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.