Friday, August 18, 2017

On My Heart This Week | Charlottesville.

Guys, I know you're trying to stay caught up with your friends' babies and funny puppy videos, and everyone is invading your social feeds with opinions about this past weekend's events in Charlottesville. But I'm not here to talk politics, because truthfully, I don't believe this to be a political issue at all: I'm here to talk about right and wrong. I'm going to be so honest here and I truly mean it with the utmost respect: if you aren't deeply disturbed by the events that took place in Charlottesville this weekend, you aren't paying attention. 

If you haven't yet, I urge you to watch Monday's episode of HBO's Vice. It's difficult to watch, but so necessary. My jaw dropped. I cried. Then Ryan watched it and forced me into a hug at the end of the episode.

"Jews will not replace us."

"This city is run by Jewish communists and criminal n*****s!"

"We're not nonviolent. We'll fucking kill these people if we have to."

"Fuck you f*****s!"

Actual quotes from white supremacists. Horrific, isn't it?

Guys, that's me they're talking about. I was born to a Jewish father. I have Jewish family. I have a Bulgarian brother-in-law. I have black friends and a black "uncle." I have gay friends. And if it were up to these disgusting individuals, we'd all be exterminated. Literally. 

What did you think about when you first learned about the Holocaust? The Warsaw Ghetto? Auschwitz? That it could never happen again? That we wouldn't allow it? That someone, somewhere would speak up, do something, anything?

I saw a great quote on my friend Chelsea's blog this past week: "If you are wondering how you would've acted during Nazi Germany or during the Civil Rights Movement, look at how you're acting now." It's so true. It's easy to think that we've evolved as a society, as a country, as humans. But if this weekend proves anything, it's the exact opposite.

So speak up, friends. Say it's not okay. Call it what it is. Say it in your out loud voice to the people you care about, to people you don't know, to people who need to hear it. This kind of deep-rooted hatred is unacceptable. And know that if I get "too political" for your liking on Twitter or on my blog, it's because I'm actually terrified. Because it affects me. Because it affects people I love. 

It's bigger than Trump versus Hillary, Republican versus Democrat, conservatives versus liberals. Above all else, this is about human life. Be a spokesperson for love and acceptance. 

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Simple Moments | July 2017

I know we're nearly halfway through August already (um, what) but I've been on vacation, so please excuse my lateness!

1 - We were house sitting at my parents for the first two weeks of July, so we threw a little Independence Day gathering. I made my first fruit pizza, sipped on Tito's & grapefruit, and indulged in both a cheeseburger and a hot dog because #YOLO, right?

2 - One of my best friends, Sable, took me out to a late birthday brunch at my new favorite Clearwater breakfast spot Wildflower Cafe (you can read my friend Kahla's post allll about this adorable spot here!). We ate mini waffles and omelettes, drank mimosas, and talked about her upcoming wedding, my graduate school journey, and everything between.

3 - Shortly after 4th of July, I fell sick, and decided to take advantage of my mom's garden tub. About an hour before hopping into the bath, Ryan went off to the gym and I thought to myself, "I would loooove some pho right now...maybe I'll text Ryan. Eh, we have food here. I won't make him go out of his way." Friends - relationship telepathy must be a thing, because as soon as I settled into the tub, Ryan shot me a text: "hey babe, how about some spicy pho since you're not feeling well? text me where i should pick it up." I didn't think I could love that man anymore, and yet.

4 - A date night at Russo's Pizzeria...where I actually put on a full face of makeup and did something to my hair and looked like a real person. Whereas Ryan...he just woke up like that. Sigh.

5 - Sasha getting handsy at Dog Bar on a sweltering Sunday afternoon. We normally turn into pumpkins by about 4 p.m. on Sundays, so it was fun getting to check out a new bar in St. Pete with friends (both furry and human-esque).

6 - A brief 20 minutes of relaxation toward the end of the semester with a new book, a cup of coffee, and a nosy pooch.

7 - Our first trip to Zoe's Kitchen. I got the cauliflower rice bowl which was okay, but I don't think I'd get it again. Next time I think I'll try their power grain or mediterranean salad trio bowl...if you're an active Zoe goer, let me know what you recommend!

8 - Sipping Coronas and margs out of inflatable flamingos was the perfect way to end the first year of graduate school with some of my fabulous friends. Not pictured: the large pizza & garlic knots we ate later while watching To The Bone, a movie about eating disorders. Irony at its finest.

9 - A quiet moment just before the sun went down during my nine hour flight over to Europe...where I had the entire row of seats to myself. What. A. Life.

What were some of your favorite simple moments in July?

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Advice for your First Year of Speech-Language Pathology Graduate School.

Note: This post is for my fellow or future SLP graduate students! Non-SLP following - you're more than welcome to read on, but if you're not interested, come back later in the week for more travel/personal bits :)

I can't believe my first year of speech-language pathology grad school has already come and gone. I start my second (and final!) year in just a couple of weeks, so I wanted to share a few bits of advice I've gathered from my experience as a first year speech-language pathology student for anyone who's about to start their program this month, or anyone applying in the future! I hope you find this at least a tiny bit helpful as you begin your journey! I certainly don't know it all (I don't think I even know half of it all), but after reflecting on the last year, I've found these to be true:

No amount of observation will prepare you for treating your own clients. Going in, I knew that I had no real idea what I was doing, but I didn't realize how true that actually was...ha! Every client is different, and finding what works while making sure it's an evidence based practice plus making it entertaining for your client (especially the kiddos) can feel especially daunting. But you will learn. Some days you'll want to cry, but you'll always learn!

Staying humble is key. It's no secret that these programs are tough to get into, so it's safe to say that you are one smart cookie! But as a student, or even as a seasoned SLP, you don't know everything (duh!). It doesn't matter how many textbooks you've read, how high your undergrad GPA was, or how many hours of observation you've logged (read above!). Be respectful of your supervisors, keep an open mind to your classmates' ideas, and always be kind. Remember that your supervisors and professors have years of experience with what works and what doesn't and you get to piggy back off that experience...pretty cool, if you ask me! Having said that, never be afraid to ask "why," or to ask if you can try something new.

Finding "your people" (or your person) in the program is so important. From clinical triumphs to formulating appropriate goals, complaining about a tough session or simply wanting to talk about your future profession - there are certain things that your classmates will just understand better than your parents, non-SLP friends, or significant other. These programs are tough, and you'll need someone to bounce ideas off of, to study with, to grow with. You're all in grad school now, so the competition is out the window (heads up - there will still be some people who are competitive AF...I say either kill them with kindness, or ignore them altogether).

Time management time management time management. In some ways, graduate school is a bit easier than undergrad. I can't put my finger on why that is exactly...maybe because getting into grad school is so difficult in itself that once you're actually there, all you have to do is survive. However, it requires a lot of time management. Unlike undergrad, you have to be readily available at any point for a meeting with your clinic group, your supervisor, or a team project. Add in your individual client, making treatment plans and writing SOAPs plus homework (and you know, existing as a human outside of grad school), and you can get overwhelmed real quick. Keeping a planner is important, as is being, real flexible.

Understanding what you're learning and actually being able to apply it as a clinician is far more important than getting an A. I know, I know. We want all the A's! But remember that when you're interviewing in the future, they're not going to ask you about your 4.0 GPA - they'll be more concerned with your clinical experiences.

But it's also okay to not be interested in every single thing you're learning. As an SLP, you can wear a ton of different hats over the course of your career, but you probably won't be wearing them all at the same time. So don't feel guilty if learning about swallowing disorders and feeding tubes doesn't appeal to you. You'll find your niche!

You don't have to devote all of your time, energy, and mental space to school. 
And you shouldn't. Study hard, but make time for fun things and don't feel guilty about it.

Most importantly? Enjoy this time. Even when it sucks (because it will). Your classmates will become some of your best friends - take advantage of getting to see them every single day because you'll miss it when it's gone (AKA like I will be when we're all at different externships & in different classes this semester). 

If you're currently in a program or a seasoned SLP, any tips for incoming first years? Or if you're a graduate student for a different kind of program, what's the best piece of advice you could give, or that you've received? Let me know in the comments!

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Europe Update | What I've Been Doing & What I Haven't.

I'm halfway through my two week European adventure, and I think I have finally caught up on the time change. Up until about two nights ago, I was staying up until four in the morning every night and sleeping until noon - AKA 9 p.m. until 5 a.m. my time. Ha! I don't even keep that kind of sleep schedule back home (although maybe my Europe-self is on to something here).

For many reasons, it's safe to say that my life in Europe is definitely different than my life back in the states (obviously!). Out here, I've been doing a lot of:
  • Drinking wine. Haven't been able to find margaritas in the places we've been so far. One night I was given a glass of sauv blanc with chopped bits of raspberries and strawberries (at a bar!) and it's all I've been wanting to drink ever since. 
  • Reading. Finished What Alice Forgot by Lianne Moriarty. Started & finished Wonder by RJ Palacio and It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover. Now I'm onto Finding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella. I've definitely been in the mood for light & easy summer reading, and I'm absolutely loving my Kindle Paper White, especially for a trip like this.
  • Eating salad. Shopska is a super popular, traditional salad here in Bulgaria - made with tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, onions, and parsley, topped with olive oil, red wine vinegar, and sirene cheese (very similar to feta). I've been eating it with every lunch and evening meal and I have yet to get sick of it.
  • Going to the beach. If you follow me on Instagram, you'll notice that most of my pictures have been at the beach. We spent a couple days in northern Greece in a small beach town just south of Kavala on the Agean Sea, followed by three days along the southern seaside bits of Bulgaria on the Black Sea. I didn't anticipate a beach vacation but I have been loving every second of it.
  • Spending time with my sister (obviously). Since she lives in Europe, I only get to see her about once a year, so I love getting to spend one-on-one time with her out here!
I haven't been doing a whole lot of:
  • Straightening my hair (or doing anything with it at all).  brought my hair straightener, but it doesn't plug into the European converter my sister had, so it's been safely tucked away in my suitcase for the last week. 
  • Wearing makeup. I have yet to see a full face of makeup on anyone here, so I haven't been wearing much of mine either. A bit of foundation for sunscreen purposes, bronzer so I don't look like a ghost, and a swipe of mascara has been my go-to routine and it's been wonderful.
  • Mindless scrolling. I'm not doing a "roaming" plan out here, so I have to be connected to Wifi for my phone to work. So when I find it, I upload a quick picture to Instagram and give Ryan a call. Not a whole lot of time to check social media the way I normally do, and it's been great to disconnect a bit more than usual.

It's hard to believe that in just a couple of weeks, I'll be back in school mode! Trying to "summer it up" out here as best I can until then. What have you been doing to celebrate summer?

Friday, July 28, 2017

Life Update | Bye, Bye USA! (For Two Weeks).

My summer semester is over and I am officially halfway done with my master’s degree! One year down, one to go. The past year has been a giant learning curve, but I know that I still have so much left to figure out about this profession. I’ll be doing my “advanced practicum” in the fall – in other words, I only have one more semester on campus and then I’ll be off working in the “real” world (for free…) on externships. What a learning curve that will be. I’m kind of excited to have one semester left to be in my “comfort zone” before being thrown into new settings. But until then…

I am off to Europe TONIGHT! I’m visiting my sister and brother-in-law in Bulgaria, and we’ll be taking a quick four-hour road trip down to Kavala, Greece (how fun that she can just road trip to Greece anytime she wants?!). I’ll be there until August 14th, so make sure to follow along on Instagram for posts and stories…when I have WiFi, that is.

Also – last night I called my bank to let them know I’d be traveling internationally, and she asked me which countries so she could fill out the travel plan.

Me: Bulgaria and Greece.
Banker: Okay, but what country is Bulgaria in?
Me: Bulgaria is its own country. It’s in Europe.
Banker: No but what COUNTRY is Bulgaria in?
Me: …I don’t know how else I can explain this. I mean, it’s in Europe?! B-U-L-G-A-R-I-A.
Banker: I can’t seem to find it…
Me: *trying not to lose my cool* Well my parents were just there and they have the same bank and they didn’t seem to have a problem but um okay well that’s going to be where I’ll be for most of the trip so I don’t know I guess I’ll try---
Banker: OH. Here it is!!! Been looking right at it the whole time. Sorry!

OI VEY. Crisis averted in all of two minutes. 

Since I always talk about having no extra money I figure I should give full disclosure and say that my sister bought my plane ticket. I have my savings and keep decent track of my finances, but it’s safe to say that I don’t typically have the travel funds for a Eurotrip, so this was a special treat from my family and I am so thankful for it! I’m super excited, but also pretty bummed Ryan isn’t coming along (planned this trip back in April, he would’ve had to notify work about a two-week trip at the very beginning of the year…totally understandable!). I’ll miss him and the pooches, but it’ll be great having sister time!  

I am currently...

Watching: Game of Thrones…finally on that bandwagon! Finishing up season one. Also watched one of Netflix’s newest movies about a girl suffering from an eating disorder called To The Bone and really enjoyed it. May or may not have watched it whilst eating a large pizza and garlic knots #irony.
Reading: What Alice Forgot by Lianne Moriarty. I’m a little more than halfway through it, so I’ll need to download some new books on my Kindle Paper White before boarding the plane tonight! Any suggestions?
Listening: Summer Air by ItaloBrothers, Two High by Moon Taxi, and More Than You Know by Axwell /\ Ingrosso. Nothing life changing, but fun summer songs for dancing with girlfriends or working out.

Side note: How cute is that passport holder (pictured!)? I've been eyeing this for months and had to scoop it up before my trip...I love anything! Shop it here.

I'm bringing my laptop with me, so I'm hoping to crank out a few blog posts here and there when I can. Like I said, be sure to follow along on Instagram if you'd like to stay updated on my trip 

TGIF, friends...have a wonderful weekend!

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