Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Windswept in Wisconsin

In an attempt to not only distract myself from the impending spinal injection that awaited me this week but help settle back into the Wisconsin life that I loved, I took a trip to beautiful Door County this past weekend.

When I was in New England I fell in love with not only the people, but the landscape. The sheer beauty that was cast before me each day was astounding. At first, I bragged to my friends of the beauty of Wisconsin; something many scoffed at. Wisconsin?! Isn't it all just farms? I've traveled to every corner of Wisconsin it seems and have seen the variable beauty of this state. So, this weekend was my chance to re-experience some of that beauty. To rekindle my love of this great state, as if it has become some disenchanted romance I once had.

Door County is a big hit with first time Wisconsin travelers. It has a little of everything, no matter the season. Wineries, orchards, shops, parks, and restaurants all set to the backdrop of stunning Lake Michigan. Only a little over an hour away from my parents house, I'm almost ashamed to admit I have only been once before. My mom and I did a little of everything on our one day excursion. Grabbed a bag of honeycrisp apples, took a trolley tour of historic Fish Creek, drove up the shoreline cliffs to look out over the sparkling water, and sampled some local fare at a Sturgeon Bay restaurant.

The weather was beautiful. A bit blustery, but all the better to be swept off my feet. The people were friendly. The weekend was peaceful. Rounded out with a great Packer game on Sunday, there wasn't much more I could ask for. Somehow, that nagging feeling lingered. Right there. Right in the back of my mind. Is this where I am destined to be? I realized, no decisions are required right now. Instead, it is amazing to think of the opportunities available to me. How blessed I am to have the chance at a different life, if I want it. How amazing it is to have friends spread across the country, to know that I am loved in more than one time zone. To know that I always have a home to come back to if the endeavors I choose don't work out.

Today was the first of possibly a few injections to help heal my back injury. The first step in hopefully the right direction!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Saying goodbye and hello

Be advised: this is an emotional one, so brace yourself.

It was a week yesterday since I left New Hampshire.

It was a week yesterday that I returned home.

My return home in July from my previous five month assignment in New Hampshire was very different from this one. Back then, I was sad to leave my friends but glad to be home. It was the first time I had been away from home for any extended period of time, alone no less. So, I was happy to be back in my house, back with my old friends, back with my family. But, I think I knew I would be returning to New England in the near future.

And I did.

Seven months total I spent living in New England. Soaking up the sun on the coast, hiking in the mountains, and photographing some of the most beautiful country I have ever seen. More importantly, I spent seven months building a life. A new life. Forming new routines, new friendships, a new normal.

So, it goes without saying that my most recent departure took an emotional toll. Saying goodbye can be a mixed bag. Sometimes saying goodbye helps a person release a life or emotional ties that aren't beneficial to them as a person. Like saying a final goodbye to your ex by deleting their number from your phone. A trivial example, but it illustrates my point. I've found that the majority of goodbyes are difficult. The goodbyes I said to my close friends in New Hampshire were heart wrenching. I felt it, deep down. The void left by their absence in my life permeates everyday, it seems. I haven't been able to pin point exactly why I feel this way. Is it the finality of a goodbye that triggers our emotions? I would hope this isn't a last goodbye, but as we all know, tomorrow is never promised.   

Last week I said goodbye and hello in the same day. Said goodbye to the life I had built in New Hampshire and hello to the life I need to start rebuilding here at home. A life I have left neglected for seven months. My home doesn't feel like home anymore. New Hampshire feels like home. What does this mean? Am I staying or am I going to move?

The short answer: I don't know, yet. I've discussed this with a few friends who are travelers and many experienced similar feelings when transitioning back home after a long assignment. A wise friend, one who was the primary encouragement for me to travel, told me to continue on my journey of traveling. Take new assignments, go to new places. She said if after all my travels, if my heart wants to be somewhere other than home, that is where I need to be.

For now, I am grounded from traveling until my physician team can get my back feeling better and get me back on the road. The plan is to begin traveling again after the first of the year. Where, remains to be seen. Until then, I plan to catch up with friends and family, rest, and maybe post an occasional blog entry! To everyone who visited this blog over the past nine months (yes, that's how long it has been since I began this traveling adventure), thank you so much for the support and encouragement!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Cake, anyone?

Original picture I saw of the rainbow cake.

If you are not acquainted with the website Pinterest, consider yourself lucky.

Pinterest is a giant, virtual pin board of sorts where you can keep links to your favorite websites, recipes, photos, hairstyles, and just about anything else all in one place. You can also see the pins of others. Anyway, a few months ago I saw a picture of a rainbow cake. Six layers tall, each being a different color of the rainbow. Covered with plain white frosting, it was a sight to see once sliced. I instantly wanted a reason to attempt this cake.

My friend Val's upcoming birthday was perfect.

The fact that she let me stay in her house with her and her husband was reason enough, let alone the fact that I love her to death and she is one of the most kind, generous, and amazingly funny people I have ever met.

The plan was put in place the first week I arrived back in New Hampshire. Another friend, Jenn, has a side business of cake making. Now, as most of my friends know, my skills in the kitchen reside mainly in baking. However, my frosting making skills suck. So, I enlisted the help of Jenn.

One Sunday afternoon, two women, six layers of colored cake, lots (and lots) of white butter cream frosting, and many laughs later, one stupendous cake was created. It barely fit in Jenn's fridge for the night!

The next day, I lured Val down from her department to surprise her at work. The cake was a sight to behold. Mission accomplished!

Amazingly, all of the cake was consumed or distributed to people to take home.

Monday, October 8, 2012

The beginning of the end

This is my last week in New Hampshire.
My last week at the hospital.
My last week with my friends.
My last week with my patients.

This is the beginning of the end.

Over the past few weeks, my friends and I have joked about my unavoidable departure. I've been threatened with duct tape and ropes to keep me from leaving. Not sure if they are serious, but I will soon find out.

Invariably, people are curious what feelings crop up for me when I get closer to leaving.

Are you excited to go home?
Are you sad to leave?

Definitely a hard feeling to articulate. It is an odd limbo I seem to live in these days. Torn between two worlds that I have created for myself. At times, I am so home sick I can barely stand it. Missing my midwestern roots, my friends, my family, my memory foam mattress in my beautiful 1930's cape cod house. With all of that awaiting my return, how could I be torn?

Legit question.

The past eight weeks have reaffirmed what I already believed. New England is a beautiful place. The best of many worlds. Access to beautiful beaches, striking mountains, and expansive lakes. Amazing restaurants seem to be everywhere, usually the freshest fish I've ever had. A dream location for any beach bum, avid outdoorsman/woman, and foodie alike. The people are pretty amazing as well. I've developed ties here that I don't see letting go easily. I've laughed, cried, and loved. Cliche it sounds, I know, but true.

I'm very much at peace with my decision to come back for the past few weeks. I don't regret coming back, even though leaving this time will be harder than before. I've deepened my relationships with friends, seen more of this beautiful country, and done more what I think I do best: care for patients. I feel like this was where I was meant to be. Is this where I'm meant to be for good? I don't think I have an answer to that question right now. What I do know is that it has been a pretty great place to call home for seven months of my life this year.

Seven months, well spent.