Tuesday, April 17, 2012

My Passion for Nursing

I thought I would share a huge part of my life with you and talk about my passion for nursing and why I chose it as my career path.  Nursing has been something that has run in my family. My great-grandma was a nurse, followed by my grandma, mom, aunts, cousins, and now I am on the path! I will be graduating in one year with my Bachelor of Science Registered Nursing degree and so far it has been a tough yet amazing journey. Ever since I was little, I was always the one that was caring for people, weather it was helping a girl that was having a bad day or helping the kid that fell on the playground. I have always found so much joy helping people that needed it. To me, caring for someone is such a rewarding feeling and I have always known that the health care field was for me. Even when my mom became sick, I was always taking on that caring role. I hated seeing her suffer, and I wanted to be there for her doing anything I could do to make her day better. My mom was such an amazing nurse up until the point when she had to retire due to her ALS, and I knew that it was my calling from God to become one too.

 I followed in mom’s footsteps by going to the University of Mary in Bismarck for one year and then transferring to the University of North Dakota. I knew that nursing was going to be a tough degree, but I never realized just how much time it would take each week devoted to the program. Every week, I spend ten hours in the classroom, fifteen hours in clinical, and about 30-40 hours studying. On top of this, I have a nursing internship on the Family Birthing Unit in Altru Hospital in Grand Forks. I work anywhere from 4-20 hours a week depending upon how many exams I have and if I am traveling somewhere for an event.  I don’t know how I do it, but I take it week by week and I have made it through so far. I wish I could work full time on the Family Birthing Unit, because I know that it is the type of nursing I want to do. I have enjoyed all the different clinicals we have had in the hospital on the different floors, but nothing beats the Family Birthing Unit.  Ever since I can remember, I have been fascinated with the whole birthing process. I think that it is a beautiful miracle. I love my job so much! Each day, I get to impact someone’s life, and if you think about that it is pretty neat. I can’t wait to graduate and I look forward to my many years ahead of being a nurse.
I want to leave you with a little quote that I really like:

 The difference between try and triumph is a little umph.  ~Author Unknown

Love Always,
Miss ND International

Sunday, April 8, 2012

This Is My Now!

Life gets more and more amazing every day! I cannot complain about anything. I have my days where I am exhausted, stressed, and for a few moments I wonder how I am going to make it through the day, but then I remember that my dreams have come true and I am Miss North Dakota International. I don’t think there is a day that goes by where I don’t watch my winning moment on my computer. I find so much joy and laughter in that moment that I want to strive harder for my platform and everything I am doing with my title. 

I attended Fargo’s St. Patty’s Day parade on March 17th! Olivia (Miss North Dakota Teen International) and I rode in a red Thunderbird convertible with Kathy driving! It was so much fun and there were so many people that attended. I love watching the little kid’s faces light up when we smile and wave at them. I used to be one of those kids standing in awe when I saw a queen in her crown. It was a fun way to spend St. Patrick’s Day! 

The last weekend of March, I attended Julie’s Jamboree. Julie is an amazing woman who was diagnosed with ALS about eight years ago. She reminds me of my mom so much. Julie is so strong and has so much faith! She doesn’t let ALS bring her down.  Julie, along with her family and volunteers, created the Jamboree to raise money for the ALS Association.  All monies raised stays local to help ALS families. I helped sell raffle tickets a couple weeks before the Jamboree, and then I volunteered at the front door the night of the event. I had such a great time! My sister queens, Olivia and Ashley came to support me, and I was so happy to see them! We are so close and we ALWAYS have such an amazing time together!

My latest and greatest news of all is that I will be flying out to Washington D.C. with my sister May 11th-15th to attend ALS Advocacy days! I was going to pay for everything to go out there because I wanted to go, but I spoke with someone from the National ALS office and they are flying us out for free. I am officially an advocate for ALS and I will be representing my state of North Dakota. My sister and I will be meeting other families who have been affected with ALS, attend different conferences on ALS, and on the last day I will be talking with congressmen from North Dakota. I will be sharing my story with them and hopefully gaining their support to keep funding for the ALS Association and sharing with them why it is so important to receive these funds. I am so blessed to have this opportunity and I cannot wait! 

My advice this week is to follow your dreams and never give up. Becoming Miss North Dakota International has been a dream come true for me, and as Jordan Sparks says in a song “this is my now!” There was times in my past when I almost gave up on my dream, but I didn't and I don’t think anyone should ever give up on their either. I am doing as much as I can with my title because “this is my now” and this is my time to make the difference I have always wanted to make in people’s lives.

Love Always,
Erica Lemna
Miss North Dakota International

Sunday, April 1, 2012

The Meaning of Kindness

Have you ever really thought about kindness and what it means to you? In what ways do you leave your mark by being kind? Are you kind because you want something in return? Are you someone who shows concern and love towards others because you want to make a positive difference genuinely? 

This past week I was blessed to have the opportunity to re-learn, along with many students, about the meaning of kindness. On Monday I participated in Kindness Week at Holy Spirit elementary school. I was welcomed into the rooms individually where I shared my story and discussed with students in what ways they can show kindness. They came up with some great ideas to leave positive impressions on others. We talked about how many acts of kindness can be so simple and quick (smiling to a stranger, opening a door for others, saying “I love you.”); but how powerful they can mean to someone else. 

My expression after the Kindergarteners told me "YES!" they were done being kind after Kindess Week!

Sharing some great ideas of ways to be kind!

Discussing ways you can give your Heartprints away (acts of kindness)

Friday was an exciting day because my husband was asked (or maybe I volunteered him! ;)) to attend Kindness Week at Nativity elementary school.  As a team, we were able to discuss ways we can make others happy through acts of kindness. We also put on a skit to show how kindness should not look like! The point of the skit was to share how sometimes we say things just to say them, but it is more meaningful to express and show acts of kindness when it’s coming from your heart. 

An example of not being Kind! (Avoiding to help your husband when he falls)
Giving hugs is one of my favorite acts of kindness :)

Many students wanted to share how they have been kind this week

When we got home, Adam shared his observation of how “powerful” my crown is. Just by wearing a crown, I was able to captivate an entire gymnasium of young children and discuss ways we can make a difference through acts of kindness. It’s pretty amazing how I was looked at in awe as a princess or queen by these little boys and girls…just because of the sparkling tiara on my head. But what I wanted them to know that it wasn’t about me. I hope the message I shared, came across that they are the ones who matter and they can make a difference. 

Simple gestures of being kind can make such a huge difference.  We all personally know when someone is truly being kind because of what they say or how they say it. I am going to challenge myself to really think about how I fit the word kindness into my daily schedule. And I think that is a challenge worthy of any of us.

Ashley Voigt
Mrs. North Dakota International 2012