Writing prompt: Work

All of my jobs have been in healthcare. When I was 17, a senior in high school, I got my first job working in Central Supply at the local hospital. While I was in nursing school, I worked weekends as a nurse’s aide. After I graduated, my first nursing job was at the county hospital in the sick baby nursery. I was 20 when I became a Registered Nurse (back in the late 70’s) and I had way too much responsibility for someone that young!

My next job was in the operating room. I have always like studying the human body, so this was fascinating. I was on the evening shift, and if we didn’t have a case, we would sit around smoking in the small lounge. I was a circulating nurse, and was responsible for sending anything removed from the patient to the lab. The most memorable specimen was an entire leg.

Then I had my second baby, and stayed home for 16 years, giving birth a total of seven times. Became an earth mother, so to speak – homeschooling, gardening, breadmaking. That, of course, was a more than full time job! I got into religion. But that’s another story.

When my youngest was about four, around 2000, I got a job in day surgery with some time spent in nursery and postpartum, after a short correspondence course to reactivate my nursing license. I thought this was what I wanted to do after all my personal experience, but found that it really wasn’t a good fit after all.

After about a year of that, I had an opportunity to work in hospice, which at first scared me, because I hadn’t really been around death. But I went for it, and in the course of time became very passionate about it, and it helped me with my own PDA (personal death awareness). I worked for three companies in the eight years I was in hospice, at one point in management. But the last year of working in hospice, I was driving 100 miles a day to see patients, working hours that were too long, and got burned out.

At this point, I decided I wanted a job where I just went to work someplace, but I didn’t want to go back to bedside nursing, because really, I didn’t want to have to deal with all the involvement with personal body fluids and life and death situations. I applied for and was hired as an acute care case manager in the same hospital where I had my first job, and have continued in this field for the last 11 years.

ON FULFILLMENT:

The most fulfillment from a job was in hospice, caring for people in the last stage of life, as well as their families. It could also be emotionally draining. When I started in hospital case management, I really didn’t know what I was getting into. It’s important to me to be able to make a difference in someone’s life, and usually that happens in a day’s work, although there are days when I’ve wondered what the hell I’m doing. I’ve quit twice, but returned. After this past year with two travel assignments, I feel that I’ve come to a place of being happy in this line of work. Not sure if fulfilled is the right word. I do help people, but I’m also glad to have the camaraderie in my department, and the feeling of satisfaction that comes with being good at what I do. Fulfillment in my life happens in my relationships with my children, grandchildren, and friends.

I’d really like to work part-time, and have done so periodically. Financially, that doesn’t work out in the long run.

WORK VALUES:

I have to help people in some way. If that’s not happening, it is just a grind. I also need work/life balance. I tried working 4/10’s and 3/12’s, and even though having the extra days off was nice, I was exhausted at the end of the work day. I prefer 8 hours – I get up early enough to have time in the morning and I leave work early enough to have time in the evening. It is important to take vacations, and I use all my PTO, only saving it up when I want to take a longer vacation. It’s also important to be valued and appreciated by the boss, as much as that is possible.

EXPLORATION and CIRCLING BACK:

A few years ago I studied Ayurveda with a plan to get away from traditional healthcare and have a wellness practice. That would be an amazing job – to help people really be well, instead of being in the revolving door of traditional western medicine. But when I finished my studies and took an additional course to learn what it takes to set up a practice, I realized that I would absolutely hate the aspect of having to market myself, do all the internet and social media, and that I couldn’t make as much money as I do in Case Management. So I went back to full time work for three years. In 2020, in the middle of the covid pandemic, I felt stuck and burned out. I looked for other opportunities, and this last year, I fulfilled my desire to travel by doing a couple of travel contracts, and taking time off in between.

I got what I needed from that – different work cultures, unappreciative bosses, and perspective on what is really important to me. So, at almost 65, I am returning to work full time at the hospital I left when I decided to travel. I do have opportunity to help people navigate the healthcare system and have the care they need. It’s not a dream job, or a calling, but I am good at it and have a good work environment. All the circumstances and benefits give me peace about financial security, and I have plenty of time outside of work to do what I want to do.

Like enjoying children, and flowers. 🙂

Milkweed

Time to write, catching up with the grandkids

I discovered while on my road trip that if I really wanted to make time to write, I could. I drove all day, then, because I had made a commitment to myself, wrote a little and posted a mostly pictorial blog every evening. And still had time to chill.

I started a writing course on OM called A Year of Writing to Uncover the Authentic Self. The first assignment is to identify obstacles in your life. This is what I wrote:

Obstacles to writing –the answer would be making time, and I discovered on my trip that I can make time if I want to.
Obstacles to….. Actually, I feel like I am in a place of doing what I want to do, for the most part.
In the past, obstacle was fear – Fear of the unknown, of what people think. That was probably my longest running fear. Fear of change. I’ve come a long way, baby.

So, I put a date on my calendar to do each lesson. And we will see how it goes. One thing I have learned in life is not to fret if things don’t work out exactly as planned. Or, if I’m not enjoying something I’ve decided to do, it’s ok to change direction. But I hope this works out, and my plan is to write in my journal every day and do at least one blog post a week.

I’ve enjoyed the five days off since I got home. I was totally exhausted, and napped several times a day for the first two. Then I caught up with the grandkids, and rested some more after that!

Tomorrow (Monday) I will go back to work. I signed up to work a full week for someone who is on vacation, so my week will have a different focus. I’m still committed to write.

Happy Fall!

Back to reality

little things that are part of living and sleeping with another:

toilet seat left up

noises in the night

clutter that’s not mine

anxieties that don’t belong to me

but also:

homemade butternut squash soup with roasted sunflower seeds

oil massage

sweet kisses and snuggles

intimate conversation

i’m glad to be home

Musings from home after my 2 week road trip

I traveled 4400 miles in 15 days, and crossed state lines 21 times. Only two of those states were new to me – New Jersey and West Virginia. I think I’ve been in 44 of the lower 48 states now.

My time on the road, driving, was about 80 hours. I slept on 2 couches and a day bed for free, 3 hotels, and 9 airbnb’s. I spent $2200, about half of that for lodging, around $400 for gas, the rest for food and miscellaneous. Not bad, really, I had budgeted $3000.

I feel overstuffed with travel, kind of like that overstuffed feeling you get after a Thanksgiving feast. You look forward to the meal, enjoy it immensely, and afterwards think you might not ever want to eat again. That’s kind of how I feel about travel right now. Stuffed. Not only did I take this trip, I spent two months in Chattanooga and two months in Carson City (for work) this year. I looked forward to it, enjoyed it, but right now, I don’t want to make any more travel plans!

The best food I ate was that prepared by my kids. The rest of the time I struggled to find anything that was really good. I ate in the car on the road for lunch quite a bit – leftover pizza, cookies, and apples. The apples I picked in Massachusetts saved my life, I think. I got a really bad pizza in Niagara Falls. I’ve learned to really dislike eating out. Yesterday at home was lovely. Oatmeal for breakfast, omelette with the eggs and veggies I was given in New York for lunch, and a delicious butternut squash soup made by my husband for dinner.

I’ve always wondered what it would be like to live other places, and staying in airbnb’s gives a tiny taste of that. They were mostly great, but a couple of the beds were like marshmallows. My favorite, I think, was the one near Goshen, NY with the fabulous patio.

Most places have keurig coffee makers.I really dislike that kind of coffee. I did bring my French Press and supplies, but water heated in the microwave for coffee just isn’t the same. I was glad for coffee shops.

In this not quite post pandemic world, masks are still a thing. In some places, all the signs were down, in others, masks are required. I pretty much wore my mask when I went inside anywhere. Why not? Even though I’ve been vaccinated, it certainly doesn’t hurt me or anyone else to wear a mask, and it could make a difference for someone.

I didn’t do anything “touristy”. Even when I went to Niagara Falls, I only paid for parking, and spent time in the public areas. I didn’t go to museums or other attractions, although I sometimes enjoy doing so. Sleeping in a different place every night and having those experiences was really what I wanted out of this trip, after seeing my kids of course!

So now, I will nest at home. I will enjoy cooking, crocheting, playing with the grandkids, embracing the uncertainty of life as it unfolds. I will start working full time again, after the first of the year. I plan to keep writing here, just not as often.

And, no doubt, at some point, I will be on the road again.

Road Trip Day 15 – 800 miles across 4 states to home

I didn’t plan to drive nearly 800 miles in a day, but that is what I did. I write this from home, where I slept last night. I have been writing this blog in the evenings, but last night I was pretty exhausted. This morning, I am sitting in my happy place, drinking coffee.

I didn’t leave the Secret Lodge Bed and Breakfast until 9:30 am, because I wanted to have breakfast! and it was satisfying, as was my stay there. The view is unbelievable.

The previous couple of days I had been looking around for a place to stop on my last night – I was thinking Baton Rouge area. But I had nothing, so decided to just drive until I got tired, and get a hotel. I set the google map to home, and headed south.

The weather was clear, the road was primarily straight, and with minimal stops for gas and bathroom, (I ate my leftover Mellow Mushroom pizza in the car as I drove) I found myself crossing the Mississippi in Baton Rouge at 5:30. I had two more hours of daylight, I felt good, and I kept going. By then, I was sure I would drive all the way. There were no sights I wanted to see except home and husband.

I drove straight towards a beautiful sunset, made even more so with the reflections off the water in the Atchafalaya Basin. No pictures except the images in my mind. I broke my rule about driving after dark, knowing that the rest of the way home was familiar territory on Interstate 10 to Houston. I entered Texas around 8 pm, and it was only 2 1/2 hours til home. I was sustained by apples from Massachusetts and cookies from Chattanooga.

I broke all records, mine anyway, on this drive. I hardly stopped except for necessities. The only other time I had driven a long way without stopping for a real sleep was when I drove my oldest daughter to Chicago to go to college, circa 2005. That distance is 1100 miles, and on the way back, I drove all night, stopping at rest areas for short naps. My youngest daughter was with me in the back seat, but way too young to drive. That was really just stupid. This time, I knew I would be home by 10:30, or I would have stopped.

The worse part of the drive was through the city. Had it been daytime, I would have taken more northern roads to avoid it, but it felt safer to be on the interstate after dark.

It was wonderful to be greeted by my loving husband, and sleep in my own bed. I have no pictures from the road yesterday, so here are some flowers blooming in my yard.