Thank a Nurse

Nursing is such an incredible, empowering, inspiring profession, but at the same time it can be overwhelming, depressing, and anxiety provoking- anyone who is/has been a nurse can attest to that. As nurses, we are fortunate enough to be able to touch the lives of so many , and many at their most vulnerable times. Yet because of this dichotomy, we are entrusted with a large amount of responsibilities, which can be overwhelming. With increasing censuses, patient acuity, and seemingly endless charting/documenting requirements, I sometimes feel like I am not able to be the best nurse I can be. I feel restricted by these things, and at times I even question myself “Did I do anything today to really help someone, or did I just do the bare minimum?”.  Personally I find that it can be tough to cope as a nurse in this environment- we want to provide the best care and we strive for excellence, but sometimes we feel we simply cannot meet the demands.  We often leave work burnt-out, sad, stressed, tired, and  all the while wondering if all of our hard, demanding, physically and emotionally exhausting work has just gone unnoticed. Then we may start to question ourselves as nurses. Is this why I went in to nursing, to feel like I can’t keep up, and to feel underappreciated?  Then, someone (anyone!) says “thank you” and for a small fleeting minute, the weight of everything else is lifted. It rejuvenates you. Crazy how two small words can mean the world sometimes, especially when we are feeling beat down and overworked.

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a little humor but I can relate!

To preface things, I guess I should clarify that as nurses, we do not do what we do just so we can have someone say thank you to us in return, because that is just not how it works. But, a small thank you goes a long way — whether it’s from management, coworkers, a patient and/or their family. Sometimes it’s the moments like these that help to remind us why we do what we do and inspire to keep doing. Whether or not we are thanked, we will keep doing our jobs (and we will be damn good at it because we are nurses, but I digress).

Anyways, I have a little thank you story that I would like to share. I had a complicated patient a while back, during a really busy shift, with constant admissions and discharges in the higher acuity section of the emergency department. The patient was maybe in her sixth decade of life, chronically sick with cancer and was brought in due to an acute issue that the cancer was obviously not helping with. She was weak, in pain and frail. Her husband was at the bedside the entire time and  was very involved in her care. He was quite doting and asked a lot of questions, and provided a lot of the crucial aspects of the history of present illness – which is not unsurprising or unexpected in this type of situation. I even remember that he knew how to deal with her complex GJ-tube that she had (also not uncommon, it always amazes me what family members take on in order to care for heir loved ones these days). He stated that he often has to troubleshoot it because it gets clogged, or clamped down,  and he was trying to explain to me all the steps he normally takes.  While I am the first to admit that I am in no way an expert or genius with all the different types of tubes and equipment people may come in with, I still wanted to give it a try, because how hard could it really be, right?  After several minutes of tinkering with the tube to no avail, I ran out to ask another coworker for some assistance. When I came back in with a coworker, we both worked on troubleshooting the tube without obvious success. Meanwhile the patient’s husband had been chiming in, telling us what we were doing wrong, and letting us know what we had to do. I could tell that he appeared to get slightly agitated/frustrated when he felt like we were not listening to him. When my coworker left, the patient’s husband vented to me and said “I am sorry to get snappy but I really just didn’t like how she didn’t want to listen to anything I had say. It’s like she didn’t want me to bother her ego. It’s not like I don’t deal with this every day. I know what I am doing”. This was a little uncomfortable for me (I am sure it might have shown in my face) because I did not want to put down my coworker, but I too felt like maybe she brushed him off a little bit and at the very least, I  wanted to let him know I heard his concerns. I apologized and asked him to show me again step by step what he normally does for his wife’s tube. I said something along the lines of “sometimes we forget that you guys are actually the experts with these things most of the time and that we can ask you for help”.  As I continued to work on the tube, the husband, patient and I had a candid conversation about this and how frustrating it must be for the patient/family to feel like they are not being listened to because we (nurses/staff) are just running through the motions doing tasks. We eventually fixed the problem with the tube, at least for the time being, and the patient’s husband and the patient herself thanked me for my patience and for listening to them. In the moment it felt weird being thanked for this.  I told them they in no way had to thank me, that I was just doing my job. He told me that “even though 4 out of 5 nurses would rush through things , not taking the time to sit and listen, it was the one that actually does, that makes a difference . We always remember the ones like you, thank you”. This really stuck with me. I was so appreciative of their gratitude.  The patient was eventually admitted to a medicine floor, and my time as her nurse had ended . The next day I arrived to work and was told there was something for me at the secretary’s desk. To my surprise, there was a bag of chocolates and a card written out to me- the card read as follows:

“Dear Hannah… I know you were upset with me last night, but nothing I said was directed at you. We think you are a super professional nurse. We wish they could all be like you. We have seen the best like you, and we have seen the worst. Thanks for being so nice”.

I was delighted to have a personalized thank you card from this family, especially because I took a lot of my time trying to sit and listen to them when it was really busy and I felt like I had thousand other things to do. But I was also slightly taken aback that he thought he upset me. I didn’t want him to have to apologize for me when he was only advocating for his wife/loved one when he felt like no one was listening to him regarding the care of her GJ tube. But overall it was very heartwarming and gratifying to get this thank you card from him and his wife. Unfortunately, I later found out that the patient became septic and was transferred to the ICU earlier that day where she later passed away. Even though his wife was so sick , her husband took the time to write me this note and thank me on behalf of her and him. I was so touched, and still am.

We have the amazing ability to make a difference to people during a fragile time for them. There is no way we can remember ALL of our patients- usually we seem to remember the ones where something drastic, sad or crazy happened- but we have to keep in mind that they will likely remember their experience with us. Trust me, people will let you know when they have had a bad health care experience, they are usually not shy about this. I like to tell them that I am sorry they have had a bad experience in the past and let them know that I am going to try do my best to make it so that their next experience is maybe not so anxiety provoking or maybe not so negative in their mind. Sometimes, just acknowledging their concerns and sitting in listening for a few minutes (which seems like an eternity when you feel like you have 100 other things to do) goes a long way for patients/families. And maybe, just maybe they will thank you for listening to them.

Many times at work, I am juggling anywhere from  3-7+ patients in the emergency department, meaning their acuity can range anything from non-urgent to life-threatening. Ideally, if there are higher acuity patients in my assignment the ratio is better, but that is not always the case because things are ever-evolving in the emergency department. At any given time however, the constants are still the same: patients are requiring assessments, IV placement/bloodwork, pain management, medication administration, assistance with activities of daily living (ie: getting up to the bathroom or commode), patient education, food/drink, documentation (a whole other beast)…etc. So there are days when I am literally running  around from one room to another, trying to get all the needed tasks done, all the while, feeling slightly dejected that I am not spending as much time listening/talking to my patients as much as I would like to. I try my best to try to give all my patients my full  attention and try to present myself as though I am not rushed,  (even though in the back of my head I already have a mental checklist of the next 5 things I need to do as soon as I can leave the room) because that is what I would want for my loved one if they were the patient. But the sad reality is, that doesn’t always happen and I know that the majority of the time some patients get put on the back burner while I attend to someone who may be “more sick” or someone who more often than not, may be making more of a scene (overuse of the call bell, yelling out and disrupting staff and other patients, using obscene language , etc). This constant chaos leaves me feeling really burnt out and frustrated, but also makes me feel that I am not always doing a good job at my job (major sad face here).

Recently however, I had a few patients/family members acknowledge how busy the department was, and how busy I was running from room to room and despite all of that , they thanked me. Even though I felt like I didn’t necessarily do much for them to warrant being “thanked” for, I was elated, shocked, taken aback. These two small words went such a long way and were so gratifying to me, especially at a time where I was stretched thin and probably didn’t/couldn’t provide the best, most thorough nursing care ever. Moments like these inspire me to not give up hope and they remind me of why I became a nurse! (Am I the only one who gets over excited,happy, emotional when a patient/family member thanks me?)

And finally, this one sums it up perfectly — This gentleman came in to triage,  sat down complained of chest pain and was going through the triage process when he slumped over and became unresponsive and pulseless. He was quickly rushed back to a room and CPR was initiated. He received 1 shock for V tach and compressions were resumed while we attempted to get access in him for meds. As I was putting in the IV I felt his leg move and alerted the team- hes alert, hes awake!!! He started to move all extremities and then he was able to start talking to us. It was an amazing and satisfying feeling when you can revive someone like that. We quickly carted him off to the cardiac cath lab …and he ended up doing well and is now home recovering! He sent us this lovely card after the fact:

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We Really Have the Best Jobs (info covered to protect privacy)

The fact of the matter is, we do have amazing jobs. We save lives. We get to be part of miracles like this. We don’t always get thanked, but when we do, it makes it all that much more beautiful.

XOXO,
Hannah

Food for thought: Think about a time a coworker thanked you for something you did, and think about how it made you feel. I know I am genuinely so appreciative of this, because I know we all are feeling the weight of patient census and acuity. I know that personally, when I have been thanked, it has gone a long way in my mind. I try to be mindful and thank my coworkers when I get the chance, because we are all bogged down and overwhelmed at times and we often forget to let each other know that we appreciate each other and recognize how hard we all work on a daily basis. It fosters an environment of caring- which is what we should all be about. Lets start the cycle of taking care of ourselves and one another, and appreciating and recognizing each other for all our hard work. Before you call out your fellow nurse on “why haven’t you done this or that” while getting/giving report, stop yourself and put yourself in their shoes– You don’t know what else they had to deal with on their shift.  Be appreciative of what they have done (versus what they haven’t done) and say thank you for that. Kindness and gratitude go a long way.  Thank your coworkers for coming in to work and putting their patients first, despite dealing with their families, personal issues, own crises. We all have lives outside of work, and sometimes we forget that. Thank them for coming in and doing their best they can to be a part of the team with you- recognizing that they may have left all their troubles at the door in order to do so. Don’t wait until shit hits the fan or some big/remarkable case happens to thank your coworkers (we are often good at thanking each other and recognizing each others’ hard work during extreme situations like codes, traumas, etc..) but sometimes we forget to say thank you to our coworkers in less “obvious” situations.  Thanks to all my amazing coworkers, who not only deal with my annoying/complaining ass,  but inspire me to be better every day. I love you all.

Advice to My Younger Self as a New Nurse: What I Know Now

I was recently thinking back on all the things I have learned over my past three and a half years as a nurse & it’s a lot. Most of it, I didn’t even learn in nursing school. In fact, most of it was learned in real life practice. Through my mistakes and successes, the good days and the bad, I became a nurse. 

I thought it would be interesting to write a blog post on advice that I wish I could tell myself as a new nurse, now that I know what it is like. Anyone who is a nurse (also applicable to several other professions) can attest that starting out as a brand new nurse is overwhelming, daunting and challenging. I remember knowing that I learned all of this information in school but it was so different trying to translate everything in practice somehow. It was like I had a big arrow pointed at me that said “NEWBIE NURSE” and I felt insecure in my abilities to be a nurse for a long time. It definitely took a while to become comfortable with my role and my knowledge, and to feel like I was a nurse, not just someone pretending to be one. I remember getting a lot of advice from fellow nurses and friends at the time about how to cope with this transition.

I wish I was able to give myself back then advice from myself now, knowing what I know now. I would tell myself that it is going to be okay- that you know what you are doing more than you think. That a gentle nurses touch can go a long way, and active listening can make any patient feel like a PERSON, not just a patient. That silence is sometimes a good and necessary thing. That your instinct is sometimes more powerful than anything you may have learned in a book, lecture or conference. And that you WILL grow as a nurse, it will become more natural, and you will be confident in your nursing abilities one day. That it is always okay to ask questions, no matter how stupid or crazy you think it is. No one is going to fault you for asking questions, seeking answers and furthering your education. That is the beauty of nursing, it can open many doors for you, if you let it.

I asked a bunch of my nurse friends and colleagues to help pitch in with their advice they would give their younger selves and the results were beyond amazing and powerful. Not only do I think they are a good guide for new nurses, but also serve to be true for any nurse, experienced or not.

Advice to your Younger Self as a Newer Nurse:

  • If you don’t know, just ASK. There’s no way anyone can possibly remember everything from nursing school- plus every hospital/unit is a little different. Also, don’t feel like an idiot for not knowing! “Veteran” nurses will be happy that you’re attempting to do things right. (I personally recommend complimenting them on how knowledgable they are before asking them my question- everyone loves a compliment!)
  • Asking questions does not make you dumb! Ask ask ask! Ask things you don’t know, ask things you think you may know but want a second opinion. Ask anyone. Ask doctors ask nurse practitioners ask respiratory therapists, physical therapists, anyone and everyone. The more you know, the more confident you will become.
  • Never stop asking questions!
  • Stay calm, think before you speak and listen!
  • If you’re unsure of something– seek out experienced nurse for some feedback and advice. No question is a dumb question.
  • Go with your gut… If you feel like something’s wrong with your patient there usually is. Nurses intuition is a real thing.
  • Join a military branch, become an officer with goal of retiring from the military. Excellent benefits for rest of life, health etc.
  • Nobody loves staying in the hospital so be extra sensitive to the emotional piece. Patients and families might not be themselves when they are flooded with worries/fears. Be kind, be understanding and you’ll be more resilient.
  • Listen. I mean, really listen. Hear what people are saying without the words. Everyone has a different story and you are only seeing a tiny snapshot of their life. Don’t judge. Instead listen. Listen to their bodies. Listen to their tone. Listen to their eyes and their face. They say so much more than what you ask.
  • Nursing gives you the opportunity to explore your interests, you can’t possibly have covered all the different types of patients to care for in nursing school (elderly, med surg, cardiac, cancer, pedi, mother baby, ICU, surgical,neurological) take a chance that something you haven’t experienced yet might be your true passion. And don’t be afraid to change it up and learn nursing in different settings, the hospital is not for everyone. Take advantage of the fact your license allows you to be a lifetime student, constantly learning.
  • Always remember you were once a student…so when you have an opportunity to mentor a new nurse…think of what your mentor did to help you…and do the same. Not only will you help someone else but you will grow in the process
  • After a few years of consulting – An easy one is to put your cell phones away. Be present. Make sure your attention is on the patient and your fellow staff members. Save the face-spacing to break time. Healthcare is personal, important and intimate, treat it that way.
  • Make a mental list of things you can “fix”and things you can’t! Some things can’t be fixed, and some things just shouldn’t be! Learning that lesson helped me prioritize my care and keep my sanity in the ICU. And advocate for your patients, even when it’s not easy to do so!
  • Never be afraid to ask questions… take those patients that scare you the most… be forgiving, 1) towards others, we haven’t walked in their shoes, no matter how much we THINK we know about them, and 2) towards yourself, cut yourself some slack, do your very best always, and if you weren’t as successful with something as you had hoped, scrutinize, learn, then move on. … and always listen to your gut!
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Nurse humor

What advice would you give to your younger self as a new nurse? Or what advice would you give to any new nurse?

xo

Hannah

(Special thank you to all you awesome nurse friends who posted  in response to my question-prompt on my facebook page that helped to contribute to this post! You know who you are!)

 

Masters of Science: I Did It!

It has been a crazy, wild, stressful two and a half years, but I am happy ecstatic to say that I am finally done with graduate school!

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Matt & I after the Ceremony. I am so lucky to have this great man in my life. 

School has always been important to me, so when I decided that I wanted to go back for my masters degree and was accepted, I was beyond thrilled. Looking back now, I kind of have to laugh, because I thought it was going to be fun, not-that-hard, and manageable with my work schedules. Boy was I wrong. Grad school is a different demon than nursing school– which says a lot because I don’t personally know too many people who openly admit that nursing school was a breeze. However, I will say that grad school made nursing school feel like a breeze after the fact…

Anyways, over the past two and a half years while I have attended grad school full-time I have:

  • Worked 5 different RN jobs, 2 of them travel positions (which were full time)
  • Broken my right ring finger/hand keeping me out of work for 8 weeks while on a travel contract
  • Had to cope with my younger sister being hospitalized and diagnosed with a serious autoimmune disease
  • Met the love of my life and best friend, and subsequently had to deal with a long distance relationship
  • Ran in 4 half marathons
  • Adopted a stray cat “Audrey” from the local animal shelter
  • Struggled with severe anxiety (yes severe, as in it affected my friendships/relationships/school/work)

 

This is probably not even an exhaustive list, but it helps to make my point. It was not an easy ride. There were so many times that I wanted to quit and  said ” I am done with this” or wondered why I was putting myself through this. Looking back, I honestly don’t know how I managed to do it, and graduate on time, but I did. It feels like the greatest accomplishment and it makes all those hard times even better.

I didn’t do it alone though. I could not have done it without the help from my family, especially my mother who believes in me with the entirety of her heart. I also owe a big shout out to my wonderful, handsome, supportive boyfriend Matt because he has had to deal with me during some of the darkest times of my life. He has been a huge supporter of me from day 1 and he has been there for the highs and lows, some of them not very pretty. How I didn’t scare him away is really beyond me- but that is another story.  I also couldn’t have done it without my professors and advisors who supported me on the way and served as mentors to me through and through. I remember when I broke my finger and I called the school of nursing at UVM and asked to take a leave of absence because I would have to be  in Boston for almost 2 more months than planned to finish out my work contract, which would overlap with one of the busiest semesters of school. Not long after I had called about taking a leave of absence, I received a phone call from my academic advisor and the director of the program I was in. I will never, ever forget this conversation. She took almost two hours out of her busy day and life to talk with me about all my possible options; about how I was doing, what I wanted to do, and most of all she reassured me that I could do this and that she would help me through it. She discouraged me from taking a leave of absence, but instead encouraged me to continue through at least part-time. She was honest, kind and helpful through my tear-filled phone conversations with her and we decided together that I would try to make this work out somehow. And guess what? I did. I did it all somehow, despite all the obstacles that were destined to drag me down. But like I said, I would never have been able to do it without the people in my corner- my professors, my family, my boyfriend, my co-workers.

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My mother and I. My rock, my number 1 supporter, my biggest cheerleader.  I wouldn’t be here today without her.

The one thing that I have heard the most recently is “I don’t know how you did it all”. Well, I don’t know either, I would like to say that I believed in myself, but honestly, at some points I really didn’t. But I didn’t want to give up just because things got hard. I have always been someone who is used to being busy or doing twenty million things at once, so I could do it right? Right. Did the last two and a half years challenge my sanity, patience, willpower and strength? Absolutely. Would I do it again and repeat all of this? Umm…Probably, because after all was said and done, it felt really amazing. It really felt like the biggest accomplishment of my life to date. Being able to walk on stage during the Hooding Ceremony to receive my Master’s of Science regalia with my family and loved ones watching was one of the happiest moments of my life. I am even smiling right now thinking about that moment.

Although I doubted myself at many times, I have realized that anything is possible when you put your heart and soul into it and when you have people that believe in you.  I am so blessed to have the opportunity to the education that I have been given and I am so grateful for every little bit of it, even the hard times. I have learned so much over the past two and a half years, but most importantly I have learned to believe in yourself- we are resilient and we can persevere so much more than we can imagine. Dreams really do come true.

Next up: I have to take my boards so that I can officially be a NURSE PRACTITIONER!!!! Watch out world, I am ready to do great things!

Thank you for reading & feel free to share any personal experiences with your schooling!

xo

Hannah

 

 

New Job!!

I haven’t posted much recently because I have been so busy between moving from one apartment to another and orienting to a new job. I loved my old job as a mother/baby nurse but I couldn’t pass up an opportunity to be an urgent care nurse for the same hospital facility I was currently working at. I saw the job posting and applied for the position and when I got an interview and a call back, it was a sign that this was meant to be. I would finally have a set schedule again, something I haven’t had in SO long AND I wouldn’t have to work night shift. I was willing to sacrifice a little bit of an hourly paycut for this new job because I knew it would be the perfect opportunity for me to grow as a nurse and future nurse practitioner and because I really did need some consistency in my life as far as scheduling goes. To me, I know I made the right decision.

I am about 3 weeks and halfway through my orientation to my new job. This urgent care center is not like your run-of-the-mill urgent care… It is so much more. In fact, it used to be an emergency room back in the day, so may people in the area still think it is an Emergency room. The acuity level of patients coming through the door varies IMMENSELY from sore throat to chest pain and shortness of breath.  It definitely keeps things exciting and keeps me on my toes. The adrenaline junkie in me loves a good bit of excitement in my day! I feel like I have already seen and done so much and I am not even done orientation yet! I am definitely not complaining. I have even been learning to master phlebotomy lab draws and insert IVs. In the past I had inserted some IVs into newborns, which is a big challenge, so I did not anticipate IV insertion at this job would be terribly difficult, but it has been a learning curve. However, it is so satisfying to get an IV in first try that it makes the couple of misses worth it.

And I can’t forget to mention the patients- they are what make me love the job. The people that come through the door can be old or young, sober or drunk, white or black but they are people and they all come bearing a story and it is part of my job to figure out that story and help them in a time of need. You will be surprised what kind of information people release to you when they trust you with their health, it is truly amazing. As crazy as some days can be, and some patients, this wild variety is part of what makes this new job so great.  And its so great to help people to get healthier, mended, or get some answers when they are literally at such a time of urgency, need or worry– 9 times out of 10 they are so grateful and that is what makes it all worth it.

Can’t wait to get up in the morning and do it all over again! Crazy stories to come, there are plenty.

xo

Hannah

Friends Come & Go

I remember being younger and thinking that “friends are forever” and that I would be so blessed to have my closest friends in my life forever and ever and that nothing would ever tear us apart- we wouldn’t be like other people who grow apart- because that just would not happen to us. I am blessed to have had the people I called my closest friends in my life at some point, because I truly believe they helped me become the woman I am today, but we were not lucky enough to stay “friends forever”. The funny thing is that people come and go in your life everyday, some of them strangers, and some of them friends. Life is such a crazy, fast-paced ride that before we even realize it, sometimes we lose some friends and acquaintances along the way.

At High School graduation, I remember crying relentlessly, hugging my friends close. It was a mix of excitement and sadness; I would be leaving behind my friends, my best friends to go off to college. This is one the first experiences I had with losing friends. It isn’t like I even lost friends, I just lost touch with my friends and the relationships became strained between lack of communication, distance and different interests. I think this is a fairly common experience for this age group as we moved out of our comfort zones, tried to become independent and make friends with completely new people.

Fast-forward to college:

In college, you meet so many people it is almost overwhelming. But during this time period, I believe you meet some of the people that will become your lifelong friends. This was such a fun time in my life because I felt like I had such a wide variety of friends and so many acquaintances and I just remember it as being an extremely happy period in my life. We learn so much more than what we are studying in college; we learn how to live with others, how to deal with others and how to create bonds with people that will last a lifetime. I have a couple of friends from college that I consider lifelong friends and hold dearly to my heart and cannot imagine my life without them.

Then you graduate and things change again (FYI I hate change if you couldn’t tell). You move away, or your friends move away and everyone gets real people jobs or are studying for GREs and applying to more school. Friendships and relationships become estranged and you start to see which of your friendships are resilient enough to overcome all the changes and strain. Unfortunately, you realize that it is no longer convenient for certain friendships, or that without binge drinking on weekends you and another friend no longer have common interests, or simply that you just lose touch with one another. This is a sad time because I remember reflecting on just a few months prior when I was so happy and seemed like I had such a close group of friends. Now I had a real job, and my hours were crazy and I hardly got to see my friends and it was challenging to plan outings with everyone’s varying schedules.

Over the past few years, people have come in and out of my life- for better or for worse. There have been times when I have been so upset, stayed home and cried over a glass of red wine and sulked about why my friend doesn’t want to be my friend anymore , or why I heard that this friend was talking to that friend about me and I wondered what I must have done wrong.

I still deal with the sadness from time to time because I feel like over the past few months, my relationships with my friends have changed greatly. I have a few close friends who I would do anything for, and I know they would do the same for me. But then I look back and see there are such strained relationships with friends that I don’t even know if I can call friends anymore.

We used to be so close and do everything together- laugh, cry, cry because we were laughing so much. We used to tell each other everything, not fearing judgement from each other, we used to stuff our faces full of junk food just because we didnt care. We used to know each others schedules and we used to enter each others houses without knocking. And now I couldn’t feel farther apart- I don’t know what you are up to lately, I don’t know how I would even start a conversation with you if I saw you. I would hope that it would flow easily, but then again there has been so much lapsed time. Things just seem different. There have been a few challenges our friendship faced, but I never would have guessed they would have brought things to where they are now. I guess this is just part of the changes that occur. I will always look back on these friendships and smile at the memories, and occasionally I will be saddened by the fact that things are so different now. But what I have come to realize is that I can no longer sulk on this. Friendships are tumultuous, people come and go. Despite it all, those who are going to stand by your side will continue to do so and those who will slip away will slip away.  I cannot dwell on how things are different, and I won’t consider these “failed friendships”, but ships that have sailed in different directions. Maybe one day the wind will blow us both in the same direction again, or may it won’t. But I have learned something from every friendship I have had to date: it takes two parties to make things work and I cannot solely place blame or guilt on myself for these friendships not working out- that is just life.

I am so grateful for those in my corner- through all my good times and bad- they have helped me more than I can ever express.  As I move through this journey called life- this hectic, crazy, rollercoaster- I will hold my friends close by and let them know how much I appreciate them. I will not dwell on those friends that have slipped away; everything happens for a reason.

I have always been a people-pleaser, and I always wanted to be friends with everyone and make everyone happy, but I realized that I was doing that at my expense.  I need to care about myself and want to be friends with myself before I can expect others to want to be friends with me and this is one of the things I have learned over the past few years that I still need to work on.

XO,

Hannah

How have your friendships changed over the years?

The Good Lie

Tonight I had the pleasure of watching Hollywood’s version of storytelling the tragedies and triumphs of the “Lost Boys of Sudan” in the 2014 film, “The Good Lie”. I must say that I initially had some hesitations, but was really impressed overall with the entirety of the film. The acting was on par (many of the actors are actually survivors of the refugee camps themselves), the storyline was genuine, and every minute of the movie tugged at my heartstrings.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the story of the “Lost Boys of Sudan”, I highly recommend doing some quick reading/research. It is a terribly depressing and horrific part of history, but it is also moving to see a group of people come together as “brothers”  to protect one another and simply try to survive despite the unfathomable terrors surrounding them.

The Lost Boys of Sudan were collectively given their name when roughly twenty-thousand displaced children and orphans trekked thousands of miles in the late 1980’s to seek refuge in a camp in Kakuma, Kenya after being ambushed in what was known as the Second Sudanese war.  I won’t get into too much of the history, because it is worth researching and educating yourself if you are interested.

Honestly, until a few years ago, I can say with one hundred percent certainty, that I knew nothing about this group of people, this war, this struggle and struggles similar to these. I know, how naive of me.  I grew up in a small, predominantly Caucasian town in Southern New Hampshire, and not to knock my school or education, but I do not remember learning about topics such as these. Yes, it is very depressing and upsetting to learn about what these people went through, lived through, died through, but it is real life. It puts things into perspective.

I first learned about this population a few years back during my junior/senior year of undergraduate school at the University of Vermont when some fellow classmates and I were assigned to put together an educational presentation to a group of resettled African refugees in our community- Association for Africans Ling in Vermont, (AALV).

What a lot of people don’t know (myself included prior to my education and time living here) is that teeny tiny Burlington, Vermont is a location that is part a national refugee resettlement program that houses those seeking refuge and asylum from their country of origin.  I can’t even begin to explain how foreign it must be to some of these people to come from living in a village in the deserts of Africa to living in subsidized housing in Burlington, Vermont- a place where people talk different, dress different, eat different , do everything different. I could continue to go on and on, but I digress. For anyone interested, I highly recommend doing some research and watching some documentaries and movies that touch upon this subject.

My personal favorite is a documentary from 2006 entitled “God Grew Tired of Us”.

Secondly, the movie I began speaking about at the beginning of this post, “The Good Lie” is an excellent (in my opinion) Hollywood redo per-say of the “God Grew Tired of Us” storyline.

I encourage you to learn more about this population- do some research, do some reading, watch these films, talk with these people if you have the opportunity. I work in Burlington, VT so a lot of the staff and patients at my job are immigrants and refugees and although we generally tend to think that they can learn a lot from us and our culture, we too can learn a lot from them if we open our hearts, minds and eyes.

The Good Lie

DIY: Homemade Make-up Remover Pads

Sometimes I like to get a little crafty and make things just for the sake of making things, but I must say, this was one of my more practical creations. Recently I was perusing around on Pinterest and came across many different concoctions and creations for “homemade” face cleansers and make-up removers. Its a simple concept, seems easy enough and practical at that. I mean come to think of it I go through sooooooo many packages of make-up remover wipes that it actually isn’t funny (and gets pretty pricey). So naturally, I looked around my vanity to see what “ingredients” I had that I thought would make a good, hydrating, gentle, cleansing make-up remover.

Here’s what I found…

Hannah’s Homemade Makeup Remover Pads Before you begin, make sure you wash your hands (after all you are going to be touching the pads that will be touching your face and if your hands are dirty, well…). And keep in mind, these numbers don’t have to be exact!

  • 1 cup of distilled water
  • 1 Tablespoon of Sephora’s Waterproof Makeup Remover
  • 2 1/2 Tablespoons of Tarte’s Maracuja Oil (this stuff is SO amazing and does not clog your pores, you can use any oil really but for my skin, I know this oil does not cause me to break out and it helps clear up my complexion)
  • (Optional) I used a few sprays/spritzes of Sephora’s Daily Makeup Brush Cleanser because it has antibacterial properties in it and my rationale is that if we use it to clean our tools that we use on our face, it should work as a great cleanser added in our own makeup removing solution.
  • Glass Jar (Mason Jar, Pyrex, anything airtight to store your pads in)
  • Cotton Rounds from a drugstore

Now for the fun part! Gather all your supplies and get ready to make your final product (I know I am so nerdy that I get excited over something like this…)

my chosen ingredients

my chosen ingredients

Next, add the water and the rest of your ingredients (the oil, the cleanser, etc) all into one cup. Stir- the oil will separate from the water, that is just science, but try to mix it up as best as you can. Grab your glass storage container of your choice (making sure that it is clean obviously) and add about 5-6 pads to the bottom of the dry container. Now pour a small amount of your premixed concoction over these few pads– you will see the pads absorb some of the liquid. Keep alternating between adding small stacks of pads and adding the cleansing solution over the pads. By the time you are done you should used up most, if not all, of your mixture and the pads should be saturated and there should only be a little bit of liquid “floating around” down at the bottom!

This is after all the liquid mixture has been added and as you can see the pads are saturated and all you need is the lid!

This is after all the liquid mixture has been added and as you can see the pads are saturated and all you need is the lid!

Ta-da! And that is it! I was so excited to try my new makeup removing pads right away & am so happy to say that they did not disappoint! It was fun to create something of my own that I need to use daily and it was so easy because I just used everyday items  and products that I already have lying around.

the finished product in an airtight container!

the finished product in an airtight container!

Honestly, you can really choose whatever ingredients you think will work best for your skin as long as you have the water, an oil, and some sort of “cleanser/toner”. Experiment a little and let me know what you think/try!