remember me

I’m still here. I promise. It has been over a month and a half since my last post, and this is not necessarily a normal length update, but rather a snippet of me saying I’ve missed this blog and that I promise this summer I will have time to catch up on so much from this semester.

THREE MORE DAYS until I can say I’m officially 25% a dentist. I find myself always saying this of life, but the past couple of months have truly been a blur. There have been countless exams, anatomy dissections, final lab practicals, very late nights, laughs, tears, celebrations, and more shenanigans of the first year of dental school as always.

I think I haven’t written in so long because at the end of most days when my head longs to hit the pillow, my brain and heart both seem as though they might just pop any minute. That is part of why I do love the outlet of blogging: to get those words and thoughts OUT. As a pretty clear 50/50 extro/introvert, some days one side wins over the other, but writing has always proven to be a steady and reliable compromise between word vomit and silence for me. A very apparent part of who I am is that I always strive to maintain a level of honestly and transparency about my life. I’m not a fan of facades, surface level conversations and relationships, or faking like everything is just constantly peachy when we are all human. We have got to start being real with each other. Between a very heavy stretch of school and doing what I can to finish up the semester strong, an ample amount of roller coaster changes in my family and friendships, and putting any efforts I do have towards labored prayers, I simply haven’t had the time or emotional energy to combat my weariness in order to write my usual bubbly and witty posts about life as a twenty something dental student in a new city. I will be in Philadelphia most of the summer working a community health type of internship but with a lot more time off NOT STUDYING nights and weekends, so I know that consistently blogging again is definitely on the summer bucket list. I will do my best to bring back more of the light hearted posts about the shambles of learning to be a dentist, too. School is honestly hilarious sometimes.

God has sometimes felt far these days, but I fight to believe that He is in fact near and still pursues me relentlessly despite my apathy. He still speaks to me through warm summer-y bike rides along the river, laughing/crying with a dear friend over a beautiful Italian dinner or post-church brunch, or through the constant reminder of his faithfulness that I am even here at Penn in dental school, pursuing the passion HE has given me. At the end of the day, I deeply pray that the story I’m telling and my new season of life here this past year has somehow, someway, not by MY efforts but His Grace, been a picture of how God redeems the brokenness. wave

Peace, my friends. I’ll be back very soon, and then you can call my (1/4) Dr. Jessie.

weekend whimsy

In grad school, and especially given our specific exam schedule of one exam per week (and typically early in the week), weekends pretty much don’t exist. At least the normal people kind of weekends. My “weekends” have classically been a random night in the middle of the week of either pure grandma-dom relaxing at home or our entire class taking over some bar because no one else is typically “turning up” on a Tuesday at 11 pm. This weekend, though, I actually was able to feel like a little bit of my old self and spent so much time outdoors, cooking, eating, and exploring my sometimes still new to me city – almost like I wasn’t a full time dental student. We do still in fact have an exam this week, but it’s not until Wednesday and it’s over a light six lectures of Dental Materials (yaaaawn). A lot of my classmates went home or traveled to see friends because it’s been a long season of back to back exams that have demanded our full weekend attention. That being said, several of my close friends weren’t here, so I decided to have a couple of days of full-on introvert adventuring, soaking up the newfound deliciousness of spring at every turn. THIS is what I imagined it would be like to be a grad student in one of the most underrated cities in the country. It was rare, refreshing, and oh so line

<real food+reading+sunshine+spotify playlists+abundant atisanal coffee+ample worship time = happy Jessie heart>

I discovered or RE-discovered a couple of things over the past two days about myself and my new home.

I am more thankful than ever for my perfect bike (Roxie’s her name) now that the weather makes it conducive for consistent riding again. No need to shell out random amounts of cash for SEPTA tokens when I can get to my favorite coffee shop on 3rd street in about the same time. She took me all over and back again through University, Center, and Old Cities two days in a row. I feel like I actually see more of the city and its people on bike as opposed to when I’m walking, probably with my headphones in or scrolling Insta at the same time. I want to truly see and know the corners of this place that I’ll call home for the next three-ish years. I don’t want to miss any hole in the wall restaurant or not make eye contact with the hotel doormen. I find myself looking up and noticing architecture more or remembering names of places I’ve seen on Yelp but have yet to try. While I at no point officially “went to workout” this weekend, I definitely got my miles in and especially while toting an all too heavy backpack, my body was pooped both days I got home. I also realized again just how small geographically Philly is compared to other major cities, and even going “all the way across town” is only about three or four miles. IMG_4996Am I an urban chic city cyclist yet? Denim jacket, Birkenstocks, fuchsia lipstick and I’d say so. I’m really not trying to pull off some new style, but I’ve found that since living here, it’s definitely changed. My wardrobe is a seemingly majority of greys/blacks/denim, and I’ve become more of a minimalist (and I’m not just talking about the daily scrubs). Gone are the days of college T shirts and Chacos every day (but summer’s coming…).

While running out to grab some dinner to go is too convenient (and all too common for me lately) it will never, ever beat the luxury of preparing and enjoying a balanced and colorful meal made mostly from that morning’s farmer’s market finds (organic arugula, Yukon golds, and a new rosemary plant for the window to name a few). dinnerMy instagram caption mentioned something about getting good at dating myself as a joke, but seriously speaking, I think it’s so valuable to know how to take care of yourself and treat yourself to a nice meal at home alone (maybe or maybe not accompanied by the glorious new Lumineers album playing in the background). I’m not at all asking for sympathy for my singleness, I’m simply saying I think I do a pretty good job of not letting the fact that I’m single be an excuse to not take the time to cook a nice meal, light a candle, and enjoy a glass of wine (or two or three) even if I’m not sharing that with someone else at the table. I know the things that help relax and recharge me, and that kind of beautiful meal with time and space to think to myself is certainly up there on the list.

As much as I convinced myself before moving here that I enjoyed cold weather (I still do I promise!), I never realized how much I equally love SUN and VITAMIN D. The thought of being inside my bedroom at my desk studying dental materials of all things while it was 50s-70s all weekend was horrendous. There’s a reason I grabbed Roxie and just GOT OUT – not caring how far any destination was because the further away, the more time to simply be outside after a winter of cooped up anatomy and pathology studying. IMG_5073I also made a pit stop on my way home today to sit out on a patch of green by the river near Boathouse Row that was highly populated with equally sun-deprived Philadelphians. It almost reminded me in the tiniest way of a stretch of Zilker park in Austin (miss that city) with blankets laid out, ample readers, and several soccer balls being kicked about by kids.

While Monday clinic and lab are coming soon at 8 am, I am entering this week re-centered and rested. I still managed to squeeze in some studying, but taking the time to get outside of school and my apartment and spend lots of time just being observant of the bustling little corner of the world I’m in now did me good. I love where I live, what I get to do, and I’m joyfully thankful for this season – in all its crazy hard and beautiful glory.guns out

Until next time, I’m counting down to SUMMER (update on that coming soon!), battling one. more. exam at a time, remembering to strength train and run more, becoming a sort of dentist by mastering composite restorations, and frequenting Philly beer gardens in all that spare time…

May we never lose our wonder, y’all.

April showers

Real talk: I’m getting really bad at titling my posts. It’s entirely cliche, and you’re just waiting for that metaphor to come around at the end when it is in fact a random title with maybe only a subconscious undertone of the whole springtime/rain into flowers/sorrow into joy theme…

In the past month or so, the snow and dark, gloomy days were traded in for sunny evenings and cherry blossoms. I looked up, and hello APRIL. Time in grad school seems to have exponentially sped up without my permission, and in less than two months I will have one year of this whole crazy thing I decided to do called dental school under my belt. Shout out to God, Chemex coffee, and daily mini power naps.

While I never want to view my blog as on obligation – after all, not to sound selfish but I do it mostly for my own words-lover processing/to look back on, and anyone that gets any nuggets of encouragement through my rambly brain is just the cherry on top that makes me feel like I have something to say that people might need hearing – I have experienced some very REAL writing withdrawals and hate that it has almost been a whopping two months since my last post.

I am not about to sugar coat anything, friends. These weeks and months have taken a toll on my weary little soul. There’s a reason posts have been nonexistent – any spare minute has been devoted to sleeeeeep and the occasional therapeutic bike ride or run now that I’m out of hibernation mode. *Side note: since blogging is becoming harder and harder to fit in, my Instagram has served as my more consistent virtual log for people to keep up with my shenanigans so family, friends, or pre-dentals interested in the daily grind – feel free to follow me there! (see lower right sidebar)* Aside from simply a ROUGH patch of exams that have sent my academic confidence from last semester (and um, I guess my whole life) on the decline, there’s just been a lot going on in my BIG-feeling heart and roller coaster brain regarding things completely out of my control (aka life). The end of this month also marks one year since Dad’s been gone, so obviously that time stamp makes things that much more real and brings all of that back to the front of my mind (not that it really ever leaves that spot).

Some little and big joy-nuggets have no doubt been interspersed between the self doubt or difficult days, and I STILL can say that dental school and living in Philadelphia is somehow crazy fun despite the sometimes literal hell we all go through together as a class (like fifty people failing our neuro-anatomy exam this week, I DO NOT JOKE). I’m so thankful for my friends here that pull me along day by day even when I might not be my usual chipper self and that I get to push forward as well.


Spring break was straight up lovely and needed. There was so much quality time to make up for the first year after college not living in the same city as my best guy friend Ross: time spent Crossfitting, eating way too good, drinking strange whiskey cocktails, laughing at our weirdness, talking hard and long (good) life talks, singing in the car, and seeing the D.C. sights for the first time. churchHe temporarily lives there for an interim job as music minister before starting seminary back at Baylor, and it was a true treat to get to see him as a real post-grad adult leading his church in worship through two Sunday services. So so proud and thankful for him every day.

I also got to go home to the promised land for most of week and catch up on nephew cuddles, live in my pjs, sleep lots, eat some Mexican, and – oh yeah – find time to study for our neuro exam that was so nicely the Tuesday we got back from break. nephewsIt was very appreciated to have that time at my country home with my Mom, sister, and brother-in-law, though, since I’m still unsure when the next time I’ll have the chance to make a trip to Texas.

While the didactic portion of our curriculum has been worlds harder this semester, I’ve actually enjoyed the preclinical part of first year. We had our very first practical a few weeks ago that consisted of one difficult amalgam preparation (class II ML #30 for any dental folk) on a lower molar, one occlusal amalgam restoration on another molar, and an extra credit restoration on a premolar. This was the first time we had to complete three different projects in only four hours, and with no reassurance that we had a few extra practice teeth if we didn’t do the first one well (like with our weekly assignments we turn in). In a practical setting, the first tooth IS the only tooth. Your bur makes one turn for the worse in your nervous and shaky hand? Fail. practicalDentistry comes down to millimeters in everything we do – 1.5 mm depth, convergent walls, smooth isthmus, broken contact…So needless to say it’s a much different atmosphere than the usual day in lab with us talking around the world, making fun of each other, and joining in random sing-alongs when we’re going delirious. There was an obvious tension in the air and silence except for the hum of drills and scraping of hatchets (and maybe a dropped hand piece here or there – mine definitely being one of those). I handed in my work at the end feeling pretty confident but still unsure of how picky they would actually go about the extensive grading criteria.

When we got our results back, it was definitely a day maker after the day breaker of getting our pathology grades that same morning. I came to the realization that depending on the week, the particular subject, or specific lab assignment, we each will always have our different strong suits. I might be an average (or sub average) pathologist apparently, but based on my lab practical results I just might have superior hand skills (on THAT day…) that will help make me a great clinician one day. On another day I might ace my angiology exam and be a boss dissector in anatomy lab (more on THAT adventure later) while struggling on a composite restoration. Others might consistently score high As on exams and struggle to even pass the practical or simply have to take more time on their own in lab to practice. There’s always going to be “hand gods” that turn in model work each week but might care squat about their grade in biochemistry. All that to say, again, it is SO important to not get caught up in comparing yourself to your classmates based on ONE exam or ONE practical. We will all be competent doctors in just three years, we just might take different paths to get there.

I feel like I could keep writing for pages and pages about the ups and downs of the past two months. I really am not trying to come off as complaining in this post – only HONEST. But no matter how hard the little daily details of grad school life across the country from my family and friends can get, I’m still convinced more and more every day that following Jesus is the greatest adventure there is and without Him, my joy would be lost and my own strength far from sufficient. I’m overwhelmed at His goodness and grace for carrying me this far. He’s never gonna let me down. sunshine

Your steady love

By the time I post this, it will be Valentine’s day (or Galentine’s, whatever applies to you best this season) so yay – that can be real or sarcastic, you decide. I found and re-shared this post I wrote exactly two years ago on college singleness just because I love visiting my old self and the thoughts and words I had back then on my perpetual [lack of a] relationship status. I would say a big part of me seems like not much has changed in my heart since then, but I’d probably be lying. When I posted it to my wall this week, I added this update:

Doing some blog inventory and came across this oldie but a goodie from my 2 years ago self. Since Valentine’s Day is coming up this week, I thought I’d re-share. **Update to the update** : I laugh at my all-the-women-independent vibes all throughout this. But I think I’m more convinced than ever that the waiting season will always be worth it. God KNOWS our hearts, friends, and I’m certain there is more of his good, good, Father heart to be found in these days of singleness than we’ll ever realize on this side of our story.CS lewis

It really is funny how things can change in a year, let alone two. (No family, I’m still not dating anyone right now…) I’m just saying God has a crazy and cool way of crafting friendships, crossing paths, and throwing some pretty sweet and unpredictable adventures our way every now and then. That was all very vague talk to say, “Yes I’m still single. But I’ve no doubt moved away from my walls-up/don’t want to date until I’m done with school/there is no guy I’m attracted to self.” LOL at life. Anyway.

This morning I made the trek across town (via SEPTA – don’t worry I didn’t walk) despite the extremely frigid temps to Old City to check out the CUTEST little coffee shop I had only seen on Instagram. Well, folks, I think I finally found my favorite. I was camped out there for the better part of Saturday afternoon chugging a perfect Columbian pourover, eavesdropping on a cute older British couple, watching the snow come in sideways, and desperately trying to cram origins, insertions, and innervations into my little weary brain. It was lovely,

I don’t feel like hashing out all the details of these CRAY couple of weeks for my classmates and I in this post, but I’ll just say the ONLY things (besides coffee+Jesus as always) getting me through these next exams and application deadlines is knowing there’s only 2 weeks to sweet Waco and just 3 weeks to ample time with my best friend/spring break. I’m writing mainly because it had been a couple of dry weeks sans writing and that makes me sad.

Also because I love writing about love on a day about love. But really, I just like to throw a curveball amidst all the sappy and lovey dovey articles or bitter single posts being shared in the realm of social media this week. Honestly, this video of kids confessing their feelings about their crushes is the only thing you need to see.

It is possible, believe it or not, to be single or not have a hot date on Valentine’s Day and be content in waiting. This morning I reached the last page of my current journal, and that’s always a day I look forward to. It urges me to go back to read through and look for all the ways that God was his usual funny and full of surprises self, answering prayers in ways I never imagined. I think this journal holding the journey of these past few months might be up there for the most rambling entries and pages of heartfelt scribbles. [This is a plug to start journaling if you don’t. It is hands down my favorite way to have a tangible record of my dreams, thoughts, and fears, and the ways that God speaks into those]. There have been some BIG and scary prayers in there, my friends. I am nothing but thankful for how He has already begun to answer them so clearly, and I’m filled with hope for the ways I know he will continue to guide my heart throughout the process. No matter how distant I feel sometimes or how shaky and wavering my love for God is on any given day, He shows nothing but a steady and patient love towards undeserving me.

I’m content and grateful today because I know and receive a love daily that will surpass any extravagant romantic gesture on this earth. A love that knows my heart.

even the winter

Since I posted last, winter has certainly arrived here in Philadelphia. I’m sure all of you heard about the monster that was Winterstorm Jonas. It dumped a hefty 20+ inches on us, but of course managed to not bless us with a snow day off of school. I stocked up at the grocery store, made a big batch of African peanut sweet potato stew (delish and hearty), and basically hibernated in my pjs all weekend while forcing myself to study angiology. I managed to get out in the midst of it Saturday for a verrrrry windy and cold thirty minute walk around Penn, only for Instagram photo purposes of course. Campus is even prettier buried beneath a thick layer of white.snowy penn

The winter weather does affect my days recently more than I anticipated, though. Can we talk about how the sun sets around 5 o’clock (aka when we finish class most days)? Also, I am sad to admit the lack of gym-going that has occurred since the new semester started. Would you really want to put on 3 layers just to walk to the gym and take them off? Not to mention the sheer volume of our courses already this semester that demand every waking hour of attention to master. This afternoon I did make myself make the measly four-block trek to have a serious leg day session. All that talk in pathology about atrophy, and I’m convinced that’s the sad current state of my former cycling instructor thighs and glutes. I’m also convinced I’m going to start rock climbing again for a fun non-workout workout. I haven’t done it since I left Baylor, and even back then it was very few and far between – and mainly to just say hi to my cool friends who worked The Rock.

This entire past week was a rougghhhh one, my friends. Our Thursday exam was arguably our biggest doozy yet. Let’s just say I’m still recovering mentally and physically, and my main medicine of choice this weekend (per usual) has been pizza and wine. I’ve also relished some sweet early bed times to “catch up” (scientifically not possible, sorry) on my sleep. I am so thankful for all my friends back home who check in on me and support my study marathons with all the emojis, Bitmojis, letters, and maybe some distracting youtube videos every now and then. Speaking of, one of my BEST friends from college is taking non other than THE MCAT this week, and she is seriously the most diligent and resilient person I know so I’m nothing but confident in her. Shout out to YOU Jenna, (future) M.D.

If you know me at all, you know my days too often revolve around a countdown and looking forward to something in the near or far off future (I’m learning more and more to live in the here and now, but I can’t help but get excited about planning fun trips or events). Well in the past few days, I have had a SERIOUS case of #yolo and spontaneity…I never regret it🙂

  1. I will be in WACOTOWN in 26 short days to watch my first ever Baylor All-University Sing that I won’t be performing in! (If you’re not a Baylor grad, google it. I can’t explain) Also just to see some of my Baylor buds who I love and miss dearly. Oh and Mexican food, duh. And half pitchers at Shorty’s.
  2. For the first part of my spring break (only 5 weeks away – GLORY) I am headed to Washington, D.C. for the first time ever to hang out and explore the city with one of my absolute favorite people who just happens to be temporarily moving there for a few months (140 miles away instead of 1400 = happy me).
  3. You know that little band called Coldplay? They’re performing the Super Bowl halftime show this year in case you didn’t hear. They also just announced their US Stadium Tour dates, and I am FINALLY going to see one of my all time favorite bands LIVE this August! My extensive concert bucket list is pretty much complete now.

I’d say that little list (especially the first two happening so soon) is all the motivation I need for this next stretch of exams.

While I do love looking forward in anticipation of things to come, God is continually teaching me to stop and thank Him for TODAY – just as it comes and as it is. Even in this winter season, even in this waiting season, and even in this weary season. I want to fight to not let my hopeful heart wander too far off in the distance, but to hold on tight to the gift he gives each day, this chapter, right now. After all, what good does it do to jump to the end we’re dreaming up on our own when He is our author, writing way better stories than we ever could?

Even the Winter, by Audrey Assad (one of my favorite artists), pretty much sums this up.

What if the spring comes soon 

and we’re surprised

What if the seasons help us realize

Some things are only proven over time


Today I had a very rare lecture and lab free morning, so I went to sleep before eleven and sans alarm, naturally waking up around six and falling back asleep until nine. Sleep is a beautiful thing. I figured I’d make my way down to my favorite close by coffee shop and wake up slow, maybe fitting in time enough to review one lecture before our afternoon classes. This usually consists of listening to worship music, journaling or reading and praying, and probably then afterwards spending too much time reading all the sites I follow, catching up on Instagram, and following click bait to see Adele Carpool Karaoke (so worth your 15 minutes).  

One of my favorite songs, Pieces by Amanda Cook, came on my playlist, and this is a song that has meant different things to me over the past several months of knowing it. I feel like over and over again, it has been my heart’s declaration that even when it hurts and when I don’t feel like it’s true, to still know that God will never love us with a fraction or give us half of what we need. This season He has continually reminded me that he gives nothing short of the BEST for us, but often times in order for us to fully experience the fullness and extravagance of what he has for each of us, we have to wait. Wait for him to carry it to completion while he is continuing to refine our hearts in the time of in between. So many of us are in this “awkward” stage of new adult-ing post graduation and desperate to look ahead and jump ahead. Instead of rushing into wanting only pieces of second best and selling God short, let’s be confident that he will always love and give lavishly with his whole line

vision revisited


Back to the grind we go. We’re into our second week of the new semester and man has it already slapped us awake out of break-mode. Four frantic hours in lab figuring out how to take impressions and immediately pour them into stone models, only to find out the majority of us had to completely start over from the beginning sometime on our own time will do that to you. Now that I’ve somewhat settled back into routine, I do feel I have a refreshed perspective on things and new vision for how I want to approach this next chunk of our long journey to DMD. 2016 for me is already full of hope for new experiences and opportunities for growth as well as the assurance that God has me and will carry me through whatever is ahead.

Because I love lists, I just wanted to put down in writing some of the changes (I’m not calling them new year’s resolutions per se) I want to make and fresh hopes and dreams I have regarding my school life, relationships, and journey with God. These aren’t really hard and fast goals, more like ever-evolving things and a way for me to help cast some vision on this next season.

  • Not apologize for saying no sometimes – mainly in terms of social life. I want to really realize that it’s okay to not go to every single event or outing that my class organizes. Last semester I was so caught up in really making an effort to get to know everyone and make my new friends, so I had a very real case of FOMO I guess you could say.  And I had a blast no doubt. This semester, I want to better learn how to distinguish when I do need a fun night out and when I need a grandma night in: cooking, reading, writing, playing guitar, and going to bed gloriously early when I can afford it. Real rest is so needed and so sweet.
  • Fall back in love with letter writing. My pen pals got somewhat neglected last semester, so I want to remember the value of this beautiful and old fashioned way of keeping up with my friends who are all over. I’ve already sent out a couple🙂
  • Strive to maintain a consistent motivation to stay ON TOP of studying and review notes more regularly instead of going hard for about five or six days for only one course. I’m not saying that my methods last semester didn’t work, but I really want to put more time in earlier to keep the stress (and caffeine) levels more even. On the same topic, since I am going to class (too guilty to skip again even though it’s completely okay and plenty people do), I want to make it worth my time and actually take notes the whole time. Note to self – pack more healthy snacks for that 1-5 pm block.
  • Meal prep, meal prep, meal prep. Remember that I have a Crock Pot. Remember that cooking is one of my first loves. And remember that I’m living on student loans.
  • RUN again just to run without training for any race. Oh wait, it’s winter in Philly now…
  • Carve out ample and regular time for calling and FaceTiming my favorite people. You know you who are, and seeing your faces and hearing your voices will beat an occasional text any day.
  • Wake up earlier. I have always been a morning person, but I think recently extra sleep has won over actually really enjoying those first couple of hours, pour over coffee in hand and with my quiet and not-yet-cluttered mind. Yes, I know I’m exhausted as it is, but nothing is more energizing and life-giving than more time spent with Jesus before the crazy non stop rush of all the rest of the hours in the day.
  • Press into community and fully settle on a church home. I visited a new one this past Sunday that’s definitely promising, so I’m praying that God would make it clear to me if that would be a healthy place for me to grow and plant my roots down deep for the next three and a half years I’m here. I still deeply miss my Waco people and church home there, that is for sure.

Our rare and welcomed two hour lunch break is now coming to a close, so I’m going to call this working list done (for now). It’s off to lymphatics and pathology for the afternoon.


It’s the classic story of finally having free time (I’m sorry what??) and yet still failing to write anything over my break. I was way too busy resting, eating, watching Ellen and Botched and Fixer Upper, eating some more, reading lots (leisurely finishing 2 books), spending time with some of my favorite people, and sleeping some more to make time for blogging sadly. Since I posted, the class of 2019 at Penn Dental has officially survived one semester making us still-very-not-qualified-at-all 1/8 or 12.5% DMDs! All the exams, wax-ups, late nights, and never ending two hour lectures of our first few months are finally finished. doneThat is, until we start bright and early again tomorrow! Long gone are the days of the precious three or four week college Christmas breaks, hello grad school where they now hate Christmas. Ok I might be exaggerating a tiny bit. We love school, we really, really do.

My flight left the same afternoon we finished our last exam, and I finally realized the weight of the classic song, “I’ll be home for Christmas.” I was now one of THOSE people in airports during the insane holiday rush that happens anytime post Dec 20th-Jan 2nd, praying for no delays (surprise, it was delayed).  I think being so far makes being home for the holidays mean that much more, though. It takes real effort and money to make it home in time, and so I think I really sensed the value of being able to be with my family when so many people have jobs, things like military commitments, or just family divisions that hinder everyone being together.

My break was unfortunately a short ten days, but also extremely restful and brought so much opportunity for reflection and clarity as we welcomed the new year of 2016. If you know me at all, you know January is one of my favorite months, and I love the contagious anticipation and hope that finds its way into everyone’s hearts at the beginning of a fresh calendar year. I was able to get ample aunt-nephew play and cuddle time, saw some old friends, and had a couple of incredibly honest but so needed conversations. EBy the way, those things you need to get off your chest, just DO it and don’t keep waiting. Life is entirely too short to not be real with people, and I am so thankful for the time I had to reach a new place of honesty and transparency with a dear friend. God’s timing is never what we expect, but always in our best interest. Christmas was obviously a complicated mix of emotions with it being the first without Dad, the first that I had to fly home for, the first with a new nephew, and lots of other changes for my family. It was somber, but the reminder of the gift of Jesus permeated the days with a sweet and inescapable peace.

Because our break was so brief, I feel like so much has happened in my heart and mind the past several days not thinking about school for once, and this is a very mild and measly attempt to somewhat process where I’m at with it all. I haven’t even really had time to think about my so-called “resolutions” (I don’t really like the cliche term that gets overused for the sake of diet and fitness marketing – I prefer a more real and introspective evaluation of things that matter) or goals for the new semester and new year. My plan as of now? Get a long and beautiful night’s sleep and simply show up for our light 4 hours of lecture this first day back – full of riveting dental materials and blood cells. Back to the grind I go, and I do want to fully commit myself to our new courses and labs. I also still so desire to seek the incredibly fine balance of happy & healthy with academic success, not just on the surface but on a very real soul level. On thinking back on 2015 and looking ahead to 2016, this is what I wrote for the popular “best 9” Instagram post I shared. Perspective is everything, and I am confident that the best is truly yet to come.

instaNeedless to say 2015 was one heck of a journey with entirely too much packed in 365 days. Probably simultaneously the best and worst, and I now I can say I fully understand the dichotomy of bittersweet. So much loss, but still so many milestones, celebrations, and new adventures to be extremely thankful for. He gives abundantly and takes away, and I’m entering 2016 with immensely more perspective on what and who matter most. I’m expectant and full of gratitude and joy of what’s to come. Thank you all for joining along for this crazy ride. “I found life and I found laughter. In forgiveness, I found rest. On the shoulders of redemption, I found hope when hope was dead. I could lose it in a moment so I dare not close my eyes. I’ll watch fear fall with the sunset and see hope rise with the tide. And when the pain is true, sometimes these troubles prove that I’m alive.”

Musicals, macrophages, and (almost) Merry Christmas

In exactly one week I will officially be done with my first semester of dental school and HOME on TEXAS soil. Wow oh wow am I ready. This girl is a weary soul right now. The only things getting me through one more week and two exams are nonstop Coldplay jams (their new album is glorious as usual), all the fun little events interspersed in the midst of study madness, and even more coffee. And more prayers than I was texting with my old roomies the other night and the one who’s also a first year dental student at another school finishing up this week asked us for book recommendations for the much anticipated break coming up. To quote her, “I’m gonna sit around and spend time with God all day long and read inspirational books, ’cause oh my gosh I’m done with dental school.” My thoughts too, girlie. It’s crazy how that one extra week plus a few days in December  (compared to my undergrad’s schedule) really makes a big difference.

Today we checked yet another exam off, this time a strange and un-welcomed combination of immunology and a pharmacology introduction. Pharm is actually really cool, and I enjoy studying it! It’s honestly like a big puzzle of understanding what drugs do to the body, how they do it, and why they can be so dangerous. Thinking about having the authority soon to write prescriptions is definitely a big responsibility. I think because it’s so new, different, and relevant to clinical practice, I feel a pressure to really learn the information. I’m sure a lot of people realize an attraction to dentistry over medicine is because we don’t (hopefully) necessarily have to deal with serious conditions/death on a regular basis like medical doctors often do – some OMFS trauma would be an exception maybe. We wouldn’t want anyone in serious trouble after their dentist prescribed adverse drug reactions (warfarin + metranidazole = scary). Also our professor for that…well he’s a character and probably deserves his own post describing all his crazy antics (maybe I’ll interview him!). He’s a fantastic teacher though. That foundational science class was a monster of credits (over 5) so I’m constantly battling between hoping I miraculously squeezed out the grade I wanted and also completely accepting that “grades aren’t everything” – words from a convo tonight with one of my college best friends who happens to be done with said grades for the moment because he’s GRADUATING this Saturday. Shout out to all you December grads at Baylor I know – y’all know I’m so proud and excited to watch your futures that God has for each of you.

mormonWhoever said people in dental/med school can’t have a life outside of studying, I beg to differ. I think about all that I’ve been able to do and experience just this first semester living in such a fun new place. One of those top things would have to be last Thursday going to my first real musical, The Book of Mormon, here at the Forrest Theatre with a few of my favorite classmates who also enjoy the finer things in life like short rib ragu, ricotta gnocchi, and fine arts. Even though some would argue the show we saw wasn’t so “fine,” it was darn hilarious. Admittedly there were moments when the crude factor reached a new high, but I still found myself laughing through the whole thing. The musical/choreo talent was awesome for sure. theaterAnd of course I appreciated the history lessons for those that really don’t understand just how drastically different Mormon theology is from Christianity. Another fun tidbit I’m so looking forward to is tomorrow me and my friend Sarah are going to the Johnnyswim Christmas show at Union Station (pics to come I’m sure) and putting microbiology of plaque-induced disease to the back burner for just one night because I am in serious need of some holiday cheer. It’ll actually be my third time to see that crazy beautiful, insanely talented duo, yet I’ll never get tired of their serenades.

I’ve had several of the prospective class of 2020 Penntists message me and email me, and while I am entirely honest with them with the good and the bad (for instance, it’s OKAY to turn down Penn b/c of the price), I always can’t help but say how much I LOVE Penn Dental and my fam here. They’ll always ask me if I’m happy with my decision overall. It’s funny when you step back and look at the big picture with so much gratitude or why you made the decision they’re currently wrestling with (I do NOT miss that month of roller coaster emotions), the little nuisances of exhaustion and frustrations get overshadowed.

One week til 1/8 D.M.D. river

don’t ever let fear turn you against your playful heart

That’s a quote from this incredible video my friend JJ shared this week that had be feeling all kinds of whimsy and wanderlust and wonder. Now it’s to no surprise I want to plan my own escape from calendars altogether to the great unknown that is Iceland.  I’m easily inspired I guess. I don’t think it’s a bad thing.

It really got me thinking about a lot, though. Like how I really want to do a summer research project next summer because I can and I “should” and I’m at Penn and there’s unspoken pressure and oh you want to specialize and it’s your only chance really. And then there’s my playful heart that wants to just say but what if I don’t find a project that interests me (I know there’s some crazy awesome ones don’t get me wrong) or want to spend a whole summer in a lab in a coat and goggles and would rather drop everything and just GO and DO…The constant struggle of my practical, smart, level headed, and wise self against my abandoned, wild, adventurous, and I’m still only 22 self (it’s way deep down but it’s so there I promise).

quoteThe upside is that I could possibly do BOTH. Which if you know me, I’ve always been a person that doesn’t like to choose between my two sides. I like to feed both my grounded-ness and restlessness, simultaneously. Like going to the GAPSA Winter Masquerade ball last night when I definitely should have been studying for our osteo practical Monday (it was worth it because this girl got an invite to a Wharton party by two Texan boys, but will I go, eh I might want to remain mysterious…),  but then not getting out of my pjs all day, cracking down in my room, and making up for it today. I could still possibly do research for the last two months of summer and still have a couple weeks of a window to do something crazy in June. The only question is with who? I would totally consider the whole solo Eat, Pray, Love soul searching adventure, but I’m not too sure how my family would feel about that one.

It’s December and despite the dread that is not being finished and home for Christmas until the 23RD, I can’t help but be reminded of the reason of it all and look forward to all of the events coming up and mostly with being back in the promised land with the fam for about nine days. New lights are up on Locust Walk, the Christmas music abounds, and I even already experienced my first real ice skating in the city (at an outdoor rink)! I love Christmas in the city already so much. I deeply pray we make room for Jesus in the hustle of it all, though. I’m going through an Advent devotional and even though we talk about the Christmas story every year, each time God reveals more and more of his glory and sovereignty to me in some new way.

drillAn exciting dental bit is that we finally received our most expensive toys yet – our electric hand-pieces! We get a high speed and a slow speed, and we’re told Bien Air is the Bentley or Mercedes of dental hand-pieces. For non-dental folk, these are the oh so dreaded “drills” we all love the sound of (except we dental folk actually do). If a piece of medical technology could ever be beautiful, these babies certainly are, with of course the typical classy Penn touch of the engraved name. We also got our big box of all of our burrs too (this is the part that goes in the end that actually does the drilling and comes in all kinds of shapes for reasons we have yet to learn). We get to start using these as early as next week for part of our final occlusion project before break but will really start drilling next semester.

December 1st was the first day that the next incoming class could find out if they were accepted or not. Class of 2019 officially feels OLD because the class of 2020 is coming so soon and already has a Facebook group page. I couldn’t help but replay those months and weeks and days leading up to that day just one year ago. I already feel like a proud mom to all of the newbies and cannot wait to meet everyone come August!

While all the college friends are whining about their finals and being done in early/mid-December, in the course of our last four weeks of the semester we’ll have a total of five monster exams (one down, four to go) and two more lab assignments. The espresso will be flowing, the sleeping will be precious, and the prayers will be many.

For tonight, it’s back to Thai green curry takeout, Pinot Grigio, jamming to my Christmas study playlist, and taking breaks to Pinterest dream about how to decorate my next apartment (this girl is officially getting her first own place next year!).