Saturday, December 3, 2016

Decor: Pine Cones

A couple of weeks ago I stopped by my local craft store to pick up some blank note cards.  While I've accumulated more Target "Dollar Spot" printed thank you cards than I'd like to admit, they felt inappropriate and too girly for my male preceptors on Internal Medicine.  To make a long story short, a trip for plain thank you cards turned into leaving with two bags of scented pine cones, and I'm convinced that other than a Christmas tree, they're the only other holiday decor you need.  I picked up two bags for a total of $5 (they were 50% off) and immediately dumped them into a basket I already had from Ikea.  When I wake and come home, my place is filled with the best smelling, seasonal aroma.  It's been almost three weeks now, and the scent is still going strong, better than any spray or candle I've ever smelled.  If you're not big on decorating or are working with a limited budget, pine cones are an inexpensive seasonal accent that is also multipurpose.  You can simply drop them in a basket like I did.  Closer to Christmas or New Years dinner, you can transition them to your table settings or center piece.  They're also neutral, so they go with everything.  Depending on how much time and energy you have, there are many other uses for them.  With all the "newness," sparkle and shine of the holiday season, it's nice to bring in some natural elements, sweet reminders of the beauty in the old, change, growth, and new seasons.

What are some of your favorite holiday decor tips and accents?


Wednesday, November 30, 2016

5 Tips and Tools for Mastering the EKG

med student ekg guide, essential guide for learning ekgs

As a third year medical student I've learned that (1) mastery comes from experience and practice (2) if you take a systematic approach, you're less likely to miss things (3) and understanding is more reliable than memory.  All of these lessons can be applied to anything, but I find them especially relevant to understanding and reading electrocardiograms better known as EKG or ECGs.

While I'm far from an expert on the subject, here are the best resources I've found for understanding and gathering information from this vital medical tool.  

(1)  I had an attending refer to this book simply as "Dubin," and I had no clue what he was talking about.  I think that shows just how little of it I read as a first year (even though I already had it on my book shelf!) and part of the reason cardiology and EKG reading were so challenging for me.  While I still haven't made it completely through the book just yet, Dubin breaks down every aspect of electrocardiogram tracings and their associated cardiovascular pathology into easy to digest explanations with lots of built in repetition and diagrams.  This is a great non-intimidating way to start understanding and reading EKG tracings. 

(2)  I recommend you follow-up  "Rapid Interpretation of EKGs," with this EKG library.  This is a great free resource from "Life in the Fast Lane" medical blog.  It includes an A-to-Z diagnosis list, explanation of basic terminology and principles, tons of examples, clinical cases, quizzes, and links to other print and online resources.  The website is also a great educational resource and includes critical care insights for many other topics, so be sure to bookmark it for future reference, especially if you're interested in emergency medicine.  

(3)  Ignore the official reading at the top of the EKG print out.  It's tempting to take a peak and then try to find the "ischemia" or "LV hypertrophy," but don't cheat yourself.  Be a little uncomfortable and a little wrong and miss a few things in the beginning.  That's ok.  That's how you learn.  Try to recognize the patterns in the waves on your own without bias.  The more experience you get doing it, the easier it will become.  I've searched all over and haven't been able to find another way.  It really is understanding what each part of the tracing is capturing and practice.

(4)  And finally calipers...because how else are you going to measure and compare intervals? You may even earn yourself an extra point if your attending asks for them.  Just make sure you're careful.  They have a safety cap, but they're super sharp and would probably leave a mean puncture wound; they're definitely not the kind of thing you want to forget in your bag walking through airport security!

(5)  Finally, for real this time, be patient with yourself.  I've seen many tracings that I thought were pathological but were actually normal, whether it be from artifact, misplaced leads, or just normal variation.  That's why it's extremely important to go back to basics and be systematic when you're reading them each and every time!  Good luck! 

Have you found any other tools or resources to help with understanding and reading EKGs? Leave them below! 

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Sunday's Best (11.27.16)

>>Here's a quick read that offers some good suggestions on how to get your day off to a great start.  My days usually begin with fighting sleep to read a devotion (I really like the ones from this app.), quick prayer, shower, and breakfast during my commute.  However, I'd like to be a bit more intentional and establish a morning routine that's a bit less rushed and includes at least a few minutes of physical activity.

>>I did very little Black Friday shopping; the little I did do was from my computer. After wanting to try out some Sorel snow boots for a while, I took advantage of a 40% off sale and decided to try these similar but much more budget friendly all weather boots from American Eagle.  Hopefully they fit!

>>I also ordered another satin lined cap, great for protecting your hair during sleep, cold weather, and "bad hair days."   

>>While I like the idea of these survival kits, I have a hard time getting myself to commit to the usual $20+ price tag.  I'll be adding a DIY attempt at creating one of these for a fraction of the cost to my "to-do" list for winter break.

>>Fox and Clover have a hilarious collection of doormats, and this one referencing the 90s hit would make a great gift for the friend in medicine, especially if their daily uniform prove otherwise.  This one referencing the Christmas classic, Home Alone, is my personal favorite. 

>>My favorite gifts are sentimental, useful or practical.  This gold wishbone keychain is just that.  It's something the recipent would definitely use everyday, and I love the subtle reminder to take chances.  Say yes to new adventures.

>>A sweet reminder today from a new friend to keep going.  You may not be where you want to be, but things are not as bad as you think.  "You are doing better than you think you are.  God is doing more than you think he is."

>> My third year of medical school seems to be zooming by, and I wouldn't mind it slowing down just a tiny bit.  I have three more weeks on my Cardiology elective rotation then I'll be completely finished with my Internal Medicine block.  I'm definitely looking forward to having my days free to do some reviewing and spend time with my family and boyfriend during Christmas break.  Until then I'll be preparing for my shelf exam and continuing my quest to master reading EKGs!

What were some of your favorite shopping finds this weekend?

In between posts, you can find me hanging out here ;-)

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Find Your Fitness

One of the things that kept me from getting back to blogging post-boards was a lack of balance.  In medicine it's so easy to get caught up in school and work that you lose sight of all the other aspects of life.  At the same time being in the hospital daily is the ultimate reminder of how important it is to at least take care of your health, especially when so many suffer with conditions that can be prevented with diet, exercise, and not smoking. 

I think part of the reason I've never been able to find a fitness program or routine that "sticks" is because I've always run after what I thought ideal fitness looked like.  I wanted to be the runner or yogi or weight lifting 'fit chick' I've seen in magazines, on Instagram, or online.  But, at the end of the day you have to find what works for you.  Sometimes it's hard not to compare, but their journey is their own.  Their results also didn't come overnight.  Be patient with yourself.  Be honest with yourself.  If you don't like running, don't force yourself to run.  If yoga doesn't get your adrenaline going, don't do it.  

Where to get started?
  • There are hundreds and thousands of free resources from YouTube to your cable provider (you likely already have access to "watch when you want" programming which often includes free exercise instructional videos).  
  • Don't forget about school or work.  At the very least most schools do have a gym with fitness classes.  
  • If you need a change of scenery or want to meet some new people get a membership or try out a class.  Many places offer the first class free to try (check Yelp for special deals and introductory promos). 
  • But if you're working on a tight budget, go for what you're already paying for.  In terms of convenience, homeworkouts are the best. 
  • Many neighborhoods also have public meet ups for things like running and yoga.  It's okay to need the community and accountability they can offer.  
For me the two best workouts I've ever had have been indoor rock climbing and a couple of kickboxing classes.  Since climbing isn't currently in my budget, I've been using PopSugar kickboxing videos, and I love it!  If you're looking for a simple, one stop full-body workout I highly recommend it.   

And if you're looking for a little inspo, check out these ladies on Instagram who inspire me to balance fitness and school/career! 

Resident Physician and Yogi: @shanny_do
Medical Student and Runner: @kelsey_robinson
Psychiatrist and Blogger @freudandfashion
Medical Student and Marathoner @medicineandmerlot 
Emergency Medicine Physician @dr.majestic_md
Medical Student and Lifter @prettystrongmed
Dermatology Resident and Blogger

And as always for a peak of what I'm up to in between posts, follow along on Instagram (@_inspirationele_)!


Sunday, October 9, 2016

Hello October

After several months off from blogging, I can't think of a better time to start back than during my birthday month.  These last few months have been filled with ups and downs, but I thank God for it all.  Looking forward to sharing bits of the last few months and all that's to come.  

Thanks for all of the support and following along, and welcome to my new readers! 

As always for a peak of what I'm up to in between posts, follow along on Instagram (@_inspirationele_) and Snapchat (@inspirationele1)!

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Boards & the Blogger

As you may know I'm well into my season of board preparation.  As a result I'm not blogging quite as frequently, though I plan to be back more regularly in less than two months.  Until then, here's a couple of interviews where you can learn more about my journey and get to know me a little better.

The first is from the Med Sisters Series from my friend Anum, fellow medical student and blogger.  The Med Sisters Series is a collection of interviews from women in medicine in different stages of their career, from premed to board certified physicians.  Be sure to subscribe to her blog so you don't miss them and give her a follow on Instagram.  You'll love her honesty and regular posts on the highs and lows of her medical journey.  The second interview is with the blog for admission service,

For all of you premeds or newly accepted students, check out my post 

And stay tuned for a special guest post next week on study tools, 
including a bunch I wish I used first year! 

As always for a peak of what I'm up to in between posts, follow along on Instagram (@_inspirationele_) and Snapchat (@inspirationele1)!


Monday, March 21, 2016

Life Lately: Challenge & Opportunity

It seems as if it's been ages since my last post. Since then I've finished up my last major course (neuroscience), a standardized patient exam, a short but sweet spring break, a case presentation, and begun my more intensive review for the first step of my national board exams.  While I still have a few short clinical courses to complete, preparing for this examination is definitely the next big thing.  Of course with it comes many emotions.  There's honestly been times over the past few months when getting up in the morning has been a struggle.  Even with tons of things to share, I couldn't even find the motivation for blogging.  As hard as it is to admit, I know it was in part due to anxiety over what's to come.  However, one thing I'm always reminded of is how I started.  And I started by faith.

The same faith that brought me through the MCAT, unemployment, a "failed" post-bacc, the MCAT again, employment, anatomy, the rest of first year and well into the second will see me through boards and beyond.  The point of this post is less to recap my last few weeks or take a trip down memory lane, but to share for anyone who needs it that your life changes when your outlook does.  Don't look at your next big challenge as an obstacle.  See it as the opportunity.  An opportunity to exceed expectations.  An opportunity to push yourself beyond your limits.  An opportunity for greater faith.  When you don't know how you'll make it remember why you started and how you started.  The process for whatever goals you have ahead won't be without it's challenges, without moments of fear or doubt; however, with the right attitude, diligence, consistency, self-care, and support you'll make it through just fine.  


Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Smoothie Tips

Smoothies are definitely one of my go-to breakfasts when I'm looking for something quick and filling.  Here's a few tips on how I save a little time and money by making them at home:

Frozen spinach.  Some might say fresh is best, however with my schedule I don't make time to go to the market every week.  There have also been times when the produce I did have went bad before I had a chance to use it.  One solution I have is to buy bags of frozen spinach.  I can usually get these for a $1 or less on sale, so I always stock up.  I've also found that the microwavable bags of spinach are usually frozen in little balls.  They double as ice without making the smoothies watery, and I get a serving of vegetables in before the day really begins.

Protein pack.  I've never liked the taste of yogurt by itself; however, Greek yogurt has become a must for me in smoothies.  With all the protein I can make it the entire morning without any snacks, making smoothies both filling and creamy.  While I only like peanut butter with apples, adding a tablespoon of a nut butter is another great way to add a bit of protein and "good fat." 

Ice trays.  These have definitely become a secret weapon.  Especially in the winter months when some of my favorite fruits aren't as available I came up with this little hack. When they're on sale I buy cans of peaches and pineapple in juice (not syrup) and freeze them in ice cubes.  This makes it super easy to portion out a few of each right along with the "spinach balls" and is a life saver when I don't have fresh fruit.  Because frozen fruits and veggies are flash-frozen at their peak ripeness, they're also just as good if you don't have fresh.  I also freeze bananas to prevent them from going bad before I have a chance to use them.  I just break them in half and wrap them in plastic wrap.  This also helps me to be mindful of servings sizes because while fruit is good for you the sugar adds up fast in smoothies and juices.

Get creative.  This might raise an eye brow or two but I've been known to drop a cup of apple sauce, fruit cup or even a dollop of sorbet in the blender when I'm running low on ingredients.  Again while fresh is best not all canned or packaged fruits are "bad," and sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do!

While this full size blender has been served me well for the last few years, I'm already a big fan of this new personal sized blender I picked up on sale from Target.  It takes up a lot less space and since the smoothie is blended in the travel cup there's no transfer.  It makes cleanup quick and easy, and the travel cups are sold separately if you want a spare.

Update: Get the NutriBullet over everything.  It's so much better.

What are some of your favorite smoothie tips and combinations?  I'd love to hear about your favorite breakfasts on-the-go!


Saturday, February 20, 2016

ootd: Layered Look

Statement Necklace (J.Crew) Sweater (Zara) Flannel (Old Navy) Utility Jacket (Old Navy)

I'm not particularly proud of my morning routine as of late, so I've been working on reestablishing some old habits, one of which is outfit planning.  Since I've been known to hit snooze multiple times, up to the point where I'm making it to class just in time, I've been going back to putting together multiple outfits for the week.  The above look wasn't one of them.  While in worked in theory, I just didn't feel comfortable in what I originally picked out for the day.  Does anyone else's style change depending on your mood?  I don't know what my mood was this day, but after what I originally planned just didn't work, I literally pulled together a bunch of things in a similar color palette, and voila!  I had a new combination with some old pieces that just somehow worked.  Bottom line: be flexible.  Most of us have plenty to wear, it just's a matter of going with the flow and not overthinking it.  If you can shop for staple pieces that you can mix and match, but at the end of the day just "work with what you got."

Here's a few of my fall staples:
Utility Jacket
Skinny Jeans
Blanket Scarf


Sunday, January 31, 2016

the 52 Lists Project

Journaling.  It's such a great way to clear your mind, reflect on experiences and lessons, and look back at different points in your life.  I'm the first to admit I've started and stopped many journals throughout the years.  Part because I have a great love for stationary and I love a fresh start, and part because with different seasons of life I think I needed it at some times more than others.  If you've ever felt like you've wanted to write or journal daily but didn't know quite where to start, this book is for you.  If you've ever found yourself disappointed for not keeping up with a journal, vowing to do so daily at the start of the year, only to drop off weeks later.  This book is for you.

I received the 52 Lists Project journal for Christmas, and I love how it encourages thought and writing with a prompt that you can start in any season or week of the year.  When it comes to seeing change in any area of our lives, I think for many people one of the hardest things is figuring out where and how to start, and how to pick things back up once you've stopped.  So often we put the wrong kinds of pressure on ourselves, getting intimidated by or discouraged when we don't keep up with our goals perfectly.  That's the what I like most about this little book: it takes off some of the pressure.  It helps you get started right where you are, anywhere, at anytime simply by writing a list.

"List the things that make you feel powerful."
"List the wildest things you want to try."  

"List the qualities you admire in others."  

"List the things you want to add to your life."    

These lists are followed by "Take Action" statements: challenges that nudge you to take that little list a bit further and explore how you can channel those thoughts, feelings, and ideas into tangible experiences and changes in your life.

A month into the year, you may be still riding high from the excitement of the fresh start.  Or maybe you've already grown discouraged or even complacent in certain areas in your life.  The change you want to see will always come from you, but if you need a little encouragement, a little inspiration you just may find it starting with one of these lists.

Sometimes I think we can get so consumed with what we want to add to our lives whether it be things, people, or experiences; however, getting rid of things you don't need, ending certain relationships, or breaking unproductive habits can be just as effective.  I haven't gotten too far so it may or may not already be in the book, but when you have the time "List the things you want to remove from your life."    

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Recipe // Cookie Butter

Chicken curry and cookie butter.  This sounds like the most unlikely pairing, but I guarantee you they have something in common.  Cream.  A big fan of cookie butter, but not the Speculoos cookie itself, I was ecstatic to stumble across this recipe for this classic, making use of a box of old cookies and some leftover cream in the process (I was trying out a curry recipe that called for cream.)

A box of Speculoos 
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
1/4 cup of half-and-half

Now, you'll notice I made a few substitutions based on the ingredients I actually had: Speculoos instead of the Biscotti, dark brown sugar instead of packed brown sugar (what's the difference anyway?), and half-and-half instead of heavy cream because it was less expensive and less fat.  However, given all those switches and being quite familiar with the original cookie butter taste, I'd say this recipe came pretty darn close.  I basically just blended everything together in a food processor starting with the cookies and added the other two ingredients in sequence.  You may also need to add a splash more cream to achieve your desired thickness.  While I'll continue buying the Trader Joe's original since I won't be buying any more of the cookies to make it, it's definitely something fun to try if you have the ingredients on hand.  At the same time, the recipe is so simple that I think it's worth trying again with different types of cookies to come up with some new flavors.

What are some of your favorite snack spreads?  
Try any other brands or flavors of cookie butter? 

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Sweet Sixteen

Last year I shared some of my goals and areas of focus for 2015.  Now that we're well into 2016, I wanted to revisit a few of these things before the month is over.

Work: "Time management and active studying...Becoming a better student"
Yes, the rumors are true.  Medical school is a full time job, with overtime and sometimes holidays; however, I'm here (just like all those who've come before me) to say that it can be done.  My experiences first and second year have been like night and day.  My first year was very much a struggle until the end, but by the grace of God I made it through and have been going strong since I started second year.  I'm involved in a few organizations, doing some volunteer work that I'm really proud of, and doing fairly well in my courses.  While I still have boards and much more work ahead of me, it's a great feeling to look back at how far I've come.  It really motivates me to continue on this path and learn all I can, not for scores or exams, but so I can fulfill the responsibility I have to my future patients.  Changing my mindset and my way of studying (which I continue to adjust) was definitely a huge part of this, so I'll be sharing more about this in future posts as I continue to learn and adapt.

Serve: "Opportunities to help other people...promoting health...prevention..."
From volunteering as a health coach to mentoring to working as a health advocate, I've done much more in this area than I could have ever imagined.   During my first year of school, I definitely had opportunities to help others; however, due to my own struggles, I often felt I had little to offer.  I felt as though I had no time to spare for anyone else.  How could I help others, when I could barely help myself?  But, one thing this past year has definitely taught me is the importance of starting where you're at.  You don't have to be perfect, or have it all together (I still don't, no one does!) to help someone else, to make a difference.  Even with your failures, your inadequacies, you still have something to offer.  Giving of yourself to support others helps you keep your own life and struggles in perspective.  I like to believe I end up learning much more from these experiences than I give.  It's also motivating.  Your success is not for yourself, so neither is your struggle.    

Style.  "Building and remixing my wardrobe...weekly outfit existing pieces."  I've done a bit of them all.  Now I'm more interested in editing my wardrobe down to the basics.  A simple, cohesive wardrobe of quality pieces that fit well and work well with each other, with little to no thought at all.  I'll be getting back to outfit posts as soon as I figure out how to work my self timer.  More of my favorite pieces, styling tips and ideas to come. 

Blog: "Post more regularly."  This one goes back to time management.  Especially during my first year, I found it difficult to allow myself to blog at times when I was 1-2 days behind in lectures or had an upcoming exam or practical.  At the same time, I had to give myself that freedom from time to time as an outlet from all the stress of school.  While I didn't post on this space as often as I'd like too, Instagram did become a bit of a micro-blog for me to share bits of life and style.  It's also a place where I found support from fellow med students and just some pretty positive and inspiring women in general.  On that note, do check out the Med Sisters Series, birthed out of this awesome community.  I'm also in the process of figuring out Snapchat (@inspirationele1)!  Either way you can definitely expect more tips, advice, ideas, and inspiration so stick around!  If you're just joining in, hey! 


Two years ago I said 2014 would be my year to "flourish," and I did.  One year ago I said 2015 would be my year to be "fearless," and I overcame many.  As I progress towards board examinations and into my clinical education, this will be a year of shift, of new responsibility.  But, it will also be a time of celebration.  Learning more, reading more, creating more, giving more, and living more.  My "sweet '16."

Looking forward to diving back into this little space, sharing more and enjoying the community of it.  Follow along on the micro-blog for daily inspiration between posts. 

What are some of your goals and areas of focus for 2016?  With January nearly over what are some of the positive changes you've made?
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