Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Road Trip.

Justin and I love to travel.  This past few months have been crazy with both of us working and lots of stuff going on at the church (our community day fundraiser, confirmation, upcoming mission trip, etc.).  Needless to say, Justin and I were both in need of some time away together, so we planned a trip this past weekend over the Memorial Day holiday.  It was an amazing trip.

We moved from Indiana to Ohio about six months ago, but when we lived in Indiana, we loved to go to Michigan and explore.  Often times, we would just pack up the car and drive without really knowing where we were going.  We found lots of cool places this way and decided to go back and visit some of them on our trip this past weekend.

We left Friday evening after I got off work (which happened to be my last day at the Boys & Girls Club, by the way).  We made a pit stop in Mishawaka to have dinner and ice cream with some of our youth group kids from Justin's time as a youth group volunteer when we lived in Indiana.  We love those kids and miss them immensely.  I know God placed each of them in our lives and, whether they know it or not, they helped prepare Justin and I for our ministry here in Ohio.  We shared many meals with these kids and had small group time with them in our home.  We are better for having known them, and it was wonderful to be able to catch up with them Friday night.

Justin and I with Michael, Annie, Natalie, and Tevin.
We stayed with my in-laws in Granger, IN, and were up early Saturday morning for some adventures in Michigan.  The weather was beautiful and we visited all of our favorite spots.  We started out in Niles to do some thrift shopping and antiquing (I'm not sure why, but Niles, MI, seems to be the antiquing/thrift shopping capital of the world).  Then we headed to Warren, MI, to have lunch at one of our favorite places before heading to Three Oaks, MI. 

We love Michigan!
Love the old buildings here.
Explore.  Imagine.  Create.
The bikes go with us everywhere.
Three Oaks was one of our favorite places to visit when we lived in South Bend, and it is one of my favorite places on Earth to this day.  It is a small town teeming with fun local businesses and a strong sense of community among the people who live there.  It is very historic with gorgeous downtown buildings and unique shops.  We went to the Journeyman Distillery (if you have never been there, you should go!).  When Justin and I first went there a couple years ago, we got a tour of the place along with information about the history of the building and information about the business.  Journeyman is one of very few organic distilleries in the nation, and the building was once a factory, but everything in the factory has been repurposed to be used as furniture or part of the bar or part of the walls.  It is quite the experience, and it was a joy being back there again.

Journeyman Distillery - Three Oaks, MI.
Whiskey/bourbon flight - just enough to taste.
Love this place.
Got the skateboards/longboards out for a tour of the historic downtown area.
We went to lots of local shops, antique stores, and art galleries and stopped at Mooney's, our favorite ice cream place.  After Three Oaks, we headed to New Buffalo, MI, to go to the beach at Lake Michigan.  New Buffalo ended up being my favorite part of the whole trip.

Instead of relaxing at the beach like normal people would, Justin and I decided to climb a rock path to get out to a watch tower where you could overlook beautiful Lake Michigan.  It was a long climb, but we went for it.  We made it all the way out to watch tower as the wind blew the mist from the lake onto our skin and our feet and legs were covered with sand and were scraped from the rocks.  

It took awhile, but we made it!
The watch tower was an interesting situation since they didn't have an actual ladder to get up and down, but we did it!
We could see Michigan City from the tower!
If you don't know, I've had four surgeries on my hand and just recently had a joint fusion surgery (and I now have a plate, three screws, and a rod).  Needless to say, this tiny peg-ladder was intimidating, but I climbed it like a boss.  I haven't felt that strong since before my last surgery!
It was such a gorgeous evening.
After our rock climbing adventure, we rode our bikes back to the car and loaded up to head to South Bend for dinner at Granite City with our good friends, Dylan and Ally.  It was great having dinner, catching up, and doing our traditional Barnes & Noble browsing afterward.  Luckily, they will be coming our way in a couple weeks!  Looking forward to seeing them again soon.

Sunday was our thrift shopping day.  We went to lots of thrift shops in the area as I was on the hunt for a dining room table.  I've been doing lots of research on repurposing lately and Justin and I are going to sand and repaint a table and chairs for our dining room.  We actually did find a table and picked it up for $15 (and managed to get it in our car and transport it back to Ohio)!  We are also re-doing our bathroom, so we spent some time at Target picking out towels to go with our new shower curtain.  I also heard they knocked down an old building at Indiana University South Bend, Justin and my alma mater, so we stopped by for a quick visit on our way down Mishawaka Avenue.

I lived on campus here for four years with my best friend, Cohen.  Justin and I met here and became college sweethearts.  I went to grad school here.  I taught for the first time here.  I was still working here when Justin and I moved to Ohio.  So many memories. 
Justin got his psychology degree from here.  We love this place!
Justin and I spent the evening at my brother-in-law's house with my mother-in-law, father-in-law, and oldest nephew for an early Memorial Day cookout.  There was lots of Guitar Hero, food, and conversation followed by Justin and I making a trip back to Niles, MI, to see Pitch Perfect 2 at our favorite movie theatre.  (We love Wonderland Cinema in Niles!  It is very cheap!) 

On Monday, Justin and I ventured over to the University of Notre Dame to have lunch at McAlister's Deli and to tour Notre Dame's campus on our bikes.  It ended up pouring down rain, but we still got a ride in.

It was humid, but I'm glad we got a good ride in before the rain started back up.
Love my bike.
The Basilica at Notre Dame.  If you haven't been to this campus, you have to go!  It's beautiful!
In front of the library.
Me with "touchdown Jesus" in the background.
Saw this crane while exploring and riding on the trails.
The beautiful prayer grotto on campus.
Justin and I lit a candle and said a prayer.
When it looked like the rain was going to start up again, we headed to the mall and then had dinner with Justin's family before leaving to head back to Ohio.  It was a wonderful, much-needed break with my husband and I enjoyed every minute of it.

I'm so glad we both have adventurous hearts.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Why I Wanted to Be a (Medical) Doctor

When I first went off to college at Indiana University South Bend in 2007, I was a pre-med major.  My first semester, I studied biology, chemistry, and mathematics, followed by several more semesters of science and math classes like molecular biology and calculus.  I tried to fit in my general education requirements when I could and ended up staying at school during the summer of 2009 to take a required physics course along with a lab.  I wanted to be a doctor, and during my junior year, I bought study materials and started preparing for the MCAT so I could apply to med school.

I wanted to be a doctor for several reasons.  My whole life, I have always had a fascination with the human body and human anatomy.  I took two trimesters of anatomy and physiology as a high school student and loved it.  When I was about to start my senior year of high school, I applied for a program for students interested in entering the medical field.  The program basically took the place of regular school during students' senior years and allowed them to study medicine at the college level and experience working in the medical field firsthand.  I was so excited when I found out I was accepted.

My senior year was the best.  For the first part of the year, I attended the class portion of the program each morning with about 20 other students from area schools that were chosen for the program.  In the afternoons, I went to the high school for economics and government.  We learned everything in those medical classes - medical terminology, advanced anatomy and physiology, and the tasks a person would need to master in order to get their CNA licensing.  For the second part of the program, we only attended the class portion on Friday mornings and spent the rest of the week in various areas of medicine.

Each student in the program had a schedule and we would spend one week in a particular specialty.  I remember my very first clinical rotation in the program - the radiology department at the hospital.  And that was just the beginning.

Throughout the clinical portion of the program, I spent time in areas like obstetrics and gynecology, the emergency room, the intensive care unit, surgery, the in-patient psychiatric unit, and a home for the developmentally disabled.  Every experience was valuable and memorable, but my favorites were the obstetrics floor in the hospital and the emergency room.  I stood beside a surgeon as he delivered an 11-pound baby via C-section.  I helped with several natural deliveries.  I held babies in their first moments of life.  I fed them in the nursery and administered hearing tests.  I'll never forget helping a scared 16-year-old bring her sweet baby girl into the world.  Childbirth is amazing, and I got to experience the wonder of it at the age of 17.

The emergency room was my other favorite.  The fast-paced nature of the ER was intense, but it also taught me how to work under pressure.  I saw everything during my rotation in the ER - broken bones, heart attacks, children with the flu, bleeding wounds, and much more.  I was even asked to do CPR on a patient once until the doctor realized my hand was in a cast from a surgery I just had two weeks before.  One day in the ER, the paramedics brought a woman came in after a heart attack and I watched as the team attempted to revive her.  She didn't make it and I looked on as the doctors shared the news with her husband and young children. 

I grew up a lot that year.

I fed an older gentleman his last meal during my rotation in the intensive care unit.  I cared for the elderly at a local nursing home.  I sat in on group sessions at the in-patient psychiatric unit.  I helped a group of delightful developmentally disabled adults make arts and crafts.  I helped lance and drain an enormous abscess during my rotation with family medicine.  I helped extract a man and his wife from a car in freezing rain after an accident during my shift with the paramedics.  I helped circumcise a baby on the obstetrics floor.  I spent an entire week observing surgeries in the OR - joint replacements, countless orthopedic surgeries (my hometown of Warsaw, IN, is the orthopedic capital of the world), a breast augmentation, a tonsillectomy, a hernia repair, and much more.  I tried to maintain my composure in surgery when the smell of blood and cauterized fat and bone overwhelmed me.  I took thousands of vitals.  I sat with patients as they received chemotherapy treatments at the cancer center.  I learned about administering drugs at the hospital pharmacy.  I learned about the rarely seen, but extremely important, people and tasks that keep a hospital going - housekeeping, re-stocking supplies, the cafeteria.

Me during my senior year of high school (in 2007) with my gear for my healthcare program.  I loved wearing those red scrubs. 
On top of my experiences with this program, I had some personal medical situations that year that only increased my desire to be a doctor.  My dad was in a serious accident in October of my senior year that almost took his life.  Experiencing his hospital stay, his rehabilitation, and his interactions with his nurses and doctors and therapists showed me the importance of having compassionate, devoted healthcare workers that truly cared about the well-being of their patients and their patients' families.

My brother, Tyler, and I with my dad in 2006 during his recovery in the hospital. 
I also had some medical issues of my own.  I had the first (of four) surgeries in December of my senior year to fix an injury with my right hand.  Experiencing what it was like to be a patient firsthand, in surgery and in therapy, only added to my love for medicine and my respect for the human body.  Plus, I had surgery in the midst of my dad's recovery and while I was middle of clinical work with the healthcare program, so I also learned a lot about time management...and how to do everything one-handed.

My first hand surgery in 2006.  This was after the cast came off and the stitches came out.  It was a painful, but interesting, experience to be on the patient end of things. 
So I went to college to be a doctor, but I never studied medicine during the years I majored in pre-med.  After two and a half years of taking chemistry, biology, physics, trigonometry, calculus, and more, I started to get burned out.  Where was the medicine?  Where was the anatomy and physiology?  (Pre-med majors at my university weren't even required to take anatomy and physiology).  My love of medicine had been overtaken by grueling science classes with long labs that I had no interest in.  If we were going to be doctors, why weren't we studying medicine?

Halfway between my junior year, I knew I needed a change.

I met with my pre-med advisor (who was totally awesome and supportive, by the way) and told her how I was feeling.  She asked me what else I was interested in, and the only thing I could think of was writing.  She told me the university had an English and creative writing program and that I should give it a "trial run."  I was terrified of basically having to start over (could pre-med and English be any different?), but I wanted to try something else I was passionate about.

Long story short, I kept going with English and graduated a year and a half later.  I went on to study English in grad school and I'm about to begin a doctorate program in English.  In the end, I will be a doctor, just not the medical doctor I thought I'd be when I first started out.

I still have a great respect for medicine, anatomy, and the human body.  In case you ever wondered, that's why my blog is titled Anatomy of a Writer - the title combines my two great loves:  medicine and writing.  I still study medicine.  I still collect anatomy books.  And, if you've been to my house, you've seen the French anatomy poster in my office and the skeletal diagram in my bedroom.  I often incorporate medical terms into my poetry and anatomical pictures and diagrams into my artwork.  (My entire grad school thesis was a narrative collage centered around anatomical diagrams, images, and text).   

What can I say?  I've always loved studying anatomy.  (That's a deer heart, by the way).  This was taken during my first semester of college in 2007.
I will always be fascinated by the human body and have a great respect for it.  I learned so much and gained so much valuable experience through my healthcare program in high school and during my years as a pre-med student.  God had me go through those experiences for a reason, and they've only heightened my love of medicine.  But God helped me to get on the path I'm on now.  I love English and I love writing, and I'm beyond excited to begin my doctoral studies this fall.  

I had the opportunity to teach college students for three years back in Indiana and I am going back to teaching college students this fall at Bowling Green.  I love investing in the lives of my students and I no longer feel like I have to be a (medical) doctor to make a difference.  

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

So she did.

April was National Poetry Month!  Since I've lived in Toledo, I've been increasingly impressed with the local poetry community.  The main library branch hosts poetry readings on the first and last Thursdays of the month and showcases several featured poets during those months.  I'm going to the reading this Thursday! 

The Toledo Museum of Art hosted the Ekphrastic Writing Competition awards ceremony this past Friday, May 1st.  I was fortunate enough to be a finalist and attend the event.  My mom came into town for the ceremony and we were joined by my good friend, Bobbie.  It was a wonderful event where each finalist was introduced and had the opportunity to read their poem.  There were three categories - middle school, high school, and adult.  I was so impressed with the poems written by the younger contestants; poetry is still very much alive and thriving!  We went to dinner after the event and enjoyed good food and great conversation.  My mom stayed until Saturday; we had so much fun spending the weekend together.  I even got to take her to Bowling Green and show her a bit of the campus where I'll be spending lots of time the next few years.

Me at the Ekphrastic Writing Competition awards ceremony at the Toledo Museum of Art.
Toledo has a local poetry publication called The Quill.  I saw an advertisement for it at the Bigby Coffee by my house and decided to submit.  They accepted two of my poems for an upcoming issue, one of which I wrote about a trip my best friend, Cohen, and I took to see her family in Iowa a couple years ago.  I'm excited to be a part of the local poetry scene here in Toledo and I'm looking forward to reading poetry from other local authors when the next issue comes out.  Learn more about The Quill here:


I also had a poem accepted at Songs of Eretz Poetry Review for their upcoming issue.  This publication is unique because the editor pairs a graphic with each poem along with a note from the editor and a note from the author about the poem.  This is the Songs of Eretz Poetry Review website:


Poetry Quarterly picked up one of my poems for publication, as well.  Learn more about their publication at the following site:


A few months ago, I had two poems accepted for publication at a journal called Poetry Pacific.  The spring issue was just released today.  You can view the entire issue here:


My two poems can be viewed here on the Poetry Pacific website:


Several months ago, I had a poem accepted at a magazine called The Main Street Rag.  The issue with my poem just became available and I was pleasantly surprised one night last week when I came home from work to find my contributor copy in my mailbox.

The Spring 2015 issue of The Main Street Rag featuring one of my poems.
The issue contains some great writing from some awesome writers.  Get your copy here:


My husband was gone last week at a conference in Georgia for work, so he wasn't able to make it to my poetry awards ceremony.  However, he surprised me last week by telling me to expect a package in the mail when I got home from work.  He told me to open it, and this beautiful necklace was inside.
"I am, I am, I am."
He got me this necklace as a congratulations gift for getting into Bowling Green.  This necklace is an amazing gift for two reasons - my husband wanted to celebrate with me even though we weren't able to be together, and he knows my heart enough to know that Sylvia Plath is my favorite poet and this is one of my favorite quotes from her.  I am so in love with this necklace.  My husband is amazing.  He also brought this home for me from the conference:

He knows me so well.
Have I ever said how supportive my husband is!?  He pushes me to strive for my dreams everyday and supports me every step of the way.  He is the best. 

My mom and I also celebrated my acceptance to school while she was here last weekend since I hadn't seen her since Easter.  She got me this beautiful gift as a congratulations:

So she did.
This gift is so special to me.  The reason it is so special is because when I went off to college for the first time in 2007, my mom gave me a bookmark that had the exact same saying on it.  She has always believed in me and has been my greatest cheerleader over the years.  When I went off to college, she encouraged me to dream big, to be independent, and to strive for the best.  My mom and dad always wanted me to go after what I wanted in life and to never let anyone look down on me for being young or for being a woman or for being my own person.  I want to thank my parents for that, and I want to thank my mom for giving me little gifts like this to constantly remind me to keep going after my dreams.  That bookmark has meant so much to me over the years.

The original bookmark my mom gave me in 2007 when I started college. 
My campus visit to Bowling Green last week.  God is good!
I've been getting lots of information from Bowling Green lately about orientation coming up this summer both for classes and for teaching.  It's going to be an awesome journey.  I can't wait to start.

Even if you didn't have parents that encouraged you and told you to go after your dreams, don't let anything hold you back.  Go after what you want.  Dream big.


"The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams."
-Eleanor Roosevelt