This month marks three years since I began my first travel nurse assignment. This is also the month I plan to return to San Diego to look for a permanent position. These last three years have been incredible in more ways that I could have imagined, but they have also been difficult in unexpected ways. I have surprised myself, have been surprised by others; I have been humbled, and I have been hurt. I feel I have become stronger in many ways, but also had my weaknesses amplified in ways I didn’t expect. I feel more comfortable with the doubts and unknown though I still crave control whenever possible. Throughout my life, I have found that I admire people who avoid stagnation. This can be professionally, personally, or emotionally. It is impossible to completely avoid moments that feel stagnant, but the people who come out better recognize these moments and are intentional about taking steps in a different direction. One of the most important benefits of travel, in my opinion, is that it forces you to look outside of your bubble. It forces you to see the world as bigger and smaller at the same time. There is an awe-inspiring humility that comes from recognizing how little you know, and a pride and ownership that comes from seeing how actions we take daily can impact the world on a global level. It becomes a little more difficult to be self-centered.
After finishing my last travel assignment (for the foreseeable future), I took a trip to Malaysia, Bali, and Thailand with a couple of dear friends I worked with Abby and Madeleine in San Diego and I feel incredibly thankful to have friends who are easy to travel with, helpful to process this season of transition with, and who I trust enough to loosen up and have fun with. We joined some other women for a yoga retreat in Seminyak, Bali, where the streets are a bit chaotic and I am surprised we did not witness many moped accidents. While in Bali, we took a drive to Ubud where we walked through beautiful rice paddies and through Monkey Forest (One of Maddie’s favorite parts and Abby’s least favorite). We did yoga, took pictures, had a massage, and drank rum from coconuts (which we all wished would have tasted better).
From Bali we went back to Malaysia, where Abby lives with her husband and two beautiful daughters. Sadly, at the time we were there the air quality was so horrific that we were hardly able to go outdoors. Abby’s kids were stuck inside for weeks and many schools had no air purifiers so kids were exposed even when indoors. We volunteered at a refugee clinic where Abby frequently goes and did some simple coloring and relaxation techniques for the mothers and their kids as they waited for appointments. We wore N95 masks when outdoors to avoid inhaling the toxic smoke, but were acutely aware that most people had no masks or masks that were completely ineffective against the harmful particles. In some parts of the country there were actually masks handed out that had no protective measures against the particle smoke, giving people a false sense of security. The haze we were experiencing was largely due to a practice that happens on an annual basis. It was not accidental; it was not a fluke. It is something that happens every year and the wind determines who it impacts most. Palm oil farmers participate in a slash and burn practice which clears fields quickly due the high demand of palm oil. I would encourage you to take a second and look at all of the products in your house that contain palm oil. A seemingly uninteresting ingredient has devastating consequences for the habitat where the palm is farmed, and obvious health consequences for Indonesians and those in surrounding countries. It was sobering to be experiencing a direct consequence for these practices and was a reminder to be more intentional about what I purchase.
After Bali we spent a few days in Thailand at Karon Beach in Phuket. We stayed in a beautiful resort on the beach, which proved more difficult to find than we initially expected. We ate lots of Thai food, walked around the street markets, hung out in an Australian bar, walked on the beach, drove to the “big buddha”, and floated in the ocean for hours. I also got a foot massage every day. It was perfectly relaxing and a lovely way to finish the trip and begin to process what is next.
I flew back in to San Francisco where I met my brother for a couple of days. I have never loved San Francisco but have apparently not seen the good parts. We walked the Golden Gate park, walked to Inspiration point, sat on the beach near Lands End, drank Irish Coffee at Fisherman’s Warf, and ate clam chowder. We were there to see Glen Hansard in concert which was even better than anticipated, a lovely, powerful, and joyful experience.
I am now back in Oregon, where my car was waiting with my sisters. I attended the wedding of a friend from college and was able to catch up with some friends from that season. I have started to apply for jobs and am now waiting. I am excited for what is next – and hoping it involves less packing of my car for a few years 😊