Tomorrow I start a 13 week contract at a hospital I worked at in December of 2014. It was an assignment that I took last minute, and which moved me from the Bay area to Los Angeles. At the time I was planning on staying 13 weeks, making some money, and then going back up north where traditionally the travel money is better. That was three years ago, and here I sit in my own West Hollywood apartment.
The contract this time was again last minute after a sudden change at a previous assignment. Such is the life of a travel nurse. Let's get the "I'm dreading-s" out of the way real quick. It's night shift, both a pro and a con because night-shift people are my people. Working night shifts is my absolute jam. Love everything about it. The reason it's in the dreading section is that my days off (four per week, so a majority my life) I feel like death warmed over and the only thing I have the energy to do is make it from my bed to the couch. It also means that I'll be precisely in the center of LA rush hour traffic -both getting to and home from work. It's only 17.6 miles, but in LA we don't measure distance in miles, we measure it in time. Which means it's approximately two hours away. No joke. Also, I hated the hospital. Since leaving the first assignment I had there I have deterred several nurses from going there because "it's an unsafe 3rd world refugee camp, an absolute danger zone for your license."
Now, because I like to focus on the positive, let's count the blessings. First of all, it's a job. And it pays well. The travel options are rough right now for some reason. There are many travelers who don't have a contract at all. I'm extremely blessed to have a job, let alone to have a job that let's me stay in the city I've fallen in love with --I don't have to move, change my yoga studio, hair team, coffee shop, the palm trees, the near-continual sunshine, meal-delivery plan, etc. Second of all, I loved the people that I worked with when I was there before. Third of all, the travel nurses mantra, "it's only 13 weeks. I can do anything for 13 weeks." Bonus for me, at the end of these 13 weeks I get to go to a much-anticipated yoga retreat in Bali. So there's that to look forward to.
Continuing the list of blessings, I'll get to make my own schedule for the most part. Which means that I can sign up to work every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. This is beneficial for several reasons. With the exception of getting to work Friday night, and home Monday morning, my commute will go from 2 hours to 45ish minutes. Which means more sleep for me. Also, in the world of people who routinely work weekends, pro-tip: doing shit on the weekends SUCKS!! Seriously. Going to target Saturday afternoon? No thanks. Try getting to the beach on a Sunday --way to crowded, and let's not even talk about the traffic. Dinner reservations on a Friday night? Ugh no thanks. All of these things are SO MUCH MORE ENJOYABLE Monday-Thursday when the rest of you souls are not doing them because you are at work or have to be at work early in the morning. So. Make my own schedule, work weekends, better commute, blissful days of complete freedom during the week.
This I broke down in my head fairly quickly after agreeing to the contract. What's getting to me now is trying to decide if it feels like a big step backwards. I was a COMPLETELY different person when I moved to my little apartment on the beach three years ago. The girl that moved to Hermosa beach was one who was relatively unsure of this new life she was fluffing out for herself. Not sure who she was or where she wanted her life to go.
The nurse that is going back is worlds more confident, sure of herself, four sizes smaller, her complexion is clear, her skin is soft and smooth, her eyelashes are longer, she laughs more, she smiles more. She's healthier & happier in all ways. She knows who she is and she loves herself. She's also debt free. That one was a goal she'd been working toward since traveling again. Everything else can be traced back to one tiny dot. The tip of the teeter-totter that swung my life in a better direction was a single visit to a hair salon. I'm not joking.
The day I walked in to Nine Zero One salon changed my life. My hair was a mess. It was long and heavy and split-in-not-just-the-ends. the color was dull and lifeless. It was literally doing NOTHING for me. I walked in and I was nervous. Nervous that I wasn't good enough or 'cool' enough or 'pretty' enough to be there. After all, it's a salon for famous people. The girls at the front desk greeted me with genuine smiles and brought me back to the lounge to change into a 901 robe and wait for my stylists. I was instantly put at ease. I put the robe on and couldn't help but grin. This was a bucket-list item for me. Something I had to splurge on while I was in LA --getting my hair done at one of the premiere salons in the nation. I put the robe on, I waited with small bursts of residual nerves, and was eventually called back. I sat in Tim's chair and all traces of nervousness evaporated. Tim and Tabitha asked what we were doing cut and color wise and what I was thinking. I said I wanted to try a balayage for the color and to take several inches of the unhealthy part of my hair off but that I was open to suggestion. Talking to them was easy, I shouldn't have been surprised, but I honestly was. There wasn't a single note of pretension anywhere in the salon. Every single person there loved what they did and it showed. They all smiled, they all laughed and they all took an interest in YOU. I thought I would die when the salon owner (whom I had religiously instagram-stalked for years) came over and put her hands in my hair and told me what great hair I had and made sure I was happy, and told me how wonderful it was looking. Before I left the salon with a head full of gorgeous hair, my life had literally been transformed. Several people while I was there looked me in the eye and told me with all sincerity that I was beautiful. I was not only told I was beautiful, but made to FEEL it. I WAS beautiful. And I was beautiful because I was me. I gained so much confidence and put effort into my appearance, because I'm worth it. My hair is healthy, beautiful, and SO well taken care of. And not only was I worthy of taking care of my hair, I was worthy of being healthy, exercising, and loving life. Needless to say the salon went from a bucket-list item to a necessity I will commute to no matter what time zone I'm living in.
I discovered hot yoga which changed my life in ways I can't adequately quantify. I learned to breathe. I learned to be. And to be still. I learned to be soft, I learned to be strong. I learned that you never know what you show up with each day until you try. I learned I'm stronger than I think. I learned that my body is amazing and capable of so much more than I give it credit for. My mind is healthy and calm, my body is fit and strong, my life as a complete whole is just... GOOD.
I've read countless books, been to two different countries, made SO many new and amazing friends, and I'm really just reflecting what a difference a few years can make. It's so strange to feel like you're starting over in a place you were at three years ago, but at the same time going back as a whole new person so it's really not starting over at all. I'm excited to see where this 13 weeks takes me, and how the people I left there three years ago have changed as well. Cheers to changes, cheers to growth, cheers to 13 weeks until Bali!!!
The nurse that left:
And the one that's going back: