yet. Right?

Don't get me started on my research class. It's actually a 3 part series of classes, and I am 1/3 of the way through the 2nd class. I have never loathed a class so entirely (I have taken many, many classes). I have no desire to ever conduct is not my thing. So the grueling misery that is this series I would liken to a boot camp obstacle course in the mud and rain and blazing heat only without ever signing up for the military. Just because I want to care for patients does not mean I want to research things I don't care about, or care very little about all in a very explicit formula to attempt to be published. I anti-care about this. I am sure it is all to make me a well-rounded person/graduate/provider. I get it. Kind of. I used to jump through hoops for my other programs without even really minding. I wrote and defended (aka presented to an audience) a 30+ page thesis on boys and learning when I got my Master's in Education. I honestly didn't mind, wimp out, or complain much, and I had a baby and a toddler and was working full-time! Maybe my meter for what I will jump through has broken down??

He's pretty wise.

SO many people are cheering for me. My family has sacrificed so much. I have sacrificed so much. So I keep trudging. I don't want to be a quitter...but True Fact: I don't know that I would choose ANY of this again. That makes me feel guilty. Like privileged girl who has had so many opportunities and doesn't want them guilty, but that's not fair. It's not fair to talk to myself that way. I have worked extremely hard to be here, and I would never talk to you that way. I would be your biggest fan even if you wanted to paint flamingos only on Sundays, you know? Our self talk is sometimes SO mean. I also know many people who have changed their minds: a police officer turned insurance worker, teacher turned RN, phlebotomist turned special education teacher, RN turned cosmetologist, prisoner turned pastor. I am nothing but inspired by all of their stories. So yeah, I have changed my mind perhaps more...and I am not saying I will again-I am attempting to follow this out, but I am saying that when I look 10 years in the future I want but a few things:

  • a job working with children and families
  • to manage some rental properties and maybe flip houses
  • a cabin to get away to
  • sons who are healthy and making their way in the world
  • parents who are healthy and happy
  • a loving marriage
  • a solid faith
  • beauty around me
  • oh, and definitely the orange sports car. That doesn't change. 😏
So...only one of those things is related to ALL of my hard work right now, and sometimes I feel it gets all my attention and glory. Do you see that top item? I am pursuing it in a round-about, difficult, top of my game and salary way...but I also realize it isn't the only way. Teacher, counselor, RN, NP...they all get me close. I imagine an office where I sit and guide teens through their feelings and come along-side their parents for support and education. I can do that as a FNP/PMHNP, but I can in other ways too. If I had to go back, I would've been a counselor, and not worried about time spent in school and pay/hour. I would've listened to my heart. Sometimes I listen to everything but. 

I have been on this kick lately that "There is no plan B." You stick to your plan and you don't fail, change or otherwise re-direct course. The other night Isaiah challenged this. "You should have so many plans Mom. One for each interest, one for if life changes or you change, plans for if you decide something is not what you wanted or something is better or worse." He also reassures me that I am awesome no matter what, because I'm his mama. πŸ’—

Isaiah is my free-spirit, and I think he might be right.

Friday, May 31, 2019

How to Command a Great Day

Good morning! Today I first started by wanting to post about success. Then I wanted to write about happiness and gratitude. Then I started thinking about goals, and realized they all go together like the ingredients to an amazing Dutch apple know the kind with sugar/cinnamon/butter crumbles on top? FYI that is my FAVE dessert ever and I must learn how to make that...but I totally digress. Success, goal domination, happiness and gratitude are intricately woven together, and do not exist in a vacuum. Let's discuss briefly, with a few practical tips at the end. 

I had a few hard days this week. Like days that I ugly cried, you know, with lots of snot...days I lost my temper, days I looked like a hot mess (or just a mess...). You guys, that happens. That happens to everyone. I posted on FB about it instead of being perfect and choosing to be vulnerable, and you guys were like "yep, we all do that." The enormous stress of Grandpa in the hospital (he's home now, yay!) and us having to help make decisions, a huge pharmacology exam looming, TONS of end of year school stuff for the kids, a multitude of assignments in my other classes (do they not know it's pharm we all care about???), and having to train a new RN at work (which is not hard and she's nice...but it is harder than just doing my job, ya know?) really set me on edge for a few days. I was not the nicest most compassionate mom or wife. I forgot my parents wedding anniversary entirely. I ignored my sons. I used my "nurse brain" not my wife heart to respond to thoughts on Grandpa's care. Mind you, both are needed, but the nurse brain is not the most touchy feely when discussing feelings not practicality of advanced directives.  I had not exercised in a week. I felt like I was just muddling through, and barely at that. 

<Practical tip: I am reading a great book by Brene Brown on vulnerability and being real: The Gifts of Imperfection: Let go of Who You Think You're Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are. I recommend.>

You know the absolute glorious thing about a day having 24 hours? We have a lousy day, we sleep, and we wake to a clean slate in the morning. Sure, we may have the same stressors hanging out, but with each new day we DECIDE how to handle things not how things should handle us. Read that again, would you?

Today, I was told it's time for reading glasses. In some ways it makes me feel a bit "old." But you know what, I will rock that sexy librarian look and have fewer tension headaches and eyestrain. I realized that getting older sure, has many parts that suck, BUT it is a huge BLESSING to get older. I lost a cousin to leukemia in her 20's. She was the prime example of heath until she wasn't. She would never have bitched about glasses or wrinkles, so I won't either. Each year that passes is full of more opportunities with my loved ones, getting to see my boys slowly and yet paradoxically all too quickly turn into men, and possibilities for the future. Who knows where I will be in 10 years? I sincerely hope in an office helping teens battle their mental demons, traveling even more, and maybe grand-kids. It's fun to think about.

Be grateful for every moment you have. Seeking success? Attempting to dominate a goal? Start with gratitude and amazing attitude, and you'll get there one step at a time. 

Practical tips to command a great day?

1. Rise early.
I am not a morning person, but I make myself be. By the time 7AM came and went I had already run and showered today. Yesterday I was almost through with one class by the same time. Don't skimp on sleep, but getting an early start will amaze you with what you can accomplish. 

2. Get some sunshine or fresh air.
A quick walk. 5 minutes to enjoy a cup of coffee outside. Watching the sunrise or sunset. Being outside has so many health benefits and mood benefits.

3. Practice gratitude. 
Something happens to our brain when we are thankful. We notice other things to be thankful for. We start thinking we have a really amazing life. I try to use my gratitude journal to start each day with 3 things I am grateful for, and I try to go to bed thinking about the best parts of my day. At dinner we do "high, low, something that I could do better/work on," so sometimes I find myself throughout the day thinking "should this be my high?" A great day has competing moments, but even the crappiest day has a high even if it is as simple as "right now dinner with family."

4. Physical touch. 
I am not really a hugger believe it or not, but I feel better and more loving the more I hug (just like the gratitude I suppose). They say it takes 7 positives in a day to undo a negative. I try to think I want this many points of contact with people to A)lend to their positivity and B) to mine. It should be no secret that couples who touch more are more intimate, happier and secure in their relationships. Children who are hugged more feel more secure as well. The brain is wired for touch. 

5. Meditate on your goals. 
This doesn't have to be woo-woo if you aren't into meditation. I just mean think about them. What do they look like? What doesn't happen if you don't get there? Often a goal is because something in the status quo is unacceptable. Maybe it's simply okay, like how I feel about being an RN but not a "hell yes" like I feel about being an NP. Ask yourself if you are ok with it never changing? No? There's your motivation. What happens when you do? See how that was phrased "when" not "if"? When I get to my goal all these little and big amazing things happen so I focus on those (little: I get a sports car and a housekeeperπŸ˜‰, and big, I help children and families and can travel even more). What are you doing today that is one baby step closer to where you want to be? I cross off each day on the calendar. Each of 7 terms is 14 weeks long, and you can bet at anytime I know which week I am on making progress.

6. Smile and think positive.
I have been running now for almost 5 weeks. It is usually just twice weekly and I am still SLOW and halting, but oodles better than where I started. I HATED running, but attitude is so important. See that theme? When I want to quit now I tell myself "this is great. I feel great. I am strong. I love to run." Sure, I might be lying in that moment hahaha, but it truly helps. When I finish I do think "that was great, look what I did!"

7. If nothing helps and your day still goes south, relax, regroup, refresh and try again tomorrow. We all have those days.

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Be Freaking Fierce!

It used to be that excellence was rewarded. I’m going to use this phrase because I can’t believe I’m old enough to use this phrase… But when I was a kid.... not everyone got an award for participating in a sport or for showing up to class! Only the top athletes and students were honored. Somewhere along the line our society began to praise mediocrity. I’m probably going to piss some people off with this post, it’s fine and dandy if you or your child are not the best at something and I completely celebrate everyone with their unique differences and trying things out that you might not be good at- that’s not what I’m saying. It's totally okay to suck at something, but the point is that you know that people are better and if it's something you care about being better at too, you keep trying and become better. Most people aren't just naturally awesome at something, they work at it. I’m also saying at what point did we take away from people that when you work very very hard there is an incentive for that? And this mediocre, award for everyone mentality does something else too: it makes people who wanted to get better embarrassed that they want it. Let that sink in.

Somewhere along the line after years of being an excellent student performing well in theater, and a few years of sports, I began to settle into the it’s OK as long as I’m trying routine. But friends, that isn’t me. Anyone who knows me at all knows I am actually competitive as hell. Have you ever played a board game with me? I might be just a tad Monica from friends. Okay, more than a tad.

It has taken me to this point in my life to realize I don’t want to just achieve my goal, I want to do it screeching, screaming, crashing into life at the very top of my game that I am possible of bringing. I secured a tutor for pharmacology because our school pays for a few sessions and I thought why not? Hit the ground running.  She asked me why I wanted tutoring, if I felt that I was going to struggle with the class- and I told her that I expect the class to be hard as it should be, but that I’m taking advantage of the tutoring and may even pay for it when the free sessions are up because I would love to get straight A’s through my nurse practitioner program. I ended up really enjoying her and it helped immensely to solidify some concepts. Total win. I want to do more than show up and pass. I want to learn, I want to grow, I want to take my passion by it’s reins and be the best that I absolutely can. Now whether this actually presents as me getting perfect grades or something else like me being on the student advisory council serving as a mentor to others, we'll see.

I went through a phase as a teen girl where it was not “cool" to be as good at school as I was.  I am embarrassed to say that I at times acted dumber than I was.  I dumbed myself down much like Lindsay Lohan's character in Mean Girls for a while to fit in better. I had tons of acquaintances in high school but not that many close friends in all reality and that was OK when I look back on it but at the time it was kind of embarrassing. I didn’t really fit in with anyone… Not the popular kids, not completely the theater kids, not the people who got straight A’s, I was kind of done with high school probably a year before it was over.  When I worked at a dental office for six years while pursuing my bachelors degree and then becoming a teacher, I was almost embarrassed to say that I was going to college as if that should embarrass anyone I worked with or set myself up that I thought I was better than anyone. I didn’t think that- I was uber sensitive to that, but I also should not have been embarrassed at what I was going for. I was embarrassed of my passion. People, I love mental health. And I love love love working with teenagers- they are my favorite group of people in the entire world. So why would I not want to combine those two things? Why would I be embarrassed to say that the state of affairs with the wait for mental health time and help for teenagers and families is abysmal and not OK? Why would I not want to change that? 

In nursing school and as a new nurse through the last couple of years, I have felt the same way. Like I should be embarrassed or think that I am too vain or something to say that being a registered nurse is not my stopping point. When I say that there’s nothing wrong with being a registered nurse. I think it’s an amazing career full of flexibility, diversity, skills many that I will never have, and many things that I honestly never want to do. But I shouldn’t be embarrassed of that either. I am not embarrassed of wanting to go further. I’m not embarrassed of my passion. I’m not embarrassed that by the time I am done with everywhere I want to be I will have multiple degrees in things. I mean, I already do. But by the time I am done I will have multiple masters degrees, post graduate certification, dual certification as a nurse practitioner, and honestly at some point I will likely get my doctorate in nursing. Maybe I will go on to do clinical research at some point or add oh my goodness… Another certification down the road. I am the quintessential professional student… But that’s OK because I love learning and challenging myself and becoming better.

I went jogging today. I do this now 2 to 3 times a week. I am so so slow, and I can’t say that I enjoy it, but I do feel exhilarated afterward. I used to be so worried about what people would think of me if they saw me out on the road going for a run. Like those people driving by would think “oh my goodness, what is she doing out here? She doesn't belong." I was worried that my make up wouldn’t be on perfectly or my hair a mess or that my running clothes would not be the coolest ones possible. I’m a bit ashamed to admit that I was so ego centric that my way of thinking about it was almost like that of a toddler… Like the entire world revolves around me and what I was doing at that point and that my self-consciousness was getting in the way! You know back to that competitive trait that I have? Now when I am on the road in the beautiful countryside by where we live and it is just me and a gorgeous stretch of nature ahead of me, I’m likely wearing mismatched leggings and T-shirt, hair in a messy bun, definitely no make up on because I don’t shower before I run, and I don’t care. I realize the people driving by or just giving me a passing glance if they think anything at all it might be like cool she’s out exercising today and I’m driving somewhere. When I’m on the road I’m competing with me. Only me. Bettering myself. Not tearing anyone down not trying to be better than anyone but embracing who I am and what I want. And for that, I will be unapologetically fierce. In the pursuit of my goals, I will be freaking passionate as hell, not sugarcoating what I want and who I am. I’m smart. I’m compassionate. And I want to change the world.

Sunday, April 28, 2019

Nursemom Confessions Part 7: What Even Makes a Good Mom?

I spend a lot of time on here writing about my nurse stories, my professional goals, and even my personal goals, but I haven't written much about being a mom, which is obviously a huge part of my life. I got to thinking today, what makes a good mom? 

Through the course of the "normal" day here I lost my temper with Isaiah when he asked if since "he had to go shopping with me could I buy him a few things?" I full on was ticked. Ummm. 7 hours at a water park yesterday with 2 friends which cost plenty I might add as well as 2 meals for 4 boys. A warm home, clothes that fit, food in the fridge, private school, sports, piano. Yeah, probably not my best ever attempt to rein in my temper. There were tears (him). Thank God kids are pretty resilient though. I apologized on the way to the store that I had raised my voice, and started to make excuses then apologized for making excuses, and simply said, "I want you to realize how much we have, and it bothers me when you don't but I should not have yelled. I love you." He smiled. We shopped. Back to normalcy.

Guys, I don't ever pretend I am a perfect mama who knows what she is doing. I am not, and I don't. I do the best I can, and love my boys. 

Confessions? Moms are made to feel bad about SO, SO many things. Here are some things I have felt bad about as a mom. I raise my voice sometimes-though it is far less than I used to. I didn't breastfeed for more than 6 weeks with either boy, and couldn't produce hardly any milk (which is why I stopped and was very, very frustrated). I didn't do homemade baby food. I rarely do homemade dinners or baked goods. Thankfully there's Barrett. I don't sew, mend, craft much. I am not very domesticated truly. I do clean. I work. I went back to work when Matt was 4 months old and when Zay was 2 months old. I did take a few years off when Zay was in preschool, but then I started nursing school. So, not only am I a distracted mama who works outside my home, I also attend school! I do not volunteer at their school. I have missed many games, concerts, and field trips through the years. I have left them with my parents while I go on amazing vacations (I have also taken them on some amazing vacations). I didn't teach either a foreign language. When Matt went through a biting stage I may have bit back once or twice. I don't sign up to be team mom or classroom mom. I often crave time alone. 

I am not perfect, but I am good enough. Here's 10 things I do that reinforce to me that the kids will be just fine. I bet you do some of these as well. 

  • I am there as often as I can be. Baseball, basketball, soccer, piano recitals, choir. I can't make everything, but I am there as much as I can be. I arrange to leave work early to attend things, do my homework as often as I can when they are not here, and I cheer and take pictures and tell them I am proud. I help with homework all the time. Like, all the time. It is never-ending. When the ping-pong table went up, I dropped what I was doing to go play with them. I drop everything to listen to a new song on the piano or a question about school.
  • I own my mistakes. I mess up. I sometimes say a curse word in front of my kids. I hurt their feelings at times when I yell. I am often too sarcastic. You know what I do? I apologize. I am human, and they can see this, and better yet they learn how to be humble.
  • I trust my kids' abilities. When I say, "you guys can make lunch"-it isn't just that I don't want to, it is me essentially saying "you've got this." They can whip up a handful of things (many involve lots of cheese) and feel proud of themselves. Both boys know how to do laundry, clean the house, wash dishes. They should, and I'd like to think their future spouses will thank me.
  • I love my spouse and model this. Sure, in a perfect world that spouse would be their father, but it isn't, and we were not good parents together nor did we have a calm home. For 8+years though my sons have seen me dance in the kitchen, laugh, and do life with an amazing man. They get to see what a strong marriage looks like everyday.
  • I model hard work. I don't have daughters, but I do have young men who have seen their mama work very hard to crush goals. We may be a tad "nontraditional" (what is even traditional these days anyway?) in that Barrett does school drop off, pick up and most dinners due to me working or having class. I want my sons to know that women can do, and be anything, and that good men support this. 
  • Faith and family tradition are strong in our house. We attend church (though not perfectly), we pray, we talk about our beliefs, and what they mean to us and to others. We also have traditions that matter to us such as egg hunts at Easter, a Christmas tree up until my birthday on New Years, putting all our feet in the water wherever we vacation to and taking a picture. Lighting candles at dinner. Little things and big things matter. 
  • I teach my kids things. I teach my kids all kinds of things: the characters of Harry Potter for example, all about dog breeds, how to treat kids of the opposite sex, how to make friends, which Avengers characters are the best, what the inside of a human body looks like, how funerals make us feel, how sunrises and sunsets make us happy but sometimes sad, how butterflies are born, etc, etc, etc. 
  • I am strong for them, but I am also human for them. This means that when I was going through divorce to their dad I got up and showed up every day as both parents as often as was needed, which was all. the. time. When they were little I mommed through SO many days and events and bath times and bedtimes with migraines or while otherwise sick and/or medicated, but now that they are older and can understand, I take some time out. I will go lie down when my head hurts, and they will come see and care for me. 
  • I have fun with them. I play ping pong, hit baseballs, go hiking, snorkeling, and play HORSE with them at our basketball hoop. We go to movies, we talk about books, we wrestle with the all-patient Thor dog. 
  • They are not my whole world. Oh, I bet I got some of you with that, but my kids are not my whole world. They are huge, they are amazing, they are a very large part of me. But they are not my be-all-end-all-everything. This means I am ok when they go visit their dad, ok when they go to a friends house, ok as they get older and don't choose me to hang out with all the time. I have my husband, my friends, my career, my schooling, my hobbies, and I like time to me. I actually try to demonstrate that for them, and I think it is encouraging to any kid that yes, Mom has friends and stuff to do that are separate. I remember them asking what I did on weekends they were gone and I joked that I "curled up and cried," but my boys were dumbfounded at my sarcasm and I think a bit worried, then I explained to them I did normal things like go on dates with Barrett, maybe have coffee with friends, read a book, watch a movie. Me being ok gives them permission to have fun and be ok at their other house too. Mom is happy and complete but chooses to come to this game, or play Monopoly, or watch this show with us...might make it all the more special. Just a thought.
I don't know exactly the qualities that make anyone a great mom. Is it loving your kids unconditionally? Is it laughing with them? Is it making your home a haven for them? Is it knowing their friends and interests? If so, I have a good start, because I can genuinely say yes I do/have all of those, but I think in the end, we all just do the best we can and learn that maybe THAT is exactly what matters. 

Friday, April 26, 2019

Nursemom Confessions Part 6: There is No Plan B

Though I have not been in a classroom since June 2014-the summer prior to beginning my RN program that fall, I have been on/off substitute teacher lists and kept my teaching license active ever since obtaining it way back in 2008. Shortly into my nursing career I dreamed of just hanging up the stethoscope and returning to the classroom. I made myself stick with it. I made myself keep going, thinking that more years and more time in would give me what I needed. But I left one foot dangling over the fence and into teaching just in case.

I would like to think that I have gained wisdom. I know now that no career will ever be 100% perfect for me (or anyone for that matter). There will always be pluses and minuses. There will be days I excel and days I think "why the heck did I want to do this?"

I wavered back and forth though. Repeatedly. I would tell myself I could not truly leave nursing because I worked my butt off for those 2 little letters. Literal blood, sweat and tears guys. But then I would counter to myself that I also worked hard and diligently for my teaching license and degree. You know what though? I always chose nursing. No matter how crappy the day or the job, I chose nursing. I chose to love the variety and flexibility, the options, the clinical thinking, and the skills. I learned to leave jobs that were toxic to me even if I felt and witnessed them being "great fits" for other people. I gravitated and returned to a job where you know what I do like 90% of the day? I educate. I educate parents and sometimes their kiddos. 
I had always wanted to see Ireland, so I went. Goal crushing in motion.

When I cut back work hours to go to NP school I told myself I could supplement income as needed as a sub teacher. Great plan, right? Except that on every day off I have needed that time to study, or had a doctor's appointment, or a family commitment. I have not subbed once. I won't put the exact numbers down, but the sub pay for 7-8 hours at a school falls QUITE a bit shorter than what I can make picking up an 8 hour shift or a 9 hour weekend at the clinic. Even at "clinic wages", my RN is simply better at paying the bills than my teaching license ever will be. The clinic even loosened their grip on how often I can work saying as long as I don't average over 19 hrs in a 3 month period, I can work an extra shift here and there (it ends up being like once every 3 weeks is ok). I had one day I was going to  sub-was actually looking at assignments, and then Peds offered me an extra day that same day. It's roughly almost $100 more. Here's the other thing: while I liked teaching quite a bit, I didn't like subbing (I have done it, just not a ton). It's not my environment, you know? When I pick up an extra day at work it's my desk, my space, my doctors, my staff. It's not a huge unknown. You get the drift.

So right now my teaching license expires in December. It will cost me just over $500 to take a course for continuing ed (no, my NP courses do not cross over for that!) and for the renewal fees. It will take 4-6 months of this extra class while I am studying to be an NP. My financial aid covers tuition right now. That means we eat the cost for all books and materials (like the ophthalmoscope I just had to purchase). It is already a stretch. But sure, I could slap that on the Visa if I were wanting to do so. But when I search my soul, I don't. 

Here's the thing, how can you make progress while having an easy escape route?

 I took up jogging last week. I am terrible right now. Like, I jog for 60-90 second intervals, walk, then jog again. I am SLOW, like I am positive toddlers could lap me (I mean, they do have tons of energy!). But I am faster than not doing it. I am healthier than not doing it. A friend told me, "If you run, you are a runner." It was actually mind blowing (thanks Erika!). I can draw so many comparisons to running and school. I can focus on the fact that I have NO idea what I am doing right now as I learn to be an NP. I don't understand a lot, I am clumsy in my assessments that I am beginning, and I (as they told us in nursing school) "know just enough to be truly dangerous" right now. The thing with people who decide to run a 5k is that they don't just get up off the couch they've been making butt prints on for years and run the 5k. They train. They do a bit, and then they do a bit more, until one day they are actually doing it. I don't really care about running a 5k, but maybe sure, but I want to jog/run 3x a week for 20 minutes without stopping. I want that to be part of my fitness plan. Right now I am a sad fraction of that. I ran for 8 minutes today, but not consecutively, you know?

But back to school/career stuff: In 2 weeks I begin Term 2 of 7 in my FNP program. But like jogging I need to not be as interested in the time, but in the putting one foot in front of the other. Sure, I know that April 2021 I will finish. I know that halfway though term 4 in end of February 2020 I'll hit my halfway mark (it's technically a 28 month program). But progress is made taking it one day at a time. By saying I am not an NP yet (like I am not a runner yet...), I am giving room for failure. Not once in my RN program did I ever think I would not finish, that I wold not be a nurse, because that was not an option. What if I treated all of my goals the same way?  What if qualifying everything and leaving backup plans is me getting in my own way of what I already am? Rachael Hollis has you write your goals as if they are already accomplished. Example: I drive an orange sports car. I don't yet, but that's not quite the point, now is it? You say it until it is true, because it is inevitable. I am a nurse practitioner (I'm just not licensed yet 😏). I know what I will be, because I already am in my heart. No need for a plan B, so I will no longer be a licensed teacher come next January...and that's ok. 

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Nursemom Confessions Part 5: Apply Your Own Oxygen Mask First

In this day and age many people for some reason want to be seen as the martyr. I work so hard, they say. I care for my family so well I barely have time for myself, they say...and they wear their lack of self-care and health like some sadistic badge of honor. You know 2 types of people who are the WORST at this??? Moms. Nurses. And I am both. I define myself with both titles, and know that I am part of not one, but two groups of women who pride themselves on the type of work that they take no breaks from (certainly not playing cards 😏 but I digress), that they pour themselves into 110%, leaving no room for themselves. Sometimes this is no room for things like bathroom breaks, snacks, or enough sleep. Other times it is more insidious (especially for mamas) and looks more like no time for you to do anything that you want or need to care for yourself. This might be reading a book you like, exercising, meditation, or getting your hair done. Too many well-intentioned mamas let their offspring just suck the life out of them without ever stopping to refill their own proverbial cup first.

Every flight you are ever on has the same directions of applying your own oxygen mask first before helping others. The directions do not say: apply your children's masks first, or the feeble elderly gentleman's mask first. They say APPLY YOUR OWN MASK FIRST. Why? Well, simply because we can't take care of others without caring first for ourselves. In the airplane sitch, if you lose consciousness due to hypoxia you surely won't be helping anyone else next, and now someone has to help your dumb butt. You've actually become a burden while trying to be a martyr. Hmm, let that sink in. 

 Moms, nurses (and I am sure many other professionals...definitely teachers too) no-one is going to tell you that you should have a good balance or it's time to grab a snack, or gee-Susie Honey, why don't you take 5? They just won't. Kids won't. Employers sure as heck won't. They will always demand more, and the more that you are willing to give an inch the more they will take. So don't. Be true to yourself and what matters to you. Take care of yourself. Case in point. I work weekends sometimes. They are shorter shifts and not a big deal overall-not even when I was full-time. But...I have made it a point at every nursing job I have had that I don't work weekends I have my kids. That still gives you 2 other weekends to work with. It was part of my hiring contract at urgent care in my first ever nursing job, and has always been part of my agreement with the clinic. Now...I have been a nurse for just under 3 years. I can't say that I have never worked a weekend with kids because sometimes their dad needs to trade weekends and I already had my schedule, or other nurses are on PTO, but I can tell you I have worked under 5 weekends as an RN when my boys were at home. Be firm about what you want that is self-care for you. If you hit rock bottom juggling all those proverbial balls in the air, now someone else has to pick up those pieces. So see? Not selfish at all. Caring for yourself is protecting others if you need to see it that way. 

Why do we think it is selfish to take care of ourselves first? This is a great load of bull. It is not selfish. It is necessary. The better, happier, healthier person I am the better mom, nurse, wife, student I am. It's like a great, big rolling snowball. Happiness and health beget more happiness and health. What does this look like in all reality? I am glad you asked. This looks like my 5 sanity saving tips below. These are not rocket science people, and I am sure I am not the first to say them. 

Have a tag out system. Overwhelmed at work or at home with kids? Have a co-worker or co-parent you can tag out with. Seriously...I am a triage RN. Some mom's mean well, but drive me nuts. I used to tag out with my co-worker and trade calls. I take her annoying task (or person) and she takes mine. The same work gets done, and gets done more compassionately. This particular gal has moved on, but I am "training" another for this. With my kiddos I help with homework A LOT. Especially with my Type A, perfectionistic older child. I am on duty for math, science, and writing/literature help. I don't usually mind except for when there are hours and hours of math, and I have to Google a lot to help...hahaha. But this means that I am figuratively drowning in homework if Isaiah needs help with spelling and Bible too. This is where Barrett comes in. Or big brother when his homework is done. I can't do it all. Sometimes I'm having a rough, just annoyed at everything day, and a discipline issue comes up. "Please handle," is all I need to say to Barrett, and he knows he can (and does) employ the exact same tag-out when he needs to. Single parents may need to get more creative using grandparents or friends, and solitary people at work-make some friends with co-workers. Have a tag-out system. Your sanity will thank you.

Step outside alone. There are 2 important parts to this tip. Spend time outside every single day despite the weather. There are so many health and mood benefits. Do it alone. This is for peace, quiet, 5 minutes of taking in God's creation. 5 minutes to clear your head. Here are some great benefits of time outside: 11 Scientific Benefits of Being Outside.

Take care of yourself physically. I have never enjoyed exercise, but I made a goal to myself that by the time I am done with this NP program I will also be in great health. What??? Bad timing you might think. You have every reason to slack you might think. Nope. I am jogging now with C25K 3 times a week, lifting weights 3 times a week, and trying to also incorporate yoga and hiking. Surprisingly, the more I do, the more I feel like doing, and the more I do the less I feel like eating like crap. It's win-win. Snowball effect here people. I realized I have no problem making my brain do marathons (Master's thesis, nursing school, NP school-anyone?), but I am SO lazy about fitness that I have let my weight creep then maintain, creep then maintain repeatedly so that I am about 20 lbs more than I want to be, and what's more, I get winded when I have to run to a code at work. Nope, nope, nope. Time to take the reins back. Make time for physical activity every day-even if it is just a 15 minute walk. 
Just me and the road.

Get enough sleep. I know, I have said this before, but we all need to sleep. Duh. So many people though skimp in this area. You are hurting yourself in the long run in more ways than you know. Most adults need between 7-9 hours each night. Make sure that you get this, and you will feel worlds better. 10 Surprising Effects of Lack of Sleep.

Have a hobby. I know you're busy. So am I. I'm learning how to take care of patients and raising 2 humans, I get it. my husband is fortunately pretty independent, but I try to give him attention too πŸ˜‰. I may be busy. School is not my hobby though. Work is not my hobby. Momming is not my hobby. Writing is. Reading is. Playing in paint is. Traveling is. Have things you do just for you. Ask yourself: what would you do with a free 12 hour day to yourself? Okay, how about 4 hours? Yes, I know we can't get that each week, but can you carve out a day a month or a half-day for something you want to do for you? When those kids grow up or that job goes away, what have you cultivated that you enjoy doing?

That's all for now. I am off to enjoy some yoga, take a bubble bath, and read. I jogged/walked thirty minutes this AM, and lifted weights. Yeah, I also have laundry and some light cleaning and an orthodontist appointment for Isaiah later (and I am sure lots of homework), but I am OFF of school for a few weeks, not at work today (though yes, I grabbed an extra shift next week) so I am treasuring that time for me. What can you do today or this week to carve out some time for your oxygen?