Sunday, October 16, 2011

Aching bum.

I know I should not complain, I don't want to whine, but I have one problem with school-I sit too much!  I've been sitting in the same spot today for the last nine hours working on a research project and the bummer is, I've spent way too much time for what this project is really worth.  Sometimes these theory classes feel petty.  I received advice at the very beginning of this program from a gal who was about to graduate from the same.  Her advice, "Trust the system."  I thought she meant something like, "Don't worry, it will seem fast, but you'll have the beginnings of what you need."  Now I'm wondering if she means, "Trust that what you don't think you need to know (blah blah theory) will actually be beneficial to you over all."  Right.  Ok.  So, my bum still hurts.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011


Because this is the mood I'm in these days, country in my ears!

Sunday, October 09, 2011

I'm here. Same blog, only updated!

I used to post on the ol' blog more regularly.  As it turns out, it's a great place to share thoughts, life happenings, inspirations, and to archive this trip from here to there.  I've been partially paralyzed with this little part of my life, posting blogs, after putting closure on the first blog (Journey Forth) and attempting to start fresh with a new one.  I could have just continued, but was in need of a change, perhaps some distance, as I began what felt and feels like a significant life shift, nursing school.

Still, it's me.  The same life.  Merely a continuation with innumerable threads closing the divide between old and new.  So, after attempts with a new blog, I've returned to the same one, simply giving it a new look.  It's nice to keep continuity.  I struggled after returning from Guatemala and jumping into school.  In short, it caused a "before and after" affect in my life.  Many daily activities and routines changed with a heart touched and a new nursing student schedule.  I functioned outwardly, but didn't know what to do with the "feelings."  I still don't.  Life feels a bit ragged at points.  I talk, but it feels lonely.  In those ways, it's still hard and I tend to turn inward thinking that will make this year, a life consumed with books and study, pass rapidly.  And that somehow emotions and other things will just fall away or into place.  So, school has come in good timing if I'm going to turn inward…STUDY!  The reality is, I don't want this year to pass quickly, I just don't want the pain associated with these changes.  And, I think, I feel like the more involved/consumed I am here, the more I forget about my Guatemala loves.  I don't want to forget.  Oh, I'm still functioning quite well and enjoying life.  But, I still think I'm ready to leave PDX after school.  We shall see.  I trust.

I've often wanted to share things on here (of course really more for myself as a place to speak and feel heard-even if no one is listening), but life has been occupied by both good things and stupid things.  The stupid being the mindless activities, the time-wasters that are still often necessary to give my head a study break.  One of those "time-wasters" is facebook.  It's used for both pleasure and school, but I have this recurring sense that it is on its way out of my life.  It's become very impersonal, a facade of relational connectedness, and well I'm looking for some better ways to spend my "time-waster" time.  Other things that fall into this category would be things that give me a quick release from studying drugs and pathophysiological processes, like "The Office" or getting on here to write and release the reverberating clanging that goes on between my ears.  I've heard of and had conversations with others who share the same thoughts about facebook.  Nevertheless, it is a tool for communication.  

So, what will become of this "face-lifted" Journey Forth?  We shall see.  I just know I miss having this outlet, it feels personal and I feel free to share here and not expect any response.  I'm back.  The blog appears a bit different and has a new tag line, "this long passing." Inspiration for this, this being "this long passing," came from the line of a song that impressed me.  Have a listen, "Jesus draw me ever nearer."  Inspiration also came from a question one of the nursing faculty posed last quarter during an optional lecture on self-care.  The question, "It's just one year, what does one year mean to you?"  Initially, I responded by jumping in deep and holding my breath.  I have since realized that I actually have to come up to breath during this 15 month program.  I'm finding small ways to do that, like taking a walk on a Saturday in October because the sun is out and will most likely be making fewer and fewer appearances.  I welcome the gray and the rain.  Seasons are good for me, each season bringing renewed perseverance and I need it!

Costa Rica, Sunrise, March 2006  
End note:  I transferred posts from the attempted new blog to this blog.  They are below.

Another end note:  This photo really has nothing to do with this particular post.  I shared it as part of a school assignment on hope (sharing true/false hope with our patients).  The sunrise does something in my heart I can't capture with words.  It's promising, and hope rises in that promise.  May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him. -Romans 15:13a

M & E

Maria Y Estephania

Yep, that's right Maria and me.  My name is Estefania when I'm at Prince of Peace and if you look closely you'll see our friendship bracelets, hers with the "M", mine with the "E".  You can read a bit more about Maria's story here.  I've talked about her before, maybe you'll recall, but had no idea she would continue to drastically transform as she has.  She is proving herself a pre-teen!  I was greeted by her and a few other chicas in Casa B with a trumpeting, "EEEEEESSSSSSTTTTTEEEEPPPHHHHAAANNNIIIAAA!!!!" Followed by a WHOLE LOT of screaming and giggling.  It's beautiful.  It's hard to remember how quiet and hollow she first seemed.  Her Spanish is amazing!  I asked her this time (and she is not at all shy to speak!), "Your Spanish is great, Maria!  Did you know Spanish before you arrived?"  She smiled, a bit shyly and nods, yes.  I winked and gave her a squeeze.  I was under the impression she only spoke her native dialect based on a few conversations with staff and because she just didn't talk in the beginning and then only a tiny bit when she did speak.  I know kids pick up language quickly, but she is rattling off like it's nothing new…and apparently it is not!! ...though maybe not the language she used in her home environment.  

On with the story!

When I arrived to Casa B, the girls sat me down on the porch and proceeded to ask questions and play games.  Maria sat right next to me and would not let go of my hand.  Eventually she got up, told me to wait, and then ran off into the house.  She came back with the above bracelet with an "E" which she'd made for me.  WOW!  Sweetest gift, it's currently on my wrist.  The back story is her bracelet.  Many of the girls have those bracelets with their initials in them.  When I was in Antigua with a team back in April, I saw those bracelets and thought of Maria.  She didn't wear any and I thought it would be a sweet little surprise and act of love to try and break through to this (previously) shy girl.  When I showed up this time, she had it on and she had one for me!  

This picture is from the night we ran for freedom.  I was running along with the girls, busy snapping as many pictures as I could (this was A MOMENT TO REMEMBER!) and suddenly felt a hand grab a hold of mine.  I looked down and there she was with Daniela, both faces covered with huge smiles.  The three of us ran along holding hands for quite some time and, being sentimental at moments in my life, I realized I wanted a picture of this.  I want to remember the transformation I've watched in Maria's life.  I want to remember that it's small things like bracelets that make the best gifts.  I want to remember these girls are FULL of love and at the same time, they need to be shown love.  And I want to remember that it is often in the times we have no great or amazing intention, that our intention makes a lasting impact.  

We Ran for Freedom

I have black lines on my body from the blend of smog and sweat, we ran for freedom.  Whistles blasted ‘til my left ear rang even louder, we ran for freedom.  Girls chanted and sang and shouted at the cars and buses as they passed by, we ran for freedom.  My lungs burned with the fumes of diesel exhaust as those buses blew plumes of black dust in our faces, we ran for freedom.  Sandwiched between the Taurus and the bus, we ran for freedom.  Old men passed by in their shiny cars and bellowed out the window, “Vive Guatemala!” throwing fists in the air, we ran for freedom.  Smiles donned by passersby spoke volumes and increased the volume of chanting, we ran for freedom.  Pride hung in the air as thick as that plume of exhaust, we ran for freedom.  Cars honked –ta-ta-te-te-ta- enough times to cause me to wonder if this is possibly a part of Guate’s national anthem, we ran for freedom.  Fireworks burst in the air as we crossed into Principe de Paz (It does not need to be independence day for fireworks, that is merely coincidence.), we ran for freedom.

It’s called the “freedom run” (from what I understand) and it’s tradition here in Guatemala the day before they celebrate their independence.  Tomorrow, 15 de septiembre, marks the 190th year for Guatemala and tonight, as we ran through the big, loud cuidad de Guatemala, you would-a-thunk it happened just 10 years ago.  These girls ran over 8km! (This is a correction-I was just informed it was 10 miles!) They are exhausted, SWEATY, hungry, and wearing enormous smiles.

The staff was AWESOME tonight as they ran alongside the girls, many girls taking turns carrying two torches on the way back home.  Tomorrow, some of their families will arrive to the home and celebrate while the girls perform traditional songs and dances.  It is a festive week here in Guate, unexpectedly festive, and I feel immense privilege at the opportunity to accompany these girls, staff, and Guatemalans as they celebrate their country’s freedom.  


I was a lifeguard for a period of time in college.  It's not as glamorous as you might initially think.  I distinctly remember needing to clear the pool on more than one occasion (during peak times) because we found feces either floating or at the bottom of the pool…who's eating their fiber!?!  Along with the territory of lifeguarding came swimming lessons and thus teaching various strokes.  The sidestroke is one I especially like(d) and I personally think takes coordination and comfort; coordination to get the scissor kick and arm stroke just right in order to glide quickly and smoothly through the water and comfort because you can't hold your head above water to work efficiently.  You must be comfortable relaxing in such a way that your mouth and eye are just barely above water.  I'm not an expert so don't go calling your swim instructor, but that's what I learned and what I remember.  The sidestroke was also a stroke I often used when I was exhausted and needed rest, but still needed to keep moving and stay afloat (the back stroke also was a good back-up plan).  I think there are going to be times in this next quarter when I am definitely going to need to bring in a little swim wisdom, my sidestroke.  I went into the hospital today and though we have not yet been assigned any patients, I KNOW it is going to be exhausting-learning on top of feeling inadequate and a definite novice, thinking and being on my toes consistently, being uber aware, growing (we all know growing can be somewhat painful)…I've decided there will be plenty of opportunity to implement the sidestroke.  Coordination and comfort when it gets tiring, mind boggling, and I need to keep moving forward, but need some rest along the way.  There have already been life and scheduling changes I knew would happen, but that have "felt" different than I expected.

It's early, but tonight I'm going to practice the sidestroke and I'm calling it a night.  Sweet dreams swimmers.

This picture is worth a thousand words.

Guate-February 2011 

It hangs on my wall in a collage of photos from Guatemala.  When I see it, I'm struck.  Something kicks in and I think, "I know what I'm supposed to do."  God thanks for opening doors to OHSU.  

Saturday, October 08, 2011


A drip of goodness in a hot cup of coffee, a sweet rush of wind on a laborious run, the smell of summer in freshly cut grass, a wave from a fellow runner on an early morning run, a real hug from another-there are certain things I find quite refreshing.  Those certain things I like to wrap my thoughts around and walk a ways with them.  When this happens, I actually think I'm asking myself (though formally it is never phrased into a question), "Why is your soul stirred?"  Often, it causes a hope to rise.  The glimmer of hope this morning is straight from His word.

"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit."  -Romans 15:13

Overflowing with hope, what might that look like in the business of living when life often feels chaotic and some things go unfinished? Hope, hope, hope.  The God of hope is good to fill me with hope…I cling to this Hope.


Of course today/tonight would be the time I'm-literally-bursting-at-the-seams!  Yes, of course it would be tonight because tomorrow is our first midterm in this accelerated program, Clinical Pharmacology.  Here's a free tip, black licorice will counter-act your prescription for hypertension.  Eat in moderation.

This week we are learning about Motivational Interviewing and how to use therapeutic language to help our clients move toward behavior change, quitting smoking, for example.  All that is actually not the point. (This is going to be long and I feel rushed trying to spit it out onto this cyber page.  That is actually my point.  I feel rushed.)  During the time with my partner, I discovered I'm still a broken mess over Guatemala.  The whole thing came out of hiding.  We didn't have to share anything real, it was more a practice of asking open-ended questions, gathering information, guiding, etc., but there it was and I spilled it all over.  What a wonder, the gal I was working with just recently spent time serving children with AIDS and TB in Africa.  Sure, much of my brokenness has to do with those girls and missing them, but some of it has to do with what God was doing in my life there and not wanting to cut that short-by way of leaving out sacred space for Him to move and speak and change me.  I actually feel like this year is not only learning about nursing, it's a continuation of freeing myself from the chains that hinder a fully free life in Christ.  I feel a great sense of duty to do well in school, the change I feel and see happening is that I feel an even greater sense of desire to walk lightly in this world, providing a fresh cup of water rather than a glass with a few drops of water clinging to the side.  That second glass has more to do with me worried about myself making it through this or that, getting this project done, getting an A etc!  I've actually been telling myself, this is not about getting all A's.  That is just so empty.  I hope for a C, ok would rather a B, and if an A came along I won't refuse it, but I will not spend countless hours studying ALL THE TIME for an A.  I WILL SPEND COUNTLESS HOURS STUDYING so that I might touch a life with kindness, and a cup of fresh water.

Much of life for me seems to be either lived in what I call "frantic" mode or "chilled out."  Some of you have no idea what my frantic mode looks like, some of you are well aware of it because you've seen the inside Steph.  I don't know if I hide it well from others or if I just kid myself and think I'm being discrete.  Regardless of who sees it, that is less and less of what matters.  What I'm realizing is that I often tell myself, "Once this or this is done, THEN I can relax/slowdown/let myself fall" etc.  I spent some chilled out time in Guatemala and I am now FED UP with living a life that feels FRANTIC…sorta like your insides are being squeezed and every bit of peace vacates the premise for a brief period of time.  The difficulty is that I very rapidly shift from frantic to chilled out.  I mean it's a matter of seconds and I can tail spin into a flurry of madness and task master.  It takes me a conscious thought and a little effort (a lot less than it used to) to move toward chillin'.  My thought has always been, just let me finish this and then I can be fully present. I don't want to discount that last sentence, it is often true.  The problem is, it does not always need to be true.  And I am slowly learning, through aching errors, that I need to let go a little bit more.  This freaks me out!  I just started this intense nursing program and I'm thinking about implementing a little more carelessness into my life.  What???  Yeah, I'm in.  I jumped through the hoops to get into school and I'm done.  I really am.  I TRUST FULLY that my God opened this door for me and that HIS plans for what happen after these next 15, no wait one month already done, these next 14 months are more about serving selflessly, letting my life be moved away.

I'm going to say this and I'm sure you won't be surprised, but I feel like my time in Portland is short, for a few reasons.  One, OHSU is an awesome nursing program and Portland is not lacking in many great programs.  Bottom line, the nursing market does not look good in Portland.  So, maybe I'll stay here if opportunity comes with my clinical rotations, but I'm not holding my breath.  Two, eventually, you'll see me leave the country for periods of time.  I don't have any more of the details or I'd be willing to share.  I just know it and actually believe it is PRECISELY why I'm in school.  Where?  What?  How?  I'm waiting.  It might be 10 years, but eventually I see a beautiful marriage between the Spanish language and nursing skills

Enough for now-still, I want to be still.  And I should be a bit studious the night before an exam.  :)