June / Julia
Name: Julia Hudson
Lives in: Lexington, KY
Alma mater: University of Kentucky
Takes her coffee: Black with creamer
Last book read: A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle
Works at: Good Samaritan ER in Lexington, KY as a Registered Nurse
Responsible for: Everything including starting IVs, collecting blood work, administering medicine, triaging patients, filling out assessments, communicating with doctors, etc.
She Is Balanced: You just bought your first house in June this year! What made you choose this one?
Julia Hudson: It was so affordable - I got it for $135k in a nice neighborhood, and I needed a place to live, like, right now. It has a decent size yard, and any improvements we do to it are going to skyrocket the value. It felt like a wise decision, ‘cause I was either going to lease or buy a house for another year. It’s cute; it’s bungalow style. I put a bunch of tomato seedlings in the ground in the first week. They’re getting big!
SIB: Have you always gardened?
JH: [In college] I would bring plants home from the grocery store. It started in my window, and then I didn’t have enough window space. So I would ask my roommates if I could borrow some space in their rooms, and it just started expanding. I’ve done smaller scale things since then, and now I have no restrictions. Every day I’ve had off, I’ve been digging up some ground.
SIB: What’s your favorite plant to grow?
JH: Veggies. I have 14 types of heirloom tomatoes right now. My favorite flower right now is yarrow, and that’s what I named my dog after.
^ Yarrow, Julia's 3 year old dog
SIB: What have you learned from your dog?
JH: Maybe this isn’t what I’ve learned from him, but what he’s given me is - and a lot of people say this about their dogs - I’m always his favorite person, and I don’t have to do anything. I had a period of depression last year, and a little bit of this year, and I could lay in bed all day and he was like, “I’m just going to sit here with you.” You don’t have to perform for a dog to like you. I’m obsessed with my dog. He’s very intelligent. He’s ninety pounds. He’s a very cuddly dog and likes to be the little spoon. It’s wonderful.
SIB: Yarrow goes with you on road trips and such, right?
JH: Yeah. When I travel nursed, I took him with me everywhere. My whole friend base was here in Kentucky and [being away] got lonely. If I didn’t have my dog, I wouldn’t have done it.
SIB: How does travel nursing work?
JH: There are temporary travel nursing positions for hospitals that need to fill in the employment gaps quickly. In reality they always need somebody, ‘cause staffing is always short. I just wanted to make some more money, get out of Lexington for a while. I was in North Carolina and El Paso, Texas, and after a year, I was like, “Eh, I’m done.” *laughs*
SIB: Did you get worn out from being away from your friends?
JH: Yeah, I think that was most of it. I have friends here that are like my family.
SIB: It’s been hard to do things with friends over the past few months, due to closed businesses and self-quarantining. How did you stay connected with your friends this season?
JH: We’ve been doing a lot of porch hangs. I did a birthday party for my boyfriend, and had people bring a picnic blanket to the front yard and sit separately, and we said bring your own food and drinks. Working with CoronaVirus so much, [we’ve learned] it’s not spreading quite as easily as we thought, at least unless you’re coughing, so I’ve loosened up my quarantine circle a little bit.
Part of the reason I moved back to Lexington was that a friend of mine was having a baby, and I wanted to be here for her. I hung out with her as often as I could. Then the virus happened and we weren’t hanging out anymore. She’s a single mom, and I was like, “How long do I want to keep them out of my circle? I want to be an aunt to this baby.” So we hang out, I kiss the baby. I’m considering her somebody that lives with me. And my coworkers, if we hang out outside of work, we’re like, “We’re around each other all the time anyways.” I just tested negative for the virus, so I feel fine about it.
SIB: A lot of people dealing with homelessness come through your ER. What can you do to help them?
JH: If a homeless person doesn't know about local resources, we can teach them about the different shelters in town. But the truth is, they all know about it. If they're truly choosing to sleep outside, they've either gotten kicked out of too many shelters or they don't want to be there ‘cause of certain people or the rules. We have a clothes closet. We can send people out with better clothes and shoes. I'm trying to get John's Run/Walk Shop to donate, ‘cause people buy new running shoes there and just dump [their old ones]. We always need men’s shoes, jackets and blue jeans.
SIB: How has your own experience with depression shaped how you care for patients?
JH: I love the mental health side of [my job]. We’re the intake point for a lot of people in a crisis, and I think having my own struggles gave me a lot of perspective. I feel like I’ve always had a good understanding of mental health, but [that deepened when] I had thoughts in the morning like, “I wouldn’t care if I never woke up. I wouldn’t care if this day never started.” Very vague thoughts with no intention. So when I’m comforting someone at the ER, I can honestly say to them, “I’ve been somewhat in your situation, and things are going to feel better eventually.”
SIB: Was caring for others what got you to a healthier place?
JH: I had started going to therapy. No amount of that was actually helping. I realized, I’m doing all the right things to try to pull myself out of this, and nothing’s working. So it was a chemical problem at that point, and I started an antidepressant. I really love my [current] therapist. It’s hard to be comfortable with somebody, and I was immediately comfortable with her.
SIB: Listening to others’ experiences has been a big topic lately. How do you offer others generous listening?
JH: At work, if someone doesn’t feel listened to, they feel like they’re not being cared for - even if we’re doing everything medically right for them. So listening to what’s going on with their body, what they’re worried about. Not saying “Don’t be worried about that,” but explaining to them, “I think you’re okay, and here’s why.” We get people coming in, freaking out, and you’re like, “You have acid reflux; you’re fine. You’re not dying.” *laughs*
And with everything going on, I think I’ve been trying to be aware of how in the hospital, we’re affected by racism. There was a study done where African-Americans were offered less pain management, and their complaints of abdominal pain weren’t taken as seriously, like they might not get a CT scan when a white person would be offered one. White silence is white consent, and we need to show up during this time. I feel like my coworkers are really good about that, but I’m trying to be hyper aware of it.
SIB: You’re surrounded by so much chaos and pain every day. How do you not take that home with you?
JH: Sometimes I get home and I have to talk about stuff. I think about it briefly, and then I’m fine. That didn’t used to happen when I was a new nurse. I would be upset about something for days. I think there is some level of hardening that happens, but not in a bad way. When I’m at work, most of the time I feel compassionate, but when I come home I can turn it off. And gardening helps. That’s my main outlet.
SIB: Tell me about your tattoos! Do you have a lot of line-based ones?
JH: Yes. *gestures to right ear* This one, my friend Emily did on me and my friend Abby. A couple of other friends have gotten them since, so they’re kind of like friendship tattoos. It didn’t start out that way, it was just like, “Oh, I want one too.” *points to tattoo* And then this one I got in Sweden. I visited the brother of one of my best friends from Papua New Guinea, but we were also friends, now that we’re all adults. I worked on his wife’s dreads in exchange for a tattoo. That was special because he did my first tattoo in high school. *points to her ankle* It was supposed to be the Southern Cross, which has five stars. It was the night before I flew away from Papua New Guinea, and he was like, “We don’t have time for five stars. How’s one?” And I was like, “Sure.” *laughs*
SIB: Did you spend your whole childhood in Papua New Guinea?
JH: Pretty much. I was in the States for 2nd-3rd grade, and 7th-8th grade. But when we were in the States we lived in a missionary center, so I didn’t have an "American" experience. I did go to public school in 8th grade, which was awful. It was so weird being in a school where not everybody was your friend, and getting teased for the first time. I got in trouble because I pushed a guy into the lockers who was talking bad about one of my friends. I wasn’t trying to be bad, I was just like, “What did you say?”
SIB: Why did you choose to go to college in the States?
JH: [One of my best friends], Becca, and I grew up in Papua New Guinea. Her dad was helping Becca look for colleges, and he knew that I wanted to do an equine thing, so he told me about Asbury. [Asbury University is one of two faith based colleges with a four-year equine program in the entire U.S.*] Becca was applying, so I was just like, “I’ll apply too.” In the back of my head I wanted to do healthcare, but I was like, “Maybe I want to do veterinary.” Now I wish I hadn’t done Asbury, because that’s where most of my debt is. Nobody talks to you about debt!
SIB: I recently watched a YouTube video where a young nurse shaved her head because she was tired of washing her hair every day. Is that why you shaved yours?
JH: With COVID, we were wearing so much protective equipment, on and off, on and off. You're putting on your N95, then another mask, then you're putting on a hairnet and glasses. And sometimes we wear the surgical caps to try to keep our hair down. Somehow, between every patient, I was having to mess with my hair. And it was so annoying.
SIB: Did you shave your head yourself?
JH: I had some friends from work come over and help. A lesbian woman that I work with, I wanted her to shave my head. I thought because she had short hair that she [knew how]. And then when she was doing it, she was like, “I've never done this before.” I was like, “That's why I asked you! I thought you had!” *laughs* It was funny. I'm just going to enjoy it shaved for the rest of the summer.
SIB: Do you feel really confident?
JH: Yeah. I mean, I was before. A paramedic at work nicknamed me GI Julia.
SIB: Do you like that?
JH: I do. *grins* One time I came in [to assess] a drunk patient, and he was like, "Sir?? Ma'am??" I just said, “Don't worry about it.”
SIB: You got electrolysis a few years ago! How scary is it?
JH: It's not scary. It's a little bit painful, but it's just a prick over and over again. Laser hair removal, you have to keep going back, but electrolysis, they actually zap the root. I had a decent mustache; it's just genetic. I love the women who have a mustache and rock it and don't care, but I don't personally want that. My goal is to have low upkeep. I don't shave my legs. So to me, the ease of getting ready is helped by not having to shave a mustache.
SIB: There’s definitely been a shift towards American women not shaving.
JH: Not shaving my legs was a New Year's resolution. Anytime I let it grow out, I had these words going through my head, like “manly,” “gross.” I thought these things about my own legs and I wanted to stop. ‘Cause I'm a woman, and women grow hair. And it's just so much work. Once you stop shaving, it's like, why did I spend so much time on that?
SIB: You’re currently reading A New Earth [by Eckhart Tolle]. Is reading one of your hobbies?
JH: I have to make myself do it, which is sad, because growing up, I read a book a week. I loved reading and I would walk to school reading - almost ran into a car a couple of times. I would want to read if we had any free time. I was always in another world. And nursing school killed that for me because for three years, I didn't have time to read. It got harder and harder for me to relax and focus on a book. I felt like I always had to be like doing something.
SIB: What hobbies are easier for you to enjoy?
JH: I like rock climbing, although that's been put on hold with the virus. There's no way you can safely go to the climbing gym. But we are planning on making a climbing wall in my garage. That's an interesting project. A lot of people have little garage climbing walls. You can do a whole backside and different angles and just have a bunch of mattresses down. We've already ordered some holds.
SIB: What other goals do you have right now?
JH: Being financially stable.
SIB: You value your alone time. How do you ensure that you get it?
JH: Sometimes I have to actively seek that out. The first week we were in the new house, people were over constantly helping us move, and I was either at work or with people. [Finally] I just told my boyfriend, “We're not hanging out today.” And he put headphones in and did something in the yard and I put things away in the kitchen. I needed my own thoughts for two hours.
SIB: What do you love about yourself?
JH: I like my personality. I like my inner thoughts. [I’m learning that] my job, my boyfriend, my friends, my dog are all things that aren't really me. Myself at my core is separate from all those things. [That's what] A New Earth is about.
SIB: How has learning that encouraged you?
JH: Just having appreciation and love for my spirit, aside from anything that I've made of my life or anything that I do on a day to day basis.
SIB: What does balance mean to you?
JH: It’s not an easy question. Simply put...working, providing for myself enough, but also not working more than required and taking time for lazy days.
*As shared by multiple Asbury equine students