And there goes a month

beanNovember has been a whirlwind. The last time I posted I was getting ready to head to Chicago for ASDA’s National Leadership conference. It was a weekend full of insightful speakers, abundant social time meeting and going out (ahem, networking) with so many great people from all over the country, and there maybe even have been a dental student hunger games reenactment to fight for the free Oral B electric toothbrush at the vendor fair. I plan on doing a post soon set aside to share some highlights of the trip, but there’s so much else that has happened in just the past couple of weeks. I am beginning to fully understand the statement describing time in school as “The days are long but the years are short.” Amen.

After cramming for 2 days after my Chicago weekend for our dental anatomy final, we’ve got yet another course under our belt now. Here at Penn, we have a couple courses that are pass/fail/honors even though the majority are traditional letter-graded. Dental anatomy is one of the pass/fail courses. The next preclinical lab course we moved quickly into was occlusion. Just how many times can you “tap, tap, tap” and check for the correct occlusal markings across a second premolar and both mandibular molars, carve down and/or build up, and check again? The world will never know. Tomorrow gladly marks the end of our colored wax up aka rainbow gummy bear teeth. toolsWe received part two of dental student Christmas which was our new instrument kit to be used for the operative section of GRD we’ll start in the spring. Ask me if any of us have any clue what any of them are or do or why they cost us thousands of dollars on that supplies line in our student tuition/budget. Speaking of dental student Christmas, I also redeemed my “professional discount code” for my FREE Sonicare Phillips electric toothbrush, and I’m in love. Even though I’ve been caries-free for 22 years, I actually have only ever used manual toothbrushes. I knew dental school over medical school was a wise decision. What do they even get in med school, free electric blood pressure cuffs?

Remember a few posts back when I talked about how sometimes Life things will come before school things? Well, during the weekend I was all out studying for our beastly biochem metabolism exam, I got news that my Granddaddy had finally reached the end of his long and full life. His final days and even the last several years had been hard for the family just because the toll that old age can take on a person (he was 94). It was obviously a time of sorrow, but definitely a different scenario than the call I received back in April about Dad. As I struggled back and forth with figuring out the logistics of if I was going to be able to go home to Texas for the service, I finally realized that this was one of those times. One of the times when it’s ok to say yes to family and illogical cross-country travel and no to the temporary stresses of school and the implications of missing almost a week of class and an exam. My professors were all understanding, and we worked out things for me to make up my exam and catch up in other things when I returned. Obviously this trip home was unexpected and somber, but at the same time so sweet and needed. pondWe celebrated the life and legacy of my grandfather and rejoiced knowing that he was free of the physical bondage of his aged body and given a new perfect body where he met Jesus face to face. The hope and promise of heaven is always more than enough to have the strength for us weary ones back down here to keep pressing on for this present life, knowing we’ll be reunited one day with those who have gone before us.

The days in between have been busy and tiring, nothing out of the ordinary really. I still love this season, my classmates, and most days what I’m learning. It’s not all roses though. Exams never end, lab is many times frustrating, and of course I still miss my Waco community. Immunology and microbiology will never be my forte or passion, but we’ve also been deep in skull anatomy and osteology – something I love and am continuously fascinated by. The architecture of skull foramina are straight up miraculous in and of themselves, let alone the neurovascular bundles that course their way through them supplying blood and innervation for everything our face/head does – eat, talk, smile, see, smell, taste…. My background as an anatomy TA for Dr. P at Baylor is so so so appreciated while I try to catch up in my other courses. I’ll be honest and say that this month has been somewhat of a lull for me, mentally and spiritually. I’ve yet to get plugged in at any church and am still searching for wisdom in that decision. School never has a pause button, and missing a week definitely slowed my momentum. I’ve struggled to find the groove of efficiency again. Some big things that I’ve been praying for and believing for for a while recently took a turn that was hard on my heart. Even over a 1000 miles from home, I’ve been so appreciative of my friends I still keep in touch with and some of our never ending text novels back and forth about Heart things and Truth things. love statueNot going home for Thanksgiving (my favorite holiday probably) is really tough, but I’m so thankful that my mom, sister, and baby nephew got to come see me last weekend for a long weekend of eating too much, exploring my new home, cuddles with G, and acoustic jam sessions. I’m also thankful that I’ll be hosting my first Friendsgiving on Thursday, my apartment will smell of warm apple crumble, and the wine glasses will be full.

G’night, friends. Despite the confusion, division, and selfishness that plagues our news feeds, let us continue to do the hard things and choose truth, peace, and gratitude this season.

“Enjoy it. Because it’s happening.”

It’s been a flying, hectic, both fun and stress-filled 2+ weeks since my last post. I sincerely hate it when I get too bogged down by the demands of life that I feel like I can’t even sit and write for more than ten minutes. Stop. Breathe. Spring of junior year is basically halfway in the books, and there’s nothing that can change that. “Enjoy it. Because it’s happening.”

My mind (and life) right now seems like a jumbled, beautiful chaos. So many things have been going on or that I’m looking forward to- some incredible, some downright comical, some scary, others frustrating. Here’s a highly condensed version of the many things, events, and thoughts I’ve wished I could elaborate more on.

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After torturing my hair through eight rounds of curling and spraying (and impressively minimal washing), six incredible performances of All-University SING are done (if you’re not a Baylor Bear, read up on this one-of-a-kind and long running tradition). We accomplished our goals of having a blast, doing our absolute best, and I made even more rich friendships this year. It’s crazy how you can connect to a community so quickly and deeply just by uniting  through a common vision and passion. One new like-minded friend in particular is a fellow blogger who you can find here.

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My family was able to visit last weekend for our last night of performing, and it was so refreshing to see all of them again for the first time since Christmas. My baby nephew E is now crawling and even has his first two perfectly symmetrical little bottom teeth! I told my family he will be the perfect age when I’m in dental school to be my first pediatric patient for practicing examining deciduous dentition – there’s your dental vocab for the day.

After much research, I officially dropped my first college class! I already have taken a biology class that meets the biochem requirement of most dental schools, so there was no reason to waste invaluable time sitting through basically the same class again in the chemistry department (while still stressing to make the grade due to slight but significant test differences). A huge three hour unnecessary weight is now lifted.

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I’ve mastered and been tested on my mad new dancing skills in Western, Fox Trot, and Waltz. Today we started the dance of sensual tension: Tango, and to quote my teacher, “This is an intricate dance and is obviously easier when the couple is really a couple.” All the girls in my class all looked at each other and we thought, “Boys, don’t get any ideas.” It’s already my favorite one this semester, though. I guess because I can really bring out my inner Latin diva and have some fun after the stuffy ballroom dances we’ve learned. We’ll just have to imagine that all the boys in our class are really Antonio Banderas.

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I somehow managed to pull off my pre-health committee interview this past Friday. It really was nothing to even stress about at all. I actually was thinking to myself, “Why am I wearing a suit?” because my interviewer only asked me maybe four or five legitimate questions. He basically acted like it was simply a formality we had to do and that he didn’t doubt my ability to succeed in dental school one bit. He was confident and knew I was confident in myself, and I checked yet another step off on the process. Speaking of to-do lists, I also asked for my second reference letter from my cell physiology/biochem professor from last semester that I really hit it off with, and I know that she takes these very seriously. Two down, two to go!

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I’ve successfully (and unfortunately) managed to avoid Bearathon training whenever I can. I’ve made it up to ten miles for my longest run, but ice storms, family weekends, and medial shin splints are not very encouraging three weeks out from the race. As much as I didn’t want it to, running has recently turned into an obligation and not an enjoyment. My roommate is also training and feeling the same way, but we’ve told each other that we will run and we will finish. Who cares about time when everyone gets the shirt, medal, abundance of post-race treats, and a reason to go out and celebrate doing something that only a tiny fraction of the population has accomplished.

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The dental mission trip to Panama (and start of SPRING BREAK) is THIS Saturday! I’m running around crazy this last week trying to tie up all the loose ends, but I am beyond excited for this incredible opportunity. God was faithful to provide like ALWAYS, and I ended up raising just enough funds the last week our full payment was due! I’m incredibly thankful to my parents, family, friends, and dentist mentors for helping support me financially so I can go on this adventure of reaching the underserved people of Panama through the priceless gift of dental care. I’m also looking forward for more of a hands-on dental experience beyond the shadowing and limited assisting I’ve done here. Don’t worry, I won’t be breaking laws and pulling teeth, but I am pretty sure we will play a major role in assisting in procedures and doing cleanings and exams in the clinics.

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On one of my struggles of a run last week through the vast and beautiful cemetery across the street, the song “How Much More” started playing on my iPhone, I stopped running (not just because my inner lower legs were killing), and was moved to tears. I don’t really know if these were sad or happy tears, but they happened. I simply was overwhelmed with how blessed and loved I am by the Lord even through times when I feel like I’m drowning in never-ending tasks and can only complain. When I’m weary, He always fills my need and then some.

With a daunting anatomy lab practical (completely fill in the blank and every last bit of information we’ve learned since the first day) fast approaching, I’ve got to get some sleep and rest up for an intense next couple of days. Many blessings to all of you reading this, and I pray that you all feel God’s presence in the midst of whatever beautiful chaos you’re in.

Saying NO so I can say YES

One of my resolutions this year was to say no to more things while saying yes more to other things. (to read up on the rest of aspirations for 2014 see here.) So far, I think I’m actually holding up to this one pretty well. As far as the rest, ask me about those later…

What I mean by that statement is realizing what really is important and what can simply go undone on a given day.

Today I read a post from one of my favorite bloggers/authors, Shauna Niequist, titled “More Love, Less Hustle.” (By the way, I highly recommend following her blog, reading every one of her books, and joining the club of hopeful invitees to her dinner parties). It sparked such a passion in me to want to live this out in my own life, and it paralleled my No/Yes resolution. She says, “But saying NO lets me say YES to the most important things.” Another phrase that seemed to jump from the screen and speak to my heart was her own realization that Tough is not something I want to be. Hard is not something I aspire to.” 

I thought of how that applied to my own life in the current stage I find myself. Do I add activity, title, and responsibility after another to my plate because I really do enjoy it, or is it just a way of living up to my extremely high expectations I have of myself to be everything, everywhere, all the time? I’ve always said things like I thrive when under pressure, following busy schedules, or facing and overcoming seemingly impossible challenges. If I’m truly being honest with myself, do I really, though? Part of me exclaims a resounding yes – I literally go stir-crazy after about two or three days of having nothing to do, nowhere to be, no projects to accomplish. I’m striving for a fast-paced, exciting, and always challenging career as an oral surgeon or dentist because I could never just sit at a desk all day. The other part of me wonders exactly how healthily managing the demanding schedule of a dental student, and potentially a medical resident, will look like. Without a doubt, I am setting myself up for aspiring to “hard” things that obviously will demand me to be “tough.” Would I rather be worn ragged at the end of a never-ending day, knowing I squeezed out every ounce of energy and life I had in me, or does an actual free hour or two to fill doing whatever I wanted do me good every now and then (for example, blogging at midnight)?

I believe it is all about keeping a crucial balance of striving for excellence to fulfill our passions and purposes on the earth, while still keeping our focus on things that truly satisfy our soul and go beyond the taxing demands of this temporary, material life. Things like relationships, joy, and time actually cherished, not just used efficiently. I’m not saying I’m going to completely abandon my qualities of typical type A, extremely driven, and goal oriented, but I am going to slow down from the hustle to take a breath occasionally, live my life with a clearer perspective, and strive to follow a kingdom-oriented mindset.

What exactly has this “saying no so I can say yes” mantra looked like so far? Here are just a few instances…

Saying no to staying up until 2 a.m. because I don’t need to worry about over-preparing for a anatomy or biochem quiz so I can ace another one; saying yes to anti-perfectionism.

Saying no to staying in yet another Saturday night and yes to hanging out with a friend that I rarely get to see by going to a basketball game and out for late night pizza after.

Saying no to apprehension and yes to boldly chatting with all of my professors outside of class so they can know me as a person with real dreams and deep thoughts, not just a student shallowly striving to get the grade and move past their class.

Saying no to fear of being vulnerable or honest about where exactly I am in my walk with God and yes to discipleship alongside one of my closest friends.

Saying no to thinking I have to come up with a perfect conclusion to this post and yes to sleep.

What could your life look like with “more love, less hustle?”

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“Favorable conditions never come…”

Well folks, it’s that time of year again.  My lack of posts recently is directly related to the never-ending demands of the final stretch of the semester.  Group projects put off until the last month, presentations, annihilating exams, apartment leasing, preparing my S.I. biology students for their last test and final, holiday parties, personal statement writing, and trying to not blow all my hard work this semester simply because my motivation tank’s running on empty. I don’t really have time right now to update you all on my whirlwind adventures, but I’m sure throughout dead days and exams I’ll take occasional blogging study breaks. This article I read was worthy of a post in and of itself.  It really hit home for me, and it’s such a good reminder that we all need I’m sure.

“Finals Week, first things, and unfavorable times”

The quote from C.S. Lewis, “Never, in peace or war, commit your virtue or your happiness to the future,” is so applicable to me as a single college student seeking a long but rewarding career path.  I’ve always been future and goal-oriented, and much of my college has been centered on my ambition to become a dentist or even possibly an oral surgeon, and doing everything it takes to get me there. “Just if I can make it through these finals, this week, this semester, this year…” There’s also the sense of anticipation of my future spouse and what my life might look like down the road. I need to appreciate every day, focus on what really matters, and choose joy and contentment now.  There’s no use waiting until that day when all my challenging schooling is finally over or when I’ll own my private practice and come home to the Godly husband I’m praying for.  Who knows how much time and opportunities we could be wasting always thinking that the next phase of our life will somehow surpass the current one we’re in? What could God be wanting to reveal to us right now that we are missing out on because we assure ourselves we’ll have time to grow deeper in our relationship with Him tomorrow, next week, next month…Life is never really going to get any easier, so why not “prioritize the health of your soul now?”

Time will always bring new challenges, and “favorable conditions never come.

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A [crazy] week in the life…

Just since my last post a week ago, here are a few things I’ve learned…

1. Sometimes seemingly lame Saturdays spent entirely (yes, ALL day) on schoolwork can be actually enjoyable if cozied up at the best study spot in the local coffee shop (my second home), watching a storm roll in, sipping great coffee (aka brain power), taking frequent breaks to chat with an encouraging friend, and finally leaving with a real sense of accomplishment.

2. My business minor classes are a great confidence booster when I can ace my first accounting test after studying for it about 5% as much as I did for my biochemistry/cell physiology test that was the next day, which leads me to…

3. No matter how many hours (days) I study for an exam and think I have a very good understanding, it is still definitely possible to walk out of a biochem test feeling like I maybe knew 1/4 of the right answers.  Tricky wording in questions, near identical answer choices, and the always doubt-inducing “None of the above” and “A and B/A and C,” will never cease to kick my butt. Then I remind myself, WHO CARES? It’s one test – God still has called me to be a dentist, and my GPA can withstand a little mediocrity.

4. A peppy, funny, and well-done Legally Blonde: The Musical performance can put a smile on anyone’s face after such a test, and I need to go to more Baylor theatre shows.

5.Bed bugs are a big inconvenience, and mosquito bites can sometimes be mistaken for them (ahem, roomies C and A) 😉

6. Washing machines like to suddenly leak and cause massive puddles throughout our apartment ten minutes before my roommate and I have to leave for class.  Now, when everyone is frantically washing all of their bedding (see above #5), all towels have been used to sop it up, and I’m trying to be considerate and wash my sheets for when my mom comes to stay with me, we now are scared to use the washer (it’s actually fine now).

7. Getting about 700 words (out of 2500) written for my rough draft of my big biblical research paper is a great source of momentum and determination to keep pushing along, even though I’m still hoping everyday for that additional week extension.

8. Biochem class in the biggest lecture hall on a late Thursday afternoon requires extreme focus to stay engaged, but if you do, you might learn something like the mind-blowing ways hemoglobin is so perfectly controlled by allosteric regulation and cooperativity.

9. Pigksin practice (for any reader that isn’t familiar with Baylor traditions, you just wouldn’t understand…) until midnight still always gives me unheard of energy to do things like stay up and write new blog posts.

10. Nothing makes Friday sweeter than anticipating a visit from my mom and going to a live concert of PHIL WICKHAM at my favorite coffee shop (see above #1).  Coming full circle to yet another Saturday study session, the cycle repeats and another week full of unknown adventures begins again.

Who knows what I will discover or get myself into even tomorrow?

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Confessions of a Distracted Blogger

I just wanted to give a quick update on all the exciting, hectic, nerve-racking, stress-inducing, beautiful chaos happening in my life right now (hence the lack of new posts). I’ll make this short because tomorrow is a little thing I like to call “First day of school! First day of school!” I’ve been in study mode all summer so it shouldn’t be a problem to just keep on keeping on.  What I’ve been up to the past couple weeks that has kept me a little too busy to explore new recipes and has sadly left this blog a little neglected:

  • Miraculously rocked my summer school finals (no more foreign language or English classes!!!)
  • Explored the incredible city of Seattle for a short mother-daughter trip (Trip review and favorite RESTAURANTS post coming soon)
  • Still currently hitting the last stretch of DAT studying HARD: a.k.a doing the same amount of work in a WEEK I did in my first MONTH of studying.  Countdown is 4 DAYS! Yeah, I don’t want to talk about it right now. Moving on…
  • Catching up with friends I haven’t seen all summer in my loads of free time
  • Braving the crowds and checking out the brand new HEB in town (now the biggest in TX) and spending too much money
  • Training for my new job as a Biology Supplemental Instructor so I can change the world, one little panicked “bio/pre-med” freshman at a time.
  • Meetings with ASDA leadership and trying to get details for the year lined up (guess who wishes she would have had time to work more diligently on that over the summer)
  • Getting organized and trying to wrap my brain around the fact that I start my junior year of undergrad tomorrow.

Here’s to another new, challenging, fun, exhausting, rewarding, and EXCITING new chapter!

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