Updated: Feb 17, 2021
Hey all! Sorry I’ve been a little M.I.A lately, life has been absolutely nuts since we returned from our Colorado hiking trip in mid July. Honestly, I have been so busy running around since then it seems like that trip was a lifetime ago.
If you’ve been following along with us on social media, you have probably heard why- I am so stoked to announce I am starting my first contract as a travel nurse in Alamogordo, New Mexico in the beginning of September! Colton and I bought and fixed up a used 2004 Bounder Class A Motorhome and plan to live out of it with our two rescue pups as we travel the western U.S. for the foreseeable future!
The decision to try travel nursing has been something lingering in the back of my mind since May of 2019. It all started out having a heart to heart with a close friend over coffee. I opened up about my feelings of being stagnate and bored in life, specifically my career. At that time, I had been closing in on my second year as a full-time registered nurse at the same community hospital my mom had worked at for her entire career, the same one I had been born in. Now that is not to be interpreted as a single ounce of shade being thrown at Wooster Community Hospital- I love that place to the core. Working on the fast-paced Progressive Care Unit not only taught me how be a critically thinking nurse, but also gave me the opportunity and blessing of meeting some women who I now consider best friends.
Sitting in the coffee shop that May, we laughed as I told her I had mapped my life out my life when I was still in high school- to be married, living the “American Dream” with two kids popped out by the time I turned 25. I opened up to her about being frustrated with myself for having these feelings of emptiness and ‘wanting more' at all. I knew at that time I was more than blessed to have a stable job and a supportive husband. Why did I still feel like I needed more? Why couldn’t I be happy with where I was? What was wrong with me?
I knew I wasn't ready for kids, I still felt like a kid myself (still do today). I felt deep in my bones I was meant to do something more- to 'sow some kind of wild oat'- before settling into that lifestyle. Not that kids are settling, I know having kids is a job on its own. I just have always been fearful of resenting future kids (if we have them) because I wouldn't have as much freedom and time to adventure as I do now.
This friend at the coffee shop was and still is a self-made, successful photographer. The two of us had become fast friends the instant I reached out to her to photograph Colton and I’s wedding just two years prior. She too had started nursing school before deciding to drop out and pursue her dream of becoming a photographer. And since we have become friends, I have admired her passion and dedication to making her dreams a reality. In all honesty, I was jealous I didn’t have the passion for nursing she had for photography. I yearned to have a job that doubled as an outlet for expressing my creativity, too.
It’s not something I talk about a lot- probably because I’m still trying to figure myself out at 25- but I never really felt a pull to the nursing field. I grew up around it as my mom has been a surgical nurse for 30+ years. I also deal with a heart condition called Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome, which took 2 and a half years to get diagnosed during my high school years. My symptoms of this were much more severe and unmanageable throughout those years and with the addition of a traumatic ACL tear my senior year- I felt weirdly close to the medical field.
When graduation came, I had no clue if I would ever really feel passionate about a specific major but a whole lot of pressure to pick one. I felt like I had to maintain the responsible and driven attitude I always had in regard to school and a successful future. I knew I had a fascination with science and the intricate makeup of the human body, so when I mentioned I was thinking about majoring in nursing, it only seemed right to pursue it.
Then once nursing school started, I dove in headfirst. Partly because I never felt like I could change my mind and didn't know what I would choose if I changed my mind anyway. I met friends in the major and conquering the challenging program quickly became a major goal of mine. I remember talking to my friends and sitting back in awe as they gushed over the thought of graduating and working on a specific type of hospital floor- labor/delivery, pediatrics, intensive care, etc. All I knew was that I loved the working with the elderly patients (because who doesn’t love the little confused lady named Glenda or Betty that just wants to share about the life she had?)
When my junior year of nursing school was coming, I followed my mom’s suggestion in applying for a nurse’s aide position at Wooster. I was hired on the Progressive Care Floor and transitioned into the position as a floor nurse the instant I passed the NCLEX in June of 2017.
Colton and I got married July 22nd 2017 after graduating college together in May of the same year. Since then, the time has flown. I have learned so much sometimes my head feels like it could explode, as a nurse and a wife. It was a big adjustment, taking on the role of a new wife while simultaneously working my first job as a nurse- on nightshift, no less.
Even still, I persisted. In the beginning, there was so much change I told myself the love for the job would come when I wasn’t so green. And in some ways, it did. I liked when I didn’t second-guess myself and the times when other nurses would come to me with questions. I felt capable and confident. But it never changed the fact that I wished I felt like I was fulfilling some kind of inner calling by working as a nurse.
For our first wedding anniversary, Colton and I planned a hiking trip to Utah and Arizona. If you’ve read some of my previous blog posts, you know I was raised on a farm as the only girl in between my two brothers. Being outside was second nature to me and that was something Colton and I immediately bonded over when we met.
Throughout this trip, we visited Zion, Bryce, Arches, and Grand Canyon National Parks. I had been to Yellowstone and The Tetons with my family as an eighth grader but didn’t start hiking until I met Colton. So in my opinion, I never appreciated what the western United States had to offer until this trip. Once I saw the orange of Utah, I literally burst into tears. That trip hooked me in a way I don’t think I’ll ever be able to put into words.
From the moment we returned home from that trip, I have become slightly obsessed with finding new hikes to conquer and parks to visit. We have since visited Cuyahoga Valley, Gateway Arch, Everglades, Yosemite, Sequoia, Kings Canyon, Joshua Tree, Rocky Mountain, Great Sand Dunes, and Black Canyon of The Gunnison National Parks. I have made it my bucketlist goal to visit all of the national parks in the U.S. My love for adventuring and traveling birthed this blog and my interest in branding/adventure photography. I feel that passion for these hobbies and would love to expand them as we see more of the country through travel nursing.
When my photographer friend finished listening to me vent back in 2019, she said she always wondered if I would come to this realization. And at first, I was at a complete loss on what to do- for a lot of different reasons. Colton and I moved into my late grandparent’s house shortly after getting married. He moved around a lot throughout his childhood and loved the idea of stability this house offered. Our house was across the road from my parent’s home and my family had never been further than a 10-15 minute drive from each other. To emphasize: I hadn't even moved to a different street from my childhood home. We are from a multiple generation family farm, after all. Leaving didn’t seem like an option, but rather, a betrayal.
I have always been a people pleaser by nature and the thought of even speaking this idea/dream into reality left me with a pit in my stomach. I immediately felt guilty at the thought of letting down my boss, leaving my family/friends, and changing the dreams I knew my mom had about having us nearby.
Aside from fearing the reaction others would have, I had an enormous amount of fear to even accept it myself. In the beginning, it wasn’t even up for debate- I straight up didn’t think I’d ever go through with it. I thought it was an unachievable dream for someone with as much anxiety as me. I have never dealt with new people, new places, and new situations well. I shell up. I think I’m too awkward to start conversations and instead, come off as unapproachable and mean. Now I was thinking about making change the one consistent part of my job? At times, I wondered (and sometimes still do) if I was having a quarter life crisis.
But the idea of it grew into a desire and curiosity I couldn’t keep to myself. And I will never be able to thank Colton enough for how supportive he has been from the start. The very instant I brought it up, he has listened wholeheartedly, seeming to know just how big of a leap even bringing it up was. He has taken this dream and done everything possible to help prepare us to not only succeed but thrive in this new chapter. I know for a fact, I wouldn't have the courage to do this alone.
So, that’s it! Some of this story may have seemed like travel nursing should have been a simple choice for me to make and I get that. I stand in my own way a lot, doubting myself and my abilities to take life by the reins. But for those very reasons, this new chapter seems like the very first time I’ve committed to a passion 100% my own. It feels so right, I just pray I can get out of my own head and take it all in.
Colton and I have hopes to visit Arizona, Colorado, Utah, Oregon, Washington, Montana, and potentially Alaska before we return home to Ohio permanently. Until then, I’ll have so many new and exciting places to share with all of you! And if I’m lucky enough, maybe I’ll inspire someone out there to fall in love with our planet just as I have.
Thanks for reading! I got real personal with this one, so if you’ve read it in its entirety- thank you. And if anyone has any cool places to visit in the western part of the country- let us know! Chances are, I’ll want to visit!
“Travel far enough to meet yourself” -David Mitchell