Dedicated, Not Defeated

I had a rough day yesterday. One of those days where nothing felt right and I couldn’t seem to shake it. 

I try to keep things as real as possible, so let’s be real about what happened. I failed my pathophysiology test. I got a 70% so I failed by 5 points. I have never failed an exam before. And when I tell you I studied for that thing, I studied. HARD.

I immediately felt defeated. I felt like I wasn’t good enough. I felt like I wasn’t smart enough. I felt like I’d make a bad nurse. I let it get to me all night. On and off, throughout the night, I kept getting so freaking angry at myself. 

When I woke up this morning, I didn’t feel angry… or sad. I felt happy. I truly felt so blessed. I realized how lucky I am. I realized that I am so grateful to be where I am. Not everyone gets to go to college and love it. Not everyone meets people who they instantly become friends with. Not everyone gets to do what they love every single day. Not everyone gets to walk in a room full of sick people and watch their faces light up just because I walked in with a smile. Not everyone gets to make difference.

But I do.

I’ll do better next time. I’ll study harder. I’ll be a good nurse. I’ve never been one to go easy on myself, but I’m pretty excited to have a week with no tests, not gonna lie about that.

I am dedicated to being the best version of myself I can be. I will not allow myself to be dragged down by one mistake… and you shouldn’t either.

“The days that I keep my gratitude higher than my expectations, I have really good days.” -Ray Wylie Hubbard

Here and Now

I thought this would be a really cool way to kick off my favorite time of the year. October is kind of a pivotal month of the year, where the air starts getting crisper, the leaves start falling, and everything just feels okay. Soon enough, I’ll be buying candy for half price and then eating enough turkey to make me want to sleep for days and then sharing gifts and memories with the people who mean the most to me.

I tend to think ahead. I jump ahead into next week, next year, hell, sometimes I’m thinking about being 80 years old chillin in a rocking chair. I don’t often take time to appreciate the moment I’m in because so much of my life, I’ve spent preparing for the future.

I challenge you to be present, for one month. Yeah, I’m a few days late… what are you gonna do, sue me? Good luck, you won’t get a dime. Take a few minutes out of each day and be present. Give yourself a break, and enjoy where you are right now.

I sat in my bed tonight trying to be present and I would be lying if I said my mind didn’t jump to my test next week. I would be lying if I said my brain didn’t try to run through the Foley catheter check-off list one more time before tomorrow. But part of this is catching yourself. Bring yourself back in. Center yourself. Take a moment to appreciate who you are and what you are doing.

If you’re struggling during this season, like I happen to be, take a breath and enjoy whatever still moments you can. The struggle is when you need it most. 

If you’re having the best month of your life, succeeding in your business, in your school, in your wellness… whatever it may be, please do yourself a favor and be present. You want to remember the way this felt.

Take in this moment. Feel the feelings. Do not rush life. For a few minutes out of each day, for one month. I promise you will not regret it.

P.S. The back porch of the Amicalola Falls Lodge has some beautiful sunsets. Shoot, go be present somewhere with a view, y’all.

ANOTHER P.S. Comment on this post — or click the “Contact” tab above this post — and tell me how you chose to be present this month! I would love to interact with y’all and share some of your tips!

For The Good and The Bad… Thank you God

When I got accepted to the only nursing school I applied to, I thanked God.

When I earned good grades on my first tests, I thanked God.⠀

Just last week, I fit into a top I couldn’t fit into a month ago. And I thanked God.⠀⠀

When my dad was cured of cancer, I thanked God. 

Here’s the thing… it’s real easy to thank God when things are going well. When life is moving along smoothly, when you’re happy… it is so easy to thank God.

You know what’s not so easy? Thanking God while you’re having a panic attack and struggling to catch your breath with tears streaming down your face while you are sitting in traffic because you’re so overwhelmed with e v e r y t h i n g. When you realize your friend doesn’t really care about being your friend. When you’re at work and a grown ass man looks at your coworker and says “You are so pretty. It’s nice to see someone in here who doesn’t weight 200 pounds.” (Firstly sir, I’ve had a diet of stress and peanut butter crackers for a month now so I’ve lost five pounds, thank you very much).

Each of these things has happened to me within the last week. But I picked my head up, I smiled, and I thanked God. Here’s the thing: crying in my car means I have a heart that can feel things. I have plenty of old and new friends, the past few weeks I’ve made some amazing friends… and I don’t even know where I’d be right now without them. I am working on my weight, but weight has nothing to do with beauty or this killer (some call it intimidating…) personality of mine. I am getting stronger every week, mentally and physically.

Thank God when it’s hard.

Thank God when it’s painful.

Thank God when life is stretching you thin.

Thank God when the only thing you want to do is turn your back.⠀

Because you are alive. He is watching over you. I promised God that I would give the glory to Him when its all said and done with. At the end of the day, when I close my eyes, I know that without God’s love, I wouldn’t be where I’m at. I don’t know where I would be and when I look back at some of my choices I’ve made, some of the people I’ve chosen to spend time with, and the times when I didn’t thank God for weeks at a time because I didn’t think I needed to, I am just so darn happy that He didn’t give up on me.

Even when we lose our way, even when we turn our backs, He doesn’t stop loving us. He is waiting with open arms for us to drag our butts back to his love and grace. I’ve been dealt good hands and bad hands, and I play the heck out of whatever cards I’m given.

So, here I am humbled and in awe of my Lord who protects me, loves me, and has given me more opportunities than I ever could have imagined.

August 14

Last summer, my family’s world was flipped upside down. I’m going to give you a little bit of a backstory before I really get into it. I was in shambles, my emotional stability was shaken because I had just went through a very bad breakup. My mom had been taking care of my great grandmama with Alzheimers for over a year. My sister was starting a new job. My dad had been craving ice and losing his strength.

Daddy had been sick for a few months. He was getting tired easily, craving ice like you wouldn’t believe, and losing his strength. He couldn’t even work out in the yard for more than a few minutes at a time. He’s stubborn as a bull and didn’t want to go to the doctor but he had been having some digestive and bathroom problems and we were all a little bit worried about him. Doctors had been telling him for a few years that he had hemorrhoids, but we were certain it was something else.

A little over a week before we were supposed to go to Pigeon Forge for the weekend, Daddy went to the doctor to see a physician assistant that he hadn’t seen before. The PA was concerned when he realized that my dad had been craving ice as that is a sure sign of anemia. He scheduled a colonoscopy for August 14th.

Tuesday, August 14th, 2018 is the day that would change our lives forever. They found two masses. One was a polyp that was creating a blockage in his bowel, that bad boy was causing his bathroom problems. That polyp was the main reason he had gone to the doctor in the first place. Above that polyp, in his colon, was another mass. The doctors had their suspicions about that one. It was darker than a harmless mass would have been. Over the next couple of days, it was confirmed. Daddy had colon cancer.

We had a trip to the mountains planned for that same weekend and we went. We ate good food. We enjoyed each other’s company. We drove around and looked at God’s handiwork in the Great Smoky Mountains. We laughed, we cried, we sang. Mama and Daddy scheduled appointments over the phone. Friends, family, strangers reached out to us to tell us we were in their prayers and that everything would be okay. More than anything, we prayed. We prayed harder that weekend than any of us probably ever had because when your dad has cancer, all you can think to do is pray.

The next couple of days and weeks were a freaking whirlwind. Everything happened so fast. Surgery to remove the cancer, along with 14 inches of his colon, was scheduled for August 31st. We got to the hospital around 4 in the morning, because my PawPaw wanted to meet us there before the surgery so we could pray together. Surgery lasted a few hours, it went well, and he stayed in the hospital until September 4th. We found out that his cancer was stage 3A. A week after that, he was back at work.

October 8th was his first day of chemotherapy. He would have to get 12 rounds of chemo over six months. Every other week he spent Monday at the cancer center, sitting in this room (that he described as the most humbling room you could walk into) with other people sitting around the room getting chemo.

Over the course of the next six months, he made friends in this room with some incredibly strong people. Chemo is poison, people. It destroys your cancerous cells but unfortunately, chemo (like cancer) doesn’t discriminate and it destroys your good cells as well. It attacks the hair cells, mouth cells, the feet and hand cells, among others obviously. Daddy spent the next months struggling to figure out what he could eat and drink because food tasted wrong and drinks were thick, not to mention the cold felt like needles piercing into his lips and tongue. His feet hurt and he could hardly feel anything in his hands. The tips of his fingertips were numb. That man worked the whole time though. He may have called out sick three times… maybe.

Monday, March 11th was his last chemo. He actually still has neuropathy in his hands and feet. It’s manageable but dang, that sucks. April 10th, he had CT scans and on April 12th, we heard the best words we’d heard in months.

No Evidence of Disease. NED. Cancer free. It was as if the biggest weight had been lifted off our shoulders, because even though it was him going through it, we all went through it too. We lived with him, we watched him sick and in pain, we changed dinners up to accommodate. My mother was amazing during the time period. We had people praying for us in different states. The most amazing support system came out of this.

He is healed and our faith already told us that, but the scans confirmed it. I never imagined I would come home and have to hear my daddy tell us that he had cancer, but I knew from the moment it happened that God would bring us through and that he would be healed. The amazing thing is that through this journey, there were more good times than bad ones. It was scary and devestating, but it brought our family together and it created a deep-rooted faith in God that we all thought we had before but by the time it was over, we knew.

Listen. I believe God told my father to go to the doctor. I believe God told that PA that something was terribly wrong. And I believe God placed that polyp there so the cancer could be found, because let me tell you something. We later learned that had Daddy not gone to the doctor, had the cancer not been found when it was, had he waited just six more months… they would have given him two years. Just let that sink in for a moment.

In the Bible, the book of Job tells a story of a man who was tested. He didn’t deserve what he went through, but Job said that even if God did “slay” him, he would still trust Him. Job loved God more than all else in the world and he still faced challenges. Sometimes good people go through bad things.

Job 13:15 says “Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him; I will surely defend my ways to his face.”

When terrible news is delivered, you can choose to listen to the devil and you can get sad and you can give up. Or you can stand up and look the devil in the face and tell him to get lost because God is right beside you. God is holding your hand and He will prevail. I’m posting this because a year ago, our lives changed. This is my dad’s story but it’s also mine. And my mom’s. And my sister’s. This is our testimony and it needs to be told and heard. Life can change in the blink of an eye and you never know what tomorrow holds, so love hard. Love your enemies, love your friends. Forgive the people who never apologized to you and be thankful for the ones praying for you. God is good, even in dark moments.

Enough

I have been so excited to start nursing school. I literally bought my scrubs four months ahead of time to make sure they would fit perfect and I would have everything ready by August 19th.

Yesterday, I drove to my school’s bookstore to purchase my textbooks and when I was walking out of the door with what felt like 50 pounds of books on one arm and a bag full of syringes and saline solution on the other, I felt defeated. I felt alive and defeated at the same time because here I am with my future in my arms but I just charged a thousand dollars to my credit card.

Today, I have been so down and out. My emotions have been all over the place and I am doubting myself. What if I’m not smart enough? What if I’m really bad at nursing school? What if I can’t make friends and allies throughout this journey? What if I can’t even afford to continue? I have spent today getting my loose ends tied up before class starts and cleaning my space. I have also spent today trying to talk myself down and questioning my own self worth. I opened my textbooks and words started flying off the pages and I became so overwhelmed by how much I will need to know.

I am writing this post now though to lay my fears to rest. I am speaking it into fruition, because I truly believe that what you put out into the world is what you will get back from it. God hears and He delivers. 

I am smart enough for this. I have brought myself to this point and if I have to crawl on my knees to bring myself through it, I will. At 16 years old, I was taking community college classes to become a CNA and during that, I knew for a fact that nursing was my future. Caring is something I’m good at. People are my passion. With that being said, I can do this. I will do this. 

I’m going to make friends, I already have made two friends who are in my program and it hasn’t even started yet so why the hellll am I so concerned about that? I am a good person, and a great friend. I am so excited to gain some lifelong gal pals over the course of this journey. 

And as far as the money goes, I can take loans out. I’ve been lucky enough to not have to do that so far but I just had to put a grand on my card so maybe a loan would have been best anyway. Oh well, now I know what to expect next semester and hopefully I can save up my money throughout this semester while I work. The thing is, God is in control. God has my back and He will pull me through deep waters. Not to mention, paying for school is why I’m working over forty hours a week some weeks. 

The point is that I am my own biggest critic. No one will ever judge me harsher than I judge myself. I know a lot of people just like me in that aspect and we need to trust that we are on the right path and making the right moves. We are good enough, smart enough, strong enough, and pretty enough. We are exactly where we need to be when we need to be there. I really hope I can help others realize that because I know that if I’m struggling with this, others are too. 

I really need to stop questioning myself and just trust my own abilities because I can do this. I will do this, and I will be a great nurse. 

Battles

We live in a world where it’s so cool to get angry. If you’re not offended by something, you’re lying. It’s so easy to speak out about what pisses us off because we have the world literally in our fingertips. We are thriving off of being divided. We are creating problems where there aren’t any. We are getting angry about things that aren’t important.

Why do we have high blood pressure? Why is anxiety and depression running so rampant? Why are people literally dying every day due to a road rage accident? Why do we let our anger control us? And believe me, if you pull out in front of me doing 35 while I’m going 50, my blood pressure freaking skyrockets. 

We keep fighting battles with each other about things that don’t matter. I got mad at a friend of mine last week for something so stupid and I find myself wondering why getting mad feels so good. Being angry has become something that’s cool. I get mad at strangers for walking too slow in the grocery store. I’ve seen all out screaming arguments over the absolute stupidest crap just because someone didn’t hear the other person right.

Starting a fight is so cool because we’re “standing up for ourselves.” Wrong. In most cases, that’s not even what’s happening. Stop trying to be a badass. Stop making nothing into something… and stop putting your energy into pointless arguments. 

Pick your battles with both strangers and the people around you. Do you want to lose your significant other over a misunderstanding? Do you want to be in a car accident because you flipped someone the bird and cussed at them because they cut you off? Do you want to risk pushing a friend away because you felt they weren’t being supportive enough? Is it worth getting your adrenaline running and nearly boiling because a customer was rude to you? 

I will say it again… Pick your battles.

If it’s worth an argument, I will be the first person to start one. If I have to stand up for myself, I’ll get right off the couch. I will not be walked on or talked down to. But I am going to start trying to lengthen my fuse. I am going to start watching my words because getting angry over nothing sucks, it takes everything out of you mentally and physically. Keep the past in the past. Forgive the ex who hurt you. Forgive the friend who betrayed you. The anger isn’t worth holding on to. If everyone chose just one thing every day to let go and not act on, maybe we could start focusing on the things that actually matter. 

For every minute you remain angry, you give up sixty seconds of peace of mind.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Let’s fight the wars. Let’s fight for a better healthcare system, for people to get the help they need without going bankrupt or homeless. Let’s fight for people to get the therapy they need without being put down and made to feel weak. Let’s fight for the ones who can’t fight for themselves… for the unborn babies, for the children in poverty, for those around us struggling with addiction, for the brave veterans who fought for US but are homeless, for the animals who only know hate. There are so many things more important than getting angry over something dumb and we all know that we waste energy over dumb stuff sometimes.

Let’s turn our anger into meaningful feelings, into positive action, into repairing the divide. I know we’ve got anger in us. I know I’m going to get mad about something dumb but let’s try to not let our anger drive us. Everyone is fighting a battle of their own and everyone is struggling with stuff that the world doesn’t see so can we please start trying to spread a little more love? Can we show our children, our students, our patients, our loved ones a little more love? This world needs way less hate, my friends. 

Gifts

Some people have to work incredibly hard for things that come incredibly easy for others.

I have to work my butt off to complete one homework assignment in my statistics class while some students complete 5 in the same amount of time.

I can sit down and write a blog post or an essay in ten minutes because I am great at writing and putting my thoughts on paper. Some people struggle to get their thoughts down and essays are their worst nightmares.

Some people have to strategically diet and exercise to lose a pound while others can eat cheeseburgers and never gain a pound. Some people have to work hard to gain weight while others, like my blessed self, can eat a snap pea and still gain weight.

All jokes aside, what’s easy for you might be hard for me and what’s tough for you might be something I can do in my sleep. We all have gifts given to us by a God who knew us before we were in our mother’s womb.

Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart. {Jeremiah 1:5}

He set us apart from others before we were even born, y’all. Our gifts are OURS and that is something you can take to the bank and cash in. Don’t compare what he’s doing or what she’s selling to what you’re accomplishing. You’re on completely different paths with completely different gifts on a completely different timeline, and that is perfectly okay. Embrace your gifts, and don’t be afraid to work hard for what you want because anything is within your reach.