Archive for tag: midterms

Taking a Good Look

Have you ever stared at something so long that it looks completely different? I do this with words. I think that's a new level of zoning out. Sometimes when I do this, it completely changes my perspective. Not all that often, mind you, but it does. Lately, I've been getting hit with a lot, that's been altering my perspective.


I've been spending a lot of time in downtown St. Petersburg. It's not as if I haven't lived here for 8+ years, and it's not as if I haven't been downtown nearly a million times. Because of friends living downtown, I'm seeing parts of it that I've never seen before. I'm always amazed at what exists, right under my nose -- but I just haven't taken the time to see it. So now, it's starting to look completely different.

Like many downtowns across the country, ours has had its moments. There were department stores downtown, factories, big business. I've always wanted to research some of the buildings downtown, especially the Studebaker Building, which I used to drive by nearly every day when I lived on the other side of town. And then there's the nation's first open-air post office, which, honestly -- these pictures don't do justice. The inside of the post office reminds me of old time banks and Westerns -- loaded with beautifully stained wood and remembrances of teller windows. Some of these buildings have been standing for a long, long time -- constructed not long after the turn of the century, which for this area is nearly ancient.

Also, like many downtowns, St. Pete seems to constantly undergo some form of revival. New places move in; old ones move out. Things get rebuilt or renovated, torn down, and new life comes in to change the look and feel of it all. The more time I spend down there, the more I like it. There are old bars and restaurants, beautiful scenery, and the old stately architecture. I've posted pictures of the banyan trees, the Dali and Mahaffey Theater, the Pier, and a few of the marina as well. I'm running out of time to explore here -- at least while I'm still at school. I've set a loose goal for myself, of visiting every building between Beach Drive and 34th street on Central Avenue. I wonder how close to that I can get with this crazy schedule.


We're in Week 10, which means midterms are over here at National, and I'm looking at finals for Western States. I can't believe how quickly things have passed. I keep going back and forth about jobs and locations and being excited about being out in practice and clinic and a million other things. I was forwarded a list of job openings all over the country, towards the end of last week. I couldn't help but look -- thinking that it was all very premature, and yet I'm being told that I SHOULD be looking right now. I'm still thinking it might be a little presumptuous.

And of course, this week I have to turn in a sample business plan. It's hard to anticipate things like that when you have no idea where you'll be. Of course, I could go anywhere. The question becomes where, and when, and how, and why. We've all talked about setting up our own practices -- well, most of us have. Some, I think, are planning on joining practices and others might just associate for a short period of time. When I thought I had a clear plan before, now I'm not so sure. Life sometimes gets in the way of plans. John Lennon said something like, "Life is what happens when you're busy making plans." For right now, I'm only making immediate plans, with the rest in the background.


Maybe I just need a change in perspective.

Happy Week 8 Everybody!

OK, I realize it's midterms and probably not that happy of a week, but remember--we're now over halfway done with this tri. At the very least, we're checking off boxes and meeting milestones. That alone, is an accomplishment. 

Also for those that just received board scores back, Congratulations. Just getting to this point is a HUGE accomplishment.

It's a big week down here for Tri 6. Those taking an elective (not me) have 6 exams. The rest of us have 5. Three of those exams are for different radiology courses--which are admittedly not my forte. Sometimes all the radiopaque and radiolucent areas look like blobs, swirls, and blurs, rather than tumors, cysts, and sclerosis. I'll do what I can. Sometimes that's all we can do. Do what we can and hope for the best. Maybe by the end of my education, I'll be conditioned to be prepared for the amount of exams at midterms and finals. Right now though, it's still a shock. I would much rather have one exam a week. Wait. Let me think about that some more. Maybe not.

The master's program is going fairly well. There's a LOT of work, but I'm learning a tremendous amount. One of the most difficult tasks was trying to redesign and interpret the functional medicine tree--which basically outlines all the factors involved in considering a patient and their conditions. I ended up redrawing the entire tree and turning it into more of a schematic, adding a bunch of stuff in there. It's not pretty, but I'll include that here for your perusal. Let me know what you think. I'm definitely open to feedback. Did I leave anything out?

Astra Tree
(Click image for full size version.)

That's it from me. Good luck with midterms and everything else you have going on. We'll see you next week. You'll be fine. Everything's gonna be fine.

Greetings and Salutations

I'm writing to you all from a newly formatted laptop--not a new laptop, but a newly formatted one. I've spent a fair amount of the last week working on my computer. Today I finally gave up, in disgust, and recovered Windows. I'm still trying to get access to all of my old files (now my external hard drive isn't working). It's definitely Mercury in Retrograde!

Midterms are winding down. We have one more this week and then a "mid-term" exam next week as well. This week should prove to be interesting, given that we have the 4th off. I'm sure there will be cookouts and beach trips and fireworks of some sort.

Last week we had Botanical Medicine and Pharmacology. Boy, am I glad those are over! I'm still in Love with Botanical Medicine. I feel like I could never know too much. My hope is to do some more research on constituents to make sure none of the toxic ones get into my medicine. That's the thing with being your own pharmacist. Even though it's amazing to be able to make your own medicine, it comes with responsibility. Fortunately, for most herbs (not all--be careful!), the toxicity is low and it either takes a whole lot of herb to cause damage, or the toxic effects are minimal.

Saturday, Grey and I went to Downtown St. Pete for Pride! We have a number of friends in the LGBT community. It's been a tradition for the last 4 years for me to go, in support, and now Grey has been going for the last 2 years. We missed the parade due to rain, but we caught up with friends afterwards. I'm always impressed at how things go during Pride. Everyone comes out, and for the most part it's an extremely positive experience. I'm thinking that next year maybe the school should have a booth at the parade. I should probably talk to someone about that. There are a lot of health care vendors and educational booths there. It would be a great opportunity to expand our reach.


This week's picture is of my Mullein. Admittedly, I have been running like a mad crazy woman, since I moved into my place and I haven't planted anything else or set up my garden. I honestly have no idea when I'll have time (maybe I should work on that this weekend). But, the Mullein is flowering, and it's lovely. I'm excited!

Have a great 4th of July, everyone. Enjoy Independence and whatever that means for you!

Surviving Midterms

I'm not sure I can ever top last week's blog. Special thanks to my classmates for the inspiration. We're already talking about a follow-up.

Midterms are upon us and we are in the throes of studying. While many of us are pulling all-nighters (and some all-weekenders), I feel like I need to remind everyone how important sleep is. I have been suffering from insomnia--for weeks. I'm not one to spend a whole lot of time sleeping, normally--but ever since my move, I've been sleeping less and less. So, I thought I'd share some of my tips for working on sleep. Here we go (see, I put you to sleep already). 


Clear Your Space

This is the absolute most important tip I could give, and the one I've benefited most from myself. Make sure there's as little in the way as possible. Get rid of the clutter; get rid of the dirty clothes (I know there's no time for laundry--it's midterms!); get rid of anything in your space that isn't conducive to sleep. This includes workout equipment, study materials, etc. Granted, if the only space available is the bedroom, some concessions can be made. Cover it up. It also helps to remove the TV, if at all possible. 

Set the Mood

Make it dark--REALLY dark. I had way too much light coming into my space, so I acquired some light blocking curtains. I still see daylight in the morning, but at least I don't feel like I'm looking at the surface of the sun. Also, making sure the bed is the most comfy place to sleep in the house is key. The only place I was falling asleep, was the couch.

Set Up a Routine

Whatever it is, make a routine for going to bed. Brush the teeth, wash the face, turn on some chill-out music--whatever works to get calmed down. Try not to turn on the TV. Some people like to work out in the evening. I can't work out and sleep within a few hours of each other. If I'm going to go to the gym at night, it has to be before 8pm. Working out helps with energy during the day and also with sleep at night, but it's not a good idea right before bed. 


No snacking within a couple of hours of bed. It's bad for the metabolism and having sugar spikes when it's time to calm down is a no-go. Don't try to sleep within 2-3 hours of eating. 


Last but not least, if sleep is still a real struggle, there are some fantastic herbs that will help with sleeping. Some old standbys are catnip, chamomile, and valerian. Other than the chamomile (be careful those with ragweed allergies), I tend to avoid Catnip and Valerian. I avoid Catnip because I have to fight the cats for it, and Valerian because of the side effects. 

I made a nice herb/tonic with rhodiola (adaptogen for stress), lemon balm (nervine, sedative), and white peony (nervine, calming agent). It knocked me right out. It was just enough sedation and calming for me to have two doses and then it reset my clock, and now I'm sleeping better. I also didn't wake up with the "hangover" that Valerian is apt to give. 

Remember that sleep is extremely important for memory--especially good sleep. We need those four phases of sleep to be able to, not only replenish our bodies, but also our minds. 

So, until next week -- Happy Sleeping (and Studying).

Surviving Midterms and Exams

What do you do when you haven't seen daylight for the last several days and have to take lovely pictures for the blog? You take them of your back "yard." If I look out my patio door, this is what I see. Of course, I never look out my patio door. I never even go out my patio door. But today, I did--so I could take some lovely pictures for all of you. 


It's time for midterms. It's REALLY time for midterms. Now is the time, not only for studying, but also for making sure we take care of ourselves. Different tris have different schedules. I know I've mentioned some of our heinous exam schedules before. This midterm schedule isn't too bad, but that doesn't mean it won't be difficult. 

For the last, I don't know how many days, I've been studying and working on E&M: Cervical notes. I'm already on my third pass of them, and I still don't feel like I know anything. This is how it goes when there's a HUGE amount of information on one exam. It's easy to get discouraged. It's easy to get overwhelmed when it comes to exam times. It's REALLY easy to neglect the Self and the Body. 

So, with that in mind, I offer this bit of advice for midterms (and finals).

  • Rest.
    Only once has staying up all night worked to my benefit. I don't recommend it. At some point, the fatigue and brain fog overtakes anything that might have been learned. And while there's some debate as to whether the brain needs to sleep in order to process information, or whether the brain forgets things as we sleep - either way it doesn't work out. Don't do it.
  • Be careful of what enters the body.
    Admittedly, I drank a TON of coke during finals last tri. By the last final, I don't think I could fill in the bubbles on the scantron I was so wired. Caffeine is a stimulant that does help with some mental clarity, but once a certain blood level is achieved, it doesn't work anymore. Plus, all that corn syrup, phosphoric acid, and caramel coloring is definitely not good for the body. Just say no.
  • Keep your regular routines.
    For this first exam, I have eschewed the gym for studying. I wish I hadn't. Exercise improves brain function. It's proven. Besides feeling sluggish (or like a slug - not sure which one), I'm going to have to work THAT much harder to dig myself out of the hole I've dug over the last week. The 5 or so additional hours that I would've spent at the gym over the last week, would probably have helped me focus a whole lot better. Keep moving; it helps.
  • The important thing to remember about exams is that they're temporary.
    They are hurdles that we all have to cross to get from point A to point B, and in the grand scheme of Everything, they don't mean a whole lot. We do what we have to do. If you haven't heard this analogy a million times already, let me remind everyone out there in blog-land. This is a marathon - not a sprint, kids. We're in this for the long haul. I have faith in all of you.