Friday, November 30, 2012


Heyyy!!  Howzabout squeezing in one more post for the month right at the last second??  Surgery is  just killing this whole blogging thing over here... so it's gonna be all pictures, sorry.  :)  Here is another handful of shots I took last week.  

Enjoy your weekend!!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012


The costume changes alone are exhausting.

for tomorrow: clinic clothes, OR clothes, workout clothes

Monday, November 26, 2012


Back to life in Atlanta, back to surgery, back to hot showers, back to studying, back to my puppy, back to worrying about lots of the same shit.  In other words, plusses and minuses.

Haiti was amazing.

I feel rejuvenated, revitalized, re-energized, re-excited.  Mostly, though, just so incredibly blessed to have had the opportunity to go on this trip, and incredibly fortunate to have a passion that I am lucky enough to follow.

I'll write more about the trip later, and just post a few quick pics right now.  I took way fewer pictures this year, and those that I took were mostly nowhere near as good as the shots I got last year, but a few other people took a bunch, so I will post a lot of good ones when I get the chance.

In the meantime, happy belated Thanksgiving, friends.  So much to be thankful for.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Cold Weather Favorites and Other Random Observations

My blogging frequency has taken a severe nosedive as of late - not my favorite.  My apologies to those of you who actually come here for new posts.  I really miss writing, but I feel like the world's most boring and exhausted human these days, which doesn't exactly lend itself to good creative output.  I blame surgery.  

The weather here in Atlanta has suddenly gotten, like, legitimately cold.  Just in time for our heat to decide to stop working, pretty much at the exact moment the temperatures swooped below 60 for the first time and stayed there.  The lack of a heated house is also not my favorite, but the chilly weather does bring some perks, and since I have not been feeling too terribly excessively happy recently, I wanted to do a quick post about some little things that make me happy.  I was gonna do a Top Ten list, but I am not sure that I have ten things in me tonight.  We shall see, shall we?

~ ~ ~

1.  Hands-down, the best thing about the cold weather and freezing house?  Izzy's snuggle-factor goes up exponentially.  

Her favorite thing is to curl up next to someone (or on top of someone, if possible), and preferably under a warm blanket at the same time.  I think she gets really cold because she is so skinny and short-haired, so she has no extra insulation at all.  She used to sleep on the couch at night, but since it's been cold, she has started sleeping with me again, like she did when she was a puppy.  When I go to bed for the night, she stands next to my bed and waits for me to invite her up.  I hold up an edge of my comforter, and she jumps up, diving underneath the covers and then turns around a couple of times before flopping down ascloseaspossible to me and resting her head on my legs or my stomach or my back.  It's the cutest thing ever.  It's also awesome for me because I would also otherwise be freezing, too.  And if I accidentally hog the covers in the middle of the night and leave her out in the cold, she wakes me up by grunting or whining a little bit and moving around until I throw the blanket back on top of her.  Sort of hilarious.

2. Speaking of snuggly things, the cold weather has also brought out blankets, sweaters, and fuzzy slippers.  It's impossible not to be at least a little cheered by warm, soft, fuzzy things, don't you think?

3. The cold snap also means it's the perfect season for lots of soup and hot tea and other delicious warm things to eat.  It's been a while since I've made some good soup, so that is on the docket for this week (can you tell I have been cold??)  My plan is to cook up a bunch of different stuff to freeze so that I have it on hand for quick, easy meals during my next month of general surgery, since by all accounts, being on plastics, I ain't seen nothin' yet.

4. Speaking of soup, I never really got around to writing about it, but a couple of months ago I did this thing called the Whole30 challenge, which is basically a super-strict version of the Paleo diet for thirty days (no grains, no dairy, no legumes, no sugar, no alcohol).  I successfully completed the thirty days, which made me more proud and impressed with myself than anything else.  At the time, I didn't really feel like it was life-changing, or anything; it was a lot of work, it cost a lot more at the grocery store, it took a lot of time in the kitchen... I literally felt I like the only three things I did all month were go to work, go to boot camp, and prepare food.  There were times when it was really hard, especially at social events.  There is like, nothing you can eat at a restaurant.  And I hate to say it, but the no-alcohol thing was the hardest part by far (and y'all, that is really saying something - I was drinking my coffee black!!)

I didn't really feel like I noticed a huge difference while I was doing it.  But over the month I did start to notice that I just felt good.  I liked it.  Towards the end of the month, I also started noticing that I felt better and stronger during my workouts.  When I really noticed the difference, though, was when the thirty days were over and I  went to a big party and went wild with all the delicious food-things there that I had not been able to eat for the preceding 30 days -  Cheese!  Grains!  Legumes!  Alcohol!  SUGAR!!  And I felt awful the next day.  Like seriously hungover, but from food.  Over the course of the month, I also lost about five pounds and had a few people were comment that I looked different.  Not a lot different, but noticeably so.

So I sort of took all those lessons about this new way of eating and decided that I wanted to keep eating that way most of the time, just not be quite so strict about it.  But then, in a creeping, insidious way, it became first one thing and then another thing and then all of a sudden I was grabbing CliffBars for breakfast again and then it was Halloween candy and then last week I made chocolate cookies TWICE and bought a bag of Peppermint Hugs.

The holiday baking has begun.  I am eating these as I write this.

And now, seemingly all of a sudden, it has actually been - dare I say it? - weeks since I have been grocery shopping for fresh produce.  And guess what?  Surprise, surprise... I just feel crappy.  Really, really crappy.  Physically, mentally, and emotionally.  I hardly think it's coincidence.  Plus those stupid five pounds are back, which sucks.  When it comes to food, I think I just do better when I have clear guidelines and am not left to my own devices to "moderate".  Anyway, I'm jumping back on this Paleo bandwagon.  I'm sick of feeling crappy.  

5. I go back to Haiti one week from today!!  So excited.  So surreal that it's coming up so soon.  (Note to self: remember to fill/take your chloroquine tonight.)

6. This video: Kiss Me, You Fool.  Siiiiiiigghhh....

Okee dokee... evidently I only have six things to talk about tonight, so there you have them.  (Sunday Six?  Maybe I'll make it a thing...)  Happy Sunday night, friends!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Notes to Self

This morning, I woke up and this man will still be president for a good while yet:

image from the NY Times

But more importantly, I woke up this morning and, other than being way too tired because I stayed up way too late for surgery time with friends to watch the election returns, I did the exact same thing I always do, every day.  Which is to say that I stumbled through my morning routine, downed some oatmeal with peanut butter, went to the hospital, and worked, along with all the other people.  And my joy at the president's reelection notwithstanding, the immediate thing about the day after the election that makes me the happiest is a tie between not having every single Facebook status update on my feed be something stupid and political, and not having to hear "... and I approve this message" for another couple of years, at least.  

I say more importantly because today really was just like any other day in our country.  The day after a huge election to decide our leader, the day after a bitter and ugly campaign race between two very different candidates, the day after our huge and diverse and struggling country all went to the polls - life went on as usual.  There were no riots, no violence, no coups.  I went and voted, as a woman, driving my own car, and then went to my job, where I am pursuing my dream, getting a top education, and training to enter the career field of my own choosing.  There were no hostile, tense or unkind words today among colleagues in the operating rooms, even though as a collective we made an impressively mixed gathering - we were men and women, young and old, black and white and everything in between, from all different backgrounds, histories and countries from around the world.  Those of us who were American citizens had undoubtedly cast our votes for both parties, and those who were not able to vote undoubtedly held similarly strong and varied opinions regarding the candidates.  And everything was normal.  

How amazing is that?  

Even more than the outcome of the election, the thing that I was most glad about this morning is our incredible good fortune to live in a country and in a period of history where all of that is possible.

~ ~ ~ 

So, I went to work today, I scrubbed in to a few surgeries, I ate my lunch during our late afternoon lectures, and then, when they were over, I had enough time to make it to an evening yoga class for the first time in weeks.  Now, this is going to sound all crazy-hippie-yoga-crackpot (and especially now that you know how I lean politically) but tonight's yoga class was exactly what I needed, and not just to stretch out my sore back muscles.

I don't really know much about this sort of thing, and I think that going to church just because you really like the pastor's sermons is not the best or most valid reason to go to church, necessarily, but I do believe that going to church even for any random reason can put you in a space right when you need to be there to hear right what you need to hear right when you need to hear it.  And when it happens, you know, because that word speaks to your soul.  And I know it might sound strange, but I have also had that experience in yoga classes before.  In fact, when I was a senior in college, I used to go to this Wednesday night yoga class.  I went almost every week, almost the entire year.  I adored the teacher, and the class actually met in a multi-faith chapel on campus - we would stack up all the chairs and push them to the sides and corners of the room, and then fill every available space on the carpeted floor beneath the stained glass windows and the quilted tapestries with imagery of doves and we would do an hour-long yoga class as the sun set.  The lights in the chapel would be dimmed, and often we would end class in near darkness.  

That yoga class was one of the most powerful spiritual experiences I have ever had, even to this day.  I was just able to meet and connect with God there, for whatever reason.  It can be hard for me to do that in a church, at least consistently.  But that yoga class that year was like a sacred time for me.  I have continued to practice yoga as regularly as I can since then.  I have been to probably over a dozen different studios and practiced with more teacherrs than I can recall, but I haven't had another yoga class come close to the spiritually transformative experience that my practice was that last year in college, until tonight - the class I just took tonight was by far and away to nearest approximation to it.

Anyway, that was a lot of rambling just to say that I don't think that you need to be in a church to conect with God, and I don't think that you can only hear a message you need in a more "traditional" spiritual setting, whatever that means to you.  Nor do I think that if something speaks to you in a yoga class, that it means you are buying into Buddhism or Sanscrit or Hindu spirituality or whatever.  But I do know that tonight, something about the class just touched me in a way that I really desperately needed, spoke words to me that I was only dimly aware I needed to hear.  I actually cried a tiny bit at one point, it moved me so powerfully.

Weird, right?

I raced home to try to get it all down on paper before I forgot what it was that the teacher said during class that grabbed my heart and gave it such a good shake, but what I remembered is definitely not going to do justice to the way I heard it in class.  At any rate, some of the basic gists were something along the lines of this:  "Be here.  The future is only a concept- you have never been there.  You are here, now.  You are alive right now where you are.  Be here.  Only when you reach the limits of your own strength do you discover the strength that comes from outside yourself.  Only then do you discover who carries you.  You will get tired if you are doing this on your own.  Your worth is total and complete, and it depends on nothing - not what you do or what you accomplish."

Yoga is pretty cool like that - the asanas, or the physical practice, are so symbolic of the way we tend to approach our lives.  The teacher can be talking seemingly about one thing, but then when you pay attention, deeper layers of meaning reveal themselves.

Life has been tough lately.  School is tough.  Surgery is really tough.  Lots of other things are really tough.  And I am starting to feel the kind of worn-down that makes me feel numb and disconnected, and not at all like myself.  I just feel completely subsumed by the demands of what I am doing every day, and by the end of each day, I'm not really happy or sad or angry or proud or excited or loving or... anything.  I don't really feel.  I am just tired.  Drained.  And I find myself thinking a lot these days that the people I am working with have no idea who I am, because I am not myself.  Not a good version, anyway.  But I have also been realizing that they have no idea who I am because, paradoxically, being so exhausted makes me focus only on myself.  I feel like I am constantly in Survival Mode.  I am self-conscious and insecure and unsure of myself.  I become more difficult to engage, I am distracted and distant, I don't go out of my way to care for anyone else or show that I am interested.  Honestly?  I probably seem like a total bitch.  And later, I end up berating myself for how I must be coming across, and that only makes me feel worse.

Literally everything the teacher said in class tonight felt like it was personal, meant specifically for me.  A lot of it felt like a reminder of really obvious stuff that I shouldn't need reminding of, and other things were more challenging.

"Be here without effort.  It doesn't mean that the intensity will be any less, but let it be effortless.  Even when things are intense, that doesn't mean that you have to feel suffering.  Settle in here, embrace this, now.  Stop struggling against it every second of the way."  Back when I wrote about being out in the Hallway?  I still feel that way.  I still hate it.  It still feels really, really shitty.  And the more I try not to dwell on how much I hate it, the more impossible it is not to think about it all the time.  And it is totally exhausting.

I don't know how to ingrain the words I need so that they inform how I live day to day, when I am so tired and worn-down and it feels like it takes everything I have just to get by.  But I figured that writing them out was a good start to remembering them.  Especially, especially remembering the ones that made me cry tonight, the ones that speak directly to the absolute hardest part of life right now:  "You are not alone.  It is a lie, the isolation that you feel.  You are not alone, you are connected."

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