Wet Cement

It was raining as I made my way to my first day of work last Monday. There’s nothing quite like a rainy Monday, is there? I was excited, sure, but also nervous. Fortunately, some familiar faces of my former classmates greeted me in the conference room and helped calm my jumping nerves.

I’m not sure what I expected from an orientation day. Definitely to hear about policies and procedures and benefits. Definitely not to hear that I am there because God called me there. I wasn’t expecting to be commissioned or have someone bless me saying, “May you find growth and renewal.” Growth and renewal . . . I’m living and breathing that daily.

Yesterday, was my first day to take on two patients. Not on my own mind you, but all the same it was a little surreal. My patients were good to me and graciously overlooked my fumbling around with new equipment and trying to figure out where things were located. As a “newbie,” I’m more than a little unsure of everything so when I hear my patient on the phone talking about how well she’s being taken care of and how she has the “cutest little nurse,” I think maybe I can do this after all. A coworker laughingly told me with my sassy attitude I’ll fit right in and I hope that’s true. Little moments like this that make the long hours, tired feet, dehydration, and steep learning curve worth it. Because if I can do something with my small hands to help heal, reassure with a smile, while earning a paycheck, then I am definitely blessed. And I felt that blessing driving down West End last week watching the sun rise and kiss the tops of the beautiful old buildings and church steeples on my commute.

A couple Sundays ago at church, Darren was talking about January hopes and resolutions and newness. He used this phrase “wet cement” to describe it and I found myself thinking it was the perfect description of life right now. I’m in a season of wet cement. There’s a lot of change and possibility.

I’m falling in love with life all over again. Finding unexpected joy in so many moments. When I sit in home group with this assortment of people who would never come together under other circumstances yet somehow make this amazing kind of sense as a whole. It’s in the sheer excitement of getting to wear royal blue scrubs instead of the white ones I’ve endured the last couple of years. It’s going to bed exhausted from a well-spent day. It’s the quiet moments when I can catch my breath. Grabbing breakfast with a new gal-pal and talking until the lunch crowd appears. And it’s nights spent with this group of friends that grafted me in and finally realizing they’re not just being polite because I’m a friend-of-a-friend but that they actually like hanging out with me. It’s in finding myself in someone’s lyrics:

it took me 27 years to wrap my head around this-
to brush the ashes off of everything i love.
where courage was contagious, confidence was key.

right as rain, as soft as snow,
it grows and grows and grows,
our home sweet home.

we’ll try to document this light,
with cameras to our eyes.
in an effort to remember
what being mended feels like.

Isn’t it funny how you don’t realize just how broken you’ve been until you’re in the process of being mended?  Sometimes mending comes in the beauty of watching snowflakes drift in the wind and other times it’s being able to simply find the right quip at the right moment. It’s listening to the back-and-forth of a story from so far back no one recalls the same details. It’s being able to make someone who’s in pain laugh. It’s in the randomness and the trivial and the silly. I’m being stitched up by good hugs and long talks and the best company.

And I am more than a little grateful for the mending, for the wet-cementiness, for second chances, for a season to smooth off the rough edges. For time to lean into the scary and embrace the unknown. Just to live the growth and renewal and be thankful for this moment right now, for as long as it lasts.

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What I Wish Someone Had Told Me Before I Started Nursing School

Today I helped host a meet and greet for new nursing students. It was a little surreal thinking that I’m entering my last semester in a few weeks. It doesn’t feel like that long ago that I was the new student wondering how on earth, I, a spill-prone klutzy gal would manage to keep my bright white scrubs clean.

I remember walking into orientation, surrounded by unfamiliar faces and being bombarded by too much information. Well-meaning students who had just completed their first semester tried to give us advice. My take away was that was nursing school was impossibly hard, I could kiss my social life goodbye, my life should now henceforth be devoted to studying, and above all don’t panic.

Well, panicking hadn’t entered my mind. I had felt that sense of peace of knowing I was in the right where I was supposed to be. I was nervous, sure, but I hadn’t considered panicking until I heard people tell me at least ten times not to panic. Fortunately, as I left I found a voice mail message from my nursing buddy who was entering her last semester. I quickly called her back. “Naomi, should I be panicking?” I asked. She laughed and laughed. She told me I could do it, that sure nursing school is hard but I’d be fine. She was right.

So here’s what I wish someone had told me before I started nursing school:
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Count My Stitches, Cross My Heart

The thunder rumbles and I count my stitches. I cross my heart.

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Even with a pattern to follow, I make mistakes. I drop stitches, I add one too many, I have to take them out and start again. At least this time the needle fails to draw blood. With each stitch the picture looks a little bit more like it should. I pull the needle and thread, I whisper prayers too close and wistful to say aloud.

The rain keeps falling and I listen to rainy day music.

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A Schooling in Kindness

I said yes. I simply said I’d love to come. Then, I made plans. I went shopping. I made cookies and Chex mix. I packed. I didn’t think about what that yes entailed. Well, at least not until it was too late to back out.

And for the past few years I’ve been the queen at backing out. I can come up with an excuse lickety-split. You know those books people read about how to set boundaries and how to say no to people? Never needed one. I’d gotten so good at building fences they’d become fortresses. Which isn’t a good thing, it’s just a fact. And even though she’s my oldest friend and I love her dearly, it’s her invitation I have declined again and again. Not when it’s just her mind you. We go to dinner, we’ve talked over cups of coffee, we’ve historically split large Sonic Reese’s blasts with extra Reese’s on too many occasions. But when it came to parties and group events I quickly came up with an excuse. Or I said maybe which nine times out of ten became a no. I’m sure it was hurtful to her at times but that didn’t really occur to me until recently. I’d just been thinking of how I felt at those parties. Small. Continue reading