Tuesday, June 11, 2013


Yay!! My passport has returned to me with my Philippines visa! Only three more weeks until I roll out of Knoxville onto the open road!


“I can hear your whisper and distant mutter. I can smell your damp on the breeze and in the sky I see the halo of your violence. Storm I know you are coming.” ― Robert Fanney

Hmm...I absolutely LOVE storms. I hurried home from work this evening, listening to the weather warning overtake the radio with its familiar beeping tones and monotone voice, "Weather reports indicate a strong thunderstorm approaching Oak Ridge and West Knoxville. Seek cover immediately..." I ran up the stairs to my apartment and threw open our sliding glass doors onto the porch, ready to drink in the storm in all its fullness.

I am fascinated watching the weather pattern, taking note of the different wind directions, assessing the quick cloud formations....in my next life I would be a meteorologist. And an astronaut. And an explorer. Such big displays of our world and universe make me shiver with excitement. 

“It’s not a bad lesson to learn in the bleaker months: how you view a storm is a question of perspective; provided you find the right rock to watch it from, it could be the most incredible thing you’ll ever witness.” ― Dan Stevens

Friday, June 7, 2013

CAREFUL: Single Woman Traveling Alone

6:30 am

I board the greyhound bus and quickly find a seat next to the window. As the bus fills up, a man takes the seat next to me. He is Hispanic, middle-aged, with a gold chain around his neck. Out of the corner of my eye I assess him....looks harmless enough with one arm in a cast.

The bus heads out of the station onto I-40 towards Nashville and I find myself having an argument in my head. I want to connect with my seat partner. I want to say something to break the awkward silence of riding next to each other for 3 hours. But maybe he doesn't want to talk. And I'm fighting all the advice about traveling: "Don't talk to strangers. Don't put yourself at risk. Be safe." Especially as I feel like I have the words "Single Young Woman Traveling Alone," plastered across my forehead. That is the one deal-breaker that I get warned about all the time.

Anyone who knows me, knows that I push those boundaries of "be safe." But I'm also a shy person. That's pretty much fact. I sit back and feel more comfortable having people approach and talk to me first. But if I compare my shyness to back in elementary school, high school, or even the first few years of college -- I can see my progression to becoming more and more willing to break that outer shell and approach people.

Alas, I succumb to social norms and hunker down in my seat, making sure to give Mr. gold chain his bubble of space that is expected in Western countries. Halfway through our trip, the bus makes a stop to pick up more passengers. Most people leave the bus to walk around and run into the gas station convenience store. I decide to just keep my seat. Soon we're off again, Mr. gold chain sits down and we continue on our silent way. Suddenly, though, he turns to me and offers me some gum that he had just bought. Not just one, but TWO pieces, because "them things are just too small to give enough chew." I accept the gum and suddenly the social wall is broken! We chat about where we're heading, about the Oklahoma tornadoes near his destination, about my experience responding to the Alabama tornado in 2011... Kudos to Mr. gold chain for breaching the wall!!

Later, as I debark the bus, I'm determined to not wait for the other person to break the silence next time. So many connections that never happen because of the walls I put up.

It's true that there are probably sketchy people out there...like the bus driver who was singing in whispers over the bus intercom (maybe more odd than sketchy). But does that make them any less of a person to talk to and be worth connecting with? Why let fear dictate what we do?

So I've spent all day in Nashville putting this thought on trial today and how FUN it has been! Definitely got me out of my comfort zone a bit. I exited the greyhound station in an interesting area of Nashville...took off on foot through the thunderstorm dropping elephant raindrops on me, chatted with some construction workers who pointed me in the direction of downtown and coffeeshops. Had a great time wandering the streets and seeing what it was like to smile ear-to-ear at everyone I passed instead of the usual, avoidance look down. Entered the Doubletree hotel and wandered their nice lounges and pretending like I had a room there -- ran into another hotel "poser" and we had a great time exploring the ballrooms together. Chatted for a while with a policeman on where I needed to catch the public bus to the airport. And just finished a delightful conversation with an elderly lady at the airport who was selling hats. I told her about my future travels to the Philippines as a missionary and she promptly took a rubber bracelet off her wrist that states, "I AM SECOND," telling me that it would be a good reminder for me to have with me over there. 

“Do stuff. be clenched, curious. Not waiting for inspiration's shove or society's kiss on your forehead. Pay attention. It's all about paying attention. attention is vitality. It connects you with others. It makes you eager. stay eager.”   ― Susan Sontag

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Dwindling Time

Today the new July schedule came out at work. After July 3 there is a sad face by my name and "resigned" crossing out the rest of the month. It's official! They just hired a replacement for me that I will help orient the week before I leave. It is kind of bittersweet to think of leaving. I keep feeling like it is ALL coming too soon! On the other side of things, I can hardly wait to arrive on the other side of the Pacific!

Many times I have thought back to when I decided to take the job here at the hospital in the NICU, wondering if it was the best choice. I already had another job lined up that would pay over double what they were offering me here.Although finances have definitely been tight for me over the last couple of years, I've always concluded that it was a good choice. I have gained gobs of experience here that will help my midwife career. Recently I was looking through one of my new textbooks about assessing newborns. There was a section of pictures that showed rare disorders and as I skimmed through it, I realized that I've seen most all the disorders while working here in the neonatal unit.

So, yes, the experience and things I've seen and observed here will be helpful. But right now, I'm a bit resenting the financial restrictions as I look into the equipment I still have to buy and tuition that needs to paid by the 1st of August!

If any of my blog readers are interested in helping out with specific needs I have (yes that's YOU :) I'm listing equipment below that I still need to acquire. If you want to help, you can donate by going to the tab at the top of my blog and then let me know what you are wanting to help with....tuition, specific medical equipment, health insurance costs, monthly living fund, etc. You can see the breakdown of these costs on my first fundraising post *HERE*  The independent side of me doesn't like to ask for help, but reality is that I know I can't do it alone. Thank you dear friends!!!

Fetoscope $13

Fetal Doppler $470

Infant Stethascope $85.98