Viral

So I wrote a midterm this morning on virology. It was fine but it got me thinking on the term viral. It’s a big thing to create a viral video or tweet. What is a virus though?

Viruses are zombies. Yeah–they can spread like wildfire, mainly because viruses mindlessly reproduce without producing anything of value to the general world. Viruses replicate and mutate without using their own metabolism or machinery for the most part, only providing a genetic template. Despite this or rather because of this parasitism their genetic template kills, destroys, creates lasting scars, and can continue to shed from an apparently healthy host for long periods of time, affecting all those in close contact with that host.

Could we reach a little and say that viruses have done some good in the world? Most definitely–they have kept populations in check and created selection pressure for the hosts. In fact viral interactions even accomplish pretty amazing things: they strengthen our immune systems, inactivated viruses serve as vectors for modern medical treatment, and ancient retroviral inclusions account for parts of genomes. However, viruses will be much more famous in the course of history for the lives they cut short than for their ultimate role in selection and genetic development.

In a culture where virility is the aim–for much of our art, actions, and communications–does the ultimate impact of those things that claim the title viral reflect the pathogenic viruses we know so well.

Is it possible for virility to build people, things, or ideas up? Or is the viral system setting the stage for collapse? In many viral infections the host cell must eventually lyse, similarly many things made famous via the viral culture will disperse with the pop of the bubble–the hashtag will die off, the legislation won’t be changed, people will only be moved for a moment. Despite much replication and mutation of the original viral organism the infection and interest in it will be self-limiting.

The legacy of viral trends may only be how inane and harmful they were to development of true and original thought.

Ultimately, it challenges me personally to think on this–it pushes me to take care in what I propagate. I strive to be original, but with so many people on this earth it is easy to start taking cues from those around us. I NEVER want to be a zombie: I NEVER want to propagate something which could be unjustly hurtful in the short term or the long term, I NEVER want to be remembered for the destruction I cause in this world, and I NEVER want to twist and break beautiful things for my own self interest.

I would say this is one of the reasons I rarely repost things on social media and I generally choose not to chime in on issues if I am not equally willing to put my money, or my work, where my mouth is. There are many amazing causes out there, but unless I am willing to pick up that flag and run that race I will strive not to pour empty words on open wounds, especially not if those words were someone else to begin with.

 

xx.

 

P.S. The last bit sounds a bit rant-like and maybe somewhat condescending–be assured it is not meant that way, but is more of a personal code. If you feel differently about any or all that I have said let me know! I’m totally up for discussion, just please, keep it civil.

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Sugar-less

Guess what it is guys?! It’s no-sugar-November!

Since I can’t grow a moustache (at least not one society will oo and ah at), I have set myself two challenges this month. My roommate is joining me for both of the challenges in preparation for December.

Challenge 1:

No-Sugar-November

Rules-

  1. No adding any refined sugar to anything you make at home. This includes white sugar, brown sugar, raw sugar, coconut sugar, and whatever other crazy sugars you can think of. This does not include normal amounts of honey or blackstrap molasses (a teaspoon or tablespoon in your tea, on your bagel, or in your oatmeal, not half a cup in your muffins).
  2. If you finish a container of honey or molasses there is no buying a new one.
  3. No artificial sweeteners (although I am making on exception because I have some tea that already has Stevia mixed into it that I will still drink).
  4. Any pre-made product (read: you bought it at the grocery store) must have less than 10g of sugar per serving and you can only have one serving. This makes finding a cereal really fun–I recommend Kashi Go Lean Crunch in the cinnamon flavour.
  5. Fruits are allowed and encouraged but only one serving of dried fruit a day.

The goal with this isn’t to eat less necessarily, but to eat better (that said, because my calories have more bulk to them I do think that I am eating less calories but the same volume as normal). This week my roommate and I have been battling carb cravings due to our decreased sugar intake!

Hopefully, come December, this will make one cookie taste and feel like five!

 

Challenge 2:

Study Forward

This is sort of student centric but apply it to something you’re trying to improve at, or your favourite hobby and you could be ahead by leaps and bounds by the end of the month! There is a bit of prep work and you probably want an accountability partner for this.

Prep-

  1. Choose a main task for the month (a skill to get better at, a book list to read, a particular project or hobby). I chose studying because I want to see what I’m capable of with my marks.
  2. Write down all your normal weekly activities and approximate how many hours are spent doing them, guess a little high otherwise you will regret it later. My list looked something like this (all numbers are hours): Young Adults + CVM Bible Study- 5, Church- 3, Swimming- 9, Stretching- 5, Food (buying, preparing, eating, and cleanup)- 10, Transit- 3, Class- 36, Leisure Reading- 1.
  3. Now at the top of a piece of paper write 168. This is the number of hours in a week. Below that write your time allotments for your activities. Subtract your weekly activity time from your 168 hours, and subtract an additional 64 for sleeping time and getting ready for bed. I have a really basic morning routine so I also include that in the sleep time. I came out of this step with 37 hours left over
  4. Allot the majority of that time to the task you indicated in step one. I chose 30 hours, which allows me 7 leeway hours for time wasting, or unexpected time needs (about an hour leeway per day).
  5. Divide the allotted amount of time by 7 days. For me this came out to 4 hours and 20 minutes/day. Now, this number is not very practical for some days, and is sort of low for others.
  6. On your paper write out, on separate lines, all the days of the week and think about when you get home, making sure you eat, whether you have time during the day at school or work to fit in a bit of the task, and what your evening looks like. Start penciling in how much time you can spend depending on the day. Any day that you can’t spent the whole amount of time write a note beside it saying how many hours need to be “shifted”. As you find periods of time where there are lots of open hours, take the shift hours and move them to those periods. For example: Monday- 3 hr (1 hr 20 m shifted to Wednesday).
  7. At the end make sure the number of hours you have scheduled in the week match the time allotted from your previous work.
  8. Now post these daily values to a tracking board (cork board).

So, you are now prepared for the challenge!

Rules-

  1. You and your partner (told you you would want one!) will agree on a time each night to check in. For me and my roommate the magic time is 9 pm at which time the question is: Did you hit “it”? (As in your goal! What on earth were you thinking?) Not hitting it on a particular day is no big deal, but you will want to make up those hours somewhere else in the week!
  2. At the end of the week the ultimate question is- did you get in all the hours? If you didn’t you owe the decided upon punishment! My roommate and I chose house work: if one of us doesn’t meet our hours said person must do both the vacuuming and clean the bathroom (normally we each only do one of these) by the following Wednesday. If you both hit it: Yay! Nobody suffers. If neither of you hit it: Boo! Both of you suffer (for us that means no cereal that week–we’re addicted). Add a note to your tracking board that indicates whether you were successful or not for that week.
  3. At the end of the month the person who failed most often has to perform a task for the more successful person. We chose cooking or buying a special dinner for movie night (depending on the broke-ness level of the less successful participant).

Good news with this challenge though–no matter whether you fail or succeed you improve! Either you improve at doing nice things for your friend or you improve at the task you chose to work on!

Hopefully, when finals role around in December, or the dreaded string of Christmas parties, you will me killing those tests, or rocking your friends with your new skills!

 

Now, I have to give a shoutout to my amazing roomie for being such a boss and joining me for all this madness! She’s so amazingly game!

Let me know if you’re joining us too! Or maybe you already have a personal goal this month–I’d love to hear about it!

 

xx.

Promotion

Guys! I totally forgot to tell you about this! A couple of posts ago I wrote about how I was swimming in the slow lane because I hadn’t been swimming in a while and I didn’t want to make assumptions or just like… jump in with people who were ahead of me and slow them down.

So, I had sort of assumed that there wasn’t a coach for the club per say because the workouts were always just written on the board and I hadn’t seen anyone taking charge. Which is totally cool, I figured it was nice to have a workout written out for me and that I never asked if there was a coach, so no big deal. Turns out there was a coach. He also coaches the main swim club in town for the lower age group (up to grade twelve) and he was busy during the first week because they had brought in an olympic level coach to work with the other club so he wasn’t able to be at practice.

The coach turned up the next Monday and was giving tips and such which was cool. Even cooler though–when I turned up on Wednesday I hopped into the pool in the slow lane and he looks at me and says, “Hey, come over here for a second. Do you know what a promotion is?” I was thinking… um, yes? But being sort of nervous I just nodded. He goes, “It’s doing more work for the same pay. You’re a strong swimmer and too fast for that lane, jump in over here.”

Now I’m in the medium speed lane and I got moved up into the lane one notch faster for a day when we had too many people in the lane I am in (which sort of means I’m top pick for the next promotion if a permanent promotion is needed)! Anyways, it’s really not a big thing but I sort of had an internal celebration over that.

Getting sick for two weeks I am working myself back into the groove and definitely not back at full speed yet unfortunately. I also had to take three swims off during the process. For now I am in the medium speed lane again and haven’t been told to move up a lane permanently, so that’s sad but I also know I have to work for the spot and haven’t hit the right speed consistently enough yet.

Oh, also I figured out what I was sick with (thank you awesome, random doctor that I made an appointment with with only three hours notice). Super funny too because I just learned about it in bacteriology today: Mycoplasma pneumoniae. What is super cool is that it totally explains ALL of my symptoms. What’s not so cool is that it sort of sucks. However, Cheryl and Tina (I named my lungs because they seem to like to do their own thing) actually did me a major solid by not deciding to welcome the bacteria with open arms and allow a full blown pneumonia to set up shop. So here is a shout out for Cheryl and Tina–for being good lungs despite being stupidly tight assed for no reason most of the time (good old asthma).

 

xx.

Winter Hibernation

Do you ever get into hibernation mode? I find as the nights get longer, the days get cooler, and dreary clouds begin to pervade the world my pace begins to drag.

I have a wake up lamp to try to help with this (which I absolutely love, it imitates the sunrise to wake me up) as well as a full spectrum floor lamp which I turn on while I stretch each day.

Side note- I’ve been getting bad about stretching, I only did three days a week this week and four days the past couple of weeks but I’m trying to get back on the band wagon because it really does help me feel better. I’m just feeling very… blah lately though, which makes getting going a bit harder.

I’ve also been mildly ill lately so that doesn’t help the blahs at all but as I’m on the mend now I’m hoping to be able to pick up pace again, no matter how unnatural it feels.

Frankly, I’m doing a lot better with balancing being a student and being a person this year. This has manifested in me being more physically active and having a more resilient attitude towards my school work (although I worry that it is more of an apathy towards marks) but I’m really wanting to push myself marks wise a bit more which means learning to study more and better.

I don’t know how I’m going to kick this hibernation vibe in the butt and get my schedule back on track because historically I’ve basically never done so successfully without a big break or an out of the ordinary event, sort of shaking things up. I really want to find that little part inside myself that is good at discipline and less swayed by all the shiny, or by the possibility of a nap, and cultivate it.

This post really doesn’t have much direction. I guess what spurred me to want to write about this was a realization that I came to earlier today. While I love my country and I don’t want to be a citizen anywhere else, I may be a snow-bird when I’m in a place to make that choice. My hibernating bear tendencies may make a seasonal migration the best thing for me, even when I am young (as in not retired). The real question will be how work will work around that in the future.

Any snow-birds out there? Or sunny-year-rounders? What made you choose to live where you live? If you chose a cold climate do you get the hibernation vibes and if so how do you combat them or work with them?

 

xx.

Life in the Fast Lane

Man, it’s been crickets around here lately hasn’t it? Sorry about that!

I can’t say I’ve got any particular inspiration right now, but I thought I would update you on my life a little. I’m sick this weekend, and at home studying, but my family is distracting me for the moment (they’re making lots of noise), so we can chat instead!

I guess we’ll start with non-school stuff: I’m stretching five days a week most weeks (but only hit four days some weeks because life). I swim three mornings a week with swim club, good news–coach says my stroke length is improving although I still occasionally feel like a frantic mosquito. I’m interested in transitioning into being at the gym for my stretching in the morning, when I am not swimming, and adding some strength training and cardio intervals but find it a bit intimidating–Any tips for basic free weight or body weight exercises, that I won’t look like an idiot doing, from those experienced in the gym would be awesome!

I do young adults once a week, a Christian Veterinary Mission group every second week, and then church on Sundays.

I’m also back to riding horses once or twice a week, after getting in contact with a local rider who has three Morgans and a quarter horse that need riding. I have to admit that I never rode Morgans before this (only Morgan crosses) and am actually finding these horses extremely interesting. Their gaits are extremely smooth and these horses in particular seem to be very sound of mind. I really have enjoyed how quickly we have been able to establish solid communication at all gaits. It was especially encouraging last week when the young gelding and I were doing canter work–we worked together two days that week and the first day he seemed very confused with the transition and was struggling to maintain balance for even a couple of steps at a time (he hasn’t done much canter work previously), however by the second day he was quite excited to do the transitions and work at the higher speed (so much so that we had to work on relaxing better into the trot).

That pretty much sums up my extra-curriculars and social life although, my social life honestly mainly involves communicating with my roommate (who is super awesome) most days.

School has picked up pace over the last couple of weeks and I’m finding it a little more difficult to keep from getting flustered. Up until a week or two ago I was feeling extremely collected and really mentally level about school but the last couple of weeks have been challenging. We have picked up another new course (Systemic Pathology) and gotten properly stuck into our test season (so it will be one or two a week until the week before finals start).

So far we have done midterms in Evidence Based Medicine, General Pathology, Animal Production, and Parasitology. Next week is Pharmacology, followed by Bacteriology and Mycology the week after, another Evidence Based Medicine exam, Pain and Analgesia, Virology, and Pharmacology and Parasitology again (that gets us to the next long weekend). Marks so far have been a mix–two marks I have been very satisfied with and one that I was a bit disappointed with myself about (because I know I didn’t put in enough effort). In general though I have found, with my ADD under control, writing the tests has been a lot less stressful and I have much better time management both during study time and during the test.

I am really poor at memorization activities though, so right now drug names are giving my real trouble. If anyone is like… a professional memorizer or a really bad memorizer who became a really good one I would appreciate any tips or tricks you can offer!

I am trying for twenty hours of study outside of class time each week right now but haven’t quite been able to hit it yet (I cap out around fifteen it seems like). This is one area I am working quite hard to improve in right now using an app that operates on the premise of the Pomodoro technique, I think I need to tweak the length of the work and break sessions though to get it a bit more tailored to my needs–I find it can be a little disruptive when I am getting really productive and am concentrating well to have shorter time intervals.

Anyways, other than that I generally visit family one weekend a month and I am trying to get all my applications sorted out for employment this summer. I am applying at seven of my first choice places this week and next week and then will be following up a week after application. Once I have scoped things out I may make a few more applications, but hopefully everything will be sorted out before Christmas for the summer.

That’s about the gist of it I guess! I’d love to know how you guys deal with stress and keep a cool head in the craziness, as well as how you guys are keeping active, and what your stuffing into your brain-box these days! Also, if there is anything particular you guys would like to hear about (based on what I’ve outlined here or based on a previous post) or if there is a form of writing I have done previously that you’d like to see more of I would love to hear!

 

xx.

 

Binge Sleeping

While I’m not a clinical insomniac by any means I suffer from what I’ll call occasional severe sleeplessness, insomnia light lets say. This leads to periods of manic midnight activity and days where I only wake up to eat and drink.

I can remember a year when I worked the whole summer at a kids camp. As you can imagine, most camp staff don’t sleep much. I was getting an average of probably five to six hours of sleep per night. I woke up between 5:45 and 6:45 depending on the day: for staff meetings or to bring in the horse herd before staff meeting or to set up high ropes. I went to bed after the kids had called it quits and everything was sorted out from evening snacks or late night games, between 11 and midnight most nights. I will admit some of the late nights were self inflicted, trying to get in time to visit with my room mate or another staff member, wanting to read a few pages of a book.

At the end of the summer I went on a week of holidays with my family. For the first four days, from the moment we got there I claimed a bed and slept until breakfast, from breakfast to noon, from noon to supper, and from supper to breakfast the next day. I’m really not speaking figuratively at all either–I slept like that for four days straight. On day five I woke up and swam across a lake while my parents canoed beside me so I wouldn’t get hit by a motor boat.

It’s been awhile since that, but lately I have found forcing myself to just get to bed has been a struggle and I can feel the tiredness creeping up on me. Between my morning exercise and my late evenings somethings gotta give and it’s not going to be my exercise. I figure at some point I’ll just fall asleep in a comfy chair and wake up the next day. We’ll see though, I suppose.

I can’t say this cycle is particularly healthy, but I’m not ready to put into action a plan to change it. I really don’t know how I need to work at it to change it right now anyways. Some days I just look at the clock and say screw it, you can’t run me and end up staying until 1 a.m.

I’m sure I’ll find a way but in the meantime I’m curious. Anyone else out there an actual insomniac or have trouble forcing themselves to bed even when they know they need to be up the next day? How do you combat it?

 

xx.

 

Stretching the Mind

Hey guys! Just finished the second test of the week (General Pathology) and it was a 65/35 test: 65% I was confident on and the answers flowed like sweet honey in the heat and the other 35% of the answers were pried from the mind with a crowbar.

Either way, it’s done! I feel alright about it, and the mock lab exam was handed back with very positive results so I’ll just have to wait and hope.

Today I thought I might talk about stretching. Here’s the thing though, I find it hard to sit still or make my mind stop. I’m like the average child in this department, my level of chill internally is nil, nada, zippo. This creates an internal source of chaos and a constant stream of self talk which is relatively uncontrolled. That’s just how it is though, right?

Not true.

While I’m not that great at sticking to a schedule I have been stretching for half an hour five times a week for the last five weeks. This week I keep putting off stretching in the morning (despite waking up with plenty of time to do it) and end up doing it in the evening. Either way I find there are some serious benefits.

I was pretty flexible to begin with so while my flexibility has increased somewhat and I make sure to challenge myself to do more, I primarily use this time for my mind. Letting my mind clear has always been difficult if I just sit and try to make it happen but using movement to get my head on straight has been really great.

I go through a set of stretches that I know from organized sports, classes, observation, and videos. This set stays pretty similar day to day with some small differences (if you really want to know what I am doing let me know, I can write it down).

I turn on my music (I personally listen to a folksy worship mix) and settle my mind into the present. Basically I follow a sort of step-by-step way of getting my mind ready for the day:

  1. I make a white box- Basically I picture my mind as an open expanse, however that might look on a given day, and I start building a white room. I generally start with a white wall right in front of mind-me, build all the walls, add a white ceiling, and finally a white floor. All the walls are smooth and there are no windows or doors but there is a mail slot. For my first few stretches I stay in the white box and thoughts come at me like paper airplanes. I open them, I consider them, I commit them to memory and I pass the paper out my white mail slot.
  2. I consider where I would like to be today- Hawaii? The rainforest? The prairies? With my pets or livestock? Alone? With someone? By a waterfall? Sitting on a rock? In a beach chair? Looking at the ocean? I decide on something, which may change later, and starting with the floor I move to that place. So I’ll imagine the rock under me, the clear pool of water in front of me and the waterfall in my periphery. I’ll turn my head around and see the rainforest around me (my eyes are still closed though). Then if someone is going to be spending this time with me I invite that someone or something into the space. Throughout this I continue to move through my stretches.
  3. I appreciate my surroundings- At this point this probably sounds ridiculous, I’ll admit I have a particularly vivid imagination. Anyways, I listen to the bird songs, or the rush of water, the wind blowing through the leaves, I smell the flowers. I stretch out in one area of the landscape and appreciate it. I listen to the lyrics of my music and think about the meanings.
  4. I ask- I ask the hard questions that I am going to have to face that day. I leave them hanging until the morph into ideas and actions and changes that need to happen in my life. I let my mind ruminate on things until something important sorts itself out, or until my half hour of stretching is done.
  5. I thank God- I give gratitude for what has or hasn’t been sorted out because I’m alive and things will get sorted out one way or another.

Now, you might be thinking, “Oh my gosh, this girl is a wack job!” I’m not going to argue with you. I have had a vivid imagination since I was a child. My grade one teacher thought I was deaf because I would be so in my own world I would ignore her saying my name multiple times until she was face to face with me and close enough to touch.

However, after five weeks hanging out with God in the morning I can say that I am kinder to myself and others when mistakes are made, I am calmer approaching obstacles or difficulties, and I am more aware of and more confident in the allotment of my time day to day. I spend more time studying pointedly and more time in self care because my studying is purposeful, I stop negative self-talk more often, and I don’t internalize mistakes as frequently.

Altogether, stretching my mind has been freeing. It has decreased my sense of unease in my body and mind, and it has kept life in perspective. Ultimately though, stretching may not be right for everyone. When I think back on high school I did this same thing in a different way: I rode horses and they forced me to clear my mind and usurp negativity because how I felt changed how I rode which changed how the horse acted.

Horses are no longer a part of my life for now but, I have found a new path to the same peace of mind. At times I still go to a hill in the prairies and watch all my horses and visit with them and lean against their solid warmth, but for now it can only be in my mind and it sparks a longing in me that brings tears to my eyes.

 

xx.

Testing Trouble

Staring down the first set of tests of the season this week has me all aflutter my friends!

Good news though: test one was at 0800 this morning and I made it through with a few minutes to review (and revise)! Which is exciting for me not only because I had time to review (my time budgeting during tests sucks) but because often I struggle to review (I just can’t read it again) so actually revising something (anything) is an accomplishment. Also, and I don’t want to jinx anything, I felt very comfortable about my performance!

Another piece of excitement was that I actually accomplished swimming in the morning before the test! The night before I considered not doing Monday and trying for Saturday as my third day for the week but I ended up putting my foot down–I chose to sign up for morning swim to get some of my pent up energy out before classes started and I was going to accomplish that.

I was up and at’er at 0530 this morning and, while I tried to set everything up for the smoothest of starts, I forgot my bike helmet and phone and had to go back for them after already getting my bike down to street level from my apartment. I then faced a headwind which made going up the slight hill across the river feel impossible (not to mention how silly it made me feel as cars passed by me). I ended up being ten minutes late, I only did 1300 m of the workout because I needed to be out of there to be at the college with plenty of time to spare before the test (which decreases my anxiety levels re: being late for a test).

After the morning hiccup everything went to schedule. I have to admit though, I really need to rent a locker at the pool because my backpack was uncomfortably cramped with my swim gear in it.

This was my second morning swim and while Friday was alright I have been coming up short as far as finishing the workouts go: I skipped 600m of flipper work on Friday because I was being lazy and ran out of time, and I skipped at least 600 m of work today because I was late. I’ve been in the slow lane thus far too, but today it seemed to be moving at a snails pace and was actually slowing me down significantly. I am considering moving up to the moderate pace lane in order to push myself and complete the workouts but it definitely makes me nervous as I don’t want to slow them down and, as silly as it sounds, the lane is full of guys.

That tangent aside, I thought I might talk to you a bit about my testing strategies to curb my time issues, keep myself on task, and curb my nervousness:

  1. Go to bed and wake up early- instead of stressing the night before and trying to study all night and then waking up early anyways because I’m nervous I’ll be late, I budget my time so that I can go to bed between 2100 and 2230. This way when I wake up nervous at 0500-0530 I’ve at least gotten six to seven hours of sleep. This helps decrease my stress levels and increases my ability to concentrate.
  2. Exercise before the test- you should be all studied up. Throw a set of condensed study notes in your back pack and hit the gym. If you swim, like me, line your times up so you have a half hour or forty-five minutes–after finishing up in the pool and having a shower–before the test starts to review those SHORT notes. Otherwise, do it while on the treadmill or bike or whatever. This seriously helps with my stereotypies in the class room (pen or foot tapping, clicking my nails on the table, playing with my hair).
  3. Have a test kit- this should be set up and in your locker at all times. I have non-clickey pens (multiple), a calculator, a couple of colours of highlighter, white out, two sharpened pencils, a pencil sharpener, and an eraser. I also include a fidget in my kit (today I used a stress ball). This means you’ll never have to worry about not having something you need for a test at school.
  4. Highlight your test- my tests are covered in highlighter marks. In my first few years of university I realized that I was loosing marks because I was reading questions wrong. I read very quickly and in a test because I feel like time is super short I try to read even faster–bad idea–I’ve walked out of tests thinking about a question only to realize two minutes after handing the test in that I read the question in the wrong way. I’ve also received tests back where the question is something like: which of these is NOT… and I’ve answered the on that IS most correct. I highlight at least one aspect of almost every question, whether it is the number of possibilities they want listed, or a key point of information. I also basically write things down on short answer tests in a stream of consciousness fashion and so I often highlight the key points I was trying to make (to help the prof out and to make it easier for me to re-check my answer).
  5. Think, breathe, and move on- If I’m stuck on anything for more than say three squeezes of my stress ball I take a moment to stop, look at how many marks the question is worth, think for a second to see if something pops to mind, jot down anything I think might be right, and then if a complete answer hasn’t come to me I dog ear the page and move on. I come back to the dog eared pages (I often star and highlight the specific question on the page) after going through the whole test once. This really helps with my time allocation because I can get stuck and rather obsessive about a single question otherwise.
  6. Bring a quite snack (or two) and water- a bagel, some cut up pita with peanut butter and honey, anything you want that won’t make noise, stick it beside you and munch away (if your school has a policy against it… well first off that’s stupid, but secondly tell them low blood sugar makes concentrating harder). I also have a 700 ml water bottle filled up and ready to sip.
  7. Treat it as a learning exercise- don’t even look at it as a test, look at it as a survey of knowledge. The question is: what knowledge has actually taken up residence in your head, not are you 70% good enough or 90% good enough or 50% good enough. If you get a bad score that says “the amount of the information in this course that has actually set up residence in your head is too little if you want to be able to have a good discussion about it or use it later”.
  8. Don’t sweat it after the fact- once it’s done the temptation is to join your classmates and discuss specific questions that gave you trouble and see what they thought… DON’T. Let the freshness of the experience fade a bit, maybe even wait for your marks and then go see where you went wrong so you can discuss it with your professor. In the meantime as you wade through people groups only ask your classmates things like, how did you find it? How did you feel about that one? Go find a quiet space, put some headphones on, close your eyes for a few minutes and listen to your favourite mix, or sketch, or write something. Just let it be and enjoy something.

That’s it guys! A bit of a long list and not all of these will work for everyone but those are some of my strategies, they also work for the most part, for presentations and important meetings or speeches.

In the meantime, one more pro-tip–making a pizza on a whole grain pita for supper the evening after your test is a fantastic way to have a treat that isn’t too big. Put some pizza sauce, protein, cheese, and veg on it and you have a great personal sized meal!

Do you have any special testing strategies? What’s your favourite workout for de-stressing? What’s your go to song to pump yourself up or cool yourself down for a big event?

 

xx.

Faith

More poetry is on order, because it is quick, simple and lovely, and because I am exhausted and don’t have the energy to write more than what comes to mind! This one is inspired by an Underarmour ad and is rather rough, regardless I hope you enjoy it! It is meant to be spoken with a clapping and slapping beat or djembe or timpani drum beat starting with a simple beat at the end of each stanza and increasing in complexity and frequency towards the end.

 

Faith

I, firebrand; I, explorer; I, healer.

I have found love, calling.

While confidence and doubt dance,

conflicting and confounding

pride, and worth.

 

Love, my firebrand, not lit by myself

But, burning. Bright with undiminished strength

through the wind of my dance

though feet may be exhausted,

not wavering, but teetering

 

out of my grasp, my firebrand!

So everything burns with it but,

exploration is extinguished by panic.

I, healer though broken

tools cannot aid the broken.

 

Dance on still!

Soul replacing mind:

dance between faith, belief,

and forgiveness

with re-energized feet.

 

With many feet–not your own–

to pound the rhythm beside yours.

Raise embers from the ground

with your earth cry.

 

Summer embers will light

a new firebrand.

Where one raises only

a dried, dead stick.

 

Love, my firebrand, lit once more.

So I, explorer, will dance upon my hill,

until the animals gather to watch,

because I have become

 

so serene in motion,

that nature believes me safe.

Healer, unbroken.

Human kintsukuroi.

 

 

xx.

Feminist

Hey guys, I’m back in school and back at it with some poetry. I thought I’d share this one, on a bit of a controversial topic. Honestly, it doesn’t cover all the complexity of this issue but is more meant to talk about the vilianization of classical feminism (with the focus on equal rights and not on over the top compensation) as it is lumped in with more militant views. The poem was inspired by a book title I read in passing at a second hand book store: Enemy Woman.

 

Feminist

 

When did I become an enemy woman?

A small architecture, developed

in the dust that falls from dreams?

A something that is less,

that is laughable, or impractical?

 

a Custodian of Paradise relegated to

the meridians, because soul craft

is no longer sustaining.

Art class in public school–

Necessarily unnecessary.

 

Disordered by happenstance

but intrinsically sensible,

despite historical subjugation.

We enemy women, have been given

footing that makes our thoughts seem unstable.

 

Life givers by birthright,

kitchen dwellers by weak light,

now restoring queen-hood

to independent power,

but still desiring love by independent choice.

 

Right seeking but not always right,

we push too hard now,

because we have been pushed too far,

to the side before,

and hindsight is twenty-twenty

 

but judgement

is zero to sixty

in three seconds.

Man,

Haters.

 

Disordered social roles second guessed,

while the guessers are guessed

to be disordered.

Enemies are disordered because they disagree.

I am an enemy woman.

 

 

xx.