News-flash: the FDA isn't there to protect our health or the health of the environment. Just ask the cosmetics industry, the meat/poultry/dairy industry, the pharmaceutical industry, the pesticides/ herbicides/ house hold cleaning products industry, and oh yeah, splenda! They've all largely profiteered off of the FDA's lack of a moral compass, of their convenient and quite frequent amnesia, routinely forgetting, oops, that they exist to protect us, the consumers, the public, the people who pay their salaries. Many of the FDAs top ranking officials eventually leave to work for the same companies who lined their pockets for approval, now instead of a six figure salary, they make seven. Corporate greed? The European Union will not allow for the release of products until they have successfully proved their safety, their criteria and demands on companies costs time and money, good for us, bad for moguls. - We all know the US has a bit of a learning curve. - That's why companies like L'oreal and Lancome prefer to produce their products here (for American consumption, obviously) where there's no rules, rather than in France. Sure, put whatever chemicals you want in my compact make-up when no one's watching - the TRIETHANOLAMINE, PARABENS AND SODIUM LAUREL SULFATES MAKE MY SKIN SO SOFT! take a peek at http://www.cosmeticsdatabase.com

While I totally promote a walk on the wild side, I have some serious hesitations about our health, now and in the future. As well as the direct relationship it shares with the earth. I take care of sick people all day long, and anyone who's in the dark about what its like to spend your days in a hospital bed, news flash - IT SUCKS, well unless your my patient than you have something to look forward to. Examples of my wild side: I have a sweet tooth that will never be satisfied (if I had diabetes, I'd be dead), I eat homemade butter with a spoon, I drink copious amounts of wine and eat obscene amounts of cheese. Not every day, of course. Clearly, I am not a health expert and even resent the overzealous nutrition obsessed that take every last bit of fun out food. -- However, if you told me that there was genetically modified fish sitting on my plate, I'd have a dilemma. Then I'd say sorry little fish, I appreciate your sacrifice, really, I do, but I WILL NOT EAT YOU! As a lover of food, an epicurean soul mate - I'm also someone who thanks the earth for its beauty and bounty - I am truly offended by this prospect.

Why aren't more people (kudos to Ben & Jerry!!) freaking out about the implications of a genetically modified animal? Where are the pro-lifers and their conviction when you need them? Because taking a stand against this is PRO-LIFE! Pro ecosystem! Pro earth! Pro humanity! This could have long lasting implications on our food source. We, the fattest people in the world, could potentially die of starvation, if lets say (and this is very possible) a particularly virulent virus or bacteria evolves that targets that fish alone. Now lets say its the only salmon we have left, because introducing the GM salmon led to the extinction of wild salmon, we'd have none. Take that sushi roll off the menu. Kind of like, if there is blight, or fungi, or insects that evolve, and go after a certain apple tree, tomato plant, corn crop, and there's no variation in the field to compensate because we have mono-agriculture ---- we will starve. There's an estimate that 70-75 percent of processed foods on supermarket shelves, from soda to soup, crackers to condiments, contain genetically engineered ingredients.

This is starkly similar to the antibiotic situation. We have created freakishly clean environments, thank you bleach wipes and purrell, and we have treated every runny nose and scratchy through for the last twenty plus years with a dose of antibiotics. We've also been eating and drinking them in our meat and dairy. Now, antibiotic resistant microbes are running ramped through our hospitals, operating rooms, and communities. It is a huge problem, a uniquely American problem. The microbes got smarter and we got, well.... not.

This affects the birds, the bees, the trees, the soil, and the delicate balance of the natural world. There's a reason why the natural world is so incredibly diverse, and its not to amuse us. There is purpose in the existence of everything. We are so confident in the superiority of man kind, we think the earth was created round just so we could circle it, it's an obnoxious attitude of entitlement that's as virulent as anything. By and large, we don't have the fundamental appreciation for the wild, for the animals, for the insects, trees, plants, eachother, ourselves, our health? We should, I think.

Go buy some heirloom seeds before they're all gone, and read your food labels.


a baby nurse burp

The first few weeks of nursing lulled me to sleep. For a minute there I was worried I'd stepped into a time warp and was back in nursing school. My fellow nursing babes and I spent the large part of the day reviewing procedures, hospital protocols and policies, hypothetical situations that could but probably won't happen, magnet designation, computer software training, documentation, safety concerns, codes blue, red and grey, medication distribution and narcotics wasting, pressure ulcers, hand sanitation, isolation precautions, blood draws, IV insertion, EKG strips, and the list goes on, and on. Nap time!

Once we stepped onto the floor and rolled up our sleeves, it still hadn't felt like the beginning of a career. I continue to walk in to each of my patient's rooms with a clueless I-think-I-know-what-I'm-doing-but-don't-judge-me-if-I-don't look on my face, and something tells me it'll be a while before that changes. Of course, it's always fun to banter with patients regarding whether I'm qualified to be there because I don't look old enough to be a licensed nurse, I'm quite surprised no one has asked me for a copy of my transcript or license. I assure them I'm not fifteen, they believe me, and they let me proceed.

The beauty of medicine is that there is never a dull moment, there is always something to do, and the patients are more educational than any chapter of a text book. They have complex health issues that make their needs individualized, they have lives and situations and families that make planning their care sometimes easier, more challenging, and at times, disturbing. They can communicate with us without a word. One patient continues to remove his trach, each time requiring the immediate attention of respiratory therapists, shaking his head at every intervention, the more more more we keep providing - it's not what he wants. Another patient with diabetes insipidus, unable to speak, clings to his empty orange juice glass, overwhelmed by thirst. One is a survival mechanism, and one is surrender.

I still don't feel like a nurse, I feel like a baby, somedays I walk, some days I crawl. Some days I sit in awe of my preceptor who has a swift, graceful ease to her completion of tasks. She knows the ins and outs of each patient, each med, and she smiles most of the time. The energy of the hospital I am in now, is such a stark contrast to the previous I'd worked as a student. I suppose it's kind of like drinking good coffee or eating good cheese, once your palate has adapted to the good stuff, there's really no going back, hard as you may try.

poems I love more each time I read them

by Mary Oliver

My work is loving the world.
Here the sunflowers, there the hummingbird - equal seekers of sweetness.
Here the quickening yeast; there the blue plums.
Here the clam deep in the speckled sand.

Are my boots old? Is my coat torn?
Am I no longer young, and still not half-perfect?
Let me keep my mind on what matters,
which is my work,

which is mostly standing still and learning to be astonished.
The phoebe, the delphinium.
The Sheep in the pasture, and the pasture.
Which is mostly rejoicing, since all the ingredients are here,

which is gratitude, to be given a mind and a heart and these body-clothes,
a mouth with which to give shouts of joy
to the moth and the wren, to the sleepy dug-up clam,
telling them all over and over, how it is that we will live forever.

by David Whyte

It doesn't interest me if there is one God
or many gods.
I want to know if you belong or feel
If you know despair or can see it in others.
I want to know
if you are preapred to live in the world
with its harsh need
to change you. If you can look back
with firm eyes
saying this is where I stand. I want to know
if you know
how to melt into the fierce heat of living
falling toward
the center of your longing. I want to know
if you are willing
to live, day by day, with the consquence of love
and the bitter
unwanted passion of your sure defeat.

I have heard, in the fierce embrace, even
the gods speak of God.

So Much Happiness
by Naomi Shihab Nye

It is difficult to know what to do with so much happiness,
With sadness there is something to rub against,
a wound to tend with lotion and cloth.
When the world falls in around you, you have pieces to
pick up,
something to hold in your hands, like ticket stubs,
or change.

But happiness floats.
It doesn't need you to hold it down.
It doesn't need anything.
Happiness lands on the roof of the next house, singing,
and disappears when it wants to.
You are happy either way.
Even the fact that you once lived in a peaceful tree house
and now live over a quarry of noise and dust
cannot make you unhappy.
Everything has a life of its own
it too could wake up filled with possibilities
of coffee cake and ripe peaches,
and love even the floor which needs to be swept,
the soiled linens and scratched records. . . .

Since there is no place large enough
to contain so much happiness,
you shrug, you raise your hands, and it flows out of you
into everything you touch. You are not responsible.
You take no credit, as the night sky takes no credit
for the moon, but continues to hold it, and share it, and in that way, be known.

by Byron

There is a pleasure in the pathless woods,
There is a rapture on the lonely shore,
There is society where none intrudes
By the deep sea, and music in its roar.
I love not man the less, but nature more,
From these our interviews in which I steal
From all I may be, or have been before,
To mingle with the universe, and feel
What I can ne'er express, yet cannot all conceal.

Sweet Remembrances
by Moore

Let Fate do her worst; there are relics of joy,
Bright dreams of the past, which she cannot destroy;

And which come in the night-time of sorrow and care,
And bring back the features that joy used to wear;

Long, long be my heart with such memories filled;
Like the vase in which roses have once been distilled,

You may break, you may shatter the vase, if you will,
But the scent of the roses will hang round it still.


naked on a massage table, analogy for life

When I think of a massage, I fondly remember a swedish I had in highschool. The massage therapist used aromatherapy and a very light touch, and the combination lulled me into a drowsy semi conscious state. If you glance further down the menu of over priced spa treatments, underneath "seaweed wrap" and just above the "medical massage" is a deep tissue also known as sports massage, sounds harmless? It's not. An obvious option for those who enjoy a little pain every now and then. According to its description, its best for those of us who have a few, shall I say, kinks, to work out. Kinks that make it hard to walk with a spring in the step because you have tension that weighs you down, its not so much the weight of the world (well, unless your clark kent) but the weight of your world. Emotional, psychological stress can turn you into a big ball of unrelieved tension, so I hear. I experienced my first deep tissue massage not long ago and kept thinking "Uh, people pay for this?" No happy endings here.

Barebacked and a bit sciddish, it was clear that the strangest places were the most painful, held the most tension, and provided the greatest release. Following the curve of my muscles, the massage therapist found particular spots that felt so tender that I would twitch uncontrollably in response. You'd think I was a bruised peach - maybe I am. I've been known to wake up in the morning with a series of bruises and scrapes of unknown origin.

There were times when the pressure beneath her finger tips felt so monumental that all I wanted to do was grab her hand and rip it away, jump off the table and hide. First I'd like my clothes back. I wanted to tell her to leave me and my big balls of knotted muscle alone - I'll use them to jump off this table, run a hot bath and drink a glass (or bottle) of wine. I wanted to cry. Each area of my body had spun its own web of stress, and it ached. She promptly located my marble-like lymph nodes running down the sides of my neck - the physical proof of my turbluent junior year in nursing school and the many physical manifestations that accompanied the emotional and psychological deconstruction of myself. One infection promptly followed by another, followed by several others, treated with buckets of antibiotics. To be specific. She said my shoulders were as hard as my neck, they both required more time and effort, would I mind if she went over the allotted time? These uncooperative parts of my body demanded more elbow grease on her part, and a higher pain tolerance on mine. And so, while I was having someone's body weight work out my multitude of kinks, I drew a comparison to lying naked on a massage table wanting to cry, and my life.

Physical pain makes us all react, I pull away from it and sometimes I whimper. When I run into walls, I usually swear like a sailor and laugh at my clumsiness. But to be perfectly frank, I prefer the physical kind to any other. I'd rather wake up with scrapes and bruises than tears. And so is the case with somatic disorders (psych nursing 101), the physical manifestation of emotional distress serves as a preoccupation, a socially and self acceptable reaction. We would like to blame our bodies for everything gone wrong, must have been your physical self that's haywire -- because it is so much easier to diagnose a broken arm than a broken heart. I'd rather point to a dark spot on my shin and say "see, this is where it hurts!" than to talk about the kind of hurt you can't point to, that's hard to identify, that you wish would disappear, that you can't begin to understand. Sometimes with distraction and sheer optimism, it can, but it can also resurface - and like a storm gaining momentum over water - by the time you work it out, the enduring hurt might dissuade you from any attempt at resolution.

I won't compare a spa treatment to walking on hot coals or basic military training -- but I'll compare it to the parts of myself and the events in my life that make me hurt. I will compare it to the problems we finally address, sooner or later, the things we decide to fix with whatever tools we may be equipped with, like a pair of lubed up hands and a lot of upper body strength. Or communication. Or writing. When I strip away the many things that preoccupy my mind, the relationships or stressors that I can so easily point to - the bruises - when there is nothing left to do but look inside and not out. What I find in there might hurt, getting past that may feel like burning embers. I can either run away from it, point to something or someone else or even pretend it's not there. Naked on a massage table, I surrendered to the truth that the pain of working it all out out would be the best for the physical me, that is before I transformed into a big ball of maddening stress and discomfort. Surprisingly, I got off the table feeling light as a feather, and strangely emotional. If working out the kinks inside yields the same result, it's well worth it.


nanny diary - the one and only entry

If you've never felt like a second class citizen, it's probably because you've never nannied for a family that treats you like one. With several weeks to kill before the nursing job commences, I solicited an ad online that was eagerly answered by a nearby family. It didn't take but a few weeks to realize that stepping into their house was more like stepping into the twilight zone. Often chaotic, often tearful, and never quiet, with a t.v. in every room of the house, it's safe to say that no one would ever have to worry about being alone with their thoughts. The few times the children weren't fighting with eachother, bossing me around, fixated on the screen with the wii controller glued to their hand - the house was calm, strangely so. The house was peaceful, they'd even play pretend and use their imaginations. And the universe didn't collapse into itself! But it was always short lived and easily disrupted, barreling into the room was their mom - who had a great big larger than life personality, a let-me-tell-you-what-I-think-even-though-you-didn't-ask-and-clearly-don't-want-to-know personality. An intrusive, gossip seeking, and obnoxious personality - the kind I try to avoid. But hey, I wasn't there to make friends. A mom who feeds her kids mac n' cheese for breakfast and diet soda with every meal, is no friend of mine.

This woman, who entered rooms like a tornado, used her "niceness" not for any other reason but to get exactly what she wanted, addressing everyone with "honey" and "sweetie" - her demands were wrapped in a sort of pushy but seemingly altruistic disguise. Though the absurdities and uniqueness of this family alarmed me, our courtship continued. And I flew to Newport Beach, California to spend their family vacation with them. Initially I thought the adventure would be challenging, but a good experience - certainly a test of patience - it supported my "no kids if your career is your baby" stance.

In a pushy, seemingly altruistic way but so very clearly not - she had me go to the walk-in clinic to further investigate my barking cough - even though I felt fine, the sound of sickness made her squirm. I had had it for about a week, a result of sinus drip, allergies, travel and all that delight - no fever, consolidation or sputum. Yes, there is an R.N. after my name now so give a little credit where credit is due. The bark certainly wouldn't resolve with insufficient sleep after being pulled in different directions by the high maintenance little people they called children. The walk-in clinic experience was a disaster from the start, she tried to come into the exam room with me - I firmly drew a line, boundaries aren't something she warms to. While I was in the room, she cornered the M.D. stating she'd prefer I'd be seen by him and not a PA, she described my symptoms to him - he responded with absolute certainty that I was highly contagious, he had seen several cases just like mine. Weird, since he didn't see me? By the time I came into the hallway, germaphobic panic had begun to set in. Her eyes wide and buglike, I disagreed with the doctor and so did the PA - but he stood his ground and off we went. I knew immediately I'd be leaving relatively soon, within an hour the flight was booked.

A few hours later I was flying over Utah appreciating its unique terrain, enjoying the alone time - when I found myself angry at the situation and my loss of weeks of pay. It should not have come as any surprise that the woman who took her son out of YMCA baseball because his coaches refused to let him wear a helmet in the field -- also wouldn't think twice before ditching her nanny with a cough.


stumbles and falls brought me here

Sometimes a break up feels like this: Falling down a flight of stairs head first, only to realize at hindsight that if you had just put one foot in front of the other, the descent would have been far more graceful, but instead you just look a clumsy disaster. And then other days it feels like you forgot to look both ways when crossing, and oops, you got run over by a Mack truck. Either way, unless you're the one slamming and dead bolting the door behind you, it can hurt. It can break you into a million unrecognizable pieces of your former, happy gooey eyed love struck self. Most of us femmes are hypercritical and self deprecating 90% of the time on a good day, but a break up just gives us the opportunity to zoom in on all of those imperfections and missteps that we are convinced have led to a bed full of snotty tissues and several empty boxes of kleenex... and thus a life of loneliness and solitude. "It was all my fault" is a phrase I know too well, and while this may be the case for some endings, it was far more likely the result of a perfect storm - with all of the right components there, at just the right time - it blew right through you.

Some days are bright, sunny, happy and full of possibility - the world is my oyster! The next thing you know your best friends are wiping mascara from your teary eyed face while you recount all of the woulda, coulda, shouldas. You of course torture yourself with the plans you had made together, that you will never fulfill, and that disappoint alone feels like an elephant on your chest. One minute you wish he was walking in the door, the next minute you can't glance at a picture of him without wanting to vomit. Fortunately for you and the gut wrenching misery this has imparted, you can't vomit because you haven't eaten in the last twenty four hours... because your appetite for food has instead been replaced by an appetite for bad television, trashy magazines, and at times, tequila. So it goes, so it goes.

I have filled my days with work, studying for the nursing boards which are hovering over my head like a black cloud, a hefty amount of knitting and cooking, of course. This is great for those of you who may have left your appetites in your last relationship and others who are just looking for something light and refreshing on a warm summer day, these two salads are fantastic and are even better if made the night before. I serve them over a bed of baby spinach.

Tabbouleh Salad

2 1/2 cups of chopped parsley (sometimes I even do more, traditionally, the ratio of parsley to bulgar should be about 4:1)
1 cup of chopped mint
1 cup of finely chopped green onion
1 cup of diced cucumber
1 large diced tomato
1 cup cooked bulgar (and you of course can use what you have on hand, whether that be quinoa or couscous, just as long as its small)

dressing: juice of one lemon, dash of salt, 2 TBS vegetable or other mild flavored oil, 1/2 TBS of vinegar, whisk together and poor over ingredients, toss to coat.

Berry Bulgar Salad

1 cup of dried cranberries (soak in hot water for 10 minutes then rinse with cold)
1 cup cooked lentils
1 cup finely chopped green onion
2/3 cup chopped mint
3 TBS chopped parsley
1/2 cup of sliced blanched almonds
3 cups of cooked bulgar

dressing: juice of one lemon, 2 TBS of orange juice, dash of salt, 3 TBS veg. oil, 1 tsp of apple cider vinegar, whisk together and poor over ingredients, toss to coat.

**When cooking the bulgar (or whatever grain you choose) a thick slice of lemon peel as well as a sprig of mint will give it scent and added flavor while it cooks - make sure the lemon and mint are big enough and easy to locate after cooking so that they can be easily removed.


bake your feelings

I think baking is therapeutic, maybe even more so than sitting on a couch and having someone ask you about your childhood while they hastily take notes and gaze at you from the upper brim of their spectacles. When you bake, its like you're throwing all of your tears, emotions, anger, frustrations, resentment and hostility into the big shiny kitchen aid mixing bowl and whipping it into thin air. So naturally, I am very good at baking, have been ever since the beginning of my awkward angsty adolescence, when I started eating my feelings and dying my hair pink. Baking your emotions doesn't necessarily make them disappear, it's just a constructive way to translate them into something delicious. And let's be honest, there are few people in the world who can turn down home made baked goods when offered, only those with will power made of steel, like victoria beckham, who has been rumored to refuse a chocolate chip morsel for fear of straying from her diet. That's determination, and deprivation, and personally I'd just rather throw myself off a ledge. I like to use my cookies for leverage, bringing them to clinical for my instructors, to class from my professors - when you're looking for a brownie point, go with the baked goods. And there's nothing better than baking cookies for your sweetie, so now that I no longer have that special person to send care packages of sugar cookies and homemade granola to, I'm going to have to find another place to dispose of my emotions other than my oven.

However wonderful, therapeutic and relaxing baking is, anything that is primarily composed of flour, sugar, eggs, and butter can generally be categorized as not exactly the healthiest. I can also testify that from personal observation and experience, things with sugar make my abdomen a bit more spherical in shape. The lack of nutritional value of sugary buttery confections doesn't matter if you're someone who understands moderation, can have one cookie and walk away - let's be real, most people wouldn't know moderation if it slapped them upside the head. Guilty as charged, because the only thing that keeps me from eating a dozen cookies in one sitting is that I'm already full from having eaten all of that cookie dough, by the time they come out of the oven all warm and chewy, I can barely stand the site of them, all doughy eyed.

I have experimented with this recipe by adding a cup of shredded carrot to the batter. I enjoyed the addition but my friends and family preferred the original. This is a great recipe for the summer, when people who don't have woodchucks eating their zucchini blossoms actually get to enjoy the fruits of their labor. It's no secret that I do love Barbara Kingsolver, think she's brilliant and want to be like her when (and if) I grow up. Animal, Vegetable, Miracle actually changed my life. I have always enjoyed gardening, ever since I was five and my dad sectioned off some of our backyard for me to stake out. Thats when I developed a taste for raw green beans, and carrots that still had dirt on them. I enjoyed, maybe a little too much, getting my hands as dirty, grimy and grubby as humanly possible. My favorite part of gardening was digging up worms and finding various other creatures to scare my sister with. Some things never change.

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver
Recipe for Zucchini Chocolate Chip Cookies
(Makes about two dozen)

1 egg, beaten
½ cup butter, softened
½ cup brown sugar
1/3 cup honey
1 tbsp. vanilla extract

Combine in large bowl.
1 cup white flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
½ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp nutmeg

Combine in a separate, small bowl and blend into liquid mixture
1 cup finely shredded zucchini
12 oz chocolate chips
Stir these into other ingredients, mix well. Drop by spoonful onto greased baking sheet, and flatten with the back of a spoon. Bake at 350°, 10 to 15 minutes.


the finish line

For all the nursing graduates, the speech I gave at pinning:

The past two years have been a journey for us all. We embarked on nursing school wide eyed and naïve, unaware of how to use a stethoscope, a blood pressure cuff or where to find a pulse. We hung bags of kool-aid and we spoke to dummies, we learned medical terminology, medications and diagnoses as if we were learning a second language, phonetically sounding out words you may hear at the world champion spelling bee. We saw and did things in clinical that would make you blush, we were able to achieve level of comfort and familiarity with the human body that we never thought imaginable. We complained about the work-load, the expensive books, the demands of our professors, and the clinical hours. We cried when we felt exhausted and defeated by yet another seemingly impossible exam for which we studied tirelessly. We took multiple-choice tests until we were cross-eyed, barely able to bubble in our own names, and we were as surprised at our successes as we were discouraged by our failures. We began holding ourselves and one another, to a higher standard. Like an infant learning to walk, we stumbled, we fell and we got back up again, resiliently, until we finally learned to put one foot in front of the other. With that momentum, we became nurses at last. Unlike Disney movies, this transformation did not involve a fairy godmother or a magical wand, it did not happen overnight or while we were sleeping, it was far more linear that – nor was it as easy. Like an equation, the addition and multiplication of long hours, dedication, and integrity yielded this accomplishment. At times we of course silently wondered if we would arrive at the finish line, on time or at all – but we did and here we are.

Reflecting on these years, the ups and the downs, the laughter and the tears, there is no doubt that we have all grown. The challenges we have faced and the experiences we have had will forever remain a part of us. There will come a time when we meet a wide-eyed and naïve nursing student who will remind of us of ourselves, completely and utterly clueless. First we will hang our heads in pitty, thanking God we are no longer standing on a hospital floor looking like a deer in headlights. Then, a wave of nostalgia will set over us and as promised to all of our instructors, we will smile at that student and remember, maybe not so fondly, the challenges that they may face.

Thanks to the diligence and discipline of our committed professors, we have covered a substantial amount of material during these two years. We have learned pharmacology, Pathophysiology, health assessments and interventions. We have learned patience in understanding that humans are complicated and complex. We have learned how to care for them. We have also learned through experience and theory, that health care is an evolutionary field, constantly evolving to meet the demands of a growing and diverse population. Our greatest accomplishments have stemmed from our own evolution, and as this experience has taught us, change is good. We thought the shoes were too big to fill, the books were too long to read and the information was too dense to compute, and yet, true to the character of nursing, we have adapted. We quickly learned that learning was a skill that required fine tuning and we did just that. I am confident that, as a part of the solution and advancement of nursing, we will continue to educate our patients, ourselves and one another. For anyone concerned about the future of health care, about the integrity of the nursing profession, the graduates in this room should ease those fears. We have and will continue to be challenged and tested, and we will succeed, together. And ironically, what we believed to be the finish line, the sum of equations, the light at the end of the very long tunnel, in fact is not a finish line at all, because really this is only the beginning.

dear running,

you are there for me when I need you most. you are the outlet for unbearable grievances, unforeseen life changes, and I love you most because you always take me back after a lengthy hiatus. you comfort me even during the challenging last mile, during the steep climb, the unbearable heat, the drenching sweat. you remind me what pain really is, and you make my breaking heart hurt less. you give me the time, space, and meditation I need to uncover myself. you let me reconnect with the ground below me. you give me the miles and minutes to think, to clarify. you are cathartic. you give me the energy to get through a sluggish day. you make me focus on each step, purposeful. you taught me to wait it out, give it time, to run through the cramps, the spasms, the pain. you taught me that the only road blocks are the ones I create. you make my butt tight, so thank you. you taught me to keep going even though I want nothing more than to stop. you don't take my excuses, you challenge, push, pull, drag, and motivate me, even when my ability is in question. you force me to recognize my strength even when I feel I have none. you fill my lungs with air, and give me life. you teach me, through each passing minute and mile to just breathe.



While I should be burried beneath my review books, I just wanted to take a second and post this incredible National Geographic photograph.

Caption of photo: An injured child receives medical treatment after the Haiti earthquake in Port-au-Prince on January 13, 2010. Elsewhere in Port-au-Prince, a pediatric nurse working in an orphanage described trying to save children during the Haiti earthquake. "Objects were falling from shelves, there was debris crashing all around," Susan Westwood told BBC News. "I clung on to the babies and shielded them as best I could."

I began my pediatric rotation just last week, and since have given a lot of thought to what pediatric nursing is all about. M first response: This is so sad, get me out of here. When I walked on to the floor and saw children suffering, I felt uncomfortable and my hair stood on ends. This was new ground for me and uncharted territory, the only children I have ever spent time around are healthy and bright, mostly just obnoxious and spoiled. Working on a medical floor, I wondered what makes them different, these little people? The miniature versions of ourselves, untouched and unspoiled by years of adulthood. The sympathy we have for children in pain is so much more intense than that which we have for whom adults are in similar crisis. When my patient, a 10 year old boy who had a brain tumor removed for the second time began to yelp in pain upon moving his head, I felt an incredible emotional response to that sound. The cries of children are high pitched and piercing, but mostly the sound just reverberates through your heart, pulls and tugs. Instinct tells you to comfort them, your emotional response might be to cry with them, but really, you know that ultimately, nothing is going to take away their pain. You would swallow it whole if you could. But this isn't the Green Mile, and there's no magic trick to play. I have always sworn off pediatrics, I could never imagine working with such a vulnerable population, it just seemed unfair and unbearable. Even with the profound sadness of human suffering, I felt inspired by their courage but mostly by their spirit. Children have such a bright inner light, curiosity and joy, but these children have dimmed. As uncomfortable as this suffering makes me - for the first time on any clinical rotation, I felt at home. But maybe that's because Disney movies are playing in the background and I might still be 12 years old.


Fall Semester in Photos

This treat transports me to fall, where trees are exploding with warm colors, squash are in season, school is in full swing and it's time to carve the pumpkin! It is my favorite time of the year, it signals a new start, the fresh crisp evening air is rejuvenating and I feel reborn. Pumpkin muffins are certainly a treat, I'm a pumpkin enthusiast, if it's got pumpkin - I'm sure to love it. For something extra delicious and to satisfy my chocolate cravings I add dark chocolate chips to the batter before dividing it among the muffin tins. My absolute favorite way to bake them is with granola on the top, and a dash of cinnamon - it adds sweet crunch!

She looks like she is about to say something profound, but can't find the words.

Illy is the best coffee I have yet to taste, roasted to perfection, not too acidic, very smooth finish and leaves a chocolate-y taste in your mouth. I'll admit I am pretty obnoxious about my brew, if it's not just right, I don't drink it. One of these containers is about 11-14$ -- it's a treat but well worth the investment. To me, no price is too great if I can guarantee that I will awake to the perfect cup every morning. The only competition Illy has run up against is Nespresso. Illy has temporarily taken a back seat now that *thank you for indulging my habits, Ian* a Nespresso maker sits on my countertop.

On a week where I didn't have clinical because I was rotating between MedSurg and Maternity -- I knew exactly how I would spend my extra time - making homemade applesauce and an apple crumble. So I headed over to Easton to check out a "pick your own" apple farm -- which turned out to be a little bit of a disappointment. Not only did they use pesticides *I make an exception when I'm peeling the fruit* - not uncommon - they sell "farm fresh" applesauce, chock full of high fructose corn syrup! *Gasp* Given their prices, I was disappointed in the lack of integrity. However, I found some great Jonagolds -- which I find to be the best for pies and sauce. They were fairly massive, which cuts down on peeling time. The applesauce I made goes great on top of peanut butter toast with a dash of cinnamon, or with greek yogurt. Either way, it's a no fail. * The above is a picture of my apple crumble, which only lasted twenty four hours in my house. It's one of the easiest and best recipes.

My biggest culinary disappoint has been the reccuring glitch in my meringue recipes. For instance, the above was a failure - a delicious failure but a failure none the less. In this instance, the reason that they lost air and thus turned out a bit chewy was because I accidentally used ground almonds instead of ground BLANCHED almonds. This was attempt one. Attempt two is still a mystery -- it was a Macarons de Paris recipe that I found on epicurious. If you're unfamiliar, they are macaroons sandwiched between ganache (and when I say macaroon I mean the egg white/almond/cookie type confection - sans coconut). Though I did everything correct *I think* something happened when I folded the ground almond into the egg white. I may have ground the blanched almonds down too much to the point where they were closer to almond butter than anything else. Attempt three bombed because the oven was too hot and there wasn't enough sugar. Needless to say, the day I make macaroons/meringue correctly I will feel invincible! While I hate when my recipes don't turn out, when things aren't perfect - I am beginning to see it as progress, not failure.

Trying to come up with meatless but hearty lunches, I topped a french baguette with sundried tomato tapenade with fresh arugula and goat cheese. Quick, easy, and beautiful. I had to take a picture, beautiful food always tastes better.

Sunday morning, I call this recipe my "Bleeding Heart French Toast" -- a nod to one of my favorite flowers. In honesty it looks like an organ is bleeding out on my plate but mmmmm so delicious. It is toasted spelt bread soaked in a milk, honey, egg, and cinnamon mixture thrown on a non-stick and very hot pan until golden and crispy. Instead of making it a sugar laden breakfast by adding maple syrup, I instead blended some blueberries and raspberries after heating them quickly on the stove. I added a dash of honey and lemon zest and voila! This was when the garden was still fruitful with my ever invading spearmint, so I garnished the plate with that and a scoop of plain yogurt.