Archive for tag: holidays

Holidays

I've waxed sentimental about this time of year before. There's something about the holidays. I've talked about my dad and our ventures hunting for that perfect tree. I've passed on random thoughts of sappiness here and there.

This season seems to be hitting me pretty hard. It's dawning on me that this is the last of so many things. It's the last blog of 2014, of my 9th Tri. This is the last Christmas where both of my boys will still be "boys," and maybe all of us will be together. It's probably the last Christmas that I'll be in Florida, and probably the last holiday season where I'll be around all of those that I've grown to love and be close with over the last 3 years. This is a pretty big deal.

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Image source: www.elledecor.com

I always have the grandest ambitions around the holidays. I keep wanting to decorate the house from top to bottom, get the biggest tree, pull out all the stops - complete with candy and paper snowflakes. Truth be told, I started watching "Elf" a couple of weeks ago - in part to cheer me up, and otherwise to get me into the spirit of things. This morning I softly threatened to decorate the clinic office Elf-style. I'm almost always the last one to leave and it would be so easy for me to do. I think it'd be a blast. I'm not sure how others would take it though. It never hurts to have a little whimsy in our lives.

I have been a long-time fan of Christmas for just that reason. I'm not sure whether it was my dad that did it for me, or the idea of everything -- how we could all be just a little bit kinder, a little bit sweeter around the holidays, and it was totally OK. Even as a kid, I don't think it was about the presents for me, but rather about making things special. The presents had to be "just right" - something unique that we never had throughout the year, or a trinket or "need" dropped as a hint at a time that no one else could have possibly remembered. But I always kept track. That made things all that much more magical.

I used to go so far out of my way to decorate -- even when I was little. People close to me know I'm a bit goofy, but when I tell them about recreating my bedroom as a winter wonderland by covering huge portions of the floor with Styrofoam beanbag pellets, they often scratch their heads and walk away. Incidentally, my mom still finds those pellets on the floor, even though that carpet was traded out years ago, and she's probably vacuumed it over a thousand times.

Many other years, I've felt cheated by living here. I miss the cold and the snow. Yes, I just actually said that. I miss what it feels like to really be in the spirit. I've found the holidays kind of depressing. It's hard to be festive when Santa is on the beach in his speedo (yes, I know you didn't want that mental picture -- imagine how I felt). But as it's beginning to set in that this is the last year here, I keep wanting to make it special. It should be, after all.

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Image source: www.mrwallpaper.com

It's December. Time has passed; seasons are changing. And even though it doesn't necessarily feel that way, the changes just keep coming. I'm thinking we need to embrace them for what they are -- not what they could have been or what they will be -- but exactly as they are. We need to make the magic happen one more time while we still can - to tell those around us that we love them and show them just how special they really are.

So, with that in mind, dear blog readers -- thanks for joining me on my journey. May the joy and whimsy of this season -- however you choose to enjoy it -- fill your lives with hope and wonder.

Surviving Boards

I survived the weekend. I was wondering if I would. Although I'm not entirely sure I'm still intact. As I've said before, there's not really anything that can prepare you for boards. All of the studying, reviewing, and cramming isn't going to make everything magically retrievable in the head. There's always something that slips through there. We hope that it's not too much, but in the end, it's not the things that we remember that we worry about.

Now that boards are over and the waiting game has begun, I've had a tiny bit of sleep and I'm now focusing on regrouping and moving forward. Job hunting is in the definitive future, and with that comes the prospect of moving. Moving brings with it a mixed bag of reminiscing and looking forward. Today I pulled a box out of my living room that had some old cords, digital cameras, and random electrical stuff. I plugged in the cameras and found myself reliving moments over the last couple of years and wondering what I was thinking. For a while I was writing myself notes on the chalkboard at the entrance to the house. I called them "Notes from the Chalkboard."

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Now that, hopefully, Part IV boards are behind me, I'm working on the next chapter. It's been no great shock to my classmates that I hope to leave Florida. Preliminary job hunting has illuminated a couple of options, but more need to come. My heart has been elsewhere for a long time. Seeing these boards written years ago reminds me. It's time to clear the muddle of my mind, free my heart, and fly.

Have a Great Week Everyone! If I don't reach you before Thanksgiving, have an AMAZING Turkey Day.

Summertime and the Living Is Easy

Well, that's what Billie Holiday thought. Here in good 'ol' Florida, it's HOT (and also very busy). This is the boys' last week of school; clinic is in full-swing; classes are well underway; and the schedule is getting crazy. I'm 3 weeks away from finals for the Master's program. Schedule changes are tough. I'm still getting used to being in clinic and splitting my time between classes and working.

How was your Memorial Day weekend? Mine was SUPER low key. After Acupuncture on Saturday, I spent time with friends in Tampa, and Sunday and Monday were focused on reading, research, and recovery (the new 3 R's). The Master's has me working on all kinds of stuff. I'm most fascinated, right now, with articles on lifestyle factors and inflammation. Dr. Seaman's classes really focused on some basics of inflammatory cytokines and the biochemistry of the food we eat and what it does to our body. Now I'm at a whole different level of learning with this, and it's REALLY cool. I'm discovering how the same set of cytokines, combined with other hormones use the foods we eat to make things even more complicated. How we think and feel about what's going on in our lives can lead to chronic inflammation, autoimmune disorders, and chronic disease. I'm so glad that I've chosen to study this for the rest of my life.

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Image Source: http://blogs.trb.com/news/opinion/chanlowe/blog/

Right now we have several classes on how we, as physicians, should interact with patients. Whether it's doctor-patient relationships, jurisprudence, or clinical natural medicine -- we're discussing everything from what we're responsible for ethically, to how patients (or potential employers) might perceive us. The latter topic has created a bit of a rift in my life. We were counseled to be careful how much of our personal life we allow the public to see -- specifically, our patients. Do we give patients our phone numbers? Do we friend them on Facebook? Do we give advice out in public? Do we share pictures of ourselves online? The idea behind it incites a lot of fear -- that we'll have stalkers, or share too much that can be used against us, or somehow lose patients because of things we do, say or show.

I don't like this at all. As alternative practitioners, I think we have a little bit more lee-way than others might. Some of us are into some unique areas of study. We are more touchy-feely, and that lends itself to a different type of interaction. They say that we're less likely to get sued because we tend to be more interactive with our patients. So, except for the stalkers, why would we want to withhold that information from those people in our lives every day? I guess it's something that we all have to think about. What do YOU think?

Have a great week everybody. As always, if you have any questions or comments, please feel free to contact me.

Update for the Week

It's raining again. It looks like the Florida winter might be over. Yeah, yeah, yeah. I know that for every other place in the country the weather has been a LOT worse than it has here. It's been, I think, the coldest winter that I've experienced since I've been here (since 2005). The crazy thing about living in Florida is that for about 5 months out of the year, it doesn't rain hardly at all. It's very, very dry (as far as rainfall goes). Of course, the humidity is still 5000%, but it doesn't rain. Come May/June it rains EVERY-SINGLE-DAY. Sometimes it only rains for 15 minutes in a day, sometimes all day, and sometimes for hours/the whole day. But it's fairly predictable.

So today, it's rained all day. And after all of the months of sun (even when it was cold), I find myself a little bit depressed. So, I went home and took my vitamin D. Vitamin D has been a buzz-study subject for a few years now. Running a quick search on Pubmed on "benefits of vitamin D," returns about 840 articles. But searching for just vitamin D yields over 58,000! Shortage of vitamin D has been linked to Multiple Sclerosis, Depression, Obesity, and Cancer. Whoa! So, what we're finding out is that the vast majority of people are deficient in vitamin D, ESPECIALLY here in Florida. For those of you coming out of a cold, cold winter up north -- I feel for you. I really do. You probably need some vitamin D too. Here's an article on Vitamin D and Depression from the Vitamin D Council. 

In other news, I have finals for the Master's in Nutrition and Functional Medicine this week: Nutritional Biochemistry -- which has been completely different than what I had at National; and also Clinical Nutrition, which has been completely different as well. I've been pleased that there's been some overlap with the information. And I have found that the background that I've received here at National has helped me with the master's at UWS. I've already registered for classes next quarter, there. I'm taking Immune Imbalances and Inflammation and the Botanical Medicine elective. I can't wait to see what shows up.

This next week brings last minute quizzes, papers, and presentations. I'm doing a presentation for PT on therapies for Raynaud's phenomenon (which I've had since I was a kid). I have yet to decide what I'm going to do my Botanical paper on. I'm leaning toward Oregon Grape Root -- but I may choose an adaptogen instead. I need to prep for a practical on knee rehab. No rest for the weary/wicked.

Some of my good friends and classmates are taking boards this weekend. Good Luck to them (and to you, if that's your weekend adventure). We have the weekend off from acupuncture, and I'll be visiting the Gluten Free for Life expo. If you're in the area, it's usually quite worth it.

Last year, Grey and I went and filled up bags and bags of gluten free goodies from vendors. I think we had GF snacks for months. I may have to find a partner in crime to go with me this time. Note to self: it's always better to go towards the END of the expo. Vendors are less worried about running out of supplies and visitors feel less guilty about taking a couple extra.

And lastly, I hope everybody had a GREAT St Patrick's Day. My granny, whose birthday was 3/17 (although I can't remember what year), would've been somewhere around 100 years old right about now. She's been gone quite some time. Little Irish woman, red hair and freckles -- was born on St Patrick's Day. Happy Birthday Granny -- whatever plane you're on.

Holiday Memories

I hope everyone had an amazing Thanksgiving!!!! I also want to take a moment to wish a Happy Chanukah to my friends that celebrate and also a Happy Holiday season!

This is my last blog of this year, and of this trimester. I wanted to thank all of you for reading over the year and spending your time with me.

I'm going to forego the tips and tricks for coping with finals -- we've been there, done that. I'm going to skip the recipes and healthy living tips. Instead, I'm going to share a story. ­

This is the time of year when I get the most nostalgic. I have a million wonderful memories of the holiday season. It's always been my favorite time of year. As a kid, I would spend hours untangling Christmas lights, decorating the house, and making random crafts and cookies. I don't even remember how old I was when all of that started.

Christmas was always a really special time for my dad and I. We're both still a lot like little kids, even now. My dad worked -- a LOT. He worked both as an RN and a CRNA almost my entire childhood, so he didn't have a lot of free time. We would often work in the garden, run random errands, or do special projects on Saturday mornings -- because that was one of the few times he didn't have to work. Those Saturday morning memories have always been very special to me.

I must have been maybe 8 or 10 years old the first time I remember us going to get the tree. Since I grew up in Central Illinois, it was often cold and snowy by the beginning of December. Like clockwork, the decorating started the first weekend of the month -- before that was too soon, after was too late. The boxes were pulled out of storage, having lain in wait the whole year for just this event. I'd dump garland and lights all over the living room floor and then carefully unpack each ornament. Each one always had a story -- whether it was hand made or store bought.

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(Image Source: stamp4fun.typepad.com)

It always seemed like the coldest day of the year when we would go search for our tree. My dad and I would bundle up in whatever big poufy coats we had, 4 pairs of socks, boots, and usually overalls (at least for him). Sometimes we'd let the dog (Tubbs, the wonder mutt) ride in the back of the pickup truck. I really don't know how he didn't freeze -- it seemed so cold. I don't remember what we'd talk about on the drive, but it must have been something like piano recitals or Christmas programs at school.

We drove to a Christmas tree farm out in the middle of nowhere (I think it was Meredosia, maybe Beardstown), pulling back into a field dotted with trees and cactus. Tucked back down a long driveway were a couple of barns, an old farmhouse like ours, and a bunch of tractors. We'd check in with the owner and he'd send us on our quest. We drove up and down the sandy roads (Christmas trees grow best in the sand -- or so he'd tell me), looking for the perfect tree.

Sometimes we remembered the saw, and sometimes we didn't. One year I remember cactus spines stuck in my socks, running nose, standing opposite my dad around a HUGE Christmas tree trying to convince ourselves that it wasn't too big. (It was -- but we got it anyway. It left a sap mark on the ceiling that stayed there for about 5 years. It also fell over, and we ended up with a 3-foot tall artificial tree at some point in the season. Incidentally -- it was beautiful while it lasted). We'd crawl under the tree, make our cut, and load it into the back of the pickup truck. The heat never seemed to work all that well on those days, but it didn't matter. We were triumphant.

The rest of the day was always a blur. There was usually a tree in a bucket of water, my brother and my dad carrying it into the house while I was on "needle patrol," and my mom was taking pictures of us all with her camera. By the end of the day it would all be done. Beautiful.

I want to wish you all great skill and fortune on your final exams, safe travels, and wonderful memories this holiday season.