Friday, December 19, 2014

Living Overseas

When given the opportunity, I think that everyone should live in a foreign land even if just for a little bit of time. There is so much to see and learn. So much more outside of the little bubbles that we often find ourselves living in.

As soon as I graduated from college, I scrapped my plans to go to medical school and instead interned with a non-profit for one year. The internship was in a place that probably made my mom's stomach drop - southwest China, literally on the other side of the world. It was definitely one of the scariest things I had ever done and it entailed being away, completely away from my family for an entire year. I had never experienced being away from family for that long and never thought that I ever would.

For lack of a better description, the experience was so very full. I was immersed in a completely different culture, ate amazing food, and made many precious friends. I became a student at a university and tried to work through my terrible Mandarin. I traveled to the crystal blue and green beaches and the thick jungles of Thailand, and walked among the busy roads of Hong Kong.* I learned how to barter in Mandarin and experienced the Chinese New Year in China. I just have to say that their firework shows far outshine ours in the U.S. and also, safety is noooot so much a concern. My friends and I once had to literally dive into a restaurant because a huge box of fireworks set off in the middle of the road had fallen over and began shooting fireworks at people. You know, no big deal. -_-

And in the midst of all this adventure and excitement, I also learned to sift through, analyze, and remove some really ugly parts of my heart (issues?? me?!? never! <-- sarcasm). Definitely the most difficult yet beneficial parts of this experience.

Traveling is great, but getting a chance to truly integrate into another culture and what may often feel like another world is an opportunity you should never pass up!

*Little did I know then that I was exploring the land where my future in-laws had once lived and my husband was born.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

On Reading

I cannot wait until the winter break when I'll finally get the chance to read. I recently had a little lull this semester while waiting on university approval for my doctoral project so I had the chance to read through the Hunger Games trilogy (I know, I'm ridiculously late to the game - HA! get it?! GAME!). I loved reading them and it's been awhile since I've read for fun. I just have to figure out what I'm going to read next, well, when I'm not reading through my family nurse practitioner certification study books... :/

Monday, December 1, 2014

Sick Days

Throughout nursing school and even my first few years of working as a nurse in a hospital (in a unit that deals with infectious diseases!!) I never really got sick. I somehow reasoned that because I had exposed my immune system to so much nastiness, I had become invincible.

Then came primary care.

Viruses galore.

Sick little ones (and big ones) coughing in my face.* 

No matter how many times I washed my hands.

August this year was the worst. I was a hot mess. Literally. I had a fever and there was gunk coming out of my right eye. I also had an ear infection that resulted in temporary hearing loss and gave me the grace-like balance of a baby learning to walk (they're like tiny drunk adults). 

I became sick again recently. This time, however, I recovered a lot faster. Thank you, flu shot?? I'm tempted to start donning a yellow hazmat suit the next time someone comes in with a cough...


*I'm guilty of this too. I coughed in the face of a medical assistant this year when he was swabbing me for strep throat. I felt so bad and apologized profusely partly because I didn't want to get him sick, but more so because of my dragon morning breath.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Lovely Letters in November

I remember having penpals in elementary school and how exciting it was to write and receive letters from someone I had never met before. Snail mail is always fun. Who says you can't have penpals when you're an adult?! :)

Esther, my friend from our undergraduate days at Georgia Tech, started the Lovely Letters project which is a monthly snail mail exchange pairing bloggers around the world. The purpose of this project is to promote "encouragement, collaboration, friendship, and growth as individuals and as a blogging community." Anyone can take part - all you need is a blog!

This was my first time taking part in the Lovely Letters project and I was paired with Emily who also writes a blog about lifestyle and photography. I loved getting to know her through email and her posts. She sent me a lovely package full of cozy goodies and great reminders to be filled with gratitude this month.

Lovely Letters Snail Mail Exchange

Click on the link above to find out more info about this project. 

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

On Acne + Skin Care

Acne is one of my favorite topics to address with teens at the clinic. Adding acne to the list of life events including going through the funkiness of puberty and all the awkward things that come along with being in middle or high school is not cool. Having acne at this stage in life is really difficult because self-esteem is such a big part of being a teen. You should see the smiles and the look of hope when I tell these teens, "well, let's take care of it!"

One of the reasons I love addressing acne is that I know what it's like to go through it. It sucks.  Although I had great skin and almost no breakouts in high school, when I started college my face decided to go its own way. It got so bad that when I saw an old classmate, she exclaimed "OMG, what happened to your face?!" (Don't worry, I made sure to give her the Awesome Friend of the Year Award afterwards.)

Don't get me wrong - I was secure in who I was as a person and I clung to Psalm 31:30 with dear life. But running around without makeup and exclaiming "I'm beautiful just as I am!!!" while twirling around on green hills Sound-of-Music style with my pimple and pustule-laden face didn't exactly happen. What did happen is that I finally went to a dermatologist and everything cleared up within a few months.

Some practical things that have helped me:

Eat healthy and exercise. I say this because everyone should do this. Also, don't wear makeup to exercise, let your pores be free to sweat out that funk.

Wash your hands. Wash them! Lots! And don't pick at your face. This not only helps minimize break outs, but also minimizes your risk of getting sick.

Use gentle soap. There's no need to spend a lot of money to use fancy pants facial cleansers that work just as well as ones you find at Target. Neutrogena and Cetaphil are some good brands to try.

Stop with the scrubbing. Especially if you have active acne. We all have bacteria that sits on our skin. It's good stuff - helps protect us from the nasty bacteria. However, sometimes the good bacteria can go a little crazy. Using products with physical exfoliants (the stuff with small grain-like substances) or harshly rubbing your face with a wash cloth every single day can be too much, causing tiny breaks in our skin which allows the bacteria to invade. 

Benzoyl peroxide. It's over the counter. Medically, it's considered an effective treatment. I think it's best to go for something that's 5.0% strength or less because this stuff can be strong. Also, this medication is very drying so you must follow it with a gentle facial moisturizer. Start applying every other day and then build up to once or twice daily.

See your healthcare provider. It doesn't have to be a dermatologist. I feel like this is something a lot of people don't do (especially parents of teens - bring them!) There are lots of different treatments out there to take care of acne and your healthcare provider has learned how to do so!

I know, I don't usually write about beauty or skin care, so just consider this some of my "other ramblings" ;)

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Sessions for Adoption

Another very lovely family is in the process of adopting 2 little ones and you can help!

Help a family adopt + receive photos you'll treasure.

Any one hour photo session $125 and all proceeds go to the Black family's adoption process. It can be a family, graduate, engagement, you-name-it session. Includes full resolution, edited files with printing rights meaning you can print and share to your heart's content. Give one as a gift or treat yo'self! Available in Las Cruces, NM and Atlanta, GA (see dates below).

Las Cruces, NM | now until 12/12

Atlanta area, GA | 12/16 until 12/31

Last year, many of you helped the Dwyer family with their adoption process to bring their 2 little ones home. I'm excited to share that they are home now! :)

Monday, October 27, 2014

The Importance of Reflection

We often talk about the importance of reflection in graduate school - learning from your experiences to improve your practice/yourself. This is especially important because I want to become a nurse practitioner that is super good at what she does and makes her patients feel cared for.

I've had a diary since I was about 12 years old. I loved writing in it and because it came with one of those really "sturdy" Sanrio locks, I knew that what I wrote in it would forever remain a secret. I wrote my deepest secrets like, "We had pizza - my favorite - for lunch today at school!" and "I'm so mad at Veronica because she took my pencil without asking me." You know, really juicy stuff.

As I grew older, the contents of my diary changed and became more of a prayer journal for me. I'm trying to be more disciplined these days when it comes to reflecting or keeping a journal, something I started doing since our mission trip to Monterrey, Mexico. I admit that it's difficult being consistent and things like "procrastinating from grad school work" and other important things get in the way. But, I know that maintaining a journal will help me grow because it makes me stop and reflect on life. Plus, sometimes it's fun to look back and think "who is this crazy lady?! oh wait, I wrote this..."