Books, Writing

On writing and reading

As I have worked on my writing these past few weeks, I have discovered something interesting. I have always been the type of writer who wrote as I went. Now, I’ve never been a terribly great writer when it comes to things like fiction but I could bang out a paper, have it be well researched and get a good grade. Many an English teacher has touted the importance of outlining before you write. I always scoffed at this because I could write papers fairly quickly and very well without an outline. Not a written one anyway. I’d have a vague idea of what I wanted to do in my head. Sometimes it changed course as I wrote but generally it worked well. I have always tackled fiction in much the same way and it’s readable but I usually had trouble getting things to coalesce. Then I started to write down an outline.

Oh. whoa. Suddenly I can see why people talk about outlines as being such important things. I could write a lot more effectively with an outline in place than I could without one. Even though I knew where I wanted my story to go. Even though I have characters in my head. This worked so much better. I will admit that it took a little time. In fact, putting one in place retroactively may cause it to be more time consuming because I have to go back and fix things but it helps a lot. So, I will admit defeat. Outlines are useful things and I can probably see a use for them writing regular papers too, if only to get an idea of where the paper is going before I start writing so I don’t have to rewrite my thesis a dozen times. It means that some of what I write earlier requires some edits but that’s ok. I don’t mind editing. As long as I’m not looking for grammatical errors. That is still a bane of mine.

I still haven’t done my bullet journal post. I keep meaning to and then something else comes up. Like finishing another book or needing to do dishes or going for a run. So it’s still on the list. I’m hoping to be able to use the new layout I have as a more effective tool for watching what I eat, studying, working out and writing. We’ll see how well it goes since Tuesday has me back in classes and with little time to breathe. Also, work, so my whole weekend is pretty much consumed too. Although the last few weeks have been strange with me ending up on the floor a lot. I don’t mind being on the floor. It’s just unanticipated, especially given it’s been more than a month like this.

As a brief aside, I like reading books that nobody else is reading. It makes getting said book from the library much easier. I had wanted to start rereading Outlander because I got halfway through the fourth book and then put it down and never pick dit back up. Now I’ve forgotten a lot of plot points and I feel like instead of picking up book 4 and starting there, I need to go back to the beginning. However, getting ahold of the book is nearly impossible. I’ve had it marked as to hold at the library for weeks. I can only imagine there are a million people in front of me wanting the book. So, you know I may or may not get to that anytime soon. I still have other things to read. It’s just annoying that everybody wants to read it all of a sudden. Honestly, more people need to pursue libraries and bookstores. There are lots of good stories out there but apparently if it’s not on tv, it’s not worth reading which is so silly.

So that’s it. Attempts are being made at lots of things. I still don’t have a post schedule. I really need one. Like seriously. I’m working on it, I swear!

Life, Nursing School

It’s almost back to school

Somehow, this brief vacation is nearly over. I don’t want it to end though. I finally feel as though I’m starting to become a human again, functioning at a normal level and not worried about my next test. But sadly, next Tuesday, we go back to it, jumping in feet first to try and finish this wild two year ride.

I am blessed because I got scholarships to cover the entire year, so I don’t have to pay for any of this or worry about getting money from work (who will help a little bit, if I needed them too through an education program). That’s all good. I was reminded to day of all the little things I still need to do before going back.

The senior students get little sisters/brothers from the incoming class. So I have to contact both of mine, something I still haven’t done as I’ve simply been enjoying not having to worry about getting things done. I have to clean up the bookshelves, from where I just threw books and notebooks onto the shelf, not worrying about where they landed. They have an order that I need them in (that’s the organization in me). I have to check my clinical bag and see what’s stuffed in there and clean out anything that needs to go and make sure I have pens and whatnot.

I also need to go through my backpack, which is full of all kinds of random stuff from going to work and clean that out. Possibly run it through the washer. The only thing I know is clean is my scrubs, which got cleaned after my last clinical and hung up and they are still there. My jacket may be stuffed in my clinical bag, actually… I may see if I can track down a different pair of pants for clinical that actually have pockets in them.

I have two books that I need to try and finish before we go back. That may be challenging. One of them I haven’t started yet, so we’ll see how that goes. I got the kids registered for after school for this year. The only potential problem is that our first clinical day is also the day of open house where the kids meet their teachers. I don’t have hours for that clinical yet, so I don’t know if I can go or not. I’m hoping that I’ll make it. It’s from five to seven at night, but if our clinical goes to six or seven there’s no way I’ll get there (because let’s face it, I’ll be at the hospital farthest from me, like always, so it’s about forty-five minutes from the school).

I meant to make freezer meals but alas, I spent most of my time writing. Who am I kidding, I’ve loved spending so much time writing. So if you are inclined to read crappy fan fiction I’ll leave you a link here: Lost and Found – A Court of Thorns and Roses FanFiction. You don’t have to register to read, I don’t think. Don’t feel obligated. I just know that I’ve talked about it quite a bit and thought some of you may be curious. My original writing isn’t posted anywhere and I’m not at a point to post anything, so sorry if you wanted to read that. Maybe once I have something solid down. Right now it’s mostly outline with vague character ideas and general descriptions that need to be actually written out.

I also have to get a 504 meeting scheduled for my youngest for her ADHD. I meant to get that done before now but it slipped my mind.

The upcoming eclipse has me excited. It’s been awhile since I’ve been anywhere near a solar eclipse… I think there was a partial when I was in elementary school. This one will be nearly complete and I can’t wait to see it (with protective glasses, obviously – don’t look at the eclipse without protective glasses!).

I got through all of the past season of NCIS. I didn’t have to go back and watch any Criminal Minds because I got through all of that during the season. I’m back to watching whatever looks good on Netflix. That’s good because I’m not trying to find time to watch anything.

The rest of my week looks to be pretty quiet. I’m meeting a friend for lunch Friday before working this weekend. We have a friend coming next week to stay for a week. It’s been awhile, so I can’t wait for that either. Otherwise, I’ll be trying to wrap up my fan fiction so that it’s done before school starts (I have more written than I have posted) and then I need to get my planner in order. I meant to do a post about my new planner spread and forgot about it, so I’ll try to get that done tomorrow!

Books, Fitness, Healthy Eating, Running, Writing

It might be a miracle

It’s been several months since I began running again in earnest. It does a soul good to be able to pummel the ground repeatedly with your feet. Unfortunately, I live in an oven. Or at least that’s what it feels like from (usually) May until September. That’s almost half the year if you’re keeping track. And generally it isn’t the heat that is the true problem here. It’s the 90% humidity that accompanies it. That can make breathing hard when you aren’t doing anything. Then put exertion in the mix and you have a recipe for crawling rather than running.

Our weather this year has been odd. It hasn’t been as hot as it usually is and it didn’t warm up until much later than usual. So you can imagine my surprise when I went running Sunday and did three miles with all negative splits. I’ve never run all negative splits, since I started running years ago. I could get the second mile negative but then the third would be a disaster or the second mile would be awful and the third would be better (but not better than the first). Now part of this is a poor ability to pace on my part, which I’ve been working on. But part of it is the horrible heat.

When the weather is cooler out, I can typically run about even splits, a second or two over or under for each mile. Sunday was remarkable because the second mile was almost third second faster and my third was a few second faster yet. It wasn’t a ten minute pace (it was around 10:30) but it was a vast improvement over the 11:00 to 11:30 that I’ve been running. I have no idea what I did differently and could not replicate it today. I’ll keep working at it though.

I have also made efforts to get my food healthy again. I was lax during the last few weeks of school due to stress, so I wasn’t eating as much and some of it was not the best choices (there was a lot of pizza… pizza is my kryptonite). So I’ve really put effort into ensuring that I’m eating a good breakfast and getting lots of fruits and vegetables in, especially while they are really good. I was good about not resorting to eating out all the time. So while my choices weren’t the best choices at home, they were at least choices that I largely controlled the portions and sides for. Small victories, right?

As a brief aside, I will also add that I am working on two more books currently, as I move forward on my day zero project. I have also started a book with a full complement of characters, a brief outline and somewhere around 12,000 words. This is progress and hopefully it will continue. I have research notes and may actually get a notebook to keep details in so that I don’t have to keep flipping to different computer files (it’s easier sometimes to have paper!). I haven’t decided yet what to do with the book once it’s finished. First I have to finish it but I can say with confidence that this one is the most likely yet to actually reach a point where it would be complete. Of course, I’d also need an editor because I am bad with grammar and can make mistakes that are very amateur. A person with good editing skills would need to look over this thing before I even contemplated publishing it.

See what I can accomplish when I have time off?

Nursing School

Fall is coming…

In two more weeks, I begin the battle to the end. Two more semester stand between me and the NCLEX. I know I can pass the NCLEX. I just have to get there (I’m trying to go in with confidence, knowing I will be a lunatic waiting for the results of the test to come back). In two more weeks, we start an eight week class followed by a week off and then another eight week class.

The best part of this semester is that we get Mondays off, so it’s only four day weeks. That makes my life a lot easier. Then if I have my preceptorship I won’t do clinical for at least part of the time because I would have to be at the hospital. We’re actually kind of in limbo about how the precepting works because we haven’t been given a lot of details yet. So patience is key here.

One of the things I’ve been contemplating is where I want that experience to be. We’re limited in where we can go, so labor and delivery is off limits, for example. This makes some sense but at the same time is limiting because that’s one of the places I’d like to get more experience. It’s not something that I have any control over though, so I’m moving on. We’re supposed to pick three places that we’d like to go and rank them in order. Currently, my thoughts are: 1) ED, 2) ICU, and 3) pediatrics (or PICU if that’s an option).

My decisions are based on a couple of things. First of all, they are all places that have critical care components and I really think I would enjoy that. I also feel like if I wanted to interview in an ED and I had experience in an ICU that would be better than just a regular med-surg floor. Secondly, they are all places that I feel like I would thrive. I generally do better with higher stress environments than I do in typical environments. This was apparent to me this semester when I had experiences off of med-surg and felt far more competent in those situations than I did on the regular floors. I don’t know why that is though. Am I just trying harder? Is it that those nurses didn’t know me and expected more (but the ones on the floor don’t know me either, so…)? Was I simply more engaged because there was more going on around me? No idea. All of these things are things to consider though. For the record, I don’t feel like I didn’t do well on med-surg, but rather I felt like I had a better grasp on what I was doing off of med-surg.

Either way, the time is approaching where we are going to have our little selves tossed out of the nest, so to speak. In one sense, I can’t wait. I want to get a chance to really experience working, especially in those environments. On the flip side, it’s a little unnerving to be told we’re going to be kind of on our own and expected to do this. I guess if you’re not a little bit afraid of that, you’re probably a fool.

Life

Day Zero Project

Today I completed my very first task on my list. I ran 30 miles this month. In fact, I ran an extra half mile today after I finished my three miles because when I finished my total was 29.47 miles and I was like “What?!?!?!” So, I finished the 30 because I could. This has inspired me to look at my list again and see what else I could do.

The one that caught my eye (that I’m not already working on) is to take a picture of something for every letter of the alphabet. So 26 pictures, each one showing something starting with the letters a-z. I think I’ll see what I can do tomorrow. I realized that I have several photo challenges on my list. This is inspiring, for some strange reason. I have a point and shoot camera and I have my iPhone. I wish I had something fancier for this but I’m going to work with what I have.

I got two more books from the library, to continue on my way to read 50 books. This goal seems odd to me because I used to read all the time and 50 books would have been nothing but it’s been quite awhile since I read in any quantity so I am digging in to some series that I’ve started but not finished and looking at other books that may be interesting. I have some series that I’d like to start but we’ll see how this goes first.

I have a few Christmas themed ones. Obviously, those will need to wait. Otherwise, I have a strange list with lots of goals all over the place. Some are travel, some are food, some are just interesting goals, some are altruistic.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have some editing on another chapter of fan fiction. If you’re curious, each chapter is less than a thousand words, so they’re hardly chapters in the normal sense but I have taken to writing short snippets and I think that I’m doing ok with it. People are reading it at any rate, so we’ll see. TTFN!

Nursing School

Grades matter but they’re not everything

There seems to be a great discourse going on within the nursing community of how grades and the ability of a future nurse are related. Of late, I’ve heard that it’s not all about grades (the famous C’s or B’s get degrees line) and that a great nurse isn’t defined by their grades. These things are entirely true. But I have an issue with the flip side of this portrayal which seems to imply that if you have good grades, you won’t be a good nurse.

Now, I honestly don’t think that’s the intended connotation. However, words carry meaning and when you repeatedly emphasize how a person being a B student or a C student can still be a great nurse, the other side of that argument quickly becomes A students aren’t good nurses because… well, the only reason I’ve heard is a lack of common sense. Seriously?? That’s just as bad as implying that a student with poor grades wouldn’t be a good nurse.

I will be the first to tell you that it’s damn hard to get A’s in nursing school. Those things should be celebrated for the achievements that they are. It’s terribly unfair to then turn that around and imply that because a person has a high GPA they must be a bad nurse.

Are there people who are bad nurses? Of course there are! But their grades have nothing to do with that. There are nurses who have straight A’s who are fantastic. There are nurses who barely make it through nursing school who are fantastic nurses. There are nurses who make A’s and are awful nurses. There are people who barely make it through nursing school and are awful nurses.

Let’s be real for a minute here. Nursing school is hard. This stuff is not for the weak of heart. There’s a ton of material, a lot of which is pretty complicated stuff because the human body is a pretty complicated thing. Then there’s the people side of it. Some people are just awful to try and deal with and nurses see people at the worst moments of their lives in many cases. And it’s not just the patients that nurses have to work with but their families too. It’s a job that requires both a huge quantity of knowledge and an ability to work with people. And that’s before you even start looking at different specialities within nursing which can be years of knowledge and still not even scrape the surface of what there is to know. Not every person in nursing school is going to be adept at both of those things. The best of us adapt and learn the skills that we’re missing. That makes us better. Some of us don’t adapt or learn new skills. But as in all things, sometimes people get jobs even when they’re not the best candidate.

So what’s my point? Be nice people! If someone is struggling, offer help. And sometimes there’s nothing that can be done. There are people who struggle with tests, especially the way these questions are worded. If someone is doing well, be proud of that accomplishment. If nothing else, they can be a source of help for you – they obviously know a few things. We need to spend our time lifting each other up, not cutting each other down. We will all be better in the long run if we support one another, in whatever ways we can. I mean, isn’t that what nurses do anyway?

Books, Writing

About writing

I can get attached to fictional characters. This probably sounds pretty silly to most people but it has always been true for me. I have been reading since I was very small and often those books were a place of refuge for me, letting me go to places that I couldn’t actually go to and meet people who might have been friends. Since I have always had a fairly creative imagination, I would think about what might happen to those characters after their book ended. Eventually, I discovered tv shows that engrossed me as much as my books and I would find myself contemplating what happened to those characters as well.

Somehow, I never thought about creating my own characters until I was much older. As much as I loved books and to write I never felt as though I was a writer. That was a purview for other people who were better at it than I was. In fact, throughout most of school I felt as though I simply wasn’t good enough at anything for it to be important or valuable. That’s how I ended up graduating from college long after I should have with absolutely no direction. I was lost. Mostly within my books because at least those people were nice to me. Which makes it sound like I had no friends which isn’t true. But often I felt misunderstood and like a background character. I had issues.

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve gotten more attached to characters because I can see so clearly who they are. I have television shows that I’ve watched now for so long that I know everything about those characters (two shows come to mind, NCIS and Criminal Minds) because I am invested in those characters. That happens when you watch a show for more than a decade, I guess. There are also books that I’ve gotten invested in, where I know those characters and love them. This to me, is very different from being a fan of a director or tv show. As an example, I am a huge fan of Kevin Smith. I’ve seen all of his movies. Some of them were not great but I still love him as a director. I am not invested in those characters though. I mean, I can tell you a little about the characters but I’m not invested in them. NCIS – that I am invested in. I have cried over that show (like when Ziva was killed or when Tony met his daughter). I feel as though I know the personalities of those characters and could write stories that involve them.

I mentioned yesterday that I was using fan fiction as a way to work on my prose. Mostly what I mean, is taking those characters and trying to learn how to be invested in them. Sometimes when I work on writing stories of my own, I have issues with keeping an interest in the characters, which shouldn’t happen since they’re my creations. So I’m working on finding ways to learn more about the characters when they seem to be at their worst. Fan fiction is letting me do that without creating a world for those characters because that world already exists. I’m just playing with it. I feel as though it may be working. I have written more in this particular fan fiction piece than I have in anything else. I don’t know that I have the character personalities down yet but I’m making progress. I’m trying to use their voices and speak as they would. Again, work in progress. But there is progress, so that’s good.

As a side note, I have almost completed one of my day zero goals: complete a 30 miles challenge. If you’re unfamiliar, the goal is to run 30 miles in one month. For a lot of people, this is probably a monthly accomplishment. I don’t think I’ve ever done it… maybe once when I was doing half marathon training but that would be five years ago now, so I’m not counting it. I’ve got about five miles to go for July and it’ll be done. I’ll actually run more than 30 miles but I’m good with that. It means I’m back on track. I took time off last week and only ran once so I thought I wouldn’t reach my goal but I have 6 days, so it should be doable. That would be my first official goal crossed off the list. Of course, I still don’t have 101 things on the list but I’ll add some more eventually. I’ve still got 2 years and 11 months.