2017: Pause

December 30, 2016

As some of you may recall, I began choosing "One Little Word" back in 2015. I pick one word to live by for the year, rather than setting new years resolutions. I really liked the switch, because it constantly challenges me. If you're curious about where I learned about the idea, check this out. She has a whole lot of amazing ideas - and this idea has stuck with me and each new year. 

My word for 2017 is PAUSE. 

PAUSE before reacting. PAUSE to take a deep breath. PAUSE to reflect. PAUSE to listen. PAUSE to think before speaking. PAUSE before assuming. PAUSE to be attentive. PAUSE to give thanks. PAUSE and smile. PAUSE before judging - myself or others. PAUSE to find the joy. PAUSE and let go. PAUSE to understand. PAUSE and be kind. PAUSE and slow down. PAUSE and remember you can. PAUSE and speak kind words to yourself. PAUSE to remember what's important. PAUSE to give yourself space. PAUSE and give yourself permission to take care of your needs. PAUSE to look back on how far you've already come. PAUSE in awe of the life you've created. PAUSE and be mindful. PAUSE to find intention. PAUSE to love others. PAUSE to lift others up. PAUSE to break the chaos. PAUSE to find your way. PAUSE and look around. PAUSE to give snuggles. PAUSE to put pen to paper. PAUSE and get on your mat. PAUSE to ease anxiety. PAUSE to let it all soak in. PAUSE to sleep and fully rest. PAUSE to allow others in. PAUSE and trust that you know more than you think you do. PAUSE and have faith. PAUSE to hold your tongue. PAUSE to soak up with sunshine. PAUSE to connect. 

That's a list of things I brainstormed after the word PAUSE jumped out at me. There are so many ways it's going to work for me in 2017... and I'm excited to work with it. 

2017 is going to be about practicing the PAUSE. 

I can't wait. 

Happy Holidays!

December 23, 2016

I hope your holiday season is peaceful and full of joy. I know it gets crazy... but I hope you can find a few minutes to reflect on the past year and your goals for the future. 

I have really been missing my blog space, so I have some plans for starting to use this space much more in 2017. Stay tuned! 

Happy everything to you and yours! 

Whatever is good for your soul... do that.

October 6, 2016

For those who don't know, I served in the Peace Corps in Botswana as an HIV/AIDS volunteer from 2012-2014. Everyone's experience in the Peace Corps is different, but mine was absolutely amazing. I was lucky enough to end up falling in love with a new country, a new culture, and a welcoming group of people to call my family.

This post is not intended to be a reflection of what I loved or disliked about my service. This is a brief post about my recent visit to Botswana. Feel free to check out my other blog, Bulletins from Botswana, if you're interested in my thoughts/writing throughout my time as a Peace Corps Volunteer.

During my service, I fell head over heels in love with the people I'm going to introduce to you. They took me in as family. They loved me, cared for me, and made Botswana home. My heart is going to be tied to this family, this village, and this country for the rest of my life.

* * * * * 

Let's back track a bit... I was free from medical school responsibilities from June 6 to July 25. M & I set the date to get married on July 2. But my heart was aching to get back to Botswana. I remember calling Michael in February and asking if I could head back to Botswana before the wedding & the answer was a loud HELL YES. I found a great priced ticket and with M's approval, that was that. (Have I ever mentioned how much I love him? He stuck with me the whole time throughout the two years in the Peace Corps - - and two years of that kind of long distance? He deserves more than one or two awards.)

M agreed to handle wedding things whenever they came up so that I could go back to visit Botswana and my sweet family there before our wedding. The school year ended on July 6 at 12 PM and I was on a plane by 4 PM. (Talk about passing out on the plane...) I had a FULL TWO WEEKS in Botswana right at the start of my summer and before my wedding.

Is that madness? I don't know. I don't think so. M didn't think so either. WHY? Because that's what my soul needed. It broke my heart not to be able to have them fly back to the USA for our wedding, so at least I could go visit, show them pictures of my dress, kiss their sweet faces, and enjoy some much needed time with them.

I'm slowly figuring this all out, but really.... WHATEVER IS GOOD FOR YOUR SOUL... DO THAT. And that meant that I was going to Botswana right before my wedding, because that's the only time I had off to do so.

* * * * * 

While I was looking through recent photos and getting ready to write this blog post, I started reminiscing on old times in Botswana. I started flipping through old photos from my time there and comparing them to my visit in June. My heart MELTED. If photos aren't your jam (specifically lots of photos of me with my Botswana family), scroll past this section. I'll add more thoughts about my visit after the photos. (BUT SERIOUSLY, oh my goodness. My kiddos are two years older, two years smarter, and at least twice as confident than the last time I saw them. My heart is all mush.) All photos on the left are from my Peace Corps Service and all photos on the right are from my recent visit in June. 

Same girl, same attitude.
Some of the girls I taught at school 
Dino & her sweet family
Mma Pego
My sweet family 
* * * * * 

I'm planning to write one more blog post about my visit to Botswana to outline more of what life looks like there on a day to day basis. But for today, this is all I have time for. 

I remember a friend from the states asking me WHY NOW? Why not wait to visit until we are finished with medical school? (That certainly would have been more convenient.) 

My answer was this: you know that feeling you have when you're home sick? Like whenever you've been abroad or the furthest away from home you've ever been? You start to miss your home, the people, and all the familiarities that come with it. You miss the smells, the food, and your normal routine. There's something so sweet about being home, and something so heart breaking about being away from home for long periods of time. 

I feel homesick ALL the time. Day in and day out. If I'm in the states, I'm homesick for Botswana. If I'm in Botswana, I'm homesick for the states. And no matter what... I'll never have all of my family and the people I love in one geographic location (or country for that matter). My heart is scattered, quite literally, around the world. 

Botswana is home. I was homesick. And so I needed to go. I needed to wrap my arms around those sweet kids and remind them that Auntie Boitshepo loves them. I needed to go check on all the kids I worked with at the local schools to see where their dreams and goals took them. I needed to drink tea with my elders and hear about their health, their wisdom, and advice. I needed to slow down, take some deep breaths, and be reminded about what truly matters. 

It was oh-so-good for my soul. And exactly what I needed. 

Ke a go ratja ditsala jame.
I can't wait to step foot in that beautiful country again. 


Tips for the First Year of Medical School

September 2, 2016

My first year of medical school ended in June, but somehow this is the first real time I've had to sit down and reflect back on it.

My first year of medical school was wild. 

It was everything I expected it to be - a crazy adjustment, challenging, and a tad overwhelming. But last year also brought the unexpected loss of my grandpa and grandma. My year was full of grieving and studying. 

I became engaged, planned a wedding, and returned to Botswana the day I took my last exam. (I served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Botswana from 2012-2014). I came home, got married, went on a three week honeymoon to Thailand, and started my second year of medical school two days later. 


I can clearly remember starting medical school and looking at the second year students, wondering just how the hell they got to where they were. I remember looking up to them in AWE. How in the world are they smiling and telling me it will be ok? 

I wanted to be smiling, advising first years, and have a year of school behind me. Basically, I just wanted to survive.

And here I am, one year later. Smiling at the first years, telling them the same thing. Just the other day, a first year medical student looked at me and asked, "How did you get through the year!?". I responded as honestly as I could and said, "By showing up and taking things day by day." 

Medical school is no joke. It's hands down the most difficult thing I've ever handled. But I truly do love it (beneath all the whining and dark circles under my eyes). 

I'm happy to have a year of school in the books. I'm grateful for the knowledge I have obtained. I'm very optimistic about the idea of finally becoming a pediatrician and having my dream job. It's amazing what a year will do for perspective. I'm now just three years away from graduation! (groan...sigh... but! gasp! it's not four.) 

So, here I am, and I'd like to summarize some of the thoughts and advice I've gathered while reflecting on my challenging first year of medical school. 

Last year, M & I lived with two of our wonderful classmates. I get distracted SO easily, so I set up an office space in the basement of the house we were renting. While they teased me for studying in the dungeon, I was actually quite productive down there. Find a space that works for you to study and I think it pays off in the long run. (My new office space is now upstairs... totally different!) 

If you're one of those alien-humans who can function without sleep... I am jealous. I cannot function well with less than 7 hours of sleep, so I learned to prioritize sleep in medical school. Obviously, there were nights that I got less, but on average, I slept about 7.5 hours a night. That was the optimal amount for me to be productive the next day, so I fought to try to get those zzzz's. 

Some weeks I was better at this than others, but it truly makes a difference. Taking time to grocery shop, meal plan, make smoothies, and take vitamins/supplements is TOTALLY worth it. When I feel better, I work harder. 

Block off time to see the people you love and do the things you love. I made sure to take time to see my family and friends. I also made sure to make time to do yoga and go skiing! Whatever it is that YOU need to recharge, make time for it. 

I'm obsessed with office supplies. I love new pens, washi tape, and sticky notes. They make me excited about studying! And maybe chocolate motivates me too... :) I must admit I ate a LOT of chocolate during my first year of medical school. 

Your medical school class will be comprised of very intelligent, high functioning human beings. It can be really overwhelming. Not everyone can be the top of the class. It's so much easier said than done, but the sooner you can stop comparing yourself to your classmates, the happier you are going to be. Instead of comparing yourself, try to ask yourself what you have to offer (I promise it's more than you realize). Play off of your strengths and work on your weaknesses. Your classmates are great resources. These are your future colleagues!! 

Everyone will have different advice about how to study. You'll have your own ideas on how you want to study. Each professor/clinician will have different teaching styles. With all of those things combined, you're going to want to give yourself as much flexibility as you can. Play with ideas and study strategies. I changed my study methods quite a bit depending on the system, teacher, and personal interest. As long as you're learning the material, try not to worry about what everyone else is doing. 

I printed ALL of my notes. I hand wrote summaries. I used a lot of color. I made charts. I just did what worked for me. 

Medical school is a lot of work. It's overwhelming. It's especially tough when you're struggling with concepts or a particular system. Just try  to remember that you're never alone! Your classmates are going through all of it with you. Your faculty is there to help. Use their strengths and ask for help when you need it! 

The worst six words for a type A medical student to hear. But it's true. There is no "right" way to get through medical school. It's a process and you'll find a groove. 

This lesson was particularly tough for me to accept. I felt selfish every time I said "no" to something, but it's absolutely necessary sometimes. School has to be a priority and unfortunately, that requires some sacrifice. 

Regardless of how you might feel in the moment (or in that class), I promise you're going to look back and say, "WOW. I didn't know I had that in me." Big things happen one day at a time - and you're often going to miss how much you've grown. When I look back on my first year, I've truly surprised myself. There is still so much I don't know, but I certainly know a lot more than I did last summer. Becoming a doctor is no easy task... but you're stronger (and smarter!) than you think you are! 

The days will be sloooooooowwwww. But the year will fly by. 

I'm excited to see what another year of learning will bring... for YOU and for me! 

Hello Again

August 26, 2016

Hello friends,

I've been absent from my blog for such a looooooooooonnnnnggggg time. 

I finished my first year of medical school. 
I went back to Botswana where I served in the Peace Corps. 
I came home and got married. 
I went on a spectacular honeymoon to Thailand. 
I started my second year of medical school two days after returning from my honeymoon. 
I completed my first course of my second year of medical school (renal). 

Goodness. That is a lot. 

Show & tell is absolutely necessary. I have a lot to talk about! It was a very busy couple of months. 

Stay with me! I promise I'll tell you more. 

But first, I have to prove I learned something about EKG's on Monday.

To my mother, who just lost her own

May 8, 2016

Dearest Momma Bear,

I can't imagine the rollercoaster of emotions you've been through this week. We were together when your mother died a week ago today. We held each other as we cried. You lost your mother, I lost my grandmother. She was an amazing woman and none of us quite know what to do without her.

On Tuesday, it was my birthday. You were strong and showered me with love (and lots of chocolate).

Today was Mother's Day. We got to be together, celebrate YOU, and remember your momma.

What a whirlwind it has been! We're both feeling emotionally drained... you more than me, I'm sure. But I wanted to share some thoughts with you today.

To my sweet mother, who just lost her own mother a week ago today... I can't imagine the heartache you are feeling. You opened your home to grandma when she was sick and took care of her till her last day. Gracefully, you took care of her along with your sisters and family members. You coordinated when family could help and spend time with her. Typical of you, you did everything without complaint.

I know it was extremely hard for you to watch your mother die in my childhood bedroom. It was awful to watch her health decline. But yet, she was so loved. She knew how much you loved her, simply because your actions showed her that on a daily basis. She was loved and cherished by all of us.

Grandma made you who you are, and you have made me who I am. We're fortunate to be a part of a very loving family, and I'm extremely grateful to have you as my mother.

Your resilience amazes me. Your hard work inspires me. Your strength encourages me. Your love comforts me. You are, and always have been, the person I admire most. I will adore you with each passing day and be forever thankful for the relationship that we have.

You've taught me to laugh and search for adventure. 
 You've taught me to follow my heart.... even it takes me all the way to Africa. Because damn it, you'll be there to visit and check on me. Your love knows no distance. 
You've taught me that it's ok to take risks. It's ok to fail... because you'll always be there to catch me if I fall. 
You've taught me that sometimes.... we just need to take a deep breath and relax. You've taught me that "a new day will come", and until then... we have each other. 
You've taught me that the things in life that are most important are not material things. The most important things are spending time with the ones you love. I'm lucky that I've had so many great years and memories with you. 
You've taught me to make the most of each day that we've been given. You've taught me to work hard and play even harder. You live life right momma bear... and you've taught me so many things along the way. Playing with you and learning from you are sweet gifts. 
And while I know your heart is aching for your own mother today, know that mine is too. She will be forever missed. 

Happy Mother's Day, sweet momma. Your momma loved you dearly, and so do your babies. 

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