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.