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?

 

The Great and Small Things I Learned {Grad School Year II}

Well well well.

If it isn’t the old BLOGGY BLOG. It pains me to see that I have only blogged twice in 2019 thus far, but I am hoping that will change as I head off to clinical this summer and look forward to a (hopefully…please, Lord) lighter semester in the fall.

I realized that I didn’t do a “things I learned” post after last semester, to which I *GASPED* because it has been a tradition to post one after every semester…

Talk about a trip down memory lane! Just looking at that long list of blog posts reminds me of the great privilege it has been to have had such a rich college experience — one full of the most wonderful joys and the most aching heartbreaks in every aspect of life. God is good.

Enough sap for now. There will be more sap sometime later in this post, I’m sure.

Here we go — a list of the GREAT and s m a l l things I learned in this second year of DPT school:

1) B’s get DPT degrees, man. Sometimes you just gotta celebrate that B-level grade with all the joy and gratitude in the world and then mmmove on with ya life.

2) I need to get more sleep to be a good human.

3) There is so much grace and beauty in witnessing your best friend enter into the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony *heart eyes x1000*.

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[Nicole Ellen Photography]

4) Evidence-based health care practice is possible and very important.

5) The why, how, and when to “crack someone’s back” (read: not for everyone and not super often). This is one tiny aspect of what I learned, in addition to a heck of a lot about treating many neurological conditions and neck/back pain, which involves mostly EXERCISE!

6) I’m a big Khalid fan. Also H.E.R. Just into those R&B vibes, I guess.

7) I am capable of taking lukewarm/cold-ish showers for 90 days straight (it was a fasting thing that happened before Lent and through Lent).

8) I have an endless list of weaknesses that seems to grow by the day, but this has caused me to learn how to lean hard into God’s strength and grace.

9) How to really think, pray, and reason through a relatively big decision, even if others do not approve of the decision I make.

10) Young people living out their faith steadfastly and truthfully can and will be persecuted for it.

11) There are many ways that I as a Catholic need to love others better. Through reflection and prayer, I have actually learned a great deal about how to be a better Catholic from my friends who do not share my faith. God has no limits and continues to humble me as a human being.

12) I COULD run a half marathon if I really wanted to run one. I have NOT yet, but I COULD.

13) My sides have gotten pudgier, but I have learned to embrace them and, honestly, I think I perform better in my workouts having them around ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

14) It is important and good to call my parents more often (love you, mom and dad!).

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15) Sometimes, if it’s past 10pm, conversation with friends is more important than studying.

16) “Athleisure” is the way to go, baby (95% of the time). Whether I exercise or not that day. Because studying in jeans is not a comfortable lifestyle.

17) I realized in the last month of school that having a daily goals list is a good idea. Go figure!

18) Studying with friends is very encouraging, motivating, and sometimes it even saves my butt when I’m like, “Wait, I didn’t know she posted lecture that we’re supposed to do on our own…”

19) Talking out loud to myself / a friend to study is helpful and probably my study method of choice. Writing things down is second place.

20) There are plenty of things that I need to constantly reflect upon or let others reflect back to me in order to know how to improve and grow as a person.

21) It’s never too late to ask for forgiveness, and it’s never too late to forgive.

22) Pioneer Woman’s cinnamon rolls are the best cinnamon rolls of all time (thanks to Sarah’s mom and to Zoe for making these and introducing me to such a heavenly treat).

23) How to not take straightforward confrontation/comments personally all the time.

24) I need to work on my spine mobility.

25) Using kitchen scissors to make a “chopped” salad is highly effective.

26) I’m starting to like my overnight oats a leeeeetle more liquid-y than I used to… just 1/4 c. more of milk perhaps.

27) A sense of how to teach and manage an inclusion dance class for children with and without disabilities.

28) I can make it to literally the last pair of underwear / socks before doing laundry, and that takes approximately 2 weeks only HAHA.

29) Talking to trusted, holy people about my inner turmoils and battles is very good and allows for a lot of room for grace to help me emerge from the struggles.

30) Even if I do not have make time to sit down and pray for 20 minutes each day, it is fruitful and good to talk to God throughout the day in between everything that is happening. It’s like texting/calling your best friend to keep them updated on every last detail 🙂

31) The people who have journeyed with me during my time in Boston are some of the most precious gifts I have received these last 5 years.

32) I have to start thinking about real-life things like jobs and ~the future~ in less than one year, even though I still feel like I’m just in school for the rest of my life. AGH!!!

33) I missed blogging. ♥︎ It was kinda hard getting the wheels turning, but here we are.

One more year of grad school to go, and I am both terrified and stoked. It’s been a trip so far, but I’m grateful for each day of the journey.

Thanks for tuning in, friends! I hope you are having a great May so far. We are almost halfway through 2019 — w-h-ho-hooaaaa. Why is it still < 50° outside right now though!?!?

Have a great week!

So tell me:

How has 2019 been for you?

What are some of the great and small lessons you’ve learned so far?

College/Grad school students: what’s new!? How was this year?

What is everyone doing for the summerI have a 12-week clinical at a hospital kinda far from home, which will be an adventure, I’m sure!

 

 

 

The Mess of Life

Hello.

Greetings from NY! I figured I should write a blog post while I’m on spring break. It’s sad and strange that I don’t automatically think to write a blog post in my spare time anymore. This blog means so much to me, but I feel it slipping through the cracks (JK it slipped through the cracks, like, 6 months ago).

This blog has evolved as I have evolved as a person. I still have great interest in food and fitness, but there are simply (or rather, less simply) more things to which I need to direct my attention and energy in this season of life.

One of those things is academics. Things are still busy, but now that the great learning curve of my first graduate semester has passed, PT school has become a bit more exciting, and I have yet to approach the brink of despair (*overdramatized for effect*) as I did last semester. I also completed a 6-week, part-time clinical in a long term acute care hospital, which I loved (not just because I got to wear scrubs aka the work-acceptable pajamas). It’s all still hard work, but I’d be worried if it wasn’t so.

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could be worse

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Academics is 50% of life. The other 50% is just this wild freakin’ ride that my heart and soul are on right now. It’s like one of those rickety wooden rollercoasters (actually my fave kind) that have superb thrill factor but could also snap and break at any moment.

There is only so much I am willing to share about this roller coaster of my life, but overall, I have learned a lot.

I’ve learned about what is too much for my heart to handle.

I’ve learned about what makes my heart truly joyful and at peace.

I’ve learned how to be honest with myself regarding both of those things.

I’ve learned that I make so many mistakes over and over again, despite having good intentions.

I’ve learned about my weaknesses and what I really need from others.

I’ve learned about my strengths and what I can give to others.

I’ve learned to find the good in others, but also to put down my foot when others are not good for me.

I’ve learned that it is better to find beauty in pain than to find pain in what seems beautiful on the surface.

I’ve learned to be okay with all of the above, because life is a MESS. A. Darn. Mess. That’s my word of the year so far, and I’m okay with that.

I’ve learned that God is here in this mess and that I don’t have to run away from it all. He never changes and reminds me always that He has never abandoned me and He never will. He is faithful, and He makes all things new.

And on top of all that/to change subject, my best friend is engaged (and she asked me to be her maid of honor AHHHH)!!!

Rachel visited NY for spring break earlier this week too! It was nice to spend time with the bride-to-be. Truly just having heart to heart conversations from morning ’til night.

I also co-directed the Catholic Center retreat this semester with my friend Austin, so that was a doozy. But more than anything, it was a wonderful and humbling experience. The theme was “beauty through humility and obedience,” which I suggested in the first place, but I didn’t realize how much I personally needed that message this semester until we were on retreat.

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hearts that are His #retreat #totustuus

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Me: “What’s something we both like to do?” ➔ Austin: “Uhhh, work out?” ➔ Me: “Okay, we shall flex.”

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the seniors ♥ 

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Sarah, a source of peace and joy

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sums up my friendship with Janice (so much love and appreciation for her)

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the killer retreat team

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“More tortuous than all else is the human heart, beyond remedy; who can understand it? I, the LORD, alone probe the mind and test the heart…”

— Jeremiah 17: 9-10

^^^Too true.

Alive and well. Breathing and smiling. Failing and learning. Praying and growing.

My mess is minuscule compared to others’ messes, but it’s all one big Jackson Pollock painting — pretty cool in the end.

So tell me:

About the mess in your life.

Something new you did this past month!

 

The Great and Small Things I Learned This Semester {First Semester Grad School}

OooOooohohohoOooooOOOOh where to even BEGIN!?

I already gave a glimpse of this wild semester when I posted way back during Thanksgiving, but I must say again…it has been eventful. A plethora of thoughts and emotions stampede through my mind when I even begin to think about these past four months — so many, in fact, that I more often than not feel numb to everything and have to cerebrally reflect on how much I’ve experienced.

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With that, here’s my attempt at rehashing my first senior year / PT grad school semester.

  1. Grad school is hard. I was definitely expecting it to be different from my undergraduate experience, but I was not expecting such a steep learning curve.
  2. I still like physical therapy (praise the LORD).
  3. I very literally would not have made it if it were not for the support, encouragement, and joy of my friends in the PT program with me.IMG_0936
  4. I must study with other people in order to do well in PT school. I swore by self-studying for the past three years of college, but now it is an absolute necessity to study with others 80% of the time in order to succeed.IMG_1055
  5. Grades truly do not reflect one’s ability to be an excellent professional.
  6. Nor do grades reflect personal worth (I knew this before, but I was challenged to deeply believe it for myself this semester).
  7. Oh. so. much. about physical therapy. And we’ve only scraped the surface.IMG_0591
  8. I kind of like PT in an acute setting, even though the class that taught acute PT interventions was r o u g h at the start for me.
  9. I’ve discovered that I have poor motor control of my right thumb, potentially due to phone scrolling. Embarrassing.
  10. I used to run with poor foot strike form, but Janice helped me to run with a softer forefoot strike. (Hereafter, I stop talking about PT. Thanks. Sorry.)
  11. Janice also helped me to love running more and make me believe that I can be a decent runner if I wanted to be. Do I want to be though…? Question for another day.IMG_0488
  12. I need to improve my communication skills via text / email to avoid misinterpretation, disappointment, and unintended hurt.
  13. I can definitely eat overnight oats every day of my life and not get sick of them.
  14. Putting shredded zucchini in my overnight oats makes my friends cringe, but it’s now one of my favorite and easiest ways to eat more vegetables (it’s like spinach in a smoothie; ya can’t taste it, I swear).IMG_E0464
  15. Praying every day is as critical to my life as breathing is, and taking 30 minutes to attend daily Mass when possible is always worth it.
  16. If I am not intentional as heck (← stole that phrase from some lovely friends of mine) with seeing friends and talking to loved ones, it won’t happen in grad school. It either goes into the calendar the minute I want to make plans, or it never happens.IMG_0924
  17. Packing breakfast / lunch / dinner for the next day takes eons. How do mothers do this for their minivan full of children???
  18. Food and fitness have not been the least bit stressful to me this semester, probably because I’ve had no brain space to stress over it, and that is a beautiful thing. It’s been there for health, survival, and enjoyment, and that is it.IMG_0893an example of food for freakin’ enjoyment (that’s cheesecake on top of the milkshake @ Boston Burger Company)
  19. Keeping up to date with current events is a big weakness of mine that I want to improve.
  20. I am never alone. Every movement of the heart has been experienced by someone else and often by Jesus Christ Himself.IMG_1062
  21. I am terrible at saying what I mean.
  22. How to be a girlfriend. (!!)IMG_0631
  23. SO MANY darn things about patience, humility, how to receive love, and how to give love, heavily due to #22.IMG_1019
  24. How to learn from others. Yes, I learned how to learn from others. It’s called humility and openness to trying new things.IMG_1049
  25. How to answer difficult questions and use my brain until it almost physically hurts.
  26. How to utilize every last inch of a drying rack for my large loads of laundry.
  27. I don’t know how to keep myself from filling my backpack to the brim with stuff every day. It looks like I’m about to hike Everest on a daily basis.
  28. Best friends are faithful.IMG_0386
  29. We’re gonna freakin’ make it.
  30. Saying, “…but it’s a beautiful life,” in the midst of the most stressful moments is a good and helpful thing to do.DSC_3910
  31. God is faithful. When God tells us, “Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you,” {Is 41:10} He means it. He allows hurt and painful growth, but He always helps.

There’s no way to avoid this sounding like an Oscar acceptance speech, but guatever…

Thank you to every single person who I’ve encountered this semester; every friend who has talked, studied, ate, laughed, cried, screamed, and prayed with me; every person who prayed for me; every moment that hurt me; every moment that made me feel on top of the world; every person who genuinely loved me; every person who did a random act of kindness for me or for someone else; you for reading this; my family; and the Author of Life, who gave me the privilege of experiencing it all for yet another semester.

So tell me: What have you learned these past four months!?