We had the good fortune of connecting with Rio Hayes and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Rio, what do you think makes you most happy? Why?
A lot of things make me happy; my husband, family, friends, food, the list goes on. But the very core of my happiness begins with me. It’s a conscious choice to be happy; a state of being. I remember walking into work one morning and someone said “Why are you so perky this early in the morning?” and my response is “why not?” A remark I’ve heard often at work & in college, “how are you so happy? It’s too early! I don’t even want to be here!”. Don’t get me wrong I have my days, I am guilty of this myself. I am human. But something that I learned early on before this pandemic, is that life is too short not to be happy, life is too short not to see the bright side of your darkest moments, life is too short not to live it fully. I am grateful to wake up every day, to serve the community in the way that I can, and that alone is more than enough to be happy. My 30’s have been nothing short of challenges and seeing the bright side of the darkest days of my life. I could dwell, feel sorry for myself, “Poor me, I lost my dad, poor me, COVID ruined all my plans, poor me, poor me, poor me” but how unproductive and miserable would that life be. It’s exhausting. I couldn’t find in myself to be that way and in the moments that I found myself hitting my rock bottom, I would fight to dig myself out. I couldn’t stay there. I didn’t want to. A saying that I strongly live by is “I was happy before so I can be happy after”. Something I came up with after my first real heartbreak and something that I’ve applied to all aspects of my life. I’ve realized that as we change and evolve during the different seasons of life what makes us happy changes as well. The fun in it is rediscovering what those things are. When I would hit a rut and depression would wreak havoc on my mind, I would do an experiment. It was like a science project but I was the project. I would do all the things that made me feel good, happy and I would see what still worked and what I could change, improve, add on until my soul felt at peace. It wouldn’t happen overnight. Sometimes it would take days, weeks, or even months until I felt like me again but a better, renewed version. It is trial and error, a little bit of this and that, and help here and there. Happiness to me is being grateful for the opportunity to choose.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I am a Registered Nurse. I currently work for an outpatient surgery center that specializes in ophthalmic surgeries to correct glaucoma and cataracts in predominantly geriatric patients. When I was in nursing school, I told myself I wouldn’t work with geriatric patients, and low and behold here I am. The irony. To my surprise, working with the elderly has been so enlightening and rewarding. I started my nursing career in hospice which most will find depressing but I found peace and a sense of honor to be part of someone’s final moments on earth and providing them and their family comfort during such a vulnerable time. Since then, I moved on to working in the operating room. I went from helping my elderly patients pass with dignity & comfort to assisting them to see again and easing their nerves before and after procedures. What I’ve enjoyed the most in this profession is hearing my patient’s stories and getting glimpses into a small part of their lives. I get excited to see the different characters my team and I will get to encounter each day and being a part of their journey to see again. How did I get here you ask? Ridiculously expensive schooling, haha and no, it wasn’t easy. If crying was part of the curriculum, I’d say I passed that assignment each time with flying colors. There were moments where I questioned if nursing was for me if I had what it takes, could I handle the weight of someone’s life in my hands, can I really save people, can I really help them? And time and time again, the patients that I encountered during my clinical rotations reminded me. My patients now remind me. I may not be able to do it all but I’d like to believe that in some ways even in the littlest things can make a difference. Whether it’s holding a patient’s hand during an IV, listening to their life stories, getting them comfortable on the operating table, and simply talking to them and their family. I’d consider myself a young nurse with only 2 years under my belt and I have so much to learn still. However, what I’ve learned thus far is to give myself grace, to be patient with myself as I continue to grow in this career. I learned that years of experience don’t define how good of a nurse you will be. With caring for your patients, it is of utmost importance to also take care of yourself. And lastly, listen to your patients. They will teach you so much about life.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
If there’s one thing that I am it is thee hostess who does the mostest so when my BFFs come to visit for a week here’s what kind of trouble we would get into; Monday: Girls who Brunch are the Happiest So let’s start at Great Maple to start off the week with their fire maple bacon donuts because bacon & donuts make for a beautiful union. Then walk off the calories at Liberty Station, grab some coffee & cocktails at Moniker General, and shop for some plants & other little aesthetic trinkets at Pigment. Tuesday: Tuesdays We Hike I’d take them to Torrey Pines to take in the views and work up an appetite then grab some lunch at Pop Pie because their pot pies are poppin’ and to give us a little sugar rush we have to grab some ice cream next door at Stella Jeans. Fave must try flavors would have to be the Ube Pandesal & their Salty Caramel Corn. Wednesday: Little Italy Brunch at Queenstown Public House, their prawns & grits are UH-mazing and promenade our way down to Pop Pops Paletas to grab something sweet. My fave is their Chia Chia Minty Lime. It’s like a margarita on a stick minus the tequila! So refreshing after having a savory meal. Thursday: I’d definitely say grabbing some Eggies breakfast sandwiches and their jarred French toast to eat on the beach in PB. Good eats & great views would be a great way to start off the day. Sandy toes with my main hoes! Is that appropriate, who knows? Friday: Some would say we were Raised by Wolves With that said, I’d start the evening out with some drinks at Raised by Wolves. Probably my favorite speakeasy here in SD next to Noble Experiment then grab dinner at Louisiana Purchase for some good food & more libations. Saturday: Spill some tea over some afternoon tea at Morning Glory because it’s a necessi-tea. Galavant in Coronado for the rest of the day by walking the beach, explore Hotel Del Coronado, & manifesting one of the gorgeous surrounding homes. Sunday: Lazy Sundays calls for something light A picnic at Balboa Park would be cute with a little charcuterie board and some wine. Chill & lowkey and then possibly learn a few things in one of their many museums & exhibits in the area. Other faves: Ann’s Dry Cleaning for their unique flavored gelatos. Tajima for some ramen! Senor Mangos for their fresh smoothies! Farmers Table because their eggs are fresh & fluffy AF Hazel & Jade for their plant based pastries & scrummy chai lattes Holy Matcha, cause their strawberry matcha is soo good! Flap Your Jacks is fun and yummy! It’s like all you can eat BBQ but with pancakes!
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I wouldn’t be where I am in life if it weren’t for the following people; My family for setting the example of everything that I want to be in life. Professor Gorham; for molding me into the nurse that I am and reminding me to never stop to learning. My husband; for his love & support in all my endeavors. My best friends; Chrissy, Glenn, Neen, Lo, & Twin, for seeing me through my happiest & darkest days. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho; for teaching me and reminding me to go after my personal legend. In God’s design, I am grateful for all the people that He has allowed to cross paths with mine.