Archive for tag: studying

Finding Time for Art

Happy belated Halloween! I think once Halloween has come and gone, fall has really shown itself and we're officially getting closer to winter. Winter's impending presence is evident around here; it has been in the 30s at night. Brrrr! We even had our first snow last week!

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First snow! Early morning on campus before classes began on Halloween day.

To celebrate Halloween this year, Hanzi and I went out to support the arts in Chicago. We saw a creepy opera put on by the Third Eye Theatre Ensemble called "The Medium." The show is about a woman named Madame Flora who scams customers by putting on fake séances with the help of her daughter and a "deaf and dumb" boy she has taken under her wing. When Madame Flora feels icy cold hands grab her around the neck at one of her séances, she gets terribly scared, admits her dishonesty and tries to give the people their money back. But the couple and the mother who have been coming to her séances to speak with their deceased children are convinced that Madame Flora has truly helped them to connect with their lost loved ones, and they fight her on her claims. Her customers say they know the voice and the laugh of their dead children and she must continue to help them connect with their dead!

The story is lots of fun and this particular show was put on in a black box theater, with two rows of seats along two of the walls. It was incredibly cool to feel that we were participants in the events taking place in Madame Flora's parlor.

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I left this little rhyme outside our door incase we had any trick-or-treaters come by while we were out.

It is really very easy to forget our creative side when we are so busy with school, but taking the time to either make art or appreciate it brings me so much more alive! This is something I speak with my other student friends about often; when we're really dragging we encourage each other to go create something or find something artistic to enjoy. The experience of using the other half of our brains seems to really help put everything back in balance!

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On the set of "The Medium"
(Photo credit: hanzi d. - www.hanzid.com)

After the Halloween show, as Hanzi and I hustled through the freezing rain back to our car, we had to make a stop at a bookstore called Myopic Books. It was 10:15 p.m. and the glowing red 'OPEN' sign in the window was intriguing. The place was packed with books from floor to ceiling, some narrow shelves constructed from raw 2x4s made for several narrow halls and fantastic browsing. The whole place was 3 stories, and packed with used books! I bee-lined to the third floor and parked myself in front of the alternative health section. Our spur-of-the-moment stop at this shop was totally worth it; I found a copy of "Women's Encyclopedia of Natural Health" by Tori Hudson, ND, know as THE women's health doc in naturopathic circles. And it cost me less than 10 bucks! There were signs inside the store asking us to not take photographs, so I had Hanzi snap this shot of me outside on our way out. The blustery, seriously chilly night combined with the red light in the window made for an appropriately spooky setting!

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My fab bookstore find! On Halloween night at Myopic Books in Wicker Park.
(Photo credit: hanzi d. - www.hanzid.com)

After our artsy and interesting Halloween night, I am inspired to seek out artistic endeavors in the midst of my studying. Maybe I'll doodle when I'm losing focus in class, or maybe I'll take more creative pictures on my short walks between buildings on campus. I do really love to patronize the arts; this is perhaps the best use of my time (and money), as I don't really trust myself to find time to follow through on my own creative projects in the midst of med school. Now that I think about it, I have been getting more exposure to the arts... Just last week Hanzi and I went to a show at Cole's Bar in Logan Square where several hard-rocking local Chicago punk bands covered other awesome bands like Led Zeppelin (my absolute favorite!), Bikini Kill, and LCD Soundsystem. It was such a treat to lose myself in the music, all the while surrounded by people who sought out this show to do the same exact thing.

If I can't enjoy and create art on a regular basis right now because I am too busy studying medicine, I can at the very least let the little exposure that I do get to the arts fuel my studying. I'm writing this on Sunday, and am feeling totally ready to sit down and dig in to my Phys Dx lectures in preparation for this week's exam. I realize that I've had a good fill of art lately, and it would serve me well to remember, over the next year or so of school, how it truly helps to balance my brain.

The Unbeautiful

All this talk of having found my path in life, the indications that I am "doing the right thing," the gallantry of studying medicine outside of our current paradigm, all the fun being had outside of class, and I forget to show you the unbecoming parts. Isn't that one of the major faults of social media? We share the beautiful pictures, post the good news, write the meaningful stuff.... But a capacity for occasional self-deprecation is pretty important; we're all fallible, and the journey is not always beautiful.

My grades this tri haven't been as satisfying as previous ones. I feel I haven't studied as regularly as I should (maybe the trappings of summer have something to do with it). A few weeks ago I crammed my preparation for a sim-patient and she called me out on it. I rushed through the prep because this was just a practice session; I would not receive a grade for it. To save time and energy when I wrote the instructions for my patient, I used medical abbreviations few non-doctors understand. In our review of my encounter, my sim-patient pointed this out and I responded honestly--I told her I'd banged it out during the boring lecture before this, and knew full well I shouldn't have used those abbreviations, but I did it anyways. She reminded me of the NUHS motto: "Esse Quam Videri" (which means "To be, rather than to seem to be.") Oops, lesson learned.

As for the whole life-outside-the-classroom part, my bathroom gets cleaned only when I can't stand it anymore, same goes for the kitchen. Laundry piles up around our apartment and coffee mugs cluster on any free surface in the living room (especially during midterms and finals)! Cleaning out the fridge recently was terrible; eating healthy food doesn't excuse you from the misery that results from neglecting to toss last month's leftovers. I don't think I've vacuumed my car since I drove it from California two years ago. When my mom came to visit and saw my kitchen sink full of dirty dishes she told me its OK to be messy because I am a busy student. That's some consolation, I guess. Also, last night I had ice cream for dinner because... forget it, no excuses, I just did.

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I wasn't kidding about ice cream for dinner...(cherry with chocolate sprinkles)!

I constantly talk about all the things I'm going to do once I'm a doctor. And I don't mean the type of practice I'm going to create and the type of patients I'm going to attract. What occupies my thoughts is what I'm going to do with my time once I've passed that last exam. I talk about the music festivals I'm going to attend, the dinners I'm going to cook, the books I'm going to read. I have visions of a clean home and cooking with pricey ingredients like lamb and wild-caught fish. I also have this funny feeling that these aspirations are going to continue forever; I'll probably always know I'm going to do something wonderful just as soon as I finish with... [fill in the blank]. (Speaking of unbecoming, there are at least 16 I's in this paragraph.)

I want future students who read my blog to think; I want that! They should think, my life as a student will be glorious! It will have meaning! I will have purpose! It will; you will. But...life will also likely fall apart in a few ways. You will have to push yourself to make time to catch up with your best friends because, well, you're so tired and you could be napping instead. Your family will have Sunday dinners and cookouts together while you sit grumbling at your desk, memorizing facts for tomorrow's exam on the bacteria that's potentially growing in their potato salad.

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My desk strewn with papers...studying is rarely a photogenic event.

Or, there's always that realization that instead of keeping up with your laundry, you could be sitting still doing nothing for a moment. You could just sit and listen to no one, memorize nothing, share no emotion. I've come to appreciate even more the precious moments of alone time without my books, without anyone to talk to, or smile at, or try to understand. Interactions with people are ultimately what keep me going, but in this messy life of a medical student I am so thankful for Saturday afternoons like this one--home alone amid my mess, writing about the unbeautiful parts and bowing to reality.

Study and Stretch

OK, it finally feels like summer in Chicago! The weather is warm and I am officially finding it harder and harder to buckle down to study. Ideally, I would study outdoors, but there is some material that really just requires a white board for drawing and some "rain sounds" in my headphones in order to get it to stick (there's an app called "Rain, Rain" that I swear by).

My first midterms begin this week and I'll admit, they snuck up on me! As per my last post, spending a little time away from the books is important, but allocating that time wisely is also vital. This week will be one of those where I must tactfully ask my boyfriend to cook me dinner every night as I play some catch-up and prepare for exams.

One of the perks of studying at National alongside chiropractic students is that we get to hear stories from the field from our chiropractor professors. This week, Dr. Humphreys (who teaches Neurology) shared with us his experience of testifying in a court case for the defendant, a chiropractor and graduate of NUHS. The whole process was time consuming and ultimately successful. It is hard to face this reality, but our medicine is sometimes misunderstood. Luckily, our medicine is wise, with research to support it, and proper education and communication with the public and the conventional medical world pays off. I am thankful that we have access to the workings of the clinical world through our professors' stories, and that they are willing to share their experiences, both positive and challenging.

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On a lighter note, I visited the garden again on Friday and this time got to reap the benefits of being a regular! Here is a picture of me in the midst of digging up some mint (Mentha piperita, I think) and lemon balm (Melissa officinalis) to plant at home. I also contributed a little time to pulling weeds before I headed home for the weekend. 

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This past weekend was busy -- full of studying for Monday's cardio exam and some playing, too. My friend Allison (a yoga teacher and fellow student in the ND program) and I met downtown at Grant Park for Wanderlust in the City, a free yoga festival that happens once a year in Chicago. We both loved doing yoga outside with hundreds of other Chicago yogis! One phrase I habitually use at the end of my yoga practice is "Kind thoughts, kind words, kind intentions."

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So, in the spirit of this phrase, I aim to tackle the start of midterms and this busy week by thinking, speaking, and intending positivity and grace in the midst of heightened stress. Being kind to ourselves during our most stressful times is so very important.

Make Time for Fun

Happy Post-Memorial Day! I had an exciting week and weekend. Week 3 of the trimester meant 3 quizzes to test our recall of information covered thus far, and also a review of some basic science information. I am still figuring out how to study for this new phase of my education because we are building upon an already-laid foundation. For example, we are learning to understand EKGs in my Cardiology class, and the process cannot be separated from reviewing the anatomy and physiology of the heart. As you know, I am also studying for boards and reviewing for class is a welcome parallel.

I stayed busy outside of class by coaching lacrosse on two beautiful evenings this week. Spending the time to engage with my community is made even better by doing so outside. My beginner team is finally starting to understand the game and ask good questions, how satisfying! I also attended the wedding of a college friend and her awesome fiancé over the weekend. It was such a treat to catch up with college friends I rarely see or haven't seen in 4 years! I took the time to play tourist in the city and lounge on the beach with old friends; so refreshing!

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The highlight of my week at school was my Friday lunch date with my group of ND student friends. Most of my buddies that I started the program with last January have taken the flex track, while I have stayed on the full track of coursework. This means that I no longer have classes with my best friends here at National. Thankfully, my closest friends don't let my absence from their classes affect our friendship, and we all make the effort to spend lunchtime together throughout the week. Yeah, we eat our lunches in good company, but we also play together! Above is a picture of this week's group effort; Allison and Miranda make the base while I form the wheel on top! We couldn't have done this without 3 spotters (JheriAnne, Kate, and Mia) and the photographer (John.) 

What's the moral to this week's story? Take the time to play, explore off campus, and get some sun in the midst of all the classes and studying; it is so nurturing, and definitely helps me to love this process of becoming an ND.