Calling out the negative coping mechanisms for my stress without judgement.

pray.

…I would say that I should probably do more of this. Or at least do more silent, intentional prayer. I am definitely praying all throughout the day for my patients and for continual strength from God to do what I need to do, but to be with the Beloved in a quiet space is a rare occasion these days, and I know that it is in my control to change that.

What I think I really need to clean up is my night routine. The hardest thing these days is coming home exhausted and wanting to “turn my brain off,” so I turn to social media or talking to friends or watching an assortment of Youtube videos (other people eating or working out or talking about God usually). I KNOW THIS IS NOT THE ANSWER. But I’ve been doing it anyway in an attempt to fill myself.

Guess what. It’s not working super well.

My face is broken out in acne; my cortisol levels shoot me up at around 7am even if I want to sleep in; my workouts feel really difficult; I sometimes find myself stress eating. None of this is first-time experience, and I know that the sources are a) stress from work; b) lack of quality time with God. One of these can be changed, for sure, if I really want it. And I do.

I am grateful that, at this point in my life, I can call out these negative coping mechanisms of mine without being hard on myself. I am also grateful for these seasons of stress and adjustment that remind me of my weakness and the need to rely on God c o m p l e t e l y.

Something that helps me with bouncing back from negative coping mechanisms is to “just say yes to the next good thing.” Whether that’s putting down the phone at 9:00pm, taking out the trash the night before instead of almost forgetting in the morning, turning off the TV Youtube while I’m eating dinner, etc. Say yes to ONE next good thing. Just one.

eat.

The best thing I ate last week was chicken saag with garlic naan and basmati rice from a local Indian restaurant. My brother picked it up for us + his girlfriend on Thursday night, and we had a lovely socially distanced dinner in the backyard. It made for two delicious meals, which is the best 🙂

move.

I’ve still been loving the outdoor KB workouts on Sundays hosted by @kettlebellgains_apparel. I didn’t go this weekend because I needed a bit of rest (aka napped too long and was a sort of too late lol) and wanted to catch up with family over video chat, but most Sundays I try to make it down there for awesome community and HEAVY kettlebell work!

Otherwise, my workouts have been mostly strength/mobility-based and pretty low key. I’ve been telling my patients, “I work out so I can do this [physical therapy]!” And I mean it.

groove.

On Friday night, I got home late so I ran up and down the stairs blasting uplifting praise and worship to sing, dance, and work up a sweat ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ whatever works.

On Saturday, I met up with my apartment-mate from last year, Yuka! She loooooves NYC, so I gave her a little tour of some of my favorite spots, some new-to-me spots, and some of her requested spots. It was a day of 29K+ steps, lots of carbs, and good friend time! Masked and outdoors only, of course.

It was fun writing a good old blog post again. This always helps to ground me. Thank you, as always, for reading along on this 7+ year journey.

So tell me:

Do you find yourself using “negative” coping mechanisms at times? How do you try to bring yourself out of those?

What are some things that ground you during stressful/challenging times?

Do you like Indian food? Fave dish? What is the best thing you did this weekend?

A Week in the Life of a Physical Therapist Vlog!

It’s been a long while since I have updated you guys on anything here, but I’ve been working hard [at work, of course, but also] on this vlog to give a peek into what my life as a full-time physical therapist looks like!

I obviously can’t really film any of my actual work as a PT (#HIPAA), but a lot of the video is my life surrounding my work hours and my feelings before/after work each day.

This is probably my most finessed vlog yet, so I’m excited to share it with you guys! Enjoy 🙂

Here is the link if the embedded video is not working.

Have an awesome week ahead, friends!

So tell me:

What are some of your routine things you do before and/or after work?

Do you ever get a little nervous heading into work?

What are some of your outside-of-work recreational/volunteer activities?

Power and Love and Self-Control

There are a million words yet no words at the same time. I’ll give this post my best shot, because it’s worth it.

Black lives matter. The murder of George Floyd is an act that ought to be condemned. There needs to be justice for George Floyd, his family, and for all people of color who have been oppressed and, evidently, suffocated to the point of death under systemic racism in America since its onset.

If you have followed this blog for a while, you know that I am not too shy about my views on life issues (i.e., divisive ones like abortion), and the issue of racism is one of those life issues.

This post from @rachel.cargle is striking. The actions we take and the words we speak in the Black Lives Matter movement are not to be in vain. This is what I am hearing from many black people, whether they are close friends or strangers. The gist is: “It’s a marathon, not a sprint.”

Yes, this should be true for ANY life issue. Yes, this movement is getting a lot of attention right now. But major events that gain attention, despite the chaos, can stir up genuine good and necessary change. We are not forgetting other causes nor minimizing them, but for something as important, real, longstanding, and stifled as the issue of racism in America, there is a very clear need for action and tangible, expedient change.

It is easy to be complacent and tired of all of this, but if we can muster up a little bit of energy to, in some minuscule way, lay down our life for a brother or sister, please Lord, help us to help.

Act. It is not wise to “sign x, y, z because everyone is signing this and it’s probably good.” You have the faculties given to you to make an informed, conscientious decision about which petitions to sign, which organizations to support, or which posts to share.

Make the decision because you know what you are doing, why you are doing it, and the implied WORK it requires you to do after you donate, sign, post, etc. Please be responsible, not just reactive.

Be honest in your research and be okay with hearing “both sides.” You might find a sense of good in both sides of the conversation. You might find discomfort or disgust in elements of both sides of the conversation. Ask yourself why. Talk to people with an open heart. Seek to understand.

In all of this though, the priority is to listen to those who are being oppressed (i.e., black people).

If you are not sure where to even start, here are suggestions:

  • For a concise, honest, and helpful understanding of the Black Lives Matter Movement, watch this. Although I do not condone any sort of violence or crime, this video provides perspective on the deep, unspeakable pain that is yielding such actions. Additionally, I have seen and heard of many instances where black people are the ones preventing others (of various races) from destroying businesses and hurting others. There are riots, yes, but there are many necessary peaceful protests, where a majority of the protestors actually condemn any violence and destruction. Nevertheless, I am learning more and more that the riots and looting are coming from a place of extremely long-standing oppression and systemic inequity against black people (watch this). There can be an understanding of rioting and looting without condoning it. And most importantly, in understanding why it is happening, it has pushed me to realize the urgency and duty of addressing the “why” — to seek out true reform; to get dirty and serve underserved areas; to speak with my vote; and to empower young people of color with my time, energy, and money so that change can happen from the bottom up. In other words, I need to do what needs to be done so that black people do not ever feel that their only chance to be heard and loved is by rioting and looting. Who put them in such a position in the first place? Even if I did not ever personally place a black person in a position of poverty and inequity, to not do anything about it now is to do just that.
  • For my Catholic friends who are not sure how Catholics are responding or how they ought to respond, watch this and this and read this. Pray and fast for justice for George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, for real upheaval of systemic racism (which will take a lot of time, so you’ll probably be praying for it for your whole life), and for respect for black lives. Ask God to shine a light on any prejudices in your own heart, and ask Him to uproot them. Pray about how God is calling you to act against racism, and follow.
  • For those who are wondering why the Black Lives Matter movement seems to be getting so much more attention and momentum vs. the fight for unborn lives (hint: the issues are not dissociated from one another), watch this (I have linked the particular part of the video that addresses this question).
  • For petitions to sign, organizations to support, and a plethora of other resources, go here.
  • For a history on police in America, listen to this.
  • For Boston friends who seek to support local organizations that empower young people of color, consider donating to African Community Education and Boys and Girls Club of Dorchester. One of my friends, who is an immigrant from Ethiopia, said that he believes real change will happen only if black people are in positions of power, and that starts with true nourishment and quality education from a young age.
  • Support local black-owned businesses (Boston list of black-owned restaurants).
  • Start a book club with friends. Be open to conversation, and remember that you can use the opportunity to LISTEN. Discuss what you agree and disagree with, but listen. My friends and I will read Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates. I also recommend Black Like Me by John Howard Griffin.

Systemic, but always interpersonal. Someone told me that change still comes down to the interactions that we have with the people in front of us. And this does not mean to shut out the world and live in one’s own bubble, because ignorance of the sufferings outside of one’s own immediate environment is part of the problem. But truly, how do you love the person in front of you today?

Does loving them mean having a tough conversation about the reality of racism? Does loving them mean reminding them of their worth, power, and love, so that they can go and pour out to others and be inspired to do something bigger than themselves?

And then after being informed about the the injustices and atrocities against black people in America, after honestly praying and educating yourself about the history of racism, how can you go to black people within your community and love them? Or at least donate to them? And if you are really not physically amidst black people, then how can you reach out beyond your community?

Look to those who do it well. I will share below some Saints who I know have worked against racism and slavery as Catholics. White people within the Catholic Church have indeed participated in racism in the past and some likely still do today. Please remember these people are imperfect and sinful human beings who act of their own accord. What is important, however, is that even their evil racism did not keep black people from the Love of Jesus Christ in the Church.

For example:

Above all, I find that Jesus Christ proves to be the answer to everything. He knows unjust condemnation. He knows racism. He knows judgement from others. He knows contempt. He knows poverty. He knows the pain of being brutally murdered for no reason.

Yet He, the Victim, gives Wisdom. He, the Victim, gives Mercy. He, the Victim, gives Power. He, the Victim, gives Peace. He, the Victim, gives Joy. He, the Victim, gives Love.

He is everything broken, impoverished, and slandered, yet He is everything good and triumphant.

My friends, my words here are not perfect. This is important though. And please, teach me more if you can, and help me to amplify black voices. Help me to love others more.

“For God did not give us a spirit of cowardice but rather of power and love and self-control.”

2 Timothy 1:7

“‘Teacher, which are the two greatest commandments?’ Jesus replied, ‘”Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” The second is like it, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.'”

Matthew 22:34-40

Go forth in power, love, and self-control. Black lives matter.

Chronicles of Becoming a Grownup III

How many of my wrist and finger muscles are working as I type this right now??

Gross anatomy is on the brain. Luckily for me, I have all spring break at home to study! #turnup.

Each time I come home is a different experience, because I learn more and grow more every time I go back to school. I think this is a good time for the next part of “Chronicles of Becoming a Grownup”! (here is part I and II)

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1) When I was taking the train from Boston to NY to come home for spring break, I ran into a guy from my high school who I was kinda friends with back in the day. I was so surprised to see him that I said his name out loud in disbelief, half regretting it because thereafter I would have to talk to him.

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But it wasn’t weird. We caught up on life and had a pleasant train ride together, because we’re adults (with quasi-sheltered lives still) who can talk to each other like adults, despite the awkward high school world in which we once lived.

2) I’m over mirrors. Like, I guess I need them to make sure I don’t have spinach in my teeth and that my hair is at least a 6/10, but coming home to big mirrors is a reminder of why I was so obsessed with my body image.

At my apartment this year, I don’t change in front of any body-length mirrors, so I don’t really have time to “body check” (checking for chubby spots/muscles/imperfections, which can easily become an unhealthy habit). I have learned that the availability of big mirrors increases the likelihood of body checking, so I have also learned to be more deliberate in not dwelling too long in the mirror (striving for humility and self-esteem!).

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My advice to anyone who has trouble quitting body checking: do what this cat does.

No I’m kidding. For real: try to only have a full length mirror by your front door, so you can only check yourself when you’re fully dressed and ready to leave your place. Don’t let the mirror steal your joy!

3) I’m not afraid to challenge some things that my parents say. Not because I want to be a rebel, but because I want us all to find and know Truth. This goal allows our arguments to flourish in understanding, rationality, and trust in God, who knows better than any of us.

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4) Lent is showing me that I really am attached to peanut butter…so it’s good that I’m giving it up for 40 days. It’s hammering home that idea that food is just food.

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5) The family and I went to the Maryknoll Sisters’ annual charity concert again this year, and I was really getting into those classical pieces. Orchestra concerts, in my mind, were always the “bran flakes” of all events—fine but just meh. This year, although I’m no music connoisseur, I appreciated the music, the performers, and even the spectators more than ever. I don’t love classical music now, but I just appreciate it for what it is. This applies to a lot of other things/people in the world too.

It also didn’t hurt that the orchestra ended with a fantastic Lion King medley.

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Mini desserts are also a bonus.

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the pignoli cookie in the middle was the BEST

4) Despite all these new things I’m realizing at home, some things will always be the same. Like how my body seems to want more sleep and more food than ever when I’m at home.

Madre’s cooking is rocking my world per usual.

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Pillsbury crescent rolls are my childhood literally rolled into buttery, flaky parcels of goodness

6) Pop and I also went to go see a movie in theaters just like we did last spring break! This weekend we watched The Shack, based on the book by William P. Young. We both loved it! It has unmistakably Christian themes, but I think anyone can learn a lot about why tragic loss/evil happens from this movie.

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7) I really need to stretch more. These muscles aren’t getting any more flexy on their own!

So tell me:

An example of how you’ve learned to appreciate the “bran flakes of life.”

Thoughts on body checking in the mirror?

Have you watched any good movies lately?

Two things you did this weekend!

Sports and Faith

I thought I could consider myself an athlete.

Until I watched the Olympics.

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But then I saw the Ford (?) commercial about how “we are all athletes” and was like, well, fine, if you insist.

In all seriousness, check out Krista’s post about how you know you’re an athlete. Anyone can be an athlete. You don’t have to have 21 gold medals like someone.

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I watched the #PhelpsFace shenanigans live on TV, and it was the most appalling and hilarious thing I’ve seen all year.

Anyway, we all know that Olympic athletes are downright inspirational. I was a little girl who always strived to be athletic in her younger years but never had natural athletic ability. However, I have really taken off in a burst of confidence these past couple of years as I’ve grown to love fitness.

Although I don’t participate in organized sports right now, and I definitely don’t even train like a middle school athlete, I am proud of how far I’ve come just dabbling with new feats at home. In some of my harder workouts and accomplishments, I feel like I’ve finally gotten a minuscule taste of the drive of a great athlete.

I’m sure you agree that it would be SO COOL to be an Olympics athlete (p.s. my blog/fellow BU Terrier pal, Gemma, is running track for Ghana in Rio this year!!! check out her guest post WIAW from last year here). I have glimmers of hope inside me that I could at least be a competitive athlete again if I really wanted to.

But I don’t want to. There are many ways to achieve your purpose in life, and sports are probably not my way. If you asked me, “What is your purpose in life?” I’d say something about doing God’s will and bringing others to Him.

That being said, there are so many parallels in the journey of an elite athlete and the journey of finding your purpose in life, whatever that may be. In my case, I’ve found that I can draw major inspiration from athletes for my own faith journey.

1) It’s difficult to start.

It takes a very special breed to say as a beginner, “I can’t wait to do that workout that will set my lungs and muscles on fire.” Likewise, I never said, “I can’t wait to go to church!” until maybe a year ago (read: 15+ years into being taught about and teaching the Catholic faith).

It’s a choice to start doing what will make you better every day, whether you’re in training or you’re trying to grow closer to God.

2) You have good days and bad days.

Pretty self-explanatory. Athletes get tired, sore, probably hungover every now and then. They don’t break records every day and they don’t get better every single day. But they use those off days to get better overall, and that’s how it is with the faith.

There are days when I am welling up with enthusiasm for prayer and good works. And there are just as many days when I don’t want to think of God or I don’t feel like He’s there.

The only way to get through those bad days is…to get through those bad days, with a constant reminder of the end goal and a reflection of how you can learn from the trial.

3) It’s easier with a community.

CrossFit raves about the community of support all the time, which I think is why it is such a success as a sport and an industry.

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I’ve talked about how my faith has grown leaps and bounds thanks to the incredible community of men and women at BU’s Catholic Center.

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You push others, they push you, everyone falls over, and that’s the end.

This is where I say, “just kidding, you help each other back up and move forward.” 😉

4) It hurts.

There is so much we don’t see elite athletes experience “behind the scenes.” The sacrifice, the pain, the internal turbulence and pressure… But they know that those are necessary experiences in order to become a resilient and freaking amazing athlete.

There is so much we don’t see in people who are faithful, joyful, and unbelievably at peace. Maybe they did have a great life, but maybe they didn’t. There is sacrifice, pain, and internal turbulence behind the most peaceful and joyful people I know. Getting through those trials is what makes them resilient and freaking amazing human beings.

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^^^One of my favorite quotes ever.

5) It’s worth the blood, sweat, and tears.

Watch Aly Raisman’s documentary and see how difficult her training was before London 2012. Now look at this chick—3 Olympic gold medals (and counting?). Seems worth it.final-five-medal-ceremony_ap

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The end goal at the end of this journey called “life” is eternity with our Creator, which I think seems preeeeeeetty worth it. And He told us it would be hard. And it is hard, but…

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In all honesty, publishing this post is hard. I know my audience, and I know this doesn’t cater to everyone, but my slogan up top there is “pray. eat. move. groove.” Pray comes first. Faith comes first. God comes first. And I wouldn’t be sharing this if I didn’t believe in the depths of my heart that you could possibly feel the same about Him, some way, somehow.

Whatever your creed is, I like to believe that people have goodness in their hearts to want to help others and spread joy in their lives, which is never easy. So here’s to using athletes as inspiration!!

(pretty terrible flow of paragraphs at the end there, but guatever, I need to go to sleep.)

So tell me:

How do great athletes to inspire you (if they do)?

What would you say is your purpose in life? Have I asked this before?