Summer Reading List

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TGIS!!  I’m off for a couple of months from school and can be a “grown-up,” again.  Which means the possibility of searching for a “real” (professional) job, which may/may not impact school, taking on a volunteer position at a local hospital or Planned Parenthood, or learning how to be a housewife.   The latter is not really an option.

In the meantime, I’ve already devoured “Bear Meets Girl,” by Shelly Laurenston, my new favorite contemporary paranormal author.  Shelly writes strong, sexy, independent, intelligent female lead characters who are in their thirties (or a little older).   I appreciate that she continues previous characters’ stories, as the series progresses, so we can revisit old, beloved characters.  I’ve thoroughly enjoyed her Magnus Pack series, her Pride series and the first in her Gathering series, “Hunting Season.”   She also writes a dragon series as G.A. Aiken, but I’m not a fantasy fan and have never been able to get into that series.

The second book I read was Christine Warren’s “On the Prowl,” latest installment in The Others series.  This series also features paranormal characters, in contemporary situations, and follows a group of female friends as they find themselves, their leading men and HEA.  The heroines are smart, sassy and able to stand on their own, so their men have to be true alpha males.

A newer series I started reading, even though the characters are younger than I typically like, are Olivia Cunning’s “Sinners” series, which follows a naughty rock band and their lady loves.   The themes are stronger sexually (some BSDM), than Laurenston’s or Warren’s.  I was surprised I enjoyed them as much as I have.

I’ve downloaded the “50 Shades of Grey,” trilogy, to see what all the hype is about.  However, I already have some doubts about the relationship in that series.   I am not a fan of women who are unable or unwilling to refer to their own body parts in anatomical terms and use “down there,” or “my privates,” to describe their female organs.   Furthermore, I feel it is irresponsible to introduce said women to a D/s lifestyle, without a great deal of coaching and sex education.   The premise of the books and the character’s too young ages, give me pause.   We’ll see.   (Lorelei James and Maya Banks have a better understanding of this lifestyle and extensive libraries, that are responsibly written and cheaper).

My newest find has been the “Savannah Coven,” series by Suza Kates.  Again, my favorite theme – female friends who find their mates and HEA.   It explores some paranormal themes and is a travelogue for the beautiful city of Savannah.   The first three book are available: “Whisper of the Witch,” “Conviction of the Witch,” and “Binding of the Witch.”  There will be nine books when she completes the series.  It has been unexpectedly engaging and entertaining learning each character’s personalities and unique abilities.  I am looking forward to reading more.

Is Blogging for Me?

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Isn’t part of the responsibility of writing a blog, actually posting to it on a regular/semi-regular basis.   Ugh.

Forgive me blog, for I have sinned.  It’s been TWO YEARS, since my last post.

Really?

I dust myself off and start all over again.   At least until school starts again.

Recap: I was accepted to the Nursing school of my choice and am a Level II Nursing student.  I have a little more than one year to complete, before sitting for the NCLEX (Nursing Boards).  School has kicked my tail.  It’s infinitely more difficult and emotion-draining than anything I’ve ever done, including being laid off.

School work is challenging at best, crippling at worst, which is most of the time.  However, I feel right at home in the clinical setting, because it feels like “going to work.”  As someone who worked professionally for almost 20 years, I was able to slip right back into my work self.  It was liberating.  Not only was I no longer in charge (supervisor), I was in a strict learning capacity – keeping my mouth closed and eyes and ears open.  No sweat.

My Nurse Preceptors were outstanding.   They were giving mentors who not only shared their personal experiences with me, but challenged me during routine assessments to think holistically about my patients. Yes, there were people who were clearly suffering from job burnout. But, given my age/work experience, I was able to avoid them.  Some of my younger/less experienced fellow students were not, and felt almost shy or embarrassed to report their feeling to our instructor.   Not I.   School costs entire too much.  If someone is not “wired to teach,” they don’t deserve my time, as a student. 

The semester ended a couple of weeks ago!  My time, for the next couple of months is my own, again!   The first thing I did was read “Bear Meets Girl,” by Shelly Laurenston and “On the Prowl,” by Christine Warren – two contemporary paranormal romances, I’d pre-ordered, then watch as dust began to collect on them, on my bookshelf.  I devoured both in about three days, and have a bunch more, including the “50 Shades of Grey” trilogy, on my to-be-read list.

 

I will have more time to devote to my, sadly overlooked, Zumba playlists for my classes.  My students deserve some newer routines, and I’m prepared to deliver!

World Cup 2010 – This Time for Africa!

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My love affair with soccer is an unexpected one. I grew up in Panamá, better known for producing Major League Baseball players, like Mariano Rivera, Rubén Tejada, Rodney Carew, Juan Berenguer, Roberto Kelly, Manny Sanguillén…I could go on and on. I truly enjoy a good game of baseball, especially when one of my paisanos is playing. I have been to MLB games and support the Tampa Bay Rays and Chicago Cubs. I have the t-shirts, hats, and stuffed Raymond (mascot) doll. Oh, he’s incredibly cute and physically leaped into my arms during one of the final games of the inaugural season. (The little stuffed Raymond, not the bigger-than-life dancing Raymond. Although, he’s a sight to behold, in person).

How does a woman from a small country known for “Los Reyes del Béisbol,” where soccer was merely a footnote at the end of a sportscast, become a soccer fan? It’s my father’s fault.

I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the World Cup. My father gets full credit for instilling in me the passion for the game, especially Argentina fútbol, at an early age. I distinctly remember crying, sobbing really, when Argentina beat Peru 6-0, in the second round of the 1978 World Cup. This marked their first trip to a World Cup final against the seemingly unstoppable “Clockwork Orange,” Netherlands. Argentina won their first World Cup title and I was forever hooked. I don’t simply watch soccer matches – I live, mourn and rejoice in them.

It doesn’t hurt that the many of the players are very good looking. Who doesn’t love a man with the stamina to run, at full-speed, for 90 minutes. If he can do that….well, he might be “fun” to have around, right?

When I moved to the United States permanently, it became difficult to follow soccer. I could not understand how, in a country built by immigrants, who grew up and played soccer, there were no professional teams or at least coverage of international teams. I was lucky to move to Tampa Bay Rowdies, and later Tampa Bay Mutiny, territory, but h teams went out of business, due to poor support and attendance. Still, I found the late night coverage on ESPN, after the “World’s Strongest Man Caber Toss Extravaganza” and the “Dogs Playing Poker” tournaments.

When the USA hosted the World Cup, I thought, “a-ha! This is what USA Soccer needs!” Our boys played well, but not well enough, apparently. Those elusive fans went elsewhere. (Damn you to HELL, Nascar! Watching cars drive around in a circle is not sport, it’s traffic!). At the same time, soccer passion was exploding in Africa and Asia, such that Les Lions Indomptables (The Indomitable Lions) of Cameroon, where they were a huge draw everywhere they went. It didn’t hurt that they could play the game well, lyrically, actually.

Even though I have never been there, South Africa, holds a mystical appeal to me. Perhaps it was because I watched so many documentaries on the struggles of black Africans and could not understand why they continued to live a repressed, slave-like existence. The more I learned about Africa, the more I wanted to know. I distinctly remember being touched by Peter Gabriel’s song “Biko,” about Steven Bantu Biko. Biko, an anti-apartheid activist who founded the Black Consciousness Movement, was murdered in police custody. Around the same time, Little Steven Van Zandt and Artists United Against Apartheid, released “Sun City,” about a white’s-only resort in South Africa, and their call for a boycott of this place. The video got heavy airplay on MTV (back when they actually played MUSIC). African artists started to release their music and when Paul Simon featured Ladysmith Black Mambazo, on his album “Graceland,” I was entranced. How did they produce such joyful noise?

Almost 25 years later, my favorite sport arrives in Africa. The beautifully talented, Colombian superstar, Shakira and Freshlyground, from Africa, record the theme song, “Waka Waka (This Time for Africa). Zumba Fitness encourages Zumba instructors all over the world to create original choreography, and post it to youtube, using “Waka Waka.” (I’ve created choreography and have done the routine a couple of times with my students, but refuse to record and post it to youtube. Not my cuppa tea).

Some of my expectations for this World Cup have already been exceeded. The Cup was 98% sold out, before the Opening Ceremony and Opening Game. It is being held on the continent that needs the most care, love and support from the world community. Every time the light is shined on Africa during these next few weeks, positive, joyful energy will be radiated back to us from the African people. There is a reason the World’s game is being held in Africa – to bring us closer together. Our challenge begins after the Cup is over and the fans have gone home. Our challenge is to remember Africa, because in remembering Africa, we remember our own humanity.

As for me, I’ll be glued to the television, humming “Waka Waka,” screaming obscenities at referees and players, teaching my husband creative phrases in Spanish and Spanglish and rooting for Team USA and my beloved Albiceleste, Argentina, who will be the first to win a World Cup on African soil.

GO WORLD!

I’d Like to Procrastinate….But, I Keep Putting it Off

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The thing about a blog, is that it requires a certain level of commitment, which seemed to have escaped me for a YEAR! Hell. My best intention was to chronicle my return to college, but I never realized how TIRED I’d be.

Yeah. That’s just an excuse for NOT posting in almost a year. In that time, I’ve watched my weight creep back up, such that I had to go into the bag of “fatter” clothes that was destined to go to charity and pulled out a bigger pair of jeans. There is NOTHING about that action that makes me happy or proud of myself.

I’ve decided to stop making excuses and start looking for results. It starts TODAY.

So, I’m back after completing my first two semesters of pre-requisites. Anatomy & Physiology I and II, and corresponding labs, Statistics and the mandatory Computer Literacy class are in the DONE column. I’ll be registering for Microbiology and lab, Ethics and World Religions in a couple of days. I’ve taken the Summer off to study for the American Council on Exercise (ACE) group fitness certification exam, which I will take this Summer, before the Zumba convention in late August.

I will be visiting another local LPN/RN program to find out their application process and whether they offer Financial Aid. I have to investigate all my options, because I’m too old and have been out of work too long, to leave anything else up to chance. If any of you would like to share how you did it – LPN program, then bridge to RN, BSN/RN program, RN to BSN, etc. I’d love to hear about your journey.

I haven’t decided what day will be my “blogging” day, yet, but I’m deciding right here and now, that I WILL do it!

Ironically, the theme song for the Harry Potter movies, advertising the Harry Potter ride at Universal Orlando, is playing in the background as I type this. It could be worse, I guess. I could be the greatest hits of Milli Vanilli…”Girl you know it’s true…” Man, I MISS 80s retro pop lip sync!

First Week of School….WHEW!

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So, I got through the first week of A&P I and A&P I Lab. The great thing about my school is that they have support built into the program with free tutoring and weekly lab review sessions. I’m happy with their commitment to helping students succeed! The rest will be up to me.

My instructor is new to the school, but her no-nonsense attitude “be on time, turn off cell phones, wear appropriate clothes/shoes to lab, etc. was quite refreshing. Since I’ve used the “fat, drunk and stupid is not way to get through life” speech with college women I advise, it was right up my alley. I’ve also met some other mature students who I think will be study buddies, or at least vent buddies.

I’m happy to be taking one course to ease back into school, especially given the subject matter. I was thrilled to see that I actually remembered SOME things from my Chemistry I & II college courses that I took in 1986 and 1987! Maybe the old brain’s not so rusty, after all.

People in Your Neighborhood and Feeling the Love Already

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Keeping it really old school, with Sesame Street.

“Oh, who are the people in your neighborhood?

In your neighborhood?

In your neighborhood?

Say who are the people in your neighborhood

The people that you meet each day….”

In a few short hours of researching Nursing blogs, I’ve met some pretty terrific people and made some new twitter buddies.    Which brings me to another reason I was drawn to Nursing – mentoring.   I’ve worked for and am a member of other organizations with mentoring programs.  The Nurses I’ve met, for the most part, have been generous with their knowledge, support and encouragement, already.

It probably stems from the fact that Nurses are responsible for patient care that encompasses the mind, body and spirit.  While I typically don’t use sports analogies, I liken doctors to pinch hitters or pinch runners.  They sweep in, treat and run, and move on to the next patient.  Nurses are the franchise players.  They develop a much closer relationship with the patient and his/her family.  Both work in tandem, but patients get to know, and trust, their Nurses.  I am curious to discover more.

40-something, Overweight, Laid-off and Going Back to College

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Sung to the tune of “Going Back to Cali,” by L.L. Cool J.

I’m going back to college, to college.

I’m going back to college.

I don’t think so.

After being laid off for almost two years, I’ll be starting undergraduate Anatomy and Physiology I on Monday of next week.  The last time I was a college student, spiral perms and acid wash jeans were the styles and I did all my papers on a Brother Word Processor.

My, how my world has changed.  I never expected to be out of work, certainly not for more than a couple of months. And, never considered becoming a Nurse the first time I went to college.  No.  Criminal Justice was my major.   Which I parlayed into a variety of different jobs successfully.

Sadly, the organization I thought I’d retire from, merged with another, reorganized and proceeded to lay people off as they transitioned.  My last day there was bittersweet.  Bitter because I knew I’d given the customers my best work and the best parts of myself and sweet, because I knew that I would not be a good match for the new direction they were heading.

In the meantime, I started working for myself as a Zumba Instructor and Virtual Assistant.  Zumba helped me lose weight, become healthier and brought my joy, even on the darkest days.  It gives me a reason to move, dance and have FUN and has become my passion!  I’ll be sharing my experiences at the upcoming Zumba convention in a couple of weeks.

Which brings me to why I’m chronicling my return to college.  This is not my first attempt at blogging.  I’ve been recording my weight loss journey elsewhere.  This, however, will be more personal because when I lost my job, I lost part of my identity.   It’s time for me to take it back and I know my contributions lie in wellness, fitness and helping people become their healthiest selves.

BRING IT ON!  I’M READY!