I Quit

Today was my last scheduled day as a Registered Nurse. I saw two hospice patients. I’m so very grateful for the time and experiences I’ve had. For the patients I helped “pack their bags” to go home. For the deaths I was blessed to attend. For the tears I’ve witnessed. For the stories I’ve been privileged to hear. For the patients I loved and let go. How can a person not get a little attached? Some will forever be close to my mind. And heart.

My mom is a nurse. I was 34 when I lost a well-paying job due to a business closure, and had the opportunity to go back to school with some substantial financial assistance. Don’t get me wrong, I did have to work 2 part-time jobs, nearly lost my house, and stood in food pantry lines to make ends meet for myself and my kids. I learned far more than the piles of information in the textbooks. I learned gratitude, and to accept help from strangers, and that I’m capable of whatever I put my mind to. That was a crazy time! 9 semesters, due to waiting list and pre-requisite courses.

My first nursing job was in Home Health. I learned a good deal about wound care, colostomies, catheters, lab draws and medications. I actually love to drive, which came in handy with the miles put on in a rural area. However, I ended up needing more stable hours and benefits. I went to surgery, working in the suites with the surgical teams. I never fit in. The pace is fast. The environment is cold. I felt like a janitor of bodily fluids, a gopher, and if a person needed shaving or disinfection that was my job. I don’t care to ever prep another gynelogical case. Haha. I don’t like to be in such a rush, either. Or bright lights (unless it’s the sun). Or snarky co-workers. Felt like middle school. It was definitely interesting from a how-stuff-works standpoint. The on-call just about killed me. I had 20 minutes to be in the hospital and I live just about that far away. I started having panic attacks when the phone rang at night. I had everything prepared but holy smokes, to be woken up out of a dead sleep because someone swallowed something they shouldn’t or needed a C-Section was just a jolt.

My heart was always leaning towards hospice, and working in surgery was just the push I needed. People always say “it takes a special person”. I don’t know. It’s an honor and a privilege. Death is the one truth we all have in common, right? After all, a flower doesn’t blossom forever. If I can assist in that transition, my cup is full. So, I jumped in to a full time position as a hospice nurse. There’s so much I loved about it. However, with full time came on call overnight. My body really freaked out. Panic attacks, insomnia, heart palpitations….. I can do a lot of things but being called in the wee hours and having to work the days before and after just aren’t on the list. I was in pain all the time and had full on adrenal exhaustion. The company I worked for was very unlikely to utilize a “casual” nurse, offered nothing else in hospice without call, and therefore I went to Aspirus as a casual.

Aspirus is where I started in home health. I like the company. I like the supervisors. I was hired as a casual – no expectations really. No benefits but by this time I was married and didn’t need them. Work when I’m available. I figured I’d get my massage license and then do 2 days per week of each.

Around December 2017, 4 months or so into my massage therapy practice, I was working 4-5 full days per week doing massage. It kind of took over my schedule. I was available some random Wednesdays to hospice, but the timing wasn’t working out. I went from the end of February to July without putting on my scrubs.

And, I didn’t really miss it. I was committed to covering a vacation in July but kind of dreaded it. You see, in my massage practice I’ve found what I was hoping to in being a nurse. One of the greatest joys in my massage practice is the continuity of care. I actually see the same clients, week after week and month after month. I get to know their needs and tailor sessions for them. It’s the feeling of seeing an old friend when they grace my table, even if only a few words are spoken. I’m never on call. In fact, my phone is in Do Not Disturb mode most of the time. I’ll check it when it’s convenient. My “charting” consists of writing down what my client’s complaints were and what I did about them. I’m usually done by the time they walk out of the treatment room. No meetings. No waiting for doctors’ orders. No Foley catheters to insert. No needles. No medication management. Just a peaceful environment, aromatherapy, and presence. All I really have to do is be present.

It’s like the struggles to get to this place have made my success. I appreciate it with a deep gratitude. It’s like going to work now is a breath of fresh air. I look forward to it. I am allowed to be creative, set my boundaries, and provide the calm and caring space for people to do their healing work.

My experience as a nurse certainly helps. I utilize care planning for treatments. I understand peoples’ conditions and medications, and customize sessions for those circumstances. Nursing has taught me so many things, and thought process is a huge part of it.

As of today, I am no longer available as a Registered Nurse. I will maintain my license and keep ties with Aspirus. I look forward to spending some of my Wednesdays providing the comforting touch of massage to hospice patients in my area, and I’ll do it with the watchful eye of a nurse. My role within the company will be transitioning.

It has not been a year since I officially became licensed for massage therapy and here I am, booked solid for a couple of months. Doing work that I embrace with my entire being. No more panic attacks. No more dreading phone calls or crying because I’m miserable in my work life. Just spreading the love and joy. The awesomeness of my life. The good vibes.

Thank you for allowing me to discover and live my highest passion. I choose joy and abundance. I am at ease.

Namaste.

Why I Became A Licensed Massage Therapist

Clients sometimes ask what made me go into massage therapy. Around 2008, as an amateur athlete, I became interested in sports massage. I had a table and a book, and would work on friends and family at home. I was very interested in the muscular anatomy and the aspects of sports recovery.

In 2011 or so, I was doing some deep soul searching. I spent hours on 2 wheels contemplating my purpose in this life. I rode from Rhinelander to Lake Superior on one solo adventure (135 miles each way – lots of time to think). I camped in a tent near the Union Mine River, and started my official Bucket List. I pick something off of it every year. The first thing was to ride in the Wausau 24 solo category – 24 hours of as much mountain biking as a person could do. This year I’m kayaking Pictured Rocks. At any rate, massage school was on my list. Logistically, though, it seemed far-fetched. It is a commitment of time and thousands of dollars. $6k just for school, not to mention insurance, licensure, equipment, etc, etc. The nearest school is over an hour away.

Then, in 2016, my sister was diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer. By the time it was found, it was beyond treatment. My sister was handicapped since she was an infant, and I’m not sure she understood what was happening in her body.

Becky<—Becky receiving massage and music therapy from Aspirus hospice, shortly before her death in June of 2016. When her massage therapist came to visit, she would have a moment of relaxation and it made her feel so much better. It was the most beautiful work I had ever seen.

Later that summer, my husband and I were visiting a friend, who introduced us to his lady friend, an RN/Massage Therapist. I was treated to her massage and knew I needed more of that in my life. The environment was calm and relaxed. The touch was enough to send me to that peaceful state of bliss….. I felt like between these 2 women, I was being urged to at least check into massage school.

My husband, per his usual, was supportive in me checking it out. I was working full time as a hospice nurse, with one overnight of call every week. I had struggled financially big-time prior to living with my husband, so I didn’t think a bank would actually finance me. Still, I needed to know. I started by calling my bank. No problem, and a decent APR. The school I decided on (Health Touch) for several reasons had just recently started and would accept me a few weeks in, due to my medical background. They met 2 evenings per week, 3-9pm. One of them was my on-call night. A fellow nurse switched nights with me, no problem. It all just fell into place. How could I not??

I’m still not sure how it all worked out. The schooling was not easy, even with my background. It was 12 hours of classroom and 4 of driving, plus practice time on various friends/family, plus studying, plus full time work every week for most of it. Nuts! Just goes to show you what a determined soul can make happen.

My original intention was to massage for hospice, but there have been no openings in my area for that. In the meantime, my little part-time self-employment gig has taken over in an amazing way, for which I’m grateful. I still hold most Wednesdays open in case hospice needs me to put on my scrubs and help as a nurse, but there’s talk of transitioning my hospice role to massage therapy later in summer of 2018. I’m totally down with that. I love bringing calm and caring touch to the people.

If that isn’t a rambling answer to the question, I don’t know what is! There you have it. 10 months into my professional massage therapy career and I’m wholly in love. Pursue your passions <3

Easy Menu Planning + What I’m Thinking About During Massages

This is how I’ve done my menu planning for years. Usually I use one card or piece of paper and put the menu on one side/shopping list on the other. I like having my menu with when I shop. I tend to eat the same thing for breakfast and lunch all week, for the sake of simplicity. I will batch cook as much as I can on a Sunday afternoon, or when I have the oven hot for a dinner I will throw in 4-6 yams for grab-and-go food.

For the first 3 weeks of January I “detox”. Actually, I examine habits that I feel are unhealthy and put the kabosh on them for this period of time. This January I am doing it by way of a diet of fruits and vegetables. I want to acknowledge that I do have a coffee habit. I’m not going there. I’ve eliminated coffee several times in the past and nothing good comes of it. I love a rich, organic French roast *especially* in the dead of winter. Gets me out of bed in the dark of morning. The staples I have eliminated for these weeks are the evening glass of wine and grains. I tend to eat rice and sprouted grain bread. I have a glass of wine 3 or 4 evenings of the week. But, not for now……

As I’m writing this, I am thinking, “detoxing from some rice and red wine??” Yeah, I don’t know either. It’s not like I ate more than a half dozen Christmas cookies during the Holidays or anything.

At any rate, here are my menu and shopping list for the week. I made a last-minute decision to trade baked squash for baked hashbrowns – squash was no longer on sale and potatoes were. This is all organic food from my awesome local grocer, Golden Harvest. The recipes are from www.potatoreset.com and would be considered low-fat vegan. The “cheeze” and “queso” are made primarily from a boiled potato, nutritional yeast and seasonings. Yogurt is for my husband. I decided against almond milk for my coffee for now and crossed that off, too.

Menu

 

Here’s my haul for $98 and change:

Haul

That’s a full pound of broccoli to go with a yam for lunch every day. 10″ of Russett potatoes, 11.5# of yams. You get the idea. Plenty of food. Now, I do have some staples here already which helps.

The other thing I wanted to write about is massage. I love this 2nd job. I love it like it’s my brand new baby. I love the learning, and the people, and the atmosphere, and helping my community move a little easier. Want to know what the quiet pauses are if you’ve been on my table, or what I’m typically thinking? Yes, of course my mind wanders to groceries and obligations at times but for the most part it goes like this: Once you’re situated on the table I rest my hands on you. Usually on shoulders. I picture in my mind that I grow roots into the ground. I plug my hands into the energy of the sun. I give thanks for this person on my table. And then I proceed. This ritual centers me. For the duration, I am thinking about what my hands feel and what my eyes see. Sometimes I’m thinking “cool tattoo!!”. Sometimes I’m thinking what other tools I’d like to implement to help your muscles loosen up. If my mind wanders, I gently bring it back, just like in meditation. I think thoughts of appreciation, esteem, kindness and gratitude. If you’ve shared a struggle with me, I’m likely thinking affirmations for you. And as I conclude the session, I place my hands in 4 locations along the body while I say these words (usually in my mind):  May you be filled with loving kindness. May you be free from inner and outer dangers. May you be well in body and mind. May you be at ease and happy. Look up “metta” if you want to know more.

There you have it.

Holistic.

Body, mind, and spirit.