Saturday, January 25, 2014

Self-Help & Starting Over

I'm writing a book right now.  I've kept it mostly to myself, I think I've let three people read it so far.  It's currently in a Google Doc, and I had allowed two close friends to have the power of the "Share" button, so they could read what I was writing and editing.  But today I stopped sharing.  Because my book that was intended to be lovely and beautiful and small pieces of me poured out all over pages and pages and pages sounded more like a cheap self-help book that you'd find in the clearance section at Barnes and Noble.

And I couldn't stand it.  So today, I deleted the dear friends who were gracious and kind enough to read my first few horrible pages of the wretched self-help book.  I took a very dramatic deep breath, and I deleted every word I had typed, save one paragraph.  I'm beginning again, and my manuscript is now down to one measly page.  But I'm ok with it, because that one page sounds more like me than the ten others that were part of the original book.  I had this idea in my mind that sounded so lovely, but the book ended up sounding rehearsed, forced, and like I was speaking to an audience that didn't quite get me.  I read back through a lot of old blogs today for inspiration, and I got back on track with what I originally wanted to write about.

I read through introductions to some of my very favorite non-fiction books, and I flipped through the blog of my kindred spirit of the writing world, Shauna Niequist.  I think she is entirely lovely and a beautiful writer, and I am by no means saying I'm anything like her.  But I sense the same freeness and stream of consciousness-eque tone to her writing, and it feels like home when I'm in one of her books.  Her writing style is similar to mine, her values and opinions on many things, and it feels like I'm sitting in a coffee shop with an older, wiser, more mature writer version of me when I'm in her books.

So I'll begin again with my little manuscript and I will write with the same passion and love for the written word that I do when I write my blog posts; and I'll try my very best not to sound like Dr. Phil this time around.  I'd so appreciate your prayers, sweet friends.  Writing a book may seem so silly when I'm barely keeping my head above water with switching jobs, adjusting to my new city, planning a wedding, and preparing for our marriage, but writing is my outlet and my sanity on most days.

Lots of love to you all, and thanks for your support, as always.  You're rockstars.


Saturday, January 18, 2014

Monica Closets: A Messy Sort of Life

Oh gracious, I'm back to the days of going weeks without writing again.  I've thought about writing several times, but then I do something else like pick up a book, write a letter to a friend (still counts as writing, but just not for the public eye), take a hot bubble bath, or go to bed.  I've felt drained lately--I'm not sure if it's physical exhaustion from work, emotional and mental exhaustion from fielding questions for the wedding "crunch time," or just the dreary tiredness that comes from blustery, wintery days.  But regardless, I've been pretty wiped out lately and haven't felt like I could put words together that would sound nice in a post.

I'm still not there, but I'm learning how to write in the midst of mess.  I'm learning to live through the mess of life and still find joy in things when everything seems messy and somewhat mundane.  I'm sitting in my apartment that's got little bits of this week scattered everywhere.  My hiking boots (turned snow boots, recently) are by my chair at the kitchen table, our wedding invitations sit half addressed on the floor by my desk, bills and "OPEN IMMEDIATELY" junk mail sit unopened on my coffee table.  And it's a little bit of a mess in here, but it's still home to me.

At heart, I am a perfectionist.  But in real life, I'm not.  I like to think I am, but I think I'm very much like Monica in Friends.  There's an episode where Chandler wants to get into a closet that's all-but-bolted shut in the apartment he and Monica live in together; he finally opens the closet to find that it's stashed with what amounts to be a whole lot of crap.  Monica walks in to see what Chandler has discovered and says, "How did you get in there?!" to which Chandler replies with a mischievous laugh, "You're messy!"

That's how I've felt lately.  With having Scott over here often, I think I'm more aware of it.  I'm used to being able to leave my mascara and contact solution out on the bathroom counter.  That's not mess to me, that's useful.  But when someone else is over and is using the bathroom, it kind of looks messy.

The other day I was heading out to Target to grab a couple of things when I discovered that I had a flat tire.  I did what any intelligent girl would do and called a man, Scott.  He told me he'd come over in an hour when class was over to look at it.  In the midst of snow and below freezing temperatures, Scott supervised as I changed my first tire.  It was a small sort of accomplishment.  There was then all of the chaos of trying to find a place where I could buy new tires, but we finally headed to Wal-mart and were ready to get this taken care of.  Scott was being helpful and opened my glove compartment to get out my registration; I think he was kind of shocked at what he found in there.  Napkins from fast food places, random receipts from different things, all of my paperwork from every oil change and car service I had ever had done.  He was gracious about cleaning it up for me, but I felt like he had just discovered my Monica closet.

Thinking about it later, I realized that a lot of things in my life are a Monica closet right now.  I found out the other day when trying to buy dinner that my credit card had been compromised and someone in Texas was using a copy of my card to make small purchases; my card was immediately frozen and my bank said they would send a new card.  It was sent to my old address in Durham, despite my address being listed as Indianapolis now in their system, so more wait time before it gets to the correct address (thanks to Penny and Jessica, it has finally arrived!).  At the same time, I have been waiting for a few weeks for my new debit card to arrive from my bank up here; in the meantime, I've been holding onto checks that I'm not able to deposit because I don't yet have access to my bank up here yet, so big purchases I need to make for wedding things are coming from an account that is dwindling due to the wedding expenses.  My finances are kind of on hold and kind of a big disorganized mess right now.

And then there's my job.  I was so excited to start a job just a few minutes away from my house with permanent day shift at a smaller hospital.  The more I've stayed there, though, the more disenchanted I've become with it, to the point where I'm concerned that I'm picking up bad habits that could affect my nursing license in the future.  I'm a stick-to-the-rules kind of girl, something I was made fun of for in my younger days, so it feels like I'm going against the grain every time I do something the "proper" or "ethical" way at my new workplace.  Aside from following the rules, I'm there for twelve hours everyday for my patients.  I do get personal fulfillment out of my job as well, but given what nurses have to deal with day in and day out, I could find a much more personally rewarding job that pays much better if I was just in it for the money or myself.  As I'm not, each thing I do is in the best interest of my patients getting better and staying safe.  I've also been frustrated by being called-off due to low census, feeling like a huge outsider in the midst of little cliques (yesterday was the first time someone approached me to eat lunch with me.  Bless her, she has no idea how much it made my day), and feeling alone and like I can't find any help with very complex patients.  I feel like I'm a very competent nurse, but there's just some things I haven't had the chance to deal with yet because I'm still new in this career; I've always been lucky to have helpful coworkers on 3 West, but here, I feel like helpful individuals are few and far between, if you can even find them between smoke breaks and talking on cell phones in the food pantry.  This wasn't meant to be a venting session, but I'm just trying to be honest about my concerns.

I finally got a call I had been waiting for since September this past week (in the midst of my flat tire extravaganza-- what funny timing), a call from St. Vincent's Hospital to work on a renal/GI floor.  It's for night shift, which isn't my first choice, but at this point, I'm running with it.  I gave my two week notice at work yesterday, which felt very confusing and almost like it was rejected.  My nurse manager and CNO kept trying to give me different scenarios to try to get me to stay, but it really just felt like they were piling bandaids onto an arterial bleed (for non-healthcare people out there: an arterial bleed is like out-of-control, you-better-hold-gauze-and-the-pressure-of-all-of-your-body-weight-on-it to keep the person from bleeding out).  I kept politely declining and saying "No, thank you, though," and the response back was always, "Well just think about it over the weekend. You don't have to decide now."  It's pretty decided.  Two weeks from yesterday I will leave my job that I've only been at for a month and some change, and I will start a new one a few days later in a different environment.  Nurses need support during their shifts-- from managers, coworkers, the Starbucks lady-- and I can't practice safely without it.

So work is also a big Monica closet right now.  If someone asks how work is going, I usually say, "Oh, it's ok.  Not really working out, but it's alright," but if they happen to dig deeper and ask a little more, just like the Monica closet, you'll find all of the mess and disappointment that I've been stashing away for only me and those closest to me to know about; it'll come tumbling out of the closet and crash into you in ways that would make you think maybe you should have never asked.

But in the midst of the mess, I'm still happy.  Even though I can't figure out which bill is due next week and which auto-bills are coming from a card that has been stolen and what my life is going to look like when I'm working all nights again and why I didn't pick up milk at the grocery store when I knew my milk was expiring today... I feel joy.  It's that "be still and know" feeling again washing over me.  I know that I'm going to hit my stride again soon; I know that I will find better places for things in the new apartment and that I will remember to plan my meals better.  I will get my finances sorted out and will set up my Mint account to alert me of bills; and it's all ok even through the messiness.

Life isn't as compact and neat as I'd like it to be.  I'd love to never have to spend another minute on the phone with a customer service representative and for everything in my house to be exactly where it's supposed to be so I can find it when I need it, but I'm ok with it not being that way and with giving myself a little grace in the mean time.  I'm ok with having a giant Monica closet that could come busting out at any moment onto an innocent passerby.  As long as I can still find beauty in the midst of the mess, I'll be happy.  And when I reach that Nirvana-esque place of having my life completely in order, when my "chi" is centered, when my apartment has that feng shui that all homes should, I hope I'll find joy and beauty there, too.  God is present even in the midst of my biggest messes, and for that I am so thankful.

Lots of love to you all, and thanks for listening to my gripes.  You're all way too good to me, more than I deserve.


Wednesday, January 1, 2014

January Goals

I think instead of making big sweeping goals for the new year like I usually do, I'm going to focus on one month at a time-- part of my goal of being present this year.  If I focus on one month at a time, it keeps me from looking too far ahead and living 6 months ahead of myself all of the time.  So here they are for this month.

No. 1: Have an open mind.  I've been struggling to figure out my role in my new workplace.  In the most obvious of ways, it's as a nurse.  But I think I was quick to judge this job and this smaller hospital, and now I'm trying to take back all of the negativity that I projected onto it within my first few weeks of working there.  I'm learning a TON and dealing with things that are so different from 3 West, and at first, I hated that.  I wanted what was familiar, not something totally alien to me.  Scott had a long heart-to-heart with me the other night and convinced me that new is good; it's how I'll build up experience in nursing and learn more for my profession.  So goal #1 of this month is to have an open mind and open heart for new things.

No. 2: Be brave.  This one is going to be hard.  I'm an introvert by nature and love quiet nights in my apartment.  But last night as I sipped wine by myself while watching chick flicks to ring in New Year's, I felt a little bit lonely and a little bit sad that I didn't have friends to celebrate like I would back home.  And I realized that in order to make friends here, I have to step outside of my introvert box and put myself on the line.  I have to be brave.

No. 3: Follow my gym calendar.  I've made a gym calendar for this month with different activities planned for each day, and I'd really like to get back into working out so I can feel healthy again.  I've tried to be realistic with my gym goals-- I'm not saying I'm going to go every day for three hours.  I've given myself off on days that I work 12 hour shifts, and I've told myself that it's not about losing weight, but being healthy and strong.  I want to feel confident in my wedding dress in April.  I want to tone and strengthen so I feel as strong as I did when I first graduated from college and lost 20 pounds.  With three months to go, I'm taking it one month at a time :)

No. 4: Read a book.  Maybe two.  I want to read Bittersweet by Shauna Niequist (my life will be so sad when I'm finished reading her books-- I hope she has another in the works!), but I also want to read the books I bought to read pre-wedding with Scott.  I've been planning this wedding for months but want to spend the next few months focusing on preparing for the marriage.

No. 5: Spend more time in Scripture.  This speaks for itself.  I'm going Old-Testament for the start of this year.  Hold me accountable on this one-- I struggle with Old Testament language and stories sometimes!

No. 6: Write more letters.  This is inspired by my dear friend Shannon.  I want to keep in touch with everyone I promised to be pen pals with.  I've got a giant decorative box full of stationary-- time to put it to good use!

Lots of love, sweet friends.