I was going to be a pilot in the Air Force. On the very last day possible, I decided to work with children with cancer instead. I gave the pilot slot back. I was a 22-year-old nursing student in an AFROTC program, and I thought I’d lose my mind in the expansiveness of that decision.
I did not lose my mind. I joined the Air National Guard and later, the Air Force Reserve and remained in service through the rank of Captain. I continued working at Doernbecher Children’s Hospital in Portland, Oregon until a nursing strike in 2001. I did not want to strike, leave my job, nor cross my friends on the picket line. I reluctantly took a job at another hospital, and the strike lasted 56 days.
Around the same time, I’d met a guy at Camp Ukandu, an awesome-fest for kids with cancer and their sibs. We lived 2 hours apart, and he had sworn off dating Portlandians. We decided to meet in the middle, and our first date was on September 11, 2001.
Eventually I moved to his town, and we skied and backpacked and played very hard. We went to Europe twice, chaperoning the French class from the middle school where he taught. We moved to Alaska and back, and I’ve missed it terribly since.
We added my cat to his dog, then folded in the cutest puppy my eyes have seen. We took in my sister’s cat along the way–the raddest cat. And we have shared the heartbreak of losing them all.
We were sloppy and young together and got married in the midst of hummingbirds and flowers and so much love. We backpacked in Banff for our honeymoon and were adopted by a British pub staff who tried to drown us in alcohol. We came home, rolled up our sleeves, and settled into the strange work of growing up.
And Now? We are a family of four. Since he was the little brother and I was the big sister, our psychological jello wrestling is best buoyed by occasional marital counseling. Do you know what else helps marriage? Hugs. (see here). Note: They did not study what happens if the husband just stands there during the hug, or if children run circles around the hug while counting to 20 as loudly as possible.
Professional Statement: I have spent twenty years in healthcare, working with pain, suffering, loss and trauma. I am comfortable with laughter, silence and tears. Now, I teach self-regulation techniques to even the smallest of us and I am convinced toddler namaste and tiny down dogs are the best kind of magic.
Personal Statement: I do best when I am close to the mountains–close enough to touch them. I need bright, open sky over my head, or to always remember that it’s there, just beyond any clouds that may roll in. I routinely seek out water, so I can float or fish or just stare into it’s sparkle and depth. I look to animals, plants, and children for help remembering what’s important.