I’m a Walking Contradiction

I have this problem. I am a walking contradiction. My personality type is INFJ (Introverted, Intuitive, Feeling, Judging). That means I am a control freak and an artist. I am incredibly systematic and yet, I lose my cell phone on a regular basis. I thrive on bringing order out of chaos, yet rely heavily on my intuition without concrete reason. And I have a love-hate relationship with deadlines. It makes me an unlikely, but I believe successful manager. At least for other people.

The Favorite Book: Part 1

We at Anchor Drop are so very excited to have guest blogger Hezzy joining us. He is originally from Kenya and traveled to the USA to pursue an education. He has a huge heart for helping those back in his home village learn how valuable an education can be. Below is a brief summary of Hezzy’s motive and information about “The Favorite Book Project”, which is his idea to help bring education to his village.

The Favorite Book

The main objective of this project is to promote education where it’s dearly needed especially among the underprivileged children in Kenya.

Born, raised and going to school in Kenya was very challenging for my mother and me.  As my only parent, she worked very hard in faith to provide for our family of two.  Luckily, I was able to imitate her diligence, earned good grades and received government grants to make it through high school.

Miraculously, I made it to the United States of America on a soccer scholarship where I went on to earn two college degrees.  Additionally, I worked extra hard and joined graduate school.  I will soon graduate with an MBA in Management.

Education is the best gift I have received and I would like to pass it along.

Continue reading “The Favorite Book: Part 1”

Giving Hope another Fly

I started a new job recently, abandoning a hard-earned dream that someone else owned. I picked up one abandoned long ago. Dusty, faint and never fully realized. Like pulling your fall sweater from the depths of your closet where you threw it in celebration of spring. The sweater feels a bit like a long-lost friend, a hope you had forgotten. 

Building your dream through someone else’s money does a funny thing to you. It splits you in two. One part working his ass off to build this picture inside your head. The other part kicking and screaming, “it’ll never be yours, so why do you care?” The struggle between the two was exhausting. Creating my vision in someone else’s head, well, it killed me.

Survival of the business far more pressing than my own, the division snuck up on me. It came gently, drowned out by the immediacy of the daily tasks at hand. My visions, my hopes were always getting trampled in confusion and muddled with coffee. My heart was being pulled in two very different directions. My vision conflicting with money. My reasonableness conflicting with ideals. Til one day I woke up and my heart was on the floor, clean ripped in two. Hope totally rung out to dry. 

So I laid that dream to bed, leaving no regrets. Thankful for the opportunity to try and I am very glad to have been forged in the fire. Stitching my heart back together, rediscovering pleasures I’d lost time to enjoy. Giving hope another fly. Who knows if this dream, long forgotten in the back of the closet will prove any better than the last. But I’m a dreamer, a painter, a vision maker and I know no other way to live. So I’ll lay my heart on the line and bend my back to the plow at least one more time, not knowing what lies at the finish line. For who really does? But by God I will not give up trying. To cease trying is true death from which one does not rise.

NeverStopDreaming

For we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 5 and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. Romans 15:13

Today I Closed a Door

It was my last day at the job I’ve been at for the last year and a half today. It was a tough decision to leave, but I am so incredibly at peace about the decision it is kind of scary. But I’m sitting here tonight reflecting on all this job brought me. It brought me so much that I have to be thankful for, my heart is overwhelmed. I leave knowing I am leaving incredible coworkers behind, but that I will get to continue to have them as friends. I leave reflecting on all the patients who’s care I have been a part of. Some are in remission, some are still fighting a courageous battle, and some have moved on from this world. I leave this job a much better person because of all the people I came in contact during it.

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Change is never easy. Even good change is still hard.

I will be getting over an hour back of my day between commuting and a shorter shift. I will be able to learn more about many cancers that I don’t yet know about and chemos that I’m not familiar with. Overall it is a step to continue to advance in my career. It is a GOOD step. But with every new door there is an old door closing. There are the things I am looking at saying “I will never do that again”. This is how I process. This is how I work through things and move on. This is how I close doors.

I have the absolute joy and privilege of being a chemo nurse. This job provided that open door to me. This job set the foundation for me to step into the world I now call my career. It isn’t an easy one. And on some days let me tell you that it just plain sucks. 100%. There are days that I as a person with very little of a temper am so incredibly pissed off at cancer. There are days that I step out my front door and sprint as long as I can because I don’t understand it. I don’t get how so many amazing people are taken so young by such an awful disease.

But amid the trials, pain, and grief I get the privilege of seeing the beauty. Of seeing the love. And I am so beyond excited to step into the next step of my career. This new job will allow me to be happier, healthier, and more whole myself. And as a nurse that is one of the biggest gifts I can give my patients.

So even though the decision to switch jobs was hard. Even though in the middle of this transition I’m freaking out the majority of the time. I know it’s right.  So I’m taking this step for my health. For my sanity. Thankful for my experience, but ready to continue the job I love in a healthier environment. And reminding myself that even some of the best changes I will make in my life are still going to be hard. Change. It is one of the most beautiful and yet difficult aspects of life.

Tough Conversations; Through the eyes of an oncology nurse

I’m an oncology nurse. I knew when I signed up for the job that it was a tough one and that tough conversations was part of it. But some weeks the tough conversations are never ending. And sometimes the tough conversations rip my heart to shreds. And sometimes I want to hop in my car and drive for miles. Or put on my running shoes and run until it makes sense. But here is the thing; it won’t make sense. Cancer doesn’t make sense.

Sky-sunset

Some weeks cancer pisses me off more than other weeks and this week was one of those. On Friday I opened my e-mail and had two e-mails of bad news from patient’s loved ones. I’ve said it often, but I think we need a punching bag in our office. A place for both employees and patients to take out some anger. And let me tell you, this Friday morning I needed it. 

Why? I sat there and asked… why? But here is the thing, I’m the nurse. I’m the supporter. And I had to get myself together and call these loved ones. I knew the status of one of these patients from the e-mail, but called to get the plan of care. The news kept being worse, but this patient’s loved one was so gracious. They were in shock and upset, but they graciously took the news and were taking the bull by the horns and ready to fight. And at the end of the conversation you want to know what this patient’s loved one said to me? Thank you. In the middle of their battle when all I can be is the communicator and the emotional support; when I have nothing else left that I can do at that moment and they are facing a huge new unexpected battle she stops and thanks ME. 

After this phone call I went back to speak with the PA. I told her I wasn’t ready to make the next phone call. After the news of the first two patients I was spent. I went to make the phone call anyways, because it needed to be done. My heart broke. It isn’t the first time and won’t be the last time that a patient’s loved one asks me to tell them what is really going on. What they really need to prepare for. But every time I have these conversations it hurts the same. 

I had this conversation twice that day with two different loved ones. And here is the thing that struck me yet again… both of them stopped and thanked me. After the phone calls were concluded and the rest of my day was wrapped up I got in my car and I sat stunned. It was a tough week and a really tough day, but yet again I was reminded why I do my job. Because even when I have very little I can do for patients and their families and even when I have to be the truth bearer, they teach me so many things.

The tough conversations will continue to come throughout my career. The days of needing a punching bag will continue. The days of wanting to run as fast and hard as I can until something makes sense will still occur. But this is what I was created to do at this time in my life. And those “thank yous” make it worth it. 

So to my patients and their loved ones. Thank you. Thank you for all you teach me through the tough conversations. Thank you for your thank yous. 

As we step into pediatric cancer awareness month let us all learn more about the tough conversations so many families are going through. And let us learn how we can help them as they walk through these tough battles. 

Back 2 School

As a teacher, it never ceases to amaze me how great it feels to go back to school each year. For those of you that left the school house behind long ago, let me tell you the reasons why Back to School is such an amazing time for me spiritually.

1. The nervousness and excitement of the chance to start anew is palpable during this time of year. I can feel it when I run my hands across the fresh sheet of paper, or when I crack open a never used before textbook.

2. I can smell the change coming. My mom told me that because the corn is ‘tasseling’ it puts this specific smell into the air. If you live in the Midwest, you know that it’s the smell of summer ending.

3. The promise of a new school year brings the hope that I can meet new people, grow in knowledge, and experience a new adventure.

4. While teaching may be stressful, there is always the assurance that if I screw up, there will be another shot to fix it. In the real world, we don’t always have that luxury; in fact, perfection is the standard.  It’s nice to know that if I botched a lesson in one class, I can always improve on it by sixth period. It’s a process that has fluidity. That’s not to say that I I can wing it; I can’t. However, I am at least given the grace to try again.

I love that I get to teach students everyday. It is such a blessing! More importantly teaching has taught me more about humility and tested my patience. These are two areas that have always been challenging for me in my walk with God. So it only makes sense that my vocation serves  to illuminate my issues while forcing me to confront them head on at the same time. Don’t you just love that? It is a job that encourages the development of my spiritual gifts and that’s pretty cool.

Career: Never Confuse Movement with Action

“Never confuse movement with action”  Ernest Hemingway

I have always been a calculated risk taker.  I have tried to make positive decisions about my school choices, career choices, and life decisions.  I have had to dig myself out of holes before and granted those were never too deep that I wasn’t able to get myself back out of it, but it is an uncomfortable position for me.  The fact is, no one likes putting themselves in the hole.

So far in my post high school career,  I have completed one college undergrad degree (in 4 years) and one professional certification (in 13 months).  Both have provided me with several opportunities for growth both personally and professionally.   The simple fact is I saw what I wanted and drove after it!  I had a vision and I pursued it…

Now, I think innately I have always known I was bound to end up doing hair.   I love it, but I now am faced with another dilemma and that is making a leap of faith into doing hair full-or part-time.  Right now, I don’t have to make that decision.  My vision, you see, isn’t so clear to me this round….

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With other jobs, I knew when the time was complete.  I worked X-games as an Independent Contractor for 6 years and I knew when that was through.  It was no fault of my own, it was a business decision.  Well the difference is that this is a personal decision!  I don’t feel like my work at my current job is complete either.  I think innately I needed to walk in this direction for a while though.  Vision still is unclear at this point.

Ernest Hemingway’s quote really spoke to me.  Was this career shift intentional or was it just movement?  Was it my initial intention to change jobs forever or continue to balance the both of them?  To that I am not sure…nor do I know those answers at this point.  Action is intentional, you see.  Movement is just the result or byproduct of gravity.  Moving is not necessarily intentional as it is constantly happening regardless of whether you want it to happen or not.

My stylist mentor Aimee has always encompassed the phrase “Do on purpose”.  Does this include life events though that happen to us and change our very circumstances?  Does it also take into account that paths may seem to wind before they wind up straight?  I think so, as long as you are actively doing it for a purpose and reason.  Don’t just do it to do it.  Do it with intention and do it well!

Live your life on Purpose
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And so a new chapter is opened….

“I believe in what you are doing…” A blog about grief

I remember the evening of January 19, 2010 like it was yesterday. I was in my 3rd week of nursing school when I had what I didn’t know was my final conversation with my grandpa. It pained me to speak to him because he sounded so weak. He died early in the morning on January 20. As of yesterday, that day now represents the day my family’s dog Maddie also entered into heaven as well. It was sudden and she was only 5 years old, but she died doing something she absolutely loved, barking. While I adored Maddie and will miss her sweet nature as she rested her head on my leg to be pet, the hardest part was speaking to my mom over the phone and hearing her gut wrenching sobs and not being able to bridge the 160 mile gap between us.

I’m a cancer nurse. I face the reality of the fact that death is very real every single day. I’ve walked with families through what “hospice” and “comfort care” means. I’ve educated family members on ways that we as health professionals know that death is near. I’ve whispered in the ear of patients “it is ok to let go”.   I’ve listened to a chest and heard no heartbeat and had to say to families “I’m sorry your loved one is gone”. I’ve taken that body that no longer contains life cleaned it up and placed it in a bag. I’ve rolled it down to the morgue and left it there. I’ve comforted the family as they were grieving. I’ve cried with families as the reality sets in that that person’s soul is no longer on this earth. I’ve filled out the death papers. I’ve called in the chaplain. I’ve seen death up close and personal more than once.

As a nursing student I witnessed a first breath… as a nurse I’ve witnessed many last breaths.

As my grandpa was on his death bed I was speaking to him from 600 miles away. He was ready to go and I knew that and I’m thankful for those final words he said to me as I was pouring over my studies “I believe in what you are doing, you are meant to be a nurse.”  I found out he was gone when I was sitting in class. I was in my nursing school’s bathroom sobbing. It was those words though that helped get me through the med-surg class I was convinced I was going to fail. They helped me get through the clinicals where I was in tears.  Those words helped me to get up in the days of night shift where my body felt like a wreck. Those words have stayed with me day in and day out for the 2+ years of my career. My grandpa died of cancer. I’ve not only been on the clinical side, but I’ve been on the personal side… multiple times.

There are days it is easy to forget when I’m stressed out what it is like to be the family member wondering what is going on, but I try my hardest to remember that I’ve been there. I’ve been just as worried about many of my family members.

Those words from my grandpa said so many years ago mean so much to me. And it is those words that remind me that I need to grieve. I went years without crying. I went years without letting emotion out. And that was damaging. No matter whether it is grieving the loss of a patient, the loss of a friendship in my life, the loss of a loved one, the loss of precious Maddie, the loss of a familiar life due to a move, or any sort of change that represents loss we must grieve.  Because of those words from my grandpa I am reminded I must grieve, because grieving is what helps keep me healthy and able to be the best nurse for my patients and their families.

So while this blog is a bit on the heavy side, as someone who spent years holding the tears in, I want to encourage you to let them flow. I want to encourage you to talk it out if that is what you need to do to process. Work it out if you exercise to process. Whatever it is my dear friend, you deserve to grieve.

Secondly, I want to encourage you to not fear something because it may involve the grief process. Life isn’t easy. Letting go of places, people, jobs, animals, etc. isn’t easy even if it is needed. But I can tell you from experience it is worth it.

And it is with my grandpa’s words in my head and heart saying he believed in what I was doing that remind me that my first duty is to allow myself the room to grieve so that I can walk with others through their grief.

Erica

Needles, Meds, and Blood- Oh My!

I never thought I would be a nurse. Never. Ever. When I was growing up I wanted to be a librarian or a cashier; mainly because they got to check things out and made wonderful beeping noises all day while they did it-ha! Honestly, that only lasted until about age 8, then I really didn’t think about it. I guess I figured that the right profession would just come to me one day. However, I did have a toy medical kit when I was young and I remember having lots of fun with the stethoscope; it was a little muffled if you spoke right into it so I would pretend I was ordering at McDonalds. I had a big imagination.


During my junior year of high school, I realized that I actually needed to figure out what I wanted to do with my life as college degree choices were looming before me. I knew for SURE that I did not want to be in the medical world because I HATED needles. If I didn’t like needles, I couldn’t imagine poking anyone else. That being the case, I began to look for other options. 

My interests were mainly in the arts (sewing,crafting,cooking,etc) but deep down all I could see myself doing was being a wife and mother someday. But I decided that just in case I didn’t find the “right guy”, I should probably have a back up plan. I looked into home economics at multiple colleges but was not very impressed. I loved working with kids so I started looking in that direction. Seeing as I didn’t want to be anywhere on the medical side of things, I decided that becoming a “Child Life Specialist” was the route for me. 

Basically a child life specialist is someone who counsels kids about different procedures and treatments while they are in the hospital. I would pretty much be a medical counselor; finding ways to help children understand what was happening/being done to their bodies (here is a link to more information about Child Life Specialists). Content with my choice, I proceeded to find the best college to suit my decision. 

Last day of my Pediatrics rotation in nursing school
In the spring of my senior year, I saw a documentary about Romanian orphans. The show documented how the majority of Romanian orphanages were overrun with orphans. The problem was so bad that the kids were not getting enough physical touch every day and therefore suffered developmental problems as they grew. Some babies were lucky to have a small amount of touch when their  bottle was propped in their crib, or when they had their diaper changed once daily. Needless to say, the show touch my heart and I hatched a plan. 

Many countries are closed to the Bible and visitors in general, however they welcome medical aid. My plan was to become a nurse so that I might get into such closed countries and help those suffering while also spreading God’s Word. I had decided that although I didn’t like the “blood and guts” side of nursing, I could stomach it if that meant that I could sneak my way around closed doors in the world. Due to my change of heart, I then also decided to switch universities a month before school started (sorry Mom!) but everything worked out.

Once I conquered nursing school, I worked for a year on a Medical-Surgical unit at a local hospital. I learned a lot, but mostly, I learned how I wanted to find a different area of nursing to pursue. I am now a Medical Supervisor (nurse) at a plasma clinic and love the daytime shifts and decreased stress level. My heart for overseas aid is still burning for an opportunity to go help the suffering in another country and deep down I still would rather be a stay-at-home momma to my little baby girl, but for now, I am still a nurse-outside the home 🙂 
Last day of clinicals for nursing school

I love the idea of nursing; caring for the vulnerable and suffering, advocating for wishes that would otherwise go unheard, and striving to ensure that all needs are met while you, the nurse, are in charge for a shift. I still have residual effects from “med-surg/night shift burnout”, but I am slowly coming out of that. Nursing is a very challenging profession that requires a lot of stamina- emotionally, mentally, and physically. There are times where I wish that I still had the passion for nursing like when I walked across the stage to receive my diploma, but at this stage in my life all I can think about is how I want to stay home with my baby. My recent endeavors to reach my ultimate mommy goal has started with my other passion- sewing. 

From a young age I loved to sew and make things myself. A couple years ago I delved into card making and had many friends and family tell me I should sell them. I am not the business type and the idea of starting my own business made me very nervous, to say the least. I continued to sew gifts for family and friends and kept hearing comments about selling my creations. I was flattered but still balked at the idea of promoting myself. After having my daughter nearly a year ago and having difficulty with finding a family friendly job as well as finding a babysitter that we were comfortable with, my husband and I began truly searching for ways for me to be able to stay home. Once again, selling my handmade items was suggested. 

This time I had an entire plan to back me and up so I took the “plunge” and opened a store on Etsy (which is a very gentle way of introducing anyone to the business world, just by the way). So far I haven’t sold much other than custom orders but I am excited for what it can become. I have learned that patience truly is a virtue, so I am waiting to see what God has in mind for my store and my profession.

~Ruth
PS: If you are interested in becoming a nurse – GO FOR IT! The schooling might be tough, but it is definitely doable. If you have questions, feel free to ask and I will try my best to answer them. If you are already a nurse but feel like you are drowning in the newness of it all, definitely check out the “Note to New Grads” post by Erica (who, by the way, is an awesome nurse with a passion for what she does- its so encouraging!). There will always be a need for nurses, so if you do decide to pursue that field, be the best you can be; learn all you can so that you can give the best care possible to your patients. 

The road to nursing… it wasn’t easy

I remember the day well. I was a junior in high school and had been contemplating “what do I want to do with my life?” I walked into a hospital with some of my cheerleading companions. Our cheerleading coach had to have all her female organs taken out and we were going to visit her. In that moment I felt like “this is where I belong”. I never thought about being anything else inside the hospital but a nurse/nurse practitioner. My one main thought was “I want to be to other families what those nurses have been to my family as we’ve watched far too many of our loved ones battle cancer.” I proudly proclaimed at my senior sports banquet “I am going to be a nurse practitioner”.

It didn’t take long for that bubble to get popped. Taking microbiology as a first semester freshman wasn’t my brightest idea. I had always worked hard in school, but no matter how much I studied, I didn’t know how to study for me. So I left my freshman year of college defeated. I had a 2.5 GPA and an adviser telling me I was never going to make it in the nursing world. Ever. My heart had one passion at the point, to be a nurse. So I made the decision to transfer to another campus of the school I was going to that required a lower GPA.

While it was incredibly hard to leave the main IU campus, I would never take back that decision for multiple reasons. At IUPUI I had teachers who invested in me and helped me learn how to study. I am not a quick learner. I have to spend hours studying to get average grades. But I love the sciences. I love the human body and I love anything that can help me take care of another human being. It was here I fell in love with exercise science. It was a long battle though, because my only thought still was “I want to be a nurse”. At the end of first semester of Junior year I finally claimed exercise science as my major. I knew it was what God was asking of me, but I still struggled with it. It wasn’t that I didn’t love exercise science, in fact to this day it is something I am extremely passionate about, but it wasn’t my dream.

My senior year I was able to go back to the main IU campus, and because of that I ended up some how by God’s grace graduating on time. I knew nursing still was not where I was supposed to go next, but it still burned on my heart. I went off to the east coast to pursue my masters in nutrition. I love nutrition. I love what it can do in the human body. I loved learning the biochemical breakdown of the body. But as much as I love nutrition, my heart still ached. I wanted to be a nurse.

It is funny though, because the moment I felt like it was okay to pursue nursing. I didn’t want to. Not because I didn’t want to be a nurse, but I was deathly afraid that everyone was right. That I would never make it. I apply to one school in NYC and got rejected. I wanted to stop there. But I felt the nudge to go on. God knew the perfect school and the perfect semester for me. All the details He worked out I won’t bore you with, but I will say this. I was in nursing school with the exact right people, at the exact right time, in the exact right school.

When I started nursing school I had already lost 2 grandparents and 1 uncle to cancer. 3 weeks into nursing school I spoke with my grandpa for the last time as he lost his battle to cancer. I remember his last words as he was dying 600 miles away from where I was “I believe in what you are doing you were created to be a nurse.”  The next morning I sat sobbing on the bathroom floor of my nursing school as I received the news he had taken his final breath. And I knew no matter how hard school was, there was purpose behind what I was doing.

Nursing school sucked. It was hard. I had no life. But I loved what I was learning. And I absolutely love where it has brought me. The interview process I’ll save for another time, but I can tell you this, the wait was worth it. The hard times were worth it. And I know without a doubt I was meant to be a nurse. My nursing career and education aren’t complete, I still have more schooling and many more steps to thank. But I’m thankful for the journey I started taking as a junior in high school. I’m thankful for where I am today because of all the trials I’ve been through to get here. Who knew the girl with the 2.5 GPA my freshman year of college would graduate nursing school with honors? God writes pretty cool stories, and thankfully because of His path I have 2 other careers I am passionate about as well.

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