I wish I could take credit for the title, but I really can’t. It came from someone I have a lot of respect for, but I’ll get to that in a minute.
Hi. Remember me? I’m that girl who runs, and raises three kids and tries to do way too much at any given time like training for an Ironman while learning how to be a single mom. And when that’s done I jump into writing a book and going to nursing school, while still trying to figure out how to be a single mom. Oh, and I write a blog about all of it.
Anyway, it’s been a while, so I figured I owed you all an update on how things have been going. And if I’m being honest, I didn’t want you to forget about your old pal RRG.
Last time I wrote, I was kicking off my second semester of nursing school and continuing a course to help me write my book. Well, second semester proved to be a little more than I was ready for, so after a couple weeks, I decided to take a hiatus from the book and just focus on getting through school and keeping the kids alive. It was the right choice. The book will happen, just not right now. As Nancy, the book professor, agreed, any of my non-school time right now has to be devoted to my kids.
It was a busy summer since I was in school 4 days a week and the kids were home, but we managed to carve out some quality time at the pool and go on some outings. Some days that consisted of the boys dragging the kayaks down to the lake while I sat nearby with my nose in a book, or a computer. Or on rainy days, the three of them would set up a board game at the dining room table and I was just a few steps away at my desk. But I think everyone was pretty happy with how the summer played out. And I really couldn’t be more proud of how my kiddos handled it. A couple days a week I would have to go off to school while they were still sleeping, so I would leave a list of daily chores and without fail, the chores were done when I got home and everyone was ready to play.
We were all rewarded at the end of the summer with a few days at a cabin in the woods near Table Rock Lake. Brian and I took all 4 kids to the cabin we stayed at in January, and I can’t tell you how many times I heard, “Thank you for bringing us here!” They loved it. We enjoyed endless ping-pong, swam in the lake, hunted for buried treasure, made s’mores, laid on a blanket gazing at meteors, played board games, went sight-seeing, made good use of the hot tub despite a heat index of 100 the first day or so, belly laughed, snuggled and fought like family. I can think of no better way to celebrate coming through second semester on the Dean’s List. My 4.0 is no longer intact due to an A- in Pharmacology, but I am learning to accept that sometimes survival trumps perfection, because sometimes perfection is found elsewhere.
As of last Wednesday, we are all back in school. It was a staggered start with Ally on the 16th beginning 8th grade at a new (her first ever public) school, me on the 22nd and the boys on the 31st. This was the first time in several years that I got to see them all off to their first day of school. You may remember how much it tore me up the last couple of years to not pack their lunches and prep their backpacks and take pictures before driving them off to school since they were with their dad. So, to say that I was happy that everything aligned for that this year would be an understatement.
With my clinicals really kicking off this semester, it’s been a little stressful the way all of our schedules overlap, but as has been the case time and time again, I have great people in my life who step up to help where it’s needed and ease the burden. For that, I am grateful.
So, here we are at the end of week two of third semester. 2 weeks. 10 days. And I have already gone from the high of making the Dean’s List a few weeks ago, to seriously doubting how anyone ever allowed me into nursing school. Third semester is kicking my butt. I know, I know, I said that last semester too. There is absolutely a learning curve that comes along with the beginning of a new semester, new classes, new instructors, new methods of teaching and testing. So, I should probably go easy on myself for the fact that my first few test scores haven’t been as high as I would like. Yes, I still passed, but let’s keep in mind that in nursing school anything less than 80% is failing. I think we all know by now I am not a fan of falling short of the mark.
By midweek last week, I had hit a wall. By Thursday night, when I really blew it on an online charting assignment and had to email my program director, hoping and praying that she would reset it, I ended up falling asleep after many tears wondering if I should just quit. Give up. Find something else to do. I have never wanted to quit something so bad in my entire life as I did Thursday night. After the countless miles I have run, learning how to swim to become a triathlete, completing an Ironman, nothing has ever driven me to the point of wanting to totally throw in the towel like nursing school did. I felt overwhelmed, frustrated, completely defeated. I tried to convince myself that if I could just get through the first few weeks of this semester, it would get better. It had to. But even after getting some sleep, I woke up for Friday morning clinicals still doubting this path I have chosen.
I was fighting back tears as I arrived at the nursing home Friday morning. Friday actually went better than expected. I am gaining confidence in the field, completing my assessments, building a rapport with some of my patients, bonding with my classmates. This is my niche, this part I’ve got. But my head is still swimming with the what if’s…What if I drop the ball on an assignment? What if I fail this Med Surg test on Tuesday? What if I can’t get past this semester? Should I just stop now, before it hurts even more? Before it gets even harder?
After clinicals, a few of us went to Todd’s Canteen right down the road from our facility. We talked and ate and shared our struggles. I felt better by the time I left, but the doubts in my head were still holding on. I got home to see Ally step off the bus, and then headed over to pick the boys up from school. It was an absolutely perfect September afternoon so the boys were asking to go to the park where several of their friends were going. Despite my desire to go home and bury my head under a pillow, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to let them play. So off to the park we went. I did my best to be social with the other moms even though I didn’t really have the mental or emotional energy to. My battery was low. I knew I needed to recharge. I wasn’t entirely sure that getting up to run 19 miles with the training team on Saturday morning would do it, but I knew I needed to give it a shot.
I was asleep Friday night before the kids were, but I knew they were all at least quiet and settled. I crashed. And I was up and out the door before the sun came up, hoping that a good long run would be the therapy my soul was seeking.
As a few hundred of us, clad in reflective gear and high tech watches and hydration items, gathered in the parking lot on the river front listening to coach Brandi give us a pre-run pep talk, she said, “Eventually you’re going to hit the dark place. It’s probably going to happen between miles 11-18, but be sure, it WILL happen. And you’ve got to figure out what you’re going to do to bring yourself through it. For some, it may be thinking about family, or the finish line, or…” and she listed off several other ideas. All I could think is that my whole life feels like a dark place right now. Nursing school-kicking my butt. As much as anything else in my life ever has. And we all know I’ve taken a lot of butt kicking.
But I know that I run because it reminds me that I can fight through the hard stuff. I DON’T stop at the pain. It’s not in my nature. We did a short warm up, took a group pic and off we went, down the Katy trail. As I ran with the group, I talked with friends, learning that several others hadn’t been able to make it to many of the group runs lately either and had not put in the miles they should. That made me feel better about my own situation. My last and longest run lately was a 15 mile march of torture a few weeks ago during the summer of endless humidity that had me walking as much as running during the back half of those long, painful miles. So, I relaxed knowing that I was just going to do the best I could. I actually felt pretty good for most of it. At one point, around mile 8, I even reached what we call the runner’s high. My endorphins were on fire and I felt like I could run forever. I knew it wouldn’t hold out for the entire run, so I rode the wave of adrenaline while it lasted. It was brief. By mile 11.5 I was starting to drag. By mile 13, I was really looking forward to the 14 mile finish line of the first loop and being back at the red Fleet Feet tent to eat some sports beans and take a quick break before heading out for the last 5 miles. My body was tired, but my mind was already convinced (mostly) that I could do the whole 19 if I needed to. I was running with Joan and I had one earbud in listening to my ipod when Eminem came on and I heard the same words I’ve heard a thousand times. But for some reason, they stood out to me this time. He said, “Yeah, it’s been a ride. I guess I had to go to that place to get to this one. Now some of you might still be in that place. If you’re trying to get out, just follow me. I’ll get you there.”
And that’s what did it. I did have to go to “that place to get to this one”. But I’m not stuck there anymore. Yes the voices in my head still pop back in for a visit sometimes, but they don’t get to stay. I had temporarily forgotten that I am a leader and I know my way out, but a big thanks to Marshall Mathers for reminding me. At 14 miles when we got back to the tent, a couple people from our group were debating going out for the last 5. I could have topped off my mileage at 19 yesterday, but I decided to call it at 14. I recently decided to drop to the half marathon in October since its not my A-race and it’s the day after my birthday when I have a wedding to go to. So, just…why? I really don’t need my mileage to be up at 19 yet since my marathon isn’t until December 3, when I go to Memphis for St. Judes. I know I could have gutted it out and made 19 miles happen, but I also knew if I had, it would have been me trying to prove something. And I don’t have anything to prove. At least not to anyone other than myself. I opted for making a good decision for me. I’d gotten my 14 miles in, it felt good, and then I went home to spend the day with my people.
Between Friday and Saturday, I didn’t get nearly as much studying done as I had hoped, but I have Sunday, and in this case the Monday holiday, to get prepped for Med Surg.
Last night we went off to church and you can ask Ally or Brian who were sitting on either side of me, but I’m pretty certain my face lit up when Pastor Rob announced that our guest speaker was David Hawkins, a tall skinny dude from East St Louis who has spoken at our church before. I absolutely love listening to him. His message was about trials, and it couldn’t have been more perfectly timed. “Don’t stop at pain,” he said and I felt like an arrow pierced right through my heart. Yeah, that’s exactly what I was doing, I was stopping at pain.
David spoke about a basketball player named Tim Duncan who grew up on St. Croix as an Olympic hopeful in swimming, but when Hurricane Hugo destroyed the facility he trained at, he was forced to find a new sport. With his 6’11” frame, someone suggested basketball, which turned out to be the right call. Tim went on to be a force in the NBA. You should go look him up on Wikipedia, I’ll still be here…
(Insert elevator music here)
He’s pretty amazing, right? Well, the point David made was that “the storm lead him to his destiny.” The STORM lead him to his DESTINY. Just think, if I hadn’t been through the storm of the last several years, would I be where I am right now? This is my destiny. Being a nurse is my destiny. And God has never let me go, not through any of it, and he won’t let me go now.
The other thing David said about pain, is that when you try to escape it, or try to push down pain, you also push down your hope, your faith, your dreams.
Now, I don’t know about you, but I’ve done enough of that already. I won’t let the pain stand in the way of what I’m doing. I’ve never been one to quit because of pain before, so I’m sure not going to start now. Don’t stop at pain. Ride the highs, don’t stop at the pain. I can’t say it enough. In fact, I might just go write that on a post it and slap it on every one of my nursing books. And in my car. And on my mirror. Persevere, Lindsey, and Don’t stop at pain!
And now, if you’ll excuse me, Med Surg is calling.