Sunday, September 30, 2012


I apologize for the long hiatus between posts. The past 10 days have been...difficult, to say the least.

Over a year ago I injured my back placing an IV on a patient in critical condition. Physical therapy, chiropractors, and spinal injections have filled my off time in the past year in an attempt to relieve the persistent pain. I have good days, I have bad days. Most of the time the pain is manageable and when I decided to venture away from home to travel, I left behind my physician managing my back injury as well. During my last assignment, it was much more manageable. Chiropractor appointments and ibuprofen was enough to keep it in check. So, I expected nothing else when I agreed to another eight weeks away from home. A few weekends ago, that all changed. Spasms started in my low back down into my leg. The pain was something I had never experienced.

I write this to you all not to encourage sympathy or to incite worry in my friends back home. I write this to share with you all how truly blessed I am. I am currently living with a married couple I became friends with during my last assignment here in New Hampshire. They welcomed me into their home with open arms, making me feel like I was part of their family. When the spasming had gotten uncontrollable, they took me to the emergency room, managed my pain medications when I couldn't remember what to take, helped me up and down the stairs to my bedroom, made me food, and attended to any need I had. They didn't ask for this when I came to live with them. This isn't something friends of only a few months should have to deal with. But, they have done it all, without blinking an eye.

Many of you know me well, and understand that I love my independent life. I don't like depending on people. I like being the one to take care of others, not the other way around. I don't think of it as a pride issue, more of a personality trait, if anything. So allowing others to take care of me when I have no other choice is hard enough, but the guilt of depending on people who have already done so much for me can be overwhelming. After discussing this many times with my friend Annie (see my previous post to read about how amazing she is), I let go of some of my guilt, and lamented that everyone has their time of need and has to accept help.

Today, I sit here and wonder, how did I become so blessed to know such amazing people? People who make me want to be more generous, kinder, and more selfless. People who challenge me to be a better person.

I have agreed to take the last few months of the year off of traveling to give my physician in Wisconsin a chance to fix the issues with my back. The plan is to start traveling again after the first of the year, if life cooperates. But, I am at peace with knowing that my limited experience in traveling this year has provided me with gifts I will cherish for a lifetime. And for that, I will be forever grateful.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Blissful Chaos

As many of you know, I have been doing part-time photography over the past year or so. Mainly portrait photography of children at the behest of some of my close friends, simply wanting pictures of their kids. The first session I did, I was terrified. A brave co-worker of mine requested a few pictures of her twin girls in the park. I wasn't sure what her expectations were or how the pictures would turn out. I had primarily done landscape photography simply as a hobby, but never thought of doing "people pictures." People are so much more challenging to capture than an expansive landscape. They move. They have natural shadows on their faces. They have expectations of the finished product.

Since that first session, my hobby has expanded and I have developed a portfolio of sorts. With every session, I learn something new. I also get to know my friends and their families better. This weekend I had the absolute privilege to see my friend Annie and her beautiful family through the lens. I became acquainted Annie and her husband Josh on my last assignment here in New Hampshire. I wrote about them previously in my blog. Annie and Josh have four children. Three of their children, Caroline, Jackson, and Ryan, reside with them at home. Their fourth, and youngest child, Ethan, is no longer with us on this earth. Ethan passed away only a few days after he was born. A tragedy, no doubt. One that many cannot understand. But, I have witnessed the strength and grace of this family while wading through the ocean of grief and sadness that comes with such a passing.

But, I write this entry not to dwell on the death of Ethan, but to celebrate his life and the lives of his beautiful family. Annie asked me many months ago, if I would do family pictures for her. Of course, I was honored and agreed. I had spent time with Annie, Josh, and the kids at their home, eating dinner and watching the kids run around the house. Blissful chaos, as Annie calls it.

The day finally came this last weekend for pictures. It was a beautiful day. Sunny, breezy, perfect for pictures by the ocean. I loved watching the two older kids run around, excited to see a shell on the beach or a butterfly in the sky. Butterflies hold a particular importance, representing the spirit of sweet baby Ethan. Jackson would occasionally shout out, "Hi Ethan!" as a butterfly would flutter by. The youngest, still learning to keep his feet under him, would look up at me with his stunning blue eyes, tilt his head to the side, and grin. The kids were running in opposite directions, tears were shed from scraped knees after a fall, and the late afternoon crankiness of a child without a nap hung in the air. While Josh and Annie's children are beautiful, I was most captivated by the parents themselves. It was clear to me, even through my camera lens, that this family is so full of love. Now that is something pretty spectacular to behold.

Blissful chaos, captured.
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Thursday, September 13, 2012


I have already hit the halfway point of this short assignment. I haven't really been keeping track of the days left on this assignment, I'm simply enjoying as much as I can in the short amount of time I have.

The discussion of my next assignment has already commenced, it seems like it never really ended. I started to apply for licensing in a few other states as well, hoping to deepen the pool of opportunity available to me. Licensing is a funny thing. I get the question about licensing often. Each state has its own requirements. Even though all nursing in the U.S. take the NCLEX (the standardized test to become a nurse), being a nurse in Wisconsin doesn't automatically make me a nurse in California. Wisconsin is what is referred to as a "compact state." There are 24 states that are part of a nursing compact which allows a nurse with an original compact license to "walk through" into another compact state and practice nursing without getting a different license. Applying for licensing in non-compact states is taxing, expensive, just plain stupid, if I do say so myself. A nurse is a nurse, right? Apparently not. The two states I applied for licensing in required FBI fingerprint cards, background checks, transcripts from the university I graduated from, along with answers to a million personal questions including my bra size.

Alright, that last one was a bit of an exaggeration, but you get the point.

After sending in the two applications, fees, and fingerprint cards, it set me back two days worth of coordination/paperwork-filling-out and about $300. Crazy, right? But, like my recruiters told me, getting a license in a state doesn't guarantee a job, but not getting a license guarantees you will not get a job. So, in the end, it is a calculated risk with the hope of professional and personal gain.

Although I am missing home at times (especially when I watch the Packer games, like I am right now!), I am much more at peace this time around. I feel at ease, like this is the life I was always meant to be living. Not sure if New Hampshire simply suits me, if my new-found friends have made me feel so at home I'm not homesick, or if I have finally let go of some of the control and decided to let life take its course.

I leave you now with a few more "test drive" pictures from my new camera. The next challenge for Mark will be a family session with one of my new favorite families; more on that later!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Test Drive

I'm in love.

That's right, I said it. I'm in love, with Mark (aka: my new camera aptly named by my friend).

I took the new camera for the first test drive this weekend by doing a little hiking in a few familiar spots: Wilton, Milford, and Lyndenborough, NH. Even though the water was much higher the last time I visited these waterfalls, the day still provided ample opportunity to flex the megapixel muscles of the new camera. The results were astounding.

I am a firm believer that the camera doesn't make the photographer. I think that the camera is simply a tool in the photographers arsenal. Composition, lighting, and content are also important. I still have many things to learn when it comes to the functional capabilities of this new camera (including HD video, total upgrade from my phone camera!), but how exciting to know there is only room for improvement?

On a totally seperate but aweomely random note, I had my first lesson in driving a standard vehicle this weekend. A Mini no less! It went pretty well and I checked one more thing of my to-do list for my lifetime.

Friday, September 7, 2012


The UPS man is my new favorite person.


Say hello to my new camera. A Canon EOS 5D Mark II with a 24-105mm EF-L IS. With 21.1 megapixels, nine AF points and six AF assist points, ISO capability up to 6400, and a max shooting speed of 3.9 shots/sec, it is a beast. For all my friends who are not camera savy, that all adds up to one fine piece of equipment and invariably, beautiful photos. At least that is the hope! I will be putting it to its first test, revisiting a few of the waterfalls I found my last time around.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Saying Goodbye to an Old Friend

I have officially picked up right where I left off. Only six weeks had passed since I had left New England. I seemed to have melded right back in with the staff and the routine of the department. I know my way around the area. I know the best grocery stores, where to shop, and many great places to eat. I've toured Boston. Seen and hiked the White Mountains. Soaked up the sun on the beach. So, what now? What will I find to fill up my next seven weeks?

I suspect I will return to some of my favorite places, incorporate a few new ones along the way. But, I think I will try to see New England in a new way. I have a different set of eyes this time. The first time, my eyes were wide, trying to take in what I could as quickly as I could. Now, I can take my time, take in the small things, be more selective about the places I spend my time. I can also invest more time in strengthening personal relationships and nurturing new ones. It seems these people are bound to be a part of my life no matter where I go. I was so humbled by the reception I received from my co-workers, patients, and even acquaintances I developed here during my last five months.

The blog may be a bit bare for the next few weeks as I am (eek!) sending in my camera to be evaluated for a trade in. I will hopefully be upgrading my camera after 6 years, but also will be without a camera for the first time in 6 years. My camera is like my buddy, it goes everywhere with me, so it will be weird being without it. I was sad packing it up, wondering, would the UPS carrier would understand what precious cargo they would be carrying? Seems silly I know, but it feels like I am saying goodbye to an old friend.

So, I have included the last photos taken with my old camera, a mixture of the beautiful flowers at Prescott Park in Portsmouth and a few shots of the moon last night.