The art of choosing

pray.

The past several days have been challenging with some unforeseen things that have popped up with my job situation, but I have hope that it will all work out for the best.

In light of all the decisions I have been making, I have asked God a lot these days: “What should I do, Lord? I don’t know what to do.” There’s no thunderous or clear answer that comes to my heart (usually), but what has been giving me consolation through this week is the Lord saying, “You will make a decision, Alison. I am taking care of you in all of this. Where you go, I will be with you.”

There is no force from God to make a certain decision. There is also no promise that any one decision will be easy or perfect. He just promises that He will be with us, and that is everything.

My friend Elayne reassured me the other day that sometimes there is no right or wrong decision; we make our choices based on our values and the information that we have, not necessarily knowing what is on the other side of that choice. Those choices lead to more necessary decision-making, over and over again. We choose, we live with the consequences, we learn from those experiences, and we keep on keeping on.

eat.

Two dishes have ROCKED my world this past week. One was peach cobbler a la mode, but not just ANY a la mode…Tillamook’s Oregon Dark Cherry ice cream 😀

Second was toasted multigrain sourdough (from Trader Joe’s) with canned sardines and a homemade spicy tomato sauce. I thought of making this dish a couple weeks ago when I spotted a can of sardines and a can of diced tomatoes in the pantry, and last Friday I finally made it happen. Mmmm mmm mmm it was such lovely a Mediterranean-inspired meal.

move.

Monday and Tuesday’s workouts have made me quite sore everywhere.

Monday was a lower body workout that involved a LOT of concentration:

  • 3×5 weighted pistol squats each leg
  • 3×8 squat to toe tap backs
  • 3×12-15 deficit stationary lunges each leg
  • 2×10 staggered good mornings each side
  • 3×10 kneel to squat jumps

Yesterday involved some upper body circuits:

5 rounds:

  • 5 double pushup burpees
  • 1 wall walk + 20 shoulder taps
  • 12 hollow rocks

4 rounds:

  • 8 tuck handstand to kick through
  • 5-6 Russian pushups
  • 15 plank hip dips each side

3 rounds:

  • 2-3 neutral grip pull-ups
  • 10 KB hang cleans each side
  • 10 tabletop sit throughs

All the demos can be found on my “moves and grooves part 4” Instagram highlights!

groove.

I went for a quick “glamping” (glam + camping) getaway in New Hampshire with some (masked) pals this weekend! Sleeping in tents outside but also having access to a kitchen and indoor plumbing as needed (although I still peed in the woods usually; it’s honestly just so much easier).

We swam, hiked, bonfire’d, ate, and shared in some bonafide fellowship. The best parts were the company and also looking at the sky full of stars (and the Milky Way faintly!) two nights in a row. Seeing a sky full of stars is one of my most favorite things in the entire world, and I don’t get it often being a city girl.

Literal words from my mouth: “I don’t usually consider myself a city girl, but it really comes out when I’m here in the nature.”

THE nature???

So tell me:

Are you a confident decision maker? What was the last decision that you made that caused further challenges (can be as big as marriage / having kids or as small as choosing to stay up late)?

What is the best dessert you’ve eaten recently?

What is your favorite part about outdoorsy types of trips?

Potato is my favorite word in the English language.

Apparently there’s a tropical storm coming today??

My brother texted me yesterday, saying, “Make you sure you have a flashlight, dry foods, and bottled water ready.” So this blog post hopefully is up before any power outage occurs.

I stated in my last post that I want to focus my blog on the founding principles/actions/pillars(?) of this blog — “pray, eat, move, groove.” I am hoping to share more edifying, positive content that is still aware of and honest about current events.

Let’s try it out.

pray.

My friend from Boston University, Denis Father Denis, just got ordained a PRIEST this weekend!!

My uncle is a priest, but Denis is my first close friend who has been ordained a priest, and there are many more to be ordained in the coming years. A lot of my prayers this weekend were for Denis and his family, and also just in gratitude for the gift of good and holy priests.

Despite the horrendous acts of many priests in the Catholic Church (which I responded to a while ago), the role of priests in allowing people to access God in such a real, tangible, and healing way makes me want to internally combust because it’s so amazing. To have young, diverse, intelligent, fun, kind, loving men of great integrity willfully becoming priests today — when they could be doing literally anything else with their lives — is really a miracle, and a much-needed one.

To have people witness with their lives that God is enough is so stunning to me, in the best way. I had happy tears all weekend!

Also praying for my new baby cousin, Luke Sebastian, new baby brother to these cutie patooties, and their rockstar parents!

eat.

Late last week, I made impromptu tuna burgers with what I had on hand. I wish I could tell you the ratios / measurements, but you don’t want to know them anyway, because they were a little too loose… BUT THEY WERE TASTY.

  • canned chunk light tuna (I hate that it’s called chunk light)
  • shredded zucchini (squeezed and drained within paper towels)
  • minced / grated onion
  • an egg
  • mayo (regular or light)
  • sweet relish
  • bread crumbs / cornmeal
  • salt and pepper
  • Philip’s seafood seasoning (can use Old Bay or just omit)

Mix those together, shape them into burger type shapes, slap ’em on a hot pan with olive oil, and cook until golden brown on each side.

I served mine on a toasted potato bun with light mayo, sweet relish, spinach, and melted pepperjack cheese.

It tasted like a poor girl’s crab cake, so I call that a win.

I randomly received a free large bag of russet potatoes (and other fresh vegetables) from the community health center where I got a free COVID test in Boston. I’m not sure why (maybe a farm share??), but I’m not complaining because I have baked loads of steak fries with them!

  • Slice russet potatoes into 1/5-1/4 inch wedges. Lie them flat on a paper towel to absorb some of the natural moisture.
  • Toss wedges in a large bowl with olive oil, salt, pepper, paprika, garlic powder, and parmesan cheese (or just salt and pepper if that’s all you have).
  • Lay out seasoned potato wedges in a single layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake 40 minutes at 450° F (flipping halfway through).
  • Serve immediately and dip in your fave sauce (I did a mayo-ketchup-garlic salt combo).
  • Leftovers can be reheated via oven at 350° F for 5-10 minutes or a toaster oven if you have one.

I love potatoes. Also, fun fact: potato is my favorite word in the English language (hence the title of this post).

Fun fact #2: This instagram page exists.

move.

I’ve been posting most of my workouts on my Instagram stories (and highlights) the past couple of months if you want to see the video demos! Yesterday was a really fun and quick workout that I did at the park:

3 Rounds:

  • 100-80-60 double unders (100 on the first round, 80 on the second round, 60 on the third round)
  • 10 side shuffle burpees
  • 15 bulgarian split squat hops each leg
  • 10 decline cross knee pushups
  • 12 squat hops to a low step

I ate a lot of cake on Sunday, so this was a little challenging the day after, but I had fun!

groove.

This category will just be my miscellaneous category — dancing, life, work, whatever the groove of life is.

Now that I’m home, I drink cold water from a Brita in the fridge, which I have not had in so long. Usually it’s cool-ish tap water (which is totally fine by me). Nor AC. My body is not used to having external regulators of my temperature (I would just sweat profusely every second of the day in Boston to stay cool). Cold water + cold air means that I sometimes get too cold in a 75° house and need to go outside to warm up LOL.

I hope you all have an excellent Tuesday. Let me know if you enjoy this format of blog post!

So tell me:

Are you in the path of Hurricane / Tropical Storm Isaias? Stay safe if you are!

Have you cried happy tears recently?

What do you dip your french fries in?

What else is new in your life?

An Interview with Myself

I’ve been thinking about how I should format this first blog post in TWO MONTHS.

The best thing I can come up with to make it as concise yet comprehensive as possible is to do a sort of “interview” with myself.

First of all: how are you? It’s been quite the summer year so far. I consistently feel like the gif of Elmo in a sea of fire. It hits deep.

So here’s the interview with myself, in case you were interested.

What have you been doing since you last posted on the blog?

I was studying for the national physical therapy boards examination, which I took on July 28th. I am currently awaiting the results, and I am honestly nErVoUs; it was a challenging exam.

Last Saturday, I moved back home to New York (although “home” is a relative term, because I feel like Boston is a very real home to me now). So a lot of the last two months was also filled with relishing as much time as possible with loved ones in Boston while studying and keeping social distance.

Why did you decide to go back to New York?

Some practical/financial reasons mostly, which are now even more pronounced thanks to COVID. From the spiritual side of things, I feel like New York is where I am supposed to be, and I cannot pinpoint the specific reason for that. In retrospect, moving to Boston for college was a result of both practical reasons and a feeling of peace, even if I did not know what was ahead… and look how well that turned out 🙂

a pic from 2017 that sums up how I feel about leaving Boston

I am very grateful for my family allowing me to stay at home during this time!

So when do you start practicing physical therapy for real?

Good question. Given the current employment climate, your guess is as good as mine. I applied to a couple residency programs earlier this year, one of which I did not get into, and the other was cancelled due to COVID. Currently, just doing my best to seek and find!

Besides applying for jobs, I’m taking this interim to help around the house, work on some new/old fitness skills, BLOG (hi!), pray, and find different ways to serve and grow here in NY. Oh, and dance in the kitchen unapologetically.

Any follow-up to your last blog post re: justice for black lives?

There has been continual reading, listening, learning, aching, discussing (sometimes debating), supporting, and growing going on in my own life and in the community of people around me (even if through social media).

I can now highly recommend the book Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates. My friends and I shared great conversations over the book, and I believe that it has changed us to be more aware, less passive, and more active against deeply planted racism in America and, in many cases, our own hearts. It’s a pretty quick read and very beautifully written.

The division about nearly every human issue in this nation is heart-wrenching. But the triumph of Goodness and Truth, although subtle and sometimes hard to sense, is always there, and I trust in that.

By the way, you can sign the new petition for Breonna Taylor here.

What is currently on your heart?

(I put this question in here because that’s what this blog is about, so I was going to share it sooner or later anyway.)

Well, besides all of the above, the current thing I feel I need to improve upon is staying true to my authentic self when I’m in any sort of social situation — with family, friends, strangers, anyone. Not saying I’ve been acting differently or “I’ve been hiding who I am!” Nah nah nah. What I’m saying is that sometimes I think I need to stand my ground more when I want to say something that I think is true OR refrain from any conversations / actions that I don’t think are the best, morally speaking.

I am the wettest noodle of all wet noodles, who is too agreeable for her own good. I know very well the standards I strive to maintain in my life — the integrity and love with which I want to live. And I need to start living by those things with more confidence, even if other people don’t necessarily feel warm and fuzzy about it all the time, including (especially) myself.

“There is no truth without love and no love without truth.”

Will you blog more now?

Hopefully! I think this blog/world could use some more light and things that edify the heart, so I am hoping to share more of my blog’s founding principles — prayer, eating, moving, and grooving — in a simple and engaging way to keep you feeling hopeful as well.

I just used hope three times. Get after that stuff.

Happy Friday! I truly hope you are doing well and staying healthy. ♥︎ Thanks for stopping by.

So tell me:

What have you been up to the last two months?

Do you ever struggle with being too agreeable? Or perhaps too confrontational?

What’s one great thing that has happened to you this week?

The Great and Small Things I Learned in Physical Therapy School

I just made the title of this post and now I’m intimidated by it.

It’s a tall order to list all the great and small things I learned in all three years of physical therapy school, but I’ll try. It’ll be good.

(BTW, I’m a doctor now! I still need to take and pass my boards exam in July to be licensed, but I got the degree.)

This is my last “great and small things I’ve learned” post from my time at Boston University, and thinking about that just made my heart sink. Here are the ones I’ve written during my time in DPT school:

Let’s take a stab at reflecting on some of the great and small things I’ve learned throughout all of PT school, now that it’s over. I’m not going to look at any of my previous posts, so as to make this as candid and #raw as possible.

1) I am totally an external processor. Whether studying or figuring out the inner convoluted workings of my soul, talk talk talking is MAJOR KEY.

2) Starting a relationship while starting doctoral studies is challenging.

3) I truly had very little idea what was happening during my first semester of PT school. So much of what I thought I knew about physical therapy flew out the window, and I struggled greatly with the lack of context as I learned about so many different pathologies and interventions in a classroom setting. But it got better.

4) I learned how to embrace failure and let go of perfectionism.

5) It will always be worth it to reserve time and energy to pour into my faith and the community surrounding that faith.

6) That being said, I learned how to set boundaries between study time and my faith and social life. Not without a lot of struggle, strife, and sometimes hurt feelings, though.

7) I learned a lot about walking, and I can say with conviction that it is my favorite form of physical activity. It is one that I never want to take for granted.

8) Physical therapists help others to help themselves, and I love that about the profession. We want YOU to do the moving as much as possible, and we will help you get there.

9) My thoracic spine mobility is crap.

10) The answer to any of my personal problems is probably that I need to sleep and pray.

11) Having a diverse and loving group of friends in PT school is a blessing both in and out of the classroom.

12) In one instance, I cannot see myself doing anything but physical therapy. But in another instance, I can see myself doing something totally different.

13) Weaknesses really can become strengths, and often do.

14) I can spend a whole year with my friend, Janice, by my side and not get sick of her.

idk if it’s reciprocal though

15) The brain (and the whole central nervous system) is an absolute enigma and something that I wish to learn more about, regarding its relationship to and necessity for movement. Maybe one day I will pursue a neurological clinical specialty.

16) America runs on Dunkin’ and I still run on peanut butter and banana every day.

17) I have come to appreciate my family and my life situation more and more as time goes on.

18) Finding deep and abiding freedom, peace, and joy is of utmost importance to me, even if it hurts at first.

19) Many walls of pride have been burned down in different areas of my life, and that is exactly what I prayed would happen in January of 2017, well before PT school started. It has been a painful but very good process, and it never stops.

20) I think I’ve finally learned to try new things that are either neutral or good for me. Trying new things is not naturally my jam (see #16).

21) I can get close to running a half marathon if I don’t almost break my leg in the process.

22) I have learned how to have healthy confrontation and disagreement. I hate confrontation, but it can be extremely fruitful when done with respect, clarity, and charity.

23) It’s really nice to be in a class of people who want to help each other up the mountain.

24) Expect the unexpected.

25) Everyone always knows more than I do. I don’t mean that in a self-deprecating way, but in an honest way. There will always be something someone else knows that I do not know. There will always be something that I can learn from any given person, whether that’s intellectually, academically, spiritually, emotionally, experientially, or physically.

our first Christmas / holiday season together as a PT cohort 🙂

25 is enough. It’s late now and, like I said, the answer is sleep and prayer. The true list of great and small things I’ve learned is inexhaustible, because the fruits of my experience in DPT school will continue to appear throughout my life.

There is nothing but gratitude and joy looking back at these last three years. Good grief is an appropriate phrase to describe it.

Thank you to all who made this possible, and thank YOU for reading along throughout this journey. I appreciate you.

A Routine For Now

You’d think with all this quarantine time I’d be blogging a lot more.

To be very honest, I haven’t had much motivation to blog. Not because I don’t love this space, but I think because I’ve been praying and processing through many different things. What I have in me to share is either super boring or deeper and more personal than I’m willing to share at this time.

I also just don’t really know what my life, your life, our life is anymore.

Just kidding, that’s so dramatic. It’s the kind of thing I exclaim when I’m tired but also want a cookie at 11pm (aka now?).

I’m graduating on Sunday with my Doctorate in Physical Therapy! It feels relatively anticlimactic, but I am still excited and we’re finding ways to celebrate.

wasn’t long ago (2 years ago) that I graduated undergrad (PC: John L.)

Boston is set to open back up this Monday. It feels surreal and I’m a little scared honestly, but we’ll see what happens I guess.

Anyway, the point of this post is to share with you how I have finally settled into a little routine these days. A quarantine routine — a quaranroutine, one might call it. This would be categorized under the “boring” things that I have to share, but I’ll add in some insightful reflections in there.

I’ll usually wake up anywhere from 4:30am to 8:30am. I kid you not. Occasionally, I will go to a hill in Boston to watch the sunrise and say morning prayer (usually with a friend or two — socially distanced and masked). That’s where the 4:30am comes into play. Those sunrises are always so worth it…as long as I can come back home and take a big fat nap 🙂

8:30am wakeup time happens if I was lazy about going to sleep on time the previous night. Yeah, I said it. TOO LAZY TO GO TO SLEEP; that’s how low I can go.

7:00-7:30am is the sweet spot though.

I have been praying first thing in the morning, which has been such a blessing. It would be very difficult for me to get up early enough to pray before school/clinical, so to have the flexibility to do that now and take my time with it is awesome. The absolute best thing about this quarantine has been spending a lot of quality time with Jesus.

Next I’ll eat some breakfast. You can imagine what that looks like (read: pb and banana in some form).

throwback banana pancake photo

I’ve been trying to do some spiritual reading or just eating meals in silence. Again, to spend more time with Jesus and also to savor my food more. It is rare that I am not thinking about 10,000,000 other things that I have just done and am about to do during the day. Sometimes my roommate will be in the kitchen and we’ll chat too. Sometimes I will be on my phone ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ Key word was *try* to do spiritual reading and eat in silence.

Next will either be a walk outside OR studying for boards OR a combination of both, usually depending on the weather forecast for the day. One day a week, I’ll take the morning or early afternoon to grocery shop and do laundry as well.

I’ll typically work out right before lunch. I’ve been posting a lot of my workouts and exercise ideas on my Instagram story/highlights, so follow along there if you are interested! Despite closed gyms, I’m actually feeling quite strong and good with my workouts, but the abundance of sleep and diminished stress I’ve had probably has to do with that. Also, having a kettlebell at home is very helpful.

Lunch lunch lunch. A midday meal to break up the day will always be exciting to me. It’s been a lot of eggs recently.

another throwback photo, but exactly the same meal as these days

The afternoon will consist of a combination of studying, chatting with friends, and maybe a walk if I didn’t go on one in the morning. On my walks, I typically pray a rosary, listen to a podcast, or more recently I’ve been going through Quizlet flashcards on my phone to study.

At 5:30, I’ll break for online Mass and evening prayer. Then I’ll likely shower and eat dinner anywhere from 6:15-7:00pm.

At night, I’ve been applying for jobs in New York, but that’s understandably been a bit of a wash. I trust that something will come eventually as the pandemic recedes.

The rest of the night is a wildcard. Tuesdays involve women’s group via Zoom. Otherwise, it’s a little Words with Friends, some scrolling (working on doing less of this right before bed), some reading, some dental hygiene, and night prayer. Or in the case of this night, blogging!

The weekends are more loosey goosey. I’ve also been participating in some online events, physical therapy and Catholic world alike. Family Zooms have also been a Sunday tradition, which has been wonderful.

Are you still with me? If you are, you deserve some of the NICE star stickers (you know how there were meh star stickers and then the NICE star stickers in elementary school??). I feel like quarantine has been a time of rest and strengthening for me, preparing me for a lot of unknown and change ahead. I am very grateful.

So tell me:

What does your quarantine day-to-day look like?

What are some things you’ve improved upon during this time?

What are some things you struggle with during this time?