Dating a Seminarian

I entered a new frontier the past summer – I’m “in a relationship.” But as this requires as much adjustment and introspection as being single, don’t think that my blog has suddenly lost its purpose.

Yep, you heard me, being single – a content single – requires as much introspection and processing as dating someone.

Anyway, my boyfriend is an Orthodox Seminary graduate. With my involvement over at Orthogals, it was suggested that I write an advice feature on dating a seminarian. Since this would involve his life, I ran the idea past him. The conversation:

Me: So, the Orthogals are wondering if I can write a feature on dating a seminarian. What do you think?
Him: Um, I don’t think that’s a good idea.
Me: (seeing his reticence and suddenly being aware of the personal nature of it) On second thought, maybe not.
Him: Actually, let me give you my advice for dating a seminarian – DON’T.
Me: Yeah, if people actually look at the demands life will have on that family, they wouldn’t seek it out.

Later, I was chatting with my priest about life and how mine was shaping up. In hearing that my relationship involved a seminarian, my priest offered his wife as a resource to me. Of note, Preoteasa is the Romanian equivalent to the Arabic Khouria and Russian Matushka – all are terms of respect for the priest’s wife. In my parish, it has been abbreviated to “P’sa.” The conversation as follows:

Me: Your husband volunteered you as a source of advice for me.
P’sa: Oh? For what?
Me: Dating a seminarian.
P’sa: Run. Run FAR away. 

So, ladies, there you have it from both the potential priest and the wife of one – don’t seek out that position and enter with caution if you do get called.

 

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To The Babies I Held on My Birthday

Obstetrics clinical rotations began this past week. Day 2 was Wednesday, July 17 – my 31st birthday. Here’s what I was thinking that day.

Dear Little Ones,

Welcome to the outside world. The past week was filled with a lot of change for you. You are still dependent on your mother for nutrition and warmth, but you are now breathing on your own. And this time it’s air, not amniotic fluid. Your heart and lungs have gone through intense change and you are still causing your mom hormone and physical changes in this post-partum period. Your dad, while not new to this, is still in awe and thankful that the both of you are safe.

You didn’t know it and probably never will, but I took care of you on my birthday. 31 years ago, I was the new bundle of joy. I’ve seen pictures but time fades colors in the pre-digital photography era. I have to wonder if my face looked like a model for a porcelain doll and if my lips were perfect cherry red as yours are. As I held you, I didn’t mourn that I have yet to push a new human out of my abdomen. I was overwhelmed with a distinct sense of hope for you and wonder.

What delights will you bring your parents? How will you and that big brother I saw earlier get along? Will you color on the walls or play in the mud? Will you break hearts or have your heart broken? What will you be so passionate about that could help your corner of the world?

I hope sincerely that you will not disappoint others, but you are human, therefore you will. Thus, I hope more that you learn to ask for forgiveness and extend it. I hope you are able to see Truth and want it for you and others.

As I hear the news of what the world is throwing us – the suffering isn’t new but you are. May your eyes be opened gently so you don’t see too much at once, yet just enough that you are able to have compassion and help as you can.

It is wonderful to look upon you just being you. Content that your needs are met.

Thank you for that gift of seeing life simply when it is complex. My only regret is that I can’t tell you this for when you’ll remember nor can I leave your parents a note – that would just be creepy.

May the Lord have mercy on you daily.

Your Student Nurse

And in case you, the reader, are wondering, here’s from 31 years ago:

laurababy

Linkage

I’ve been writing some over at Orthogals, which is taking time away from posts here.

As you can tell, something has to give between nursing school, blogging, and cleaning the kitchen and bathroom. For now, it’s blogging. When I can hire a cleaning lady – watch out!!

Anyway, here is my most recent post on dating life.

Blessed All Saints Day, Orthodox folks. And to those on the Old/Julian Calendar, enjoy a shortened Apostles’ Fast since those of us Newbies don’t have one.

Bullied: Part 1

Do you remember the first time you saw yourself in the mirror and finally had a shred of hope that you just might be physically attractive and desirable? That you were not the despicable and horrible human that others kept saying you were for so long?

It was the summer I turned 15; my family had moved back to Kansas the previous year after 6 ½ in South Dakota. While I had a minor disappointment with a boy the past year, I had been getting some attention from others and had successes in extra-curricular activities about my confidence. I was uncertain on what to do with compliments. If I said “Thank you,” I feared I would look like a snob, but if I ignored them, it would be rude. I think I usually stammered or tried to shrug things off.

It was a day I had very little planned. I was still in my PJs at the breakfast table when my brother came from the basement. He thought I was wearing a casual sundress for the day and is a pretty cool guy when it comes to his sisters. He asked, “Where did you get that dress?” in the way that men from my family say with uncertainty on how to word a compliment, yet in a way that the women know the men noticed.

“Um, Jeff, these are my PJs.”

Him: “Oh.”

After that comment and finishing breakfast, I walked back to my room to change into my real clothes for the day. At the end of the short, narrow hallway was an oval mirror. I caught a glimpse I had never considered before. It wasn’t an imaginary catwalk to my room, or a trial run of how I would saunter through The Mall. Just enough of a second glance to where I could say, “Maybe I’m not fat and ugly.” My self-esteem and self-perception were still hovering above empty, but there was something about those 10 feet down the hall that gave me hope. Not everyone was out to be better than me. My obvious features of height and hips were not necessarily a negative. And maybe my acne-prone face and shoulders weren’t as horrible as others made it seem.

I still had plenty of emotional breakdowns between that moment and now. I still considered shopping a war and personal assault. The number on the size was all-important as to how I felt about myself for the next month or so.  Some hurts have scabbed over, yet I’m reminded of their scars at the most random times. Just when I think that I’ve answered all the questions and satiated the emotional holes left from my middle school years, the emptiness slinks in the cracks on bad days.

The mid-90s seemed more concerned with sexual harassment and whether or not kids knew about HIV transmission. The line between “kids being kids” and bullying had not gotten the attention of the past 10 years. Sometimes I wonder how I would feel if I could have stood up for myself in the schoolyard. What if one day I would have just punched someone in the face? What if I could sue for the therapy bills not covered by insurance? What if I had taken a few more sick days or convinced my parents to get me out of that school?

What happened cannot be changed. But I have hope. Not because I saw myself as pretty one summer day, half my life ago.

Because I’m learning to forgive people that I will never see again and who will never know how deeply their words cut to my heart. Because I can look at the world around and know that God created things that are good. Because I am to look and myself and say that I am the chief of sinners and forgive others’ trespasses, debts, and sins.

It is not easy, nor should anyone be demanded to produce these results overnight. Be filled with Truth to combat the lies. That is the first step. The other steps will follow, but always seek Truth.

It still happens in your 30s…

I’m in my early 30s and still “open to a relationship.”

This past weekend, I had my first Skype conversation with a man I’d been introduced to online (via friends – you don’t always have to go through a site to be online dating, I guess.) This means that we enjoyed each other’s written words and recent pictures enough that the conversation warranted the next step: the video chat. Anyway, we had been emailing back and forth for a few weeks, and our respective schedules had finally cleared up to where we set the time.

The day of said Skype date, you want to know what happened? No, massive storms and internet outages didn’t occur. No catastrophes.

I developed a painful pimple on my chin.

When I felt it brewing the night before, I just had to chuckle. Seriously? The stuff that plagues you as a teenager the day before Prom still happens before a first date in your 30s???

Thankfully, Skype doesn’t always have the best of pictures, so a little make-up went a long way. But you want to know the other funny thing about having your first coffee date over the interwebs (other than it being Dutch treat?)… you only have to look good from waist up! Thank you bare feet and cooperative hair!

It was a good conversation. Enough that there are to be more in the future. In the mean time, I guess I’m going to dig out my benzol peroxide and keep looking for the ultimate face wash.

Criticism and Failure

The past two months, I’ve had a multitude of opportunities to fail and/or receive criticism in various situations. Work, school, home…and on really good days, I have received it in more than one place!

failureI do wish I actually had some words of wisdom to pass along for those of you who feel down due to your professional or personal shortfalls. Wouldn’t it be lovely if, in the multitude of personality inventories, we were also given hints on how we best receive confrontation and others noticing our flaws.

The word “failure” seems so final. Maybe because it’s associated with tests and information that you’ll never see again. You have no other opportunity to prove yourself capable. Situations are eased if you can call something a flaw, short-coming, fault – but never failure.

Some things, such as burnt cookies, I can look at and say, “It’s fixable. No one got hurt.” But if I make a mistake at work, I might not be told about it in front of a patient, but I do have to make it right and go back in their room to do whatever is needed. Or I need to come back later and fix charting, etc.  And it always seems that all my mistakes happen with one patient or one nurse each shift.

Then there’s school. I have yet to “bomb” a test, but there have been many times that I did not process the material well enough to get the grade I wanted. Or I didn’t do my paperwork well enough. There’s definitely an internal pressure that I have to make nursing work. I should be a good nurse. Good nurses are good students. Well, I haven’t exactly felt like a stellar student this semester. I love the patient interaction. I loathe the books. But I need the books to improve my patient interaction.

And at home, when I’m forgetful of my jobs and duties, I want to make excuses or cower in my room, fearful of others’ disapproval until I can prove that I am responsible. Well, at least until the next time I royally screw up.

With both self-imposed and other-imposed expectations, it’s been rather rough. Then to top it off, my finals week coincided with Holy Week. Great. Now I’m academically and spiritually mediocre.

I needed Pascha. Not just so Lent and the fasting could end. Rather, I needed to reminder that everyone needs to come to Pascha. The point of Pascha is to celebrate our Hope that Christ has Risen, He has defeated Death. No one, not even the strictest of monastics “does Lent well.” Regardless of your short-comings, your faults, your lack of virtue or sense, your failures – you come and receive the light.

I fear how many times I will need this lesson re-taught to me. Yet, thankful that God’s grace and mercy will be a constant presence as I am criticized or as I fail. It won’t be pretty. It will never give me a feeling of “Joyous day that I am told how I let someone down!” But I’ll take what I need to the cross and rest in the Hope of Christ.

My other projects

Some friends and I recently began another blog, and I finally wrote my first post!

More fun to come on TRS, but nursing school has been kicking my rear along with all the new orientation classes at my hospital job.

My 30s

The narcissist in me likes to see how people find TRS. It amazes me that months after I posted 100 Things to do in your Twenties, people still hop over here because they Google similar phrases.

Well, as of the middle of July 2012, I was 30. I pouted for a week or so before; I lamented that marriage and babies were not mine, yet. But I also feel as though I had some new things coming. A life that was not finished being lived. And an urge to tell those entering their 20s that birthdays are milestones, not grave markers.

So, while not as extensive, epic, or entertaining – here are some things to do in your 30s. Take them, leave them, tailor them to yourself. Whatever you do, live a rich life.

  1. Learn about insurance beyond your car. If you own a home, you probably have home owners insurance – great. For those who rent: renters’ insurance should run about $10-15 per month. $120/year is a small price to pay in the event your apartment or rental house goes up in flames. What about health insurance? Life insurance? Somehow, our generation will pay for extended warranties and insurance on our phones, stereos and other electronics, but we won’t pay a few bucks per month to cover our burial expenses if we die from an accident. Learn what insurance you need and is a good expense (disability, renters, etc.) and which is a scare tactic (mortgage).
  2. Build retirement savings. A little now turns into a lot later. I would like for Social Security (if my generation even gets that in 30 years!) to be my play money, not my utility bill money.
  3. Learn a language where you could survive a day of touring the country on your own – German and Greek are the front runners for me. Then again, Church Slavonic, Romanian, or Arabic wouldn’t hurt either. We’ll see.
  4. Go visit the United States (or other places in your country of residence). South Carolina is at the top of my list as my brother lives a block from the beach – tour guides and place to stay…Win! I also want to tour the West Coast. I keep meeting people from the PNW and California. I’d love to see Napa Valley, the Pacific Ocean, and ride a San Francisco trolley.
  5. Save a few thousand for future education endeavors. Whether it’s continuing education for your job, a nifty conference, or a class at a community college – put some money aside and deduct it from your taxes that year.
  6. Spend time with the next generation. This might be your own child(ren), niece(s)/nephew(s) or young child of a close friend or Godchild. Find something that lets said child know they are loved and appreciated. This doesn’t always have to be an expensive gift. A friend of mine always takes out her nieces on their birthday and buys them a classic book. Once, I took a friend’s daughter out to tea. I try to send my nieces and nephew a birthday card and Valentine’s day gifts. I’m still getting to know my Goddaughter, but if I see a little something that she might like or can carve out time to be at a school program, I oblige. There’s no way I can be the aunt/godmother that I would like to be with distance a big factor. But remember how awesome it was to get mail when you were little? Exactly.
  7. Learn to forgive.
  8. Seek out mentors – personal, professional, etc. Pursuing excellence is an accomplishment in and of itself.
  9. Read a book or two from high school English that you muddled through on the Cliff’s Notes. If you devoured everything from English, get a math book and work a few algebra problems or geometry proofs. Or grab a science book and work a chemistry conversion or rediscover the biology classifications (Kingdom, phyla, order, etc.)
  10. Budget. Save and pay cash for your next car. Work a plan to get out of debt and stay that way. (I recommend Dave Ramsey as a resource, but there are plenty of others out there.)
  11. Conquer a fear whether rational or irrational.
  12. Get some updated photos by a professional photographer. Find someone who goes with your personal style. If you’re like me and don’t have engagement or wedding photos, get some good head shots with a kick. I did this recently in January – partly because I needed some pictures for professional and outside interests, and also because it’s fun.
  13. Volunteer with an under-served population. TRS recommends finding an organization that serves those who are homeless, those who have a mental illness, or those who have a disability. Break your stereotypes surrounding a population with which you have nothing in common.
  14. Love others where they are at.

Any other suggestions, thirty-somethings?

We survived.

Dear officially single ladies/men,

Well, we made it through another Valentine’s Day.

Some of us tried to ignore the day all together. We didn’t wear red or pink. We limited our exposure to anything that eked of romance, love, or for that matter, kindness. It was just another day where everyone else was crazy, and we were the only neutral or sane party. The day is best spent in bed with vodka or other depressant drug of choice.

The bitter and jaded side is represented by those that tell others to, “Go f- yourself!” or other snarky responses that communicate, “I hate myself. I hate this day. I hate anyone who is remotely happy right now. Give me your chocolate.”

There is a combo of the bitter and jaded with an amicable personality. These are the people that share comics such as this one or these examples:

puritanvalentines

In the end, they wish others “Happy Valentine’s Day!” with a smile.

Then there is the attitude I’m working towards – enjoying the opportunity to appreciate those around you. While the world is in a chocolate coma, they still hand out the best candy options. No chalky message hearts for them. No Sponge Bob or Dora the Explorer valentines for them (unless consistent with their general personality).

It is hard to be ignored and single on a day that focuses on Cupid, St. Valentine, and Eros. Some years, “Girls’ Night” suffices. Sometime the guys in the college or singles groups would plan nice steak dinners. When I worked in a school, the student parties and fun of the day meant that kids dropped chocolate and cards at my feet. Even with cards, parties, and gifts, the loneliness still creeps in. For that I have no remedy.

But guess what? It’s February 15. The sun rose this morning. Whatever your adaptive or maladaptive coping mechanism was for yesterday, it’s done. Welcome to the rest of the year.

Tricks of the Trade

I have multiple updates working right now, but while fresh in my mind, I thought I should share an experience from this past week.

Before I moved to Indy, I decided that the transition plus the stress of school warranted that I look into a counselor/therapist for at least the first few semesters. Remembering my past bouts with depression, the last thing I wanted was a significant slump during my time in school.

I chose to utilize the student center here on campus – convenient and inexpensive – but not unprofessional:

I didn’t intend to make it anything more than a “check-in” or neutral party that could look out for me; I just knew that I was susceptible to depressive symptoms and wanted to have a support network in place so spiraling emotions could be “nipped in the bud” before becoming a problem. It is never enthralling to hear someone say that there are emotions you can work through more, and oh, how about we meet once a week!

Gulp. Pride never goes down easily. I felt a little like this:

I will say that with this and my past counselor, going into the intake appointment with the attitude of, “I’m going to tell them everything possible” rather than guarding myself and anyone in my past has helped more than I realized. My first counselor had to work really hard for me to open up about why I was there. Then again, some things in the heart are so guarded that one is blinded and blocked from seeing themselves let alone others.

Anyway, this past week in an appointment, I was talking about a few experiences in my Psych clinicals. One of which, I already wrote about. I also mentioned how my experiences around patients in the psych ward were bringing to mind my own treatment of depression for myself.

Counselor: “Tell me more about that.”

Me: “BAHAHAHAHA!! Good use of your ‘therapeutic techniques’!”

I actually feel sorry for my counselor. He now has to sit through a session with someone who not only has previous experiences in counseling, but also is learning and practicing therapeutic techniques and knows the medical side of mental illness. He chuckled at my “compliment”, and yes, I did tell him more.

As a beginning medical practitioner, I’m still not sure which camp of knowledge I like belonging to. Did I prefer my previous state of ignorance, merely knowing the basic processes of the body and more common ailments? Am I reluctant to enter my new knowledge base? Or will I now attempt to intellectualize and medicate my way out of every physiologic snafu?

As with most of my life questions, I feel as though the answer is to continue on the journey. Pray. Cry. Seek first the Kingdom of God. Be honest with myself. Emote. Accept what is.

In essence: Be human.

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