October in Review

October in review, for all of the things that I’ve wanted to say this month but haven’t had the time or energy to channel them out into the world wide web.

Maybe it’s better this way. I’m not sure. I’m still trying to figure out how to keep this blog going while in medical school.

October was a challenging month. It started with the end of the neuro block, 8-weeks of grueling coursework in the nervous system. With all of our exams on Monday mornings, it makes it really challenging to take a guilt-free weekend off from studying. By the time we got to the end of neuro I was tired and beaten down, but we picked ourselves back up to start the GI tract the next day. The rest of October passed in a blur of brown-tinged jokes and complaints of abdominal pain. What causes diarrhea you ask? It feels like a million things.

My patience was tested. My focus was tested. My ability to find that elusive balance was tested.

On October 1st, I saw a beating heart. In a human body.

On October 1st, I got the opportunity to shadow a cardiothoracic surgeon while he did an open repair of someone’s ascending aorta. Those are basically all fancy words for the tube that comes off of your heart and sends blood to all of the different organs in your body. It’s pretty important that it is strong and sturdy, but sometimes they become stretched too thin and that’s when we worry about them breaking. So, this surgeon went in and replaced a piece of this man’s aorta with a manufactured tube. It was incredible and exhilarating and humbling, all at the same time. I was also terrified of the possibility of tripping and falling onto the patient the whole surgery. My mantra for the day, “do not fall, do not fall”.

On October 8th, we finished neuro and promptly ate our weight in Denver Biscuit Company.

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On October 10th, it snowed.

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On October 12th, my friends and I went to the ballet, Sleeping Beauty. We put on our fancy dresses, I put on some new lipstick and we pretended to not be medical students for one night. Which was actually pretty difficult because we went to the ballet with the CU School of Medicine Alumni Association… Also, I may or may not have rested my eyes during the first act.

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On October 27th, my 2011 MacBook Pro was considered to be a “vintage machine”. I don’t think they understand what the word “vintage” means, but I bought a new computer anyways.

I had been thinking this month about some of the things I was thankful for because my cousin Katie was running a series on her blog about resistance and gratitude. I sent her 5 things, but I left out one. I’m really thankful for student loans because without them I wouldn’t be able to get through medical school. So, while I have to pay them back eventually, at this moment in time I am able to focus on becoming the best doctor I can be, while not having to worry about where my next meal, rent check or gas money will come from. Because of student loans, I can purchase a new computer. This is a privilege.

All through October, we studied a lot, making tables and graphs of the diseases of the GI tract, and having a little bit of fun along the way. Now here we are, on the edge of November.

This month I was challenged to be faithful; to trust in what is coming and what I cannot yet see. To trust that this hard work will pay off and that the season will change. I am encouraged.

How has October been for you?

 

 

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

Uno mas, por favor

Happy Blog-iversary!!!!

It has been one full year – 12 months, 52 weeks, 365 days, 8760 hours – since I started on this journey in finding the grace within our everyday lives. I want to send a big THANK YOU out into the universe for all of you that have read my posts in this last year. Thank you for your words of encouragement, it really means the world to me [x10000000000 thank you].

I’ve enjoyed having this space to share my thoughts, struggles, and adventures. Writing posts for my blog has come to be something I look forward to each week – something I use to help reset after a crazy, busy week at work or even as a way to form complete thoughts on a theme that keeps appearing in my life. Normally I am not super creative, as a scientist I practice creativity in a very different way from the traditional sense. We carefully design experiments and then meticulously execute them with special attention paid to precision and accuracy. Writing Glimpse of Grace has allowed me to become creative outside of scientific rigor, and for that I am thankful.

As I jump into this new year – 2017 – I do so with a continued desire to be present. To be intimately engaged with this wonderful life we’ve been so fortunate to have been given. I have 6 months left in Atlanta, and my greatest fear is that I will spend those months checking the days off the calendar. Deep within my soul, I desire to make the most of those days in a way that honors God, presence, and connection. I don’t have a clear vision of what that will look like yet, but I will continue to share my journey along the way.

I’ve always been a storyteller [ask anyone from my childhood], so here I am writing down my story. Let’s see where this narrative takes us.


*The tea I enjoyed was from the local coffee bar – Taproom Coffee & Beer. I highly recommend this place for catching up with friends.

5 Beautiful Things

To round out this season of thankfulness, gratitude, and joy my cousin Katie has issued her own form of challenge. Katie is the creator of the blog – 52Beautiful Things. She uses her platform to illuminate beautiful things she encounters each and every week. Katie was a huge inspiration to me when I first started on my blog journey and so I am pleased to be able to contribute in my own small way to her page.

The challenge is to describe 5 beautiful things you encounter within your own life and you can read all of mine —> HERE.

– THEN –

Maybe consider submitting your own to her. As a bonus, if you decide to write out your beautiful things you will be entered into a small contest for a basket of Colorado goodies. I’m sure that could even be one of your beautiful things!


As an aside, I submitted my piece to Katie around lunch time today and then proceeded to escape the conference for a jaunt at Balboa Park [San Diego]. It was at the park that I stumbled upon a small Japanese garden. A hidden gem within the heart of the city. A place of quiet solitude, beauty, and grace. I found myself wishing I had waited to press send so I could add this in, but then I was reminded that we live a continuous journey with beauty waiting around every corner.

30 Days.

At the beginning of November I threw a challenge out into the Universe. A challenge to document the tiny things you are grateful for each day in an attempt to cultivate a life filled with gratitude. My point being, that joy stems from our gratitude and practicing thankfulness might – ahem, will –  just lead to happiness.

When I first started this challenge my jar seemed impossibly large. I kept thinking to myself, “how could I possibly have something different to be grateful for each day?” Yet, each day something small came to mind that made me smile, or remember what was good. Even better were the days when I would experience a moment and immediately think to myself, “Wow, that was fantastic. That is what’s going in the jar tonight.” So, with each day, my pile of paper got a little bit bigger and I felt my heart grow more joyful [less frustrated] with where I’m at in this crazy life.

Listed below are just a few of the [unedited] things I found myself feeling lucky to have experienced within the last 30 days —

  1. I’m thankful for good hairstylists. FINALLY.
  2. I’m thankful for my crockpot + quick + tasty dinner!
  3. I’m thankful for old friends and talking on the phone for hours.
  4. I’m thankful for packages in the mail @ the end of a long day.
  5. Today I’m thankful for doing a workout @ a weight I wasn’t sure I could do. Pushing myself to be better.
  6. I’m thankful for chocolate when I’m feeling bloated.
  7. I’m thankful for falling leaves. With all of the trees here in ATL a strong breeze makes the leaves dance and fall like snowflakes.
  8. I’m thankful for MARTA.
  9. I’m thankful for a house full of people.
  10. I’m thankful for the ability to write + for the courage to share my heart with others.
  11. Facetiming with my crazy family today!
  12. I’m thankful for my finances, but also cheap/quality clothes on a budget.

What were you thankful for this month? Let’s celebrate gratitude together!

 

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.

 

Green Thumb

“Don’t dig up in doubt what you planted in faith” – Elisabeth Elliot

Spring is a time of new; a time to rejoice in fresh growth. It’s a time when things wake up from their wintry slumber and burst forth into the world – “Helloooo I’m here”.

If you take a moment to peruse my instagram feed you will probably pick up on my obsession with spring. The streets and trails in Atlanta are lined with fifty shades of pink, green, red, and white, and the grass is suddenly this vibrant, full-of-life color.

Besides the fact that I love flowers I know very little nothing about gardening. However, I do have some pretty distinct memories from a childhood spent outside in the garden. I would occasionally help my parents weed or sometimes if I was lucky my mom would let me help her with the flower pots. Every year she plants flower pots that live on our front porch. They are vibrant, neatly arranged, and will absolutely bring a smile to your cheeks as you walk through the front door. Someday when I have my own home I will line my front porch with dragon snaps, pansies, daisies, and begonias.

I remember planting bulbs in the ground; carefully digging a hole several inches deep, gently laying the bulb, covering it with dirt, then watering and waiting.

…Lots of waiting…

Growing plants is an exercise in patience. It requires you to have faith that with the right conditions (sunlight, warmth, water to name a few) something living with come up through the dirt. Most often it is painfully slow. Usually it’s a process that you can’t appreciate with the naked eye, but rather a process that you can sometimes catch glimpses of.

A hard lesson I’m always learning is that you can’t rush the process of growth either. I never fail to water my plants too much because I think that doing so will help them grow fast, but in the end I wind up drowning them. It would be so much easier just to buy my plants already grown. Each time I kill a plant I think will be the last time that I try and that next time I’ll gladly let someone else do the work of nurturing baby ferns.

But wait. Isn’t that the point?  Should we really be putting such emphasis on the end result and ignoring the path we took to get there?

In this world of constant motion how likely are we going to stick it out for the long term or give up the moment we lose sight of the horizon? Instant gratification is ingrained in us. Hell, amazon prime has same-day delivery because we need that thing we ordered an hour ago right now. That being said, I don’t think it’s impossible for us to endure – to dig deep, plant a bulb, and wait for it to grow. (I’m not suggesting that it’s easy, just that it’s possible).

This season of my life is feeling like a never-ending lesson in patience. I started working on my medical school applications last February. As in February 2015. In July I submitted my primary applications and then waited a month. Then I rushed to write my secondary applications, only to wait another 5 months before hearing from many programs that while my application was competitive, there wasn’t enough room for me. I interviewed at the University of Colorado 34 days ago and have yet to hear a peep from the admissions committee. I think its safe to say that I’ve been in it for the long haul.

This season of my life has been a struggle, but I’ve carefully planted this bulb in faith and I refuse to overwater, dig up, or give in to the pressures of waiting. I refuse to dig up in doubt what I planted in faith because when the time is right it will bloom.

Today I allowed myself to pause while passing some blooming flowers and I simply thought to myself, how beautiful this life truly is.