Goodbye little temporary home!

I’m sitting here in my empty apartment which in the last 24 hours went from being equipped with furniture and belongings, to now only baring a solitary zipper clasp (not sure what off exactly?) and the many little divots in the carpet that have become the tell-tale sign of where everything has lived for the last year and a half.

Although this little home of mine was always a temporary place to exist, I feel strangely attached to it and it’s almost as if I’m not ready to leave even when I knew I would have to.

And it’s not as if the choice to move was sudden, I have been packing the many pieces that comprise my life into cardboard boxes for well over a month now. And I have been diligently keeping a log of what I put in each box, because knowing me, I’ll need to rampage through my storage lot in two weeks for something I packed and forgot I would undoubtedly need. I even went to the lengths of measuring every piece of furniture down to the millimetre to create a ‘drawn-to-scale’ picture of how things were going to fit Tetris-style into the little two by three storage unit (call it OCD, but I like to think of it as an organising talent necessary to fit one whole apartment into something the size of a garden shed). So in many ways, I was well prepared. I had full knowledge. And yet, this whole “leaving the premise by midnight tonight” thing has somehow snuck up on me still.

In my head, I had more time to process the move. So now that the moment to leave is here, I’m not entirely sure I’ve finished saying goodbye. I’ve been so wrapped up in leading the escapade of moving (and I’m definitely getting better at it – out and into storage in less than four hours!), that I’ve barely stopped to realise the finality in it.

And I’ve been sitting here watching the sun rise one last time from this little lounge room, trying to figure out why its a sad feeling that sits heavily in my chest and not one of happy anticipation. I mean, in four short months I’ll have a house of my own!

Perhaps it’s because this is the home that cradled me when all my dreams came true? Getting a job as a nurse, making it permanent, passing my med school entry exam, buying my first home. These were some of my best days, and on each one of them I came home to celebrate in this little apartment.

And there have been bad days here too, some of the worst I’ve somehow miraculously lived through, but this is the home that cradled me then too, offering me enough warmth and comfort to heal the broken parts of my heart.

I can only put it down to the fact that this apartment has become a part of me, somewhere where I have loved and dreamed and lost, and placed ties to each inch of it to call it my own. It wasn’t my first home, but somewhere along the way, it became the most significant home. And I think that’s because I’ve done the most growing here.

The next few months will be interesting, that’s a certainty. With construction on the new house about to begin, it is almost time to say goodbye to this little home so I can fall in love with a new one that will not be so temporary. And until then I will be packing the basics and moving back in with the parents – scary move for this ball of independence, and I’m not sure how it’s going to go!

I do love my parents more than anything, but I haven’t lived with them since I was nineteen, so I’ll have to keep you posted on how that all works out. It is the best option though, rent-free paradise living with meals cooked and served nightly… I really don’t have much to be complaining about at all!

Except for the fact that it’s now a twenty-one minute (precisely, I’ve timed it) drive to see my Mr, and since our time schedules have never really complimented each other, I’m entirely worried I might not see him for weeks at a time!

There’s no doubt in my mind, this will be a very new life pattern to get used to, and I’ve long since made a vow to welcome change. So this is me, accepting that there’s a new chapter lurking around the corner and hoping with all my heart, it’s going to be an amazing one when I turn that page.

This is life, it keeps moving even when your not sure your ready to keep moving too. So I’ve untangled the apartment keys from my diamante encrusted ‘D’ key ring and bravely left them on the kitchen counter for the next person who will call it home. And as I walk out the door one last time, I’m going to smile knowing this has been the best little temporary home I’ve ever known!

d x

“Do you guys have to go to the new house right away or do you have some time?
We have some time.
Well should we grab some coffee?
Sure… Where?”
– Friends (The Last One)

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Now that you’re up to date…

So there you have it! Forty posts later and I think that should just about have you all caught up with the most important parts of my story so far.

It’s been a big four years of blogging engraved with more change than I’ve ever known. And looking back at some of my earliest posts makes me realise just how far I’ve come.

This year (chapter twenty-two of my life story) has been about ‘the bucket list‘ in honour of a friend taken away from this world too soon. It’s been about living my little life as best as I can (like she always did), and achieving all that I’ve ever dreamed to do and aspired to be in this lifetime because life itself is fleeting and I now know that all to well.

The list is currently comprised of 54 endeavours, but it’s ever-growing. And I have already started crossing off some pretty big and brave things! (Look out for the #[number] posts)

This is the way I always want to live. And although ‘life she wrote’ has really only ever been a way to unclutter my very often cluttered mind (when I can’t cope, I write and it helps) –  I hope in some way, this little blog of mine from here on out inspires you to chase a happy heart too. Because everyone deserves to feel the warmth that happiness brings and have a life that could never ever be defined as dull.

So welcome to the new home of Life, She Wrote. Here we go!

d x

#2 (Part One)

July 16th, 2015

I bought a house!

Well, technically, I bought a piece of land. But the concrete slab is going down by the end of this month with walls and roof to follow in quick succession, so all-in-all I think I’m validated in claiming it as buying a house.

In fact, the plans are in with council as they approve it’s large, welcoming front door and the timber and stone highlights. I must have looked at the drawings a thousand times so far and have fallen in love with my soon-to-be home a little more each time I do. Complete with a media room and butlers pantry (whatever I will use that for is still unbeknown to me), I am bursting with excitement for the day I get to live there.

And for a first home buyer, I think I’m doing okay not to be biting my nails down to the brink of non-existence about it all. In actual fact, it has seemed that this whole house-buying thing has been falling into place ever since i started, and I can’t help but feel that maybe, this was just meant to be.

What started out as a bit of a whim back in March has turned into a very big life altering event, and I’m loving every moment of it.

After managing to save a quite a bit over the last year and half (and trust me, saying no to further investments in the shoe collection has been no easy feat), the initial plan was to buy a new car. Currently I own a little Getz as you will know, but after turning eleven years old this April – he’s probably looking at retirement as being his next big roadtrip.

It wasn’t until the landlords of the apartment I rent decided that an additional $40 to the already overpriced rent fee was reasonable that I started to veer away from shiny new things on four wheels and quite seriously wondered whether I would be better to put my money spent on rent each week into a house repayment. At least then my hard earned money wouldn’t be depositing into somebody else’s pocket.

So I investigated. And possibly more out of curiosity than anything else, applied for a loan with the bank. When they came back with an estimate for $425,000 I almost couldn’t contain my shock. And thinking to myself that that was actually quite a decent amount to purchase a small house here, I started scoping out what was on offer.

It was a warm March Sunday afternoon when the answer quite literally fell into my lap. Sitting on the couch with strawberry milkshakes in hand as my Dad and I quite often do, he swiftly threw the middle section of the Sunday Newspaper over to me while he read the outer. There in the corner of page 69 sat a little advertisement for a new estate due for construction in April, and something about it felt promising – I can’t quite explain that, because I honestly didn’t know a thing about it aside from it’s perfectly situated location, but it felt like it just fit.

So after making a phone call, I arranged to meet a real estate agent at the end of the week to find out a little more about it. The way they decided who could buy the land was different than a lot of estates I had heard of, and for a first home buyer, it was all a little confronting. They had asked that all interested buyers placed three preferences for Lots within the estate and then intended to separate the potential buyers into three groups for a lucky draw – first home buyers, residential family households and investment property owners. The idea was to create a ‘community’. The catch was, the draw was at the end of the week and if I wanted to place my preferences I had to do so by within the next two days.

And if I happened to be selected from the lucky draw at the end of the week, I would then need to make a deposit within the following 24 hours. It was all a bit frightening, and while I was serious about buying a house – it seemed to happen so quickly I started to worry whether I was ready for a commitment like that. After all, I’m only twenty-two – what do I know about being a grown up really?

After talking it over with Dad (he’s good at helping me with the big stuff), I decided to enter the draw figuring I could always turn down the offer. Besides it was the best offer in comparison to the other estates I had researched. So what did I have to lose?

A week later I received a phone call late on a stormy Friday afternoon. The lady I had spoke with a week earlier excitedly announced that I had been drawn for my first preference and offered congratulations through the phone. I wasn’t really sure what to say, I felt a little like I unknowingly jumped onto a ride that was going too fast I couldn’t properly smile for camera and instead got caught mid blink with an unsightly expression on my face.

It was a little overwhelming, but when I managed to process the news I realised there was excitement budding in my heart and again, it just seemed to fit. It was the perfect opportunity. I had scored one of the bigger lot sizes in the estate, on a little secluded lane where I could set my house up to avoid the harsh sun yet benefit from the coastal breeze and fit all my dreams on a piece of the earth entirely my own.

So I said yes.

Four months later I’ve been busy organising everything that goes along with buying a house. I’ve had to put my big girl pants on and do things like get a solicitor and sign contracts boasting a fifty page length (I was so nervous I spelt my own middle name wrong – but let’s not mention that again).

It’s been a whirlwind trying to pull the bank, the builders, the real estate and the solicitor all into one brightly shining package that one day I’ll call home, but so far I think I’ve managed it!

In fact, two nights ago I was able to stand on my newly divided piece of this planet and felt excitement envelope me as I realised it was mine. The jumping up and down, and smile ear to ear couldn’t have provided a bigger piece of evidence to show that this has been one of the most amazing things to happen in this little life of mine yet!

#2 on my bucket list is to buy and own my own house: no debt!…well, we’ll have to call this one a work in progress. But it’s a start!

d x

New pair of shoes.

May 28th, 2015

It’s been a big month, and as we wrap up May and effortlessly slip into the snuggle season of Winter, I’ve been doing a bit of reflecting.

At the beginning of May I kicked off my comfy RN shoes and slipped into a new pair of CN shoes. It was an exciting moment to see my name bumped up to a new category on the roster and I couldn’t help but feel ecstatic at making it one step closer to #4 on my Bucket List (make Clinical Nurse at work).

For the last four weeks I have been lucky enough to ‘act up’ (or fill in) as a Clinical Nurse, and it has been one hell of an adventure so far! While it’s not the real deal yet, the experience I’ve gotten in acting in the position will be all-too-important when I finally do get there. And I can’t wait for that day.

Having only been out of my Grad Year for two months, it almost didn’t feel real to be given such responsibility so early. But with a new hospital nearing completion in the next couple of years, and my ward’s big transition into a Trauma Ward there, the added bonus of CN experience will most definitely come in handy. There were no second thoughts, I jumped right in.

Like every new pair of shoes, being a CN didn’t come without it’s blisters and aches. It took plenty of wearing in. But looking back now, I can see how far I’ve come and a part of me is really proud of what I accomplished.

Often you don’t realise at the time the progress your making. But there always seems to be that one defining moment where you suddenly realise you’re doing just fine. Riding without training wheels, swimming without floaties. These moments are my favourite.

In the beginning, it was difficult to figure out the ropes with no one there to show me. Being boss is kind of scary in that sense. I kind of had to wing it, or at least phone six different people until the odds were so far in my favour I found who I was looking for. I mean, I did at least have a general idea of what to do, and I guess between being naturally quite good at problem solving and being overtly curious with buttons on the computer, I managed to do okay!

In the midst of a shift involving 9 patients to be transferred out, with another 8 hot on their tails to be transferred in – it’s hard to feel sane. Add a Code Blue, an absconding patient, a computer system that seems to waged war against you not allowing patients to be entered in and bladder irrigations that simply refuse to work, and you’ve got yourself a shift well deserving of the name “Actual Nightmare”. You soon become very aware that you may never see the ‘Tea Room’ again, and have in fact, forgotten what it looks like altogether. And while we’re on the topic of forgetting what rooms look like, you may as well add the toilet to that list. Focus on growing a bigger bladder instead.

And when you finally think you’ve got it sorted, the phone in your pocket which has boasted it’s existence every 5 minutes for the last 8 hours, rings to let you know there are three more patients on their way up from Emergency right on Handover time with no IV Fluids, no catheter and no life saving medications given yet. It’s at this point, you consider just making a run for it and just maybe never coming back.

Granted that not every shift is like that, but it sure made for one steep learning curve for this little nurse.

Nevertheless, the patients and I survived, so I think we’ll call it a successful month.

In all honestly though, despite it’s chaos, I love being an acting CN. I love the challenge of being in charge, I love the requirement to always learn new things – to always be on top of my game. It’s what I’ve always loved about surgical nursing right from the beginning, but this certainly steps it up a notch and I am enjoying it wholeheartedly.

There is so much fulfilment in nursing and although the dream of being a doctor is getting closer (yes, that does entirely mean I passed my med school entry exam!), I am soaking up everything nursing offers while I’m here in this adventure and in these acting CN shoes. I’ve even found that they don’t give me blisters anymore – in fact, they may be just the most comfortable shoes I own yet.

d x

#45

May 24th, 2015

A couple of weeks ago I did a little two hour road trip down south to visit my parents.

I do this trip often, and it can be a long journey without a packet of Snickers Pods or Krispy Kreme Donuts to keep the sugar levels up and the diabetes potential looming close by, but for the most part – I love it.

For me, there’s just something so therapeutic about driving. It’s like somehow my thoughts become organised and my heart feels void of any phantom aching the world could inflict upon it. I feel free. And I can’t quite put my finger on how it works exactly, but i just know I can without a doubt solve my greatest problems on the M1 highway.

Perhaps it’s the open road and the vast distance between me and my destination that somehow puts things into perspective. As if I am finally forced to notice the world around me and the thousands of people passing who undoubtedly are fighting personal battles all of their own. And I guess there’s an odd comfort found in knowing I’m not the only one to have ever been at war with myself.

When I finally arrived at my parents place – problems sorted and happy hearted – I lugged all my bags upstairs and fell onto the couch next to my Mum and Dad whose fascination with the movie channels on pay TV is yet to reach an expiry date.

After watching the end twenty minutes of a midday film that I still don’t entirely understand, we set off to do some exploring. An hour out from the hustle and bustle of the coastline, we stumbled across a bit of a hidden treasure.

The Natural Bridge (or arch) has long been on my bucket list as a place id love to visit. Tucked in the rainforest well off the beaten track nature becomes overwhelmingly spectacular.

The hike itself follows the path of a waterfall that magnificently cascades down through the deepest part of the forest, and flows over a cave which throughout the years has eroded to create what can only be described as a nature-made bridge.

It might not sound so breath taking right from the get-go, but trust me, when you find yourself looking up through the bottom of the cave to see the water falling above – you will be every little bit in awe as I was.

But what was even more wonderful about The Natural Bridge, were the little guys who called it home.

Attached to every inch of the bridge’s underside were tiny little Glow Worms, who as the sun fell, began to glow so fiercely it felt every bit as magical as a fairytale.

And I guess I really fell in love with the little glow worms from the moment I learned that they derive their ability to glow from a special process that turns body waste and oxygen into light.

And if you can get past the term ‘body waste’ and all it might entail, you can truly start to appreciate that these little guys are the expects in taking the bad and turning it into something worthy of admiration.

And I kind of think that’s pretty great on a metaphorical level.

Because as humans we don’t do all that well at taking the bad things that happen in our lives, and figure out a way to make it into something beautiful.

We forget how to glow so easily. We forget how to shine. We forget how to rise to the challenge of fighting back while we are too busy feeling defeated by the ‘bad’.

So I think we can learn a thing or two from the little ones whose job it is to shine brightly everyday.

In all honesty, the Natural Bridge is just not something you can capture in a picture. It’s something that needs to be appreciated by physically being there, enveloped in it’s own outrageous beauty. So I won’t say anything else other than to make it your next adventure.

Light up the world like a glow worm! (We really need to make that a saying.)

#45 – See the Glow Worms of Natural Bridge, Gold Coast : check!

d x

Patience for patients.

May 3rd, 2015

One thing I’ve learnt about being a nurse, is that you have to have patience. And I’m not just talking about an average, normal, traffic tolerating patience – oh no, not by far.

I’m talking about the need to come equip with the heavy duty-toddler-screaming-Sunday-afternoon-drivers-doing-50k-under-the-speed-limit-puppy-chewing-squeaky-toy-being-on-hold-to-centerlink-for-3-hours kind of patience as a nurse, and to be quite honest with you… Sometimes I don’t even think that’s enough.

Take it from the nurse who spent four ten hour night shifts in a row dealing with patients who took patience like it was going out of date and made it look effortless. Only to have the doctors arrive first thing in the morning, see the patient for five minutes and then accuse the nurses of not properly taking care of the patients based on an extravagant story the patient has conjured up out of thin air (the notion that nurses dislike doctors holds some debatable truths, but that didn’t come from me – said aspiring doctor herself).

Now to be entirely fair, it’s only every now and then I come across these special group of people who hold the ability to make any nurse quite literally blow steam through her nostrils. In actual fact, we probably spend majority of our time really absolutely liking our cute little oldies with the ‘blissfully unaware’ dementia and joking with the ones that haven’t reached that point yet. Hell, two days ago we woke a patient up bright and early to sing Happy Birthday to him and decorate his bed space with balloons and banners (not that he was overly impressed with us given the hour).

Usually, caring for our patients takes no patience at all. And I love that.

Until the theatre nurses arrive with a little gift fresh out of surgery that makes you wonder just how fantastic a career change to a Veterinary Nurse would be in the likely guarantee that the patients there most definitely wouldn’t buzz for the nurse 6 times to announce that the oxygen nasal prongs were vividly telling him to stop breathing and that he had tried to do as they said…twice.

Believe you me, it becomes quite the task to continue smiling politely at the patient without a diagnosis of dementia while you explain to them that “No, the pumps connected to you are not going to catch fire and burn your blood vessels from the inside out”.

Or answer the seemingly emergent nurse call to which the patient announces that his foot hurts, and on inspection of a perfectly fine looking foot further adds to his claim that it hurts because he hasn’t moved it, leaving you with the only logical answer of “Well, how about you move it then?” to which the patient agrees and moves his foot.

Problem solved. Now aren’t you glad you ran all the way down the hallway for that big emergency? I generally try to put situations like these down to being a good form of exercise. Project ‘Find The Silver Lining’ I call it.

I guess I’m slowly teaching myself how to smile at these situations rather than feel exasperated. I force myself to remember that being sick brings out the worst in us all – I should know. I get particularly whiney and miserable at just the sight of a running nose. And I will complain for well over a week about it.

And while I don’t think I’d come out with absurd statements like my patients certainly do, I sure can imagine being cut open in five different ways wouldn’t make my day either so I’m trying to reserve a little understanding.

They say that Patience is a Virtue – and I’m inclined to agree with that. I think that having patience beyond comprehensible boundaries makes all the difference in a person. And I’ve found that people warm to those who know how to smile and find exceeding grace for those that push the neat, little envelope packaging of patience itself.

So I’m working on it. Because I’d like to be the nurse whose heart works a little more overtime in the patience department.

And who knows, one day I might even lose the ability to quite literally blow steam out my nose!

d x

#3

April 11th, 2015

Recently I sat for the GAMSAT, or as explained much more simply outside of it’s ridiculous acronym – I sat an exam that will allow me to study at Med School if I’m lucky enough to have passed. It’s a lethal concoction comprised of three sections – comprehensive logical reasoning, written response and a battle of the trio sciences: biology, physics and chemistry – all equally designed to make one question ones choices in life when they first decide to be a doctor.

But I guess I should do a little explaining first, let’s back it up 6 months…

I woke up one morning a little while back before Christmas last year, and I fell in love with the idea of being a doctor. Not that I don’t absolutely love nursing… I just felt like I wanted, perhaps needed, more. And I think that’s probably more to do with my personality than anything else. But I just felt I could make a bigger difference being a doctor. To be in the drivers seat of someone’s health and change it for the greater – that’s something I have dreamed of wholeheartedly for my entire life.

So on a bit of a whim, I registered to sit the Graduate Australian Medical School Admissions Test (ergo, ridiculous acronym GAMSAT). It cost me a cool $650 and at the time I wondered what had possessed me to firstly, PAY a small fortune to sit a 9.5 hour exam and to secondly, WILLINGLY devote 3 months of my life to studying organic chemistry, physics and all other sorts of unreasonable theories we claim to be of importance in the world.

In all honesty, I was out of my depth. Here I am, drowning in textbooks attempting to teach myself how to conquer subjects that involved words I didn’t even know had been created.

Physics? Sure, Force = Mass x Acceleration, right? No biggie. I got this.

I didn’t. Turns out, there’s a little more to physics than I had hoped there would be. Because Force, Mass and Acceleration have friends called Vectors, Center of Gravity and Elecetronegativity, and it definitely wasn’t a get together you wanted to be at.

Unfortunately though, it became apparent quite quickly that Physics wasn’t my biggest problem. Enter, Organic Chemistry.

Organic chemistry, to me, is a unnecessary science. Normal chemistry makes sense, organic chemistry does not.

It’s as if a group of bored scientists got together and decided to make a normal representation of an atom look funky. And then made that funky atom look precocious. And then found fifty different other names for the precocious atom and called it a science.

What they really did, was make something incredibly easy, complicated for no human logical reason other than to wreck three perfectly good months of my year.

Nevertheless – I survived and became a proud owner of a brain that knew what an isomer was, and could list the entire periodic table’s stability values off of memory alone (and you do not want to hear the song I made up to remember that beauty).

And as promised, it was an excruciating exam. The kind that makes every brain cell want to explode.

After 9.5 hours of sitting in one of a thousand chairs, in one of a hundred auditoriums, I was ready to sleep for the remaining 9 months of the year.

I find out the results in May, and ultimately the next adventure I embark upon.

And I feel privileged that I have that choice – whether I pass or not doesn’t effect me negatively. Because at the end of the day, I am still a registered nurse and I will still absolutely love what I do. I can work my way up to the big leagues and find gratification the whole way through. Sitting this exam was almost like a test run, a shot at seeing whether I could be doctor material.

There were people sitting that exam who have been studying for years, whose whole life depends on passing this exam because without it, the study they’ve already completed becomes irrelevant.

So do I expect to pass? In all honesty, not really. A short three months study wasn’t at all a comparison to what others have done. But I feel good for trying, to know what I can accomplish is what matters most to me.

And I will be happy with whichever direction my life takes from here, because it’s a good life. And a doctor isn’t the only person able to make a difference in the world.

You can be great just being you. Remember that always.

Bucket List #3 – Get a Masters Degree… Contemplate Med School. I’ll let you know how I go!

d x