Embracing Real Self-Care

Tea Break

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I’m grasping at the edge of a comfortable new existence. I’d probably be cradling a cup of chamomile tea, letting its calm warmth radiate through me. The past few months have been hard, more demanding than I could possibly have imagined. I suspect that no one who has experienced this kind of curriculum truthfully expresses how difficult it can be. Dwelling on the hardships would make the experience unbearable. As a way of shielding the uninitiated from undue mental anguish, this lie of omission might be effective. Unfortunately, it also downplays the importance of developing successful coping strategies. I mention “coping strategies” not to dwell on the negative, but simply to be realistic. It’s not always reasonable to aim for mastery in vet school. Coping with the curriculum and achieving proficiency—while striving to maintain mental fortitude and physical wellbeing—is essential, however. On an everyday basis, this means finding a way to make the best use of every hour and every ounce of strength at my disposal. And that necessitates embracing an idea that once made me cringe. Read more

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Porch Reads No. 3

Summer Reading 3

On this (day after the) unofficial last day of summer, I’m making a last-ditch effort to memorialize the final part of my summer reading effort. I’m already on the verge of forgetting everything I loved and despised about these books, because I just started my first semester of vet school. It’s only the beginning of my second week, but my routine–and frankly, my entire lifestyle–has been upset. I’m glad for it, because this is the kind of upset that’s going to change me for the better, but it does mean that my priorities have shifted. Oh, the time I once devoted to reading! Where has it gone?! In reality, it’s only been one week, but a week ago feels like a lifetime ago.

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Porch Reads No. 2

Summer Reading 2

The Remains of the Day has been recommended to me over and over again. Finally, when I saw it at my favorite used book store, I picked it up and shelved it. Somehow, the book never made it to the top of my reading list, though. Despite my affinity for Downton Abbey and all manner of British period pieces, it seemed too blatantly Anglophilic for me. I don’t enjoy reading just anything written about British people, but I do appreciate that uniquely British pairing of scathing humor with unnatural, almost illogical, stoicism. That’s why I enjoy Evelyn Waugh’s books, for example, or the lovely gem that is William Boyd’s Any Human Heart—one of my favorite reads of the year. In more ways than I had expected, Kazuo Ishiguro’s book was different from my usual fare.

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Porch Reads No. 1

Summer Reading

In an effort to make time for one of my favorite activities, I’ve challenged myself to read 50 books in 2016. I’m keeping track of my progress on Goodreads, and sneakily picking up recommendations from my friends’ shelves, too. Before the start of my summer break, I had read 37 books. Thanks to a few languid afternoons with a porch cocktail in hand, I’m now at 40. I hope to meet my goal by the end of the summer, and maybe even increase my goal for the rest of the year. I have no idea what my first semester in vet school will do to my free time, though, so maybe that’s just wishful thinking.

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Downtime

The past few weeks have been unimaginably hectic! I’m used to functioning at full throttle, but not like this. I finished up my own classwork earlier in the month, and wrapped up my work for the class I was teaching around the same time. Then came a week of graduation ceremonies and all of the school and family celebrations that accompanied them. I spent the following week moving out of my apartment, and cursing myself for accumulating such an ungodly quantity of stuff in a third floor walk-up. Finally, I brought the month to a close by performing bridesmaid duties for my friend Ellen at Pretty Neutral. All the while, I’ve been keeping up with the endless administrative requirements for my upcoming first year in veterinary school. Read more