Making Time to Write

Welcome to a most mundane post!  But, as I want to plot and track this whole writing a novel journey, there will be mundane posts regarding organization and scheduling and all that great stuff!  I’m just hoping to keep all my thoughts in one place, for myself and, you know, posterity…

And so last night was my first day back to work after my trip.  For those of you who don’t know, I work nights (7 pm to 7 am) as a labor and delivery nurse.  The shifts are typically emotionally and physically exhausting, but I only work three shifts in a seven day stretch.  My unit tends to schedule us all three 12-hour shifts back to back, which is fine because it means I get more days off afterward.  When I work three 12s in a row, it’s work-sleep-eat-repeat.  And when I’m off those three in a row, I’m livin on a weird combo of night shift hours, attempting to adjust back to real people hours, and having no clue what day it is.  And, well, I can already tell you it’s going to be hard to find writing time between my twelve hour shifts.

Today, I’m in between two twelves.  I worked last night, got home this morning, hung out with my partner for a bit (won’t see him much in the next 24 hours because our schedules are so opposite and busy!), then went to sleep by 10 AM.  I slept until about 3 PM because, naturally, they are doing some major construction outside my apartment.  Still, I try to wake up a little early before a shift so that I can feel like an actual human being.  I walked to the local coffee shop and got an iced coffee, meditated, ate some food, and here I am.  Instead of writing my novel, I’m writing this blog post….hmm.

I can already tell this is going to be tough because my “creative process” isn’t the kind to just get down to business and produce something.  I like to go out to a coffee shop, browse Instagram, doodle, pay bills, organize, and, umm, not write immediately.  I was talking with my partner, and he suggested just getting in five good minutes of writing each day.  I love that idea!, even if it goes against my “process.”  But it requires a bit of planning, too.  In order to get in five good minutes of writing, I need to have a pre-meditated idea of where I want the story to go.

So here’s the plan… ten minutes of good writing time each day, in which I actually write for five minutes, and then plan for tomorrow’s writing for five minutes.  Sound fair?  That’s the plan for now.  Today is day three of this whole process, so let’s see how it goes.  Also — shoutout to Jessi Huntenburg for today’s Instagram post, shared below, on this conundrum.

💗This one’s for the #girlbosses , for the badass mamas who bust out their hustle to a chorus of requests to meet others’ needs. This is for ladies who work a full day only to come home and pursue their dreams into the wee hours of the night. This is for moms who work part time to save money on childcare, who work full-time because they have to or want to or who work from home while cooking, cleaning, and child-minding in between. This is for women who don’t let a sexist job market stop them from going after their due and who choose to stay home and raise their kids regardless of what the world might say about them. This is for any woman who’s doing her best to be her best self in this world–I salute you💗

It’s time to go after what I’m due.

What are you working on?  How do you schedule in creative time for yourself?  Let me know in the comments!

exploringly yours,
Alaina xx

No, I am not a mother.

There have been a three times in my (three year) career as an operating room nurse that I have received comments relating to my capacity to be a mother.

The first time was about a year and a half ago, I was working in an orthopedic surgery room with a bunch of boys men, and I was holding my own and giving them all shit.  (As you do.  This is probably one of my favorite things about working in the OR, almost always a little fun).  The attending surgeon wasn’t present at this time, and I was directing care for this patient, giving instruction to the resident surgeon.  Totally unprovoked, the (male) nurse anesthetist asked if I had kids.  When I responded with a no, he said, “You’ll make a great mom one day.”

The second time, I was wiping a patient’s running nose as she was waking up from anesthesia.  The (female) nurse anesthetist commented, “You must be a mom.”

The third time, just recently, I was fashioning a makeshift brief (diaper) for an incontinent patient.  The (female) nurse anesthetist commented, “You must be a mom.”  (Now I’m beginning to wonder if this is a weird phenomenon among nurse anesthetists….)

My response to the “you must be a mom” comments is some variation of, “nope, I’m just a nurse.”  These comments come when I’m doing something slightly above and beyond my standard job description, when I’m doing something a little extra, but vital, to that particular patients’ care.

While I don’t personally take offense to such comments, it certainly provides an interesting commentary around being a 29 year old woman.  When I receive these comments, it is because I’ve provided more personal care for the patient, I’ve channeled a more nurturing energy to someone in need.  Such comments illustrate the assumption that a woman must be a mother in order to be a whole, competent woman.

Being a woman, being female, looks and feels differently for everyone who identifies that way.  Each of us expresses this differently.  In my mind, I am fierce, deep, and beautiful.  A self-sufficient explorer.  I try to connect more with my intuition and creativity.  Each day, I want to unfurl a little more, become a little more me.  And hell, each day that may be different.  I am strong — I show and express my emotions, I vocalize and verbalize and sometimes do so too loudly.  My voice — loud and strong — is one of my favorite features, and one that gets the most flak.  My nickname (by at least one person at work) is Pitbull (not the singer) and I’ve been told I can be “perceived as aggressive.”  But each day, I work; I work hard and try each day to be a better nurse, a better human.  I’m trying to be comfortable in my skin, enjoy a nice dress, moderately comfortable heels, and make up.  I want to connect with myself and with others.  I want to love and fight and roar.

I identify as a woman.  I identify as a nurse.  I do not identify as a mother.  Maybe one day I’ll be a mother.  But no, I mustn’t be a mother to be a damn good nurse.  One of the best nurses I know never intends to have children.  And I know that I’m providing better care than some nurses who are mothers.  Being a mother makes no determination on nursing care.  (In addition, what do such comments say about nurses who are male?  I know plenty of amazing ones, and they are not “mothers.”  Another story.)

Women are powerful and dynamic beyond their capacity to birth children, to mother.  Now, more than ever, women need to harness that power; women need to be strong and together.  There should be no division or judgement placed upon a woman because of her choices in life.  There need only be support, acceptance, fighting back, and healing.  So much healing.

Do you identify as a woman?  What are you thoughts on womanhood?  Have you ever felt judged by another person based on your sex, gender, womanhood, or mothering capabilities/abilities?  Let me know in the comments below.

exploringly yours,
Alaina x

Some portions of this post have been previously posted on my Instagram feed

My Biography

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I grew up in an upper middle class suburb of Detroit.  Everything about the town – the people, the layout, the food – made me feel trapped.  My soul told me there was more to experience on this planet, an idea encouraged by my mom and my high school German teacher, Janie Barner.  My fondest memory of German class was a lesson Janie taught on travel vocabulary.  At the end she asked, “Now, who has been bitten by the travel bug?”  My heart swelled, and I knew I had been bitten, hard.  Within the next year, I travelled to Germany with my class, and the bug bit deeper.

I did not want to go to college.  Chiefly, I wanted to join the Peace Corps.  My parents pushed me toward the safer path of a four year degree.  I went away to school, earned a degree, a load of debt, and fell upon the perfect opportunity to work abroad.  After graduation, I spent two years teaching English in Austria and traveling Central and Eastern Europe.

I needed a special kind of courage to live and thrive on my own within a foreign country, system, and language.  I remember arriving in Bad Aussee, the small Austrian town where I would live and work.  It was dusk on a late summer day, and it had taken longer than anticipated to arrive.  I passed the address a couple of times before I found it.  My landlord stuck her head out of the window and greeted me.  I could barely understand a word from my landlord’s mouth!  Austrian German is different than the Hochdeutsch I had learned, and my landlord spoke in the unique Bad Aussee dialect.  With time, as the language became more comfortable, I learned to use dialect words in my German.

Months prior to my return to Michigan, I had doubts about how I would fit into my culture, my hometown, with my family and friends.  I moved back in with my parents, which provided a sense of comfort, and started nursing school.  Though, I missed Austria daily, my travels enabled me to see my hometown through a new filter.  I began to appreciate the quaint downtown and the nature trails.  But my desire to travel did not go away.  As the days marched on, and as nursing school became more of a nightmare, living with wanderlust was a lesson in patience.

Now, I am a nurse living in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and I have had to readjust my feelings about travel.  Through my adolescent and college years, I saw travel as an escape from what I perceived as a boring life.  While I still feel wanderlust, I am learning that travel is more a frame of mind than a location.  With a sense of exploration, travel can be as easy as walking out the front door.

Exploringly yours,

Alaina

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(This was originally written as my first assignment – a biography – for the online travel writing course, MatadorU.)