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30.11.2009 - 30.11.2010
As the realization of the fact that I am soon leaving Germany slowly sinks in; I have been thinking about what I want from the next chapter in my life. Have I come to any conclusions? No, not really. I have said to myself many times and several times to others....'I'm going home to no car, no home, and no job' and although I am terrified about it, there is a certain amount of excitement and adrenaline that comes with it. I am constantly amazed at people and their kindness. I actually had someone here offer to let me use their car in the states until I can get on my feet. I declined the offer but it's interesting to note that it was offered.
Right now, my life is consumed with the constant barrage of paperwork. Between attempting to find a job to the process of leaving my employment with the DOD, I could fill a pick-up truck with the loads of paperwork that has been filled out, emailed, faxed and mailed. Sometimes I think that I actually thrive on the constant state of influx and not knowing what's happening next; other times it drives me crazy. (the previous was actually written a week or so ago and I am just now getting back to finishing).
I am currently finished with all the paperwork, sitting in front of the fire at the hotel with Aco at my feet with a bone to occupy her and a cup of coffee to content myself. It's very relaxing after nearly a month of constant stress and challenges thrown my way. I am done....finished....ready to start the next chapter.
It's a little sad. I have developed friendships with some that will always be with me. I am most sad about leaving my work. It's been a wonderful and rewarding experience working with our American soldiers both as patients as well as co-workers. I have seen several of our army nurses leave to go downrange and heard some of their stories and experiences. I have first hand witnessed what this war means to the military community and families and the sacrifices that they give. It has been an enlightening experience and one that I will never forget. A heartfelt thank you to all that serve.
Who knows what the next chapter will hold for me.... Life is full of experiences and I am happy that I am open to let life happen to me rather than dictate where my life will go. It's full of adventure if you open yourself up to it....sometimes the adventure isn't quite what you expected and I have often wondered about the adventure that is now closing. It will be interesting in 6 months, a year, 10 years....what my thoughts are about my experiences that I have had here in Germany. There have been times of struggle, sadness and bitterness but also of laughter, joy and surprise. With all the good and bad, I will cherish the experience that I have had.
07.09.2010 0 °F
Merely six days...not even a full week after all the summer visitors have gone home, I find myself reflecting on my life here in Germany. Friends and acquaintances make FB comments like; 'your so lucky', 'loving your adventures', ' wish I could be there!, 'Let me check......yep....still hate you ', ' I'm totally jealous...', 'I am so jealous of your life right now!!! :-)'.
I feel like a spoiled only child right now....I should be thrilled with the life that I am living but instead, I am sullen and missing all the things that I probably really don't want to be around anyway.
Germany has been a struggle for me from the beginning....I suffered from depression for the first time in my life. I don't know if it was simply being so far from home and family, the weather (it really was depressing), the huge pay-cut, or the chaos and struggles settling into working with the Army/Government. Whatever caused it, I finally understand what it is to be depressed and if anything good can be said about it, maybe I will be able to use this new understanding when dealing with my patients.
Traveling was my primary purpose in taking this position and I have traveled.... In the 9 months that I have been here, my travels include:
December: Trier Germany
January: Brussels and Brugge Belgium
February: Paris France & Brugge Belgium
March: Prague Czech Republic & Oslo Norway
April: Gdansk, Gdynia, Sopot Poland
May: Amsterdam Netherlands
June: Paris, France; Sardinia Italy; London England
July: Brussels, Luxembourg, Ireland
August: Brussels, Brugge, Prague, Karlov Vary and Scotland!
Now this is where the 'spoiled' child syndrome comes in: I'm not SATISFIED with the traveling that I have done. Not the number of places that I have been or the company that I have had or even the places themselves...the type of traveling is different; and I don't like it. It's been rushed and unplanned and spaced in the short few days of time off work and I never really feel like I have gotten 'away' and experienced the places that I have been.
I will admit that there have been a few memorable moments....I can distinctly remember the feeling in Oslo getting off the Metro and looking across the street realizing that I really did make it back to that wonderful bakery that I found the previous day and it still puts a smile on my face; The calmness that overcame me in Brugge when I was alone with just my camera and it started to pour rain as I watched the central square quickly become devoid of people; the closeness felt with Trinity while sitting on the curb eating a fried candy bar for the first time; the wonderful people that I have met along the way whether it's someone who briefly chatted on the bus or gave me direction in the subway or those that I was able to spend time with and forge the beginnings of friendships....
Even with the good memories, I'm not happy. I long to have a month free to wander like I did in Vietnam....staying as long as I wanted in each place and earnestly looking forward to the next. I hate having to wait for the work schedule to come out to see if I have time to go anywhere and paying twice the amount for the travel due to having to book it last minute. I miss the tourist tail of people coming from places that I am heading to give me advice on where to stay or towns/places to miss. I miss being a back-packer....yes, I'm older than the average back-packer but that's truly the life that I long for. Weekend vaca's are not for me....I long for the next extended trip.
I have been trying to figure out if I should go back 'home' since I got here. I say 'home' lightly because I don't literally mean my home where my family is but simply back to the life that I have lived for the past several years...travel nursing. Being able to not only travel the US while working but also able to satisfy the yearning for the extended trip (and being able to afford it).
My feelings have been torn on the issue of staying or leaving since the start. I love the work that I do here with the soldiers....not since working in home health with dying patients have I felt the satisfaction that I feel working with this unique group of patients. Their sacrifices are enormous and if I am able to give back just a fraction, it's fulfilling. I have learned so much since I've been here and met some wonderful people. However, on the flip side I am broke (making only 60% of what I was being paid in the states); I am lonely; and I want my old life back. I am coming home....
I've contacted recruiters and am working on getting a travel contract lined up for my return and am resigned to the fact that it's time to move on. I've given it a good shot but it isn't for me. I am trying very hard not to consider myself a failure in this venture which is difficult. There are a lot of places that I would love to travel to here that I'll miss out on this time around but there is always next time and maybe I'll be able to actually take the time to enjoy them.
I am planning to be back in the states in early/mid December. I hope to be able to travel directly from here to my first contract; which means that there will be no time for a family visit on my arrival. I figure if my family wants to see me, they can travel to me as easily as I can travel to them. Come March....I will hopefully have time to spend a few weeks catching up with everyone. In the meantime, I will be working and saving and planning the next extended trip.....
I haven't told my boss at work yet, that will happen next week after I talk to personnel and find out what act of God it's going to take to get everything arranged for me to leave.
I feel lightened by my decision so I am confident that it's the right decision. Tons of stuff to do in the meantime and hope to take one more trip before I go (finances permitting).
05.08.2010 - 18.08.2010
Wow...it's been a while since I posted and so much has happened. Jeni and Teresa both arrived without any issues just after I sent Trinity through Customs control at Frankfurt airport. It was a bit of a tearful goodbye. I just really didn't want to see her leave this time.
Since then...it's been non-stop! Work...travel....work...travel....work...and I think there might have been a bit of sleep in there somewhere!?! Jens back home now in sunny California and Teresa is recouperating and planning our Scotland trip while I am working the next few days.
We had a lovely pass-through and lunch trip through Karlov Vary in the Czech Republic then jaunted on toward Prague. We choose a lovely little bar for lunch and ended up with enough food to feed at least three families with only the three of us to eat it...needless to say, there was plenty left behind. It was delicious and the waitress was a kind and patient local woman who gave us much needed assistance with deciphering the menu. I got to have a Czech beer that I had been craving since my last trip and it didn't disappoint.
On our arrival, we followed the sounds of a band playing which led us to a bridge overpass near the river. There was a band playing under the overpass and we enjoyed listening for a few minutes...until they asked us to pay 'admission'. If I had been traveling alone, I might have paid and had a few beers and listened to the band but we were on a mission to find food and get to Prague so off we went.
Karlov Vary is a quaint town and would be a great place to return for a longer visit. Maybe even seek out the spas that it is so well know for.
Prague was just as inviting and beautiful as I had remembered. Teresa scored us a great place for the first two nights....a HUGE hotel room with separate sleeping room and a great location close to the Old Town. Aco was with us and had plenty of room to romp and play.
Two full days of walking around the city and we were all exhausted. Day one, we took the free Sandeman's tour and not having enough, on the second day we took another Sandeman's tour; a castle tour this time...it was great...however, I would NOT recommend two of these walking tours back to back. Our feet were on fire! Just a bit much for us in the 'older' crowd! haha Having been to Prague before, I was surprised that there was still so much that I didn't see during my first visit. It was lke seeing the city again for the first time....some things were familiar though; like the coffee shop that Switzer and I had fab desert and coffee to warm up on the cold winter day that we visited.
I still didn't get to the Black Light theater or the Marrionette theater but that just gives me an excuse to return!
Back home and a few more days of work for me; a few wine-tour drives for the girls (one of which they were actually able to find some wine) haha. Then we were off to Belgium....
We breezed through Brussels on our way to Bruge. The Flower Carpet was on the iteniary. It only happens once every two years and I wanted to see it. The girls obliged and it was a bit less than exciting. The flowers had already begun to wilt and the crowd was so crazy that you could barely see it without standing in line for hours to get on one of the balconey's above. You know how excited I am about lines, right? Well, needless to say; we didn't stand in line for the balcony and were content with the view from the ground.
Weaving through the crowds; we made our way to the Maniquen di Pis. Disappointment was clear on Jen's face as she muttered 'is that it?'. I think that is most everyone's opinion when they see it. We indulged in a waffel from one of the street side vendors and as always it was wonderful. We were soon back on the road headed to Brugge...
I LOVE BRUGGE I LOVE BRUGGE I LOVE BRUGGE I LOVE BRUGGE I LOVE BRUGGE I LOVE BRUGGE I LOVE BRUGGE I LOVE BRUGGE I LOVE BRUGGE I LOVE BRUGGE I LOVE BRUGGE I LOVE BRUGGE I LOVE BRUGGE I LOVE BRUGGE
Sorry, got a little over-excited; but really, I do love Brugge. It's such a wonderful place and I immediately felt stress-free on our arrival. The canals and bridges and cobblestone streets and beautiful buildings....it all makes me happy. Now, if I could transplant Prague's beer into Brugge it would be perfect. Yes, Belgian beer is actually quite good but I still think that the Czech beer is far superior!
There isn't anything that really stands out as something to write about from the trip to Brugge...I'll suffice it to say that we had a wonderful time wandering the streets, taking pictures, eating chocolate and drinking beer (well, I drank beer). Our last day, we decided to take a drive out to the North Sea. We were so close to the coast and I had never been and really wanted to see it....
The North Sea....was ANGRY! Really, the wind was crazy and nearly knocked us off our feet as we attempted to walk in the rain with umbrellas in hand (Teresa's got broken by the wind and I wish that I could have gotten it on camera...it was priceless). As we were being blown down the road on our arrival, we flew into a bike rental place and I asked to rent bikes (totally joking)...the boys behind the counter looked at me as if I were a crazy woman and asked 'today?'. I couldn't help but crack up...just couldn't keep up the rouse. We got a quick coffee at a local diner and watched the wind and rain outside and got back to the car and headed up the coast a bit further.
Our next stop had a peir out to the sea with a pot of mussels for Jen which we all shared (Teresa didn't indulge much). Back to the hotel we ended our day with an early dinner and bed....
I am now back to work for a few days then Teresa and I are headed to Scotland for one last jaunt before she leaves......
Click HERE for pictures!