Be You.

I’m officially a 4-week old medical student. Not a doctor yet, but people continue to insist that “there’s a doctor in the room if I trip and fall”.

It’s a strange feeling being here. For many of us this has been our dream for a long time. We’ve gone through the whole process of taking the required undergraduate courses, sitting for the MCAT, volunteering, shadowing physicians, holding leadership positions, writing our primary and secondary essays, interviewing, and then finally, waiting to hear the good news. [I wrote about my experience with the application process a while back – you can read it here].

After getting in and receiving the gift to defer I thought I would spend my next year calmly waiting for the moment to arrive. The moment when I would quit my job and move back to Colorado to start school. Instead, I experienced spells of panic after not hearing from CU for a while. I would wake up in a sweat, fearful that I dreamed the whole thing.

That I would show up to orientation on the first day and they wouldn’t be able to find my name on the list.

That it was all a mistake.

There’s a very real name for this feeling – imposter syndrome – and we’ve already talked about it a lot. They are constantly reminding us that we are here for a reason. It’s almost annoying having someone tell you every day that you are good enough, but I can also see why they would want to drill it in our heads that they chose us.

One piece of advice all of the “older” students have shared is to avoid comparison like the black plague. Comparing ourselves to classmates only perpetuates the imposter syndrome. It’s not productive to becoming a doctor, it’s not productive in every day life.

In medical school we are no longer graded on the bell curve [weird, right?], but rather we either pass or we fail. No in-between and no “only 10% of the class gets an A”. Now, I suppose this is created to foster collaboration among a highly competitive group of individuals. The idea being that if we aren’t pitted against each other, then we will be more likely to share our ideas, study tips and success stories. Yet, immediately following my first anatomy exam, all I could think about was how I did and what other people scored.

Comparison doesn’t just stop at the lecture hall door. For instance, some other things I’ve caught myself thinking of in the last few weeks are —

  • How it is that people seem to have solid friend groups established and I’m just trying to remember the names of the people next to me in lecture, plus the 2000 other anatomy terms.
  • How the heck people already know what they want to specialize in and I’m sitting here, interested in pretty much everything.
  • Should I be studying more like everyone else, or am I spending too much time outside of the library.

If comparison is a creature of habit then I’m not writing all of this down to reinforce the habit. I’m writing it down so I can turn around and crush those feelings to bits. My classmates are incredible and they have done things I only dream of accomplishing one day. I am honored to have been chosen to journey through medical school together and it would be a shame to see the adventure marred by self-doubt. What can we accomplish when we truly stop the comparison and work together?

So, I challenge you, today, tomorrow, and the day after that, take a moment and think about how you might be comparing yourself to others. Write these things down, acknowledge them, then crush those feelings to bits.

You are awesome. You’ve been hand selected for the journey that you’re on. Your contribution is important, valued and necessary. You can sit at my table.


On a completely unrelated note – have y’all ever thought of all the things in your bodies? It is absolutely incredibly how many important structures are jam-packed in your armpit. My mind is blown.

Thailand, Part 2

The suspense has been building. Are you ready to hear more of my trip to Thailand?

Last we talked, my sisters and I boarded a train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai. It was 7 PM and we were scheduled to arrive in the northern station the following morning around 9 AM. There are a couple of different options for this overnight train when booking your tickets, but we chose the #13 because the sun would be up while we were arriving. Our hope was that we would be able to glimpse the Chiang Mai countryside; Mountains, rice paddies, and lots of green foliage. Once on the train we found our seats and prepared to depart. In the meantime, there were people milling about, stowing their baggage, finding their seats and an older Thai woman selling chips for “cheap cheap”.

Shortly after sitting down Leah got up to use the restroom but returned thereafter and exclaimed, “I’ll think I’ll wait until we are out of the station”. Why? We wondered. Apparently, the “toilet” was a hole in the floor of the train seeing straight through to the ground. This was the first of many commodes we would encounter that had us saying, “Man, you have got to see the bathroom!”

As the train pulled out of the station, we chatted with the Canadian seated in our section and passed the phone back-and-forth as we played “Heads Up”. At bedtime the train staff appeared, efficiently transformed our seats into beds then disappeared again. We drew our individual curtains shut and closed our eyes to the gentle rocking of the train down the tracks.

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The Thai people like to describe areas of their country by assigning it a temperature – hot, hotter, hottest; Chiang Mai rings in on this scale as hot. Upon our arrival the day was just beginning to warm up, a weight of humidity dripping from the clouds. Our ride, exactly on time, piled us into a van with other travelers and one-by-one dropped us at our respective accommodations. The AirBnb rental we booked wouldn’t allow us to check in until early afternoon, however, we were lucky to be able to drop our bags at the front lobby and head to the Old City to pass the time.

Chiang Mai City is the old capitol of the Lan Na Kingdom and the Old City is surrounded by a moat and wall to protect its citizens from enemies.

We reached this after a short 20 minute walk down a winding road. Once past the gates of the Old City one finds a network of streets in a grid-pattern that is approximately “one cigarette” in length. Meaning, to walk from one corner of the Old City to the next you should be able to smoke exactly one cigarette [This was never verified as none of us actually smoke cigarettes, but if you go to Thailand and smoke, let me know the verdict!]. Compared to the hustle and bustle of cars, buses and tuk tuks outside the gates, the Old City has an air of peacefulness and calm.

In Chiang Mai we did a lot of things. We got Thai body massages [AMAZING], drank more Thai Tea, went on an excursion to the highest point in Thailand at Doi Inthanon [Doi means mountain], visited an organic farm and learned the magic of cooking traditional Thai dishes, bathed and fed elephants, hiked to a waterfall, went swimming in said waterfall, took a yoga class and discovered a local park tucked into the corner of the Old City. We booked all of our day trips through local tourist agencies that are very easy to find. It’s overwhelming because of all the options, but we went with our guts, and most importantly made sure that the elephant sanctuaries did not allowing riding.


Thai Body Massages, Day 1:

The Thai people love massage and it’s easy to see why once you’ve had one. For ~300 baht [or $6] you can get a one hour, full-body massage that incorporates deep tissue kneading and stretching. First you change into these outfits – for newbies, the pants tie in the front! All three of us put our pants on backwards and the massage ladies giggled as they told us to turn them around. Then they started with washing our feet and finished with your massaging our heads. We walked away feeling refreshed, declaring we would have one massage every day until the end of our trip.


Doi Inthanon National Park, Day 2:

Doi Inthanon is the highest mountain in Thailand and is where the late King Inthanon’s burial site is located. We drove ~1 hour in a bus climbing steeply up the mountain side to reach a pair of waterfalls, Wachriathan and Sirithan. Our tour guide loved our short hikes and explained how as it was durian season, we needed our exercise [Durian is a fruit loaded with sugar. It has a very stinky smell though and can be quite difficult to find in the local markets].

From there we continued our drive further up the mountain, reaching the highest point and the burial site. The further we climbed into the atmosphere the more chilly, windy, and misty the air around us became. A vibe that translated deep respect and importance for the site we were visiting. To the Thai people, the King is of great importance and must be respected at all times, even in memorial.

Next, we drove to the King and Queen’s pagodas surrounded by a botanical gardens. It was a lovely sight, and even lovelier as the clouds began to shift and a view of the valley opened up below.

Our final stop of the day was the Karen Hilltribe village where we played with the most adorable puppy and bought some seriously comfy Thai pants.


Smile Organic Farm Cooking School, Day 3:

Another 1 hour bus ride and we arrived at the farm and cooking classroom. We signed up for an evening course and learned to cook traditional Thai dishes as the sun set over the Chiang Mai mountains. The farm was beautiful, growing everything we needed for our meal. We even got to walk around and pick some fresh herbs and flowers for plating. The Thai chili peppers are so small, so be careful when working with them. I accidentally ate an entire green pepper, thinking it was a green bean – it was SPICY. Anyone that wants to come over and enjoy a Thai dinner is welcome!




Elephant Sanctuary and Waterfall Hike, Day 4:

We were transported out of the city once again, this time to an elephant sanctuary. Elephants used to be employed and owned by families that would clear areas of the forest for farming use. However, the Thai government has outlawed the use of elephants for this type of labor. As a result there are many families that can no longer afford the care necessary to keep an elephant – they eat tremendous amounts of food each day! Hence, elephant sanctuaries. We went to a smaller location compared to some of the more popular retirement facilities, but it was still a great experience. We got to hand-feed bananas to the elephants and bathed them in a small pool on the property. Elephant’s mouths are like vacuums! They will use their trunks to grab banana after banana, and they will keep on eating unless the trainers limit their food.

Last, but not least, we spent a morning sleeping in, sweating it out in a yoga class, and laughing at the park.

Chiang Mai City was a full, bursting at the seams experience.


From hot we were now about to travel to hottest, the Andaman Sea.

Thailand, Part 1

Welcome to Thailand. From the bustling metropolis of Bangkok, to the old capital of Chiang Mai City, and to the hammock-loving life down in the Andaman Sea we traveled with variety.

Here is a photo journal of my trip to Thailand. This will scratch the surface of the laughs we shared and the memories we made. Our list of non-negotiables for this adventure —

  1. Thai Massage
  2. Watch every sunset; watch one sunrise
  3. Drink endless amount of Thai Tea
  4. Kayak in the Andaman Sea
  5. Ride a city bus
  6. Take a yoga class

Now onto the good stuff —


Bangkok, Thailand

 

To start the trip the three of us met up in the great city of Los Angeles. Then we boarded our flights for Asia. Leah bought her tickets separate from Anna and I so we split again at this point with a plan to meet at baggage claim in the Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok.

Our travel took us first to Tokyo and then on to BKK. After we arrived in Thailand we found out that Leah’s flight from Hong Kong to Bangkok was delayed 4-hours.

Now that’s some pretty rough news after binge watching movies and cuddling up under airplane blankets for 16 hours, but we took the delay in stride and played some serious rounds of “Spit” [card game] until Leah’s face showed up across the baggage carousel. Reunited once more, we sisters caught a taxi to our Airbnb near the airport for some shut eye.

 

Following some seriously needed sleep (~2 hours) we rounded up our things and jumped on the train to find a hostel in Chinatown. For this trip we made “big picture” plans. Meaning we had a general idea of the places and things we wanted to do, but we didn’t necessarily know where we were going to sleep each night. Thankfully things like HostelWorld exist and we ended up finding a bunch of really great places to stay. Our first home in Thailand was at Loftel 22. A hostel in the heart of Bangkok, it was right on a main road through the city that the bus #1 drove along. This was a highlight of the trip. I enjoyed having some sense of responsibility over our location. In a foreign place you get in a taxi and trust they will take you to the right location with the risk of being scammed, but when we took the bus I felt the wind blow through the windows and listened to the movement of people through the streets on their bikes and cars and tuk tuks. I felt free.

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In Bangkok we rode the #1 from our hostel to the Grand Palace and Wat Pho. The Grand Palace is home to Wat Phra Krew and the Emerald Buddha, the most sacred of Buddha images. ‘Wat’ means temple and there are a ton in Thailand. At the Grand Palace and at Wat Pho the buildings sparkled as the sunlight reflected off the beautifully tiled roofs. In Wat Pho lies the reclining Buddha, a direct contrast to the Emerald Buddha less than one mile away. People were making such a huge deal about the Emerald Buddha that I figured it must be quite large, however when we stepped into the heart of the temple I had to squint to be able to see him. Ha! Now, the reclining Buddha on the other hand is enormous! He stretches from one length of the temple to the next, laying on his side.


In this buzzing city we found tranquility among the golden Buddha’s. We found beauty in the flowers tucked inside the corners of the temples and peace in the shadows under the Thai sun. For dinner, we stumbled upon a restaurant over looking the Chao Phraya River and toasted to the start of a great trip as the sun set behind Wat Arun (Temple of Dawn).


We spent our second full day in Thailand wandering through market places filled with baskets of spices and produce. Winding deep through the fabric of the culture and uncovering what a day-to-day might look like to a Thai. There were cats everywhere. Lounging amidst the peppers and making grumpy faces because they were probably too furry and therefore too hot. We walked through Bangkok on foot after getting kicked out of our Tuk Tuk for striking a hard bargain, but we picked up our #1 bus and it almost felt like we had been there for days.
We even braved some street food and came away with full bellies and happy hearts. At the end of the day, we jumped on a train bound for Chiang Mai, turned our chairs into beds and waved good bye to the big city.

Next up —> Chiang Mai

Goodbye Mervin

Tragedy has struck.

My majesty palm Mervin was diagnosed with a red spider mite infestation this morning and has found himself in the trash. I guess I wasn’t committed enough to try to save him because I just couldn’t handle all the creepy crawly bugs.

Farewell.

Maybe I’ll get another majesty palm some day.

Sorry Daryll

Let me tell you a story, about a time [1 week ago] that I learned that people usually aren’t “nice and want to help you with your yard work”. 

Here in Atlanta there are A LOT of trees that translates to A LOT of leaves. I’m pretty sure that the house I rent has not had a proper rake job done in at least 5 years. Now, I know it’s not my job as a renter to do the upkeep and yard work, but I want to be proud of the space I inhabit. I want to walk up to my front door and not cringe because of how bad our yard looks. 

On Saturday I borrowed a rake, grabbed a bunch of bags and set to clean up the leaves. I was mid-leaf raking and weed pulling when this older man walked up with his lawn mower and rake in tow. He asked, “Would you like some help?” I hesitated a moment and looked around; it seemed like I had it handled. I was slowly chugging away with one half of the yard and there was plenty of daylight left. It was when he suggested that he could work on the other half AND that he had pruners to help with the bushes that I agreed. 

We both turned, started working on our sides of the yard, and it was at this point that I started to feel weird about the whole thing. First of all, why was this random guy walking around with a lawn mower and all the tools the do yard work? Second, I was the only person home and while it was the middle of the day I still wondered if I should text my roommates. [Uh oh, my phone was in the house]. As all of these thoughts are racing through my head, I’m pulling weeds and pushing leaves into bags. Finally, I think, “gosh, he probably wants me to pay him!”

Upon this epiphany, I looked over and said, “Daryll, I’m sorry but I think I misunderstood you. I actually don’t have any money to give you”.  He huffed and gave a retort at how did I expect him to do the work for free, then stomped off with his lawn mower. Whoops. 

Moral of the story? 

  • Random strangers don’t want to help you with your yard work. 
  • There is always an ulterior motive. 
  • I am super naïve. 

Flag It Down

There’s no greater feeling of rejection than when you are standing at the bus stop and the bus blows right past you. 

That’s right. That just happened. 

Picture me standing in full view, in the remaining daylight, waving my arms in the air as a large bus goes speeding past me and off into the sunset. 

Happy Monday y’all. 

25\\

I wonder if you’re allowed to throw you own birthday party. Do other people do that? I guess it doesn’t really matter what other people do because I already did and it was a blast.

I threw myself a brunch party with a frittata, donuts and hash browns. There were flowers and balloons and maybe – one or two – spilled glasses of champagne. Because last, but certainly not least, we had a mimosa bar.

The frittata was adapted from a recipe in this Against All Grain cookbook.

Donuts here.


25 will most certainly be an interesting year. It will always be the year that I started medical school. It will be the year that I move back to Colorado [maybe for the last time, or the first time]. It will be the year that I adventure to Thailand and the year that I try to squeeze in as many schenanigans in the South as possible. I wonder what else the year of 25 will be.

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