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Tuesday, December 17, 2013

"Happiness is not a limited resource." ~ Chris Aiff

So I am an official A.T. Still intern! Yes indeed! I actually think that this will be an exceptional experience that I will really enjoy and get to learn a great deal from. I will be essentially conducting research that concerns the new virtual anatomy lab that they have created on their campus. They have some really phenomenal software that allows for 3D imaging to teach the students. The anatomy director is trying to change the way that anatomy is taught in medical school and the research that his interns are doing will help to prove or disprove that this new way of thinking and teaching can be beneficial for medical students. I have a lot of ideas about what I want my capstone project to be so I have a lot to think about in the next few weeks.

I have also become an employee for the first time in a while. I am a student-worker in the honors office and it is a work-study position which allows for a great deal of flexibility, something I definitely need with my schedule and current condition. Being an honors student, I already had a really good relationship with the employees in the office so it's a lot of fun working with them and making a little money for the new little person coming in June. School ended on a really good note and I was able to escape this 19 credit semester with a 3.89 GPA (5 A's and 1 B+). I WILL TAKE IT! While the ultimate goal was all A's, I think I did pretty well considering my course load and my (somewhat) unexpected pregnancy. The spring semester will be interesting since I have a relatively light course load (13 credits) and only 1 in-person class. Along with that, I'll continue working on my honors thesis project and on my internship. I have one online class that is the first half of the semester and a 1 credit honors class that takes us to different museums and performances near campus. I think the hardest part of the semester will be keeping myself on task because a lot of what I have to do is completely self-directed. I really struggle with that at times because I allow myself to be easily distracted. The semester will definitely challenge me in a different way then most have in the past.

My pregnancy has been going pretty well. I am now about 14 weeks and my ever changing body is doing just that, changing on what seems like a daily basis. My youngest is 6 but it seems like that pregnancy was forever-ago and this is nothing like that one or my first. Perhaps it is because I am older (35) or perhaps it is because this is a girl? (YES!!, hopefully.) Who knows, but this is an entirely different experience that I do not always like but definitely love it. I suppose that is the story of my life though, I haven't like all of it but I wouldn't change it for the world because I love the person I am now and the person I am growing to be.

"Happiness is not a limited resource." ~ Chris Aiff

Friday, November 8, 2013

"Don't Be Afraid to Give Up the Good and Go For the Great."

What a difference a month makes. Sooooooo, I had been really interested in pursuing my master's in nutrition next year since I am taking a year off before starting osteopathic school. I tried to make an appointment to talk to someone in the graduate program to find out if it was truly doable in one year but before I was able to sit down with someone I got some (mildly) unexpected news. I am pregnant. Yep, I said it, I am pregnant with my 3rd child. We have always said that we wanted another child after our youngest was born, 6 years ago, but it just didn't seem like we could figure out when the right time would be for us to have one. We made the decision to roll the dice and see what God had in store and apparently He felt like this was the right time for us to add to our family. This truly is the best time and our family is really excited about the coming baby. I am due in June which is perfect timing because my husband and I will both be graduating in May, me with my Bachelors' and him with his Associates'. Fingers crossed, we will have a girl. I love my boys but I think we have enough testosterone in our house. ;-) My mother-in-law REALLY wants us to have a girl. She has 7 grandchildren and only 1 girl. The most interesting part of this has been coping with how I am feeling and still getting all of my work done. Pregnancy brain and pregnancy exhaustion have been winning out in many situations but I am still managing to maintain 5 A's and 2 B's. I can say that I am ready for this semester to be over though. I am looking forward to a 13 credit semester and only 1 in person class.

So aside from my classes, I am also in the process of searching for an internship for next semester. I am really hoping to get an internship I just applied for at the School of Osteopathic Medicine in Arizona in their virtual anatomy lab. I think it could be an awesome opportunity to make connections and get my name out there. For my major, I am required to complete an internship in order to graduate. I think it is a really great part of the degree plan as well because many students, myself included, find it difficult to participate in activities outside of school that help us get experience in the field we are interested in. I am praying that I get to do the internships I am most interested in but I am leaving it in God's hands.

With all of this craziness that has been my life the last month, I had started doubting whether or not osteopathic school was the best thing for me to do for my family. I started thinking that committing that much time to school would make me a bad mom, especially for the new baby. I really started thinking that maybe I should become a PA because the schooling takes less time and there wouldn't be the need for a residency or fellowship. I really tried to convince myself that it would be best for my family. I brought up the topic with my husband, expecting him to be completely supportive and I was surprised when he said, "But is that what you really want? Are you going to be happy if you do that instead of medical school? You have done all of this work to get to medical school and if you are going to change your mind you need to make sure it's what you really want. Time with the kids should not be the reason you change your mind. You will always make time for them and they will be alright." (not exact quotes, but you get the idea) TOTALLY NOT WHAT I EXPECTED! I told him that I was still thinking about it but his strong reaction really made me think. A couple of days later I saw a quote from Steve Prefontaine, "Don't be afraid to give up the good and go for the great." It really made me think about what it was I wanted from my life, what it was my heart really wanted. The more I looked into what a PA can and cannot do, I really started to question the idea. I prayed about it and really tried to listen to my heart and what I decided was this: I could be a really good PA and like my job, or I could give that up and be a really great osteopath and truly love my career, my life's calling. This is why I married the man that I married, he knows my heart.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Always A Work In Progress

This semester already seems like it is flying by and I have soooo much to get done. I feel like my classes are going well and that I have been able to retain the information really well. My Introduction to Planning Therapeutic Diets class feels like it will prepare me for what I will be facing in clinical settings when I have to work with a team of health professionals who are all trying treat a patient. In my opinion, it should be a required course for pre-med students. My Sports Nutrition class is pretty cool just because it is of personal interest to me. I wish that I had known some of this information when I played basketball, I could have taken so much better care of myself. It does help me look at what I feed my 8 year-old in a different way though because he is an athlete and will likely continue to be one through adulthood. Biochemistry is not nearly as bad as I thought it would be. She takes her time explaining processes and allows us to do activities that really help us learn the information. I suppose it shows that I actually did keep some gen chem and biology information in my brain. Sometimes it just seems like it all falls out at the end of semester. My Cultural Aspects of Food is pretty interesting as well. It's online which is nice but at the same time, it makes the work more tedious. The class I TA is pretty awesome. It was one of my favorite classes and I actually enjoy reviewing the information and seeing how it resonates in others. My honors thesis is a whole other story.

I have been having the hardest time motivating myself to work on my thesis. So, to explain, I am in the honors college and in order to graduate with honors I need to complete a creative/thesis project. It is similar to a masters' thesis but not as regimented and scientific. We are able to choose any subject that interests us and that we can actually research. I have been working on an obesity prevention program for the last year and a half. I initially decided to become involved because I was interested in the nutrition education portion of the program. We have completed a 6 week pilot of the program and will be expanding to a 12 week program in the spring. The professor who is the head of this program wanted to try a different way of presenting the nutrition education (that I did not like) but it proved to be ineffective. My thesis project is to create the nutrition education for the children but at the same time I want it to be transferable to other settings, not just this program. It is an ambitious project and I essentially have to have the curriculum completed by January, when the program starts. Normally we have a semester and a half to work on our thesis. It sounds like a lot of time but there is a great deal of research and planning that I have to do. Along with the curriculum, I also have to write a proposal that details the statistics that demonstrate a need for a program like the one I am creating. IT'S A LOT!!! I think that is why I have not started actually. I am overwhelming myself with the bigness of the project rather than focusing on the small pieces I have to start with. One piece at a time right?

So aside from school, I have been trying to get myself back into the swing of running and doing yoga on a regular basis. I found that when I wasn't physically active, I felt like garbage and I wasn't motivated to do ANYTHING. It has been really hard waking up at 5:30am everyday but when I run or do yoga in the morning, my entire day is so much better and I feel more motivated to focus on my schoolwork.

I am a work in progress; I am in the progress of working on it. :-)

Monday, August 26, 2013

And.......I'm back.

This the is the beginning of my first full week back at school. I am starting my LAST senior year and I will be graduating in May. Finally. This summer I decided to take a break from all things school (including my blog) and spend time with my little people. I even allowed myself to be lazy and sleep in most days. This was the first summer since I started school again that I did not take summer school. IT WAS AMAZING! I had been feeling so burnt out last semester and I think that a break was what I needed. I think my kids really appreciated it as well. We did silly things. We hula hooped, danced, had popcorn for dinner, and made it important to spend time together. It made my heart happy.

This semester is going to be a full one for me. I am enrolled in 19 hours: biochemistry, sports nutrition, cultural aspects of food, intro to planning therapeutic diets, my honors thesis and I am a teacher's assistant for a food, health and sustainability class. My actual classes will be interesting and I am excited about my nutrition classes but biochemistry is going to be challenging. I have a lot of resources for that class though so my goal is to make it through with an A. My TA position will be awesome because that was a class I truly enjoyed and I like the professor I am working with a lot. My thesis is a whole different animal. The last year and a half I have been working on developing curriculum for my research project with a group. The research project is an obesity prevention program for children. There is a physical activity portion and a nutrition portion. We have already completed the 6 week pilot program that dealt with the efficacy of the program in order to determine if a longer, 12 week program will be beneficial. It has been challenging and fun at the same time. I was actually going to leave the program and develop a thesis that was English based because I was becoming frustrated with my role because I did not become involved so that I could develop exercise curriculum. My goal from the beginning was to be focused on the nutrition education because that is where my passion lies. After the pilot program it became evident that the nutrition education I had provided for the program was effective and that it needed to be developed further as a separate component from the physical activity curriculum. (I had already talked to the professor who is conducting the research that we should do this but he had other ideas, UNTIL we actually did the pilot and he saw it was necessary. Needless to say I wanted to say "Told you so" but I behaved myself and just suggested that we do what I had already suggested without being snotty about it.) So I am back to where I started. My thesis project is to develop the nutrition education for the program and to make it something that can be transferable to other settings. I want to teach people (parents, teachers, etc.) how to deliver the program to children and give them the resources and knowledge to allow them to do that. I am really excited about it but scared at the same time. It is a lot of work and it will require a great deal of time but it is truly what I feel passionate about so I think I will enjoy the experience overall.

For my thesis project I have a director and a 2nd reader that are required and I already have them in place. My second reader is a nutrition professor and she suggested to me that I get my Master's since I am taking a year "off" between getting my undergraduate degree and starting osteopathic school (hopefully) and use my honors thesis as a basis for my Master's thesis. She said I could test the efficacy of the curriculum I develop to see if it truly teaches children about what is nutritious for their bodies. I am considering it but there are 2 things that really make me hesitant to embark on this. The first thing is the cost. I already owe a fairly large amount of money for my student loans and that amount is only going to increase exponentially once I get to osteopathic school. Adding loans for a Master's degree only make that load heavier. It is possible to get the program paid for but I would have to be get a teaching assistantship (YES!) or a research assistantship (YUK!) at ASU and everything would be paid for plus I would make money. The second thing is time. I wanted to take this next year off to spend more time with the boys because I know that osteopathic school will monopolize my time and I wanted to really spend some quality time with them before I embarked on that 4 year journey. In getting my Master's in 1 year, I would have to take 15 hours each semester, I would have to teach along with everything that comes with that (grading, dealing with student issues, planning lessons, etc.), and conduct my research. On top of that, some of the classes I would have to take are sections that are only taught at night. Decisions, decisions. It would be beneficial because I plan on integrating nutrition into my practice as a physician and this would give me credibility. I suppose I will continue to pray about it and see what and who God places in front of me. I am going to prepare for and apply to graduate school to keep my options open. One more thing to do.

So along with all of this, I am definitely taking the MCAT next year and applying to schools. I put it off for a year because my brain could not deal with it but now I HAVE TO! This is another thing that I am excited about and scared of at the same time. I feel like my life is full of these conundrums.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Things That Stress Me Out (Part I)

It has been a while hasn't it? I feel like this semester has been busy, unproductive, unorganized and so tiring, but at the same time it has been productive in so many other ways and there have been aspects that have made me delve deeper into my own thoughts and actions. I have been struggling all semester to stay motivated in everything I do, from schoolwork to running and yoga and I have felt like I have been losing the battle most days. Up until this point, I have been able to stay focused, maintain my grades and do all of my mommy/wife duties. It has just felt like it takes so much more effort recently. Compared to my past semesters, this one was supposed to be relatively easy because I only have one major science class (genetics), not to say it would not require any effort but not nearly as much as my 2 science semesters took. I feel like I may just be experiencing a burnout. Had I not chosen to take 3 years to complete my degree, I would be graduating in a month, but I decided to take my time a little and not stress myself out even more than I have been stressed out. I definitely feel that was the best choice for me and allowed me to pick up a minor that I love (nutrition) and complete my honors thesis in the way that I want to complete it, but at the same time I think my brain is ready to take a break. I haven't really taken a break since I started because I have taken summer school every summer as well and that trend will continue this summer as well along with studying for the MCAT in July. All I can say is it has been a struggle and I am still trying to work through it. I have tried to be more prayerful and I have been working to be consistent with my yoga as a way to clear my mind and find more focus but my grades still seem to be suffering slightly. Now my idea of struggling is not everybody's idea of struggling with grades but I am trying to stay where I need to be competitive for osteopathic school. I will get A's in both of my nutrition classes and probably my physics lab but I will probably get a B in my health sciences class and I will likely get a B in genetics. I realize that this is not horrible, but it is not what I expected from myself and it is not what I need to get where I want to go. I have 3.5 weeks to stay focused and do what I need to do. I got this! (Prayers and positive energy are welcome though.)

Earlier this year I also had a "scare" where I thought might have been pregnant. It really made my husband and I reevaluate our priorities and what the future holds for us. I know we could have made it work but I did find our that I was not pregnant. What I did find out is that I have a uterine fibroid and an ovarian cyst. While many women have both of these, they often go unnoticed for many women because they do not experience any symptoms. Unfortunately for me, that is not the case. I notice and feel both of them and my body is very sensitive to changes in my body so they have been a source of discomfort and pain a great deal of the time. I am in no way sharing this to get sympathy, I am just trying to share where all of my sources of stress and tension come from on this journey I am on. I know I will be ok and I will get through it but it has added to my ever-growing list of "Things That Stress Me Out." It's a pretty loooooong list. ;-)