Friday, June 3, 2016

That's a Wrap!

Today marks my final post on this blog. I began with the mission in mind to journal my way through nursing school about anything and everything that crossed my mind. The posts came further and further apart as I got busier with school/clinical requirements, but I think I have accomplished my mission here. Since I do love to write, likely over the summer, once I am officially licensed with a job lined up, I will begin a new, fresh blog. But, I figured I owed it all to you, and to myself, to write you an ending to this part of my story.

Four years ago I left teaching with very mixed feelings. In many ways I loved my job, and in every way, I loved my students, but I had gone into teaching simply by chance. It was a degree I could earn while working full-time at a dental office. It was funny, because I always thought teaching wasn't my passion, and that someday I would go into healthcare. As a teen I dreamed of life as a doctor. I didn't plan to have children, but I wanted this amazing career in medicine. I wanted to make a difference.

Life is funny, and this journey back to college (yeah, yeah I am a professional student) has done much more than teach me how to be a nurse. It was a journey that I needed to teach myself (especially after a few very shaky personal years) how to be me. Nursing school is difficult. It is not so much the content, but the sheer amount of it, not so much the skills, but the need for accuracy and safety. It is not how to have a great day in patient care, but how you hold up when everything goes wrong. Nursing school scared me to death at times. I am more of a book learner, and would literally shake every time I had to perform a skill. I worried that I would fail out due to the "hands-on" nature of things, so I would practice over and over at home-injecting oranges, hanging IVs, mixing vials of (fake) insulin, having my boys be pretend patients. I have never in my life been so challenged, never been so alive. I am amazed at all I have learned, though there will always be more, but mostly I am amazed at the other things I have taken away. In nursing school I found ME.

Nursing school has fulfilled me. It has given me confidence. While I am by no means an expert, I could save a life if called upon, counsel a patient, console a family, know which medications interact, probably even diagnose a few things. Take away thoughts from the past few years:

  • It took being beyond busy to learn how to slow down and appreciate life. 
  • I am stronger than I ever thought possible.
  • Making a difference is not about what job title I have, but about how I live my life. I have already made a difference to all the teens and young adults who still keep in touch with me, who I used to teach. Seeing their successes and hearing their stories, means maybe I helped in some way.
  • I didn't think teaching was my passion, but it turns out it is. Nursing is full of patient teaching, and guess which part of nursing is my absolute favorite part? Guess which part I excel in?
  • Nursing has actually calmed me down. It is hard to take some problems seriously when you have seen the suffering of others. Talk about perspective.

Where do I go from here? Well, I officially graduate in a week, and am the closing speaker at the ceremony, and then hope to take my boards to become licensed in July, and to begin my new career in August. I am not sure where yet. I have had many interviews, and a handful of callbacks. Right now there are four openings I would seriously consider, and my life could go in any of these directions. I think I will get more than one offer, and then I will need to decide. Each job has pros and cons and implications for my future (and whether I go on for more schooling at some point as well).

In the end, they are all great paths to take, and mine will be carefully and prayerfully selected. The possibilities are varied. Perhaps I will be a labor & delivery nurse and help bring lives into the world, or an urgent care nurse calming patients in the hustle and bustle and worry, a nurse at a cardiology clinic assisting patient's with state-of-the-art devices to keep their hearts pumping, or a nurse at an eating disorder facility counseling young women as they fight internal battles...or maybe none of these and something else entirely. Maybe one day I will be a nurse educator, training baby nurses, or a nurse practitioner, seeing my own patients, or assisting on medical missions. Maybe I will work part-time as an RN, and substitute teach part-time (yes, I have actually considered this...). Maybe I will go straight to graduate school as I work, or maybe I will set it aside and stop and enjoy life, knowing that saying no doesn't mean never, it just means not right now. I am trying to not rule anything out, because God's plan is always much bigger than my own. Wherever I go, it will be somewhere I feel I can excel, somewhere full of patient education, with a good amount of time for my family, and enough time off for me to keep seeing the world.

This is not really an ending, but a beginning. Beginnings are exciting. It is the feeling of a beautiful journal full of blank pages to fill, and I am excited and blessed to be handed the pen to start filling them.

My thoughts go with all of you. THANK YOU for reading my journey. Thank you for your support. I hope you will follow me again when I start anew. For now, that's a wrap!

Friday, January 1, 2016

The Best New Year's Resolution

People love New Years. I do too. I mean, first of all, it's my birthday, and I am not one of those just ignore my birthday kind of people. At all. I am a scream it from the rooftops, open presents, have an entire special day birthday person. I may even be known to refer to New Year's Eve as "Birthday Eve" to my family, and have enjoyed a tradition of ringing in the New Year with birthday hugs and kisses-though technically my mom would remind me that I was not born until 12:01 (as in noon twelve not midnight). She reminded me this every year as a kid!

I used to love New Year's resolutions too. There's something about that fresh new start that is synonymous with making a bunch of goals for the upcoming year. I don't think that is a bad thing at all. I am constantly setting goals, and re-evaluating my life. It is just something I enjoy doing. I used to love resolutions but it became more of a wish list, and often one that I honestly could not or would not achieve. Things like: lose 30 pounds, write a book, and travel the world would be things I'd aspire to. Umm, let's be slightly more realistic. One of the most useful things I've learned in nursing school pertains to goal setting, and that goals must be SMART (it's an acronym-nurses LOVE acronyms) for specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely. For example, "eat healthy" is not a smart goal, but eat 5 servings of fruits and vegetables each day is. I digress, slightly. The point is, I don't really care about losing 30 pounds, but would love to lose 5-10, eat more fruits and vegetables, and tone up, I am not sure I will ever have the attention span to write a book (I'd have to stick with the same topic for more than 2 sentences!). Blogging is much more realistic for me. I can't afford to nor do I have time to travel the world this year, but I can visit another state or two or maybe even leave the country again (I did pretty good on this last year with my Italy trip!).

Last New Year's I wrote 4 words on a whiteboard on my fridge-my resolution: "Laugh more, stress less." I think, that for the most part, I achieved it. Looking back, it was not a super specific goal, but it was a good one for me. In the past I have let my own perfect expectations of how something should go ruin it when it didn't go exactly that way. I have stressed so much over things not going as planned. Rude awakening, right? It only took me 33 or so years to learn that THINGS NEVER GO EXACTLY AS PLANNED, and that's okay. That's great even. Barrett wasn't a plan for me, nursing wasn't a plan (not a firm one for many many years), sending the kids back to East Linn was not in the plans, and that aforementioned Italy trip was not planned until less than a week before going! The point is, plans change, things happen that are unplanned, and that we have to be flexible enough to just go with it and adjust as needed. It's okay, perfectly acceptable even, to not have all the answers and to say so. With the end of school in sight I am getting asked more and more "What kind of a nurse will you be?" I have NO idea. I know what I have enjoyed, I have analyzed it to death, but things change. Experiences change us. So, we'll see. I do have a good, honest answer to the question now though, "I'll be a good one."

I have spent a good point of my life planning for the future. Days and hours spent planning, but missed on living. I am not saying a plan is a bad thing-it is a good jumping off point, but I myself have lived too often looking ahead, missing what is going on RIGHT NOW. Phrases like "when it is summer", "when I graduate", "when we have the money" are uttered all too frequently. Obviously some things have to wait for the proper timing, but why not enjoy life as it happens? In 2016 many big changes will happen for me. It is the course of the timing. It is the proper time. I will graduate nursing school. I will start my new career. I think, maybe, I will apply to graduate school (on this, we'll see). These changes will impact my life and my family. My resolution this year though comes from a necklace my mom got me-"find joy in the journey" it says. The time will pass. New things will come to be, but in 2016 I vow to take each day at a time and notice and enjoy what is around me. Someday those things will be in the past. The sleepless nights with babies in my home? They are gone and now are missed. The short years I spent teaching? Gone and missed. The blood, sweat and tears with friends in nursing school? Soon, it will become a fond memory of a time in my life I had never been challenged so much.

I encourage you too to find joy in the journey. Don't look so far ahead that you miss the gifts right before your eyes. Happy 2016.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Annual Christmas Update 2015

Hello again! It is that time of year full of Christmas cards, twinkling lights, good food, and memory-making with family. I am one of those people who loves getting cards, and especially if they contain a Christmas letter telling me how your family has been the last year. I know some people are not into that. To you I say, close the tab now, because this is my annual electronic version. Enjoy. 

*Disclaimer: Some of you will get REAL cards this year too, but we ordered less than last year, and the cards do not contain a letter-so this is your chance to read about our family's last year.

2015 By the Numbers 
1 new car.
1 new job.
2 new pets.
1 new school.
28 soccer games.
4 clinical rotations.
24 baseball games.
1 international vacation.
And a partridge in a pear tree!

Trying to think of the highlights for the last year is actually really tough because there are sooo many! I feel really blessed to say that. In the last year, Barrett and I were able to take a Spring Break road-trip through Idaho and Montana, and fell in love with many new places. No, we are not moving anytime soon, but maybe when the kids go to college! Summer was a bit tough, which I will get to soon, but we did spend a lot of time focusing on our family when we had the boys, taking trips to the beach and camping, and I did an extra clinical placement in the emergency department down in Eugene. This fall we also had a bit of a rocky start at the public school the boys have been attending the last two years, and it put a lot of heart-felt matters regarding their education front and center. Though it may have looked like a quick decision, the decision to move the boys back to private school at East Linn Christian Academy in November, was full of juggling finances, worry, and prayer, and a decision we had talked about making when I was done with school. If that school sounds familiar, you may recall I taught there from 2010-2012. The decision was perhaps the best parenting win we have ever had, and the school (as you can tell by the name) is a religious one that expects parental involvement and church attendance. Because of this, we have recently found a church we both really enjoy, and have already spent some time volunteering at various events. I think the kids are thrilled with that on all accounts, and I think it is helping us to parent better than we ever have. Win-win it seems!

In June, I was getting ready to take finals, and Barrett got devastating news. The company, Symantec, he had worked for the past 4 years, sold off the division that Barrett worked in to a company called Veritas, and over 200 people were laid off. He was one of them. We were trying not to panic, but with me in school full-time, our only income was now going away. The first 2 months of summer were very tough as Matthew finished baseball, school wound down, and Barrett hurried to interview everywhere he could. I have never been more proud of him. At the end of July, Barrett scored a position with none other than Veritas, as a Senior Technical Consultant, a position that is work-from-home, and better salary than before, though does require some travel.  He has only had to travel once so far (we've been really lucky!), to Virginia, and I did tell him if ever he has to go overseas, I am coming too! Barrett is settling into the new job, and loves the East coast hours he works, which allows him to take the boys to school and pick them up most days, help with Cub Scouts, and just be altogether more available to our family. 

 In this past year I have been very focused on my nursing program. I have had clinical placements thus far in: oncology, orthopedics, medical/surgical, emergency, and cardiac units. In January I will be placed on the neurology floor for my regular clinical and labor & delivery for my optional clinical. I also got to experience a shift in a NICU, did partial shift with CAHOOTS (Crisis Assistance Helping Out On The Streets), volunteered at a free clinic and Thanksgiving dinner, will be shadowing a Family Nurse Practitioner for a day, and have another one shift experience in another labor and delivery unit. If it sounds crazy busy, that's because it is, and because I try to get as many things in as I can so I can decide what to do as a nurse. Still deciding. I also am the current Student Nurses Association President, so I am very involved in that, and was even a speaker at Sweet Home High's Career Day! It isn't all work though, I did get to enjoy a week in Italy this past summer with a friend! You can read about it here: . I also got a new car recently, though I might be mourning the Charger a tad bit, my new Honda CR-V is a much better economical win for all the driving I do! Hard to believe in June I will complete my program!!

Matthew played baseball this past summer, and was in love! He was trained to play both as catcher and pitcher, and did so well! Baseball takes a lot of time, but we were happy to watch his team go to the regional play-offs. He is also still playing soccer, of course, and it should be interesting to attempt to balance the two sports again this coming spring! Matthew cannot wait to play sports for his school, and is hoping to be good enough next year to play with the 6-8th graders (though he'll be in 5th grade). He loves being back at East Linn, and his teacher said it feels like he has been there the whole time! Taking Bible class has lead to many deep conversations I probably would not yet have had with him, but I think this is a very good thing! He also gets to take Spanish at his new school, and loves it. 

Isaiah is thriving after switching schools! He went from as classroom of over 25 students to one of 18. This has made a huge deal, as has having PE, Music, & Spanish to change things up a bit. He is reading the first Harry Potter book currently, and it just thrills me! Isaiah also had a great soccer season, and got to "play-up" numerous times on Matt's team. I love watching them playing together! Isaiah has discovered Minecraft (like many kids his age!), and enjoys talking all about it to Barrett. He is also thrilled to have not one, but two, German Shepherds, as we adopted a 7 year-old female, Stormy, at the end of summer. The other new pet is Ball Python, Dorothy, who lives in Matthew's room, but the boys share her. I think the only complaint little Zay has this year is that we are not going on a big trip to Maui like last Christmas. Ask this kid where he'd like to go, and Maui is the #1 answer! Maybe a family trip this summer, though we are honestly leaning toward a lake-house in Anchorage to check out Alaska (which I know, I know, is not quite the same!! Though MUCH cheaper! Haha!). 

I think those are the highlights!I tried to include some pictures that have not been online as much. I wish you and your family a very merry Christmas, and a phenomenal, blessed 2016 filled with love and happiness. 

Sarah (and Barrett, Matthew & Isaiah)

Sunday, November 8, 2015

I am not sure I believe in coincidence...

I'm not entirely sure that I believe in coincidence at all. Let me tell you why.

Over 10 years ago I was, at the time, fairly happily married and my ex and I were attending church on a regular basis. When we found out that I was pregnant, we were thrilled and we decided that any children we had would be named with names from the Bible, and that we would raise the children up in the church. We had no help choosing names, in fact, I mostly chose them. First, it was Matthew, and then 2 1/2 years later, Isaiah was born, and both boys were indeed dedicated at birth in our church. Remember this, and I will come back to it.

Many of you know the story of Matthew's birth so I will not repeat it here, but did you know that my regular doctor was out on maternity leave? The doctor that ended up delivering Matthew, and saving his life, was the only doctor staffed at the entire hospital who had had a previous case of fetal-maternal hemorrhage a few years prior and the baby had been born stillborn. I do not feel that it was coincidence that I got her as my doctor on that day. I do not feel it was coincidence that she knew exactly what to do this time around.

Fast-forward about five years later. Things don't always go as planned, and I was going through a divorce. While my divorce was being finalized, I got a silly little email from In my frustration and bitterness I signed up to take advantage of the free month trial because I figured, why not? I do not believe it was coincidence that just a few days after I signed up I would begin talking with the man who would later become my husband and love of my life, Barrett. I never ended up paying for this service at all. 

Now, go back to the story with the boys. Good intentions don't always pan out, and it has sadly been quite a few years since I was actively involved with a church. Fast forward to this year, in fact to this very week, when the boys have just completed their first week back at school at the private Christian academy where I used to work, and just this weekend where Barrett and I begin attending church once again. My mom texted me yesterday something that sent chills down my spine. She was looking for her old Bible that hasn't been out in many, many years (we are talking since way before my boys were born) in order to be able to help the boys with their homework when they stay with them. She said she wanted to find it, because she had written down two verses a long time ago that she really enjoyed, and wanted to read them to the boys. It surprised and amazed her when she found her old Bible and looked up those very two verses… one from the book of Matthew and one from the book of Isaiah.  These two boys, who I had every intention to raise right and in a strong family, will somehow promote our family becoming stronger because of them. Coincidence? I think not.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Death of a Perfectionist

Hi, my name is Sarah, and I am a perfectionist. I thought that nursing school had pretty much tamed this instinct. Well, a bit. Have I mentioned that I was raised as an only child, got straight A's in pretty much everything, and like things...well, a certain way? Yeah, I am just a bit Type A...

Today I got back a grade on a paper. 3/5, and I FREAKED. I mean, that is a D-. I don't get D's (except for that one Algebra 2 test-but I digress, Algebra and I did not get along.). I feel like I am a decent writer. I even do it for fun. I wanted to throw a full-blown, screaming, kicking, stomping, and crying fit!  But I am mature, so I settled for crying and an (albeit) slightly panicked email to my instructor about my grade, did I read it correctly, and what could I do to improve in the future?

Ahem...Followed by another email, minutes later, asking if he thought I was going to fail out of the program (This was not my proudest moment). Luckily, he is a great instructor, and though I was full on ticked (though mostly at myself),  and bordering on psychotic, he emailed me back within minutes to say; "Your paper was excellent, until you got to the end and did not address what the rubric stated. For that, you lost points. It is just 2 points. This will not kill your grade. You are doing excellent in clinical. There is no way I think you are going to fail out. Breathe.... However, if I ever get a call for a job reference, I will have to mention that there was this one assignment that 2 points were missing on!"

My story is mortifying to me, mainly that I freaked out so much over a few points, but also because in my wrapped up, stressiness of nursing school, I also hurt myself by not slowing down to just read. It's also funny. I burst out laughing at the last line of the email, basically putting things in perspective for me. I share this to you for three reasons: 1)Nursing school is hard. You will love it, and I promise you will HATE it. There feels like there is never enough time in the day. 2) This is just a season. Less than a year from now I will be done, and I will not care at all about this 5 point project, care plans, or my grades. 3) Breathe. Life is not perfect. I am not perfect. You are not perfect, and nursing school will all but kill the perfectionist unless we learn to laugh it off when falling flat on our faces, brush ourselves off, and try again.

Monday, October 12, 2015

30 school days to go! (until Christmas break that is…)

I make it through nursing school the same way I did through teaching when I was feeling burnt out. I count the days until I get some real time off. I started the countdown right before school began with how many school days until Christmas break, and I'm actively counting them down. Realistically I probably should have just done all days but that seemed like too big of a number to start with (and hence depressing). There really is no such thing as a day off in nursing school. Days off are spent on reading, care plans, projects, papers, and studying for exams. Yuck. Second year did not begin slowly, but instead with a "here's your 5 papers/projects and 3 clinical rotations, oh and by the way, the exams will now be comprehensive. Any questions?" Okay...slowly is looking...the door is righthere.

I am in week three of year two of nursing school and am so ready to be done! I know that I still have so much more to learn but I can't help but wait until the day where I no longer have homework and I actually have a job where I can clock in and clock out at the end of the day. Before the school year started I thought I had made my mind up. My next plan was to go straight into an RN to MSN program to work on getting a license to be a (FNP) family nurse practitioner. That was, until school started and I felt swamped,and sick of the school, overwhelmed, and did more research about actually being a nurse practitioner!!! While I am sure it can be a great career, I have no desire to spend the next 3 to 4 years (still) in school, trying to gain experience as an RN, and still trying to be a mom to my kiddos. After that time would be spent wolfing down lunch while filling prescriptions and trying to see X amount of patients each day. No thank you. I have already been in school most of my children's lives. Likely I will go on at some point and probably get a masters degree in either nurse education or clinical leadership depending on which direction my career takes me.  I have thought both about being a nursing instructor someday and/or a case manager at a hospital or clinic someday. What I really think I need right now though is to finish school and to go jump feet-first into the workplace of nursing and learn what it is I truly like.

This is one way that nursing school has changed me. I am beginning to value experience more than I value having a plan. I am beginning to value the importance of staying flexible. I really think that I need to experience things in order to know if they are for me or not. At this time I am on the cardiac floor and have yet to decide if I like it, though I have only done one partial day as I write this. Oncology was OK, I surprisingly loved the orthopedic floor because of all of the education involved and the fact that the patients aren't really sick most of the time, I had a bit of a liking problem with the medical floor and truly enjoyed the surgical floor. I mostly loved my experience in the emergency department this past summer. It's hard to decide what I want to do, and I know that the job market will be a big deciding factor in where I end up (at least to begin with). I currently am in the process of setting up a pediatric rotation and I'm also trying to set up a day shadowing on a labor and delivery unit. Currently my interest lies in either Pediatrics, mom/baby nursing, or emergency nursing, and I know that this is a pretty wide range. :-) In my studies these are also the things I have been interested in as well as mental health nursing and clinic nursing, so we will really have to see where my experiences in school take me in the real world.

At this time, I plug ahead, counting the days until freedom and paid work again!  Christmas, come as quickly as you can!

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Today, Choose Joy.

Sometimes, there is no other way to put what is going on in your life other than saying, "I am headed through a proverbial crap storm right now." Or insert your appropriate adjective there. And though this storm is in full rage, I have decided to just go with it. At 33, this is a far cry from how I would have handled the situation three years ago or five years ago and especially 10 years ago! But today, I choose joy. 

I choose to focus on the things in my life that are good, great, and wonderful. I choose to focus on the strength of my marriage and my friendship with my husband, the laughter and the growth of our children, our community full of friends, and our wonderful, supportive family. I am giddy, and cheerful, even to the point of skipping down the hallway, thinking about my future and the plans that I have made, as well as those plans that will make themselves along the way. I feel full of purpose.

I choose to hold my head high and know that at the end of the day I am an honest and faithful person. I am a strong person. In fact, I am a lot stronger than many who don't know me well would give me credit for. 

I bet you are too. I bet some of my friends reading this have their own storms that are going on right now in their lives. Things that bring us down, that bring anger, hurt, resentment, and doubt. You too, should choose to hold your head high. Believe that what is going on, even if you don't understand it, is going on for a reason and that you will get through this. Not only will you survive, but you will come out even stronger.

And that, my friends, is my message for today. Choose joy. It took me quite a while to realize that it really is a choice. You can let life happen to you, or you can make life happen.