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BELIEVE

This seems to be a sign people see at Christmas, when a miracle needs to happen at a sporting event, or maybe during a traumatic time of life. For many, it is a reminder that through everything that is happening, something wonderful will come from it. The “believe” part is a reminder for most.

For me, it seems to be a foreshadowing. I know. Ridiculous, right?

I always see this word in the most random and unexpected time right before a change happens. I just connected this yesterday.

During my search for a clinical fellowship, I saw this before an interview that went well from the interviewers perspective, but I didn’t feel I belonged there. I also saw this in stores, in people’s homes, and other places during my last year of grad school….trying to figure out moving, a job, and everything else.

Two days ago, I learned that I would not be able to attend orientation with my best friend as planned. We were both looking forward to “orienting” to our hospitals together in this new place. Three days ago we were shopping and ended up at a random K-Mart (don’t even ask) and I saw a candle with “believe” on it tucked away in the back of a shelf. I smiled when I saw it and thought, “yep, everything’s good.”

And then a day later, BHAM. Things changed. My clinical fellowship got complicated. and the list of things to worry about increased.

I soon realized that “believe” was a warning-like sign for me. Am I going to avoid all possible places this could be? I wanted to at that moment.

Maybe I need to stop thinking of it as a warning. Perhaps it is a reminder. I like to plan….so someone knows me well. I appreciate the reminders, but not the changes.

Next time you see “believe” - appreciate where you are in life and remember that although things change, it will all make sense someday. It is okay if it is not alright at the moment. Eventually, it will be.

You can’t control these things. Just believe.

Oh Panera!

One more time.

It is my last time in Panera before the big move for my clinical fellowship. It is almost as if I came here 3 years ago. blinked. got some coffee. blinked again. and now I am embarking on a new adventure.

One of my best friends shared this quote with me: 

“You get a strange feeling when you’re about to leave a place, like you’ll not only miss the people you love, but you’ll miss the person you are now at this time and this place, because you’ll never be this way ever again.” 


This sums up my thoughts about leaving Maryland. I remember leaving Pittsburgh and being so calm - almost worried that I was too calm driving to a new city with my life packed into my small car. At times during my grad school experience when things were tough, I would look back and remember that calmness. It reminded me there was a Plan. An Awesome Plan.

That plan came full circle at my graduation lunch when my parents, brother, extended family, and some people who touched my life during my Maryland journey connected.

There was my Maryland godmother, Nancy, whom I met while working as a grad assistant at the Loyola Alumni Office. We shared lunch breaks, gossip, and friendship.

Sitting next to me at lunch were the 2 children I babysat throughout the years. I felt as if I was a part of their family….I spent 2 beach vacations nannying under the sun/water/you name it. I will miss the greetings I received when I arrived to hang with them…..”Meesa!!! Welcome home!!”

I will miss Maryland and who I became while I was here - the excitement, the meltdowns, the stress, the smiles, the friends who encouraged me to step outside of my comfort zone….but I will bring all those moments and lessons with me to Delaware.

So Panera, it has been wonderful.

Unfortunately, the coffee is getting cold and some other grad student, elderly couple, or high school group wants my table.

I hope they learn as much about life in Panera as I did these last 3 years. I witnessed parents sharing the excitement of adopting children with their families, high school students working on group projects, elderly couples smiling at each other while sitting in silence, church groups knitting hats for newborns, anxious college grads awaiting job interviews, best friends for 20 plus years meeting for coffee, and many more milestones. 

So goodbye Maryland, it has been fantabulous (Katrina- one of the best, future Delaware roomie, and fellow SLP deserves credit for this word)!

Delaware, I have many blank pages waiting for a story. Bring on uncertainty and possibilities and fantabulousness! 

Thanks Allie!!

Thanks Allie!!

Investing

"Success is more than riches, fames, and things that we possess….sometimes it isn’t what we gain, but how much we invest.”

3 years ago my Mom sent me a card with this message (August 18, 2009 to be exact - thank goodness she put the date on it!)

It was during my move to Maryland and a week before I began my graduate school coursework. It has been on my desk since I received it in the mail. 

I have glanced at the quote through this process:

moving to a new place, finding my way around town, panicking because I couldn’t find a post office close enough, smiling because my new bedroom just happened to be painted purple (sorority color!), crying in the middle of a grocery store because I thought things were overpriced, finding a gym to join, nervous I would forget my new house number (all the houses on the street look the same!), celebrating that I earned straight A’s for the first time in my life, shoveling 21 inches of snow 3 times in one winter, discovering that I can actually make edible food, estatic to be a guest at a friend’s ballet class (used to be a dancer…unprofessional dancer), laughing hysterically when our Christmas tree was discovered on the floor one morning (5am actually), using the oven here for the first time while my roommate was in night class (and not burning anything), building a bookshelf all by myself…..realizing things are changing. 

Success isn’t what we gain. It is how much we invest. 

I am extremely passionate about the field of Speech Language Pathology….doing what you love, investing in what you love, sharing what you love, helping others find what they love….

Success. 

I think I have a spot in Delaware for that card too. 

Circumstances

People are always blaming their circumstances for what they are.  I don’t believe in circumstances.  The people who get on in this world are the people who get up and look for the circumstances they want, and, if they can’t find them, make them.  ~G.B. Shaw

Things I have learned: 

Look for the circumstances you want.

If you want something, go for it.

If you miss something - go for it again. 

Never try to change yourself. Ever. If you talk too much - keep talking. If you like mornings, watch the sunrise. 

Give yourself time to reflect on the good and the bad. It is okay to take a day and be proud of an accomplishment and it is okay to take a day to realize things are not ideal at the moment. 

Don’t listen to everyone. People will tell you that you can’t and people will say you can. Listen to those who say you can - but not only the ones who say it, but those who believe it. You will know who they are. 

Try something new. (aka: rock climbing. yoga. parallel parking.)

Send cards. Handwritten cards. They mean a lot. 

Tell yourself that you are awesome. (not even joking. you really need to do this.)

Let people know they are appreciated. 

It isn’t about who you have known the longest - it is about who has been there for the important moments in your life. They may be some of the same people - but numbers don’t mean anything, the moments do. 

Don’t freak out or make decisions in .1 second. Take a moment to “feel” a certain way…and then react. Your first instinct may not always be the way you want to go. 

Give hugs. They matter. 

Kindness matters.

Start a blog. 

So, Delaware….

Yes - Delaware it is for a clinical fellowship!

The same places I blogged about awhile ago….yes, you always end up exactly where you are supposed to be.

I’m excited for everything that is coming up in the next few months.  

It seems when people hear about “Delaware” itself, I keep getting more and more comments such as, “oh I’m sorry,” “at least it is a job,” “well, everyone has to start somewhere…” 

Maybe it is my facial expression or tone. Because I can sound sarcastic :)

But: 

a) I know it is Delaware. Not part of my original plan, but sometimes - God can dream even bigger dreams than you can for yourself. Did I mention one of my best friends is going too? 

b) I know it is farther from Pittsburgh. I thought I would be staying in Maryland or be closer to Pittsburgh….at least somewhere on the way. But sometimes, surprises and new adventures are fun. 

c) Delware has a Dairy Queen. It is all about the little things! 

d) There is a beach. very close. and I have some cute beach bags. 

e) I will miss Maryland - not just the place itself, but the people, experiences, the growing up these last 3 years, and the person I have become (…to be continued in a blog entry).

“You get a strange feeling when you’re about to leave a place… like you’ll not only miss the people you love but you’ll miss the person you are now at this time and this place, because you’ll never be this way ever again.” 

But it is time for even more growing up and new experiences. You just never know what will happen next. 

So, Delaware….yes. Going to be a real SLP soon…yes. Lots to celebrate…yes. 

First stop, Dairy Queen. 

The Process

Today in yoga, the lesson of the evening seemed to be: “Attach yourself to the process - not the outcome.” 

Such an important lesson. 

We get so caught up on achieving something - making it to the next step - in life and on the yoga mat. Sometimes, the process is actually what matters more. 

In 32 days, when we receive our Master’s Degrees, it will be an amazing and awesome feeling to walk across that stage - surrounded by people we love. 

The truth is though - that moment is probably the easiest of our graduate school career. We walk up stairs. Listen for our name. Walk across a stage. Hold out a hand to accept a diploma. Walk down the stairs. Smile at our adoring fans. So simple. This outcome - the earning of the degree - is amazing and awesome. 

The process is what got us to that outcome. 

Those people supporting us who truly understand the process and not just the outcome are the ones who really “get it.” 

Yes, that diploma will be wonderful. And the ceremony will be memorable. We have earned it. 

But our grad school experiences were made up of moments that made us true “Speech Language Pathologists.” The day we learned about our first clients, sweating through tough sessions, finding our way around the clinic, scared out of our minds the first day at a hospital, trying to find creative ways to deal with articulation therapy, hoping our answers to questions asked were “good enough” for our supervisors, finding out we passed the Praxis Exam, feeling like we made a difference, celebrating after a rough weekend of studying……

It is in these moments we become SLPs. 

Graduation is a big deal. But the people we become on the way to May 19th - that is an even bigger deal. 

Too bad you can’t hang a slide show of photos/words/moments/memories/smiles/tears/music on the wall. The diploma in the frame will have to work - but that is just the outcome. 

I love the process. 

Coming home

Coming home.

Actually, the best part of being away from a place you love is the coming home. Especially when some of your best friends live there: “The Pittsburgh Girls” as we call ourselves. 

It doesn’t matter what we do. It has been wonderful being supportive of each other through many of lifes happenings, especially sharing in grad school/med school stories, big and little life decisions, proud moments, planning our futures….to name a few. We recently celebrated 11 years of friendship! 

Our last adventure involved us just talking and sitting on a blanket. in a park. getting sunburnt.

One of our other “Pittsburgh Girls” is in medical school and was on call for the weekend. We missed her, but just as much as she was missed, we were equally proud of all her hard work. 

 It didn’t matter that one of us had a huge exam coming up or that another had paperwork for her new job to organize, or even that another had to work that evening. 

All that mattered was that we could share in being “home” for an afternoon. 

Even though we are spread out in different states and not able to meet at our favorite diner (Eat’n Park!!!) as often as we would like….. we know that when big and little moments happen to us….we are all home. 

Home can be a physical place. It can also be a feeling. That movie was right - home is where the heart is. 

And our latest memory involved home being on a blanket. in a park. getting sunburnt. 

…..and 1 week later, mine hasn’t gone away :) 

Apr 6

True Story

There were these two girls. One was really talkative - her first client threw his AAC device during a session and another client had to be fed pretzels to stay seated. The other was calm and quiet - she chased her client around the room and he (almost) broke the clinic iPad. 

They were put together as clinicians for a social skills group. On Wednesdays. 

That year was filled with lots of things - lots of events for both of them. But they slowly started sharing these events together. 

They applied for clinical fellowships, interviewed, cried, looked again, and took turns spending hours reminding each other that something would work out. 

Another try was Delaware - 4 medical facilities - 2 CF’s needed. 

Those girls got them. 

And it was Friday. But that was okay because it gave them something to celebrate on Wednesday. :) 

True story. 

Apr 1

Sometimes things fall apart…. :)

Wonderfully unpredictable. That’s life. And no one else has to understand it - except you. This was the lesson I learned this week. It is a very long story - one day, I will have time to type it all. Until then, here is the abbreviated version: 

Last week I was offered a Clinical Fellowship at a pediatric hospital working with augmentative and alternative communication devices/creating an inspirational blog for the hospital/incorporating a dog into therapy with the kids. Sounds wonderful, right? It is. It just wasn’t for me. When I went for the interview a month ago, I loved the program….but felt something was missing. Not in terms of the care of the patients, but when I thought of my Clinical Fellowship….I wanted to really be able to feel like I made a difference and use all of my skills throughout my time there. As wonderful as the program was, I was not feeling I could use all of past experiences there. At the time, I thought it was because I could not use my interest in feeding therapy (sensory/motor issues). So when I left the interview, I decided: a) the “thing” that was missing was feeding. b) I need to find a place where I can focus on feeding for my fellowship. 

Also last week, I interviewed at a rehab facility. Geriatrics. Not pediatrics. And, um, I loved it. I could not figure out what was going on. I was “supposed” to like kids/feeding therapy/blogging/AAC devices…..why did I like this place? During my interview, I figured it out. It is a team approach! I worked on a team with a feeding program during one of my placements. I thought I was searching for feeding, but I was really searching for a team. If I am offered a positon at this facility, I would be able to work with a team and treat a variety of swallowing/cognitive disorders - while motivating them in therapy…and much more. I left that interview with a feeling that I “belonged,” but did not understand. I was supposed to like pediatrics!!! 

I went to a private practice next (yes, the same day - welcome to my life). To skip all of the details/questions/tour…..the main point. The head of the private practice said I could work for them doing contract work during my Clinical Fellowship (translation: I make my own schedule, doing one day a week…doing a full-time job elsewhere). And guess what she asked me: “Would you mind focusing on feeding? We are in need of someone with feeding knowledge.” 

I almost fell out of my chair. 

Lesson learned: Sometimes we really don’t know what we are searching for. But in the end, we DO use all of our gifts and talents. 

I still do not know where my clinical fellowship will be. Maybe the rehab facility - maybe not. I will keep you updated. 

But I do know that last Friday, I felt like an “almost” Speech Language Pathologist.

And I was reminded that sometimes things fall apart, so better things can fall together.