Friday, February 28, 2014

2013: a year in review {alternatively titled: a really long run-on sentence that smashes all that has happened in my blogging absence; 91 blog posts summed up in one, if you will...}

I realize that it's already mid-February {and by the time I hit publish, it may very well be March} + that most bloggers post their yearly recaps {my past reviews: 2012, 2011, 2010} sometime around January 1st but I was too busy having fun in Tahoe on New Years  for some strange reason, it feels really weird to write a random post about Houston {ahem, I live here now.} and overlook all that happened in the past year... because a lot of special things happened + a few not-so-happy changes occurred, too. But alas, they are all the tiny things that mold life into the one big beautiful mess I've grown quite fond of, really. I would forever feel a bit unsettled to move forward without doing a proper tribute to 2013 so I took every pretty place, life lesson + cup of coffee I consumed last year and put them in to one ridiculously long post...
Still recuperating from Hellwaii, January was the perfect place for restoration, in the form of vivacious two-year-olds and squishy, newborn goodness. Midway through a rather exhausting travel nurse contract in Knoxville, I felt lucky to be quietly ringing in the new year at home with Grams {in our matching moomoos} while Reesey slept soundly upstairs. Kara + Creed celebrated a new little life in the NICU and in just 5 days, they would get to bring the little man home... where we would all spend the next four weeks competing for {preston} cuddles.
Also, Christopher performed + I was reminded of the importance of seeing the world through the eyes of your heart. Always.
February was challenging, in a make-my-brain-hurt-from-climbing-a-steep-learning-curve kind of way. I flew to Houston to complete my final quarter of grad school at Texas Childrens Hospital +  crammed 200 hours of clinicals in to 24 days, polishing my master's manuscript by moonlight... taking just 1 night off to watch little pips ride sheep + eat giant corndogs to the tune of the Zac Brown Band at the Houston Rodeo.
Most of February was a bit of a blur but if there was one magnificent life lesson I took away from that month, it was the importance of investing in fantastic friends; ones who will drop their life when they receive a text midday that reads "Can you talk? I just had the most awful experience with my mum."... and while they won't have the answers to the questions you repeatedly ask as you unfurl a decades' worth of hurt into the other end of the phone... "is this it? is she gone for good this time? how will i know?"... they are there for you; to listen to you wholeheartedly + to remind you that sometimes it's okay to be strong for too long, to take the evening off from your usual happy-go-lucky state of mind + take pity on the cards you were dealt... you're only human so take that hot bath, drink that bottle of wine + cry yourself to sleep. Before you hang up, they will assure you that your world will be all right come morning... for tomorrow is a new day that will demand to be lived again.
March was glorious. On a gloomy Friday morning, I {a nervous degree candidate} returned to Seattle to defend my final project in front of a panel of the most brilliant professors... and by that very afternoon, I found myself chugging a microbrew on a sunshiny patio with close friends, cheersing our frosty mugs to becoming A MASTER. The celebration carried well in to the next week... I attended a beautiful wedding on a boat + traversed through every niche of one fabulous city to hug every Seattlelite {that I love so much} good-bye. 
With a new found feeling of freedom + a coordinating pep in my step, I took my crumbled paper certificate + ran for the Rockies before anyone could rescind my degree. I drove with reckless abandon across the country to start a travel assignment in Colorado + that is where I fell hypoxically in love.
April was awesome. Falling head-over-Sorels in love with mountain life mentality, Denver's endless supply of sunshine was the perfect antidote to altitude sickness + once I climatized to living a mile high, I spent every day off doing as the Romans... snowboarding in Breckenridge, perusing oxygen bars, hiking through the Garden of the Gods, et cetera...
...but ironically, my favourite moments of the month were when I left the mile high city. A couple mini escapes to Kara's to welcome spring with splash pads + strawberry picking, wagon walks + froyo dates.
One whirlwind weekend in LA that involved a private jet + the meeting of Boys II Men, + a surprise weekend in D.C. where I ate fantastic meals + conversed with the original foodies: the Gallo family. Like I said... Awesome.
May was an extension of April's awesomeness. Megan {a fabulous friend I met on assignment in Seattle + crossed paths with again when I arrived in CO} + I went to closing weekend up at Vail where we perfected our "hug + ride" chairlift dismount. We spent opening day on a rooftop patio in LoDo + I did the splits in a crosswalk {true story}. We derby'ed with unicorns + I discovered the awesomeness that is RenttheRunway. We went to an incredible concert at Red Rocks + I found a new appreciation for homemade pop tarts. We shopped for the perfect "interview outfit" + I headed off to Houston for my first big girl job interview. Shit got real. Kinda.
June was surreal. The first month of summer brought me my best friend via a tour bus, the courage to attend a Taylor Swift concert {by myself!} and the answer to the burning question, "If you were given the opportunity to spend the rest of your summer in Seattle, how quickly could you pack up your life?" Two hours. Two freaking hours + one long, contiguous drive, I arrived back in the Pacific Northwest with just enough time to unload my car before picking up all my best from the airport for a celebration weekend. 
While a commencement at the graduate level is reason enough to throw yourself a party {at an oyster annex in Ballard}, I really just wanted every single person who has shaped me into the person I am {and most days, the person I am still very much striving to become...} to be in the same room at the same time 
so I could {briefly... ha!} thank them, from the bottom of my blubbering heart, for being such an incredible influence in my life + tell them how much they make heart smile, just by being in it. 
I would get a million master degrees, stand on a barstool {barefoot in a glittery dress}, handing out oysters + champagne every day if it meant I could have all those people back in the same place. Truly.
July was great. I mastered the art of summering by watching fireworks from the perfect perch on the 4th of July. I attended sunset nightly. I lived for our midweek backyard BBQs + chocolate almond croissants at Honore on Saturday mornings. I wino-ed for a weekend in LA. I interviewed in Alaska + had drinks with a high school BFF. I cossetted every friends' baby born that summer {four to be exact}. I frequented the Ballard farmer's market every Sunday. I hiked often. I read books for leisure. Oh, and I passed my practitioner boards {J. Kirk, MN, APRN, NNP-BC}. You, my darling July, were simply divine.
Ahh, August. You were a combination of happy + humbling. Happiness was the arrival of my Megalina + an incredible five days spent with someone who knows me better than I know myself. Drinking ginger beer, walking along cliffs, eating scrumptious coconut-flavored cotton candy + galavanting through the streets of Vancouver for 13.1 miles at sunrise were just a few of the happy highlights.
But a third + final interview, that left me feeling uncharacteristically angry + horribly sad, shed light on just how serious bullying in the workplace can be. In need of an escape, I called up Sammi + demanded we go somewhere to unplug from the {sometimes cruel} world... Poppy in tow, we ferried over to the Pacific Rim + had a fabulous time in Tofino, whale watching + what not.
I headed back to reality//work for a couple of days before heading home for a great friend's wedding. Humbling was the moment when elevator doors opened + I felt the world come to a sudden stop. My heart sank + my eyes immediately welled to the brim. In a way only my fickle heart will ever understand, a rambling of words + a feeling of validation as a single crocodile tear rolled down my cheek made me finally realize that it takes even greater strength to let go gracefully than to hold on hopelessly... + in that instant of clarity, I set my heart free + the world began to spin again, lighter than ever before.

September was bitterly sweet. Still in denial that I would be leaving soon, I carried on in PNW bliss crossing things off my Seattle bucket list. I hiked Mount Rainier. I indulged in crab pot by the Sound with Carly + boated through Lake Washington to celebrate a beautiful bachelorette.
I learned to sew just in time for Reesey to turn three in adorable superhero fashion {capes all around!}. 
I storm watched on the Olympic Peninsula with the McVeighs + rather serendipitously, I worked my final shift as a NICU nurse on my twenty-seventh birthday, exactly five years after my very first shift in the NICCU at CHLA.
My rad coworkers donned an all-black scrub attire as we were all in some serious, serious mourning that day. Oh, how I miss having a cohort of best friends for colleagues.

October delivered. I was honoured to be invited to the destination wedding of two of the most wonderful people; the LeBeau's are one of those rare couples that {no matter how much your cynical self tries to resist it} make you believe that true love most certainly does exist. I knew our week in Mexico would be nothing shy of amazing but before arriving in Cabo {and consuming mas micheladas}, I didn't know the level of amazing we would experience even existed. I'm talking booze cruises at sunset, jam sessions on the beach under the stars as a tortuga lays her eggs in the near distance, perpetually laughing by the pool all day + dancing in clubs until sunrise. 


The ceremony was a dream with the most beautiful backdrop + a reception right on the beach. With the sand between our toes, the perfect playlist made it hard to leave the dance floor to indulge in the adorable churro bar nearby. {Photos courtesy of the cutest photographer couple ever.} I reluctantly left Mexico + headed for Texas... feeling thankful we live in a world where there are Octobers.  
... but then November came + I found it increasingly difficult to adjust to my new life as a Houstonian. Complications with the Texas Nursing Board kept delaying the start of my new job + I missed my network of friends//family immensely. Houston is huge + full of uneven concrete... + conservatives. The culture shock I was struggling to adjust to was finally offset a tiny bit by my discovery of a little yellow bungalow {Read: my first permanent address in three years} + I shifted my focus on making my new house into my very first home.
Although I had to sacrifice attending my best friend's bridal weekend, I was finally able to start my first {and most certainly not my last} job as an NNP. Much of December was spent sorting through all the adultisms most twenty-somethings don't wait until they're closer to thirty to situate... like the realization that you still don't know how to make toast or that you are not the owner of a single piece of furniture {like a mattress}. It was quite scary waking up one day around Christmastime to the actualization that somehow in the last few years, I forgot to grow up...

... so I did what any logical person would do + booked the first flight out to Tahoe to get as far from reality as possible + ring in the new year surrounded by great people in the surrealest of settings.
Status post, I returned to Texas with a restored faith in my abilities + have been able to slowly start to find my feet, finding satisfaction in simplicities like morning routines, Vitamin C cream + a healthier amount of zzz's. I can't promise that I will be writing next year's recap from this very same coffee shop in Montrose {or anywhere close to Houston's city limits} but I can promise that no matter where life takes me, I will always stop to wander off a beaten path to sit on a cliff's edge + breathe this one wild + precious life in.   

Thursday, November 07, 2013

i heart tofino.

From the moment I met Sammi some three odd years ago, she has been telling me about this hippie, little surf town on Vancouver Island that she just had to take me to because I "would fall madly in love with it immediately". Back in August, I realized I had three days off in the middle of the week so I called Sammi on a whim. "What are you doing two days from now? Let's go to Tofino!" So just like that, we rented a tent from REI, packed up the baby, boarded a ferry and spent three incredible days in my now most favourite spot in the world. 
We combed the long beaches for driftwood. We endured torrential rain and immense sunshine, sometimes simultaneously. We bought crab from a local fisherman and boiled it on the campfire in salty ocean water (per his recommendations) and made a delectable surf & turf supper. We watched the seaplanes fly in and take off. We went whale watching and sailed miles off the coast through a thick rim of fog which unveiled rocks blanketed with sea lions. I gleefully left a part of my heart in Tofino that week...

I heart tofino. from Jocelyn Kirk on Vimeo.

...with the happy assurance that I will be back for it someday.  

Thursday, May 16, 2013

bohemian rhapsody.

I recently came to the revelation that one week post-grad school, I ran for the mountains + found a little not-quite-grown-up-reality at the base of the Rockies in a hip, little town by the name of Denver... to put off all things adult-like and carry on being noncommittal. My gypsy ways have flourished here in a city where altitude adjustments have redefined my alcohol tolerance and thin air has remodelled my ability to run three miles.

I came here with a few not-so-lofty goals on my to-do list + while none of them will help me decide what to do with my shiny, new degree, I'm completely smitten dedicating too much time to sampling coffee houses {coffee shop shopping, as I like to call it}, reading memoirs {for research purposes, only}, + dressing up in outlandish outfits {for charity, of course}... with a little imamaster flair.

Naturally, there have been a few adult-ish tasks thrown in the mix... resumes have been updated, double dental infections have been attended to + my 3.5-year-old lemon of a vehicle {one of the last commitments I made before abandoning all aspects of my life that were over-binding + bogging down the dreamer in me} got a new engine this week, an entire engine! ...
See?! I'm making baby steps towards becoming an adult... teeny, tiny little gleams of growing-up progress in the form of more balanced sleep/wake cycles, skincare regimes + the kissing of unicorns. Slowly, I am learning how to embrace the independence that has defined my mid-twenties + all the freedom {and little direction} that comes with having the world as my oyster... discovering the tune of my very own bohemian rhapsody, one obnoxious, white hat + several mint-infused cocktails at a time.  

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

but it sure would be prettier with you.


I’ve got my ticket for the long way ‘round
The one with the prettiest of views
It’s got mountains, it’s got rivers,
it’s got sights to give you shivers
But it sure would be prettier with you

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

when dreams become reality.

I have been doing this thing lately, akin to a bad habit, where I discover a blissful spot to sit down + unfurl all the fleeting thoughts that have been circulating in my mind for the past ... oh, I-don't-know... two years!... into a poignant piece weaved together with heart + humility, purpose + passion... but then my mind races in a gobjillion different directions, in my feeble attempt to recount all the marvelous {and not so fabulous} things that have taken place, the risks, the opportunities that accompany said risks, the lessons I've learned, the places I have explored, the food I have tasted, the people I have encountered ... amidst the one daunting task that was GRAD SCHOOL {+ work full-time}... + then I start to feel overwhelmed as the anxiety creeps up my spine + my head begins to spin as the proverbial freight train of clustered thoughts runs through it... so instead, I defeatedly close my laptop, take a deep breath and quietly think, tomorrow; maybe tomorrow I will find the clarity to write... but the truth is, I will never a write a blog post again if I wait for the clarity to come because this whole coming-of-age chapter about self discovery... that I have found my twenty-something self deep in the trenches of... doesn't provide much insight into anything concrete, except Seattle coffee... there is no doubt that it is the best brew these taste buds have ever known. So if you are still reading, this mumbled hot mess of my current stream of consciousness... paired with a couple random instagrams thrown in for good measure... are just for you...

... and to let you know that I DID IT! I'm not sure how but I survived grad school and I now have a crumbled little paper certificate to PROVE IT. It's official. I'm a master... A MASTER. It's been two weeks since I defended that damn scholarly project that I worked on for countless hours over the past eight months... and it still doesn't feel real. I really did it?! There have been many tiny moments recently that I am so overcome with happiness that I cry little tears of joy in the most unassuming places... and I smile a permasmile feeling like I'm walking on clouds... because I kind of am here in the city that is a mile high and ironically, making it impossible to catch my breath, literally. {Also, figuratively: figure out where to go from here}. There will be a celebration in mid-June when the community of amazing people I am so lucky to know who graciously helped me attain this lofty goal will gather in Seattle + drink locally brewed beer + eat oysters and I'll shed many more tears giving a commencement speech about all the heroes in my life that continue to inspire me in ways they will never truly understand + we'll eat cupcakes + wear pearls + enjoy the love that I am certain will be palpable... but for now, I am going to relax + drink in the wild air, focusing on restoration + removing those bags from under my eyes + just breathe, for a change. Sitting still was never my thang but as it turns out, I totally dig it, mildly hypoxic at 5,280 feet up in the air. eeeeee yaay! Thanks be to all of you for helping me make my dreams a reality!! =)  

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Reese: the interview.


Reese: the interview. from Jocelyn Kirk on Vimeo.

Celebrating the first day of spring today by setting side some time to cozy up in a coffee shop by a window with the Colorado {yes, I have some serious life updating to do!} sunshine piercing through and edit an interview I did with Reesey Bird over Christmas. Have you ever tried to interview a 2-year-old? Please forgive the volume fluctuations, the unsteady hand, the awkward camera angles, the sniffly nose, the poor lighting, + my obnoxious voice. =) 

P.S. 2:15 absolutely slays me. 

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

FACT: drug-abusing moms produce drug-addicted babies.


I am on a short, eight week travel assignment here in Knoxville devoting most of my time to cosseting Kara's little pips and finishing my final quarter of grad school via distant-learning {bless you, internet!} but for ~thirty-six hours a week I have been spending my days working in a neonatal intensive care unit that feels more like a rehab center... shushing, swaddling and reinserting pacifiers in to the mouths of high-pitched screaming, tremulous, vomiting full-term {Read: if they hadn't been exposed to drugs in utero, they would be perfectly healthy} babies experiencing drug withdrawal. I have intermittently cared for newborns withdrawaling throughout the last four+ years but the pandemic it appears to be here in Tennessee {as one baby is born an hour that will go through withdrawal}, it is nothing short of devastating feeling as though these babies don't stand a chance in Hell in making it out of the grave social situations they were born in to. My profession can be hard and challenging but I have learned that I manage the heartbreak that some days hold best by giving my all while I am within those nursery walls + letting it all go by finding a healthy balance living a stress-free, silly, exciting,  adventurous life on every one of my days off... but here, I am finding myself not being able to let it go when I clock out. What is going to happen to these babies when they go home? What needs to be done to prevent babies from being born to drug abusers? While it is only my job to love them with all my being for a challenging twelve hours at a time, reserving judgment for higher powers {like the Department of Child Services... and karma}, it breaks my heart to nurse these helpless, little beings back to health knowing they will go home with the very same mothers who choose to do drugs during pregnancy. I try to remain hopeful + optimistic that these sweet souls will inspire their parents to get off drugs and give them the upbringing they deserve... but my instincts {founded in personal experience + research} tell me that is not the most probable outcome. I cannot save all babies...although some days with the proper cape + pair of shoes, I feel like I could...so I will have to resort to spending my remaining time here allowing these beautiful babies to borrow my heart and hope-to-goodness their mothers' figure out how to operate their own in the interim.