The Sight of the Stars…

For my first blog post, I wrote and rewrote things several times but nothing felt right. In doing so, I realized that it doesn’t have to be perfect. I’m not doing this blog to impress anyone. It’s for me. It’s a place for me to reflect on my life and share some insight with the world. Perhaps people will begin to read what I write, perhaps they won’t. Either way, I won’t know until I try right?

You may be wondering about the name of the blog “The Sight of the Stars” and why I chose it. The stars have always been something I’ve found fascinating. I associate them with childhood, with dreams, with courage, with reflection, with happiness and with friendship. Essentially, I associate them with my journey through life. As a child, I can remember my dad coming home from the pizzeria at 1 or 2 in the morning, waking me up, wrapping me up in a blanket, and taking me outside to look at the stars.   He’d point out the constellations and marvel at the fact that we are only a small portion of something greater. As I grew older, I remember spending hours in my backyard, looking up at the stars. On more than one occasion, my best friend Rob and I would go out to the high school baseball fields to admire the stars. Sometimes we talked, sometimes we didn’t, but we both knew that those moments were special. For a moment, it didn’t matter what was going on in the world. It was like time stood still when I looked at the stars. I spend so much of my life hustling and bustling that when I take the time to stop and look up, I am reminded of how incredible life truly is.

The sight of the stars makes me feel grounded and empowered. I feel confident in my desire reach for the stars, to change the world. Not too long ago, I was given a prestigious award from my department at the University of Michigan-Flint. When it was presented to me, the scholarship donor told me I was a star. That was one of the biggest compliments that anyone could ever give me. You see, I don’t think of it as being a celebrity, but rather a person that sees the world as something great. A person that takes the time to make a difference and invoke change. A person that strives to be a support and an inspiration to keep trying. I want to be seen as a do-er, a helper, a believer, and most especially, a dreamer.

When you think about the sight of the stars, I challenge you to think about who you want to be. What life do you want to live? What values do you have? How will you spend your life?

Lastly, today, take a moment to look around. Be thankful for what you have. Marvel at the opportunities you have been given. Take a moment to catch up with a old friend. Make time for a hobby often pushed to the wayside. Admire the sight of the stars.

And always, Dare to Dream.

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Keep Moving Forward

As I am finishing up my first semester of PT school, I realize how much I have changed in these past four months and in may ways, for the better. This semester, I was tested emotionally, mentally, physically, and socially. After working 3 jobs and being a full time student in undergrad, I thought my graduate schedule with only four courses and only working 10 hours a week would be a breeze. I was wrong. PT school is hard. But it’s not impossible.

The struggles I have faced this semester have changed the way I look at the world, at myself, and at others. I went into this profession because I want to help people and I love the patient-therapist interaction. Additionally, I’ve always been fascinated by patients that come into a clinic and tell their story and the obstacles that they have overcome. As I was preparing for PT school, I spent many hours observing other PTs. From this experience I met a patient with a C5 spinal cord injury that is permanently wheelchair bound. Despite this patient’s limitations, they are easily one of the the most uplifting people I know. Paralysis didn’t define this patient’s life, just how they approached it. While I appreciated this patient’s optimism, I don’t think I fully understood the feat it is to change the way we approach life until this semester. In no way, shape or form do I believe that what I am going through is as life changing as a spinal cord injury, however, I do think I finally have a taste of what it’s like to change your outlook if you can’t change your situation.

As I was talking with one of my professors yesterday, I said something along the lines of “I’ve never struggled like this before”.  How my professor responded really put it in prospective more me about how I’ve looked at my situation. He said “That’s what my patients tell me too. They didn’t realize how hard life was until they broke their neck”. The only thing I could think of was “touche”. Life is hard and we are presented with obstacles, but they don’t have to define us.

What I’m trying to say is life isn’t perfect. It won’t always turn out like the storybook picture we plan out in our head, but sometimes it will be better. I’m making the decision to change my enrollment status so that I can be a better clinician after I graduate. Instead of looking at it like a weakness, I’m looking at it like a life lesson and a test of my passion for the profession of PT. I wouldn’t have fought this hard if it wasn’t something I truly want to do with the rest of my life. I truly believe the obstacles we face are there so that we can improve ourselves and reflect on our life plans.

Last week I was getting gas at a gas station and a homeless man was digging through the garbage. He looked up at me as said “Ma’am, I don’t mean to bother you, but do you have any food? Even a candy?”. All I had was the rolls I bought for dinner, an orange and some peppermint candies but I willingly gave them. I apologized that I couldn’t do more and wished him well. My goal of telling this isn’t to get praise for being a decent human being. My goal is to say that I believe he came into my life to let me know that my  current worries aren’t the worst things that could ever happen to me.

The journey of this semester has been hard but it’s also been very rewarding. I’ve realized how “rich” I truly am. Monetarily, I’m just getting by, but life-wise, I am truly blessed. I have a the wonderful support of friends, family, co-workers, and faculty; I have a roof over my head, food to each, good health, and a limitless future. I will keep moving forward.

If you are currently struggling with something, weather it be big or small, I encourage you to step back and allow yourself to put things into prospective. Think about all the options and the possible outcomes. Breathe. Relax. Take time to enjoy the smaller things in life. Talk to your friends and family. Do something you love. You can spend your time wishing things were different or you can figure out how to make a difference with your current situation.

If you are like me and you find solace in reading inspirational quotes, feel free to follow me on Pintrest. Just in case you don’t want to check out my quote board, here are a few that I’ve found to help me put life into prospective.

When life knocks you down, roll over and look at the stars. -Unknown

Failure is a bruise, not a tattoo. -Unknown

Life is tough, but darling, so are you.-Unknown

You may not control all of the events that happen to you, but you can decide not be reduced by them. -Maya Angelou

In everything you do, I wish you the best. You are good enough. Don’t ever forget that.

And as always, Dare to Dream ❤

It’s the Finals Countdown

Finals suck.

That’s a statement I can pretty much any college student to attest to. I know they are important and all because they provide a platform in which professors can measure how well we have learned the material covered in classes, but they still suck.

Students spend hours and hours of time agonizing over piles of note cards, Powerpoints, and final papers. We highlight, underline, and write in the margins of our books until our eyes glaze over from all the knowledge we are trying to push into our brains. The concept of sleep is unfathomable and meals consist of caffeine and whatever is in the vending machine because making a real meal is considered procrastinating. We wear sweatpants to class and hope no one notices it’s been a few days since we’ve had a proper shower. Basically, when it’s finals week, the struggle is real.

While I might be exaggerating just a little in my rendition of finals week, I still think it is the most stressful and dreaded time of the year for a college student. In order to help my fellow college students make it through another finals week, I have a few helpful tips.

1) Sleep. I know this sounds crazy when there is so much to do, but a little sleep will make it possible to be more productive and logical. Sleep deprivation is hard on our bodies and subsequently causes us do preform poorly, making the time we spent pulling an all-nighter pointless. Also, if you deprive your body of sleep, it is likely you will get sick because your immune system is being compromised. Being sick will only make finals week even more sucky.  If you feel you must compromise sleep in order to complete a project or study, consider taking power naps of about 20 minutes or take breaks to close your eyes and reset your brain.

2) Eat real meals. It isn’t easy to get substantial food during finals week because we are all so busy, however, proper nourishment helps us to stay focused on the task at hand. A helpful tip is to plan a little bit ahead with pre-made lunches the day before finals week starts. This way all you need to do is grab a healthy sack lunch out of the refrigerator. Also, take advantage of free food on campus. It’s everywhere during this time of year and if you don’t eat it, catering companies are required to throw it out.

Also, study snacks are a great way to keep up blood sugar levels. Look for things like nuts, pretzels, fruit, veggies, etc. Make it something delicious, nutritious and portable.

3) Don’t binge study. While you might think it is effective to sit and read four chapters of your textbook in one sitting, you will probably only retain between 5 and 10 percent of what you read that way. It is more effective if you read in small chunks and take a break in-between. During this break, get up and walk around, eat a snack or even browse the inter-webs for a few minutes.

It may also be helpful to switch subjects every hour. The constant rotation will keep you from staring at pages without actually comprehending anything.

4) Take advantage of study groups, tutoring & review sessions. Do you have that one class that you just don’t get, no matter how hard you try? You’re probably not the only one that feels that way. Talk with fellow classmates or your professor to cover topics that are especially difficult. You are at school to learn and be supported, use those resources to help you succeed.

5) Keep motivational quotes on your desk or around your study space. A little encouragement will go a long way when you feel burnt out.

6) When finals are over, reward yourself. Go on a shopping trip, hang out with friends/family, read that book you have been putting off, enjoy time outside, etc. It doesn’t matter what you do, just do something that you enjoy.

Finals are rough but in the grand scheme of life, they are only a snippet of time. Believe it or not, it is time well spent. When you look back, you’ll realize that all that studying you did paid off because you actually know your material. It’s a challenge along the way but these days are part of the path you are taking to follow your dreams.

Work hard, study hard, and as always, dare to dream!

“You the real DPT”

So it’s official! I’ve been accepted to an entry-level doctorate of physical therapy program! My dream will be a reality!

For my fellow pre-physical therapy friends, I know you understand the struggles I have been going through for the past year and I just want to take a minute to reflect on them.

Throughout the college experience, a DPT student has this constant pressure to do good, to get involved, to make high grades, to do research, and to make connections. Beyond obtaining a bachelors degree, we have to prepare ourselves to take on three rigorous years of graduate school before making a name for ourselves out in the field.

We stay up late studying anatomy, physiology, chemistry, healthcare policy, composition, physics, exercise physiology, psychology, sociology, political science and a variety of other subjects so that we can prove to colleges we are worthy of their acceptance. We join clubs and put in countless volunteer hours in an effort to make ourselves stand out among our peers.

As we approach our senior year, we are faced with GRE tests, observation hours, decisions on where to apply, intense applications, the hefty cost of application fees, and the even more daunting cost of tuition for the next three years.

I know that there were sometimes I would forget to stop and enjoy college because I was so worried about setting up the perfect future. I forgot how important it is to take a moment and reflect, to enjoy the process. Those are moments and memories I can’t get back.

Regardless, all of those experiences bring us to the interviews and decision letters from the various schools about our future. I was legitimately terrified that I would not get into school. As of Wednesday last week, I finally had a response from all of the schools I applied to. I got one deny, one wait list and one acceptance. As I learned of the school’s decisions, I was faced with an interesting choice. What would happen if I was offered a spot at the wait list school? Would I go? For two years it was my top school. Ranked in the top ten programs in the country, the opportunities at that school seemed boundless.

For over a year, I received all sorts of advice about what I should do. Some said to take advantage of an opportunity and a different school, others told me to stay. Ultimately, I have decided to stay and I know that is going to warrant all sorts of questions.

The truth is, I think I always wanted to stay, I just wanted to have the option to go. The Flint community is one that I have grown very passionate about through the years. This city taught me about life, about diversity, and about leadership. I was so worried I wouldn’t have opportunities here to grow and expand but on the contrary, I think I may have more. I have unfinished business with the Flint community and I plan to stay until it is complete.

By staying, I will be able to fully participate in my friends wedding adventures, enjoy time with my family, build a foundation with my future children and still make a difference. When push comes to shove, this really where I’m meant to be. Someone told me just last week that when I sit down and think about it, I’ll just know. I will forever be grateful for that advice.

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Three years from now, I’ll be “the real DPT”.

If you are currently facing a major life change, I encourage you to take the advice of a fellow UM-Flint alumni. Where do you fit? When you lay everything out on the table, where do you see yourself being happy? What ever and where ever that is, choose that because that is where you will become “The Real MVP” or in my case, “The Real DPT”.

Opportunity

Opportunity.

That’s the my word of the year.

As I am making the transition from undergrad to graduate school, I realize how many opportunities I have been blessed with.I had the opportunity to grow up in a small town and appreciate the beauty of nature, small town life, hard work, and the value of a dollar. Forever, I will embrace the memories of playing with my sisters in the backyard, of spending weekends on the water at my grandparent’s, of going to the fair, of playing sports in school, of spending hours reading, of spending years going through the awkward phase of adolescence and much more.

Throughout the past 4.5 years, I have had the opportunity to attend the University of Michigan-Flint. Through my experiences here, I feel prepared to tackle the next stage of my life. I learned about racism, cultural competency, civic engagement, leadership, confidence,  mental health, health care, world news, politics, food preparation, and much more. I am especially grateful for the opportunities that pushed me outside of my comfort zone and showed me how strong I can be. This lies primarily in my work positions, leadership positions, committees, and opportunities to explore beyond my own backyard.

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With all of that being said, I am excited for the opportunities that lie before me. My dreams include, becoming a DPT (maybe PhD), marrying the man of my dreams, raising a family, traveling the world, eating delicious food, and enjoying everything life has to offer.

I think that the reason opportunity rings so true with me right now is that I am finally realizing how my choices will affect my life and my future. In the past, I lived with my parents, I was expected to go to school and expected to go to college. Nothing in my life seemed life altering, though looking back, I realize it was. Fast approaching are decisions about where to live, where to pursue my DPT, where I will be married, and how I will handle the “real world”.  It’s terrifying and exciting all at the same time.

What I really mean to say is that opportunities are everywhere. They shape who we are, how were perceive things, and how we respond to things. Even when we think things aren’t going great, we need to remember that each experience brings us to another opportunity to grow, change and mature.

I am reminded of a phrase I heard in my 11th grade Accelerated English class from the movie, Dead Poet’s Society, “Carpe Diem”, meaning “Seize the Day”. That class and that movie remind me that each day presents new opportunities and that we must take every opportunity we can.

In Memory of Robert Kunik. Thank you for the life lessons you taught and the wisdom that will continue with me for years to come.
In Memory of Robert Kunik. Thank you for the life lessons you taught and the wisdom that will continue with me for years to come.

These are some of my opportunities and experiences. What are yours? Where are you your opportunities leading you? How can you take advantage of opportunities to maximize your life experiences and your happiness?

Graduation Day!

It’s Graduation Day!

As my undergraduate career comes to a close, I have been doing a great deal of reflecting about my life over the past four and a half years. I would like to take this opportunity to briefly share my experiences here at the University of Michigan-Flint. I am not a native of Flint. In fact, I was born and raised in Northern Michigan and graduated from Houghton Lake High School.  Five years ago, when I was applying for schools, I had no intention of attending UM-Flint. Growing up, all I heard about the city was that it was rundown and full of crime. I had no desire to spend my time in such a place. Looking back, I am so glad that the director of the Honors Program, Dr. Maureen Thum, called me to invite me to attend the scholarship competition at UM-Flint. What’s more, I’m glad I went. That day, I fell in love with the campus. I remember talking to my mom and telling her how much it felt like home. Now it is four and a half years later and I’m preparing to walk across the stage in a few hours and be a college graduate (aside from the 4 finals & thesis I have left this week). I don’t think it has quite sunk in yet.

While I have been here, I have had the opportunity to partake in so many great things. I became involved in numerous student organizations, I  studied abroad, I  attended conferences, I explored downtown Flint, I tried new foods, I made new friends, I have been exposed to different to different cultures and backgrounds, I learned about the field of health care,  and so much more. These experiences have made me realize that life is about learning and that each day should be a new adventure.

My story is just one of many from the students at the University of Michigan-Flint. Our experiences have shaped the people we are today. While our school is small, the opportunities provided to us are endless. I, like many of my fellow peers, am glad that I chose to pursue a degree here because I am walking away with more than a piece of paper. I am walking away with memories, with knowledge, and experiences that will last a lifetime. Thank you to everyone that has played a role in my college experience.

To all my fellow college students, past, present and future: Keep up the good work and as always, Dare to Dream