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!

 

 

 

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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?

 

 

 

 

 

 

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? 

First Week at the New Unpaid Job

Also known as my 6-week PT clinical.

My heart overflows with gratitude for this past week! As part of the graduate PT program, I have been placed at an outpatient orthopedic physical therapy clinic to learn from the PTs and start doing some “real life PT” stuff. You can liken it to an internship or rotation. I have already learned oodles, grown as a PT student, and grown as a person just in this first week.

I have two clinical instructors who are basically my mentors, and both of them are welcoming, open to my input, supportive, and just fun people. They are also fantastic, experienced PTs, and I look forward to learning more from them these next 5 weeks.

The staff at the clinic asked for a fun fact about me during a meeting, and I told them about this blog that I’ve been writing for almost 5(!) years now. So if any of them are reading this, HELLO! You are all great.

My commute (by bus + train) in the morning takes about an hour, and the way back takes about 1.5 hours, which is not ideal but not terrible by any means. Lots of time for prayer and people watching.

I even get a day off during the week! I work four days per week, with some days 7:30-4:30. Other days I work 10-7. That makes my out-of-work schedule a little wonky, but we’re makin’ the best of it. Although, one night I stayed up until almost midnight cooking food when I needed to get up at 5:20 the next morning. I ended up sleeping through my alarm but THANKFULLY, Rachel happened to know when I needed to wake up, AND she woke up at around the same time as me that particular day (she usually wakes up a little later), so she knocked on my door and asked, “Aren’t you supposed to be awake??”

Omg yes, tysm, Jesus and Rachel.

Since I can’t make it to Mass on work days, I’ve been praying in the evenings with the sunset.

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one night Kelsey invited me to go with her to adoration and confession

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most other nights I’m here

The Lord blessed us with gorgeous weather last week (besides one day of torrential rains that soaked me to my underwear LOL), so these nights were refreshing as heck. This week’s forecast says it will storm almost every day. Still tempted to watch the “sunset” through the clouds though. What’s a little water and electricity, right?? (answer: danger and potentially death, don’t do that, Alison)

Bible study + belated international ice cream day celebration:

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Favorite moves and grooves from last week:

Supersets (3x each):

  • 12 step ups each leg (25”, 25#) // 40 side jump lunges
  • 10 pistols each leg // 20 hamstring ball curls 

12 min EMOM:

Favorite song of the week:

Rachel and I went bucket listing on Saturday at The Gallows for their Scotch Egg, which is a soft boiled egg, surrounded by pork sausage and deep fried with panko crust.

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’twas perfectly savory and crispy

I hadn’t eaten pork in a while, so my tastebuds were like OOO YES PORK, THE NEW CHICKEN.

We also shared the breakfast skillet, which was phenomenal and everything we needed (i.e. potatoes, cheese, bacon).

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Great food, just a little pricey. Cool atmosphere, except the wall looks like a ouija board, which is like, ehhhhhh…..pass.

After brunch, Rachel and I deep cleaned our apartment to prepare for the new tenants (my friends Casey and Zoe!), as well as our own peace of mind. It took us 6-ish hours, but we cleaned, scrubbed, swept, mopped, reorganized 5/6 rooms in the apartment and moved me into a different room.

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f l o o r space!!!

I have never been happier living in this apartment without the ten thousand pounds of dust bunnies and grime that have been accumulating. We are hygienic people, but we are also lazy/busy young adults who are not the best at maintaining an already old, grody apartment.

Rachel made us Dark and Stormy’s to celebrate a clean apartment. I am seriously so grateful for this gal for motivating me throughout the day and having such an organized plan of action.

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The only really negative thing that happened this week was a random man asking if I wanted to come over and “do something” and commenting on my a$$ on my way to work. I may have definitely cursed at him in my head…but mercy is better.

It’s been a long but beautiful week. Not because anything spectacular happened, but because…

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I found my favorite devotional (Come Away My Beloved by Frances J. Roberts) during the move and all the sticky notes that my friend left in it. His sticky notes highlight a lot of wonderful reminders.

Hope you have a lovely week!

So tell me:

Highlights of your week!

How is your commute to work?

Have you ever eaten a Scotch Egg?

“It is all for you. I love you.”

Snippets of the mind and nuggets of the heart from last week:

Tuesday

Despite the woes that can result from the internet and social media these days, it has wonderful effects as well. For example, meeting people like my friend Casey, who is one of the fittest and most genuine people I know.

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why does my box of food look like froyo with toppings

We spent time together by working out by the river and then noshing on some Whole Foods hot bar (treat yo$$$$elf) al fresco. The Whole Foods mac and cheese is dreamy as heck, but the real star of the night was Casey. Big heart, that gal.

Also the workout that she came up with was super fun. We had both worked out already in the morning, so we went for something “laid back.”

100 reps of each exercise total between two partners (so we each did 50 of each exercise):

  • squats
  • pushups
  • situps
  • jump lunges
  • burpee bench jumpovers
  • bench dips
  • plank jacks
  • pistols (20 total each person)

Wednesday

This was my last day volunteering at Little Sisters of the Poor (a skilled nursing facility/hospice for elderly people with very low income) for a while, and I am quite sad to be leaving the folks there (for now!). I have nothing but gratitude for the joy in this place, which, without the right workers, could easily be a depressing and neglected place. God put the right workers there, and I pray that I can be as joyful as they are.

They had a fun Casablanca-themed dinner party that night for the residents, and they went ALL OUT.

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I was nearly floored when I saw this cake. Amazing what technology can do to our desserts these days.

I also FaceTimed with my dear friend Emma tonight, which was like chicken noodle soup for the soul, along with this glowing urban sunset.

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Thursday

I started my day RUNNING??????!!! And I ended up running 6.65 miles, which is the longest distance I’ve ever run. Haha. I threw in couple longer stretch/catch-my-breath-post-hill breaks, but I still felt accomplished and texted all of my friends who would care.

This has been my favorite breakfast recently: overnight oat smoothie topped with PB Puffins.

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Beats the heat and doubles as a prank to make others think you’re eating pea soup with cereal on top for breakfast. I’ve never done that, but please try it on my behalf and report back.

In the eve, I had dinner al fresco (loving the weather this week) with my friend Briana and then walked over to another friend’s place for our weekly Bible study/deep chat time. On the way over, my heart was hurting over something, but I felt as though God was telling me in my pain, “Hey, hey. Look. Look at the sky. Look at all these things I have given you today. It is all for you. I love you.”

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Oh, how joyful and loving the Lord is.

Friday

I walked to Mass and then ate delicious pasta at Bottega di Capri with my friend Denis, a seminarian who just came back from Italy, the land of pasta. He took two weeks off from Italian food, but then the heart just yearns for it again, ya know? (Really, it was I who requested pasta, and Denis is just a good friend who let my desires be fulfilled.)

I had cheese and porcini mushroom ravioli in vodka sauce. The restaurant definitely threw some lobster ravioli in there on accident, but I was NOT complaining.

Later in the afternoon, I visited a friend who is recovering from a rather involved surgery. She is a warrior. The occasion also gave me an excuse to buy two pints of Mint Oreo ice cream, one for her and one for myself, as they were on sale 2/$7 😀

One of my apartment mates, Lauren, is moving away so we hosted a killer farewell party for her, complete with flash tattoos, pizza rolls, and the Fake ID dance.

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I will miss you lots, Lo ♥

Saturday

…and then my pal Ben and I figured it was a good idea to do a longer “Spartan” workout the morning after at 8:30 am!!!

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“how to be a tool and a white girl at the same time”

Ben came up with this workout to increase our running endurance on grass/dirt a bit more. We have a Spartan Super coming up in less than a month!

0.5 mile run ➔ Circuit (20 reps each) ➔ 1.0 mile run ➔ Circuit (15 reps each) ➔ 1.5 mile run ➔ Circuit (10 reps each) ➔ 2.0 mile run ➔ Circuit (5 reps each)

The Circuit:

  • burpees
  • squat jumps
  • tricep bench dips
  • step ups
  • cross punch sit ups

Surprisingly, the last 2 mile run was the easiest and funnest. From the 0.5 mile run to the 1.5 mile run, I would precede it by saying, “I don’t wannnnnaaaa runnnnnnn. I don’t want itttttt.” But we did it, flash-tatted and pizza-rolled up.

The rest of the day included FaceTiming another fit internet friend, Colby, a genuine and inspiring soul as well. At night, I dined in with yet another beautiful friend, Kelsey. She helped me practice my PT skills too, because clinical starts tomorrow and Lord knows I have forgotten 50% of my skills already.

Sunday

This post is super long already. Okay, so I boxed in the morning, watched the World Cup Final with Kelsey (yo, that game was FUN TO WATCH), swept the floors, ate ice cream, went to Mass, watched the sun light up the clouds a bit, and am now writing this.

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To conclude, a quote from someone greater than I:

“The devil may try to use the hurts of life, and sometimes our own mistakes to make you feel it is impossible that Jesus really loves you, is really cleaving to you. This is a danger for all of us, and so sad, because it is completely the opposite of what Jesus is really wanting, waiting to tell you…He loves you always, even when you don’t feel worthy.” — St. Teresa of Calcutta

Have a blessed week! I START CLINICAL TOMORROW. SO I NEED TO GO TO SLEEP IN 20 MINUTES. But I also just ate tapioca pudding so I have a lot of sugar in me.

So tell me:

A few highlights of your week!

What is your favorite Ben and Jerry’s flavor?

Pasta. Do you ever get sick of it?