This month marks a year since I began life as a travel nurse. I am in my third assignment in Salem, Virginia and find myself amazed at all I have done an seen in a short amount of time. I have driven across the country twice, worked in three different states, visited multiple national parks, and have spent time with some amazing people. I am very aware of how much I have to be thankful for.
Prior to this assignment in Virginia, I spent a couple of weeks with my family in Jackson, Wyoming and at home in San Diego. My brother and I then drove our infamous 11 passenger family van from San Diego to Connecticut (where I had parked my car), and then down to Virginia.. This trip included a brief walk through Vail, Colorado, visits with our Kansas cousins, nearly running out of gas in Utah, roughly 60 hours of driving time, a day in NYC to see Anastasia on Broadway, and trading off naps in the back seat. Fortunately we have mostly the same taste in music.
So, now I am at my third hospital as a traveler and am enjoying the process of transition more than I anticipated. I enjoy walking into a new environment and figuring things out, meeting people, creating a new temporary home and comparing various hospital processes. I am finding it so helpful to look at the various ways in which hospitals approach mental health and the differences on a state-to-state basis. I have begun a Master’s program online and am pursing my MSN with an emphasis in Public Health, and though I am still early in the process, traveling has provided me with such helpful information as I figure out what comes next.
Virginia is a beautiful place. I love watching the transition into fall and seeing the leaves change. I am currently sitting in a coffee shop looking out at brick buildings, orange colored leaves, and pouring rain. It’s not too bad. The area of Virginia I am in is beneath the Blue Ridge Parkway and I see rolling hills when driving to and from work, have access to beautiful hiking areas, and have found a favorite park that I have begun to frequent. I have spent time in camping in Shenandoah National Park, driven to Baltimore and spent time with my Great-Aunt Peggy (who is one of the most hospitable people I know) and spent time in Washington DC. There is a lot to do here.
And in the midst of these good things, it has been an incredibly heavy couple of months and has been challenging to be away from home. I am homesick. The world, the country, and close friends of mine have been experiencing horrific tragedies, evident evil, and periods of grief. It is hard to be away. Though I know that being home wouldn’t change much, there are so many recent events which make me long for those closest to me and to simply be able to sit with people in times of grief. I feel helpless, as I know so many do right now. I frequently think of the prayer of Saint Francis of Assisi, and it has become a frequent prayer in a time where so much seems unknown. I had a moment recently where I found myself more afraid than I can ever remember being, not about any particular event, but about the world as a whole. I found myself thinking about the dangers associated with almost everything. The floods, fires, shootings, and hurricanes: these were all in such different locations and some with no warning at all. I have chosen a current life where I am in a lot of places that involve the unknown. I have to consciously choose to not live in this fear. Yes, the world can be incredibly dangerous. Yes, I should be and am taking precautions and being safe when it comes to my various adventures. But I will not let fear keep me from living and experiencing the beautiful things in the world. It is too easy to hide and to shy away from things when I feel doubtful or fearful. My prayer is that my life will be one which brings forward that which is beautiful, hopeful, and life giving- even if I don’t always know exactly how to do so well.
Prayer of St. Francis of Assisi
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, Let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
And where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master, grant that I may
Not so much seek to be consoled
As to console; To be understood,
As to understand; To be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive,
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned.
And it is in dying that we are
Born to eternal life.