Thursday, August 17, 2017


Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Life Lately: All the Emotions of Fourth Year

Happy.  Tired.  Thankful.  That pretty much sums up my experience as a fourth-year medical student so far.  It's one step closer to the beginning of my formal medical training, and despite the responsibility that lies ahead I'm happy to know my time in school is finally coming to an end.  Without class or the chase of an exam every month, it's been great to re-embrace old hobbies and spend more time with family and friends.   

I've also been a little tired lately.  I'm sure a large part of this is from the stress of the residency application process.  At this point everything is ready, and all I can do is wait.  Between taking my second board exam during my emergency medicine rotation and varying elective schedules, I've also yet to settle into a new personal schedule.  I've said this before about the third year, but as a fourth year, I find myself in the same position constantly adjusting to a new system and work day every few weeks.  However, I also know that I'll have a bit more energy once I get myself back into a routine that includes regular physical activity and self-care balanced with the things I want to learn and review.  It's important to rest, but it's also important to use this time wisely to develop good habits, read and study topics in depth while I can before I have an intern schedule.  At times I feel like I have a lot more time on my hands, but the reality is I don't.  I'm still very much a student, and there is still plenty for me to review on a daily basis.

While there is much work ahead of me as I apply for a position as a training physician, it's also amazing to think of how far I've come.  When I consider my journey and the past three years and the years leading up to them, I can't help but keep it all in perspective.  I can't help but be grateful for making it this far along and think of the blessing of where I am.     

I started this blog years ago when I worked in research as an outlet for some of the things I enjoy: writing, photography, crafting, style, and decor; over the years I've shared tiny bits of my life, my med student journey, and things I've tried, visited and learned along the way.  As I continue to define what this space is and where my voice is best used, my hope is always that there is something here that can help someone else whether it be one or thousands.  For those who have been reading for some time and for more recent visitors, what kinds of things are you interested in reading about?  Is there anything you'd like to know from a non-traditional medical student in her last year?  How to dig yourself out of struggle and overcome challenges?  Balancing school and relationships, especially long distance?  Practical living, creating, and defining personal style in a very consumer driven world?  Please don't hesitate to let me know what you think via email at or comment below!           


Friday, June 30, 2017

What to Do Post Exam

As relieving as it is to be finished with an exam after weeks to months of study it always seems to leave me with a bit of restlessness.  I just never know what to do with myself, especially after my last two board exams.   Ever been there?  You finally have the freedom to do all the things you want to do, to attend to those "to-do's" you acquire in the days leading up to the exam.  At the same time, you don't quite have the energy to execute them.  Even worse for me, I never know where to start.  I often hear people talking about how they'll catch up on sleep; however, I have the exact opposite problem.  I don't know if it's adrenaline or anxiety, but I find myself staying up until early morning unable to go to sleep but getting nothing done during that time.  If you've ever found yourself in a similar position, here are a few things to try:

Post exam ritual.  I know some use this time to catch up on sleep (lucky you!).  I know others who get a manicure/pedicure or go out with friends later that day.  My first two years of medical school, my ritual was to go to Target followed by lunch at Chipotle.  Many times I didn't even buy anything, but in retrospect, this was something I did consistently after every exam.  I definitely would have considered this wandering without anything to buy to be a waste of time pre-exam, but reflecting on this habit I realize it became my way of decompressing.  It gave me something to do that allowed my brain to rest.  It also gave me something to look forward to post exam.  I rarely eat out, in part to save but I also really enjoy cooking, so the overstuffed burrito (with chips!) was a quick and easy way to fuel back up.

Get physical.  For most people, studying is a very sedentary activity.  Follow weeks of this with a 2 or 9 hour exam, and your body has probably been in the same position for quite some time.  I'm sure the hour I spent wandering around Target fulfilled this purpose, but I suggest doing something physical to get rid of some of that nervous energy.  Go the gym, take a class, go for a wall.  Do something to get your body moving.  Had I taken this advice and done something a bit more aerobic, maybe I would have been tired enough to fall asleep at a decent time!

Allow yourself to rest.  It's so easy to feel guilty about the time spent not studying or being "productive" to further your goals or career, but it's so important to rest, especially post exam!  You can't work on an empty tank, so whatever rest looks like for you (sleep, binge watching a new show on Netflix) take it, and don't feel bad about it!

And for balance...

Don't... replay the exam over and over in your mind.  Don't discuss the exam (some exams actually forbid this), but either way.  At this point there's nothing you can do about the outcome.  There's no need making assumptions about how well you scored.  Don't cheat yourself out of future and present joy by worrying about your answers.  Don't beat yourself up about changing an answer (though don't do this!).  Don't look up answers. You might tell yourself you'd rather know the correct answer for the future, but unless you're taking a standardized exam you can always go back later to at least look at the question to see the correct answer then.  I've tormented myself by stressing over the couple of wrong questions I remembered only to find that I did well overall.  Knowing whether or not you got a couple of questions correct now may not make much of a difference anyway.


Monday, June 19, 2017

Beyond Fear and the Year

Trying out the bullet journal system with this notebook + some recreational reading to get the creative juices flowing.

It's amazing how fast my third year went by.  As exciting as it is, there's a little part of me that wasn't too excited about fourth year and all the new expectations, change, and uncertainty.  However, now that I'm through with my last core rotation and just weeks away from electives I find myself getting excited again.  In less than two weeks I'll be finished with Level 2 and my last shelf exam.  While I still have to take the clinical skills portion of the medical board exam, it's such a great feeling to know that aside from any assigned readings, my free time can be spent reading and studying the topics of my choice.  It will be so refreshing to be able to study without the pressure of knowing there's an exam four weeks away.  I'm also looking forward to picking up my recreational reading and hobbies again.  While I've managed to express bits of my creativity through cooking (a necessity) amd a few small projects here and there, I do feel like this part of me has taken one of the greatest hits over the last few years.  Balance and self care is something that has been a challenge for me and continues to be something I work on daily, but I'm glad I'll have a little more time to spend in this area.  That being said the rest of the year certaintly won't be a vacation.  In less than a month I'll be submitting my residency application, followed by "auditions" and interviews; however, compared to the constant adjustment to different specialties of third year, it will be nice to spend most of the year focusing on management as a future family physician.  That being said, with this specialty you pretty much have to be in touch with all of the specialties; however, I'm looking forward to taking what I can from my electives in other areas to best serve my future patients.

I'm also looking forward to sharing my experience and tips for each core rotation as well as more wedding guides and updates, so stick around!

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

inspiration (wedding): the Photographer

Few of the things purchased for weddings last beyond the big day. With this in mind, finding the right photographer to capture the day in photos we can keep and display for years was a critical part of our planning.  With our schedules and for the sake of our sanity, we figured out what we wanted upfront and didn’t spend a lot of time making the decision.  That being said, our decision was well thought out. A dozen emails, a meeting, and a phone call later we found “the one,” and I couldn’t be happier.  Here are some tips from what we learned in the process:

What To Do

Ask around.  Your friends and family may have some good suggestions. If you know people on Facebook who've been married in the last few years, it's likely that they're even tagged in their photographer's work. This will give you an idea of what their finished product looks like with people you know.

Use online directories.  Initially our search started on the Knot.  After exhausting myself with the options there, I stumbled across Wedding Wire, where I found a few more photographers we hadn’t seen before including our photographer.

Give the novice a try.  There are tons of new photographers and artists looking to expand their portfolio and build on their work.  While this wasn't the approach for us, we have some friends who went with a recent art school grad for their videographer.  There's so much talent out there, and it's easier than ever to find with the internet and social media.  Especially if you're working with a limited budget, this is another way you may be able to cut some costs.  What they lack in experience they may make up in passion and enthusiasm for the opportunity.

Do your research.  We only spoke with two photographers before making our final choice.  The first time, we met with the photographer in person.  While his portfolio showed a lot of what we were looking for, there were several inconsistencies between things he told us over email, his FAQs, and what he said in person.  When I confronted him on one of these things he actually said, “Most people don’t even read the FAQs.”  Needless to say, he didn’t get the job.  On the other hand, the second photographer had everything we were looking for and more. This time we scheduled a conference call with him, and not only was he consistent, but he addressed concerns we didn’t even know we should have.  If very specific things are mentioned in email, ask the same general questions over the phone or in person to see if you get a different response.  

Read the fine details.  Don’t be afraid to question or request clarification for anything in the fine details before you pay a large sum of nonrefundable money.

Take a shotgun approach.  Email potential photographers in batches.  It might seem like it would make the process more overwhelming, but it will help you better compare packages and policies.  Many of the photographers we found don’t list their full prices and fees on their website.  So it’s helpful to collect several at a time to compare. Some photographers also mentioned things that others hadn’t; this helped guide our questions to our favorites from the bunch.  If you contact photographers this way, do make sure you reply back to each one once you've made a decision. Whether or not you're using their business be considerate of their time, and don't leave anyone hanging.

Stay organized.  If you didn’t already create a separate email for all wedding related correspondence, at least create a tag or folder to keep track of all the emails going back and forth.  Taking it a step further, if you’re using a Google account you can set up folders in Google Drive to keep track of all your contracts and receipts; I’ve even scanned a few paper receipts to keep everything together.  

What to Ask

Photo Rights.  We didn’t need absolute rights, but printing rights were nonnegotiable.  Most of the photographers we found offered this, but it varied.  Some provide a USB with high resolution files, others downloadable images from a private website, or a combination of the two, and another didn’t provide any at all.  We would have had to order every print or canvas directly from him within a finite time frame, literally leaving us access to nothing after that time.

Special offers.  Most offer packages and an occasional special offer, but don’t be afraid to ask if they don't.  Especially if you’re wedding is "off-season" like ours, use this to your advantage and seek out a package that works for you and the photographer.  

Recommendations.  Be sure to ask about videographers or other vendors (photo booth, lighting, DJs, etc.) your photographer has worked with in the past.  Whether it be a friend or just someone they’ve had a good experience with, it can help guide your search and save some time in other areas.

If you have any additional suggestions or tips from your experience, please share below.  It may be just the thing someone else is looking for! 

Monday, May 29, 2017

Life Lately: 5/29/17

May was filled with lots of fun moments.  I attended my first Kentucky Derby Party (DIY fascinator included), finished my last rotation of my third year of medical school, found our wedding photographer, and now I'm studying (more intensely that is) for the second in the series of medical board exams.  Time waits for no one, and in another week I'll be transitioning once again as I start my first rotation of fourth year: emergency medicine. 

As much as it's tempting to push aside the little joys in life to focus on the "big things," more than ever I find myself craving those little things, among them this blog.  I find myself seeking simplicity in my daily life, making a number of changes and focusing on areas in need of attention.  I'm looking forward to sharing what I've learned and found over the past year and what I continue to in the present season.  I hope to share content that inspires change, growth, action, gratitude and joy, making the little moments of life the big moments of life.  Thank you for reading and journeying along.

What's to come:

Third Year Rotations
Everyday Style 


Wednesday, May 10, 2017

inspiration (wedding): Getting Started

Planning a wedding is no joke.  Planning a wedding while in medical school/graduate school is no joke.  Going into this process I knew one of the most important things would be to stay organized.  I already have a million email addresses and online files and folders that are a mess...I mean, a work in progress.  Especially as I prepare to apply to residency and scheduling elective rotations, I've noted the importance of staying organized early on.  Yes, there are websites with printable checklists and templates, but it's so much easier to have a physical copy already printed with tabs and pockets ready to go.  For less than $12 you really can't beat the price.  This wedding planner guide covers everything, and it instantly gave me peace of mind that I wouldn't forget anything and everything would stay organized throughout this process.    

It can be tempting to want to tackle every detail, especially the visual aspects (flowers, decor, etc.), early on.  However, four months into the process I've found that following a strict timeline has reduced the stress of the process considerably.  

So far we've checked off the wedding/reception venue, colors, wedding dress and shoes, my fiance's tux, officiant, bridal party, registry, and photographer.  Our next priorities will be the "save the dates," videographer, band/DJ, and transportation.  Little by little we're getting there.  I'm looking forward to sharing more tips for saving, simplifying, maintaining sanity and some of my favorite finds as we go along.

What are some of your favorite wedding planning tips and resources? 

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Life Lately: 4/26/17

Things change, and people change with them. 

life // This past year has been full of so much change and growth, and I can't help but to reflect on it all.  After a very challenging first year of medical school, a much better second year, overcoming fears and failure throughout my third year, it's difficult to put into words how it feels to realize that my fourth and final year is almost here.  Lately, I've also pulled back pretty significantly from social media.  I'm not leaving it completely as it can be a great creative outlet, way to connect, gather and share ideas.  At the same time, I've found it can be a barrier to both, leaving me both uninspired and disconnected.  Considering all I have going on in my life and want to do in the future, I need to keep myself as free as possible for inspiration, the opportunity to live and create guided by the Holy Spirit of God.  I'm also focusing on true, lasting connection, and growth as opposed to meaningless follows, likes, and temporary perks.  What I want to do, share, and become is much more important and long lasting. 

medicine // Monday marked the first week of my last clinical clerkship of third year: psychiatry.  I was assigned to complete part of this rotation at a substance abuse treatment center; sitting in on interviews for patient assessments, intake appointments, counseling and small group sessions has been a really great experience.  I even attended a detox yoga session which was both physically and mentally challenging but amazing.  I'm sure I will continue to learn much more over the next few weeks, but for now what sticks out most is that no matter how different our experiences and choices may be, we all want the same things: love and purpose.  Regardless of what we choose to fill the voids, they will never truly be filled until we look above and within.

love // In the midst of preparing for the second step of my clinical boards and residency application, my fiance and I are also planning our wedding.  While there will be lots of little things to work on throughout the rest of the year, some of the biggest things are checked off the list like the dress and venue!  It will be fun to document this process to look back on for myself as well as share the tips I find for keeping things as stress-free as possible.  I'll be sharing a little bit in a wedding series as I go along and maybe a little more about relationships in general, especially long distance for others who can relate and find this little corner of the world.  With my fiance back in town, I'm looking forward to a fun weekend of premarital counseling, registries, and catching up with family and friends.

What do you need to walk towards or away from?

Saturday, April 22, 2017

ootd: spring blues

Printed tops have become a game changer for me.  I've accumulated a small collection over the past few years (half of them thrifted and most of them from the Loft).  They just make outfit planning easy.  I've also really come to like the polyester fabrics because they're no-fuss: machine washable and air dry.  I picked up this blouse from the Loft a few weeks ago, and I've worn it several times already.  So far I've only worn it with blue denim, but I'll definitely be wearing it to work; it will go well tucked into dress pants and pencil skirts.  The lightweight fabric also makes it great for warm weather.  While it's patterened, the simplicity of the color scheme makes it a great base for accessories.  And of course, it will go well with white.

Maze Tee (here)
Emerald earrings (here)
Always Skinny Jeans (Gap)
Flats (Lucky Brand)

If you're a Loft fan be sure to keep up with my pal and Loft afficionado Jess for regular reviews.  I found these couple of pieces on my own, but I've definitely turned to her blog for reviews when shopping.  If all goes well with my last order, I may share a few more of my own :-) 

Sunday, March 26, 2017

City Love: Drip Affogato Bar

To be completely honest, no matter where my travels take me the opportunity to try new food is always my favorite part.  If you're headed to New Orleans, I definitely recommend a stop by Drip affogato bar.  Instead of choosing between coffee and ice cream, you can have both, making it the perfect place for a mid day pick-me-up or dessert.  

The Classique
Tahitian vanilla bean ice cream 
pistachios + stroopwafel + espresso 

Additional affogato flavor combinations include Bananas Foster, Matcha, Tiramisu, Vietnamese coffee, as well as seasonal boards and build your own options.  Drip also offers creole creamery ice cream by the scoop, sundaes, a variety of french truck coffee brews, teas, and lattes.  

The next time you're in New Orleans be sure to stop by this sweet little shoppe

Have any New Orleans favorites?  Share them below!  

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

City Love: New Orleans

Long overdue, but I'm just as excited to share about my New Orleans trip from December.  I thought it would be my first big trip with my then boyfriend exploring a new city, but it ended up being much more.  By no means did we experience all NOLA has to offer in just a few days, but over the next few weeks I'll be sharing my reviews and suggestions of the things we did see and do while we were there.  Be sure to check out my travel page for my recommendations and reviews for some of the other cities I've visited so far!    

Visited NOLA?  Leave some of your favorite places below!

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Morning Routine: Easy Breakfast

One of the reasons we don't achieve our goals is because we try to do it all at one time.  For years I've wanted to be one of those people who just had it all together in the morning with the ultimate routine, but I'm just not there yet. 

To quote myself, I haven't been the best at scheduling and planning lately.  Not to make excuses, but one of the difficult things about third year is adjusting to a constantly changing schedule.  Every rotation has had a different start and end time that also depends on the physicians you're working with as well as varying travel times per location.  It also takes some time to unload from the day, and then the rest of the night is spent studying, with a test at the end of almost every month.  By the time you get into a groove you're on to the next rotation.  

Instead of setting the unreasonable goal of crafting the ultimate morning routine all at one time, I've decided to break my goal of a "master morning" into smaller parts.  After fighting the desire to perfect this all at one time, just to return to my own dissapointment when I don't make it past a couple of days, I'm giving myself the freedom, the flexibility to "get my act together" a little bit at a time.  It's okay if everyday is a little different.  Somedays you'll hit all your marks and other days you might be less productive or have a later start.  It is my hope that in conquering these little moments, I'll conquer my mornings as a whole and transform them from hitting snooze a dozen times and rushing out the door, to creating a peaceful and productive start that sets the tone for the rest of the day.

That being said the most practical place for me to start was with breakfast.  A couple of hypoglycemic episodes during my surgery rotation quickly taught me that breakfast isn't an area to skimp on.  As much as I enjoy cooking, I'm not interested in spending time on this in the mornings during the work week.  Enter: Greek yogurt.  

Growing up I've never liked the taste of yogurt; I've always found it to be "tangy" in an unappetizing sort of way.  However, desiring a quick and easy way to get a load of protein in the morning caused me to branch out again.  I've experimented with several popular brands but never really enjoyed any of them until I stumbled upon the Trader Joe's nonfat Greek yogurt.  I top it off with about half a cup of the TJ brand granola (maple pecan or vanilla almond), and I'm good for hours.  They're a great source of protein, calcium, and most importantly zero preparation.  I alternate between the black raspberry, mango, and blueberry flavors, and I buy it by the dozen.  

So, if you're struggling to get going in the mornings, struggling to make your morning really count, start with breakfast.  Develop a breakfast routine you look forward to, something that gets you going.  And keep it simple!  Save the full courses for the weekend, and instead come up with one or two combinations you can count on to get your day off to a great start.

What's your "go-to" breakfast?  How do you get your morning off to a great start?

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Glossier: First Impressions

Growing up, I never really got into wearing makeup.  Even now in my late 20's my beauty routine is close to nonexistent.  So when I heard about a brand that focuses on things like "your best skin" and "makeup that's there but not there," my interest was caught.  I love the idea of products that are simple and the look of natural skin that glows.  After hearing so many great reviews from blogger crush and training dermatologist Elyse, I decided to try some Glossier products out for myself.

Since I still have facewash and moisturizer from some other brands, I decided to try the perfecting skin tint, mega greens galaxy pack, and boy brow grooming pomade first.  One big goal for me this year is to be more thoughtful with my purchases and not buy things I already have or that won't add much value.  Keeping this in mind, I'm trying the skin tint in deep for minimal coverage and to polish my work look, the face mask for some weekly maintenance, and the "all-in-one brow fluffer, filler, and shaper" to add a bit of definition to my brows without all the fuss that can come with using other tools and products. 

I'm looking forward to branching out, adding a bit of glow and polish, and just taking better care of my skin in general.  At the same time, with many busy days ahead of me I want to keep my routine simple and low maintenance in the process.  I also love a good review, so I'll be sharing my thoughts on these products (and more) in more posts to come.

First Impression: what's not to love about simple, reusable packaging + stickers (appealing to the kid in all of us) + free samples!  Glossier, already off to a great start. 

Spoiler alert: I've already worn the face mask twice, and I love it!  More to come!

What are some of your favorite beauty and skincare products?  Try any other Glossier products out?  Tell me about it below!


Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Life Lately (2.8.17)

Anyone else feel as though the year is moving at an alarmingly fast rate?  There are just three more rotations left to my third year of medical school, almost a year until my wedding (engagement story to come), and a few more tests (more on this later) before I begin applying to residency programs.  To say that I'm under a lot of pressure would be an understatement; however, on the other side of the pressure is diamonds and with that pressure a story, a testimony like no other.  I am prayerfully and thankfully looking forward to all that comes, changes and surprises.  As I continue on my own journey towards balanced living, I look forward to sharing more of my story and tips for bringing style + grace to everyday life in the days to come.

Be sure to follow along on Instagram which has really become my mini blog and such an awesome creative, inspiring, and motivating community to stay in touch in between blog posts.  


Sunday, January 8, 2017

If The Dress Fits: eShakti Review

While I knew I was ending 2016 with a very special trip, long days at the hospital and studying at night didn't leave much time to shop for a new look. While I have a bit more "free" time than I did first and second years of medical school, I rarely spend it out shopping at the mall.  When I do it's usually to return online purchases that just didn't fit quite right.  A couple of years ago I found out about a special company that allows you to customize just about every part of what you buy.  From color to cut, neckline, hemline, sleeve length, to the addition or removal of pockets, you can tailor the clothing to fit you before you buy it.  They saved me a lot of time and allowed me to order exactly what I wanted.  Even better when it arrived in person, it not only fit perfectly, but it traveled well in my carry-on luggage.

Wrap Dress (c/o eShakti)
Shoulder Bag (thrifted vintage Coach)
Watch (Daniel Wellington)

eShakti has a huge collection of customizable pieces for everything from work to leisure to special events.  I know we've all been there when we just couldn't find something to wear that fit.  Yes, clothes can be tailored; however, why not shop somewhere that eliminates the extra time, work and expense.  With eShakti you can choose from standard sizes or enter all of your personal measurements to have a piece made just for you.  

eShakti offers a large selection for every occasion.  Here are a few more of my favorites: 

onetwo / three / four

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