8.18.2015

grace like rain


So I've already mentioned God several times already; I am a Christian, and while I've never been one to share deeply personal things with other people, I think that I'm called to do so when it comes to my faith. I won't lie - it's super uncomfortable for me and not something I do on a daily or even weekly basis. I know some of you may not understand my hesitation and others may not relate to the feeling of wanting to share that information. Regardless, being open about my faith is important to me and I find that writing about it is a way for me to start articulating my thoughts. The hope is that, as I gain confidence and feel more at ease, it will eventually become more natural to weave this part of me into real life conversations. 

I've been trying hard to be more intentional about reading the Bible as part of this learning experience and I've found that the She Reads Truth app is a great way for me to start my morning. Between those daily readings and the messages our pastor has been sharing at church, it seems that I've been hearing the word "grace" pretty frequently. This is fitting, since grace is something I've needed by the truckload recently; the timing also couldn't be better to explain to you the meaning behind the name of this blog.


I've already bemoaned the fact that living through med school and residency is hard. While I'm sure you'll get sick of hearing me say it, I know I'm not alone - there are many blogs and websites written by women who reveal what it's really like to be the one at home waiting for a doctor. While I relate to these women BIG TIME, many of them highlight the fact that there is an unrealistic expectation placed on doctors' wives in terms of appearance and lifestyle. I count myself lucky that I have not yet run up against these frustrating stereotypes, but I understand that it can and probably will happen over time - at that point, I will be rereading these blogs for sure. However, when looking for support for the here and now, I realized what I needed to hear is that I can do something about my circumstances. Residency isn't going anywhere, and I think I can safely say that programs across the country aren't suddenly going to decide that doctors should only work from 9:00am-5:00pm. While that may be welcome news for wifeys (and husbands!) everywhere, is it good for patients? Not so much. 

Enter grace. 

I'm the first to admit that, when dealing with the struggles and frustrations of being married to medicine, I'm no poster girl. When my husband comes home from a long day of who-knows-what-kinds of crazy, he often has to navigate the mine field that is me before he can safely escape to the bathroom - where, apparently, there is peace and quiet. Contrary to what my poor hubby may believe, I don't lie in wait, ready to ambush him with questions and mail and plans the second he walks in the door; rather, I picture myself welcoming him with open arms (which is relative, because let's be honest - I'm not touching that germy white coat) and a smile. Unfortunately, that sweet scenario very rarely unfolds in real life. Is it difficult for my husband to deal with? I would guess the answer to that is a resounding yes. But does he still come home and love me, mine field or not? YES. He shows me grace. 

The same is true of God - some days I literally don't do anything to deserve it, but He shows me constant grace because of His love for me. While that's comforting, it's also intimidating because I could never hope to measure up. Thankfully, Romans 6:23 says "For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." A free gift like that is amazing without a doubt, but that doesn't mean I shouldn't try; something I struggle with on a daily basis is the need to keep score, to make sure I get the last word, to be right. But really, what does that matter? I should be so grateful to receive the grace of God and of others that I want to give a little more than I get every day, holding only myself accountable. For me, "resident grace" is a reminder that if my marriage is built on the right foundation, it should travel well. Our circumstances and surroundings can always change at a moment's notice, but that doesn't mean our attitudes, hope, and respect for one another have to change too. It's a reminder of what I've been given and how I've been blessed, and a challenge to return it tenfold no matter what. I definitely don't have the capacity to get anywhere close to that goal on my own (remember, I can be an annoying mine field), but I believe that with God guiding me, it's possible.

8.07.2015

house hunters


My husband just started his second year working on inpatient wards, so the phrase “the hospital owns him” is coming to mind. While his work schedule and I would occasionally like to punch each other in the face, my hubby handles it all with grace and patience. He is blessed with great coworkers and continues to feel affirmation that his chosen specialty is the right one for him, which I am grateful for every day. For those of you wondering how I fared that first year of residency, let me be clear: I do not always handle things with the aforementioned grace and patience of my hubby. Let's just say that intern year went by much faster than I expected, but you guys - it was hard.

First of all, it’s a real treat trying to buy a house in a new city when all you have to go on is what you know about the airport (crowded, not enough Starbucks) and the highway at 3am (because no one wants to be anywhere near it at rush hour and you’ve decided to man up and drive yourself to Florida). On top of that, factor in the reality that your husband will not be working at one but four different hospitals spread across the city, so good luck trying to find a convenient location.

Confession: I seriously thought this was going to be like House Hunters.

I was expecting our real estate agent to have extensive knowledge of every potential neighborhood, school system, and all of the cute little areas where we would be “within walking distance of shops and restaurants.” How many times do you hear that phrase when watching the show? It brings to mind visions of undiscovered, trendy civilizations with amazing food hiding around every corner. I also thought that our real estate agent (do you feel bad for her already?) would meet us at the door of every house and take us on a guided tour of each room, the layout of which she was already miraculously familiar with. Last but not least, I expected that she would moonlight as a licensed contractor, able to field any number of questions about possible renovation and repair costs so that we could factor those things in to our final decision.

Speaking of the Final Decision, let’s discuss how I thought that conversation would go: I envisioned my husband and I sitting at a cool restaurant (because obviously we have inherited our agent’s ability to locate hipster food), glasses of wine in front of us, casually listing the pros and cons of three different but equally charming houses. We would easily agree on which house should be eliminated first and on the count of three, we would shout out our unanimous final pick. Our agent would then demonstrate some hardcore negotiating skills to score a sweet deal on the house and we would move in like two weeks later, immediately followed by unpacking, painting, decorating, and hosting a dinner party for 17 people.

I am an idiot.

This is how it went down in real life. First, our agent was not familiar with any area other than the suburb where she already lived; that particular suburb was definitely not an option for us, seeing as how it required you to actually drive on the highway to go anywhere. In this city? No thank you. Second, the houses we could afford were less "walking distance to shops and restaurants" and more "walking distance to any situation that will get you killed." Literally. A very nice girl who lived in one of our potential neighborhoods informed us that "you get used to hearing the gun shots." Again, NO THANK YOU. Unfortunately for us, we quickly recognized that we had turned into that couple; you know, the spoiled ones who think they're going to get granite, stainless steel, bathrooms built after 1942 and an open concept for like five dollars. If I could go back and give myself advice, it would be this: "Girlfriend, manage your crazy expectations."

What I imagined as a meaningful bonding experience for me and my recently graduated hubby turned into tears, fights over stairs vs. no stairs, ultimatums about kitchen renovations, and 47 hours in the car. I'm pretty sure my husband never actually cried but I clearly did enough of that for the both of us. Did we find a house in the end? Yes, thank the Lord. It was obviously one of the last houses we saw, because why make it easy? Fortunately, we now have a cute little place that's easy to clean (because my husband was right on the no-stairs thing) in a neighborhood that's safe, within 20 highway-free minutes of any hospital. Best of all, it's ours. Did we have rooms painted, boxes unpacked and a dinner party for 17 people within weeks of moving in? Definitely not. However, we did eat Chinese food in our new living room on that first night, using jelly jar lids as spoons because they forgot to bring utensils with our garlic chicken. We did paint every wall, baseboard and piece of trim ourselves over the last year and it looks pretty awesome if I do say so myself. We did renovate our kitchen, which is another long story, meaning we used Solo cups and plasticware until about three months ago - that's also when we finally unpacked the last of the boxes. We did have a group of people over, but it was just a neighborhood girls' wine night - no dinner, no place settings, no centerpieces, and no boys allowed. 

The whole moving experience is not something I'm eager to do again, but the reality is that we may have to go through this process in another four years when residency is over. Who knows - we may even have to factor in school districts at that point, which kind of makes me feel panicky. 

{Should I be Googling "top ten preschools" starting now? Aren't kids expected to be able to read in Latin by age two nowadays if they want any hope of getting into college?}

The one thing I can count on as my husband works his way through residency is that it is always going to be unpredictable. Even though we're settled for the moment, it doesn't mean that we're settled for a lifetime. Even though I daydreamed about the purchase of our home through the not-so-accurate lens of a house hunting reality show, I'm jolted awake by real life, which includes mortgages, differing opinions and no editing. Even though I have dinner ready to go, I get a phone call saying, "I just got a new admission - I'll be home late." As someone who typically thrives on a schedule and a plan, my heart suddenly becomes ungrateful and demanding when I can't anticipate the next thing. I'm slowly and painfully learning that my life - including where we live, what house we buy and what time we eat - is so much more fulfilling when I give the control up to God. I listen more, I laugh more, and I don't spend my time thinking about the next move, whether literal or figurative; I spend it truly enjoying my husband - even if all I get is a kiss goodnight when he rolls in at 1am - and I'll take that over House Hunters any day. 

8.06.2015

not so sparkly and shiny


Let me start by saying that I never intended to share my story with anyone, namely because I don’t find it particularly earth shattering or unique. I also have an intense desire to remain in the background in most situations, which is a little hard to do when you’re baring your soul to complete strangers. To give you some context, I have been known to cry if a group of people attempt to sing “Happy Birthday” to me, my mother had to specifically instruct guests at my bridal shower to NOT watch me open presents, and I’m pretty sure daggers will shoot out of my eyes if you take me to Benihana and force me to play a tambourine in celebration of anything. Needless to say, when it comes to expressing myself or enjoying life’s big moments, I definitely do not relish the spotlight; writing, on the other hand, allows me all the time in the world to say what I actually mean without the awkwardness and tears. 

Where to begin? This is tough, because I feel like there really isn’t a clear beginning. My life is constantly changing direction, pushing me forward one minute and nudging me back the next, all while I try to get my bearings. Given the disorganized nature of said life, I think the easiest way to start is to tell you where I am right now. So. Once upon a time, during a stifling Georgia summer, I sat on a couch next to a cute but growly shih tzu. Not painting a specific enough picture for you? Allow me to elaborate: we moved from the Midwest to the South last year after my husband was offered a position in a residency program. The shih tzu didn’t come into our world until after a really sad time, but I can’t imagine life without her now, unpredictable temperament notwithstanding. Still not specific enough? Here's a little background...

My husband and I have only been married for 4 years, so med school was a part of our lives from day one. All through school, I felt like residency was the carrot dangling on the end of the string, the point we had to make it to in order for things to be better, easier, etc. “Once we know where we’ll be living, we’ll feel settled. When we own a house, then it will feel like home. When you don’t have to study so much, it will be more fun!” And on and on I went, like a broken record, never really stopping to live our life as it was at the time. Sure, there were moments when I had inspiring-wall-arty thoughts like “Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass, it’s about learning to dance in the rain! Every day is a gift!” but nothing stuck. (Side note: have you seen this? Love it, although I can guarantee it would not be hubby-approved.) Predictably, motivational home d├ęcor was not enough to give me a positive outlook on the Powerpoint presentations and books on drug interactions that dictated my husband’s schedule. Shocking, I know. More on med school later but suffice it to say, I thought residency would make us feel like we had MADE IT

To be fair, I honestly did feel like that for awhile. However, life with an intern is not always sparkles and unicorns, and I’m sure my husband would tell you that life with an intern’s wife is not always shiny and filled with puppies.

{Read between those lines: there is a distinct possibility that I have a tendency to get naggy, defensive, judgy and insecure.}

We had a lot of struggles and stressors during the first year of residency, more of which I’ll share with you later, all of which has led me to this point: talking to a bunch of strangers (no offense) about my problems (you're welcome). However, I hope that at least one of you will walk away with a sense of comfort or encouragement when you need it most. It's important for me to learn something while we're stuck on this residency roller coaster and although I haven't figured out exactly how it will end, I can still share what I've learned so far and let you see my struggle to keep learning. I’m sure there will be a range of reactions to my story, but I would love it if you feel as though you’re talking to a friend who totally gets where you’re coming from. Of course I won’t hold it against you if you feel as though said friend is hilarious and insightful, but I’ll take what I can get.