Friday, August 3, 2018

Seen, Heard and Bookmarked: Orientation Week


Just like that, I'm almost through orientation week. Which means next week things start getting real, real fast. My emotions have been all over the place: butterflies of excitement when I least expect it; fear of what's to come (and more fear over my ability to incorporate the fire hose of information that'll be coming at me); pangs of loneliness when I climb into an empty bed at night. Fortunately the moments of melancholy are few and far between these days.

Our apartment is losing its newness and becoming more familiar with each passing day. The boxes are all emptied and our belongings have found their places. Every evening candles burn with familiar scents, replacing the smell of new carpet and freshly painted walls. It's smaller than the home before it, but I like the simplicity and coziness of it's size and location. And while a lot of the art and chotchkes are tucked away for another day and/or another home, the space still very much represents who we are and what we love. The second bedroom is unoccupied, as is the sunroom/office, but they'll be furnished and ready when the boys eventually make their way back.

This morning at orientation we had a financial expert as a guest speaker. He was dynamic and real and funny, and now I'm insanely motivated to create an updated budget + get back to our debt snowball after a long hiatus. We also heard from a panel of 3rd year students in the midst of their clinical rotations. It gave me a serious case of the tingles. I can't wait to practice medicine! There's a lot that stands between me and The Dream, but I'm making a conscious effort to only focus on today—to enjoy the process and immerse myself in the experience. I have an exceptional group of cohorts I'd like to get to know better, and I enjoy learning so darn much; it would be a shame to miss out because I was always looking ahead. Living in the now hasn't always come naturally to me, but I'm getting there.

Last night after class I came home, put on comfy clothes, and...meal prepped. I know. I wasn't expecting that either. Though orientation is far from rigorous, I'm mentally exhausted by day's end. There is a lot of information being thrown at us, and little context regarding how to apply it just yet, so it all feels very big and speculative. And let's not forget: the buildup to this week has been a long time coming, so it'll take a moment to wrap my mind around the fact that it's all finally happening in real time. I'm processing and increasing my bandwidth by the hour these days. Anyway. I chopped veggies and cubed cheese and made myself a lettuce-wrapped turkey sandwich for dinner. I packed my lunch for today and went to bed before midnight for the first time in months. Progress.

This weekend will be more of the same.  On the agenda: sleep, (more) meal prep, and maybe a facial? Relaxation! The sooner I finish normalizing this life of mine, the sooner I'll acclimate to, well, life as I now know it. So while I'm saying yes to social engagements and yes to opportunities in an attempt to immerse myself in this amazing experience, I'm also saying yes to well-being and quiet time and ritual. Because those are important, too (maybe more so?).

In the meantime, here are some things I've seen, heard and bookmarked as of late:

Speaking of meal prep, these 20 On-the-Go Paleo Lunches look awesome. (I'm getting back to eating Whole30/Paleo as much as possible.)

The Instant De-Frizzer by Living Proof is helping sooo much with my hair in this hot, humid climate. In combination with their Nourishing Styling Cream, things are staying a lot smoother. (It's been raining heavily the last few days, so I need all the help I can get.)

This Summer Cobb Salad with Coconut Bacon looks bonkers good. (I've been craving veggies...turns out there is such a thing as too many catered box lunches.)

On the recommendation of my fellow students, I bought an iPad Pro and pencil tool this week which will allow me to take notes directly on our PowerPoint slides. Advice or suggestions on apps or ways to use it that will optimize my experience? (I loathed to buy more technology, especially after the expense of upgrading my laptop, but it seems invaluable for anatomy.)

Clever Ideas for Organization and Storage in Small Spaces is right up my alley since moving across the country into a much smaller abode a month ago.

I haven't been hungry for breakfast on the mornings with an earlier start time, so these macadamia nut butter packets have been bridging the meal gap. (I eat it straight out of the packet.)

Easy Refrigerator Dill Pickles (I could eat pickles for breakfast, lunch and dinner!)

A fascinating New Yorker piece on the concept of "financial resentment."

I had a rare chocolate craving last night...this Vegan Chocolate Peanut Butter Freezer Fudge would definitely do the job.

How to Make Friends, According to Science (Interesting stats! I'm meeting a lot of new people right now...)

Hope you all have a great weekend!


Friday, July 13, 2018

Seen, Heard & Bookmarked: The Art of Settling In


We're getting there. In a flash of productivity I emptied out those last few lingering boxes last night and boy what a difference a few boxes make in a relatively small space. Paper and cardboard also invite/harbor those bugs the South is known for, so there's a very practical reason to banish them from our apartment. It's slowly starting to resemble a place someone would live in and call home and what a relief that is. Next up: clearing clutter from surfaces and hanging our art.

We've accumulated a lot of lovely, unique art over the years and my favorite way to display it is through densely arranged collage walls. The bigger the wall the better. I like the aesthetic of a cohesive collage where the art provides the color, so I've replaced/painted all our frames to be either black or white. (Black is usually living room art while white goes in the bedroom/hallway/loft space/etc.)

I like art to be our wallpaper, but I'll be honest: I've never tackled such a small space. I oscillate between thinking it will look cozy or completely overwhelming. I'll have to follow my gut on this one and have the spackle on standby should it go the latter direction.

Husband leaves for a business trip this coming Monday, returns home on Friday, then both him and Kiddo head to California indefinitely the following Monday. Husband and I made a goal to go no more than 6 weeks without seeing each other, but I don't know when I'll see Kiddo next. If things go well with his internship—and I hope they do—it could be Christmas. And though I'm so grateful for this opportunity before him, our whole family dynamic is about to change. It's weird, sad and wonderful all at once. To be able to embark on this journey that involves rigorous study and very little free time without the guilt of neglecting my family is a gift. Mom guilt is no joke, you know? Wrapping my head around all this is another matter entirely, however.

My goal over the next two weeks is to wrap up lingering homework, explore our new neighborhood, and relax. Read! I'd love to devour a book for pleasure. I'm also going to put some business casual outfits together, (re)start a long-term Whole30,  and establish a low maintenance beauty routine that fits into this new climate. Though I'm not out in the sun a lot, my skin has already taken on a more golden hue which necessitates some new foundation. My skin and hair are totally different here, both good and bad, so it's time to adapt product-wise. I've been primarily makeup-free since my LASIK procedure in early June, but I like feeling a little more polished most days. I think it will help me feel put-together and create a sense of routine I so desperately need.

Also on the list? Sleep hygiene. I've yet to fall asleep before 1a since we left the PNW. Time to create a routine around bedtime as well.


Here are some things I've seen, heard and bookmarked this week:

While unpacking the living room I caught up on Molly's new show, Girl Meets Farm. It's adorable, of course.

3 Ways To Keep Humidity From Ruining Your Hair // I'm currently using Living Proof's Nourishing Styling Cream, which I've had for a while, but I'm eager to try Kate's other suggestions.

This simple embroidery hoop wreath tutorial is so, so lovely.

Rethinking the concept of happiness. (I have read and reread this post. Profound + thought-provoking. I've always struggled with society's definition/expectations when it comes to happiness re: what it looks like and how to obtain it.)

For the homebody moms out there. (Me.)

I have a tub of Lush's Big shampoo—I love sea salt shampoos—and look forward to trying this one after I use it up. (via Ashley)

One of our favorite restaurants in Portland—Batter Griddle & Drinkery—serves a bonkers good chicken and waffle. Husband always mused over the buttermilk syrup they served on the side. A homemade version recently landed in my blogroll.

After a lot of research I decided to replace my old Patagonia messenger bag with the Räven 28 Backpack by Fjäll Räven right before we left Portland.  I hadn't put it to proper use yet, but this week I walked to a nearby coffee shop and holy moly it's comfortable! (Dandelion is currently sold out, but I'm in love with it's bold, cheerful color...a departure from my normally neutral tones.) I highly recommend this backpack.

I started the Something in the Water audiobook on the tail end of our road trip and play it while I unpack. I can't to see where the author goes with this story. (Intrigue from the start!)

First piece of mounted wall art: my DIY faux succulent wreath (on the wall above our bed) // Pottery Barn has a ready-made version.


Have a great weekend!







Monday, July 9, 2018

Post-move musings


We made it! A kid, a cat and a dozen or so houseplants all made the trek from Portland to Atlanta. Husband and I are only slightly worse for wear, both physically and emotionally. Now we are on the other side of the move—the side which goes mostly unconsidered until you're in the thick of it: unpacking. Though we downsized our belongings considerably, our apartment is feeling very small right about now. IKEA + some strategizing and we'll get there.


The packing, the goodbyes, the 5-day road trip, the movers unloading all our belonging, the piles of boxes...it was all so, well, intense. What's left after the dust settles is exhaustion and all the emotional stuff you didn't have the bandwidth to process. Melancholy begins to set in. I'll admit: the first couple days were rough. I miss my friends. My neighbors. My coworkers. The normalcy. The lump in my throat didn't want to budge. We left a place we loved. People we loved. We had created a life for ourselves—a life we could have lived long term—which made it the hardest move we've made to date. Today is one week to the day since we were handed the keys to our new life and things are looking up.

This move is a good thing. An exciting thing. I'm thrilled for this next chapter. And you know what? In a few short month (weeks, even) this life will begin to feel normal, too. The blunt edges of change and heartbreak and self-doubt have begun to soften just a little bit with each passing day. New joys will be discovered and a routine established. Still, it's important to recognize the unsettling nature of this in-between phase. The period where I wake up in the morning to unfamiliar surroundings. I don't recognize my belongings in this new space. I don't know where to put the plants without them withering in protest. I have no idea how two bathroom boxes will fit under one small vanity. Once the storage shortage is worked out and some art is hung, I have no doubt this space will begin to feel like home. It's the in-between, you see, and I'm in it.

When you are on the verge of the post-major-life-change melancholy it's important to find routine. Husband urged me to get out of the house for a few hours the other day and I'll admit: a couple hours spent paying bills and returning emails from a coffee shop down the road did wonders for my outlook. Before heading out I dug my blow dryer out of a miscellaneous bathroom box so my hair somewhat resembled my own mop for the first time in over a week...at least until I stepped outside. (If you have fine, shoulder-length, wavy hair and live in the South, send help.)


This particular apartment—our apartment—was slated for remodel when we put down our deposit back in April, so last week we were handed the keys to a practically new unit. And that's nice. Neither of us have been apartment-dwellers in 12+ years, so for the past few months we've been thinking back to the shabby spaces of our early adulthood with more than a little trepidation. This is nothing like that. Still, returning to apartment living after all those years has left us to relearn the etiquette of living above another person's home. Don't drop that box! Walk quieter! Turn down the television! I am perhaps overly concerned with being a considerate upstairs neighbor—that will moderate with time, I'm sure—but no one wants to be that guy. The one whose noise level prompts a note of complaint left on the front door.

All in all we were so fortunate in finding a place to live. The complex overall is perfect for us. It's within 2 miles of the college and has one of the most reasonable commutes of all the places we looked at. It's established and tree-lined and has a sunroom that's just right for Mario's office. There are walking trails and the whole esthetic is very lovely and tree house-like. It's quiet. It's a mere 5-minute walk to restaurants and grocery stores. It has all the amenities one could possibly need to live a comfortable life and I feel so lucky to have landed in the right place at the right time.  Looking back, we needn't have worried that it would all work out. It typically does no matter how much we fret beforehand.


Our new washer and dryer were delivered on Saturday, so I'm making my way through mounds of dirty laundry sorted onto the living room floor. We sold our old set back in mid-June, so it's been a while and we've been sweating a lot; we've reached critical mass if you know what I mean. (Side note: we went back to a top loader and it is bomb.) The ritual of doing laundry—sorting + washing + folding—all feels very normal. I'm looking forward to drawers full of clean clothes which is not something I normally consider. (Clean laundry = normalcy + routine!) All that said, I'm dressed in something besides cutoffs and a wrinkled t-shirt today so I'm feeling pretty normal-ish. Also, I found the box containing the contents of my underwear drawer a couple days ago, so I no longer have to borrow my husband's boxer briefs.


I'm going to admit something: I've been quite apprehensive about starting over socially. I received an orientation binder in the mail before we left, which includes the profiles of all my cohorts. It's a young class this year and I find myself stationed as the second oldest in the group (though there are still a lot of people also in their 30s). Age has never been something that has been on my radar. Truly. I don't dread birthdays and we have good friends that are much older and younger than us. People generally warm to me and I have no reason to believe this will be any different. I suppose it's good old vulnerability at facing this big, life-changing, scary endeavor that is behind my sudden insecurity, but nevertheless it's been on my mind a lot over the past few weeks. With Husband and Kiddo leaving for California in a couple weeks, I'll be flying solo to the family-friendly events. Vulnerable.

In an attempt to remediate these feelings, I put myself out there and posted to my program's FB page in order to connect with my future classmates. My hope is that we can meet up and become familiar with each other before orientation. Those of us without family can sit together at events. Sure enough, I got an overwhelming response from others who not only want to meet up in the coming weeks, but will also be sans significant other for one reason or another. Historically this sort of thing hasn't come naturally to me—putting myself out there socially—but I'm leaning into my discomfort + anxiety. Moving to a new place is hard + uncomfortable + lonely and I'm working to temper those feelings with proactive behaviors. Act the way you want to feel is my current mantra. Bonus: perhaps I'll stumble across the perfect anatomy partner before classes start.


So. This is the story, exactly one week in, of how I changed everything for the perfect reason. It hasn't been easy, but it sure will be worth it. Melancholy be damned! The next several weeks will involve last minute paperwork, writing essays/book reports, exploring our neighborhood and Atlanta as a whole, and finding that perfect place to study. There's a coffee shop within walking distance of our apartment that serves avocado toast. I know.

Until next time, friends.


P.S. If you get the opportunity to road trip across the United States, do it. It's gorgeous. Minus a cat and a moving truck that only goes 40mph on hills. But seriously. Do it.





Friday, June 22, 2018

Seen, Heard and Bookmarked



We're entering crunch time around the homestead. The movers come on Tuesday, and the next day we jump in the truck and drive our belongings 2000 miles to our new home.

I've been choosing studying over packing this week in the hope of finishing, or nearly finishing, my online course that's due before orientation. Student loans have been applied for, utilities have been changed, check-ups have been had, and we're as ready as anyone can be.

Except for the packing part.

Today. I'm starting today. Or tomorrow. One of the two.

Meanwhile, here are some things I've seen, heard and bookmarked lately:

Moving houseplants across the country (wish me luck)

How to Avoid a Life of Regret (a reminder to chase our dreams)

A new laptop backpack for school in a very cheerful color.

Welcoming back an old friend (via a great essay)

I'll be dressing business casual a lot more, and I needed close-toed flats to wear for orientation, professional engagements and patient encounters. It was harder than I thought it'd be to find comfortable ones I like. Target for the win! I'm loving these and these. (They go with everything.)

Luxury plant lighting for those apartment corners lacking natural light.

Why Suicide Isn't Selfish (beautiful. aching. I read it over and over again.)

Girl Meets Farm premiers Sunday! Yay! I have my DVR set!

This little cabin (all the heart eye emojis!)


Happy Weekending!

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Thought bubbles.


T minus 6 days until The Move.

Lists and planning instead of stressing whenever possible. Agonizing over leaving friends and neighbors and a region we love must be kept strictly to a minimum.

Some of the things we wanted to do before we left aren't going to get done. (And that's okay.)

Because this is what the pursuit of The Dream looks like. And boy do I want The Dream. We've worked hard for The Dream.

So.

Chin up young lady; let's do this.


Kiddo is a high school graduate. An adult but not yet an adult, you know? He has an internship lined up, which starts in late July. I'm still trying to imagine what this new life will look like sans Kiddo, and initially sans Husband. Because he's headed to California, too, to get said burgeoning adult settled. I'll have nose to grindstone anyway, tucked away in library corners studying anatomy and pharmacology and all the other med school subjects my brain will have to somehow absorb.

Life isn't going to resemble anything I've ever known and that's confusing + daunting. But also exhilarating in that new-car-smell kind of way.

After spending 18 years nurturing a child, I don't know who I am without him.

Who is he without me?

I'm about to find out.

Thankfully the world is small these days and he's always just a click away.

(We're going to change the world, that kid and I.)


Last weekend we piled a lot of stuff on a few tables and peddled them to our fellow citizens.

We had a lot of objects we didn't use or want or need and when it was all laid out I felt more than a little shame. But also relief to be done with it.

I have a renewed resolution to be more proactive about evicting clutter.

We also made a fair bit of money.

Win-win.


Life feels complicated right now. But when I lay in bed at night, mentally preparing for a new day, I realize it's not. When you're about to leave a place you love, to start a scary new adventure, what's important has a way of surfacing over and over again despite your attempts to bury it in stress, worry, and to-do lists.

We have so much to get done, but spending time with friends—properly saying goodbye—is of the utmost importance. It's okay to put down the tape gun and meet my girls for drinks. I have one week left with them and a month from now there is zero possibility that I'll look back and wish I'd spent that time packing or studying. Not a chance.

I've been warned many times: prepare your family for the rigors of the program. Make them understand your lack of availability. Though I can't really, truly wrap my mind around it until I'm in the trenches, I believe them. I'm steeling myself mentally. Mario gets it. Which makes time together now so darn important. Like, front-of-the-line important. We're working in impromptu breakfast dates and running errands together whenever possible. We're going to be empty nesters in our late 30s, after all, and our connection must never be neglected. We've had practice being apart and working long hours, so I'm optimistic we'll cross this bridge better than most.


Leaving the Pacific Northwest is the hardest move we've made so far. Probably because we've yet to find The Place—the region we'd consider putting down roots and living out the rest of our lives in.  We felt that here. We talk about coming back. We plan to come back, as much as one can with so many unknowns. For the first time we feel like we are leaving our forever home and that is hard. The people and places have captured our hearts and now we are walking away. For better things, of course, but it's a strange feeling.

I have to remember: if we stay, our lives will be never be more than they are now. Which would be okay if we both had achieved our goals. That's not the case. So we do what we have to for The Dream to be realized and if the universe wants us back here we'll find our way.

But I also want to be open to other adventures. Because there are still a few places we haven't seen and they could capture our hearts as well.

The perfect job could come up in an unexpected place.

We're welcoming any and all possibilities, which isn't always so easy when what we already have is so, so lovely.

"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover."

-Mark Twain

Friday, June 1, 2018

Seen, Heard and Bookmarked: This + That


This is our first free weekend in a while. Sans social or parental obligation, we'll probably devote our time to our ongoing garage clean-out + closet/drawers purging. Hopefully we can carve out a little time to go exploring. Because Portland we're going to miss your guts. (Though Atlanta is no slouch when it comes to things to do, see and eat.) We've also started watching Shameless on Netflix, so there's 4000 hours of that to watch, too. #priorities

In the midst of finishing up my last week of work and all the other things we have going on, I decided to get Lasik. I've been wearing glasses since 4th grade and contacts since the age of 14, so my brain is like Whoa. My eye drop regimen is no joke, but so far it's been a pretty painless ordeal. (At 5 days in, I think I'm over that initial healing hump.) I'd been strongly considering laser vision correction for about a decade, and went from emailing my eye doctor to having the procedure in a span of less than two weeks. Game changer.

I'm 3 1/2 weeks into my ketogenic diet and so far, so good. I haven't lost weight, which is OK (unless I'm having a moment of impatience/doubt/insecurity), but this morning I slipped on a pair of jeans I couldn't button a month ago. And besides the ancillary issue of the number on the scale, I feel so much better. My belly isn't distended after meals, my wedding ring fits better, my mind is clearer, I have zero cravings, and I love the food options. (I have yet to feel deprived.) I have a ways to go when it comes to things like sleep hygiene and less screen time, but a lot of issues have taken care of themselves in the few weeks of following this lifestyle.

I'm officially switching from a PC to a Mac! This week husband and I sat down and ordered my new school laptop after casually deciding on size, etc over the last few months. We upgraded the RAM and memory and picked out a few must-have accessories . . . it will be ready for pickup at our local Apple Store in a couple weeks. I was hesitant to make the switch (price! learning curve!) but I've been overwhelmingly advised that this is the right choice if I want a laptop that is easy to use and will last for many years. Experiences making the switch? Yet another thing I foolishly added to my plate?

What's new with you?

Here are some things I've seen, heard and bookmarked lately:

Graduation announcement how-tos. (We botched a couple of these steps. Oops.)

A favorite new (to me) keto recipe blog.

I'll use this planner consistently! (though will I, really?)

Finding your own perfect self care (the husband/wife weekend dynamic she describes is spot on! Mario and I have the exact same struggles.)

On the hunt for a laptop backpack that's comfortable, sleek and not too sporty. Fjall Raven and Herschel Supply Co. make contenders.

washable paper (I'll take one of each, please.)

bucket list item

A solution to deal with the lack of natural light in the inner rooms of our Atlanta apartment (our foliage can roam free!)

Growing your Instagram kindly (a 4-parter)

all my accent wall dreams coming true


Have a great weekend!





Wednesday, May 30, 2018

June


Friday is my last day of work. Two more shifts and I officially go from "employee" to "grad student." It's weird and wonderful and finally starting to feel very, very real. I was accepted back in October, and it's been life-as-usual since, so I'm only just beginning to really, truly wrap my mind around all the impending life changes. Because our actual move date is June 27th, I get a lot of A month off! How great! comments. And though I'm enormously grateful to be able to excuse myself from the workforce well in advance of starting grad school, June is going to be a doozy: Kiddo graduates from high school (with all that entails); sorting through, eliminating and packing up all of our belongings (downsizing!); participation in a neighborhood yard sale (so.much.work); finishing up that intensive online course due before orientation. Oh, and that little thing of driving a cat, a kid, a car and a moving truck across the country.

What I'm saying is, it's a lot. Equal parts overwhelming and exciting. (Mostly exciting!)

A couple times I've wondered if I should have left my job a couple weeks ago, then realize these trains of thought I engage in are pretty darn irrelevant. An unwise use of bandwidth, quite frankly, because at this point it is what it is and there's no use imagining otherwise. So.

Just to recap, mostly for my own benefit: I've been waiting for this so long. Sooooo loooong. I went back as an undergraduate student at the ripe old age of 28. I had an elementary schooler, a husband, a house and a dog. Since that time I've graduated, researched, moved across the country, and worked my tail off. It's been a long road—quite bumpy at times—but an invaluable one. In January 2017 I attended a soul-crushing interview and questioned everything. Just a few months later I picked myself back up, applied elsewhere, and was accepted into my pipe dream program. Little old me is going to a Top 3 school! And I didn't have to sacrifice a thing: the faculty/staff are the best, my cohorts are diverse and interesting (lifelong friends will be made, no doubt), and we get to live in the one region we've yet to explore. This was absolutely meant to be. (All of it.)

Leaving our friends and the PNW as a whole is sad for sure, but the new opportunities before us are absolutely amazing.

Here's to enjoying the next month.

To taking things as they are.
To letting the little (and big) inconveniences/annoyances/worries go.
To tackling one task at a time and doing it well and to completion.
To carving out time for myself, no strings attached. (Because it's not selfish to enjoy life.)
To spending lots of quality time with Kiddo. (Sans homework or chores or other parenting drags.)

I will let go of the relationships/items/emotions that aren't necessary or mutually beneficial.
I will commit to scheduling time for self care like I would any other appointment.
I will date my husband and make my marriage a top priority.
I will use up that pottery studio punch card (and finally make that perfect pho bowl!)
I will say yes to every opportunity to have drinks with the ladies.
I will do more things that make me happy. (And not shy away from things that challenge me.)

I will act the way I want to feel.

Let's do this, June.