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Andrew and I have an impending trip and I’ve been trying to clean out our fridge, freezer and pantry for the last few weeks. Tonight, we were each on our own for dinner, and Andrew finished off what was left of a rotisserie chicken and some veggies. 

I, on the other hand, got a little more creative: 

Salad with the last of the lettuce, the last of some jarred beets, red onion, the last of some shredded cheddar cheese, the last of some cukes and onions in vinegar and a little ceasar dressing.  

But wait–it gets better.

 

Bacon on Ezekiel bread with almond butter. In an effort to eat some bacon I cooked for Andrew’s weekday breakfasts, I channeled my inner chef to mimic the bacon and peanut butter burger I had at Cole’s, a bistro on Elmwood Avenue in Buffalo. Sounds crazy, but it’s good. And so was this. Thinking I might make one as a snack tomorrow…

I’m FINISHED!  (Except for that giant test I have to take at the end of the summer, but close enough.)

Last Saturday, myself and a handful of my classmates walked across the stage to receive our diplomas after FOUR LONG YEARS of academia. It’s crazy to think that it really took four years to get another bachelor’s degree (?!?!), and that it’s come and gone already. In some ways, it felt like an eternity; in others, I blinked.

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Mom and Andrew’s grandma joined us for the event at school.  The ceremony was 2 1/2 hours long and by the end, all I could think about was how thirsty I was!  A HUGE thank you to my mother, who did the most loving thing anyone could have at that moment – she got me some water. She also got yellow roses, my favorite :)  It felt like such a fuss over something I didn’t think was ‘that big of a deal,’ but in the end, it was nice.  These last four years were – hands down – the hardest of both mine and Andrew’s lives.  This calls for a celebration!

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After the ceremony, we headed back to East Aurora to join friends for lunch at our local Mexican place, where I got my celebratory post-semester margarita. It still doesn’t feel quite ‘real’ that I’ve graduated (again, it might be the big test looming), but each day it feels like a bit of the weight lifts off my shoulders.

What’s next?  Well, Andrew and I are about to head off on a much-needed vacation, and then I’ll be back and ready to spend some quality time on the yard, teach cycle classes at the YMCA, sit on the porch to read…and study.

Today, I had my last 5:30 a.m. wake-up for the hospital. 

  
Breakfast in hand, I walked into Buffalo General for what may be the last time. 

During my ‘staff relief’ rotation this past month, I worked on the 14th floor with neuro patients, as well as in the neurosurgery ICU. I shadowed one of the kindest, most patient dietitians I’ve ever met, whose calm demeanor was a perfect match for my high-strung nature. She offered both constructive criticism and encouragement along the way. Because I worked on the same floors every day, I got to know some of the nurses and patients as well. By the end of our four-week rotation, I was doing follow-up assessments on patients I’d seen multiple times already. I knew the nurses’ names. I got to the point that I was calculating tube feeds in seconds and even had to whip up a TPN recommendation on the spot today for my last–and very complicated–patient.

This rotation is the one I was dreading the most, yet I think I ended up enjoying it far more than the other two, despite the early mornings and long days. Far and away, I learned more about acute care and nutrition support in these four weeks than I did in any classroom in the last four years.

Four years. I can’t believe it’s been that long. In a matter of days, I’ll leave Buffalo State’s campus for the last time after graduation. I struggle to reconcile the amount of knowledge I’ve gained with how much Andrew and I have not done these past four years. Trips, house projects, quality time, starting a family. In some ways, it feels like we ‘lost’ all that time. It has felt as if we were in limbo since moving here–house-hunting, moving twice, me going back to school–I realized the other day that I’ve never really had what felt like a ‘permanent’ job since I graduated from Penn State 10 years ago. The Air Force wasn’t ever going to be my career, my short stint as a library employee certainly wasn’t permanent, we knew we would move, and then I went back to school just months after arriving in New York. Summers off never feel quite like the break they should be…not for me anyway. 

But now, things will be different. I’m not sure how it will all look, but I’m confident the future will be bright. And not nearly as stressful.

Today, I finished up four weeks of intense work as a student-RD with some dear friends. 

  
Next week, we’ll graduate–after four long years–and nothing feels quite as good as that right now.

Don’t get too excited–it’s not as a Registered Dietitian. Yet.

It’s to teach cycle classes at the YMCA! (Since I have about zero rhythm, I figured teaching kickbox was out. I’m hoping to add other disciplines, like TRX or Pilates, as I go along.)

 

A few weeks ago I arranged a meeting with the wellness director at our branch to discuss potential nutritional counseling opportunities and find out what I needed to do to become a fitness instructor. (As a group fitness instructor, I get my membership paid for AND get paid to work out. It’s a win-win-win. I already feel like I live there–why not make a little money while I’m at it?! Plus, the savings in my membership fee are sizable in and of itself.)

I hadn’t anticipated starting before this summer or even fall, but the director encouraged me to submit my application–our meeting served as my ‘interview’–and within a week I was signing paperwork. 

This weekend I attended my YMCA orientation, where I learned that the Buffalo Niagara YMCA is the second oldest YMCA in the country–only by a few months–to Boston’s YMCA. And Y’s are also the birthplace of basketball and volleyball, as well as the largest non-profit in the country. Who knew?!  I also got recertified in CPR and am ready to start shadowing other instructors this week!

   
 

I’ve been toying with the idea of being a fitness instructor for awhile now, and even though it’s happening really fast, I’ve also wondered why I haven’t done it earlier! What could be more perfect than to GET PAID TO WORK OUT?! 

I’ve been complaining for QUITE some time now about the state of our mattress, and the state of my back.  I’m just way too young to be in so much pain every morning.  Unfortunately, my husband can sleep on just about any surface with no trouble at all, so my cries fell on deaf ears for months.  He told me in no uncertain terms that our seven-year-old mattress was ‘just fine’ and that any trouble I was having was clearly in my head.  Humph.

Well, one week ago, the man did the unthinkable: he bought a mattress.  After visiting only TWO stores on our first outing to try out mattresses.  SO out of character, right?! We’d gone to church, popped into a store, ran some errands, popped into another mattress store, and just when we should have turned right to go home, he turned LEFT!  When he looked at me and said, ‘Should we just go order it now?’ I thought I was hearing things.

 Turns out, I like super soft mattresses.  I want that ‘sink in’ feeling.  Our old mattress was ‘super firm, which we saw on the label after moving it off the bed.  Go figure.

Andrew came home to receive our new mattress just a few days after we ordered it, and decided to start enjoying it right away.

  It’s almost DOUBLE the height of our old mattress, which is taking some getting used to.  It comes to almost the top of our footboard and I have to hoist myself up each night, but it’s wonderful.  I feel like I have to pinch myself each night as I sink into the bed because it’s too good to be true.  I know my husband, and I thought this purchase was MONTHS away.

Of course, the man who bought a new mattress (relatively unexpectedly) couldn’t possibly pony up another $20 for the delivery guys to take our other one away…so it’s still sitting downstairs, providing hours of entertainment for the animals.

 Between locking the kitties out of the room when we sleep and the new mattress, I’ve been sleeping better than I have in what seems like years, and just in time for my Buffalo General rotation.  5:30 a.m. comes early, folks.

We were on campus again today, which marks the start of our FINAL rotations before we’re finished. T minus 38 days until graduation…it’s getting real, folks. Seriously.

I am, however, seriously dreading my 5:30 a.m. wake-up for the next 4.5 weeks to be at Buffalo General Hispital at 7, but at least it will be the warmest and brightest (well, if spring will ever arrive) of my rotations. 

I spent the last 5 weeks learning the ropes at a long-term care facility (a.k.a. nursing home), and doing what felt like never-ending projects. I researched freelance writing opportunities, wrote blog posts, got involved in the Western NY Dietetics Association, wrote a script for a couple food-related segments for the campus television station (we film next week), made a plan to revamp the blog (more on that later), and wrote a 23-page business plan. And I’m sure I’m forgetting some others. I also had a job at the campus health center and provided nutritional counseling to students on Wednesday afternoons; now that I’ll be at the hospital all day, another student is taking over. We got paid as ‘student assistants,’ but this could lead to an actual part-part time counseling position this fall when we’re actually RD’s. We’ll see.

I think my favorite project this past rotation was my business plan, despite it also having been the most work. I designed a business in which I provide nutritional counseling at a local wellness center and can accept insurance reimbursement. It’s something I could definitely see myself doing. Again, we’ll see.

Hittin’ the hay early tonight, 5:30 comes early…especially when you stayed up the night before watching the season finale of The Walking Dead!

So, this happened:

I was recently featured in the Buffalo News! Being a ‘reporter’ myself, it’s so fun to be on the other side of the interview every once in awhile.  I approached the BN Refresh (their Saturday Health and Wellness insert) editor, Scott Scanlon, awhile ago about contributing some guest blogs, and he offered to feature me in his ‘What Are You Eating?’ section. So far, I’ve contributed the National Nutrition Month blog and an ‘intro’ post on myself, which went live on the BN site yesterday.  I’ve also written a post on our recent Paleo experience, which I’ll send to Scott soon.  I’ll probably contribute a blog about once a month.

While I’m not getting paid for these pieces, I see this as a way to ‘break into’ the health/wellness/fitness/nutrition field.  Writing for the Advertiser is great, but I need to start preparing for what I want to do long-term: freelance writing about food and nutrition.  I’ve started researching writers’ guidelines for various publications and it’s overwhelming to say the least.  My dear friend, Emily (who I’m visiting this weekend), advised me to slow down and try to actually enjoy the process of ‘building my business’ (whatever that may be), instead of focusing on where I want to be and the fastest way to get there.  She’s a wise woman, that one.  It’s such a relief to know it’s OK to take it one day at a time, one pitch letter at a time, one article at a time.

For now, I’m still just plugging along at the projects I have to do this rotation–most of which ACTUALLY pertain to my future as a writer/nutrition counselor–and counting the days until graduation…55.

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