Eggcellent eats, treats, and a SF retreat!

Elllooooo, beautiful people!!! This past week I have received a few questions about when the next update post would be coming up. Wellllllzzz here it is!! I was just so tickled that a couple of you actually anticipated them that much to reach out and ask about it. It’s been a few weeks.. certainly longer than I usually go without a new post. When I posted the last one I was not in a… good place. I think I hit a wall of emotional and physical burn out.

However, I can say I am in a much better place now, exhausted still, yes, but a manageable exhaustion. I finished up the application that is due December 1st (hallay- freaking- luyah), and now can just enjoy this weekend of celebration.

Starting next week, I am going to be diving head first into completing my research project (due January 8th- EEEEK!), but I am allowing myself at least this weekend to take a breath. I cannnot, CANNOT tell you how much your personal e-mails, texts, and prayers have meant. I know I sound like a broken record, but I mean it. This month I feel like I have been climbing uphill in quicksand, and would not have made it without some tough love (aka- Uhhh, Mack, you are not doing good- GET HELP) and all the tremendous support. I am feeling optimistic moving forward and after taking sometime to regroup the last few weeks, I am ready to face the new year full steam ahead with my mojo back.

SO- rewind to Friday November 10th, DJ and I both had a day off for Veteran’s Day so we decided to brunch it upp. We headed to the local Stacks in California- a place known for their pancakes.

We have been to the one in Menlo park before and DJ didn’t quite think the pancakes lived up to the hype (I disagree- their banana macadamia coconut pancake is easily one of the best pancakes I have ever had, but this was prior to blogging, so I’ll have to try them again sometime so I can share them).

Those little suckers were tempting, but I wanted to squeeze in an afternoon run and vouched for something a bit lighter. I tried the beaters scrambled which included egg beaters, broccoli, zucchini, onion, celery, mushrooms, and diced tomatoes. I ordered a side of cottage cheese and wheat toast to top it off. Mmmmm so good. I sometimes feel like cottage cheese just adds the perfect little extra creaminess to breakfast, especially with fresh tomatoes!

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DJ tried their waffle and chicken, and he liked them. (PS. DJ wrote this last sentence, lol. I can officially say he helped me write a post).

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In the afternoon we headed out for a nice run around the neighborhood together. It was a gorgeous day.

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Saturday, November 11th we both had work, but Sundayafter church we were able to pack in yet another brunch. I feel like we go through seasons sometimes where we eat tons of breakfast foods for our dates vs. actual dinner date nights (gotta fit them in where you can, right?!).

We decided to visit Castro Street in Mountain View to sample their dive, Crepevine. I’ve been to the one in Willow Glen, but not to this one. Crepevine is one huckuvah . fun (and tasty) experience. It’s similar to a Panera in the sense that you walk up and order, but you get a number and they bring you the food. They are an all-out breakfast place- with everything from crepes to pancakes to scrambles….. you name it, they’ve got it. And they are known for having super unique options as well.

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Annnnd per my Sunday brunch & bloody kick of late- I couldn’t pass up trying their’s. Now, I will say this is probably my least favorite of the three I have tried in my life. #1= FireFish Grille in Santa Cruz, #2- Left Bank, #3 This guy. I don’t think I would order it again though.

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BUT what I would definitely order again for the rest of my existence is their egg white tofu scramble- mouth is watering thinking about it. The tofu was cooked to crispy perfection. I don’t know why I don’t think about putting tofu in my eggs more often.. it’s such a stellar combo.

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DJ ordered their more… shall we say… sugar laden crepe. I think when we were ordering he felt a bit of pressure since the line was long and hadn’t had a good chance to thoroughly look over the menu. When he ordered and we stepped out of line, he goes, “I think I just ordered dessert on accident”. We laughed so hard. I told him to order something else, but he didn’t care that much… He just had a sugar high the rest of the afternoon from his vanilla crepe topped with ice cream, whipped cream, and syrup.

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He’s channeling his inner Buddy the Elf a bit early this year I reckon.

(PS. He is upset that I deleted his sentence that said, “DJ ordered dessert for breakfast, and he liked it“…. so there it is, Deej).

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After eating breakfast, we took a nice little stroll down Castro street. We passed by the pub we popped into when my Aunt and Uncle were here around this time last year. We realized we haven’t been back since then, and it made me miss um’ a whole bunch!!

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The rest of the evening, I finished up my application and decided to call it a day.

On Monday the 12th, I made a trip to Whole Foods and did some hard-core food prep for the next couple work day lunches. I discovered some goodies and can’t wait to share them in a Friday Faves!!!!

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In anticipation of the next few work days, I prepped a giant tofu stir-fry, roasted peppers, cauliflower mashed potatoes (steaming in the pot before actually being made into mashed potatoes), and rosemary  multicolored potatoes. I usually pack a bunch of these veggies with hummus, almonds, boom chica pop, and no cow lemon meringue bars.

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I squeezed in a nice little run and hit the hay early to get recouped for the next couple days.

DJ has been playing in a league on Monday evenings, and I am hoping one of these days it works out where I’ll be able to go! I usually work Monday or Tuesdays so it’s difficult with my bedtime being so doggone early.

Also, super random, but while doing a big clean out of the house, DJ discovered this rubber spider and has been hiding it ALL OVER in places trying to scare me with it. I’ve been hiding it back, but lemme tell ya… gotta be on your toes with this one.

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November 13th-14th, workin’ workin’ workin’.

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One of our patient’s sent in some Susie Cakes as a thank you– it was, quite literally, a nice treat! Any die hard Susie Cake fan lovers out there? The first time I heard about them was in LA.

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On November 16th, I kicked it into high gear and officially submitted my application! I spent alll day finishing it up, but I cannot even put into words how great it felt to have that done. Those essays were intense… six personal statements. SIX.

November 17th, after that was done, it was time to focus on getting ready to go back to Ohio for my best friend’s wedding. I had to find a rehearsal dinner dress and just a few accessories. I always dread shopping when I absolutely have to find something with limited time, but this trip was a surprisingly a breeze. I downloaded T. Swift’s new album (I hate to admit it.. but I love it), put some headphones in, and found what I needed fairly quick. I don’t want to love her music, because it would simply add to my resume of basic, but I can’t help myself. Her new album is so. good.

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Macy’s was having a giant sale on BCBG dresses (my weakness). I found the perfect dress, and cannot wait to share with y’all after tomorrow!

In the afternoon, I went for a leisure run with the stress of finding a dress and submitting the application behind me. I felt like I could take a deep, deep breath (at least in this moment).

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In the evening, I received a text from a good friend asking if I was home. Luckily I was, and Tammy, whom I have mentioned many times before, dropped in with this GORGEOUS bouquets of flowers, vegan enchiladas, vegan spaghetti squash, and a journal. I was blown away… like who does this for someone else? She is such a good friend, and I’m thankful beyond words to have her in my life. She said she knew I was having a hard time, and knew this would brighten my day (She knew right!).

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The enchiladas were FLAME, as was the squash.. and my heart just melts every time I look at the flowers. I don’t know what I’d do without her!

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November 18th, 19th, and 20th I worked. I actually had some incredible shifts where I connected with my patients and wasn’t bogged down to an inhuman level (thank God for the weekend grind). On Monday I actually was offered the first eight hours off due to staffing census (praise Him from whom all blessing flow), and only worked the last four. The last four were pretty insane though… considering literally minutes before I came on shift one of my patients in the Neuro Close observation room removed their feeding tube, IV, was incontinent (both ways), needed an EKG, urine sample, stool sample, sputum sample, PVR, and q2 vitals and neuro exam. It was a big ole’ game of “git r’ done”. And it all did get done. It always does, and if it doesn’t, it gets passed on, and it isn’t the end of the world. This is something I’m starting to learn. I’ve really needed to shift my perspective in order to start having less anxiety on the floor… just learning to focus on one thing at a time and realizing I can only do what I can do. OK, jumping off my soap box now…

Tuesday, November 21st I used the day to sleep. After three days of waking up at 0430, I could barely get out of bed! Those three in a row whip my behind. I did end up doing a fantastic Insanity workout in the afternoon and cooked DJ dinner of Epic burgers and rosemary parm roasted potatoes, but my productivity basically ended at that.

Yesterday, Wednesday, was ah-may-zing!!!!! I got my little toosh out of bed before 8 and went down for a nice run on the tready. OH! And I’ve been back to lifting weights too! I love the way it feels to lift.. I am starting to advance my weight from 5 lb. to 10 lbs… so you know… basically a body builder over here. LOL! I’ll take a gains picture soon when it’s not tooo pathetic 😉 I realize how important it is to be strong with all the lifting I do in my job.

I did my makeup and straightened my hair meticulously (usually my hair just gets thrown up and disregarded whenever I do anything), and I put on normal people clothes!). I told DJ it felt great to actually look like a functioning human being for once haha.

My best friend since diapers, Melissa, was in town with her family for a vacation. She was in my wedding party, so you may recognize her from our wedding pictures! I wasn’t sure if I would be able to see her because of the timing of the wedding and my work schedule, but it worked out absolutely perfectly.

I zipped down to SF as fast as I could (Aka 10 mph… cause of that thing called traffic).

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I gleefully strolled into the restaurant Melissa suggested on Pier 39, Swiss Louis. I had never been here, but passed this place more times than I can count, and was eager to devour some fresh seafood.

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After exchanging big hugs we couldn’t stop bouncing from topic to topic to topic. There was wayyyy too much to catch up on (and I don’t think we even scraped the surface). The two of us could spend days chatting it up, talking about everything and anything. She’s one of those people I can just let my guard down with and tell the raw, honest truth about everything going on in life. It did good for my soul to have that time with her.

No worries, I’m not gonna leave out my “what I suggest you order based on what we ordered” segment, haha.

I saw a fish I have never tried before *gasp* (and I pompously thought I had tried it all!). This little critter below is called Basa. The meat of the fish was so tender and juicy and melted in my mouth like butter. It was topped with an orange glaze and caramelized onions with a side of fresh veggies. Everything was absolute perfection. It may have been one of the best fish dishes I have had on the pier!

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Melissa tried their classic Chicken Sandwich and fries. Cannot go wrong with a good classic.

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As we were walking out of the restaurant, we did a double take at their dessert display. Uhm, yuhm. That’s all I can say. May need to go back A.S.A.P, and leave more room!

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We perused Pier 39 and then walked down the entire Embarcadero to the Ferry Building (hello blisters)…(but the best blisters, like the “really worth it blisters” that remind me of great mems, ya feel?).

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Melissa and I popped into Peet’s so she could have her first ever Peet’s Coffee. Yes, you heard right, FIRST ever. It was actually surprisingly pretty warm out, so we both had iced coffees.

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We had a little impromptu photo shoot- ISN’T SHE THE CUTEST?!

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Last time I was here was to visit Kate from AnkhorYou! Miss you, Chica! ❤

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We soaked up the last of the views before the sun began setting and then sadly, I had to head home to finish up last minute laundry & packing.

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This morning, Thanksgiving, I woke up early to run and lift weights.

I am totally out of mascara, and a couple days ago I ordered my favorite- They’re Real from Benefit on Amazon prime. I was supposed to receive it last night- but it never came in. When we were in the Uber on our way to the airport, I was trying to figure out how I was going to make a trip to Ulta before the rehearsal dinner. As soon as we made it through security, I saw a stinking BENEFIT VENDING MACHINE. Can we talk about serendipity of this situation?! Now, if you say you don’t believe in God..

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After I settled down after the pure awe & elation, I announced that I was a starvin’ marvin’ and needed food now. DJ knows when this statement is made, quick action is needed before I become monster mack (ew, third person)..

I was stoked to see Mission Bar & Grill had a breakfast menu that we were still in time for. (Last time I was here was for my other good friend Lyndsay’s wedding in Pittsburgh!).  I was super hungry so I downed an egg white mediterranean omelette, wheat toast, breakfast potatoes, and a Bloody Mary. I think I’ll be full for like three days after that, but tis’ thanksgiving right?

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Deej tried their mimosa, but wasn’t starvin’ since he had a pretty big brekky before we left.

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This breakfast definitely kept the monster at bay. And their bloody may be in second place now in my book (definitely ahead of left bank!).

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We chatted a bit, then I blogged (although I am still horribly behind per usual- I promise I’ll try to catch up soon on y’alls comments and posts!), and DJ kept up with the football stats until it was time to catch our plane.

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Currently, we are sitting on the plane heading back to the OH … IO. We will be arriving this evening around 8:30 pm. I can’t even explain how excited I am to see some family and friends and celebrate Clair’s wedding. It’s gonna be one of the best weekends of all time, and I better go get some beauty rest so I don’t screw up her forever pics 😉 Sending all my love and, oh my gosh, HAPPY THANKSGIVING to eat and every one… wait, each and every one of you (freudian slip up in there). If you have a thanksgiving post up please leave it in the comments. Muah!

Questions for you!

  1. What is your go-to splurge designer/store in the mall?
  2. Favorite Thanksgiving food?
  3. Thoughts on the T. Swift album?

If you have a link to your Turkey day post, please leave it below!

xo ❤

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One Year Blogiversary, and yes, there is cake.

One year ago in July, DJ and I moved across the entire country to this foreign land of the Bay Area. We greeted this new adventure with excitement and welcomed the change gladly. We soon figured out that if there is an antithesis to small town Indiana, it was probably our new California abode. Don’t get me wrong- Indiana will forever have a soft spot for me, it’s just different here. Like a child uncovering their five senses for the first time, I began exploring this new playground in awe. The mountains, the trails, the people, the events, the diversity, the buzz, the food, ohhh the FOOOD! I felt that I couldn’t do justice relaying to our parents all we were experiencing. So, I decided to start this blog. I started a diary, a virtual documentation of our memories, travels, and general happenings. I never intended or expected for anyone to read this outside of my mom, DJ’s mom, and maybe a couple girlfriends back home (hence the super unoriginal blog name- I didn’t realize that actually being creative was a thing). I, quite honestly, had no idea what I was getting myself into.

The first thing I didn’t realize was how incredible the WordPress community is. I actually didn’t even know there was a community when I began. When I received my first comment I was blown away- someone in Baltimore cared about something I wrote?! It baffled me. Then it began extending to Canada, Ireland, etc. etc. and of course, my beloved India. I began my own exploration through the world of blog, and the writings of so many resonated within me. I began to see the vulnerability, the talent, creativity, and the genuine hearts that create this virtual world; this is truly a special place.

This inspired me to share a bit of my own heart. Little by little the blog has also been my space to cope with the ups and downs of this past year and to just write. Which, if you are an author around here, you understand the cathartic nature in writing alone.

I reflect on this year and from traveling across the US with DJ, to creating our new home from scratch, to questioning my faith but finding it again, to studying endless hours for my NCLEX, to passing my boards, to visits from families and friends, to holiday festivities, to the epic meet & greet, to DJ and I both beginning our new careers and everything in between…..I realize this blog has been pivotal.

Not only have I made and gained priceless friendships that I can’t imagine life without, but your words of encouragement and love have lifted me on the darkest days. Receiving texts from family and friends saying me sharing struggles inspired them always caused me to raise a brow …… And there exists maybe one of my greatest lessons I’ve learned through blogging: There is something beautiful about embracing the struggle. There is something kindred in vulnerability. My walls and my desire to present a certain image to the world is slowly crumbling away because I now understand that very facade has actually kept me from growth. But I would not have grown without you. Each of you. From the other bloggers out there to the friends and family who have supported this endeavor, and especially DJ, who has allowed me to be so candid about our life.

So…

JJ, Katie,  Miranda, Cassie, Terri, Natalie, Cyranny, Nikki, Jena, Debbie, Myra, Anna, Steph, Amitav, Kalpana, Lisa, Jennifer, Anna, Kat, Chrissey, Frilly, Caralyn, Sophia, Jen, Jess & Roman, Samantha, Lathi, Tara, Rhiannon, Chelsea, Heather, Kiran, Ju Lyn, Lyss, Taylor, A Patient Nurse, Miriam, Lyndsay, McKenz, Suz, Elizabeth, Rach, Allie, Katy, Sijo, Kimberlee, Chiara, Caroline, Alifya, Tialla, Jess, Nicole, Jenna, Sarah, Kori, Amy, Niki, Marcia, Rossy, KrystalKristin, Cheila… (Uh oh, I know I’m missing others!) and those without blogs that leave the sweetest words…

I just want to say thank you. I celebrate this blog, not because of me, or my life, but because of you and your impact on my life and so many others. Thank you for inspiring me with your own writing and vulnerability. Thank you for sharing your world too. Thank you for the incredibly thought provoking, hilarious, and beautiful conversations. Thank you for challenging me. Thank you for loving me, with my horrible jokes and sushi littered posts, THANK YOU.

Now, we can’t celebrate without cake, AMIRITE?!

Wednesday, I whipped down up to SF to celebrate with my girl, Annie, before she heads back to Korea (CUE THE TEARS). She is super on board with my wacky ideas, like idk, getting a cake to celebrate your blog? This totally began as a joke, but we rannnn with it. Any excuse for cake, AMEN?! 🙌🏻

We first headed to the oldest Restaurant in SF, Tadich’s Grill. This may be one of the most wonderful meals I have had in SF so far (which says a whole lot, because we have basically ate our way through SF).

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After having the most phenyumonal meal you can imagine, we went back to her glorious apartment that overlooks the Bay and took pictures with a cake I ordered from Sugar, Flour, Butter bakery (highly recommend if you need a bakery in the northern Cal area).

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I said I didn’t feel right about not having a glass of red wine in the picture if I was being true to myself. So we pulled out that Cabernet for the photo ops 😉

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This red velv cake did not stand a chance against us. I wish I could have shared a piece with everyone!

All my love…

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.

Monterey, CA- Big Sur Marathon! 

I am beyond pumped to share this post about the epic marathon weekend! I didn’t mention the marathon too much on my blog leading up to it because I didn’t know if I would be able to run the race with the new job’s schedule (we work a ton of weekends). BUT I was able to get race day off and lemme tell ya, I’m forever grateful for the beautiful memories that elapsed in that small time frame. I needed this weekend too- as ya’ll know I’ve never been more exhausted or stressed physically and emotionally than this last month-so this was pure therapy.

Last minute my mom (Momma Jill) arranged to fly in for the weekend since DJ couldn’t go to the marathon with his work schedule. However, the day before she flew out she was in the hospital diagnosed with a fractured foot. I insisted  that I would be fine going alone, but I’m selfishly pretty darn glad she was adamant about coming! After all, she is my good luck charm at races! She is one tough cookie, I tell ya what. (shhhhh she isn’t wearing her boot in a lot of pictures- I may not have been the best nurse by allowing that one).

When she arrived Friday evening we headed to Rootstock Wine Bar on Main Street Cupertino.

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We ordered some bruschetta to share and a couple glasses of wine. The last time she was here, Main Street Cupertino was still entirely under construction. She was blown away by how much it had evolved! We stopped into 85-degree bakery to visually digest the exotic, massive, and drool-worthy desserts before heading back to the apartment. I will try the calamari ink roll one of these days!

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We were both pooped and fell asleep pretty early (after some ice cream, of course). DJ had some time in the morning before he had to head into work so we went to Bill’s. Surprise, surprise! It’s basically becoming a weekly tradition. You can read all my reviews about it here, here, or here.

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After a fantastic breakfast, DJ zipped to work and we began our trek to Monterey for the marathon!!!! (I kept thinking back to my and DJ’s our anniversary celebration and it made me miss him lots! During the actual race I passed the place we stayed which was pretty fun).

 

One of my favorite parts about races is the Expo! There is always an exorbitant amount of energy and excitement (plus the SWAG is pretty great too).

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This expo was pretty small, held at the Portola Hotel and Spa. There were limited vendors, but with the expo’s location there was plenty to enjoy outside anyway. I laughed because in typical Northern California style they had wine samples rather than the CLIF Bar samples you would see at most! For those that want to run this marathon in the future, make sure you stop by the Expo to pick up your Bib #, a bus ticket for the hotel you are staying to the race starting line (there is no access otherwise), and your T-shirt, of course!

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After strolling the expo, my mom and I walked around downtown Old Monterey. This town is so sleepy and quaint, even with all the commotion of the race.

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We decided to follow this sign to go to the water. We were quickly drawn into the downtown boardwalk with colorful storefronts, tourist landmarks, and each passing restaurant passing out samples of their individualized “claim-to-fame” recipe of clam chowder. My mom and I sampled all of them and were shocked at, first, how delicious they all were, and second, how different each one tasted!

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I hadn’t seen the show Big Little Lies at this point, but my friend, Kelsey, is obsessed. I started watching it this week with a free month HBO trial and cannot stop. It’s so good.

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They call me ‘The Bird Whisperer’ in these parts

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Around 3 pm we were able to check into the hotel we were staying for the evening- Monterey Tides. I found this place pretty last minute (with not being SURtain if I could make the race) and chose it because it was one of the cheapest I could find on a booking site. We were blown away by how gorgeous this place was- I kept thinking there was some mix up because this honestly underpriced!

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The hotel attendant said that it may be a couple minutes, so we decided to enjoy some drinks while overlooking the sparkling Monterey waters. My mom and I even saw our first whale!!! It was quite SURendipitious that we were staying at this majestic place!

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The room was super nice with a beachy feel- Definitely what you would expect from a place named “Monterey Tides”.

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After dropping our stuff off it was time to head to dinner. In order to not fight driving and parking, we decided to uber to the famous Mediterranean Oasis, Epsilon.

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From the decor, to the friendly staff, to the unbeatable Greek cuisine- this place was superb on every.single. level.

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ATTENTION ALL CARB LOVERS: You need to hear this. I was fascinated with their bread and dip combo. The waitress explained the way they make their dip is by actually putting sourdough bread into a food processor with olive oil, garlic, and salt (perhaps a few other secret ingredients too). Right before she walked away she said, “Just dip that bread into that bread!”. I may have to try making this at home. Talk about a fantastic pre-race carb-load meal!

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And their hummus…. hands down, no questions asked- the BEST hummus I have ever had. My mom took the first bite and I could tell by the look on her face that it was going to be just that. It was smooth and creamy- absolute perfection.

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And whenever there is octopus on the menu……

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Marco Prime’s is still forever my favorite, but this was satiating. It had a grilled flavor and almost tasted like steak. MMMM mm.

We also had to delve into their greek salad, because duh

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My mom and I split the vegetarian combo plate. Combo plates were created for the indecisive individuals in this world, like myself, so I was ecstatic to see everything we were wanting to try coming on one plate. It had imam byaldi (the “priest fainted” vegetarian eggplant dish), falafel, and dolmadakia (stuffed grape leaves with rice and herbs). It all surpassed any greek food I have ever had, but the eggplant dish was particularly out of this world!

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And one can never end a mediterranean feast without baklava. Ya’ll know I am a strong believer on having a sugar-laden dessert the night before a race. Good Heavens, I can’t even explain…

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We headed back to the hotel to watch the peaceful, perfect sunset.

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We were in bed by 8:30 pm and fell asleep almost instantly.

3:30 AM my alarm went off and it was time to race! I was giddy and energized. I downed a cup of coffee and grabbed my No-Cow bar and Boom Chicka pop bag for the bus ride to the race. My mom drove me to the drop off point to pick up the bus shuttle at Embassy Suites (only a couple miles from Monterey Tides).

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The bus ride was about forty-five minutes- 30 miles south from Embassy Suites to the starting line. The race was a straight shot back north for 26.2 miles. I made some friends during the ride, everyone swapped race stories, goal times, jobs, and hometowns. The camaraderie of the Big Sur runners was unlike other races I have been. We laughed about the fact that this bus ride felt super long and yet we were about to be retracing the trek in just a couple hours. The scenery was kept secret by the dark nightly veil of mother nature, so even if you tried to get a peak of the views out the bus window all you could see was piercing black.

When we finally arrived, we still had about a mile and a half walk to the start. I had no clue where I was, but I just followed the masses of people as they unloaded off the buses.

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Finally! The starting line came into view.

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It was crowded. I get it- the forest isn’t exactly conducive to ten-million porta-potties and 4,000 people, but holy smokes, I really felt like a sardine!

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People lined the paths with coffee in one hand and a banana in the other. I love races for the people too- racing brings together all types. #peoplewatching

They provided fruit, coffee, tea, and water at varying stations around the starting line. They also have a truck for you to drop your bag with warm up clothes or anything else you need before the race that they then drive to the finish line. I loved this system!!! You just put a sticker provided with your bib number in the bag. After the race it was clear where to pick up your belongings and overall a super smooth process.

Now, if you are a runner, you know the STRUGGLE of trying to time the bathroom appropriately with the start time. You don’t want to go too early, but you don’t want to be anxiously waiting too long when everyone else is lined up at the start.

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And then it was time to begin!!! My heart swelled with excitement, my stomach filled with butterflies, and after taking the last couple days off running I was biting at the bit to get going. Considering I hadn’t trained much for this one compared to my other marathons I was hoping to at least finish without an injury.

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We started out in three separate waves, I ran in the second; the weather was pleasantly cool and the air smelled like pine and cinnamon. If there wasn’t enough adrenaline already, Highway One greeted us with the most intoxicating views at every turn. Each picturesque scene of the landscape had a way of taking your breath away while simultaneously giving you a second wind.

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I’m quite SURtain this is one of the most magnificent places that exists on planet earth.

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During these races is when I feel most myself, where I feel that all is right in the world, and all my cares dissipate with every step.

We embarked the renowned Big Sur bridge at the halfway mark .

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They even had a pianist playing whimsical tunes dressed in full performance garb!

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Around mile 15 I like to start using Gu Gel (they provide it twice during the race). I have half a packet at about mile 15, 18, 22, and then 24. It works!

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To avoid the head winds, I drafted a few different people throughout the race. Drafting works well, but you have to be pretty secretive about it, or you’ll creep the person you are following the heck out. Let’s chat if you’ve never heard of this. It’s essential for this race and saves SO much energy!

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YesSUR!

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At mile 23 they handed out the best strawberries I have ever had. It was similar to eating pure sugar! I wish I had snagged a picture!

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All done!

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Thank you, Aunt Terry, for the congratulatory beads all the way from New Orleans!!!!

Race Results!

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This was far off my PR of 3:38, but they say to add 20 minutes to your PR time with how challenging the course is (13th most challenging in the world), so I’ll take it. Plus without training for it and the stops for photo ops, I was happy to break 4 hours!

At the end of the race they handed out boxes of muffins, pretzels, cookies, minestrone soup and Sierra Nevada Beer. After races I’m not very hungry for about an hour- so we walked around a bit, basked in the sun, and then decided to head out. At this point I decided I was starting to feel my stomach growl. Warning: Once the post-marathon hunger begins, it’s insatiable for about three days!

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My mom suggested we go back to the hotel we stayed at the night before for Brunch (it was only about 11 am at this point!). She had breakfast there in the morning after doing yoga and said they had a great menu.

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She did not lead us astray! Multigrain avocado toast with poached eggs and a watermelon feta salad helped refuel the carbs, protein, and was still light enough to not upset my somewhat turbulent stomach.

And of course, mimosas are necessary after every long race.

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We headed back to the apartment and eagerly awaited DJ to come home so we could go out for a Mother’s Day dinner, since we wouldn’t actually be able to celebrate on the day of!

I was SURprised that I was actually feeling pretty decent after the race. I usually am zonked out for about two days after, but I had that adrenaline still running through my veins!

We decided to go to LB Steakhouse on the Row. I had never been, but DJ said it was delish. We looked over the menu and both agreed it looked like a great place to dine!

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I’ve walked past LB a trillion times while on the row, and their faux cow skin lined chairs always grab my eyes!

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Isn’t she lovely?!

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My love ❤

We started with their Spanish octopus, which seemed harmless, until Mama J took a big bite of that pepper right on top…

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Her face went from surprise to a twisted, tortured expression in seconds. She was not just startled by the spiciness of the pepper, but rather in literal pain. I was confused by her reaction because she loves spicy food and can tolerate spice more than most people. (We ask for the “hot” food at Indian restaurants- if that gives you an idea). She flagged down the waiter and could barely talk. She reached for anything on the table to calm the fire overwhelming her mouth. He brought out milk and she said it was helping. I felt horrible, and jokingly said, “Happy Mother’s Day!”. I was also so confused how something they could serve could be that horrendously spicy. I picked up what was left of the pepper and out of curiosity touched it to my tongue. The small portion that I had touched to my tongue felt as though it blistered my tongue (and she ate the ENTIRE pepper). I can do spice with the rest of them, and this was not edible. It turned out there was a mix up- the restaurant meant to order the sweet haberneros, but rather served one of the hottest variations in the world. Let’s just say, this was something we laughed and literally cried about. I think I will forever have trust issues with peppers after this experience.

But the rest of the octopus was great! It sorta reminded me of pasta salad!

DJ ordered lobster bisque- not our favorite (‘Cause naturally I stole a couple sips), but it was still good.

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My mom ordered the seared scallops with misty artichokes and sweet harvest orange butter. I swapped her some of my salmon for a scallop (we classy), and not kidding- one of the greatest scallops ever. I think the only ones I have personally had that has topped it were Farallon’s!

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Steak and appropriately spicy pepper for Deeeej.

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Salmon for me. This really hit the spot. The salmon was perfection and nearly melted in my mouth.

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After dinner, well I guess more during dinner, we decided Cheesecake Factory’s cheesecake sounded like a perfect finish to a great weekend. We headed across the street and all put in our orders for cheesecake to go- Original for Mama J., Oreo Dream Xtreme for DJ, and Chocolate Hazelnut for myself. I was feeling adventurous and for some reason this flavor sounded so good. I can officially say it may be my new favorite. I can’t believe it doesn’t get more love! It has such a nice moosey texture mixed with the fudgey chocolate and sprinkles of coated hazelnut. I will be getting this one again!

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After savoring our Cheesecake, we headed to sleep. Monday, Mom J. had to leave at 4 am for the airport, and I was up at 5 for work. I was supposed to have Tuesday off (which I was looking forward to rest my legs), but I ended up having to work Monday-Wednesday. I think it’s by the grace of God I SURvived because I do not know how I made it through those shifts at work!

But I do have to mention- I worked with lumbar drains this week and it was one of my favorite days yet. I am getting more in the groove of actually being a neuroSURgical nurse, and while the learning curve is steeper than the hills of Big Sur, I am feeling more competent. I also passed the EKG exam I have been studying for the last couple weeks!!!! Hence, I was able to care for my first tele patient this week and loved it! This also means I am officially done studying in all my free time and I can catch up on your blogs- watch out- I’m about to blow up ya’lls notifications and I cannot wait… I can’t thank you all for your encouragement through this crazy adjustment in life.

Last- if anyone has any questions about the race feel free to leave a comment or contact me. I know lots of you are runners!

Oh, oh, oh! AND major congratulations to my other blog ladies- Tara at Runandlivehappy and Taralynn at SimplyTaralynn for both annihilating their half marathons!!!! ❤

Blog Birthdays in May:

Kimberlee at anotetohugette

Katy at katyslifestory

I absolutely adore these two lovely ladies. Their writing and stories are inspirational, and they have the kindest hearts. I hope you two have wonderful birthdays this month!

xo ❤

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