To the Man A Floor Below

I have a story that I have oscillated about sharing for a couple weeks. But this story is something that I have grown and learned from tremendously. Hence, I think it may be important to record so I do not forget these lessons that have been on my heart.

After Church two Sundays ago, I walked downstairs into our lobby to head out for a run. There was a group of people surrounding a forty-something year old man who was sitting on the ground, back supported against the wall, barefooted, eyes closed, and head rolling. Immediately, those nurse instincts kicked in full force. Once I confirmed 911 had been called I sat next to the man and began a rapid assessment. He was conscious, AOx4, but had slurred speech and not able to keep his eyes open. He was showing signs of tardive dyskinesia. He told us the drugs he had just took and clearly was overdosing on benzos before our eyes. I was just praying the EMTs showed up with some Romazicon soon if he were to lose consciousness. I was itching to get a blood sugar, a pulse ox, an EKG… but all I could offer was my presence. I asked him about how he was feeling; he told me he didn’t want to live anymore and was afraid he was going to kill himself. He had come downstairs into the lobby to get help. When the people around me asked if I was a nurse and I confirmed, I noted the relief in their eyes. I felt I didn’t deserve this trust put in me, and suddenly realized the responsibility I had in this situation I had stumbled upon. Yet, the training and experience I had was nearly robotic. I now understand why they say nursing is a calling; it’s knit into the fabric of who you are at all times, on or off duty. I assured him we would stay with him until help came. I think it was what he wanted at this moment. He expressed such gratitude. Finally, the team came and he was off to the hospital in a flash.

Something that has loomed in my thoughts is the fact that he was a resident in our apartment- only one floor below us. I probably had rode the elevator with him before, I probably had passed him by the mailboxes or in the parking garage. Yet, I had no idea that there was someone only a floor below fighting for the will to survive. While I propped my feet up on the couch and turned on some silly reality show, someone a floor below was counting pills. “How many might it take?” he contemplated. While I counted the stressors in this year to come, someone below was counting if the stressors of his life were worth living another day.

It woke me up a bit- the reality that we don’t know what those around us are truly going through. It’s cliched, I realize, yet it carries a visceral weight. If we recognized that every single person we encounter is going through something, has a story, has a painful anecdote that formed them or is currently molding them would we all be kinder? Would we smile a bit more as we pass perfect strangers or look the cashier in the eye when we are checking out? I understand that we can’t solve everyone’s problems in this world, but what if we all lived more intentionally. Maybe taking our heads out of our phones and our eyes off our own lives for a second and simply asking, “How are you?” or “How was your day?” to the stranger next to us on the subway, the train, or in line at a grocery store can make all the difference. It’s simply saying to another human- “I see you, you matter, and you are not invisible” that can make or break a person’s day, their life. This man just wanted to be seen. He came downstairs and sat against a wall in the lobby because he knew he would be seen. How can we see the pain around us if we refuse to look up and see? I know we have heard this probably a hundred times, I’m not bringing any type of sage wisdom to the table, but for some reason for the first time this idea, this reality, hit home in a new way. The plague of our society is the acceptance of facade and the taboo of authenticity. Our interactions with one another may be short, but it doesn’t mean they can’t be meaningful. Our words may be few, but it doesn’t mean they can’t be powerful. Our own time may be precious, but it doesn’t mean it can’t be shared. I pray that Jesus will give me His eyes to see those around me the way He does, that he will give me the courage to ask the tough questions, the patience to listen, and the heart to love.

And to the man the floor below, I need you to know, you are loved more than you can imagine. You are worthy. You are the most valuable. There is One who sees you and knows you better than anyone ever could. There is someone who knows your pain so intimately, and He died for it so you don’t have to. There is someone who conquered the grave so you can live. You are never truly alone. I pray for you each day, and I pray that our paths cross again.

Friday Favorites # 7

Hey ya’ll! Happy FriYAYYY! I actually get this weekend off too, so I’m pretty excited about that 🙂 DJ has been in Tahoe since Tuesday for work, and I miss him something fierce, butttt we’ll get to see each other this weekend! Without further adieu…. Here are this Friday’s Friday Faveeesss!

  1. The yogurt/toast is backkkk!!!! I am tucking away my avocado smoothie recipe from the summer and bringing back my yogurt/toast combo. I use either Dave’s or Ezekiel Cinnamon Raisin bread topped with Fage yogurt, low sugar craisins, stevia, and granola. It’s so stinking gooood.

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2. Pumpkin decor!!!! I picked these little punkins up last year and shared them with ya’ll then, and I was stoked to pull these back out from storage and blow off the dust! DJ said my autumnal excitement is a bit premature, but I say there is no such thing. Where is ya’lls favorite place to find home holiday decor? Mine couldn’t be more predictable: Homegoods and Tarjay.

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3. I’m trying my hand at gardening for the first time ever with eco-culture herbs! My Aunt Terry (who was here nearly a year ago, SERIOUSLY, how has it been so long?!?) gifted these to us, and I am obsessed. These are little planters that you can actually plant indoors in the natural window light or outside. I am currently growing basil, cilantro, and parsley. Next I’ll be growing sweet marjoram, sage & garlic chives. They are so easy to use, and gardening (my albeit baby step gardening) is such a cathartic process. Stayyyy tuned!

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4. Just ….fall.. Can fall be a Friday Fave? I say yes. Leaves are falling (or one fell) & autumn is thick in the air (well I got a whiff). While out on my run yesterday I spotted these gorgeous Japanese maples & vibrant bright colorful landscaping. **Side note: I can identify many leaves after a biology project in high school- we had to identify tons of leaves as part of a final project, and weirdly, most have stuck with me. So if you need a leaf identified, send it over, lol.** **side side note : Ironically, I can’t identify flowers for crap though 😂**

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5. If you are a nurse, you have to follow nurse abnormalities on Instagram and also her blog here. Danielle has a real talent for encouraging new nurses as they begin this challenging career. She articulates phenomenally well about the realities and true abnormalities of being a nurse from the good the bad the weird, the hilarious and the absolutely beautiful. Recently her post to new grads hit home big time for me.

img_16676. The Black Tux! Ok, so I’m pretty bummed I just discovered this site, as it would have been SUPER ideal for our wedding. I know several of you are engaged or will be soon, so I figured I’d share this. Basically at Black Tux, you can rent tuxes/suits for wayyyyyyy less than typical rental/retail stores while also getting free shipping (and free size exchanges). We had groomsmen from several different states, so this would have made things a whole lot easier for us. Also, they are partnered with Nordstrom, so you know it’s gonna be high quality. If you know someone who needs to rent a tux, this company is definitely worth checking out!

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7. I promised I’d share the sermon that impacted me big time last weekend… you can find it on Itunes podcast.

img_16668. WINDIANS!!!!! I just have to throw in here that I am so beyond proud of my Indians ❤️❤️❤️ 22 game streak, baby!!!! Even though the streak is over, I am still so excited for my home team!

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9. Welp, we gave in! We done did it. We finally got the Target Red Card after much contemplation. DJ and I aren’t very keen on credit cards for stores, so we chose the debit option (zero risk involved!). Every time you use it you get 5% off. It’s added up a ton. I highly HIGHLY recommend this if you shop a decent amount at Target, or even if you don’t shop that often- it’s still 5%!img_1655

10. Last, but not least, the grocery store was having a huge wine sale, and I decided to grab this bottle for super cheap of Handsome Devil. I am not picky at all about wine, but I do love a dry, yet non bitter cab. This one hits the mark at such a small price!

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Have a TREMENDOUS weekend, ya’ll!

xo ❤

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Six Month Nursing Evaluation & Reflection- Good News!

HEY GUYS! Wow, a ton has happened since my last post, and I am stoked to update you all! I am going to whip out another post soon about my friend from college who visited, but I want to do a quick six month nursing reflection realz quick for my own archives.

**If you want to read my last nursing update, hit up dis link **

So, as you know, I had my meeting on Monday for my six month evaluation and end of the probation period since beginning this nursing gig in March. Most people said if we haven’t had any prior “conversations” we were probably in the clear, but being me, every little thing I’ve done wrong since beginning this job just danced around in my mind. When I went into the office, the response I received from my managers, patients, and coworkers shocked me- it was so uplifting, encouraging, and positive. She quickly said she was excited to promote me to a clinical nurse II (Eeeek!). Like I said- I was shocked. Shocked.

This was tremendously different than the voice that I’ve been feeding myself this whole time. If she had asked, I could have given her a list a mile long of everything I have done wrong, everything I need to improve on, everything I’m too slow at accomplishing, everything I don’t fully understand, and every failure I’ve had since beginning.

I have a bad, bad habit of beating myself up over everything. Can I get an amen from my fellow perfectionists out there?

For instance, I could have several truly beautiful and meaningful interactions with my patients, but that one patient I feel I fail is the one I dwell on. I could do twenty things right, but that one little mistake is what keeps me up at night. That’s called negativity, ladies and gentleman. And wowza, after realizing how much I wallowed in that negativity, this truth hit me bold in the face: I am a hypocrite. Allow me to explain. Just the other day I was sitting with one of my patients that was having some negative self talk. I sat down next to this elderly man, and presented him the positive side of every negative thing he had just said. Then I grabbed a water bottle at his bedside that was serendipitously half full and held it out in front of him. I looked at him, this man who I couldn’t get to crack a smile the whole day and said, “Now, is this half full or half empty?”. He looked at me, totally catching on to what I was doing, and reluctantly he broke a small smile. After a long few seconds of deciding whether he should appease his dorky nurse, he finally said, “Half full”.

Yup, there is always a half full. I was just missing it, and apparently I was not living what I was preaching.

This whole evaluation process helped me realize several things. First, the perspective I have had of myself as a nurse is quite different than how those around me perceive me, but more importantly- how my patients perceive me. The feedback from them means more to me than anything else, and the fact that it was all positive meant the world. I know I have failed them at times, and some days on the unit I am simply too busy to provide the emotional support I wish I could. However, seeing that it’s been all positive feedback means somehow I am still conveying I care, even when I feel that I’m failing. Second, I learned it’s actually okay necessary to be kind and forgive myself. Every mistake I have made up to this point has only made me a better nurse. The inability to let go of these “less than perfect” circumstances only creates turmoil in myself, it’s a destructive seed that benefits no one and manifests in hair loss and a chronically upset stomach. Ain’t nobody got time for that! Soo, I am choosing to forgive myself and offer myself grace. Third, although it’s super important to learn from the mistakes and look for constant improvement, it’s also okay to acknowledge when I do something well. I need to start realizing that I am competent, because this will translate into confidence, allowing my patients to have more confidence in me.

This has been hands down the hardest six months of my life, and I have spent far too much reflecting on my many, many failures. So now I will take time to reflect on the successes. (This is strictly for me to be able to reflect and document my growth as a nurse- not at all in a sense to come off braggadocious because, let’s be real, I could write five novels on how I screw up daily).

Thinking back to when I started on the neuro. unit six months ago, the growth and learning that has taken place really blows my mind (pun totally intended). I cannot take for granted this opportunity and experience, and I reflect with a thankful heart despite the countless tears, heartache, anxiety, and well, insanity.

Six months ago I could not interpret lab values or interpret what was important, but now I’m managing critical labs and hanging potassium like it ain’t no thing. Six months ago I couldn’t titrate a lumbar drain or an EVD, now I can work in the neuro close observation room managing a couple at once. Six months ago I couldn’t perform a thorough neuro exam or identify a patient stroking or developing ICP, now I feel confident calling stroke codes and requesting stat CT scans. Six months ago I wouldn’t have the first clue in knowing how to manage a patient’s blood pressure using only PRNs, but now I will bring a BP down from 170 to 130 in less than 30 minutes. Six months ago I couldn’t do discharge teaching or admissions, now I am doing multiple at once (slowly, but surely!). Six months ago I didn’t know what to report to a doctor, but now I know am making recommendations. Six months ago I had no clue how to turn a patient or reposition them, now I dare you to get a pressure ulcer on my watch. Six months ago I was terrified of IV pumps, now I titrate lidocaine and heparin drips. Six months ago I had no clue how to work with PT, OT, SLP, or case management, but now we coordinate care together daily. Six months ago I didn’t know how to collect spec. gravs or draw blood from central lines, now I’m managing DI and SIADH with every hour Is and Os and shooting that blood up in a tube to lab is oh so satisfying. Six months ago I would shake in my scrubs at the idea of changing a PICC dressing, now it’s one of my favorite nursing skills. Six months ago, I was too emotionally and physically exhausted most days to do anything outside of work, now I am making plans with friends again. Six months ago, I didn’t take the time to stop and pray with my patients, now I try to offer whenever I can. Six months ago, I didn’t put my full strength in Christ, but now I surrender every single day to Him, because without Him, I would not have made it through these six months. These victories are not my own, rather it’s the victory of all the family and friends who have supported and encouraged me. It’s my husband’s victory, who has been my rock this past six months when I’ve been crumbling. And ultimately, it’s the victory and glory of the One who has carried me each second of the day. (Oh, and I guess coffee deserves a shout out too).

Thank you all for your sweet words and prayers leading up to the evaluation. Also- I received the stamp of approval on my research project today, so that’s what I, and a couple others from my unit, will be tackling for the next six months. I am absolutely giddy about it, and one eager beaver to share it with ya’ll in March!

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xo ❤

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A Sun Basket Review & A Fox Dog!

Hey hey heyyyy!! How’s it kicking?

First things first- sometimes I feel slightly unsettled posting some superficial, light hearted posts when such tragic events are occurring all over our world, ya know? Especially right now with all the events that occurred in Charlottesville, the flooding and the storm in Texas, things in Syria, etc. etc……it’s just heart wrenching. Unfathomable. I know there are always tragic happenings; it’s inevitable. But my heart just breaks at it all, and I feel almost silly taking pictures of food and being so grossly removed from it all. I was talking with a friend about it and they made a good point that if we never took time to celebrate the little things in life and only focused on the bad, what type of existence would that be? It’s true. It’s important to acknowledge, be aware, and help however and wherever we can in this broken world. But it’s ok to also take time and celebrate beauty. The good, the bad, the terrible, the beautiful, the painful, the uplifting, the fun, the heart wrenching, the hilarity, the ugly, the superficial, the deep, and even the mundane makes up all things we call life, and it should all be acknowledged. Blogging is such a great escape for ourselves to write, to celebrate with others the beauty in their lives, and to  encourage one another too. ❤ If other bloggers have ever felt similarly or have any thoughts please share them with me. ❤

I have a few fun happenings that have occurred over the past month or so, but with the traveling to Texas, and work in between, I haven’t done a recap! This post is incredibly saturated with edible items- just FYI. Sending all ya’ll fair warnings if you get the tummy grumbles easy-I highly encourage you grab a snack now! Nurse’s orders.

On Wednesday, August 9th, One of DJ’s best friends from growing up, Grant, (also best man in our wedding) and his girlfriend came to California for work, and we had a nice dinner at the Counter one night. This is easily one of DJ and I’s favorites since we discovered it in NYC. You see this list below? You literally build your own burger with whatever protein/bun/cheese/sauces/toppings/etc., and the options are endless. It’s both a foodie dream, but an indecisive foodie’s nightmare. But the dream trumps the nightmare, I promise 😉

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I usually make a vegan veggie burger with a multigrain or ciabatta bun with nearly all the veggies, smoked gouda cheese, and coleslaw with a side of sweet potato fries. This day was scorching hot, so I was fancying salad and put it over greens with a side of balsamic vinaigrette.

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The next day, I had to work, but DJ gave them the grand tour of the area and took them up Mt. Hamilton for the gorgeous views.

Now, I am not proud of this, but I am a hard core fan of the show Vanderpump Rules on Bravo. One of the cast members, Stassi, has a podcast and her show had a promo code for Sun Basket. I decided to give it a try and it was a great decision!

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It comes with an actual little cookbook instead of individual sheets like Blue Apron or Green Chef. It keeps it all condensed in one place, so that’s pretty nice! Plus you get recipes even for the boxes you may not have bought (the entire summer series is in one cookbook).

Quality: In terms of the produce, it is non-GMO, organic, and healthy. However, because of it’s organic nature, the ingredients started going bad within a couple days. I had to make sure to make all the meals right away. But it was all immensely flavorful and fresh.

The first meal we made was the New Orleans style Shrimp Creole. I gobbled this one right up! I think it was my favorite of the three.

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Quantity: In terms of quantity, the servings were fantastic. Since these delivery systems aren’t exactly cheap, you want to make sure to get enough for leftovers if possible. This did not skimp of quantity and we all know leftovers can sometimes be ever more delicious than the first go around.

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The second meal we made were the steak tacos with zucchini-scallion salsa and lime-yogurt. This was DJ’s favorite. I obviously didn’t have the tacos, but I loved the zucchini-scallion salsa!

Health: By health standards, these are winners. All the meals are approved by a nutritionist that works for the company, and the emphasis is on spices, dynamic flavor pairing, and enhancement of natural flavors without adding sugars and added fats.

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And last, but certainly not least, we had the penne with moroccan spiced chickpeas and tomatoes. I liked this more than DJ, but I love love love the blend of cinnamon, cardamom, and garlic together.

Speed: These meals were easily the quickest to make of any that I have tried from Blue Apron to Green Chef to Hello Fresh. I was in and out of the kitchen within about twenty minutes with these ones. I was shocked at how little effort was put forth to get a healthy, scrumptious, and satisfying meal.

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Overall impression: 8/10. I will certainly be trying Sun Basket again! The only real con was the fact that the vegetables need to be used almost immediately upon arrival. Besides that I was super impressed with the service. Blue Apron meals are heartier and have more of a “comfort meal” factor, but they aren’t quite as health focused.

Anyone else use it and want to give their experience?!

Now fast forward past the Texas trip….vrrrroooooommmmm.

On August 21st, DJ and I both had the day off! We went to Stein’s, the new restaurant near our apartment. It’s one of those places that I crave. It’s ridiculously yumm.img_0778-1

I ordered the quinoa & butternut squash salad with napa cabbage / jicama / cilantro / avocado relish / pumpkin seeds / chili lime vinaigrette. I was craving something crunchy, cold, light, and sweet! It hit the spot!

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DJ tried their cornmeal battered cage-free Petaluma fried chicken with slaw and three sauces: The Green Goblin, Wings of Fire, and Sweet Samui. They have a long list of options to choose from with sauces.

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August 22nd, my good friend Sara came by to celebrate her getting a job! Woohoo! We watched the show The Sinner, with Jessica Biel (a psychological thriller- gripping as can be!), and nommed on tons of snacks while playing with the cutest little puppy in the whole world. She was dog sitting and brought this little Foxy lady over.

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Naturally had to whip up a batch of the cookies too 😉

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One Wednesday, August 23rd, I spent the morning lounging for the first time in a while. It was so nice to unwind and take a few deep breaths. I had the house clean, the laundry done, and the groceries stocked for the rest of the week.

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In the afternoon, I went on a hike with DJ’s stepmom! It was much needed chit-chat time. We went to San Antonio Nature Preserve and hiked about seven miles. Quick insane story though- remember last year when I had that scare with the mountain lion (probably a bob cat?). Well, when we were hiking up that same trail, a man came down running past us and told us there had been a mountain lion attack near the top of the hill on the trail (a poor little deer). The unnerving thing was it was in the exact.same.spot I had heard the snarl. I had a hard time sleeping that night- it just didn’t sit well with me. I had convinced myself that it was a bobcat all this time, but the truth is it very well may have been a mountain lion that I had heard.

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After braving the hike (on a different path, of course) and seeing tons of wildlife from deer to turkeys and colorful birds, we went back to our apartment and fueled back up with avocado smoothies, protein cookies, and tons of laughs. Since I was heading back to work the next day, this really helped get me into better spirits and calmed my nerves a great deal.

I worked on the 24th and 25th. BUT- we had a pizza party because we beat our unit record of no patient falls on the unit! WOOHOOOOO!!!!!!!

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Also, a coworker brought in fresh figs. I’ve never had figs before, but I think I have a new addiction. They are so delicious and sweet. If you haven’t tried them- doooo ittttt! SO TASTY!

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DJ has been extra busy with his job lately, and is currently running the marketing department (GO DEEJ!). I’m so proud of him; he’s working ridiculously hard right now. We don’t see each other much, but hopefully when the season settles down we will more!

On Saturday, August 26th, I could barely bring myself out of bed. That’s when I decided to get my creative juices flowing and made the running post. I also caught up a bit on blogging, went for a nice long run, and watched movies (yep, can you believe it?!). Usually after a couple days in a row of working, I need a day with near zero human interaction. It’s hard to be “on” and at the whim of four human beings for nearly 24 hours straight (with about 9 hours in between shifts). I know hospitals aren’t hotels, but I really do think patients think they are sometimes, lol. I feel like I play waitress/maid/person jus’ tryna’ keep you alive all at the same time. (Hmmm, sounds like motherhood? I think I am getting a little taste, haha). I don’t mind though- I really do love my patients. Even the extra-needy ones 😉 But on that first day off, even DJ knows to just not say a word to me.

Sunday, August 27th,  I accidentally overslept through church, but watched Case for Christ on Amazon! SO GOOD! I squeezed in an excellent insanity workout, went to get my bridesmaid dress fitted from David’s bridal, did some groceries, and had a hankerin’ for MOD Pizza for dinner. It was a much more productive day than Saturday, and kept my mind preoccupied for the next couple days of work. (If I sit around, I really tend to work myself up about it).

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On this past Monday and Tuesday, I was assigned to NCOR (neuro close observation room). I always get super-extra nervous when I’m in that room because it’s the sickest patients on the floor that require 24-hour, eyes on, observation. The first day left me sobbing in the bathroom, but the second day was much better, and I walked away feeling elated. ‘Tis nursing.

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I now am resting up a bit before working this weekend, and have a couple fun things planned these next couple days before heading back (I’ll recap in the next post).

Who’s ready for fall?!?!!?

Blog Birthdays:

Happy Happy Happy Happy Birthday to my girl, JJ, from Sitbackandjustlive on August 24th! Girl- I am SO thankful for you. You speak such encouragement and love into my life and sooo many others! You inspire everyone with your zest for life, and thank goodness for all your makeup tips & vicarious Boston adventures! LOVE YOU,  beautiful!!! Hope FL is treating you, real well. XOXO

xo ❤

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20 Things that Happen When you Become a Long-Distance Runner

1. Your tan lines are def not cute, but for some reason that tank stripe down your back, the especially awkward white thighs, and permanent socks create some feelings of pride because #commitment.

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2. Weekend long runs= weekday carb load. ‘Nough said.

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3. While we are on that food topic…. on your long run you think about the endless amounts of food you will then proceed to devour the rest of the day.

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4. Sometimes you get lost in deep, philosophical thoughts for miles. Seriously- all the epiphanies come on long runs, but you forget them all the minute someone mentions pizza.

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5. Oh, and there’s that first time when you realize there is nowhere to pee and you’re ten miles out.

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6. Butttt not too long into the game you also realize peeing in the woods is totally acceptable.. (deep, deep into the woods)

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7. Ohhh and then there’s that moment when you are more fit than ever in your life, but your jeans like to feel more snug #musclemadness

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8. Post run coffee appreciation is a thing. A real thing. A real big thing.

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9. Annnnd that glorious moment you get your first runner’s high, and you begin to rethink your whole life because you are suddenly convinced you could do absolutely anything you set your mind to: Starting an orphanage in Timbuktu while writing a NY Times Best Seller and getting your pHD in Quantum physics suddenly sounds feasible.

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10. Until you hit the wall.

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11. But then you have your beloved fanny pack/pockets/sports bra (Come on, ya know you do it too) filled with gu, jelly beans, waffle zingers, and twizzlers to get you through those last few miles. Don’t mess with a runner’s sugar supplies.

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12. There’s also that moment you realize that you can actually call yourself, “A runner”.

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13. You additionally start scheduling your whole weekend around your long run.

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14. Oh shoot, and then there are those times people ask how many miles you run each day, and you panic, because A. There is no set number per day and B. You are nervous you will eventually have to explain that F word: Fartlek.

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15. After 100 cobwebs, 20 mosquitoes, and calves full of mud, you finish up that trek feeling like the nature warrior you are.

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16. When folding your laundry, your running clothes greatly out number the “normal person” clothes because you also wear your running clothes even on days off. Did I really wear all sixty-two of these sports bras in one week?!

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17. Wait…did I mention the food after?

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18. And we all know when you see a someone else with the same pair of running shoes you use, or even the same brand, you automatically know they are probably a really decent human being, and you want to be their friend.

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19. One word. TAPER.

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20. Last, but certainly not least, let us not forget- post run naps= ultimate naps. Can I get an AMEN?!

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xo ❤

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ALL. THE. FUN. In Fort Worth, TX.

HEYYY YAAAA’LLLLL! This past weekend was nuthin’ but good, Texan fun. It’s actually one of those posts that I’m nervous to write because I feel like I won’t do the weekend justice! Also, fair warning that there are about a million pictures on this post- I had zilch chill when it came to the snapshots. We all know I break about every rule in the blogging book: My posts are too long, I share too many pictures, I make horrible jokes, and I ramble like a middle school girl on the phone. BUTTTTT at least I’m honest about it, right? RIGHT?!

I only find out my schedule about four weeks before, so impromptu planning has forcibly become a newly acquired skill. It worked out that I had four days off in a row, and I had to make the most of it. DJ couldn’t make it with the uncertainty of work, so he was surely missed.

I haven’t seen my mom since the marathon and my step dad, Pete, since Christmas, so I though this would be a perfect time to pay them and my fave lil’ town a visit!

Real quick: If you want to read other posts about the fort worth travels you can check it here or here!

Last Friday (8/11), I worked all day, came home, scarfed down some food and then went to the airport to catch a red eye at 1 am.

I sat down to catch up a little bit on blogging while there. I thoroughly enjoy my “me time” while traveling alone, but man oh man, I was so tired it was hard to even keep my eyes open. I hate being tired- growing up I used to say sleeping is such a waste of time, and I never have really enjoyed it. But this was one of the top five moments of exhaustion in my lifeeeee. My body was like, “whyyy must you torture me like this, go.to.sleeeeep”. Needless to say- I have never longed for or appreciate sleep so much as I do now with this nursing gig.

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I slept nearly every second on the plane ride. I didn’t even wake up for the snacks- yup, that’s how tired I was.

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I had a short layover in Houston. When I arrived in Fort Worth at 8 am on Saturday, I grabbed my suitcase from baggage claim and felt such a great excitement/relief when I saw my mom pull up. I was ecstatic to see her, and also pretty darn excited to find a real live bed with a pillow instead of an airplane tray table. As soon as we arrived, I exchanged a hug with Pete and cuddles with my puppy.

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I decided to take a “quick nap”. I ended up sleeping until one. I never do that. It reminded me of the days of coming back from nursing school and zonking out for hours on end. There is just something about being at your parent’s house that you feel like you can actually relax 100%.

Once I woke up, we went to The Keller Pointe– the local workout facility.

After working out, my mom and I chatted in the hottub (It’s actually so nice after those workout chills set in!)

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And of course, what’s a mother daughter hangout without some sushi!

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We then got ready for our family night out!!

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Dallas/Ft. Worth was having it’s BIG restaurant week! It’d be a crime if we didn’t attend as self-proclaimed foodies. During restaurant week different restaurants create a menu that usually has a three or four course meal with a flat rate, which is way more reasonable than what you would typically spend. You get to sample several options from the menu, pair it with a wine, and get the experience for a decent price! We all haven’t been together since Christmas, so we joked that this was a combined birthday, Father’s Day, new job, and almost making it to the six month mark celebration! Any excuse to celebrate 😉

My mom blew up my e-mail with suggestions to view while waiting for my plane, which is perfect because one of my favorite past times happens to be researching the best local food spots in town. Eddie V’s caught my eye. Not only were they voted the BEST seafood restaurant in the US of A, they also are known for their wine selection– so there’s that.

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The whole restaurant was nothing but class and elegance. The description on their site describes them perfectly:

Eddie V’s charismatic vibe draws you in and holds you close, invites you to be seen, or sit back and just savor. The finest seafood and steaks. World-class wine and service. And live jazz in the V lounge. Eddie V’s can be found across the country. While each location is unique in its setting, artwork and décor, they all share an unmistakable elegance.

If you have a special occasion to celebrate and need a great night out- this is your place. They have several locations in the US- you can see if there is one near you here.

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Of course, for anywhere to be top notch, they served delicious warm bread and butter. The butter was topped with chives and paprika- I’m saving this combo for a rainy day.

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We started with the Maine Lobster Bisque. It was flame. We thought it could have used a bit more actual lobster, but it was still fantastic.

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My mom and I also split their season salad. It came with full parmasean slices and an olive brushetta marinade. It was the best compliment to the heavy lobster bisque.

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Now to get to the main course… I had the salmon with young vegetables and a mustard vinaigrette. I feel like the picture just speaks for itself. It was phenomenal.

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My mom ordered the swordfish with lemon, olive oil, sea salt, and asparagus. It was pretty simple, but absolutely fantastic. I honestly don’t know if I preferred the salmon or swordfish. Both were scrumptious beyond description. They were not lying about good seafood.

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No worries to those carnivores out there….Pete ordered the filet. It was cooked to PERFECTION.

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And just when we didn’t think the meal could get better… then we had the au gratin potatoes…. it was consensus that this was the best part of the meal. Until…

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…..we had dessert!!!!! Wow oh wow. I’m not even exaggerating when I say this was some of the most mouth-watering dessert I have ever tasted.

First, we tried the butterscotch panna cotta. This had salted caramel, walnut pralines, and biscotti. Not sure what it was about this dessert, but it was seriously some of the greatest flavor I have ever experienced. It was smooth, creamy, and full of such intensely pleasant sweetness with a light finish.

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And last, but ooooh certainly not least, we tried the Hot bananas foster butter cake: flambeed table-side and served with small batch butter pecan ice cream. It was easily the tastiest bananas foster I have ever devoured.

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On Sunday morning, we headed to church. Everyone is so friendly in Texas. It was a great service and nostalgically pleasant to attend Church together like the ole’ days!

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When we got back from Church, I downed a piece of toast with better n’ peanut butter PB & honey. We then went to Keller Pointe to workout!

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In the afternoon we went to one of our favorite places in Fort Worth, TX- the Stockyards!

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The Stockyards has a rich western history, and still to this day has the world’s only twice-daily cattle drive! People line the roads like they are getting ready for the Macy’s Day Parade.

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We didn’t actually attend the drive this time, but I’ve seen it before and it’s pretty neat!

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There is a little gem of history with every step you take, a new story to be uncovered, a piece of the past to be explored. The boutiques and locally owned shoppes are part of what I love about it most too- #shoplocal.

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My momma and I headed to Cowtown Winery to try a couple flights before heading to the premier event for the evening.

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The people next to us were so friendly and immediately struck up a conversation with us. I miss the friendliness….. In California you’re lucky if the cashier at the grocery store acknowledges your presence…. ok ok it’s not that bad, but people just keep more to themselves around here!

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And thennn for the main event of the evening….

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We hit up the nationally renowned Billy Bob’s Texas. This is basically like a right of passage if you claim to know anything about the Fort Worth area.

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This place is considered the world’s largest Honkey Tonk. Check that off my bucket list.

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It’s MASSIVE. It is truly hard to describe. There are about four bars alone in the one massive room, a ring for actual bull riding (not even a mechanical one, a real one), and an energy that fills the whole arena.

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We realized we were pretty hungry, and decided to split the portobello mushroom sandwich and sweet potato waffle fries. They were both so good. There was actually cole slaw on the sandwich, whichhh may be the best thing eva. If you go to Billy Bob’s do yourself a favor and try their sweet potato fries!

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What was this epic event occurring for the evening?! The World’s Largest Karaoke Competition! This was the finals of three rounds. It was such a memorable night- my mom and I realized we were probably the only two attending that didn’t have any personal emotional investment in any of the contestants, but we soaked up every second. The tunes were amazing, the talent was incredible, and did I mention the sweet potato fries?

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Also I had such a surreal moment where I actually put my hand in one of the actual cast members of the The Temptations. SWOON.

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When we got home, we spent time chatting in the hottub, listening to the quiet, quiet night only with the gentle soundtrack of chirping crickets and basking in the warm embrace of sleepy, nocturnal wind. That moment reminded me so much of Ohio. I needed it – especially now… just the peace and solitude, the feeling that nothing exists except the trees swaying above you, the hum of creatures in the grass, and the quiet- the utter hush and white noise of nature, a symphony in it’s own right.

I slept so deeply that night. The next day, Monday, we headed to Seven Mile Cafe– a staple brunch spot in Keller!

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They have a giant chess board outdoors… I mean… come on..

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Plus, it’s basic as me, so naturally, it drew me in…..

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The food is boss here. The service not so much, but I guess they can afford to be slow considering the food is worth the wait. Pete ordered their California burger, I ordered their create your own omelette, and momma Jill ordered their Vigas. The Vigas is hands down the thing to order!

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This is the vigas below- it has seasoned tofu scrambled with tortilla strips, jalapeños, soyrizo, onions, tomatoes, avocado, and served with black beans and a side of tortillas. It was veryyy vigalicious.

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And of course we had to finish with one of their homemade cinnamon rolls. Can’t go wrong with that!

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When we got home, my mom whipped up us iced lemonade and basil for the road! Time for the beach!

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We went to a new spot my mom had been wanting to check out- Little Elm Beach. The City of Little Elm is darling, and the fact that they have probably one of the only little beaches in the state of TX makes it a perfect getaway spot.

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Recently obsessed with La Croix- any one have a favorite flavor?! I love them all- but I think the coconut may be the best!

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We walked the beach and took a swim in the comfortably tepid water. I love swimming, but haven’t in a while. It felt tremendously refreshing to be in the water again, especially in that Texas heat!

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After we dried off a bit we went to the Little Elm Lakeside Trails to scope them out.

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They actually reminded me a bit of the trails in Ohio, ohhhhh how I miss the CVNP!

When got back from our sun & fun filled day, I whipped up my stuffed sweet potatoes for my momma to try! We devoured these suckers then headed to, sadly, the last adventure on the weekend agenda..

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PAINTING WITH A TWIST! I have wanted to do this for ages, and there was one basically right in my parent’s backyard in Keller!

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If you don’t know what Painting with A Twist is, lemme inform yaaas. Basically, it’s a painting class, but the “twist” is you can bring in a bottle of wine, snacks, etc. and you paint while sipping!

You just register online and they have everything set up for you- the canvas, the paint, the water, the brushes- all you need to bring is yourself…. oh and your beverage of choice, ohhh and your chocolate of choice 😉

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We also won the “selfie competition”- yes, so slightly cheesy (literally and figuratively- womp womp), but we won and got two painting with a twist tumblers so 100% worth it!

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Priorities….

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They have plenty of photo ops all over the place!

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Tell me she isn’t just the cutest?!? Plus she had the best painting in the class- not even kidding!

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I woke up at 5 am on Tuesday to head to the airport and head home. It was the hardest thing to say goodbye. I grabbed some Starbucks to help with the grief. They always misspell my name so that at least provided a sprinkle of humor.

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Welp, this may officially be one of my longest posts ever. If you stuck through it I give you props! I hope you all had the best weekends! Anyone do anything crazy or fun?

Blog Birthdays:

Kristy from Southern In Law on August 12th. Guys, Kristy always has such yummmmy, healthy eats and her pictures alone will make your mouth water! She also is super candid about her life and such a joy to follow.

Dani Jane from A Beautiful Thing on August 17th. This lovely London lady blogs about literally everything, from fashion to travel to restaurants- you must follow her now if you don’t!

Happy birthday to you both, I hope it was wonderful 🙂 Sorry I’m a bit late!

xo ❤

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Protein Packed Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Breakfast Cookies

I start every single day with cookies and end every day with ice cream.

Not kidding! I say it’s the secret to a balanced diet and keeps me motivated to eat healthy the rest of the day!

Soooo…. I am finally sharing my breakfast cookie recipe per request! I have spent time after time and batch after batch trying to perfect these little guys. I finally feel I have come to a place where these breakfast cookies are exactly what I crave in the morning. And by crave I mean if I don’t have any left come morning my whole day is off. I pair a couple with my creamy avocado smoothie and am usually set for a full morning of work from 4:30 until about 11 am when I have my first break. Plus, the sweet & savory combo is perfection.

Grocery List:

  • 2 scoops Protein Powder of Choice (I prefer EAS Vanilla)
  • 2 C. Oatmeal of choice (either old fashioned or quick oats- I like quick oats)
  • 3 TBSP Enjoy Life semi-sweet mini chocolate chips
  • 2 Large overripe Bananas
  • 1/2 C. Organic Peanut Butter (I use Laura Schudder’s)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Mash bananas in a large mixing bowl with a fork or spatula
  3. Add all other ingredients
  4. Stir and mash with spatula until thoroughly mixed- put your muscle into it! It’s dry at first, but eventually becomes nice and doughy (may use a Kitchen Aid)
  5. Using a Tablespoon, scoop cookies one at a time onto a greased baking tray
  6. Put all cookies into the oven, cook for 7-8 minutes
  7. Allow to cool, enjoy!
  8. Store leftovers in the fridge.

**They taste like little cookie dough bites cold, but I reheat mine in the microwave a couple seconds before eating them in the morning. I think they are even better warmed up!

Nutrition per cookie. Servings per batch: 31

Calories: 63

Fat: 3g

Carbs: 7g

Protein: 3g

Sugars: 2g

E N J O Y!

xo,

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I Accidentally Stole From Target & Other Recent Happenings

HOWDY! Excuse me while I unleash my good ole’ southern side (I just booked a quick four day trip to Dallas in August!). YEEHAAW. My schedule only comes out about three or four weeks before, so I’m doing all my planning last minute, but I’m learning to navigate it.

I’m thrilled to tell ya’ll that things are getting mucho better. I think after I wrote my last big nursing update post I began truly coping. I’m able to sleep through the night most nights without taking an absurd amount of melatonin, and I am able to separate work from home a bit better. I actually have some energy outside of work and am becoming motivated to start, idk, do real people things, besides sleep on my off days. I’ve still had days that would consume me at the beginning, but now I try to just see them as a learning experience. I feel that I am contributing more to my patients’ care too. One of my patients was just a bit too drowsy for my likin’ and had sluggish pupils. I let the doctor know, and when they did the CT scan it turned out he did have a re-bleed in the brain. As much as I wish these types of complications didn’t happen, it was incredibly rewarding to feel like I actually made a true difference for a patient. I still have an infinite amount to learn, but I don’t get nauseous every single day walking into work. I’ve actually had a few times where I’ve been somewhat excited to go back in because I knew I was getting my same patients back from the prior day! This turned corner is all, 100%, due to the tremendous support I have received in the last couple months and spending time in God’s Word has truly helped change my perspective. I don’t think I could have survived the first three new-grad nursing months from h-e-double hockey without you all, DJ, my family, my friends, and other coworkers. It sounds supes cliche, but it’s the truth. I have just a couple months until my probation period ends and I think I might just make it, guys! Then I will officially be a Clinical Nurse II! Just gotta keep peddlin’ on. (I needed to work in this photo somehow).

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Also my coworkers have jokes… I walked into this when I worked last Sunday and found it hilarious.

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When going through my Camera roll as of late I noticed two things. A. All I do is take pictures of food. and B. I make some weird crap. But I swear, it’s delicious crap.

Ok, exhibit A….

I decided to try a portobello mushroom cap stuffed with baked tilapia, blistered tomatoes, hummus, kalamata olives and seasoned with Za’tar. I had a side of quinoa & brown rice. It turned out crazy good. I made it the next day. DJ really enjoyed it as well and commented how good the house smelled when it was all cooking.

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I also have been craving tofu lately! Last week I made a medley of roasted veggies, vegan turmeric cauliflower mashed potatoes, and pan roasted tofu with tomatoes.

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I then bought giant collard green leaves and stuffed them with the above plus a dollop of hummus.

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I’m obsessed. I can’t stop eating these little guys!

Last Monday (7/10), I finally FINALLY was able to see one of my girlfriends, Sara. Our schedules haven’t been lining up lately, but they matched for once! DJ had to work super late that night so it made for a great impromptu girl’s night. I still had to work on Tuesday, but not until 2:30 pm, so I didn’t have to go to bed at 9 pm. She came over and we watched Bachelorette, sipped champagne, and ate cookies & chocolate. It was sooo needed.

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Tuesday (7/11) DJ and I worked our toosh’s off, but Wednesday (7/12) we both had the same day off! *GASP*. The same day?!? Yes, yes… I know it’s hard to believe, I was looking for the pigs flying overhead too. We were both pretty exhausted from the day before and decided to just take a chill day. We started our morning with a breakfast at Bobbie’s Cafe. This is a staple breakfast place in Cupertino. It’s your typical mom-and-pop dive with great staple breakfast options, phenom service, and friendly folks who appear to frequent the diner for their morning cup of Jo and side of eggs.

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You know a place is gonna be good when they welcome you with this many hot sauce options….

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I ordered their poached eggs over an english muffin with a side of cottage cheese. It hittt the spot!

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DJ says Bobbie’s pancakes are some of the best around here. I tried them, and definitely concur. I say they taste similar to Heidi’s– light but full of flavor.

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In the evening I made DJ a pepper jack crusted chicken with a sprinkling of pita breadcrumbs and pasta. For myself, I ate a collard green/cauliflower/veggie/hummus/tofu whatever-the-heck you wanna call it wrap.

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Since we graduated our FACC series class, we are only having one class with our Cohort every couple of months. We begin our research project in September. Eeeek! I am too pumped. I already know what our topic is gonna be, and I’m nerding out hard core.

They surprised us Thursday morning (7/13) ( with the most gourmet breakfast! I quickly snuck a picture when no one was around 😉 ) #DOITFORTHEBLOG.

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It included all kinds of fruit and bagels with cream cheese, capers, and smoked salmon. I told one of my coworkers that every single tear in the last few months was worth it for this very moment.

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After a long week of work, DJ and I set out to Oren’s Hummus shop on Main Street lateee on Friday night (7/14). It was a super spontaneous date night, neither of us thought we would be home as early as we were (I actually got out on time!).

If you want the run-down of Oren’s, go here, such a throwback post. It’s one of our all time favorite spots, and they have some of the best hummus in the whole wide world.

For an appetizer, make sure to order their original hummus with a side of whole wheat pita. Greatest life decision, I promise.

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I always order their Moroccan carrots, marinated beets and veggie skewers, and DJ usually gets their beef hummus.

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Funnnnnyy story: We stopped by Target afterwards to pick up a few groceries and a card for a friend. I picked out the card and walked around with DJ for the rest of the food he wanted to pick out. When walking back to our apartment, I realized I still had the card under my arm and hadn’t paid for it. I FREAKED out, classic “me” mode, and started sprinting back to Target hollerin’ to DJ, “I accidentally stole it!” When I looked to my right there was a Sheriff stepping out of his car in the parking lot. I dived into Target half expecting him to chase me. I’ve always loved the show Cops, just never expected to be on it. Nothing ended up happening. I walked up to the cashier and explained what happened, they couldn’t have cared less, but I clutched that receipt ready to explain myself as I left the building!

On Saturday morning (7/15), or any day I have off, you can almost definitely find my in my lil’ egg basket. I just swing, swing, and swing while enjoying my coffee, avocado smoothie, and oatmeal chocolate protein cookies. It’s hands down my favorite part of the whole day!

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DJ and I both had Saturday off too. DJ played some basketball with the guys in the morning and I went on a nice, loooong run. We also snuck in a few episodes of Game of Thrones and before we knew it, it was dinner time!

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DJ suggested Mod Pizza. How I haven’t been here yet is beyond me. They have them all over the US- anyone tried it?! It’s basically a subway for Pizza and it’s amazing.

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The crust/sauce/and topping options are endless AND they are reasonably priced. Around here that is a BIG deal. (literally). SUNS OUT, PUNS OUT.

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Deej ordered a Chocolate Milk Shake- I tried a sip. If you are a shake lover, you should definitely order one of these. Wowza! It was sweet, but the chocolate flavor was sending me into a whirl like the Cuckoo bird in the Coco Puffs commercial.

I did a Mini-Mod with red sauce, all the veggies, and fig balsamic glaze to top it.

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DJ had the Mad Dog!

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I couldn’t believe how quick the service was too!

After we devoured every bit of our pizzas, we headed to the Row to be out and about (like I said, I’m beginning to turn back into my old self a bit more!).

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The parking was super limited on a Saturday night, so we had to park on tippy-top of the parking garage. We didn’t mind though, the view of the Sunset was perfect, and we made it just in time!

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Anyone recognize the car below? It’s the one from Back to the Future! (DeLorean DMC-12).

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On Sunday (7/16) we went to Church. It was one of the first Sundays since starting this job that I actually had off and could actually go. It did something good for me to see all my friends. I missed everyone so doggone much!

After I did a quick grocery trip. I love grocery shopping- I just put my headphones in, listen to a podcast, and stroll the magical Safeway aisles.

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In the afternoon I meal prepped a bit- cutting up veggies, getting meats ready, yada yada yada, and then I made my faveeee oatmeal chocolate chip protein cookies. I cannot get enough!

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DJ has been asking me lately to make the Dixie Stampede soup. Dixie Stampede is a Dolly Parton owned show/restaurant in a few locations. DJ went with the basketball team in college to the one in Branson, MI, and came back raving about the soup. I whipped up a big ole batch that lasted all of three days.

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It is currently Wednesday (7/19) after working Monday and Tuesday. Today I am going out on a long run to catch up with podcasts and then I’m not sure what the evening holds! Tomorrow is pretty busy though, I’m excited to share all about that in my next recap post. Now that I’ve downed basically an entire jar of PB2, I’m off to run and soak up some beautiful sun! What are you all up to this week/weekend?

((BIG HUGS))

Blog Birthdays:

Major happy birthdays to Fallon @ Slacker Runner in July- an epic, motivational, and genuine runner who also has an terrific sense of humor!

and Niki @ Nikisthoughts.wordpress.com on July 18th! (I’m a bit behind, but I hope you had the most wonderful day!). I love Niki’s Share Your World challenges- they are super fun and insightful, and also spark some awesome conversation.

xo ❤

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A Perfect Pittsburgh Wedding!

Happy Hump Day, ya’ll. How were your 4ths?! If you have a link to a post about your celebrations feel free to leave it in the comments 🙂 I’d love to hear what you all were up to! Mine was super laid back because this past weekend was busy as could be, and I was running on no sleep. Hence I dreamt of all things vegan bratwurst and fireworks as I slept a majority of the day away. DJ had to work all day anyway, so it worked out well.

I am stoked to share about the epic wedding this past weekend!

On Thursday morning I quickly packed for my flight. I never pack the day of, but since I worked nearly four twelve-hour shifts in a row leading up to it, the last thing I wanted to do when I came home on Wednesday night was pack. I Ubered to the airport and had the most phenomenal discussion with my Uber driver. She gave me such great encouragement and actually we talked about the blog a bit. I gave her my blog name, so if she happens to read this I send her a big hello and thank you for her sweet conversation.

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I took an American Airlines flight from SF to Chicago to Pittsburgh. My first flight, the long one, had selections for movies still in theaters! I was surprised! What are some of your favorite airlines?! I was thoroughly impressed with American.

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I didn’t end up watching the movies, but took that time to type away for my last blog post. It was the definition of therapeutic. So needed. As soon as I pressed that “publish” button I felt like I could take a deep breath. It was metaphorically, yet tangibly, cathartic to just get it all out. It was as though I untethered the shackles of difficult moments and trials from mind, and grasped ahold of them- drowning them in truth and light.

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It’s weird, but only when I travel do I really crave pop (or soda, if you aren’t from the midwest). I even received a whole can– wooohooo. American Airlines stepping up the game. What is your go-to flying beverage of choice?

The family I sat next to were headed to Sutton’s Bay and Traverse City from Sydney, Australia. Small world! I gushed about my love for the quaint city and gave them a mile long list of fantastic restaurants, highly suggested Bardon’s epic ice cream shop, and emphasized the need to go to the Sleeping Bear Dunes. Their little girl fell asleep on my shoulder at one point, so precious.

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I lucked out and was assigned the window seat. However, I did have to monitor my fluid intake, otherwise I would be getting up to go to the bathroom every five seconds per usual. Road trips can be a bit of a pain with me because I tend to chug water on the heels of my morning joes. Zero chill.

I barely made my second flight because our first one took off late. I also misread the SUPER confusing signs to my gate and ended up having to go through security again. I was definitely that person- sprinting through the airport with bags flying and a crazed look on my face. But I made it. I even had a few moments to scarf down my airport sushi just in time to board– hoooolllllaaaa.

On my second flight I sat next to a Russian man who is an expert in acarology (the study of mites). He was giving a lecture at OSU about it. Pretty quickly into our conversation he asked me, “Are you afraid of death?”. I was taken aback but it led to some interesting conversation.

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I Ubered from the airport to the hotel. It was about a forty minute drive. I spent the entire forty minutes chatting with a die-hard Pittsburghian about the day in the life. If anyone wants to be convinced by someone that Pittsburgh is the best city to have ever existed in all of history and all time to come, this is your guy.

I arrived at the Hilton Garden Inn in Cranberry at about 2 am. It was a very nice Hilton! I highly recommend staying here if you need a reasonably priced place to stay in Pittsburgh.

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I couldn’t sleep one wink on Thursday night. Actually, that’s a lie. I fell asleep around 5 am and slept until 6 am until my neighbor decided to blow dry her hair. I couldn’t fall back asleep. I chugged a cup of coffee & decided to run to try to wake up my body. Also, does anyone else just love hotel coffee? I swear there is something about it that just makes me giddy (and not just from the caffeine). Maybe it’s just the adrenaline of travel that is associated with it and the good times that leave a great taste in the mouth.

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I then headed to the venue at Freedom Farms to help the rest of the girls set up for the wedding. I was stoked to see Lyndsay, the bride to be! She is one of my dearest friends since middle school. We attended youth group together all the way through high school. We have literally been through it all together from sharing countless laughs, tears, navigating boys (oh boy), going on trips in the US to the Dominican Republic together, growing in our faith, eating absurd portions of pineapple pizza at the pool in the summer, strumming our guitars in worship and just in our spare time, splitting a dozen donuts in one sitting at a dive in Indiana, cheering each other on in track meets even though we were competing schools, getting ready for a plethora of church events and getaways, and she was even the one who sat with me in silence after my dad passed away, my deepest heartbreak. She is as loyal as they come and has always been a role model of mine. I love her deeper than just a friend, she is a sister to me.

We were just missing our Clair, our good friend who is having a baby and was due on Lyndsay’s actual wedding day! The babe still hasn’t came, but literally ANY second now. Eeek!

Here is a little walk down memory lane….

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I was honored she asked me to be a bridesmaid, and I was beyond thankful (and shocked) that I could make it. I also haven’t seen her since my own wedding– two years ago! The reunion was quite special. I quickly got to know the other amazing girls in her bridal party and exchanged hugs with her family. They were like a second family to me growing up. I and my dear friend, Sarah, arranged the bouquets for some of the tables. I loved doing this. In another life I’d like to be a florist.

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The venue was incredible. I wish I had taken more pictures, but we were busy bees getting ready for the big day and just soaking up the precious moments! If you live in Pittsburgh and are looking for that rustic, yet elegant, venue- THIS IS YOUR PLACE. It was straight out of a fairytale.

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All of the creative touches actually outdid Pinterest. Lyndsay ironically was the first person who I ever heard about Pinterest from! Ahh, to think back to when we both started planning our weddings all those years ago.

Below is a picture of all the bridesmaids & Lynds (in white). I think this picture sums us up way better than the more normal ones we took 😉 Gosh, it was the best bunch of ladies.

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The rehearsal dinner was in-cred-ible. She served Greek food with wide arrange of marinated olives, hummus, baba ganoush, tabouli, pita, lamb, chicken, feta, dolmas, rice, and finished off with the best greek desserts ever (naturally I tried them all- the baklava was baklavamazing).

I scarfed it all down before I could grab a picture. Once I finished the food I decided I needed to find out where this was catered from. Lyndsay said it was actually her good friends, a life mentor, (with no Greek heritage), who cooked the food. I was blown away. I found the lady and by occupation she is a physician’s assistant. She said she just grew an interest in Greek food and was determined to learn how to cook it. We chatted for a while about cooking (she’s my new inspiration) and about medicine. In a little over twenty four hours I had met a diverse number of new, unique, and wonderful people.

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Friday night we headed to Lyndsay’s to do nails and spend some last minute reminiscing before she took the plunge into wedded bliss. Ugh, I love her so much.

Saturday morning we went to the hair salon to get that hair did. It all went smoothly and was a blast! We were in and out in about less than hour. CRAZY!

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Lyndsay was nothing short of perfect for her day, inside and out.

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This is Sarah’s hair- It looked identical to the picture she showed it was nuts! I had to take a picture.

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This was my up-do. I did a braid into a low bun.

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Mimosa time!

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We all did our makeup together at the hotel and then packed up to go to the venue. Things were getting REAL!

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I am obsessed with this photo below because this is just Lyndsay: All dressed up and effortlessly gorgeous with her yoga mat and Nalgene bottle in hand. She literally drank from the Nalgene at the venue all night. I love how true to herself she is in any situation. It’s always been something I’ve admired about her.

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Even the ride to the venue was such a blast.

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We made it!

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We took all our pictures with the party which may have included chasing a chicken, but we did not catch it, unfortunately. We also all gathered before the wedding to witness the magical first look! It was the type of first look that didn’t leave a dry eye to anyone who witnessed it. The day emulated the beauty of the union- it was supposed to rain, but the rain held off and the sun made it’s presence known, wrapping each guest with the warmth and glow that radiated from the love of the couple.

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Here is a picture of the bridesmaid’s bouquets! Stunning, right?!

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The ceremony was the most Christ-centered, loving, sweet, and beautiful wedding I think I’ve ever been to. The message from the pastor (Lyndsay’s father) resonated with me big time. The way Joseph looked at Lyndsay melted all of our hearts. The whole day was PERFECT. I know I have used that word far too much, but seriously- there is no other way to describe it.

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Reuniting with friends I haven’t seen in forever was one of my favorite parts of the weekend. I missed these people beyond words. Seeing them all made my heart so happy. ❤

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**CUE THE TEARS**

For dinner there was burrito bar. YUUUUMMMM.

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They are the stinking cutest that ever was.

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And the rest of the night was followed by dancing our tails off.

At the very end of the night, all us bridesmaids and Lynds had an impromptu dance to “Marry You” right before the sparkler send off. As cliche as it may sound, it was seriously a cinematic movie moment, and I can’t imagine a better way to send off my best friend, my sister, into her next stage of life.

That night I left for the airport around 3 am. Needless to say I slept every minute on each flight on the way back. When I arrived around 10 am (SF time), DJ picked me up. I went back home to sleep, but in the afternoon we went to Bill’s to have a nice breakfast together.

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It was a quintessentially perfect wedding weekend that I felt blessed to be a part of. Joseph and Lyndsay are a tremendous couple that already are changing and inspiring others’ lives.

Thanks for sharing in this weekend with me!

xo ❤

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Nursing: Peace in the Chaos.

Do you ever have an endless stream of thoughts that you want to share but are not sure where to even begin?

That’s me right now.

In my last post I mentioned that I wanted to divulge about the past couple months, my journey with nursing, about how I’ve both regressed and then grown in my faith, and how I have learned more in just a couple months than I do in a typical year…

I have a lot to unravel, it may take the full seven hours of traveling honestly. I’m treating this like a diary post, and I know it will be long. I will not hold it against any of you, even my loyal readers if you skip it.

But today I just need to write.

I need to write and record the transformative period that is my existence right now, and share the tremendous ways God has been moving in what seems impossibly bleak circumstances. I also know some friends and family that are going through this similar transition, so I hope to offer some encouragement to those individuals as well.

So, nursing. Nursing, nursing, nursing. I always compare this to an emotional rollercoaster, and all I can say is what. a. ride. While I may start off kind of explaining the gargantuan obstacles, it’s amazing what I have learned through it! This is not a venting session, but rather the most raw, honest insight into the life of a new nurse, and how I am slowly, but surely, learning to cope with the hardest year of my life.

Neurosurgical nursing is notoriously difficult, and our floor is no exception. I deal with a number of critically ill patients. For example, a patient’s nausea can be a simple side effect of their pain medication, or it can mean they are developing increased intracranial pressure; if I don’t assess it correctly, they truly could die on my watch. We have patients that have drains coming out of their brain’s ventricles and spinal cords. If they sit up without letting me know they are repositioning, they could drain out their own cerebral spinal fluid, and have dire consequences. I’ve had patients that seize, and I watch as the oxygen saturation plummets, while I hold them on their side. They sometimes go still and for a second, I panic- thinking for they are dying right there in my arms before their oxygen creeps back up. Fear gnaws at me, an unwanted tumor that relentlessly impedes on my emotional well-being and my life. I give so many medications constantly, so even when I triple check before giving anything, I am always afraid of making an error. In nursing, there is infinite room for error, countless scenarios that could potentially go wrong. It leaves me, a brand new nurse, perpetually terrified.

Every day I wake up to go to work I know I will make a mistake or have some type of failure. I was not prepared for this when graduating nursing school. I knew that I would have a massive learning curve, but I didn’t realize that making mistakes was part of the job. No worries- nothing that has compromised my patients’ well-being, but I always fail in some way. This isn’t some pessimistic self-fulfilling prophecy, but the reality of being a new nurse.

Do you ever have those dreams where you can’t run or talk or scream and feel stuck in quicksand? That’s how I feel majority of days on my shift. I know exactly what I need to do but one thing after another impedes me from moving at the pace I would like. Say I have my morning meds to give to four different patients. I have a one hour window to give those meds. A realistic, typical day goes like this- I step into my first patient’s room to do assessments and give medications. My phone rings, another patient wants their blood glucose checked and their insulin because their meal tray has arrived. I glance down wide-eyed at the twenty pills sitting on my workstation on wheels and can’t leave until I give these meds. Hence, my patient down the hall will have to wait at least fifteen minutes before they can start to eat. Overwhelmed. I go down to see the patient and give them their insulin, and then they ask for their food to be microwaved (understandably so). They also want to use the toilet, but it takes twenty minutes to get them out of bed, to the bathroom, and back. I wasn’t assigned a nurse assistant to said patient because they are technically mobile. They also want a bed-bath, their teeth brushed, and me to fill them in on the “plan” for the day- which is all totally understandable, but at this point I have to explain that I will come back as soon as I finish up with the other patients. Frustration. As I leave they ask for their pain med, so I have to go back out down the hall to the Pyxis, grab their pain med, and come back. I get a page from the front desk, “your patient in room#__ is de-sating” (an emergent situation). Panic. I explain I must leave although I have their pain med in hand and run down the hall to make sure my other patient is getting oxygen. I look at the watch. It’s 0830. I still haven’t seen my last patient and rounds with the doctors are at 0845. I dive into my last patient’s room and quickly grab a set of vitals because our sepsis screens are due by 0900. Overwhelmed. As I hand my patient their med, I get a call from a patient’s family member wanting an update on how their loved one did overnight, but I can’t remember all the facts pertained to which patient in report. Confused. By the time I get back to the other patient to give them their pain med their pain has spiked from a 5 to a 9 on that 0 to 10 scale. Incompetent. It’s one big game of whack-a-mole, and I feel like the weak little four-year-old that keeps fumbling with the hammer in an arcade. Except I have ten hours left in this arcade.

I have so many moments like this that I freeze like a deer in the headlights. I start to go into a panic, I can’t see straight, I can’t breathe, I wait for my knees to buckle out from under me. I can’t stop the tears from coming. I duck into the break room and let the attack pass. I suck it up and step back outside. I’m supposed to smile and act like I have it all together in front of my patients. Nothing is supposed to rattle me, but everything does. I wear my emotions on my sleeve, so this is quite difficult for me. A colleague asks if I am ok. I wish they hadn’t asked because that question gets me. I can’t respond because if I do the tears will start again. I failed. I let my emotions show. The rest of the shift is one thing after another. I don’t sit down until 2 pm for a 30-minute lunch.

At 1730 the float offers me a break. We aren’t allowed to chart off the clock, but my charting isn’t done. I use my last fifteen-minute break to frantically chart. Exhaustion.

At 1830 I still have a list of things to get done, but change of shift is at 1845. I’m in my patient’s room in a hot sweat trying to get their antibiotics hung, their last meds given, and their lumbar drain checked as the night shift nurse anxiously waits for me to give them report. The family members asks, “rough day”? I failed again. I failed miserably. I let my feelings show in front of a patient. No one told me how much acting is involved in nursing.

I go home filled with guilt that I was so busy I didn’t connect with one of my patients. I replay the things I did wrong over and over. I can’t turn my mind off. Guilt. Fear. I wake up in the middle of the night in a pool of sweat. Panic. I think I’m supposed to be charting, DJ reassures me I’m at home and not at work. I get texts from friends asking to hang out on my day off and feel guilt saying no because all I want to do is sleep. Guilt. Failure. I’m drowning. Exhaustion. I slip into a dark place, the depression that I experienced in high school is creeping back, suffocating me. Darkness.

This is the reality. I am not able to handle this on my own. And about two weeks ago, I realized it. I came to the conclusion that I would not be able to make it through the rest of this year unless something changed. I gave myself a hard look in the mirror and realized what was starkly missing- time with the Lord.

Since I’ve started this program I haven’t opened the Bible or prayed much at all. I don’t know what it is about stressful periods of life that I just stop actively seeking God.. it’s weird. I think it’s possibly this selfish defense mechanism, or maybe I just want to be numb and engaging with the Creator of the universe kind of doesn’t allow that. I think I also feel as though I don’t have the energy to invest or something, but it’s so ironic because all God does is renew and refresh when you devote that time to Him. I decided that I would recommit my mornings to Him, and it has transformed everything for me.

I decided to read 1 Peter. I have no idea why. I never spend much time there. I don’t even remember consciously choosing it. I read it once, then read it again, and again. God knew exactly what I needed right when I needed it. There were certain verses that blew me away; the Holy Spirit undeniably was directly speaking into my circumstance. This happens every time I spend time in the Word, but it nevertheless continues to amaze me each time. It is the living Word for a reason.

The first verse that jumped out was verse 5, “This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power”. The idea that I am shielded, guarded, and protected by God’s power each day I step foot onto that nursing floor gave me a great sense of peace. I felt like I could take a deep breath. I actually had a conversation with my sister Andrea (who always brings the wisdom) and when telling her my fears she said, “Kenz they aren’t just your patients”. At first I thought she meant they have a team of doctors and other nurses on the other shifts that care for them. I quickly went to the defense “but they are my sole responsibility in that moment”, but she jumped in saying, “No- you are not alone, they are in God’s hands too.” Woah. So true, but why hadn’t I thought of that? I’m not alone. It really hit home for me when I read this verse. I am shielded by God’s power. He has called me to this place. I can’t do this in my strength, but I can in His strength (Philippians 4:13). And what a relief that I don’t have to live in intense fear. (2 Timothy 1:7). That fear is not in line with walking with the Lord.

Then verse 6 and 7 continued speaking into my circumstance.

In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.” 

Um, hi. This is the greatest trial of my life! Grief has become quite the familiar acquaintance. So naturally this verse grabbed my attention. Why does God have me here going through this painfully difficult time? Why did he call me to this profession? Why does it have to be so hard? I could have chose from plenty of other directions or majors, why this?

Those questions were answered by the second part of the verse.

These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.”

This verse woke me up. These trials that I’m experiencing will only strengthen my faith- which I can say, without a doubt, is true. If I wasn’t going through this time, I wouldn’t see how much I need Christ daily. I wouldn’t feel that I was hitting rock bottom with only Him to lean on. But then there is a responsibility attached to this- we are to bring praise, glory, and honor to Christ through it. The whole reason I went into nursing was because I believed it was my place of calling and ministry. In the two and a half months of working, I haven’t been ministering in any type of way. I haven’t been looking for ways to have conversations with patients about Christ, I haven’t been offering to pray over them, and I haven’t been praying myself asking the Lord to give me His eyes and heart and courage to offer to make a difference for Him. But when I read this verse, I realized my perspective has been all wrong. I haven’t surrendered this career to Him, and I haven’t surrendered this blessing to Him that He brought me, that I begged Him for. This career is not about me, but I was making it about me for the first couple months. That changed with reading this scripture.

The last couple verses in the first chapter that I underlined many times was verse 22 “… so that you have sincere love for each other, love one another deeply, from the heart.” And then verse 24, “For all people are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of the Lord endures forever.”

This last verse might sound a bit off-putting in our human nature. But I found such great relief in it. The fact that this life is not about me, about my accomplishments, about my success relieved such a great weight. All I am called to do is love fiercely in Jesus’ name and bring Him glory through sharing this love with others.

The last verse I want to share (although there are countless others that really spoke to me) is 1 Peter 3: 13, “Now, who will want to harm you if you are eager to do good?”. Since beginning this job I have had this strange mindset of waiting for the next shoe to drop (my irrational fear of getting sued or fired). I may not be perfect, but I can say I am tremendously eager to do good. This brought me peace- God knows my heart, He is my strength, and He will protect me with His shield of power. Wow. My perspective shifted. I felt like I could breathe.

On the way into work that morning after reading these chapters, I was ready and even eager to get to get started so that I could approach the day with courage be this love to my patients and my coworkers.

Here’s what happened…

I arrived at work and glanced at my assignment. I did a double take, convinced they made a mistake. I was assigned to the NCOR room (neuro close observation room). This room is where the patients require eyes on them literally 24-7, the most unstable patients on our floor. The nurse is isn’t allowed to leave the room, and if she/he does, then she must be replaced by another nurse, even to use the restroom. I didn’t think we would be placed there until further along with more experience, although we technically oriented for a couple weeks in the room.

A week prior, or even a day prior, I would have seen that assignment and immediately been thrown into a full blown panic attack. Rather, I looked at it and felt excited because I knew this was just an opportunity to rely on Christ, to love people in a scary point in their lives, and to grow my faith.

It ended up being one of my favorite shifts. I grew close to nearly all the patients and families, I took initiative, I kept a smile on my face, but I wasn’t faking it, even in the midst of the craziness.

Every shift since I have grown deeper with my patients. The best moments are the moments I get to pray with my patients. I had one patient who was not exactly kind toward me and wearing me down a bit emotionally. At one point at the height of my frustration I just offered to pray for him. He seemed stunned and allowed me to. This opened up the door to a great conversation about church and faith.

Another patient expressed to me her doubts about God’s existence. I shared with her how just a year ago I was in her shoes. I assured her that God would make himself known to her, and I would be praying for her. Tears rolled down her face and began welling in mine as we shared this moment together. That shift ended up being one of the most chaotic, one where I didn’t get my meds done on time, one where I felt like I was drowning, possibly the worst shift I’ve had yet. But even if I did many things wrong, I know I loved right.

The opportunity to love deeper had been there, I just hadn’t seen it in my selfishness, my distorted perspective. The shift loads are the same, maybe even worse, but I see each challenge as an opportunity, not an obstacle. My purpose for being where I am is clear now. My purpose in this life, this career, is simple, but I was blind it. It is simply to love. Not to be perfect, not to start flawless IVs, and especially not to be comfortable- because God very clearly calls us out of our comfort zones, and nursing is the furthest thing from comfortable. Additionally, no one has changed the world or a life while being in their comfort zone. So, I don’t wish for that. I will embrace the exhaustion, I will learn to forgive myself and look at each mistake as an opportunity to learn, I will be eager for constructive criticism and invest in a heart of humility. I will see this year through, even when I want to quit, I will not. I know I can make it because I have someone omnipotent holding me through those twelve-hour days, I have someone omniscient that can help me think clearly, I have someone omnipresent who will continually wrap me with peace in the chaos. I will fail at times, but I am following the One who never does.

Thank you all for your prayers and support through this time. I am thankful beyond words, truly beyond what I can express, for all of you. All Glory to God.