I Am the Fire


I don’t usually do short blog posts like this, but for some reason I feel compelled to write this one today, so here we go.  Perhaps it’s because it’s a Monday morning which marks the start of a new work week.  Perhaps it’s because in addition to that it’s February 1 which often times marks the day on which many of us realize just how poorly we’ve done with our new year’s resolutions.  destiny choice

In any case, today just feels like a day on which a lot of us could use some motivation, a good swift kick in the ass to remind us that the only thing standing between us & our goals is US . . . And any & all of the inordinate number of excuses we so masterfully create!  If we spent as much energy working towards our goals as we do creating elaborate excuses for ourselves, imagine how much we could accomplish?  In other words, no one has the power to change your life except YOU!  While initially this might seem scary, I choose to think of it as empowering.  And you can definitely do the same.change yesterday

With all of that self-empowerment in mind, I’d like to share one of my favorite songs off of Halestorm’s latest album Into the Wild Life (which some of you may recognize as my choice for the best album of 2015).  If this song doesn’t make you feel like you’re ready to take on the world, I don’t know what will.

into the wild life

You need this album. You really do.

Here are the lyrics:

Am I brave enough?
Am I strong enough?
To follow the desire
That burns from within
To push away my fear
To stand where I’m afraid
I am through with this
Cause I am more than this
I promise to myself
Alone & no one else
My flame is rising higher

I am the fire
I am burning brighter
Roaring like a storm
And I am the one I’ve been waiting for
Screaming like a siren
Alive & burning brighter
I am the fire

I’ve been sacrificed
My heart’s been cauterized
Hanging on to hope
Shackled by the ghost
Of what I once believed
That I could never be
What’s right in front of me

I am the fire
I am burning brighter
Roaring like a storm
And I am the one I’ve been waiting for
Screaming like a siren
Alive & burning brighter
I am the fire

I don’t believe I’ll fall from grace
Won’t let the past decide my fate
Leave forgiveness in my wake
Take the love that I’ve embraced

I promise to myself, me & no one else
I am more than this
I am the fire…

I am the fire
I am burning brighter
Roaring like a storm
And I am the one I’ve been waiting for
Screaming like a siren
Alive & burning brighter
I am the fire

change your life

Contemplations on Mourning & Why I’m a Nurse


I’m really horrible with dates, whether birthdays, anniversaries, or whatever, but when I was talking to my mom this morning she reminded me that exactly three years ago today my dear uncle Robert died.  I never knew my grandfather on my dad’s side of the family & because Robert was considerably older than all of my other uncles & because I spent a lot of time with him & my aunt Katherine, I always thought of him more like a grandfather than just an uncle (no to disrespect to uncles of course). special date

In any case, as soon as my mom reminded me of his passing, floods of memories came pouring to the surface.  Most intensely of course I remembered that day three years ago when I saw Robert for the very last time.  The circumstances under which that occurred were really quite significant.  Allow me to explain.  Robert had been in & out of the hospital for several months at that point, & the nurse part of me of course knew that his prognosis wasn’t very good.  I had seen him a few times here & there, but as it turned out that weekend I was scheduled to go to a Zac Brown Band concert in Roanoke, VA with a close friend of mine, so I was hoping to tag on a visit to him as well.  It just so happened that both NC & VA were subjected to a great deal of snow & ice that weekend, but I was determined to make it to VA.  So, quite foolishly I suppose, I left Raleigh in some of the worst freezing rain I’ve ever encountered.  It was so bad that I had to stop more than once to scrape the ice off my windshield just so I could see to drive!  After about an hour on the road it became clear there was absolutely no way I could safely make it to the concert in time.  My friend wasn’t so sure she could make it there either, & thankfully she was able to transfer our tickets to some folks who could go. freezing rain

Anyway, once I realized I couldn’t make it to the concert, I decided I would still go home & visit Robert & the rest of my family.  There was just a part of me that knew that this might be the last time I’d ever see Robert alive, so even though the roads were horrible & I drove by quite a few accidents, I was determined to make it home safely so I could see him.  What is normally just shy of a three hour drive turned into over a five hour drive; I don’t think I hit more than 40 mph the whole trip!  But my husband’s trusty little Chevy Cavalier, hardly the best vehicle for such dangerous wintry driving conditions, got me home in one piece, & I was able to visit my uncle in the hospital the next day.end of life quote

I still remember very clearly entering his ICU room & seeing him lying there intubated.  It hit me like a ton of bricks that, yes, this was definitely going to be the last time I ever saw Robert alive.  I’d been a nurse long enough at that point to know that this was it.  Even though it was a Sunday we were fortunate to have a palliative care doctor available to us, & I remember helping my aunt discuss various things with the doctor (e.g. whether to continue tube feedings).  In short, the decision was made to proceed with comfort care only, which was what I & the rest of us felt was best & what he would have wanted could he have spoken for himself.  When it came time for me to leave, I went over to the bed & looked my uncle in the eyes, & even though he was still intubated & fairly sedated at the time (the ventilator was actually off but the ET tube was still in place), he turned his head & opened his eyes & looked at me.  I kissed him on the forehead & told him I loved him but it was ok for him to go if he needed to.  I hugged the rest of my family & left that room knowing I would shortly receive the news of his passing.

As it turned out, it was just about an hour later that one of my cousins gave me the news that Robert had passed away peacefully.  I had to be back at work the next night I believe, so I was already back on the road to Raleigh at the time.  I will never forget pulling over on the side of 460, somewhere around Altavista, where I watched the sunset, a gorgeous one I might add, & cried.

I was put in mind of these events this past Fall when my grandfather was ill & the nurse part of me knew that he was dying as well.  For sake of time I won’t elaborate too much, but essentially the exact same scenario happened, minus the missed concert & the winter weather.  I’ll never forget kissing him good-bye & telling him I loved him but he could go if he needed to, then walking out of that hospital room knowing I’d truly just said our final good-bye.  I also distinctly remember driving home to Raleigh the next morning & pulling over somewhere in Charlotte County to watch the sunrise & cry.

P1110649

The sunrise I watched in Charlotte County, VA on the way home from seeing my grandfather for the final time

Now I’m fighting back tears of course, but I’m writing all of this to say not only that I miss these dear men very much but also that I like to think of a lot of my nursing care as being in honor of them.  Let me explain.

I’d only been a nurse for a few months when it became very apparent to me that I have a special place in my heart for palliative care & hospice.  Even though I was all of 22 when I became a nurse I seemed, even then, to have a particular affinity for working with patients & their families at the end of life.  Like many others of course, I got into nursing largely with the idea of saving lives. But it didn’t take much experience for me to realize that even with all of the advanced medical care available to us today, that doesn’t mean every life can be saved every time.  Furthermore quality of life is at the end of the day so much more important than quantity of life, at least in my mind, though I’m sure the vast majority of people would agree.  Even as a young nurse, I remember advocating for palliative care & hospice for several of my patients who clearly needed & desired that type of care to allow them a peaceful death.  I quickly realized that helping them achieve that goal & assisting their families in that process was, though difficult at times, the most rewarding part of my job.  Over four years later I still agree with that sentiment one hundred percent.hospice

In the past four, now closer to five, years of nursing, I’ve called families countless times to inform them that their loved one was in the process of dying & they needed to come see them if at all possible.  And countless times I’ve called families to say their loved one has in fact passed away.  It’s never easy, but it doesn’t scare me anymore either.

Now I’ve said all of that to finally say this:

Yes, I’ve been told by plenty of folks that I’m “smart enough to be a doctor.”  And, yes, I agree one hundred percent with that sentiment.  But let me tell you why I am so, so glad I chose to be a nurse instead.nurse pic

In case you didn’t know, doctors don’t round at night (& even during the day they usually only see each patient once or twice).  There are doctors on call at night of course, but they are there to handle admissions & emergencies.  Otherwise it is completely up to us as nurses to monitor our patients & advocate for them when the need arises.  If your loved one’s condition is deteriorating, believe me, the doctor isn’t coming around every hour to check on them.  That just isn’t feasible.  But the nurse is doing exactly that.  It is up to our eyes & ears & critical thinking to manage those patients & to know when to call the doctor & what to ask for when we do.  I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve quite literally saved a life by intervening on the behalf of a patient who had acute hypoglycemia, A Fib-RVR, SVT, acute respiratory distress, or any number of other life-threatening conditions.  Knowing I’ve been part of such efforts is of course incredibly rewarding.

smart nurse

But the most rewarding thing of all to me is when I help someone achieve a peaceful death.  I know that may sound very bizarre but it’s just the truth.  Though none of us likes to admit it, the truth is we’re all going to die someday, & I think all of us hope that when our time comes, it will be peaceful & as painless as possible.  So when I can be a part of making that happen, I feel like I’ve accomplished something truly meaningful in this world. hospice 1

Of course there are situations when patients & families are contemplating comfort care/hospice but haven’t quite made a decision yet.  And of course sometimes things change drastically overnight & suddenly that decision cannot be put off any longer.  Especially overnight when the doctors aren’t rounding, it becomes up to the nurse to advocate for that patient.  Though it is challenging, multiple times I have been the one who has called a family member to say that a choice needs to be made.  I have facilitated conversations between family members & doctors so that a choice for comfort care could be made official & we could begin to work towards a peaceful passing.  Yes, ultimately the doctor is the one giving the orders, whether it’s for comfort care or otherwise, but believe me, even the best doctors are relying very heavily on us as nurses to guide them.  This is especially true at night when we are quite literally their eyes & ears.nursing quote

Anyway, maybe this all sounds morbid & strange to you if you aren’t part of the healthcare field (or perhaps even if you are).  But when I care for patients & their families at the end of life, I think about my own loved ones I’ve lost.  I remember Robert & PawPaw (my grandfather) & Granny & their suffering & the relief I could see in their eyes when they heard us tell them we loved them but we could let them go if they needed to.  And I remember the nurses who cared for them during their last days & made them as comfortable as they could be. end of life

Yes, I’m sure I could have been a doctor & to some people maybe I’m “not living up my full potential” by being a nurse.  But the folks who say/think that have no idea what I do on a daily basis.  They have no idea the difference I’ve made in the lives of countless patients, both those I’ve helped to save & those I’ve helped to achieve a peaceful death.  As I’ve said, I’ve long since lost count of the number of times when I’ve been the one who has intervened for a patient & made a tremendous difference in their life, again whether it was helping to save them or helping them achieve a peaceful passing.  Particularly when the situation is the latter, I often remember my own loved ones who’ve passed away & I like to think I am serving others in honor of them.

In summary, yes, nursing is frequently stressful, overwhelming, & emotionally & physically taxing.  But every night that I work I know I make a meaningful difference.

And that, my friends, is why I’m a nurse.

Weightlifting Update


This past summer I wrote a post about how I felt fat after seeing some pictures of myself on Facebook.  I ended the post by sharing my weightlifting stats at that time.  Today I thought it would be fun to share some of my progress by showing how much stronger I’ve gotten over the past 6 months.  My weight hasn’t changed much, if any, but I have lost a few inches around my waist & I’ve definitely gained some muscle, as you’ll see in the stats below, so I’m not too worried about the number on the scale anymore.  Additionally, my husband & I are planning to start a family later this year so my hope is that the stronger I am & the better shape I’m in before I get pregnant, the easier/healthier the pregnancy & delivery will be.  I know it’s not guaranteed, but there is definitely research that shows that women who are in good shape tend to have smoother pregnancies & deliveries, so I’m hoping that will prove true for me.

cartoon gym

I actually like all the mirrors at the gym, but I still think this is funny.

Anyhow, here are some of my current weightlifting stats with the numbers from 6 months ago listed first.

Chest press: 50 lbs >>  65 lbs

Seated leg press: 135 lbs  >>  same (I guess I need to do this one more!)

Incline shoulder press: 20 lbs >> 25 lbs

Flies: 60 lbs >>  70 lbs

Hip abduction/adduction: 140 lbs >> 175 lbs

Lying leg curls: 65 lbs >>  70 lbs

Deadlifts: 80-90 lbs >> 110-125 lbs

Bench press: 40-45 lbs >>  65 lbs (I did 80 lbs last week but only 1 rep)

Tricep press: 85 lbs >>  90 lbs

Lat pull down: 70 lbs >>  same

Rows: 60 lbs  >>  same

Glute press: 75 lbs >>  90 lbs

As you can see, I’ve made the most progress on the deadlifts, hip abduction/adduction, & the benchpress, & I am seriously proud of that.  As a former band geek who was often picked last in gym class, I still have to remind myself sometimes that I belong in the gym as much as anyone else.  But these stats definitely serve to remind me that I’m doing at least a few things right. weights

Ladies, I’m no professional, but please let me assure you that weightlifting will not cause you to look like Arnold Schwarzenegger as some of you seem to think.  That’s just not biologically possible.  What it will do is increase your confidence, contribute to an excellent figure, & make it much easier to open jars without having to ask your husband/partner/brother/any other male in the vicinity for assistance.  The last is just an added bonus!  ;)

My 5 Favorite Dog Breeds aka My Dog Wish List


So last night I dreamt that my husband & I adopted 4 huskies, 2 German shepherds, 1 blue heeler, & 1 other dog of ambiguous breed which, in addition to Chaucer (our real-life corgi), made for a total of 9 dogs.  Not very realistic for sure, but at least it was a fun dream!

Anyway, the dream got me to thinking that it would be fun to write a blog post about my favorite dog breeds, each of which I hope to have at some point in my life.dog person

I should preface this post with the fact that I actually grew up scared of or at least anxious around most dogs. I think this stems largely from the usual fear of the unknown because no one in my close family owned a dog when I was a kid.  My parents have never been “dog people,” & neither were my dad’s parents or most of his siblings.  My mom’s parents have always had a dog, but they were always outdoor dogs so I never really interacted with them much.  murder she purred

Anyhow, when I was probably 12 ish I saw a movie called Murder She Purred which starred Ricki Lake as well as a corgi named Tucker.  Even then, when I was still nervous around dogs, I knew that one day I was going to own a corgi.  I just immediately fell in love with their adorable stubby legs, fluffy butts, & playful personalities.  Sure enough, just two weeks after we bought our house almost three years ago, my husband & I brought home our very own corgi puppy whom we named Chaucer, & we’ve been in love with him ever since.  He’s lying at/on my feet as I type this, & I wouldn’t have it any other way!  As it turns out, over the past three years I’ve come to love all dogs, & I have to resist the urge to hug & kiss every dog I meet.  For real.  Dogs are just such sweet, loving creatures, & I can’t wait to raise my future children with Chaucer & probably several other dogs some day.

Anyhow, here are my favorite dog breeds.

  1. Welsh corgi

    014

    Our adorable corgi, Chaucer

Duh!  I think that kind of goes without saying at this point. They’re fluffy, they’re sweet, they’re playful, they’re extremely smart & easy to train, & they’re just the right size.  What’s not to love?!  Oh yeah, they shed like mad . . . But you can hardly be upset by that what with all their other adorable traits.

2. Swedish vallhundswedish vallhundOk, to be fair, I’ve never actually met one of these dogs, but they aren’t exactly common in the US just yet.  However, from everything I’ve read about them they really do have similar personalities to corgis which isn’t surprising considering both breeds are herding dogs.  And, yes, in case you’re wondering, this is the dog from the Facebook meme about “wolf corgis.”  What’s really exciting is that there is a very reputable farm in Eastern NC that breeds both corgis & Swedish vallhunds, so if/when my husband & I decide we really do want to meet & perhaps acquire one of these adorable dogs, we won’t have far to travel. Yay!

3. Shetland sheepdog or “sheltie”

sheltie

Surprise, surprise, the next dog on my list is also a fluffy herding dog!  I have a particular affinity for this type of dog for one reason or another it seems.  Anyway, one of my friends from college owns one of these dogs, & I’ve been in love with them ever since I first started seeing his pictures of the dog on Facebook a few years ago.  I literally squealed in excitement when we ran into a sheltie while walking around the Boston Commons during our trip to Boston for my college roommate’s wedding last Fall.  Thankfully the owner was friendly & didn’t mind me petting & fawning all over his dog.  Again, these dogs are described as having similar personalities to corgis, & from what I’ve observed that appears to be very true.  Can I have one now, please?!

4. Samoyed

samoyed

The samoyed, sometimes referred to as the “smiling sammy,” is a yet another fluffy herding dog.  These guys originated in Siberia helping to herd reindeer & pull sleds.  Basically they are medium-sized balls of white fluff that kind of look like a dog version of a polar bear, plus they’re renowned for being good with children.  What’s not to love?!  There is a samoyed in one of the neighborhoods that adjoins ours, & every once in a while I am lucky enough to catch him on his walk.  The only downside I see to these dogs is I worry that they might get overheated a bit easily in the NC climate, seeing as their origins are in Siberia.

5. Collie

rough collie

I know they look a lot like a bigger version of a sheltie, but collies are actually an entirely separate breed.  Once again this is a fluffy herding dog that is renowned for being great with kids.  The only downside I see to collies is that their beautiful coats do require a bit more maintenance than a corgi or a vallhund.  But I think their adorable personalities would be more than worth it.  However, I know collies require a lot of exercise & thus need a lot of room to run around, so I don’t plan to actually have one until we own considerably more land than we do now.

Well, I guess in summary all my favorite dogs are fluffy herding breeds. What can I say?  They’re all intelligent, friendly breeds that also happen to be adorable.

What are your favorite breeds & why?

Best Albums of 2015


I’m starting the year off right . . . with a mild case of pneumonia.  Woohoo!  For someone who’s never smoked & never spent any significant amount of time around people who do, I definitely don’t have the most robust lungs known to man (or woman).  Oh well, at least I have a few days off of work anyway, & it’s an excuse to be lazy & binge watch New Girl on Netflix (season 4 just became available!!) with Chaucer (our corgi) at my side.  AND I can finally get around to writing one of my favorite posts of the year.

That’s right, it’s time to share my picks for the best albums of 2015.  I couldn’t narrow it down to just 10 this year because there were simply too many great new albums from which to choose.  You’ll notice most of them fall under the rock/metal genre, but there are a few country albums in the mix also.

13. Up by Pop Evilup pop evil

I have to admit that initially I wasn’t too impressed with Pop Evil’s latest venture simply because I missed the heaviness of much of their previous album, Onyx.  However, over time I’ve come to appreciate quite a few of the songs.  While I was excited to see them get some mainstream attention with the Dodge commercial that featured the lead single Footsteps, I have to admit that is definitely not my favorite song on the album.  My favorite is actually one of the extra songs on the deluxe version of the album entitled My Confessions.  While I love their heavier pieces, I have to admit that Pop Evil really shines on more ballad-like pieces like this one (as well as Silence & Scars from Onyx & Stepping Stone from their debut album). I’m also a big fan of the current single Ways to Get High for which the band made a really funky psychedelic video that is reminiscent of the 60s-70s (at least in my mind).  Also be sure to check out one of the heaviest tracks on the record Take It All which makes for a great workout song.

12. Got Your Six by Five Finger Death Punchffdp got your six

After an on-stage meltdown in Memphis in May, like many fans I was a bit afraid of what was going to become of the band after such an embarrassing incident.  However, true to form the guys that make up FFDP returned as strong as ever with their sixth album with the military inspired title Got Your Six.  Don’t miss the title track or Jekyll & Hyde with its hilarious video featuring bassist Chris Kael knitting a baby sock, among other bizarre images.  It’s also really fascinating that the verses of the song are largely lifted straight from voicemails that vocalist Ivan Moody left on guitarist Jason Hook’s phone . . . genius!  Some of my other favorites include Wash It All Away (which has a great live performance video), Digging My Own Grave, & I Apologize.

11. Silence in the Snow by TriviumSilence_in_the_SnowTrivium are an insanely talented band based out of Florida who have been going strong since they were literally teenagers.  However, I didn’t really get into their music until Strife from their previous album Vengeance Falls caught my attention.  After that, I was hooked, but there is no doubt in my mind this year’s album, their seventh, is their best work yet.  I for one am in love with Matt Heafy’s more melodic singing which is excellently featured on the title track Silence in the Snow.  Some of my other favorites include The Ghost That’s Haunting YouThe Thing That’s Killing Me, & the empowering Rise Above the Tides.

10. Dark Before Dawn by Breaking Benjamindark before dawn

I actually already wrote an entire post about this album back when it debuted, so I’ll just direct you to that post here.

9. Threat to Survival by ShinedownThreat_To_Survival_by_Shinedown

I’m still very much in love with Shinedown’s previous album Amaryllis, but this year’s record is every bit as good, albeit a bit different.  I think some fans have been disappointed with the “softer” side of Shinedown featured on this album, & while I understand that, I can’t deny that lyrically & musically Threat to Survival is a phenomenal work of art.  The lead single Cut the Cord is definitely the heaviest piece on the album & naturally one of my favorites.  However, I also love two of the more ballad-like songs, Thick as Thieves & Misfits; lyrically they are both very powerful.  For an empowering piece, don’t miss Dangerous.

8. That’s the Spirit by Bring Me the HorizonBMTH_Thats_The_Spirit_featured_

While I’ll be the first to admit that BMTH’s previous album Sempiternal is still my favorite from this British quartet, this year’s album is doubtless a great listen.  Lyrically Oliver Sykes has certainly done some of his best work to date.  My favorite piece on the album is Avalanche which is a fantastic song about mental illness.  As someone who struggles with anxiety, I couldn’t be more grateful for this song.  I’m also a big fan of True Friends & of course Drown, the latter of which is the song that originally made me fan of BMTH.  I don’t see how you could listen to Drown & not be moved.

7. The Pale Emperor by Marilyn Mansonmanson pale emperor

Ah, Marilyn Manson . . . I know some folks think he’s way past his prime, but I for one am not one of those.  I actually prefer the older, more mature version of Manson, although when I say that I’m referring less to the actual music & more to his general personality & antics.  In any case, I first became interested in The Pale Emperor when I read an interview with MM about the album in Alternative Press magazine last January.  When I read the interview, I was so impressed with how clearly intelligent Manson is that I quickly went out & bought the album, & a few months later I read (& thoroughly enjoyed) his autobiography.  Anyway, back to the album . . . The Pale Emperor certainly finds Manson exploring a rather different side of himself with much more bluesy sounds, but it’s still very much dark & true to form.  I think 2003’s The Golden Age of the Grotesque will always be my favorite MM album, but this one is definitely a close second.  MM’s voice is certainly as perfect as ever, & I love that even at 46 (47 as of last week actually) he isn’t afraid to try something new.  Be sure to check out Third Day of a Seven Day Binge with its infectious beat, Killing StrangersBirds of Hell Awaiting with its dark jazzy feel, & Odds of Even which was inspired by the death of Manson’s mother & features a recording of coyotes howling which Manson captured on his phone.

6. Mr. Misunderstood by Eric Churcheric-church-mr-misunderstood1

Eric Church certainly took the world by surprise with this album . . . literally.  There was zero press leading up to the release of this album, but hey, it’s Eric Church; we should know by now he does things his own way, & that’s exactly why we love him so much!  Church has often said he doesn’t write albums quickly, so I was legitimately surprised to find him releasing a new album only about a year and a half after the release of The Outsiders.  This album is certainly a far cry from that one, but that’s just another reason Eric Church is such a genius.  Like any real musician, he’s constantly evolving, & he’s never afraid to step outside the boundaries of the country music genre & try a little rock & roll, a little blues, a little gospel, basically a little whatever the hell he wants!  While The Outsiders explored a more rock & roll sound, Mr. Misunderstood rather feels like Church is bringing back old-fashioned country with touches of gospel & soul.  For his next album, who knows what he’ll explore; whatever it is, it’s sure to be brilliant.  Anyhow, the title track finds Church exploring his journey into music, while Mistress Named Music showcases a more gospel sound.  Don’t miss the story-telling tracks Knives of New Orleans & Chattanooga Lucy, the latter of which also features some delightful gospel/soul elements.  There there’s the lyrically brilliant Kill a Word, not to mention the cleverly crafted Record Year.

5. Immortalized by Disturbedimmortalized

After a 4 year hiatus, like many fans I was hungry for some new Disturbed music, & their latest album did not disappoint in the least.  From the title track to The Vengeful One, there isn’t a bad song on this album.  Be sure not to miss the unexpected cover of Sound of Silence which beautifully features David Draiman’s haunting voice.  Another favorite of mine is Who Taught You How to Hate which contains the incredibly powerful lyrics that inspired this post.

4. Venom by Bullet For My ValentineBFMV_Venom

Though I’ve enjoyed a few of their singles before, particularly Your Betrayal, the song that introduced me to BFMV, this is actually the first full album I’ve ever bought from this Welsh metal band.  And let me tell you, every inch of it is brilliant.  With heavy hitting songs like You Want a Battle (Here’s a War) & No Way OutVenom makes for a fantastic work-out disc.  Don’t miss the fun song about their fans Army of Noise as well as the more melodic title track.

3. Malevolence by New Year’s Daymalevolence

I first heard of New Year’s Day when I discovered the amazing collaboration they did with Chris from Motionless in White in the song Angel Eyes.  However, it wasn’t till a few weeks ago that I started exploring more of NYD’s work, & I’m so glad I did because their third album which debuted in October has quickly become one of my all-time favorite albums.  You will be greatly remiss if you do not check out the powerful title track which perfectly features Ash Costello’s beautiful but fierce voice.  Some of my other favorites include the empowering Anthem of the UnwantedLeft Inside, & Defame Me.  From start to finish, there isn’t a bad song on this album, & I beg you to check it out.

2. Pageant Material by Kacey Musgravespageant materialI’ve often written about Kacey Musgraves on this blog because her lyrics are just so meaningful to me, so it should come as no surprise to see her second album near the top of this list.  My favorite song from the album is easily Somebody to Love with its beautiful & timeless message about the humanity that unites us all.  I wrote a bit about the title track in this post from July.  Other favorites include Die FunBiscuits, & Fine.  As with her debut album, there isn’t a bad song on this disc, & there’s certainly a maturity & sincerity to her lyrics that sets Kacey Musgraves far above most of her contemporaries, many of whom are considerably older & more experienced than her.  Don’t miss this one.

  1. Into the Wild Life by Halestorm
into the wild life

You need this album. You really do.

Considering I’ve often written about Halestorm before, again it should come as no surprise to see their latest album at the top of this list.  To be completely honest, when I first listened to Into the Wild Life I wasn’t sure what to think.  I liked it of course, but it was so raw, so different in certain ways from their previous albums, that I was just a little shaken.  But I couldn’t deny that it was anything short of amazing.  As with most truly great albums, the more I listened, the more I fell in love with the music.  From the infectious anthem of singles like Amen & Apocalyptic to the heavy-hitting Mayhem, there is once again not a single bad song on this record.  Lzzy’s voice is fantastically featured on the powerful ballad Dear Daughter as well as on my personal favorite (though it’s nigh impossible to choose) I Like It Heavy.  Some of my best memories from 2015 are definitely seeing Halestorm in concert twice, first at Carolina Rebellion in May & later on the Jagermeister Tour in September.  I might have initially been a little puzzled by Halestorm’s latest effort, but after a few listens I realized this record only solidifies why they are indeed my all-time favorite band.  Interestingly, this album was produced by Jay Joyce who has coincidentally produced all of Eric Church’s albums, & of course Halestorm toured a bit with Church in 2014 . . . Hmmm . . . Anyway, if you don’t check out any other albums on this list, be sure to make it this one.  You won’t regret it.

That’s it folks.  You have no excuse for not checking out some of these fabulous albums as I’ve so kindly provided links to my favorite songs off of each one. So enjoy them!  Cheers!

6 Reasons Why I’m British at Heart


There has been a curious absence of blogging activity here lately & for that I apologize.  But the holidays are a busy time of year, as we all know, especially if one is a nurse & holiday breaks by necessity don’t actually exist.  However, my husband & I did manage to see all of our families in Virginia, so it was a successful & enjoyable Christmas for us.  british flag

Anyway, it has occurred to me lately that while in actual fact I’m an American (& a Southerner at that), I’m really quite British at heart.  Here are a few reasons why I’ve come to that conclusion.

  1. Many of my favorite authors are British, particularly Agatha Christie & PD James.  I’m not nearly sophisticated enough to honestly say that I spend my leisure time reading such scholarly pieces as those written by Charlotte Bronte, Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, or Shakespeare, though those works certainly have their merits, but I can say that British literature was always my favorite in school, though there are certainly some great American writers as well of course.  But there is just something about the way British people write, the phrases they use, the innate dry humor that is so pervasive in their culture, that I just love so dearly & of which I can never, ever get enough.

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    Russell Brand on the Jonathan Ross show

  2. If you know me in real life, hopefully you know that I really love to laugh, quite often at my own clumsiness & general silliness.  In any case, most of my favorite comedians are British, namely Ricky Gervais, Russell Brand, Jonathan Ross, & Graham Norton.  If you’re an American, you’ve possibly never heard of any of these genius men, aside of course from Russell Brand.  But I implore you to proceed immediately to that place of great amusement called YouTube & research these gentlemen.  Specifically you should check out the Graham Norton show featuring Marilyn Manson, the Jonathan Ross show featuring Russell Brand, & Ricky Gervais on obesity & religion.  Additionally if you’re not following Ricky Gervais on Instagram, you are seriously missing out on some insanely hilarious pictures.  His account is one of the main reasons I finally broke down & created an Instagram account for myself this past week.  Furthermore Russell Brand’s autobiographies are some of the funniest but also most inspiring & well written books known to man.  (Indeed, reading them completely changed my views on the man.)

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    Here’s our adorable corgi obtaining great amusement out of a plastic water bottle.

  3. My favorite dogs in the world are welsh corgis.  Here’s a picture of ours, aptly named Chaucer (my husband actually chose that name after his favorite British author Geoffrey Chaucer).  I love all dogs, but with their stubby little legs, cheerful faces, fluffy butts, & never-ending playfulness, corgis are definitely the best.  It’s no wonder Queen Elizabeth owns so many of them.P1070747
  4. While I’ll confess it’s a new obsession for me, I’m extremely fond of hot tea.  Of course if I were truly British, I wouldn’t have to qualify it as “hot” tea, but being a Southerner I have to phrase it that way for fear of people assuming I mean iced tea which, shockingly, I have never liked.  Sometimes I even like my tea with milk in it.  And what could possibly be more British than that?

    tazo tea

    This stuff is what started my love affair with hot tea

  5. I’m very fond of certain words & phrases (though some of them I think more than I actually say) that are definitely British.  Here are a few of my favorites:
    1. Bloody
    2. Predilection (Americans use this too, but it’s not exactly a common word like it is in England.)
    3. Fancy (as in “I rather fancy a little honey in my tea” or “I’ve taken a fancy to that Indian buffet of late.”)
    4. Wanker
    5. Blimey
    6. Beastly
    7. Bollocks
    8. Gallivant
    9. Not my cup of tea
    10. Queer (NOT used to be mean gay/homosexual)

      british slang

      I don’t actually know/use all of these, but I love most of them & think we Americans should adopt them.

  6. And most importantly one of my dearest friends in the world is British . . . Which of course is the biggest reason why the UK is the number one place I want to visit as far as international travel goes.  I’m not exaggerating when I say that a part of my heart is across the Atlantic, which is why I’m so incredibly grateful for Facebook, WhatsApp, & Skype to help us stay in daily, sometimes hourly, contact.home elsewhere

In all seriousness though, I really do think I’d fit in quite well in England or the UK in general.  The idea of living somewhere with actual decent public transit sounds quite thrilling to me.  And of course London is easily recognized as one of the most culturally & ethnically diverse cities in the world, & it’s certainly quite loaded with Indian restaurants, which of course would make me feel right at home.  Additionally one of my great-great grandmothers hailed from Yorkshire, so at least part, if not most, of my ancestry is indeed British.

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My sister attended grad school in England; this is one of her pictures from her time there.

While I cannot say with great honesty that I am truly proud to be an American all the time, I am thankful to be an American because of the freedoms we have here . . . But there will always be a large part of me that feels British at heart.

BFMV

Oh, look! Another fabulous British thing: BFMV, a Welsh metal band who are seriously awesome.

In conclusion, the British are a people who created the phrase “How’s your father?” as a euphemism for sex.  That’s so absurd, it’s endearing!  I don’t know how one could read that & not become a bit of an Anglophile.

Cheers, everyone!  And happy 2016 to all ya lovely wankers reading my blog today.  I mean that in the most loving way possible, of course.  ;)

You Might Be a Nurse If . . .


I’ve done a similar post before, but I think this theme deserves to be revisited.

You might be a nurse (or other healthcare member) if . . .

  • You’re watching Sunday night football & every time you see the SNF logo, you think skilled nursing facility.
  • Being sick SUCKS because you always think of every worst case scenario known to mankind . . . because that’s how you have to think when you take care of other people for a living.nurse pic
  • You have absolutely no conception of what constitutes normal meal-time conversation . . . You mean sex & gross stories about all manner of bodily fluids & pooping aren’t normal dinner table topics?  Oops.
  • You read a friend’s post that starts off or ends with PTL & you wonder why they’re talking about pre-term labor.
  • Or you read PSA somewhere & your first thought is prostate specific antigen.nursing humor
  • You casually refer to medications by their classifications (such as NSAIDs, SSRIs, or PPIs) without realizing that the average person has no idea what you’re talking about. Sorry, guys.
  • You want to roll your eyes every time someone asks you what you’re doing for the holidays because the answer is almost always “working.”
  • You swear you can hear IV pumps beeping or telemetry alarms sounding in your sleep.IV-pump
  • You’ve walked in on someone masturbating & that person wasn’t a relative or roommate . . . Yep, this happens way more often than you might think.
  • You’ve discovered that seemingly frail elderly men (& women) can actually be very strong . . . & many of them really enjoy being nude . . .
  • Random people whom you haven’t really talked to in years message you to ask for health advice, sometimes about really private matters . . . But you don’t mind because in some strange way you feel honored that these folks trust you so much.today was a good day
  • You want to (or actually do) scream at the TV every time you see people on medical shows shocking patients in asystole! No!!
  • You’ve bought “old lady” compression hose at the pharmacy because you’re trying to prevent those unsightly varicose veins you have the pleasure of seeing all the time.
  • You’ve come back to work only to find that a patient you cared for a few days ago is now on isolation . . . Ughhhh.isolation
  • You’ve ever had to remind yourself that you don’t have to measure your OWN (or your pet’s) I&O (that’s intake & output).
  • Every time you hear 9-5’ers complaining about traffic, you can’t help but smile to yourself & think “you poor miserable chumps.”
  • On the other hand whenever someone says to you “Oh, it must be so easy to only work 3 days a week,” you kind of want to strangle them because they clearly have no idea how difficult those 3 days are. (That being said, I do love working only 3 days a week, & you definitely won’t see me looking for a 9-5 job any time soon, if ever.)
  • You have a list of doctors & nurses you never want to take care of you if/when you’re ever hospitalized . . . & another list of those you absolutely DO want to take care of you.
  • You’ve ever felt like a juggler, a waitress (or waiter), a baby-sitter, & a scribe . . . all within the first hour of your shift.nurse-cartoons-relevant-experience