Monthly Archives: February 2013

Rambling Thoughts on Saturday

Life in a Cubicle

                My medical school is integrating this new program into our curriculum where we are in groups of 4 along with a resident/attending and we go into the hospital and do a full history and physical exam on a real patient. I think it’s wonderful that they’re trying to lower the shell shock from pure classroom learning to pure patient interaction. Getting to put on my white coat and interact with a real patient is a great reminder that what we’re doing these first two years really is important. For example – today I read a patient’s med list (with 18 different meds) and whereas a year ago I wouldn’t have been able to tell you anything, I could now say what every drug was for and (mostly) how or why it works. It is validation that I’m actually learning!

A full Review of Systems

                So while studying in a cubicle in the library all by yourself for 8 hours a day may seem unduly harsh at times, when we get a glimpse into the future it all seems worth it! I was also recently reminded of something  – that these lives that are going to be in our hands is a huge responsibility. I mean, that seems obvious. But it’s not just their life, it’s also their fears and goals, and their families’ lives. Every patient we will someday treat has people in their lives who will be affected by their illness and we have the power to determine their perception of medicine for the rest of their lives. Will we make that a positive encounter? I sure hope so. I know that death is inevitable as a doctor and that I won’t be able to save every life. But I also know that doesn’t mean there’s no after effects on their family and even myself and I hope that always remains a forethought and that I can do everything in my power to help not only my patients, but their families as well. [A little bit of time spent in the hospital, and I’m a little less cynical and the enormity of my future responsibilities causes me to really appreciate being chosen for this career path.]

What I feel I should wear some days

                In my other world…BJJ. I’ve realized lately that I’ve been my very usual harsh self in critiquing myself. It’s easy in medical school (or school in general) to know when you’ve EARNED a grade or an acceptance or whatever it may be because there is quantitative proof. It’s nearly impossible for me to accept progress without such statistics which is why I think I’ve trapped myself into thinking the worst about my jiu jitsu and feeling that I’m not where I should be or worse than I probably am. And then conversations like this happen: [insert name of new guy] “you really surprised me”. Actually, I don’t think it’s necessarily a compliment for me –  I think it’s a compliment to every single person at my academy who has worked so hard to make me better. I feel SO lucky that I get to regularly train with all of the upper belts and that their patience and continued helpfulness has caused me to get to where I am today. So maybe I should start listening to people who tell me that I am improving and stop holding myself back with my own negative thoughts. Guess that goes back to my post about fear dictating my life. Hmm. Side note – I also have reverted back into my “spazzy” whitebelt phase – I’ve got to chill out (I feel like I should wear this rashguard). It’s probably because Chicago is so close and I’m *mildly* freaking out.

                Tonight is the first women’s fight in the UFC and that’s a giant step forward for women’s equality in sports. In a sport that has been so male-driven, full of testosterone and alpha-males, it’s awesome that women are not only being incorporated – they’re the main event! It’s so important to have role models in life whether it’s your mother or your favorite sports figure – and with all the rising black belt women in BJJ and now professional women fighters in the UFC hopefully it inspires more women to join us in these amazing sports! So to all the women who came before me who inspired women to be more and do more – thank you. Thank you for paving the way so that I never once felt like I couldn’t be a doctor or couldn’t participate in sports or that because I was a woman I had limitations on my dreams.
13 days until my next path/physio/pharm exam on the respiratory & nervous systems.
14 days until Chicago.

These next 2 weeks are going to be full of pushing myself hard both mentally and physically, but I’m ready and I’m actually excited. [And if anyone is willing to bring me coffee in the next 2 weeks, I would be extremely grateful!]

Some Days You’re the Bug

I’ll let you in on a little secret – some days are rough. I’ve always liked the saying Some days you’re the bug, and some days you’re the windshield. And I know that’s okay. We’re all allowed to have “bad” days every once in a while, you just can’t let that define you week or your month or even your life. Today I had one of those not so great days. I think it’s an accumulation of lots of little things that I’ve just been putting toward the back of my mind – I’m stressed about medschool, I’m stressed about step 1, a friend is moving away, I haven’t talked to my college best friend in months, I’m tired, I feel like I’m in a BJJ slump, med school feels isolating, etc. etc. And I may have eaten WAY too much sugar/drank WAY too much coffee today and had a major crash right around the time BJJ open mat started. Bad timing.

 I could not physically get myself to walk onto the mat tonight. I just felt like the weight of the world was on my shoulders and for the first time in a really long time it was abundantly clear to me that I was the only girl there. I just needed someone to understand that I was being a little overly-emotional but that it was OK. And I really do appreciate and respect and genuinely like the guys at my academy [I do love that I’ve been fully accepted and don’t feel like being a girl sets me back in my BJJ]– but there are times when you just really need a girl because telling a guy you didn’t want to train because “I want to crawl under a blanket and eat pounds of chocolate” just isn’t going to fly. And yes, sometimes being a girl means that even though it’s irrational and you wish you could change it, you’re going to cry or binge eat anyway. So I didn’t train tonight because I felt like an outsider in my own academy. [Let me be ABUNDANTLY clear: it was nothing the guys at my academy did, they are incredibly supportive, it was just an irrational feeling]. I was really upset with myself the entire ride home, but luckily I have a strong supportive mother who told me to “suck it up, go back tomorrow, and prove to yourself that you do belong”. And that’s not her being harsh – that’s her awesome way of picking me back up and telling me not to let one bad day make me give up on BJJ. [Thank you.]

So that was my bad day. I will be back tomorrow at class, and I will train. You’ve just got to take life one day at a time. Today was rough – tomorrow will be better. 

To all the warriors out there who keep standing up every time they fall, remember that “Failure is not the falling down, but the staying down”.


Keep On Keeping On

My Daily Calendar

I had a strong theme last week and this week: routine. My days became incredibly predictable – wake up, make coffee, go to class, go to the library, go to jiu jitsu, go home and study, sleep, repeat. Now, I am usually a huge fan of a solid routine, but lately I wish I could shake it up a bit. Here’s what I’ve realized though – sometimes progress comes with a  bit of repetition. The best way to do well on a test? Study, study, and study some more. The best way to become better at jiu jitsu? Drill, drill, and drill some more. The best way to become a great runner (and I am doing a 5K soon) is to get out there every day and run. I know that having a routine is very typical for anyone whether you’re a student or you have an 8-5 job. Maybe I’m just missing the college life a bit now that June is looming (My Step 1 date is June 11… yeesh).

One thing I realized the other day is that you CAN in fact keep going even when you think you can’t. For example, I was 5 hours deep into respiratory physio and I genuinely thought I was going to pull my hair out (pulm is definitely not my favorite) but I grabbed some more coffee (if anyone has a way to cure my habit, please let me know) and refocused and went another 3 hours. Another example – the other day I very *poorly* tried to get into deep half guard and ended up failing miserably and was smothered instead. [For all my non BJJ readers… essentially your head gets mashed between a person’s torso and the mat and their gi is blocking all routes of air.] My brain kicked into high gear and said “you can’t breathe, you can’t move, this is miserable just quit”. I didn’t – I made sure to take slow breaths and waited for them to move to reposition myself. So what I’m trying to say is I’ve learned that even when your own mind tells you that you can’t do something – don’t listen! Because you can in fact study longer, train harder, run faster, and go that extra match.

So is the routine working? Am I pushing through when my brain says I can’t? …. My studying is coming along as well as it can be, and my jiu jitsu…well… hard to tell. I did finally learn what it means to pick up your intensity (turns out that’s been sorely missing from my game) thanks to a really great brown belt. So in addition to truly picking up the intensity of my game and actually working on attacking rather than defending, I’m also going to work on the “mental game” if you will. I was told I miss a lot because I simply fail to see it in the moment. I think that all has to do with the “survival mode” I’ve lived in for the last 7 months. Time to move away from the safety of just surviving and work on doing…well anything else.

There are only 24 days left until Chicago (and that means 23 before my next exam). So, as long as my routine continues to work that’s what I plan on sticking with. I’ve got big goals for the exam and the tournament!

So keep on studying, drilling, running, reading, and drinking coffee (:


SHOUT OUT to the newfound BJJ girls community in OH/MI/Canada (GirlZilian FemJitsu)! I’m excited to wake up every day to some great motivation from some awesome girls!

Taking the Fear Out of My Life

The best way to hold yourself accountable and to really change is to accept it, work hard at changing it, and have people who will support you in your efforts. So here it is.

I learned a HUGE life lesson recently – I have been letting fear run my life. I wish I was kidding, but I have actually become so afraid that the fear has at times paralyzed me. I’m not exactly sure when it started (heck, I might have been living my entire life based on fear) but I realized I’m ready to end it. I have shied away from things that I knew I wouldn’t succeed in (for example, I applied to 15 colleges I knew without a doubt I would be accepted to), I never tried out for teams I didn’t know for certain I would make, and I’ve never taken many risks. I’ve lived my life on a very straight path. Not that that’s been a bad thing – I have a great career in medicine ahead of me and overall never felt like I’ve missed out on anything. I really do feel blessed with the life that I’m currently living.

Not only was I afraid of failure, though. I’ve been afraid of disappointing others and myself, I’m afraid of other people’s opinions, I’m afraid of the unknown (and I’m definitely terrified of spiders!). I’ve never really been “excited” about something as much as I would fear it. And you know what? THAT IS CRAZY. So many choices I’ve made (or lack thereof) have been led by this insane desire to avoid something new or something “scary”, when all I’ve really done is held myself back.

So I am vowing to stop letting fear run my life. While that’s very easy to say, I know it’s going to be much harder to actually accomplish. But I’m hoping that by putting it on here I’ll have the support (and sometimes a harsh reminder or two) from all of you. I think it’s time I act more like a 23 year old and take chances and enjoy my life (no, mom and dad I will not run out and get a tattoo, I promise.). I appreciate that my parents and friends have not forced this lesson on me years ago, but have given me the opportunity to learn it on my own so that *hopefully* it will truly stick.

Just going to take small steps  that will hopefully lead me to live a life that I am in complete control of and not always afraid of the next step. After a recent decision, a friend asked me why I chose what was maybe the easier path. I really thought about it, did some soul searching and realized it all came down to “I was scared”. Scared of the changes that I thought it would bring and scared that I wasn’t ready to take that step. And never again will that be my answer when asked why I made a choice.

So here’s to not being afraid of truly experiencing and enjoying life – even though failures and disappointments may creep in – because you can’t enjoy truly appreciate all of the good things without truly understanding and experiencing the pitfalls. (Or, you can’t enjoy the rainbow without the storm).

[Special thanks to two really great people in my medschool class who convinced me that the truth, no matter how personal or what other people may think, is always worth sharing.]

Finished CV and the In-House Tournament

                I had quite the revelation last week at about hour 6 of day 3 into my study marathon … it becomes much easier to do something when you enjoy it! That seems obvious. However, all of a sudden I looked at my watch and I had been at the library for 6 hours without realizing it. I really poured myself into studying – I was happy, I was learning a lot, and I ended up doing well on the exam – but more importantly I actually really understood and could apply the material. That was sort of huge for me and I’m excited to continue my new-found study happiness throughout the respiratory and nervous systems!

Sad to say, this is exactly what I looked like.
        My hard work during the week was rewarded with an in-house tournament on Saturday at our academy. It was run so smoothly and efficiently and I felt like it was over in the blink of an eye! The best thing about it was it was another chance to learn to control that adrenaline surge that comes with competing. I am no stranger to being “on stage”  or competing – I was a dancer for 16 years, I played soccer and I ran track (I once even had a 100m hurdle run-off with one other girl at districts. Scary!) I am also plenty used to embarrassment – I have fallen in several different track meets, I knocked myself unconscious when I fell backwards during pole vault,  I had my fair share of “whiffs” during soccer, and I almost fell off stage a couple of times. There’s just something entirely different about a BJJ competition though that scares me more than any of that. And anyone who witnessed my first BJJ tournament can attest to the nerves I fell prey to (let’s just say a dead bug probably moved more than I did – embarrassing, I know).

RJJA In House Tournament

        Anyways, this time went much better. I, of course, still had excess amounts of adrenaline pumping through my body (for my medschool friends, epinephrine or that adrenergic agonist!) but one of my teammates told me to take deep breaths. [Side rant here… I know I’ve said plenty of times how much I love my team but they really are AWESOME. Here’s this scared little whitebelt and they all calmed me down, cheered me on, and were so proud when I won. It’s because of them that I felt confident and was able to do what they’ve all worked with me on!] There’s something so magical about jiu jitsu that you learn at tournaments – that sweep that you can’t catch on your teammates – it actually does work! It’s quite cool. Plus I learned what I need to work on, which is really good.

                So after a fun filled weekend of jiu jitsu and spending time with my family, we’re right back into it. This is going to be a very busy month! We have our next exam on March 8 on over 500 pages of notes (with 6 slides per page) and the very next day I will be competing in the Chicago open. So every day is going to be school, jiu jitsu, sleep, repeat. But I’m really excited for the challenge! And I’m hoping that between now and then I can figure out how to deal with all those adrenaline effects (maybe I should get a beta-blocker?).

My new comp gi!
AND… BONUS! My Hyperfly gi came in this weekend (: Can’t wait to wear it in Chicago! (for those of you keeping track, that is in fact 4 gis… yes. I have a problem.)

Mia Hamm (one of my favorite athletes) once said…
“If you don’t love what you do you won’t do it with much conviction or passion”.

In House

It’s a really good thing I love medicine and I love BJJ!