My better half

Most people are curious to know what Jason is up to during our travels, and I am ashamed to say that, until this point, I’ve failed to mention his endeavors. It’s easy to get caught up in my own experiences through all of this. If you would like to read up on his most recent musings, you can catch it on his blog here. I was a nurse for maybe six months before Jason started asking when we could start travel nursing. As a fledgling RN, when my hands still shook with every port access and IV start, I didn’t feel capable of venturing into a new environment every three months. I told him to give me some time to feel competent before I throw myself into that scenario. The biggest revelation I’ve had about myself is that I will always have areas to grow and learn. Originally, I would have said that I take a long time to learn new skills and feel comfortable, but with each assignment, I find I’m more at ease with hitting the ground running and learning as I go. That being said, I still show stress and frustration all over my face all the time…

You can't change a tiger's stripes...
You can’t change a tiger’s stripes…

Jason lacks the luxury of having everything in place for him upon arrival. He has to put himself out there with each new location in a way I never experience. I’ve seen him change his approach with each move, too. Now in our third locale, he hit the pavement right away and within two weeks, he secured two jobs teaching music through different schools/companies. As is the nature of all things extracurricular, they must fit around school and work, so although he doesn’t work many hours during the day,  he teaches lessons every single day. Much like my experiences, some days are better than others and he is also learning the pros and cons of each company. Last week while I lounged by the pool enjoying my day off, he struggled through an afternoon of teaching only boys. Really, the text he sent me is too hilarious not to share and this is more for posterity than anything.

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Of course this is all from my perspective, but it is obvious that after working manual labor and driving for Uber, Jason is much happier teaching on a regular basis. Some people are lucky enough that their talent and career seem to join together harmoniously. We should all be so lucky! I envy Jason that he started his career so much sooner than I did. That’s not to say teaching is the only thing he wants to do with his talents, but he clearly enjoys it- at least most of the time. He’s discovering new facets about his passion for music education with each new experience, just like I am. I was discussing the possibility of returning to school with my mother. I currently have no desire to return to school (the accelerated nursing program really took the ginger out of me there). Jason, however, would like to return to school, but he doesn’t know what he would return for. I realized that while I will likely need to return to school to further my career, Jason chose the school of hard knocks. He is learning, through trial and error. It doesn’t provide him with a masters degree, but it is shedding light on how he would or would not run his own business while perfecting his creative writing and building up his portfolio of compositions. He is a Renaissance Man through and through. 

Not that kind of Renaissance man…

 

I started this post with the intent of writing about California and our experiences thus far. But I have gone too long without acknowledging how lucky I am to have Jason here, and how much more challenging this journey is for him. So I’ll give you the brief:

 

  • California is breathtaking

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  • San Francisco is lots of fun and only an hour train ride awayIMG_20160213_152402774_HDR
  • There are bike lanes everywhere and lots of opportunities for outdoor adventure

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  • Palo Alto is super expensive and kind of hoity toity but we have some great neighbors
True....hence, funny
True….hence, funny
  • Mandated 45 minute lunches are the bomb-diggity. Being scheduled nearly every weekend because I’m a traveler is not. So the jury is still out on Lucile Packard.
  • I tried to get to the Pacific Northwest but both jobs I applied for didn’t work out. Long story, but it’s the third time Portland has screwed me over. I’m pretty sure I’m cursed.
    Hi, Portland! I meet all your requirements for this job and I think I would be a great...okay
    Hi, Portland! I meet all your requirements for this job and I think I would be a great…okay

     

Finally, since nothing else really popped up for me this month and my contract was coming up in May, we decided to stay in Palo Alto until June! Come visit. It’s lovely here.

Happy New Year to all and to all a good night!

My sister and her husband made a bet over whether or not Jason and I would actually leave Colorado after I started this contract. I’ll admit, it was a fair assumption that we wouldn’t want to leave. However, I’ve realized that part of the reason I haven’t written a blog post in some time is that I’ve been trying to think of a way to express my feelings without seeming ungrateful or just plain pessimistic. There are some realities about living in Colorado that I enjoy immensely and some that I didn’t expect. For those who don’t want to waste their time with trudging through my pretentious monologue about first world problems, I included pictures to sum it up. 

You're welcome
You’re welcome

 

Let’s start with finding an apartment. We tried AirBnB (which is what we did in Phoenix), thinking that it would be a lot easier to just find a furnished place in Denver rather than haul our stuff up to an apartment from our “storage unit” in my parents basement. This proved harder than we initially thought. Apparently, finding a place to live anywhere near Denver is hard and overpriced.

We almost found a place near downtown but this woman was charging a pretty hefty price for an “apartment” that was more like a room in a boarding house. When we tried haggling with her, she acted personally affronted that we would even suggest such a thing!

What I expected:

They had the best apartment!!
They had the best apartment!!

What actually happened:

Awwww snap...
Awwww snap…

In the end, thanks to our friend Jen, we found a great apartment close to the hospital that I could either bike or take the bus to work. My in-laws generously let us use their guest bedroom furniture so we didn’t have to rent it, and we just hauled a bunch of our kitchen stuff up from my parents’ place. Really, Colorado was the best location for us to have problems with finding housing. I mean, it’s not like we have a shortage of people we know here. But still, that lady was kind of a jerk.

I guess we dodged a bullet there...
I guess we dodged a bullet there…

 

Being back in Colorado means MOUNTAINS and I have been so happy to see them on the horizon, but once we started approaching Thanksgiving, spending time in the mountains was quickly replaced by spending time wistfully looking at the mountains and wishing I were spending more time there. What we really spent a lot of time dong on our weekends was driving. Usually to Colorado Springs….but at least the mountains were closer to look at there.

What I expected:

Sound of Music

What actually happened:

You speak truth, Bob Ross
You speak truth, Bob Ross

I was also disappointed to find that I didn’t love the job at Colorado Childrens. Please don’t misinterpret- everyone is welcoming, I still love what I do, and I feel very appreciated. But I started travel nursing to really challenge myself and expand my skills. Initially, this job did just that. I learned a lot about how different hospitals treat different types of cancer, sedation recovery, and how sickle cell is managed for patients at altitude. Then, something totally unexpected  happened….I got bored. I thought for sure I would love being back in an outpatient setting and feel more in my element, but I surprised even myself when I started watching the clock day by day. Granted, the flow is completely unpredictable in a way that it rarely is in the inpatient world. Some days I start by watching the clock and finish my day running around like a crazy person, but I couldn’t believe how slow some days went and how much I missed having an extra day off during the week. Working four days a week is HARD! I think Phoenix Children’s may have converted me to an inpatient nurse!

What I expected:

Boom! Let's do this...
Boom! Let’s do this…

What actually happened:

Oh my gerd it's only noon???
Oh my geeerrrddd it’s only noon???

I was super excited to be living so close to our families during the holidays, but what I didn’t expect was the amount of time we would be spending every weekend (and sometimes weekdays) at a family function. I always get a little stressed out during the holidays. Since our families live so close to one another, it’s important to me that our time is equally split. In the past, this stress is usually concentrated over 1-2 weeks. It never occurred to me that this stress would start at Thanksgiving and extend into Christmas. It also never occurred to me that the effects of it might turn me into Scrooge. Me. Buddy the Elf.

What I expected:

Buddy

What actually happened:

HUMBUG!!
HUMBUG!!

Let me perfectly clear- I don’t want it to seem like our families put any kind of pressure on us. I take full responsibility for stressing myself out. They were just excited that we were here, and we certainly didn’t want to say no to the opportunity to hang out with them. After all, we were finally close enough to visit every weekend!!  So that is what we did. From Thanksgiving to Christmas. Every weekend. 

So much driving
So much driving

I did try to extend my contract here at Colorado Children’s. I wanted to extend because I thought we could use another month to see if things settled into a normal routine after the holidays. I honestly can’t pinpoint exactly when I started to get bored in my job, but I do suspect that it happened right around the time I found out my they couldn’t extend me. Not getting my contract extended kind of threw me for a loop. It was hard for me to extract my feelings about my job performance from the fact that they simply did not need another traveler past the end of my contract.  I felt as though I was doing a good job and I wanted to believe that this would influence their decision. The reality is that hiring a travel nurse is expensive, and there is no point in keeping me if I’m not needed. The people that work there have been there for a while with no plans of leaving any time soon. The nurses that are on maternity leave will be coming back to work by the time my contract is up. Really, it’s a testament to the unit that everyone stays there as long as they do. 
I would be lying if I said I wasn’t disappointed. For all the stress of the holidays, we have really enjoyed living in Colorado. We just wanted more time to do all the things and see everyone. But…if there is anything I’ve learned this year is that all things must change in some way, shape or form. It’s time for us to move on to the next exciting location (more on that later)! As much as I wanted to do Christmas cards this year, I thought it more appropriate to do a picture montage of all the exciting changes we experienced and adventures we had in 2015. Interestingly enough, I found my feelings of gratitude, joy and love to be more profound during the New Year holiday than any other this season. Thank you to all who have been a part of this exciting year!

 

So much thanks

 

We’ve been in Colorado for about a month and though I would love to admit that we have spent all of our free time reveling in the beauty of the snow capped mountains, the truth is…well…we haven’t. Admittedly we did get a lot of good hiking in before the weather got cold but I have to hand it to my fellow travel nurse, Julia. She probably goes on a hike every single weekend and on most of her days off. That girl loves these mountains. I love them, too. I just also like to be warm.

Yep...I'm gonna pass on that hike...
Yep…I’m gonna pass on that hike…

The reality is, Julia’s family is back in Georgia and most of our family is here, which, as predicted, has the propensity to eat up a lot of our free time. I say “eat up” in the best possible way- as one might relish a particularly rich piece of chocolate cake. Not to mention, a lot of this free time has circulated around the holidays so obviously family takes precedence at those times. This has been the first day that I haven’t had something planned with friends or family so I am using my time as wisely as I can- to update other friends and family.

Our parents and siblings have been so happy to have us in the same state and they have capitalized on every moment they can. I can’t really tell if this is what life would be like if we lived here, but I really have to hand it to our family, they drive a hard bargain. Here’s just a few examples of the wonderful things we’ve been able to share with our family…

 

Hiking Stanley Canyon, which I haven’t done for at least 9 years and is my absolute favorite hike in Colorado Springs.

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Celebrating my nephew’s birthday for the FIRST TIME,  which happens to be Halloween…which means we had to dress up as Batman villains to go with the costume theme…which also means we got to go trick or treating together.

Because a Batman party isn't complete without TWO Riddlers...
Because a Batman party isn’t complete without TWO Riddlers…

Spending some quality time with my niece who is so cute it hurts. Just try not to fall in love with her. I dare you…    

Ahh! That face! I just can't...
Ahh! That face! I just can’t…

 

Taking my nephew to see The Lion King on stage at The Buell Theatre (birthday present). AMAZING!

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Of course we haven’t been without some quality time with our friends!  We’ve had so much fun with Adam and Jen who are expecting in January, you can tell Adam really enjoys our bonding time:

The sun! It burnses!!
The sun! It burnses!!

I also got the chance to see my roommate from senior year at Gonzaga, whom I have not seen for at least 5 years! She happened to be in town for a conference and we were able to get together at the oh so famous Rio Grande for margaritas and revelry. It was as if no time had past at all and yet life had changed us both so profoundly. I love it when that happens.

Good times..good times
Good times..good times

 I haven’t even mentioned the job! I was lucky enough to be included in the Halloween festivities at the Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders. Colorado Children’s holds a costume competition every year and apparently it is serious business Check out the pics from our Candyland theme!

One of MANY reasons I love pediatrics...
One of MANY reasons I love pediatrics…

Needless to say, the last month has been busy, but so, so fun. Full of joy, family, friends and GREAT beer. We have so much to be thankful for.