“Alison, this year will be hard.”

“Alison, this year will be hard. But I will carry so much of the burden with you if you let Me. You will grow in so many ways, in more ways than just one. You are ready for it. I am with you always. It will be very good.”

I was prayer journaling on January 3, 2020, and these are the words I had in my heart that God was responding to me after I probably word-vomited a bunch of my anxieties and fears to Him.

This journal entry was written before COVID-19 became a global pandemic, before I left Boston, before my relationship ended, before political and social battlefields blew up, before death and anxiety consumed everyone’s minds, before starting my new career, before being in solitude for 6 months. I’m no prophet, because this could apply to many different years of my life, but it was made very clear to me this year that things would be particularly difficult.

“I will carry much of the burden with you if you let Me.” There were many times I did not let God carry the burden with me this year, because I thought I didn’t have time to think about anything except all the things I just listed. Those were the times when “difficult” became “crushing,” and when I felt the ground beneath me collapse. But in all the times I allowed Him to come and be with me, “difficult” became “difficult but peaceful.”

I’m not here to say that every hardship can be turned into a happy ending now that it’s December 31st. There is a bitterness that humanity tasted this year that won’t go away by holding hands (definitely not that) and singing kumbaya. Hard days are made harder when you specifically asked God to help make the day easier and He didn’t. Death and loss are harder when you prayed that God would perform a miracle and He didn’t.

But God is not wrong. Do not be mistaken — COVID (and all the other bad things of this year) needs to die in H-E-double hockey sticks; I hate it all so much. But as Fr. Mike Schmitz says in this video: God never promised we would not suffer, but He did promise that He would always be with us. “I am with you always.” (Matthew 28:20)

My last post about solidarity is an ode to this fact. I said to God about 20 times before 8:00am this morning at work: “I can’t do this, Lord. I can’t do this.” But He made His crown of suffering readily visible in my mind. On January 3, 2020, He promised I would grow, and I would not have grown on this day, in this year, had He not let me suffer with Him, as much as I wished He didn’t let me.

“It will be very good.” Death is not good. Suffering is not good. But into whatever I allow God to enter, suffering and death included, it will be very good. Just like the day Jesus suffered and died is called Good Friday.

Some things I still feel have not shown to be very good at all — continued death, continued division, continued hopelessness. Some things I can see are indeed very good — the Zoom calls with relatives; the virtual book clubs; the new, rediscovered, and transformed relationships; the job that both drains and sustains me; the time I received to fall in love with God again.

“You are ready for it.” The times of the past are now 1000x sweeter when I think about them. Seemingly dumb and insignificant memories and experiences of friends, family, and faith have become powerful motivators for me when I’m feeling very low. I am grateful for every sweet and bitter moment that has readied me to be standing in my kitchen typing all of this half asleep right now (before 9:00pm, might I add).

God has kept all His promises this year, and at first it seems to be at my dismay. I wish it wasn’t so hard and I wish He didn’t ask us all to go through 2020. But even the “best” year is not good unless the One who is Goodness Himself is with us. He is with us, if we allow Him to be, and that is very good.

Happy 2021!

So tell me: Anything you want about how you feel about this year or the next!

“I need You desperately.”

These titles are sounding more dramatic with each blog post, good grief.

pray.

One of the things that I have been praying under my breath (and mask) during the work day — when I feel like my sympathetic nervous system is at level 10,000 as I run around to different patients, manage customer service, perform interventions properly, and document all the things — is:

“Lord, I need You DESPERATELY.”

A lot of my prayer, any time of day, has involved some sort of plead for help from God, because hot dang, the days can be long and hard. I cannot do it alone.

But I am hangin’ in there!! My colleagues, family, and friends have been incredibly supportive and loving, and the Lord is for SURE sustaining me.

eat.

Thanksgiving is coming up, holy tamales. My brother’s girlfriend ordered the Blue Apron Thanksgiving dinner for us, which involves a cheesy cornbread and an apple peanut PERSIMMON crumble (!!???). How cool!? I love love love cooking Thanksgiving foods my own way, but it’ll be fun to do something new this year. #2020 mix it up ya know?

In terms of things I already have eaten, last weekend for my brother’s birthday, I made wagyu beef burgers (from frozen; I ain’t that skilled) from a Costco kit that included brioche buns, bacon, and truffle butter *drool face.* Also these peanut butter s’mores bars, which were killerrrrr. He let me keep half, so I had a tasty dessert the whole week.

I had so much fiber last week, my poor organs. But my happy cardiovascular system.

move.

Moves just happen when they happen, but quite honestly I feel as powerful and strong as ever! Every repetition is focused on high quality contraction and motor control in order to maximize the efficiency. It’s still just me and Kettlebellarmine (my 35# KB) and my pull-up bar.

I definitely need more sleep too, which will help my workouts to feel a little better. But here’s a recent leg workout I did that got me sore:

  • 3×10 Bulgarian split squats with pulse at bottom (each leg)
  • 3×8 squat with tapbacks // 3×12 KB swing to reverse swing
  • 3×8 lateral step downs each leg

That’s the extent of my workout volume these days. Work tuckers me out enough, and I’m still going on walks. Like I said, life is about just moving when I can and quality>quantity!

grooves.

I have been obsessed with watching Cimorelli videos in my free time. They’re a band of sisters who are incredibly girly and screamy but also so loving and supportive of one another and others; they’re just wonderful. They have beautiful voices, beautiful faces, and beautiful souls, and they make me feel like I’m part of their family, which sounds cheesy as FLIP, but ya girl can use as much ~community~ as I can at this time of COVID. I’m sure you feel.

I hope my American friends have a fantastic Thanksgiving, even if it’s low key, even if you’re alone, and even if you’re working. I am thankful for you reading this ♥︎

So tell me:

Is there something you say under your breath to keep you going on the stressful days?

Any plans for Thanksgiving?

What are some ways you like to exercise when you’re tight on time?

The thing that is worth it.

pray.

Last week brought several challenges at work that have caused me to grow and {hopefully} become a better clinician and communicator to my patients. I am grateful for compassionate and wise mentors who are my colleagues as well, who continue to support me in this journey as a brand-spankin’-new physical therapist.

Last Sunday, when I committed to staying off Instagram for the next few months, I also committed to silent prayer for 20 minutes per day and 10-15 minutes of prayerful reflection at the end of the day. I also committed to being more mindful about avoiding emotional eating at the end of long, draining work days. And importantly, I committed to staying accountable to my great friend, Sarah, with a checklist of whether I actually stayed faithful to those commitments each day. All she has to do is read my text (and give me a little bit of tough love if I was not faithful).

When I committed to these things, as small as they are, I wanted to make so many excuses as to why I should not or could not do them. But what I knew in the depths of my heart was that there would be every amount of doubt, fear, and pride in me that fights against me sticking to these commitments, because actually following through with them would be worth it. Whatever that means… it would be worth it.

Even after just one week, staying faithful to all those commitments has been worth it, because I now get so much more time intentionally spent with the One who Loves me and the One who I love. And doing that makes all the difference in how I handle work; in how I live singly; in how I can give to others; and in the degree of freedom, joy, and peace within me (which grows exponentially as I spend more time with Him).

A word of encouragement: If there is something in the back of your mind and the depth of your soul that you have been thinking about doing to improve your faith life, your relationship with God, your inner peace — whatever you want to call it — do it and commit to it today, because it will be worth it. And don’t be afraid to put up a little fight for it against all the things/feelings/perceptions that hold you back.

eat.

I made Bisquick pancakes yesterday after Mass — the “ultimate” version on the back of the box, along with banana slices in there — topped with plain Greek yogurt, pb, and maple syrup and served with a glass o’ milk. I was a HAPPY gal.

I also have been working through a very large batch of frozen tilapia, which I have been seasoning with Costco seasoning salt, fried in olive oil with sauteed onions, some other vegetable (either kale or spaghetti squash) and topped with feta cheese, and it is dynamite. Often followed by some sort of carby thing because I’m not trying to be keto.

move.

I am currently typing with both of my hands wrapped intricately with athletic tape thanks to some gnarly rips from Kettlebell Sunday Swings yesterday. We did a snatch ladder going up 5-6-7-8-9-10 each arm and then back down the ladder. OWWW.

Other fun moves included a hike up Bear Mountain on Saturday with a new Sunday Swings friend, Charlie (@teamwagon)! It was an absolutely GORGEOUS weekend here in NY, so we took advantage of the weather while the fall foliage is still magnificent.

Great convo, moves, and grooves!

God is good.

groove.

I played the game “Among Us” virtually with some friends last night, and I must admit that it was a hysterically fun time. I must also admit that a 10-year-old patient of mine told me that he was playing it with his friends a couple weekend ago, and this was my reaction: “*gasp* I’m going to play that with my friends TOO!” Felt like a weird point of connection with someone younger than half my age.

Hope you all have a blessed week 🙂

So tell me:

What is something to which you have committed for yourself that was worth it?

Have you ever taken a social media break of any kind/length? How did it go for you?

What was the most fun thing you did this weekend?

Have you played the game Among Us?

Calling out the negative coping mechanisms for my stress without judgement.

pray.

…I would say that I should probably do more of this. Or at least do more silent, intentional prayer. I am definitely praying all throughout the day for my patients and for continual strength from God to do what I need to do, but to be with the Beloved in a quiet space is a rare occasion these days, and I know that it is in my control to change that.

What I think I really need to clean up is my night routine. The hardest thing these days is coming home exhausted and wanting to “turn my brain off,” so I turn to social media or talking to friends or watching an assortment of Youtube videos (other people eating or working out or talking about God usually). I KNOW THIS IS NOT THE ANSWER. But I’ve been doing it anyway in an attempt to fill myself.

Guess what. It’s not working super well.

My face is broken out in acne; my cortisol levels shoot me up at around 7am even if I want to sleep in; my workouts feel really difficult; I sometimes find myself stress eating. None of this is first-time experience, and I know that the sources are a) stress from work; b) lack of quality time with God. One of these can be changed, for sure, if I really want it. And I do.

I am grateful that, at this point in my life, I can call out these negative coping mechanisms of mine without being hard on myself. I am also grateful for these seasons of stress and adjustment that remind me of my weakness and the need to rely on God c o m p l e t e l y.

Something that helps me with bouncing back from negative coping mechanisms is to “just say yes to the next good thing.” Whether that’s putting down the phone at 9:00pm, taking out the trash the night before instead of almost forgetting in the morning, turning off the TV Youtube while I’m eating dinner, etc. Say yes to ONE next good thing. Just one.

eat.

The best thing I ate last week was chicken saag with garlic naan and basmati rice from a local Indian restaurant. My brother picked it up for us + his girlfriend on Thursday night, and we had a lovely socially distanced dinner in the backyard. It made for two delicious meals, which is the best 🙂

move.

I’ve still been loving the outdoor KB workouts on Sundays hosted by @kettlebellgains_apparel. I didn’t go this weekend because I needed a bit of rest (aka napped too long and was a sort of too late lol) and wanted to catch up with family over video chat, but most Sundays I try to make it down there for awesome community and HEAVY kettlebell work!

Otherwise, my workouts have been mostly strength/mobility-based and pretty low key. I’ve been telling my patients, “I work out so I can do this [physical therapy]!” And I mean it.

groove.

On Friday night, I got home late so I ran up and down the stairs blasting uplifting praise and worship to sing, dance, and work up a sweat ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ whatever works.

On Saturday, I met up with my apartment-mate from last year, Yuka! She loooooves NYC, so I gave her a little tour of some of my favorite spots, some new-to-me spots, and some of her requested spots. It was a day of 29K+ steps, lots of carbs, and good friend time! Masked and outdoors only, of course.

It was fun writing a good old blog post again. This always helps to ground me. Thank you, as always, for reading along on this 7+ year journey.

So tell me:

Do you find yourself using “negative” coping mechanisms at times? How do you try to bring yourself out of those?

What are some things that ground you during stressful/challenging times?

Do you like Indian food? Fave dish? What is the best thing you did this weekend?

A Week in the Life of a Physical Therapist Vlog!

It’s been a long while since I have updated you guys on anything here, but I’ve been working hard [at work, of course, but also] on this vlog to give a peek into what my life as a full-time physical therapist looks like!

I obviously can’t really film any of my actual work as a PT (#HIPAA), but a lot of the video is my life surrounding my work hours and my feelings before/after work each day.

This is probably my most finessed vlog yet, so I’m excited to share it with you guys! Enjoy 🙂

Here is the link if the embedded video is not working.

Have an awesome week ahead, friends!

So tell me:

What are some of your routine things you do before and/or after work?

Do you ever get a little nervous heading into work?

What are some of your outside-of-work recreational/volunteer activities?