Dear Verizon

Dear Verizon,

Your employee is misrepresenting your product.

I’m a nurse and I take pride and joy in my job. I care for people and can tell you it matters not their name, class, color of skin, political stance (please keep one that to yourself), opinion of women, past karmic mishaps, or if they even pay their bill. I’ve taken care of your neighbor, your mother, your child, your first grade teacher who held your hand and you never forgot as well as all of your employees. I answer your call bell when you can’t muster the energy to call on even the closest person to your heart. When I say I’ll come back as soon as I can you can believe me and you do because you were in pain and we remember times as these. You remember the time I kept the lights off when the orders said to check your vital signs every hour and that’s the only added comfort and customer service I could offer. Actually I brought in a cool wash cloth because your temperature was out the roof. Oh and I went all over the hospital to find that tiny white styrofoam cup of chocolate ice cream cause you said it was all you could eat. That’s right I also called your daughter on the west coast because nobody would call and update her as to how you were doing.

When I asked your ‘GoVerizon’customer service representative to help me because I knew I was about to lose my job (not my fault but not this topic either) soon and finances needed to be within strong boundaries and emphasized my complete lack of knowledge or desire to understand the cell service choices and could she help me she said she sure could. Not a soul was in the store and I believed my request to be clear. No money soon. Ms Piddle set me up with the one thing that would certainly bring me pain and anguish once the bill tripled and the stress on my organs took hold. I know the importance of keeping these little guys happy and you’ve upset my apple cart in this situation and I’m asking for your reply to one question:

I’m doing my job, are you?

Love,

Nurse Pam

Sleeping Bag

listen to your heart

The homeless travelers in Colorado Springs stand on the highway exit corners collecting an undisclosed plethora of coins, paper money, uneaten fast food lunch I didn’t want after all, 2 large unsweetened tea cause I asked for sweet tea I’m a Southerner now in the West, cans of sardines, to name a few. Last week the wind was blowing crazy like it only does around the plains and yep it was cold and snowy. I’m in my toasty warm lovable Kia Sportage and there he stands shivering with his cardboard reused sign ‘Need Help’ so I gave him my sleeping bag. Chica doesn’t know yet as I’d used it for her to stay warm when she takes her copilot seat. The traffic light remained red for some time as the grey and orange bag whipped around the disheveled fellow as he stood waiting patiently for the next flow of onlookers. I rolled my window down again and gave him one of my many cloth bags cause I’m a silent bag lady too. He scurried back with a grin saying ‘thanks man.’

Yesterday as I was walking around the adorable welcoming snowy town of Manitou Springs I spotted a fellow curled up under the bushes in a sleeping bag with the morning sun resting on his quiet form. He looked rather comfortable but I know better.

Try telling a mother and business woman facing retirement she should get pregnant because after all it brought her such joy and purpose. She would not need to answer and could inwardly chuckle as she continued to plan her future freedom life out from under all the shady business situations she’d faced working in the system as well as all the critiques she’d swallowed during her parenting years as she attempted to do the best for the fruits of her loins.

Ok so I’m not facing retirement but I relate to her. As a rock climber would turn and walk away from some strangers encouragement to jump on a climbing route without ‘good beta’ from a trusted source. I’m at a spot where I neither want to get pregnant nor jump on any rock requiring vertical ascent. Substitute the suggestions of what should a nurse do? ICU, ER, private duty, hospice liaison, cardiac unit step down, travel nurse (hard!), inpatient rehab RN, camp nurse, Health Director, occupational health nurse at a lumber plant, and most recently school nurse. I’ve done it all. Loved it and can list why I will not do each again.

As my own employment grim choices are laid out in front of me I can’t help but think I might need another sleeping bag.

Cowboy

Outlaw caught my attention first as at 5 months old she was 4 ft tall and 105 lbs. Huge black male German Shepard with attached owner on one side named Cowboy. Long grey hair and you can imagine with the cowboy hat and boots, every finger ordained with silver turquoise jewelry. He was out leash-training his pup and this was no silent matter as Outlaw has quite the bark and I didn’t want to challenge his bite. The conversation began as I’d been walking from my rental just a block up in the canyon and close to town. It’s a quaint cozy eccentric kind of folk community of Manitou Springs, CO. Been here 4 months and being slow to pay attention to details, it took me 3 of those to realize there were 12 fresh water soda mineral infused springs bubbling at spots throughout town. The Indians didn’t live here but intentionally passed through for the healing waters. Back to Cowboy and Outlaw, what an encounter. Where is Flannery O’Connor when I need her?

Let’s just say long story short I’m now looking at this framed memorabilia of Cowboy and his 35 years of playing Buffalo Bill in the rodeo show in Wyoming from a spot in his living room. He looks the same as the beaming confidence he emits in person, just 40 years younger. His high ceiling cottage is tucked up on the hill with lots of others all aching for an upgrade and a fresh can of paint. A rock collector and ex-Vietnam Vet with a huge service dog, an internal sound system futuristic, in it’s midst, as well as Cowboy’s built in friend “Alexa”. You heard me and she hears him. Each request he shouts has just a little aggression noted as it’s a commanding relationship in the fullest. She graciously responds and turns on lights or t.v. shows or finds attempts to retrieve a Grateful Dead song for me when that topic comes up in our group conversation.

My visit was brief and just a glimpse of what I get myself into. No harm just gotta shake your head of judgement and accept everybody lives their own life and hopefully it’s to the fullest of their ability as Cowboy is doing. He made it clear they’d honorably discharged him way back before he arrived in Manitou Springs. He added it was because they didn’t want a weapon in his hands. Lol. And the healing he has gotten from remaining within these canyon infused pockets of town and the 14,000 ft beauty of Pikes Peak as our background sky as well as drinking it’s water corresponding vortexes being key to his happiness.

I have this inate quality of making any soul feel accepted, willing, and ready to open their closets with skeleton’s without fear. I think it’s cause I’ve been a nurse for awhile now, a mother for a while longer, and an open hearted little girl for a very long time. I carry with me my empathy and corresponding experiences to share if only heartfelt understanding.

I remember the first time I connected with a homeless person without judgement or fear but with a mother’s love. I was riding the BART busline in San Francisco. My then 18 year old daughter just starting her freshman year of college in the bay area and as such, flying from the nest. Gazing out the window as the transit hummed along, I saw this dirty bearded fellow with his long brown coat and shoe laces dangling standing on the side of the road amidst trash and city winds.

I thought to myself, ‘That’s somebody’s little boy.’ I felt his mother’s love for him. Somewhere, maybe only in spirit.

I’ve come view most of society from those eyes I’ve gained. Years after that day on the bus, I’d find myself in a form of homelessness. I had a car and a seaonal job, but my heart felt homeless. It would take actually being physically ‘home less’ to discover the secret. Homeless people/‘travelers’ have found a spiritual home those with material homes silently seek.

Cowboy and his sidekick Outlaw now have both homes. He deserves it for his service for our country’s freedom, and  I’m happy he found it in this old western cross through of a town.

Day 1 of year 2017

Yay I started my year in Colorado! Opened Instagram and was thinking of my ‘best 9’ photos. A year of road miles, laps around the USA. Flashes of my favorite wilderness sites, where thousands of sand hill cranes flew in around sunset and white geese swarmed mesmerizing me as Chica and Jolien watched from the Kia Sportage window.

Time stood still in those moments more so than others as the quiet was everywhere and civilization nowhere in site. I had 4 months off and nowhere to be but lots of places to not go. Knowing that and discovering affordable living on the road equaled the adventure of a girls lifetime. Mine.

No one knows the miles nor the time nor the true places I sought. I wasn’t clear what I was seeking but the 3 years prior called for self reflection at the least and total surrender at best. I took the both on the road and found inner peace and a permanent home in my heart. I’d been able to embrace homelessness as it came to me with open arms. I’d just finished a ‘Helpx’ (work in exchange for room and board) 3 week stay in Ragley Louisiana. Using Walmart free wifi and taking photos of the southern swampy environment when I spotted a cardboard homemade sign. ‘Help! I’m homeless’

……..I identified immediately. And the help I found was inside me all along. My spiritual connection. If I just listen I will be guided along the way even if I have no plan no destination no home no family no friends no job ……

I always had my angels around me. My little dog Chica. My puppy Jolene. And later after Jolene died we acquired Moon our sweet ferocious sounding bluenosepit from the Bronx. And all the the other angels my eyes don’t see but my heart does.

Thank you. I promise to keep listening and know each gift is in the moment.imageimageimage

Nurses use agency’s …more so visa versa

2 weeks before Christmas this year I’ll become unemployed. Again. I’m getting fired. But not for doing a fantastic job. Everybody loves me. It’s because I signed a ‘contract’ with an agency, Procare Therapy. When they first contacted me I emphatically stated to every ear I would only accept a contract if it were for the entire school year. They were in a pickle as one of their school systems needed a nurse ASAP but only until Thanksgiving. So Procare Therapy drew up a ‘contract’ stating I’d be employed until the end of the school year. May 2017.

I’ve actually been granted a few more weeks as I covered the middle school’s while she trained for the position. I continued to do all the things needed to care for and care over students as I’d been hired to do. All the while combing over how this could happen ……..again! I’d done a really good job jumping in after the school year began and never been a school nurse to boot. Procare Therapy held my hand while I stressed. I’d thought the school system was to blame for my being suddenly replaced by a (cheaper) permanent placement. I decided to ask an outside source. An employment lawyer.

They just might break Colorado’s ‘luring’ statute C.R.S. 8-2-104 among other things. I know that now because my lawyer said so. They also could brake 5 other laws. We told them last week. 9 days before they plan to roll over all those agreements I thought we had.

They now have 4 days to find me a replacement position. It didn’t seem to bother them I’d be unemployed 2 weeks before Christmas, until my lawyer sent them a lengthy email in my respect. I’m pretty sure they haven’t worried about the lease I signed for the adorably furnished rental …..through the end of the school year. It’s so comphy. My 2 dogs love it. For now. Fit’s my budget. Until I don’t have one.

In 4 days I’ll either have a new job or my lawyer will have one.

 

Drug testing 

When I was an occupational health nurse I had to drug test new hires, employees accidents, and any ‘suspicious’ situations. As with most of my opinions over time I grew to question and eventually disapprove of drug testing altogether. My ex-husband used to say ‘stupid people shouldn’t do drugs.’ My point is more around what right do you have to know what I or anyone else decides to put in their body?  It’s used to fire people. I’ve seen it. It can be used as a twisted sense of power when the boss calls for it. Those who get wind of the ‘random’ drug tests have the means to mask their privacy and the truth. The ones with mental illness and others who hide behind their doctors get a free pass because some other human signed a paper saying they ‘need’it. Others just drink alcohol and are ‘ok’ with that poison as society is happily illusioned of its baffling power. Arguably no one wants their pilot high on substances….but camp counselors? Really? 3 weeks into a more than full time job managing campers 24/7 and keep in mind counselors get very little pay in return for their efforts and time. AND in this case…..it’s in Colorado for heavens sake! It just seems sometimes there’s more to the story. Luckily this time I wasn’t asked to do the testing. It didn’t feel legal (the tests used and the way it was handled)nor did it seem appropriate given the scenario. I didn’t want any part of it for my own reasons. The biggest being an experience I had back at the lumber plant where I was the nurse. Some drama there lead to a single mom being singled out to be the target in question. The workers had ‘noticed strange behavior.’ My side note here being if I had to work in those jobs I’d create some drama just for a bit of change! But they claimed it was pills. She had worked there 8 years. Was a supervisor. Had 2 teenage daughters. She tested positive for marijuana…..NOT the pills the drama claimed. Regardless,she lost her job. Couldn’t make ends meet anymore as the only job she could get was at the local Burger King. I offered to pay her to walk my dogs. But it was the end of her world……..She hung herself……They called me while she was still stuck on the bridge. It was devastating to me. Not believing in the real purpose of it all in the first place as well as having my hand it it all……She left 2 teenagers motherless…….. I went to the funeral, no other ‘management’ came. 

Special needs people have courage few understand 

“I wanna go swimming!’ She whines in the high pitched voice only mimicked best on Saturday Night Live skit. Then comes ‘you can’t keep me down here forever I wanna go to my dorm!’ The still sleepy red headed 20 something year old  counselor patiently explains there are several other (blind deaf mix) campers who have to first gather their sleeping bags and stuff from the sleep over they had down in the lodge last eve…. then breakfast (and morning medications) ….then the day trip to the mountain lake park. Sleeping in the 2 huge cool tepees in the meadow is not favorable to the staff so they ‘camp out’ on the floor down in the huge cathedral ceiling lodge of the Lions Camp watching Disney movies and eating popcorn. Campers range from 18 to 74. I’ve often imagined my mom sleeping on one of those little floor pads and know her body wouldn’t sleep well and she’s more fit than most of this bunch. Male and female. The complainer lady I mentioned is 57, this is her 8th year here. Another has been coming for the last 20.

Each nursing experience brings me a new awareness of the debth of the human heart the soul of humanity. It’s loving and joyful amongst difficult circumstances and health playing a part naturally due to my profession. I always wonder how I would do if I were in the patients spot. I always think how the mom must feel since I consider myself a mom first and nurse second. This go round the moments are tough to choose to share as there are many already and it’s just week 3 at camp.

I watch blind folks shoot water guns at each other. This weeks talent show included a Jonny Cash song as well as Alicia Keys. I wonder if music artists realize their impact. Many a Lion King song is sung and costumes to boot. It’s quite an event and has yet to not bring a tear to my eyes. Moms,you’d be proud. Everybody else…you’d be touched and quite possibly forever changed.

Love….you’re not alone

Been on the road for 2 months traveling …NY -Asheville NC- Hoenwald TN – Woodland Park CO – Roswell NM – Ragley LA – Silver Springs MD ….and everywhere in between. Having several months off has granted me this opportunity and I took it. The beauty of this countryside has simply taken my breath away. I worked on ‘farms’ thru Help-x a site where one can work in exchange for room and board. My past experience with life and in particular private duty nursing prepared me to gracefully enter others life without judgement and hold honor for each welcoming dorr opened to me along the way.

I traveled alone with my little dog…….drove lots of miles……  watched sunsets come and go……..met nice people around every corner……and had angels guide my every move…..I’ll write more about the experiences but all I wanna say now is ….. I never felt lonely as love is everywhere ….you simply have to open your heart and allow it to come. Priceless gift no dollar can buy.imageimage