End of 2009
Moved out and found a home in the tiny house on Phillip street.
Chose to forego college classes after meeting with a discouraging counselor.
Graduated early in December.
Worked as a waitress at Valentinos.
Second job as a skilled nursing CNA at Golden Living.. Ended later that year.
Replaced Golden with Belair, worked in skilled nursing and memory care.
Third job as a memory care CNA at Edgewood Vista.
Although graduated, invited to join the senior cheer trip to Florida; visited Disney world, Universal, and a trip to Coco Beach.
Lots of trips to Madison for too much fun
Invited to prom at Norfolk.
Attended senior prom with Jake in Madison.
Was invited to walk with my class in May graduation.
Took a trip with my best friend from Nebraska, to watch my childhood best friends graduate in Wyoming.
Lots of concerts.
Landed my dream CNA job in Pediatrics, OB, and Women’s surgery at Faith Regional Hospital. Eventually quit Valentino’s and went PRN at Edgewood and Belair.
Later was floated, and allowed to become a regular in Medical Observation and Ortho surg.
Went back to Wyoming for a weekend with Jake and his Cousin to visit my grandma, and to hike.
Agreed to move out of my small house, and quickly found myself with nowhere to go.
Moved in with Mamma Johnson when my best friend moved away to college and worked to save for a move away.
After a few months, loaded my pickup with my belongings and moved to Lincoln to live with Jake and his sister Heather.
First husker season.
Stayed PRN at all Norfolk jobs until I landed a position in Lincoln, then said goodbye to my first nursing jobs and began working at Interim Healthcare as a home health aid.
Started cosmetology school at College of Hair Design, still working full time.
Bought a car for home-health commuting, totaled it.
The world gained Bryson.
Passed first session, then second, then third in cosmetology school.
Made Jake and our roommate Cody be perm competency clients.
Annual CHD hair show.
Started fourth session when pulled into the financial aid office with an ultimatum to pay cash monthly to continue, or to drop from the program; choosing the latter. No option to attain $10k cash when barely making bills on full time wages.
Went to Southeast Community College the same day and enrolled in classes.
Decided, because I was a good nurse assistant, and because ALL my patients tried to talk me into it daily, that I should be a nurse. So there we went.
Picked up extra hours and worked as much as possible until classes started.
Made a trip to Vegas and saw NASCAR.
Became obsessed with Paddleboarding.
And then again
Started working a second CNA job, memory care at Emerald care communities; close to home and better schedule around classes.
Sweet-talked my way into a car deal that rid me of payments and cut my bills.
Made the Dean’s List.
Dean’s list again.
Red hair phase. Piercings phase. An interesting phase.
More classes, good grades, and a troubling meeting with an advisor. This time, counselor suggests another break because only a few prerequesits remained for the nursing program…yet a predicted 2 year waitlist sat in front of me.
Began late night dreaming, made myself nannying profiles and sent them to sites on the East coast.
Connected with a family, and (absolutely terrified of the decision), packed the car (and board) and moved to New York while Jake finished his degree.
Was a live in Nanny in Montauk, New York.
I found my now biggest buddy, Trevor. Trev will never know how much he changed my life.
Discovered importance of the gym, learned healthy eating from my new family.
Learned peace in solitude and discovered independence in traveling and exploring alone.
Made my first trip to NYC and spent it wandering.
Was pulled off the street and invited into the GMA studio, met Robin Roberts, and Toby Mac!
Jake visited me.
We visited the City.
I visited home.
Got the call I never expected, and made an emergency trip to Wyoming to see my Grandpa for what would be the last time.
Got to cut his hair in the hospital while he closely directed. Knowing he was happy I had left cosmetology he still enjoyed poking fun at me the entire time.
Back to New York.
Grandpa passed away. Refusing a memorial service.
Began looking for a second job in Montauk.
Started working mornings at Deep Hollow Ranch, tending the horses and leading beach rides.
Made more money on morning ride tips than I ever did working jobs in Nebraska. Started a savings account and saved for slower living during the next adventure back home.
Was invited to switch to a different nursing program and waitlist, enrolling as an LPN rather than RN so that classes could start sooner – with the option to do a fast track RN at a later time.
Said good-byes to my new friends.
Said goodbye to my piece of paradise.
Moved back to Nebraska
Watched Jake graduate.
New job, now in private home health. Better pay, hours, and environment.
Enrolled in the final prerequisites needed.
Turned 21 and went to Vegas
Found out I would be gaining my first niece!
Got the acceptance call that my spot on the waitlist changed – would be starting Nursing school
Started the most amazing job opportunity, a Cardiology technician, with the Nebraska Heart Institute’s Saint Elizabeth Cardiac One unit.
Classes, lots of studying, good grades.
Drove to New Mexico and threw a baby shower for my first little niece, alongside an army of very excited women!
Also experienced many conversations and realizations on that trip that had me questioning the path of my future, wondering if I was actually on the right career path… or if I was just doing what I was told was right.
Started nursing school in April.
School 8-5 Mon-Fri, worked 12h overnights Friday/Sat/Sun. Kept grades up knowing I needed to be competitive for future resume requirements. Had a very tired year and celebrated on every break from school:
Summer break concerts
Met my baby niece Cora
Bought our first house and spent too much time decorating
Got my baby Lola. My literal life saver
Kayla and Kyle got married
Passed lower level nursing school with flying colors.
Upper level nursing school started.
Ran out of financial aid, later in the year finding out the issue was from family tax misfiling, but on goes life.
Got a second job with another home health company to supplement financial aid.
Made it through the last nursing clinical ever.
My sister, an RN, pinned me at my pinning ceremony.
I gave the commencement speech for my pinning ceremony
Graduated from SCC
Already had my first job lined up, and started working at Sutton Ryan Dermatology the following week.
Little did the world know, I had been secretly shadowing other careers in the meantime. I had spent endless hours researching and reaching out to anyone that would listen trying to get information on other career paths. Dentistry was my main focus by now and here I began shadowing in dentistry, as well as applying to UNL on the Pre-Health track to keep doors open for my next moves.
Started in general derm, but quickly began moving to the aesthetic center as often as I could. Turns out, only made an extra dollar an hour as a nurse than as a cardiology tech, so I found a second job and worked at a bar/restaurant some evenings and weekends. Here I actually met many other pre-dental and pre-med students as my coworkers who would later be major assets to my journey.
Katie and Garrett were married
Took a trip to Wyoming with Jena
Welcomed Aaron and Ashlyn into our lives
Ziva Jane made her debut
Talked myself into taking classes at UNL in the fall, very very hesitant on where this could take me.
Officially declared myself Pre-Dental and a Nutrition science major…but still secret.
Still a full time nurse.
Volunteered a lot
Studied more than I slept, but had the very best study buddy ever
Ended my first semester at UNL with straight A’s, and cried with my favorite PA after checking my grades at work. The turning point in my career being that very moment, as I had promised myself this would be what I had to prove myself I could do with work in order to be able to stay on that track.
Kept working at the derm clinic. After a near-career change they agreed to work with my school schedule and I was able to balance school and work.
I attended anything dental-related I could find and SOAKED it up! Also, met the very best dental buddy I’ve yet to meet, literally by accident in this crazy ride. Tressa is the best.
Landed a job opportunity at an amazing orthodontic office, which not only allowed me to maintain current wages, but also for the very first time in my life, allowed my schedule to be 100% flexible around school. I went PRN at the derm office and started full time the day after classes ended for the summer at UNL.
Spent the rest of the summer FULLY immersed in dentistry, learning anything and everything I could possibly absorb.
Lots of family visits and fun.
Heather and Austin were married
Visited Chicago for the first time
Remodled my office for the heavy studying ahead
Ran my first Market to Market, and the longest I’ve ever ran in my entire life up to that point.
Took a major leap outside my comfort zone and applied for a team leader position with Volunteers around the World, and was accepted, alongside my co-team lead Shelby. Honestly I don’t know what I would have done without her for the duration of the rest of my schooling. Nor would I likely have met her otherwise.
Shelby and I spent the rest of the year getting VAW established as a club, writing documents, getting a sponsor, interviewing students to volunteer with us, and keeping up with our coordinator.
More dental fun, more amazing dental friends
Another fluffy pupper
Too much studying to fathom.
But more Wyoming and sister time
Lots more paddleboarding
Became dental X-ray certified
Sam and Stephy were married
Studies paid off with honor society inductions that gave me motivation to keep going when life got hard.
Had to take a summer chemistry track in order to stay on track with my plan for applying to dental school, and also met my soul sister here. Since, not a week has passed that we haven’t seen or heard from eachother, and theres been many weeks and months we’ve spent an ungodly amount of our lives together. Thank god for awful summer chem classes. And for friends willing to stop studying and go run around in the rain to be your model when you forget about your digital communications assignments every freaking week.
Another Market to Market
More studies, but much better with an army
Was given the Francos List Award
Inducted into my favorite honor society, phi upsilon omicron.
Studied like life depended on it. Because it did.
Was surprised by Jake for my birthday, with a trip to new York on New years.
A month later, he asked me to marry him.
Started off the year with accepting another position to supplement income when classes began to take up nearly all the hours the clinic would have been open to for work. Back full circle to be a nurse for Interim, my first CNA job in Lincoln.
Also made a call that would later change my life, and began reaching out to an Army recruiter about the HPSP program.
One does not work in Ortho without figuring out all the issues with their own teeth, and thus, the adventure of adult braces began.
Fall break in Wyoming
Volunteers around the World kept going strong. Meetings finally started and we got to work on planning for the trip. Our main focus at that time was getting people there, so we spent a lot of our time fundraising privately and as a group.
(Also, insane sidenote. I just realized that the girl I’m talking to in this picture is actually my DCC roommate! We wouldn’t bunk together until 2019, but I guess technically we did meet prior! pretty cool!)
Then, it was off social media and disconnected from the world while cramming for and taking the DAT. After having the majority of my time for studying taken away for work, and after changing the study plan three times, it ended in my favor and with a great score that allowed me to be competitive for school and the Army HPSP program.
With the DAT out of the way and as much of my HPSP app completed as possible, the rest of the summer was spent fully immersed in preparing for our volunteer trip.
In July, 12 of us set out for the journey.
3 weeks in Peru,
The best host family ever
All the new food and drink we could find
Getting to hang out with some of the cutest and coolest people
A lot of dancing
Assisting our doctors in the clinic
A lot of love
A lot of lesson
A lot of friendship
Followed by a lot of adventure
And a lot of emotion and experience to take home from the life changing trip.
Straight into the final year of school and final stretch of intense pre-dental studies.
Interviews came and went
Then New England,
Midwestern (where we also took save the date pictures)
Within a couple months, acceptances came in, and a decision was made
Ran my third Market to Market
Ran my first Half Marathon
Might have missed the skers this year, but between traveling for interviews, and keeping up on studies, something had to win
Gathered my bridesmaids, wedding planned like a literal mad woman – handmaking every decoration and adornment.
Got my dress, sight unseen, from Ireland, and had a seamstress rip it apart and rebuild it with a vision.
Spent so much time on pinterest making alllll the dreamy boards.
Got the ever anticipated, and life-changing call for Army HPSP acceptance, in the early spring.
Bought my first big-girl car.
Jake’s mom and sisters threw a beautiful bridal shower for me in Madison
Wyoming spring break with the nieces
My sister threw me an amazing bridal shower at a lake house in Crete
Braces came off
Veneers went on to save my peg laterals and canines
Graduation, the day I had been dreaming of for 4 years
Had a girls weekend full of cabin camping, a wine festival, and all my favorite people for my bachelorette party
The day I finally got relief from that $90k (first year) tuition bill, and also gained a real sense of security. The day I committed to serve my country as a future Army dentist, commissioning as a 2LT. The day I started making more money as a student, than I ever had as a CNA, waitress, private home health aid, nanny, trail guide, or nurse – and for the first time, not having to worry about working multiple jobs, sacrificing sleep to study or work. It gave me a hope for the future, a guaranteed job after graduation, a guaranteed patient pool, and nearly half a million dollars in tuition guaranteed paid for. The ultimate turning point in life. Im grateful every day.
After a decade of dating, I married my best friend
Cherise’s bachelorette party in Vegas
East coast adventure with Jake to NYC, Montauk, Rhode Island, Connecticut, and Massachusetts.
Took my big girl niece Cora to her first day of kindergarten
Moved into a temporary apartment on campus, leaving my hubs and dogs in Lincoln until we found a way to make it all work smoothly. The hardest thing Ive yet to do.
Started my first day of Dental school.
Cherise and Kaintrel got married
Kelsey and Jared got married
Weekends were for commuting and studying, weekdays for class and studying. Missed my doggos and Jake 24/7. Spent fall break cleaning and packing, winter break finishing the packing. Listed the house after Christmas, and began looking for immediate occupancy rentals in Omaha. Fell in love with the first place we looked at together, and signed a lease to move in January.
Sold the house after 2 weeks on the market
With the help of our friends, said good-bye to our first home, and moved ourselves to Omaha in a location where Jake and I could live together yet split the daily commute in half.
With a better routine, and a much better sense of security, second semester went much better than the first.
Perhapse influenced by the fact that we finally got to get our hands on a high-speed every week, a happy break-up from constant lectures.
Also, finally started working on each other, be it perio probing every other week…it was still fun
Took some time off for friends
Concerts and hangouts with my favorite dental pal
Soaking up the sunshine as soon as it started to show
And not comprehending D1 being complete until a full day after finals cleared away.
But coping didn’t take long, as we jet setter a day later to a much needed paradise.
No stopping between, the day I landed back in Nebraska, I hit the road to celebrate Melissas bachelorette in KC
Kelsey and Rylee met me in Kansas City, and we left from the bachelorette party to drive to Texas to visit my dad.
Spent some time in Eden, and some time in Port Aransas reliving all of the summer adventures we had together as kids (not Kelsey, but she’s my best travel bud so had to steal her away for this one)
Ending the “short” summer break with a trip to Hays to see my nieces, and have Danny extract a tooth on army order.
Then back to school for 5 weeks.
Melissa and Andrew were married.
More fun picking on each other in the clinic
More sunshine and friends in light of a lighter summer schedule
Purchased my first OCPs and boots.
Devin and Mitch were married
Celebrated Kristies bachelorette party in Calamus
Left class early on Army orders, headed for Lawton Oklahoma to complete BOLC A (aka Direct commission course). A culture shock to say the least.
Found some of my now closest friends, met amazing humans, got a lot of dirt in my eyes, hair, and mouth. Sweated more than I thought ever possible. Laughed more than I had every thought possible. Pushed my limits and felt that high. Never imagined how thankful I would be from that experience.
Ziva turns 5
Kristie and Joe were married
I said YES to my beautiful friend Tressa’s big day!
Fall semester began with a sprint, making up for finals missed for bootcamp.
More lab work this semester brought sanity for some and hardship for others.
Still made time for Saturday mornings off to spend with friends and babe.
Took my first non-classmate patient
Got some Skers back in my life
And started a new business endeavor
Began to look forward to lab a little more each day
And all of the things coming in the next year
Brooke and Cody were married
Grandma turned 90
The mountains called
Then, unexpectedly, a trip to Europe over winter break also became possible.
Home for Christmas, two Christmas full of everyone together.
A decade of life lived. Of lessons learned. No amount of space can explain it all or offer freedom for every deep story and especially not the painful ones that deserve privacy.
I hope when I look back on this post it bring the overwhelming joy I feel today after writing it, and reflecting on all the details I had once forgotten, but am glad to have kept documented. I hope that in the next decade I continue to explore, and continue to seize the opportunities that are presented. I hope I’m proud of the decisions I have already made.
I hope this next year brings health, resolution of illness, strength to endure, motivation in studies and work, meaningful friendships, and open doors.