the winter has been long.

Words cannot express how wonderful this sunshine feels on my skin. The warmth covers my soul like a soothing balm, like a shudder of relief after the heart-pounding fear of falling. The grass is whispering and it smells of sweet spring glory as it beams up at me, pleased as I to be reveling in the wonder of the sun’s outstretched arms. It feels like coming home, and as pen meets paper, the delight of the moment begs to be written.

Another year. Another step closer to the end of this school journey. When we are children, it feels as though we are to be eternally bound to a classroom, condemned to stay within the four walls of education until we are old and grey. I suppose that notion is not far from the truth. When I look in the mirror, three years into this degree, I see a shadow of the woman-child who started university with such exuberance. She rears her sassy little head every now and then, usually around this time of year. At the moment, she’s a-chippin’ away at my iron-clad resolve to hang in there until the madness stops. The madness has stopped though and whenever it does I realize just how much I have missed that girl.

The winter has been long and it has been hard. Pale, dull skin houses recurring stubborn zits in those places on my chin, my temples, my forehead, where my hands always find my face in exasperation, one thousand words into yet another paper. My skin jiggles where it once stretched taught after a summer on the lake, in the trees, flying down the street on my bike. It’s quite hideous to find bones sticking out where they shouldn’t be, where my muscles used to reside. Worse still, it’s a nightmare to pinch up handfuls of mush where the bowls of chips and candy, eaten to cope, found their home on my body. School. You have done it to me once again. A messy, haulin’ ass winter and what do I have to show for it? Mental prowess? Mustard seed faith? Perhaps. But I also can’t lift a glass rack at work and that tends to debilitate a person – you know?

I’m staring down my last summer as a “kid” and my last year as a student. I don’t know where the time went but I do know that I relish the thought of one hundred afternoons spent on this very patio, with my notebook and my “lively western romance” novel (complete with a handsome cowboy-preacher and outlaw daughter). I relish the thought of one final hurrah, stretched out over a long and glorious summer, before the monstrosities of real grown up life find me and push me down mercilessly into the fetal position.

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Now, I haven’t deluded myself into thinking that anyone waits on baited breath for my posts but I do know how I appreciate a good old-fashioned update from the blogger folks I follow. There’s family and friends near and far and reflecting on the year here is a perfect chance to process all the going-ons and let those people know what’s been happening! Also, it’s my blog and I’ll do whatever I want. 🙂

So, without further adieu, here’s a little snapshot of this year.

September through to December saw me dabbling in mental health nursing as per the degree requirements. Can you say mind trip? Absolutely no pun intended there. While I was mildly interested by the intricacies of mental health, I was able to mentally (ha) cross this area of nursing off my list of specialization options. No thanks, I’ll pass. It takes a special person to work in mental health and I’m just not that sort of special. December brought me my first darling little nephew. I’ve loved seeing him grow up before our eyes and as much as I love the little ones that my own cousins keep popping out left, right, and center, there’s something so special about being Aunty Olivia. There’s something even more special about watching Uncle Jesse fall in love with his first nephew. We can’t wait to watch these little ones grow up. We can’t wait to feed them candy in secret when their mommy says no and to regale them with story after story about our childhood escapades. Someone has to teach these little ones how to run around like mad.

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After a long overdue visit from my Uncle on my mom’s side, Jesse and I spent New Year’s with his family in Sun Peaks. The Christmas season came and went with great gusto and joy and afterwards, I found myself working back at the restaurant alongside my brother and sister. Coincidentally, my last shift is tonight. I’m unsure as to whether I’ll be going back, as I did this year, but something tells me that tonight marks the end of an era. This both excites me and makes me miserable. Working there was the first step outside of my private school bubble. I love the memories, the people, the smells of pizza and wings and the downing of a beer after work ends. I’ll miss it.

This past semester has been one of such change, such hardship, such need for patience. In the same token, it’s been one of life-giving friendship and unparalleled growth. I tend to be one of those people that stores up all the change inside of me and turns it around and around inside of me until I’m certain I have a handle on it. I think of that verse that speaks of Mary, how, after she was told she’d be the mother of Jesus, she “kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart” (Luke 2:19, NKJV). No, this is not Immaculate Conception and I’m no doubt much more chaotic in my pondering than Mary was. But, this semester has been life-changing. I have mulled things over, thought on every possibility, and feel now a strong sense of where I might go from here.

Pediatrics has been a wild ride. The beginning of the semester had me teaching health promotion in elementary schools for 6 weeks and, surprise, surprise, I loved it. It wasn’t just the teaching or the kids; it was the autonomy, the change of pace, the thought of doing something in the community to make a difference on a grand scale and in the lives of individuals. The last 6 weeks have been spent taking patients at BC Children’s Hospital. Don’t get me wrong, I loved every moment of it and cherished the opportunity and the gift it was to share in the lives of children and their families during such emotionally challenging times. But when preceptorship applications came a-knockin’, I couldn’t ignore that lingering feeling pushing me towards public health. To clarify, preceptorships are those placements we get during the final semester of our degree. We shadow a nurse and work her shifts with her for 6 weeks in an area of our preference, gradually building the skills and the experience to take on a full nursing load after graduation. Preceptorships don’t determine what type of nurse you will be for the rest of your life and many would even say that it’s beneficial to sign up for a generic area with high traffic where lots of skills are available. My issue is that we have so few opportunities to try public health, aside from a few isolated visits to home health, the experience in the elementary schools, and a couple guest lecturers from nurses in the public health sector, that it seems doing my preceptorship in that area is a wonderful opportunity to try it out.

To make a long story short, I selected public health as my first choice. Who knows if a placement will be available and who knows if I will even enjoy it! But I knew that the only thing holding me back from just trying it was the apprehension and fear associated with doing something different than what I have always thought and expected I would do. Having said that, I don’t know why I’m so surprised by myself. I love teaching, planning, being independent, and, of course, wearing clothes other than scrubs. And I love nursing. Public health combines all those things into one neat, little, vaccine-loving package. So I’ll give it a try.

In other news, Jesse has spent the last few months preparing a portfolio for admission to a competitive Visual Communications Degree Program. The process has been hell – umm, I mean, an adventure. As it stands, he got a call back to come in for phase two of the admission process, which includes an interview, life drawing test, creative test, and a writing test. This call was such an accomplishment. About three hundred people send in a portfolio and only one hundred get invited to come in for testing. It’s exciting and yet so terribly nerve-wracking. Pray, my friends. Pray for favour to rest on him and for God’s will to be done. Indeed, that seems to be the only thing holding us together right now. Truth be told, the ominous portfolio deadline had us both in shambles. When I originally wrote part of this post, we were still so broken and bruised. Late nights, awful food, failed projects, breakdowns… We’ve fought and we’ve cried and we’ve been horribly sad and yet we’ve loved and made stronger all those pieces of our relationship that have been tempted to buckle under the weight of this task. He’s my person. I know, without a doubt, that this summer will be a beautiful one, as we celebrate THREE YEARS together. Yeah, you read that right… three years. We’ve endured things that I never thought I could be strong enough to bear. I’ve never been needed so much nor have I ever had to be so unwaveringly tough for someone else as they face off against the beast. But I see so clearly now, how crisis drives me right into Jesus’ arms. Chaos brings me into communion with God. And that can’t be a bad thing. In the same way, Jesse and I have come to rely on each other so much more in light of all the hardship. A new season of life is swiftly approaching and this past year will serve to usher in that new season of joy with great gusto and anticipation.

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The past few weeks of spring have been perfect. The best part is reading. And writing. Hitting the pavement and running out the tension and stress of school. Right now, there is so much to be thankful for – so much peace. This life I’ve been given is sometimes messy and I bruise easily but Hope is my anchor and His joy is my strength.

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