Friday, December 11, 2015

Lifemarked.

We've made it to another Friday! And while it's my turn for the weekend rotation at work, I'm still celebrating the week's end.  It was a good week; a productive week. A week where I tried to be present, thankful, and to see the opportunities all around me. To focus on the good moments, as opposed to all the little annoyances that so easily influence a person's mood and thinking.

I work hard to remind myself of all the things I'm grateful for. It takes more effort than it should to concentrate on these things, but I suppose what's important is my knowledge of their presence and place in my life. I don't spend my days with a little black rain cloud over my head, but I've come to acknowledge that I am not a particularly cheerful person. (Not to be confused with being an unhappy person, which is something else entirely.) I'm optimistic, always, and most people would describe me as friendly, witty and pleasant, but I seldom naturally wake up with a smile on my face and am prone to flustering in my personal life (though I am actively working on becoming a morning person).

When I watch clips of Jimmy Fallon on The Tonight Show, I always admire how easily and honestly he laughs. He sees humor in everything. I wish I was that genuinely amused and delighted by the world around me. (I have a friend, Angy, who is the most cheerful person I've ever met. I aspire every day to see the world as she does.) My disposition is not likely something I can change dramatically, as it's an innate part of what makes me Me, but I can work to sway grumpy thoughts when they enter my consciousness. One way in which to do that is to acknowledge moments of gratitude. Verbally, in writing...it doesn't matter. As long as I put it out there.

As such, I'm combining a post full of things I have seen, heard, and bookmarked recently with a life lately post. Which I will call... Bookmarked Life. Or Lifemarked. Or Blately. (I clearly missed my calling as a professional product namer.)

Side note: Did I mention this is my third blog post this week? I know.


Grateful ... For a husband who hangs Christmas lights while I am at work, so I returned to a house brimming with holiday cheer.


Grateful ... For these simple and inexpensive wooden hoops, which have helped facilitate my new love of embroidery and piqued Kiddo's interest in cross stitch. After recently finishing a little robot kit we picked up in Seattle a year ago, he's moving on bigger, bolder things like a Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy pattern. It's fun to see him explore different creative outlets. (Etsy is chock full of talented cross stitch + embroidery pattern artists.)

Also on my must-learn list: knitting giant blankets


Grateful ... For fresh ground coffee and a simple French press, which have rekindled my love of good old fashioned coffee. When it comes to my morning brew, a minimalist approach always turns out the best. Honorable mention: leftover whipped cream impulsively plopped on the top. (We've had our trusty French press for over a decade, but the same exact model is still available.)


Grateful ... For this boy, who draws by lamplight and (occasionally) lets me drag him out of the house for some mother-son quality time. Motherhood is fleeting, and I try my hardest to make the most of those small opportunities for togetherness. (Even if he is smack dab in the middle of the moody teenage stage.)


Grateful ... For this plastic lion from Target's Dollar Spot. It gave me an excuse to use copious amounts of glitter and put my restless hands to work. (I see a silver brontosaurus in my future...)

Also:
// Love this DIY house-shaped shelf which would be perfect for getting knick-knacks up and off of surfaces.


Grateful ... For this soup recipe, which I'm currently making on a weekly basis. It's simple, garlicky, and oh so warming + satisfying. (Prawn and Corn Soup from Top with Cinnamon, always doubled and tweaked to our liking.)


Grateful ... For an instructor at the hospital who did the impossible: make an 8-hour class interesting, inviting, and thought-provoking. She also brought along colored pencils, coloring books, and crayons to encourage doodling. I kind of wish I'd used a blank piece of paper; my creation is fridge-worthy.


Grateful ... For this amazing Pyrex dish, complete with original brass candle warmer/stand which I nabbed for just $12. (!!!) I haven't collected much over the past year, as our current kitchen doesn't have storage space beyond our everyday dishes. This sweet find rekindled my love of collecting unique pieces of Pyrex. (Because they bring me joy, and one day we will have the perfect place to display them all out in the open.)

In other Pyrex news:
// Learned about JAJ/England Pyrex. It's real Pyrex with amazing patterns I had never seen before.
// A Pyrex museum in my own backyard? How am I just finding out about this?!


Grateful ... To have some beautifully handwritten recipe cards from my grandmother and great-grandmother.  Especially this time of year when I'm drawn to the kitchen and the consumption of comfort foods. (A cake recipe, handed down, on this walnut cake stand = dreams coming true.)

Also:
// Debunking the water consumption myth.
// Living in a real life IG feed. (Sign me up for that class.)
// Goodread's Best Books of 2015 list was just published and I'm taking notes.
// Serial 2! and other great podcasts (via Erin)

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Christmas, simply.


The past few years I've been a bit curmudgeon-y about Christmas. Well, not Christmas itself, but the societal spectacle that has accompanied the holiday season. This year, somehow, seems better. Less hoopla about Black Friday, more emphasis on Small Business Saturday, and the overall feeling that a little civility has crept back into the season. I'm feeling the call to decorate more simply, to give generously but gift prudently, and to bring some tradition back into our holiday season.

Chalk it up to less free time or a desire to decrease stress or less attention paid to pretense than past years, but I'm feeling more of the jolly and less of the ugh:

// I worked a 12-hour shift on Black Friday so it was as if it never happened. (I also worked Cyber Monday and didn't order a single thing.)

// I devoted all of November 27th to Small Business Saturday and participated in Portland's Little Boxes program. We bought a few small but thoughtful gifts for family at locally owned shops. (Less is more is my motto this year when it comes to gift buying in general.)

 // I enjoy baking during the holidays, but don't want piles of sweets daring me to eat them all. Solution: gift my confectionery creations. I've baked cookies for neighbors and teachers, of course, but I've never really put together treat bags in lieu of a purchased item. Last year, for the first time, I made an extra batch of the almond roca I always give Husband and gifted some to friends and family. It left me feeling like I'd restored some tradition to the holidays. I've been wanting to add a few things to my repertoire, so I'm collecting recipes that look delicious and are easy to package and pass out as gifts.

// Mario and I agreed to an eight-gifts-or-less holiday. An arbitrarily chosen number (ten seemed too many?), but it will keep things modest. When you love someone and want to thank them for all the times they let you sleep in on school mornings or spared you homework duty or washed your underpants, it's hard to put limits on giving. But I'm voting for quality time instead of material things as a show of gratitude. Also, Kiddo is getting lots of books, not a single electronic-related gift, and we are officially done shopping for him. A new record.

// After spending an hour trying to design a holiday card online, I realized my heart wasn't in it. So for the first time in over a decade, we're not sending out a formal family card. In the process we are saving stress, oodles of money, and the pressure of writing an impressive What we've been up to! essay which always feels awfully self-indulgent anyway. (Were our lives more interesting, I might feel differently. But probably not.) Instead, a select group of close friends and family members will receive heartfelt, handwritten correspondence. I bought a pack each of Rifle Paper Company's Holiday Snow Scene and North Pole Map postcards from a local shop. They fit the simple + meaningful goal perfectly.

// Most years we've participated in a giving tree. Last year we were out of town and didn't know where to find one. I've always enjoyed giving more than getting (I am an awkward gift receiver), and I'd like to instill that same quality in Kiddo. I picked a person from our tree at the hospital and found out today that Kiddo's school has a giving tree of its very own. Getting back to this tradition feels very right.


// Husband and I were discussing when and where to set up the tree, and after a bit of hemming and hawing, we finally both came out with it: setting up the tree is a chore we don't look forward to. The hours spent assembling it, unwrapping and hanging box after box of ornaments, and untangling + hanging lights takes away from the joy for us. Why were we never honest about this before? Last year we set up a mini tree since we were spending the holidays in Montana, and it was such a relief to excuse ourselves from the effort. This year we are taking a less complicated approach to trimming the tree so we may spend more time enjoying it and less time hanging ornaments. Our halls are still decked, just more simply. (And only if it brings us happiness to do so.)


// Every year for the last 7 or 8 years, I've made a handmade ornament for Kiddo's teachers, friends, and family. More often than not, they became these overwhelming endeavors whereby I poured every ounce of the Type A tendencies I didn't know I had into making some Pinterest-worthy creation. Late nights spent holding tiny bottle brush trees with tweezers so they'd stay upright in the glass bottle I was trying to glue them into. Hours spent on the internet trying to find miniatures that often ended up costing a small fortune. (Exhibit A)(Exhibit B) Yes, people loved them. Yes, they were cute, fun to give, and earned me the admiration of others. But looking back I realize it wasn't worth the hardship. (I've since learned my value as a mother isn't tied to how much the teachers love me or how many elaborately decorated cookies I contribute to the Christmas program. The crappy overbaked and store-bought cookies others brought were consumed just as quickly; people aren't that picky.) This year I combined my ornament project with my desire to learn embroidery. Two birds, one stone. I downloaded some simple holiday patterns, bought a bunch of 3" wooden hoops, floss, and some muslin. Each one took less than an hour, cost just a couple dollars, and could be worked on while binge-watching Christmas movies on the Hallmark Channel. I put a limit on how many I was going to make, which made each ornament feel more personal than in years past. I've enjoyed embroidering so much, in fact, I'm using the extra supplies to make a couple of handmade gifts for family members. (I also hauled in my glitter library from the craft tote in the garage and made my very own shimmering wreath, shown above. Husband is so supportive of my crafty impulses that he barely mentions the dusting of glitter on every surface of our home. Maybe next time you could keep the vacuum hose running next to you when you craft with glitter? You know, to catch the stray stuff?)

// I RSVP'd for the company cocktail party, but opted out of the cookie exchange. I'm contributing an ornament to the department tree, but I'm foregoing the ornament exchange party. Message to the me of years past: Don't be a hero, Sarah.

Here's to putting some sanity back into the holidays. And to letting things be a little less perfect. More handmade and less obligation.

Cheers!




Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Solitude.


Today was one of my most anticipated days off in a long while. Nothing special is happening: Husband is (still) out of town, Kiddo is at school, the house is (mostly) clean, and I've no plans until Kiddo's 3 o'clock orthodontist appointment.

So far I've watched the first hour of the Today Show; started and half completed a simple but pretty embroidery project for my sister-in-law (homemade gifts are always appreciated, even if constructed with an inexperienced hand...or so I tell myself); brewed and leisurely consumed a pot of French press coffee (I'm steeping my second pot as I write this); and scooping up packages off the front stoop as they are delivered.

As I recount the minutia of my day off, one might think, Is this blog-worthy?. I, myself, have wondered the same thing. Then I am reminded that these moments of solitude are rare and lovely and should be recognized. I love my boys, but hours spent in peace and quiet is what fills my bucket. Not shopping or crafting or listening to music, even. Times when the house is silent, my clothes are soft and warm, and there is a hot drink in my hand are the best times, the most rejuvenating times.

Lately I've been wondering what my goals are. Not the ones I set for myself so many years ago; the ones that occasionally have me feeling trapped in some sort of educational pigeonhole (of my own making, I admit). No, I'm talking about the goals that reside deep in my soul. The ones that seem crazy and impossible but just may be my destiny. You see, now that I'm knee-deep in the medical field, do I really want to make it my life's work? If it were just the practice of medicine, yes. Of course, yes. But hospitals are businesses. Clinics are businesses. And with businesses come budgets and bottom lines and bureaucracy. Many years ago, in the early stages of my return to academia, Mario admitted he questioned my ability to do what I set out to do. Not to excel in my studies, of that I know he has not had a moment's doubt, but rather the wherewithal to treat a patient, a human being, according to policy as opposed to innate instinct. Because the two are not always mutually inclusive. At the time we had one hell of a row—I was pissed. But mostly hurt. So hurt. We were driving home to New Hampshire from a road trip to St. Louis, and hours of tense silence ensued before we had it out in a random Starbucks parking lot. How could he not believe in me? Had he always felt this way?

Fast forward all these years and I find myself asking the same question: Can I stomach practicing medicine as part the machine healthcare has become? There are different fields of medicine, of course, but there will always be the numbers game no matter where I go. Will I spend my career feeling held back by my chosen profession? Was I meant to go through this so I may find my true calling? Was this my true calling all along and regular emotional hurdles are just another means of proving it? Is this yet another phase I must go through in order to discover my deepest potential? My one hundredth call to self discovery? I don't know. So while Husband's comments may have been poorly timed way back when, they weren't necessarily wrong. (For the love of god, don't tell him that.) Still, these are questions one must answer in those quiet moments alone, as opposed to defending their life's calling to their significant other. On an 18-hour drive.


And so on this rainy day, I am thankful I have nothing to do. Last night, after a 10-hour shift at the hospital, I made a grocery store run to stock up on ingredients to get us through the week's meals. Because I didn't want to start today with a to-do list. The gray skies and rainy weather, which have left the area with localized flooding and snarled traffic, kept me at home. If I had any inclination to run into the city to cross gifts off my shopping list, the dreary day squelched them. It gave me permission to perch at my kitchen counter with fingers to keyboard and that one last cup of coffee. I don't expect the answers to come to me today. But it's days like today, the silent and still ones, that will boost morale and usher in a fresh perspective.


Monday, November 23, 2015

This, That and the Other

 

I'd like to say that every time I put fingers to keyboard it's because I have something eloquent and profound to say. Oh to be bursting with wisdom! In all honesty, unless I'm feeling particularly angsty about work or parenthood, I mostly just want to write about the odds and ends of things. You know, that Instagram photo I lurved or the shop I visited or that article I read or the cactus I allegedly flew home in my suitcase because I may have succulent OCD and don't care who knows it. (The tips. are. pink. You wouldn't have listened to reason, either.)

Individually they hardly warrant an entire blog entry. However, these sorts of snippets, combined, make for a wonderful post (says me). Also, I quite like to write stream-of-conscious style. Reading it, however, is a whole different story, I'm sure. Still, here goes.

// Lately I have been feeling the need to really change things up. Today I'm headed to the stylist to do something drastic to this dishwater blonde color that likes to grow out of my head. The lady I've been seeing for a bit is an amazing colorist, but I have noticed during past appointments that she tends to push me toward vanilla when I'm really yearning for rocky road. I'm giving her another shot, because let's face it: finding a good stylist is no easy feat. I'm digging this and this color, though I'm leaning towards darker. 


// I've been drinking WAY too much coffee lately. To the point that I'm not even enjoying it. Oh, and I'm sure I exude confidence when I'm getting ready to poke a patient with a sharp needle with shaky (but still capable) hands. The obvious answer is to abandon my morning (and mid-morning and afternoon) brew. But then I thought, don't give up! I've since decided it's an issue of quality versus quantity and so I'm (mostly) ditching the Keurig in favor of a french press and one cup seems to do the work of three, minus much of the jitters. I'm thinking of taking it one step further and investing in a Chemex and some high quality beans like any good Portlandler would have done a year ago.


// The other day I purged my IG feed by subtracting some of the old (nothing personal!) and adding some new. This morning I gave some thought to my blogroll and decided to unsubscribe to the feeds I never seem to click through to in order to read a post in its entirety. Blogger's unsubscribe page has changed since my last purge several years ago, and in my impatience I kept clicking on the delete button before realizing it had actually been deleting the next one and the next one and the next one. I suppose if I don't notice the absence, I probably wasn't reading it anymore. Perhaps an accidental purge is the most effective approach, as it is sans hemming, hawing and guilt-ridden second-guessing. I also carefully eliminated a couple of blogs I like reading, but leave me feeling less-than in one way or another. 


// I discovered the wonder that is fire cider last year and take 1 tbsp/day during the chillier months or when I'm fighting a cold. I'm particularly smitten with a local brand I buy at the farmer's market, but I can't always get there and I buy often this time of year. So what is an aspiring hippie to do? Make her own. I followed the ingredient list on the back of the bottle (plus a couple of my own additions) and used this recipe for guidance regarding measurements. On December 2nd I'll have a spicy vinegar concoction of my very own. That's a long time to wait to see if I'm any good at being granola. 


// Raising a teenager is hard and requires more patience than I think I have. I try to focus on his more redeeming qualities like his yoyo skills and ability to build a Tardis out of Legos in five minutes flat.


// Pink. Tips. (plus two little nubs that fell off another cactus plant during shipping. By shipping I mean getting thrown around in my checked luggage.)


// Many weeks ago I bought this tiny handmade top at Woonwinkle, a darling Portland shop, and it is hands down one of the most used things in our house. It found its home on our kitchen island, and we spin that thing while we talk, eat snacks, watch the other cook, etc. Sometimes it's the little things. Also, yay for old fashioned toys. 


// This raspberry hard cider is delicious. Cider is pretty much the only alcohol I drink, and only occasionally, but I wanted to try something new and locally made when I was in San Diego last month. Unfortunately, the restaurant we were at only offered it in 22 ounce bottles. I went for it, then got tipsy at 11a and drunk dialed my husband from the bathroom. I also couldn't find the bathroom sink, though to be fair it was a communal sink perched outside the two bathrooms. To be fair I ordered a kale caesar salad which totally cancelled out the alcohol health-wise.


// The story of getting toasty at lunch brings me to my next favorite thing, Pigment. It's in the North Park neighborhood of San Diego (across the street from the restaurant where I got lost in the bathroom) and I want to live there. It is the home of pink-tipped cacti and an insane terrarium bar and is hashtag the coolest store ever. And because my impulse control was compromised, I spent three digits on all the beautiful things. I have since ordered another plant from their online store but please don't tell my husband. I don't have cider to blame this time and I think he's starting to have nightmares about being swallowed alive by all of our foliage. 


// Truth: On my days off, I sometimes take Kiddo to school in my slippers. Which is fine for the Starbucks drive-through but less so when I walk into Fred Meyer to get a leek for dinner and forget I'm not wearing actual shoes. Could I have actually found my perfect slipper?! Also, have you ever given your feet a bath before bed because you can't possibly sleep with cold feet and when you warm them on your husband he likens it to spooning with a corpse? I'm not alone in my winter foot woes, right? Right.


// I've been drowning my work sorrows in copious amounts of sour gummy worms but I've also been experiencing blood sugar rushes which are the opposite of soothing and encourage anxious feelings. The natural progression would be to turn to booze (I kid), but instead I decided to do a sugar detox. My goal was a week but I'm a whole eight days in and I'm feeling pretty darn good. I think I'm cured. Now for a Gardetto's rye chip detox...


// I completed my very first embroidery project! Yahoo! And thank goodness I had fun because I have about nine more to make in various patterns before Christmas presents go out. Also, since I'm so stellar at the back stitch, I believe I am totally ready to take on a cat quilt:


I'm nothing if not realistic.



Friday, November 20, 2015

(Better) Realized: Flexing my creative muscle.



The other day I wrote at length about the disappointment I've been experiencing over my current job. This small leg of a long journey is tough. However, don't mistake this lamenting as a lack of gratitude. My life is good and opportunities have been presented in ways I never thought possible. Although discouraging at the moment, phases like this are the perfect occasion in which to reflect. To change faulty thinking and dig a little deeper to find the root of malcontent. My job is probably going to be difficult for the duration and I can't make my coworkers play nice. But my reaction to adversity? That is squarely within my control. Choosing peace over anger, gratitude over self pity—that I can do. It will take practice, as all behavioral changes do, but I don't want to fritter away the hours feeling sorry for myself. Resentment is a waste of time.

I realize these sorts of posts come more often than even I would like, but I know I'm not alone in my frustration, disappointment, and anxiety. Most of all, my impatience. I want things to hurry up already rather than just going with the flow. I work diligently each and every day to exist in the now, to enjoy today, rather than holding on to an abstract time in the future when everything will be in its perfect place; the ideal life I envision. The me five or ten years from now. As I age and mature emotionally, I realize how silly this is. Because there is no perfect life or perfect place in time. And if there were, I wouldn't know it until I was actually in it, nor would I properly appreciate it without having experienced hardship. Like most things in life, I can't predict when and where the tides will take me. But I've learned that there can be perfect (or near perfect) experiences to be had if you take the time to seek them out.

I've been doing some thinking about this whole job thing, and I've come to a conclusion: After a decade spent being a mom and student, my expectations were unreasonably high. I was excited about earning a paycheck, gaining clinical hours for grad school, learning how to care for critically ill patients, and meeting new people. I suppose I went into it with my head in the clouds; I hadn't anticipated adversity and it knocked me on my ass. Small issues became big ones and big ones became insurmountable. And although disappointment is always a hard pill to swallow, much of my melancholy likely stemmed from a lack of external outlet. All I could think about was the bad because I had little else to focus on.

Outside of work I wasn't doing anything to expand my horizons or set new goals or flex my creative mind. I'd stuff my feelings and frustrations all day and come home and focus on the boys and chores and travel schedules and meal planning and, you know, The Grind. With the exception of my reading goals, I inadvertently set aside all the other intentions I'd made for the year when I went back to work in July.

Several weeks ago Mario and I went out on a breakfast date, just the two of us. While waiting for a table, I began jotting down a revised list of life goals. This impromptu (re)evaluation of my aspirations wiggled something loose inside of me, and I realized it was high time I started worrying about creative fulfillment as much as I was concerning myself with my chosen career path. On my deathbed I'm certainly not going to wish I had worked more. So instead of spending my days off drowning my sorrows in Cheetos and my DVR, I set out to explore some new and old interests.


Last month I took kokedama workshop at my favorite local nursery and had so much fun. I bought the supplies to make a second one at home and my living room window has never looked better. (I'm also practicing my plant husbandry skills, always, while honing my desired foliage collection.)


For my annual Christmas ornament project, I've decided to learn embroidery and bought the supplies to create some simple hand-sewn hoops to gift friends and family. (I bought some patterns and thread made by Sublime Stitching at a local craft store and found a couple pdf embroidery patterns on Etsy like this one.)

While picking up muslin for my ornaments yesterday, I learned about some sewing classes offered at an amazing fabric store. Up until yesterday I'd never stopped in because I sold my sewing machine when we moved and had therefore subconsciously dismissed the idea of (finally) learning how to sew. (They teach beginner classes and have all the supplies I would need to complete the project—including a sewing machine—so all the excuses I'd been making were completely off base.)

Mario gifted me a terrarium book for my birthday and I love the idea of creating a miniature world using tiny figures and low maintenance moss. My windowsills are a little, um, crowded at the moment, so the idea of something green I can perch on a (low light) bookshelf is so lovely. (And it's an activity Kiddo and I can do together.)

My favorite Portland instagrammer, Heather, opened up a brand new shop last week. In addition to selling products made by local artisans, work/shop offers a variety of classes. (work/shop...get it?) The brush lettering workshop is at the top of my list, but I want to take them all!

 Oh, and pottery classes are always on the list!


Also: regular dates with Husband for the first time in our marriage; trying all kinds of new skincare products as the seasons change; signing up for classes offered by the hospital so I can pick up new skills; starting my last classic book for the year (which marks another milestone as the very first resolution I've ever made and kept all year); cooking all kinds of new and old favorites (soup weather!); and making lists to prepare for a local (as much as possible) Christmas. Portland has a great program called Little Boxes, which makes participating in Small Business Saturday even more fun.

The point: Learning isn't confined to academics. And just as I am more than the roles I play (wife, mom, employee, student), my creative interests are vast, varied and equally important. When times get tough, they are usually the first to get neglected. You live and you learn.

source: random olive

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Striving for balance, always.


This morning Mario left for a few days of business travel. Which leaves me to hold down the fort, make sure Kiddo practices good hygiene and does his homework, and to catch up on all those things that have been neglected over the past month.

Because of Husband's impending travel, I tailored my work schedule so that I would be home Tuesday-Friday this week. Best. Decision. Ever. Boy did I need a few days to get my head on straight. To step back and reflect on my work life, to putz around the house, to perch at a coffee shop and write in this space. To get over the GRE test prep hurdle. And while I always miss my husband when he's gone—we haven't seen each other as much as I'd like over the last few weeks—the best thing for me was to be alone so I could devote the school day hours to personal reflection and the evenings to reading and extra sleep without feeling guilty for neglecting our we time.

After having a bit of a job meltdown over the past 6-8 weeks, I've been trying really hard to separate my work and home lives. It took some time to reconcile the crushing disappointment I was feeling over my job; disappointment so fierce I wondered if I was even still committed to a career in medicine. (Cue existential crisis.) I liken my experience to going through the five stages of grief: for the first while I thought those awful shifts were just temporary (and surely not the norm), and things would settle into a routine (denial); then I was furious and spent my waking hours rehearsing conversations I'd never have with my boss and coworkers (anger); after that I proclaimed to myself (and Mario) that I was giving this job until January then I was saying peace out if things didn't get better, because I can do anything for 6 months, and, and, and (bargaining). The other day I was floated to another unit for the majority of my shift, which wasn't bad in and of itself, but I had a quiet moment where it occurred to me that my career goals may no longer be my heart's desire and I was super crushed at the thought that this was all for nothing (depression). The sad phase was over before I knew it and I had accepted my choices, my fate and my journey. I can do this. I will do this. And I will draw a line in the sand in terms of letting my job woes bleed into other areas of my life. I was tired of spending my days off despairing. Life is too damn short.

Although this job is crucial to reaching my goals, my entire existence needn't revolve around it. And it has for the past 4+ months. I've been ruminating more than I'm comfortable with, an innate tendency I have to work diligently to control. I must be vigilant in order to fight my anxious nature, to squelch repetitive thinking before it has the chance to dominate my world.

Yesterday, after dropping Kiddo off at school, I sat down and watched the first 45 minutes of the Today Show so I could catch up on current events and feel like a proper citizen of this world. It had been a while since I've done that. One day last week I didn't shower until 2p, instead opting to perch at the kitchen counter with my laptop while reading the past two weeks' of my blogroll (which had been woefully neglected). I finally researched and ordered that new mattress we've been needing; I bought the book Lean In on the suggestion of a dear friend (in response to my recent post where I briefly discussed the issue of mean girls in the workplace); I potted a couple new plants I picked up during my San Diego trip (I've become the champion of transporting foliage in my checked luggage) and repotted some old friends. One day I wore slippers all day long, even to pick up Kiddo from his after school group.

This change in mindset has been the best thing that's happened to me in a long while: I have given myself permission to just exist—without expectation or aim.

I have a habit of applying too much value to things that don't deserve them and this job has been a prime example of that. It's important, these clinical hours, but they aren't everything. There will always be other jobs and other paths to take, but most of all, it is perfectly okay to put in a hard day's work and walk away. I don't owe my boss or my coworkers any more than that. When I'm there I give 110%, but once I am off the clock my life and time is my own. And while I'm in the midst of it? I have absolute control over my reaction to adversity. It's time to stop being a victim of my circumstances and start creating some boundaries. (And stop trying to be everything to everyone. I'm only one person and no one thinks less of me because I can't help two people at once.) Also, I should be using this job to expand my knowledge by signing up for training classes and attending seminars. The hospital also has a person who coordinates student shadowing so I can experience a day in the life of medical professionals in different specialties. It would be crazy to waste these opportunities because things aren't turning out the way I thought they would.

I like to think I'm a person who can overcome adversity. A person who endures and thrives and survives. But there is always a fairly lengthy emotional process to get there and that bugs the hell out of me. My determination is steadfast, though I wish there were fewer hurdles to jump before I come out the other side. There are some fundamental truths I don't want to forget: This job is teaching me so much about medicine and myself. I will be a better, more compassionate provider as a result of this work. Spending some time at the bottom will instill such an appreciation for my accomplishments when I reach the top. Boundaries are necessary as are diplomacy and assertiveness. I can't control everything, as much as I'd like to, and sometimes you just have to roll with the punches.

Let's do this.


Friday, November 13, 2015

Seen, Heard + Bookmarked

 
Going through my blog overview last week, I realized I had started (but failed to publish) precisely fifty "bookmarked" posts. So naturally, a link dump is in order. Even if it touches on Burger King's Halloween Whopper and Halloween was so, like, last month. I obviously have my finger on the pulse of current trends. 

Happy Friday!


These ankle boots were a birthday gift from Husband. They are crazy comfortable and go with everything. I wear them almost every day off.

I've been reading about Bulletproof Coffee for about a year now and I must admit: I'm not quite convinced of the "science" behind adding butter to coffee (though I can attest to the efficacy of adding coconut oil to coffee—energy up the wazoo). Still, I'm up for trying almost anything, so I'm going to give this and this a try.

Behind the computer screen. (It's easy to forget fashion bloggers don't have the perfect life. There's no such thing.)

LOL. (What did people think would happen?!)


Lusting after this hoodie after seeing it in a local shop.

Kiddo picked out this camera strap for my birthday and it's awesome. (I'm obsessed with this one, but it sold out.)

Stained glass feathers. (one of each, please.)


I want to learn how to do this. (I tracked down an artist whose work I love and bought a set of patterns. I can't wait to get my creative on.)

A road tripper at heart. (I'll choose a car over a plane any day of the week.)

I read this book and was riveted. I just finished this one while I was in San Diego. It was also amazing, but in a very different way. I'm currently reading Furiously Happy which is equal parts hilarious and concerning.

This article about buying stuff was a good reminder on my journey to only possess things I love.

Speaking of buying stuff, I purchased this oil cleanser on the recommendation of Bridget. The heat is officially on for the winter, necessitating a seasonal skincare shift.

Read this article a while back, and heard Headspace mentioned oodles since then. Worth a try?

Speaking of meditation, I just finished the Intuitive Eating audiobook and really enjoyed their principles. I listened to it during long drives (without closing my eyes during the guided meditations, obviously) and came to the realization that I need to follow my gut more often...literally and figuratively.

A pot that grows with the plant. I'll be first in line when it comes out. (I'm looking at you, Fiddle Leaf Fig.) Discovered thanks to Erin.

The perfect hair color for those of us who favor low maintenance? (Though it's not without a time commitment.)

A stay in a luxury railcar is on my must-try list.

Bought a bottle of this floral tonic at an indie craft fair several months ago. It's perfect for those nights where I don't want to put in any effort, but still leaves my skin glowing. (Also, craft fair doesn't adequately sum up the experience. These were amazing artists. If there is fair near you, run, don't walk.)

Sephora sent me a sample of this "luxury" face oil with a recent purchase. When ripping open the packet the entire contents spilled all over my hand to I had no choice but to apply it liberally. My skin looks awesome! Then I saw the price while looking up the link. Oh, ouch. (If you're a VIB, 20% off starts today.)

Stumbled across this website and read article after article for an hour straight. Good stuff.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

SeaWorld San Diego

 

I've mentioned this on the blog a time or two, but my one true love has always been the ocean and its inhabitants. (Killer whales, in particular, are my animal soulmates.) I felt a strong pull to marine biology from an early age, and still do, but I also love medicine and would prefer to treat patients rather than spend my days writing grants. I still pursued biology, but opted for a more practical application. If marine biologists spent their days watching orcas swim the open ocean, I'd have my PhD in record time. But alas, pipe dreams.


As a child growing up in San Diego, I had the pleasure of being exposed to these magnificent creatures from an early age. (My birthday request was always to visit SeaWorld. It has always been a place where I could dream.) And while I watched Blackfish (four times) with rapt horror just like the rest of America—I am equal parts haunted and exhilarated by killer whales—I can't help but think that the issue is so much more complicated than just freeing captive animals. First and foremost, I'm absolutely opposed to keeping orcas and other large marine mammals confined to what is tantamount to a swimming pool. But what about all of SeaWorld's conservation efforts? If SeaWorld ceases to be a profitable company, the philanthropic sector of the organization also goes kaput. Then what? We would have one less means by which to save beached animals and fight environmental offenders. California recently banned the breeding of captive whales, a ruling I wholeheartedly agree with. Every single one of these animals should be free to swim, eat and live as nature intended. (Whether or not they were captive bred is moot in my opinion. The genetic instincts are still there and the tanks will always be too small for an animal that swims 100+ miles per day in the wild.)

 
 

During last week's visit to San Diego, I decided to visit SeaWorld. And though this was not without a bit of internal conflict, I'm so glad I went. I saw firsthand the behaviors described in the documentary: orcas listlessly floating in the pool for long periods; rake marks on their bodies (of which the juvenile orca in particular had many); refusal to respond to commands during a "Dining with Shamu" show; and many other subtle signs of malcontent that were not previously on my radar prior to watching Blackfish.

Still, the issue of SeaWorld as a whole isn't so black and white (pun intended). While there I was able to experience the wonder that is a tank full of tropical fish, touch and feed bat rays (many of which were clearly missing or had deformed spines—a disadvantage in nature), and see endangered animals I doubt I'll ever get to witness in the wild. (Polar bears will likely become extinct in our lifetime, and if not, our children's.)

 

All in all, it was a beautiful day spent with my aunt, bonding, talking and revisiting my childhood. So many times throughout the day I felt that tingle in my belly I get when I experience something profound, something bigger than myself. Being there gave me the rare opportunity to feel that fluttery excitement I did as a child when I dreamed of reaching my true potential. Controversies aside, I needed to feel that. To know that a deep-rooted desire to change the world still lies within me. To be reminded that the world is vast and my problems are small by comparison. (Oh, and that I can still be awed. It's a magical feeling.) It's one of the few places I feel at home in head and my skin. For that, there is no regret.