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!

A Car, a Dog and an Airplane

What do these things have in common?

Me.

So where have I been these past two-ish months? I can barely even remember my last post, I had to cheat and take a quick look. Yeah, my Haiku Fridays is still alive and kicking, struggling most of the time to come up with the weekly photo challenges, sometimes late, but hey, it’s still there!

Surprisingly, despite the lack of substantial posts from That Traveling Nurse, I am quite amazed by those who are still reading and following, thank you! To my new friends, thank you for taking the time to read, view, browse whatever it is that I have to say, rant or post. I guess my online presence is still floating somewhere in WordPress-land.

Anyway, after my awesome tattoo was just getting ready to heal, I got into a car accident. I was driving on my way to work when I rear-ended another vehicle. Visions of the airbag deploying and smoke afterwards (from chemicals in the airbag I learned afterwards) are still vivid in my memory. The driver that I hit made an abrupt stop so she could avoid hitting another vehicle who also made a sudden stop in order to avoid hitting the first stupid driver who decided to make a U-turn the last minute and not use his turn signal. Collision totally unavoidable at all. Thinking of it just makes me think how lucky and blessed I am to be alive. It wasn’t a major crash by any means, my car just got totaled due to airbag deployment and damage to its internal structural integrity or whatever and I came out with only a minor bruise on my sternum and right hip from the seatbelt. But horror stories you hear on the news about people getting seriously hurt from faulty airbags caused me additional distress. It could have happened to me. I am just seriously happy to come out technically unscathed.

I was more “damaged” internally than I was physically. The incident was a real eye opener like I was given a sudden icy cold dowse of water. And the message for me was…. slow down!  Literally and figuratively. It was my very first major car accident but I think it shook my husband more than me. He said I have nerves of steel, even if I told him I cried the moment that kind driver who witnessed the accident stopped to ask if I was okay and offered to call 911 because I was too shaken up.

So that kept me busy for awhile…. doctor’s visits, insurance, online traffic school, car shopping, more paperworks and phone calls, ugh!

And then Diggie came to our lives.

This amazing little canine who melted our hearts. We have been talking about getting a dog. Actually, it was me who really wanted one and I was just kind of subtly coercing my hubby to agree. We wanted to adopt so I was, over the past couple of months researching online looking for available dogs.

One day a few weeks after my car accident, I suggested to hubby that we go check out an adoption shelter a couple of miles away. We came down to select four dogs. The first dog was cute and almost to our liking but there was something not right with him. So we decided to see the next one, which was a chihuahua. Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think of having a chihuahua. We both just didn’t like them (initially)! But this tiny little brown ball of fur decided that he wanted us. He jumped straight into my husband’s lap when they brought him to meet us and my husband just said,
“he’s the one” and wanted to take him home right then and there.

Fast forward to one month after lots of puppy love and cuteness overload, house breaking and toilet training, meet our new baby. He is 21 weeks old.

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First time in the beach. He didn’t like the waters too much.

That made me busy, like really super busy. This dog really changed our lives in more ways than we can imagine. Diggie is our first dog together so a lot of adjustments and learning had to be made, both human and canine.

And then an airplane trip to Central America.

Costa Rica!!! Need I say more. This was our short break from the mundane ordinary life. After the accident and the stress of adopting a new pet, we really needed this. Of yoga and surfing, volcanos and waterfalls and so much more! Being the wanderlust that I am, this deserves a separate post. Of course! I got lots to tell. Thats why That Traveling Nurse was born in the first place, to share my stories and photos of travel and adventure.

Please stay tuned for more Pura Vida stories!!!

 

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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Who is Nurse Jackie?

We all know that nothing on TV is real. Even those ubiquitous so-called reality TV shows, game shows,  documentaries, not even the news. *sigh*

Everything is just so easily manipulated and crafted to make you believe what you want to see and hear and feel. What the public wants, the public gets. If you want blood, you get blood and gore. If you want sensational news, you got it! However, sorry, this is not going to be a political or a current events post. My blog is not the platform for that kind of nonsense. You all know me better than that.

For the past couple of days, I have been compelled to write about a TV series I discovered on Netflix that I have recently watched and felt a strong connection to. Let’s get it out in the open first. I rarely watch TV. In fact, I’d rather read or be on my computer than sit in front of that wide screen absent-mindedly flicking channels with the remote control. That is my hubby. He can be mesmerized by a TV ad, stop mid sentence and forget that I am in the same room with him while I am a totally non-TV person at all. Yes, we are complete opposites.

So what is this fascination about a Netflix TV series?

I don’t “Netflix and chill” like most young people do these days. (Errr, or is it just young people?) You have to click on the link if you don’t know what Netflix and chill means!!! I admit I misunderstood its meaning at first until a 15 year old boy corrected me. Oh dear…

Anyway, I got addicted, so to speak, to the TV series Nurse Jackie. I have heard of this show sporadically from nurses and friends, but I didn’t really take a keen interest on it that time. I had it grouped together with the likes of Grey’s Anatomy or House MD, which I watched the first few seasons of and then lost all interest.

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To make this long story short, Jackie is a seasoned ER nurse in New York City who is battling drug addiction. She is a really great nurse but sucks in all other aspects of her life. Her husband, children, co-workers, lovers and friends are all victims to her lies and manipulation. Boy, does she make one really good liar! I am not an expert in addiction so I am leaving out my opinions and just telling it like the TV show does. So I binge watched all seven seasons in just about two weeks. How is that for addiction! Ha!

In several episodes, it shows her caring greatly for the homeless, the drunk and the drug addicts. She bathed a homeless and alcohol-abusing former nun and in the last episode of the final season, she washed the feet of a heroine addict. There’s lots of allegories here but of course, this was not without her gaining anything from doing these things. You can almost say that she was selfless and selfish at the same time. Well, I would say mostly selfish.

But what am I getting at? I have been a nurse for almost ten years. I have seen, heard and done stuff that most of you would not want to see, hear nor do. Blood, sweat, tears, urine, poop, mucus , vomit do not faze me anymore. I will take that than dealing with homeless people, drug addicts and ETOH’ers anytime.

Why do I say that? Aren’t nurses supposed to treat everyone equally with compassion and respect? In a perfect world, yes. The truth is, being in this profession can make you jaded and cynical and tired after seeing and dealing with these kinds of people. They know the system. After being in several different hospitals countless times, they know how to manipulate and make the system work in their favor. They know how to push your buttons (not just the call button). They know how to make your shift hell. And I am ashamed to say, I was becoming that jaded, cynical and tired nurse.

I stopped looking at them like persons. I stopped listening to them. As long as they got their drugs as ordered by the doctor, tried my best to make them happy by giving them food and warm blankets (with patient satisfaction scores in mind), I was okay with that. In the end, I stopped caring.

But Nurse Jackie undid all of that for me. I know it was just a TV show and I told you in the beginning that they aren’t real. Yet, somehow, it stuck in my subconscious. I recently had a patient who was a polysubstance abuser and a “frequent flyer” (one who likes to visit the hospital frequently) and instead of going through my usual motions when dealing with these kinds of patients, I realized I had a breakthrough moment when I was talking to him. I empathized with him, thought about his situation, gently and thoroughly applied ointment to his leg wounds, kindly offered him snacks the way I would with my other patients and actually looked him in the eye! I was so surprised at myself that night! I couldn’t stop and think about what Nurse Jackie would do in this situation. I know, it is just a TV show…

One that actually influenced me to change my behavior to a positive one. One that made me realize how everyone’s story is different and that we have no right to judge. One that unsuspectingly dismantled my cloak of cynicism and refreshed my tired jaded eyes. Yes, I am that much affected over a TV show.

In a good way.

Have you?