Perspective//

In a brief moment above the water, I thought I would take a breath of air before plunging back under.

We started back at school on January 2nd. Winter break was the most relaxing, yet busy, two weeks. I managed to go yo-yo skiing, backcountry skiing, watch an absurd amount of the Crown and get everyone to do my bidding for a few days as I recovered from wisdom teeth surgery.

Since January 2nd, I’ve had two exams. I have two more exams next week.

It’s zero-to-100.

I signed up for this. Some days, I see pictures of my friend backpacking through Southeast Asia and I think to myself, “What am I doing????” But then I slap myself around because I’m walking through my dream right now. It’s easy to let the hours sitting in the lecture hall get to you as you’re trying to comprehend the endless waves of material crashing on your head.

Last semester we got our preceptors – doctors working in our community who have offered to take us under their wings and help form us, mentor us, lead us in this profession. My doc lets me go into the rooms before her. I’m practicing the basics, like taking vitals (blood pressure, heart rate, respiratory rate) and talking to patients. Then, I go and present to her what I’ve learned. There’s the handoff, the H&P, the oral presentation, a SOAP note.

Last week, I saw a patient and the next day there was a reference to her disorder in my lecture notes. Last semester, I learned about some diseases I never thought I would see. I thought it would be a disease unicorn, something that only existed in the textbooks or would show up on Step [I guess even a unicorn is less real than that, but you get the idea]. Then I stepped into a patient’s room and what do you think they were living with every day? These moments bring the lecture hall into perspective.

Two years ago, I started this blog. To bring perspective. Since then I hiked under a shower of ice, bought a crock pot, traveled to Minneapolis, Thailand, Utah, and San Diego to name a few. We explored what it meant to love people with everything we have, reminded ourselves that comparison is a thief, and adjusted to life as a medical student.

That’s a lot of perspective.

I don’t have all of the answers, but I’m still gonna go searching for some truth in this world. For some beauty and some grace. Thank you for reading along.

 

I’ve Lost My Wisdom

 

Hey, I know it’s been a while. These last two months have been humbling and exhausting and I haven’t had much energy to write. During this first semester of medical school, I’ve learned the entire human body, a multitude of rare genetic disorders and the molecular basis of disease. It was a little bit like a workout that you look at and don’t think will be that bad. Yet, after slugging your way through the workout you are left gasping for air, wondering how you were tricked. I made it through anatomy and slugged my way through molecules to medicine then found myself reaching for the surface.

I put a lot of pressure on myself to do well in school. I put a lot of pressure on myself to succeed in general. I identify as a 3 on the Enneagram personality tests, “The Achiever”. I’ve always been this person, striving for success and the acceptance of others. Thriving on straight A’s and comments like “good job”. This semester challenged me in ways that I didn’t expect.

Even this blog. I feel a certain amount of pressure to make it a success. Will people read it? Will the grammar be correct? Is this a good picture to share? I haven’t posted in a while, I really should write something. I don’t have anything interesting to share.

I’m constantly reminding myself of the reasons for starting a Glimpse of Grace. To find value and beauty and grace in our everyday lives. To share my life and the lessons I’m learning with those that choose to listen. Yet, somehow, the perfectionist in me wants this page to be perfect. Honestly, that is just plain exhausting and I’m sorry, but it won’t ever be flawless.

Looking through my photos I realize that there have been many things worth sharing. Here are just a few of the things I’ve done that I neglected to think were meaningful —-

  • I realized a dream and got a fiddle leaf fig [I haven’t killed it yet either]

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  • I visited my dear friends in Atlanta for a wedding. Every day I wish I could transport them to Denver.
  • I tried out new coffee shops and study spots. My favorites include – Union Station, The Stanley Marketplace, Steep, and the 3rd-floor study room at the library.
  • We went to a story slam and heard people share their personal stories about “control”.
  • I celebrated Friendsgiving and Thanksgiving with some of my favorite people in some of my favorite places.
  •  We helped serve a meal at the Denver Rescue Mission.

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  • We got dressed up and spent the evening at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. We didn’t take any pictures once we got there, so it must have been fun.
  • Yesterday, I got my wisdom teeth removed. I don’t remember anything, from the moment when they placed the IV to when I woke up with gauze filling my mouth, fighting my heavy eyelids. We drove home in the snow and I laid on the couch, changing ice packs, taking pain medication and watching The Crown.

Here’s hoping I haven’t lost all of my wisdom, just the teeth. Here’s to getting back up again when life tries to knock you down. Here’s to celebrating and embracing our imperfections. I’m gonna go make some Christmas cookies now.

Merry Christmas, ya filthy animals.

I Am Thankful

How often do we utter those three words? How often do we say out loud, or write down, “I am thankful because of…”?

I would argue, not enough. Mostly because I’m guilty of it. Our days are busy, they might feel hard and overwhelming. We might not feel like we have anything to be thankful for on a daily basis that we weren’t thankful for yesterday. When we get together for Thanksgiving the common theme of thankfulness is friends, family, health BUT there’s so much more to life than that. If I’m being honest then it’s really the mundane things that we should be grateful for.

Today, wasn’t all that special. My family dog woke me up around 3:30 barking about something [he probably wanted breakfast], I then had class from 8 am – lunch, followed by meetings, some “studying” [aka email answering], medical student council and now I’m writing from my bed with my genetics book close by for some light reading after I post this. I’ll probably fall asleep with the lights on because that’s what I tend to do best.

It wasn’t a glamorous November 1st filled with saving lives and taking names. Yet, mixed throughout the day are things I feel incredibly thankful for. Today, I am thankful because of friends that send me emails of dogs they think I should adopt, friends that let me know they miss me, and friends that ask how I’m doing and then listen when I decide to actually tell them the truth.

I love this quote so I’ll share it again – a million times if I have to —

“For it is not joy that makes us grateful; it is gratitude that makes us joyful”

– Brother David Steindl-Rast

So, for this month of November, I encourage you to write down a daily gratitude. A simple thing that happened during your day that you were grateful for. Write it down on a slip of paper and put it in a jar, a box, a shoe. You don’t have to tell anyone, do it for yourself. Do it for your joyfulness.

Monday Night Update

People say that time flies when they’re having fun, but I know [without a doubt], that whoever first spoke those words has never tried to learn a semester’s worth of material in 2 weeks.

Time seems to pass these days according to my exam schedule – and yes – we recently learned my entire fall 2012 biochemistry class in 2 weeks. I’ve heard many of my friends utter these same words, “This time I’m gonna stay on top of it. I’m going to start studying tonight”. Inevitably though, the thought creeps in that we have 2 weeks until the next one, so one night off can’t hurt — work-life balance right? Wrong.

These are merely excuses, but this is why I have not posted in what feels like ages – 2 tests to be exact.

Now, I know you’re going to ask – “How is school going?”

It’s going well, actually. I love learning. Like for real, love learning. Every day there is something to be excited about, something to marvel at, and also feel completely overwhelmed by. It’s a game of give-and-take.

To be honest though, finding this balance is probably the most challenging part. I want to continue living my life and not let school become the end-all, be-all. Even though medical school is a huge goal I’m undertaking right now, I still ambitiously try to make it to CrossFit 3x per week, read a couple pages of a book before I fall asleep at night and have a non-med school conversation occasionally [it’s tough]. These are things that make me, Madeline and I’m refusing to let them go just yet.

Yesterday, as I was walking our family dog – Bodie – I listened to a podcast produced by 99% Invisible. If you haven’t heard of it, I totally recommend that you check the channel out – my personal favorite is Episode #127, The Sound of Sports.

Anyways, I listened to a podcast on the invention of the stethoscope and it stopped me in my tracks. Before the stethoscope, whatever was happening inside the patient was a mystery and doctors relied on asking questions, and then they actually listened to their stories. These days, we rarely use our stethoscopes and rely on tests, CT scans, ultrasounds, you name it, to give us a diagnosis.

“Before the stethoscope, you had to feel sick to be sick. After the stethoscope, to be sick, the doctor had to find something”. – Dr. Jacalyn Duffin

As I listened to this podcast, I began asking myself – how do we make sure our patients feel heard, and not like they are just a list of data points and symptoms? I’m asking myself – how can I do this better? How can I ensure that I first listen to my patient’s story before listening to their tests?

From the perspective of the patient – have you ever had an interaction with a doctor that made you feel seen? What did he/she do differently?

A New Rhythm

Human Body Block [aka Gross Anatomy] lasts 9 weeks. At the beginning it seemed like the block would take forever. I remember thinking to myself, “how will I ever make it through this?”

Somehow, I’m making it through this. We are two tests down, with roughly 3 weeks left and one more exam. The days pass quickly with this new rhythm of school, and the weeks consist mainly of —

Anatomy lab, lecture, physical exam sessions, ultrasound sessions, problem-based learning sessions, med school recess [lunch], study sessions, more study sessions, Crossfit, church, escape to the mountains. Rinse and Repeat.

Every day is a new day to learn something new, a new day to be amazed.

In my program we are introduced to ultrasound early on. We have machines that we can use to practice the skill on each other. When I say ultrasound is a skill, I mean that it is a skill. I thought it would be easy, I thought “how hard can it be to put a little gel on a probe and bada-bing-bada-boom you have a clear picture on the screen”. I was so wrong. Somehow we will get the hang of this though. Peel back the layers that cloud our vision.

In the meantime, we get to see some pretty awesome stuff.

Last week, with some help, we did ultrasound on our own hearts. Laying on the table, I saw on the screen my heart beating. The compartments working together to pump blood throughout my living, breathing body. This week, I worked with a group of 7 other classmates through a patient case and successfully diagnosed him with acute appendicitis. I’m learning to perform a physical exam, to listen to heart sounds and test for ACL tears. The reminder that I know nothing is constant, and humbling, but also thrilling at the same time. I have the opportunity to ask questions, to seek clarity, to think deeply. All things that I cherish and hold dear.

This new rhythm is stressful some days, but refreshing and inspiring on others. I don’t always feel on top of the world, but like I’m slugging through the mud on the way up the trail. The pastor at my old church in Atlanta once talked about how we naturally seek out the mountain top moments. We reach for the highs and dread the lows. However, as he so eloquently pointed out, “Have you ever noticed that people don’t live on the mountain tops? They live in the valley”. We do life in the valley. We love people, we work hard and every now and then we climb to the top of the mountain.

Living these, sometimes dreary, days to the fullest is what it’s about. This is the mundane and hard part of becoming who we are, but also who we are meant to be.


Last weekend, some classmates and I headed up to Breckenridge for the annual Colorado Medical Society Retreat. We laughed those deep belly laughs that seem to last forever, but also got to chat with some pretty big-wig docs in the world of medical policy. It was sweet.

Always Enough

I recently started reading Daring Greatly by Brené Brown. First, this book has been on my list for some time and I am excited to finally have the chance to read it. Second, I always struggle a bit to start these books that cover topics important to my current life. The stories that point out the things I need to work on and think through bring up all kinds of weird emotions, and I have a much more difficult time finishing them as opposed to a fun novel [it took me 5 days to finish “A Man Called Ove”]. I’ve only read to page 72 but every page has words on it that speak to me, something that challenges me, or something that makes me think – “well duh”.

I wrote a couple of months ago about my desire to make the most of my remaining time in Atlanta. I desired to do something meaningful, something with impact, something that would make a difference not only in my life, but in the lives of the community around me. In this desire I have been challenged to act, but along with the push towards action has been the pull of a fear of failure.

Now, I know I’m not the only one that fears failure. In Daring Greatly, Brené Brown describes our culture as one of scarcity, as one of “never enough”. From not enough sleep each night to not enough resources to get the things done on your to-do list, we are constantly fed the phrase “never enough”. This cycle negatively impacts our psyche as we approach tackling the challenges and goals in our lives, taking risks and ultimately connecting on a deeper level with those around us. Early in the book, Brené describes a moment she has right before she goes out on stage at TED –

“Then, seconds before I was introduced, I thought about a paperweight on my desk that reads, ‘What would you attempt to do if you you knew you could not fail’…As I walked up to the stage, I literally whispered aloud, ‘What’s worth doing even if I fail’“?

Woah. Let me ask that again and let it really sink in – What’s worth doing even if I fail?

When you ask yourself this question, what in your life is worth pursuing even if you fail? What sort of emotions does this question stir up in you?

Honestly, those 7 words freak me out. They challenge me to try the things I am passionate about – to try being a leader, to try using the voice that I’ve been gifted with, and to try the things I haven’t done because I am so afraid of failing that I plan, and plan some more before I decide I am ready to take it on.

On April 29th I’m hiking 28.3 miles in less than 24 hours, and I’m raising $2400 for something I feel is incredibly important – childhood cancer research. I am terrified that I will fail and that I will not even get the chance to try to hike because I didn’t raise all of the funds. I am worried that I will let down the people that depend on the research that will discover the cure to their cancer. Yet, somewhere deep in the middle of all the self-doubt I feel peace and I am jumping head first into this adventure, trusting that when we run after the things we are passionate about God runs beside us.

 


While monetary donations are one of the obvious ways you can help me reach my goal, I need hiking partners, prayers and people to share this cause with their community.

We think that we don’t matter, that our small contributions can’t make a difference, but I have witnessed first hand how powerful a collective effort can be. For more information, visit my fundraising website here and/or email me at mgracehuey@gmail.com

The Majesty Palm

This is a post about my new house plant.

Let me introduce you to the majesty palm. 

I found him at IKEA on Sunday afternoon and he’s changed my life. It’s amazing what a little life and color can do to change your perspective, but I’m obsessed with this slice of life right now. It’s bright and balanced. My air feels fresh, like I can think more clearly. Now, fingers crossed it doesn’t die in the next month [if it does, I’m only out $12].

Those of you that have house plants, have you named em? I’ve named my car [suby] and I think I’m gonna name my palm, AND I would like your help. Vote for your favorite name below in the comments or give me your own suggestion! Here are the options I came up with –

  • Mervin
  • Fernando
  • Kahula [means “dancing”]
  • Kaipo [means “darling”]

I’m choosing to do the things that make my life richer. Choosing to do the things that help me think more clearly, laugh a little more, and smile. So I bought a house plant and I’m gonna give it a name. 

Radical Love

One of my friends recently let me borrow her copy of Love Does. It’s a fabulous book written by Bob Goff as a testament to what it looks like when we wholly and completely love others. I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately – what would it look like to live this way? To go all in and simply love people without the mess of personal agendas?

I was in the midst of contemplating answers to these questions and starting to draft this post when I made a cup of Yogi tea. [I love the little bits of wisdom that come with each cup and I love them even more when they seem to speak right at me. It’s like I was meant to have that exact tea bag at the exact time I opened it]. The quote on my chai black tea read – “It is not talking of love, but living in love that is everything”.

So, in this month of love let’s be radical about it. Let’s throw off our inhibitions and leap with faith into simply loving people.


What are some tangible ways you can love people today? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

Set the Table

“Success in your twenties is more about setting the table than enjoying the feast” – Paul Angone


When I saw this quote on Instagram the other day I could immediately relate. These days there is so much pressure from society telling us we need to have it all together and you be well on your way in this world.

In reality though, are we all well on our way in this world? Like ever? The question becomes then – when do we really start our lives?

What a radical idea would it be to think that our lives have already begun? For real though!

Life. It’s what is happening right under our noses as we continue to cross months off the calendar in preparation for those big moments. [I’m talking about graduating school, getting married, starting a family, achieving success in your career, etc]. Now, I don’t want to dim the lights on the significance of these events because they are important. I’m also not going to lie when I tell you that this is something I struggle with. I’m often comparing my life to other people’s highlight reels and I see a gaping hole in the shape of another person.

Why am I still single? Why haven’t I found the one yet? I will be truly happy when I have a boyfriend. This is the seemingly last piece to the puzzle.

But wait! What about that time today that you ran a little further or when the memory of sitting criss cross apple sauce on skis made you laugh?

So, does the party start before or after I set the table? If I get to choose – and believe it or not, I do – then I choose now. I’ll set the table in between belly laughs and clinks of glasses. In between tears of joy, sadness, and pain. In between the big moments because this is my party and I don’t want to be late.


Yesterday my parents decided to put down our childhood dog. Sienna was old, hasn’t been doing well the last few months and seeing her when I went home for Christmas was hard. She just wasn’t the same pup I’ve known for all these years, so while I’m sure going to miss her loyal spirit, cute face, and boundless energy I know doggie heaven is just the place for her.

New Year, New Me (or Something Like That)

Did you make New Years resolutions? It’s week 3 of January and I’m wondering how those are going! When I think of resolutions my thoughts immediately jump to goal setting. What is a realistic thing I can accomplish in this month, in the next 2 months, perhaps in the next year?

Here are my new years goals for 2017 –

  1. Camp 10x this year
  2. Eat less sugar
  3. Be generous with my time
  4. Quality over quantity – relationships, material items, experiences, etc
  5. Ask good questions
  6. Be present

Each day is a new opportunity to be better my friends.


This month I’m doing a Whole30 challenge. It’s going well so far – day 15! – and I’ve gotten to try a ton of new recipes. I’ve officially successfully prepared a pot roast and last night I made my very own Tomato&Squash soup. Yum!

In the spirit of giving, here are some of my favorite food bloggers –

Molly Yeh My Name is Yeh – the soup recipe was from her book, “Molly on the Range”. Lots of tasty bread recipes for after Whole30

Danielle Walker Against All Grain – paleo, simple, and delectable!

DanaMinimalist Baker – easy recipes with 10 ingredients or less, though I usually add some type of meat