So you got on Instagram or Facebook and you scrolled for 2.3 minutes and saw exactly 8 different kids at pumpkin patches with proud parents displaying all the fall adorableness. And it’s totally adorable, and I love it too, and I am also thankful you were brave enough to read this- another article on pumpkin patches – despite being in pumpkin overload season.
Why did I go to a pumpkin patch might be a good question to start with. Aren’t they for kids? Well sort of. But, I love being outside, my husband loves corn mazes and we both love supporting local agriculture. And hey, the neuro test that morning was a relief to be over with and we were looking for ways to celebrate.
Supporting local agriculture might not be an aspect of pumpkin patches you had thought about, but they actually provide quite a bit of revenue for agritourism.
Any of the U-pick farms, wineries, petting zoos, Christmas tree farms, or similar operations classify as agritourism and you may find some incredible experiences in your area. If you weren’t familiar with agritourism, it’s just farmers who wanted to take their trades and open them up to the public. Many farmers rely on the tourism revenue on top of their regular crops to make ends meet. Not every pumpkin patch will have the same level of involved agriculture; some just buy pumpkins from a farmer and place them in a fun way to explore. (still lots of fun and makes for adorable photos) Check out what is in your area! There are usually several in a given place and not all patches are farmed equal.
We scored an amazing “corn” maze (sourghum) and these two heirloom pumpkins. Wait, there are heirloom pumpkins!? Yes! And they are amazing! The one on the left is a Pennsylvania Dutch that very much resembles a butternut squash in flavor. The one on the right is called a Red Warty thing and it made some incredible pumpkin butter that night as well as a pumpkin alfredo sauce to top some sausage stuffed shells. By purchasing heirloom pumpkins we get to support agricultural heritage preservation of some exceptionally rare types.
Tyler loves pumpkin butter and I don’t like paying $3 / jar so this was a fun adventure in saving money, supporting agriculture, and enjoying the majestic fall weather.
Daily in my training I am reminded how these three entities and everything in our bodies is connected. Literally everything. This past weekend I attended a yoga workshop encouraging women to love their bodies and a training session the next day on therapies for facial bones, postural evaluations, and some esoteric topics of the minute movements of intracranial structures that affect the entire body’s function…. wheww, that was a mouthful. Anyway, why did I go? Because everything is connected! And because I felt totally amazing afterwards, it had been a stressful week and I needed to slow down and refocus.
After the weekend I had a few thoughts about points brought up from people of very different backgrounds that all revolved around putting your mind back in your body.
First I should clarify what I mean by the above statement. Putting your mind back in your body is not the result of a paranormal reality that everyone is having an out of body experience and needs to do the Voodoo to put it back. Not at all. Putting your mind back in your body means being aware of how your body works, its level of health, and its purpose in life.
Society as a whole struggles to know their own body and where their mind belongs in relation to it. As a Christian I find this appalling. We worship ourselves as society. We adore how we look, we are obsessed with what others think of us, we spend hours on self-gratification, self-fulfillment, and self-indulgence. It sounds a little odd on that you can be totally obsessed with yourself and still not have your mind in your body at all, but it is a problem as ubiquitous as obesity or Alzheimer’s.
Why is This an Issue?
Next time you go out to eat notice how engaged you are with whoever you are with. Notice how engaged the people are around you. Not very engaged? It is too easy to live for distraction from anything besides the present. But not living in the present costs us in our relationship as well as our own health. (Check out my previous posts on spending more time with family or taking time to see baby rabbits for practical ways to live in the present). When we feel discouraged or depressed we reach for our phones and devices. When we feel hungry, or bored, or anything else we reach for food. When we feel pain we reach for meds or something to just take it away and seldom deal with the cause. We have high blood pressure chronically and make no lifestyle changes. Why? Because to fight any of these, to live intentionally and to live in the present we have to remember God connected our minds to our bodies and sometimes we have to take inventory! What are the consequences? Mind out of body problems, like not being able to tell when things go wrong, growing mindless altogether as in the cases of dementia and Alzheimer’s, and succumbing to chronic pain and mental illness.
As I observed the various perspectives this weekend as well as previous experiences on putting your mind back in your body I noticed two camps. Eastern cultures regularly use healthy behaviors blended with mysticism to create a religion (that later dropped most of the religious aspects and it back to whole person health i.e. yoga and similar arts). Exercise classes like Yoga have taken the world by storm and for a very good reason – they are great at putting the mind back in the body. The second camp is Christianity which among many church circles avoids looking inward and many times forget their body and soul are connected at all. In fact many Christians view Yoga and mind practices as pagan or Satanic. Some Christians view regular prayer as a way to reset the body and I am inclined to agree that although this is not the purpose of prayer it is an undervalued benefit. It shouldn’t really be a surprise that refocusing our soul on God helps put our mind back in a proper place inside our body; remember, everything is connected.
The sad part is that one camp offers profound health benefits while denying God any of His creative glory for designing such unique, infinitely complex, and incredible organisms. God made us so incredible we have mechanisms to help us heal. The other camp is drowning in obesity and stiff religiosity. They can be seen reaching for another donut and vehemently stating God thinks it’s sin to sit with your legs crossed thinking about your breathing. Not exactly a pretty picture of being good stewards of our dynamic bodies. And a few people do get it right, that health is something to be taken care of, God is a God to be glorified, and we are people that have lives to live!
Saying we are designed to never experience suffering is wrong and so is refusing to do anything on our parts to minimize it. Saying we cannot acknowledge God as ultimate Creator, Sustainer, and Healer is wrong, and so is saying He has not given us mechanisms for self repair (hello, we do not go to the ER every time we get a paper cut). So roll out your yoga mat, stretch, check your mental and spiritual health! Go outside and be amazed by the beauty of God’s creation while you exercise, spend time in prayer, and get your mind back in your body.
What are your thoughts on health and living intentionally? 🙂
Heavy breathing filled the tiny exam room. The rancid smell of a patient who hadn’t showered in who knows how long, smoked heavily, and weighed 300 lbs was overpowering. Greasy strands of hair clung to her face as she hunched over in her chair in her miserable existence. It wasn’t pretty, it wasn’t pleasant, and it wasn’t exactly what people picture getting to be a “doctor” would be like.
The description evokes a powerful image. This patient was just a theoretical one but I have seen many just like her over several clinical experiences. You may have seen people like this at Walmart or walking down the street. Same characteristic shuffle, with no hope in their eyes and no joy in their heart.
So as a physician what do we do with her? I can give her the 1-800-QUIT-NOW number just like I did the last 3 visits. I can ask her about her diet for the umpteenth time. I can tell her the importance of personal hygiene for preventing weird infections. But none of that matters. That isn’t what she needs.
What does she need? She needs a physician who can see the whole picture, the whole person, the whole problem. The idea of whole person medicine is hardly a new one with Osteopathic medicine championing the philosophy since it’s origin in 1874. It emphasizes spiritual care with body and mind care, and is one of the reasons why as a Christian I am so excited to be studying Osteopathic medicine. She needs a doctor who can share with her the good news of the gospel, who can ask about her spiritual health, who can pray with her in her difficult journey, who can point her to a supportive church family.
Christians in any field and especially medicine we need to be concerned with spiritual well being of others. Research supports that better patient care happens when physicians care for all aspects of their patients. In fact, 70% of patients actually want their physician to ask about spiritual needs. End of life costs drop dramatically when patients report being quality spiritual care too. Following our own faith has blessings in many forms, even better patient outcomes and satisfaction. I hope we never forget that.
Well our theoretical patient needs a satisfying end to her story. After talking with her about what gave her strength in life and she said she didn’t have any and was considering suicide we were able to recommend appropriate mental health services and a local pastor. She further opened up and said she began smoking and having poor dietary habits after a childhood filled with horrible abuse, both sexual and physical. Her story was so much bigger than her list of problems showing up in our clinic, but God’s grace was bigger still. Be a part of the solution and work to see the whole person in your journey in life. <3
P.S. this post was inspired after hearing a guest speaker at our school on taking a spiritual history.
Hey look! A red Ferrari just passed me on the interstate. It must belong to a doctor right? Lol, as a med student that is not what comes to my mind – he must be in business or something other than healthcare. While it is true that some physicians own Ferraris, the vast majority of them are 30 years old when they get a real job and have between a quarter and a half a million dollars of debt. Many of them don’t finish paying off the debt until retirement and most of them make significant lifestyle sacrifices to pay it off sooner. So owning a Ferrari is more of a dream at this point in the healthcare game.
My husband and I don’t dream of fancy sports cars, but we do dream of financial freedom and are putting thought and action into minimizing debt repercussions. Below are a five ways we work to be good stewards of our resources and, hopefully, have at least a nicer house than our 20 year old remodeled mobile home, a family, and some baby goats:
You probably heard this one coming. BUT it is still super important! If you don’t know how much you’re spending there is no way of setting limits on the debt you are accruing. We set budgets for 6 months at a time and focus less on weekly budgets. The weekly budgets were a little too restrictive at some points when there were weeks we wanted to spend more on fun activities versus weeks were we were drowning in neuroanatomy lectures and didn’t spend on anything. Find what works for you and stick to it.
Okay, I know this one sounds boring but it’s how you achieve number one; especially if you’re married. Good communication is crucial for any couple and we specifically set aside time (usually there is food involved) once a quarter to evaluate past spending, current financial status, what our budget needs to be next, how much we will need to take out in loans next borrowing cycle, etc. It’s amazing! No more fear, no more worrying about how deep we are digging our selves in the hole and we trust each other implicitly because everything is on the table. A benefit of these meetings is we also discuss which credit card to prioritize that quarter based on what cash back rewards are being given. If you are disciplined and pay off your cards monthly, credit cards offer valuable cash back in the long term – make it work for you!
The memes never end for people going grocery shopping and then being too tired to cook when they get home so they go back and buy take-out. Meal planning simplifies the equation so you have the freedom to have something in the crock pot while you’re out grocery shopping for the next week and wa-la dinner is ready when you get home. It only takes about 15 minutes a week to meal plan and saves you time in two ways: 1) you don’t have to think about about “what’s for dinner tonight” and 2) you don’t wander around the grocery store aimlessly trying to find things that look good. Meal planning saves money because you also are not buying non-essentials. Oh and did I mention that you also eat at home more (which is cheaper) and have options to choose more nutritious foods than the burrito you ordered at Taco Bell last week? Get a fun notebook and get after it!
I also use the Ibotta app to help with coupons and additional discounts. Definitely recommend it with the simply caution that, like other coupons, just because something is a good deal doesn’t mean you’re saving money if you never buy that product anyway.
Coffee at Home:
Seriously, it’s not hard to make it at home. I am a huge fan of lattes myself but we only go out for those on special occasions. Our school generously provides coffee that we drink most days and then on weekends or days we need extra coffee we use a French Press and whole beans (from Walmart people, before someone gets excited we’re buying expensive stuff on a how-to-save-money post). French Press coffee is great, if you have never tried it and have endured life with a Keurig allow me to introduce you to a serious upgrade. Keurig’s do not make coffee, they make something liquid and dark that sometimes has caffeine – not to mention they are expensive and gross inside. Anyway, we do sometimes study at coffee shops to take a break from studying at home or school but we also limit these trips and buy the cheap stuff.
The Do I Need It Trick
Medical school and other types of financial binds like to show you how much you want. All. Of. The. Time. However running out and buying a new cranberry colored purse because the 1st three leaves of fall fell is not wise when you don’t have a real job. We have resorted to asking ourselves the “do I need this now” question when we have wants. Some wants need to be taken care of simply for sanity’s sake. Christmas and anniversary are still real times that should be celebrated. You have to decide what celebrate means in your book though, how much you actually have to spend to keep someone happy, and how much you need to spend to keep yourself happy. In that vein of thought, what are your opinions on thrift stores and why? I absolutely LOVE thrift stores and consignment shops and even garage sales. Use the cheap prices to your advantage! Recently I discovered ThredUP, an online thrift store. Check it out, it’s phenomenal and has 30% off your first order! Coming in the future soon is a post on the philosophy of minimalism assessing it’s pros and cons. For now though, remember that often less is more and you don’t need the newest phone, clothes with tags, or Sephora to keep up with the times.
Her name was Katy. A real person with a real story. Katy had recently suffered a car accident and was taken in for routine imaging after the accident. And that’s when they found it. A small lump with huge implications – breast cancer. It was just a 2 cm firm but movable nodule in her right upper breast, and yet her whole life plans for the next several months will drastically change. I wish I could tell you her real name but for now I will just share her story and what she and her cancer taught me about advocacy, awareness, and attitude.
I met Katy while working at an under-served clinic here in Sand Springs this past Monday. She was coming in for a check up for other medications but the physician had recently learned of her diagnosis. Her attitude and testimony during our short visit had far reaching impacts on those of us working with her. I hope more people who suffer terrible things have outlooks like Katy does.
When asked if she would mind an exam by the medical students working, she immediately and eagerly agreed. I have to say I was a little taken back with how eager she was for the 4 students and attending physicians to perform a full upper body palpatory exam. But she was excited. Why? Her answer was “I never knew what to really look for, what they tell you is different from what I feel. I want you to feel so you can help others.” Her selflessness with her privacy and body was amazing.
Attitude The stage was early and we did not yet suspect major complications but she was still facing expensive treatment, losing her beautiful hair, the physical trauma of the harsh chemo drugs on her body, possible mastectomy, and so many other hardships. And yet she seemed positive throughout our encounter. She oozed gratitude that she had been able to find it soon and have an MRI that would show it because otherwise she never would have known. She gave God the credit saying she knew everything happened for a reason. Courage like Katy’s is priceless and rare in the face of such daunting circumstances.
Awareness Katy taught me that even people told what to expect sometimes don’t know what to look for with cancer. Many people know it exists, there are plenty of campaigns for people knowing of the presence of breast cancer. We need more people who go for routine breast exams and then later the appropriate mammograms. Be proactive about your health ladies! We also need to be a community that cultivates a love for the victims, survivors, and families of ones whom cancer took. We need to invest in better research for better cures. We need to pray for those affected, the patients and their families. And we need to be so very thankful for each and every day we still have to breath.
I don’t know if I will ever see Katy again. We had the opportunity to pray with her before she left. And I can honestly say she has been in my prayers since. I pray she has effective treatment, and remission for the rest of her life and that she is richly blessed for the knowledge she has passed on to the medical community.
So how can you get involved for Breast Cancer Awareness month? Glad you asked! Everyone needs to check this symptoms guide from the National Breast Cancer Foundation for the ladies in their lives. If you are a med student, doctor or nurse be sure to check out these stethoscope charms. Super cute and a fun way to bring more awareness. And last, but certainly not least, if you are into Mary Kay a friend of mine is giving discounts to raise awareness this month. Looking good, saving money, and supporting a community that loves cancer patients is always a good idea.
Have you or a loved one faced breast cancer? Feel free to share in the comments!
Gorgeous golden sunlight beamed through the window. Birds were chirping nearby and the fresh scent of fall drifted through the open window. I opened my eyes slowly, slipped out of bed to grab a cup of steaming coffee…
Oh wait, no I didn’t. That was a dream. A very beautiful dream that was very far from reality. Yesterday was anything but golden and peaceful with a youth event, med school study group, and other activities going on after church (day to rest I know I know…) that were anything but organized. And there was no coffee. All day. And medical students especially hate no coffee, being disorganized, and feeling like a failure.
The story goes something like Tyler and I were brainstorming as youth coordinators on how achieve better interaction with the older generation in our church. We came up with the idea of Church Grandparent Adoption. Older members would be adopted by a youth and have several structured interactions with mentorship conversations. Brilliant right? Welll….Once we finally recruited enough people to participate, we scheduled our first luncheon. Details below with a couple of lessons we learned yesterday as we introduced the mentor-mentee pairs:
Planning is Everything
Planning is the grease that keeps the engine running. Yesterday we chose to meet at a local chicken place for lunch, but we did not anticipate the noise from the Sunday lunch crowd or the logistics of seating. It made for tight quarters and difficult to hear conversations. Next time, Tyler and I plan to have a conversation where we think through each aspect of an event and plan locations based on what we actually need (quiet space) instead of supposed convenience.
Sometimes Planning isn’t Enough For something to work, you need willing hearts. To our surprise many of the older people at church simply had no desire to work with the youth. They retired community claimed they were just too busy. The youth responded similarly. Even during the lunch with the participants we had kids on their phones, interrupting other student’s conversations, ignoring their mentors, running back to sit with their family elsewhere in the restaurant. We were appalled! No respect, no desire to learn, nothing. In the future we plan to invest more in prayer about the situation and try to feel out better the attitudes of people. Maybe by asking what would interest them or by planning something more interactive we can cultivate a love for people of other generations.
Patience Is a Virtue The book of Proverbs doesn’t say this verbatim but is is a true statement. We cannot get frustrated by human shortcomings whether our own or other people’s. Patience applies to all realms of our work and life, not just volunteer work or church functions. We have to trust that God is working everything out in His time and work diligently in the meantime. And put a little more effort forth in organization and planning…
So yes, yesterday’s event wasn’t exactly a success by our standards, but that is not what is important. Everyone learned something, even if it was what not to do, golden sunrises not required. <3
How do you work in your family and community to make events run smoothly or cope with “failures”?
Medical School is an adventure, an exciting, brutal, tearful, exhilarating adventure. It’s comprehensive education of our minds, bodies, and spirits; I suppose just like many other fields with intense training. And yet in this experience I find it hard to refocus so often. It is hard to remember who put me here (my Creator), and to take time to appreciate His creation outside of school.
But. The other day I was cooking dinner and heard something outside on the sidewalk. It was a high pitched distress squeal. Tyler runs outside to find our puppies tormenting two baby cottontail bunnies.
They were promptly scooped up, named, bedded in a kitchen towel, and being looked at as prospective pets in 6 minutes flat. I was a little surprised at how quickly they had come into the house. After some research we learned that they were so intricately designed that fewer than 10% survive if reared by humans at this age (their eyes were not yet open). Hmm, problems problems. After some brainstorming we decided to leave them in the nest at night where the mom typically visits twice briefly to feed them and then we would take in during the day while the dogs ran around. So far so good on that! They are growing!
And of course we had to take them to school because all medical students love therapy pets after tough exams. And every smile and excited gasp that we heard reminded me again; creation is so beautiful and it’s Creator so deserving of wonder. Sometimes in the slough of power points, drudgeries of school, and other responsibilities it is easy to stop and wonder at a living, dynamic, and complicated organism. It’s crazy y’all!
Curling up with the little furballs as the weather is cooling, the foliage turning more gold, and watching as everything outside seeming to slow down just a little even when school is only speeding up was a blessing this week.
Progress reports to come so stay tuned in! Oh, and there might be an introduction to Willow and Espresso the puppers coming soon too.
This is a picture from Wednesday – a little bigger than the first picture!
Enjoy the pictures here and comment with how you make time to stop and wonder at the beauty of creation around you as you pursue your life and responsibilities!
Howdy! Thanks for coming back. Monday came in full swing yesterday, my 1st neuroanatomy exam is over, had my wisdom teeth out and while writing most of this yesterday I was waiting to drive over to the clinic and the student lounge smells insanely good with box after box of hot, greasy, free pizza. And my stomach was growling for it but I coudn’t eat till after surgery… Patience soul, patience. Missing out on free pizza is still good for the waistline I tell myself. But hey, God is good and I don’t have to study tonight.
Yesterday wasn’t that much crazier than any Monday for most of you (or Tuesday, let’s be real) and we still have the ever present time management and work/family balance struggles. You may have read my post about why we should prioritize our families and as promised in the post, here are a few practical applications of that devoted time. So maybe your time management won’t be perfect, and your balance won’t be in the shape of a zen yoga master after reading this but I hope you find it practical and helpful. 🙂
Schedule it If you don’t schedule time for the gym or your daily quiet time it isn’t going to happen. If you don’t plan your meals ahead of time you will be making 6 trips to the grocery store this week. If you forgot to schedule that wisdom tooth appointment you will forget about it (thankfully I scheduled this one!). Some people do not like routines or to do lists, efficiency eventually convinces us to use them though. Family time is much more than a to-do list so make sure that scheduling fun time doesn’t stress you out – that would defeat the purpose. My husband and I schedule a date night at least once a week just to spend time together and not worrying about life’s responsibilities.
Keep it reasonable
Calling a family member every day is not sustainable. Neither is spending 4 hours with a spouse and kids after cooking dinner and cleaning the kitchen 7 days a week. Figure out what is reasonable for you and your family is the first step. Spouses are an ultimate priority; they need time every day. Same goes for kids right after the spouse. Extended family beyond that needs to be scheduled in a way that no involved party gets burned out and your spouse and kids don’t miss out on time with you. Kids grow up and leave home, spouses age, and work never ends so make sure you don’t miss out on the best things in life while they last.
Plan to Have Fun
Making time happen is much easier if you have a go-to. New or unexplored park opening in your town? Head there after dinner to check it out this week with your family. No need to wait until the weekend. Find a new recipe on Pinterest (or here) like mushroom couscous? Have a date night at home cooking with your spouse. This is one of Tyler’s and my favorite ways to spend time together. Going to hang out with extended family? Make it a game night; my favorite game with groups is Apples to Apples. We always end up in stitches.
Comment below with your favorite way to spend time with family even with a crazy life! And feel free to share with your friends.
Cooking is an adventure, for the palette, for the hands, for the soul. Even though medical school is crazy, I need adventures outside of pathology power points. Today I had to share a recent adventure with Hen of The Woods, or Chicken of The Woods, mushrooms gifted to us by another med student. Just look at it, it’s gorgeous.
So wait, you’re studying to be a doctor and you go find weird mushroom to eat? Yes! They are fantastic and a fun way to experience the outdoors. My dad helped us search for the Morrel mushrooms growing up on a ranch in southern Oklahoma every single spring. When mushroom hunting, I always triple check the ID and take time to understand what grows in my area though. If you are interested in getting started yourself be sure to check these 5 easy to ID varieties!
Back to the recipe….My friend brought be some Chicken of The Woods mushrooms and I knew something fantastic was waiting for dinner. A recent trip to the Tulsa Farmer’s market contributed a gorgeous Chinese Eggplant, and a trip to Trader Joe’s a couscous blend that was perfect for a warm, hearty dish with a bright sauce to complimented the flavors.
As a note I do not add salt and pepper indications to my recipes because you should season as you like to season.
If you don’t have forageable mushrooms in your area feel free to substitute Portabella or another firm mushroom variety. Comment below with your favorite mushroom dishes!
Foraged Mushrooms with Couscous and Lemon Cream Sauce
A delightfull dish of foraged mushrooms, farmers market finds, couscous and a silky lemon cream sauce.
Chicken of the Woods, Cous Cous, Fall Dinner, Mushroom
AuthorAshley Watson with coffeeandgratitude.com
2CMushrooms (Chicken of the Woods or other firm variety)
Cook couscous according to package directions. While it is cooking, saute sliced eggplant in olive oil until tender ( 5-7 minutes) set aside. Saute sliced mushrooms until they appear softened slightly (5-7 minutes). Stir together sauce ingredients. Plate sauteed vegetables over serving of couscous and top with cream sauce and chives or parsley for garnish. If you prefer more lemon flavor add 1/4 tsp zest. (add salt and pepper to taste as well, there are no listings in the recipe so you can add to your taste preferences) Enjoy!
A deep reverberating hum emanated from the white box in front of me. It sang of life, vitality, and vigor.
The box was home to 30,000 honey bees I had raised since high school and collected from a swarm near our barn. Now in early September, it was time for the annual honey harvest. I love so many things about fall, but honey harvest ranks near the top. Typically we only harvest as much as we need for a year, about 5 pints. As I continue to write my husband keeps asking for more so maybe we should have collected more…Anyway, while working with the incredible little insects I wear my white bee suit (other white coat if you will) and learned a couple of lessons.
When you wear a white coat, with bees or people, you respect them. Bees are small, mostly docile, and open to sharing their honey (sort of). But one wrong move taken as disrespect and the entire hive swarms out with stingers blazing. Hot searing pain shoots up whatever part of your body they have selected and you immediately regret whatever you just did. It isn’t hard to show anyone they are important, and the consequences of ever thinking you are greater than someone because you are bigger or smarter is unforgettable. Thankfully this year I was not stung but my poor husband had one crawl up his pant leg. Ouch!
Take your Time
When working with patients or bees there is no rushing or hurrying if the job is to be done well. Rushed timing equals more squished bees equals more angry bees equals cross and unhappy beekeepers. Rushing patient care also results in more mishaps and angry patients and families. Taking time is a discipline, working through problems methodically is a practice and emphasizing genuine compassion for others is a life skill.
Eat the Biscuit
Life is sweet, sometimes. And when God has put sweet things in our way, we take advantage of them. A successful patient recovery, a hot biscuit drenched in golden nectar made by bees, whatever other small successes and joys you have, – take it in with gratitude and enjoy the rewards of a job well done.