2017 | Get Out There & Be Children Again

Happy Old Year and Happy New Year beautiful souls,

With friends going back to school/work, family getting on my case about my love life, acquaintances saying “thankful for 2016 because I found him/her”, and free time away from classes, I started this new year feeling a bit lonely. I am not proud of this, but I think it’s important to acknowledge all emotions, for we are complex beings.

What I do know is that I have a lot be grateful for, both in the past year and in the future.

Thank you 2016 for: the opportunity to interview at two more medical schools, consecutive snow days at my work at the school, meaningful hygiene/puberty presentation with 4th graders, beautiful cherry blossoms in Athens, group photos with all the 2nd graders I taught in AmeriCorps, first music festival, first osteopathic medicine conference, acceptance into another medical school, finishing my AmeriCorps service term with wonderful supervisors and coworkers, making a real impact in the Athens community in regards to health and wellness, prematriculation, scenic running/biking trails in Athens, getting to know a beautiful soul at my elementary school with whom I had authentic and vulnerable mentoring conversations, road trip to Cincinnati with my best friend, a sweet roommate, moving back to my hometown, first day of medical school, white coat ceremony, love, knowledge, wisdom, learning, good health, PR’s in 5k and half marathon, keeping up with fitness while in school, spontaneity, the most authentic talks with my childhood girlfriends during our night out, and reconnecting with people from the past.

Goals for 2017:

  1. Act out of love and kindness. One of my all-time favorite quotes is: “kill em with kindness.” I recently read an article about how to deal with negative emotions and that is to pray and wish happiness and well-being for that person that has caused the emotions. Remaining angry and resentful only hurts your inner peace.
  2. Embrace spontaneity.
  3. Just do it. This was the same goal I had last year, but I decided to bring it back because it’s a work in progress. I realize I might be one of those people that likes to work under pressure, but procrastinating and thinking too much causes unnecessary stress.
  4. Step outside your comfort zone in terms of putting yourself out there in leadership roles.
  5. Run the Columbus (full) Marathon.
  6. Travel this summer.
  7. Gain new medical knowledge, skills, and experiences this summer.
  8. Be an initiator. Some things don’t happen unless you make them happen. Watch this excellent TEDTalk – What I Learned from 100 Days of Rejection. I’m inspired: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-vZXgApsPCQ
  9. Do more of what makes me feel alive – at least one thing every day.
  10. Live in vulnerability and authenticity, always. I found that it’s freeing for the human spirit to be as open and honest as we can with people close to us. Just discovered this TEDTalk and she speaks words from my soul: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fcm-mAwPkxg
    • “Uncover your soul and look for that soul-spark in everyone else”
    • “Step off your hamster wheel into deep time”
    • “Getting emotionally naked with another human being, putting aside pride and defensiveness, lifting the layers, and sharing with each other our vulnerable souls”
    • “You don’t have to wait for a life-or-death situation to clean up the relationships that matter to you, to offer the marrow of your soul and to seek it in another”

Do this exercise with me:

  • Grab a plain white sheet of paper.
  • Write in big letters:

    “What makes you feel alive?”

  • Write in smaller print around the question, what activities or feelings make you feel most alive in life. Don’t filter it and write everything that comes to mind.
  • Hang it up somewhere you look at everyday. Resolve to do more of these things that makes you feel alive.
  • It’s a working document, so feel free to add to it when inspiration strikes.

I updated mine recently and I’ll share it:

fullsizerender

This exercise helped wave away the feeling of loneliness I had. I feel more connected to myself and to the world around me. Amidst our crazy, busy, and hectic lives often working for other people, I think it’s imperative to do something everyday that genuinely makes us happy. The feeling I get when I do something that makes me come alive is analogous to a child playing and exploring the outdoors with friends in the summertime – excited, care-free, youthful, and rejuvenated. So get out there and be children again 🙂

Update 1/15/17: Happy early Chinese New Year. This year, it’s celebrated on January 28, 2017 – year of the rooster. An ancient Chinese superstition that I was surprised to learn about in last year’s post was that one is supposed to have bad luck during your birth year sign. I guess the bad luck caught up to me in the remaining month of the monkey year. I lost someone near and dear… misspoken words, confused feelings, and disgraceful pride. However, I believe this is how things are supposed to be because everything happens for a reason – it’s up to you what you take from it.

A recent epiphany I had regarding the practice of medicine is that the role of doctors is not only to diagnose and treat diseases or even pay attention to social determinants of health, it is to help our patients find meaning in their lives. This struck me while listening to Paul Kalanithi (http://stanmed.stanford.edu/2015spring/before-i-go.html) and re-inspired my purpose for choosing a career in medicine. Along with our medical knowledge, lab tests, and prescribed medications, we should seek to explore how the diagnosis of a disease affects the meaning of life for a patient.

“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” -Howard Thurman

Here’s to the journey of life and meaning ❤

~lntan

Ghrelin with Ellen – Stay Hungry for Life

Hi beautiful souls 🙂 [cue Jesse McCartney]

It’s been awhile, but I have not abandoned the blog! As I delve deeper into my gap year, I hope to utilize this as a space to reflect and share the experiences and lessons I am learning about life and the journey to medicine.

I have been trying to think of a creative name for my blog that ties in the search for meaning in life and my love of science. Naturally, I google “rhymes with Ellen” and immediately smile when I see ghrelin. I had learned about this term in my hormones and behavior course during the last semester of senior year. Ghrelin is a peptide “hunger hormone” produced in the gastrointestinal tract and also functions in the central nervous system to regulate energy homeostasis. I wanted to apply this concept to avoid complacency in one’s journey and to stay hungry for life. Always check in with yourself and ask the question “what makes me feel alive?” Apply the answer to this question to decide how best you can contribute to the world. Just as homeostasis strives to keep our biological systems stable by continually making adjustments, we too should continually use what makes us feel alive to better our community. So that is the meaning behind “Ghrelin with Ellen – Stay Hungry for Life”. Truthfully, I really miss thinking scientifically from studying for the MCAT everyday this summer (which I took last weekend!), so this is my attempt to bring science into everyday life. I am currently working on secondaries and hope to be in a position to meaningfully contribute to society very soon!

Join my journey 🙂
~ lntan

I have no regrets, but I would do it over again

You may be thinking “Ellen, that doesn’t make sense. You have regrets if you would do it over again”, but let me explain.

I’m now a proud graduate of The Ohio State University with a BS in Neuroscience. As a first-generation student, I could have never imagined in my wildest dreams all of the unique experiences I’ve had these past four years. For that, I am forever grateful for all the people I have met and all the opportunities that were afforded to me.

DSCN5087But I’ve hit a serious roadblock to my vocational dream that developed the summer after my junior year of high school – to use medicine, science, leadership, and education to positively impact the future of healthcare and better the well-being of humankind.

At this point, I do not have sufficient credentials to attend medical school and I wish I could tell my freshman self what I know now. But I realize this is life. You live and you learn. It’s all a part of the journey.

If granted a wish, I would re-do my college experience over again to make sure I adequately show medical schools that I would make a great physician and achieve success the first time around. The medical school process is an arduous one, but I know this is my purpose if I still have the drive to find out what went wrong from professionals involved in admissions and to improve myself to re-apply again. Even if I say I would re-do my experience, I have no regrets. A lot of failures are blessings in disguise. I’m learning a lot about myself in this time of despair, feeling lost, but also of introspection. This failure has forced me to re-evaluate the question “why medicine?” and I feel that once I am at the moment where I can confidently say “I made it”, I will be more grateful for this unique life opportunity than if I had effortlessly gained admission the first time.

I’m currently applying for jobs to gain more experience working in a clinical setting and planning to re-take the MCAT. I am excited to continue on the journey, embracing the roadblocks and detours.

Stay tuned for some blog topics I would like to share in the coming months! 🙂

Sneak Peek
– What I learned about life while in college
– Medical School application tips I wish I knew
– Love & Vulnerability
– Book reviews
– Revisit of a blog post I previously wrote concerning social media

If you feel some of my post-grad sentiments, I’ll leave you with inspiration from Nicki Minaj’s new song (who knew Nicki could write some lyrics that would become my life anthem and also match the theme of my blog so well??)

“So make sure the stars is what you aim for.
Make mistakes though.

I never worry, life is a journey.
I just wanna enjoy the ride.
What is the hurry? It’s pretty early.
It’s okay, we’ll take our time.

The night is still young.
How dare we sit quietly.
And watch the world pass us by.”

And this quote:
CC_o_pWVEAAVotO.jpg large

#nevergiveup

Intermission

Hello all!

I apologize for falling off the face of the blogging world. The last two weeks of India were spectacular and very busy. We were all working very diligently on our final paper and presentation about a global public health topic of our choosing. Surprisingly, this assignment was one of many highlights for me.

Not to fret! I have not abandoned my plan to continue the 29 Days of India series. I have all the memories saved on a word doc, so the posts will not be any less detailed. However, I have some bad news. I plan on finishing the series in late June and early July. I will set a date here so that I can keep my promise: July 7, 2014 is the latest that I will upload the rest. Sorry to the people I told I would finish in the week after our return to the US :/

So why July 7th? I am stressed out and freaking out (inside). (Fun fact: my favorite number is 7, so that’s why I chose 7/7 😛 )

At first, I was mad at myself for not working on anything med school related in India because the stress immediately hit me when I stepped onto US soils. The jet lag and sickness I contracted from the airplane did not help this matter. But as my mind cleared after a few days of recovery, I wanted to believe there are no regrets.

I remember my professor telling me that I should just enjoy the study abroad trip and not to worry about the MCAT (you’ll have enough time when you get home – he said). And I honestly couldn’t have asked for a better trip. The lesson I learned here is that balance is essential. You may have a lot of unchecked boxes on your to-do list (and if you’re like me, you let this run your life), but you also have to remember to just live life. Enjoy the outdoors, enjoy company, enjoy life.

This is my goal for the next year as I travel further on the journey to medical school.

Wow I still cannot believe the time has come for my peers and I to apply to graduate and professional schools. I remember having this epiphany a few days ago when I was staring at the AMCAS front page. This is probably an extremely stressful and arduous time for all. To stay motivated, I remind myself how grateful I am to have these opportunities in life. To have access to education and pursue one’s dreams, whatever that might be. Someone else in the world wishes they could have the same choices that you do. So make the most out of your opportunities. Use the phrase “I get to..” rather than “I have to..”

ImageFond memories of MD Camp in high school. Something that keeps me going.

15 Ways to be Positive and Happy in Life :)

Inspirational quote

What you think and how you think has a large influence on your outlook on life and affects how you show up to places and how others perceive you. For me, I have found that by focusing on the positive side of every situation you find yourself in, you’ll be a more happy and purposeful person.

I hope this list will give you some ideas on how to train your mind and change your actions to achieve an overall happier, satisfying, purposeful and meaningful life. This is an ongoing list that I am compiling whenever inspiration strikes me.

We’re all humans – of course we’ll still have our down days, but I find myself coming back to this list on those days to see how I can get myself out. Feel free to share some of your tips 🙂

1. Post only positivity on all your social media accounts.

2. Don’t be afraid to laugh out loud until your sides hurt, rolling on the floor dying and almost peeing your pants (my favorite kind of laughter) – especially at yourself.

3. Listen to upbeat music! Sing and dance it out. To de-stress, I enjoy one person dance parties before bed. Try it 😛

4. Count your blessings. Be grateful for all that you have. Even simple things like: sunshine, family, friends, the ability to wake up every day and live.

5. Be authentic in all parts of your life. Be honest. Be true.

6. Perform random acts of kindness, all day every day. Some of my favorites: smiling at people, informing people there’s no toilet paper in a stall, helping people that look lost and telling people you appreciate them. You have the ability to make someone’s day, and this in turn can make your day.

7. Be altruistic. Help others. Give without expecting something back.

8. Don’t focus too much on the end goal. Cherish the journey to get there.

9. Catch up with friends. Be present. Put away your phone and relish pure human connections. Talk to people like they’re the only ones on earth.

10. Love is quite possibly one of the greatest human feelings. Give love to everyone – with hugs, kisses, words, gifts, gestures, compliments, a smile, a listening ear. Remind people how much they mean to you because you might not get a chance to if you wait too long.

11. Exercise. For health. For social interaction. For good mentality – with friends is even better. Trigger those endorphins that give you a pleasurable feeling. For me, I enjoy the long runs where deep thinking occurs.

12. Welcome deep meaningful dialogues. Be open and honest with yourself and others within reason. Don’t play games and beat around the bush. I guarantee you’ll find this a liberating feeling.

13. As a human race, we are more alike than we think. I often go on a meta-thinking tangent and picture ourselves as one big human family on a revolving blue sphere somewhere in the vast universe.

14. Keep a smile file 🙂 Write down anything that happens to you that makes you smile. Revisit it on your bad days. Also use it for reflection and the expression of gratitude.

15. There is no such thing as “too late” in life (this one is inspired by the book, Tuesdays with Morrie). If you want to achieve a healthier mindset and a happier life, you can begin any time 🙂