Writing

The Prophesy is made

Disclaimer: This is a story that has been forming in my head. This is all I’ve managed to get on paper so far, so I’m putting it here. If you want to read it feel free.

Queen Dana looked out at the party and smiled. Summer solstice had always been her favorite time of the year. Still, she had an uneasy feeling that something would happen tonight. The fae’s predictions had unnerved her. She shook her head, trying to shake the fog away and enjoy the solstice celebration. She turned, hearing a step beside her and came face to face with a tall, red haired elf. He had her green eyes and her sharp cheekbones, the only indication that they were brother and sister.

“Eldan,” she said cheerfully, “I thought you weren’t going to be able to be here.”

He shrugged and looked at his sister.

“Change of plans. I had a fairy tell me I needed to come instead of patrol the border.”

“Since when do you heed the warnings of the fae?” she asked seriously.

“Since this one was so insistent. He seemed sure that if I wasn’t here that you would be in danger.”

Dana frowned. That would make two fairy folk that had warned her family of danger. The dark cloud came into her mind again as she began to worry.

Eldan sensed his sister’s concern and patted the long sword at his side.

“Don’t worry. No harm is coming to you or anyone else in our family,” he said sternly.

Dana simply nodded. She had no doubt that her brother could protect her. He was a master swordsman, having spent years learning how to wield the sword. Their father had ensured that he could protect their lands and Eldan took that duty seriously. The summer lands were everything to him.

Eldan scanned the party and gave his sister a pat on the cheek.

“Don’t worry,” he said as he strode off.

But the queen was worrying. The fae normally stayed out of the elven affairs. The two groups were hardly friends and often there were issues between elves and fairies when the two groups came together. When the fae came to the elven royalty of their own accord, it meant something serious was about to happen.

Eldan’s red hair was fairly easy to spot amid the crowd of elves. It was a unique feature and nobody was surprised when he turned out to be adept with fire magic. Any elf that had that hair color was almost always a fire adept. Dana’s own magic was also fire but she was not as skillful with it. That was part of why she always looked for someone to protect her. Her brother and her husband were the two people she relied upon.

Marrying the elf who would become king of the elven lands had not been Dana’s intention but somehow Galdren had fallen in love with her. He was powerful and Dana had been drawn to that. Now that they had been together so long, she truly did feel a deep affection for him, although not really love. She was excellent at playing her part though, and only two other people were aware of her true feelings for her husband. So now she was here, a queen and occasionally a target for others. She had a feeling that she was in crosshairs tonight.

The summer solstice celebration was picking up and the music was incredible. The group playing was enchanting the crowd and the large ring of dancers was growing. As the night wore on, Dana became more comfortable and was starting to feel that she had been silly for worrying. Nothing had happened and the night was beautiful.

As soon as she had the thought, she felt the air change. Before she could move, she felt her brother’s presence at her back. Galdren was at her side a moment later. The crowd felt the change in the air too and the elves were looking around, trying to find the source of the cold. Stepping out of the shadows, a dark fairy moved into the ring of dancers. Her clothing was dark and her skin was purple but so dark it almost looked black. She looked around, finally finding the queen.

“Milady,” she said tauntingly.

Dana wasn’t queen by accident though and played the royal she was.

“What do you want fae?”

The fairy sneered, “You speak very brusquely considering I know secrets that could destroy you.”

Dana drew back, looking as haughty as she could.

“I don’t have any secrets. Now go from this place. This celebration is not for your kind.”

The fairy shook her head and stood her ground.

“Not before I give you the prophesy.”

“We do not need your prophesy, fae,” said Galdren angrily.

The fairy laughed. It was an evil sound and the elves closest to her drew back.

“I have come to tell you this and then I will leave. A plague on this land and its people. There will come a day when the queen of the elves will have a child. That child will be born this midwinter.”

The fairy leered at the queen who looked taken aback. She hadn’t even told her husband that she was expecting their child. She shook her head, confused.

“You can’t know that,” Dana said.

“You already know,” the fairy sneered again.

“This child is going to bring forth a period of woe for the elves. A period of drowse, where no progress will be made. The lands will shrink. The end of the elven age draws near.”

As suddenly as she appeared, the fairy was gone.

Galdren turned to his wife. “Is this true?”

Dana nodded her head, still in shock.

Galdren frowned. He was unsure of what to do next. Eldan put his hand on his sister’s arm.

“The fae don’t know what they speak of,” Eldan said. “How can she know that a child will bring woe? This child may bring in a new joy for us and the fae are trying to scare us.”

“We all know that the fae prophesy. What fae prophesy have you ever known to be untrue?” asked Galdren.

Eldan shook his head.

“Our first child,” sighed Galdren. Finally he spoke.

“This child can not be allowed to become royal. They will have to be given to another family, raised as a common elf. The child can not become a leader of the royalty.”

Dana looked at her husband angrily.

“Are you suggesting that we banish our child?” she asked him.

“What choice is there? The kingdom must be protected.”

Dana shook her head. “No.”

Galdren looked at her carefully before speaking.

“There is no choice Dana.”

“There is,” replied the queen.

She reached to her head and pulled the crown from it. Eldan grabbed her hand.

“Dana, what are you doing?” Galdren asked her.

“You can find another wife then,” Dana replied.

She jerked her hand away from her brother’s grasp and dropped her crown on the ground.

“I won’t allow this,” yelled Galdren.

Dana simply turned and walked away from her husband and walked to the castle. She did not stop until she reached her room, where she promptly started changing her clothes. She pulled out an old gown, from before she had married. Eldan and Galdren chased after her.

“I command you to stop,” shouted Galdren.

Dana felt an anger unlike anything she had ever felt before blasting a wall of fire up between her and the two male elves.

“I will not give away my child to some family as if they were nothing,” she said, “and if you would do that, then I want nothing else here.”

She continued to pull things out of the trunk, eventually finding a bag that she stuffed full of clothing. She turned and stared at Galdren, waiting.

“I won’t risk the kingdom,” he said calmly.

“Then you lose me,” Dana replied.

Galdren shook his head. Dana walked past him with the pack and headed to the kitchens. She had her horse and she would get some rations before leaving. She would not give up her child. She had thought that her brother might follow her but when she paused to stuff some cheese in her pack, she saw she was alone. Sighing, she added some bread, apples and carrots before heading out the kitchen door. She saddled her horse quickly and urged him to go east, toward the spring lands. She has no idea where she was going exactly but she needed to put as much distance between herself and Galdren as possible. She had a feeling she would be riding for a long time.

Life

A Mom type post

Last week, my daughter (not my son) was diagnosed with ADHD. This was not a total surprise to me since there had been some issues at school over the past year. When you start getting phone calls about how your child goes to the bathroom for extended periods of time and wanders around the classroom instead of doing her work, you start to suspect that she may have a problem. After several phone calls, I had a good idea that perhaps we needed to see if there was a medical problem at the root of this.

In retrospect, I can see the behaviors and how she just adjusted by herself. She just finally reached a point where that wasn’t possible. I would work with her behavior too, anticipating certain things and working to prevent them or at least minimize them. Schedules were always big with her. I wasn’t expecting what could happen with a little help though.

The doctor wanted to put her on medication. This wasn’t a surprise to me since there aren’t a lot of other things that doctors can do. The medicine is amazing though. When she takes it, she has a totally different behavior. She can focus on a task for more than five minutes. She actually is really creative but now she can get that out of her head and create something. There are fewer trails of disaster around the house too. She used to look like Pigpen from Charlie Brown, with a little trail of destruction behind her. Not so much anymore.

We’re going to work with a behavioral therapist as well. Hopefully she can work with us on some of the more challenging issues that come up when she gets very frustrated. I’m also hoping that those moments are fewer with the medicine. And then there’s the school aspect. I emailed the school counselor to ask her about setting up some accommodations. I now have a lot of papers to fill out and sign and one for the doctor to fill out. Then once that’s done, we can sit down with the team at the school and create a document for her that will help her.

I’m hoping that all of these things together will make the next school year better. I’m hopeful that I’ll be able to see what she can really do academically when she can focus on a task, as opposed to half doing something before wandering off to do something else. Sometimes, you get surprised, even when you aren’t expecting it and sometimes, those surprises are really wonderful things.

I hope everyone has a good weekend. I have a test on Monday, first one of the new class. Three weeks of class left… then I get summer!

Fitness, Healthy Eating

On starting over with running

I started running in 2010, the fall after my daughter was born. She is now seven but I have to say that I had a stretch where I didn’t run. I would make excuses for why I couldn’t but at least a part of it was an overwhelming depression that came from my job. That’s not an excuse because I should have still worked at it. But I didn’t. I ran a half marathon in 2012, nearly five years ago now. By now, I had hoped to run a full marathon. Instead I find myself almost starting over.

I know that running makes me feel better. It’s evident to me after a run when I can still smile even when I feel like I’m wiped out. It’s evident to me in the fact that I keep looking for time to do it even though my schedule looks like a jigsaw puzzle of trying to find time. It’s evident to me that I have started looking at articles about running again. I am starting to feel that old drive of wanting to find a partner to run with. I’m pretty slow and have yet to find someone who can run with me.

(An aside… Anyone interested? I run an eleven minute mile, consistently for up to four miles.)

This time, however, I have a new appreciation for what I need to feed my body in order to run my best. I have eliminated the processed food almost entirely. I still eat processed food – I love some cheese-its – but I have replaced most of the convenience, easy to make foods with real food. Actual fruits and vegetables, real meat (when I eat it), real pasta or potatoes. It’s amazing how much better real food tastes and how quickly your tastes for food changes. Food I never would have eaten before, I now enjoy eating. I have been working very hard to be careful with how much I eat out. When I started nursing school, I would often eat fast food after class. Now I come home and eat actual food. In fact, I got some mozzarella sticks from Sonic the other day and they were not as good as I had hoped. I do love me some cheese and fried cheese is still amazing but it just wasn’t as good as I thought it would be.

I think that I’m in a good place. Will I ever get faster? Maybe. Does it matter? Not really, anymore. It’s a goal but it’s not a priority, if that makes sense. I know that there are other things I can do to build strength and speed. For example, lifting weights has done wonders for my running. So while I don’t really like it, the way I love to run,  try to do it at least twice a week so that I don’t lose any of the strength I’ve built up. I need to get back into my yoga, to keep my muscles stretched. I’ve noticed that some of my muscles will get very tight the day after running. I’m sure yoga would help that. Another run helps too, but that’s a short term fix.

So, that’s it for today. Give running a try. Keep an open mind. It’s not going to be easy at first but if you keep at it, you may be surprised at how you feel and what you can accomplish. And remember, it’s about health. Do something everyday to make yourself a little more healthy. Until next time!

Nursing School

How to study every day

So yesterday, I posted about how nursing school is like prepping for a marathon and that one important thing to do is study every day. I truly believe that because there is so much material and so little of it is memorization that going over a little bit every day makes the monumental task of each test a little easier. It occurred to me that not everyone may know how to do that, so I’m going to go over what I do to study every day (and it’s not just re-reading all my notes!).

  1. Write it down – if you are of the age of computers, you may not ever spend much time writing things. You probably type. There’s nothing wrong with that but there are studies that show that writing things by hand helps you remember them more. Yes, it’s hard to do and it takes longer but honestly, I think that’s why it sticks better. You have to think about what letter to write. I take my notes in class by hand, following along on the powerpoint. If I can’t get everything down, I will make a note in my notebook to go back to look at a slide again. Writing by hand helps me remember a LOT of stuff. It doesn’t have to be pretty. It just has to be legible.
  2. Read what’s in the book – and not just skimming it. I mean actively read what’s in your book. Most teachers assign reading and it’s not because they’re mean. It’s because there is so much that you can’t possibly get it all in class. You may not even be able to read everything (I’ll get to this is a bit though) but you should try. If nothing else, find the sections in your book that correspond to what you did in class. Chances are that your instructor finds that material important. While you read, look for anything that stands out as different from your notes. That way you can ask questions the next day (or email your instructor and ask).
  3. Answer practice problems – Nursing school is unique in that every student must take the NCLEX before they can become a nurse and begin to work. So most nursing schools base their tests around NCLEX questions. So you have ready made question banks to practice with. Buy a book or an app or whatever you want. There are plenty of free resources online (but be sure it’s a good source!) that have questions as well. Do those questions before your test. Most books also come with question banks that you can access online as well. Use those resources. I promise your instructors do too. If nothing else, you’ll be getting good practice before you graduate and have to take your real NCLEX.
  4. Make flash cards – it sounds high school and odd because not everything is memorization. However, this gets you to write again (or type it, if you insist on not writing by hand) and gives your brain another chance to process the information. The more times your brain sees it, the more you will recall later.
  5. Schedule time to study – Time management is crucial in nursing school. The more you have to do, the more crucial it becomes. It’s also important of you are a person who gets easily distracted by things like Netflix. Write down a time to study and stick to it. My life is super scheduled and it helps immensely. It’s very easy to get distracted by something and lose track of time. Before you know it, it’s 10 at night and you’re saying you’ll look at it tomorrow.
  6. Reread your notes – again, more exposure.
  7. Complete the extra assignments – sometimes you get those things that you know won’t be graded. Often times, they get pushed aside and only half heartedly completed. Put effort into those assignments though. Again, your instructor assigned with a purpose in mind. I’ve yet to met any instructor that assigned something just because they felt you needed to be kept busy.
  8. Take breaks – your brain needs time to process. Make sure that you take time off from the notes and reading and other things. Give your brain a chance to figure out what it knows and what it doesn’t. You may be pleasantly surprised if you take the rest of a night off and go back the next day.
  9. Apply material when you can – use clinical time or friends, whatever you need too (please don’t stress your friends out, just think about them if they’ve ever had the disease process you’re studying). Especially clinical time, really think about the disease processes your patient’s have and try to apply what you learned in class. That doesn’t mean you have to go into a patient’s room and go over everything with them. Just think about it. Look at medications, symptoms, behaviors and apply what you know.

So that’s my process. I do each of these things before every test, when I can. I don’t always have extra assignments and sometimes I can’t do everything because there isn’t enough time. That’s especially true this summer when we’re taking a class crammed into four weeks. Do what you can everyday though and you’ll be surprised when you get to the test just how much you can recall.

If you’re in school or about to be, I hope this helps you. The rest of my blog readers (if you read this!) I’ll have something non-school related tomorrow, I promise! Until then!

Nursing School

Nursing school is a marathon

Perhaps the better way to say that is it’s like preparing to run a marathon. I’ll admit that I have not run a marathon yet. I did run a half marathon five years ago and that was rough. However, I’ve been reading about distance running again. After all, my goal of running a marathon is out there and I am going to get through one some day. So here are my thoughts on why nursing school is like prepping to run a marathon.

  1. Run just enough – or rather study just enough. This is crucial to ensure that you continue in the program.
  2. Build your training slowly – build up the amount of time you study over the semester. And the entire program because as you get further in, it only gets tougher.
  3. Recover, recover, recover – you know, sleep for a whole day, read a book that has nothing to do with nursing, eat, drink, be merry.
  4. Do your long runs – there are days and even weeks when you have to buckle down and study hard. For some people that moment comes early in a class and for others it comes later. Everyone has that moment though, when they have to dig into that book and really study hard.
  5. Practice your marathon pace – well, this is more like a way to avoid the previous item. If you go at the material a little every day, the big sessions will be smaller and may not even happen. But if you just try to go by those long runs, the days may seem to be really, really long. Also, don’t miss classes because those days may end up being your nemesis in the end.
  6. Eat your carbs – because how else are you going to get through this????

The second four weeks of summer has officially begun. Hold on tight folks, it might get a little bumpy here. Four weeks left, four weeks left, four weeks left….

Uncategorized

Final!

Tomorrow morning I take the final exam for my current class. Four weeks of crazy has led to this test. Final exam moments always make me a little nervous. You never really know what will happen. I’m as prepared for this as I can be – or I will be by tomorrow because I’m still reviewing notes – but something crazy could always happen. It’s happened before. 

As I go through my notes and look at the little bit of psych material from Wednesday I feel like I remember a lot of this. That’s good. Of course, it’s only been four weeks so even the oldest material is less than a month ago. Yes, really. We started class on May 22 and tomorrow is June 19. Three days shy of exactly a month. We will finish the second class exactly one month from tomorrow on July 19. That sounds crazy. 

Who am I kidding? That is crazy.

Here’s to a good test tomorrow!

Life, Nursing School

Stop saying I’m smart!

The conversation goes like this:

Random Person: Can you show me how to do this (fill in math problem, science problem, etc , etc)?

Me: Sure.

Goes through entire process to show how to set the problem up and get the answer.

Random Person: Wow, can I just have your brain? You’re so smart!

It sounds like a complement, right? I mean, in a way it is. They are clearly impressed by what I am able to do. So what’s the problem?

Well, more often than not the person who is talking to me is also smart. And honestly, I’m not that smart. No, seriously, I’m not. I’ve never taken an IQ test but I don’t see myself blowing anything out of the water. I am not Mensa level.

Let me address both of these things. We’ll start with the fact that I’m not that smart. And I will immediately brag on myself. I took lots of math in college – Calculus (3 levels, in fact), Linear Algebra, Statistics, as some examples – and science classes too – basic Biology, Chemistry, Physics and Earth Sciences and then some more advanced Chemistry and Physics classes. I also took a long list of general education classes spanning from Economics to Theater. I earned a Bachelor’s of Science in Chemistry. I completed a semester long research project under the supervision of my advisor. Clearly, I’m not dumb. However, I’m no smarter than any of the other people that I took those same classes with. There were a lot of us. I will say, I was one of the few females in most of those classes. That doesn’t and shouldn’t matter though. So why does everyone think I’m smart because of this?

Honestly, I think the answer is two fold (and will lead to my addressing the other point there about those other people also being smart). First is that those classes are not easy. Nobody has ever accused a chemistry class of being easy. Or a physics class. Or most math classes. People will often refer to things like psychology as easy though. What’s the difference? Well, it has a lot to do with how you have to think about these things. Science and math demand that you think critically all the time. Very early on, you learn how to deduce things from information that you don’t have in order to make educated guesses. If you can’t do that, you probably won’t do well because those classes are dependent on that skill. In psychology classes, most people can get away with a very basic understanding of what’s going on and never really put much thought into the deeper connections at work. You can memorize your way through psych class to a passing grade. You can’t do that with science and math because it’s not about memorizing. There’s no way to predict in the real world what numbers or situations will present themselves.

Now, this is also very true in psychology. People who go on to higher levels need to learn how to take the basic knowledge and use it to develop critical thinking skills. Nobody ever walked into a psychiatrist or therapist’s office and said “You know, I think I have some PTSD going on. Tell me how to fix that.” Instead, the professional needs to talk to the person and get a deep understanding of their past and what could be going on before they can begin to think about diagnosing a problem. That’s critical thinking.

Don’t get me wrong here. I’m not saying that most college majors don’t need to critically think. It’s more about how much critical thinking needs to happen at any given level. Scientists have to be able to think critically like that from day one. Often, people can take an introductory psychology class and never think critically once (this isn’t the teacher’s fault, by the way and I’m sure they intend for their students to think critically).

The other issue at work is this idea that win order to do math or science, you have to be “smart” and if you struggle with it, you’re not “smart”. Some of us have those things come to us more easily than others. For example, I can not spell. I rely on spell checkers heavily and sometimes still have mistakes slip through. My brain works in images and pictures and while I can visualize an atom in my head, that means that I see words that way too. The word dog brings an image to my mind and not letters. While dog is pretty easy to spell, there are much more complicated words out there and the letters elude me. A lot. Nobody would say that makes me not smart. And yet when the same is true for someone who can’t visualize molecules like I can, they feel not smart. That’s silly.

We also have a heavy stigma around women and their abilities to do math and science. I am a woman and society says, I shouldn’t be able to do math and science well. Yet I do, so I must be really smart. Except I’m not. I do, however, work very hard. Effort is what got me this knowledge, not some random gift bestowed upon me that makes me different from everyone else. I will admit that I have some skills that make parts of this easier for me, but that’s not true for everything. I still have nightmares about trying to derive Schrodinger’s wave equation (look it up). I kept at it until I learned how to do it though.

Some of this may be because people see applications for psychology more easily than they see applications for science. Ot perhaps it has to do with the fact that dealing with people is easier than abstract concepts. Either way, the fact is that a lot of people walking around seem to think they’re not smart with regards to critical thinking skills.

So, please, stop calling me smart. Take credit for what you know. Give me credit for the work that I do/did to understand these things. We can all do this, if we’re motivated to do it. I have confidence that you can do it. You’re smart.

Until next time lovely readers.