Sunday, December 25, 2011

New Year, New You

Resolution. To me it sounds like a cure. Some concotion a doctor would prescribe for any ailement you might have, and within weeks you would be better. Yet, the truth of the matter is many of the resolutions people make on New Year's are far from a quick fix. The problems people have stem from a multitude of years of bad habits and bad choices. You can't get skinny in 1 month, you can make a lifetime of debt disappear in days. Thus I have a hard time accepting the hard and fast rule of resolutions, but I do take inventory on my own life and see what is working and what could be improved. 

The best thing about the New Year is that it is like the first day of grade school- a fresh start. No matter what plagued you the year before whether it was subtraction or social studies, the first day is a chance to regain lost ground. Thus all I can do is look to the  new year ahead with hope and anticipation.

Perhaps it is my giddy joy for things to come, or just the fact that I have been through the trenches of life this past year and I am ready for higher ground. I have learned more about myself in the last year than I ever wanted to know. I am a stronger being than I ever thought I could be. I mean what more could you want from a year right? Yet, the truth is I will always want to lose another 20lbs or save a little more money, but what I really want from this year ahead - is to be amazed. 

Amazed at the beauty, the spontaneity, and the love this world has to offer. I want to eat more cheese, drink more champagne-and laugh often, loud, and much. I want to believe that I have purpose. I want to listen better, and I want to marvel at the beauty around me. I want to be a better doctor, daughter, and friend. I want to love.

When I was little I used to write my resolutions down, and place them on my closet wall. They would stare at me right in the face everyday all year long. What I came to find is that more times than not I completed the tasks I had set out for the new year. I was methodical and everything was planned perfectly, so that I could complete my list. Yet, as I have gotten older I have mellowed a bit, I am not as uptight, or stressed out. My goals are not as particular, but a little more lofty, a little more crunchy granola I would say. With this unleashing of check marks to be completed or jobs to be done, I feel more spontaneous and free as if nothing  in this world could weigh me down.

Thus, I hope you will not get caught up in the moment of the night, making all these new resolutions, because in honesty it can become more exhausting than good. My hope for you is that you bring in the new year in style, class, and above all champagne. I hope that when that ball drops tonight you feel nothing but hope for the things to come. I hope there are those obnoxious blow horns, and party hats. I hope there is a kiss. I hope you feel like your slate has been cleaned, and this year is yours for the taking. More than anything,I hope your year sparkles and shines like nobodies business.


Thursday, December 8, 2011

Twenty-eight and counting...

It is a fact. Tomorrow I turn twenty-eight years old, and I am absolutely 100% OK with it. You see there are some years in life where you actually don't feel any older than you did the year before, but this year is not that year for me. I am so ready to leave my 27th year in the dust and move on to bigger and brighter years to come.

The truth is, as hard is it is to say, I have aged this year. Not only have the little lines began to creep up around my eyes when I smile, but more importantly I have grown emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. I actually am bothered when people ask me if I could go back in time what age would I choose, I always say "I choose now." You see when I look at the person I was 7 years ago I can barely recognize her. She is a faint memory of the person I am now, today.

I believe as I age I have become more confident in the person I am, and I have more realistic goals of the person I want to become; and I love the person I am constantly evolving to be. I'm not scared of what the future may hold, but truly believe that there is a reason for everything. I believe more than anything this year, I have realized that I am stronger than I ever imagined.

Furthermore, each year I dedicate my birthday wish to a mantra for the next year to carry through the year with me. Last year it was happiness, while I can think of a lot of other words to describe last year, I will have to say that through it all I still feel that happiness did prevail. Thus for the year approaching I have done a lot of thinking, and I have decided that this year is going to be about love- giving, receiving, and making it apart of my everyday life.

Over the last months I have been so impressed by love others have shown me and my family. I have goosebumps, just thinking about how much this means to me. I guess my goal for the year is to let people know how much they mean to me, how important they really are. I want them to have no questions about the way I feel about them. Life is just too short to be indecisive.

It is crazy to me that I know exactly what I was doing one year ago today. I was sitting in the Indianapolis Airport at my favorite local restaurant, Cafe Patachou, with my parents. I was getting ready to go on a whirl wind traveling expedition for residency interviews. I remember exactly what I was wearing, I remember what I ate, I remember my nervous energy, and I remember thinking I'm not sure if things will ever be the same. In retrospect you have these moments that you come back to think about, these glimpses that foreshadow the future. I remember specifically when my dad gave me my birthday card, we looked at each other in the eye. Without saying a word my eyes began to water, and I had to look back at my omelet and toast to prevent tears from streaming down my face. I think we both knew that this would be our last birthday together.

While tomorrow will be a bit bittersweet, you can have no doubt that I will welcome 28 with open arms. There might not be cake or candles tomorrow, but you can bet there will be champagne, friends, laughter, and love. I am determined to make 28 the best year yet.

Have a Fabulous Weekend! XOXO

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Christmas Cheer

I am that girl who listens to Christmas music in September, has her tree up no later than black friday, and believes full heartedly that Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year. Last night I went running around 9 pm in Downtown Portland. It was the first day of the year where you walked outside and the crispness of the air made you shiver from head to toe. While Portland city proper does not specialize in snow, it does have a dense fog that engulfs the city giving it an eerie, yet magical feeling. It was truly the first winter day I have had here. As I ran around town all of my favorite Christmas memories and moments started to come to me. Perhaps it was the nostalgia of the evening, or all the holiday cheer I found in home windows, or the lights that I passed, but I couldn't help but share these stories that had me both laughing and crying on my run.

When I was in kindergarten I remember it was about this time of the year, when I was given the greatest honor of all time- I was chosen to be student of the week which basically means you bring something in for show-and-tell to share with the class. I had decided that I would bring in my most beloved book of the holiday season " The Sweet Smells of Christmas." I didn't just love this book because it revolved around that jolly man in red and white, I really loved it because it was a scratch and sniff book which back in 1989 was stinkin' amazing. Thus, I was so proud the day I was student of the week. I remember I told the story from memory and then passed around the book so everyone could enjoy. I will never forget how my body first began to trembled and then big tears began streaming down my face as I realized that everyone in my class loved my book too, because ever page had holes in it from where children had zealously over scratched and sniffed my book. Needless to say show-n-tell was never quite as exciting for me.

I feel that if you know me at all, you would know I have huge faith in people, and thus I had huge faith in Santa Claus. My mother and I had this holiday tradition growing up where we would decorate our house and make cookies for Santa all weekend long. There are multiple home videos of me prancing around our house singing songs about Santa and how I deserved the biggest barbie dream house of them all. The truth is I will never forget that frightful day on the bus as I explained to one of my neighbor boys how excited I was for Santa to come. I will never forget as he looked at me with malice in his eyes and said, " Jennifer, Santa doesn't exist, It is your mom." I being the very dramatic child that I was said with my hands upon my hips, "Jason Campbell, Santa can hear you and you are getting nothing for Christmas." I remember getting off the school bus, slinging my book bag down, and asking my mom point blank " Is santa real?" I could see the concern in her face and she said something I cannot remember, but all I did take from this conversation was that Jason Campbell had stolen Christmas and how my 8 year old life would never be the same.

Yet, Christmas has really evolved over the years for me. As a family, we don't really do gifts anymore, but it is much more about good company and of course good food. My mom makes the most amazing cinnamon rolls known to mankind. Each Christmas she would make several batches for us to take to our friends. Thus, my dad and I would fill the back of the car with the Christmas rolls and deliver them one by one to each home on Christmas Eve. It was so special getting a glimpse of each family's Christmas Eve tradition. It was one the moments I waited for all year. When we returned my family would generally go to the Christmas Eve service where we would sing songs and carols. I would wait eagerly for one of my favorite Christmas songs "Silent night" as I stood between my parents holding my candle. I would just close my eyes and listen to heavenly peace. My father would belt out the words in the deepest voice you have ever heard, it was as if the earth was shattering. It is one of the most beautiful memories of Christmas that I have and I will never forget as long as I live.

This is what I love about the holidays, it is so grounded in tradition, and yet there is still so much hope for new opportunities. While my holidays will never be the same, it is about carrying on the traditions that mean so much to me. While I won't be home for Christmas this year, I am eager to share my love and family traditions with my new family here in Portland. I laughed aloud today when one of my friends said, " Your are the daughter of Christmas, and you have never been to the Nutcracker?" So perhaps the best things about the holiday are bringing in the traditions of old with the possibilities of the new. Trust me, the opportunities are endless. May the season bring you nothing but holiday cheer, and memories to last all year long.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Le happy

This is a French eatery which is approximately 2 blocks from my house. I run past it every day on my daily jog, and for some reason a smile always spreads across my face as I pass by the store front. Perhaps it is the canary yellow facade or the fire engine red door, but something about this place speaks to me. I had the opportunity of eating there about a month ago with a dear friend of mine after running my marathon. Let me just say it's name lives up to its expectations. An eclectic place at best, the dim red lighting accentuates the need to eat a Nutella infested crepe without guilt. Literally, after several glasses of champagne and one crepe later we were definitely were in our "le happy" place. Yet it hit me unexpectedly, perhaps it was just the sheer moment of joy, but I realized in that short moment that my "le happy" place had been on a long sabbatical and I wondered why i needed a crepe to find it.

We all are searching for it. We all want it. This nebulous emotion we are left with wondering how to obtain and maintain- the le happy. The problem is that I have searched for happiness in the most superficial of places. I think we all at one time or another have thought happiness resided in a pant size, in possessions, beauty, in the love of a certain someone, but yet what you find is that these things are not enough you are constantly searching for more. While I would be lying if I said I don't find joy in retail therapy, I do believe that the joy I speak of transcends the fleeting happiness of the perfect sweater. Over the past months I have struggled and dealt with my own personal battles of what constitutes happiness.

I will say the death of my father has had a long and lasting impact on the way that I view life and ultimately death. I have learned that my family and friends are a large source of my happiness. It is the relationships that bind us, give us purpose, and help us to feel connected. I will say that the loss of my father has left me feeling a bit like I am drowning in a sea with no life jacket. I didn't realize how much I relied and needed him as a source of strength and happiness until he was gone. Yet, I cherish the memories and the happy times we shared and know that he would want me to be as happy as I possibly could be. And thus here I am.

Despite friends and family, le happy is intricately intertwined with love, the most basic of human needs. You all know what I am saying. We all have experienced the way your stomach feels when that special someone grazes your hands. It is this feeling again of being connected, respected, and needed. I would go so far to say that the vulnerability that love requires of us may actually be an essential key to le happy. Non restrained, uninhibited, you are your truest form of self. I think for a long time I struggled with the fact that actually I do deserve the love of someone, and someone stinkin' wonderful at best. I am here to tell you, you deserve it too.

Another factor that has really helped me is forgiveness. I would be the first to tell you how difficult this task is. I have always been a little soft in nature, thus my feelings are easily trampled. The truth is more often than not people have no idea they have caused your soul to be smattered to a million little pieces. Yet, I find holding grudges to be ever so tiring. I have found so much more peace in forgiveness and think you will too.

When you ask people what they want out of life most will answer happiness. Yet, in my experience some of the most destitute and impoverished people I have come across, have been the happiest. They value the things in life that have no price tags, they value each other and the things they do have. I have done some deep evaluation of my life and have found that most of my searching and pursuit of happiness has been in folly, because my true happiness resides around me in the people, the relationships, and love that surrounds me. I just was too consumed with everything else to recognize it. Reclaim your le happy this week, it's often found in the places you least expect.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Monday, September 5, 2011

Learning and re-learning how to dance...

I remember the first time I learned to dance. I was about 5 years old and it was a wedding of a close family friend. I just remember how beautiful and pristine the reception hall looked. With ornately decorated tables, and large bouquets of flowers I truly felt like I had walked into the scene of a Cinderella story. Needless to say, it was definitely not a place for me, and my Play-Do encrusted fingers. Yet, I will never forget my dad grabbing my hand and and leaning down to me and saying "Let's dance." He took me out to the dance floor, which seemed so big, and placed me firmly on his feet and swept me around the dance floor as if we were the only people in the room. He showed me how to twirl like a princess, along with which came my massive amounts of giggles.

Yet, it is funny how some things don't change. Fast forward about 20 years and here we are doing the thing that just came natural for us- dancing. Thus you can imagine I love everything about this photo- the lighting, our expressions, and the fact that in this small still frame of time it looks as if we are the only people on the dance floor, perhaps the only people in the room.

Thus this is where my dilemma begins. The last couple months of my life have been nothing but tumultuous, new, and cloaked with grief. Yet, the thing that I struggle with the most is the fact that I feel like I am constantly re-learning how to do the things I once new how to do with ease. You see losing someone that knows you better than you sometimes know yourself leaves you broken and vulnerable. Thus over the last 2 months I have been picking up the pieces of my life and trying to create something that resembles what it once was.

Yet, what I have discovered is that sometimes all the pieces don't fit the way they did before, and your are forced to create more of a mosaic of the person you once were than a replica. You see I don't think I will ever be the same. I will never be able to call my dad at work just for a chat, or call him frantically on the interstate as I question my exit, nor will he grab my hand for just one more dance at a wedding.

Yet, what I have learned through my solitude and pain is that life is worth the dance. That despite everything, I know in my heart that my dad would want me to dance, to love, to feel, and to inspire. While I have never felt so alone, I also have never felt such love. I sometimes wish I could rewind the last 6 months of my life, that I could change the course of events. There are images in my mind that will haunt me for life, and moments that I will treasure forever. The truth is I miss my dad more than you will ever know, but when you are given the chance- you must dance.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

A Eulogy for my Father

  • Rex Pasko

When I was little my dad would always take me to New Castle, IN to watch the fireworks on the fourth of July. We would lay our blankets down and get positioned for the fireworks show. I remember one night specifically when we were waiting for the show to start and he looked down at me and said, “Do you see all these people here?" I looked all around and say yes. He then with a smile on his face and a twinkle in his eye he said, “Well, they are all here for me, you know, because it’s MY birthday.” I am sure my mouth dropped and my eyes got really big because when you are 5 and your dad tells you something you just believe it. I just remember thinking my dad must be a really important person for all these people to come to his birthday party.

Yet, It wasn’t until years later that I actually realized what a special guy my dad truly was. You see my dad was the life of every party. He is the only man who could make me laugh until I cried. He had a way of telling stories that could make you listen to him for hours. It is honestly hard for me to imagine my dad without a smile on his face. He was someone who always saw the glass half full. My dad would have given anyone the shirt off his back. He loved his family and he adored his friends. He taught me discipline and the rewards of hard work. He had a magnetic personality and a sense of humor that could make any day just a little bit brighter. My dad was my hero.

Yet it’s hard to think of my dad without also thinking of my mom. Rex and Cath were quite a pair, they dotted each others I's and crossed each others t's, and I wouldn’t be the person I am today without them. I think I have always known what a great couple they were-you can’t be married 42 years and not be-but it has been in the last months that I have realized what a special partnership they have. They have been through the stormiest of weather together, the loss of two children, the death of each others parents, but the way my mom has cared for my dad in these last weeks has made me realize what it is to love someone until death do us part.

The relationship between my father and I has always been special, but It has been in the last five years that my dad had become more than just a dad to me - he has become my best friend. There was rarely a day that went by that I didn’t call or talk to my dad. He knew the players in my life, as I knew his. My dad would have done anything for me, and he truly was my biggest fan. Therefore, you can imagine how difficult it was leaving my dad in a hospital bed and moving 2000 miles across the country to begin my surgical residency. I asked him the day I was leaving for Portland “Dad are you sure you want me to leave, and he looked at me and said, "Yes, because I want you to take care of people just like me.” And this just sums up my dad. He was always worried about others more than himself.

My dad has taught me so many lessons about life, but I think the most beautiful lesson and one that will stay with me as long as I live will be the one from the final chapter of his life- because while my dad was dying he has teaching me how to live. My dad has showed me that at the end of the day money and possessions mean nothing, but is the love of those who surround you, the relationships you have built, and memories you have made that matter. I remember we were laying down on the couch one night and I just looked at him and I said, "Dad, I am sorry that this is happening to you,” and he looked at me and said "Jennifer you play the cards you have been dealt.” I think my dad has always lived his life in this manner because he believed “it was not the years in your life, but the life in your years that really mattered."

The last conversation I had with my dad was the night before he died. I told my dad I loved him and he responded I love you. Then I leaned in and whispered “Dad are you scared?” and he opened his eyes and looked at me and said, “What do I have to be scared of.” I just know that my dad is in a better place. As much pain as I feel right now, I know that his pain is no more. I know my dad was very proud of me, as many of you have told me, but I have never been so proud and more priviledged to say that Rex Pasko was my dad.

Monday, June 20, 2011

A Tale of two cities

I have officially been in Portland for week and I couldn't be happier. At one point last week I had to find a packed box marked sweaters and find one of my favorite wool wears to curl up in due to the fall-like temperatures. Yes, I know some of you are gagging, but I am in love with the green, lush wonderland that I have found myself. My hair is jubilant. There is approximately zero humidity here which allows for some very nice frizz- free days. I also love the eclectic mix of the people who reside here, regardless if you are a hipster or a yuppie people are stinkin' happy. Everyone I walk past on the street says hello and smiles. People are emphatic about exercise, bikes, and going green. All things which I embrace. Perhaps one of the highlights of my week was going to brunch at a local establishment called Besaws. They had the most amazing rhubarb reduction champagne cocktail. They were so great I had two. I then had a chance to wander the one and only -Portland Farmer's Market. If you would have seen me I literally look like I a kid in a candy store. The sheer volume of fruits and vegetables that surrounded me was astounding. Yet, they don't just dabble in legumes and baked deliciousness, oh no, they have wine tasting as well.

Yet, as much happiness as I have felt this week the sadness and pain in my heart is hard to forget. As many of you know my father is gravely ill, and is on home hospice back home in Pendleton. I can honestly say one of the hardest things I have ever done is leaving my father in a hospital bed and boarding a plane and moving 2000 miles away. I will never for as long as I live the conversation we had before I left, perhaps not for its brevity, but for its depth. He said he wanted me to the live the life that he had dreamed for me, and by all the power in me I will do my best. You see I have never witnessed something so horrible and awful as my father's disease process. The way it has taken the man who I thought was invincible, and has made him an emaciated skeleton of a man I once knew. Yet, out of all my tears and heartache I have found something that is beautiful. Something that will continue to change and shape the person I am for years to come- Love.

The love that my father and I share is something so indescribable something that surpasses words, that I need say nothing more and I know in my heart -I will always know his love. Yet, perhaps I have been more touched by the love that others have shown my family. The constant flow of people in and out of my home. The friend who dropped everything to come to Oregon and help me move. The friend who drove me to my house to go to the hospital with my dad, while we both cried in silence in the car. The phone calls and texts. The cards and meals that have magically appeared as if a magician had pulled them from a hat. Friends of my dad who spend the night at my house every night so my dad will never be alone. The homemade strawberry ice cream that appeared and filled the antique bowls of my house. This is the love that changes people. The love that fills your soul even when your gas gauge is on empty. This kind of love never fails.

Thus, Charles Dickens was right:" It has been the best of times and the worst of times" While I don't know if I will ever understand the timing or answer to the question why, I do believe that my father continues to teach me an ever important lesson. Life is not a matter of acquiring things, or a score board; life is all about the relationships you build, and the love that surrounds you.

Monday, May 23, 2011

The Oregon Trail

I can remember vividly the first time I was introduced to the East Elementary computer lab. We walked in alphabetically to rows of what looked like TVs with keyboards attached. It was in this room I was introduced to not only the latest technology of the time, a technology that would be ever present in my adult life, but also a little game called "The Oregon Trail." Now as a first grader I was enamored by the capabilities of the computer as it educated me by playing a game based on the trail of Lewis and Clark.

Yet, unfortunately, I rarely was a winner at the game. You see my little family on the computer would always die from famine or drown crossing the river. Much of this was to my own expense since I refused to shoot the buffalo because as I learned earlier in the year they were an endangered species. PETA would have been so proud of the young activist in me. Yet, if you would have told me in first grade that I would someday be making my own trek to Oregon, I would have giggled and called you silly. Yet, in approximately 2 weeks I will be moving to Portland. While it comes with mixed emotion, I am truly jazzed about this new chapter in my life.

Yet, I can't help but be a little nervous as I leave everything I have ever known and move to a foreign place. I am leaving my loving family and friends to start my career. It is like starting from scratch. Yet, after visiting the hospital, walking the city, and meeting the people I believe that this is a place I could be truly happy. Yet, does my stomach do a somersault every time I think about packing up my quiet, comfortable life and moving- Absolutely.

I took a leap of faith, a chance, when I decided to move to Oregon, but I believe life is worth a chance. I don't want to be one of those people who is afraid to sail away from the shore. I want to meet life where it takes me. Now granted you don't have to go halfway across the country, but it applies to small aspects of your life. It is about the guy you asked out because you never thought he would go, the house you decided to buy, or the job you never thought you would get. It is about putting yourself out there, getting hurt, having successes, and experiencing life.

I am sure the Oregon Trail was as daunting to our ancestors as it is to me now. Yet, while they were faced with death daily, terrified of tomorrow, and endured pain, sweat, and tears for nothing more than a dream of a better life. I only hope that my road to Oregon will be less bumpy and dysentery free .

Thus, my hope for you is that you will embrace life and take a chance this week. Don't be afraid to start a new chapter in your life because "It is not the years in your life that matter, but the life in your years."

Monday, May 16, 2011

Sunny- side up

As a child one of my favorite breakfast delicacies my mother made me was 2 eggs with toast and strawberry jam. I can remember vividly sitting at our old kitchen table as my mother would say (as if she didn't know) "How would you like your eggs?" I would giggle and shriek with joy, "Sunny-side up!" I have no idea why I loved my eggs this way, but I think it had to do with my fascination with the runny, gooey yolk invading my toast and everything else on my plate. I loved the yellow hue that reverberated back at me making things a little brighter on my plate. Yet, I also enjoyed the fact that I could design all sorts of animals and other creatures in the yellow lake that had accumulated on my plate. Lastly, it just made me happy because when you are 5 about anything including egg yolk makes you happy.

So why is it so hard for me some 20 years later to find the joy in the littlest of things? Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that the weight of the world on your shoulders has gotten a little bit heavier, or perhaps you have suffered to many low blows, but the optimist in me believes that we still can find joy. It just might take a good game of hide and seek.

I have been blessed with an uncanny and at times obnoxious sunny disposition. Thus, I am rarely seen without a smile on my face. Yet, storms and torrential downpours have not excluded me from their agenda, and thus I am quite a weathered veteran. I love that life doesn't care about your time table or your plans. It is just stinkin' unpredictable. And when you feel like you cannot handle anymore, you feel like your whole being might implode from the inside out; you realize, oh yes you can. On the scale of my horrible weeks, this past week wins by a landslide. So how do we deal with the world when our sunny -side eggs have turned into nothing but a scrambled mess?

I find joy in the beauty of other people and the snapshots of life. You capture moments. If you think about most photos you take they are glimpses of moments where you are innately happy-moments you want to remember. This week, though rough, has had some glowing moments. I will never forget watching movies with my dad on the couch while we shared oatmeal cookies. I will always remember the quiet distraction of others the way they can make you forget about everything else that is going on except the present. I will never forget the jam session in my car with a friend as we sang at the top of our lungs while passerby's just looked and stared. These are the moments that I treasure. The moments you least expect to find joy, yet it somehow reveals itself. While my life this week has at time felt suffocating and dark, I am pleased to report that despite my sadness sunshine has crept in and left me with nothing but the hope for another day- sunny of course.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Royally Ready....

In approximately 5 hrs I will be getting up in my pajamas with mimosa in hand to sit in front of my television and watch dreams come true. That is right, I said dreams come true. You see tomorrow is so much more than a Royal Wedding, it is a lesson for every young girl out there- that anything is possible. As children we grow up dreaming about being princesses, we dress up like them, and strut our stuff around the house like them. We believe that maybe, just maybe, this could be us too someday. Yet, Kate Middleton wasn't born to royalty, she was born a commoner, just like an other child growing up in the UK. I am sure as a child she too pretended that she was the Queen of England, yet never believing she had a shot at the real title. Thus if I had children (which is a terrifying thought) I would wake them up from their sleeping slumber, give them a bowl of cereal, and place them in front of the TV so they could watch history in the making. You know many of you will disagree with me and find this ridiculous, but I think it shows both girls and women alike that dreams do come true. Now don't get me wrong I am not the sort of woman who enforces nor endorses the prince galloping in on a white horse coming to rescue the princess from her life as a commoner because as a liberal woman you should know how I feel about women's equality in the 21st century.

Yet, I too know what it is like to wish and hope for something thinking maybe, just maybe that it will come true. You see tomorrow is my last day of medical school. If you could only know the very convoluted and tortuous road I took to get there you would understand how important I think it is for little girls to know that dreams do come true.

Ever since I was approximately 6 years old all I ever wanted to do was go to medical school. I was a driven, motivated, and I felt a force larger than me drawing me to the field. Yet, I cannot even begin to describe the devastation and pain I felt when I was rejected from medical school. I literally thought I was going to die. I cried so many tears that year I don't even know how I can still cry to this day. So I began working at a hospital as a nurses aide, wiping rear ends, giving baths, and taking vital signs. I was also taking grad school classes on my days off to keep up on my studies, and worked as a hostess at a local steak house in the evenings.

Yet, I will never forget the day that I received my acceptance letter in the mail. I literally began sobbing uncontrollably, my body was vehemently shaking, and I had to sit down just to breathe. This was the moment that I realized what it felt like for dreams to come true. It was life changing, not only because I had waited for this day my entire life, but because of the journey I had to take to get there.

Thus, Both Kate and I will share something very special tomorrow. While I will complete my medical school career and she will become a princess, we both in our hearts will relish in the fact that anything is possible, even your wildest dreams.

Sunday, March 6, 2011


February was a fiasco. It was like the time I went to Venice and it rained the entire time I was there. I actually thought that I might die due to drowning because of all the water. I am the sort of person who believes that things happen for a reason, and that we are only given as much as we can handle. Yet, last month was truly unbearable. I felt as if my life was a rollacoaster of emotional highs and lows, and worst of all it only left me with feelings of trepidation. It was as if someone had put me in the middle of the ocean and told me, the girl who can't swim, to find my way back to shore. I was tired of swimming, tired of trying to keeping afloat, and what I really needed was a buoy, a life jacket, or some strong handsome coastguard to come save me.

Yet, I think part of life is discovering how we respond to these types of situations. I have asked myself several times over the last month Why me? Why my family? Why now? I have come to grips with the fact that the struggles we endure through this life are the moments that define us. I have been gasping for air, struggling with the waves of life for the last couple of months and right when I thought I might sink down to the depths of despair, my friends jumped in and saved me.

I am the sort of person who never wants to be a burden to anyone. A person who entered a profession to help others, not to have someone help me. Yet, this past month I have learned the beauty and grace of friendship.

It was mid February and the worst day I had had all month. I was on a service at the hospital where the attendings hated me, I had just learned my father's cancer had progressed, and my mother informed me she needed to go back for further testing of a suspicious lesion in her breast. There is no other feeling to describe how I was feeling at this moment but numb. Scared, cold, and alone I just ended up calling one of my very best friends and crying in my car after work on the phone with her. I didn't really say anything comprehensible, I just cried. I just remember when I got home I heard a knock on the door. When I went to open it up there she was standing with her gorgeous smile and a beautiful orchid in her hands extending it to me. I remember I just hugged her and cried not only because of the nice gesture, but also because I knew I didn't have to be afraid of being alone. I learned that no matter how awful or terrible the month could be I had people around me who wanted to make it better. People who cared about me.

Perhaps this is why I like spring, because even though you feel like the earth is saturated with water and that the earth is drowning somehow the green grass sprouts up and the flowers bloom. I believe that we all have stormy seasons in life. Times when you literally need a boat to get out of the stormy weather, or a shelter to take cover. This past month my friends have truly been lifesavers they have carried me through some of the worst weather of my life and I am forever grateful.

The ebb and flow of life is unavoidable. It hits us when we least expect it. Yet, you just have to have faith that it will cease that the storm will stop. When it does you are left with the aftermath, a garden of blooming flowers.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011


Smooch. SWAK. Beso. Tongue. Peck. Neck. French. Make-out. Smack. 1st Base. Whatever you want to call it, everyone loves a great kiss. I will be the first to tell you I love kissing. To be quite frank, I have no problem admitting I am a kissing floozy. I came to this conclusion after reading a magazine article explaining that the average person has 28 first kisses in their lifetime. And of course intrigued, I began to count. Surprisingly I realized that I was quite the overachiever. Now many you might find this dirty, and I am so sorry, but I think it is somewhat beautiful. I would go as far as to say that most women can name the best kiss they have ever had or seen in a movie without hesitation. We like kissing because it can say so much about a person without saying a word. Not to mention kissing is like the best facial workout anyone could ever get. You burn 26 calories per minute to be exact (don't ask why I know that). Better yet, it releases endorphins, so it's kind of like working out twice in one day. While I am sure many are much more versed on the subject, I have found in my experiences that most people fall into 1-9 categories of kisses. It is my goal to elaborate on these nine categories, and to shed some entertaining commentary about these categories. (As a disclaimer all of these kisses are based on real life experiences at one point or another in my short life.)

#1 The Peck

Now this is was absolutely adorable when I was 12, but in my adult life when you are on a date with a guy and he gives you a peck it means one of two things. He is totally not into you or he is asexual. I mean maybe he is trying to follow some set of invisible rules, much like the 3 day rule for calling girls back after a date, but this is so 7th grade. It does however become more endearing when you have been dating someone for a while and you are in public ect. and he lays a big smooch on ya. Now that is tasteful and the proper use of the peck.

#2 The Forehead Kiss

So I will never forget the guy who decided it was a brilliant idea that our first kiss should be shared on my forehead. I was utterly so confused and frustrated that I had no words for him. I felt like my father had just kissed me goodnight before he tucked me into bed. Now I do feel that this too can be a very sweet gesture when you have known a person longer than 1 1/2 weeks. It should come with a disclaimer: Use Wisely.

#3 The Conservative

As a raging liberal, you can already guess this kiss did not go over well with me. I am sure some people love it, but I find it rigid, predictable, and unchanging... appropriately named. So the only way I can describe kissing a conservative, is imagine getting your tongue stuck in a pop can. You really want to move it but it is stuck in that one position. This my friends is the conservative, the same approach, no spontaneity, and a stiff tongue.

#4 The Slobber Master

So I love dogs, I really do. But there is something different about getting slobbery kisses from Fido and the guy you date. Sometimes I wonder "what the heck is he aiming for I mean literally my mouth is right here." Yet, somehow he has ingested my make-up and moisturizer with one swift kiss. Maybe it's because I have issues with messes, but saliva should stay in your mouth where it was meant to be.

#5 The Jack Rabbit

Quite possibly the kiss I detest more than anyone could ever imagine. I literally just sit there and wait for the traumatic injury to be over. I don't know who ever told guys that this was attractive, but I feel like I am being attacked by a reptile. It is the rapid in and out lashing that makes my mouth feel like it is being brutally murdered. Not only is this the biggest turn off in the world, but makes us doubt you in every way. Just SAY NO.

#6 The Lip Tickle

I actually really enjoy facial hair. I have no idea why but scruff is good. Thus the lip tickle is quite the entertaining occurrence during a lip lock. It sends shivers down your spine and for some reason or another makes everything more exciting. Yet, I get that people are ticklish, and might not dig the mustached man, which in my book is a travesty.

#7 The Biter

You know a bite here and there, O.K., kind of hot. Yet, when I get up in the morning to investigate my lips to make sure they aren't bleeding profusely; we have some issues. When I think of kisses I think of soft lips, not tattered fragments, nibbled on by my loved one. Thus this kiss requires someone who can strike that perfect balance just as my friend Goldilocks would say you need a bite that is "just right."

#8 The Hot and Heavy

So this is a rare find. It is what most women believe every make out session should be because they have all read some book by Nicholas Sparks or watched some movie like the Notebook. Yet, hot and heavy kisses are unpredictable, and they only leave you wanting more. The whole experience is like a jungle gym in my mouth. While it is a boat load of fun, dude it is a lot of work. It does however make you feel alive and hot like fire.

#9 Slow and Steady- It wins the race.

Yet, this would probably come in as my personal favorite -the slow and steady. There is something to be said about a passionate kiss. It has cadence. The tongue moves in a way that leaves you lost in translation. The kiss is soft and tender, and yet still scintillating. It requires some help to steady so his hand is placed on the side of your face. It is real and absolutely memorable, but in a different way than the hot and heavy. It is breathtaking .

This brief synopsis of kissing categories was meant to be my gift to you for Valentine's Day. So while many guys will run out to buy the largest chocolate hearts and most expensive roses they can find, I encourage you to go back to the basics guys because kisses can go a long way.

Friday, January 21, 2011

On Beauty

I can hear the words of my mother reverberating off the dressing room doors of the Macy's department store, "Why can't you just be happy with what you have been given." At first it just felt like someone had slapped me in the face, and all I could feel was the aftermath of the burning and stinging that her hand had left on the side of my cheek. You see my mother and I were shopping together for a dress for St. Vitus, also known as the medical school prom. My mom had just picked out a dress that was tight, black, and somewhat more revealing than I would have chosen for myself for me to try on for her. I remember coming out of the dressing room with trepidation as my mother gasped and said, "That's it. That's the one." It was just so interesting to me that as we both stood looking in the same mirror, we each saw something very different. In her eyes, I looked great, I had a nice shape, and if it were her she would wear the dress with pride. While I looked in the mirror and was horrified. I saw every imperfection, every flaw, and I just stood there baffled at how my mother could possibly feel that this was an acceptable dress.

Yet, I have asked myself for weeks the question that my mother did "Why can't I just work with what I have been given." The answer is I don't have a stinkin' clue. I guess I have grown up in a society that has defined the status quo of beauty for me. I grew up believing that the beautiful women will live happily ever after with their prince charmings. I believed that being beautiful in this society was related to your pant size. Yet, it is hard not to be convinced that there is not some validity to my views on beauty as the findings in a recent NEWSWEEK showed that women who were perceived to be more beautiful were more likely to be hired in the work force, make more money, and be more successful. Yet, the more I think about it the more frustrated I have become with myself and the society in which I live.

All women want to be desirable, if they tell you anything different they are flat out lying to you. It is our nature to want to be loved, and thus love and beauty are intimately connected. I had a guy friend of mine tell me once that he only dates "pretty girls." I of course appalled and mildly irritated by this statement asked "How's that was working out for you." But my question rests in what and who defines what is a "pretty girl." Is it only based on appearance or are there other characteristics that weigh in? Yet, I will tell you that I believe that as much as we would like to deny it society does dictate what we consider as attractive. For example, I have ridiculously curly hair. Yet I would move my hairstylist into my home in an instant, if she would make my hair straight every day because I think I look more attractive with straight hair. Yet, in all honesty, I believe that curly hair fits me and my personality far better.

Furthermore, I know in my heart of hearts that as hard as I try I will never look like Sarah Jessica Parker. Yet, there was a time in my life where I thought being skinny was the end all to beauty. I thought my life would be so different- better actually if I was thin. Somehow I had come to believe that men would like me more, that I would be perceived as more desirable if I was a size 0. Yet, what I learned along the way is that this attempt to control this part of my life only led to disaster and destruction. I remember one day I was in Boston for the summer doing research, I remember being in the gym and going to the scale moving the notches that determine your weigh and realizing I weighed 102 lbs. I remember the only thing that went through my head in that moment was I wonder what it would feel like to weight 100 lbs. The truth is I didn't look beautiful, I didn't look attractive, I looked ill. I didn't have rolling curves, I had bony fingers and an emaciated face.

Yet, somewhere along the way I had a metamorphosis. I realized that beauty was so much more that my exterior. It was more about what resides within you. The truth is that over the years beauty will fade. It will be replaced with gray hair, wrinkles, and sagging skin and what you will be left with is a distant memory of the person you used to be. While I still have longings to be that woman that is idolized in our society, I realize that I am just going to have to settle on being me. You see I believe that beauty radiates from people. It is in the smiles, the laughter, and the unadulterated acts of kindness and this is what truly speaks beauty to me. Thus, I encourage you this week to embrace your inner beauty as much as your outer beauty. To realize that there is no criteria that you have to meet, that you possess a beauty that far exceeds the status quo. And I hope that you will find as I have that trading in my skinny jeans for hips and happiness was the best thing that ever happened to me.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Snow Running

I woke up this morning and it was snowing and now I am heading towards bed with a light dusting still spitting from the sky. While snow is often viewed as the enemy, with all the hazards it causes, I can't help but find the innate beauty of it.

As I geared up to go running this evening I had on my black leotards, my thick gloves, and my rainbow bright hat to keep me warm. I had my ipod blaring to Brittney Spears and Bruno Mars as I trudged through the banks of snow. Despite the extra energy it requires to run in the snow, and the fact that every mile you run seems like two, it doesn't matter because I am mesmerized by the gorgeous glistening reflecting back at me. The snow reminds me that there is something out there that can lift the darkness of winter that at times feels like it is engulfing me. I feel the small flakes penetrating my face, sticking to my eyelashes, and I feel alive. I hear the crunching and squishing of snow under my feet, it is the only reminder that my feet are still moving.

Perhaps it is the running itself, but in that hour where I am running I feel like all my worries and heartaches have lifted. I don't know what it is, whether it is the run or the snow, but I just lose myself. I sometimes wish I could run all day; escape the unknowns, the hurt feelings, and my ever churning mind. Yet, I know I can't.

Snow is clean, white, and pure. It gives me hope and a weird way embraces me and warms me.. As I run past the kids in the yard making snow men and snow angels. I laugh out loud as memories flood over me like the ocean at high tide. Through the overcast evening a ray of sunshine hits the snow and produces a sparkling sea of snow that resembles a diamond in the light. Yet, I look back and smile as I realize I am the only person who is weathering the storm tonight because my footprints are the only ones in the snow. Sweating, silent, and smiling I trudge to my staircase and just stand. Listening to the air, the traffic of the nearby street, and glancing back at my lone foot prints in the snow knowing that I am alive and that we are here to do nothing else but leave footprints wherever we go.

Saturday, January 8, 2011


I have said it before but I am a creature of habit. I have a morning routine where I get up each morning and immediately go to my kitchen to start my coffee pot. Quite honestly, no one should probably talk to me until I have had my coffee. I listen to the percolating coffee, where the hiss and tinkle of the coffee maker is like music to my ears. I then pull out my favorite mug that is brown with white polka dots and pour myself a plentiful cup of coffee. I then sit on my lovely cream colored couch in front of my computer and press the refresh button. Sometimes I push it multiple times because I have no patience, but with just a small click everything is renewed and my day is updated- NY times style. Quite honestly sometimes I wish I had a refresh button for real life. I feel like it is so easy to get in a rut these days where we get in these habits of just going through the motions. Where my days begin to resemble one another and all you really want is a small reminder of the beauty and richness of life. All I need is a breath of fresh air.

Refresh. I can think of a ton of things that make me feel refreshed like eating citrus fruit, breathing in frigid cold air, siestas, and baking cookies are great examples. Yet, I think we are much more influenced by our surroundings- the people, places, and things of everyday life. Thus, my purpose is to let you know that even thought our lives can feel and seem so mundane, I believe that there is spice to life scattered all around us. We just have to be open enough to experiences and people around us to find it.

I really have no idea what my deal has been lately, I just really haven't been myself. This being said I will have to say that I was pleasantly surprised when someone was interested in spending the evening with me. The truth was that I didn't know him very well, to be honest he was somewhat of a mystery to me. Thus I was delighted when he suggested we should go to First Friday, which is where all the art galleries downtown open up for public viewing (I highly encourage everyone to check this out). My next favorite part about the evening is that he had nothing else planned after the art show. I know this would make some of you extremely uncomfortable, not knowing what to expect or what was coming next, but I loved it. Being somewhat of a free spirit, It was so refreshing not to have a mandated schedule dictating my life. We agreed to having drinks at one of my favorite restaurants in town.

Perhaps it was the libations, or the dark rustic atmosphere, but this is where I started to feel rejuvenated. It is so refreshing to talk to someone who embodies the characteristics of life that you believe so deeply. Perhaps I had been focusing on my future to much, that I forgot about how much I love the present. It was in the next hour that I watched this man sitting in front of me transform me and remind me of what I love in life. I love beauty, spontaneity, honesty, and depth. I have been on dates where people tell me about their luxury apts, their awesome new car, and which business they want to own next. If I would have had one of those cartoon bubbles that people get to have when they are in comic strips on these dates mine would have said " I want to slit my wrists." Yet, the conversation with my mystery man was rich in depth, and perhaps my favorite moment of the night was when he told me how he discovered he was color blind. Afterwards, I then asked him curiously, "What color are my eyes?" he responded, "um. .. green?"

If you don't know me, I have bright blue eyes. I felt like in that moment he had turned on a light bulb for me. He had reminded me that most of life is how we perceive things. We both can find the same things innately beautiful, even though he sees it slightly differently than me. This was so beautiful to me. Most of my life I have heard that my eyes are my greatest asset because I have brown hair and blue eyes, which is somewhat rare. Yet, he sees me entirely differently than the rest. His interest in me doesn't even include my eyes. The one thing that I believe is pretty about myself, he doesn't even see.

Unknowingly he had just pressed my personal refresh button. I felt as if I was seeing the world differently in the vibrant colors that I had been missing due to all the weight of my daily stresses and worry. Thus I encourage you this week to surround yourself with people who make you see things in a different light, go to places that energize you, and embrace spontaneity because life is too short to just go through the motions.