How to Survive….

a zombie apocalypse? 

or the attack of the in-laws?

I have been quiet, too too quiet lately… and no, I was not eaten by flesh eating monsters nor have I gone into a Vipassana stupor (though sometimes I wish I could). I probably had too much spicy food in Asia giving me mental diarrhea which led to verbal dehydration. Or it could be my bruised pinky finger from that tubing “accident” in North Carolina when I used my hands to break on the ice instead of just my feet thereby disabling my hands from typing on the computer.

No excuses.

I still had nine other fingers.

Or maybe, it could be that my husband’s parentS (take note plural form) are here… to stay… for FOUR months!!!

I remember writing about it when I had my first panic attack. 

After 3 glorious weeks of traveling in the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand (of course, I will remember to write about those…in the near future maybe), reality sets in the moment my in-laws start to bicker with each other at the airport when they were deciding what to eat for dinner on what was a very limited menu from the airport food stalls. I could sense my husband take a deep breath and give me “that look”.

After so many “looks” exchanged between hubby and I, and that does not include trips to the gym or the yoga studio, overtime at work, false headaches or hiding in my bedroom, it is now two months since they first set foot in America. Can you believe how fast time flies? Two more months to go!!!

In the two months since they have been here, I have not cooked a single meal in my own kitchen. My mother in-law loves to cook. She is a very good cook in fact. She is one of those born to cook to serve her family kinda woman. I, on the other hand, cook because there is no one else to cook the meals here. I cook because of necessity so who am I to question this cooking queen. Here, you take over my kitchen. I will gladly wash the dishes.

But caveat, by her taking over my kitchen, that means, I no longer sometimes can find my own stuff… or I find a recycled ice cream container here or an empty spice bottle there. Coming from a third world country, I think you get used to repurposing or recycling stuff (not that that is inherently wrong) but c’mon now, recycling meat styro containers??? Washing or storing used (and dirty) zip lock bags? Keeping boxes to bring back to the Philippines? Arghh…  yes, the frustration is there. Aaaand maybe a little annoyed.

My father in-law also likes to keep himself busy. He has so far, organized and cleaned our garage (I bet we have the cleanest garage in all of Florida!), trimmed and weeded our yard as needed, cleans both of our cars with my hubby and helps in walking our dog. Bam! Jealous, much?

So with everything that they have done and have been doing, all those little annoyances don’t really count much. Sure, there are times when I want to pull out all my hair from the weird stuff that my mother in-law does but I have decided to pick my battles. I can just continue to yoga my way out of my anxiety.

And then this….

 

 

 

How not to be bored during a yoga retreat

This post is for the tag alongs, the spouses, friends or partners who were either dragged into or had no choice but to join the yoga retreat because the other one was too chicken to travel solo.

Yeah, thats me, the chicken.

I am very lucky and blessed to have a very supportive husband who in spite of his initial reaction upon learning that this was a yoga retreat still chose to come along . He did mention to me not so many times before this trip that I could travel alone if I wanted to. Cue. IF, I wanted to. But, no, not happening. And besides, it was only four days (out of our six day quickie vacation) which we even shortened to three days so we could still set off and adventure to La Fortuna for some “testosterone filled manly action.” After all, there’s only so much planks one can take.

So what does a poor bored soul do?

  1. Eat your way into zen-like bliss by either eating healthy or chowing down some cheap local Tico cuisine at any soda. The casados and the different flavored refrescos were my favorite!
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healthy breakfast of fruits and toast
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yummy casado with fish for lunch

2. Each morning, take a walk on the beach and contemplate on life, love, the meaning of the universe or how to pay your bills next month when you come back from your trip!13417587_10154236836708166_7977532899117265825_n

3. Learn to chill. In whatever form you may see fit. In this case, since the weather was super hot, chilling really made a whole new meaning. Just make sure you have bug spray.

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4. Explore your backyard. Be interested in the local flora and fauna. We did get to hear and see a howler monkey (I didn’t know what that “barking” sound was at first) but disappointed that I didn’t see a sloth. We were in the wrong part of the country to see sloths though. But I got to see a toucan while hubby was delighted at the leaf cutter ants. Sorry guys, no pics.

5. Check out their local “super”. They call their markets or groceries “super” with a name after it, for example, Super Belle. We were in luck there was one nearby as we needed lotion, water and laundry detergent. Plus it was very interesting interacting with the locals in our very limited Spanish.

6. Find ways to goof around. By the way, these masks carved by the Boruca tribe we bought for a quarter of the price sold at the airport souvenir shops!

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Organic market day every Saturday

7. Learn how to surf or just watch all the surfing action.

8. Take a walk (again) on the beach at sunset. It’s always good for the soul. 13343089_10154236837363166_6784550220333850870_n

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9. Learn how to drive an ATV or if you already do, perfect! You are ready to explore some more. Vroom vroom! In my next post, I will share the details of our speedy expedition around the tip of the Nicoya peninsula in less than half a day.

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10. Make new friends. Traveling always allows you to meet lots of interesting people if you are open to conversation. It may be fleeting and sometimes these friendships last, sometimes they don’t. But even then, there is something about talking to strangers who are fellow travelers and kindred spirits that colorfully enrich your life as you share experiences and stories.

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This list isn’t actually just for the poor bored soul. As you can see, I am also enjoying and actively participating in these activities with my hubby. So in between yoga sessions, there are still lots to do in Santa Teresa apart from just surfing and yoga. We didn’t even do hiking, horseback riding, canopy walks or zip lining because we didn’t have enough time. You will definitely never get bored!

My “Stainful” Journey

When I was younger, having a tattoo was the least on my mind. I would automatically associate them with being a bad boy such as the leather jacket wearing Harley bikers and prisoners, or punk rock bands and drug addicts. I swear I was so biased. I lumped them all into one category. It was like a mark of death for me. I cannot be associated with anybody who has a tattoo at least that I can remember. And to think I wasn’t even Miss Goody Two Shoes!

But back then, tattoos were black and mostly of skulls, crosses and other ghastly dark images. And the ones that I saw were never nicely done, no artistic personal touch to it and it seemed like they were all rush jobs, just to make that person appear tough or quickly scribbling in a name or a word or two. Of course, you have to understand that my exposure to tattooed persons was limited at that time.

Fast forward ten years later and here I am. Time has changed. I have changed. I no longer am the tattoo discriminating person I once was.

Travel has changed me.

I have learned to accept the person for who they truly are, faults, tattoos and all. It may be hard and we all have our moments of weakness but personal growth is a wonderful thing. Variety makes life more meaningful and interesting.

I saw my cousins with beautiful girlie tattoos on their ankles and lower back. I have friends who have arm and belly markings, co-workers with edgy arm sleeves and intricate back designs. Tattooing has gone almost main stream. If there is any indication that the original bad boy tattooed people are upset about this trend, I certainly have not noticed it. Yogis, artists, the service industry, even those in the medical field are sporting interesting and unique tattoos. All forms of self expression. The most intimate kind of art.

So about a year ago on my hubby’s birthday, we started talking about getting inked while at a bar in Tampa. We researched for designs and tattoo artists and then a couple of months later, forgot about it. Then came my birthday this year, I told my hubby I wanted one this time. It was ripe for me to have one, with all the personal upheavals I have gone through, I feel I deserve to have some sort of visual reminder of the beauty and pain of life at the same time.

We asked around for local artists, found one from a co-worker who had a small tat done and made an appointment. It didn’t turn out so great because I really didn’t like him from the get go. He was late, first off. Then I had a horrible and heavy feeling about him as he was talking to us in a rush, arrogantly at that, as it appears that there was also someone else waiting for him at the same time and he seemed like he was not open to ideas or suggestions. Meh! We high tailed it out the door and never came back!

Why would I want you to be putting something on my skin that would last forever when I just don’t feel you???

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No birthday tattoo for me. I guess it wasn’t meant to happen that day. And I ain’t rushing it. It was then that I realized that getting a tattoo is a process, you have to be patient about everything. So we started from the beginning and asked around from our friends for names. We also tweaked around our designs some more. I did more research and Youtubed for videos.

Finally, I found an artist from another co-worker who has beautiful lily flowers on her side. And I’ve never seen one so daintily and brightly colored. Our hopes went up when he came highly recommended not just from my co-worker but from online reviews too. It wasn’t until two weeks later when we were able to make an appointment to see him. It didn’t matter that we have to drive close to an hour to get to his shop. What mattered was that he was a really cool guy, a talented artist and that we bonded instantly and that sealed the deal.

To me, there has to be some kind of special relationship between you and the artist because the act of tattooing itself is a very intimate process. He/she is sitting in close proximity to your body and although they may see it as a canvas for their art, I don’t think I would want any stranger I am not comfortable with to draw on me permanently.

Another two weeks, he showed us his drawings for us to approve and we got ourself our tattoo dates! I was nervous and excited at the same time. I worked the previous night so I told my hubby that I would probably fall asleep on the chair. We came with sweet provisions as advised by him and other articles I’ve read online to keep your sugar and energy levels up. We also brought pain relievers for afterwards. Nothing like being prepared.

I sat first. And I sat great, for two plus hours he worked on me. As he was doing his thing, I was on my belly trying to be in my zone, deep breathing and stretching my calves and feet every so often to distract myself. For some strange reason, the vibrations of the tattoo gun sounded hypnotizing to my ears and the buzzing sound pattern helped calm me down. It indeed felt like sunburn, first a slight one and then later turned into a really bad stinging sensation, I was looking forward to the wiping of green soap in between. I was relieved it was over but at the same time I couldn’t believe two hours had passed. It wasn’t so bad. I guess it was the anticipation of pain that made it appear painful. I was happy with my new tat!!!

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Hubby had his done next, albeit with a more painful experience due to location and design. In less than six hours we drove back home, happy and hungry from all that tattoo euphoria. We didn’t tell anybody about our plans until after the fact. Of course, Facebook was the best way of reaching out to family and friends at the same time.

 

Out of all the comments, this one stood out the most to me –

such a [sic] beautiful & flawless skin and now gotten stained.

I didn’t really expect everyone to agree to or like what we did. Remember when I was younger? But to think this came from a relative, he should have just shut his mouth or sent me a private message. In the interests of “world peace” and insistent pleas from my hubby, I ignored the comment instead and took the higher ground.

Such a beautiful stain indeed!!!

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(Tattoo artist: Craig Bishop of Intrusive Art Tattooing)

 

 

 

A quick bullet update!

  • Where is That Traveling Nurse? I am just right here!!! Staying quiet and flying under the radar mostly.
  • Been working a lot (plus overtime) translates to less travel for me these days. Ugh! On the good side, I am making extra money!
  • Less travel means not a whole lot of travel stories for my blog unless I dig up old trips which right now, honestly, I don’t really want to do.
  • Personally, a lot has happened to me and I could write about that on and on but that isn’t the “soul” purpose of my blog. Pun intended.
  • On second thought, I could write about it really because this is my blog and I can do whatever I want but let’s just say, I am running out of inspiration at the moment.
  • Like this nonsense update post for example, I am just forcing myself to come up with something because I simply feel the need to write. Kinda like forcing yourself to exercise because you know you have to.
  • I know I don’t have to explain myself to you but I have to actually hear myself say it. If you get what I mean. I am confused, yes, truly now!
  • This bullet trick makes it easy to quickly organize my thoughts, kind of like a list, a rambling list. And oh, how I love lists! And I love to ramble too…
  • I guess it is safe to say something new and exciting is happening to me in the next few days and I plan to blog about it (when I get the chance). I can’t wait!
  • I need to plan for my summer. I was actually looking up yoga retreats. Somehow, I need to tame that monkey mind. Has anyone been? Any suggestions?

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Gone in 60 seconds

Life is so fleeting and fragile. Cherish it.

Have you ever seen a person pass away in front of your very eyes?

It wasn’t a violent death nor an accidental one but still, it was unexpected because of the very fact that he was talking to you and moving about in bed and the next thing you knew, a couple of hours later when you walk in and see him unresponsive and gasping for air until eventually his heart stops beating.

As this sweet old semi-confused man lay there with agonal breathing, I tried calling out his name and stood there transfixed and in a daze. I knew he was a DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) but all my nurse’s instincts were telling me to do something, to save him! No, it wasn’t his time yet, not on my watch. I checked his vital signs. They were all normal except for the temperature which wouldn’t register orally. I looked at him, he was the color of death and his feeble lips were still moving, trying to breathe. I knew I was in denial when I still attempted to check his temperature in his axilla while at the same time calling my charge nurse to come quick. His bony fingers were cold and his lips were grey. He was fading away fast. The monitor tech told me he still had a heart rhythm but an irregular one at that. I couldn’t feel a pulse nor hear a heart beat. The charge nurse and supervisor who came up a few minutes later confirmed that too. He literally stopped breathing and died in front of us. He then flatlined on the monitor. A doctor came up to pronounce the time of death.

My hands were as cold as his as I was trying to wrap my head around what just happened. No codes, no heroic measures. At least, we left his thin fragile and disease ravaged body intact and not be on life support. He surely knew what he wanted!

I was so relieved the doctor called the family. This task I really hated doing. How can you ever deliver such news? I never really knew how to say the right words.

As I went about doing other things, I can still hear his soft voice as he was consciously yet weakly talking to me earlier during the night, asking to be covered up because he was too cold or for a sip of water. And he never failed to say thank you every time. He got more and more restless and anxious as the night wore on. As if he knew death was coming, kept telling me “I am dying, call the doctor.”

The only thing I did to comfort him was to give him some mild pain reliever and an anti-emetic that were ordered because he also felt nauseous. I tried to reposition him and put his covers on or off as he requested. He was feeling hot and cold at the same time. He was just restless. He would quiet down and lay still for a few minutes and then he would pick at his hospital gown again.

I wonder if he really knew he was dying. I wonder what his last thoughts were. I wonder if he was afraid. I wonder if he was ready.

As my co-workers were being supportive and empathetic towards me, I kept my calm and held myself together. I was too busy to break down at this time. The more I did other nursing stuff, the more I couldn’t think about it. But at the same time, I wanted to talk about it. I wanted to relieve the pressure and burden. I wanted to cry.

Surprisingly, I didn’t cry. Even when I talked to my husband about it when I got home from work. Even when I had a good long hot shower. Even when I was getting ready to sleep.

Later that day, I still felt full inside and just about ready to burst. So I did yoga. When it was time for Savasana (interestingly enough, this is known as the corpse pose), I mentally let my mind float through the days’ events and at the same time trying to still my thoughts, that was when the flood gate of tears opened and in the silence of my living room, I cried my heart out. I cried for this poor old man who died without his family beside him. I cried because I could have done more to provide comfort to him. I cried because I couldn’t do anything about it. I cried because I can still see his face. I cried because I wasn’t expecting him to die that night. I cried because I just had to.

Nursing is a tough job.

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My very first panic attack

I don’t normally consider myself an anxious person, nor am I high-strung or a type A personality. In fact, I am the exact opposite. I pride myself on being cool, calm and collected, even more so than my hubby. I thrive in challenging situations, aka, travel nursing and traveling in general, I constantly seek adventurous and exciting things to do, I oftentimes have this nonchalant face that I would like to project when truly deep inside I am scared shitless and know nothing about what to do.

When push comes to shove, I am better at handling stress than my hubby. And he himself admits that. Sometimes though I get tired of pretending to be strong and putting up a brave front and would just like to have a good long cry in one corner of our bedroom. It happens, sometimes. And then I just stop, wipe away my tears, stand up and brush it off. No biggie.

So, thats me in a nutshell. Well, just a part, really.

But mention my in-laws and that can bring a slight tremor and a high pitch to my otherwise flat monotone voice. Mention them coming over to visit us in Florida and that can make my heart race and emotions upside down. Mention them staying with us for four months and that brings me to a full panic attack!!!

I didn’t know what it was at first. My thoughts were racing (not that they don’t) more than the usual, my mind was wandering elsewhere, my breathing was fast. I couldn’t keep still. Dark negative thoughts kept on clouding my brain. I felt so so lost and out of control. I was googling some psych stuff trying to find answers to what was going on. I tried to tell my husband about it but couldn’t really express myself. It ended up me being upset and mad while he went to work.

Hours later trying to find a “cure” to this severe distress I was having, I resigned and went to bed. There, I found sanctuary in the darkness and cried and cried. I was about to text my hubby that I needed help and that I was in a dark place (yes, it was dark in my bedroom) but suddenly, a thought just popped out of nowhere. Or maybe it was more like Elizabeth-Gilbert’s-revealing-moment-when-she-heard-“that-voice”-while-crying-on-her-bathroom-floor kinda thing, except that I was on my bed not the bathroom floor. Or maybe it was simply a lightbulb moment or the universe trying to whisper to me, whatever it was, it was there.

I paused and stopped crying, lifted both knees up, opened my knees out to either side and brought the soles of my feet together. Reclining bound angle pose (goddess pose).

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photo from http://www.shape.com

I know the pose looks weird and funny but it is a great hip opener and a calming posture.

Now, I may not have mentioned here on That Traveling Nurse but I have been practicing yoga for a couple of years now, a struggling yogi so to speak who still cannot perfect the Crow and cannot do a proper headstand without having neck pains afterwards. But I try to be a good student and it really does give me some calm and clarity and much needed exercise. No, I am not vegan and no this is not a religious thing either.

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Me in Reverse Prayer pose

After becoming that “goddess” splayed in bed, I proceeded to do Pranayama breathing which is alternate nostril breathing. I recently watched a video on how to do it. If you like, here is the link.

I promise you after several repetitions, my restlessness slowly went away. That feeling of panic melted into nothingness and I can feel my mind emptying its thoughts while my breath was synchronizing with the hand movements. I eventually became peaceful enough to put me to sleep.

Bam! A yoga moment for me!

I’m not saying that the issue of my in-laws arrival has been resolved. Their visit is looming heavy and large like thunderclouds on the horizon but I am not there yet. I will only worry about it when I get there. Maybe a lot more Pranayama breathings is in my future. I refuse to pop a pill. I am not also saying that they are not nice people because they are, they are just my in-laws. I’m sure you can relate to that too and to some extent know what I am talking about.

Which brings me to conclusion that I am not the cool, calm, collected person I once thought I was. I have evolved. I am getting old.

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Birthday Wishes

So, its my birthday…. what do I want? Feeling oddly nostalgic and a tad insightful tonight, I didn’t really want to write but words and thoughts are just so busy in my brain right now that they need to come out.

Hence, this random “wish-rant.”

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I wish I wasn’t turning ??-2 this year. Geez, I can’t believe I’m that old! Really?

I wish I had known that life wouldn’t be as complicated.

I wish for more simple happier times, when all that gave you trouble was failing to study for that dreaded exam, or when your crush failed to notice your new ‘do.

I wish the smart phone, tablet and e-reader weren’t invented.

I wish those grey hairs haven’t found my head. They seem to like camping there and looks like they are in for the long haul.

I wish friends, the true and loyal kind, the one who gets you without having to explain too much of yourself, were easy to find.

I wish you didn’t have to chose between happiness and reality.

I wish I stopped picking my fingers. Ugh, bad habit.

I wish world peace could be served on a silver platter.

I wish my eye-sight was still 20/20.

I wish it was as easy to follow your heart.

I wish people weren’t so sensitive and judgmental. (Key to world peace)

I wish creativity would feed your belly and then I could just paint my heart away.

I wish relationships came with a manual for dummies.

I wish I wasn’t too much of a square peg in a round hole.

I wish money grew on trees. Wouldn’t that make life easier?

At the same time, I wish money wasn’t the root of all evil, or wait, was it people?

I wish I could fly. Makes traveling less expensive. I know, wishful thinking!!!

I wish for an election where people don’t hate their friends because of their political beliefs. Thank God for that “unfollow” or “unfriend” (might be a little too harsh here) button on Facebook!

I still wish sometimes for that all American dream with the big house and white picket fence, a dog, kids and a mini-van! Umm, maybe not the mini-van.

PS: my husband randomly wished for a dishwasher that washed “non-dishwashables!” How cool would that be?!

Let’s get crazy and creative tonight. I want to hear your wishes too! 

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