Above All, Charity

Moves. 3 rounds:

  • 8 DB complexes (push-up ➔ renegade row ➔ kickstand deadlift ➔ overhead press)
  • 10 supine leg drops to weighted toe touch
  • 15 kickstand deadlifts (left leg only for me)
  • 20 hip extension + 10 hip abduction in plank (right leg only for me)
  • 12 crazy Russian twists each side
  • 10 tabletop sit through

Then some pull-ups on the hang board (on the biggest jugs for easiest grip hehe).

Privilege vs. marginalization. On Thursday evening, my friends Elayne and Tina hosted a “Donuts & Discussion” for their practicum project on Diversity and Inclusion in the BU PT program. It was so simple yet so profound.

Two small groups of 7-9 people each.

In each group: 20-ish cards laid out on the table, each with one aspect of a person’s identity (e.g., SES, ethnicity/culture, language proficiency/having an “accent”, faith/religion, housing status, food availability, experience level, age, educational institution, family make-up, learning ability, criminal background, size/weight/appearance, mental health, nationality/citizenship, gender/sex, sexual orientation, health status, access to healthcare, etc.).

First round: Each person chooses and discusses +/- 3 aspects that make them feel privileged. I chose SES/housing/food availability, learning ability, and size/weight/appearance (I now would say that this last one is a point of both privilege and marginalization for me).

Second round: Each person chooses and discusses +/- 3 aspects that make them feel marginalized. I chose ethnicity/culture, language proficiency (not knowing anything except English as an Asian person), and religion.

It was a very raw, vulnerable discussion in which my eyes were opened to the oppression that many of my peers experience much more often than I ever see. I cried.

My takeaway: The golden rule is never, ever overrated. Treat others the way you want to be treated, and never let assumptions rule the way you act or speak around others. Really understand your own human experience through what others say about/to you; implement the best and root out the worst of it all in the way you treat others. Above all, charity (love).

Additionally, assuming the best intentions of others is a good practice that Tina and Elayne emphasized. Not everyone has the opportunity to learn about the importance and nuances of diversity and inclusion. Although it is never excusable to act on unjust biases, they exist in all of us, whether we realize it or not. So to love those who do not seem to know how to love is essential for the dissemination of this knowledge.

When I wish to increase this love in me, and when especially the devil tries to place before the eyes of my soul the faults of such and such a sister who is less attractive to me, I hasten to search out her virtues, her good intentions; I tell myself that even if I did see her fall once, she could easily have won a great number of victories which she is hiding through humility, and that even what appears to me as a fault can very easily be an act of virtue because of her intention….

– St. Thérèse of Lisieux

Sweetness. John kindly surprised me last night after Mass with my favorite (Boston) carrot cake from Flour bakery! What a Monday, man. Thank you, John.

Obscure favorite part of my day. For me, this is when I pack my overnight oats for the morning. I don’t like to call it ritualistic because oats are not a crutch food that I eat only because I know the macros (I have no idea what the macros or total calories are). I genuinely just really enjoy overnight oats and am 99.9% of the time excited to eat them. Packing them for the next morning is one of the last things I do at night, and it’s low key one of my favorite parts of the day. Quiet apartment (I usually do it pretty late), prepping my favorite breakfast, a break from my studies…

So tell me:

Which items from that list cause you to feel privileged?

Which items cause you to feel marginalized?

What is an obscure favorite part of your day?

Self-Improvement

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Veterans. Giving thanks for all those who have sacrificially and faithfully served our nation to preserve our freedom.

Moves.

  • Friday morning swim with Abby. Swimming is probably the best workout I get these days, which is expected, because as I’ve been saying, air is more of a premium in this activity.
  • Saturday upper body strength
    • 3×15 TRX rows, 3×10 alternating atomic / pike pushups
    • 3×8-10 lat pulldowns, 3×1 min. plank
    • 3×10 bicep curl to OH press, 3×10 single leg box squats (R leg kicked back for balance only)
    • 3×10 DB shoulder abduction to horizontal abduction (raise side and then bring front), 3×8 weighted pistols on L leg only
    • 3×7-8 bodyweight dips
  • Sunday rowing
    • 5x500m row, 12 pushups between sets
    • 2×10 light L leg press (R toe contact only)
    • 10 minutes of abs (15 rounds of 30 sec on/10 sec off)

I was hungry and sluggish at the end of that last one, but it felt great to get the heart rate up!

Officially a stress fracture. Although I have known in the depths of my heart that I had a stress fracture in my femur, I only just received the official diagnosis from the orthopedist this past Friday.

*Orthopedist walks into room*: “Alison! You win the trophy! You have a stress fracture!”

Me: *kinda confused at his reaction* “Really!? Wow I wasn’t actually expecting to have one (at this point, because I am in virtually zero pain these days).” *laughs because shocked but also relieved and kinda still confused about why he’s smiling so big*

He seemed impressed that I self-diagnosed myself, especially since my stress fracture is in such a rare spot (the shaft of the femur), but he also knew that I am a PT student, so #ifyouknowyouknow.

His prescribed precautions: Crutches for one more week (unless it starts to hurt again). No running/super high impact exercise for 3 months. Biking and rowing are okay if it does not hurt. Strength training can slowly progress from light weight on machines and then free squatting in a month.

Honestly, the ramifications are not as bad as I thought for having a tiny crack in the strongest bone in my body. I am just amped to get the crutches outta my life by the end of this week! My left leg is going to be 2 inches larger in diameter by the end of this though, because it has literally been pulling most of the weight.

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Self-improvement. While my best friend and her husband are celebrating one whole year of marriage and adulthood stuff, I have been realizing more and more ways in which I am a) not a real adult yet, despite being > 18 years old; b) an uninformed potato. To combat my ignorance, I have started:

  • praying about little ways by which I can educate myself more without being overwhelmed with doing ALL THE THINGS and while still maintaining my priorities
  • listening to podcasts (various news, Stuff You Should Know, Freakonomics)
  • writing and (actually) checking my to-do list throughout the day
  • trying to shave off time from thinking “what should I do,” and just doing something

Date day. Food, studying, and Mass — the usual, but so much better with this sweet fella! We went to Gene’s Flatbread Cafe in Chinatown for their famous lamb cumin hand pulled noodles, and ooooo baby those noodles were doughy and delightful. The broth and lamb were so flavorful!

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“It was a v good day.” - @the_johnle

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Followed by conversation + studying at Starbucks and then Mass. Thank you for a wonderful day, John!

Hype girl. Shoutout to my friend, Megan, who will say to every person (when I am present): “alison underscore grooves… her instagram and blog game are SO STRONG.” Megan — you are the best hype girl out there. Thank you for the support! ♥︎

Brother. Happy 26th birthday, best pal. Miss your guts!

So tell me:

What are some ways you seek to self-improve currently?

Do you listen to podcasts (any recs)? What did you do this weekend?

Two Women Helping Me to Be a Better Woman

Moves. A super quick upper body workout before class (I got to the gym fairly late).

  • 4×15 TRX rows, 3×8-10 body weight dips
  • 3×6-8 lat pulldowns (I did one set of pistols but discovered that my left leg was smoked just from carrying all my weight lol)
  • 3×8-10 horizontal rows
  • 1×10 plank walkout to elbow plank to push-up (from @daniellegertner)

One passionate and courageous woman. I am blessed to have many friends who are extraordinary women in different ways. I am convinced that God placed every one of them in my life for a distinct purpose, to help me grow and vice versa.

One of these women is my friend, Elayne, a fellow DPT student and lover of all things health and happiness. Her passion and courage in everything she does is unlike anyone’s I’ve known (closely) in my life. She is currently doing a project on diversity in the PT/healthcare world and eradication of unjust biases in society.

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throwback to first year of PT school studying medication suffixes

Yesterday in class we were discussing healthcare provider bias towards people who are obese, and the way she presented her research findings was awesome. I truly felt like I was being called higher to reflect on how I view others either implicitly or explicitly. Elayne is never afraid to call people to betterment, and she works hard to know what she’s talking about, and then she talks about it well. I was challenged in the best way not only to self-assess my biases (as both a PT-to-be and as a Catholic Christian), but also to likewise find passion and courage to call others higher for the sake of what is good and true.

One empathetic woman. Last night I cooked and ate dinner with my friend, Kelsey, a fellow Catholic friend and lover of all things beautiful. We cooked some Italian chicken (i.e., dumped Italian seasoning onto chopped chicken breasts), peppery parmesan quinoa, and roasted veggies and ate it all in bowls and talked for hours.

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throwback to Christmastime 3 years ago

Kelsey and I discovered that we have been experiencing a lot of the same internal struggles and realizations, and how wonderful it was to have shared our experiences vulnerably and to leave knowing that we are not alone. It was a night filled with empathy, awe, laughter and prayer, and I was inspired to continue rejoicing in God in the little moments and to have childlike faith.

These are just two of the many women in my life who call me to be better, and thank God for that.

So tell me:

Who in your life has called you to greatness and excellence? In what ways?

Troublemaker, People Pleaser

It’s been a minute (five whole days seems like a long time to not blog now)! I had a midterm ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Doctor’s orders. Regarding my femur, I had an appointment with the orthopedic specialist on Friday, and he told me, point-blank, “You need to get an MRI,” as well as, “Even if it’s just a stress reaction [vs. a stress fracture], I’d like you to be on crutches for about a month.”

Me: “But…can it be partial weight bearing at least?”

Him: “If you want this to heal quickly, it needs to be non-weightbearing or maybe toe touch for balance.”

Hmph. It’s not so easy being on the other side of the patient-provider interaction…

Troublemaker, part 1. Putting little to no weight through my right leg has proven to be challenging, both mentally and physically. Physically, I carry a CRAP TON of stuff throughout my day, and holding all of that with mostly my arms is like its own form of training (at least I have some alternative form of cardio?). Mentally, it seems silly because my right leg does not hurt at all when I walk short distances. So I can crutch on the sidewalks and then walk completely normally when I get home. I feel…fraudulent. But I know that it’s not about the pain; it’s about the process of healing. I do miss my usual moves and grooves as well.

I’ve been a troublemaker at times, weight bearing and walking on my right leg when I’m in class or in the Catholic center (my argument: “Doc said I can walk household distances without crutches!!”). But alllll my PT friends + John are on my TAIL about using my crutches as often as possible. As they well should be (and as I well should know to do).

People have been incredibly kind though. Strangers offering to carry my bags, people offering their seats on the train, friends walking slowly with me and opening doors for me, John helping me get groceries. The list goes on and on each day, and for that I am grateful. How can I not be happy!?

Physical therapists everywhere I turn. That was this past Saturday at the American Physical Therapy Association of Massachusetts annual conference!! I learned oodles and now have an ignited flame to advocate for PT in new and #innovative ways. PT is so much more than little Alison could have imagined when she entered into this program almost 6 years ago.

Troublemaker, part 2. Over this weekend, I for some reason felt acutely aware of all the times when I have failed others, either my friends, family, or strangers. I felt heavy and ashamed for all of the times in both the far and recent past when I have hurt people out of ignorance, selfishness, accident.

I’m a people-pleaser at my core, which is good in some respects, but my people-pleasing attitude has often been a BIG source of pride for me. Almost 3 years ago, I begged God to help me break down the walls of pride in my heart — to make me more humble. It’s been a slow and grueling process (that can’t stop, won’t stop, baby) of constantly learning humility through my own failures and shortcomings (along with all the usual embarrassments of my life). And of course, God humbles me in the best ways He knows how.

He has allowed (but not caused!) me to make mistakes and see the effects of my vices, which unfortunately results in others being hurt sometimes, in big or small ways. This has made me really dang familiar with big apologies and the sacrament of confession. But this has also made me realize that I cannot perseverate and bang my head over my failures. It’s easy for me to think it’s the end of the world if someone is mad at me or know that I hurt someone. But what ought to be the reaction? Sincerely apologize, make appropriate amends, and do better. Move forward. It’s not about me.

What does “doing better” mean to me? My people-pleasing tendency has not disappeared, but the way I view myself in relation to others has shifted… On the one hand, I understand more the effects of seemingly small instances of laziness or neglect in loving others. This brings me low in knowing my weakness as a human. On the other hand, it helps me to have a healthier sense of what loving others means. It’s not the big, “WOW THANK YOU ALISON” moments. Sometimes it’s silent refrain from certain words or actions on my part — things that the world will never notice but that are truly better in the end.

Food. To lighten things up here…

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I’ve been using leftover beer cheese dip in a lot of my dinners (perks of potlucks). On toast with an egg on top. In leftover rice with egg and sriracha on top. On a spoon.

The photo got cut off, but I tried a pumpkin mochi muffin for the first time with Lauren and Joy last week, and it changed my life. Gooey, underbaked-kinda-vibe that is what baked good dreams are made of. I want to make some!!

One day last week I ate, like, two bananas and 3 tbsp of PB total before noon.

Moves. Besides crutching everywhere (exhausting!):

  • Swimming with Abby. Also aqua jogging without a floatation belt — that’s WORK.
  • Upper body strength
  • Lots of yoga
  • Single leg strength on my unaffected side (my left butt is sore and my right side is just chillin)
  • I tried single leg rowing and that was doable but felt kinda weird
  • Core work up the wazoo

Whatever works!

Halloween costume? Janice may or may not have a boba costume made for me today. We shall see. If not, I’ll be a pirate or something with my crutches.

Wednesday already, what fun!

So tell me:

Have you ever had to use crutches or follow a protocol for something to heal in your body? Was it difficult?

Are you a people-pleaser? Has this affected you in any particular way?

What is a weird way you’ve spiced up leftovers?

Have you ever eaten a mochi muffin?

Do you dress up for Halloween? If so, whatcha gonna be this year!?

 

Ya Ever Wanna Crush Things With Your Bare Hands?

Moves. 45 minutes on the assault bike (a fitting name for it). I basically did my own spin-class-style workout to my “werk” playlist on Spotify, doing a variety of sprint intervals, recovery songs, and endurance/tempo songs.

I ended with songs from the Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse soundtrack, and I felt like I was INVINCIBLE. My favorite songs are “Memories” (a slower, moody, lyrical hip-hop type of vibe) and “What’s Up Danger,” which I have expressed to my friends is a song that makes me “wanna break things and throw boulders while wearing a Mulan-in-armor-esque type of costume.”

…Which explains the title of this post. Side note: Highly recommend the movie if you have not watched it yet — a very well-done cartoon!

Femur felt fine after the workout, but I still need to make a doc appointment to get it checked out for real.

Spontaneous conversation. My friend asked me if I wanted to hang out / study with her on campus yesterday. When I got there, we initially had our laptops open to do some work, but she asked me how I was doing and asked specific questions about my life, opening up a lovely, spontaneous conversation about deeper things than I was expecting for a rather normal Tuesday afternoon. She showed genuine interest in me, which was so touching. I forgot how much even a brief heart-to-heart can refresh my being. Thanks, Lauren ♥︎

Punctuality. I was late to ^^^said meet-up with Lauren, about which I NEED TO BE BETTER. I am punctual for class, work, and meetings with professors/bosses, but when it comes to casual meet-ups with friends, it’s like my brain cannot get my body to move and think fast enough to be on time. I always leave too late and overestimate my ability to get done what I want to get done. But I do not want to keep taking advantage of my friends’ / family’s time, because that ain’t right.

Stuffed cabbage rolls. I made these babies for the first time ever, which was super random; I’ve literally never eaten a cabbage roll in my life, but I had beef… I had cabbage (#cheapestveggieindaclub)… Cabbage rolls! My Ukranian roommate saw me cooking them and said, “I have never seen anyone in America make these.” I enjoyed them! Baby meatloaves in a blanket!

Quote. I pray every day, but it has been a long time, it seems, since I smiled during prayer from the depths of my soul. But yesterday, I could not help but (soft) smile, and this quote was part of the reason:

Prayer is nothing more than a friendly conversation with the One whom I know Loves me. — St. Teresa of Avila

Hump day already, baby! Let’s get it.

So tell me:

Do you ever feel like you could crush things with your bare hands because of a super intense workout song?

When was the last time you had a refreshing spontaneous conversation?

Punctuality — great at it or struggle with it?

Have you ever eaten stuffed cabbage rolls?