Santa Anita Loop Newbie

Back in April, I started hiking again to calm my nerves before my Exit exams and I feel that it really got me somewhat back into shape. During that time, I was able to phase out and control my intake of what I like to call “Asian Carbs” – which are like rice and noodles. However, since, these same carbs have found me, but that’s okay since I still have a hiking routine going.

A few weeks ago, my friends and I adventured out to the Santa Anita area to do the Santa Anita Loop. We started kind of early to ensure that we wouldn’t be out too long. It was a fairly nice day and the hike provided sufficient shade every so often to not have us borderline about to have a stroke.

In the past, I have done the part of the hike which includes Sturtevant Falls. With that particular trail, there are a number of creeks that you need to cross and I felt provided more shade than the Santa Anita Loop did.

 

 

Thankfully, one of my friend’s packed lunch and extra water because this hike was longer than I had anticipated. We did get lost on a few occasions, but still managed to make it out. After about seven hours of hiking and over 12 miles we actually completed the whole loop. I was so spent. But after the hike was done someone mentioned getting 7 Leaves (a cafe that sells my favorite Vietnamese Coffee and other delicious teas and boba). When 7 Leaves is mentioned, I’m a pretty agreeable person and even though I was disgustingly exhausted I was down for some iced tea. So off to Alhambra we went!

I hope to get a couple more of these kind of hikes in before the summer ends and work hopefully begins for me.

Till next time.

 

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By The Bonfire

It’s been a long while since I’ve gone to a bonfire – literally in the double digits of years. I realized last week that this has easily been the most I’ve gone to the beach in one summer in my entire life and to think summer has just really begun. There is something absolutely peaceful about the waters, sand, and rays of the sun. Mind you, I really do need that beach umbrella because the only part of my body that I don’t mind getting tanned are my albino legs. Other than that, wrap me up in the best sunburn repellent clothing there is.

My friends planned a nice day at Point Mugu which is well up the PCH and felt much further than my brain had anticipated – even with early game-planning on potential traffic at certain hours of the day. I had to head to school to do some pinning ceremony prep that day and once I was done, I made the trek with some of my other friends. Thank goodness I didn’t drive that drive alone because I may have gone a little crazy with all the winding roads out of Agoura Hills.

It was such a wonderful day to be in good company, food, and even music. It definitely was a nice way to kick off the summer season and the next chapter in our lives.

 

 

Till next time.

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The Road to Exits

My Bachelor of Science in Nursing Exit Examination was  just about a month ago, but I never got around to posting much about it.  As mentioned in my previous post, my exit exam was a 180-question exam to be completed within three hours. It essentially was a culmination of the whole program where everything and anything we learned over the last couple of years was fair game. My last term of nursing school was an 8-week review course of those topics to prepare for this exam. I had decided a earlier that I was not going to be one of those students who posted threatening handwritten signs on the limited amount of study room doors addressing the fact that they were studying for exits and should not be bother. That sense of entitlement and my-problems-are-bigger-than-yours is something I am definitely not about. I was thankful that my friends were game about getting a place just far enough from Los Angeles to study.

After my last topic-focused proctored exam before exits, I spent a couple of days of solo studying before heading out to Orange County for our exit review getaway. There was just something calming about being in the presence of my friends who were preparing for the same endgame. Granted I’m sure our stress were at different levels, but just being around each other, for me, was certainly calming. We spent three nights of reviewing, testing, drilling, and the mandatory wind downs at the end of the night.

We ended up checking out the morning the day before our exam. I had every intention of just relaxing the remainder of the day, but come 6:00 PM I was overcome with a cloud of sudden stress and studied till about 11:00 PM. Eeks. Because of that I was worried I would wake up with the same kind of anxiety for my 7:00 AM exam. However, when I woke up that morning, the calm I felt was something else. For such a crucial test, I was surprised I wasn’t hair-pulling, tachycardic, hyperverbal anxiety-ridden. But ain’t no complaints here. I took about 90 minutes on the test, and had to wait another two-hours to find out if I passed. The uncertainty in the room was scattered, but as soon as results were revealed the tears of joy, lots of laughter, and an overwhelming wave of feelings of accomplishment was felt throughout.

After taking multiple pictures, one of my friends had bought an absurd amount of party poppers and planned on heading to the top of our parking structure to essentially end with a big ol’ bang. Not to my own surprise, mine didn’t go off when everyone else’s did – but I rather would have failed this than my exam. That’s for sure.

We had only general plans for our post-exit celebrations. We ended up in Little Tokyo which is in Downtown Los Angeles. We had some lunch, drinks, and definitely did a whole lot of karaoke. I got to hang out with peers who I honestly never saw outside of school and it was really nice to be able to celebrate the completion of this journey together. At the end of the night, some of my closest friends and I closed it out with dinner at Perch.

All these lovely folks you see above could very well be your nurse one day and you would be in excellent hands – without a doubt.

As I prepare for my NCLEX, I’m going to try diligently to catch this blog up on my life because boy has this been looking sad.

Till next time.

 

What to do with all this time?

It seems that I missed my May 2018 post. Whoops. My apologies. So much for my 2018 resolution.

As you know, I was at the tail end of my Bachelor of Science in Nursing program, and two weeks ago I took my exit exam. Two years of prep work went into that 180-question exam and my world revolved around trying to keep my anxiety in check and getting through that exam alive.

AND I DID.

I am Kristina Crisostomo, BSN. Of course, I still have my NCLEX to take – which I hope to do within the next two months. But I have to say the hardest part of this chapter of my life is behind me.

In all honesty, and at the risk of sounding redundant, I could not have done it without the support and love from my family, friends, instructors, and COFFEE. I’ve been tested like I never have before, and the sense of accomplishment I feel as a result is ten-fold.

The day after my exam (after a whole day of partying it up with my now colleagues), I felt absolutely lost. I woke up with the only purpose of going hiking. I had no assignments to do, modules to run, practice tests to complete, or chapters to read. I was no longer a student and I did not know what to do with all this time.

Thankfully, it was my friend’s 30th birthday that next day so I got to see some of the faces I was quickly having withdrawals from. It was comforting to know that we all had the same sentiments waking up that morning. We had lunch, walked a bit of the 3rd Street Promenade, and spent the rest of the day at the beach.

Be ready for some post bombing over the next couple of weeks while I try and catch you guys up with my life.

Till next time.

Things just happen…

“Some things just happen, and we don’t get to know why.” – Dr. April Kepner (Grey’s Anatomy 14×17)

The month is almost ending. I have not had the time to sit down and actually write out this month’s blog. It’s been a rough couple of months. And this is an understatement. I think the reason why it’s been hard for me to write this entry is because of what I knew I wanted to talk about. I’ve been prolonging it for as long as possible, but because I’m trying hard to keep up with this New Year’s resolution, I’m going to have to push through.

2018 was off to a great start. As you know, I was not dwelling on the whole “New Year, New Me” crap that I feel most of us tell ourselves every year. I was hopeful for what 2018 was going to bring because I knew my end game. But life can throw you some curve balls and you somehow have to figure out how you’re going to keep yourself from falling apart.

Threes. Death always comes in threes. 

For the last 20 some years, our next door neighbors have been like family to us. We celebrate pretty much all holidays and milestones together, with their youngest being my goddaughter. Over the last three years, I had been helping my goddaughter’s grandmother with her at-home dialysis. Through this, we became incredibly close and she became like my “grandma” – having already lost all my grandmas. At the end of February, she passed away. One.

I have not mentioned it here yet, but a couple of years ago I made the decision to go back to school. I entered an accelerated nursing program and am graduating in less than a month. It’s been a constant test of mental and physical endurance. During this time, I was taking my final graded term and I was working hard at securing a goal I had made for myself when I first started the program. A fear I carried was losing my first patient. And about a week after I lost my “grandma”, I lost my first patient. Two.

After that 12-hour clinical rotation, I felt defeated, upset, and absolutely helpless. There was a lot of questioning of my knowledge, skills, what I could have done differently, and whether nursing is really for me. Having mourned that loss for a couple of hours, I found out my grandfather died. Fuck. My grandfather had been in my life since the day I was born. He knew me when I was still in utero. He was around for every milestone. And he’s the main reason I decided to go back to school for nursing. Three.

Because of other private issues that have happened in the last year or so, I haven’t gotten to visit him. I did not get to go to his funeral and it saddens me every day. It’s not until I’ve started writing this blog that I’ve actually been able to mourn his death and cry it out. Because of the first two deaths, school, and the anxiety of not being able to go to his funeral, it made it so incredibly hard to properly mourn.

It had to be business as usual and I had to try desperately to not have a mental breakdown. Somehow I was motivated even more to finish strong with what I started to ensure that he would be incredibly proud of me. It breaks my heart to pieces because he promised me he’d be there at my graduation cheering me on with bells and whistles.

Suffice it to say, it really has been a rough few weeks. But every day I’ve slapped on a smile, worked hard to ensure that I make him and my family proud, and mastered the art of avoidance and not think of all that was lost.

Three. Definitely not my favorite number.

I miss you.

Privilege.

A few weeks ago this was shared with me – a very powerful video on privilege (see below).

This video definitely put into perspective the countless times I’d complain about things being unfair, life being unfair, or those times I’d be so upset with my parents over minute things. All so petty.

As a child, I was lucky enough to go to private Catholic schools from Kindergarten all the way through to 12th grade. Growing up, I never had to worry whether there would be food on my plate, or if I’d be pulled out of school because we couldn’t afford it, or whether I’d have a warm bed to sleep in at night. Don’t get me wrong, we were not well-off by any means, but we had just what we needed. Both my parents worked, with my dad often pulling over time shifts, just in order to provide for the family and ensure that we could get by – even if we were living off paycheck to paycheck.

In middle school and high school, when technology started catching up with us, I know I was constantly begging to have the newest pager, cellphone, or even Tamagotchi (Lord, remember those?). Did I always get my way? No. Did I throw tantrums every time? You bet, I did. But looking back at it now, I’m even more grateful for my parents. Though I’m sure they wish they could give me what I wanted, they made sure I got at the very least what I needed.

This puts the “Privilege Race” back in the forefront. Privilege and opportunity. Loaded words at the very minimum. Some wonder why I try so hard. “Go have a life,” they say. And so on and so forth. What some don’t understand is integrated in this very video. Was I privileged when growing up? In this context, yes. So, I will not waste opportunities laid out in front me because of that. More than anything, I would love to repay my parents for allowing me to have a chance at these opportunities. I’d love for them to be able to retire soon and enjoy retired life. So, that’s why I try hard. There’s no excuse for me not to.

Take a couple of minutes to watch this and ask yourselves the same questions. After, what will you do now?

Till next time,

OUE Skyspace LA

A couple of months back, I signed up with the American Red Cross as a Blood Donor Ambassador. For the month of January, the blood drive I was helping out at was at OUE Skyspace Los Angeles, which is atop Downtown Los Angeles’ US Bank Tower – the second tallest building in Los Angeles (although I beg to differ). Easily my favorite event, thus far. The people I worked with had such a great energy that made the experience all the better.

If you know anything about me, I’m terrified of heights. I don’t know what happened in childhood that caused it, but I do remember a time when I was not afraid of heights. In order to get to Skyspace, I had to take two elevators to get to the 70th floor. The event space was beautiful – I only wished that it was a clearer day. A guy that worked there said that on a clear day you could see the ocean. Wow. Earlier in the shift, a handful of LAPD choppers flew by, and naturally we all waved as they waved back to us. Fun times.

After my six hour shift was done, I explored the observation decks on the 69th floor. Seeing Los Angeles from that perspective was breathtaking. Of course, we had our good share of smog hovering over the Los Angeles skyline. While I was up there I saw the receiving end of the Skyslide which they advertise as a 45-foot slide 1,000 feet above street level. At that point, I was ready to just go home. As I was leaving, one the employees saw me and convinced me that it was so quick you won’t have time to get scared.

You only live once right? I gathered up every ounce of courage I had and bit the bullet. They instructed me to go straight, don’t veer right or left, just stay centered. Who has the wherewithal to even do that?  As luck would have it, I kept on sticking to the left on my way down, and at the point I felt like I was genuinely going to die. However, I made it through and so glad that I could at least say that I did it.

I’ve definitely been starting the year off with a bang in my books. Hope you all are too.

Till next time.

 

2018 New Year, New Me?

As sure as you can count on the sun rising every morning, another year has come and gone and once again we’re faced with another 365 days of fresh opportunities and possibilities. Although, nothing quite life-changing happened to me in 2017, I can say that through my journey I’ve learned more about myself. About myself? With over three decades of existence, how much more can one learn about themselves? Well, tons actually. 2017 blew by so quickly, but now more so than ever, I’m even more convinced that I’m on the right path I was meant to be on. Not to minimize past experiences and knowledge I have acquired along the way, but without passion and certainty there’s no guarantee for positive outcomes. Of course, even then, there’s no guarantee in life. How cliché!

Is 2018 going to be another repetition of “New Year, New Me” redundancies, unattainable goals for self, and unrealistic resolutions? Yes and no. I’m too old for these “New Year, New Me” promises and I’m quite content with the “me” I am today. What would I like to see? I guess, just more of the same “me”. No matter how damaged and troubled we sometimes see ourselves, I feel that in all honesty we are the best versions of the “me” we are meant to be. We all rise and fall. But at the end of the day, we are no one else but our best self.

My feelings about 2018 are a little mixed. It’s the year of the dog and in the Chinese culture the number 8 brings the best of luck. It’s a big year for me with the last two years of blood, sweat, and tears (almost too literal) coming to fruition. The varying levels of anxiety, anticipation, apprehension, and excitement have been building up in intensity over the last couple of months – almost driving me mad. I’ve gained invaluable knowledge, made lifelong friendships, and truly figured out my purpose.

2017 was a busy year for me – not having ample time for family, friends, and myself. This year’s resolution is simple (and one I’ve made before), I need to take some time off for myself and reflect. With that, I would like to be able to write at least one blog entry per month. Not the craziest of resolutions, but a realistic one that will force myself to take time off for myself.

So, here’s to 2018. May it be the year you desire it to be. Cheers!

Atlanta Vibes

This following post has been sitting in my dashboard for about two months, about a trip that took place a month ago. When life gets busy, boy, does it.

2017 has definitely flown by. I cannot believe that it’s September already, and Los Angeles is definitely getting it’s share of the Summer heat. Last month, I was able to finally go on my first trip in over a year and a half – and it was well overdue. I traveled across the country to Atlanta to see the bestie, who I hadn’t seen since the same time last year. I was there for three nights and got my good share of the Atlanta heat, Hotlanta is no joke.

The flight to Atlanta was pretty smooth. Ended up watching “Fate of the Furious” and “27 Dresses” whilst still getting some work done.

On my first full day there, we did all your traditional tourist stuff like visiting CNN Center, World of Coca-Cola, the Georgia Aquarium, and riding the SkyView Atlanta. I also finally got to eat at Waffle House, which I’ve been seeing all over social media for years now, but because we don’t have it here, have never had a chance to try it. We had dinner at the ever classic Johnny Rockets (of course, I know we have this back home), but their Route 66 burger is the best.

The following day, we were super exhausted from all the walking we had done and decided to do low stimulus activities. We hit up the Starbucks Reserve so I could get my “You Are Here” Atlanta mug and we both tried The Melrose cold brew. We proceeded to spend the majority of our day at Ponce City Market. We didn’t think we’d be able to eat up the whole day, but after trying out all the food places and discovering this cute shop Sugarboo & Co., the day was pretty much over. We grabbed some sweets at Sweet Cheats bakery, and spent the rest of night watching movies and catching up at the bestie’s place.

On my last day, we head over to Suwanee to have brunch with the bestie’s mom and sister at Another Broken Egg Cafe (in Johns Creek), which ironically enough we have here in Burbank. Afterwards, we made the trek over to Jaemor Farms, where I had, by far, the juiciest peach ever. Didn’t know there was more than just your yellow and white peach! Apparently, they’re well known for their peach ice cream and pies, which were both actually quite tasty. We headed back to the condo where I had to repack my luggage, because somehow I still left with as much as came with. As a send-off, we watched the Backstreet Boys film (because why not?), then headed to airport.

I had so much work to do on the plane, but it was such a turbulent flight that I ended up just watching “Hidden Figures” and random “Law & Order: SVU” episodes to make time fly. Eventually, I was able to fall asleep and by the time I woke up, the plane was already starting to descend for landing at LAX.

I had so much finally being to get away for a few days and spend some quality time with bestie. My next getaway probably won’t happen till next summer.

Till next time.

Lucky.

The other week was the first of 2017’s emotional rollercoaster weeks for me. A lot of ups and downs in one week, that by week’s end I was in a funk that I tried (not all too successfully) to shake off and mask with a smile and laughter. I was once again reminded of how lucky I am to live the life I do. I’m lucky to have been given a solid upbringing by my parents, which was fostered by 13 years of good ol’ Catholic school. However, because of that I forget that this is not the case for everyone.

Behind every smile is a story. We automatically think that a person with a euthymic affect has a pretty put together life. Not always the case. Once you pull down the layers, you find so much more than just that smile, and like it or not, what you find may not always be pretty. Which in turn causes me to do some hard self-evaluations. My issues and problems seem so trivial and not worth the belly-aching I often times give it. Note to self: count your lucky stars.

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