Categories
A Little Lost, A Little Found Shorts Stories

Ditch – Flash Fiction

I joined a writing group. I do not consider myself a writer, but I have a good amount of time on my hands and thought this could be fun.

Every month we receive a prompt and a word limit. If this sounds like something you’d enjoy too, check it out here.

As terrifying as it is to share this, I find myself thinking, “Why not put it out there?” This blog page is for fun anyways and you, dear friends, might enjoy a short story now and then.

Since short story writing is now becoming a van life hobby of mine, I figured I might as well start sharing.

Here’s Story #1 – the prompt was Ditch and the word limit was 300 words. I tried to improve it a tad before posting here. If you find the need to give me feedback, please do! But, please phrase it gently and kindly.

Enjoy!

DITCH

He hangs his head and stares into the six-by-six foot chasm. He checks the corners for a perfect 90 degree angle. He assesses the floor, smooth as stone. “Good work, Tony.” Tony, the intern, nods his thanks to the boss.

Locals believe grave plots are finite spaces, but he knows they hold an infinity’s worth of secrets and fears. The one he dug last week cradles the body of a 16 year old. Drowned. A few paces north, there’s a neighborhood of tragedies who died prior to their first birthday. Today’s abyss awaits the body of an elderly man. Cancer. He left behind a wife and children. His family might have loved him, they might even miss him, but they’ll never know his secrets. The grave digger knows.

He can’t count the years he’s been preparing death beds and guiding townsfolk into the afterlife. They say the mail never stops, try taking a break from ditch digging for corpses. He chides himself for such calloused humor. The dead deserve better.

Maybe he needs a vacation.

He could put Tony the intern in charge, his works continues to improve. But, if left alone Tony would likely leave gaps in the dirt for the spirits to escape. Horrified, he imagines the havoc it would wreak if a ghost wandered out of ground and into town. The paperwork.

He could show him the right way to pack the dirt. Again. He sighs. He shouldn’t blame Tony. 

It’s actually that demanding night shift keeping him away from hot sand and endless ocean. He glances at the setting sun, “Gotta go Tony.”

“Bye, Boss.”

He walks into the equipment shed where he stores the night uniform. He glances over his shoulder to be sure Tony has started walking home in the opposite direction. 

One sleeve at a time, he pulls on the black cloak. Then, he lifts the black hood, and grabs his ancient scythe.

Vacation, ha. As if.

Categories
crafting/creating Just for Fun travels/travel nursing

Chase the Voyage

At first, this might seem – oh, I dunno – cliché? forced? derivative? But, “chase the voyage” isn’t meant to be slouch-y. This phrase is meant to inspire and motivate.

I was working on some products to add to my Etsy Shop and thought, “What do I want to wear? What designs do I like?” This might seem ego-centric to be sure, but the questions came from a podcast called Creative Pep Talk. He suggested that whatever art form you create, you should use/wear/enjoy yourself. Specifically, he said he started wearing the t-shirts he designed. He agreed that it felt selfish and awkward at first, but he now finds immense joy in wearing his own designs — because he likes what he makes! So, I’m taking his advice to heart and designing things I like.

It’s simply too hard for me to guess at what other people will buy and enjoy. There’s a million and one websites encouraging you to “do market research” and “find your niche”. I’m not sure what’s wrong with me, that just feels overwhelming right now. So, I’m starting small. My decision was, “If I like it, there’s got to be someone else out there that will like it too.” And, I like the phrase, “Chase the Voyage”.

Voyage felt appropriate, because it best describes this thing called, “van life”. You might accidentally find yourself on a “journey”, but voyages are taken with forethought. As for “chase” – I wanted to encourage myself (and followers) to chase that voyage with certainty, effort, and passion. Interestingly, the french word for “to hunt” is “chasser” – very similar looking to “chase” and a good reminder that chasing involves intent & destination & hopefully success.

The bottom left corner of the design is a silhouette of the Tetons in Wyoming, the cactus silhouette comes from our voyages into Southern Utah and Nevada, and the night sky was inspired by the vastness of stars we saw in Idaho. These adventures didn’t happen by accident, it took effort (as chasing something does). We chased these voyages and marveled at the wildernesses and beauty of the American West.

So, now I have an adorable tote bag with my own design, which I love. It’s ready to go as a reminder to myself to keep chasing my voyages – because, I have yet to regret any of them.

Want your own tote bag too? Tap the picture to head to Etsy!
Or click here: https://www.etsy.com/listing/951434804/chase-the-voyage-tote-bag-with-original?ref=shop_home_active_2&frs=1

Happy voyaging,

Hanna

Categories
A Little Lost, A Little Found health journey recipes

The “Trick Yourself into Eating an Avocado” Smoothie

Maybe you like avocados, maybe you don’t. Let’s jump into the recipe and I’ll explain the rest later.

How to Make It:

This recipe can make anywhere from 12-20 ounces of smoothie, depending on what you add in. I find myself grabbing handfuls of this or that and tossing it in. I tried to be more precise here for you.

Pour the water into your jar first. If you add the optional ingredients, increase the water to 1 cup. The more water you have, the runnier – so, you can decide the consistency you enjoy most. The splash of stevia just gives it a little sweet bite, like a cherry on top.

Then, toss in the sliced and diced ingredients and blend it up!

This is an easy way to get all the nutrients of an avocado without actually tasting the avocado, which I do not enjoy. The more berries and fruit you add, the less you’ll taste the avocado. Even if you do blueberries alone, they’re tasty enough to cover up the avocado. This treat is a great way to give you tummy a break from it’s hard work digesting, while also getting some good nutrients in your day. Just think, a whole avocado!

Variations:

Smoothies generally taste better when they’re cold. So, you can make the smoothie and put it in the fridge overnight. Or, you can freeze at least 1 of the ingredients, I’d suggest either the avocado or blueberries.

I’ve been learning that smoothies don’t have to be precise like baked goods. Go heavy on the things you really like (i.e. blueberries) and make sure there’s enough water or milk to keep the consistency smooth.

So, this could be a three ingredients smoothie: avocado, blueberries, water. Or, it could become a morning fruit bowl! : avocado, blueberries, raspberries, lemon juice, apple, banana, etc.

Usually, I keep it to the basic recipe. Today, however, I added in a little apple and a little banana, because they were lying around in the van kitchen.

Yum, Yum:

Now for the background. I can’t believe how easy this recipe is. I used to make it everyday for breakfast and would think to myself, “I’m eating a whole avocado. There’s no way I’d be doing that otherwise.” Avocados are gross! I don’t like the flavor or consistency. When I get a little chunk in my smoothie, I grimace and choke it down. However, it seems to absorb all the other flavors around it. So, while the original recipe I found calls for 1/4 cup of berries, I always find myself dumping in a bit more.

On the other hand, avocados are nutritious! I want to consume them, I just struggle finding a tasty way to do so. Here are a few benefits of avocados (which I briefly summarize from Healthline.com):

  • Vitamins B, C, E, & K
  • Small amounts of magnesium, manganese, copper, iron, zinc, phosphorous and vitamins A, B1 (thiamine), B2 (riboflavin) and B3 (niacin)
  • Potassium
  • Soluble Fiber
  • High [healthy] fat, low carb
  • Helps increase the nutrient absorption from other foods your eating it with
  • Antioxidants
  • Some other great things are might be true like fighting cancer and helping you lose weight

This morning, I was fighting a bout of insecurities and feeling brain fog when I felt my body screaming, “Feed me real food!” As opposed to the cheese and crackers I had been eating.

While we should be careful not to use food as a crutch, hero, or reward – sometimes, our hearts and brains are crying out for real nutrients. And this morning, this smoothie hit the spot and made everything seem all better.

So, if you’re an avocado hater – don’t give up yet, just give this smoothie a try and add in extra berries or coconut milk!

Let me know if you give it a try! And if you do, let me know if you like it!

Final Note – The approach I take to my recipes are always with colitis/autoimmune disease in mind. It’s very difficult to find sugar free/grain free recipes, so I’m on the hunt to find and share them here!

Sincerely,

Hanna

PS – Want to keep this recipe and my other treats for yourself? Grab a copy here!

Categories
A Little Lost, A Little Found Just for Fun

The Nomad’s Book Club

Last week I was struck by this thought….

There’s got to be other ‘nomadic’ women (girl-mad, anyone?) out there with extra time on their hands who get a little bored and a little lonely like me. What if we could gather digitally and commune over a shared love of reading?

So, I asked around and about 10 women actually agreed to join my group!

My plan is to hold weekly meetings and while the membership is small, I will be inviting them to participate live in the discussion. My hope is that it will provide each of us with a meaningful social connection.

In the long run, I’d love for this to turn into a membership site providing connection to all sorts of location independent female workers. Right now, we have a few digital nomads with us and a few travel nurse spouses like me.

Our first book we will read is called, The Huntress by Kate Quinn. If you’re someone who gets a little bored and would like to join click here! Have you been in an online book club? What did you like or dislike? I’d love some ideas. In the mean time, I’ll bring some updates about our thoughts on the book!

Until next time,

Hanna

Categories
A Little Lost, A Little Found van build

Our New Van Won’t Start!

We did it! We bought the van and drove it across the street in search of food. We walked in to Panera, then back out with some dinner. We hopped in the van, analyzing how far we could drive through the night before stopping. Ivan turned the key and heard a long beeping sound. Click forward, nothing. We each take a deep breath, glance at each other, and he tries again. Turns the key, nothing. Neither of us are quite ready to say it, but, “We own this piece of junk now. What have we done?” I had just written a check for something in the area of $18,000 for something that won’t start.


An hour earlier we were “inspecting” the van. We took it for a test drive and didn’t hear any scary noises. We glanced over the body and at the tires, but nothing seemed to say, “I’m a problem”, except for the missing door handle. We stopped in a parking lot close by and tried to talk through any concerns we might have had. We couldn’t talk ourselves out of it. Nerves tensed from head to toe, but tummy jumped in excitement! Ok, we decided. Let’s do this.

After waiting in the office for 7,000 hours while the Financing department ran a credit check (and who knows what else) they handed us the keys and waved goodbye. How is it that only 30 minutes later the van doesn’t start?


I texted the salesman right away. He tried to assure me that the battery was new, everything had been checked out, but he knew and I knew – this is was not okay. To his credit, he drove right to us even though he was off the clock and ready for a relaxing evening. He dropped us off at a hotel and promised to reimburse it.
That night and the next morning we couldn’t help but wonder, “Did we just make a huge mistake? What could possibly be wrong with it? Better now than halfway through Nebraska.”


In the morning, we Uber’ed back to the dealership with bags in tow. They assured us they checked the engine, batteries, etc. Apparently, Ram ProMaster’s have a key issue. If you turn it too fast, it locks up. They promised this was it and that it was even a recall issue that could be resolved.


Tentatively, we took the keys back and rumbled out onto the road in hopes that we would make it 1,400 miles back to Utah.

So, we bought the van. It’s a 2017 Ram ProMaster 2500, extended. We bought it for $16,500 and ended up paying another $1,500 or so in fees and taxes (yuck).


We are ready to take on the challenges that come our way. For better or worse, it’s ours now and there’s no going back.


Much Love,

Hanna

Categories
A Little Lost, A Little Found travels/travel nursing van build

Back in Action

He’s home! He’s finally home!


It could have been 4 weeks or 18 weeks, once Ivan walked out of the airport and into my arms the pain of missing him dissolved into relief. Like putting on a favorite old t-shirt, we fit together just right as if no time had passed – but, we also felt a little more tender and little more grateful to be together.

Moments after reuniting at the airport

In no time we were planning for the future. I put in my noticed at school that I would not be returning in the fall. Ivan and I felt like now is the time to do something a little daring, a little crazy.

We spent a year traveling in the past. Ivan is a nurse and there is a position called, “travel nurse”. A travel nurse gets hired with a company who has relationships with hospitals. The hospitals come say, “We need nurses” and the company sends the nurses. Ivan had an employed, but worked at 5 hospitals during the year. We lived in Maine, California, Idaho, and then back to Utah.

With this experience under our belt, we had been toying with the idea of traveling nursing again but this time, with a trailer or camper. We had fun living in different apartments and AirBnB’s. There was something satisfying about knowing, “I can only keep what fits in the car.” On the flip side, we had to hunt for the perfect furnished apartment and be willing to pay a premium for said furnishings.

Ivan’s recent contract in New Jersey gave us just enough cash to buy a Ram ProMaster van – this has quickly become our next adventure. After a few weeks of emotional recovery and van hunting, Ivan found one that might work. After a few days of me applying a bit of wifely pressure, we agreed to buy a ticket to Chicago. We texted the dealership on Sunday to set an appointment, bought the flights, and will land on Monday. I’m so anxious, but excited.

My mind leans toward worst case scenarios, so let’s play Worst Case Scenario: we arrive and the van has been sold, and there are no other alternatives. In that case, we would find lodging and a ticket home. We spent $550 getting there, so that would be easily $1,000 for nothing but a story. Maybe such a story/failure/mistake wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world, but I certainly dread it. Now, I have to focus on belly breathing so my body doesn’t stress and switch to sympathetic mode. Next scenario – we go, the van is there but for some reason or another, it’s not a good fit and we walk away. The consequences are the same as above. Final scenario – we go, we just spent $550 getting there, so we talk ourselves into something we don’t actually want just because of what it took to get there. I guess this isn’t worst case scenario, because the price of the van is $16,000. That leaves us $4,000 in the budget for fixing up unseen problems.

This brings us back to our original decision making. There are new vans with lots of miles, old vans with less miles, higher cost, lower cost – so it becomes a matter of fitting all those pieces together. We were debating between a $20,000 van and a $16,000 van. We settled on the cheaper one with the understanding that there will likely be those pesky car problems you don’t foresee and we’d at least have an extra $4,000 to put toward it. $4,000 goes a long way in car maintenance.

Now, we are sitting at the airport, waiting minute by minute for boarding to begin. I’m scared, excited, I feel a bit reckless, but I also feel like an adventure-seeker. Sure, I’ll be skipping out on work and haven’t thought through those consequences. Sure, we’ll be setting ourselves up for a 20 hour drive back and haven’t thought through those consequences. But, away we go.

Much Love,

Hanna
#vanlife#newadventures

Categories
A Little Lost, A Little Found van build

Are you a little lost?

Hi there! My name is Hanna, and lately, I’ve been feeling a bit lost. Quite a bit lost. Can you relate? In fact, getting older hasn’t helped much. I seem to feel more and more like a wanderer.

Right out of high school, I went into college not quite knowing what my major would be, so I blended three of them. Upon graduating, I didn’t know what career field to jump into between teaching, business, or government, so I applied to a Master’s program. Upon being accepted, I bought an extra two years of safety in schooling. It was nice to know, “Here I am. Here’s where I’m going. I’m in school, I’m going to get a degree and for the next 2-4 years, I don’t really have to think about other things.” I graduated with a Master’s degree in French Language and Literature. This is the degree you get when you are considering teaching, and generally teaching at the upper levels. Are you surprised to find out I didn’t end up doing that?

I hesitate to continue this introduction, because I’m feeling a bit vulnerable. Perhaps you as a reader may be thinking, “Oh wow, six years of college? Poor you.” I’m not complaining about my education, I value it! I love the content of the things I studied. I just didn’t know what that would look like as a career trajectory.

After graduating, I worked as a bilingual credit specialist, meaning I made companies pay their late bills – and sometimes I did it in French. Talk about imposter syndrome (we’ll get into that later). One year later, I decided to take the plunge into teaching! I taught Kindergarten, French immersion for 2 years. This is where the real wandering begins. My husband and I decided to take a chance on travel nursing. He would get 13 week contracts at various hospitals, and I would teach online with VIPKid. We missed our home and family, I missed the Kindergartners and stability of the classroom. We traveled for a year and came back. I thought I had been found! Yay! Back in the classroom! This is where I belong.

Then again, maybe not. One more year of Kindergarten, and the first 4 or 5 months I was utterly exhausted, super stressed, and dreaded the day. The days are so long in Kindergarten. I went from complete freedom, going wherever I wanted to go and any time, back into the classroom regimen – Monday through Friday 8-4.

I’m a little embarrassed writing down the changes year over year. How can anyone respect a person who changes her mind every 1-2 years? Am I the only one who is so lost? I love kids and I love teaching, but maybe not for 7 hours a day, five days a week, with a combined total of 50-60 students (AM and PM classes). I look around at my colleagues on our Zoom meetings and wonder, “Am I the only one here who’s kind of enjoying these quiet moments of remote teaching?”

So, here I am on the internet with binoculars on gazing around to see if anyone else can relate. My hope is with this blog, we’ll be able to journey through being lost & being found together.


Much Love,

Hanna