Ups & Downs : May 2017

May 31, 2017

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Life this month = board studying.
No other real exciting updates. Or maybe I don't have the ability to think of things to write about... either way - - board studying. That's life lately.



FUN THINGS ON THE INTERNET
1. Some super cool photography (and risky human beings).
2. Maybe you've heard about gravity lights - but if not... seriously, check it out. This is such an amazing idea! I used kerosine lamps throughout my service in the Peace Corps. This is a much better alternative for people who need light!

28 Trips Around The Sun

May 4, 2017

28 full trips around the sun.
That's wild.

Thank you to everyone who wished me a happy birthday and made my day so special. It filled my heart with joy to hear from everyone - in multiple languages, from all around the globe. My network of friends and family members across the globe continue to brighten my life.

As the globe keeps spinning and the lives around us keep moving, I wanted to take a few moments to reflect on some of the lessons I have learned, and continue to learn, with each journey around the sun.


  • Taking the time to truly just exist is one of the most difficult and rewarding things to do. Sitting & being a witness to my own thoughts during meditation has brought out some of the best and worst sides of me this year. Our minds are so powerful... choosing our thoughts and then acting accordingly can affect our lives in such profound ways. 
  • While I'm nowhere near perfect, I'm more and more aware of the respect my body deserves on a daily basis. The relationships I choose to maintain, the food I choose to eat, and the physical conditioning I choose to participate in all have a dramatic effect on my health. The foundation we begin to build now will have very direct effects on our health later down the road. I'm not making perfect decisions daily, but I am still proud of my efforts to stock our home with more whole foods, brew my own kombucha, and get my butt moving as much as a can.
  • Carving out time for self care is one of the greatest gifts I've found I can give myself. Snuggling with my pets or my mom's baby goats, taking the morning to ski with my husband, or calling an old friend to catch up is an easy remedy for burnout and exhaustion. The hardest part is stopping to slow down. Just a few minutes of self care can make all the difference in the world.
  • Chasing my dreams doesn't happen to be easy. Sometimes I think back to my life plan when I was in my early 20's... and I'm doing it. I graduated. I joined the Peace Corps. I went to medical school. I got married. It's easy to forget that I'm so lucky. I've worked so incredibly hard to fill my life with the things that make me the happiest - but there have been a lot of blood, sweat, and tears to go along with it. The life I've chosen is worth it. Despite the chaos, it's worth it to live life each day working toward something. I'm exactly where I should be
  • And on that note... I'm learning this lesson too. If the door doesn't open, it wasn't meant for you. 
  • My husband is genuinely my favorite person on the planet. I don't know how I got so lucky with him either, but he continues to amaze me with his unfaltering loyalty and support. It's such an adventure to be with someone who has dreams and aspirations as big as mine and to have to opportunity to cheer for each other along the way. 
  • Life gets ugly. And hard. The past two years have thrown a lot at me -- with many lessons in life and death and what I want my years of life to look like. I cherish every day I am given. 
Here's to the next trip around the sun - and all the adventures, lessons, and celebrations that will come with it. 

Ups & Downs : April 2017

April 30, 2017

UPS

  • I finished up my second year of medical school. WHAT A WILD RIDE. I'll be writing an honest, in depth post about the first two years soon! I'm SO happy I made it. And I'm incredibly proud of myself. I'm quick to downplay things that I do, but these past two years have been the hardest so far. I'm seriously thrilled to say I made it through successfully! 
  • My blog got a new make over. I've been thinking about a new theme for my blog for quite some time, and this weekend, I finally got to do it! I used this blog theme from Etsy, and I can't recommend it enough! Eve (the Etsy owner) even offers a free installation of the theme. She was incredibly easy to work with and she helped me with everything I needed! 


DOWNS

  • The last three weeks of second year. WOOF. It was a lot of work finishing up all of my classes! BUT, I adore my classmates and great friends. Somehow we all got through it. 


IN PROGRESS 

  • Board prep. Time to finalize all the details of my study plan and start knocking out my studies! 


WHAT I HOPE TO REMEMBER

  • Even when you think you can't make it through the tough times, you just do. Sometimes you get through rough patches quite gracefully, and other times it's a struggle. Either way, I hope to remember that hard work and determination can get me through a lot. I remember starting medical school and not having a clue how I would ever get through it :) But you just do. 


FUN THINGS ON THE INTERNET

Breakfast Quinoa

This is such a simple recipe! Make it at the beginning of the week and have your breakfast ready for the week.

Breakfast Quinoa
Rinse 1 cup of quinoa & strain
Add rinsed quinoa to crockpot
Add 2 cups of water
Add 1 can of coconut milk (full fat)
Add some spices (cinnamon or nutmeg are my fave choices)
Add a dash of salt

Turn crockpot on low for about 3 hours

When it's done, put all your quinoa in tupperware to eat throughout the week!
I like to add a splash of almond milk when I reheat it & then add some honey, fruit & walnuts.

Get creative- you can add any kind of toppings you like! Enjoy!


Terrible, (Thanks For Asking)

April 21, 2017

I had several hours of psychiatry lectures at school today. All very uplifting - ADHD, mood disorders, schizophrenia, suicide. You know, all the things we all love talking about as a society.

I left school thinking about one of my favorite podcasts that I discovered this year. It's called Terrible, (Thanks For Asking) and it is hosted by Nora McInerny. She brings people on the show to talk about awful, terrible, crazy life situations that make people uncomfortable to talk about... but yet, so many of us go through. 


Every time I tell someone about this podcast, they immediately look at me like my whole world is crumbling. "You listen to what?!" I get it. It's weird to admit that I enjoy listening to a podcast about terrible things people experience. But I enjoy it because it's real. It's genuine. And it's so incredible human. 

My life experiences, along with studying psychiatry, have made me realize that we tend to tip-toe around things that make us uncomfortable. Death makes people squeamish. Eating disorders cause people to whisper and change subjects. Depression and bipolar disorders are stigmatized and looked down upon. 

Can you imagine how uncomfortable it would make someone if you responded to their "how are you" with a "Terrible, thanks for asking... followed by whatever horrible, dark feelings you actually had!?".  No one actually wants to know. So we cover it all up with a "I'm good, how are you!?"

But here's what I believe. 

Some people don't want to know the truth. Some people really don't want to deal with the dark, twisty turns in life. And that's ok, I forgive them. 

But there are many of us who DO what to know the truth. We are interested in how other people are doing. We genuinely care. But what we lack is the ability to know how to respond to what they say. There's a fear of not knowing what to do with the information. 

My challenge to you is this: just listen. Listen to your friends, family members, and colleagues. Just sit still and listen. Embrace the silence. Realize that your words probably can't fix it anyway. Be a human and be there. 

If life hasn't slapped you in the face yet, it will. And if it has already, chances are it will again. Life is hard, guys. We need to stop pretending it isn't. There are incredibly beautiful moments and chapters in life, don't get me wrong. But I think it's wild that as a society, we prefer to neglect and ignore the hard parts. 

I think we need to start talking about the hard parts. We need to normalize problems people encounter. If someone is really not doing well, you're giving them a huge gift by just listening. 

Mental health issues exist all around us. Tough life stuff happens to all of us.
Isolating people and the issues they face certainly can't be the answer. 
Let's re-write our response to some of the ugly situations in life.

Ups & Downs : March 2017

April 5, 2017




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UPS

  • Spring break!!! I actually planned to do nothing. And it was amazing. I'm usually great at planning too much, so it was a welcomed relief to get some rest, watch some movies, ski, and see some people I love.
  • AAO Convocation 2017! I went to the American Academy of Osteopathy Convocation this year, held in Colorado Springs. There were workshops and lectures for students and physicians to help us further our knowledge and osteopathic skills. It was a great opportunity to network and see how other D.O.'s are using osteopathic medicine with their patients. I'm planning to (eventually) write a whole post about my experience at convo because I have so much I want to share about it! 
  • I attended Ultrafest at my school to learn more about ultrasound. Check out a quick photo and description of the day here. 

DOWNS


  • I had one interaction in the month of March that really left me feeling down and unprepared for rotations. Looking back now, it's clear to me that situations like that motivate me to try harder and do better than before. Easier said than done, but try not let the words of one person get in the way of your dreams and confidence to succeed! 

IN PROGRESS


  • I have officially submitted my lottery list for rotation sites. I should find out on April 3 where I'll be for the next year on clinical rotations. I'm anxious to find out! 

WHAT I HOPE TO REMEMBER FROM MARCH 2017


  • Taking time to slow down is so important! Our society glorifies being busy, and truly, sometimes that's just not what we need. If at all possible, take some time each day to help yourself recenter, refocus, and refresh! 
  • M is incredible. I feel like I write that every month, but his support and encouragement continues to amaze me. 


Staying Grounded

March 15, 2017

Life, as of lately, has been really out of control.
School is crazy. Family is crazy. Life. Just. Gets. Crazy. 

I really love routine. I love to have balance. I love to feel grounded. 
And right now, that's not what life has to offer me...which is ok, as long as I remember to do things on my own to stay grounded! 

This afternoon I was able to get on my mat for an hour and really slow down. The class I chose to do focused on my predominate Vata dosha. I absolutely love my Gaia membership because of the variety of types of yoga/meditation classes I have on hand all the time. 

Today, this seemed like exactly what I needed, so I decided to try it out.

I will admit that I was anxious and ready to do a more difficult yoga class for the first 20 minutes. It wasn't a very difficult class so I found my mind wandering a lot and I felt annoyed by the poses designed to make me feel rooted and connected. 

But then... there was a shift. I was happy to be with my breath and stay with the movement. I love that about my yoga practice. There's always a lesson to be learned! 

It was a great class. I was reminded of how much I love to be connected and grounded in each present  moment. I was reminded of how easy it is to let your mind wander, but how much more peaceful it is to simply focus on the task at hand. 

And as usual, a part I cherish so much about spending time on my mat - is that my sweet critters come to lay with me as I practice. (Please notice Bear doing down dog - - he loveeessss to do down dog while I do yoga!)




I can't ask for much more than I already have! 

What do you do to stay grounded? 

Chicken Marinade Recipes To Freeze

March 10, 2017

One of the things on my to do list over spring break was to make some frozen meals to save me time during board prep (which is lurking right around the corner).

I found this amazing site and decided to try it out! I went to the store and bought enough ingredients to make two of each flavor. And now I have 14 chicken marinades ready to go whenever I want them!

Chicken marinade in progress! 
While it did take some time, it was delightfully easy. Label the freezer bag, throw in all the ingredients, marinade the chicken for 24 hours in the fridge, and then throw it in the freezer.

All you have to do is thaw it in the fridge overnight and bake at 425 F for 20-30 minutes. So easy! Cut up some veggies to bake at the same time and it's an easy, non-pizza kind of dinner :)

YUM!
I'll let you know which ones I enjoy the most. M & I have tried the jerk chicken - it was delicious!

Ups & Downs: February 2017

March 5, 2017

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UPS

  • My school has a contract with a company called Clinical Skills USA. Trained men and women come to our school to teach us how to do a male and female exam. It's an amazing experience to have someone coach you through how to do a pelvic, breast, and recital exam! We had small group sessions with both a male and a female instructor and they helped us feel comfortable with how to perform the exam well. I really enjoyed the experience and I'm grateful that when I go out on rotations, I will have the knowledge to perform all of those exams without feeling awkward or uncomfortable. 
  • Beach Body- I signed up for beach body on demand this past month and have been following a more consistent work out routine. I love their programming and I really love how flexible it is. Working out from home is what works for my schedule right now and I have a wide variety of workouts to choose from (in addition to yoga and meditation!)

DOWNS

  • I wasn't offered a position for the fellowship I applied for at my school. That was a downer, for sure. I'm still bummed about it, but I'm also incredibly happy for the people who were selected. All things happen for a reason :) 
  • My dad was admitted to the hospital and has been terribly illl. He hasn't been in good health for years before this either. I don't have the energy to discuss any of it in detail, but he has septic pulmonary emboli and will need several weeks of rehab. Medical care for the elderly is such a sticky mess. My brother and I are trying to handle things as best as we can, but more about all of that on another day. It's just been a whirl-wind with his poor health and trying to stay on top of my school work. 

IN PROGRESS

  • I'm thrilled to have been invited to work on a paper for the JAOA with two faculty members at my school. It's a really fun assignment and I'm excited to share more about it as we finish things up! Stay tuned. 
  • Rotations begin in July this year. My school assigns rotations based upon a lottery system, which makes planning very difficult. I'm in the process of deciding where I want to be for my core rotation site. The lottery will be at the end of March and I will know by April 1 where I will be spending my third year. 

WHAT I HOPE TO REMEMBER FROM FEBRUARY 2017

  • Life gets really crazy. I hope to remember all the kind things people have said and done for me during this insane month. Even the smallest things make a difference... I hope to remember to reach out and be as kind as possible when other people are dealing with tough things. Even the smallest gesture means a whole lot more than you realize! 
  • You only get one body. Treat it kindly. Feed it well. Move it often. Prevention really does make a difference in your health. 
  • Studying side by side with M. That's our daily norm. We're in a crazy season, but I still love being home with him and our pets working toward our goals. 

Ikea Hack : Standing Desk

February 3, 2017

Medical school = studying = a lot of sitting. And that sucks.

I got really sick of it, felt inspired by this short article, and decided to make my own standing desk. 
I made this back in November & I have absolutely loved it! I was talking to a friend about it a few days ago and I figured it was time for me to write a quick post about it in case anyone else wants to know how easy it is to make this happen! 


Here's all you need to do. 

1. Head to Ikea and look for the following items: 
  • Lack Side Table (I bought two)
  • Ekby Valter Bracket (you'll need two - I can't remember if they are sold in a pack of two or individually)
  • Some kind of shelf. (I couldn't find the exact one the article listed - so just look for a shelf at ikea that would be the length you need. We ended up buying one that was longer than we wanted and cut it in half.) 
2. Find some tools, screws bolts, washers, and nuts. The legs of the lack side table are hollow, so I found that this was the best way to deal with it. Attach the brackets to the lack side table (bolts, washers, and nuts) and the shelf (screws). 

image of the back of the legs of the lack
table after the brackets were attached
3. Consider getting some extra strips to fasten to the back legs of your standing desk. It can be front heavy, and if you're like me and have a cat --- the desk isn't quite sturdy enough for extra weight on the front shelf (he definitely thinks the desk was built for him). Adding these to the back legs works like a charm - and if I want to move my standing desk, I still can :) 



4. I love having an extra lack table next to the one I screwed the brackets and shelf onto... it just gives me more space and allows me to still easily use my dual monitor. 

ANDDD a big thank you to M. Because let's be honest, he was the one who put all of this together. But ladies, it's still an easy project all on your own. :) 

ENJOY!

Ups & Downs: January 2017

January 31, 2017

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What a month.

UPS

  • I completed another course in medical school, Endocrine II. I enjoyed endocrine much more this time around, perhaps because of the pathology. I didn't love Endocrine I last year, so it's nice to have a stronger appreciation for it this year. 
  • I'm getting better at saying NO to things that make me unhappy. Protecting my time is proving to be amazing for my mental health. 
  • I started teaching meditation at my school for a meditation research study another friend of mine is conducting. It's fun to connect with first year students and it's always a great reminder for me to be mindful of my own thoughts and actions. 
  • I've had this super weird skin rash for a while, so I finally got it checked out by a dermatologist. It's totally benign (and also super weird), but I'm glad it's nothing to worry about. It's something called Schaumberg's disease & I'll be writing a whole post all about it later in February. 
  • I registered for the SAAO convocation in March. Basically, I get to go to a kick ass conference and learn about osteopathic medicine from some really amazing docs. I. Can't. Wait. 

DOWNS

  • I rang in the new year with a nasty little virus. It took a while to kick it, but it was certainly a downer there for a while. 
  • There was a lot of anxiety floating around school at the beginning of the semester. Board exams are terrifying, but the negative energy bouncing around was enough to drive me crazy. I am fully ignoring all the panic now that I have a plan
  • My heart breaks more and more each day with what's happening with politics and our country. My blog will not be a place for me to discuss those things... but goodness, it's been a downer of a month for me. 

IN PROGRESS

  • After a lot of self reflection, I decided to apply to the osteopathic fellowship at my school. My heart was always torn between applying for the anatomy fellowship and the osteopathic fellowship... but when I sat down and was honest with myself, I knew that I wanted the osteopathic fellowship much, much more. I poured my heart into my application & I have an interview next week on February 6. I have SO many incredible classmates who applied to the fellowship as well, so regardless of who is chosen, I know the department will end up with a great group of fellows. I have so much piece of mind knowing that I have put my best foot forward and if I am not chosen for the fellowship, that's going to be ok too. Putting everything you've got towards a goal can be intimidating, but you'll never know what could happen if you don't put yourself out there. 

LET GO OF

  • Guilt. When I have to study and get things done, I feel horrible saying no to seeing my family or friends. I know they understand, but I still carry around a lot of guilt when I can't be at certain events.
  • Anxiety. All I can do is my best... and that just has to be good enough. 

WHAT I HOPE TO REMEMBER FROM JANUARY 2017

  • Celebrating 6 months of marriage
  • M & I making decisions to take better care of our mental and physical health 
  • I'm so happy I married M. He's the best guy out there - and there's no one else in the world I'd rather do life with. 

Fight like hell

January 27, 2017



The past few weeks have certainly been rough on me. There is a lot of anxiety floating around about board exams this summer, and anxiety is very contagious. I have felt super overwhelmed, which I'm usually able to avoid. This semester is going to be a marathon. It's all about finishing strong with my coursework, preparing myself adequately for my board exams in June, and maintaining my emotional, physical, mental & spiritual health. That's no small task.

I'm absolutely in love with the Awkward Yeti, and this cartoon seems to sum everything up well for me. The odds do not seem in my favor, but that will make it feel even better when I get to the end of this crazy journey!

As a crazy obsessive, type-A planner, I found that taking the time to make a plan made me feel SO much better. (Go figure, right?).

SO. I finally booked my exam dates... and rescheduled them... and rescheduled again, until I was able to find the dates and locations I was hoping for. Now they are set in stone and I can officially plan around them. I will take my USMLE on June 23 and my COMLEX on June 28. It's officially in my planner, and that oddly makes me more calm.

Everyone (and I mean EVERYONE!) has an opinion about board studying and the best way to go about it. I've listened to dozens of people, read all kinds of websites, and I'm officially over it. I've decided on my best plan for studying between now & June... and I'm sticking to it. That's advice I keep hearing over and over again - - trust your own plan and be confident that you're studying the best way you can for YOU. So I'm covering my eyes & ears, ignoring what everyone else is doing, and running with my own version of a study plan.

Again, I felt better once I created a study plan. Type-A for the win.

The further along I got in my planning, I realized that I'm at a point that I seriously just need a plan for everything. I can stick to a schedule, I can stick to a plan, I can cross things off to do lists. I just realized I was SO sick of thinking about everything I needed to do all the time.

SO I KEPT PLANNING (you guys, I'm a sick breed of human).

I quit my yoga membership a few months back and opted to stream videos online because I was so tired of trying to make it to a class at a certain time. I have no regrets about that. (something else I've learned about this journey is to be open to the idea of admitting when things are NOT working for you). I've been using Gaia online and I absolutely love it!  However, I wanted to do more to hold myself accountable for my nutritional goals and work out goals. SO, I went all in and decided to join a friend of mine who is coaching for Beach Body. I've committed to a healthier diet, a more consistent work out routine, and a support network to cheer me along. Win, win. I'm excited to have a mix of great cardio/yoga/strength training workouts at hand to help me stay on top of my physical and mental health throughout this marathon of a semester (and beyond, of course.)

With each step of planning, I could feel my brain clear. I was happier with each thing I added to a list. I was overjoyed with the idea of having everything planned and scheduled... judge me all you want. I openly admit my craziness.

But the best part? I feel SO much better. And I feel like me again. I'm not overwhelmed anymore, and  I feel like I can start fighting like hell to be the best version of myself. Learning things for boards (and for my future as a doctor!) will all be much easier when my head and my heart are in the right place.

My goals?

  1. Stick to the plan. Be flexible and forgiving of myself when I can't and when I don't, because inevitably, I am not going to be able to follow my plans perfectly. I'm aiming for progress > perfection. 
  2. Pay attention to how I feel daily, weekly, monthly. I plan to constantly check in to see what needs arise and how I can address them. 
  3. Find the joy. As my good friend reminded me, all I have to do is LEARN. And stay healthy enough to appreciate it and retain it for the long term. TouchΓ©, and well said. Being a student is a privilege and I'm (unfortunately) quick to forget that when I get stressed out. 
What are your goals? Say them out loud! Write them down! Tell a friend! It holds you accountable and encourages you to stick with it. 

Happy Friday, friends. Fight like hell & chase your dreams! 
I have a whole lotta learning ahead of me this weekend.

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