Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Musings on self doubt, disorganization and other such things.

Truth: on the list of things I didn't do, College Tours lingers somewhere near the top. I skipped the traditional path, unintentionally, in favor of marriage and family. Later, I got that degree. But the time had passed to live like a coed. In reality, my personality is probably not suited for house parties and sorority sisters. I regret nothing and yet one always wonders what could have been. FOMO and all that jazz.

These days high school is but a distant memory, made foggier by the recollection of more recent (pleasant?) milestones. And yet I find myself, now in my mid-thirties, having come full circle. My son is due to be a senior this fall (an opportunity to relive my youth minus the awkward social interactions!) and I have embarked on that long overdue college road trip. Only a more grownup version that cares nothing at all about the number of frat houses and very much about minimum GRE scores and expiring prerequisite courses. Last week saw Indianapolis and Houston, this week Salt Lake City. My days off have been spent in flight, renting cars by the day, and counting the hours of sleep I'll manage before work starts the next morning.

I'm so grateful I decided to get out there and visit graduate schools. Through an eye-opening but not altogether positive experience, I've learned that precious little can be gleaned from website info pages alone. Vibe, it turns out, is a crucial part of the vetting process for me. What is the director like? How friendly are the faculty and students? What are their hospital affiliations? What are their priorities when selecting an applicant? What are their teaching philosophies? These are all questions that swirl through my mind but are seldom satisfied by a FAQ section. And so. I travel to and fro so I may make the best decision regarding my future.

I'll be honest: this hasn't been the easiest process for me. I'm worn out mentally and physically. Doubt and fear of disappointment play regular roles in my self talk these days. What if I fall in love with a program only to get that dreaded rejection letter? What if, oh boy, I don't get in anywhere? All unlikely scenarios, but human nature is human nature. Meanwhile, my brain is scattered in many directions, and I'm not excelling in any one area. (I'd even settle for mediocre at this point.) I'm forgetful and restless at work, unmotivated and snippy at home, and chronically worried about the What Ifs. What if Kiddo doesn't go to college right away? Does he move with us? What if he fails that class? WHY WON'T HIS CHEMISTRY TEACHER RETURN MY EMAILS?! It's exhausting. All of it. (And therefore little things like the wrong milk in my latte seem like much greater adversities than they really are and I become annoyed with even myself.)

This morning my flight left at 10:30a. The airport is 20 minutes away from home. I somehow got it into my head, despite checking my itinerary more than once, that I needed to be at the airport by 10:30. Less than an hour before my flight was due to board I realized my mistake...and I wasn't even showered yet. Thank goodness I wasn't bringing luggage and the parking + airport security gods were looking down on me favorably. My adrenaline was good and pumping, so I spent the duration of my flight ruminating on all those What Ifs and feeling generally sweaty and anxious. Upon landing I recalled those two cups of black coffee I drank sans food and it was nearly 2p. Hello low blood sugar + caffeine jitters. (And 50 rounds of Candy Crush Soda Saga which further fueled the distraction and anxiety. Time for a technology detox, perhaps.) As I sat in my rental car, applying makeup to a bare face, I started thinking about the day thus far and had to wonder where this rather self destructive behavior originates. Why do I get overwhelmed and in turn make things harder on myself? A day trip to SLC could have easily been an opportunity to usher in some calm among the chaos. An oasis. (It still can be. I'm working on it. Starting with this purge of a blog post.)

A meal in my belly and a soothing cup of tea later, and I'm still wondering why I do these things to myself. Why I falter in the areas that matter most: family, food and friends (or anything that brings joy and a sense of calm like reading, embroidery, writing, etc.). When the going gets tough, I let go of the things my mind and body crave...and it takes forever to recover them in the midst of the commotion. Surely I can't be the only one who implodes under pressure. (Can you beautiful unicorns who crave yoga and healthy eating during times of stress teach me the ways?)

I can't remember the last time I made a home cooked meal and that bothers me. (My sweet husband has made many.) I'm trying to read 3 books at once, all very different from one another. (And investing poorly in each.) My bedtime has varied by as many as 6 hours over the last few weeks, and no two bedtimes have been the same. (Jet lag in my own time zone.) This morning, during my frantic shower, I realized I have been attempting to lather my body with a paper-thin wafer of soap for the past week and my record of excellent personal hygiene is in jeopardy. (I just ran into a random Whole Foods and bought a bar of soap to bring home in my purse. I know. It's a real head-scratcher, Mr. TSA Officer.) I still haven't sent my resume and other supporting information to the physician writing a letter of recommendation for me. (It's been over a week since I asked him and I fear I'm falling into flake territory.) I am so out of shape that I think I might be developing a wheeze at the slightest exertion. (I walk 10k steps a day at work, but nothing that gets my heart pumping. Which would help my anxiety. See above re: shying away from the things that help me cope.) I fell head over heels for the Houston program and no less than 10 people have since told me Houston is "disgusting." (I wasn't disgusted at all. But now I'm afraid I missed something big and scary in my short visit.) Husband is going through work changes, both good and bad, and I'm continually afraid he is sacrificing his happiness because he's the primary breadwinner. (He says that is not the case, and logically I know that to be true, but you know. Worry.)

Oh, and did I mention that after 3 years the owner of our rental house wants to sell so we will likely have to pack up and move into a new place for the one remaining year we planned to stay in our neighborhood. In the midst of everything else. Sometimes it's all too much and yet it doesn't escape me that my problems scarcely compare to those of my fellow man. (Cue guilt.)

Where am I going with this? I'm not sure. (Advice welcome.)

What I do know is that life chugs on. Kiddo will find his path. I'll find mine. What is meant to happen always does and this is no exception. Above all, I'm grateful for the means and opportunity to explore potential places for my future to play out. I'm grateful I was given this year off to spend with my family before 3 years of intense work begins. I'm also grateful for lemon cookies, massages, and clean sheets on freshly shaved legs.

This is the last of my school tours for a bit. Next week I head to Colorado for a crafting retreat, immediately followed by a girls' week in Savannah + Charleston (both are cities I've yet to visit!). This is a really exciting time in my life! So for today I'll own my angst, dwell on it a bit, but then I'll need to move on. It's time to get out of my own head.

Life in the meantime deserves to be lived to the fullest.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Changing seasons (and I don't mean the weather)

I've been hearing a lot about seasons. In the checkout line at the market this morning, a lady was proclaiming her profound frustration with the lack of spring weather. And it's not just Pacific Northwesterners. Morning news programs ruminate on those last spring snowstorms, and social media is flooded with the expressed desire to move on from winter already! It seems no one is exempt from the conversation about changing seasons.

During a trip to Hawaii last month, I got news about graduate school. I didn't get in. I was sitting on the hotel bed, checking my email. The answer was overdue and I'd been chomping at the bit to get it over with so I could free up my head space for those last few days of vacation. When I read the words I had feared hearing for so long, I instantly felt that stomach dropping disappointment we've all felt and wish to never feel again. Only, something surprising happened not a split second later: utter and complete relief. Like a wave overtaking my whole body, I was overcome by a sense of gratitude. Yes, gratitude. (I was just as surprised as you are.) The culmination of years of work, and I was grateful it didn't happen. So what gives?

I spent a fair amount of time reflecting on the outcome and my reaction to it in the ensuing weeks. The past 18 months (and 8 years, if I'm honest) of my life have revolved around this next phase and yet...the season remains unchanged. Or does it? You see, 2016 was my trial year. The year I wanted to bite the bullet when it came to all things grad school application: take the GRE (check); write a killer personal narrative (check); complete the requisite patient care hours (check); tackle the monotony of requesting transcripts and completing the extensive online application (check and check). There were a couple of big strikes against me, which I knew would greatly reduce my chances of acceptance: I only applied to a single school (mostly unheard of), and had only just completed the requisite 2000 healthcare hours for that school at the time I submitted my application last August (the average applicant has over 4000 hours).

Though I was thrilled to be taking some substantial steps forward, my application the culmination of years of hard work, all the while I was pushing some serious concerns to the back of my mind. They niggled at me quite frequently, but I was determined to focus on the task at hand. In hindsight, I realize I was spending a lot of time telling myself it would all work out and the uneasy feelings weighed on me more than I wanted to admit. You see, I had set forth a series of personal goals and rocked every one. That was HUGE. (Side note for context: I've been reading Gretchen Rubin's newest book, Better than Before, and oh boy am I an Obliger. That's a person who excels at external expectations but often fails to complete internally set goals. Me to a T.) What I'm saying is, I'm really proud of what I achieved last year.

Now about those niggles. The most serious was the likelihood that I'd miss the majority of my son's senior year of high school (and the summer before). I wouldn't be present to fundraise for class events or summer vacation with him or attend his last year of cross-country meets. (I live for his cross-country meets.) I would miss so many milestones in that oh so important transitional year. Instead I'd be spending that time with my head in a book. Nearly my whole adult life has been spent raising that stinker, and the prospect of missing even a single moment of his last year at home broke my freaking heart. Which is why I shoved my misgivings way back and tried not to think about them. Then there was the awful rush hour commute I'd be facing 5 days/week. I also started having some funky feelings regarding my chosen program, which became especially worrisome after spending a day being interviewed by the faculty and touring the facilities. There were several indicators that perhaps it wasn't my ideal match, and I felt like it was too late to follow my gut and bow out because my career path had become so intertwined with this particular institution. (Let's be clear: had I been admitted this year I would be overjoyed and excel at the curriculum. None of this is to say I wouldn't have received a great education there. My instincts simply told me that I am better suited for a different educational culture. It was a matter of the wrong place and the wrong time and I think we've all felt that at one time or another. The universe intervened and for that I could not be more grateful. There are no sour grapes here.)

Naturally, I went through a self-doubt phase of processing what happened: What if I never get in?! (Unlikely. I applied to a Top 5 school and got an interview on the first try.) What if this isn't my calling anymore?! (Also unlikely. I still love medicine.) Are my coworkers and friends going to think I'm a loser? (Not a single one.) Those fears have mostly faded away and I've since broken the news to my immense support group composed of family and coworkers. Once I assured them they were more upset for me than I was for myself, they continued supporting me just the same as before. Some even confided that they thought I was destined for something greater than that school could have offered me. And while I'm not sure about that, I'm so very flattered.

In the past month excitement has settled in for the first time in ages. Waiting a year has opened up so many options! Since I've now earned well above the minimum healthcare hours needed to get into a competitive program, I can cut back on my hours and potentially find another position. (This job has been tough. I adore my coworkers but am often repelled by the culture/workload/institution.) I have time to think about things like writing for pleasure again, picking up those neglected embroidery pieces, and attending to more creative endeavors. (Which means I can delete that digital Dear John letter I wrote to this blog some time ago and left in my draft folder.)

I've learned so many valuable lessons from this rejection. For one, I now know what I want in my chosen program. As such, I'm taking the time to attend information sessions at schools around the country. (Though we have decided to focus on institutions west of the Mississippi for the most part; we like living in the western half of the US.) Without the familial constraints I had this last application cycle, I am now free to explore programs that better appeal to my learning goals and desires. I have since realized how much the minutia of applying to higher education robbed me of the excitement I once felt about my impending career plans. In less than a month's time I have reclaimed that fervor and couldn't be happier about it.

I am a person who struggles mightily to live in the now. It has taken a great deal of self-exploration and natural maturation to appreciate the days immediately before me. Though nothing in the past few months has followed my predetermined plans, I still consider my life right now to be a success. Nothing big or life-changing has happened, and yet I can feel my life's season changing for the better. Less rain and more sunshine is on the horizon. A huge weight was lifted from my shoulders the moment I didn't get what I so desperately wanted, and that blows my mind almost every day. You see, I've been waiting for something, anything to happen, yet in the absence of academic advancement, I've progressed in life. Thank goodness.

Before I sign off I want to mention that, while this post was a proclamation to myself and a reintroduction to this space after a sizeable absence, it's also a love letter to my husband. I've never experienced such unconditional support as I have from him. He's willing to uproot his life, yet again, for the sake of my education. (We love it here, so that's no small sacrifice.) Every time I bemoan my job, he tells me to quit if that's what my gut tells me to do. He's kind and selfless and everyone deserves a person like him in their life. It hasn't always been easy, but I wouldn't want to do life with anyone else. A bad day with him is better than a good day with another. I'll eat you up I love you so.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

The productivity rabbit hole.

My current work schedule is an every other week rotation. It's ideal and fits my life as it is now, so no complaints. However, this is my 50-hours-in-7-days week. It's also the week before a vacation which inevitably means it takes 20 mental hours to get through a 10-hour day. Thus is life.

After a 3-day stretch, I have the day off. Husband is out of town and Kiddo is at school and our once-monthly splurge on a housekeeper just occurred. The house is clean and quiet and all is right in the world. There is a french press with my name on it, a nearly finished embroidery project, and one chapter left of The Hound of the Baskervilles. So what if my alarm clock erroneously decided daylight savings time occurred last night and changed itself? Thankfully Kiddo got himself up this morning in a somewhat timely fashion.

We hopped in the car in the pitch dark that now persists past our 7a departure time, and click click click goes the car engine. A tardy excuse note was scribbled and a bike lock key located, and in a matter of moments he was on his way to school. (His idea to ride his bike! How resourceful + flexible! The teenage equivalent of a lunar eclipse. There is a cupcake with his name on it for afternoon snack.)

I drank my coffee and showered and picked up my phone to call AAA. Only, my cell phone was stuck on the text message screen and stubbornly resisted my attempts at a restart. (One of many reasons I believe in keeping a landline, but I digress.) By 11:30 my car was jump-started then checked out by a mechanic and I was sent on my merry way, if only a little weary about operating things containing electricity.

These days I never feel like I have enough time. Logically, I see that I do. Every other week I only work 3 shifts, leaving me with 4 days off.  So why does my to-do list persist? Why do I feel like I never have enough time for anything? Days like today are the exception, not the rule. And yet I'm always playing catch up and bemoaning a lack of personal time to my poor Husband.

I realized something this morning: I am the reason I always feel short on time. You see, if today had gone as planned and I had puttered around the house all day in my pajamas, I would have felt horrendously guilty that I hadn't done x, y and z. You're so unproductive! I would have told myself, You have SO MUCH to do!. Instead of enjoying my coveted day off, I would have brow-beaten myself for literally taking a day off.

Alternately, there are the days where I force myself out, list in hand, determined to prove my domestic and organizational prowess. So I run into the city, inevitably getting trapped in traffic one or both ways, crossing off this or that that I didn't really need to do as much as say, sitting down to meal plan. But somehow I give myself credit for being moderately unproductive as long as I left the house and went through the motions.

Then there's the common practice of making something a much bigger project than it has to be. For instance, the other night I went into Portland to take a class. The class was cancelled, so I spent a couple hours grabbing dinner and aimlessly wandering around our big, beautiful new Anthropologie store. I picked up a scent diffuser for Kiddo's bathroom and other such things. Long story short, Kiddo loves the diffuser and moved it to his room because it smelled funky, too. (See above regarding teenage boys. Oy.) However, it was the only thing that finally made his bathroom smell like something other than a goat farm, and he embraces so few of my ideas, so now I'm fervently pursuing a second diffuser. Which means another trip to Anthro which involves nightmarish city parking and traffic jams and half a day off spent in downtown Portland when all I really want to do is finish my embroidery hoop and make a batch of banana bread. I could run 3 errands and be back home drinking a cup of joe in the time it would take to pick up that single superfluous oil diffuser.

So why do I feel so compelled to do these things? To stretch myself thin? Especially when I have to work all weekend and come Monday I know I will feel anxious and annoyed because my perception will be that I haven't had time to pack for our trip and meal prep for Kiddo (he'll be staying behind with a family friend). I'll snip at Husband because he was away on business and didn't help enough and once again lament my lack of free time. As history dictates, I'll likely leave for our vacation with the unpleasant feeling that I forgot 50 things and my kid will starve and my house looks ransacked and, and, and. (You know the feeling. The white hot panicky I left the stove burner on and the house will burn down adrenaline spikes that occur every 5 minutes for the first day of your trip.)

I could sit here and blame our culture for the pressure it puts on humans, especially human moms, to be everything, do everything, and accomplish all while keeping up the illusion that our worlds are maintained by a mixture of pure magic and elegance. But I can't do that. The fact is, I've let my thoughts and expectations become cluttered. I beat myself up for not being productive then kvetch that I spent my day off running errands. Lose-lose.

Today, in this very hour, I'm vowing to change my ways. If that plant dies because I didn't repot it today, it probably wasn't long for this world anyway. The crumbs on my counter? I scraped them into the trash with my AAA card while on hold waiting to place a service request. Twenty seconds and my counter was clean. It didn't have to go on a list and become some big bad project I revolted against because It's my day off, damn it!

Oh, and that oil diffuser? I woke up and realized I'm in the 21st century and things can be delivered to my door. Yes, his bathroom will smell like teenage funk for a week while I wait for it. That might just be the definition of a First World problem. Which meant I could sit at Starbucks and write a blog post, a pastime I dearly love but so often gets pushed to the back burner by unnecessary noise and feelings of obligation. (Bonus: I stumbled across the perfect Christmas gift for my sister-in-law and it's coming along for the ride. One less thing to do a month from now.)

Tonight's dinner will be something from the freezer and I will probably pack underwear and nothing else. Tomorrow, I'll pack something else. Oh dear! What if I forget something?! Chances are good I can live without it or a local drugstore will have a replacement. Oh no! What if I don't have time for a mani/pedi before we go?! Then I'll have chipped nails in Mexico. Who cares? Imperfection in paradise is still paradise. What if Kiddo can't find something to eat?! He's an able-bodied young man who lives 5 minutes from a grocery store. Fending for himself is something we've been training him for his whole life. Trust that you've done right by him. Guilt is no less toxic than rat poison and should be treated as such.

I'm convinced life is meant to be lived differently. More simply. With more joy and less errands. Life comes with enough inherent pressure and responsibility. Why add to it?

The first step: Start setting realistic expectations. The only way to truly step out of the rat race is to Marie Kondo my to-do list. I'm going to start by dividing it into two categories: What must get done and what would be nice to get done. They are not one and the same and should therefore be approached with a different mindset. Clean underwear, necessity. Rewrapping my kokedama, nice. Voting, necessity. Ordering my 2017 planner, nice. Buying car insurance, necessity. Buying another pair of ankle boots, nice.

Here's to a more sane, less guilty existence, and the ability to embrace the day (off).

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Seen, Heard + Bookmarked: Halloween Edition

Halloween is upon us!

But wait! Don't leave me, Fall. I love you! This is happening too fast!

We live in the quintessential Halloween neighborhood and I'm so thrilled about it. Lots of little ones and neighbors who dress up their homes in cute but rarely scary decor. I work this Halloween, for the second year in a row, but fortunately I get off at 7 so I still get to experience peak trick-or-treating time. Bonus: I can stay in my scrubs and call it a costume.

Kiddo loves Halloween as much as I do, perhaps more, but as he gets older this particular holiday gets tricky. Teenagers trick-or-treating is frowned upon, and so is running aimlessly around the neighborhood in costume, so what is a kid his age to do? Still young enough to want to celebrate, but too old to partake in the fun of the littler ones. Fortunately, he's found a great group of friends and was invited to not one, but two parties this year. His new found social prowess is impressive! I'm so happy he's found a tribe and a way to (safely + appropriately) celebrate. He doesn't even seem to mind that he had to dust of his Joker costume for the second year in a row. (Every instance of flexibility is a joy. Raising a teenager is not for the faint of heart, I tell you. Oy.)

Since my blogging has been spotty at best in recent months, my laptop's bookmark tab is bursting with ideas and finds and new favorites. In the spirit of my favorite month and season, here are some fall-themed things I've seen, heard and bookmarked as of late.

A free night in Dracula's Castle. (I'm not easily spooked, so I say yes. What an experience that would be!)

This Coconut Curry Ramen would be perfect on a cool night (give me all the ramen)

The October Crafter's Box has brought me back to embroidery after a summer off. Oh how I missed curling up with a project after work. (Sarah K. Benning's patterns are so lovely. I've also renewed my pattern program subscription.)

I'm living in the Sorel Major Low bootie these days. (I have them in two colors!) During a recent checkup, my GP was wearing their Addington Strap bootie and I loved them so much on her I bought them in black for those times when I want to step it up. (Literally and figuratively.)

A favorite movie in our house. (We just went and saw the play! It was awesome!)

Picked up this pullover the other night and it is beyond soft + cozy.

I'm WAY behind on my reading goals for the year in terms of classic literature, but I'm currently reading The Hound of the Baskervilles which is a great read and perfect for the season. Also, a list of the best scary novels just in time for Halloween, should you be so inclined.

Pumpkin Spice Rice Pudding (you can see my own [poorly photographed] foray into sweet rice here)

This fall outfit. This pretty and simple one, too.

Happy Weekend!

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Older + Wiser

And just like that, fall is upon us. The Pacific Northwest does a proper job of celebrating my favorite season, that's for sure.

This past Monday was my birthday, so Husband took the day off and we wandered rather aimlessly through Portland; a day date dedicated to celebrating another year of life and marriage. The weather was sunny but crisp: the perfect kind of day for ankle boots and hand-holding and a stack of fall-flavored griddlecakes from one of our favorite restaurants.

Speaking of birthdays, this was an in-between one, as it did not usher in a new decade or prefix; I am still solidly stationed in my mid-thirties. As Mario and I get older, birthdays tend to be less of an affair. Life has a way of marching on, and age becomes more of a number. Though the boys certainly make sure I feel loved, always.

Despite the lack of fanfare, I've been reflecting a fair bit this year. You see, I've always felt much older than my age. Not in terms of the crinkles around my eyes (though they are certainly making an appearance) or the long-since faded stretchmarks of pregnancy, but in regard to my emotional age. I became a mother in my very early twenties, and have spent my adult life thus far raising a young man. I have watched my husband nurture his career and come into his own. I was a late bloomer in the sense that I earned my bachelors degree a decade later than my peers, but I was well beyond my years in terms of emotional development. As such, I always felt older on the inside than my chronological age suggested I should be.

This year, a paradigm shift has taken place: I have started to feel younger. After years of self-exploration and regular quests for personal insight, I feel lighter, have more fun, and stopped sweating (most of) the small stuff. I've established my ideal eating plan (more on that soon), nailed down my personal style (with a newly pared-down but better-than-ever wardrobe to match), and come to terms with my life's trajectory. No more wishing things had been different or followed an ideal timeline. It is what it is and I'll get where I want to be when the time is right. (Who is this zen master?!) All this is not to say that I don't have my moments, but I've certainly come into my own over the last year, and in doing so my emotional clock has wound back.

The personal growth I have experienced over the past year isn't narrowed to one aspect of my life: My marriage is better. I'm a better parent, I think. After years spent pursuing academia and chasing my chosen career path, I've begun tapping into my creative side in a very real and meaningful way. Creative endeavors and self-expression have taken their rightful place in my daily life. And though I'm not destined to be great at every art form I attempt, the days of dabbling in 20 hobbies (while never advancing past mediocre in any one of them) are over. My life is more focused all around is what I'm saying, and boy is that nice.

A long-term goal that has carried over from year to year, birthday to birthday, is to live in the now. I have mastered the art of living for the future, and self talk has often started with In five years this can happen or In 10 years my life can look like this. I'll tell you this: it's a very unfulfilling way to live. These days I sign up for classes I want to take, pursue non-academic education, and build contingency plans for the in-between, lest I ever feel that oh so familiar stuck feeling that has plagued me much of my adult life. As much as I'm sure tomorrow will be lovely, today is too awesome to disregard. This, perhaps, has been my biggest epiphany in regard to living my happiest, most authentic life.

As if this week wasn't lovely enough, on Thursday I received the coveted The Admissions Committee has now completed their review and are pleased to offer you an invitation to interview email. I had all but let myself down easy: I barely met the patient care hour prerequisite; I submitted my application close to the deadline; maybe it would be better for my family if I waited. All the things we say when trying to to let ourselves down easy. I did it. Against all the odds, I did it. I'm over the moon! Further evidence that hard work, focus where it matters, and a healthy dose of letting go lead to all good things.

Here's to another year of happy todays.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016


I'm stalling. I have that all too important grad school essay sitting partially completed in another window on my computer. I'm perched at a coffee shop, eating a decidedly non-Whole30 breakfast sandwich, waiting for the caffeine to kick in. As if somehow it will infuse me with the wisdom and motivation to write a personal narrative inspiring enough that a committee will decide I possess something more desirable than my fellow applicants.

This sort of writer's block is different from those of my undergrad years. There is no grade depending on my hard work, just my whole future. If that's not enough to keep your brain paralyzed and your sleep disturbed, you must be a robot.

So here I sit trying to lubricate the gears by writing a long overdue post on a long neglected blog. Some days I really miss this place. Some days I don't. But I love that it is here when I need it. I'm a fair-weather friend, at best.

The boys have been gone since mid-June, traveling and ranching and working and doing all the things that well-traveled men do in the summer. There has probably been a lot of ice cream consumed for dinner.

I'm here, holding down the fort, earning those healthcare hours and trying desperately to muster up the courage to sum myself up in 5000 characters. To convey to them that I'm a hard worker. I hold promise! But then again, do I? Some days it's hard to tell where reality begins and the dream ends. Some days I want to wash my hands of medicine. Some days I want to be the doctor and nothing less. Most days, I'm excited for the path I have chosen.

This application year is a long shot. I've just barely made the minimum hours of patient care. My GRE scores were fine but certainly not inspiring. And, oh yeah, I'm less than a month away from the deadline for a program that utilizes rolling admission. The slots could already be filled! What's the point?! Applying next year will be better for our family. Stop making excuses, Sarah.

Isn't it amazing the things we tell ourselves in order to protect our hearts? The desire to shield our egos and prevent our dreams from being crushed, even temporarily, is strong. So strong it can halt forward movement completely. I'm working through it, but with only a month left I need to move through the emotional process a little faster. If I have to stay in this job another year, I'd rather it be by choice. That pill is easier to swallow than being told Try again next time. How silly is that logic? So silly. But somehow it became the human condition.

My life feels settled right now. I have an amazing group of coworkers, we are the most financially comfortable we've ever been, and I'm learning the ins and outs of the medical field. My coworkers are generous with their knowledge and allow me to participate in ways I never thought possible. Kiddo is entering his junior year of high school which is both flabbergasting and a relief. I feel like this is the year he will come into his own.

Oh, and I was introduced to Game of Thrones recently. (Can we talk about this show? So many thoughts. What is happening?! Also, two words: Peter. Dinklage. He's the best.)

The boys will be back in a couple short weeks and life will resume with its typical ebb and flow. I'm both excited (I miss them!) and wishing for more time (the introvert in me loves the quiet solitude of living alone.) In the meantime I have items to cross of my to-do list: projects to tackle around the house, an embroidery pattern subscription I'm four months behind on, four months of Crafter's Box projects to complete...you know, all those things that get pushed to the back of the closet. Oh right, I need to clean my closet. 

The past year has been one of tremendous growth. I've found a bravery I didn't know I had. And although confrontation of any sort practically gives me hives, I'm learning to set boundaries and stand my ground. (I've struggled with this my whole life...grownups can be bullies, too.)

My marriage has flourished into something I always wondered if it could become. I have always loved Mario, of course, but our connection has deepened. I absolutely adore that man. We communicate better, love better, fight better, and date often. He's made huge strides toward a better work-life balance which has resulted in more family time and less bickering. Over the past few years I have stopped relying on him for my own happiness and started pursuing my own passions. I've always questioned the human ability to evolve with your spouse. Most people change considerably during a lifetime, and the odds of changing in a way that remains compatible is no easy feat. Somehow we've managed to do it. Friday is our 10 year anniversary, and I can't wait to spend another 10+ years with this guy.

How's that for a broody post after a long absence? I missed you guys. A lot.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Seen, Heard & Bookmarked

1// the roses in our front yard are pulling out all the stops 2// one of my favorite quotes, especially relevant while constantly comparing my projected GRE scores against national averages 3// my first frittata, which saved me from Whole30 fatigue 4// a common scene, minus the pie (oh, but that pie)

Life lately can be summed up as follows: work, study, repeat. 

This coming week is an important one for us as a family: Tuesday I take the GRE (gulp + yay!); Thursday is the last day of school for Kiddo before summer break (this has been a tough semester on all of us); on Friday Mario and Jared head out on their summer adventures (like last summer, I'll be on my own for about 10 weeks—insert wide-eyes emoji); and by month's end I expect to have my grad school application submitted.

I talked to my boss and worked out a schedule that will better accommodate my work-life balance aspirations. I signed up for a brush lettering class, so as not to lose momentum when it comes to my goal of nurturing that non-academic brain space. 

In the six short months since ushering in 2016, this quickly became a pivotal year for me. Yes, I reached my healthcare experience requirements and (finally!) bit the bullet when it came to taking the GRE. My career goals are at my fingertips. Those are the obvious and much-discussed successes. But perhaps more importantly are the less apparent changes: Laughing out loud regularly. Dating my husband at least once a month. Two Whole30s (I'm completing my second now) without cheating. Saying yes to social invitations. Letting stuff go. Embracing the unknown. Living in the now and all its imperfections. Finally (finally!) coming to understand and accept that life doesn't have to be everything I want it to be to be thoroughly enjoyed. I can find joy before attaining my dream job or living in my dream house. And you know what? I may not get accepted to my (highly competitive) first choice program. It could simply be the universe offering us another opportunity the following year. (We could find ourselves in the Midwest in two years...and that's okay. Adventure awaits!)

I'm looking forward to the next few weeks. My abandoned embroidery projects will get picked up again and all those partially-read books will get finished. Early July will bring a 10-day break from work and a road trip up to my in-laws' lake house in northwest Montana. Hopefully these marathon study sessions on my days off will be replaced with time spent writing in this space. (And dare I say a possible switch to another platform and sleeker blog design?) 

With any luck, in a few weeks I'll stop waking up in a cold sweat thinking What is the hypotenuse of a triangle again?! and What the heck is a cube root?!

In the meantime, here are some noteworthy things I've seen, heard and bookmarked lately:

Do accidents happen anymore? (The BEST essay I've read in a very, very long time.)

I impulse-purchased underwear at Whole Foods. (That's a post in and of itself.) My expectations were low. Now I wonder where they've been all my life. (20% off sale going on now!)

These Mexican Tuna Salad Stuffed Avocados are on the menu. (Made Whole30 compliant.)

My next face serum. (Rose flavored everything for the win.)

This plush cactus! Cactus pincushions! Felt succulent window boxes! Kid friendly and won't die while you're on vacation! I'm totally smitten.

Give me strength. (I'll be repeating these on Tuesday. For. Sure.)

Vegan chocolate pudding (without the weird stuff)

Smoked Carrot Lox  (I'm intrigued)