“My daddy was a welder and died when I was three. My mother married my stepdad and we lived on an ostrich farm in Grand Bay. We also had horses, chickens, and pigs. We didn’t have a lot of means but I danced growing up and was on the Dixie Darlings dance team at Southern Miss. At the end of my freshman year, I went on vacation to Disney World and auditioned to be a character. That summer I worked as Minnie and Mickey. It was hot, but so much fun. The kids were starstruck. I still have some of the pictures they drew pictures at the character breakfasts. I could have stayed longer, but I had to finish my degree in nursing. Wages for nurses in Alabama are the lowest in the country, so I went into travel nursing.
Travel experiences are a big part of who I am. I have ridden elephants in Thailand, done yoga in Sedona, backpacked through Europe, and danced in pubs in Ireland. I spent time in the Navajo Nation and got to work with medicine men and deliver a baby en caul. The baby was still in the amniotic sac and it is considered a blessing. I dated a bagpiper in a gold mining town. In the Virgin Islands, I had an island beater car with a hole in the floorboard and a garbage bag for the window. I traded it for massages before I left. I look back and think ‘whose life is this?’ but I am so thankful for this life.
I became a consumer of handmade, organic bath products in Colorado. My sister, Jada, and I researched and started making soaps with local ingredients. People wanted to buy our soaps so we started Nire Bathery. Five years ago I came back to Mobile to become a nurse practitioner. In order to put myself through nurse practitioner school at USA, I disconnected my cable and Internet, planted a garden, and paid my bills on soaps and bath bombs. Gardening and plants became my escape and time to pray.
I graduated in 2017 and will finish my doctorate work in December. That can’t come soon enough. I will continue to practice, but I want to help younger learners in nursing and teach them how to do what I do. I passed boards and work in the family practice in the Strada Center at USA. I am driven to help Mobile be healthier. I have worked in other places and have been submerged in different cultures. Mobile is the sickest population I have seen with chronic diseases such as hypertension and diabetes. Many people here don’t take their health seriously and have a difficult time affording a healthier lifestyle. Healthy food is expensive and you do what you can. Often that is fast foods that are making our bodies sick. Obesity is linked to other diseases.
This is a scary time to be in the medical field and it sickens me to think about the unknown Coronavirus cases that are already here. We are about to be hit with a tsunami and everyone is at the beach putting on suntan lotion. I love going out and having a great time and social gatherings, but now is not the time to do that. There are confirmed cases in Mobile and we are bracing for impact. We are trying to protect our community and providers. Protective equipment is so important, but this is 2020 and volunteers are hand-sewing masks for us. It is unbelievable that we were this unprepared. Hoarding also hurts others. I am down to half a can of Lysol for spraying my shoes when I take them off at the door and there is none left in the store.
People are rightfully worried about the impact this will have on their businesses, but this is the time to stay home. Being poor is okay, I have been there, being dead is not. You can recover from being poor, you can’t recover from the grave. Loving your neighbor means staying at home and buying one loaf of bread. If you own a construction company, donate your masks. Let’s use this time to get more healthy. Walk and bike, learn how to grow food and cook it. Put down the sodas and drink more water.
You can buy Nire products at https://nirebathery.com/ or Red Beard Outfitters in Mobile.
(I am now doing Soul-cial distancing interviews by phone. If know someone I should interview, send me an message or email. firstname.lastname@example.org)