Life has been rather challenging in the past year, but it’s not all bad. There have been rainbows after the storms, so to speak. And there have definitely been a lot of goodness and moments of connection. I’ve also had so many opportunities for space to tune inward again, to listen to the universe again, and to live even more intentionally and authentically.
Last spring, shortly after returning from Central America, it was almost a whirlwind that an opportunity for a travel SLP assignment came to me from central California. I had actually just signed a SNF contract in the suburbs outside of Chicago and was preparing to relocate there with my boyfriend. The facility had apparently just looked through my traveler profile and didn’t even request a phone interview. But that wasn’t the strange part. My heart or my intuition could just sense that something wasn’t 100% and I didn’t want to move forward, but I couldn’t pinpoint why.
Oddly enough, within a couple days of signing my new Illinois contract, the facility reported a drop in census and a traveler was no longer needed. So, my contract got rescinded. I wasn’t upset, though. I was mostly just confused, as this had never happened to me before, though I knew that it does happen.
I was ready to work as a SLP again, ready for a shift in focus after my break in Central America, and also feeling depleted from having worked so hard on an intense video editing project that was created to help and to give a voice to individuals who have been traumatized by psychiatry and the mental health system.
But my nervous system was still struggling to catch up and calm down. Something in me could tell there was a lot of emotional processing and healing that needed to happen — it’s gotta be that empath in me attaching to everyone’s stories and feeling their suffering so deeply.
In addition, this video project was a collaboration with my boyfriend and we are both high achievers who also care a lot about humanity, so let’s just say there was some real, intentional communication that needed to happen between us. Unhealed wounds had resurfaced for the both of us under a lot of stress and we didn’t know how to work through them. We each had our habitual ways of reacting and coping on our own. At the time, I wasn’t exactly allowing space for working through them either — I just wanted to move on to the next thing! It was as if the universe knew this.
So the SNF contract in the suburbs didn’t work out, but we still decided to go visit with my family in the city. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to enjoy myself and be present. I was starting to feel frantic and pressured to be working again. It had been five or six months since my last travel assignment. I needed to feel useful again. But still, the job market there was dry. Plenty of SNF positions were open 3+ hours south, but that wasn’t what I was looking for at the time. I was being picky.
About a week later, my recruiter contacted me about a great opportunity that had opened up in the central valley of California. He was always keeping an eye out for acute care openings for me because it’s been my preferred setting, and of course, California reliably has plenty of travel jobs just because of the lack of SLPs in underserved areas. To boot, this assignment would be a mix of acute care and outpatient, in addition to being a hospital corporation I had previously worked in during another travel assignment. So I couldn’t help but think to myself this was a synchronicity. Maybe a sign?
I went ahead and agreed to a phone interview to learn more about the opportunity. I wasn’t sure what to decide since driving way back out to the West Coast was not something I had been wanting or planning. So I sort of surrendered to the universe, to fate, to decide what was best for me at the time.
Ultimately, I accepted the assignment and had a really positive experience. It was an exceptional fit. I got to work with adults and children. I felt in my element, even though I did overwork myself most days. I even got to connect with a bunch of wonderful like-minded travelers, many of whom have become really great friends. And my boyfriend, we became long-distance again for a while, but I noticed we were more intentional about it. That’s progress. We flew to places to visit with each other for long weekends once a month throughout my travel assignment.
It was a 13-week assignment and I ended up extending only six weeks before driving back across the country, this time having a part-time SNF assignment lined up in Massachusetts, which is where my boyfriend and I originally met each other in 2014. It felt fitting to relocate back to where it all started in order to reconnect and rebuild with intention — something poetic about that.
So here I am, fast forward six months. It’s been a worthwhile journey for sure and I’m doing better with befriending my shadows and learning that to heal is to trust. To trust that everything will work out at the appointed time and to trust that we are taken care of really make a huge difference in being able to allow ourselves (and our relationships) to grow and strengthen organically.
As a result of the global coronavirus pandemic, my newest job contract came to an unexpected halt earlier this month. It was a fulfilling short-term position covering at a local middle school, although not through a travel company. Motivation and inspiration came to me and I decided now is a good time to get back into writing and to build this new home for The Traveling SLP; a good time for reflection on my path and all my travels.
Subsequently, I have (finally) put together my answers to frequently asked questions compiled by recent grads/new clinical fellows in the field of speech-language pathology. After all, how can we be clear about the direction we are heading if we forget where we come from and forget to acknowledge how far we’ve come? Check back soon for updates to my FAQs section!
Until next time, may the stars above and the stars within bring you a sense of hope and inner peace amid all the chaos, courage to lean into the uncertainty, and trust that everything will be okay.