Friday, May 25, 2012

Prayer Rocks

These are "prayer rocks" in the Himalayas in Nepal. Three things about them:

1. I like that they are called "prayer" rocks. I feel as though I've done a lot of that since starting med school
2. Prayer Rocks = Prayers Stones; 
                             Prayer Stones = Milestones; 
                                                      Milestones = Finishing traditional academic classes FOREVER!
3. This picture is dedicated to my Nepal loving friend.

It was bittersweet leaving Fee Hall today. Yelling across the parking lot to friends I won't see until graduation. Eating Breakfast alongside people who made med school both barely tolerable and occasionally more stressful--I guess that's the reality of going to school with about 300 type A personalities. 

Now to Traverse City! To visit the Christiansen Family! and run a half-marathon...
Maybe eventually I'll get around to studying for this board exam...Everything always works out. Maybe not in the best way...but it always does. Proof lies in the fact that I am done with the first two years of medical school. 

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The Imagination Phase of Education

Life has been and continues to be so cyclical.

In high school, I started out as a freshman, no real direction, and a set curriculum. By junior year, I felt established, played varsity sports, and was looking at colleges...I was excited and full of ideas and opportunities for the future.

In college, once again, I started over with a very rigid schedule full of core curriculum requirements. Then after a couple years, I decided on a major and began to dream about who I really want to be or where I wanted to invest myself; it became more my own.

Then I got to med school, where the same cycle is being repeated for the third time.[And will again for a fourth time once residency begins.] For the first two years there has been very little input on our part as to how our schedule looks. Some electives to choose from, but for the most part they are one time shadowing experiences and seminars that only last for a portion of the semester. You do as your told. But, now that second year is wrapping up, the exciting, what do I do after this 4 year cycle ends question is on my mind.
This morning we had a meeting on our third and fourth years of med school. And that's what got me thinking about all this...
Reality finally set it. It's so exciting to be back in the imaginative phase of the education cycle. To let the reality that it's actually time to start dreaming about where I'd like spend rotations in another state or country is scary, because I don't feel ready, exhilarating, because I am tired of the rigors of traditional academia, overwhelming, because it seems like there are so many awesome options to choose from, and nostalgic, because I can't believe how fast time has flown, I can't believe it's really time to think about these things.

I remember hearing about people ahead of me who were in my position 3 or 4 years ago. I was so envious of them. Now, I'm envious of those same people who are now graduating or beginning their internships. I caught myself longing once again for that feeling of having "arrived." I wanted to finally be out of the 4 year cycle of having to start from scratch. To finally be what I wanted to be when I was grown up. What if I could see myself as I saw other med students before I actually was one. I am where I wanted to be in that sense, but, I can't believe it.

Today I choose to believe it. To live today content and feeling as though I have arrived. Because as much as I want to bash medical school and studying, I'd be disappointed if I wasn't here. I pray that I don't wish to be graduating tomorrow or for a wealth of experience under my belt. I pray I'll be the inexperienced, eager, terrified, childish medical student I feel like. And that dreaming and planning about where the next two years will take me will motivate like it used to.
I'm so excited. I'm more excited to go to the CCHF conference and talk to people about where to do rotations because I'm finally at the stage where it's necessary to think about. I feel like I'm not just going for fun or the awesome stories, as has been the case in the past.

All this is motivating my boards studying...and blogging. :) 

Monday, May 21, 2012

The Little Engine That Could

A long time ago, I received an analogy that describes life, not as a roller coaster as is often the temptation, but instead as a railroad track; two parallel lines, coexisting, and only complete if both are present.

Why? Because life isn't full of ups and downs. Life is full both of ups and downs, usually side by side, coexisting, and only complete if both are present at the same time.

This analogy reminded me of The Little Engine That Could book.
I never imagined relating so well to a personified steam engine.
This weekend I was overwhelmed with both discouragement and joy. Contentment and restlessness.

Alison got married! I saw many dear friends and had some great overdue conversations. I was filled with nostalgia as I drove US-12 from Hillsdale to Saline as I had done so many times during college, passed the 7 eleven were my family stopped every Wednesday night after youth group, and ran a 5k with Kirsten that ended on the Eastern Michigan University track where I've run many memorable races.

Not surprisingly, the discouragement and restlessness was rooted in all things medical school. I never would have imagined how hyper-emotional the stress of preparing for exam after exam along side a couple hundred people who seem way smarter than me could be. But, I laugh when I think about how ridiculous all of this will seem in just a year down the road.

The book I mentioned in my last post, A Minute of Margin, has been my go to lately. Today's message was especially relevant. If you've ever experienced doubt or disappointment due to unmet expectations I encourage you to read the following:
Expectation overload is one of the most difficult overloads to control...We expect health, wealth, and ease. But reining in expectations is a human possibility. Instead of following the "more and more" of progress and the "you deserve the best" of culture, we can follow the "be content with what you have" of Scripture. Our lifestyles can relax, our spirits can rest, our relationships can thrive, and our margin can replenish. If you give your expectations to God and then accept what the day brings, you'll discover a rare freedom.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

My Uncle Dave gave me this book. The author, Dr. Richard Swenson, says this in the intro:
Margin is a space, specifically the space between our load and our limits. It is this space that enhances vitality and resilience. It is this space that guarantees sustainability. It is in this space where healing occurs, where our batteries are recharged, where our relationships are nourished, and where wisdom is found. Without margin, both rest and contemplation are but theoretical concepts, unaffordable and unrealistic. 
I've realized more in this past week that margins are something you have to fight for. If you don't, the inherent vortex of modern society and progress will suck anyone in. It sucked me in.

This book is set up in one minute, daily reflections. At the beginning there is a quote and at the end a prescription; practical ways to start creating margin (This guy is a doctor after all...).

Rx: Make an intentional decision about how much marginlessness--this is, how much overload--is acceptable in your life...For me, getting off of Facebook has been that. I feel no less connected to the world. It's helping me be where I am. For me, something that was meant to enhance life by making it easier to stay in touch, was only making it more complex. It opened more relationships and opportunities than I could handle well. Its benefits have encouraged me to look to simplify my life in other ways. As my mom has always said, less is more.

Happiness is a place between too little and too much. 
-Finnish Proverb

Sunday, May 6, 2012

A List Update

It's been awhile, I've been unmotivated. First, because I was deathly afraid of failing my respiratory course and couldn't justify blogging. And second, because once I was done and found out that I had passed, I was too happy and tired of thinking that searching Pinterest or sleeping or baking just sounded better.

So, an update!

1. Respiratory is over! By the grace of God, I passed and no longer have to carry that burden of a class.
2. I got to see tons of family in the last week or so. One of the many reasons I'm glad to be in MI for now.
3. I observed 3 autopsies at the forensic pathology department at Sparrow Hospital in Lansing. Maybe more on that later. Or in person. It was quite the experience and I'll leave it at it kinda caught me off guard. Crazy cases you only thought existed on CSI really do happen in real life.
4. Today I took the COMSAE which is a practice exam for our Board Exam this June. It marks the first real beginning of studying for yet another exam. It's 8 hours long...and I learned today I have a lot of studying and concentration practice to do.
5. Veggies = self esteem booster. There's something about cutting them up by hand and eating them for an entire meal that make me feel really good about myself. And perhaps, want to have a garden.
6. Currently neglecting the guitar...sad.
7. I got a cavity. I'm really bummed about it. And nervous, it's my first one. I was also scolded for not flossing. They said I was showing signs of gingivitis. haha I'm going to start flossing!
8. I'm one chapter away from finishing another book! Irresistible Revolution.
9. I've started moving out of my apartment. I feel like I just got here!! I also feel like I know less then I did when I got here.
10. That leads me to this....I wish I had less things. I'm working on simplifying my life.
11. I'm really liking life without facebook. I got back on today, thinking I'd stay, only to deactivate it again. Maybe after boards are over I'll reconsider.
12. I bought a new Dr. Seuss book. I Had Trouble in Getting to Solla Sollew. I love it.
13. Grandpa told me this weekend that he would hitch hike 1000 miles from Norfolk, VA to Wisconsin to see Grandma back when he was in the Navy. One guy even had him drive the car, while he slept in the back! I wish you could still hitch hike across the country. How could so much have changed in so little time?
14. It's about to be Wedding season...7 Weddings this spring/summer/fall, all for very good friends. I'm excited!