Aug 27, 2017

Weaknesses got you down?

I wrote this in an email to my sister who is on her mission in Texas(for only SIX MORE MONTHS) and I needed the reminder so badly this week that it was kind of amazing to read exactly what I needed to hear in my own words - a little crazy that I didn't learn the lesson well enough the first time but at least the Spirit guided me to where the answer was.. in my Sent box of my email account. Kiiiiinda crazy! Talk about using your resources - God is pretty thrifty 😉 But mostly He is awesome. Go use your Talents and Gifts to be great knowing you've got Heavenly Father solidly in your corner, just as you always have.  ❤️

We have been given a challenge in my branch to read the book of Mormon before April General Conference by reading 3 chapters a day. I am a little behind as of right now but plan to catch up on Sunday. I am loving this challenge! I haven't spent this much time in the Book of Mormon since my own mission. It is wonderful to be in the scriptures every day and be trying my hardest to apply what I am reading. You will find when you return home that it is sometimes hard to read the scriptures because you have gained from your mission an excellent understanding of the gospel and therefore studying the scriptures becomes more difficult because you will feel a little like you have learned almost all there is to learn! But you haven't haha 

Right now it is really the very little things that have been catching my attention. For example, this week I read in Second Nephi where Joseph is teaching at Nephi's request and he mentions about Moses how God says "I will not lose his tongue, that he be shall speak much, for I will not make him mighty in speaking...but I will make a spokesman for him." So God doesn't take from Moses a weakness but he does always prepare for those weaknesses. I think this is true of all of us. There are definitely some weaknesses that with God's help we can overcome and make strengths but there are some weaknesses that in His wisdom he does not take from us. What an amazing thing to learn from the scriptures about our relationship with God and a little more about his personality as a God and his plan for us. I have been thinking about this this week as I have prepared for my Cardiovascular exam. I started medical school with the assumption that if God wanted me to be a doctor he would make me good at medical school. Looking back that is a silly thing to have thought. He wants me to be a doctor but that doesn't mean he will magically make me an excellent student or take from me weaknesses that make me human. Instead, he provides all that is necessary for my success as I rely on him and have faith in his love and participation in my life and faith in my own abilities - abilities to gain knowledge and to use my talents and gifts to be great!

Aug 10, 2017

getting to and through YEAR ONE

Hello? Oh, Hello there! I am excited to talk more about my summer as I enjoy the last few days before I dive into studying hard. It is almost the beginning of the second year of medical school.

Last year was one of the hardest years of my life. I experienced more pain, suffering, doubt, tears, and heartache than I have ever before in such large doses. I staggered under the weight of my fears and found myself often on my knees with no where else to turn.

It was a beautiful place to find myself.

Of course it is easy to say that now, looking back as I stand proud.

There was a lot that went into my decision to go to medical school. Ultimately it took a lot of prayer and a lot of planning. It took a lot of service hours, a lot of hard work in my undergrad, a lot of conversations with my mother. It was a grueling process which no one can understand until you've been through it. I often doubted I was making the right choice.

As I was preparing for the MCAT, which is the entrance exam for US med schools, I was dating someone I cared about a lot. At the time, I was taking a heavy load of courses at school, I was dealing with some family things, I was working part time and I held a time-consuming calling in the LDS church. There came a time in my relationship where the man I was dating looked me in the eyes and said, "I just can't be sure you care about me - you never give me enough time. And I feel guilty taking your time since you are preparing for medical school and that is important to you. But aren't I important too?" And that was hard. Because at the time I truly felt as through I had no more time to give him. It became a question of whether I wanted medical school, or I wanted him. You know which I chose and that was extremely hard.

I do not doubt there will be some people in the LDS faith, and likely the general population, who will think I made the wrong choice. Sometimes I wonder about it myself. However, I know after struggling with all the doubts associated, that I made the right choice. That medical school was the right choice.

I also never expected to get in. So I made the choice with the idea that I was throwing away a very important relationship to chase a dream that likely would never come true. Which Is Completely Terrifying.

So! I did all the leadership experiences, the service hours, the shadowing, the research opportunities, the paperwork, the money spent and I signed up for the MCAT. I kept saying to God, "Okay, I understand if THIS experience is why I went through this whole thing and you can stop me at any time." - in regards to my service, my leadership experiences, my internship. All the way up to my MCAT - I kept saying that in my prayers "Okay, I understand, I've grown SO MUCH and I never would have had such-and-such a lesson if I hadn't needed to for my med school applications. I can stop now if You want."

Honestly, I was frustrated every time He chose not to stop me. How foolish I was and full of doubt and fear. I lacked trust. But you also have to understand that I believe that God sometimes leads us down roads in order for us to take a fork that is later on - that we never would have been able to take if he hadn't gotten us on the road in the first place. There are times he leads us down a path not so we get to the destination at the end of the path but so he can veer us off later and I honestly believed that that was what he was doing with me. I never expected that actually getting into medical school was what he was doing with me.

The time came to take the MCAT. I did well. I sent out my applications before I even got my scores back because that was the timeline I had planned out. When I got my score, I was relieved. It wasn't as high as I wanted but it would get me in somewhere. I paid a lot of money to apply to a lot of schools after having carefully researched dozens of programs, made an excel sheet with all their information, carefully determined that I would apply to some I knew I would get in, some I knew was a long shot but would be awesome, and some in the middle.

In time PNWU-COM invited me to an interview. It was at the bottom of my list, a safety school. So I treated my interview as a practice and I was calm and easy-going (except for the part where I cried in one of the multiple-mini-interviews because my brother came up and he had died less than 6 months before). It was still stressful but not as bad as it could have been since the entire time I was in Yakima at that time I really felt as though I would not be going to that school. I felt easy at the school, in the city, with the couple that hosted me. It all felt very "chill" and I attributed that feeling to the idea that I would never end up here so I did not have any reason to stress too much - I treated it as a great chance to practice my interview skills for when I was invited by a school I actually wanted. Looking back, I know it was more a blessing to help me later get accepted and Heavenly Father blessing me with a kind of reassurance.

I returned to school and to my job. And I got my acceptance voicemail. For a while last semester I tried to remember what that experience was like and I couldn't even remember when or where or any of the details. I remember now. At the time I was a Teachers Aid for the neuroscience course and was helping to run a late night study and open lab. I looked down to see I had missed a call and stepped out into the hallway. It was late and it was dark in the hallways and outside since it was in October.

I remember feeling kind of stunned and a little numb. I didn't want to go to PNWU so it was less exciting for me than I wish it had been.

The thing with getting into medical school is after you are accepted you have to pay to hold your place in the class. The amount we had to pay by the start of December was the exact amount of money I had in my bank account. I was terrified to pay it. I was still hopeful I would get into a different school and would need the money to get me to and from my interviews.

I spoke with people whose advice I take very seriously - they said to pay it. I prayed. And ultimately I said to Heavenly Father that if Yakima, Washington was where I was supposed to be, that He needed to not let me get into any other medical school.

What followed that prayer was a very hard week as I received rejection after rejection from almost every other school to which I had applied. It was disheartening and humiliating until I realized it was an answer to prayer.

I paid to hold my spot in Washington.

And then I moved here! And I did my first year! And it was hard, disheartening and a little humiliating and you can read more about it in my previous posts. I remediated the course I failed and it went well - four weeks of packing in twelve weeks of the original course, with a midterm and a final. Nerve-wrecking but I passed it and I studied over the summer - two birds with one very difficult stone!! Board study and remediation? Done! (Well, obviously I still have a lot of Board study to do. We will take the first step of the medical boards next summer so that will happen mostly this school year).

I spent the next six weeks travelling, seeing my parents, brothers, sister-in-laws and nieces and nephews and their puppies. I spent several weeks in the sweltering heat of the midwest playing tee-ball coach, playing board games with my siblings, lying by the pool, eating too much food and WAY TOO MANY Oreos - just kidding haha that's not a thing.

 And learning important lessons from a knowing Heavenly Father as I watched my brothers talk to and with and about their wives. I studied the scriptures and pondered about the topic of marriage. I wrote in my journal a lot about this. My thoughts this summer were heavy with the idea of marriage preparation and watching my siblings and how they treated their own marriages since I expect I will be a lot like them. I imagine you'll hear more about this in later posts.

I know God is how I got through last year. I know God in his mercy is with me every day. I know in times of trial that he is near me and sends me heavenly help. I know he does not wish for us to be doubtful, fearful, tearful, or scared. He wants us to feel empowered, forgiven, redeemed, that All Things Are Possible. And they are.

And with that I step into the next year of medical school, recognizing I will likely continue to struggle as I did my first year but that miracles will continue to happen because that is life and it is oh so good.

(Always a favorite.)

May 20, 2017

ten points from a 1/4th doctor

*As a disclaimer, the author wrote this post the day she finished her first year of medical school and was in a pretty awesome place. Let the increased incidence of the word "I" stand as evidence of her need to talk about herself because she currently feels awesome and full of gratitude. She wants you to know she obviously doesn't feel like this every day and that's fine by her because life is messy and wonderful and its good to talk about when you feel up as well as when you feel down. (But that doesn't make her point any less true)**

When do you feel the best about yourself? When are the moments when you catch a glimpse of yourself in a storefront glass or in your rearview mirror and really appreciate you - whether that's the way you look that day, or something you accomplished, or just you being the great person you are.

I go probably too long in between these moments. Some days after I wash my makeup off and am ready for bed, I look into the mirror over my bathroom sink and am grateful. In those moments I like me - my outside and my insides :) I think I look best sometimes right after I've washed off my makeup - I find this interesting and wonderful. I appreciate how I look dolled up - I put make up on to set myself up for the day, for that extra *something* and yet when I take it off I still feel good about how I look. I think that's because I like how I feel inside.

Today I needed that extra *something* because I had my final for the last of my classes for my first year of medical school!

That's right, I'm basically 1/4th of a doctor now! 

And I feel great about that. It's a feeling no one can understand except other medical students. I don't say that to be mean or cocky. I mean that in the most honest way. The last school year has been the hardest nine months of my life. I woke up between the hours of 3:30 and 5am most every day. I studied for hours. And went to bed literally exhausted daily, usually between the hours of 9-10pm. I had to re-learn how to study and I had to re-learn self-care (something I never thought would become so important). For the first few months I think I cried at least three times a week - with one of those times being on the phone to my mom. I drove around and pounded on my steering wheel so disappointed in myself. With very few exceptions (like my mission, right after my brother passed, and a few very personal spiritual experiences as a teenager), I prayed more often and with more conviction and with more tears and pleading than I ever have. I had to learn how to be okay with mediocrity and even failure. 

And through the experience, here are a few things I have learned. Take them or don't but leave reading this post with a bit more care because you are truly amazing.

1. God is so very good and his love is enough.
One of the largest differences between my first semester and this last one was my reliance and communication with God. I am grateful for a Book of Mormon challenge and personal revelation from the Spirit to increase my communication with and desire to learn and study about God. As I made it a point to start and end each day with raw, complete, heart felt conversations with my Eternal Father in Heaven I felt peace that things would be okay. Maybe they would not turn out how I desired them, but they would be okay. I know that things have a tendency to work out just fine. That knowledge and peace are stronger when I have a stronger connection, through prayer, to the Maker of all things and my Father in Heaven. I am grateful for the time I have spent striving to better know Him and I know I will never get tired of that particular topic of study.
Listen to the song "Joy" by Rend Collective. Fits this quite perfectly:

2. Self care. Self care. Self care.
This semester I made myself a priority. While I kept my sleeping to a personal minimum, I made it an essential part of my day to run or go for a walk for a minimum of twenty minutes every school day. usually if I took any time off of studying I was filled with the most intense guilt, but when I started taking better care of myself by getting exercise daily there wasn't a day I felt bad. Because I came back to the apartment or back to the study room on campus happier, lighter, empowered.

I spent more time meal planning and meal prepping - honestly, I particularly suck at this haha but it did relieve stress and anything that relieves stress as a medical student is a worthwhile investment. 

I took Sundays off and decided to not feel bad about it any longer. Last semester when I started taking the Sabbath off it was a huge struggle because I spent the whole day thinking about how I could be studying, what I could be studying, how I didn't adequately prepare during the week to have a full 24 hours without studying! And then I realized how that wasn't helping at all and if I was going to take the Sabbath off in order to keep the Sabbath day holy and not just to give myself a break, I needed to change my attitude about it. In order to do this, I changed three things: I pushed HARD in my studies on Saturdays, I spent my Sundays focusing on gratitude, and I asked for forgiveness for not keeping the commandment the way I should have been. Since then, Sundays have become a beautiful respite and I have absolutely no idea how my classmates survive the week without it.

mri scan of the body: 3. All the medical things, obviously
I LEARNED SO MUCH! When I attempt to think about it, I am truly amazed how much you can learn when you are in medical school and pushing yourself to death. And while I didn't perform as well on any of my exams as I would have liked or expected or my old self would have possibly felt good about - it is remarkable that a person can learn and grow so much in such a small time. The human body is quite marvelous and that is the truth of the matter. 

I have continually gone back to this thought: the sacrifices I make today, will save someone some day. 
Are you a parent? A child? A teacher? This thought can apply to you. Can you see how? 

When I decided to be true to my dreams and just go for it, regardless of the outcome, I was filled with an increase of peace, power, and faith. As I knelt in prayer each morning and evening asking the Lord to be with me, my faith increased that everything would be okay. I love THIS TALK by Elder Dennis Simmons - sooooooo goooooood - please please please go read it. You won't regret it. It makes for a P E R F E C T topic of personal study.  

4. Being a good repenter makes everything else so much better.
I believe in the Atonement. I believe it is an active process. I do not believe that simply believing in Christ or proclaiming that you do, makes you saved. I do believe in Grace - as it includes our own attempts at goodness and works of righteousness. When your soul is light because you are free from sin, you provide more room in you to be filled with light, gratitude, happiness, and peace. And I need more of that - don't you?
One of the best quotes of all time. I love President Uchtdorf! He really is a prophet of God.:

5. Family is everything.
I have never been the kind of person to surround themselves with people. I don't get along well with a lot of people and I don't appreciate going to functions surrounded by people I don't know or trying to make small talk. When I talk with people, I want the conversation to be meaningful or at least fun and enlightening. As I age, my relationship and friendship with my siblings has become a treasure to me. Going through this with them cheering me on and expressing how proud they are of me has encouraged me in my darkest times and I love that. I strengthen our relationship by actively reaching out, by thinking to text my siblings and their spouses individually, and by making my needs known (my siblings can attest to how often I needed a family video chat last semester. And while I have needed that less this semester, it is an extreme comfort to me to know that if the need was there, they would fill it. Because they are amazing. And love is so strong.)

6. Like Yourself Because You Are The Only You You Have
: When you take off your makeup, do you still like you? Why? Why not? When you have a really good moment where you look at yourself and you are happy with what you see, note that and think about why. Tonight as I took off my (really nicely done) make-up, I smiled at myself. I like myself. I'm not perfect. I have many flaws - both physical and otherwise. But I attempt to give my best every day. My activities of each day bring me closer to who I know I can be and, more importantly, they bring me closer to God. I work the hardest I have ever worked and I'm doing a pretty good (not perfect but not awful) job of taking care of myself physically and mentally. And I am right with the Lord. 

7. Find things funny
Life is better filled with laughter - especially if that laughter is your own. I notice that my days are better when I have found something funny :) Isn't it nice to just laugh sometimes?! 
For example, I find these hilarious and adorable:
Sorry for Being a Prick by PlantPuns on Etsy:
Plant puns 'n' pots by PlantPuns on Etsy:
Plant themed puns! Check the whole store for more!

8. Stop reading into things, Stop worrying what people are thinking of you, Stop judging others and Stop letting fear make your decisions.
Remember people are really self centered and they think very little of you if at all - good or bad really. When you take that to heart and really start living the principle of it, life gets ten fold better. 
When you choose faith over fear, you choose living over surviving
and that's tremendously beautiful, don't you think?
Something I am going to work on doing better at!:
(I love the imagery presented here. GO TACKLE ALL THE THINGS and do so with faith :) Be a tackler, not a tiptoer!)

9. Humans are capable of so much good.
I have been repeatedly inspired by the amount of support, love, sympathy and care I have received during this whole journey. Humans are just so good and I love that. I say that with complete understanding and as an educated mind and am certainly not blind to the awful things we do to each other all over the globe and across all generations. Still, when you focus on the good, you see the good. And people are so good when you give them the chance to be so. Focus on the good in people and I think you'll see it a bit more in yourself and that's important too.

10. You have to allow yourself a little of what makes you happy.
Those twenty minute netflix breaks at lunch and just before bed made my life so much better haha Be good about what you choose to fill your time with - sometimes silly things that make you relaxed or happy are important. See #2. 

Life isn't perfect. I still fail a lot. I make a lot of mistakes. I want badly to be married and find someone who wants to share their life with me and raise children together. And I don't know why I don't have that yet and have days where the not knowing is i n c r e d i b l y  h a r d. I have to repent every day. I ask forgiveness of others and of God often. I have to try to eat less sugar every new week (haha but seriously - why is that so hard!?) I failed a course my first semester and every time anyone asks my summer plans I can't help but feel embarrassed that part of my summer will be spent here, at school because I have to redo a class. But I am learning to be proud of the things I do accomplish rather than judging myself for what I don't.

I fail a lot but I'm a good pick-myself-back-up-er and that means a lot. 

Thank you for your love, support, prayers, encouragement, everything. You are everything. Keep going. Keep reaching for your dreams. Keep trying. Keep praying. Keep wanting. Keep being the beautiful, flawed, tremendously miraculous being you are. 

via | life is simple when you live simply:

Feb 20, 2017

Feb-RU-RARY and Med School Semester #2


Click on that. It'll make you happy, I promise. Make sure your sound is on first.

So it is the second semester for me here at PNWU. I almost put BYU. I don't know about that haha
The semester has been interesting. Enjoyable. Trying. And while I am still not doing as well as I would like to be doing, I am enjoying myself much more than last semester. You do really sort of hit a stride. That's not to say it's any easier or that I've gotten any better (or smarter, unfortunately). I still perform subpar in my exams and that comes with it's own stress and depression. I have learned where to go to get help, how to be better to myself, how to balance my time so I'm still doing some of the things I love.

They told us at the beginning to keep up with your school work but keep working out, get enough sleep, continue with your hobbies, keep in communication with your loved ones, eat healthy - DO ALL THE THINGS! And throughout the last semester I really struggled because I thought "This just isn't possible. I can't do all these things and do well in school." And then you know what? I wasn't doing well in school. And if I'm honest, I'm not doing as well as I should be. But I am happier (generally, I have my moments) because I have found better balance. I work out. I play my guitar. I take Sundays off. I call my mom all the time. I take the time to write my sister who is serving her mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Texas. And I try really hard to not get mad at myself when I don't quite reach my 14 hours of studying a day.

But I gave up a day of studying. And I give up time studying almost everyday to walk or run or do meditation. I released some of my food stress by findings balance and accepting that it's okay to eat some things that come frozen. And those things don't make me a bad person. Or a bad student. Or a bad role model. Or anything BAD AT ALL!

Deciding to honor the Sabbath day was a really hard decision for me. Although I know better, I derive much of my self worth from my academic standing. This is probably the worst thing about me because it brings with it a lot of negativity into my life and is the key reason for my occasional depressive breaks. But I decided to trust in Heavenly Father, that if I honored the Sabbath day, everything would work out. And they haven't quite - at least not the way I would expect. So much of this life is coming to realize that we have to accept that things won't go the way we want. But I believe God is at the helm and he's a better navigator than I will ever be. 

Maybe keeping the Sabbath day holy isn't something that is important to you. Regardless of what day it is, you need to take time off too. It's healthy to take time away from the stressors of your life and find balance. Whether you find that in a church house, in meditation, on the top of a mountain, sweating it out in the gym, or sitting in a park with a good book. Rejuvenation won't just happen.

I've also been way better at consistently reading the Book of Mormon. The leaders of my congregation issued us a challenge to read it in 90 days. And while I'm not perfect at that, consistently reading the Book of Mormon in order and on a daily basis as brought a lot of blessings into my life. It has helped me better organize my morning, decrease my stress by being mad I didn't read the scriptures that day, protected me against temptation, and helped me pay more attention to God's hand in my life - and I'm sure there are other blessings I am not remembering right now :)

Something else that I've been working on this semester that I know has really helped me is service. People don't go into medicine who are not service oriented. As a general rule, people interested in health professions are interested in, perhaps even driven by, the need to help those around them. And when we lose sight of that it hurts us. I look for ways to serve as often as I can - keeping in mind that all things desire and deserve balance and so there are times when I could offer service that I refrain, and there is nothing wrong with that either.

Keeping your body healthy, taking time (or a day) to find your center, and looking outside of yourself are the things that will help you maneuver through life with success and positive mental health! 

I went to the store for some things and as I came out, I ran into some Elders from my Church. On a whim, I took them to lunch - and the other set who they had driven up from Toppenish with. My sister, as I said, is a missionary. And I was a missionary too. And I never wanted for anything. There were areas where we got fed every day, and areas where I was fed by a family maybe once a week if we were lucky. I hope that at some point in Kirsten's mission, some random person invites her to lunch. I loved sitting with those boys for twenty minutes. I loved hearing about their missions, guessing how long they had been out (I was really bad at that haha) and just being in the presence of the servants of God. I loved being a missionary. That was an EXTREMELY important part of my life and continues to play a gigantic role in the person I am and the choices I make. I am grateful for every opportunity to be reminded of the eighteen months I spent in pure, Christ-like service to my fellow man. 

My daily mantra: I am grateful. God is kind. And I have sufficient for my needs.

Go conquer this week guys!

Oct 4, 2016

The Loss Of October

It's October.
It's midterms at medical school.
And I need to focus and study and I do but I'm also distracted. Because it's October. And while I need to be concerned with the anatomy of the arm and the forearm and the hand, as well as neuroanatomy, fertilization and gametogensesis, blood coagulation and cascades of factors, connective tissue, baroreflexes, serotonin, renin, angiotensin, and a million other things I don't know -  instead I'm thinking about my brother, David.

 Because here's the truth about suicide: it never ends. The effects never go away. The hurt hardly dims. The grief is tangible and still brings me to my knees. 

And so I try to love October. Because the air is crisp. And sweaters are my favorite. And pumpkin spice. And hot chocolate. And David. Because if he were here he would be loving October. 

Hello October. Hello trying not to fail my midterms (because I have been here before - I failed the midterms that happened the week I found out about David.) 

If you are weighed down by life please reach out. Get assistance. Feel the love that is around you. And if you don't feel love, come find me and I will give you all the love I can to fortify yourself against those dark thoughts and feelings and lies. 

You are enough and you are loved. 
And it's October. 

Aug 18, 2016

Med student life

After a very long road trip with one of my best friends (love you Kirsten!), I spent several days getting to know my new home.

Things I hate about Yakima, WA:

  • Where are my MOUNTAINS?!
  • The homeless people hanging out at gas stations
  • It took me awhile to find a grocery store I felt comfortable shopping at (These are things I never had to really think about before. I suppose when I moved to Idaho for my undergrad I spent some brain power deciding where I would get gas and where I would do my shopping but it seemed like all my choices were good ones - and they had a Maverik.)
  • There is no Maverik
  • The money it takes to set up your kitchen! I completely forgot about this. I haven't had to buy basics like SALT since 2007 when I started my undergrad, (Seriously, those large things of salt last ages.)
  • I'm so far from my family. (Although, I will share that I haven't struggled with this as much as I thought I would and I count that as a real blessing. The only time I've been moved to tears over being far from my family is when my mom left after my white coat ceremony and I woke up really early the next morning and sobbed.)
  • The amount of eligible, LDS men is basically any number raised to the power of (0) but I haven't found him yet, I'm just giving the city the benefit of the doubt here.
  • The parties the students in my class throw revolve around drinking. I don't drink and that makes parties here boring as tomato soup. (This is not an invitation to share with my your great-great-aunt's tomato soup recipe which actually has a lot of flavor. I don't like soup but thanks for wanting to share!)
Thins I have loved about Yakima, WA:
  • The Prests (This family is friends with my mission president and his family and they are the salt of the earth. I love them. I can't wait to grow up a little more and be like the Prests because seriously people, they are the best of the best.)
  • U-pick fruit places. Getting raspberries, peaches and tons of blueberries for next to nothing? Not quite as wonderful as shopping at your parents' house but it gets a little close.
  • My apartment and my roommate. It's SO NICE living with only one other person. And when that person is as kind and wonderful as the future Dr. not-K--- (she's getting married next year), then you really strike gold.
  • The library system. Bless their hearts, when I didn't have any mail they still let me check out two books at a time and didn't bat an eye when I was coming back every two days to switch them out.
  • BEING A MEDICAL STUDENT (which honestly could fit, though not equally, on both lists.)
That's not an exhaustive list but I'm exhausted so it'll do for now! 

We got our white coats last week during orientation. Orientation was too long. It was horrendous. Okay, maybe it wasn't THAT bad but when you put 144 students in a room who are anxious to just.get.started and you talk at them for five days straight more or less? Yeah... That was fun.

But they did feed us lunch every day, I met some truly remarkable people who will be working with me for two years, I had some questions answered, we had one day where we were broken into groups and we just did assigned service around the area, and we got our student-physician gear (i.e. stethoscope, sphygmomanemeter (Cool, huh? it's a blood pressure cuff. No worries, I didn't know that either), name badges to get into the buildings, etc.)

And then school started. I really don't have time to write this blog post. If you'd like an exhaustive list of the other things I should be doing it would be longer than both those bulleted lists above. 

We are in class basically from 8-5. They tell you to expect to do 40 hours of studying outside class. And don't forget to keep up your hobbies! And get enough sleep! And stay hydrated! And make sure you're working out too. And eating nutritiously.

We cover in an hour something we would have taken a week to cover at my undergrad. My friend Sarah put it well when she said "Have we been here 4 days or 4 months?!" Dude, no idea. 

I'm still figuring out how to study. The tools you use during your undergrad just don't work because there isn't enough time to go over everything again. I'm still figuring out my sleep schedule. I go to bed early because I'm exhausted and then wake up early to get enough studying in and then have to take a nap because I'm so tired and end up staying up late and getting up late. It's a real mess. It'll smooth out (I hope), just give me some time.

We received our assigned cadavers today. I read a book before coming to school - written by a philosophy professor who took a semester off teaching to observe an anatomy lab at a medical school. The way the students started their journey in the cadaver lab was completely different from mine. In the book there was a priest available to talk to students. They received a lot of instruction about the way to treat the bodies they would be observing. There was a lot of trepidation. It smelled awful. That was true in my case too. We moved as a large group from the lecture hall to the anatomy lab. There was a nervous energy in the hallways. People pulled their gloves on. Found their table. All the tables had the sides up and locked, protecting the bodies inside. My group looked around, wondering if we could get started (we'd been given a list of things to accomplish which included covering and wetting the hands, feet, and head as well as turning the body face down - we're starting on the back next week). Other tables were starting so we just did too. There was little hesitancy. Two of them took one side. Two of us the other. We unhatched the metal, lifted it down, locked it in place. The cadaver was covered in a blue sheet, zipped in. We unzipped it. The first thing I noticed was the waxy, yellow color of legs. And then I noticed we had a man. His feet, hands, and head were all covered in cloth under plastic. All we had left to do was flip him, cover him in a sheet, wet it down, zip him up and close the lid back up. We stood the four of us around the table, looking down. "How do we flip him?" I asked. We had no idea how to go about moving a dead body. Three of us have some experience with cadavers but none of us had had to physically move one like that. So I fetched an instructor. The older gentleman came over. I asked my question again. "Carefully!" He said with a small chuckle and then while giving verbal instructions, he grabbed our cadaver by one arm and one leg and pulled him to the side of the table before lifting him with my help and turning him on his face. It didn't seem all that careful to me. And it didn't seem like we were moving a human body either.

We finished covering and wetting the cadaver. We looked at each other. Without assigning tasks, we cleaned the table down and got it locked up and parted ways.

The biggest thing I've learned since I officially started school on Monday is not to compare. Keep you eyes forward and your ears open for your instructor and don't judge what you're doing to the people next to you - they don't really know what they're doing either. Not yet.

Jun 29, 2016

Memories and Movement (Progress)

 As my time as a non-medical student draws to a close, I have been going through my things. I have a lot of paperwork and other crap generally every where. I've come across some treasures though.

My grandmother on my dad's side is a huge scrapbooker. When all of her granddaughters were young she got each of them a box of scrapbooking material. I recently cleaned out boxes from my mother's house as she is preparing to move houses. In one of the boxes I found my scrapbooking box. Inside it were old photos. I looked through them more thoroughly today and came across pictures of each of my siblings when I was in high school. I even have one of my brother who passed away last year. I cried for a bit at that. The picture was taken when he was a teenager and though troubled he did not suffer from the schizophrenia that would later lead him to take his life.

David and Kirsten Snell - about 2000?

 I also found an old journal. As an uncommitted journal-writer, the journal spans the years of 2001-2004, almost my whole time in junior high school. It's a pretty depressing read really. It has the normal stuff - crushes and fights with friends and fights with my mother and feelings of remorse and struggles with body image and questions about spirituality and the reality of God - and it has some stuff I think is now more normal but at the time less so - my struggle with feelings of depression. Some of the entries made me cry as I read them this morning. A young girl who really struggled. "Why do I feel this way?" I wrote. "I miss my old happy self." "Why does nothing make me happy?" There was a note from seminary where the other people in the class are supposed to write something nice about you - people did say some nice things. One of the young men had written, "You seem so happy all the time!" 


It confuses me how humans become so good at hiding their true feelings. How is it that we are so disconnected from each other that we don't see sadness underneath the surface?

After going through my journal and photos, I moved on to binders I had. One was made by me on my mission. I called it my Happy Binder and it's full of letters and talks about the choice of happiness. At one point in my mission, I had been out a little over a year, I was really struggling. I became obsessed with my blessing that I had received when set apart as a missionary and I mailed my stake president at home seeking anything he could remember. He wrote back within two weeks and his letter was perfect. He had prayed for help as he could remember little (he was quite busy and it had been over a year). What he could remember was enough - that I had been "blessed with a cheerful, happy demeanor which will entice others to ask questions about you and the Church and what you represent as a missionary." He prompted me to make that choice - that the ability to choose how I react to situations would be a blessing to me throughout all my life and all my choices. He told me to make my service "as selfless as you can. When we truly give selfless service, we become like our Savior, Jesus Christ." And I took his words and ran with them and finished my mission proudly and more happily. 

The other binder I read partly through was one my aunt had put together as a gift - the emails I had sent home while a missionary in VA.

As I read through the emails I sent home for the last two transfers of my mission (three months), I was overcome with emotion. I was happy and I was determined to work hard (to "sprint across the finish line" of my mission rather than lumbering along languidly). I shared about the people I taught and had come to love. ("I just love seeing God's children turn their lives to him. It's such a special moment. Especially when it is an individual you have worked SO hard with and have come to love so much that eternal life is your ONLY desire for them!! The Church is true. The Gospel of Jesus Christ has been restored. It is a blessing to preach the gospel to God's children and I thank Him for letting me see countless miracles come out of my missionary service.") I bore powerful testimony of the reality of the love of God for his children, of his plan for our success and happiness and power through trials. I talked about my confusion over feeling both relief that my mission was ending and intense sadness and anxiety about leaving a place and work and people I loved so much.

2011 with J. Nerdin

The difference between my depressed teen self who struggled every day to feel anything and my missionary self is astounding. Hindsight is amazing, isn't it? I wish my missionary self could have written to my depressed self and told her how amazing her life would become, how many lives she would touch for the better, how beautiful she would find the world around her and the people she encountered. 

And while that's not possible, I can reflect on what that letter would say and apply it to my down days which we all have and will continue to experience through life.

People say you can't choose to not feel anxiety or feel depression. I actually don't agree with that. The power of choice is the most amazing thing about being a human being and the ability to choose how we react and feel is the most important decision we make every day. As a teen who was struggling with so much and was very wrapped up in her own self, I'm not sure I had the tools to choose not to feel so sad and depressed. But I definitely can as an adult, when those feelings of depression and my struggles with body image try to stick their heads up. Some days it's easier than others and I still make choices that aren't always the best. But I do know that the next day will come, with the chance to choose anew.

'William James, a pioneering American psychologist and philosopher, wrote, "The greatest revolution of our generation is the discovery that human beings, by changing the inner attitudes of their minds, can change the outer aspects of their lives."' (Thomas S. Monson's 'Living the Abundant Life':

Weaknesses got you down?

I wrote this in an email to my sister who is on her mission in Texas(for only SIX MORE MONTHS) and I needed the reminder so badly this week ...