Grad School: The Last Summer

This summer was bananas, all kinds of emotions going full throttle bananas.

I can’t believe I’m actually writing about this.

I learned during my first summer than students often mark their time by summers, and there’s a certain satisfaction that comes with saying “this is my last summer.”

I’ve watched many of my classmates go through their last summer, each has been different, each having their own positives and negatives. I knew what I wanted to do and what not to do. I wanted to end on a good note and have the best experience possible.

I even consulted people and made a plan to have a full yet enjoyable summer.

Very little of the plan went according to plan, as is usually the case.

This summer went much like last summer in the respect that a lot of my classmates and I had the same classes so we spent plenty of time together over a short period of time (although not really because we started courses around the same time).

One thing people get wrong about distance learning is that it’s isolating. Yes, there is an element of that but, if it’s a small program you’re anything but isolated. In fact, I think there was only one person I didn’t know before class began (and I kept referring to her as “the new person” which is completely false in terms of remaining course load).

The first week was fairly relaxed, compared to previous years, it was the only time I didn’t have a morning class. A luxury I had been wanting for years but the opportunity never came about & I chose to forgo the meal plan again so while people were down at breakfast and/or hurrying off to class I was still in bed indulging in well overdue Netfl!x binging.

And by noon I was bored out of my skull.

I took care of a few things, like tuition, scholarship requirements, etc. It was nice to get all of it out of the way but it didn’t take very long so it was shaping up to be a long week and it was only day one.

I did the majority of my course work before arriving and my first presentation wasn’t until the end of the week so I was able to watch everyone’s and make adjustments (and practice, over and over).

If you follow me on Inst@gram you saw how much detail I put into my presentation, although it may have come off fairly low-key.

The week closed well but I couldn’t help but keep thinking about my presentation. It could have been better, I think, so there was plenty of work to do before I turned in the final project (hell there’s still a lot to do & grades are in).

The weekend was pretty low key considering how much work lay ahead. I think what helped was the fact that we were all in the same boat so if someone was struggling (which I was, I just didn’t know it) there were other people to pick you up (and in my case 3 or 4, I can’t remember).

Pro tip: Make friends with someone who can pack anything (& nearly everything) in a suitcase without

Because my presentations (or really practicum requirements) were scheduled for the beginning of the week it meant that I had a lot to do in the span of less than a week. I wasn’t a big fan but at the same time I liked the idea of being done on Tuesday, because the 2nd week of classes came with a mandatory early wake up & Theological Reflection at night.

This summer was unlike any of my previous summers for many reasons but mainly because there were many group activities outside of class. Meals, for the most part, were together. We saw more of the outside world, together. Whenever someone was going to do something they asked who wanted to come along. In one way, it was how we made the most of our final time together.

This was the summer I couldn’t wait to have, my “final summer.”  It’s something that gets hyped up in one way or another by everyone, even yourself. There are certain rites of passage that you don’t get to have until that “final summer.” What often gets overlooked as the emotions that come along with it, at least for me.

While I’m not done with school yet the experience is certainly coming to a close. The blessings have been given the good byes (even if just temporary) have been said.

It’s time for a new group to start their countdown to their own last summer.

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I’ve Learned To C.O.P.E.

I have a love/hate relationship with social media. I wouldn’t have most of the friendships I have without it but at the same time I get overwhelmed trying to keep up with everything that I can look at daily. Plus, I use it for business purposes so things can get tricky.

Pat Padley has a formula that has helped me attempt to keep my head above the metaphorical waters of the internets.

Create
Once
Publish
Everywhere

The idea being use all platforms, since each platform appeals to different demographics, etc., but post the same thing, because why do more work than you need.

I don’t always follow this formula, because each of my platforms does serve a purpose so not every post fits every platform but I try to follow this formula when it fits.

Honestly I don’t have a favorite platform, if I do it changes often enough that it’s hard for me to keep track of. However, I do find some platforms easier to use than others depending on the purpose. I do wish it were easier to post across all platforms so “C.O.P.E. ing” would be easier to accomplish.

I find Tw!tter the most accessible in terms of versatility, meaning I can accomplish what I want from whatever device I happen to have on hand at the moment.

I like the idea behind Inst@gram more than I like using it. I find it frustrating that it’s “mobile only” and I try not to be attached to my mobile device (aka phone) 24/7.

I’ve used Faceb00k the longest but I’m far from their biggest fan, especially in terms of their mobile app.

I don’t use any other social media platforms because frankly 3 is enough, unless we’re counting blogging than 4 is more than enough.

I’ve tried to use G00gle+ for things other than the occasional hangout but I just can’t wrap my brain around it.

I like the opportunities social media has given us as a society but I don’t like the algorisms they employ behind the scenes. It makes me suspicious and weary to engage in anything. I like my timelines chronological. I’d like to go back to the idea that everyone has an equal chance of being seen/heard like when social media was beginning.

I’m participating in WEGO Health’s Health Activist Writer’s Month Challenge. If you want to find out more about Health Activist Writer’s Month Challenge visit their blog, Facebook, Twitter. You can find more posts by searching #HAWMC.

On Goalsetting

There’s this really annoying thing that happens when you spend most of your life in Physical Therapy instead of dance classes and after-school sports.

Your life is determined by goals (and the predicament is even worse if you’re in Special Education).

I still remember most of my long term PT goals, mainly because I haven’t achieved them. Most of them started as a 4-week goal, then got moved to an 8-week goal, then 16 weeks, etc.

I’m convinced that wherever my pediatrics records have ended up there’s a list in my file of “Bucket List Goals;” and “getting up off the floor using a half kneel” would be somewhere on that list, if not at the top of it.

It’s something I can’t do, still, it’s not on my goal list, I don’t think it ever was to be honest. I tried it a few months ago at my PTs request but when my protests were accompanied by pain it went back to “the never ever” list.

I used to hate goals. They didn’t seem like something to accomplish rather something to do because someone else said so, like standardized testing.

I started to set goals for myself after my last surgery. I needed to, before I went crazy. I went from being fairly independent to needing help with something as simple as putting on a shoe in less than 5 minutes. I needed to give myself a reason to get out of bed (or sometimes get in bed) that was dictated by me only.

The 1st time I set foot in a gym we talked about goals. The big ones were obvious, I was there to learn to walk again (since insurance had cut off my PT) and smaller ones were mentioned, like getting on the Stairmaster for 30 seconds and not want to die at the end, but I kept my personal goals to myself for a while.

I found one worthy enough to be shared (as in I knew people wouldn’t think I was insane) but the training for it ended up being something I couldn’t do; in fact, it may have contributed to my nagging injuries.

When I went back to PT I had one goal. Fix my hip and get the hell out of there and back to the gym.

I started swimming again while going to PT 3 times a week. As frustrating as I found PT I found my return to the pool to be even more frustrating. My brain knew what to do and so did my body but somehow I was struggling to get from one side of the pool to the other without feeling like I was on the verge of drowning.

I started to incorporate my swim goals into PT, unofficially, especially after I joined a team. “How did your swim go?” is always answered by a list of wishful improvements.

I voiced the physical goals but kept the mental ones to myself, because mentally I am my own worst enemy so those are best kept to me, myself, and I (at least for now).

I found an Inst@gram post that pretty much sums up how I feel about not only swimming but goals in general which says, “Swimming is the most mentally challenging thing I’ve ever done – and I love it.”TheAwesomeSwimmer

I hate setting goals because I fear I won’t ever achieve them, especially goals I’ve set for myself, but once I’ve achieved it I feel good, and wonder what the crap I was so freaked out about in the 1st place.

Although I hate setting goals I’m at a point when I can’t help but do it and I have to say it’s pretty awesome, at least when it’s done well. For a long time, I was afraid to set any goals just in case they ended up being too big.

In reality I didn’t want to discern whether they were really achievable at all, maybe I wasn’t able to, even if I wanted to.

It’s OK to have goals, even really big seemingly unachievable ones. The thing to remember, and in my case recognize, is that most of the time you can, and probably need to, set up smaller goals on the path to the bigger goal.

I may never have been a fan of setting goals but I’m learning to appreciate their true purpose.

Grad School: The 1st Year

I’ve been a grad student for a full year. It’s a cliché to say it’s been a blur of a rollercoaster ride but it’s the truth. I remember (although barely) being sent a blank tracking sheet and being asked to fill it out and email it to my advisor prior to discussing the upcoming year. I had seen it before, prior to deciding which degree program to apply to, but this time was different.

This time was “how am I ever going to take this many classes?”

A year later grades are being added and the next year of classes are being filled in.

It isn’t looking like I’ll be in school forever anymore (although graduation is still far off).

I figured I’d average one class a semester so I wouldn’t get overloaded but once reality set in that plan changed, numerous times in fact.

So I began taking 2 classes a semester. Not a big deal really. I was surprised by how natural it felt to coordinate so many schedules each dictated by another person.

I had a handle on the year until this past semester, and then things went nuts, like giant coconut sized nuts. I thought about dropping my classes but I was too far in to quit now, and dropping classes would just mean having to take them again later on.

So I sucked it up, sometimes barely, and kept going. I put down the movies and fun social events and picked up the books more. School became my escape, although I wouldn’t say I buried myself in my books (but that’s another story really).

I watched my “need to read” pile shrink.

I did in fact read the entire pile except 1 book (and the encyclopedia, I’m not that nerdy). However that’s just the book pile the articles and ebooks is another story.

Last week I turned to the pile to pick up the next book I needed to read and realized there wasn’t one there. I was relieved, and a bit lost to be honest.

I started to clean up the pile that’s accumulated in the last few months, except it’s not just from this semester. It’s from the last school year, which started in September.

It’s been a long year.

It’s time to clean, organize, and put away.

And of course gear up for the next year.

The battery in my mouse is dying, right on schedule.

If I had any skill at all I’d probably make my friends and family a cake that looks something like this because I more than willingly admit that I haven’t been the easiest person to be associated with:

Oh yeah and I started posting on Instagr@m after creating an account who knows how long ago.