Unicorns and Banana Peels

I was walking back to my Airbnb after a fantastic lunch when I saw a unicorn. My joy managed to take my mind off the cold rain soaking through my sweater. Obviously, I did not plan my wardrobe well.  

 
Imagine my delight when I got closer to the unicorn and realized everything is not always as it initially appears. Good lesson for a simple lunchtime stroll.  

 
Montreal is a fascinating city. I have seriously had some of the best food ever. My batteries feel completely recharged, which I suppose is the point of going away. 

The more I experience new places the more I want to see. I must admit sometimes traveling solo is a little intimidating. I think Montreal was a good first experience. They may speak mostly French but as soon as I give a sheepish blush and say something random in English they automatically switch. The accents are charming and I have developed little crushes on more than one waiter. It’s phenomenal fun. 

First Day Jitters

 First of all, I LOVE my apartment. It is the first floor of an old house. I am learning about steam radiators and getting used to all the cool noises old homes make in the night. Seriously, it is beyond charming. The owner was amazing. He gave me advice on local points of interest and made me feel very welcome. I could not have asked for a better reception. 
I went to bed incredibly early last night. I was exhausted from all the traveling and more than a little mind blown by all the sights. This area is beautiful! 

Getting ready for my first day of orientation. Yep, I’m nervous. What if they don’t like me? What if I’m not quite as clever as I think I am? (We all know I crack myself up on a regular basis.) Excited and nervous. I think a third cup of coffee is a good idea. 

People keep telling me they are proud of me for seeking these new adventures. I find that hilarious. I was feeling like I was behind. Somehow I should have started all this years ago. Nope. I’m right on schedule. 

Wish me luck. Cross your fingers my hair does what it is supposed to do. Let me be calm and professional. I need to keep the first day jitters down to a dull roar. Adventures are fun. It is so much more than I expected. 

Selfies are about memories

  
  
  
  

  
   
I know. It’s funny to make fun of all the silly people who take selfies all the time. I completely disagree with those folks though. There was a time I went out of my way to avoid being in pictures. I hated seeing myself. It was entirely too easy to avoid being in the photos.

This all started to change when I was taking my son to New York City. I found a walking tour with a photographer. I realized how few pictures there were of the two of us together, and I desperately wanted them. This was the beginning of my commitment to my son to give him photographic evidence of our life together. I have never heard someone lament they had too many photos of their loved ones.

 

These photos and the selfies I have been taking with my friends and family are a way to demonstrate I care enough to want a reminder of our relationship.

There are so many people from my past I can barely remember. I have almost no photos of us together (that is if I am lucky to have any at all.) I will not live life that way anymore. I understand before we had instant access to a camera and seemingly unlimited electronic storage it was more difficult. There is no excuse now.

Trust me, most of the time I think I look horrible in these pictures. I got the wrong angle, my chin is super fat, or my nose is all wrinkled up. The people who know me know what I look like. They love me no matter what face the camera managed to catch. If they don’t, I don’t give a shit anyway. I am not totally made up and looking fabulous in all of these photos. I am just my most authentic self.

When I was choosing these photos I was deliberate about choosing memories I loved and not focusing on my perception of my flaws. This is hard for a girl like me. I tend to focus on all the reasons I should not be in the pictures.

Then I get a grip. Of course I should be in the photos of my life! I should get as many photos of me with the people I love as possible. We should really stop worrying about what we think people are thinking about us, and realize most people don’t care. We are hurting ourselves and our friends and family when we refuse to take a picture with them.

  

  
  

These are just a few of my favorite memories from this year. I have been so lucky to be able to go out and meet new people. I have had so many awesome adventures. These people are so special to me and I am excited to have photos I can reminisce over. I would not trade any of these photos for one airbrushed inaccurate representation of my life.

I have no intention of stopping the selfie craze. I refuse to hide from the camera anymore. I hope more of us continue this zany trend.

I am afraid I am afraid

I find it difficult to articulate my feelings about fear. I spend most of my time with a steady rumbling of mild anxiety vibrating deep within my thoughts. Decision making is agonizing for me. I tend to vacillate wildly from one option to the next weighing each one so carefully I cannot possibly pick one over another. Then, the waitress comes… and asks me if I need a few more minutes. Umm. No. Then I will simply have time to add yet another option to the mix. GRRRR. Someone force me to decide. I will have water. With lemon. Yes, lime is fine. 

So, if I am agonizing this much over my beverage options just wait until you see me reading my choices of entrée. Oh, don’t worry. I won’t decide. I will wait until the waitress comes over, takes everyone else’s order, and then panic. As soon as I finally make a choice, I will be filled with instant regret. This is just the way I operate. 

I hate going through things that require filling out forms and rounding up paperwork. I hate interviews and questions. I hate credentialing for hospital privileges. I hate job hunting. I don’t like to move. I hate packing and unpacking. All of this makes me a perfect candidate for locum work, right?

Well, yeah. I don’t have to make a decision. I can just do the next thing in front of me. If I don’t like a place or job, I am only committing for 3 months or so.

I am afraid of making decisions. What if I make the wrong one?

Turns out, even if I make the wrong choice there will be another chance to make choices in the future. I am enjoying the prospect of new and interesting places and people to meet. I am afraid I don’t have to be afraid anymore.

What happens when you realize life is meant to be experienced and not just observed? What happens when you stop letting fear stop you dead in your tracks? What happens when you let go and relax a little? It’s not like you really have all that much control over it all anyway. Stop agonizing over all the options and pick one already. And don’t just order the cheeseburger again. 

So, what am I doing to make the traveling a little more bearable? I got a new traveling buddy! Meet Boomer, my new traveling buddy. IMG_0779 IMG_0780 IMG_0782

Cameras on Planes

So, I was bored. My son was doing his homework. I started playing with the camera.  

    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
 I really love so many of these. 

Some of them are pretty good. I loved the angle I was able to capture him at. This is what happens when my phone is dying and I am stuck on a plane. 

Enchantment and Moving On.

I was driving through the northeast corner of New Mexico when I was forced to stop and take a selfie. Raton is not my favorite city and I was actually planning on driving right on by, however I really needed something to drink and to have a little pit stop. I pulled off into the first parking lot I saw, and you cannot possibly imagine my delight when I met this fella. IMG_0348

I was afraid he was going to lash out and attack me. (I mean, what kind of establishment has a guard bear?)

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Don’t worry, he was chained down. Seriously? Are they afraid he will get away?

I somehow figured out his name MUST be Bert the Bear, and I am convinced I should have spent a little more time investigating this situation. Why is this bear being held captive in front of this tourist trap? Who is a tourist in Raton? Shhh. I was NOT a tourist! Just because I stopped to take a selfie in front of a highway restaurant does NOT make me a tourist. Wait until you see the bathroom pics in the next installment of Signs. Yep, I am still that girl. Sorry, not sorry.  

I suppose you could say I have a weird fascination with inanimate animals. I want them to be having conversations when my back is turned. I guess sometimes the fantasy of childhood stories is still attractive to me. What if these frozen creatures are just waiting to become real?

Margery Williams said it best in The Velveteen Rabbit.

“Real isn’t how you are made,’ said the Skin Horse. ‘It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.’

‘Does it hurt?’ asked the Rabbit.

‘Sometimes,’ said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. ‘When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.’

‘Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,’ he asked, ‘or bit by bit?’

‘It doesn’t happen all at once,’ said the Skin Horse. ‘You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”

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Oh, talk about a trip down memory lane. Google Smokey the Bear, I dare you. It is awesome.

Perhaps Bert the Bear just needs to be loved, then he can become real. He would most likely have to go live in the woods at that point. He would want to start dating other real bears, and most likely would like to start a family. Maybe he could even get a job with Smokey the Bear fighting wildfires. Is Smokey even still around?

I imagine I would be sad like I was watching E.T. as a child. I still cry like a baby every single time! The Velveteen Rabbit makes me cry too. I even cried when Steve went to college on Blue’s Clues. I think it may have something to do with loss. Moving on. Starting a new chapter.

This year has been full of transition for me. I changed jobs, started traveling, and made a lot of new friends. The hard part is not seeing my old friends with the regularity I am accustomed to. I miss them. I find myself wondering what they are doing now. I miss the inside jokes and laughter. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot? I wonder if I am ever going to have these kind of relationships again.

The most challenging aspect of leaving the comforts of the familiar is the fear of forming new attachments. Part of me does not want to risk feeling the way I did when I was trying to plan for my future. I felt like I was unfaithful to my work family. I had dedicated so much energy to getting the job, learning the job, keeping the job, and finally in the end, leaving the job. What is the protocol for changing everything about the way you live your life? How should you approach the transition from completely career oriented to fighting the tendency with everything you have?

I think I understand why divorced people often get married so quickly. It is an undeniable force with a gravitational pull to the very thing you have been trying to avoid. I wanted to stop having my work as a nurse practitioner as my primary focus in life. This does not make the work unimportant, it is simply an attempt to have more balance. My problem is my constant need to be working on a project coupled with a painfully short attention span.

Oh! Back to the story about Bert the Bear. 

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Bert the Bear was still there! Not entirely sure how I feel about this. He has obviously not been loved enough- YET!

On my way home I obviously had to stop and see Bert. I was curious if he had met someone special, and secretly hoped he would figure out how to unchain himself from his bonds. Alas, he was still in the exact same position when I rolled to a stop in the parking space directly in front of him.

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Barry the Fishing Bear.

Now, meet Barry the Fishing Bear. He is soft, cuddly and could probably keep you a little warmer at night than Bert could. Barry was just sitting inside the restaurant, chillin’, and dare I say waiting? When I saw him our eyes met and it was magic. It was Kismet. Destiny demanded a selfie with this handsome dude. I offered to take him back to Texas with me, but he wanted to go back to Colorado for the winter. I think he skis Vail or something like that.

I totally crack myself up on my road trips. I listen to podcasts and have private concerts. Car dancing is usually a guarantee. I am experiencing more of the world and learning to do something other than work. I think it has been good for me.

The best part? Well, despite the fact I am no longer employed full-time with my old job, we all have phones, Facebook, and I still work there sometimes when I am in town. I have not lost anything. I am simply gaining new experiences and skills. If I find myself too lonely Work Mommy and Work Daddy are just a phone call away. Actually, so is my real Mommy.

This is an adventure. I am lucky to have this chance.

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*Smokey the Bear artwork borrowed from this site. 

Rocky Mountain High. Well, not quite.

My adventures continue to astonish me. I just got back after a long weekend in Colorado. It was my first time! I went to celebrate one of my mudder buddy’s birthday. It was fantastic.

Allow me to say, everyone should want to be in Colorado. It is breathtaking. Actually, it really is breathtaking, there is no freaking oxygen up there! I am convinced they don’t need the legal marijuana, they could probably just get by with the mild hypoxia. Sheesh. 

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You know I had to go to Super Target as soon as we got there. Jill and I were on a team together for the Mesa TM, so this was the ideal place for a selfie.

Here is the great thing about Jill, she thinks I am funny! That always scores bonus points in my book. We had a ball walking around Target and touching everything that looked the least bit entertaining. My mother would have killed me if she had seen me messing with so much stuff. If it had a lid, I opened it. If it looked prickly, I had to feel whether or not it was sharp. Sigh. I love Target.

The plan for the weekend was to head out west to Grand Junction for a wine festival with another of Jill’s friends, Sarah. This was bound to be an epic road trip. Sarah is a ball of frenetic energy. We played car games involving a certain body part and RV names. hehehe. Just three girls with a completely juvenile sense of humor. 

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#JillHasaHemi
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Go ahead and ask me why I am standing like that. I dare you. I am such a dork.

Lucky for me, the girls made it a point to show me the sights. Winding through canyons and going up mountain pass roads, holding on for dear life because I was certain we were going to end up like the rusted out car I saw crashed up on the side of a mountain. We wound our way up to the Continental Divide.

I was enthralled by all the mountains. In my naiveté, I thought we were going through mountains when we were in Golden. I still don’t believe those are just “foothills,” I would rather call them little mountains. Imagine me excitedly shrieking about rocks and the scenery for the next six hours and you pretty much have a pretty good idea of how the trip went. 

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I love these grapes. Peaches and grapes make for some pretty interesting wine.
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Like my new bag? It holds three bottles of wine. You know, for emergencies.

Now, we had to stop to check out the wineries on our way.

The road trip across the state was fantastic. That night we went out to dinner and then went to check out the local “scene.” No details, but there was paint involved.

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Magical concoction served in a copper or maybe it was brass cup.
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Don’t worry, I called.
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Strange times. Glow paint. Guess it was fate I wore that shirt.
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The glow paint was awesome. We danced the night away! Best part of the night? Harassing the poor security guard who never smiled. Second best part? When he was replaced by the cute security guard with a beard.
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I have no idea why I felt making this face was necessary. The guy who painted it claims to have gone to “Art School.”
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Speaking of Art. There was all this random artwork on the street. I fell in love with this ostrich. We named him Art. I am not sure why Jill was trying to strangle him.

This trip was great! I have not even told you the best parts yet. Met some fantastically fun people, and spent the day laughing so hard. Adventures are fun.

Remember: It did not happen if you did not take a picture.

Dashing Dirty through The Land of Enchantment

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Before the mud bath. I thought we were going to a spa. Where is my facial? You forgot the champagne. What is wrong with us?
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I had no idea there would be this much mud in our friendship.

This weekend I got to go play in the mud with my friends in Albuquerque. For those of you who do not know, New Mexico’s state motto is The Land of Enchantment. For me, it is simply where some of my muddy friends live.

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Don’t worry- I am only moderately terrified.

The race location made it easy to choose a meeting up point, the 505 also happens to be convenient for the Texan, Coloradians, and Arizonians. (Is this the right way to say that? Coloradian? Arizonian? I have no idea.) I think I underestimated the altitude difference. Lubbock is about 3200 feet above sea level. The park where the race was held is about 6700 feet above sea level. I believe that would not have felt as different, except I have been spending most of my time in Mount Pleasant, which is about 350 feet above sea level. I did not know I would be craving supplemental oxygen in the last mile.

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Even my shirt knew! I am a princess! Thanks Rebecca for making the shirts. You are magic.

Now, this is ONLY a 5K, this should have been a cake walk. Yeah, right. Someone did not get the memo. I am a princess. Where were my gladiators who were supposed to carry me? Oh, I know. They were on top of the swing set with the rope ladder that is my new nemesis.

It could not have been that tall, maybe just 8 feet or so. I did climb up high enough that all I needed to do is swing my leg over and crawl down the other side. It is so easy! Damn. There is no way I am climbing over that. Why am I so paralyzingly afraid of heights? People try to be supportive and nice. “You can do it!” “Almost there!” “Go Nyki!” Grrrr. Bite me. I don’t do well with supportive comments. They leave me all angsty and resentful. Climbing over things kills me. I have no idea why I am so petrified of this. Someday I will figure it out.

Now, if you have been reading my blog, or even just talking to me since I started all this muddy fun, you know I did a Tough Mudder with my health club friends. You know what a big deal it all is, and you know I am doing another one in October. This little 5K should have been easy! It kicked my tail! The Tough Mudder is 10-12 miles with about 20 obstacles, and this was a little over 3 miles with about 20 mud pits, and maybe 7-8 other obstacles.

This is a good picture. We were muddy and having a blast. There are still many more chances for face plants. I was still naive about how much muddy fun the course had in store for us.

Let me be completely honest, being a fat chick rolling around and trying to climb out of muddy pits with a slew of other people poses certain hazards. There is no traction. A little part of you dies when you go sliding backwards from the top back into the slimy abyss. Then, you slowly realize you are holding your friends back. Now, it is time to push yourself on. You stop laughing and joking. You are concentrating on not looking like a fool.

I suppose I may have looked like I was dying. Complete strangers were offering words of support. I get it. You are trying to be nice. There was not one word of negativity spoken out loud. It was all in my head. In spite of the negative mantra playing on repeat in my head, it was FUN! I had to remind myself I was having fun, and I have come to the conclusion this is what it takes for me. I have spent years telling myself what I CAN’T do… and this new way of life is still foreign to me. That’s just fine. I always wanted to see foreign lands.

There were a ton of mud pits. I climbed through a lot of them, then I was just trying to get through the darn course. I was tired. I was grumpy. I desperately wanted to take my shoes off. There was mud caked in places mud should never be. Then, we got to the end. There was a giant ladder thing that led to a slide. No big deal right? WRONG! It looked like a straight drop down to certain death. There were people behind me, so there was no way to edge my way back down. I was facing mortal humiliation or mortal fear. So, down I flew. There were most likely (I know there really were) obscenities spewing from my mouth. It was one of the scariest half seconds of my life. When I came crashing off the end of the slide, I was laughing so hard. It was so much fun.

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I survived. It was fun. The Under Armour compression shorts were the best purchase I ever made. (There is not a pic of me in my underwear. Sorry folks.

Then, we were done. There was none of the crying and sheer relief that came from finishing Tough Mudder. This was just a short jaunt in the park. I woke up a little sore the next morning, but my body was not in severe pain, simply wishing for death. Nope, just a few groans when I had to sit or stand.

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See? Mud washes off.

So, what is the big deal? I am learning to go out and do harder things. I am learning to quell my inner mean girl. She is mostly just mean to me anyway. I don’t need that girl hanging around. She interferes with my adventures.

I have friends all over the country, and even a few in other countries. It is so great to be able to go experience new things with these people. I am so excited to keep finding new adventures. It is a little bittersweet to leave my new friends behind for the trip home, back to reality. No worries though, I am headed back to the 505 in a couple of weeks to go to a brew fest… hopefully, there will be no mud.

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On my way home!

Happiness is Lubbock, Texas growing nearer and nearer…

WestTexasServiceRegionI was born and raised in West Texas. I had never even been north of Texas until I was in my late twenties, and yet people always assume I am from “up north.”

For those of you who don’t know, people assume Texans have a drawl when they speak. I don’t have that. (Well, not much anyway.) I do say “Y’all” and I am always “fixin” to do something, however I speak fast. Apparently very fast.

Many Texans insert extra syllables into their words. I am watching the news, and this woman just said the word fun. She pronounced it with two full syllables “F- uhhhn” with a pause between the f and the un. LOL. No wonder they are perplexed.

So, here I am in East Texas and I have been asked more than once, “Where are you from?” It makes me laugh. I had speech therapy when I was young, and I have ADHD. My brain is always going 90 miles a minute. I also have a lot to say. So, I speak fast lest I forget what I was saying.

I find it funny. I am a proud Texan, and I still say some things with a hint of twang. Maybe I should get a T-shirt.

Now, does anyone have any tips for dealing with this terrible humidity? Home is dry and windy. Muggy and oppressive wet heat is permeating my soul. I feel waterlogged. Someone wring me out to dry.

One more week until I head home for a week. I cannot wait. I miss my cats. I miss my family. I miss my friends. I am loving the new things I am learning, and I have met some lovely people, but I am a West Texas girl.

I guess the song was true: Happiness really is Lubbock, Texas growing nearer and nearer. Thanks for that Mac Davis. You may be my favorite redneck philosopher.

I guess happiness was Lubbock, Texas
In my rear view mirror
But now happiness is Lubbock, Texas
Growing nearer and dearer
And the vision is getting clearer
In my dreams

– Mac Davis- Happiness is Lubbock, Texas in my Rearview Mirror

Life is good today.

I am off having adventures, seeing more of my great state, and exploring new opportunities. I am so grateful I have a home to go home to. It is nice to have strong roots. You can branch out and see new things, secure in the knowledge home is waiting for you.

Comfortable and friendly place to stay.

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Nice place to stay.

So, I am working out of town for ten days. I am staying at Hampton Inn in Mount Pleasant, Texas. Let me just tell you, it’s a pretty nice place. Nothing fancy, however the staff here is friendly, courteous, and helpful. I cannot stand it when people act like you are interrupting them when you need to use their services.

My room is always clean when I return, and my stuff is exactly where I left it. The bed is pretty comfortable, and the AC works well.

So, why does this earn a blog post? Well, I just had the most lovely conversation with a woman who works here, and she made me feel so welcome. It is the first morning I was not on the verge of a lonely little weep- fest. (Okay, that may be a slight exaggeration, but it is a little lonely without your family or any of your friends around.) I stood there in the breakfast area while she was working, and had a nice normal little chat. Now, I feel ready to start the day. (Ha! I am so glad I snuck in to steal a cup of coffee before breakfast time.)

It is so important for travelers to be welcomed into a comfortable, friendly environment. I imagine I would be miserable if my accommodations were not comfortable.

The hospital I am at this assignment is also nice. It has been a whirlwind of introductions, and I cannot remember anyone’s name. (Someone may be named Amanda- or that could be Katie. – Katie, if you are reading this, I hope you get a laugh!)

I am thinking I am going to like doing this kind of work. It is challenging and I am learning a lot. Maybe someday I will be a seasoned world traveller, and I will know all the tricks to making a hotel room feel more like home. Until then, I am just grateful for the friendly people.