Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Begin Again

Stress, doubt, fear, exhaustion. The great thefts of happiness and peace. Thinking back over the last many weeks it is unclear exactly when the downward cycle started, but by the beginning of August I had fully entered survival mode. There was this shadow of who I am who got up every morning and walked through my life day to day. Standing on the edge of perseverance and overwhelmed. I struggled through many shifts and no matter how much I had accomplished or how many people I had helped it was always the struggling moments that went home with me at night. As I move from one level of training to the next, the change in responsibility and demands felt hard to accomplish.
My work, my calling is one of the most loved pieces of my life. While I would never say that what I do is easy or that it has always come to me naturally, struggling and fear were never part of the equation. So to add the fear of failure and sense of drowning to the largest sector of my life on top of life's other stressors survival mode seemed inevitable. The giggling, the helping the people climbing up behind me, the resilience, the happiness all slowly ended and I became the shadow. The nights that my sister and I texted back and forth about how exhausted and sad I felt are difficult to count and I am so thankful she was willing to keep hearing the same fears and struggles day after day.
Sometimes when you have spiraled so far down it is almost impossible to swim back above water. I was spending my days off catching up on paperwork, sleep, and laundry. After a very trying night at work, I had hit a wall. At 2 in the morning, I was falling apart by myself in my very quiet apartment. Saved by one of my oldest friends/sisters who reminded me who I am and what I'm capable of. I knew I needed to do something to get back to being me. To recharge. To begin again.
I had vacation time coming in August and somehow through the grace of the scheduling Gods I got 12 days in a row off. And this scheduling blessing led to 2 incredible weekends home and 5 beautiful solo days in Colorado. There is something about lacing up my hiking boots and setting off alone into the trails. No cell phone signal, no city noises/music, no distractions. Pushing myself to go farther, climb higher, and be present in that moment. It was during those 5 days in Colorado that I found peace and started the climb back up in my life instead of continuing the slide down. Not saying that there weren't complete moments of panic that I was going back the other way, but no path to success or recovery is a straight line.
And so I'm back to remembering why I took this long path to spend every day doing something that I love and remembering my worth. Setting limits with people who drain my energy, protecting myself more, and spending time doing the things that I love.
Last weekend I made the trek home for my grandparent's annual Apple Cider Party. It is by far one of my favorite days of the year. There is something wonderful about homemade Apple Cider. My sister's family and I had a big sleepover in my grandparent's living room and it brought back lots of great memories and giggling. It was only missing a little Simon and Garfunkel.
My biggest new experience was learning how to shoot a gun this weekend. I had Sunday off and it was the Chiefs bye week, so a group of us drove up to the Griffins' for the day. I shot a couple hand guns, which I think it is fair to say I'm still a little afraid of and a couple of shotguns which I really enjoyed. I can't aim a shotgun very well, but I like to shoot it. We had a huge, delicious dinner and finished the night off with a fire out by the pond. There are few things in this world I enjoy more than sitting next to a fire with a few of my closest friends having a couple drinks.
In just a few days, I will be headed to Vegas for the first time and next month I will be taking the last of my step exams. It is hard to believe the end of the year is sneaking up on us. But for now, I'm going to enjoy this gorgeous fall weather and some homemade Apple Cider.



Thursday, July 7, 2016

Growing Pains

Just over a year ago with the fluttering of butterflies batting their wings frantically in my stomach, I walked into the Emergency Room as a physician for a first time. I was excited, afraid, and feeling just a little out of place. 365 challenging days later, I walked into that same Emergency Room as a Second Year resident. An "upper level." My intern days were over and for the first time it would be my responsibility to run the department and try to help out our brand new physicians when I could. I would occasionally be sitting in the "co-captain" chair as Skarda would say for the first time. Our department is split between the "bread and butter" of Emergency Medicine(abdominal pain, headaches, broken bones) and the super sick or traumas of the ER. The Co-captain chair is where the upper level resident running the super sick side of the department sits. Or really just where he/she places their things while they bounce from room to room and run down their to-do list while not sitting.
Day 1 as an upper level gave me the false security that it wasn't going to be bad at all. Followed by day 2-4 where I left each day with unfinished notes, a growling belly, and the ache of exhaustion. The truth is I absolutely love it and I find myself feeling super happy every moment of the day whether at work or not. Everyday is a new challenge and I'm pushing myself to be a better physician with each patient. I enjoy being busy and I enjoy providing a little mentoring to the new medical students and interns in our department. It's a whole new experience and so much more challenging, but I look forward to every moment of it. The exhaustion and all.
After my first 5 shifts as an upper level, I struggled through 3/4 of our morning conference after a night shift before passing out for 12 hours. I have become terrible at answering phone calls and text messages in my frenzy of getting things done and apologize to anyone who I texted back at obscene hours of the morning. With my first stretch of shifts in the books, I am off for a few days which I'll be using to clean house, work on some projects, and settle into some studying. I am planning on getting my dining room table, where I have studied for each and every important exam, set up for daily studying for the next several months. I prefer to eat out on the balcony anyways. I am also planning on relieving my itch to do a little baking that I get from time to time. Seems like the perfect time to make some homemade breads or a cheesecake. And I definitely foresee some of my homemade Chocolate Chip Cookies and Peanut Butter Cookies coming out of the oven and onto the porches of all of my colleagues making it through ICU months right now.
Towards the end of the month, I am going to relieve my itch to go home for just no good reason. Stopping in Branson on the way to see my mom while she is out camping and then making my way towards my hometown that evening to spend the weekend just kicking around. Sometimes I just get the urge to sit around the table and just chat especially with my grandparents.
I may be going through some Growing Pains and exhaustion with my new responsibilities, but life is wonderful and I couldn't be happier. 

Monday, June 13, 2016

26? Are you sure?

One week ago, I arrived back in Little Rock after what is always an entirely too fast couple days at home. And last week, I sit down and recorded a beautiful love story. A story that I felt deserved its own blog post. This blog post is to highlight all my other adventures.
I want to take you back to a month ago, mid-May. Costumed in a baggy set of Ceil Blue scrubs, hair pulled back, no signs of make up(or life), and completely worn down, I drove myself home in silence after a hectic day of Trauma surgery. This is unusual for me, as I am an avid music lover. I typically spend my car time singing(sometimes at top volume) to whatever music fit my mood. But that night, silence was the only thing that seemed to make sense. I had turned my phone on do not disturb as I had walked out to the parking garage. At 17 days in a row and staying late the last 3 night including that night, I had put in my dues. I was feeling overwhelmed, defeated. The combination of being sleep deprived and emotionally exhausted is a great breeding ground for questioning all life's decisions. You know what else is perfect for breeding a mini-quarterlife crisis? Turning 26.
As I drove my familiar path home, I mulled over my life and where I thought I would be at 26 which was looming in the near future. I think it is important to note that my upcoming birthday isn't what had led to my overwhelming emotional state, it was just the perfect gasoline to add to the fire. I never thought I would be the person who got weird and upset over birthdays and that thought only made me feel worse. It's not that I think I'm old, its that I had plans and an image of what this time in my life would look like and life isn't exactly cooperating.
Now this is where when I share this struggle well meaning people say, "but you're a doctor. You've done so much." I'll let you in on a secret. I'm not just a doctor. Now don't get me wrong, I absolutely love what I do and if I could go back and do it all again I would repeat the experience in a heartbeat. It brings so much joy and meaning into my life. There is just so many other things that I want to do with my single lifetime and the fear of my golden years slipping away became very real in my complete exhaustion. I thought I would have had it all figured out by now. That I wouldn't care about what anyone else thought and I would always do what I wanted to do without factoring in outside opinions. That I wouldn't let fear, anger, or frustration get in the way of my potential, happiness, and love. And when it comes to love, I was going to be in head over heels love, with myself. I was going to be well traveled, well rounded, and never give into my emotional distresses. But here I was, looking like I had just worked 17 days in a row on the surgery service having a complete meltdown. A sobbing and struggling to breath kind of meltdown over who knows what. Mourning all the things I thought I would be by 26 and being frustrated that I had let so many things block my path. More importantly, I had spent so much time standing in my own way. I was mourning all of my wasted time.
I am no stranger to having some emotional moments and in our culture there is so much pressure to be perfect. To never breakdown, never cry, never appear weak. Well I for one gave up on the fight against having feelings a couple years ago. Now my rule is to lean in and feel what your feeling. Give in to your occasional weak moment, cry, laugh, mourn, shut down. Whatever it is that is happening, Lean In. The good and the bad. Feelings and experiences are what give our life meaning and leaning in allows you to process and grow. So I went straight from my car, up my 2 flights of stair, and flung myself into bed hitting my fan on the way and leaned in. I let myself have my moment and as so often as it happens with me, I woke up in the morning feeling better. I swear by a good night of sleep.
26 was coming whether I wanted it to or not. I had to go back to work the next morning at 4am whether I wanted to or not. Life was going to keep rolling on and I didn't want to be left back here mourning my wasted time and wasting more time.
Spoiler alert: I survived trauma surgery and turning 26. Actually I looked fabulous on my birthday. After not wearing make up or anything other than those terribly ugly ceil blue scrubs for a month, I got up early and dressed to the nines. To my complete surprise, my joints didn't start aching and my hair didn't turn gray. I was reminded I had incredible friends. Kristen who tried her hand at making Strawberry Cake for me and others who joined me for dinner at my favorite place for chicken tacos.


Two days later, I had packed up the car and headed north. Texting my dad on the way to warn him that the tags on my license plate had been expired for the last 3 days and I needed to take care of that as soon as possible. I managed to arrive in town, pick up my dad, get my car inspected, pay property taxes, and license my car in just under 90 minutes. I was surprised with my not so little baby brother who decided to drop in for the anniversary party as a surprise. For complete anniversary party story see post from last week.
Friday evening, I spent running around town picking up things for the big bash. I sneaked in a couple of wonderful breaks. I was able to join my mom for dinner while she was at work and get a little one-on-one mother daughter time. Something we are just starting to have as I am getting older. And I spent a good hour on my favorite patio in the world telling my tales to my grandparents as they listened, laughed, and cheered. If anyone knows me, they know that I can talk and talk when I get on a roll.
Saturday morning was equally busy, but it brought the wonderful sight of my gorgeous niece Merideth. I think we are both equally happy to see each other every time I come home. She brings so much joy into my heart. Sunday morning, I got to enjoy the completely fattening and delicious breakfast that is offered at the Big Biscuit. Merideth and I worked on building a tower out of jelly packs while we waited. She is definitely getting a few of her mother's organizational habits. Grape first, then orange. Orange in with the grape jelly is just blasphemy.
One of my favorite parts of my visit is my mother's home cooking. I grew up on this stuff which is probably why I was a very chubby pre-teen and teenager. It is delicious. I caught up on my gift giving as I missed so many holidays/birthdays. And to my complete delight, my much younger niece has now decided she no longer hates me. I moved away when she was about 6 months old and so my visits home over the last year have been awful for us both. She doesn't remember me and isn't a fan of strangers. Her go to move when being handed to me has been to nose dive towards the floor, because a closed head injury would be much better than being held my whoever this crazy woman is. But not this time. This time I gave her a smile and a wave and she came running. She was all about being held and we spent tons of time walking around the yard together. Actually she's more of a runner these days. My name is even one of about the 10 words she will say, though I'm not sure she associates it with me. She is such a sweet, curious little girl growing like a beautiful sunflower. That's right my nieces don't grow like weeds, they grow like sunflowers.

Since I've been back, I've been putting in my time at our local community hospital and have managed to get aboard the medflight helicopter once so far. It feels great to be back in the ER taking care patients. With a sense of autonomy and the occasional medflight interruption.

This past weekend, I attended the residency graduation for our 3rd years. It is such a bittersweet moment. For me, not them. They are moving on to the next big thing in their lives, done with training. But as for me and the rest of us staying behind, we are going to miss having them around.
It has truly been 1 year since I made my move south and it has been a whirlwind. I can't believe it is almost over and the next level is waiting for me. As a newly 26 year old EM resident, I have made a couple of promises to myself after my little cry in May. This year I am going to give in to my spontaneous side more and worry about things less. I am going to live up to my full potential and quit being okay living as things are right now. I am going to love myself more, give myself a break, and accept things out of my control. But mostly, I am going to start taking advantage of each day and whatever it is I am wanting to do with it. Even if that means letting myself have a day of sitcoms on the couch. It's okay, I get to be lazy sometimes too. Here's to 26!

Monday, June 6, 2016

Soul Mates

When people say "there is someone out there for everyone," my very rational mind simply says "impossible." I don't believe in soul mates or love at first sight. But with that said, I am a die hard romantic. I believe in love. Real, unconditional, unwavering, soul-shattering love. I believe that love has the ability to lift you up and make you feel things that nothing else ever will making it worth being vulnerable and stepping out into the unknown. And knowing me and accepting who I am, I know that if I think there is a possibility of that kind of love, I'm an all in, let's see where this boat is going, you have my undivided attention kind of girl. And if I don't, then I'm simply bored. Now I know that you are thinking that this blog post is going to be all about me and my messy love life, but actually it's all about 2 incredible people who share this kind of love. Who taught me that having that kind of love was not only possible, but completely worth all the risks you take and tears you cry getting there. 
My grandparents have so often in my life served as my rock. As my cheerleaders. As my therapists. As my role models. When I was a kid, I would have told you that the two of them never fought and agreed on everything. As a pseudo-adult, I can tell you they disagree about many things, but needing to always agree is something they gave up on long ago. They fight the battles worth fighting and discuss everything else as they deem necessary. The two of them are inseparable. For example, grandpa leaves the house to pick up his son from the airport. He will be gone for no more than 90 minutes. He's gone 15 minutes before he calls to talk to grandma about things that simply couldn't wait until he got back. And while she rolls her eyes, not surprised at all that he is already calling, I have a feeling if he didn't call she'd miss it.
They started seeing each other I believe in their 30s and I remember being a teenager when grandpa finally proposed to her one Christmas. Grandma will tell you that if you wait long enough, you can get the ring of your dreams. They had one hell of a wedding that was all about them. No need to follow conventions and traditions that didn't really fit what they wanted. Hell at this point, why should they care. He rode up on a Harley in his jeans and she rode up in a horse and carriage in her beautiful wedding attire. Every year since that time they have almost always taken at least a weekend anniversary trip in celebration.
This year was the big 10th anniversary and my sister and I thought it would be the perfect time to throw them an intimate little anniversary party. We kept the guest list low to right around 12 people. My sister and I haven't gotten to put on very many gatherings or done a lot of big creative things in quite awhile. It is the funny thing about being busy with work and parenting and life. Those things get put to the side for other things that are so important. But this year, we were going to go big. This was going to be the most epic event we would host. And I must say planning everything out gave me a rush I haven't felt in such a long time. I had forgotten how excited putting my creative, crafty side to use makes me. And while some of our family members may have been a little weary of what all we had planned going in, not a single person left thinking they had wasted their night. In fact, the party went off without any hiccups and there were very few moments not consumed by laughter. 
We decided on a Rustic theme so early on. First of all, I absolutely love the rustic look and second, it fits them so well. Drinking out of mason jars and keeping things just a little country. Perfect! And nothing goes better with a rustic theme than homemade BBQ meal. This is typically where my sister and I stop. We decorate, make a great meal, and act as the perfect hostesses. But not this time, this time we were going real big. There would be entertainment. Lots of entertainment. The Newlywed Game for the not so newlyweds. A lip sync battle between the grandchildren of songs they love from their past and my brother in law as the perfect host. The traditional match game with all their favorite celebrities. And jeopardy covering their children and grandchildren's misdeeds. To say Jamie and I were excited about the party is really the understatement of the year. We were ecstatic. 

Starting the night off with the Newlywed Game, it was entertaining to say the least. My grandparents certainly aren't your traditional old sweet people. I'm pretty sure they never really left their 30s. They made it to financially responsible and stopped there. We pre-quizzed them long before the party and there were questions and answers that had us pretty sure they wouldn't match up with the other's response. For example, we asked grandma "what is grandpa's favorite colors?" She responded with "brown." Jamie and I thought for sure that wasn't right, but all be damned his favorite color is brown. I forgot to mention, prior to starting all the games we had had dinner with what my brother Ryan would later start calling "gipsy juice." It was this fruity drink with a little(or a lot of) rum. So as the night rolled on, we got to hear all kind of stories about them and about their children from the past. Apparently grandma isn't exactly fond of certain carnival rides.
Jeopardy was our little concoction to find out what things their children and grandchildren had done that they did and didn't know about. There was a lot of buzzing in prior to the questions being asked just based on the category or prior to the question being finished. We had categories like: "that one time I pissed you off," "I had a little too much...," and "naughty, naughty." There were lots of great stories that came out of these questions too.
We finished up the night with the Lip Sync battle. I must give props to my sister for pure creativity. She completely mastered this battle. The grand finale was us lip syncing together to an old Simon and Garfunkel song. When we were children, my grandparents had a record player and we would listen to their record and dance around the living room singing into hair brushes. It is a memory we both hold very fondly. We were very excited that grandpa's son, joined us in the lip sync battle and sent a video from Portland to play. An old Bob Dylan song that they had listened to when he was a kid. I couldn't have asked for the party to go any better, but we finished the night with grandpa reading his anniversary cards to grandma. He has a thing about getting multiple cards and he stood there and read each one of them in turn to her. They really do share such an amazing love and support that I can't help but hope that I one day find.
So maybe there aren't "soul mates" out there. But I know a couple of people who come pretty damn close.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Perception and Blessings

Sometimes in life it is so easy to find yourself weighed down by one thing that is suffocating you. Blocking your view of all these wonderful things you have around you. Skewing your perception. I think it's something that we all fall victim to from time to time. Typically it is disappointment, anger, or fear that dominate whatever single thing is owning your life, robbing you of the full happiness of your blessings, and keeping you from moving forward. It's not until you let those things go that you really start to feel better and breath again. Those who are closest to me know that I went through several weeks of life sucking suffocating, but I don't want to focus on those few weeks. As always, I think it is important for me to acknowledge they happened including here, because I think the internet is rampant with "my life is perfect" giving people false perception. I won't say it was a single thing that led me into those few long weeks, but instead it was a couple of major things. After processing and stressing for several weeks, I finally gave myself permission to give myself a break and enjoy all the wonderful things in my life. Allowing my perception to change and my blessings to be the main focus in my life. Those are the things I want to focus on!
April was a whirlwind of a month(as every month these days seems to be) and somehow I found myself in the middle of my trauma surgery month. I honestly thought trauma surgery was going to be more painful. The worst part is that I have to wake up at 330 in the morning and there isn't enough hours/energy in the day to run and work 14 hours. At the beginning of April, I took a weekend trip with a few of my best friends here to Fayetteville. Honestly, we basically did what we do here just in Fayetteville, so we had a fabulous time. The perfect get away weekend minus Jackson getting bronchitis.
I have so many things to look forward to in the coming months. There is something about the warmer weather in the spring that starts making me plan all these things. In just a couple weeks, I will be going home for a weekend to celebrate my grandparent's 10th anniversary. Yep, you read that correctly, 10th anniversary. Even though they have been together forever, they didn't get married until I was in high school. My sister and I decided to throw them a little family only party, complete with entertainment and homemade food. My sister and I haven't planned a party like this together in a long time and we are both extremely excited to dive back into our creative roots. Plus we are going to give into our silly sides for entertainment. Stay tuned for that in June. And while I was in the party planning spirit, I decided to throw a Surprise/not-so-surprise party for my sister's birthday this year. So often she is the one throwing everyone else parties that I thought it should be her turn. She did a great deal of the work to throw my graduation party last year. There will be more on that come July.
In the traveling news: I'm working on planning a weekend trip to Austin in August and a New Orleans trip next spring. I am also hoping to get in a San Francisco/Yosemite trip next spring. In my spirit to do as much hiking as possible, I couldn't think of a better next hiking destination than Yosemite. What could possibly beat a few days at the beach followed by a couple days hiking at Yosemite!
But above everything, I found out last week that I am going to be home for Christmas!!!! As a Christmas addict, I must say there is nothing that could have made me happier.
I'm surviving trauma surgery, planning parties, booking trips, and being surrounded by all the best people. All in all, life is pretty damn good.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Vacation and Timing/Dating

I knew my life was changing when I packed up those boxes and drove through the mountains(hills) to arrive in the next chapter of my life, residency. I spent days (no, scratch that, weeks) of my time pouring over notes on each of the places that I interviewed, but the biggest question I had to answers was if leaving Kansas City was really in my future. I had spent the previous months telling my family I was sure I was leaving to prepare them for at least the possibility. While initially I had some resistance by Match day each of my family members(even my mama) were excited that I had been placed at my number one choice. So for the first time in my life, I was going to be more than a hour from my family and more than the custom 2 hours from by big sister(my anchor.)
There are days the distance weighs on me heavily. I had spent my years in medical school dashing into my car and making the drive home when the waters got rough. I remember one time making the rush for home and stopping in Platte City(the half way point) to get gas. I was all kinds of upset, in tears, on the phone when I got out of the car. For the life of me now, I don't remember what I was upset about, but I locked my keys in my car. My mom made the 40 minute drive to let me into my car and give me a huge. It is much harder to jump in the car for a quick 7 hour drive home. This year was the first year I missed Christmas and Thanksgiving with my family and there are countless birthdays and events I miss. (I will say I am comforted by the fact that I am receiving incredible training and have the best family away from my family that anyone could ask for.)
My last visit home was a short one for 3 days on a weekend at the beginning of December(which I was able to take thanks to my wonderful family away from my family covering my shifts.) So after 3 months away, I packed up, unplugged everything, turned off all the lights, and headed north. Well northwest, for a quick side trip to Emporia where my sister calls home. What better place to start(and finish) my time at home than by scooping up my gorgeous niece and making memories with her. I started at the hair salon(getting a much overdue touchup and trim) where the hair dresser told me she had cut my nieces hair earlier that morning and that she was running around telling everyone, "my mommy's sister is coming and it is so hard to wait for my Aunt Katie." Well I could relate with little Mer, because knowing that they would be meeting me at the salon toward the end of my appointment, it was so hard to wait. I spent my entire appointment looking into the mirror at the reflection of the door behind me, waiting. My sister and I had some much needed catch up time. She listened and listened to all of my stories of work and the problems of a dating twenty-something girl(more on that later). We had some brownie batter(the best part of brownies), I gave Mer her new books(you'd have thought I was giving her chocolate), and then Mer and I had a sleep over in her room.
The following morning I headed towards my hometown to hop around town and see my family. I got in some much needed mother-daughter time. With so much always going on it is hard for us to find some alone time, but we managed to fit in some shopping together and a couple dinners/lunches during my short time at home. And I was spoiled over and over again with some of the absolute best food in the world. Homemade food at the hands of my mother. I enjoyed a laugh at the stories of my baby sister and listened to the new plans and experiences of my middle sister. It was a wonderful few days that blew by. I finished up my time at home by going back to Emporia. This time for Mer's 4th birthday. We took family pictures in 35 degree weather in spring attire(brrrrrrrrrrr) and Mer and I had another sleep over. She woke up the next morning, rolled over, and exclaimed, "I'm still 4! I want to be 4 forever." I think we would all love for her to be 4 forever.
The next leg of my vacation was a true vacation. Something I haven't done in a few years. For many, many years I have talked about heading out to the Northwest for hiking and sightseeing. My grandpa grew up in Seattle and I have always wanted to see the places that went with his crazy stories. (like falling out of a 2nd story window into blackberry bushes when he was 4 or patching up a boat he found on shore incorrectly and taking it out to then sink in the bay.) I had originally designed the trip as my first solo vacation. 50% sightseeing, 50% hiking. In December(during the short weekend home), I mentioned the trip to my grandpa so I could pick his brain on things to see and he simply said, "we will come with you." And all of a sudden my first solo trip became what I knew would be a memory making trip with my grandparents. I was going to see first hand my grandpa's original home and hear his stories. While my mix of hiking/sightseeing was definitely going to change, I knew I also wanted to still fit in hiking while I was out west. So it was going to be 20% hiking and 80% sightseeing and it was bound to be wonderful and perfect. At a ridiculous hour in the morning, the 3 of us woke up and groggly made our way for the airport at 3:30am. I was doing exceptionally well. I had managed to get all of us into the car, to the airport, and them dropped off at the doors in exceptional time. I drove my car to the economy parking and as I shivered waiting for the bus to take me to the terminals, I dug into my purse to find my phone. That morning I had a couple of text messages from the night before that I had read, but not answered. I dug and dug. And then I panicked. Rushing back to the car, I quickly searched all the normal places in my car that I place my phone while driving, then the trunk, and then the not so normal places out of pure desperation. That was it, I was going to have the accept the truth. I had left my phone a hour away. I jumped on the bus and made my way to the airport. The first thing I did was borrow my grandpa's phone to text my step mom in panic.  After the efforts of my stepmom, dad, and 2 of my grandpa's employees my phone was located. My stepmom sent off what at the time I thought was an essential text message and then sent off my phone to be overnighted. To the west, my grandparents and I were dashing across the Salt Lake City airport to just barely board our second plane before the closed the doors behind us. We arrived without any real issues in Portland to cool, misty weather. Oh the greens everywhere were wonderful.(I love spring!) My grandfather has a son who lives in Portland and put us up for our couple days in the area. We spent some time exploring the local area and I spent a lot of time just exploring the local neighborhood and trying to get outside as much as possible. I spent a single day while in Portland hiking. I'll include my hiking story below for anyone who is curious(mom you should probably skip that part.)
After a short couple of days, the 3 of us boarded a train and found our way into Seattle. Traveling by train is probably my favorite way to travel. I can relax and stare out the window for hours in comfortable seats with the ability to get up for a walk if I want. I fell in love with Seattle as soon as I passed into the threshold of the city. The surrounding bodies of water, the big city, and hussle and bussle. I couldn't wait to start the exploring and my grandpa was on the same page. We started by having seafood right on the waterfront. The best salmon I have ever enjoyed and I finally got to fix my oyster craving. We worked our way through the Curiosity shop full of mermaids, 2 headed rabbits, and snake skins feet and feet long. I did a little solo walking through the city giving into my own curiosity and endless energy. It has been a busy weekend full of being out on the water, walking the underground, exploring the city, seeing where my grandpa use to jump off of his roof to run to the beach, and the food(and the wine!) With just a couple days left here in Seattle, we still have so much to fit in and I'm going to slide in a little hiking time tomorrow morning. We head back for our homes on Wednesday and while it has been an incredible little bit away from Little Rock, I'm looking forward to getting home, getting back in the ER, and sipping wine with some of my favorite people.
It's All About Timing
When I first started blogging, I blogged about my crafts and cooking. I never talked about my life and experiences. As life moved forward and it was more difficult to keep up with family, I made the decision to start a more personal blog to share my stories. I try to tightrope along a fine line between privacy and sharing my life. I enjoy my privacy and I keep certain things very quiet in my life(particularly dating), but when the timing is right I also think sometimes it is important to share those experiences. If for no other reason, than to relate to other people. The last time I had one of these posts, several people reached out to me to share their similar stories. I think sharing our experiences is part of the human experience and so this is my lesson about timing.
As I get older, I find that dating is always changing. Most people at this point in their lives have had several experiences with dating and for the most part those experiences were not ideal otherwise they wouldn't still be dating. So we all come in with some kind of baggage, expectations, concerns, fears. It is also during your twenties(and often thirities) that the rest of life is chaotic and stressful with family expectations, career movement, and quarter-life crisises. And it is during my strolling through this dating in my twenties that I have learned the biggest key to success after attraction is timing. You could meet the perfect person for you, your soulmate even, and if the timing is off it is over before it ever gets started.
One of the most common questions I get when I catch up with family, old friends, or meet new people is whether or not I'm dating. My answer is often no to stop that line of questioning before it gets started, but in honesty I'm always at least kind of dating. My years of not dating out of frustration and bitterness are far behind me. I came to the revelation that when this life is over, the things that end up mattering is the people. Not the money, the successes, the big trips(not that these aren't great parts of life). Relationships with other people is what gives our lives meaning and so if I'm fortunate enough to find the right person to share life experiences with then I'd welcome that next chapter of my life. But as a general rule, I no longer date anyone on a serious level right out of the gate. I try to let relationships take the path they are meant to take on their own.(I'll admit I occasionally have weak moments where I get ahead of myself.) One of my biggest hurdles to dating is what I will call the "bored" factor. My brain is a busy bee and is constantly moving and unfortunately I often get bored before the end of the first date and sometimes before the first date even occurs. But then there are the occasions that I meet someone who maintains my interest and I'm curious about what will come next. And typically when this happens, the timing issue comes in, but we will get there.
At the beginning of the year, I grabbed drinks with the first guy I would agree to a second date with since moving south. We met around 8-ish and talked our way through the evening. I remember being surprised when we had ran into "last call." Little Rock is wonderful, but it is much different than Kansas City. It is not uncommon for establishments in Little Rock to close much earlier than I am use to and so I figured it was one of those kind of things, but to my surprise it was close to 1:30 in the morning. It was easy to agree to a next day second date when he asked and just like that things were kind of moving along. The daily texting that is modern dating and intermittent dates. Without getting into too many details, there were issues with scheduling and time that made it tough for us to see each other regularly and that would be the case until the summer, but it worked for our busy lifestyles. A second date turned into a third and on. As things moved forward, there started to be signs that having something more serious was definitely a possibility many months down the road. And after a weekend of a couple of great dates that timing thing started to show its ugly head. But first let's go back to that baggage. I have never been on a date with someone who doesn't have some kind of baggage and some people handle it much better than others, but we all have the horror relationship story that has changed us, scared us, scarred us. Plus whatever baggage we carry with us from our childhood, college years, and careers. I had a moment where he got to see one of my moments of weakness. They are moments that often pass by quickly, but sometimes are stronger than others for me. And I asked that dreaded question, "where do you think this is going?" I thought I already knew the answer I was going to get. You know, all those signs that when the scheduling worked its self out and things really started to progress months down the road there were really possibilities there. Not just passing time. But it turns out the signs were actually written in latin and I can't really read latin. After a few weeks of uncertainly, it became clear our timing was off. I was open to whatever may come, including the possibility of stronger feelings and commitment and he was still living with the horrors of a previous relationship. We just weren't on the same page. The lesson of timing.
When I was visiting home, my sister asked the question, "if this doesn't work its self out are you going to quit dating for awhile again." She was there during the days where I adamently was never dating and so she was probably dreading the whining saga that she thought could be coming. While I would never say that dating is paradise, I decided awhile ago it was worth it anyway. So I'll continue at least kind of dating, but if you ask if I'm dating the answer of course will be no. :)

The Hiking Story
In recent months, I met someone who made the comment that "I feel everything so strongly." Well it is difficult for me to argue that point. I try to emmerse myself in my life: the blessings, the disappointments, the sadness, the pure joy. There have been plenty of moments in my life that have been anything but happy and so I have found different passions that send me into straight euphoria. Hiking is one of those passions. Breathing in the fresh air, hearing the streams, being completely off the grid, and constantly being in motion forward help me to reset. I occasionally will listen to music, but mostly I just listen to the silence and leave myself in my own head. I find clarity and answers during these soul searching times. But above all of the self revealing moments, I just love to be outside. With a little help from a local, I picked out my big Portland hike. I was going to skip the more touristy and busy hikes(especially as it was spring break) and I was headed for Salmon River just a hour from Portland. The Salmon River trail is what is called a dogbone. It goes out, there is a small loop at the end, and then you come back the same way, but I was going to continue pass the loop to make my way towards a much bigger loop that went around the whole park. I made my way along the trail enjoying the endless green and the river that the path follows along. It took so little time before the euphoria took over and I was smiling like a 6 year old on Christmas(or me on Christmas.) As I got to the loop which was in the bluffs over the river, I traveled along and across several streams. Proud of the performance of my new hiking boots keeping my feet dry. I found myself at the sign the signified a new trail was ahead and I headed on forward towards my large loop. All and all I was going to finish at a little less than 15 miles. My new trail was a bit exhausting. It gained about 2500 in elevation. I started to see bits of snow here and there and eventually as I continued higher and higher up I found myself in mid-calf snow. There was a moment I considered turning back right as I started getting into the snow, but then I told myself that ahead of me was 6 miles and behind me was 9 miles. I am a bit of a hard head. When I get committed to mission, it is almost impossible for me to back down and give up. So, I had continued on and had found myself in mid-calf snow when all signs of a trail abruptly stop. No more foot prints, no signs, no life. Did I mention I was hard headed? With the lake visible, I knew that it was about a half a mile before I should hit a parking lot and start heading down the bluffs. So again, I made the decision to move forward. After a tough and exhausting 10-ish minutes of trying to find signs of a trail and moving forward(falling a couple times), I found myself taking a step and the snow came up to mid-thigh. I stopped and looked around. I wasn't even sure I was on the ground anymore. It was time to admit defeat. Knowing there was so much less in front of me and 9 miles behind me, I had a moment where I considered panicking. Instead I turned around and followed my own footsteps back to the trail, down the bluffs, and made great time making it back to the car before dark. The sight of the car is probably one of the most satifying moments I have had. I was exhausted, sore, and ready to plug back into the world. I got a lot out of that "little" hike. I got to feel the complete euphoria that comes from hiking, I enjoyed the beautiful views the Portland area has to offer, and I reminded myself how incredible I am and how magnificent the human body is. Needless to say, I spent a couple of very sore days throwing back some naproxen.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Progress of an Intern

With only 4 months left in residency, I find myself in those moments of panic that I still have no idea what I am doing. In the near future, I am going to be the "upper level" and my responsibilities are going to exponentially grow. It's such an exciting and anxiety-provoking thought to realize that I have already come this far. I may have so much to still learn, skills to still perfect, and experiences waiting for me, but one thing is for certain, I am lightyears ahead of the girl who moved here last summer. I am afraid of so much less than I was before and I have started to learn the art of telling people I don't know what is going on with you, but I ruled out all the bad stuff.
This month, I am taking a short detour from the ER to spend some time up on OB delivering babies. There was a time in my life that I was sure OBGYN was what I would do for the rest of my life, but Emergency Medicine stole my heart away. A couple nights ago, I got a bit of a reminder why I thought OB was going to be my thing. As I was standing at the end of the bed, cheering on mom, waiting for baby, I looked up to see the pure happiness in this soon to be baby's parent's faces. This isn't something I am going to do for a living so I never know the real protocol, but I passed baby off to mom instead of the pediatrician and watched those first mom-baby moments. Mom looked up to me and simply said, "thank you." It was such an interesting and heartfelt moment. She had just done the hardest work she will ever do and she was thanking me for not letting her baby fall to the floor. I felt privledged to be part of that moment. I have these moments in the ED as well. Medicine is full of heartbreaking and lifesaving moments. It's what keeps me doing what I am doing, keeps me humbled, and helps give meaning to my life and my career.
I'm sticking to my new goal for a year of personal growth, positivity, and being present in every moment both good and bad. I've spent the last couple of months working my way through "Daring Greatly" by Brene Brown. Mostly I don't have as much time as I'd like to to really sit down and read it, but I find it highly fascinating. Brene Brown is a woman who has spent her whole life researching vulnerability and shame and how it shapes our culture. I think her work is something very applicable to my own life as well as helps me see the world through the eyes and struggles of those walking around me. She talks about vulnerability meaning "showing up and letting yourself be seen just as you are" and she talks a lot about how vulnerability is required for every truly great(and terrible) moment in our lives. Vulnerability is required to live life and not just survive life. I've been committed to taking better care of me. Fitting in work outs when I have the time, cooking meals, packing snacks, drinking wine, watching sitcoms, leaning on my friends/family during the tough moments, and keeping myself going.
On the horizon is a ton of happy moments. I will be headed home within the next couple of weeks to see my family and spend time with my wonderful nieces. I will be taking family pictures with both sides of my family, having Sunday dinner, celebrating Merideth's 4th birthday, and then headed off toward hiking, wine, and sightseeing in Seattle/Portland. It is going to be an incredible couple of weeks away to recoup. Prepare for pictures!

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

New Year, New Goals, New Adventures

It's a brand New Year with a bunch of blank pages just waiting to be filled with stories, adventures, and (hopefully) personal growth. But before I talk about the new year and what I'm looking forward to many weeks ago I started a blog post that I never got around to finishing and it's important to me to share this little bit that I wrote at that time.
"On rare occasions at the end of the day I feel completely defeated. I question my abilities and how good I'm going to be at this. This past weekend, I had the worst day of residency I have had so far. I felt defeated by noon and by the time I left for home all I wanted to do was lay on the couch and cry. When I got home, I did just that and to my complete surprise I heard a knock at my door shortly after the crying commenced. I unwrap myself from my blankets, shuffle to the door, and look out to see 2 of my absolute best friends standing out there. One who had worked a 12 hour call all day and one who was supposed to be having date night with her love. I opened the door to hugs, Thai food, desserts, 2 bottles of wine, Dr Pepper chap stick, fall candles, flowers, and other various things. These girls completely know me. They get me. I realize in that moment how truly blessed I am to have these friends who drop everything to be with me in my moment of need."
 There has never been any doubt since the moment I settled in here that I had hit the lottery in the friends department. These people are what keep me going here when I just want to crawl back in bed and let the world pass by.

It is unbelievable to me that it is already the new year, but then again the weather in Little Rock has certainly taken a downward turn and it has been awfully cold this last couple weeks. I spent my New Years Eve and morning working in the Emergency Department with some great people. But it was a week of work and I never got to sit down and make goals for the year, so I decided my New Year would start on Sunday so I could write down what I wanted to accomplish first. One of the main things I am focusing on this year is taking better care of me. Having days where I unplug from the world completely and just enjoy what's around me. Slowing way down when I come home at night and not having so many things happening at once during every moment of my day. Focusing on all of the positive things that happen every day around me and spend less time worrying about the stresses. My main financial goal is just to keep better track of my spending account like I promised I would.
I am starting this year out with a month of Medicine. It is going to be a lesson in patience for me and a lot of hours, but a good time for studying for my inservice exam. The big adventure I'm looking forward to that is just on the horizon is my trip in March. I am going to have a couple of weeks off and I am splitting that time. The first week I am going to be going home and I can't wait to have more than just a couple days to spend with my family. I will have time to just relax and really see everyone. Merideth with be turning 4(which I just can't believe) and I will be doing family pictures with both sides of my family. After a weekend of birthday excitement, I will be hitting the airport with my grandparents for a trip I have been talking about taking for years. I have decided that this year is the year and I am pulling the trigger and going. I am doing a Seattle/Portland trip. Exploring the cities and doing some hiking in one of the most beautiful places in the country. My grandfather grew up in Seattle and so I am so excited to be sharing my first Seattle experience with him.

I know that 2016 will be my best year yet and that there is so much to look forward to. Here's to new adventures, time with family, nights with friends, positivism, hard work, and the unknown. Happy New Year!