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  • Jacque Stevens

The Full Story behind Winter Falls (or how I became a nurse when I wanted to be a writer) PART 4

So I made my plan. I didn’t like the east coast where my sister and brother in-law were stationed. I wanted to move back west, and I wanted to be near the majority of my family again. But moving in with other families hadn’t worked for me as I constantly felt like an outsider bending to their plans and schedules—retreating into myself. I needed people in my same stage of life so I could feel more independent with my decisions, which is why I am so very lucky my parents gave me so many sisters. Most of them were married, but my younger one was still in college at BYU. She wanted to get off campus for her last year, so we decided it would get an apartment together.

And as we were making those plans, one of our single cousins in the area reached out to us saying she had two rooms in her house in Provo if we wanted them. We did.

Step one, done. I knew where I wanted to live—I chose it for myself and I was ready.

I moved there, and my mom was there to assist again. My parents had moved to Alaska and declined to take one of their cars, so they were allowing my sister and me to share it. So the next step was the one I dreaded most, I still needed a job.

And I really didn’t hate the idea of nursing anymore. Busy hospitals probably weren’t for me, but if I could find a more individual way to help people, I felt there had to be a way to apply what I learned in school to get me the immediate money/security I needed. I really didn’t think after three years of near inactivity I would be a desirable nursing candidate, but it still made sense to me to try—really try.

I told my mom my plans, and she became my assistant for the first couple weeks. I knew I had to change all my licenses to my new state and update a few minor things like my CPR card, so my mom would go with me, mostly just drive with me and cheer for me when I came back with each task completed. It was silly. I was 24, an adult. I shouldn’t need my mommy like that, but things had gotten so bad that I really did.

Once she returned to Alaska, the training wheels came off, but I had a few things accomplished and making forward momentum. I went to the career center and applied for jobs now not because I thought I would get one, but to prove to myself I could try and do it. Each action became the victory, not the result.

And at the same time, I knew I wanted to look more seriously at my writing again. I didn’t want to hide it anymore, so my first step to embrace my new duel identity as a nurse/writer was to go a book signing at the library—actually meet an author I liked. I waited in line next to a girl ,and we shared a few words of mutual nerd-dom, but I would have been happy to scatter to my own corner when we got to the auditorium if I hadn’t brought another assistant, one who just like my mom, saw my plans and was now more than happy to help me along.

I started to sit down, and He told me it was wrong, that I needed to be sitting next to the girl I stood in line with. So I did, and we talked some more. And as “luck” would have it, she was also an aspiring writer and had just started a local writing group. She invited me to join them.

I wanted to go desperately, but I was SO nervous. I refused to show them my stuff the first month, but that didn’t last long. They were soon my best friends and introducing me to more of the writing community in Utah—who knew when I arbitrarily decided I wanted to go west to be with my sister that I actually stumbled into one of the best places with so many resources for writers? With these things now established, I showed my new group my suicide book and finished the first draft of my djinni book in the first six months I was with them.

Back to nursing. When I started to apply to jobs, I found out a mental health hospital was opening in Orem—a new building with zero staff. They needed a lot of nurses, making them more willing to consider someone with no experience and had graduated a few years ago.

I was desperate for any job, but soon I discovered how good of fit it was for me at that time. While some more of my medical nursing skills needed to be refreshed, I had already started researching mental health with my own struggles with depression. I still had a lot to learn, but not as much as I feared. And in some ways, these kind of patients were less socially intimidating to me than the medical patients, where helping them sort out their emotions became so much more important than worrying about my own.

And that is when I drew this final picture for my mother. It isn’t perfect, but I smile whenever I see it. That girl went off to slay dragons, but when she really committed, she found that the dragon wasn’t nearly as large or scary as it was supposed to be.

That is not to say that my life magically became perfect. I had some more nursing ups and downs. I had some writing ones. And I still haven’t met my elusive Prince Charming, but I’ve been moving forward. Things that used to be hard are so much easier now. When something disappointing happens in one area of my life, I find comfort in the other until I find another way to work through my challenges. I have never returned to that dark place of my Seattle Christmas, but even then, I know the next step, that that is where God was waiting for me, telling me that if I built my own plan, he would magnify my efforts.

And that is all that matters.

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