May 16, 2012 § Leave a comment
I think, today, it’s a time to be brave. I have a job interview. Friday. 4:15pm. Right after my last day of clinical at my current site. I am a bundle of shaky nerves; I was jumpy and distracted and overwhelmed today to say the least. At my worst. At my best I can control myself with positive thoughts and bible verses. I printed out this quote yesterday by someone that said something to the effect of (paraphrasing) “stress is best controlled when we are able to change our thoughts” so that’s what I’ve worked on today. That and a good jog this morning to clear my head.
Which is so full. Job and clinical and cleaning my house, plus keeping in shape and studying for boards. This has all sapped my energy. Which makes me feel weak, because I know there are people out there who go to med school, have a family, and keep a side job as well as volunteer in the community and help the homeless. And I struggle just to drag myself out of bed to put in an hour of study before work. But struggle I do.
I know life is a process; I know it’s good for me to do things I don’t want to do, and I also know that things are worse in my head (usually) than they are in real life. And everything is overwhelming when you’re tired. So I don’t know, maybe I just need a good night’s sleep and some good coffee in the morning. But tonight, right now, I’m…tired.
Do I want this job? Probably. Would it be the end of the world if I failed this interview miserably, cried on my way out the door, and didn’t get it? Nope. There are other jobs, other interviews, other opportunities. But this is my 1st. It’s starting. And from here on out it will get easier. But for the next 2.5 days, I’ll be nervous and scared and trying so hard to muster up confidence that I really don’t feel.
Where does confidence come from? I’ve always wanted it. I’ve met many women who have a confidence, not the in-your-face brashness that comes from being overbearing and self-absorbed. But more, the quiet, sweet spirit that demonstrates contentedness in life and with themselves. Where is that confidence, and where do I find it? I think that’s one of my great life questions. I question a lot of what I do, because of lack of confidence.
Should I have said that? Should I have done that? Should I do this? Should I go do that? Do they think I’m smart? Do they think I’m done? What should I do now?
All the questions in my head. Life is difficult when you constantly ask questions that only you can answer. I covet, which I know is probably a sin but so be it, I covet confidence.I fake it. And maybe that’s all it takes. Just faking it until you get there. But it’s hard to continue to fake something when you know you’re a fraud; when you know it’s not really there, it gets fatiguing to the soul.
I want to own my life. I’ve been reading a book by Kelle Hampton called “Bloom”. It’s fantastic. And she talks in this book a lot about rocking your life. Of taking what you’ve been given and using it in a fabulous way. And she’s right. I want to follow my heart. I want to make a difference. I want to be bold and confident and go in the direction of my dreams. I am what I am. Let’s do this. But those are just words to me right now. My spirit is tired. Tonight, I don’t want to be brave, I want to run away. Which is exactly the opposite of brave: “coward”.
Tonight I feel like a coward. Positive thinking barely makes a dent, and my thoughts just run wild, and I’m so weary of worry.
Weary and worry. They go hand in hand, like two friends no-one wants to invite over, but end up sitting down and resting their feet on your coffee table and staying for drinks, because you’re too scared to kick them out. Get out, is what my head says. Get out and close the door on your way.
Because, damn it, I want to be there. I want to own it. I want to rock my fabulous life and be courageous while doing it. And all I hear in my head as I type this is “I look to the hills, from whence cometh my help”. And I’m reminded again of the verses I’ve repeated today. That soothe my soul like a calming balm. Joshua 1: 5-9- “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous!”. Philipians 4:6-7 “Do not be anxious about ANYTHING.” Isaiah 43- “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you.”
And in reminding myself of these, I think I’ve answer my question. Where does confidence come from? Confidence comes from God. I am strong and courageous, because he is with me. He commanded me. He is there. Positive thinking is good. Prayerful thinking is better. I am weary, but “his yoke is easy, his burden is light.” I am worried but “Do not worry”. Today was hard. Tomorrow may be difficult. But I will try again, and hold myself with a confidence of knowing that God is with me.
April 22, 2012 § Leave a comment
I bought some herbs today.
Every year I buy some sort of living thing to try and foster it with love in my dark little apartment. My lavender 2 years ago sprouted a few long green stems, with not a purple spot to be seen. I stopped watering it around June and it all went in the trash by September. Last year I can’t recall exactly what I tried to grow, mainly because it never came up. Some sort of little blue flower I think. Seeds were buy 1 get 1 at walmart last year. I think I still have a few packets in my trunk that I never got around to.
So this year, It’s basil and, again, some lavender. I love lavender. The pretty light purple (lavender…) hue, the bunchiness (?) of it, the look of it in my green kitchen. And basil is just delicious. So there we go.
I was tired today. I woke up early to do my sister’s hair for a wedding. The wedding was very cute, with a country western kind of theme. She was bridesmaid #3, and looked fabulous if I do say so myself. The bride was lovely, and it was such a sweet ceremony to mark the beginning of life-love. I haven’t always loved weddings, truthfully, but I’m starting to come around a bit. I don’t know if I’m getting soft in my old age 🙂 or what. But when I watched these two human beings exchange happy tears and pretty words it made me smile. I tried to remember when I did that a year and 9 months ago, but that day is such a blur. I remember candles and exhaustion and a long sermon that talked about some sort of Roman history (it was our pastor’s first wedding…) and I remember my back was killing me and I really wanted to sit down. And I remember feeling happy it was finally here. But, my wedding is a different story for a different day.
Like I said, I was tired. On Sundays, everything piles on. The thought of work tomorrow, and having to get ready to treat patients and make calls, with the added on pressure of needing to study for boards. I took this week off from studying, and it was fantastic! But, back to the grind. And, my 4th clinical cancelled and we’ve been trying to sort out some sort of alternate placement, but it’s getting discouraging. And that’s just the word I think. Discouraging. Overwhelming. Tiring.
And so after the wedding I took a nap. And I woke up more rested, but still discouraged. So I took the car and went to Taco Bell, got a burrito (wedding food is never filling enough right??), and went to the park to chat it out with God. Truthfully, we didn’t get very far, but I poured out some frustration and ate some cheesy goodness, and then drove home feeling a little bit more full and a little bit more relaxed. And then I kept going. I studied up on sacral dysfunctions and special tests and went to Horrocks to run some errands, and just kept going.
It’s this spark. It flickers all the time. Sometimes the flames of motivation burn inside me, and these are the times that I study hard, clean the kitchen, and jog 3.3 miles. And sometimes, like today. it almost burns out, and flickers off and on, and all I wanna do is watch golden girl reruns.
March 19, 2012 § Leave a comment
Oh my. so tired.
Day 1 of clinical 3 down. It affects me in ways I wish it wouldn’t.
Everyone is friendly and nice. My CI is…intense. but sweet. And I got done early. But man, is this mentally draining or what??? I think honestly it’s all mental. Well, that and I’m not use to the 9-5 yet. But actually, today was really only 6 hours. Just think, tomorrow will be much worse.
Bad attitude. I am grateful really. Everyone was helpful today. I learned a lot. It wasn’t long, tedious, and ridiculously boring like Day 1 of my last clinical. I have yet to burst into tears. Things are looking up. I have a lot to learn, but I’m excited to learn it.
And honestly, I’ve decided to avoid pressuring myself. Life is better taken a day at a time. I will study and work hard, but I won’t mentally kill myself again. There’s been too much of that in my life, and it’s wearing. Despite the mistakes I made today, and the one’s I’ll surely make tomorrow, I’ll live each moment as it comes, knowing that the grace of God is with me.
So “Ommm” and deep breathing, and all that calming stuff. Because it’s over. I made it. 60 days to go 🙂
March 7, 2012 § Leave a comment
Life comes in chapters.
Not neat chapters. Not like Chapter 1, followed by 2, followed by 3. Or at least, mine hasn’t been that cut and dry. But intertwining chapters that tell the story of a life lived. Chapters come and go, and are occasionally revisited. But, when one chapter ends, it is sad.
So that is what I feel today. The end of my chapter. I had my last official lecture at college today. I’ve been here for 5.5 years, and it has become my home. A few professional courses, one presentation, and 2 finals away from leaving the official coursework for grad school for good. And while graduation isn’t until August, this almost feels like a bigger milestone. I am setting forth, moving on, flying the nest as they say (I think?) 1 week from today will be my last night in this small town, probably for good (but hey, you never know right? I did say some chapters are re-visited…)
I don’t really like to dwell, because sad emotions tend to stick with me for a long time. I don’t mind reminiscing or even shedding a few tears, but I’m not going to spend eons of time commemorating my time in graduate school.
Honestly, it’s weird. I am a student. That’s what I do. And while technically I’ll still be a student until August 5, 2012, it feels odd to know I won’t be sitting at my desk again, turning around to talk to the dude behind me, turning to my best friend/seat mate to share answers and plan our day. It’s funny because I almost feel like life has been weaning me off that anyway.
Leaving undergraduate to come to graduate school felt like a completely different world, so the world of undergrad/barely studying/2 hour naps during the day was gone in August 2009, and truthfully I can barely remember most of it. I have good memories, don’t get me wrong. But the in’s and out’s of the days, the agony of picking my own schedule (haha) is kind of a distant memory by this point.
First year grad school was spent mainly with one person, my study partner, just surviving. That’s a whole different story, but basically, it involved a lot of BS&T, wit little or no time to socialize.
Second year brought a new marriage, bringing me a little closer to the life I know now. More time spent diversifying my interests, a little less time spent with my best friend / study partner ( henceforth known as BFSP). Or, rather, different time. Time still spent studying, but more time on other pursuits.
First semester of my 2nd year was difficult, as I was dealing (rather badly) with an anxiety disorder, but with some counseling and time, 2nd semester of 2nd year became the beginning of “slack off” time. I have great memories of 2nd year 2nd semester and summer semester. Beach volleyball, chicago trips, etc. So began my really cherishing of grad school. And then 3rd year brought an abrupt end. 2 clinicals back to back brought me slowly into the professional world. BFSM got engaged, and became otherwise distracted (not in a bad way, just different) and my friends scattered.
And so perhaps this past 10 weeks can be looked at as one of those chapter’s revisited. I still go home to my husband every weekend, but 4-5 days out of every week has been spent with good friends, good conversation, and very little school work. It has FLOWN by, as time tends to do when you’re living it. No 9-5 schedule. Plenty of good exercise classes. TV time 🙂 It’s been, dare I say, almost blissful?
I am looking forward to moving on. I think in life you have to be. While, truthfully, I’m learning more and more to become engulfed in the present and stop constantly agonizing over the future. But I mean, I know it’s coming and I can either dread it or embrace it. And right now I’m falling pretty strongly on the embracing side. But, this move pretty much defines the meaning of bittersweet.
I won’t ever be in a classroom full of people sharing my life at that point. Empathetic (some…), energetic, compassionate (haha some…), and so diverse. I won’t experience the camaraderie of day to day life with my peers. I know work is somewhat similar, but I’ve tested out the waters on clinical, and I can say that it isn’t the same. I’m sad. I am.
This chapter has truly changed me as a person, and affected my inner being. Not to be to poetical or anything. But honestly. My soul is different. I think, in a good way. But this has forever affected the course of my life, changed who I am and how I react to situations and those around me. Given me coping mechanisms (good and bad) and great memories to cherish.
I have so much to look forward to. New friendships, starting a family, buying our first house, getting my first job, growing old with the best man I know. But right now, I look back. Back to a time that shaped me into what I am today, definitely not perfect, but better than when I started. I cherish this chapter, and know that every once in a while, maybe after a phone call to BFSM or any number of sorority housemates, I’ll revisit it, and it will be happy memories.
February 25, 2012 § Leave a comment
1. You are not your mind.
The first time I heard somebody say that, I didn’t like the sound of it one bit. What else could I be? I had taken for granted that the mental chatter in my head was the central “me” that all the experiences in my life were happening to.
I see quite clearly now that life is nothing but passing experiences, and my thoughts are just one more category of things I experience. Thoughts are no more fundamental than smells, sights and sounds. Like any experience, they arise in my awareness, they have a certain texture, and then they give way to something else.
If you can observe your thoughts just like you can observe other objects, who’s doing the observing? Don’t answer too quickly. This question, and its unspeakable answer, are at the center of all the great religions and spiritual traditions.
2. Life unfolds only in moments.
Of course! I once called this the most important thing I ever learned. Nobody has ever experienced anything that wasn’t part of a single moment unfolding. That means life’s only challenge is dealing with the single moment you are having right now. Before I recognized this, I was constantly trying to solve my entire life — battling problems that weren’t actually happening. Anyone can summon the resolve to deal with a single, present moment, as long as they are truly aware that it’s their only point of contact with life, and therefore there is nothing else one can do that can possibly be useful. Nobody can deal with the past or future, because, both only exist as thoughts, in the present. But we can kill ourselves trying.
3. Quality of life is determined by how you deal with your moments, not which moments happen and which don’t.
I now consider this truth to be Happiness 101, but it’s amazing how tempting it still is to grasp at control of every circumstance to try to make sure I get exactly what I want. To encounter an undesirable situation and work with it willingly is the mark of a wise and happy person. Imagine getting a flat tire, falling ill at a bad time, or knocking something over and breaking it — and suffering nothing from it. There is nothing to fear if you agree with yourself to deal willingly with adversity whenever it does show up. That is how to make life better. The typical, low-leverage method is to hope that you eventually accumulate power over your circumstances so that you can get what you want more often. There’s an excellent line in a Modest Mouse song, celebrating this side-effect of wisdom: As life gets longer, awful feels softer.
4. Most of life is imaginary.
Human beings have a habit of compulsive thinking that is so pervasive that we lose sight of the fact that we are nearly always thinking. Most of what we interact with is not the world itself, but our beliefs about it, our expectations of it, and our personal interests in it. We have a very difficult time observing something without confusing it with the thoughts we have about it, and so the bulk of what we experience in life isimaginary things. As Mark Twain said: “I’ve been through some terrible things in my life, some of which actually happened.” The best treatment I’ve found? Cultivatingmindfulness.
5. Human beings have evolved to suffer, and we are better at suffering than anything else.
Yikes. It doesn’t sound like a very liberating discovery. I used to believe that if I was suffering it meant that there was something wrong with me — that I was doing life “wrong.” Suffering is completely human and completely normal, and there is a very good reason for its existence. Life’s persistent background hum of “this isn’t quite okay, I need to improve this,” coupled with occasional intense flashes of horror and adrenaline are what kept human beings alive for millions of years. This urge to change or escape the present moment drives nearly all of our behavior. It’s a simple and ruthless survival mechanism which works exceedingly well for keeping us alive, but it has a horrific side effect: human beings suffer greatly by their very nature. This, for me, redefined every one of life’s problems as some tendril of the human condition. As grim as it sounds, this insight is liberating because it means: 1) that suffering does not necessarily mean my life is going wrong, 2) that the ball is always in my court, so the degree to which I suffer is ultimately up to me, and 3) that all problems have the same cause and the same solution.
6. Emotions exist to make us biased.
This discovery was a complete 180 from my old understanding of emotions. I used to think my emotions were reliable indicators of the state of my life — of whether I’m on the right track or not. Your passing emotional states can’t be trusted for measuring your self-worth or your position in life, but they are great at teaching you what it is you can’t let go of. The trouble is that emotions make us both more biased and more forceful at the same time. Another survival mechanism with nasty side-effects.
7. All people operate from the same two motivations: to fulfill their desires and to escape their suffering.
Learning this allowed me to finally make sense of how people can hurt each other so badly. The best explanation I had before this was that some people are just bad. What a cop-out. No matter what kind of behavior other people exhibit, they are acting in the most effective way they are capable of (at that moment) to fulfill a desire or to relieve their suffering. These are motives we can all understand; we only vary in method, and the methods each of us has at our disposal depend on our upbringing and our experiences in life, as well as our state of consciousness. Some methods are skillful and helpful to others, others are unskillful and destructive, and almost all destructive behavior is unconscious. So there is no good and evil, only smart and dumb (or wise and foolish.) Understanding this completely shook my long-held notions of morality and justice.
8. Beliefs are nothing to be proud of.
Believing something is not an accomplishment. I grew up thinking that beliefs are something to be proud of, but they’re really nothing but opinions one refuses to reconsider. Beliefs are easy. The stronger your beliefs are, the less open you are to growth and wisdom, because “strength of belief” is only the intensity with which you resist questioning yourself. As soon as you are proud of a belief, as soon as you think it adds something to who you are, then you’ve made it a part of your ego. Listen to any “die-hard” conservative or liberal talk about their deepest beliefs and you are listening to somebody who will never hear what you say on any matter that matters to them — unless you believe the same. It is gratifying to speak forcefully, it is gratifying to be agreed with, and this high is what the die-hards are chasing. Wherever there is a belief, there is a closed door. Take on the beliefs that stand up to your most honest, humble scrutiny, and never be afraid to lose them.
9. Objectivity is subjective.
Life is a subjective experience and that cannot be escaped. Every experience I have comes through my own, personal, unsharable viewpoint. There can be no peer reviews of my direct experience, no real corroboration. This has some major implications for how I live my life. The most immediate one is that I realize I must trust my own personal experience, because nobody else has this angle, and I only have this angle. Another is that I feel more wonder for the world around me, knowing that any “objective” understanding I claim to have of the world is built entirely from scratch, by me. What I do build depends on the books I’ve read, the people I’ve met, and the experiences I’ve had. It means I will never see the world quite like anyone else, which means I will never live in quite the same world as anyone else — and therefore I mustn’t let outside observers be the authority on who I am or what life is really like for me. Subjectivity is primary experience — it is real life, and objectivity is something each of us builds on top of it in our minds, privately, in order to explain it all. This truth has world-shattering implications for the roles of religion and science in the lives of those who grasp it.
February 24, 2012 § Leave a comment
February 23, 2012 § Leave a comment
Yeah, so I cheated.
I went grocery shopping on Tuesday. That’s the day the health food store gets their weekly bread shipment, according to my sources, so I popped over there after class to stock up on vegan-friendly groced goods. Problem- I was rushing. I knew I wanted pita chips and hummus for a snack so I went over to the chip section, but couldn’t find my usual brand. I found an alternate but it was…wait for it…$6/bag! Now, in case you didn’t know, let me just make this clear: I am in Graduate school. Thusly, I am on a tight (tight!) budget.
I kept looking. A few minutes later, I found the bread section, and lo and behold, there are another brand of pita chips. Still not the brand I usually purchase but much more reasonably priced, so, relieved, I threw a bag in my cart. I paid for my purchases and went home.
I spent an hour making Tabouli (okay so, I wasn’t super involved. It took an hour to refrigerate after dumping it in a bowl and adding water…) and once it was ready, it was 2pm and I was STARVING. (again, very dramatic. I would have been fine.) So I grabbed my pita chips and realized: They were parmesan. Blerg!
I still ate them. I admit it. I’m going to finish the bag. I have been reading labels like crazy for the last 12 days, and trying to avoid the smallest bits of animal product, but I am going to eat these parmesan flavored pita chips. They are almost gone.
Editors Note: The above blog was written January 12, 2012, during the month I was a very reluctant vegan. It was accidentally not published, thusly is being published almost a month later.