Incarceration Status

Do you know how hard it is to convince someone you are not incarcerated after you accidentally told them you were? I do. In February I realized my pre requisites for the lpn to rn program were due to expire in the coming year. I made the choice to reapply to school and finish what I started before I lost it all. I don’t have the money to do this, one course cost me approximately $900-$1500 and that doesn’t include tuition. My single income household with 3 growing children cannot survive an expense like that. So I applied for financial aid. Two weeks ago I got the news that my prayers had been answered and financial aid would be provided!

I started making preparations for what is to come. I turned my resignation in for my beloved wound care position and requested to work the weekends. I enrolled in my courses, sought out the different options for my end result career, looked at pre med and clinical research options in case that is where I end up, and then I completed some final questions for my financial aid. Unbeknownst to me I made a small error that turned into a big problem! I plead insanity. I was in a pure state of delirium having worked the night shift before and misread a question that asked if I was currently incarcerated. I answered yes.

What the…

My financial aid came to an abrupt halt with red bleeding all over my beautiful white application. I tried to explain to the financial aid advisor that I was not in jail and that I thought the question asked “are you willing to go to jail?”… to which she wanted to know why I was willing to go to jail. Listen lady I’ll do whatever it takes at this point, don’t judge me.

After I repeatedly stated my claim to confinement was indeed false, I finally found a way to resolve my error. It will take some time and I had to pay out of pocket for this semester but it will be a memory for the books.

If I need to go to jail to finish school then so be it!

In the midst of all the confusion I said a prayer that God would help me be prepared for what is to come. Not even 5 minutes later my mom walks in my front door with a huge black duffel bag. She says it’s a 3 day survival kit for 5 people. She got it for me in case I ever have to make a quick get away. While I may have done a belly laugh, I have always fantasized about having to make a quick get away so I enjoyed it. Then I thought back to my prayer and did a double take at the heavens questioning what God has in store for this next adventure of mine. This story is to be continued…

My get away bag!

New beginnings everyday

My eyebrows look angry today. The lack of self care this week does not make for a grand entrance into the new year. The emphasis put on holidays annoys me anyhow. They are just days. You can make goals more than once a year. You can surprise your loved ones with gifts anytime. Turkey can be cooked on a Monday. Dress up as a witch this Saturday and eat Chinese take out, it’s not illegal. I’m not sure about celebrating Independence Day in February. There may be a law about explosives that I’m not familiar so do your research before you go rogue. I didn’t make New Years goals. I have different goals every week. No need to add something drastic to my plate.

I enjoy seeing everyone’s Facebook post about the changes they plans to make the new year. Why they didn’t start before? Probably because there’s an emphasis put on dates. It’s nuts. “You can not become a better person until January 1st”. That is not a law people. If it was I’d be thrown in the chokey for starting on my baking goal weeks ago. That is going to be a long standing goal. I have successfully stopped burning everything I bake however the cookies and biscuits I made yesterday do not taste divine. My daughter took a bite of one of the cookies I made last night. She said “it’s good mom,” as she threw the rest away. My ex husband also stopped at cookie number one. I’ve known him for 15 years, if he likes food he will devour it in one sitting. So the baking goal continues.

At least they look pretty

Most of the things I’m reading this morning involve a reflection of the year. The people you’ve gained in your life or the accomplishments you’ve had. But no one talks about the failures or the losses. These things are just as important. The way you respond to failure and loss will build your character and create a better you. When I reflect on this year we have just completed I only go back to May. That’s when I made a big change for myself and I don’t want to see the bad before that. But that’s part of it and I’m proud that I was strong enough to say that I want a better life. There is no greater feeling than to be in control of your own life. This year I’m in control of mine and I feel free. I’m going to go enjoy my freedom at work now, hasta la vista. Happy New Year.

I have grumpy days

About 8 months ago I felt so overwhelmed with my responsibilities. I felt no matter how hard I swam I couldn’t seem to keep my head above water. Just drowning day after day, working, thinking about work from home, thinking about home from work. An endless cycle of torment. I work out of town, about 45 minutes from my house. When I get in these overwhelming moods I tend to scroll the classified ads and apply for the most ridiculous jobs. I applied to be a chef for nascar… if you’ve seen my kitchen fiascos then you understand what I mean by ridiculous. I also applied for the army, to be an online psychic, and even the coffee queen of another country. Apparently you need a passport for that last one and I didn’t qualify. I always look for the jobs that are impossible to get without an immense amount of experience. It’s like playing the lottery with my career, which is my kind of fun. I scrolled passed an ad one morning for a wound care nurse position closer to home and thought oh wow something realistic that I could actually do to eliminate some of my stress.

I went for an interview and listened to what they were looking for in a wound care nurse. I told them what my current responsibilities were and how I managed things in my current position and watched as their eyes lite up. Hired right on the spot. But something was said that took me back a step, they said I might be bored because it was a smaller facility and they don’t see the kind of wounds I’m used to dealing with. That’s what I was looking for right? A reduction in responsibility so that I could stay afloat. Then why did that seem off to me? I kept those words in my back pocket and talked with my current boss about taking the position closer to home. She told me I could do this if I really wanted to but to take sometime and think about why I started working here in the first place. I don’t know about you but I take all advice seriously.

I went home, pulled out a notebook, and started jotting down what I loved about my job. I began to reminisce about when I was first hired. It was one of those ridiculous jobs I had applied for. I had no experience. I remember bringing up bandaids in my interview like that gave me some sort of wound care expertise. I also remember praying that I would get this job, and bartering with God that if I did then I would stick with it and do the best I could. I thought about how far I have came, the experience I’ve gained, the knowledge that I’ve obtained in my few short years. The only reason I was able to get that light up eye effect from the new job interviewers is because my current job has prepared me for it. They provided training and education, everything I had asked for, a wound care tech, paid conferences, readily available supplies, if I need it then I have no problem getting it. My brother works as a nurse for another facility and he has told me countless times how lucky I am to have the supplies readily available. I didn’t realize that was a privilege. They have to order the cheapest thing available and if they want something expensive it has to be approved and fought for… now isn’t that something. I didn’t know any different, I don’t have to ask my superiors to order supplies. If it’s the best treatment for my patient then that’s what I get. If we can reduce healing time then doesn’t that save money in the long run?

With all these thoughts rolling around in my head I came to the conclusion that I wasn’t ready to throw in the towel and move on to the quiet life. I enjoy the fast pace environment, I enjoy learning new things, and having a facility that will provide me with the things I need to try new treatments. I’m not done growing as a nurse. Something I’ve gained from this experience 8 months ago is to slow down during my grumpy days and change my prayers. Instead of asking God to reduce my responsibilities to meet my abilities, I have started asking God to increase my abilities to meet my responsibilities. I’ve learned that grumpy days are okay, but don’t let those days turn into weeks, or months. Change it. Have fun at work. We spend a big majority of our lives in our careers, make it something you enjoy! As for me I enjoy learning and when I feel I can no longer do that then I’ll pack my bags and move along. By the way if you aren’t familiar with the discovery of penicillin, look it up. By far the coolest thing I’ve learned this week! I want Alexander Fleming’s lab coat. The falls nurse and I have been inspired to create a similar experiment for our skills fair coming up and it is going to be fantastic!

A little something I made fun at work! It’s a scavenger hunt I set up for my wound techs Christmas present!

Dear elf on the shelf, I hate you.

I did the elf on the shelve one year for my kids. I thought it would be a fun time for the kids, so I Pinterest all the fun things to do and went through the motions. I hated it. Every. Single. Day. I hated it. Just call me Mr. Grinch. I hid the little doll and pretended it had to rotate families each year so it could visit all the kids. I even went as far as saying that Santa already made his list out and the elf only visits those people who aren’t on the nice list yet. I thought I got away with it too. Sleeping in every day. Minding my own business, wrapping my own gifts. Then it happened. My mom took my kids shopping this weekend and the smallest kid returned with a new elf.

I side barred my mom and told her I hated that stupid elf. That there was no way I could have that manic in my house again, it gets in all my stuff and leaves me exhausted throughout the holiday. It’s as bad as being married again, no thanks. “We already bought it.” Mom said. 😫. My oldest daughter happily joined the side bar and assumed responsibility for this elf. Fine. I’ve watched Kali night after night arrange this elf better than I ever could. The little girls run out every morning searching for it and giggling after the mischief. I still don’t like the elf but I love seeing the girls happy and Kali enjoys doing it so it’s a win, win in my book. Until one morning when I didn’t see it. Scared the butter right out of me. Literally. I dropped my toast and the elf went tumbling, the girls crying and me apologizing to Santa. Ah, the holidays are right on track.

This morning I woke to find the elf in the same place. I thought, oh Kali forgot to move it. I went to move the thing. As I got closer I noticed a letter:

There’s a strategy I haven’t thought of!

Kali is a smart kid. Using the elf to control the other kids… genius. She sounds like a mini mom. I love it. I can’t wait to wake her up this morning and give her smiling secret eyes that say, “now you know, now you know why I hate this elf business hahaha”. Both younger girls have already visited the elf this morning and promised to be in bed earlier tonight. Genius. Maybe the elf will disappear again next year, maybe Kali will keep this going, who knows. As for now, I’m enjoying this delegated responsibility of maintaining the elf from a distance. This probably doesn’t align with my goals of being one of those cookie cutter moms but we all knew I’d never reach that status anyways so I’m cool with it.

Emotional For Education

I know what you’re thinking ‘Tinman actually has a heart’. I’m not your typical crier. I didn’t know I could do that for the longest time. Growing up I thought, “well maybe I’m a psychopath because I don’t cry at funerals or when babies are born”. My oldest daughter told me once that I needed to sit in a quiet room with a lit candle and try to turn my emotions on… I think she was joking but maybe not. I’ve seen other nurses at the station after a code balling their eyes out, I feel it too girl but it’s not coming out of my eyes.

Today I cried a little, like in front of people. It was weird. I was only talking about education, how important it was and how learning from someone with wisdom is much better than learning by mistake. The more I explained it, I felt the wetness under my eyelids no matter how hard I tried to stare at the ceiling. A work pal started to cry just watching me cry… she must be an empath. My middle child is an empath.

I do have an emotional bond with education. I love learning, anything and everything. I didn’t have the privilege to attend high school. I worked hard to get into nursing school after I got my GED. I had failed my entrance exam into nursing school, studied harder and made it in, only to end up in a car accident during the final semester of school… I went to the school in my wheelchair and was told I couldn’t attend because I couldn’t complete my nursing responsibilities. Once I was able to walk again I had to start all over, entrance exam and all.

I cannot explain to you how much I cherish education. I study everyday. Not in school or for any sort of college credit, just for me and my patients. Come to think of it the last time I cried was watching a movie. It was called the boy who harnessed the wind. He wants to go to school so badly and his father can’t afford it so he sneaks into school everyday, sneaks in the library, he gets caught eventually and man oh man does my face end up flooded with tears every time! That movie is based on a true story. I think people often forget that education is mandatory in our country but in others it’s considered a privilege.

Today I was teaching about preventative skin care. I added some show and tell to the mix because that has always been my favorite way to learn.

Check out how that fake urine beads up and rolls off the skin!

I do this once a month and it always gets the “ooooow… awwwww” effect. It really clicks seeing the difference you can make. This is information provided for free! Learn from wisdom, from the experience of the people before you. We rely heavily on that in the medical field. I can describe nothing worse than learning by mistake in this field. It happens, sometimes you do the best you can, the best you know to do, and it’s still not enough. Later down the road you may learn the answer to that problem and wish you had that knowledge before. It will rip your heart string in half, sure you will learn, you’ll never forget that one time you should’ve done this instead of that. But when the information is there, when it’s provided to prevent those nightmares of “learning by mistake” take it!

By the way I didn’t cry while teaching. If that’s what you were thinking.

To the soon to be new mother

You’ve got the glow. Everything is exciting and it should be. The veterans wants to give you their opinions and tell you what you need to prepare yourself. You haven’t hit the nesting stage yet, you’re still in the honeymoon phase. I can tell because I just read your baby registry and there are multiple car seats, pack and plays, cribs, themes. I’ve always withheld giving my opinion, usually I’ll just give an eye roll at the other veterans who tune in and want to tell you exactly what products they used to care for their little one and that it’s the “right way”. Don’t believe that trash. The right way to do it will be the way you do it. I do however want to tune in to your baby registry and give you some dos and donts to save your nesting self from your honeymoon self. Go ahead and open that registry, look at the car seats (do this on both your registry’s), decide which one you want and eliminate the others. This may be the part where you post on Facebook asking why people like them or their opinions, I don’t have an opinion on that… as long as the baby has a car seat that is safe then kudos. Next do the same with the cribs, and the pack and plays.

You can’t see it but I’m panicked, I forgot to pack nail clippers and she had already started scratching that sweet face up!

Now let’s chat about the bottle and pacifiers, I see you’ve got multiple brands. Pick one. Preferably one that will provide gas relief, they will be more expensive. You can go with the cheaper brands but you’ll have to add manual labor and time in its place because you’ll have to burp the air the bottle doesn’t filter out of your babies tummy. I don’t know about you but my time is more valuable than money. You may think why do I have to pick one? Because these little babies are picky suckers, literally. Once you give them a bottle or pacifier, that’s the one they will want forever and if you want to change brands revisit my sentence that talks about manual labor and time. You will have to rock and soothe the little addict as they make the transition for days sometimes weeks. Some will not even attempt to eat if the nipple isn’t right and then you’ve got a hungry addict on top of that. Again do your nesting self a favor and narrow down that baby registry to the brand of bottles and pacifiers you want and add multiples of the same brand. Look at the nipples on the bottles and pacifiers and try to match them… trickery will be your saving grace while you prep those 2am bottles.

Took me until the 3rd kid to realize the same bottle brand was the key to a happy meal for baby

The honeymoon phase isn’t all bad for your registry. Go crazy on the clothes and sizes, add all the diapers you want, wipes, the decor and neat little inventions mankind has created for the new babe. Those are the things where it’s okay to be extra, but when it comes to the essentials know what you need so those things get taken care of first. As a veteran myself, I, like I’m sure other moms do, look at the essentials that are still left on the registry and then go from there. That’s hard for me to do if I see multiples of the essentials on your registry so narrow it down momma! This will be your greatest adventure yet, let me help you prepare for it 😊.

It’s would be a good idea to remember all these things are temporary. Buying the most expensive brands and products should only come into play when it is beneficial to your child’s wellbeing, like gas relief bottles and car seats that are safe. Sure we all want the stylish outfits and accessories but they only last a season, choose where you spend your money wisely because unexpected cost WILL arise when your child gets sick, loses their bottle, diapers, the formula you use and have stocked could be the wrong brand for the babe and you may not produce enough breast milk, etc… so keep those hidden cost in mind when you want to splurge on the expensive nonessentials. Like the baby baths… non essential. A towel in the tub with a little water works way better than any bath and your child will never out grow it. Of course these are just my opinions and I’m a frugal mom so to each his own.

My brother Jo and I were talking about my skills one time so that I could start a business. I asked him what he thought I was really good at and he drew a blank… he finally said, “the only thing I think you are really great at is being a mom”. I could’ve been offended by that, as I value my other creative skills, but if being a great mom is my top skill then that is possibly the best compliment I have ever received! I am here for you if you need generalize advice but if you come at me with monogrammed momma problems then insert eye roll here and move along.

There’s uncle Jo!

NANNY MCPHEE WOULDN’T LIKE THIS

I love how my parents always made me feel free. I know right now if we were able to pick our own parents before this life that I would have picked mine over anyone else on this planet. They always made us kids feel like we could do anything we wanted as long as it was legal and not too dangerous and even then during the teenage years we walked on the edge of that line. I never realized how amazing the feeling of freedom was until I went through relationships and roommates and such that had rules and regulations… those are the worst. I don’t like rules. I don’t like waking up and feeling like ‘this is what you have to do today, and this is how you have to do it’. Have you ever heard that phrase, “choose your battles” when raising your children? My parents were experts at this. They didn’t focus on a military uniformed household, they instead chose to step in when it came to our safety. I could’ve woke up in the morning at 10 years old and decided, ‘I think I’ll give my wardrobe a make over’, start painting my shirts, cutting my sleeves, bedazzling my shoes… and my parents would’ve smiled and told me it was interesting. Mind you if I didn’t like my artistic work, I would’ve had to live with it because we only went shopping for clothes once a year haha. And that is something I have actually done.

When I would tell my friends at school some of my daily activities their mouths would drop open and they would say things like, “your parents let you do that?”. Well yeah… I mean I didn’t ask, but I didn’t get in trouble either. My 7 siblings and I used to do all sorts of things that you’d probably bust your kids hind end for. We used to make biscuit dough and throw it against the chimney to see who could get theirs to stick the highest, play volley ball inside, collect random animals, cut each other’s hair, paintball and firework wars, build forts and zip lines, make a slip and side in the kitchen floor with dish soap and water, carry our mattresses outside and jump through the windows onto them… you know things that would give your parents nightmares. Nanny McPhee would’ve needed some extra magic to subdue us. I didn’t feel like I ever had a bedtime. I didn’t feel like I needed permission to go out into the woods or walk to the neighbors. I didn’t ask if friends could come over or if I could have this dog I found. Sure we had chore lists and the consequences for our actions came from themselves and not my parents, like cutting our own hair was humiliating, no need for further punishment there, or having the chore of cleaning a room we just massacred. The freedom of choice did not come with the freedom of consequence but I’m glad my parents allowed us to learn from our own mistakes instead of forcing us to learn from theirs.

Perhaps it’s why I live the way I live now. Spontaneous trips and random projects. Creative and free. I planned to spend this week in Salem learning about the witch trials, only my flyer mile points don’t come in until the end of the week… meh. So instead we decided to visit with family and do a road trip, which at the last minute turned into a trip to the smokies. I don’t mind what we do, as long as my girls and I can spend time together, I’m sure we will make whatever we do interesting. I’ve been to the smokies countless times, that’s one of the reasons it wasn’t my first choice. I don’t want to relive the same vacation time and time again. I’m an adventurer. I need to explore and do new things. Then I started thinking, we don’t have to stay in the same cabin/hotel, eat the same breakfast and have the same vacation just because it’s the same place we’ve been before… we can do something different in this place. I’ve asked my sister in law who is meeting me there to brace herself for what we are about to do. It will push her comfort zone to the limits… it will test our survival skills… it will be glorious. It is camp grits. Our home away from home for the week.

Isn’t it lovely?

The girls and I will start our journey today and Tonia will join us tomorrow. Gives us an entire day to set up booby traps to keep things interesting for when the gang arrives. The facilities are probably my favorite part, you have to ask the host in advance to bath in this bath tub that’s out in the woods… that way they can light a fire to warm the bath water 😂. Stay tuned for an update on how to not only take a last minute trip with your family but how to do it on a budget! The total cost for this beauty is less than what the average nightly rate is in the Pigeon forge/Gatlinburg area. Even with the added cost of bug spray and fire wood! Let the adventure begin.

Manager of Time

I think if you got a bunch of nurses together we could all write a book on how to accomplish the impossible everyday. Each day when we come into work there seems to be an overwhelming list of task to accomplish. Any sane person would take a blink and say, “um no, can’t finish that all today you crazy”. And trust me, we say it too. Except we don’t walk away, it’s like our brains are wired to say these things and then rebound with internal reverse psychology and say okay watch me get it done!

Recently, I’ve had this calm feeling overtake my normal manic state of mind. My wound tech says she doesn’t like it hahaha. She says I’m too serious and it’s weird. I guess my serious face looks like a mad face. Probably. I took a short break from work to collect myself and it’s like this invisible blanket of patience has been wrapped around me. Perhaps I’ve brainwashed myself with all the meditation. I am one person. I can accomplish one thing at a time. I have one million things to do.

One thing I’ve noticed when tackling a long list of to dos is that when I take a step back and focus on one small task at a time, crossing it off, that the bigger things seem to check themselves off as I go. Completing a bunch of smalls will eliminate some of the bigs.

I guess it’s easy to get overwhelmed when you can’t make it to clock in before being stopped for another task. When you can’t make it to one patient without being stopped by another. Adding more to your case load before you’ve accomplished the heavy one you already have. I used to round with my mom at the hospital when she would visit her patients and thought how incredibly awesome it was that people would stop her in the hallway to tell her something else going on. It looked exciting, like this woman is important and people go to her with their problems. I find myself parking in the most reclusive entrance to work, slithering in a side door, holding my hand up saying, “whoa I’m not clocked in, give me a minute”. My moms a good woman. It only gets overwhelming if you continue to stare at the big picture. Focus on a small task and work from there. Everyday. Even when it’s not work related, like tidying up your house or going back to school. You are one person. Do one thing at a time, and go from there. Everything else will fall into place.

With love, from a seasoned overwhelmed manager of time.

P.s. For extra encouragement listen to One step at a time by Jordan Sparks… works every time.