20% Chance

On Sunday, Leah and I went hiking. We packed our bags with water, sunscreen, and bug spray. A quick check of the weather report revealed only a 20% chance of rain.  

20% my ass. 

We drove to the East Palsides Trailhead at the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area, paid the $3 for parking, and took off down the trail. Not even 5 minutes in and the skies opened up – pouring down rain. 

Stubborn to still go for our hike we continued on, believing that the rain would “stop any moment”. As you may guess, the rain didn’t stop. If anything it grew to a faster pace with fat drops of water falling from the sky. We side-stepped rivers of water in the middle of the trail and jumped over waterfalls flowing down the hills. We tried to find cover under some low-lying tree branches, but nothing seemed big enough to block out the water. At one point as we were huddled together trying to wait it out, Leah asked me, “what would Bear Grylls do?”

A valid question I thought. If we had been stranded in the wilderness we would have definitely needed to find some way to get dry. Lucky for us, the car wasn’t far away. Standing there completely soaked and with no signs of stopping soon we chose to end our hike. We walked back to the car and drove home. 

We easily could have chosen to be miserable, to complain about the rain, to run for the car at the first little splatter. Instead we chose to stick it out, to embrace what life was throwing our way and follow the plan. 

But, wait! We gave up right? In my last year I’ve come to realize that sometimes we aren’t prepared to stick with our original goals. We need to be flexible; willing to move and change as the landscape of our present situation evolves. I think it’s possible to keep the same goal in mind, but to envision another route of getting there is what needs to be made of putty.  This can sometimes be hard to do as we don’t take to change well; I’m constantly reminding myself that it’s all going to work out. A mantra throughout my days. Cheers to the mess, the soaked hikes, and unexpected detours. They make life more interesting don’t they? 

Everything’s going to be okay in the end. If it’s not okay, it’s not the end 

– John Lennon 

Garden Essential Maintenance

While I was riding the MARTA to work a couple of months ago, staring out the window, dreaming of things I would rather have been doing, I started to scheme about how I might get better at caring for flowers. As you may have gathered from some of my previous posts, I love plants, but don’t necessarily possess a knack for growing them. So, in the attempt to cultivate a green thumb I spontaneously signed up to volunteer with the Atlanta Botanical Gardens. I’ve become a GEM (Garden Essential Maintenance).

Basically all that means is that one morning a week – Thursdays – I weed flower beds for 3 hours. Its pretty glamorous I know. But in all reality, I really enjoy it. The horticulturist I work with happens to have also lived in Boulder, Colorado for some time so there’s a lot to talk about. We not only reminisce on the best places to hike, grab brunch, or enjoy a cold one, but he also explains the art of gardening.

I’m learning to deadhead flowers to make room for new growth, to recognize poison ivy so I’m not a miserable person, to shear sea grass with giant scissors, and to find peace among the dirt.

One of the most common weeds I pull is a seedling for a Tulip Poplar. Over time, the tiny plant transforms into a giant tree. The gardens typically don’t allow this tree to grow bigger than a baby bud because it does get so large, but they do house one of the largest in Atlanta. It’s so tall that they have it grounded and above the tops of the leaves lives a lightning rod. Apparently when tulip poplars get struck by lightning they explode. Can you imagine anything more spectacular?!  In my opinion that would be a pretty neat thing to witness – from a short distance away of course – but according to Dave, “It makes quite the mess”. He doesn’t want to clean it up.

This week, I’m thankful for quiet moments in the garden. For the chance to learn and for the chance to get a little dirt under my fingernails. Thumbs crossed when I have flora of my own it will be half as beautiful as this garden in the woods.

 

The Key to Scientific Talks

If you want people to come to your talks, provide lunch. And not just stale pizza. Maybe mix it up with sandwiches one week, burritos the next, and a pizza week thrown in there every now and then. Just to throw em off. 

If you provide lunch, people will come, they will tell their friends about free lunch, their friends will come, and then – just maybe – everyone will learn a thing or two about science. 

And that is what I learned about science today. Science is cool. 

Something About Rain

One thing I like about Atlanta –

It rains.

Not like the gentle sprinkling of rain that Denver gets or the summer’s quick afternoon thunderstorms. Atlanta gets those too, but the rain all-day, wake up in the morning to rain type of storm. That’s what I’m talkin’ about.

There is something soothing about hearing the water kiss the ground outside my open window on days of the week that begin with Satur- or Sun-. Or the crash of thunder in the middle of the night that startles me awake, followed by the pitter patter of raindrops like a lullaby rocking me back to sleep. It reminds me of the mornings back home when it snowed overnight without me knowing. The stillness, quiet, and then excitement as I open the blinds to unveil untouched snow resting on the ground. This to me will always be magical. It will always bring me back to my childhood. It will always bring me back home – even just for a moment, even if its just in my heart.

So I like that it rains in Atlanta because it’s the closest thing we have to snow. It’s the closest thing I have to magic.

“The earth has music for those that listen” – William Shakespeare

Tick Tock

The days feel long, but man, the months are flying by. We are entering into our last week of April and I sit here asking myself the same question that my parents asked a couple of days ago, “What’s new Madeline?”

When they asked me I sort of paused and then answered, nothing really – I’m just plugging along. I hated myself for giving them this answer, not only because it is so uninformative, but I have always been the kid that would share, in great detail, the most boring parts of their day. I love story telling. Maybe it comes from my love of reading, because I certainly enjoy that too. If you give me a good book I could easily have my nose in it the entire day imagining far off places, other worlds, and different times. So, I love to weave together stories and let people in on the happenings in my life. I guess it’s not surprising then that I started writing a blog – ha! But, it is surprising, that when I have the chance to tell them about my week I can’t think of what has happened. Let’s see –

I worked a lot (it pretty much takes up most of my time) and this particular week I’m anxious about an exciting opportunity. I’m preparing to present my research project at a national conference in Minneapolis that isn’t for another 2 weeks, but for some reason – in my head – I think its happening next week. I’m in panic mode. I know it will all be fine, and everyone has to start out somewhere, but a part of me keeps comparing it to a kindergartner trying to participate in the middle school science fair. But really, I’m thrilled to be going and I’ve never been to Minnesota.

That’s just one thing of many new things. Next time I answer with “nothing really” hit me with a slap on the wrist and “I know you can do better than that”.

I’m posting a few photos from the hike I went on yesterday with some friends. Sweetwater Creek State Park has an easy trail that winds along the creek. We were attempting to cross the creek by jumping over rocks and we were less than successful, but it was a good time out in the sunshine.


This might be humorous to some people –

I was dog sitting this weekend and attempted to do a yoga video in the living room only to have the dogs decide to wrestle right on my mat. Thanks Bailey and Douglas you’re pretty darn cute, but yoga is impossible with you two around.

 

A Box of Chocolates

You know, “My Mama always said – Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re going to get”.

Except, who doesn’t love the boxes of chocolate that come with a little map to what kinds each are? One little lid holds all of the answers to life’s possible outcomes with locations of the most appealing journey or opportunity.

…Man, if only real life was like this. Things would be so much easier…

In chocolate world if there isn’t a map then I’ll just take one bite out of each one and put them back in their spots. Now, if it happens to be dark chocolate caramel well… then I’ll just eat the whole thing. My favorites are the dark chocolate caramel ones, and I steer clear of the raspberry filled ones. I will be chugging along taking bites out of my unknown chocolate pieces when *BAM* I get hit with the unwelcome taste of raspberry cream – no thank you. I bet you think I’m going to relate this to something going on in my life right now, like maybe I got some unwanted news that’s extremely distasteful or I got the mouth-watering caramel chocolate. But nope! I don’t have good news or bad news, just news. This weeks post then is simply a glimpse into my most recent


This week began with chocolate cake for breakfast. Technically it was leftover flourless chocolate torte from easter so that means its basically healthy, right?

No? Oh well. It was Monday and the cake was delicious.

I’m a total nerd when it comes to baking this cake. I think its amazing how combining the mixtures of various “fluffiness” (densities) creates air in the cake to rise. Then when you pull the thing out of the oven it deflates into this rich, creamy texture that goes perfectly with some fresh cut strawberries – maybe a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Not to mention I just love that there is cardamom involved. I would argue this is a much under utilized spice that I should have discovered years ago.

This week also marked the end of the Crossfit Open. It absolutely kicked my butt. The last workout was not only mentally challenging, but man did it burn! I started seeing stars about halfway through; Probably from a combination of my constant turning (burpees over the bar) and the lack of pacing but when my judge handed me my score card at the end I couldn’t see straight enough to grab it from her hands.. Ei yi yi! That was a doozy.

I did the workout each Friday night after they were announced and each Saturday morning I felt like a very old lady crawling out of bed. My body has achieved a level of soreness that beyond anything I have ever experienced. BUT I am officially ranked at 56,435th place in the entire world (among women). If you break it down further to my region – the south east – and even further to the women that scaled then I come in at 220th place. I like to imagine that I am somewhat fit, but this number humbling to say the least. There are women out there that are totally badass.

Something cool that also happened this week was that I heard news that I’ve been placed on the alternate list for medical school at CU. Apparently I’m in the top-priority section of their list (top third) with a “high likelihood” of being accepted. I’m not holding my breath, but this is the next step in the many steps it takes to attend medical school (most of which include waiting, waiting, and more waiting). They have until August 15th to notify me of an acceptance so in the mean time I will shadow some more docs, prep new essays, and keep chugging along through this box of chocolate called life.

Today is beautiful in the A – I’m calling this glimpse a wrap. See y’all again next week.

Chicken curry sandwich @ my newest favorite coffee shop

 

 

Freedom on a Saturday

My thoughts on this guilt-free Saturday –

1. I LOVE sleeping in.

I lazily woke up at 11 am to hear my neighbors wind chime echoing in the breeze *magic*

I walked to a local coffee shop, ordered a tea, and enjoyed the moment. There was an adorable puppy playing tricks, students studying, a new baby, a possible first date, and hanging day beds – perfect for lounging selfies.

2. In this moment, I am blissfully happy. That is all.

The Dancing Goats Coffee Bar

The Bigger the Hoops

Whoever coined the term “Hotlanta” must have left right after August because as I was sitting in my living room writing this I was surrounded by a pile of all the blankets I own and the thermometer read 21 degrees.

Not. Hot. It would probably help if the heater in my apartment wasn’t quite so old and could properly vent air. Or if the pilot light didn’t randomly go out when I have 3 people staying with me. Despite my heating incapabilities we managed to stay warm.

… I should probably start from the beginning …

Back in November before I knew it would get cold here I convinced my friends to come to Atlanta for my birthday. In past years its been as cold as -7 so hotlanta would be a welcome change. Naturally they said yes, I borrowed an air mattress and the rest is history.

The weekend was filled with countless festivities – good food, good cheer, and unforgettable moments. We laughed those deep belly laughs that make you feel like you just finished 100 sit-ups without doing an ounce of work. We out-stayed our welcome at brunch one carafe at a time. We danced till we dropped (or our partners dropped us), and we sat in a coffee shop playing Life for hours, despite holes in the butts of our leggings and lingering hangovers.

My apartment was full, but my heart was bursting at the seams. Somehow all of the people in my life made me feel significant and so very loved. I had friends celebrate with me in Atlanta, my mom in Nepal face timed me, my house church called from their ski trip, my FaceBook wall blew up with kind words, and my inbox was full of best wishes and friendly messages.

One of the fears I faced as I left Colorado was of lost connections. I feared that I would lose my close friends and that my relationships would suffer. I worried that they would go on without me and that I would go on without them. In some ways we have – we don’t see each other on a daily basis, hell we don’t even text on a daily basis. Yet, in other ways we have not – they are still the first people I call with news, good or bad. They encourage me on my darkest days and I them. When we three-way call I can’t help but grin – I hope they can hear my happiness through the air waves. It has taken a different kind of effort to sustain our friendship, but, if anything, it has made it stronger, more resilient.

They say that if a friendship lasts longer than 7 years it will last a lifetime. Technically I’ve only known these ladies for 6 years, but I don’t think that matters. We’ve already passed the test and we’ve come out on top. Cheers – Y’all know who you are.

 


 

Some locations and pictures from the fabulous birthday weekend activities:

  • Hiking @ Stone Mountain
  • Picnic lunch @ Piedmont Park
  • 3 words – PONCE CITY MARKET
  • Atlanta Beltline
  • Bottomless mimosas @ The Lawrence
  • Tequila-filled confessions @ St. Louisa’s Church and Ping Pong Emporium
  • Joystick, Blake’s, the Dark Horse, the Warren
  • BRONCOS win the Superbowl
  • Pancake breakfast + bacon
  • Cook Out – this was a questionable decision

 

Sunny and 65

Yesterday was January 30th and perfect in almost every way.

I probably would have changed that sentence to read “perfect in every way” had I not spent ~6 hours of my Saturday hanging out with mice, but c’est la vie, I did and unless time travel becomes a thing soon then there’s nothing I can do to change that. I’ve been feeling a lot of pressure to get shit done. Now, almost all of this pressure comes from within, from my own personal desire to achieve results and to do my best work.

Something my sister Anna is constantly reminding me of is that no one will tell me when to go home <—I’m working on this

But I also had some very unexpected news this week which prompted me to spend a few extra hours in the lab. You see, on Wednesday I heard from the University of Colorado Medical School that I am invited to interview for their program (eek!). TOTALLY unexpected, especially since two short weeks ago I posted about how I was taking back control of my self-worth from the very same medical school admissions boards. I feel like this is God’s way of saying, “Hold up – you’re not quite done with that uncertainty yet”.

I must admit I am nervous, but also very excited – I get to be in Colorado in two weeks! The funny thing is that they originally scheduled me for this upcoming Friday February 5th…. Two of my best friends, plus Anna, are traveling from Denver -> Atlanta for my 24th birthday. So LOL, they would be in GA and I would be in CO. Thankfully I’ve switched the day and will be gracing the mountains with my presence the following week. The birthday shenanigans can continue – Cheers.

Anyways, I’m taking a couple of days off in the very near future so I figured it would be good for my sanity if I spent a few extra hours doing science. Even better for my sanity was that I managed to finish everything mid-afternoon with enough time for a run on the Atlanta Beltline.

Now, the Beltline is probably one of my favorite places in this city. It’s an old railway line that has been transformed into a walking, running, biking, yoga-ing, skateboarding, anything outside path. There are parks, restaurants, and tons of art that line the trail. Yesterday was beautiful so everyone and their mom was out on the beltline rendering it a little bit interesting at times as I was trying to dodge bikes, kids on scooters, dogs, and people taking up the entire sidewalk. On the bright side – it added brief moments of rest to the run and kept me on my toes. Oh, and I got to do a ton of excellent people-watching. Win win win.

I love having the ability to get out and discover my new city. I love that I now have favorite places, favorite coffee shops, favorite restaurants, favorite bars. To more sunny and 65 afternoons, unexpected surprises, hanging with loads of strangers and extra hours at work, because these moments shape us and mold us whether we think they are or not.


*Side note – I’ve challenged myself to read 20 books this year and I’ve just finished my first one (I know… I have to pick up the pace), but I’m looking for suggestions! My latest read was Full Body Burden by Kristen Iversen. It’s about the Rocky Flats plutonium trigger manufacturing plant in Aurora, Colorado – super interesting and I fully recommend it.