Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Eve of a New Year

Under normal circumstances I can think of 100 things I love to celebrate, but New Year's Eve is usually not one of them. Yet, for some reason this year I am excited to say good-bye to 2010 and welcome with open arms the possibilities 2011.

Perhaps its the anxious energy about the New Year or maybe just the wide array of opportunity, but I will truly be embracing this holiday. You know the more I come to think about it the more I should love this holiday. It is antiquated and based in tradition. It marks the beginning of something new. I mean who would have thought that a sparkly ball falling from the sky would be so exhilarating. In all honesty I need a good year, so I am going to be as welcoming and kind to 2011 as I possibly can.

New Year's Eve has always been a holiday that I have dreamt about since I was a little girl. I remember my parents going to these Holiday Gala's to celebrate the New Year. I would watch my mom put on her make -up and slide into the most beautiful dress she owned. She looked so radiant. Ever since that time I guess I have always wanted the same thing for myself - a night to be radiant, a night to remember. In my dreams I imagine dressing up in one of my finer dresses prepared to usher in a New Year. I would have a large stock pile of champagne to share with friends and guests. There would be dancing and music. The sounds of laughter, the clinking of champagne flutes, and those annoying noise blowers would be reverberating throughout the room. I would want to watch Dick Clark as we counted down to the beginning of a New Year- the beginning of something wonderful, something special. When that ball drops I would hope that as Auld Langs Syne began to play that there would be someone there, handsome of course, who was ushering me into the New Year with a kiss. Perhaps it is childish to want these things, or maybe even unfathomable. Yet, this is what the New Year is about- making your wildest dreams realities.

I recognize this as a year of change for myself, yet instead of dwelling in this fact I am going to make the resolution of living in the moment. I believe that time is too precious. I have watched my life change within a matter of moments this past year. I don't want to be one of those people who plans there life, every milestone, down to the minute. I believe much of the beauty of life is in its spontaneity, the unexpected turn or the breath of fresh air you never saw coming. It is all about possibilities, and what I have learned over the years is that I can't wait for opportunity to knock on my door, I just have to go introduce myself to it. Thus my hope for you this year is that you are fruitful, I hope that love finds you and changes you, I hope that you find joy, and most of all I hope you make memories this year that last a lifetime. Happy New Year! XOXO

Monday, December 27, 2010

Repeat the Sounding Joy

I spent one summer during college working at Mass General Hospital. I was a research assistant investigating the riveting world of probiotic yeast and its role in prevention of infection with Shigella. In short I crushed up cells and ran Western blots all day, not really my idea of fun. Yet, all in all I loved Boston. It was absolutely beautiful, young, and breath taking. I walked to work everyday taking in the picturesque window scenes and stared at that gorgeous golden dome every night on my way home. I would get up every morning at 5 AM, but the streets were not desolate, but filled with other running enthusiasts. I had a route that took me down by the Charles River and then by the hospital. I then would head home by running up my favorite street in Beacon Hill -Joy St. The thing you should know about Joy street is that its name is an oxymoron. Joy Street is one of the steepest hills you can find in Beacon Hill. I would huff and puff as I ascended the hill. My legs burned as they cried out in pain with each step I took. Yet as I reached the top I truly was left with a feeling of completion. Sweat dripping down my brow- I realized that Joy St was appropriately named, because the only emotion I was feeling at the top of the hill was joy.

Yet, I have a really hard time describing the word joy. I usually just recognize it when I see it. Perhaps this is why I love the holidays so much; because joy is all around. People are so stinkin' happy. We have time off to spend with people we love. We sing Christmas carols like Joy to the world. We give without the expectation of receiving. We watch kids run and play in the winter wonderland around us. Yet, in just a couple of days we will start to see the joy fade like fog over the lake. It will dissipate as we begin our busy lives. The school work returns the demands of work knock on the door. I am one of the biggest culprits of losing my joy. I have been so mopey over the last couple of days complaining and whining about how I need to work out more, no one loves me, and my future is pretty much a grab bag. How do we repeat the sounding joy? Where does it live and how do I channel it.

I argue that joy does not change, it is just our ability to recognize or accept it. I find joy in the silliest of places. The sunrise, the elderly couple sharing hot cocoa, and the children building a snowman outside. Joy is here to stay, I just put on my rose tinted glasses which distorts the image. I sat down to write this blog yesterday night, after being down about my current state of affairs in the love department. I fell asleep and woke up this morning to finish it. I usually have a Dove promise with my coffee after breakfast( trust me this brings lots of joy). So here I am drinking coffee and I open up my little morsel of goodness. As I unwrap the chocolate I read the dove promise message inside and smile. It reads Joy Thus, this is my wish for you as you continue through the long months ahead. Joy to you....then repeat.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

30 before 30

So as many of you know I turned 27 approximately 2 weeks ago. It was monumental as my mother explains that I am closer to 30 than I am to 20, which is absolutely fine with me. I truly am one of those people who think we get better with age, perhaps this is why I love the elderly so much. My biggest beef with people getting older is that people become complacent with the lives they lead. I personally have vowed to make my life an ever evolving masterpiece. Thus I have created the 30 before 30 list full of goals (at times lofty) to achieve before Dec 9th 2014. So follow me as I attempt to accomplish and blog about them all.

30 before 30

1. Write a book- This is a lifelong goal. I believe everyone has a story, whether it is published or not we have a story to share.
2. Fall in Love- Every woman wants this .....she's lying if she tells you otherwise
3. Take painting classes- I dabble in oils, but I want to create Picassos
4. Travel to France- I don't know why but I have this hunger to explore france perhaps its because it is the birthplace of champagne
5. South Africa- I don't know why but I just have this feeling that I need to go here for culture and safari
6. Buy a camera- I don't own a camera and I don't take pictures- I need to capture some memories
7. Make wine- I am constantly in awe of things that are cultivated by hand. I love wine and want to smash grapes.
8. Grow something from seedling without killing it- My mom says plants are like children, thus if I want the babes I should probably be able to keep an orchid alive
9. Write letters/ cards to friends and family telling them how much they mean to me- Letter writing is a lost art and I love all things antiquated
10.Be an activist/fundraiser for a cause
11. Host a five course dinner party from scratch- On my ongoing quest to become a domestic diva
12. Invest my money and save
13. Speak a foreign language fluently- I was a Spanish major, how sad is this....
14. Climb a mountain- It doesn't matter which mountain, just a mountain
15. Eat, drink, and be merry without guilt
16. Run a marathon a year- only requirement is that they are in amazing places!
17. Learn how to change a tire- supposedly a man's job.....bah humbug
18. Complete the entire NY times Sunday crossword
19. Frequent Farmer's markets and buy produce there- I mean I have to have some easy ones on here
20. Join a book club- I love to read. I love to discuss books and how they are relevant to our lives.
21. Live in a city- a real one.....There is something special about a city with its own pulse. It truly is a place that emanates life
22. Learn to swim- That's right I can't swim. Personally I just hate getting my hair wet.
23. Buy someone a Starbucks behind me in the drive-thru- I would do this at a fast food restaurant but I don't eat at them.
24. Give my number to the most gorgeous guy at the bar- I don't know why but it is one of those things I think all women should do. Come on Confidence.
25. Got to the Kentucky Derby and wear and ostentatiously big hat.- this defines me
26. Wear a bikini in public without being self -conscious- I haven't worn a bikini since high school....Embrace my body
27. Go on a vacation to Maine with my parents- Because my parents need to see the lush beauty which is Maine
28. Be able to do the crow pose in Yoga- I don't know why this is so darn hard. .... It requires tons of upper body strength so come on bulging biceps
29. Walk into my favorite store, Anthropologie, and buy something I love without looking at the pricetag
30. Leave footprints of joy and happiness wherever I go- My parents often talk about the legacy we want to leave and the way we want people to remember us....This is what I want to leave- joy and happiness.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Missed Moments

I had my emergency medicine rotation last month. The thing that is nice about the rotation is that you see the same things over and over, chest pain, SOB, and ETOH abuse. Yet there was one patient where I knocked on the door entered and came out changed for life.

I looked down at my nursing notes and saw that the nurse had written the chief complaint down as 27 y/o female headache and vomiting x 2 days. Yet, as I walked through the door I instantly knew that this was more than just a headache. The woman I met I will call, Cynthia, for the sake of privacy. She was a 27 y/o female who told me quite blatantly she has metastatic breast cancer with brain mets and a two year-old child waiting for her at home. I just stood there looking at her radiant smile, her right eye that twitched every 30 sec, her right sided facial droop that was only evident when she smiled, and the look in her eye that I recognized as sheer fear. Her little bald head from rounds of chemotherapy reminded of fresh grass in the spring with sprouts sporadically popping up. Yet, as I began to talk to her I realized that she was sick, and worse of all she was dying.

There are times in medicine where we step back and have to collect ourselves because the emotion is just too strong. I left the room and staffed this patient with the attending physician and promptly excused myself to the bathroom. I remember going to the dingy bathroom with the dim lighting and turning on the faucet. I remember I just stood there looking at myself in the mirror tears streaming down my face. I just felt so helpless, like a child, staring at myself in the mirror. I just kept thinking how that woman lying in that bed could be me. I wondered how many times Cynthia had told herself I will do that when I have more time or more money. I just wanted to ask her about all the things she wanted to do with her life. The experiences she was going to miss. I thought about all the things I put off. The opportunities I just let slip through my fingers because like most 27 year olds I feel like I will always have more time.

I think missed moments and opportunities are the single greatest regrets of my life. The truth is I read this book over my travels last week called Extremely Close and Incredibly Loud by Jonathan Froer. It truly is an artistic masterpiece, looking at the life of a 9 year-old boy after his father is killed in 911. It truly speaks to the things we wish we would have said but did not. It moved me so much that I was the lone girl crying on the airplane to Portland,OR. The stewardess came up to me and asked me if I was alright. I just responded I am just really moved.
I look at myself and I will never forget walking into my grandmother's room after she had returned from the hospital. It was late and I had just stopped by the house after one of my friend's mother's funeral. I will remember everything about this night for as long as I live. My grandmother looked so peaceful sleeping in her old antique bed. Her make-up was off giving her a porcelain like look, but of course, her hair looked perfect due to the fact she was wearing her wig in bed. I remember gently shaking her and saying. "Hey Grams. " She smiled and said, " Hey sweetie." I just remember I told her I didn't want to bother her. I kissed her on the head, and said the last words I ever said to my grandmother, "Love ya." I play this night over and over in my head. If I would have known that this would have been the last time I would have seen my grandmother alive I would have done so many things differently. I would have sat on her bed all night telling her how much she meant to me, reliving our many adventures, and listening to the stories of her life.

Yet this sort of stuff happens everyday. We all sit around and say you know when I have more money, more stability, and more time I will do this. Yet I argue that the opportunities are all around us. It is the guy that you met that was different than the others, but you were to afraid to ask for his number. It is the financial venture you didn't take. It is the family you love to avoid. Missed moments happen all the time and quite frankly second chances are rarities in life. Thus I encourage you this holiday and into the New Year to seize the opportunity and say the things you want to say. Do the things you have always wanted to do. And most of all don't be afraid to live the life you have always wanted. Time is a fair weather friend and who knows what tomorrow may bring.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Speed Dating

Did you know that it takes 10 seconds to make a first impression? That doesn't even seem like enough time for me to even introduce myself. Yet, much of the American mindset revolves around time and efficiency. Thus, speed dating has taken a role in the busy American's dating life. Perhaps popularized more in larger cities, I of course have searched far and wide and have found a company that caters to the needs of the greater Indianapolis area.

So I would like to start with the disclaimer that speed dating to me was more of a way to meet multiple people at one time. I did not expect to find my new boyfriend, nor did I really expect to get a date. Much of my focus was placed on the experience. Thus, I convinced one of my friends to join me for this little escapade. We arrived to the bar and checked in quickly finding ourselves sitting at the bar with libation in hand. Quite frankly, even the speed daters know alcohol is the ultimate ice breaker. It is nerve racking, 8 mins to convince the person across the table from you that you are worth their time. My friend I began chatting with people around us trying to figure out who was there for the event. When one of the coordinators tapped us on the shoulders, and with a frown of concern on her face said " I have some bad news, only one guy of 6 has shown up." My friend and I laugh so hard we almost were crying. So 7 eligible ladies had 8 min interviews with one lucky guy.

So let me tell you a couple things about the 8 min date, if you make an impression within the first 10 seconds, much of the opinion is based on appearance and the way you carry yourself. Thus, if the guy didn't like brunettes and unruly curly hair I automatically was out. When I approached the table the guy was cute, in a take him home to meet your mother sort of way. The only initial red flag was the bright lavender shirt he was wearing. Now don't get me wrong I know many guys who pull off lavender fabulously, but it is a no no on a first encounter as it gives me question about what side of the field you are playing on. Regardless within 2 mins I could have told you it was not going to work out between me and the speedster. He talked about his astrology sign and physics within that first 2 mins, which is somewhat comical because the only thing worse to me than physics is a broken bone. This therefore ended my speed dating experience.

Yet, this past week I had a flash back to speed dating. I actually was in an interview for residency. There are two types of interviews; one where you talk and one where they talk. Thus this interview was being given by a general surgeon who was somewhat quiet and made poor eye contact, and thus I was trying to entertain myself. I just remember I felt like I was talking to a brick wall about how I loved farmer's markets and the riveting aspects of organic grocery stores, when the man looked up at me and said with all seriousness " Have you ever read the blog "Stuff white people Like." I just busted out laughing and said, " yes, I am very familiar and yes, you have just nailed me to a T." So perhaps it is possible to get to know someone in a short time span. I mean this guy just understood me on a level that many men never will. It was actually pretty phenomenal restoring my faith in the interview system and crushing my skepticism about speed dating forever.

Thus in conclusion I encourage you to satisfy your need for speed. Give it a try. I mean seriously what do you have to lose.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Spirit of the Season

I am a firm believer of listening Christmas music in October. I believe that there is something almost magical about the Holiday season. Yet, I will have to say that ever since the real identity of that man with a bushy beard of snow and a suit of red was revealed to me, it just hasn't been the same. I remember it like yesterday, I was on the school bus and just in a blink of an eye my entire belief in Santa was crushed. Tears streaming down my face, I can vividly see my mother try to do damage control after Santa's true identity had been revealed.

Yet, today as I visited the Fashion Mall, my favorite mall, something superiorly special occurred. To be honest I was watching the dynamics between a 3 year-old boy and his mother who was trying to convince him to stop crying and to sit on Santa Claus's lap. I laughed because I could see myself some 5-10 years in the future doing the same thing. Bribing my child with finger painting or macaroni necklaces for the next month if he would just be quiet for 30 seconds so we can get this one picture for Nana Pasko's mantel.

Yet, I also was taking in the scene. The rich warm colors, the glistening golds, and the happy little elves were like something out of a fairy tale. Then my focus fell on the man with the robust waist and the ruddiest cheeks I have ever seen. He had this authentic red suit embedded with real fur. He was polished and refined. He had boots that were black and shiny and laced up to his mid calf. However, the thing that got me most was how real he was to everything I imagined from my childhood about the Santa Claus. I am sure onlookers thought I was rude as I just stood in the center of the mall watching this poor woman's fiasco play out like cinematography, but then it happened. My eyes met the sparkling blue eyes of Santa and we stared at each other for what seemed like an eternity, and then all of the sudden he winked at me. I first looked around to make sure that wink was meant for me, and not some lurking Ms. Claus or some grubby little children. Yet when my gazed returned to the man in red he was laughing so hard, I couldn't help but smile.

It silly really, but this whole incident today reminded me of why I love the season so much- it's magical. Our imagination is free to roam and we believe that anything is possible. Thus, I have vowed to let my creative juices flow, to give with an open heart, and to celebrate as if its the last Christmas I might ever experience. I hope you will do the same. So go be merry and bright-and may all our wishes come true.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

The art of eating alone

So there are many things in life I think we should all be capable of doing on our own, and one of them is mastering the art of eating alone. Perhaps it is the fact that I am an only child or maybe just the fact that I am very independent, but this is a task that doesn't bring trepidation to my soul, but only contentment.

Thus last night I bundled up and headed to my favorite neighborhood pizza locale, Napolese. If you have never been to Napolese it has this rich, dark atmosphere with an aristocrat like ambience. A small bar overlooking the large adobe like oven gives added warmth to the room. I enter the bubbling full of life building to begin my personal experiment " Table for 1 please?" I almost laughed when the host said, " I' m sorry what did you say?" The host blushed as I repeated "just one" and he kindly placed me at the bar. Within minutes I was promptly enjoying the bold smoky undertones of the house chianti. The thing I love most about eating alone is the fact that you observe everyone around you and are forced to appreciate the moment.
The clink and clank of glasses raising for a toast, the laughter, the intensity of the gaze of the two lovebirds knuddling in the corner, all of this I just take in like a gasp for air after being submerged in water. It is life, love, and the connections that bind us all.

My meal arrived and as I began conquering my vegetarian chop salad, while at the same time catching up on the NY times for the past week. Contently, I downed the dregs of my wine determined to enjoy every last drop. I gaze up and to my surprise two of my close friends were entering the door to be seated for dinner. Who are you here with? I smile and say with confidence "myself." As I sign my receipt stub, I join them for some much needed catching up.

I guess my point is that I have always been one of those independent people, I am not scared of being alone nor do I want to be dependent on anyone else. We all know people who have never been alone a moment in their life, whether it is a relationship or daily living. I guess as I turn another year older this week I have been thinking a lot about age and what I learn along the way. I realized it has taken me a long time to be comfortable being the lone woman at the table and trust me I have never felt better.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

When I grow up.....

My grandmother believed in many things, and one of them was the basic fact that there was a recipe for everything. Yet, this did not only pertain to food, she had recipes for success, life, and love. When she passed away a little over a year ago, I couldn’t help but smile when presented with her recipe box, brimming full of all her recipes we had shared over the skillet. However not all her recipes needed a card, she had a way of making decisions about life that were so easy; no directions were needed. So as I am faced with the overwhelming task of selecting a residency, I feel like my grandmother would look at me with her radiant smile and suggest we just sit down, talk, and make a recipe. Therefore, I started from scratch and set out to discover my own recipe for residency.

Prep time. I feel that my life experiences and my medical school training have equipped me to be a successful and compassionate intern. I will never forget as I watched the droplets run into the endless rivers of IV tubing and flow into the small bump on my father’s chest. The man who could make any cut better with a kiss or a warm embrace did not resemble the man I remembered. His once vibrant eyes seemed tired and the face of assurance was scarred with the burns from chemotherapy. It was in this moment that I began to understand the feeling of helplessness. I had no control over the cancer that populated his body nor did I have the answers to his concerns. It was through this experience that I truly realized the responsibility that comes with being a physician. Being a doctor is more than prescribing medicine; it requires empathy, inner strength, and the ability to convey hope in times of hopelessness. It calls for a passion to serve and determination tofight for others when they cannot fight for themselves.

Ingredients. Ingredients are the foundation to any recipe, just as residents are the vital components of a successful surgical program. Thus, I feel it is important to share the attributes I would bring to your surgical program. Vivacious and gregarious by nature, communication is an area of strength for me. Through my many years of schooling and marathon running, I have gained tenacity, stamina, and perseverance that will be useful during my surgical residency. My passion to serve and genuine concern for others is evident in my daily interactions with patients and peers. I bring enthusiasm and effervescence to my work, thus I am rarely seen without a smile. My Midwestern upbringing based on the principles of hard work and determination is a continual motivator in my daily life.

Cut. I remember as a child watching my grandmother chop onions. I remember the fluidity of her movements and the precision of each cut. The truth is I might not handle a kitchen knife all that well, but I believe my grandmother would be proud of my abilities with a 10 blade. Surgery is everything I search forin a profession. It is fast-paced and ever changing. It truly embodies the “art” of medicine allowing my right brain and creativity to be put to good use. I love the feel of adrenaline pulsing through my veins and its spur of the moment mentality. Yet,I also appreciate the restoring quality of the field. The way we can give the body
a tune-up, just like an old car, and with good attention to detail we can locate the problem, take care of it, and send people on their way.

Stirred not Beaten. So in reference to residency, it is true. I would prefer to be stirred, not beaten. Do not misunderstand me, I am looking for a rigorous program where I leave well trained and confident, but I do not want my zest for life to be lost in the process. Yet, more importantly I feel that a program is only as good as the people who make it up. I am searching for an institution that produces residents that are not only skilled surgeons, but also wonderful teachers, patient advocates, and well-balanced individuals. I value a program that prides itself as an environment and fosters learning and a hands onapproach.

Bake for 30 mins at 375 degrees F. Once you’ve shut the oven door, you have been left with a few minutes of free time. I realize that free time might be a rarity in residency, but I believe that what you do inside the hospital is just as important as what you do outside. I personally believe in the mind, body, soul connection thus I spend much of my free time running and finding my inner zen with yoga. I run marathons for fun. I delight in fine food, wine, and long dinners with friends. In short, I believe that a balanced life outside the hospital can result in more productive and happier residents inside the hospital.

Cut the cake. Like every great cooking endeavor the best part is finally taking a bite of your edible creation, and thus I can only believe that finishing residency and starting your own career tastes just as sweet. While I have no idea where I will bein 10 yrs, I do know that I want the life I always dreamed of as a little girl. I want to have a family, a successful surgical career, and happiness. Inside the halls of my institution, I want to teach and create an environment that fosters learning and encourages students to explore the field of surgery. More than anything I want to lead by example. I want to be a catalyst for change, a breath of fresh air, and a damn good surgeon.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Pillars of strength

I have vivid memories of myself as a little curly haired girl with black patent leather shoes running around my mother's favorite department store. I would weave in and out of the racks of clothing as if they were a giant fort I had built at home out of blankets and pillows. I would peer out of the merry-go-round of clothes occasionally to keep track of my mom. Then there was the time I would peek my head out of my nest of cotton and polyester blend and realize my mother was nowhere to be found. Terrified and panic stricken, I can feel the fear that came down on me like a nightshade. I feel my heart beating under my chest and the chaotic clicking of my heels as I run down the aisles screaming for my mom.

This is the exact same feeling I had when my dad told me his cancer is back. I had this chaotic feeling within my soul. I felt like I have been hit by a tornado only to be left with disorder and destruction to be cleaned up. You would think I would be good at this since we experienced this just 5 years ago. Yet, I don't know if your ever get good at something like this. I feel like the last time I went through this I just was paralyzed to the whole situation. It truly was one of the lowest points of my life. I remember crying myself to sleep, feeling so alone, and most of all scared.

You see my entire life I have wanted to be a pillar of strength. One of those people who lift others up and make their day better; a person who is strong in body, mind, and soul capable of helping others through hard times. Yet, what I have found over the years is that most of the time my pillars of strength remind me more of the ancient Roman ruins, piles of crumbling rock.

Where do you find your strength? I read an article this past week that looked at people who had suffered adversity in their life and found that they were actually happier. As I read the article I just kept thinking really....really, but in the end I think they are right. If we have never known hardship or disappointment how can we appreciate the good times. The truth is I am a person who believes each experience shapes and equips us, makes us stronger, and able to handle the life we have been given. I have no idea how my parents have survived all they have been through together, but they have and in the end they are some of the happiest and kindest people you will meet.

Bad things happen to good people. I see it everyday at the hospital and I live it at home. While my family lives on optimism, I can't deny that I am scared. I love my father, he is my hero. I want him to be around to share not only in the joys of his life, but also the milestones of my life. Thus while my life is a cyclone of anticipation about residency and 4th year requirements, life has so humbly shown me that there are more important things like my family to worry about. I have asked several times "why me?," yet I am reminded that life is a battleground constantly training and equiping you for the road ahead. Thus I approach the weeks ahead, with determination, hope, and a heart open to experience. Nothing is perfect, not even my crumbling pillars of strength.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

The Former Me

I often wonder what it would be like to be five years old again. You know everyday was a good day and your greatest care in the world was when you could go outside and play. I get lost in the warm memories of my childhood; the puppies, the Barbies, and the daily ice cream dates with my mother over summer break. Yet, I am quickly thrust back to my current 26 year- old self, and I wonder if that 5 year- old image of the former me could be found anywhere within me today.

A friend asked me a couple weekend's ago if the 5 year- old version of myself could see me now what would I think? While I answered quickly on the spot" I believe she would be proud," my mind continues to tangle through the cobwebs of my memory as I wonder if that is true. As I am time warped back to my childhood, I just remember I was just so darn happy. I had parents and grandparents who loved me, a warm house, a puppy, and a community of people who believed in my potential. I loved school, learning, and finger painting. I ate macaroni and cheese made with Velveeta, the cheese in a stick, and hot dogs and I didn't worry about my carb intake or the possible carcinogens I was ingesting. I had a group of family and friends who loved me and if I would have told them I wanted to be the next president of the United States, they would have all said you can do it. I guess more than anything, I went to bed at night with the assurance that everything was going to be O.K.

As I wake up in a cold sweat approximately once a week I wonder if my former self has any words of wisdom. My current life is bombarded with concerns about my future and upcoming residency match- where will I be, will I be happy, will I be able to see my family and friends, will I..... and the list goes on and on. I worry about making time to work out and if I will ever know what the word relationship means.

My 5 year- old self loved to laugh. I use to laugh so hard that I would be rolling around on the kitchen linoleum. My 5 year-old self would prescribe a remedy of laughter for any bad day. My former self would want me to sit down and have a cheeseburger with french fries and remember how much I loved Mc Donalds Happy Meals. My former self saw failure as a sign of room for improvement not a catastrophe. Yet, perhaps most of all she would want me to believe that I had something to give, that I could do anything I wanted, and that I deserve happiness.

You know we all have evolved from that sweet 5 year-old into the person we are today. While I wonder what parts of " little me" remain, I know that somewhere deep within the nooks and crannies of my being I will find my former self. I believe that we only get better as we get older, but with it we bring along this adult size baggage. I believe it is up to us to unpack and sort out the things that matter most in life. While I would do anything to recapture my childhood innocence and curiosity, I believe I will just settle with resting my head down tonight and adopting my 5 year-old mantra -that everything will be O. K.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Summer Nights

So this might surprise many of you as I am the type of person who loves many things about life, but I have no qualms or reservations when I say I detest summer. Perhaps it is a genetic flaw or some bad connection between neurons, but there is nothing I abhor more than being hot, sweaty, and panting like a dog. The air is so thick it is like gasping cotton for air. Not to mention the humidity, which causes my hair to look like a poodle ready for a dog show. Yet another additional factor would be my porcelain like skin that can easily be turned to a cherry tomato hue within 15 mins of UVB exposure. Yet, with all this hate and discontent I have pent up about summer, I have forced myself to find some positive attributes about the season for example flowers, farmer's markets, and summer nights were the only things that came to mind.

There is something absolutely magical about summer nights. The daylight fading in the distance, the cool breeze on your face, and the endless possibilities. I often am taken back to a certain night in Maine 4 years ago. I had just finished this fabulous dinner at my favorite restaurant called Francine's. It was this eclectic yet elegant little place in the town I was working for the summer. I remember I was walking back to the house in the dark of night on the vacant street when it began to rain. There was no one in sight, no cars, just me and the road. I slipped off my black heeled sling-back shoes and just started running. Running in the rain, with only the light of the street lamps guiding my way. I remember thinking about how alive and young I felt at that very moment. How the smell of rain had never smelled crisper, or the matted curls of my head never softer, and my heart beating in my chest never more palpable. The truth is that summer nights have an opiate like affect on my soul. It leaves me wanting more.

Perhaps we never leave the idea that is ingrained in us as school children that summer is a time of fun, laughter, and celebration. We carry with us this vacation mantra, where we are relaxed and free to do what we want with no restrictions. I love looking out amongst my friends as we sit outside in the early hours of the evening with the smell of charred meat permeating the evening air as I see them laughing as they sip upon their summer ales. There is an energy in the atmosphere that is infectious. Yet, more importantly is the opportunity that the evening will bring. The new experiences and spontaneity of the moment are endless expectations of the season. Then like a light switch summer is turned off and we are jolted back to the reality we all know. Perhaps this is my true issue with summer, it is a short lived aphrodisiac, it entices you to come and play and then exits without a goodnight kiss. It seduces you to believe that life can be so carefree and without worries forever.

Yet, before you know it the leaves will begin to change color, the air will become crisp, and you will awaken from your summer like trance to realize autumn is upon you. Until then I plan to soak up all I can of these magical summer nights and to cherish the season with good company and I encourage you to do the same.

Monday, April 19, 2010

beautiful and bubbly

So it brings me great pleasure to introduce you to my new favorite libation...Sofia Coppola.  It is nothing but a delightful can full of effervescence, which bubbles over with joy. It is crisp with a taste of  sweet pear and a hint of honey. It comes in this marvelously magenta can and once you pop the tab you will find that it is everything you could ever hope for from a can of champagne- beautiful and bubbly.

 Now this drink was made for the young at heart, because included with every can is a bendy straw; as if you could stow it along with your Snack Pak for lunch or something. Yet, perhaps what I love most about Sofia is that I have it on an occasion. Some might find this pretentious, but I just see it as honest. Champagne has been marketed as only being appropriate for the celebrations of life, the golden moments. Yet, I have been reminded over the last year that life is worth celebrating everyday. Therefore, I pop the tab, lift my can, and sip my Sofia, and smile because it is a good day.

I find it hilarious that a little ol' can of pink goodness can touch me on such an existentially deep level.  I think it is safe to say that most people look forward to the celebrations of life. The weddings, the bar mitzvahs, and birth of children all highlight some of the new chapters in people's life which people find appropriate to clank their glasses and drink to. Yet, we often neglect all those days in between the ones that make up the majority of our existence. Where would be without them? The more I ponder the significance of these days the more I come to cherish them. It is within the ordinary day that I hope you will look to find something magically wonderful.  If more people looked for a reason to celebrate each day, I believe that the monotony of everyday life would dissipate. Not only would we be happier people, but it also would be easier for us to see the beauty that surrounds us daily.

More importantly I have learned that I tend to find enjoyment out of the most benign and ordinary things in life. As you can imagine, champagne in a can was a really great day for me.  In general, I tend to see the glass half full at all times, and sometimes 3/4 full.  Which at times I am sure can be obnoxious to my fellow 1/2 emptiers, but that is just the way I am programmed.  Trust me I know the fears that plague us. The worries of never being good enough, pretty enough, smart enough,  successful enough, and whether we are worthy of happiness.  The list goes on and on. However, lately I have been trying to convince myself that those things don't cultivate happiness.  Happiness lies in the little things; the random Hello on the street, the smile on the sidewalk, and card in the mail. It's in the mundane everyday tasks that we do. Most things in life are simple, and happiness is no different.

Life was meant to be like champagne-beautiful and bubbly. Yes, we all have been handed different lots in life.  Yet, regardless I think that everyone has the capability of creating a masterpiece for their own lives. It is inevitable that we all will have our disappointments along the way, but it is the way that we respond that makes all the difference. Thus this week pick up a bottle of champagne, pop it, and celebrate just another ordinary day.


Sunday, April 11, 2010

Missed Moments

I pulled up to my 38th St ghetto-fabulous CVS a couple of days ago. I was in a rush and just had to pick up a couple of things before heading out to school. I remember I looked down to grab my wallet, but when I went to get out the car there was a woman standing outside my door knocking on my window. I screamed and jumped about 6 ft., as the woman backed away from Black Beauty, my lovely Chevy Cavalier, and waited for me to get out.

 I already know what you are going to say, " You didn't get out of the car, did you?" But yes, yes I did. The woman then began begging me for money or food for her children. Normally on any other day, I would just walk on by, telling myself she really has a job, has food stamps, or is just going to go buy liquor with my money. But something inside my gut told me that this woman was different. Perhaps it was the hopelessness in her eyes, or the desperation in her voice but I couldn't help it. I came out of the store with my gleaming golden box of Cheerios, but the woman was no where to be found. 

I will not lie, I was a little upset that I had bought this economy sized box of over priced cereal from the drug store, but I was even more distraught because I had missed an opportunity.  I feel like many of the regrets in our lives come back to our willingness to act in the moment--to take a chance. 

What I have learned over the last couple of years is that time is only going faster, and with it the opportunities.  It reminds me of this time when I was six and it was snowing outside. I was all bundled up in my neon pink snowsuit, and I was on a mission to collect all of the falling snow in my mouth.  I would stick my tongue out and dance around the yard trying to catch all the snowflakes in my mouth, but the snow was coming down too fast. My mother states how entertaining it was watching me run around the yard frantically with my tongue out like some rabid dog, but even more interesting is that it never crossed my mind that this was an insanely impossible task. I just knew I needed to try.

This is the problem we spend to much time analyzing and calculating how logical  the opportunity is and whether it  will help us or not. This is where we need to stop. Because every opportunity offers some sort of possible gain. I believe the real problem is that most of us, perhaps unknowingly, deep down have commitment issues. I will be the first to admit that I fall into this category. I use pencil instead of pen because you can erase. I eat vanilla ice cream when there are too many flavor options. I get incredibly uncomfortable with the thought of being tied down. Yet, my awareness to these issues has only made me more cognizant of the opportunities that surround me. 

I have gotten much more courageous in the last couple of years, and I have learned that in life, as well as in love; it's worth taking a chance-embracing the opportunity. As a woman I will be the first to tell you that we dwell on lost opportunities, because in our minds everyone of those opportunities could have been our future boyfriend or husband. 

Yet, I also cherish travel and see it as an amazing opportunity to discover new things. I went to Portland over a year ago on my first solo trip, I didn't know a soul, but was going to run a marathon, and see the city. This ended up being one of the most terrific and life altering trips. 

On my four day trip, I went on 2 dates with two different men, ran a marathon, and cried at a farmer's market.  I mean what else could you ask for right? But more importantly it taught me to seek out opportunity. I will admit that you will not always feel confident with your choices you will wonder if you are making the right decision. I mean there was one point on one of my dates in Portland when I thought I might be chopped up into little pieces and never to be heard from again, but I still don't regret it.

I guess what I want to say is that opportunity is all around us, it's waiting for us. This week I encourage you to push yourself to reach out for those things you are scared to do, to say, or even to dream. Don't be ashamed to dance in the snow. I think you will be surprised by what doors will open when you are eager and open to new opportunities. 

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Seasons of Change

There is something magical about the first days of spring. The daffodils make the thought of winter seem like nothing but a lost memory, and the sunshine is a warm reminder of good things to come in the months ahead.  Inhaling the warm spring breeze, is as intoxicating as a weekend night during your college days. People pour out of their houses and any nook and cranny that they have been hibernating in. There is laughter, smiles, and an energy that is palpable. Yet despite the beauty of the moment, I still can't help but wonder what the months to come have in store. Why is that I have such a hard time enjoying the now, are we not always thinking and planning for the future?

There is this fabulous magnolia tree that I have run by every day this week. It actually has become the highlight of my runs. Each day I observe its new buds and blossoms. The tree's white flowers have this antiquated elegance which mesmerizes me.  It is a constant reminder of strength and resilience. It has survived the cold and bitter winter and in the mean time has still managed to maintain its beautiful composure. I sometimes wonder if the many storms I weather, the disappointments and sorrows, will still allow me to emerge as pristine and put together as my magnolia.

The thing that I keep reminding myself is that life is beautiful. I have been given this small amount of time  to run the gamut of emotions- to feel, to love, to be disappointed, to be heartbroken, to be passionate, and to just live. While my mind is constantly racing about what I need to do this week, next month, and a year from now, I have realized that there is something so serene and fulfilling about the here and now. The people I surround myself with are intimate players in this moment. They are my partners in crime and the co-authors of many memorable nights to come. I often wish my friends could see themselves the way I do, because if they did they would see just how gorgeous they were and realize that many of their worries about the future are unnecessary.

Thus in the weeks to come I encourage you, to take in the now. Take in the daffodils, the tulips, and the magnolia. Breathe deeply and have faith that just as the magnolia survives each brutal winter, so will you . 


Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Dabbling with Danger

  When I was little I had this affinity for all things that were sharp, flammable, and potentially caustic. My little brown curly top head would run around sticking forks, pencils, and all sorts of paraphernalia into the light sockets. It's no wonder my mother was such a worried woman as she chased me around the house with the fly swatter, her favorite tool of discipline. I can hear her repeating words like "Don't talk to strangers and left, right, left when crossing the street." Yet, despite her constant reminders I was determined to walk on the wild side. I believe that I found satisfaction and comfort in knowing I was under the careful eyes of my parents; that despite what catastrophe or minor injury I might find myself in my mom and dad would be there to swoop me up, wipe my tears, and make it all better. Yet, the problem with this is as I have gotten older I have noticed adult life does not come with caution signs or black box warning labels.  We have been forced to enter at our own risk.

Perhaps this is part of the beauty of life; learning to recover from the hurts that we incur over time.  Growing up as a pudgy kid, I will never forget the torment I experienced at school or on the school bus.  Come to think of it, school buses are bright yellow, I should have recognized this huge Twinkie- like structure as a giant caution sign. Because as far as my childhood goes, the school bus served as one of those places where many tears were shed and life lessons were learned. Santa was destroyed and my hair bows were a constant topic of ridicule.  But through all the tears I would like to believe that I emerged from the yellow bus of terror a stronger and more courageous soul.

The difference between back then and now is that we knowingly place ourselves in danger.  It happens everyday.  We constantly are entering situations that could potentially cause injury or harm.  We get in our car everyday with the hope that we will arrive home safely. We make decisions at work that could jeopardize our future. We enter relationships knowing that they don't always work out. Yet, the problem is we have read the warning labels, but we have decided that we are willing to throw the dice and see how our luck fares.  We dance with disappointment daily, but I believe it is the way that we deal with our heavy blows that makes us ready for any duel.

I willingly admit that I would avoid pain and injury at any cost. I would wear elbow and knee pads out in public if I could convince others that it was fashionable. Yet, perhaps even more honestly, I have placed parts of my heart in a witness protection program. I have kept a part of myself incognito and locked away as a type of self-preservation, in the hopes that I will never experience  pain or disappointment.  Yet, what I have learned over the last couple of months is that this is no way to live.  Placing your heart on the table is terrifying. It's like riding your bike around naked in a large crowd. You are vulnerable and nervous, but there is something liberating about the experience. 

In the end what I have learned is that while placing the pieces of myself out in public view has caused me some pain and disappointment, I have no regrets. I am glad that I disregarded the warning labels and that I have been willing to take a chance. Because the truth of the matter is life is a lot like learning how to ride a bike-  dangerous, exciting, a lot about balance, and learning how to fall.  The stinging of your hands and knees from the fall are reminders that you are human. Your only option at this point is to peel yourself off the ground, brush yourself off, get back on the bike, and try again. 

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Amazing Love

This past month at work I did something I have never done before, I started crying in a room with a patient. While some of you might not find this a big deal, in the medical world crying is for pansies. Yet, I couldn't help it as I listened to my attending tell a 79 year-old woman and her husband that the cancer she had was unresectable, and that the only hope  she had was with chemotherapy and radiation. I will never forget as the woman with misty blue eyes looked up and said profoundly with all seriousness, " I have lived a beautiful life. God has been good to me. I have been married for 53 years and we have been through a lot together and we will get through this. I thank you but I am not interested in chemotherapy or radiation." I couldn't help but let the tears run down my face as I watched her husband grasp her hand, with tears in his own eyes as they looked at each other. I could tell they were talking to each other without even uttering a word. I walked away from the room not only  stunned by the intimacy of the moment I just shared with this couple, but also left pondering if I would ever know the depths of this kind of love.

With all the Valentine's Day hype surrounding us it is hard to remember that love is more than a heart shaped box of chocolate or long stem roses, but is one of the most basic and essential emotions that we all need and deserve. Yet, this Valentine's Day, my heart did sink a little  as I went to mailbox and discovered that I hadn't gotten any valentines. Now, I of all people understand that many of my friends are too busy to make  V-day cards, as I am just as guilty. I think the real disappointment though was that there was no card from my grandmother this year. As many of you know my grandmother passed away almost a year ago, but to me it seems just like yesterday. My grandmother has this magical way of making sure a card came for me on every holiday, and she was especially sensitive to Valentine's day since I was her boyfriendless granddaughter. She believed that everyone should feel loved.

 The truth is my grandmother is still teaching me about the depths of love to this day. What you might not know about my grandmother is that she passed away in my bed in my house. Her suitcase still sits in the same spot in the corner of my room to this day. I am ashamed to admit that sometimes in the quiet of my old house, when the rest of the world is sleeping, I will creep from my bed and I will sit next to my grandmother's suitcase. I will slowly open the old zipper of the tapestry  bag and reach in  just to pick up one sweater  of hers. I just sit there breathing  in the fragrance, which is a combination of dove soap and onions. This causes rockets of memories of my grandmother to shoot across my mind. I know it might be immature of me; but what I have learned is that pain is the price we pay sometimes for loving so deeply. 

Yet, recently I have been trying to make a whole lot of life decisions about my future career and my life in general. It is in these last weeks that I have had to be blatantly honest with myself and in the end  the things I want most are love and happiness. I want to experience the love that the man and woman in the doctor's office had that day. I want to experience the type of  relationship my grandmother and I had with my grandchildren. I want life to be beautiful.  It is terrifying for me to think how far I have come. The high strung, type A personality, driven by success person that I used to be has been converted to a person who just wants to experience and take in as much life as possible. Thus, you can understand my disappointment as one of the men in my class told me how disappointed he was in me that I was settling in general surgery and not going for neurosurgery.  I kindly tried to explain to him that I had done some soul searching and had decided that I loved my life too much to make the sacrifice of neurosurgery. I will never forget as he looked at me with all seriousness and said "Jen, life is overrated."  I am sure the horrified look on my face said it all as I looked him dead in the eye and said, "No sir, no its not." 

Thus in closing I want to share the quote that my yoga instructor shared with me tonight that pretty much was the final inspiration for this blog. While we were lying on our mats, in sheer darkness, she quoted Maya Angelou and said, "In life people will not remember the things you say, nor will they remember the things you have done, but they will remember the way you have made them feel."  Thus this week I encourage you to go out and show others your love, may it shine through like the sun on a hot summer day, because giving love can be just as satisfying as receiving. Happy February. XOXO

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Throwing Paint

So my friend and I a couple of years ago, coined the term Fabulous Friday. The purpose of the alliterative phrase was to embrace the day of the week that we all look to with hope and great prospects. Thus we decided, in honor of Friday, to do things that we had never done before, go places we had never went, and in all honesty just celebrate the fabulousness of the work week which is Friday. Thus I did have ulterior motives when asked by a guy, who I will refer to as Mr. Dimples for the remainder of the blog in order to protect his identity, what night I would like to get dinner and celebrate my month of February.  If you know me I think it goes without saying that I am a free-spirit.  I delight in new adventures and thus when I heard the details of the plans for the evening I couldn't help but be intrigued and excited. 

The evening began with Mr. Dimples actually coming to pick me up, which in my book is a huge accomplishment. Most of my outings with the opposite sex have me traversing to Timbuktu, lost, and in the end stopping in some sketchy part of town asking hopefully if they could give me directions using landmarks instead of cardinal directions because I had never been a girl scout. Yet all of the anxiety was alleviated as he found my place with minimal problems. Since old man winter decided to show his ugly face yesterday, the snow had really started to accumulate. Thus, as we are walking down my drive way and Mr. Dimples was appropriately commenting on the wintery white precipitation, I found myself sliding down my driveway, in my super cute outfit, into a snow bank. Yes, friends within less than 2 mins I had already embedded into a soft white bed of snow. I mean it is moments like these that are so perfectly priceless you can't just help, but laugh. He quickly grabbed my arm and kindly pulled me from the abyss of snow.  This is when I knew the night had no where to go but up.

So as if we had stepped back in time to the 1950's, we entered the new up and coming neighborhood of Fountain Square. The square itself has an eclectic collection of contemporary art with an old fashioned exterior. The restaurant he had chosen was a Thai restaurant called Siam Square. As we entered the door you couldn't help to feel the energy that room provided with shades of red and oranges that were screaming from the walls. I actually feel dinner can be the most stressful and most judged area of a date. People say that within 5 mins of a dinner date people can know whether they will end there evening early. Thus my goal was to make it pass those first five minutes. 

So perhaps Mr. Dimples new identity deserves some explanation.  I think in life, one of the most welcoming and inviting things people can do is smile. It is the unspoken hello that needs no introduction. Thus as I sat across from my dinner companion I couldn't help but love his incessant smile and good dentition, thus he developed his new identity of Mr. Dimples. Despite the great conversation, I would have to say the highlight of the dinner was my dabble into Asian dessertery. The waitress really had to convince me, to get the ice cream made out of the tarro root, but I hesitantly accepted and what I was presented with was a scoop of loveliness that was the shade of periwinkle and purple mixed together. It was just the creamy mixture of goodness I needed before the pilgrimage to our next stop on the list Big Car Art Gallery.

So I appreciate art because like clothing to me it is a form of expression. It speaks to our souls. So the gallery itself is a collection of several peoples studios connected by long corridors. Thus it is like a clown house of art, with graffiti like walls, crazy colors, and fresh ideas. As you can imagine I loved every morsel of this place. So my favorite artist was this lady who was in her late 50's who had really taken a great interest in Mr. Dimples and me.  She was describing her work to us, and the things she hoped that we took away from her paintings. She had these misty blue eyes, the kind of eyes that looks like at any moment she might cry, that really spoke to my soul. I will never forget as she told me she really just throws paint and dances with her art. She explained that her constant movement with her work and her flinging of paint is the passion that we feel coming from her work. It is a feeling that transcends from the canvas and captures the onlooker. I couldn't help but look at her paintings and agree with the woman; I did feel a sort of energy that was inexplicable.

We finished the night on a whim, a mere suggestion, of a favorite dive bar in Indy the Living Room Lounge. It is a consortium of different walks of life that are brought together by one thing-- karaoke. Through the thick haze of cigarette smoke, you find a stage where everyone is a rock star. I think that is what I love about karaoke there is no judgement. You can be as serious or as horrible as you want and no one cares. While both myself and Mr. Dimples put on our best performances, I think in honest we enjoyed the characters of the evening more like my new homeless friend and J-Love our bartender. 

In short, I had a memorable and quite Fabulous Friday. Yet, I love that as I woke up this morning all I could think about was throwing paint. I feel in life we all have the ability to throw our own paint, to show others our true colors. It is our willingness to throw ourselves out there to try new things that allows us to reveal the passions that truly motivate us.  Thus I encourage you this week to spatter paint wherever you go don't be afraid to really let the paint fly, because you will find that life is to short to use a paintbrush.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Dish and Gab

So I have been talking for weeks about Devour Downtown and tonight I finally had the opportunity to partake in its delight. Devour Downtown is a promotional event for the restaurants in the city to showcase a set dinner menu to allow patrons the opportunity to try their restaurant without breaking the bank. However tonight despite the absolutely delicious dinner, I think I  was more excited by the fact that I was in good company. One of my very best friends from since the time when we were playing with Barbies on the living room floor dined with me this evening. 

I think one of the most refreshing aspects of good friends is the fact that you can go for weeks, months, and even years without speaking, but somehow you can always start off where you left off. It reminds me of one of my favorite episodes from Sex in the City where Carrie talks about the "nook." The place somewhere between the armpit and the clavicle of your guy where your head just seems to belong. It is a comfortable, safe,  and  a familiar place.  And I guess I just find something familiar and right about spending time with someone who has seen you grow into the woman you are today.

Thus, as we slid into the booth of the newly renovated Scholars Inn  we began our dish and gab session. While the food was phenomenal, I believe it was the company that warmed my soul. We discussed the universal topics among women- life, love, and our pursuit of happiness. I just couldn't help this overwhelming sense of happiness for the person, whom I have known for what seems like a lifetime. I think one of the most life changing things that I have learned in the last couple of years is to delight in the successes of others, because like most things in life, your time will come. Trust me it is no easy task, often times you want to think, why not me? or why doesn't that happen to me?  But as I listened to the blessings and accomplishments of my friend I couldn't help but feel this sense of inexplicable joy. She has grown into a gorgeous woman, with a successful job, and a man who loves her. It's the sort of things little girls lay in bed at night talking and dreaming about long after their parents have told them to go to bed. It is so crazy that our childhood hopes and dreams are coming true.

Thus as we were polishing off our delectable desserts, I think we both loved the fact that we had each brought something new to the table for one another. It wasn't a gift you could open, but rather a new opportunity or experience I would have never known about unless we would have had our little dish and gab session. In life I think that this is true with most people, I believe everyone has something to give, to share, or to offer us that we could never discovered on our own.

Thus this week I encourage you to catch up with an old friend.  Drink, eat, and be merry. Delight in the successes of others and don't be afraid to allow others to introduce you to a new facet of life. In return, I think you will find contentment with your own life, love, and pursuit of happiness.  Enjoy!


Wednesday, February 3, 2010

BEE Resilient

 So as many of you know I had two sisters, Jill and Julie, who were born before me. Yet, tragically and like the blink of an eye they were killed in an automobile accident. The girls were 7 and 8 when they died; leaving my entire family lost and devastated.  Despite all the statistics that point to divorce after a traumatic event, my parents defied the oddsand have remained married for 42 years; as they are some of the most phenomenal and resilient people  I know. It wasn't until after many years of grieving  and soul searching that they decided they wanted another baby, and thus marks my entrance to the story. 

So in honor of my sister Jill there is an annual Spelling Bee in her name. I have been told that my sister Jill was quiet and reserved. She had long straight brown hair with  thick coke- bottle glasses that hung heavily on her nose. She would often tell my mother her dream was to win the spelling bee when she got into third grade, the grade when you could participate. Yet, unfortunately she never made it. So today my mother and I  had the opportunity to go to the  Jill Pasko Spelling bee and present the award. 

Walking through the halls of my old elementary school was enlightening. Many things had changed but much remained the same. I reveled in the multi-colored paint smears that populated the walls and the macaroni pasted sheets of paper that were plastered on the bulletin boards. In all honesty I had forgotten what it felt like to be a kid. I had forgotten how much I loved going to school.

As I took my seat in the gym, I looked at the participants of the bee. They were squirrelly with so much energy and jitters that it made me want to go run a lap or two for them. Yet as the contest began, I watched in amazement at their spelling skills. I mean honestly just the fact they didn't have the spell check option was commendable. The words were challenging with words like rutabaga, absurd, centipede and  affiliation. It pained me to be an onlooker as little boys and girls dreams were being smashed one by one like a fly under a flyswatter. One of my favorite participants though was a little boy who stomped off crying and pouting after missing his word. I initially felt for the kid, but then had to marvel at his resilience as he was laughing and pinching the girl next to him within 10 mins

Which brings me to the resilience of youth, something I treasure and miss so dearly.  When you were little you would fall and scrape your leg and with a kiss you had magically been healed. Yet, one thing I have noticed as I have gotten older is that the bounce back period seems to be a little longer. Our elasticity to the disappointments that life hands us are not as easy to recover from. We are only left trying to reassemble the pieces of the person we once were. I look at my own life since recently I had an incident with one of my attending physicians. He said some really awful things about me. Why is it that saying sticks and stones will break my bones, but words will never hurt me  does not work for me anymore?  I am forced to hold my head high and move on. Yet, it is easier said than done. 

Just like a contagious cold that is going around, I wish I could just stock up on zinc in order to avoid any pain I might experience from disappointment and tragedy. Yet, I know that this is not an option, as these experiences are the catalysts and shapers of our lives. They define who we are and the essence of our being. 

This week just remember hat the sting of the bee only lasts a few minutes. When faced with the unexpected and the unkind try to make a conscious decision of being resilient. Because being able to bounce back from what the world hands us is our only ammunition when under fire.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Turning Pages

When I was a little girl I had this favorite book I would read ever night before I went to bed. It was no ordinary book though, oh no it was a Christmas scratch "n" sniff book. I cherished this book more than anyone could fathom. I remember as my little pointer finger eagerly scratched each page and the whiffs of pine cones and candy canes danced through my head. I was in kindergarten, and the biggest excitement a girl could have at this age was show-n-tell day. I didn't even have to think about what I was going to bring in, I mean who else had my scratch-n-sniff Christmas delight. I pranced to school that day with my ruffly ridiculous dress, black patent leather Mary Jane's, and socks with bells on them, as I stood in front of the class proud as punch and showed my book. Yet, I will never forget as the big tears crept down my face when the book was returned to me. Because as I opened up the book and began to turn the pages I gasped in horror as all the pages had holes in them. My fellow kindergartners had scratched my book to an oblivion. I cried all the way home that day from school.

Yet, despite this early traumatic experience with reading materials I have come to find something calming and wonderful in the sound of turning pages. Thus, today my friends I took a field trip. I went to the  Indianapolis Public Library. Here, I found myself lost in the loveliness which is 5 stories of splendid space stuffed with books. I am sure I looked ridiculous as I stumbled around the place in awe by the tall ceilings, the gorgeous array of furniture, and the diverse group of people that populated the building. I don't know how to explain the flood of jubilee that came over me as I took in the aromas of  the musty mildewed books. The smell strikes me like a hot stove as it screams caution mental aerobics at work. I was so happy as I stepped up to the counter and applied for my first library card. You might be laughing, but to me this is a big deal. It warms my soul with memories of my childhood and happy times.  Even thought the old card catalogues have been replaced with super speedy cyber search engines I don't care. The antiquated feel remains; and  it wraps its arms around me just like the tender arms of my grandmother after a hard day. Its cozy and comfortable.

I think sometimes in life we just need to be visited by a blast from our past, even if it is the library. Even though the pages of our lives continue to turn, its never to late to revisit those things from our past. It often can be a lovely reminder to how sometimes the most simple things in life, can bring a sense of security and joy. 

So this week I encourage you to turn back some pages and revisit some happy past times. You'll be so glad you did.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Relishing in Rebellion

Perhaps its the fact I love a little spice of life, or maybe just the sheer excitement one gets when breaking the rules, but I love a little good old fashion rebellion. I honestly think it is because I led such an angelically pristine childhood. I mean I was practically  a 5 year-old adult. However, it has been this last month that has reminded me how much I love to walk a little on the wild side.

A couple of weeks ago in clinic, we had  a patient come in who had developed a groin infection after a prior surgery. He was a quirky man with a thick country accent and a charming disposition. He was surrounded by his wife and child when we informed him he would need to stay in the hospital a couple of more days to have the wound drained. The basics of draining a wound include inserting a hollow tube into the netherlands (or at least very close to them) to drain the multiplying pus and bacteria. Over the next couple of days, this man would become my favorite patient on our morning rounds. Regardless of what unthinkable time we arrived in his room in the morning, when asked how he was doing he would always reply "still kickin." The man was discharged home only to return back to the office to have his staples removed. I will never forget with the staple remover in my hand as the doctor asked the man to drop his drawers, the smile that spread across his face is truly inexplicable. He turned a ruby shade of red as he said while letting his pants fall, " I guess I am kind of a rebel today, as I am low-balling." This being said I realized that the man had forgotten his briefs that morning, now there were two ruby red faces in the room mine being the other as I tried to maintain my composure.

So perhaps my definition of rebellion has changed over the years, perhaps it is not about wearing all black and being defiant, but more about being the unique and different. While I will be the first to admit that I have no body piercings or tattoos to talk about I do have an appreciation for the odd and creative soul. I think that adult life can easily become a monotonous quest to conforming to the status quo.  Maybe it is as easy as going bare buns to work, but I believe that toeing the line of what is accepted by the public eye is truly scintillating.  

I think in darkest depths of our souls we all have a yearning to be the next Thelma and Louise. I have lived the life of walking the a thin line and what I have learned is that my world has been painted with bright new colors when I have redefined the boundaries. I may not be a thief, but I am a rebel with a cause. You see I feel that it takes a little bit of rebel to be bold enough to know thy self. It might require baby steps at first, you know, perhaps wearing mismatched socks is a great start, but little by little you will reveal the rebel that ultimately is the best version of you. 

Thus, as I slipped out the back door with bags in tote yesterday, my heart palpating under my shirt, I escaped from a 2 hour lecture on family violence. While I never looked back as I felt the adrenaline pounding through my internal vasculature, I realized I was a bona fide rebel and I loved it.  

Thus this week my hope for you is to dabble in rebel-dom. Don't be afraid to be bold and different. Redefine boundaries. Because what you will find in the process is a better version of you.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Fabulous February

So as many of you know I have been on my surgery block for the last 4 months. While in all honesty, I find something tantalizing about the world of surgery; its all about cutting, creating, and making someone happy, and beautiful again which are all things I enjoy. The problem, however, is that in these past 4 months I feel that I have been worn down by the 3:45 AM mornings and late nights. And although I am a huge proponent of loving life, I feel that some of the things I cherish most these past months have been stripped from my little paws. Thus in attempt to redeem these 4 months of deprivation, I literally intend to dedicate the entire month of February to me. 

While this might sound selfish to some, it really is about self-preservation.  The bits and pieces of the person that I am are highly influenced by my environment and my inner feng shui. Thankfully, I am on my research elective in plastic surgery, which equivocates to chart reviews and lots of free time. In this month I plan to indulge in myself.  The way I figure is that since I have no man in my life bringing me flowers, chocolate, and making me dinner I will just have to do it for myself instead.

One of my friends and I joked that my twenties love life could really just equivocate to me dating myself. So since this month is dedicated to couples and love, I encourage you, married, dating, or single to really hone into the most important kind of love... self-love.

I am highly intrigued how my friends see me so differently than I see myself? How can we be so confident in some areas of our lives, but yet so meek and unsure in others? Trust me, I am far from a self-lover, but I will have to say that I am a work in progress, but in a way aren't we all. Thus this month I will be incorporating some of the very things I need and love to restore my inner zen. 

On the top of the list of things to do is yoga. I know some people think it is voo-doo magic but I am here to tell you all that breathing and stretching does something to my inner soul. I am so ready to put the books of anatomy and Pre-test aside and dedicate my reading selection to books of enjoyment and People magazine of course. I will be creating delicious delicacies and having people over for wining, dining, and good old fashioned company. Currently  every weekend has a new brunch locale that my neighbor and I have been dying to try mapped out. And most importantly are my plans of reconnecting with friends and family who have been neglected by my incessant busyness and studies. I want to be adventurous, try new things, and go new places all within the span of 28 days. So my goal for the month is to document its fabulousness, and bring blogging back to my life for an entire month and hope that you too will follow.

Thus in the weeks to come, I hope that you too will dedicate some time to your own self-preservation and most importantly LOVE and appreciate YOU. Restore your inner zen and truly relish in how beautiful life truly is.