Friday, September 18, 2015

Finding a Better Way to Thrive Academically

As I mentioned last week, we had our first exams last week as first-year medical students. I was just so happy to merely survive it. I immediately hung out with my classmates and took lots of pics to celebrate getting over that hump.

Snapshots of Pure Bliss 

Coming back to the next wave of material made me consider how often in school I have striven to just merely get by. As if I were just trying to stay afloat, trying not to get swept away by the undertow. These past few weeks have been no different. But, I know there is a better way. It's just a matter of finding a way that works best for you to thrive rather than struggling to survive in school, or in any life endeavor, for that matter.

Dr. John Pelley is a Professor of Medical Education at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center, School of Medicine (aka my school!). He and others at the institution have developed the Expert Skills Program in which they promote action and sleep as a way of enhancing learning. Take a watch at the TED Talk below!

Dr. Pelley's  2014 TEDxTexasTechUniversity Talk

If you've been following me for a while, you know how much of a fan I am of TED Talks, so it was very exciting to have the opportunity to interview someone who has given one. In our conversation, we discuss this idea of thriving in school rather than struggling to get by. Sometimes a fresh new perspective facilitates a brand new approach to life-long learning. Hopefully you'll find some of the nuggets of wisdom helpful! 

Friday, September 11, 2015

Finding a Better Way to Cultivate Aequanimitas

Hey guys! Good news - I survived my first big-girl med school exams this week! Even better news - I've gained great insight into my study habits and approach to school this past week. Now, I'm ready to move upward and onward. You've got to keep looking forward and trudging ahead, no matter what. And, it's a beauty of life to be able to do so.

And now, I present to you a very special segment of Fridays with Friends. I got the awesome opportunity to interview the dean of the TTUHSC School of Medicine, Dr. Steven Berk yesterday! He shared wise words regarding, aequinimitas (the quality of remaining calm in intense situations) and mindfulness. I, personally, always enjoy reminders on remaining present in the moment. Hopefully, this quick video can inspire you, too!

Fridays with Friends: Dr. Steven Berk, TTUHSC SOM Dean

Happy Friday, my friends!

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Finding a Better Way to Get Restful Sleep and Let the Fever Run Its Course

Hey guys! Here we are again for a Music Monday on a Tuesday. Yes, yes, I'm considering officially switching it to Tuesday's Tune...Nahh I don't like it! We'll see!

Anyhoo, as the blog title reads, I endured a surprise fever this weekend. THIS weekend of all weekends. I have my first big-girl medical school exams Wednesday and Friday, and believe you, me, I was ready for a weekend full of intense review. I got caught up with all the material on Thursday, marked out tasks in my planner, and reserved a study room for Friday through Monday night. Yeah, I was on top of things alright. I even went out to brunch with my lab partners before starting the 'big review' proud of having set up such a sweet deal.

The Hot Cocoa I got at brunch early Friday afternoon when I felt a SLIGHT tinge in my throat. Little did I know what would come next...
Then, as I was casually studying in said study room on Friday night, I could not help but notice the irritation in my throat and the stuffiness in my nose. I thought it was just some sort of placebo effect from having dissected and studied the Nasal Cavity and Pharynx just days before. But, then the sneezing happened. And, then the chills. And, then, I knew I had no choice but to go get medicine and go home to get some sleep.

Speaking of sleep. Remember that little line I said about sleep being something that should never be neglected? Welp, I was a hypocrite last week, and I severely shortened my sleep daily to ensure I had sufficiently covered everything by Friday. Did I mentioned I have my FIRST big-girl med school exams Wednesday and Friday, though?! As it turns out, sleep deprivation + (admittedly) mild stress over the aforementioned big-girl exams = a fever. A good ol' fashioned, run its course fever. I couldn't positive-think my way out of the sore throat, sinus congestion, body aches, and general discomfort that lasted a full 48 hours.

So, why tell you this tale of the weekend of super-studying that never was? To reiterate the fact that sleep really should never be neglected. And, this time, I mean it! One of my final papers in grad school was about the health benefits of sleep; I should have known better. But,then again, don't we all know better? I also tell you this to remind you that sometimes you just really can't stop the inevitable. You've got to let certain things run its course, and go with the flow of life without fretting.

The day that I started feeling a little better, Sunday, I actually got a lot done. I woke up - too late and too groggy to make it to church, unfortunately. But, after I showered, I felt it was time to clean up. Like, deep clean. I took all my recyclable items to get recycled. And, I spared my washer and dryer and went to the laundromat to wash all my sheets and comforter and towels all at once. Shout out to the nice older gentlemen who helped a sista out with getting a laundry card!. 'Preciated that. Unfortunately there are no pictures of these adventures since my phone was dying.

Nevertheless, when I got back and folded up all my clothes and linens and laid in a fresh bed. I literally felt the fever leaving my body, having run its course. Having taught me an important lesson. One must be sure to tend to their physical and mental well-being first, and then proceed to rock an awesome study plan. A reasonable sleep schedule should not feel like a luxury that I could do without, but rather a necessity that enables me to do the very best I can. Similarly, clearing the clutter from my apartment bedroom also helped to clear the mental clutter. I encourage anyone to do this. Also, it's remarkable how disorganized a closet can get even when all you wear everyday is scrubs.... Having a clear space to rest, and resting fully, is what healed me. Well, that and the electrolytes in Gatorade, the comfort of throat-soothing soup, and TheraFlu. Nevertheless, I want to remind y'all to create an environment conducive for not just sleep, but for rest, as well.

My Weekend: Soup, Gatorade, Tissues, Netter's Atlas. The total exam preparation package. 
 Another healing aspect of this weekend was getting checked in on by my classmates who are along this crazy journey with me. Sometimes sickness socially isolates you, so thank goodness for text messaging. Lastly, some good acoustic music helped mellow me out, too. And, there is this acoustic cover that I am currently obsessed with, so it deserves to be this week's Music Monday.

Boyce Avenue's rendition of "Demons" by Imagine Dragons
Favorite Lines
"Don't get too close,
It's dark inside.
It's where my demons hide.
It'w where my demons hide."


Your eyes they shine so bright,
I wanna save that light.
I can't escape this now, 
Unless you show me how"

Was that not one of the most beautifully done covers you have ever heard? If not, go listen to the original, appreciate that, then listen to this one, and LOVE IT. Or, don't, it's really not that big of a deal. :-) The other thing I love, besides their artistic ability to remix the beat and beautifully harmonize, are the lyrics. After perusing some internet opinion, I came to the conclusion that this song is basically a plea from one person to the other with whom they are in relationship to look away from their "demons", their flaws. It's like the one person is trying to push the other away before those flaws are revealed. This is melancholy, at first. But, then, they say. "I can't escape this now, unless you show me how." And, that, my friends, is the power of genuine relationships. We all have flaws that we would rather keep from those we want to get close to. Flaws make you vulnerable. It's uncomfortable, disconcerting. Yet, we need each other to bring out the best in us by helping us get through the messes of us. If that makes sense. I just really wanted to rhyme. But, I hope you get the point. Be open, be vulnerable.

This post was full of a lengthy string of thoughts. So, to put it all together: get restful sleep to heal and replenish, go with the flow of life and don't fret, and boldly share your vulnerability with those you care about and who care about you, too. Happy Tuesday, my friends. :-D

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Finding a Better Way to...Believe

When did you first stop believing? When was it that you halted yourself from fully giving in to a hope or desire? Was it when someone said something like "great romantic relationships only exist in fairy tales"? Or, was it when you studied all week - day and night - for an exam and ended up with a C? Did a lab partner understand the material better than you? How about when you joked with your friends, "maybe he's just not that in to me, whatever, I'm over him anyway"? Did you have a meeting with a professor who told you to reconsider your career aspirations to become a doctor? Did a friendship turn out to be not at all what you thought it would be? When did you first stop believing, stop hoping, for a dream to come to fruition?

I have countless examples from my own experience and observances of others' of moments when a bubble was burst in some area of life. None of us are strangers to the disappointments or unexpected twists along this path of life. But, how often do we muster up the courage to believe again? To trust that even though one experience went awry before, that doesn't taint the experience from there on out. I've been in medical school for a solid month now - by the way - have you noticed that time moves at warp speed? Especially when studying & taking a blog break? Is it just me? I digress. As I was saying, I've been in medical school for a month now, which is so bizarre. I remember when I did get a poor grade on all the exams and had to retake a class. I remember when I did have that conversation with a professor about not becoming a doctor, after all. I remember when I first stop believing that I could become an effective physician to my future patients. But, then, I remembered when I decided to believe again.

I recalled the energy that came with the determination to diligently pursue the dream that just wouldn't go away -- no matter how many other career paths I considered. I also recalled refusing to deny the part of me that is creative and talkative and interdisciplinary, who wanted to integrate all my life interests into a rewarding and fulfilling vocation. I recalled when I believed again.

This aforementioned mental tangent made me wonder. How many times in life do we let hopes and dream pass us by for fear that it won't actually happen? Or from fear that we will get disappointed yet again? But, what of this fear? Why does IT get a say in how we think or feel? I briefly glanced at this article, and instantly loved the following quote:

"When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be"  Lao Tzu
That pretty much sums it up. Release those fears that prevent you for progressing forward. I encourage you to believe, to hope, to dream, again and always. And, trust yourself to do so. It's the beauty of being human. Of being alive. As long as I breathe, I hope.

Now, technically this post was written on Monday during a study break, sooo we agree that this can be tagged as a Music Monday post, right? Tuesday's Tune? Both? Great! I think you saw this song choice coming...

Journey's "Don't Stop Believin'"

"Don't stop believin', hold on to that feeling." 

I have belted this song out on a karaoke bar stage more than once, and I'll do it again! You should, too. Peace easy, my friends!