Stuffing and More Stuff of Life

The onslaught of Christmas music around every corner is approaching and I am not mentally/emotionally prepared.

Two months has passed since my last blog post, and boy have those two months been PACKED with… STUFF.

Also packed with STUFF is my belly right now after a delicious Thanksgiving feast. Happy belated Thanksgiving 🙂

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This was probably one of my favorite Thanksgiving meals in a while. It’s going to sound really inflated of me, but I cooked 90% of the food. It was cathartic for me to be cooking all day though, and Madre took care of the turkey, which turned out PERFECTLY (unlike last year when we undercooked it ha). My brother’s girlfriend also made delicious crostini w/ a balsamic reduction and burrata, as well as Thai tea (!) pumpkin pie. My contributions included stuffing, mac and cheese, roasted brussels sprouts, roasted potatoes, cornbread, cranberry sauce, and apple pie. I don’t mind domesticity at all; I was thriving.

HOWEVER, my apple pie bubbled over in the oven, so the juices to start burning pretty badly at the bottom of the oven, causing the smoke alarm to go off in the middle of dinner…. We needed the excitement (running around, opening doors, fanning the alarm) to facilitate digestion…is my excuse.

The food was great (and I didn’t feel terribly stuffed, which was good because I definitely felt stuffed after the two Friendsgiving dinners I had this past weekend), but of course the gift of family was the best. We went to Mass together in the morning to worship the God deserving of all thanksgiving, and then Ben and I even got in a fun workout at a gym that my high school friend owns!

Ben and Pop also played some Christmas tunes on the piano/clarinet together between dinner and dessert, which was so sweet.

To combine a life update and a Thanksgiving post, here are just some of the many things for which I am grateful from these past two months.

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The last thing I told you in my previous blog post was that I was going hiking in Maine with friends, and that was a glorious weekend. A bunch of us drove up from Boston and stayed at our friend Connor’s place, where hospitality abounds. His family is so warm and fun, and his mom makes some KILLER lasagna, banana bread, egg casserole, and pumpkin bread (she also has a beautiful singing voice, yeesh). The main event of the weekend was hiking up and down Mt. Washington, which was a sufficiently challenging hike. It started off as a pretty sweaty hike (tank top conditions), but with elevation came high winds and frigid temperatures (hat and heavy coat conditions).

We also went to the famous Fryeburg Fair on Sunday for Mass and all the fried food you could ever think of. My face was sweating bloomin’ onion oils.

Grateful for: nature; autumn leaves in the northeast; breathing hard in the fresh air; prayerful, joyful, loving, and hilarious friends (and their families!); fun fried foods.

PT school has been quite enjoyable this semester! One of my favorite aspects is that our neurological systems lab allows us to work with patients who have actually had a stroke (rather than just practicing on healthy, young peers), which makes the experience so much more realistic and meaningful.

Grateful for: education; an increase in knowledge and understanding of the human body AND the human person; friends who support both my mind and my spirit through the PT school process; academic failures and successes.

My best friend Rachel and (her now husband) Austin got MARRIED. I had the honor of being the maid of honor, and it was one of the best days of MY life. Of course, I’ve always thought marriage is beautiful, and family life is one of the best reflections of God’s Love active in the world. However, a wedding has never made these truths penetrate my heart so deeply until Rachel and Austin’s wedding. Maybe it’s because I know their relationship from the inside pretty much, but I was m o v e d by their Sacrament of Marriage. Ugh, I can’t really articulate it fully, but it was so good. Rachel and Austin were beaming all day.

The wedding reception was also LIT. I love wedding dancing, as some of you might know, and it’s even better when it’s with your best friends who ALSO love dancing. If you could find me “in my element,” it would be on the dance floor at a wedding reception.

Grateful for: the Sacrament of Marriage; Rachel and Austin; holy friends; the triumph of joy despite trials; wedding dancing.

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There have been a lot of tears (what’s new though??) of every kind. But if I could boil all the tears down…it would be salt. No just kidding. If I could boil all the tears down into one common theme, it would be that the Lord is making all things new (Rev 21:5). I have cried a lot because of emotional pain. In these cases, I have repeated daily that the Lord is, in each moment of pain, making all things new — better, more beautiful, more good than I could plan or do on my own.

I have also cried tears of joy and deep gratitude, because He shows me that things are indeed made new. There have been certain relationships and struggles (either my own or those of my loved ones) in this past year that have seemed to crush my insides, but as long as those are all laid at the foot of the Cross for love of what is good, the Lord has shown that He can and will make those relationships and struggles new — somehow better than they could have been if the pain never occurred. It’s a continuous process of pain and beauty though; it never stops. And sometimes He chooses not to show us what exactly it is He is doing, but I am learning that this is what life is. HE KEEPS YA ON YOUR TOES.

Grateful for: pain that turns into growth; newness; knowing that life will never be void of pain and struggle, but that does not mean it will void of joy.

That’s a wrap for now! As always, thank YOU for reading along despite the spottiness of my blog posts in this season of life. Thanks to mom, dad, and my brother as always 🙂 And THANK YOU, GOOD LORD, FOR THIS LIFE.

“…In everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

– 1 Thess 5:18

So tell me:

One thing you’re grateful for, based on a recent experience?

If you celebrated Thanksgiving here in America yesterday, what did ya eeeeat? 

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Summer Catch Up {Part 1}: Clinical

Are we now in what people/Florence + the Machine would call the “dog days” of summer?

It’s hot and things are winding down before the start of school again (second year of grad school, baby, here we come!)

It’s been 5 weeks since I posted about life (besides this post), because, like I said before, life has been full. From ab-sore laughing to nearly punching walls out of frustration to crying happy and sad tears on the train, it’s all been very rich and very good overall.

I’ll split up the summer catch-up into a couple posts for everyone’s sake.

The 6-Week Physical Therapy Clinical Experience

I walked out of my 6 weeks working at an outpatient PT clinic b e a m i n g. Not because I was happy to leave but because I was beyond grateful for how much I enjoyed it.

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the sunset view from the train station on my last day of clinical

All the staff were incredibly compassionate and encouraging. My clinical instructors were laid back yet competent clinicians and teachers. The patients were welcoming and supportive of me while I treated them.

Usually, something like clinical — where I know I will be evaluated on my knowledge and skill base, ability to communicate, and ability to just be a good person — would make me feel anxious and stressed up the wazoo. But by the grace of God, I stayed pretty calm throughout the whole experience, and I think that helped me to think more clearly and bring my best to the table at each moment. I almost never did anything out of fear for being judged or ridiculed; I was able to speak, ask questions, and perform with a genuinely free heart, and from the feedback I received from my clinical instructors, all of that made for a successful clinical experience.

I made many mistakes and there is always so much room to grow, but I have learned that the two things that make me a good PT student (and hopefully a good doctor of PT one day) are honesty and humility always. This clinical experience has made me fall back in love with the profession of PT, and for that I am pleasantly surprised and grateful.

Odds and Ends

Outside of clinical, I’ve been enjoying lots of food and fellowship.

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I think the collage sums it up quite nicely. I’ve eaten many dumplings, seen my friends do many ratchet things (i.e. Sarah spreading dijon mustard on her sandwich using a baby carrot as we waited outside with all her stuff before dorm move-in), and spent a long weekend with nuns. Among other things.

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feeling small and weak and sub-amateur but He is not

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I’ve also been running more!

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I, like, kinda enjoy running now?? Sometimes?

This summer catch-up is to be continued… (Spartan Race and Bachelorette party!)

So tell me:

How’s the summer work/job been?

Are you headed back to school (whether yourself or your kids), and how are you feeling about it? 

“It is all for you. I love you.”

Snippets of the mind and nuggets of the heart from last week:

Tuesday

Despite the woes that can result from the internet and social media these days, it has wonderful effects as well. For example, meeting people like my friend Casey, who is one of the fittest and most genuine people I know.

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why does my box of food look like froyo with toppings

We spent time together by working out by the river and then noshing on some Whole Foods hot bar (treat yo$$$$elf) al fresco. The Whole Foods mac and cheese is dreamy as heck, but the real star of the night was Casey. Big heart, that gal.

Also the workout that she came up with was super fun. We had both worked out already in the morning, so we went for something “laid back.”

100 reps of each exercise total between two partners (so we each did 50 of each exercise):

  • squats
  • pushups
  • situps
  • jump lunges
  • burpee bench jumpovers
  • bench dips
  • plank jacks
  • pistols (20 total each person)

Wednesday

This was my last day volunteering at Little Sisters of the Poor (a skilled nursing facility/hospice for elderly people with very low income) for a while, and I am quite sad to be leaving the folks there (for now!). I have nothing but gratitude for the joy in this place, which, without the right workers, could easily be a depressing and neglected place. God put the right workers there, and I pray that I can be as joyful as they are.

They had a fun Casablanca-themed dinner party that night for the residents, and they went ALL OUT.

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I was nearly floored when I saw this cake. Amazing what technology can do to our desserts these days.

I also FaceTimed with my dear friend Emma tonight, which was like chicken noodle soup for the soul, along with this glowing urban sunset.

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Thursday

I started my day RUNNING??????!!! And I ended up running 6.65 miles, which is the longest distance I’ve ever run. Haha. I threw in couple longer stretch/catch-my-breath-post-hill breaks, but I still felt accomplished and texted all of my friends who would care.

This has been my favorite breakfast recently: overnight oat smoothie topped with PB Puffins.

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Beats the heat and doubles as a prank to make others think you’re eating pea soup with cereal on top for breakfast. I’ve never done that, but please try it on my behalf and report back.

In the eve, I had dinner al fresco (loving the weather this week) with my friend Briana and then walked over to another friend’s place for our weekly Bible study/deep chat time. On the way over, my heart was hurting over something, but I felt as though God was telling me in my pain, “Hey, hey. Look. Look at the sky. Look at all these things I have given you today. It is all for you. I love you.”

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Oh, how joyful and loving the Lord is.

Friday

I walked to Mass and then ate delicious pasta at Bottega di Capri with my friend Denis, a seminarian who just came back from Italy, the land of pasta. He took two weeks off from Italian food, but then the heart just yearns for it again, ya know? (Really, it was I who requested pasta, and Denis is just a good friend who let my desires be fulfilled.)

I had cheese and porcini mushroom ravioli in vodka sauce. The restaurant definitely threw some lobster ravioli in there on accident, but I was NOT complaining.

Later in the afternoon, I visited a friend who is recovering from a rather involved surgery. She is a warrior. The occasion also gave me an excuse to buy two pints of Mint Oreo ice cream, one for her and one for myself, as they were on sale 2/$7 😀

One of my apartment mates, Lauren, is moving away so we hosted a killer farewell party for her, complete with flash tattoos, pizza rolls, and the Fake ID dance.

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I will miss you lots, Lo ♥

Saturday

…and then my pal Ben and I figured it was a good idea to do a longer “Spartan” workout the morning after at 8:30 am!!!

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“how to be a tool and a white girl at the same time”

Ben came up with this workout to increase our running endurance on grass/dirt a bit more. We have a Spartan Super coming up in less than a month!

0.5 mile run ➔ Circuit (20 reps each) ➔ 1.0 mile run ➔ Circuit (15 reps each) ➔ 1.5 mile run ➔ Circuit (10 reps each) ➔ 2.0 mile run ➔ Circuit (5 reps each)

The Circuit:

  • burpees
  • squat jumps
  • tricep bench dips
  • step ups
  • cross punch sit ups

Surprisingly, the last 2 mile run was the easiest and funnest. From the 0.5 mile run to the 1.5 mile run, I would precede it by saying, “I don’t wannnnnaaaa runnnnnnn. I don’t want itttttt.” But we did it, flash-tatted and pizza-rolled up.

The rest of the day included FaceTiming another fit internet friend, Colby, a genuine and inspiring soul as well. At night, I dined in with yet another beautiful friend, Kelsey. She helped me practice my PT skills too, because clinical starts tomorrow and Lord knows I have forgotten 50% of my skills already.

Sunday

This post is super long already. Okay, so I boxed in the morning, watched the World Cup Final with Kelsey (yo, that game was FUN TO WATCH), swept the floors, ate ice cream, went to Mass, watched the sun light up the clouds a bit, and am now writing this.

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To conclude, a quote from someone greater than I:

“The devil may try to use the hurts of life, and sometimes our own mistakes to make you feel it is impossible that Jesus really loves you, is really cleaving to you. This is a danger for all of us, and so sad, because it is completely the opposite of what Jesus is really wanting, waiting to tell you…He loves you always, even when you don’t feel worthy.” — St. Teresa of Calcutta

Have a blessed week! I START CLINICAL TOMORROW. SO I NEED TO GO TO SLEEP IN 20 MINUTES. But I also just ate tapioca pudding so I have a lot of sugar in me.

So tell me:

A few highlights of your week!

What is your favorite Ben and Jerry’s flavor?

Pasta. Do you ever get sick of it?

Camping “Lite” + Life Lately

I have a first degree burn on my upper lip from a blazing hot marshmallow.

On a separate occasion, my friend Zoe flung a blue-flaming marshmallow onto my lap. It’s been an exciting week!!

This weekend, some of my friends and I headed to the lovely state of New Hampshire to camp at Bear Brook State Park. I’m going to call it camping lite, because there were pretty nice bathrooms, and we ran to the grocery store once to pick up bagels and beer LOL. However, we still started our own campfires, cooked on the campfires, slept in tents/hammocks, hiked a bit, swam in lakes, and I didn’t shower for three days despite the campsite having bath houses (*shrugs*). Hygiene seemed very optional in our group on this particular weekend.

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Truly though, this was the most magnificent weekend. I had been wanting to go camping for ages (mostly for the goal of seeing stars, which we did two nights in a row!). We could not have survived without our friend Domenica who came through with literally ALL the camping equipment, as well everyone besides me who knew how to start a campfire.

We cooked burgers, brats, toasted bagels, and s’mores on the campfire throughout the weekend, and let me t e l l you: nothing tastes better in the world than food that you really work for (and that has natural smoke flavor, mm, and maybe some crunchy gravel #texture). I still smell my smoky hair (I promise I’ve showered multiple times since the trip), and all I think of is our kumbaya circle around the fire and how time just seemed to slow down twofold out there.

Other highlights included:

  • A three hour trail walk that had some nice hills. Zoe and Connor were brave enough to be the first to eat wild blueberries on the way, and thank the Lord, because those li’l bloobs were life-changing. Special thanks to Rachel and Austin for navigating the confusing trail map. The only bummer was that the summit of the hike was view-less and infested with ants. Like, we got up there, stayed for 0.5 seconds, and immediately ran back downhill while slapping biting ants off our ankles.
  • Saying a rosary with all my friends while walking on the trail.
  • Deep chats and fireside stories. (Almost didn’t add this because it sounds so freaking cheesy.)
  • Waking up to tall pine trees and blue skies that we could see through Dom’s open-top tent.
  • Waking up to Dom’s alarm, a rap song called “Stomp the Bleachers.”

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  • Swimming in lakes. And finding out that it is VERY normal for people to pee in lakes and oceans? I knew that people did it, but I did not know that it was so widely ACCEPTED. Also that pee is sterile?? My whole world has turned upside down.
  • Treading water and swimming (leisurely) for the first time in ages. Not a modality that I am used to; it felt like more of a workout than it should have.
  • Visiting Domenica’s family and seeing their farm full of chickens, bees, and a pig. Her parents very generously hosted us for lunch and dinner on Sunday, which was fantastic all around. We are so grateful!
  • Domenica’s family. I just love them.
  • Going to Mass on Sunday with the crew.
  • A water station right next to our campsite, so that this water chugger never went thirsty.
  • The sky full of stars each night. Makes my heart flutter.

It was also gloriously cool in the evenings, which was a welcomed change from the sweaty nights we’ve been having in our hot box apartment in Boston. It was pretty brutal last week.

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peep Zoe top left with an ice pop and box fan

Fourth of July was a blast! A bunch of friends came over to our apartment for lots of noshing and a little drinking throughout the day, complete with a visit to the park, JP Licks ice cream, and fireworks over the Charles River at night.

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Oh I just reminded myself that I want to see how the World Cup is going. I am only really into it by diffusion from friends’ enthusiasm. Top left photo shows Sarah, Zoe and I watching the Colombia v. Poland game a while ago at a bar.

Rachel and I also went on a grand food bucket list date a couple weeks ago. We started with a DECADENT brunch at North Street Grille early in the morning (tiny place — long line forms fast) for lobster benedict (the bucket list item) and chicken and waffle sliders. All with a heck of a lot of home fries. Ho.ly.mo.ly. Not gonna lie, we thought the chicken and waffle slider was the winner over the lobster benedict, but it was all phenomenal anyway. We bought but did not eat (not enough stomach space) a bar of Taza chocolate, and then we slooooowly sipped iced hot chocolate from L.A. Burdick and gave the last of it to Sarah to finish later.

Besides my vacationing, I’ve been volunteering at the Little Sisters of the Poor, which is basically a skilled nursing facility/nursing home/hospice for elderly folks from very low income backgrounds. It’s been a wonderful time. I am learning a lot about joy, patience, and being very present with the person right in front of you.

I’ve also been walking a lot because it’s 3 miles each way to Little Sisters of the Poor.

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And here’s a random photo of one of the most soul-nourishing sunsets that I watched from campus last week. Lots of growth happening here.

Next Monday starts six weeks of PT clinical!

So tell me:

Have you ever gone camping?

What is your favorite part of camping?

Do you pee in lakes (be honest, no judgement; I have done it)?

What are some highlights of your summer so far?

 

Human Appreciation Post

Today I was walking (surprise) and thinking about the awesomeness of people.

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recent folks and feasts (feat. pancake Friday TWO WEEKS IN A ROW)

Don’t think I go around frolicking in a field thinking about this all the time though. It is a gift to be able to see the goodness and awesomeness in other people, so I’m seizing the moment to write a post about some people, random and not-so-random, who I think are awesome.

A human appreciation post, you could say.

People who clean public bathrooms.

People who drive 18-wheelers with 20 other cars stacked on it on the highway. If that does not make you think of the frailty of your life and the lives of others while driving on the highway, I don’t know what will.

Drivers who let me as a pedestrian have right of way, even if I haven’t started crossing the crosswalk, and it would be totally fine if they kept driving. (Honestly, I’d prefer if you took your right of way, but I APPRECIATE YOUR THOUGHT.)

Roommates who surprise me and do my dishes.

People who are constantly willing and excited to go way out of their comfort zone for the sake of growth and adventure and seeing what God has in store.

Construction workers who go into manholes at 10pm.

Construction workers who build bridges.

All construction workers.

Friends who think to have a pancake party on a Friday night.

Friends who are always down to eat ice cream with me.

Friends who go to Mass with me.

People who peacefully stand up for what they believe in. Whether I agree or disagree with those people, I appreciate the courage and passion for defending and fighting for what they truly believe is right.

People who run more than 1 mile at a sub-8:00 pace. Hahaha.

Priests and religious who wear vestments/habits in the summer heat. Also, people who wear shirts, ties, and slacks in the summer heat. Dedication all around.

People who lovingly correct my actions. Thank you for caring for me enough to say something to me. I’m a weenie and have such a hard time showing tough love like that (confrontation ahhhhhhhhh).

People who genuinely smile and laugh a lot.

Musicians, writers, photographers, and artists of any kind who devote themselves to an art because they believe in the power of beauty to save the world (← see my photojournalist friend’s article!!!).

Any fitness instructor who teaches a class before 9am (and any fitness instructor).

People who can be hilarious without being vulgar at all.

Primary school teachers (← this video kills me).

Researchers. Trial, error, abstracts, experiments, no. thank. you.

Parents who raise and love their children who have disabilities/congenital abnormalities (and all parents who lovingly raise children, period.)

That guy (or gal) who says hi to someone but that someone doesn’t hear and accidentally ignores the guy. I see you. Thanks for your friendliness.

Whoever keeps Boston’s water system so clean so that I can drink tap water without worrying.

People who always walk on the street without headphones because they want to be present. You are better than I.

People who love so deeply, truly, and vulnerably, even when their hearts might be broken.

Happy Sunday, friends!

So tell me:

Who are some random and not-so-random humans you appreciate?