Another Year Almost Closed

I can’t believe it is already December. Another year almost closed. I tend to get reflective around the new year. Recapping the time passed and reviewing the plans for the year ahead. Since it has been a few months since my last entry, I guess I have quite a bit to catch up on.

If you follow me on social media, you may be aware that today my team was nationally recognised by the Deputy Chief Executive of Health Services and the Director of Mental Health and Addiction Services for the Department of Corrections. These members, along with the Chief of Nursing, flew to Christchurch to present our mental health team, and a few members of the health team we work alongside of, with the Kaitiaki Award. Kaitiki in Maori is a person, group, or being that acts as a carer, guardian, protector and conserver. It feels like a huge honour for which I am deeply grateful.

I feel privileged to be a part of a team that works together and supports its members. We are consistently short staffed, but my coworker lovingly calls us “wee but mighty.” It’s an essential when we work in what can be an incredibly difficult environment. Yesterday I wanted to burn the place down. Today I feel grateful to be a part of it. I’m not sure I’ve been in a role with such extremes before. Immensely challenging (almost to the point of wanting to give up), but yet also completely rewarding at times when you feel you’ve been able to make a small difference. I told my partner I was going to buy a calendar and each day keep a log of whether I “loved it” or “hated it.” As I watch myself wildly swing between the two extremes, it would be interesting to see if my “love it” days outnumber the hard ones. It feels like a toss up at this point, lol. I do know it makes mindfulness practices take on a whole new meaning. Not getting swept up in the emotion of the day, but trying to remain in the present moment, knowing that it will change and I will once again feel my path is rewarding.

Back in September, I attended a training to become a trainer for the Desert Waters (an organization out of Colorado that does trainings for Corrections Officers) curriculum, From Corrections Fatigue to Fulfillment. Because it was held in US time, for 7 days I joined at 4am to learn how to present the material. It dovetailed hand-in-hand with the Trauma-Informed Care training I have been working on. Now I have a two day training program I am really excited about, and hope the Officers will agree it is relevant and helpful. I think in my last post I mentioned I had started piloting the curriculum in the unit I work in. Unfortunately, I had only been allotted 1 hour every week to try and deliver a section at a time. We quickly found that despite how hard we tried, it would either get interrupted or Officers would be too busy to attend. It collapsed and fell to the side for a while. I worried if it would ever get the buy in required to see the light of day.

Then I got got lucky. My supervisor allowed me to jump into one of his meetings with the prison director to pitch my training idea and request a pilot group of Officers be allotted two wellness days to attend the training without interruption. To my delight, she loved the idea. She also gave me permission to run a pilot group with three different units to see how it lands. While I gained her support, I still have to pitch it to the larger leadership team. If all goes well, I could be delivering the entire curriculum to my pilot group by February. Then I hold my breath and hope people like it. It feels very exciting and also very scary. What if they don’t? What if it never happens? Guess there’s only one way to find out. Cross your fingers.

I also decided that while my yoga respite was nice (and needed), I was ready to try aerials again. I like the creative outlet and challenge. I like using music to find a flow and express myself. This time I chose a different studio, where I also hope to find more community. So far I am really liking it. I graduated to level 2 in the hoop (lyra) classes last night, so it’s a good sign.

It is funny, I was in a stretch class last night and looked at the wall. Apparently, the name of the room is “The Arena.” As I have always been a big fan of Brené Brown’s work on shame resilience, vulnerability and empathy, you know this reference fully encapsulated the space of being outside of one’s comfort zone and daring greatly anyway. For those not familiar with her work, she has an excellent book called Daring Greatly that references the Theodore Roosevelt quote, The Man (ugh-hum, person) In The Arena about learning to take risks and show up to life. Another funny life moment that made me feel I am right where I am supposed to be, even when it feels really hard sometimes.

I also have done something I swore I would never again do. I am going back to school. To answer your question, yes, I do know I am crazy. Thanks.

Hear me out though. The Ministry of Health is funding people to obtain specialty certificates in certain areas. I will be taking two courses that combine to achieve the certification. One semester in forensics and one in clinical leadership. It should take a year to complete. As both areas would definitely be helpful for me and it is fully funded, I couldn’t say no. My partner also works full time and goes to school, so honestly it is also helpful in keeping us both equally busy over the next year. I’ll let you know if I still feel this way once classes start in February.

In other news, we had visitors for nearly three weeks and it was really great. My partner’s old college roommate and his partner came out and it was a really good opportunity for me to get to know them better (and vice versa). I miss having long time friends and family near. It was good to hang out, spend quality time and share this cool place with them. My friends who had their trip cancelled due to flight issues should also be coming in March. Honestly, my partner and I are contemplating moving back to the States in a couple of years for a couple reasons, but largely because we miss having the larger support system. I guess we have time to figure it all out for sure.

Anywho, the same friends coming in March will return later in the year to get married. They have chosen my absolute dream option by choosing to have a helicopter drop the wedding party off at some scenic destination not accessible by another means. Go big or go home, right? I cannot wait to share this moment with them. In April I have plans to go to Nepal with a dear friend from here and will spend a few days in Katmandu before spending about 10 days hiking in the Himalayas- with a Sherpa (mind blown). So some really cool things coming up on the horizon next year.

For now, my partner and I are training to go on a four day backpacking trip beginning on Christmas day. It is on one of New Zealand’s Great Walks (The Milford Track) and is supposed to be one of the most infamous walks here. If the weather is right, it is supposed to be absolutely magical. If the weather is not right, it can shed monsoon type rain and you wouldn’t see a mountain in front of you if you tripped over it (which knock on wood I don’t). We did our first long trip with weighted packs this weekend as a warmup and both felt pretty exhausted. We did manage to get a great view from the top of the hill we climbed. The next few weeks will be continuing to train and prepare for that, and stepping fully into the holiday season.

We did manage to get a tree this year, which despite the warm weather and sunshine until 9pm does make it feel more like the holidays. Things are more expensive here, so I bought the cheapest fake tree at the hardware store I could (and still be taller than 4′). It has fiber optic lights and is actually quite crooked if you look at it directly. I lovingly refer to it as our who-ville tree. Despite that, it’s ours and it makes the living room cozy. It’s hard to believe it will be our second Christmas here.

I hope you and yours have a good holiday season and find ways to access the warmth of being around those you love. I also send thoughts to those who are unable to be around those they love or who are struggling this season for other reasons. May you find moments of peace no matter where you are at in your journey.

Until next time.

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