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.

Hi, Happy Easter and Passover!

For Passover: I’m sorry I am late in wishing this to all my Jewish friends! I hope you all had a wonderful celebration.

For Easter: I would say, “Sorry I’m a few days late,” but NAY Easter is an OCTAVE, so we are still going as if it’s Easter Sunday. He is risen! He is risen indeed!

Feasting. This past week has involved celebration in the form of FaceTime/Zoom “gatherings” with loved ones, delicious food (desserts, particularly), and solo dance parties to happy music. I kicked it off with homemade carrot cake, of which I have eaten a slice every day since I made it. Yesterday I also made these banana bread blondies with brown butter frosting, which rocked my world. I’ve been sharing, but let’s be honest, a majority of the carrot cake has entered my gullet.

Fruitful. I felt that I was really falling in love with Christ in the days leading up to Easter. His perfect Love for us is unlike anything else; it is truly everything good. I am grateful that the extra time to pray, due to current circumstances, made Holy Week especially fruitful this year. Goodness gracious, He loves you so much! YOU.

Sardines. I have been eating tinned sardines in olive oil on sourdough toast with some tomato sauce, and it is just delightful. I don’t buy fish for myself besides canned tuna, because I look at the price and think, “eh, omega-3’s can wait” (for real though, don’t neglect omega-3 fatty acids in your diet). But my mother was very kind and sent me a Costco shipment that included a large pack of tinned sardines, and I feel like I’m eating a luxurious Mediterranean meal with those little fish. Tinned fish = luxury, who would have thought?

But seriously, have you ever tried smoked trout?! 😮 Luxury.

Day in the life. Really not that exciting. Praying, walking, cooking, eating, studying, FaceTiming / Houseparty-ing people (to chat or just do work in solidarity), moving and grooving, applying for jobs. I am looking into some volunteer opportunities to start moving outwards.

Moves. I posted this on my instagram story, but today I did 100 burpees, spread throughout the day in sets of 10-20. I now have a goal of becoming more efficient with my burpees (as I once was when I was a wee lil blogger) and to build up more stamina. In order to do this, I am going to do 100 burpees every other day until May, aiming to increase speed and the number I do within each set, but always prioritizing form and listening to my body.

I have one friend who is going to take on the challenge with me (s/o to you, Victor!), some friends who will do some iteration of the challenge, and several friends who shared with me their own ways of staying active at home. I love solidarity!

Otherwise, I’ve been doing whatever I feel like doing that day. My 35-pound KB has been a great addition to my “home gym” (i.e., 5lb dumbbells and a resistance band). Running outside has also been a weekly thing. One of my professors proposed a “Marathon Monday Run” wherever we are this coming Monday in honor of the Boston Marathon that has now been postposed to September. We will just walk/run however long we want and share our pics and maps with each other. More solidarity!

Loss. I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge the continued suffering and pain that so many people are facing in this world. It hit a little more closely today when I learned of the passing of my mom’s cousin in France from COVID-19. He was a doctor, about the same age as my parents, and he leaves behind his wife and children, who are about my age. One of my friends’ grandmother is also suffering now from COVID-19.

May we rest in the peace of Christ and never cease hoping in Him. Thank you always to those who continue to sacrifice themselves on the frontlines and for those who continue to work in any field at this time. Praying for those who are hungry, lonely, heartbroken, ill, lost, or in danger in any way at this time.

So tell me:

Did you celebrate Passover or Easter? What did you do?

How are you keeping sane and/or staying active during quarantine?

Are you interested in joining the burpee challenge!?

Little Things to Say “Yes” to Today

Moves. This week has been a very fun week of workouts so far. It started off with smashing a whole bag of white cheddar Popcorners, what? an outdoor HIIT workout at an empty park on Monday morning. I made sure I didn’t have to touch any public equipment for the workout.

Monday: 3 rounds (30 sec on / 30 sec off)

  • Double unders
  • Kneel to tuck jump
  • Alternating side shuffles
  • Fast feet to crossover (do whatever agility exercise you want!)
  • Broad jumps

Tuesday: Run (~2 miles) + H I L L S (5x up a massive hill) with my friend, Henok. He crushed it, and I mostly died. Is it weird, though, that I prefer to do hills because it’s more of an excuse to take breaks and not run for as long?

I also did a virtual Zumba workout with some pals at night, which was hilarious and so fun. *shoulder shimmy*

#distanced

Wednesday: Some walking, a couple 10-minute yoga flows in between study sessions, and a brief upper body workout with attempts to mix it up a bit.

Happy Triduum! Although these days leading up to Easter and Easter itself are looking quite different this year, perhaps this is an opportune time to see and experience God in His Death and Resurrection unlike any other time before. Allow Him to enter into the recesses of your own home and room. My friend Kelsey wrote a beautiful reflection on this image on her blog.

I just ran into maybe eight friends at a local parish all lined up (6 feet apart), receiving the sacrament of confession through a window, which was pretty sweet.

Bone in, skin on chicken thighs. Boi, you best get some if they are on sale at your supermarket. I had forgotten about the juicy glory of chicken thighs. And the skin! Honestly, I didn’t get the skin as crispy as I wanted, but the flavor still provided. I used an eyeballed seasoning mix of paprika, thyme, oregano, salt, and pepper on the skin AND underneath the skin. Give it some love.

Yes. I have been reflecting a lot on little ways of promoting self-discipline, self-betterment, obedience to God, whatever you want to call it. There are thousands of ways we can say yes to becoming the men and women we are created to be today. Because what if this is my last day? Not to be morbid, just to be real.

Here are some ideas (mostly for myself, but perhaps for you as well) of how to say little yes’s to the true, the good, and the beautiful:

  1. Sitting with my roommate in the kitchen for dinner instead of by myself with my technology in my room
  2. Taking out the recycling / trash now, not later
  3. Taking 60 seconds to think about what else I need to do before immediately picking up my phone to check notifications / Words with Friends (haha)
  4. Likewise taking 60 seconds to think about whether I’m actually hungry or just bored before picking up a snack
  5. Stretching or doing a little yoga instead of going on phone during my work break, even if it’s just for 5-10 minutes
  6. Getting out of bed when my first alarm goes off, not 20 minutes later
  7. Listening to a wholesome / educational podcast instead of just music during a walk (or just not listening to music at all and listening to the sounds of the world around me [not much right now though] or my own thoughts)
  8. Actually stick to the to-do list I made last night
  9. Send that text message to the person who I said I would stay in touch with
  10. Pray for that person who I said I would pray for, now, before I forget

Just some examples! And please know that I have only tried implementing these in real life with maybe 50% success rate. Always a work in progress.

Hope you have a blessed Thursday!

So tell me:

What are some ways you can say “yes” today to be a better vision of yourself?

Have you been able to get any moves and grooves in these days?

How are you overall?

Life + Death

Moves. Sunday’s workout killed me. A pistol squat burpee ladder for the lower body and the cardiovascular system:

  • 10 pistol squats each leg
  • 10 burpees
  • 9 pistols each leg
  • 9 burpees
  • ….all the way down to 1 pistol squat each leg, 1 burpee

I didn’t do anything on Monday due to time constraints. On Tuesday after work though, I needed to move because I was going MAD. I’ve gotten better at “tolerating” lack of movement (whereas in the past I would need to get up ever 10 minutes to walk or squat or something), but sometimes after a long day ya girl just feels like she’s about to implode. So a 9pm trip to the gym for a 45-minute assault bike workout helped immensely. It helped that I was off work the next day too.

Yesterday I did an upper body workout involving:

  • 4 sets of pull-ups to failure (unassisted and assisted)
  • 3×10 dumbbell clean and press // 3×16 stability ball scorpions
  • 3×10-14 TRX rows // 3×10 TRX pike pushups
  • 2 sets of dips to failure
  • 3×35 double unders

Life. This past weekend I attended the March for Life in Washington, D.C.

My religious views are not a secret if you’ve been reading for a while or know me, and they inevitably and necessarily affect my political views as well. Politics aside though (I h a t e talking about politics), what I’ve reflected on personally this year during and after the march is that my chance to be pro-life is at every moment. On the one hand, to speak up for those who are the most vulnerable (e.g., the unborn, immigrants, victims of sex trafficking, people without homes, people who are non-verbal, to name a few) is a priority in the pro-life movement.

However, I do not think that anyone can be pro-life without putting in the physical, emotional, and spiritual work to love the most vulnerable people they encounter in their day-to-day. That may look different for every person depending on your job, geographic location, and circumstance in life. In essence though, my hope for every person at the March for Life, including myself, was that they were “walking the walk,” not just at the March for life (as important as that is) but for the person in front of them today.

Death. Rest in peace, Kobe Bryant, Gigi, and all others killed on the helicopter. BU’s chaplain, Fr. Barnes, had some beautiful words to say in light of the tragedy.

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“I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.” John 6:51 . RIP Kobe & Gianna Bryant. 🙏🏼 May their souls and all the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen. . Kobe blessed and inspired so many people throughout his short life, on and off the court. The most loving thing you could possibly do in remembrance of him right now, is to continue to pray for the repose of his and Gianna’s soul (his daughter), and to continue lifting up in prayer, his wife and three girls who he leaves behind. . I’ve been weighed down by this terrible news all day. I think what got to me the most is thinking about his family. I have a wife and 4 kids... I can’t imagine what they’re experiencing right now. I also know that the truth is death will come for all of us some day. It’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when. . So this tragic end to Kobe’s life is a blunt reminder for all of us to love God, family, and neighbor with that “mamba mentality” so that when it comes time for us to leave this life, we will be ready to meet God and give an account of our lives. Nothing is more important to prepare for than that moment. May he hear, and may we hear the words, “Well done my good and faithful servant.” Matt. 25:21 . #mementomori #ripkobe #ripgigi

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Meatballs. I bought and froze a pack of 80/20 (#FatIsPhat) ground beef the other week and put it to good use with this NYT meatball recipe that is superbly easy to execute. I was baking banana bread at the same time, so I decided to pan fry the meatballs instead, and that was a solid move.

Lunar New Year. Celebrated with lots of dim sum on Saturday with the fam and then hot pot with John and friends! It’s the year of the rat, and I was born in the year of the rat. Apparently in Chinese culture, that’s bad luck, but in Vietnamese culture, it’s good luck if it’s your year. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Italian cooking music. It’s a playlist on Spotify that my friend Ben is playing currently, and I am loving it. So sweet and chill. My dentist last week was also playing a tango playlist on Pandora, and that was also something fun to which I could see myself cooking/working.

The Great and Small Things I Learned This Semester {Last One Ever!}

Here we areeeeeeeee!

The learning never, ever stops, but dang it feels cool to be done with being a full-time student…. okay, technically I’m still a full-time student, but no more lectures and exams! All I have left is 22 weeks of clinical experience.

Here’s what I learned during my last semester of classes EVER (I don’t think I’m going back to school again, but who knows?).

1) Training up mileage too quickly may result in a stress fracture. And apparently my right femur is a weak boi.

2) Don’t give into peer pressure to run a race for which you didn’t really have a desire to train throughout a muggy St. Louis summer.

3) How to teach an inclusion hip hop dance class.

4) How to search the literature up the wazooooooo.

5) People LOVE podcasts. And I have also taken a liking to podcasts in order to stay a little more up to date with current events.

6) Living with three international students (one from China, one from Japan, one from Ukraine) has been an enjoyable experience. We all cook and live very differently but can still keep the kitchen a (mostly) clean and organized space.

7) I become my worst, most complain-y self past 11pm.

8) I should avoid bringing up serious topics with anyone past 11pm.

9) I should probably just sleep at 11pm, but I still have a poor sleep schedule.

10) Eye masks are a GAME CHANGER for being able to sleep longer in the morning.

11) I truly should never take my family for granted; they are the bees knees, cream of the crop, top of the line. I love them and cannot thank them enough for what they have done for me and continue to do for me day in and day out.

12) Make the phone call home or to a friend. Don’t let phone calls die.

13) Focusing on form and using my b r a i n during each rep of an exercise (i.e., thinking about the energy, power, control, speed, external/internal cues necessary to perform the exercise properly) makes all the difference in how fatigued I get and also in how quickly I gain strength (not a research project; this is just how I perceive it).

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14) Everyone experiences some privilege, but everyone experiences some sort of marginalization as well. “Treat others the way you want to be treated” is never too cliché.

15) The fight to remain steadfast in the good practices and truths (e.g., always pray, working out will probably make you feel better if you’re stressed, it is good to look up and sit in silence on public transportation sometimes) that you know is a never-ending fight, especially if you’re like me and you have very little self-control and you tend to form poor habits more quickly than good habits. Fight that goooood fight.

16) Avocado egg toast and overnight oats still haven’t failed me as staple foods in a pinch (or every day, honestly).

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17) Swimming was a big fear of mine (not because I can’t hold myself up and move in water, but because I had no idea what I was doing…literally how do I put on a swim cap), but I have found it to be a fun challenge and a killer workout that I enjoy even post-stress fracture healing. (Thanks, Abby!)

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18) I can make time for the things that matter. I like to make excuses to not see a friend, for example, but there usually aren’t any good ones when it comes down to it.

19) In some moments of my life, I am the person who I never thought I would be (for better or for worse), which has taught me to be more understanding and compassionate towards others in their points of weakness. We should all call each other higher but without judgement, because I could be you and you could be me by the flip of a circumstance switch.

20) Nights never used to be a huge issue for me but these days I need to CHECK MYSELF when I get home exhausted after a long day, because all ya girl wants to do is eat and go on her phone, which is fine, but sometimes I turn my brain off and do too much of either.

21) I can tolerate finely diced red onions in my tacos. I used to despise raw onions, but I can appreciate the little sum’n sum’n they add.

22) This crew is loyal and I love them.

23) How to guest lecture (thanks, Evan!).

24) People say that I am a good teacher and a good public speaker. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ just some info for the ~future~ I guess.

25) God’s delight is to be with you.

I’m distracting myself with youtube videos and can no longer think of other things to type, so this is the end of this post. Thank you, as always, for reading along and for your support of this blog, even as it ebbs and flows.

So tell me:

What are some things you learned this fall?

Do you have plans for the holiday season?