Ellie

My story.

Struck down, but not destroyed

Taking the time to stop and smell the roses. Let my hair down.

I’ll tell you.

I slipped into my running shorts, slowly indulging in the pockets of cold air that touched my hot skin “Ahhh” I moaned, still slightly disoriented from the cold I contracted over spring break spiking up a fever every now and then.  I utilized whatever strength I had left from the last 48 hours of my immune system draining the life out of me and I pulled my hair into a medium height pony tail, grabbed my hat, headphones, protective knife, powerade and shoved it all into my purse as I walked out of my house to run 10 miles.

On my drive to the hiking trail I tried to deconstruct the mental state I was in during the nights I’d spend hiking up that mountain alone after an 8 hour clinical shift tired, but motivated to clear my head of the day’s stress before I shift into study mode.  I tried to channel that state of mind again today, my logic being, “Let’s sweat this cold out” since it’s all upper respiratory.

Nursing school does this to me, it turns me inside out and it’s a lot of mental, physical and spiritual stress.  Running temporarily releases me and clears my head of the assignments, community service and clinical hours, it refocuses me and renews my spirit.  

I stepped foot on a familiar path, rugged terrain brushing up against my shoes.  This hike felt farfetched to me because I don’t think that I’ve ever been up here so late.  I was making good time running the route that I normally power walk.  Passerbys waving at me as I made my way up the trail.  Every couple of feet I’d look back and I’d see the multifaceted array of lights cutting through the darkness blanketing itself over the city. The cold air filled my lungs as I made my way up to the waterfall, the sweet scent of spring accompanied the sight making the experience even more pleasant.  I ran the trail, drove home and ran another five miles. 

My feet hit the pavement in an effortless stride to juxtapose the once enduring experience; I pride myself on my improvement, I’ve gotten faster.  I was reaching runners high as cars honked at me while I moved quickly underneath the bridge of the freeway.  This route I knew like the back of my hand and I relished in the freedom in it all, basking in the simplicity of running.  My spirit renewed, my mind clear and refocused, it’s a time when I’m free.  I shifted my speed and something crossed my mind, something important to me. “Why are you going to nursing school if it’s taking this much out of you?” 

I spun around making sure no one was following me, it was dark now, broken streetlights surrounding me. My mind transition into a different setting, not one I’ve ever been in, but one I think about all the time; one of poverty, dirt, and pain. Just the thought of life in a third world country hits nerves throughout my body that spiral out of control.  Ones that radiate from deep within creating some sort of a systemic effect on me, upsetting me as I wipe tears from my face whenever I meticulously think it through from time to time.  I don’t know why this happens, and I don’t know why I think about it, but I always believed my missionary great-grand parents had something to with it.  Probably praying for their first great grandchild to have a sensitive heart for these people, just as they did.

Dust spun around as humid air took residence in an area that served as a breeding ground for bacteria lurking for sustenance, prepared to find its host. Frail elderly men and women accompanying infants with bulging stomachs walked slowly in a sick, helpless gait and in obvious disorienting pain as shown by the on-again off-again grimace of malnutrition painted across their faces. Parasites and disease threatening their household.  No sense of stable security while trying to forge solace in homes unable to properly withstand rain, hail, wind, and flood.  Then hope knocks on the door, the promise of money in exchange for the sick to trade in their daughters for the funding they need to nurse back to health the head of the household. A down-spiral from that point on in exchange for a lifetime of mental, physical and spiritual abuse.  Their logic being it’s for the better good of the household, in order to achieve the money to fund medication for the head, the only individual capable for providing for the rest of the family at home. For food they haven’t seen in days.  For clean garments.  Some leeway even.  For the man of the house to regain health so he can continue making a shitty 10 cents a day for the other 8 children at home. 

This is what I think about from time to time.  Their condition, the preventable disease, their pain.  My passion. 

So in the morning when I’m in my air conditioned room, in a house with a pantry filled with food, faucets that run clean water and a security system that wards intruders, and my head drops, my eyes are heavy and I’m feeling the effects of night-after-night of being on every. energy. drink. known to mankind; I think back to my night run, and I remember the feeling I felt time-and-time again when I think of these people. 

"Working hard for something we don’t care about is called stress.  Working for something we love is called passion."  

Fuck the money.  You can have it. They’re all I care about at this point in my life and I’m working hard to help them one day.

-E.J. Dingle.

It’s a terrible feeling to have your character painted black like that.

Meaningful.

I’m sitting in the same spot I always sit in. Golden hues dancing through strands of my hair, the sun gleaming in fragmented parts, sparkling like gems in the areas it chooses to be intertwined in. I’m reveling in the early bloom of spring, breathing in freshness that new plants manifest.  The new bloom oxidizes the air with a sweet fragrance that rose bushes bring without fail every year.   The wind is picking up again wafting the sweet scent towards me, and my un straightened mane flows in the direction of its liking.   My papers flutter, my arms cold from the sudden change in temperature so I pick up my things and decide it necessary to have a change in environment.

Focus.

A mindset neglected by the individual who believes it to be an innate characteristic by the disciplined few rather than a privilege that is achieved. 

I didn’t know anyone as focused or as disciplined as I once was, but that all changed with exogenous influences and bad decisions.  I look back and I don’t regret anything, but I’d rather think of my decisions as life experiences that I wish I experienced outside of nursing school. I can’t wrap my mind around how some people live like that day-in and day-out.  The party life is not for me.  My identity revolves around marathon running, nursing school, nature, concepts opposite of the things I was experiencing.  My identity consists of a slightly neurotic health nut  underweight for her height, an on again off again vegetarian and a daughter of Christ.  I’m someone with a conscience who provides food to all homeless individuals she sees befriending even the coldest of hearts.

I’m the designated driver most of the time, the person doing really well in all her classes, who prioritizes and gets her work done in a timely manner; this is who I am.  That person I was these past 8 or so months ago, I don’t know who she was, but I want nothing to do with that lifestyle.  Boundaries are now set and doing those things in moderation is more my style.  I’m so happy I’m regaining what I believe is mine.  I’m working on all aspects in my life achieved through discipline.  I’m never looking back, I’m running as far away from that as I can, still grateful for the experience but smart enough to realize it’s not for me.  I choose the responsible life, proud of my work as opposed to being a reckless, party girl, going out all the time; it’s not worth it.

Coming from a strict family consisting of a war veteran-like father, I don’t blame myself for partying like I did.  That’s what happens when you micromanage your children.  Despite that, I know how I want to live my life and it’s a life I can be proud of, a life of accomplishment where I can go home at night knowing I did something meaningful.  Now I’m in a new relationship, with a guy from the medical field, I have four children living in my aquarium tank; Mr. Miyagi and Merlin my african dwarf frogs, Bunny & Spot my molly fish; Spot is expecting.  

I’ve achieved my goal of running 100 miles for January 2014 and I’m continuously running almost everyday at least 5 miles.  I’m proud of myself for losing so much body fat in exchange for lean muscle.  I look good, not quite underweight like I once was, but I like my new body now better.

I’m blessed.