A Note Re: Feminism and Life

Last summer I almost left PT school to become a religious sister.

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I wanted to become like this woman, Sr. Bethany Madonna, SV. She’s a Sister of Life. The Sisters of Life are an active contemplative order, which means they pray a LOT (duh), but they are also ACTIVE in doing things in the world. Specifically, they are ceaselessly active in the work of helping mothers in any income setting and of every race who struggle with the decision to keep a child in the womb. They invite pregnant mothers and their children to live in their convent for the early years of the children’s lives. They provide oodles of practical supplies to families who are struggling and give emotional and spiritual support to fathers and mothers who are in the midst of the difficult period of having a child, wanted or unwanted. They help with logistics of giving up children for adoption. They hold joyous baby showers for single mothers. They go shopping with women who just need a pal. I went to the Bronx once to help the Sisters of Life babysit four children of a single mother so that she could have a tiny bit of rest for the evening. They are the mothers, sisters, listeners, and girl friends of women who are hurting (plus babysitters to their children and supporters of fathers). It is NEVER through force or manipulation but only through hospitality, gentleness, and self-giving love…and gosh darn it, I’ve never heard of anything more feminine than that.

Obviously, I’m not a nun right now. Ultimately, I didn’t feel like Sisters of Life was where I was meant to be, and I desired to come back to Boston to do clinical, finish school, and see what God had in store for me there (it’s been good btw). But the work of the Sisters of Life is not limited to just them, not just to those who chose that path of life. Because of the Sisters, married and single people of all ages and races help support this ministry – not just through a remote donation via Facebook but through real, physical help. For example, my friends and I had the privilege of visiting, befriending, and helping a happily married mother whose latest baby boy has an intestinal disease that required him and his mother to stay in Boston Children’s Hospital for 3 months last fall, away from their family. This wasn’t an issue of whether she wanted to keep her child or not, but this was an opportunity for support, kindness, and empowerment in her state of life as she supported the life of her son without her husband by her side.

This post is not going to answer or address every (or any) pro-choice argument that is out there. This post is not to toot my own horn, because I have done very little in the grand scheme of things. But this post hopefully shows that there is an understanding on the pro-life end that women need to be helped in order to help their children. I’m sitting on a plane currently, and the thought that comes to mind is, “Put on your oxygen mask before helping others.” Women, ESPECIALLY those who are victims of rape or incest, absolutely need to be helped in every way possible. But those “others” still need to be helped too. This post is to show that there is a way to do BOTH, and people are doing it because it matters. There are people, women, in fact, who make it their life’s work and mission to FIGHT for women – those in abusive relationships, those who never wanted to be pregnant, those who do want their babies but can’t support them financially. They do practical things in order to support and dignify and empower WOMEN while also protecting new life as well, thus raising up a whole host of new women. I, too, want to be a woman who can do both.

I’m not a Sister of Life; I am a woman who is pursuing a doctoral degree, but I don’t ever want to let go of this attitude and action of real, personal, compassionate support of women and their children. As a future physical therapist, one of the things I admire most about it is it’s inherent fight for the weakest and most vulnerable. We care for people who literally can’t breathe on their own, who can’t sit up by themselves, and we fight our dang hardest to get them to a point where they can do SOMETHING, ANYTHING functional. I think that same fight for an unborn child (yes, from the moment of conception) who may or may not grow up with a low quality of life is fair and dutiful. Can we as a society give them the chance at SOMETHING, ANYTHING in this beautiful life?

A law won’t necessarily change hearts to consider the life of an unborn child, but feminism like that of the Sisters of Life might, because they care about all life – those of women and those who have not yet seen the light of day.

There is work to do, absolutely, and Lord, allow me to do it wherever I go.

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The Great and Small Things I Learned {Grad School Year II}

Well well well.

If it isn’t the old BLOGGY BLOG. It pains me to see that I have only blogged twice in 2019 thus far, but I am hoping that will change as I head off to clinical this summer and look forward to a (hopefully…please, Lord) lighter semester in the fall.

I realized that I didn’t do a “things I learned” post after last semester, to which I *GASPED* because it has been a tradition to post one after every semester…

Talk about a trip down memory lane! Just looking at that long list of blog posts reminds me of the great privilege it has been to have had such a rich college experience — one full of the most wonderful joys and the most aching heartbreaks in every aspect of life. God is good.

Enough sap for now. There will be more sap sometime later in this post, I’m sure.

Here we go — a list of the GREAT and s m a l l things I learned in this second year of DPT school:

1) B’s get DPT degrees, man. Sometimes you just gotta celebrate that B-level grade with all the joy and gratitude in the world and then mmmove on with ya life.

2) I need to get more sleep to be a good human.

3) There is so much grace and beauty in witnessing your best friend enter into the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony *heart eyes x1000*.

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[Nicole Ellen Photography]

4) Evidence-based health care practice is possible and very important.

5) The why, how, and when to “crack someone’s back” (read: not for everyone and not super often). This is one tiny aspect of what I learned, in addition to a heck of a lot about treating many neurological conditions and neck/back pain, which involves mostly EXERCISE!

6) I’m a big Khalid fan. Also H.E.R. Just into those R&B vibes, I guess.

7) I am capable of taking lukewarm/cold-ish showers for 90 days straight (it was a fasting thing that happened before Lent and through Lent).

8) I have an endless list of weaknesses that seems to grow by the day, but this has caused me to learn how to lean hard into God’s strength and grace.

9) How to really think, pray, and reason through a relatively big decision, even if others do not approve of the decision I make.

10) Young people living out their faith steadfastly and truthfully can and will be persecuted for it.

11) There are many ways that I as a Catholic need to love others better. Through reflection and prayer, I have actually learned a great deal about how to be a better Catholic from my friends who do not share my faith. God has no limits and continues to humble me as a human being.

12) I COULD run a half marathon if I really wanted to run one. I have NOT yet, but I COULD.

13) My sides have gotten pudgier, but I have learned to embrace them and, honestly, I think I perform better in my workouts having them around ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

14) It is important and good to call my parents more often (love you, mom and dad!).

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15) Sometimes, if it’s past 10pm, conversation with friends is more important than studying.

16) “Athleisure” is the way to go, baby (95% of the time). Whether I exercise or not that day. Because studying in jeans is not a comfortable lifestyle.

17) I realized in the last month of school that having a daily goals list is a good idea. Go figure!

18) Studying with friends is very encouraging, motivating, and sometimes it even saves my butt when I’m like, “Wait, I didn’t know she posted lecture that we’re supposed to do on our own…”

19) Talking out loud to myself / a friend to study is helpful and probably my study method of choice. Writing things down is second place.

20) There are plenty of things that I need to constantly reflect upon or let others reflect back to me in order to know how to improve and grow as a person.

21) It’s never too late to ask for forgiveness, and it’s never too late to forgive.

22) Pioneer Woman’s cinnamon rolls are the best cinnamon rolls of all time (thanks to Sarah’s mom and to Zoe for making these and introducing me to such a heavenly treat).

23) How to not take straightforward confrontation/comments personally all the time.

24) I need to work on my spine mobility.

25) Using kitchen scissors to make a “chopped” salad is highly effective.

26) I’m starting to like my overnight oats a leeeeetle more liquid-y than I used to… just 1/4 c. more of milk perhaps.

27) A sense of how to teach and manage an inclusion dance class for children with and without disabilities.

28) I can make it to literally the last pair of underwear / socks before doing laundry, and that takes approximately 2 weeks only HAHA.

29) Talking to trusted, holy people about my inner turmoils and battles is very good and allows for a lot of room for grace to help me emerge from the struggles.

30) Even if I do not have make time to sit down and pray for 20 minutes each day, it is fruitful and good to talk to God throughout the day in between everything that is happening. It’s like texting/calling your best friend to keep them updated on every last detail 🙂

31) The people who have journeyed with me during my time in Boston are some of the most precious gifts I have received these last 5 years.

32) I have to start thinking about real-life things like jobs and ~the future~ in less than one year, even though I still feel like I’m just in school for the rest of my life. AGH!!!

33) I missed blogging. ♥︎ It was kinda hard getting the wheels turning, but here we are.

One more year of grad school to go, and I am both terrified and stoked. It’s been a trip so far, but I’m grateful for each day of the journey.

Thanks for tuning in, friends! I hope you are having a great May so far. We are almost halfway through 2019 — w-h-ho-hooaaaa. Why is it still < 50° outside right now though!?!?

Have a great week!

So tell me:

How has 2019 been for you?

What are some of the great and small lessons you’ve learned so far?

College/Grad school students: what’s new!? How was this year?

What is everyone doing for the summerI have a 12-week clinical at a hospital kinda far from home, which will be an adventure, I’m sure!

 

 

 

Remember Those Life Lessons You Learned When You Were 5 Years Old?

…Well we still out here learning ’em!

My heart is so happy to be picking up the pen again typing as I always do, except this time on my blog and not on my class notes! I honestly am smiling as I type this. How have the first three months of 2019 been for you? We’re already almost 25% of the way through the year; HOW ABOUT THAT!?

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I am currently eating a freshly fried clam cake (like a crab cake except made with clam meat) with one hand as I type this, so you know ya girl is home eating mom’s delicious home-cooked food. Boston University is thankfully on spring break right now, so I am taking advantage of the extra time to sleep, spend time with the family, and eat something other than overnight oats in the morning (as much as I love my oats).

I’ve been limiting my social media time as well for Lent, which has allowed a lot of extra time to think, reflect, and pray in that scary, mindful silence. This semester has been filled with many good lessons, as every semester is, but I feel like God has particularly brought me back to some timeless lessons that are likely on every elementary school poster in the nation.

Lessons such as…

Sleep is good for you.

OHHHHH, WHO KNEW!? I used to naively think, “What’s 7 hours vs. 6 hours of sleep? I still function just fine either way.”

Answer: The difference between getting 100% of my work done vs. getting 75% of my work done. The difference between remembering what I studied vs. not remembering what I studied. The difference between having the energy to be a kind and compassionate person vs. brushing past anyone who is in my way because I just want to get done what I need to get done. The difference between needing tea (I’ve been on that black/green tea train for the purpose of caffeine lately. Haven’t made it to coffee yet, but the drive for caffeine has commenced) vs. feeling spritely in my natural state.

I’m sure you get the point, because you likely have discovered the power of sleep early on in your life.

Think before you speak.

One of my greatest weaknesses is being impulsive when I say things. I’m not an impulsively angry person, but sometimes I say things out loud before thinking just to smooth over an awkward moment, to protect myself from contempt, or to avoid conflict. I do not desire to do these things, but the problem is… I end up doing them anyway because I don’t always shut up and THINK before I speak. I hate discomfort, and saying any words, even thoughtlessly, can help remediate that discomfort for a time. But we all know that can bite ya in the butt real hard, kids.

Silence and discomfort have been good for me in this respect. Not always having an answer has proven to be better than me opening my big mouth.

Love your neighbor as yourself.

Yeah, yeah, yeah, this is a lifelong lesson that everyone needs hearing all the time. This one, however, hits me on a more personal and sensitive level currently, because I have been slowly but surely realizing that I have let down several people in my life who I love very much. I’ve been that gal who has taken advantage of others’ kindness, of the good things others provide for me, and of the time and care that others share with me so that I can be at peace. And those people keep giving to me and loving me, which is what makes it all the more painful.

Without going into the gory details (I say that as a colloquialism; there has been no actual gore involved), I have reflected that I need to be less selfish and more focused on how others feel. So it’s time for less talking, more listening, less “can you,” and more “how about you.”


As for the moves and grooves — they’ve been happening almost daily still, thankfully! These past few days have been rough because I’ve been eating a lot of junk food whilst spending time with friends and family, but c’est la vie, ya know? Some days when I’m in school, I only have time to do 100 burpees for time in my apartment; other days I get to do long strength workouts; other days I feel like running outside and up a b r u t a l hill near my home. And many days, I just walk, and that’s my workout for the day. I am grateful for the ability, knowledge, and time to move. Makes me happy.

And YOU make me happy for being here! Thanks for sticking with me and reading along. I hope you all have a wonderful Wednesday.

So tell me:

What are some basic life lessons you are still learning today?

What is the best thing you’ve eaten in the past week? I think the winner for me is the massive burger (wiiiiith bacon, cheese, guacamole, BBQ sauce, and coleslaw….) from Mr. Bartley’s Burger Cottage in Cambridge 😀

Tea or coffee?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Virtual Breakfast Date

I was brainstorming some sort of profound topic that I could blog about, but I feel like there has been a lack of good, light-hearted blogging like the olden golden days of DMAG.

With that being said, let’s share my favorite meal of the day together (sorry if it’s not yours, but I’ve already made this banner)!

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…I’d brag about my mixed media masterpiece. By “mixed media”, I mean yogurt, peanut butter, and fruit. #contemporaryart

…I’d tell you that I got a Fitbit for Christmas, and it has motivated me to move more while I’ve been at home. When I’m in Boston, I can easily hit 15K+ steps every day, but usually when I’m home, that number dwindles to maybe 5K per day? It’s really the competitive feature of Fitbit that gives you a run for your money (or the other person’s money who gifted it to you), let me TELL YA. My mom has one as well, and she is definitely pushing me to w o r k.

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I’ve been enjoying nice long walks in the neighborhood while praying, as well as dancing around the house to Mom’s international music selection — the epitome of daily moves and grooves.

My mother is dancing around the first floor as we speak.

…I would assure you that the calorie count on Fitbit is the feature that I look at the least. Not because I think I’ll be triggered, but truly because it is the stat I care the least about right now.

…I would tell you that I go back to Boston to start classes next week. I am excited to learn, less excited for the major schedule adjustment that will have to occur (i.e. looking for things TO DO right now ➔ looking for opportunities to NOT be doing anything starting next week), but grateful all the same.

…I would express to you how good it has been hanging out with my family this winter break. They are the bees knees, and I am thankful to be in their presence, whether that involves eating mom’s home-cooked meals, picking up my dad and brother from the train station, watching foodie/travel Youtube videos with my parents, or going to Mass with all of them.

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…I would tell you that my obliques are majorly sore from this fun/interesting move from Blogilates. Eeeeeeccentric movement, man.

…I would tell you that these Turbana plantain chips have been my favorite snack this week. Crispy, great flavor, and not too oily. I think my mom got them from TJMaxx for $3, so hit ’em up!

…I would point you to this website that my friends started called The Pilgrim Collective. It’s run by friends who I know from the BU Catholic Center, and here’s the mission statement:

The Pilgrim Collective is a group of people seeking to create beauty and expose each other to beauty. We come from far and wide and all create in many different ways. We’re poets, musicians, cooks, bloggers, dancers, painters, writers, and however the heck else we create (and that’s not counting our day jobs). We’ve all been created good and beautiful and we are all called to be creators ourselves. But far too often we don’t think we’re creative enough so we don’t try or maybe we just don’t take the time out of our busy schedules to cultivate that creative side. But we desire to change that. We desire to create a culture of beauty and creativity; an environment where everyone can feel empowered to be the creators they’ve been created to be.

I just wrote a blog post on it. If you are just looking for uplifting music, heartachingly beautiful poetry and prayers, and thoughtful posts on the faith, check it out!

…I’d tell you that today my friend Abby is coming to explore NYC with me before we head back up to Boston to start another semester of PT school! I can’t wait to eat many desserts and things with her in the city.

…I’d ask you:

What are you eating for breakfast?

Do you have a Fitbit or other activity tracker? What do you like about it?

What is a highlight of your week thus far?

Never a Dull Moment

Merry Christmas!!! Happy New Year!!! I am so late in posting this!!!

I hope you all have had a joyful and peaceful Christmas, New Year, and holiday season. I am very grateful for all the blessings that God has brought about this semester and this Christmas, as He always does.

Second year of PT school is off to a fine start! This past semester was lighter in terms of work load, and that might be a reason why I enjoyed it more than others, but was also very genuinely interested in our first neurological systems course, especially since we had the privilege of working with patients every week who had actually had a stroke in their past.

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Of course, Christmas was a joyous and heartwarming celebration of our Savior’s birth! I spent lots of quality time with Madre, Pop, Ben, and Ben’s girlfriend, as well as my aunt, uncle, cousins, and John! We’ve been eating so. much. of Madre’s killer food. My arteries need a break from all of her delicious meats and all of the buttery Christmas cookies (still), but I am not that mad about the cause of the predicament.

Here’s a hodgepodge of snapshots from the latter half of the semester + Christmas! Blessed times, man. And selfies forever.

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On Christmas Eve, I meditated on His name “Emmanuel,” meaning “God with us,” and felt much gratitude for Our Creator becoming so close to us, becoming LIKE us in humanity, to be with us through every emotion and trial in this here earthly life. What Love.

Last Saturday, we drove down to Florida to stay at my parents’ vacation home for the week, and it’s been a lovely, relaxing time in this balmy Southern climate! One highlight was visiting the NASA Kennedy Space Center, which made me both awe-inspired and terrified of outer space. I wonder how people can get rockets to the moon while I can hardly get myself out of bed in the morning. Other highlights have included lots more food, my friend’s cat dressed in a sushi costume, learning how to play Settlers of Catan, and being able to walk in the Florida sunshine. My mother also gifted me a new iPhone X, so pic quality has improved!

Another collage to display the Florida fun:

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So…last year. This year. New Year. That kind of ~soft~ stuff.

There truly was never a dull moment in 2018. It was one of the most emotionally difficult years of my life. If I could guess the number of days that I cried (for better or for worse) in 2018, I’d estimate 300/365 days of the year. I’ve cried and seen others cry enough this year that at one point, a drop of water rolling down the side of my WATER BOTTLE provoked sadness in me because of its mimicry of a tear rolling down someone’s cheek. HAHAHA #melodramatic.

But you bet your bottom dollar those tears came with a lot of growth. I learned…

…how to communicate better, in a way that is both loving and straightforward/sometimes brutally honest. 

…how to better make decisions for myself.

…to allow myself to be uncomfortable and to not push away the feelings of loneliness or brokenheartedness, no matter how major or minor those feelings are, because the Lord makes Himself KNOWN in those feelings.

…forgiveness.

…to care a little less about what other people think.

…to be very comfortable in my own body through its ups and downs, ins and outs, gains and losses.

…God works legit miracles in my own life and the lives of my loved ones.

…a heck of a lot about physical therapy.

…the beauty of a man and a woman laying down their lives for one another in marriage (@Rachel and Austin).

…gratitude truly is the will of the God (1 Thessalonians 5:18), and it always brings a lot of light and clarity to life.

Although some of the non-dull moments of 2018 were quite difficult and painful, there were many moments that made my heart SOAR with joy. Instagram has some evidence of  the latter:

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hearts that are His #retreat #totustuus

A post shared by Alison (@alison_grooves) on

In 2019, I’d like there to be “never a dull moment” as well. Even in the monotony of work and life, it’s impossible for there to be a dull moment when there is so much that can be extracted from the moment — so many things for which to be grateful, so many ways to remain in His humble and simple love.

Hopefully the non-dull moments are more joyful than not, but whatever the weather, I am HERE FOR IT. Because God is good all the time.

Have a fabulous weekend! We are hittin’ the road back to NY already tomorrow!

So tell me:

What were some of the never-dull moments of 2018 for you?

What did you do for Christmas/the holidays/New Year?

What are you excited for in 2019?