Life Back in Boston + 6 Years of Blogging

One of my very favorite places to do life!

Since we last chatted (about the great and small things I learned in STL), I have visited family at home, gone camping, gone back home, moved apartments, and started my third and LAST year of PT school!

I feel like I’ve been in school forever, but here I am in my last semester of school forever (please, Lord).

In all honesty, I have felt very few emotions about a lot of things. Maybe it’s because I’ve run this gamut a few times already.

School? Grateful and happy to be back. Excited or nervous? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ Eh. It’s a light semester of classes with a crap ton of self-directed research/work time in between, which is nice but also dangerously deceiving and deceptively difficult. “Oh, so you mean I need to motivate MYSELF for the WHOLE 12 hours that I’m not in class today?…….God help me.”

The future/my career? I have not a darn clue in the world what will be happening in these next 12 months of my life. I know that I will be in Boston for my next two clinicals (woohoo!), but otherwise, that’s about it. The rest, we throw to the wind of the Holy Spirit. I am neither worried nor sad nor stoked about anything. I’m at peace with the unknown though. Just trying to trust the process and go through the motions with an open heart.

The changes in my friends’ lives? Well, two of my best friends got married, and for that I was overwhelmingly excited and joyful The sacrament, the celebration, the reunion with so many beautiful people — such a blessing. I must say, there is no party like a party with people who know Love and Joy Himself. Congratulations, Ben and Casey!

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Friends are also having babies now, and that’s when I’m like, “I need a second.” *breathes heavily*

But I love Boston, and I am incredibly grateful to be back for at least another year. The Lord is kind and merciful.


I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge my 6 year blogging anniversary! The exact date of which I am not entirely sure… early August. Maybe it was the 3rd.

In honor of 6 years of blogging, for my entertainment and potentially yours, here is a blast from the past — a random blog post from each year that I’ve blogged.

2013: “I Like Burpees (You know it.)

2014: “Boston University is Making Things Complicated” (This was when I visited BU for open house and fell in love with it. UGH what a little human I was.)

2015: “I Should Be Embarrassed About These Things…” (OMG UNDERGRAD LIFE *CRIES*)

2016: “48 Hours Unplugged” (An incredible two days in the middle-of-nowhere-NY with Fiona and Rachel that we will never ever forget.)

2017: “Greater Love” (BU Catholic Center retreats are a highlight of my life.)

2018: “October” (Despite, or perhaps lending to, the simple name, this was a time of deep emotion for me.)

2019: “Never A Dull Moment” (And I think this blog testifies to that.)

As I look through all of these blog posts, I notice:

  • Alison went from squirrelly young lass to emotionless city girl (lol jk…kinda).
  • I went from blogging ~almost~ every day to blogging ~almost~ monthly.
  • I have grown physically, emotionally, intellectually, and spiritually in ways that I could not have tried to do myself.
  • Selfies never seem to go out of style for me.
  • The list of things that truly matter never changes.
  • God’s hand has been in all of it, without a doubt.

Thank you, as always, to every single one of you who takes time out of your busy days to read my words, laugh/cry with me, and reflect on the goodness/hardness/”what!?”-ness of life with me. I very am grateful for you and for the ways this blog has brought me closer to people.

So tell me:

What’s on deck for you for the rest of 2019? School? New job? Same job? New life events?

Share your current emotions! If ya want…That’s kinda personal though, so up to you.

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The Great and Small Things I Learned {Summer Clinical #2}

Sometimes I forget I have a blog.

But I lounged around yesterday for about an hour just scrolling through blogs that I follow on my Feedly like I used to during my high school leisure days… ahhhh. It was lovely, and I remembered that I like to blog too HAHA.

I’ve given a glimpse of how this summer has been in STL. Now that I am back home in New York / Boston, the reflective mindset has started to settle a bit. Ergo, it is time for another edition of “Great and Small Things I Learned.”

How to even begin summarizing the oodles of things I learned in the hospital!?

I worked with a physical therapist on the medicine floor of Barnes Jewish Hospital. This means we saw patients who have pretty much any and every comorbidity under the sun and who were admitted for a reason that is not primarily neurological, cardiopulmonary, or orthopedic. For example, I saw a lot of patients admitted for falls, sepsis, altered mental status, acute kidney injuries, hypoglycemia, hypertensive emergencies, acute onset of weakness from metabolic causes… etc… I guess.

Communication

50% of patients wanted nothing to do with physical therapy. De-escalating situations with  patients who had altered mental status or who were agitated at the time was a big skill to learn, but by the end of the clinical, almost no amount of sass or yelling could faze me.

Empathy and Listening

Requirements in the healthcare field. In the first few weeks of clinical, it was easy to be stressed and preoccupied over my performance as a student PT, so I had to remind myself that this job is about the patient in front of me, and the patient is hurting, often in more ways than one. Listening and motivational interviewing are always helpful.

Integrity, Honesty and Moving Forward

I made plenty of mistakes during clinical, but some were bigger than others. Thankfully, none of the mistakes resulted in anyone’s injury, but I learned some valuable lessons the hard way, that’s for sure. I had to practice integrity and timely honesty about my mistakes, and furthermore, I had to move forward and continue in confidence after all was said and done. My clinical instructor (who was amazing!) counseled me that letting my mistakes get to my head does not serve anyone well.

Neuromuscular Connection

The trendy/granola term for this is “mind-muscle connection,” I think. THINKING about what I want my muscles to do and how fast I want them to it during a workout has helped with increasing strength. There’s literature about it out there… I’m not going to go find it right now. But intentionality in life is important, and working out ain’t an exception! As Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson would say, “FOCUS!!!”

To “Just Be”

Moving onto matters outside of the hospital, I am grateful to say that I made several great friends through the young adult group at the St. Louis Cathedral Basilica. So many people took me (and Janice) under their wings and welcomed us into their community with love and generosity that were just astounding. People cooked for us, drove us around, invited us to watch the sunrise with them on a hill in the park, took us grocery/thrift store shopping, helped me babysit my cousins, toured us through the art museum, swing danced with us, prayed with and for us…

In so many of these great times, my friend Maria would call it “just being” — putting the phone down (even though I’d still snap a photo or two for posterity/the blog, ya know) and soaking in the moment, whatever it is, however mundane it may be. To “just be” with pals in fellowship and faith through the everyday and not-so-everyday things, and to do it all joyfully.

My heart misses all of our friends back there. They were so f r e e. Free and secure in their love for Christ which showed so evidently and made me want to love God more.

They made St. Louis home away from home. So did Janice, my roomie! She’d tuck me in almost every night (upon her offer) LOL. We shared a lot of ups and downs together this summer, and I am grateful for her being a dear friend through it all.

Don’t Give Up on Prayer

It can be hard to maintain a consistent prayer life with a 9-5 (or in my case, a 7-4:30) job, not so much because I don’t have time, but because brain energy is limitedddd at the end of the day. Prayer takes mental energy and attention that admittedly I don’t want to give when I get home from a long day of work + going to the gym. And I failed many days and did not prioritize prayer, but I learned to fight the good fight and never give up on it. Start anew the next day. Whether you meditate, pray, do some reading for personal development, do it, man. Probably in the morning before you’re wiped out from the day. Which means you (I) have to sleep early, which is difficult at times… But God is worthy of our love, the best we can give.

I could go on for ages and pages about my time in STL, but these are enough words for now. Thank you for reading along if you’ve made it this far.

At home now, I am doing at least 20x less work/activity and I am at least 20x MORE tired. I love being with the fam though ♥︎

Off to a camping trip with Boston friends this weekend!

P.S. Tori Kelly’s new album is FIRE.

So tell me:

What are some things you’ve learned this summer?

What are your plans this weekend?

 

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

…Well we still out here learning ’em!

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

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

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

Lessons such as…

Sleep is good for you.

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

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

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

Think before you speak.

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

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

Love your neighbor as yourself.

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

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


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

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

So tell me:

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

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

Tea or coffee?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Never a Dull Moment

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Another collage to display the Florida fun:

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

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

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

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

…how to better make decisions for myself.

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

…forgiveness.

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

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

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

…a heck of a lot about physical therapy.

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

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

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

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hearts that are His #retreat #totustuus

A post shared by Alison (@alison_grooves) on

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

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

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

So tell me:

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

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

What are you excited for in 2019?

 

 

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?