Friday, January 27, 2017

Where I Stand

Over the last year, I have pulled farther and farther away from social media and from other people, as we as a society have become more and more disconnected by politics and hate. This is not where I will express my political beliefs and certainly not where I wish to debate who's right and who's wrong. What I do want to do is state where I stand as a person who is watching society unravel. 

To all my friends, acquaintances, and people I don't yet know: I stand with you. No matter your religion, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender, education level, or economic status, I stand with you and if you are being persecuted I will stand up for you. 

To the world: The last twelve months we have abandoned hope, unity, and community to take up hate/fear and pushed people toward conformity. Without our help, this world has enough pain and suffering. Our only chance at peace in our community and in this world is more love and human connection. So please for the sake of our world, the next time you find yourself at the ready to add judgement, intolerance, or more suffering to an already damaged society take a step back, take a deep breath, and for just a moment consider the other side, the other person's situation, and their pain/trials. Empathy, especially with those you don't agree with, always leads to more human connection and love. Divided we accomplish nothing and hate wins. 

In the end, we all are struggling through this painful and beautiful thing we call life together. As for me, I chose love, acceptance, and connection. I strive everyday to try to make even the smallest positive impact on the people I come in contact with. This journey isn't so ugly if we walk it together. 

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Christmas Magic

This year would be a Christmas full of new traditions. Since the last time I was home spending Christmas day with mom, so many things have changed and with them our traditions. I'll admit that changing how I have done Christmas with that part of my family has had it challenges for me. Some things remained unchanged. We still put on our Christmas pajamas and made what seems like a trillion Christmas cookies(peanut butter with kisses are my favorite if you are wondering). I got the joy of getting ready and not leaving the house to go out into the cold this year. I haven't been home for a Thanksgiving in probably 4 years and so my mom made a huge Christmas/Thanksgiving lunch to help make up for it. 
My new nephew was born in November and I got the opportunity to meet him for the first time. He is a precious little thing and loves his nap time. Aurora turned 2 at the end of December and still is not a fan of me. I managed to bribe her out of letting me hold her for about 10 seconds for a picture before she started squirming to get away. 
My grandma joined us for cookie baking and gift opening. It was busy, chaotic day, but I think everyone got things they wanted and enjoyed their day.
Throughout the rest of my week home, I got to bounce around and spend time with my family. My dad is taking some time off of work and so we got to enjoy afternoons together. Chatting about current events and getting into heated debates. (sometimes I wonder where I came from.) It's nice to see him more relaxed and enjoying life a little bit. He has even joined snapchat which has turned out to be extremely entertaining. My evenings were often spent having discussions with my grandparent's by the fireplace.
My mom and I worked on getting me my new phone and got a moment to sit down and have a glass of wine together. Mid-week, I got in the car and started my trek towards Emporia for a sleepover with Merideth. It was a packed full day. I got my hair trimmed up, we snuck in a movie at the theatre(Passengers), and made a big dinner together. I have a real love for space movie. I find them quite beautiful and entertaining. I'm always sad to say my goodbyes, but on Friday morning we had to do just that, but of course we had a little fun first.
The end of my trip home was devoted to celebrating the love and success of my cousin Sheldon. Against all odds, he has grown to be an incredible man who married the love of his life on New Years Eve. I couldn't think of a better way to bring in the new year than celebrating with these people and my family. I remember my mom saying she would be leaving early around 9:30, but it turns out I was the first one to leave around 1am. It was incredible to have everyone there together and we had such a great time. There was lots of dancing and laughing. The venue was beautiful not the mention the bride. My grandma is most definitely still young at heart. One of our favorite parts of the night was discovering the photo booth. It became a family frenzy as we started taking pictures together. Oh I love these people. 
Even though I didn't make it into bed until a little after 1, I managed to get on the road back towards the south by 6 in the morning. Headed back home is always such a weird feeling. I am so ready to be back in my own space and sleep in my bed, but I feel incredibly sad that it is over. 
I came home to game night, laundry, and lots of rest to get ready to start my Surgical ICU month. One that has so far challenged me more than I could have imagined. After several weeks of struggling through the days, it feels good to remember how great life is and who I am. Sometimes Christmas is just magic.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Adventure of a Midwest girl gone Southern

Christmas is by far one of my favorite times of the year, but as I have gotten older it has been harder and harder to spend any time with my family when it rolls around. This year, I was blessed with opportunity to go home for Christmas! My trip home would be a 2 part trip. First I would go home for 3 days to have Christmas with my father's family and return to Little Rock to take the the last part of my licensing exam to then return back home for a week long stretch. This is all about the first part of the trip.

For weeks, my sister Jamie and I had been counting down the days until we were able to get together for Christmas. I had had a very trying many weeks/months and there is something about hugging your family that helps with all of that. We planned to spend Friday night as a sister's night before doing Christmas on Saturday morning. I had initially planned on arriving mid-evening on Friday, but after realizing my sister would arrive late afternoon, I decided to surprise everyone and leave earlier. At 9 am, I packed up my car with gifts, a weekend bag, and a few on the road snacks. Over the years, I have come not to like fast-food very well and so instead of stopping I always pack snacks instead. It was a beautiful 52 degrees in Little Rock as I left my little apartment in the south towards colder weather. Midwest weather.
I started my trek north daydreaming about arriving to my grandparents. The look on my sweet nieces face as she first saw me and my first hug with my sister. Everyone's surprise of me arriving earlier than planned. With daydreams and my radio blasting, I had a blissful 6 hour drive towards home and this is where the phone calls start. First my mom calling me to let me know a storm was coming in and to be safe. Followed by father telling me the highway coming into our hometown had been closed down due to ice and accidents and to turn around and find a motel for the night. Turn around? Really? I'm 30 minutes from home. I'm determined to make it there. Tonight!
It is hard to argue with anyone who says I'm a bit hard headed. I'd like to call it determined instead. So I continue on, certain I will be able to make it home. This is not my first rodeo. I remember driving home on Christmas Eve one year in a blizzard with 8 inches of snow on the ground, I can handle this. But the further I got north the slower the traffic and the more it was obvious the highway was not only getting unsafe, but likely would not reopen. The pit of my stomach felt heavy and I was hit by a great wave of disappointment as I made the decision to turn around. At this point in my drive, I had had absolutely no issues, but my sister had made it to town and it had taken her hours to go a very short distance. I pulled off on the exit of a small no where town. Made a left turn to turn around and half way across the bridge, it happened. I hit ice. This has happened to me two other times in my life and turned out completely okay, because I knew what to do. I was a midwest girl who had driven in the elements often. But it turns out, I have been gone too long. Instead of doing the things I know to do, I panicked only remembering don't hit your brakes.
Sliding across into the other side of the road, picking up speed, it felt like forever though I'm sure it was mere seconds. The helpless feeling is very uncomfortable especially for someone who likes to fix things. My car slid until it hit the curb where it came to a quick stop. I remember being thankful as I sit there on the overpass that my car didn't hit with enough force to flip over the bridge. I got out of the car and slowly made my way to the front of my car to check out the damage and saw...nothing. I couldn't believe there was no damage at all. Getting back in the car, still feeling a bit shaky, I started driving ahead to try to make it to the motel. It is here that my whole car starts shaking. So much for that no damage bit. I pulled back over and get out again looking more closely this time. Realizing the damage was of the tire/rim. I had hit my bad news threshold. I wanted to be home by now after waiting weeks, but instead I was trying to make it to a motel, it was freezing(I despise the cold), and I have now gotten into an accident. I call my dad in tears, send him pictures of the wheel, and he books me the closest place to stay which is about 5 miles from me and with some faith I make it.
I remember sitting on the motel bed with my coat on for a couple hours waiting for the room to warm up and starving. I hadn't really eaten much all day and now I was stranded with no food. The tears had stopped but the sadness was very present. My sister sent me a request to facetime and for a few minutes we talked and laughed. She also hadn't made it to grandma's, but was safe for the night. The night hadn't turned out the way we had hoped, but everyone was safe. That's all we both could really ask for and we promised we would see each other tomorrow.
In the morning, I started to doubt that would really happen. I woke up to see the highway was still closed, the temperature was frigid, and the roads were still dangerous. Not to mention they were now calling for some snow to start early afternoon. My car was not safe to drive anywhere far and certainly not in this weather. I was at the mercy of other for help. I had started trying to decide if I should go pay for another night in this room when my mom called. "Jim is on his way with the trailer to bring your car back." My first though was concern they wouldn't make it safely and they should probably stay put, but Jim assured me he would see me when he got there. To say I was grateful is an understatement.

Jim and Colton(my mom's significant other and his son) showed up with salt and a plan. I had the very hard job of sitting in the heated truck as they maneuvered my car onto the trailer. I'm not great at being saved, at being the damsel in distress. I feel a deep sense of gratitude for people who help me in moments where I can't help myself that I can't even begin to express in words. Some feelings have no words that will do it justice.
We had no difficulties getting back and they had a vehicle waiting for me so I could rush off to my grandparent's to start Christmas. There is a deep seated tradition on how Christmas runs at my grandparent's that I hope never ends. In the morning, we get up together to open stockings, followed by breakfast, followed by sitting in a circle opening gifts one by one, and then lunch/cards/chatting/playing. I arrived right around 1pm on Saturday afternoon and snuck in through the basement door. As I opened the door at the top of the stairs, I saw my sweet niece looking out the sliding glass door waiting for me to appear. I feel incredibly lucky to be "Aunt KATIE" to this little girl. Quietly sneaking up behind her, I tickled her side and she turned out giving a great big smile and the excited "Aunt Katie" as she throws herself into my arms. I will be sad the day that she is too big to be picked up, which is likely approaching quickly.

The morning had not started without me. It had been frozen in time waiting for me to arrive. We opened our stockings together and then had quiche and biscuits and gravy at 1:30 in the afternoon. It felt like it went incredibly too fast. We played cards and shared lots of laughs. My sister got me a couple of different books fitted perfectly for the wandering soul that I am. Saturday night my brother left everyone with the bombshell that he was moving to Phoenix, tomorrow.  I know that we all hope he will find what he is looking for in the warm sun and we will all miss him a great deal.
By Monday, I had started to panic a bit. My exam was in Little Rock on Tuesday morning and I was currently stuck 500 miles away, but by noon I got the confirmation from Jim that the rim was fixed and I could get on the road.
My journey home was uneventful, thankfully. Tuesday morning came and I felt okay when I left the exam. It is a two day exam and I took the second part on Thursday.
Wednesday was my fun day back in Little Rock. With a bunch of help, I prepared Friendsgiving/Christmas Dinner for my family away from my family. It was hectic, but so much fun and the food this year was completely incredible. We totally outdid ourselves. I am completely thankful to being having this residency adventure with an awesome group of people.

My mini trip home brought the realization that this midwest girl has gone a little Southern. I like the warm weather and don't love the snow. I had forgotten how to drive in snow/ice and what 0 degrees felt like. And if I spend enough time around people with true southern accents, I'll pick one up too, temporarily. But it doesn't take very long for that midwest girl to come out once I get home and I'm still much more likely to wear jeans and a t-shirt to a football game than a dress or flip flops instead of heels. Some things never change.
Tomorrow look for part 2 of my journey home.