Wednesday, December 31, 2014

New Year, New Goals

I'm a firm believer that success and happiness are not things you stumble upon, but instead feelings you acquire through hard work. Most things in life that are worth having require dedication and work. While I have lots of different goals, I have never set a new year resolution or goals to accomplish in a given year. This year I am going to give it a try.
I think my sister said it best over the weekend when she said, "2015 is going to be the year of Jamie." Meaning this year was the year she was going to do what was best for her, be dedicated to her own happiness, take better care of herself. This is also my New Years Resolution for 2015.
For the last several years, I have put my whole life into becoming the best physician possible and have throughout my life put others' happiness before my own. While it has been an amazing journey, it has definitely had its toll on me and now to be the best physician I can be I need to take some time to take care of me.
I am also a huge fan of bucket lists and thought it would be fun to come up with 10 goals I would like to accomplish in 2015. Some are a bit vague and others are very specific. I am looking forward to having an incredible year!

1. Go on a Road Trip
2. Go on at least 5 hikes
3. Finish that Cookbook
4. Start writing short stories
5. Go to a big Aquarium
6. Go Sledding(it has probably been 10 years)
7. Visit a Farmer's Market
8. Do something for a complete stranger
9. Go on a shopping spree
10. Take one photo everyday of 2015

Happy New Year Everyone! Have an fun and safe night out.

Monday, December 29, 2014

On to the New Year

To say that I had an incredible Christmas and Christmas weekend would be a major understatement. My 4 day weekend(with clinic in the middle) was full of giggles, family, games, and pure happiness. Though it was a little short on the sleep. With a split family it is sometimes difficult to balance my time, but it seems I am getting better at it. I spent Christmas Day with my mom's family and the day was wonderful. Every Christmas we do Christmas morning at my mom's where we take turns opening gifts in the living room and then have breakfast. My favorite part of gift opening is to watch people open what I got for them.
My mom has been caring for 2 children for the last several year and this year I got the little man one of the lighting/electricity lamps. It was a big hit and he loved it. For her I made a princess necklace complete with Cinderella's Carriage. The new baby got a whole bag of things as we haven't had a baby shower yet. After breakfast, my mom typically has to head to work for several hours and this year my youngest sister and I opted to head over to my grandma's for the afternoon. The day was full of story telling, great food, and of course lots of laughter. I finished the day at my grandpa's. This was by far the toughest part of my day, he is currently dying from lung cancer.
Friday I worked the clinic for a friend so she could spend the holidays with her family and then finished getting ready for round 2 of Christmas before heading back home. It has been 2 months since I have seen my niece Merideth and I definitely got in so much needed bonding time with her this weekend. Friday night we talked and played our family card game at my grandparent's before calling it a night(@ 11 or was it midnight?). Saturday we celebrating Christmas with that side of my family. Stockings always come first and are a huge part of our tradition. I have had the same stocking that I picked out when I was probably 7 years old. My grandma always makes a big Christmas breakfast and breaks out the nice china and Christmas wine glasses. We then follow up with taking turns opening gifts in the living room. This was Meri's first Christmas where she had to learn the art of patience by waiting her turn, but she did pretty good. She came up with a new game over the weekend which consisted of her and I running from the Christmas tree and diving onto her air mattress. This by far was one of her favorite things to do this weekend. We spent the rest of the day over at my dad's where my step-mom made a huge Christmas dinner, we watched Polar Express, and finished the night with playing cards and Cards Against Humanity. It was definitely a night full of giggles.
Sunday, I got my Christmas gift to myself...a new iPhone. I have officially converted and finally upgraded my phone. I've been using my Evo for a little over 3 years now so it was time for something new. So far I am still learning how to use it. I split my Sunday, by having breakfast with my dad's family and dinner with my mom's family. I got some much needed quality time in with my new baby niece, Aurora.
All and all I couldn't ask for a Christmas. I definitely got some things I wanted and needed. I got some new earrings, a new water bottle with my name on it, a little cash, and lots of socks. Some girls collect shoes, I collect cute socks.
This week I will be trying to get my life together in preparation for the new year and my trip to Texas next week for my last 2 interviews. I've decided that I am not only going to make a new years resolution, but also a short-term bucket list for 2015. I am definitely excited to see what the year brings!
Note: I don't have pictures from my mom's Christmas, because I took them on my mom's camera and don't have them yet.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

So it's Christmas Eve?

It is hard to believe tomorrow is Christmas. I have no idea where the time went. Most years my home looks like the North Pole and I surround myself in Christmas Spirit some time in November(or October), but this year I have been so busy I'm lucky to have my gifts wrapped(or bought). I have a few days full of Christmas activities ahead and I'm looking forward to seeing all of my family. 
In the last week we added a brand new bundle of joy to our family. Little Aurora Khalessi Cross was born this past weekend and has already stole the hearts of everyone around her (and has as many bows as she can handle courtesy of Grandma). We are very excited that she is here in time for Christmas. 
This Christmas Eve, I opted for staying in my own home, snuggled up near the fireplace in my Christmas jammies with my hot chocolate, but the car is packed up ready to head north first thing in the morning. Every Christmas, I start the morning in Christmas jammies with Santa hats at mom's followed by house jumping. Tomorrow I will cover all of my mom's family in the span of a day. My father's family is much smaller and we all gather at the home of my grandparents one weekend around Christmas each year. This year we are doing it this coming weekend and I'm very excited to see my not so new, but equally adorable niece Meri. While "Christmas" morning at my grandparent's home has always been a big tradition that starts with stockings, followed by breakfast, and then gifts, this year we are adding a new piece to the tradition: a Christmas movie night at dad's. This year's movie is one of my favorite Christmas movies: The Polar Express. 
I'm sure the next few days will go way to fast, but there is nothing like spending time with the one's you love and I think that is the most important part of Christmas. 
Merry Christmas Everyone! I hope Santa brings you everything you wanted, you get to spend every moment with the people you love, and the catastrophes that always come with a holiday are small and easily laughed off. 

Wednesday, December 10, 2014


Like so many things in my life, I have underestimated interview season. I think part of my general personality is that I try to do so much more than one person can possibly do in a given day/month. While I am not doing a whole lot of "school" stuff right now, I decided it was a great time to go back to work, start dating, do a mostly handmade Christmas, and catch up with all of my friends and family while also flying/driving around the country to interview for my future job(residency). To say I am exhausted is an understatement, but it has been one hell of a ride so far. I'm definitely a go big or go home kind of girl and sometimes I overwhelm myself.
This weeks interview was in Birmingham, Alabama. Due to some administrative/financial difficulties, I was unable to book my trip until last week and by that time flights were $700. So I decided it was a perfect time to take the road trip I always wanted to take. The total drive time was a little more than 11 hours and after adding in stop time ended up being about 12 hours each way. I also figured since I would have an extra morning and afternoon, I would take advantage of the time by hiking at the state park before my pre-interview dinner. And then would wrap up my trip with my interview Tuesday morning and make my drive back Tuesday night. It was an incredible trip, but very tough on the body. I slept most of today to try to recuperate.
The actual road trip part was pretty fun. I found I was the most tried the first couple hours of the drive and I got bored the last couple of hours of my trip. Tennessee and Alabama are absolutely beautiful to drive through. I found driving through St Louis was really the worst part both ways. I am very thankful for my Ipod and GPS. Lifesavers on a road trip. I basically rocked out for 12 hours each way.
Lessons learned: 12 hours is a lot for one driver on one day. Don't drink soda on a road trip. Bring more snacks.
On Sunday night, I stayed in Pelham, AL a small town about 20 minutes from Birmingham and home of the state park. I spent all day Monday doing a 16.5 mile hike through the park. As part of my go big or go home mentality, I decided when planning my hike I was going to see as much as the park at possible. It was a very relaxing and beautiful hike. The only people I saw all day were the rangers on the way in and the rangers on the way out. I would bet that it is even more impressive come spring time. I definitely underestimated the hike time and intensity. Overall I would say 80% of my hike was either up or down very steep hills. It is actually the downhill that really puts the most stress on my body. The last couple of days the back of my legs have been protesting to anything other than laying around. But it was totally worth it!
Monday night I headed to have dinner with the UAB residents at a pizza place and had a great time. The dinners are always the most interesting part of the interview process. Some of them are incredibly awkward and you spend the whole time thinking, please someone leave so I can also leave. It is all part of the process of figuring out where you fit in. This dinner, however, was very enjoyable and the residents seemed to go out of their way to try to include us in their conversations. We swapped interview, trauma, and road trip stories.
Monday night I stayed at a hotel a couple blocks from where I would interview in the morning and was very thankful for the big screen TV and big bed after what ended up being a very hectic day.
My interview in Birmingham started at 7:15 on Tuesday morning and it was definitely the earliest interview day I have had so far. Most of the interviews have a very similar set up. We typically start off with a presentation about the program highlights, take a tour of the facility, then settle in for 3-5 interviews with different staff members or residents, and finish with lunch. Probably the most interesting part of the process is what is going through your head.
For example all of the following thoughts have ran through my head during interview season: Am I sitting too straight? Is there something wrong with this chair? Should I unbutton my suit jacket? Should I button my suit jacket? Is my suit jacket too short? Should I have wore flats? I wonder if my eyeliner is running. Do my blacks match? Oh no, I forgot to put my necklace on this morning. What exactly is he wanting me to answer? Oh my Goodness, how am I going to answer that? Seriously you can give a whole presentation off the top of your head on arrhythmias and you can't think of an answer to What would you change about yourself? What are you doing with your hands? Did you really just say that? Why are you so awkward?
It is like a mind game with yourself. I am very curious what they are thinking during the process. I had a really good interview experience in Birmingham and was able to have a good conversation with each of my interviewers. So either the atmosphere was a lot more laid back or I'm finally getting better at this.
My drive home was slightly more difficult than I drive up and I think it was because it was on a weekday, but I got back into town around 2 this morning. I'm happy to be back in my own bed. I think sleeping in your own bed is one of the most amazing feelings in the world and I look forward to it each time I leave home.
Next week I have 2 more interviews. One in North Carolina and one here in Kansas City. In no time it is going to be Christmas time and at this rate I am not going to be ready for it when it gets here. While life is keeping me crazy busy, I am loving every minute of it. So many more adventures ahead!

Note: I have found most people don't know what The Match is or how it works. I wanted to take a moment to explain what I mean by The Match and how this whole process works. After medical school, the new doctors all around the country go into residency. It is in residency that you specialize in whatever you are going to be when you grow up. I'm specializing in Emergency Medicine. The Match is the process of getting into residency. In September, we put all of our information into a computer system called ERAS and this system then send out your application to the programs of your choice. Everyone applies to a different amount of programs, but I applied to 25 this year. Depending on your specialty, after applications go out different programs who are interested in your will send you an invitation to come out and interview at their program. We spent November-January traveling around the country interviewing at different programs. In February, we rank the programs we interviewed at on where we want to go and the programs rank the people they interviewed as well and then a separate computer system does The Match and matches you up with a program based on these lists. There is a possibility of not matching to a program which is every medical student's biggest fear.