Talks with Women #9

Ethan: Thank you so much for talking with me,Cara.

Cara: Thanks for the opportunity! In the spirit of full disclosure, I will say that when I first saw a post asking for interviewees, I was overwhelmed with anxiety. I’m talking butterflies in my stomach and that tightening feeling in my throat just thinking about putting myself out there. Never one to over prepare *ahem*, I started researching what an interview might entail before I made the decision and that’s when I came across your interview with Joanna -She and I were in band together in high school and I’m so glad to see that she’s doing so well now. In reading her story, I couldn’t help but notice how fearlessly she opened up and shared herself, and I knew that’s what I wanted to do as well. There are pieces from my past that I have carried the weight of throughout my life, and I think there’s a shame that comes with that kind of secrecy that eats away at your core and prevents you from authentically connecting with other people. I’m really looking forward to casting it off and moving forward without the burden.

Ethan: So tell me about yourself…

Cara: I’m actually at the best point I’ve ever been in my life, and I’m looking forward to the future and what it holds. I have the loving support of my husband, and I have my son who inspires me to be my best self because I’m always thinking about what I want to model for him. Now that time is starting to free up again, I’ve been adding back in the things I’ve always enjoyed, such as reading, cooking, swimming, hiking, and meditation. I’ve also started taking a yoga class and regularly attending play dates with members of Northeast Alabama Moms throughout the week. It’s there that I’ve really starting rebuilding both a support network and social outlet for myself, and it it is my wish that —in time— the group will come to serve as such for many other mothers in the community as origin: Cara, from her trip to New Orleans in 2015

Ethan: What are you passionate about?

Cara: Above all else, the wellbeing of all living creatures on this planet and that of Earth itself. From altruism to veganism, that one aspect ties into so much of who I am as well as what motivates and interests me. If I were to wake up tomorrow with the means and with no obligations or responsibilities, I would want to spend my life traveling while seeking new life experiences and fostering the humanity in myself and others along the way.

Ethan: You mentioned your past and breaking through some personal things. Tell me more about that, if it’s ok.

Cara:, I’ve endured abusive relationships and depression both in childhood and adulthood, and there was a time that I really let it shape my life and the person I became. I was medicated throughout my teen years to the point that I don’t even remember that much of middle or high school. When I graduated, I had no idea who I was or what I wanted for myself. Honestly, apart from being a stay-at-home mom for a season, I still don’t know exactly what I want to do with my life, but I do know who I am. It took me twenty five years to shed all the baggage and find that person, but reaching that goal was one of the happiest moments I’ve ever experienced and my life is all the richer now because of it. 

I think the most difficult step in overcoming the past was in realizing that—while the damage was done—I alone am now responsible for how I let it affect me and I don’t have to live out the rest of my life as a victim. It’s something I have to be mindful of even in motherhood now. It would be all too easy to slip back into the mindset of martyrdom and to stop taking responsibility for meeting my own needs. It’s especially tempting on days when I’m stressed or exhausted and really don’t want to have to set aside that extra time for myself. However, it’s more than worth it because I know I’m both a better person and a better parent when I’m caring for myself as well as my family.

Another pitfall I have to be wary of due to my own lingering insecurities is seeking acceptance and validation from others. It’s one of the reasons why I left Facebook for several years and even now solely use it to admin a local mom group. I couldn’t continue feeding that part of myself while still managing to keep it in check. Couple that with being a highly sensitive person, and it becomes extremely challenging to also not take what is directed towards me personally, whether that’s opinions or actions. It’s hard for me to say this, but I always thought that by age thirty, I would be secure enough in myself that these things wouldn’t even phase me; yet, here I am—still working through the nagging doubts and reservations that crop up from time to time and the effects they can have if left unchecked. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m a work-in-progress, but I intend to keep it that way. I never want to grow stagnant as a person or to take for granted what time I have.

Ethan: How do you keep from falling back into depression, what works for you?

Cara: I know depression can be different from person to person, so I’m lucky in that I’ve been able to stave it off without therapy or medication. It took many years and a number of pieces coming together and working in tandem. I had to learn to not look to others for my happiness or self-worth, to stop basking in misery and dwelling on the negative, to not stress over the things that are out of my control, to realize that I am not my thoughts or my feelings, and to start managing them and my responses to potential triggers.

Ethan: Do you set goals?

Cara: I wouldn’t say I set goals for myself so much as I’m always seeking growth and improvement in all areas. That, and if I want to pursue something new, I do it. Come to think of it, I probably should set targeted goals. I can get overwhelmed by the multitude of directions I could aim for, and it becomes difficult to prioritize and especially to finish one task before feeling the pull to start another. 

In fact, just last night, my husband asked me why I have an incessant need to improve things. I informed him that it’s for two reasons: the first being that I don’t just see things as they are but also as they could be, and the second being that I always want to be striving for more — not because I can’t let myself be happy with my very best in the present but because I know there’s always room to grow in the future. Then he asked, “Why can’t you ever simply be satisfied?” I had to pause for a moment to really mull it over before telling him, “I guess because I equate satisfaction with complacency.”

I do hold myself to ridiculously high standards, though, and I shouldn’t. It’s always been so much easier for me to practice compassion with others than it is for me to grant it to myself, but I’m getting there.

Ethan: You mentioned veganism, are you vegan,what has that been like for you?

Cara: Yes, I have been vegan for over three years now and I’ll go ahead and say right off the bat that, aside from this interview, I always try to avoid speaking about it with others because veganism seems to be a hot-button topic for most. It goes against the status quo, and no matter how you approach it, it’s hard for others not to feel attacked or judged when your views are in direct opposition to theirs. And when people feel threatened, they tend to either go on the offensive trying to cut down those views, or they go on the defensive and start trying to justify theirs. Either way, no one wins, so I’ve adopted the philosophies of “agree to disagree” and “live and let live”.

What I can do is take responsibility for my own choices, and to remain open and approachable about veganism without being proselytizing or judgemental towards others. As to how it’s benefited me, it’s directly in line with my values, so no more cognitive dissonance there. That, and honestly, I’ve had to work very hard over the years to heal the damage that I inflicted on myself through years of emotional binge eating, and following a plant-based diet has helped me to reach a point where I’m healthier than I’ve ever been.

I’ve noticed there has been a radical shift in how I look at food. I don’t use it to comfort myself or to get that specific release of neurotransmitters that I used to crave. Instead, I put things on my plate that I know will nourish my body and I practice mindful eating. Oh, and my palate has drastically changed, too. I used to eat the most bland, basic foods, and now some of my very favorite cuisines are of the exotic fare, with Indian, Thai, and Mediterranean probably being my top three.

Everyone always asks if it’s difficult going vegan, and the honest answer is: Of course! There’s a big adjustment period where you’re basically relearning what new foods to eat while your body is still craving the old ones, how to shop for and prepare these foods, and how to order when you go out to eat.

I think going vegan seems an impossibility to most people because when they start looking at their diet and what would be left if they cut out all animal-derived ingredients, they see that there wouldn’t be much of a remainder so they immediately jump to the conclusion that there’s no way they could sustain themselves and be satisfied on a vegan diet. What they don’t realize is for every food that’s taken away, at least one thing gets added in its place and that transition can be little by little or all at once. But, in the end, you have a varied array of foods that are going to leave you feeling better, and also that you can feel good about eating for multiple reasons. Or, at least, that’s been my experience.

Ethan: You went to New Orleans. I’ve always wanted to go to Savannah.

Cara: I’ve never been to Savannah (I’ve heard great things, though), but I would absolutely recommend the Big Easy! I’m pretty sure it gets in your blood. Course that could be the booze talking.

We went in April of 2015. It was our last hoorah before we started trying to conceive, and we lived it up. I’m so glad we got to share that experience before going through pregnancy and parenthood, and after having been there, I’ll always be drawn to NOLA.

Ethan: How has life changed for you since parenthood?

Cara: Naturally, there is a heaping addition of responsibility and a loss of personal freedom that comes with parenthood. But then there’s also the dissolution of self-interest, and from that emerges a radical shift in perspective and priorities, not to mention the purest, most selfless love that completely transforms who you are as a person. I firmly believe that it’s not just your child that comes into being; it’s your own self as a parent. A monumental game-changer, but it has to happen or else our species could never survive the near delirium-inducing sleepless nights of the newborn phase.

Ethan: Is there anything you wish you had known before you were a mom?

Cara: Hmm, well, I wish I had know how isolating motherhood can be at times, and that there would have been a way for me to connect with other mothers before my son was born because it truly does take a village. I also wasn’t prepared for how difficult it is not to lose your sense of self in caring for a child, and it’s taken me a while to realize how important it is to first ensure your needs are met so that you can consistently meet the needs of your child. It’s not selfish – it’s imperative.

Ethan: Thanks again, Cara.

Cara: I genuinely hope that this segment will gain momentum and continue to inspire others. I’m glad to have been introduced to it, and I’ll definitely be keeping an eye on your writings from here on out. One last thing I have to express is how grateful I am to you, Ethan, for serving as a sounding board and allowing me to give voice to what has always gone unspoken save to a very treasured few. You have my sincerest thanks and I wish you all the best in the future!

Photo Origin: Cara 

Talks with Women #8

This week I did an interview over several days, between work schedules 

Ethan: Tell us a little about yourself…

Joanna: Well, I was always a “smart kid” growing up and was primed to be a success. However, I had always dealt with depression and feeling like I was an “outsider” to the world itself, and, like so many others, mental illness got the best of me and ran me off track for a long time. I dropped out of a university I had a full scholarship to and got into a toxic, abusive relationship. That relationship was the hardest thing I’ve ever been through. I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and started therapy and medication, and I cut ties with my abuser and got back in school. I had several more bumps and bruises along the way, lots of heartache, a few relapses and some unhealthy behaviors, but I began to really find my way.

Thankfully, I managed to fight my way to becoming a success story. I finished my bachelor’s with a 3.5 and was awarded a full scholarship and stipend to get my master’s in cybersecurity, so I moved from tiny Rainsville to Huntsville. Here, I’m halfway through my master’s, I recently began working as a software contractor for the Army, I met the love of my life, and I’ve found a creative outlet by joining a metal band. (I play bass and sing.) I finally feel “normal” and I’m truly happy.

Ethan: Congratulations on your career by the way. That is awesome. I feel like we should throw career parties instead of just baby/wedding showers

Joanna: Thanks! Career parties would definitely be a fantastic idea.

Ethan: Tell me more about going to therapy, was that hard for you? There’s such a stigma on mental illness, no one feels comfortable discussing it, especially with their Doctor.

Joanna: It was very hard at first. When I went for my last appointment, my therapist told me that it was so difficult to get me to open up in the beginning. I was very surprised to hear that, because I felt like I was just cutting open my heart and baring everything. I do know I was resistant to actually take what my therapist said to heart for a while. I was arrogant and thought I knew myself best. Once I started implementing the changes and thinking techniques she suggested, though, I really started seeing changes.

I used to be afraid to tell people I went to therapy, too, because of that stigma and out of fear of what their reactions might be. Now, though, I’ve become much more open about it because I do want to fight that stigma and I want people to know they aren’t alone. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve told someone about my illness and then been opened up to about their own struggles, because they feel safe talking to someone else who they feel understands and won’t put that stigma on them.

People are so afraid to talk about medication, too. “Natural health” is such a big fad these days, and a lot of people will look down on you if you take “unnatural” medication to try to help yourself. I hate that. Medication is available for a reason. I’m a completely different person on mine, and that is NOT a bad thing. I can function as a human, appreciate my life, and mostly avoid the depression and mania that have plagued me and almost completely ruined my life many times.

Ethan: Was it difficult to become aware that you were in an abusive relationship? Not all abuse is physical. That’s the only reason I’m asking.

Joanna: It was indeed physical, but I knew the guy for years before it started happening and I should have seen the signs. I hold no ill will toward him now; he had plenty of problems of his own contributing to his anger problems, but the whole relationship did change me deeply. I’m one to love as hard as possible and give as much as I can. When you’re trying to do that for someone who screams at you, calls you every disgusting name in the book, belittles you, gaslights you, breaks your things, threatens you, and physically harms you, it is so draining. It took all the life out of me. I got to the point where I didn’t speak unless spoken to, and I floated through our house as silently as possible, like a ghost, for fear of inciting his anger. He could go off for no reason at all. I was terrified, but I loved him so much and I thought that if I just loved him hard enough that he would be able to change. I would say, now, that that’s rarely, if ever, the case with abuse. I sincerely hope he’s doing well now, though, and I hope he’s gotten help and is able to love the right way.

Ethan: You’ve always really searched for growth and improvement. Has there been any push back for that?

Joanna: The only push back I truly had against growth and improvement, personally, has been in romantic relationships, interestingly enough. (One could argue that my old-fashioned, churchy family may have held me back in some ways, and I wouldn’t necessarily disagree, but that’s another discussion entirely.) Especially with my abuser, he made it difficult for me to go to college classes or make connections with people or even think for myself, really.

Ethan: Has the Bible Belt changed to you since 2016? 

The Bible Belt… well, originally, I was a very typical Bible Belt girl, myself. But, at this point, having seen the things I have, I’ve become much more cynical, especially toward modern ideals of religion. I feel that religion at its best should lift people up, and religion in America today does precisely the opposite of that. It holds people back, in ideals, in education, in love for their fellow man… So many people, too, just vote for a candidate because said candidate claims “Christian” ideals, but they get in such a religious fervor that they fail to examine the actual policy side and end up choosing candidates who are only claiming Christ because they know that gets votes. (Disclaimer: this is just in general. I know that there are religious people who practice their religion correctly and use it as a positive force. I’m just speaking on my observations, especially as it relates to today’s divisive political climate…)

Ethan: Tell me more about your career, do you find it hard to separate your ambition from your relationship? 

Marriage vs career

Without even realizing it maybe?

Joanna: I’m in love with my career field. My current job is great, and I can’t wait to see what I’ll get into once I finish my master’s next spring. I am so incredibly lucky because my boyfriend, Jake, is just as ambitious as I am. He’s an electrical engineer for NASA and I am so proud of him. We both inspire and push each other to be our best. We’re both huge advocates of education and we’ve both worked very hard through personal struggles to get to where we are. And now that we’re playing music together, too, we can strive for greatness in that as well. It’s the best, healthiest relationship I’ve ever been in. For us, there is no marriage vs. career debate, because we’re a team, partners, equals, going out to kick life’s ass together and enjoy and enrich each other along the way.

Ethan: Thanks so much for doing this,Joanna.

Joanna: Thank you! I’m thrilled you asked! Photo origin

Joanna works as a software contractor for the Army. And studies M.S. in Cybersecurity. She lives in Alabama. 

Love doesn’t hurt. Learn more about domestic violence Here .
If you’re struggling with depression and Suicide or just want to learn more look Here . 

Talks with Women #7

Ethan: How has life changed since you became a mom?

(Photo by ethan bethune) 

Jessica: Well, it’s definitely been life changing. I went from being so care free and confident to lonely, insecure, and constantly worrying about how others looked at me. Motherhood is a beautiful thing. You get this mini human who you love more than anything in this world and would do anything for. It is a love you don’t  even understand. But a lot of people don’t see that. All they see is whether or not you breastfeed or formula feed, etc. A big comparison game begins, like new mom’s already don’t have it hard enough, here comes everyone judging you. I’ve learned to move past this, but it took me over a year. Motherhood is hard to explain because it’s the most joyous part of your life, yet the hardest part, mentally exhausting.

Ethan: How do you balance time for yourself and being a wife and a mother? 

Jessica: This is a tough one. I get up before my son in the mornings, and drink coffee, read, and workout. That’s my ME time, and it’s so important. For the longest time I never gave that to myself, and I was miserable, but I didn’t know any better in a sense. I thought that driving yourself into the ground was just part of motherhood. It didn’t help I was a perfectionist wanting everything to be perfect. I literally would FREAK out if a dish landed in the sink. 
(Photo by ethan bethune) 

Spending time with my husband can be difficult. He works 3rd, so our schedules are opposite, plus he works ALL of the time, but we do what we can. Friday’s my son goes to school, so we usually dedicate the morning to us until he has to go to bed. Saturday’s he almost never goes to bed to spend time with us. I’m not going to lie, I have failed my family lately in time management. When I began my coaching journey a couple of months back I was constantly on my phone! I was in fact dedicating more time to the coaching business than my family. I have improved though, with setting “work hours”” aka my son’s nap time. I try to double check everything before bed and call it a day. 

When I’m not cooking or doing household chores, I play with my son. We build things, we read, we go outside. We enjoy trips to the park and splash pad. I’m also in a mom group to schedule play dates. I have bad days like any parent where I’ll turn the TV on, just so I can get extra things done around the house, but for the most part I find making time for my son easy, because he loves to play, and I guess it brings out my inner child which makes me joyous.

I’m also reading a book on how to schedule dates for hubby and wife. Like making it a point to hang out, Because we struggle with it! 

Ethan: Tell me more about your health and fitness coaching 

Jessica: I’ve only been a coach about three months, and it’s been nothing but uplifting. I’m enjoying learning about others and their goals and working together to reach those goals! I was so scared to jump in the coaching world, but I have great desire to show women that it’s okay to take care of yourself. We often forget how to, or that’s what happened to me anyways.

I neglected myself for so long I was falling into a state of depression. I had been there before with the meds, etc, and knew that’s not the life I wanted. I started working out to keep my mind occupied. I had no idea it would change my life. Before I knew it, I had finished a program, and I felt accomplished for the first time in a really long time. I kept it up and felt better mentally and physically each day. I know now that I’m worth a little me time. Instead of focusing on everyone else all of the time, I think about me too. I’m happier all the way around and it has made me a better Mom and wife. No, I don’t have all of my shit together, but I’m trying, and I hope other ladies see that through me. That it’s okay to be a work in progress and to love yourself. 

Ethan: You mentioned you like art festivals…

Jessica: Relaxation…

I know this sounds like work and not relaxing, but I enjoy drinking beer in the sun and redoing furniture. I find it very therapeutic. Planting and caring for flowers is also therapeutic. I hope to become a decent gardener next summer. I only did herbs and flowers this year. I also love looking at others creations. That’s why I enjoy festivals with all of the arts and crafts. It shows who the people are. It fascinates me, really…people just making stuff and putting it out there for the world to see in hopes the world likes it. It’s bold and it is beautiful.

I love the beach and beer. That is true relaxation…my husband and I haven’t been to the beach yet with a kid, so I can only imagine it’s not as relaxing haha. 

Ethan: Thanks so much for doing this Jessica. 

Jessica: Absolutely! (Photo origin, Jessica) 

Jessica is a health and fitness coach, wife and mom, lover of flowers and Coffee fanatic. She lives in Alabama. 

You can follow her journey Here 

it’s okay to be a work in progress and to love yourself. ” 

Talks with Women #6

Hey guys! I’m really excited about this new series of Talks with Women. I recently talked with a long time friend of mine. Cora, a CVT living and working in Utah. Discussing her career, and her passion, animals.

E: So it’s been a while since we talked last. 
What have you been up to?

C: It has been a while! Sorry for being a crappy long distance friend. Well, we moved last August to Utah from Minnesota. So it’s been almost a year but I still feel really unsettled here. Alex proposed in December, so I’ve been (kinda half-assing) planning a wedding for when we move back. 
And then of course, work. I’m a veterinary technician at a GP Clinic in my town. Utah doesn’t regulate techs here, so I’m maintaining my certification in Minnesota. I work full time, and then some. I’m on call a lot for emergencies since there isn’t a local ER.

E: What made you go into this field?

C: Well, I was pretty lost for a minute there. Remember my waitressing days? I had no idea what I wanted for so long. Looking back, it seems like it should have been so obvious

E: I remember those days !

C: I’ve always been passionate about animals. If you asked my mom, she might say obsessive. I spent hours agonizing over my hamsters cages and husbandry, wanting to give them the best care I ever could when I was a kid. I loved animals. I empathized with all of them. I stopped eating meat/started dealing with that moral struggle in the 6th grade.

Anyways, I was working a shift at my restaurant one night. Alex was gone on a trip to do some field study for school. We were long distance most of the year at that time, but this trip was hard on me because he had no cell service so we couldn’t talk. I decided I would work extra shifts while he was gone since I was bored anyways, but by the end of the first week I was exhausted. I distinctly remember looking down the salad bar line at one of the other women working- a “lifer” is what we called her. Has worked there for years, and will until retirement.

I got terrified. Is that going to be me? I hate this job. That can’t be me. 

I had a minor breakdown and a co-worker took pity on me. She knew me somewhat well, she knew I was passionate about animals. She was in school, studying vet med. She was going to be a veterinary technician. She asked me if I would come tour her school. I went the next day. 

I was in awe. It was as if every puzzle piece fell into place. THIS would be my career. I registered that day. When I called Alex to tell him, he was nervous about money and that I was making a rushed decision. He asked if I was sure, I said yes, and never looked back. 

I learn more every day. The field is changing now, too. It’s very exciting.

A lot of my experience after I graduated was in wildlife rehab which I would say is a true passion, but I’m also enjoying small animal medicine.

E: Is it difficult to see how disconnected people can be from wildlife? Even pets?

Why is spay neuter important. Why is back yard breeding bad?

My county last year alone killed 2000 dogs and is going to double it this year. The shelter is over full with 400 animals and only 40 kennels

C: Yeah, it’s very difficult. Even for the pets. I’ve seen so many animals suffer because of their owners.

I could go blue in the face talking about all of the reasons to spay and neuter pets. First off, health reasons. Females who are unaltered run the risk of getting an infection in the uterus called a pyometra. Without a uterus, this doesn’t happen! There is also the risk of mammary tumors. Certain breeds are more prone to getting them, but no matter the breed, the risk is GREATLY reduced in a spayed female. And then of course there is the chance of testicular cancer in un-altered males. It’s very common. There are countless other medical risks, but those are the most common. And then there is the risk of accidental litters, as well. And as with any pregnancy, medical complications can occur. Pets who have been spayed and neutered have also been proven to live longer, especially males.

And that’s not even touching on back yard breeding, which is a subject I can go on and on and on about…The thing is, breeding should be for the betterment of a breed. Not for fun, not for showing your children “the miracle of life” (if I had a nickle…), not because you want to make more “Fluffys”. No. If I could express to you the frustration of seeing people breed their pets for fun, and the medical and behavioral problems that are passed down to the next generation…It truly breaks my heart, Ethan.

Not every pet is a good candidate for breeding, either.

There are so many test that *should* be run first. Brucellosis testing, OFA hip/elbow certification, bloodwork, genetic testing…and then being set up to make sure that the puppies are adequately cared for medically and behaviorally. Puppies need to be well socialized to a lot at a young age. Most backyard breeders have very little understanding of all of this, and are ill prepared. Money should be available for emergency C-sections, mastitis in the breast, and other complications. All of this information is true for both canines and felines.

And on top of it all, backyard breeders add to the crisis you mentioned. Thousands and thousands of animals across the nation need homes. Why add to that number?

E: They look to us to take care of them and we’re not even responsible

C: I have rescued both of my pets. Harvey is the most amazing dog, not without his problems due to being dumped at the shelter multiple times, but I wouldn’t trade him for the world. He is such a love. He required an ophthalmic surgery he never would have gotten at the shelter if I hadn’t rescued him. And my cat Dale came from a less than ideal situation as well.

I am lucky to know so many people who care for animals, both pets and wildlife, but the constant education to others can be really exhausting. I wish people listened.

E: Rescue pets are the best. They love you more than your own spouse. (Laughs)

C: Haha, it’s funny you say that

E: It’s true!

C: It is! Alex frequently walks in on me and Harvey cuddling and giving kisses and says I love him more

E: Simon is a rescue and he’s great. He waits in the window for me every day. 

C: I am the “ultimate resource” to my dog, just like you are to Simon. Not only do they love us, they need us. He’s such a cute dog. I love seeing his pictures, and Beagle in the City

E: He’s my best friend for life.

C: Yeah, they steal our hearts. I was making my bed yesterday and had my comforter tossed on the floor, and for a second I almost expected my childhood dog who passed away years ago to jump on it, because she used to love doing that.

E: I can’t even think about losing Simon. I don’t know how you handled that. 

C: it was tough. Oscar was the hardest I think. I miss him all the time! 

Simon is totally your companion!

E: Thank you so much for talking with me,Cora. 

C: Thank you! Maybe I wasn’t too long winded! 

Cora is a CVT. Working with shelters and clinics in Minnesota and Utah. 

Learn more about spaying and neutering 

The Humane Society 
And as always 

You can adopt or donate or learn more about your local rescues and  shelters Here

Talks with Women #5

In nursing school, they tried to sell all of us on the joys and self-fulfillment of becoming a nurse. Instructors tried to make nursing out to be this grandiose profession that is all rewarding. I guess from day one I realized the difference between me and a lot of my classmates…I was no Florence Nightingale.

I have been a night shift nurse since I graduated. I enjoy the night shift. It seems the family bond happens faster with night crews. There aren’t as many of us to depend on so when “the shit hits the fan” as we say, all of us are in it together. I wouldn’t trade my night family for anything.

I guess I’m luckier than most when it comes to having a spouse who is understanding about working nights. My better half is also a night shift nurse in the ICU. We were able to work things out to be on the same schedule and that just makes life easier. It’s also nice to have someone really understand what I face daily. A lot of my night family aren’t as lucky.

Night shift has its pros and cons. I can say I have seen a lot more intense situations on nights than I ever did when I worked ER on days. On the flip side, I have missed a lot of family and friends events. I’ve missed several of my son’s school functions and I will miss another this month…senior prom. We sacrifice a lot for what seems to be the good as a whole, but doesn’t mean we don’t feel the void of what we miss. Maybe that is a big part of what bonds us night shifters. We understand that we are all missing something important to come together to save others.

It’s stressful. Going from one room where you tried your hardest to save a patient to another where the patient is mad you forgot their water. This new found mentality of entitlement everyone has nowadays makes Susie Q think her sore throat is more important than the man next door that lost his battle to stay with his wife a little longer. It makes me mad that healthcare has come down to giving patient’s a spa like stay versus saving lives. That’s the downside of nursing for me…politics.

I am an ER nurse. It’s the only place that makes sense for me. No, I’m not the nurse that will blow smoke up your ass or cater to your complaints. I’m not the nurse that will baby you and let you speak to me, or my work family, any way you please. I will most likely be identified as the “mean one” out of the group, but that’s ok because at the end of the day I know I did my job and I did it right. I am the straight forward, no nonsense nurse that may give certain patients nightmares.

Working in the ER changes you, it hardens you, but those of us that work the ER know how fragile life really is and to live it to the fullest. I’m not in it for the compliments or patient satisfaction scores. I’m in it to save lives.

Cyndi, ER Nurse, Alabama  
 Photo origin unknown 

Talks with Women #4

A conversation of ramblings with my friend, Ciara.

How long have we been writing each other? 

It’s been like what? A few years now?

Yea, that’s right! Must be over a couple of years, at least

So, are you going to Spain this summer again? 

I hope to. I was planning to live out in Spain once I passed my driving test, but it’s quite hard to make that commitment when I’ve  got so much going on here. Not much job wise, friends sort of, but more so opportunities for me. Spain is quite deserted unless I can get a car. 

I am seeing a comedian or two this year. Katherine Ryan if you’ve heard of her! Very funny!!

How about you? Any plans?

Oh yeah, we are going to the beach at some point.. I envy that you don’t have to drive everywhere. Everything is so far here. 

And I’m a huge comedian fan. I’ve been listening to a lot of David Sedaris lately… You have to laugh at something. Adult life is so weird anyway.

The other day I found a new sponge and got so excited, it was shameful.

Oh no, everything is far. Closest thing to us is about a half hour away, but it’s a matter of walking. Can’t manage it! I need a car! I feel bad that I have to rely on friends to pick me up to get places on time and without looking sweaty haha.

hahahahah yes see! Thats amazing! I find myself doing the same thing. I got to mop my floor with a new mop and it was phenomenally exciting.

Did you see Deadpool?

Oh yes I did. Loved it! What did you think of Deadpool?

Haven’t seen it yet…I’m falling behind on my list of things to watch. But it looked fantastic.

I actually downloaded an honest weather app and it just tells you the weather like it is.

Like “It’s fucking cold…”

And later 

“now it’s fucking raining…congratulations.”

It’s the small things.

hahahaha oh shit! I want this app! What is it called? I love swearing! It is the emphasis of any strong argument, you know

Do you still write screen plays or anything? 

If you went to Spain do you think that you would have more opportunities ?

I did attempt to write one but I have felt no inspiration for it -.- my brother is attempting one at the moment, but damn, it’s not great. haha. It’s not terrible but it’s trying to be funny when you really can’t force funny.

Well, there is an English radio station owner who my dad knows and he could get me a job there. Which would be awesome!

Radio stations are great. I worked with my dad in one when I was VERY young. They had all of these old eight tracks everywhere…it was actually really scary now that I think of it.

I know! There are a lot more things to remember than you think. People assume DJ’s are just presenters that sit there and twiddle their thumbs. Granted, some are, but not all. haha.

I hope you get the job. Are you reading anything interesting??

I’m  really not. I need to start reading again. Last thing I read was a Simon Pegg Biography. I Really enjoy his stuff.

Oh I bet that was good

It was so good! I think I need to begin reading again though. I feel nothing has beaten Catcher in the Rye just yet. I wasn’t forced to read that in school so I actually enjoyed it. haha.

Haha yeah, it’s better if it’s not forced.

Definitely. I hated Romeo and Juliet. But I discovered really, it is about one teen having a hissy fit because she can’t see someone she loves, so she kills herself because she didn’t get her way lol. Thats Shakespeare for you.

And a bunch of other people died as well.

Maybe that’s where Sparks gets it from ? 

hahahah oh yea, those people.

Yeah its just not my cup of tea. Shakespeare itself is beautiful, and hilarious at times.

I liked The Taming of the Shrew and Much Ado About Nothing


The film with Denzel was good too…so good…”you amaze me!!”

Thank you for doing this Ciara. 

No worries. Thank you too!

 Ciara Lynch is a writer, comedian. Living in the UK. She studied Film and Television and Media Production. 

 “I like pizza. I like bagels. I like hotdogs with mustard and beer.”

“On the 8th day, God created a magic-talking leapord and forgot all about us.”

Talks with Women #3

Half-truths are the best lies, I remember learning from Anais Nin when I was very young and had barely started doing that by instinct.

We live both inner and outer lives made up of half-truths – we use them in our writing, in our Instagram pictures, in our thoughts, in our confessions and at one point or another the bubble bursts in some and they feel the urge to warn everyone about the evilness of concealment, the fact that social media ‘is not real’, it’s ‘a lie’.

But, darling, humanity was never able to produce anything besides half-truths – because it’s impossible to paint the whole truth even on a psychoanalyst’s couch, because the progress of science means never really discovering the whole truth, but merely journeying towards it.

Liars, we may be – yet our lives are not by default a lie if we acknowledge the necessity of half-truths in it and understand their role. When you look at it that way and you begin developing organs of perception that sense lies and are able to decode them, well, you’re in for a great game – you can recognize the half-truths of others, point more or less accurately to the reason behind them, and learn that a lie unmasked reveals more about a human being than bare truth.

The only victims of half-truths are shallow people who refuse to acknowledge them. 
 Patricia Beykrat. Writer. Artist. Bucharest,Romania. To read more of her go Here

Talks with Women #2

First and foremost I am a mom, well that was until night shift lol.

I have 5 children (2 biological girls and 3 chosen boys) and don’t forget my 4 legged son Jasper.

Through nursing school I was a single mom, working full time, and helping my ill parents.

I met the love of my life Adam, New Year’s Eve 2013.We recently married December 17th. Just ran to the courthouse then I came to work that night.It was spontaneous and we are responsible adults knowing I had to work that night, so I did.

Recently I have felt depressed. Up until becoming a nurse I never missed anything with the children (ballgames, choir concerts, field trips etc).

I feel like I miss a lot!

Not to mention the wonderful man I married probably thinks of me more as a ghost.

However, I love what I do. Every part of it ,except getting spit at…. that part is gross. Oh and our team saving someones life only to have them curse us the minute they can.

The pride I feel knowing I worked my butt off to get here is wonderful. Being able to look at someone and decide what they need to live is a great feeling.

However,I don’t think I will ever get enough rest or time with my family.

Sometimes I honestly feel like an outsider now. I sleep while my husband is at work, kids at school. They come home I get up and go to work.

My 15 year old daughter does not come to me with any problems anymore. I am so thankful my husband accepts her as his own (she has never had a dad) and I love the relationship they have.

However, I need to feel needed like before. I have the need to help people but now feel as though I can’t help my own family besides with money.

I feel like all I just did was vent to you…

Amanda-Emergency Nurse- Alabama 

Talks with Women #1

(I’m really thankful for this series. 
What started out as an idea, is now, these stories and all of this art and these women. It’s voices and it’s life…it’s being seen and being heard. 

And I thank every single person that has helped me put this together.


Talks with Women#1

I’ve been broken 
Intentionally and unintentionally deconstructed reduced 

With flying words and accusations 

humiliated and devalued 

Raped and then left alone

And I stood up… and I stayed

Storing all these horrible things inside my vessel

Cracks appear from the weight held inside

And all at once I begin to spill

Eking through the weak thin places

Desperately I try to gather myself

Clawing at my skull

Prostrated on the floor 

Am I nothing? 

The answer is NO

How easily we can choose to build one another up

A kind word spoken into darkness 

Echoes and begins to resonate

I am here

Someone sees me

Someone hears me

Someone feels my pain

The vibration it sends out awakens a lost sense of self

A spark of light in the dark becomes a raging fire 


It burns away the old and rejuvenates the seeds left there by the ones who did love us


I dance in the flames of my rebirth

Watch me playfully flicker and dance


The world opens up and exposes its once hidden resources 

Openly sharing it’s wealth and warmth


When love is present there is no fear

I am new. I am loved. I am love.

– Andrea


Andrea is an Artist based in Tennessee. Her work has been sighted in places such as Slow Hand Coffee in Nashville and more. To see just an example of her amazing talent wander This way.