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

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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.

January Photo Shoot

Happy tax day. Well, I’m posting on the blog – this can mean one of two things.

  1. I have something on my mind that must be processed via online essay OR
  2. I’m avoiding homework.

Today, it’s the latter.

Since last summer I’ve had the urge to get an updated head shot and some fun photos. Part of this was a professional reason as I’m the Secretary and Education Director for the newly formed St. John of Damascus Society. The other professional reason was my career change to nursing; while not necessary now or even in the future, I thought one or two nurse-y head shots would be nice to have around if the need arose.

The third reason? Vanity. Sometimes, I need a boost that, yes, I can spend some time on my physical appearance and not feel guilty. I haven’t had a good picture since my senior year of high school; this is over a decade ago. In January, I made an appointment to spend a Saturday afternoon having fun. (Sorry, I’ve had the pics for a while. It’s been a busy semester.) I also mentioned getting good pics in a previous post.

Also, Lisa Berry is a dear friend and amazing photographer. Her professionalism and quality is outstanding, and plus – what a great way to get time with a friend AND see her use her gifts! Worth every dime and then some!

The Professional(ish) Photos:

The Music-oriented Pics:

Sometimes the world is black and white:

Sometimes the world is in color:

Let me know what you think!

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.

Mom Bombed

I don’t know if I just coined a phrase or not, but I like it, so I’m going to see if it sticks.

“Mom Bombed” = an unintentional turn in conversation when mothers start talking about baby and toddler life such as birth stories, cloth vs. disposable diapers, sleep schedules, potty training, etc.

Most of my friends are doing a good job of not randomly bringing up these topics; sometimes I am the one who asks. It’s hard to stray away from these topics entirely when 2012 was a busy year for labor and delivery amongst my female friends. Yet, there are times where you can be talking about other people, actual events in the world, sharing ideas, and then, the awkward silence followed by, “So, did you decide to go with cloth this time?”

I left.

Some women – and in my opinion, those who had children after 30 – are a little more conscious of these conversations. Some realize that their childless friends love their children, and that it is both an emotional uplift and depression to continually be around others’ children when you have none yourself. Other women are oblivious.

So…what are the childless women to do?

Some moms and older women tell us to put on our big girl panties and be content. Well, see, most of my unmarried-but-desiring-of-a-husband-and-children-someday friends ARE finding contentment in life. So, give us a little credit – we’re not completely unhappy – but being inundated with these conversations awakens the sleeping dragon.

There is always the option of politely or impolitely turning the conversation back to the pre-mom bomb topics, which would then make everything awkward.

Or you can leave the conversation and passive-aggressively write a blog post about it a month later.

Any other suggestions?

The 30-year old speaks…

I’ll elaborate on this more in the future, however, I think the point needs to be made over and over.

The masses must be told.

As I mentioned in a previous post, Orthodox Christians do not have a very good dating website. This is discouraging as parishes tend to have

  • Only single women
  • Only single men
  • Single men and women who are not meant for one another

Today in coffee hour, a mother of 3 college-aged kids asked me, “So how should people meet each other?”

Immediately, I respond, “Get the Matushkas working!!!!!” Giggles. “I’m serious! Especially in larger cities, it’s harder to meet people in other parishes. They need to get together and start talking amongst themselves.”

At this point, another person suggested, “Matushkamatch.com – but you don’t find people there for yourself, you only are allowed to match up others!”

I exclaim, “There should be an app for that!”

I told those at my table of my plight in earlier parishes – married women would see me interact with a nice guy, but they would only encourage me in the relationship, never him. Hm…isn’t the guy supposed to initiate? (Some of you may disagree, but in my book, yes, the guy should do the initial asking!)

It really wouldn’t take much coordinating; clergy wives know each other and this would give them a useful task for a disgruntled population of parishioners.

They risk being wrong. They risk some hearts being broken. They risk some expectations. But then again, if you let your Matushka/Khouria/Priest’s wife know that you would like the sacrament of marriage to be bestowed upon you, I think you know the risk. Or she hasn’t smacked you upside the head with her wisdom…yet.

So, I beg current and future Matushkas – start chatting a matchmaking OR hire a web designer and decent firm to spruce up Ortho-online dating.

Awkward!

Foot in mouth!

Until I am eligible for a student nurse position (2 more weeks!), I work at a restaurant. Tonight, a table was pre-set in my section with two menus and a single rose.

An engagement? Anniversary? What special occasion did I have?

The couple came and chatted away. I greeted them and asked what the occasion was. “Just being sweet” was the answer. I smiled at the gentleman. “Well, as I like to quote Flannery O’Connor ‘A Good Man is Hard to Find’!” I left them to their conversation.

It seemed they were enjoying a leisurely dinner, and the plates were cleared. Dessert?? No. Are you sure? I could easily turn this into an anniversary or birthday discount?

“It’s a first date.”

Red faced, all I can get out is, “Been there!” and I leave.

I don’t know how the date went from his or her angle, but either way, I got a $22 tip out of the deal.

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