When Life Gives You Lemons…Or Runs You Over In The Driveway

Why I started writing

I was always passionate about writing. I enjoyed my high school English assignments. Hell, I earned a 96% on my NYS English Regents exam and I positively adored my college writing classes! It was never presented as a means to make a living though. Just like most other things I enjoyed in life, such as drawing, painting, and music, I was made to believe that any artistic endeavor was simply a hobby. “There’s no money in the arts! Pick a real career!”

So, I went to nursing school. I busted my ass studying anatomy, memorizing medications and cleaning bedpans and trach tubes. After graduation, I spent 11 years bouncing from one frustrating RN job to another. I was always mentally and physically exhausted and I never had anything to show for it short of a sore back and a growing feeling of un-fulfillment. I had never worked so hard to end up feeling like such a failure. It didn’t make sense to me. I had taught myself to draw and paint. I had taught myself to play guitar. I had even started my own successful online business from the ground up, website, e-shop, blog and all! Why then, was I struggling in a career that made me miserable and kept me from realizing my full potential?

When I began my online business Happy Manes Rabbitry, I noticed something. I realized that if I put enough effort into the right thing, I could be very successful! Over the last three years, I learned how to create a website and business model that attracts customers and builds their trust. Through trial and error along with LOTS of research, I learned how to create engaging blog posts and web content as well as how to effectively market my products. All of a sudden, I was seeing positive, meaningful results from my passion and hard work. I soon came to another realization, there is real money to be made from artistic endeavors! As long as I pursue the correct avenues. After all, musicians make money from their talents as do tattoo artists from theirs, and architects from theirs.

I am currently attempting to transition from my nursing career to freelance writing. After all, I have always enjoyed writing and I am ready to make money doing what I love rather than loathing what I do.

Life is frustrating, pursue what you love!

The Loss Of Professionalism

Professionalism: the conduct, aims, or qualities that characterize or mark a profession or a professional person (Merriam-Webster.com). The definition is straightforward enough, or so one would think. However, there seems to be a fundamental lack of understanding of this basic concept in the modern world. We ask for professionalism in our employees, managers, and public service workers. We expect our doctors, nurses, police officers, and politicians to “act professionally,” but do we really know what that means? 

When we interact with a supposed “professional,” we expect a certain demeanor. We want them to treat us with courtesy and respect. We listen for those important little words such as please and thank you. We also expect a certain degree of knowledge and empathy. Why then, do so many of these so-called professionals seem to lack these basic traits? When I worked as a nurse, I expected my nurse management to be knowledgeable in the specialty for which they managed as well as empathetic and trustworthy toward their subordinates. However, I frequently found the opposite to be true. Have you ever worked for someone and wondered “how in the world did this person qualify for management?” More often than not, my nurse managers were rude, overbearing, incompetent, and overall unapproachable.  

I find this becoming more prevalent in other professions as well. Police officers are a prime example. Over the past decade or so, law enforcement officers have been publicized for acting anything but professional. Has professional police conduct become defined as over-reacting to situations, jumping to conclusions, intimidating and overall bullying the general populace?  

What about retail and hospitality management? As a nurse working in the emergency room, I have encountered many retail and other public service employees misusing the healthcare system in order to obtain a “doctor’s note” excusing them from work due to fevers, sore throats, and otherwise general malaise. Working in the retail field, I have also seen many of my co-workers coerced into performing unsafe tasks due to management’s insistence. Isn’t it more professional for a manager to ensure their underlings’ health and safety over “just getting the job done?”  

Doctors, nurses, teachers, lawyers, etc. also act in a more than questionable manner. So many of the nurses, social workers, and doctors I have worked with would gossip at length about their weekend barhopping exploits and overwhelming needs for wine, beer, etc. due to increased amounts of workplace stress directly in front of patients and their families as well as lower level employees such as nurse aides and unit secretaries. I don’t know about you, but I for one would not feel too comfortable listening to my nurse explain how she drank a little too much the night prior as she is attempting to initiate my IV line. I’ve had run ins with lawyers and teachers who seem to believe that intimidation is a respectable asset. Is it really that respectable to demean and coerce others into compliance? 

Even simple acts of courtesy seem to be lost these days. How many times have you interviewed for a job and then never heard anything back for weeks or even months? What about the rude, assumptive attitudes of secretaries answering phones or cashiers ringing out your purchases? How many sales representatives and cleaners have knocked on your door or shown up to your business or home without even a uniform? 

Our ancestors lived in eras where people of authority were expected to conduct themselves with a certain level of competence and respectability and for the most part, they did. In 1952 for example, if a police officer pulled you over, you could be fairly certain that you had been performing some sort of unsafe or illegal activity. You could also be certain that said officer would treat you with common courtesy and maybe even instruct you on how to avoid a similar infraction in the future. Teachers were employed to teach. The job required a certain level of ingenuity, empathy, and patience toward all manners of learning styles. Nurses and doctors were expected to care for their patients without bias or oversharing snippets of their personal lives as if sex and alcoholism were normal occurrences in everyone’s lives. You knew that your neighbor was a lawncare specialist because he wore a uniform. 

I am by no means saying that those who hold professional titles cannot be stoic and authoritative or that these individuals cannot indulge in after-hours vices. It takes a great deal of personal strength to be able to handle most of these jobs. However, we should strive toward a society where managers are empathetic experts in their field of management and police officers are respectable authorities with the sole purpose of ensuring safety without passing judgement or bullying others into submission. We need a society where doctors and nurses “practice what they preach” and remain conscious of how they are conducting themselves in front of their patients. Teachers need to learn to accept children for their differing learning styles and be able to assist those students to excel in their studies rather than bully them into a cookie cutter mold of the perfect student. We need to stop being afraid of the consequences of offending others. We need to re-think our current definition of professionalism and understand that if you are deemed a professional, it is for good reason and you should always conduct yourself accordingly because you are an authority in your field. You are a figure who is looked up to and should strive for a level of respect that no one can cast doubt upon. 

There’s a Whole Lot of Memories at the End of The World

I was just 21 when I got married. He had been a strong support for me during a very dark time in my young adult life and had been my ticket out of a “go nowhere” town. He taught me how to make it on my own and there was never a dull moment. He taught me to ski and operate a snowmobile as well as a manual transmission car. We went on hikes and enjoyed camping. He taught me how to fish on the Mississippi river on a pontoon boat we had bought and refurbished. I never knew that my life could be so full of adventure!

While we dated, we would talk for hours about anything at all. He was there for me when my ride forgot to pick me up from work. At eleven pm, from a different state, he woke up his parents, whom I had just recently met, to pick me up and drive me home. He was the only person I could truly count on in my life. After only six months of dating, I packed my things and moved halfway across the country to live with the love of my young life. We dated only a year before he asked me to be with him forever. I truly believed that I had found the man I would love for the remainder of my life. I couldn’t have imagined being with anyone else.

We were married the day before Thanksgiving despite our families’ protests. However, he was in the military, so time off was hard to come by. Neither of us minded much. I would have married him in a puddle, outdoors in Antarctica! It was a small wedding in my parents’ church. We would have a great reception that following summer and everyone that mattered was invited! That year is still one of the best years of my life.

We had our honeymoon in Yellowstone that spring. We left for open sky country the day I graduated LPN school. I made a photo album filled with over six hundred photos I took with our brand new DSLR. The camera is now gone as is the album, but my memories remain as vivid as the day they were created.

Two years later, he decided he had experienced enough of military life and we moved back to our hometown. Things were never the same after that. We both went through a period of depression and regret. Each of us longing for better. In 2008, I decided to go back to nursing school to finish my degree. His mother was an RN and we both believed that my higher education would be our ticket to a better life. Looking back, I know I chose the wrong career. The stress of modern nursing would drive a wedge between myself and the person I loved the most. As my stress levels rose, so too did the arguments. Neither one of us quite knew how to help the other de-escalate. I found myself bouncing from job to job never quite satisfied with my choices nor my life. He too, was stressing over missed opportunities to get a degree and realizing that the real world was nothing like that of the active military.

We began going for almost nightly jaunts where we would savor a cup of local coffee while we walked the streets of our small town attempting to reconnect that lost spark we both desperately hoped to still exist. Instead, our relationship became worse. We fought on an almost daily basis. We were completely unable to connect on even the most basic level of mutual understanding. Our feelings toward each other changed from an “us against the world” mentality to that of resentment and loathing. Neither one of us wanted to come home at the end of the day for fear of what horrible fight was looming just behind our front door.

We attempted counseling as well as utilizing family and friends. In the end, we just couldn’t make the necessary changes. We had grown too far apart, and hurt each other far too badly to ever be able to repair what was so inexplicably broken. Suddenly, our marriage of almost ten years, smoldered in a crumbled and lecherous mess beneath our broken and battered feet. Our souls and hearts lay beaten and empty on the pile of burning ash.

It’s been four and a half years since my husband and I separated. We have since both moved on to new relationships and lives. I have become quite successful in a number of my endeavors and I have grown both emotionally an intellectually. I will never regret my decision to walk away, but I don’t think I will ever be able to forget those ten years. They were some of the best as well as some of the worst parts of my life. I will probably never get married a second time, but I will always cherish the marriage I had.

 

Since When Is Everyone So Content With Half-Assed?

I know I am not perfect by any stretch of the imagination. Hell, no one really is. Isn’t that where they got that saying “you’re only human?” Recently though, I’ve made an astoundingly frustrating observation. Most people seem to be content with living their life to only half it’s potential … or less! Think about this for a moment. How many times have you heard someone say “but it’s just a job” or “that sounds like a lot of work?” I’m sure you can think of many more examples of what I am talking about. Honestly, you yourself are probably guilty of these types of thoughts, I know I am!

I think it’s time we take a good look at ourselves though. Whatever happened to our drive for success? Why have we condemned ourselves to a life of mundane mediocrity where phrases like “it’s only a job” and “someone else will do it” are part of our everyday conversations? The arts are a dying breed. No one looks for originality anymore and most people only want what’s quick and easy. No one wants to actually put forth the effort! Honestly, doctors are conditioned to hand out pills because they’re the quickest and easiest cure. People would rather self-diagnose than listen to a professional when the treatment involves a bit of hard work and effort. We have self-driving cars and robot vacuums. We prefer to eat take out and processed over learning to cook healthy food ourselves, and we trust the internet for everything! I’m sure you’d be surprised at how many “debunk it” websites exist out there because people are so eager to believe everything that is put in front of them.

I for one, pride myself in my hard work. I work hard to achieve everything I set my mind to no matter the amount of effort involved. I am not one to believe every tidbit of information placed under my nose. I’d prefer to conduct my own research into the matter before jumping on the conspiracy train. As a teen, I taught myself to draw by spending hours with pencil and paper whilst my family zoned out in front of the television set. As an adult, I worked my way through one of the toughest rated degree programs (it’s true, look it up) to become a Registered Nurse. I also struggled through a failed marriage as well as multiple bouts of joblessness related to a poor career choice. Now, I am working my way towards a freelance writing career. I know the journey won’t be easy, but as with most other aspects of my life, I am unwilling to settle for “it’s just a job.”

I honestly believe that we need to revisit that 1920’s attitude that we can achieve anything if we are determined enough! If we are unhappy with our jobs, we need to get off our asses and find one that’s more fulfilling! If we are unhappy with our relationships, we need to find ways to improve them! If we want to learn a new talent or hobby, we need to get out there and do it! We need to stop being a society that expects the world to be handed to us and start utilizing our innate ability to learn and grow and strive for better! Let’s stop being zombies and go back to being human!