*A new location for past due news!
A friend of mine once told me that any circus clown knows the secret to juggling successfully is focusing on the apex of their toss rather than the individual balls, or chainsaws if that’s what you’re into. The flow is interrupted when they try to focus on just one of the objects, so they rely on their peripheral vision, muscle memory, and experience to adjust when they need to. I haven’t joined the circus yet and don’t have the bones to buy three chainsaws, but over the past months I’ve seen that life can get rather messy when I focus on what I’m tossing around rather than picking my chins up and focusing on the apex.
One of the bigger things I have in hand this year is paramedic school. My eleven classmates and I started our eleven month journey last August. Now, eight of us are less than sixty days to finishing! I knew going into the program that it was going to be an uphill battle but I figured as long as I paced myself slow and steady everything would be just fine. Turns out, however, paramedic school doesn’t do slow and steady. It does minimum requirements and chapter quizzes on top of field paperwork and essays along side of practicing on real patients. All together it puts drivers’ training sophomore year to shame.
The workload is generally broken into three different sections: classwork, skills lab, and clinical shifts. The three sections individually are fairly manageable. Classwork involves the typical reading and lectures on important content with exams. Skills lab is when we get to practice skills on manicans, raw chicken, fruit, and, on the really fun days, each other under the supervision of our instructors. Then, on top of both of those we have to report to floors all around the hospital and to the ambulance to participate in patient care on real people according to the information we learned in class and labs. Remember back in October when I compared paramedic school to sitting in a sauna with a snowsuit on while eating spicy cheetos? Well, with two semesters down and one left to go, I don’t think the sauna sounds half bad anymore! *wipes sweat from brow*
I’ll be the first to admit that school is probably not as bad as I think it is, but because everything moves so quickly, and all at once, there is an underlying whisper of failure that’s always in the back of my head. It’s like a constant thought that one wrong move and all my hard work is all over. I think back to when I was a kid and we would play in the Yellowstone River, Dad always reminded Paul and I to be careful of the undercurrent because you never knew when it would suck you under. We never could feel the undercurrent, but it seemed as if it was always there ready to drown us. The pressure of not finishing school or not passing is like that, never something tangible yet still present. I suppose it could be linked to an underlying thought that I’m not good enough in general or maybe just some extra motivation to get my work done!
Outside of school I’ve been working part time at a home for clients who struggle with both mental illness and addictions. These people have been diagnosed with mental illnesses that they have attempted to self medicate with drugs and alcohol. The program that they are going through is an individual dual-recovery, so they are not punished by house staff for using illicit substances but rather kept safe and dignified. My job is to encourage the clients to make better decisions and be someone they can talk to about their day. My shift is from 10pm to 3am, so most of my interactions are when the clients go out for smokes or are having trouble sleeping, but sometimes I still get to have some good conversations.
I’ve also been spending time with a group of high schoolers at the church. They meet Sunday afternoons for youth group and I try to be there as much as I can be to help out or just be another ear to listen. We had a fall retreat this fall and the theme was “Own it” because we wanted to share with our kids that the faith they have is theirs! My partner in crime and I assembled a team of UMary students to lead activities and give talks, and the whole experience was such an amazing opportunity to grow in our own faiths as well as getting to lead others a little deeper into their faith. We also went on a ski trip to Montana, saw some movies, loss some sleep during a Holy Thursday lock in, and most importantly have spent time getting to encourage and love one another. In the end it’s all about Jesus and through the year I can only hope that they’ve seen the love of God through me because I have certainly been overwhelmed with the joy and love that they show me.
So, as these updates usually end I like to say that there have been some failures but mostly good times, and that all is well in my neck of the woods. However, as I get closer to finishing paramedic school I can feel a breeze rustle my trees and am thinking that my juggling act may have an opportunity to move East.