I can hear!

For the past week I could not hear out of my left ear. I didn’t have any pain, but it was definitely like someone stuck a cork in it as it was muffled whenever someone spoke. The second day of having it, I was working in the ER and kindly asked the doctor at the end of the shift if they could take a peek at my ear. Turns out it was just a bunch of earwax (sorry if that grosses anyone out)! Relieved it wasn’t as serious as I thought it might have been, I got some over the counter medication at the UIC Pharmacy to see if that would help clear it. Well, four days passed and it didn’t help, so I made an appointment at the Family Medicine Center at UIC and thankfully got an appointment an hour after I walked in (although they didn’t see me until one hour after because they had two patients in front of me, which I totally understand why I have to wait so long since I see it frequently happen in the ER!). They put hydrogen peroxide in my ear and wow did it bubble and fizz! I was totally worried my ear was eroding too, haha! After that, the nurse irrigated it with a syringe and blasted my ear. I don’t think I ever had that much pressure on my ear drums, but whamo I could hear out of my left ear again! XD Now that it’s clear of earwax, everything feels so much more amplified in that ear. I asked about my right ear and how to clean it (avoid q-tips everyone, as tempting as it is) and the doctor told me to use a bulb and squirt warm water like once or twice a year (not once a week or once a month!!!). I guess our ears can take care of themselves, but my ears are tiny so I can see how I’d have more frequent problems!

The doctor also told me that people of Asian descent have dry wax and African Americans and Europeans have wet wax. Isn’t that weird?! I’m taking genetics and it’s really cool how we’re all made up of. We did a lab on mitosis and meiosis, which normally I’m like “ehhhh” but it’s pretty cool how all of our cells divide and die…it’s almost like we’re reborn every few moments (or we die every few moments if you want to think of it that way).

These regulatory mechanisms our bodies use are incredible! In anatomy and physiology, I finally got to see a human face…although I wasn’t expecting the face to be split in half and hanging. They didn’t give us much warning, haha. Anyway, we’re studying the visual and auditory systems, including the mechanisms of how they transmit information to the brain and the anatomy of how it all works! The malleus, incus and stapes bones in our ear are SO TINY! They looked like bug exoskeletons (I received a tiny jar of them as a gift from someone I met in Taiwan and never realized they were bug exoskeletons…at least the bow/ribbon around the jar was cute). Man, there’s so much to know about the body (and scientists have discovered a lot already…but more to understand)….it makes me really excited to pursue an MD/PhD!

I’m doing my best to restudy for the MCAT on top of my part-time jobs and running organizations, but as the test date comes closer and closer I’m starting to think I need to shut everything out for all of February and March! We’ll see how things go…I may or may not have to move the test date, but I badly do not want to. However, being ready for the test is immensely crucial and if it takes me a longer time to study so that I can ensure success, it will definitely be worth it!

I know it’s only the third week of class, but it’ll be final exams in a blink of an eye before you know it! Stay safe and warm UIC! (:

Things are a changing

Hey everyone! It’s great to be back! And no, I am not fibbing. It is actually good to be back, as this is my final semester at UIC. It’s a bit bittersweet, since I’ve spent my entire college career here at the university and have had plenty of great experiences during my time here. Nevertheless, I am excited to be soon starting a new chapter of my life – the real job world.

Despite being my last semester, the past few weeks have been a bit hectic when it comes to organizing and finalizing my schedule. I am still deciding which classes I will keep/remove. I’m also still trying to get into the swing of things and vaccinate myself from the senioritis flu that is lingering around. To be completely honest, I’ve been super stressed these past two weeks. However, this all changed on Thursday.

I just found out I received an internship at the Shedd Aquarium! After a few interviews, I received the call with the offer. I am super stoked that I will be strengthening my communications and public relations skills that I have gained these past four years. Ever since I was a child, I have had an immense love for sea animals and aquatic life. At one point, I even wanted to be a marine biologist! However, after my disinterest in science became apparent as I got older, I nixed that idea. I am extremely happy that I will be able to intern with a world-class institution that I have loved and appreciated since I was a child.

With only four months until graduation, everything seem to be quickly changing. I like it, though. I now believe I am fully ready to rock my last semester, excel at my new internship, and start a brand new chapter in my life.

I am happy all of you will be on this journey with me :)

Until next time…

Mike

Kids say the darndest things

If you have ever had the opportunity to hang around some kids, you know that sometimes they say some pretty funny stuff.  I thought I’d share some of the things I hear from the boys I nanny, and some of the kids I work with in schools.

I am constantly cleaning up after the boys, especially Sam.  Even though he is only about to turn 3, I try to tell him to clean up his toys after using them before taking out more.  He was in the kitchen one day finishing lunch while I was straightening up the living room.

Me: Are these boys ever going to learn to clean up after themselves? Or is it never going to happen?

Sam: (from the kitchen) It’s never gonna happen!

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Helping Matt get the boys situated after school with homework and snacks and such…

Sam: “I love my daddy.  I love you dad. Lauren, do you love my daddy?

Me: Umm….sure Sam. (AWKWARD).

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Jack has a bad habit of leaving the bathroom light on….like EVERY time he goes in there.

Me: Jack, every time you go to the bathroom, you leave the light on when you’re done.  It is a complete waste of electricity.  Next time I walk past the bathroom and the light is on with no one in there….I’ll….I’ll…put peanut butter in your ear!

Jack: AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH. I uh gotta go! (and he ran away pretty quickly)

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During the election between Mitt Romney and Barack Obama, I printed out some election activity worksheets for the boys to do.  One of them was draw a picture of who you think would be a good president…

Ben said: aw nuts!…All of our brown markers don’t work.

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Jack while watching Olympic soccer…“Hope Solo!!??!! Is she related to Han?”

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There was no need for words on this one.  Sam came up behind me, didn’t say a word, and waited….just waited for me to turn around. I screamed so loud, I think I scared him a little bit.

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A little girl in the preschool I am in right now is playing with the toy tigers.  She hands me one and says, “You can be the girl tiger and I’ll be the boy tiger.” Without using my brain, I stupidly asked, “How do you know which one is which?” HOPING the answer would not be what I expected to hear, she said, “Because the girl is orange yellow and the boy is orange orange. Duh!” I was relieved and QUICKLY moved on to something else.

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The last couple times I have taken Sam to visit my co-workers at the shoe store, he has either thrown up, or had a really bad accident in his diaper.  So, I told him that we weren’t going to bother them with our germs for a while. The next time we drove past the store he says, “Hi shoe store! We’re not visiting today because every time I poop or puke.”

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Sam likes to help when making lunch or baking.  So, while in the middle of making grilled cheese I told him he could stir the tomato soup and water before I put it on the stove. He starts stirring saying “Bate! Bate! Bate!” (which means Mix, Mix Mix in Spanish).  With all the Bate-ing, he got some on his shirt and he said, “Oh darnit, now my shirt’s all dirty.”

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Again in the preschool, I was doing letter and word puzzles with a few of the kids.  Each puzzle has an animal on them that is in two parts.  The kids are supposed to use the letters and pictures to put the puzzles together.  As we were doing so, one girl said “I’m going to put them together a different way.  Here’s a fish, and here’s a pig.  HAHA! It’s a Pigfish…A Pish!!”


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Eating a snack with Sam.  Sam: “Lauren, you watch me?” Me: “Yes, Sam.” Sam: “You’re my babysister?”

Me: “”Haha, no, Sam, I’m your BabySITTER.” Sam: “Haha yeah….I don’t have a babysister, do I?”

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Hope it made you laugh as much as it made me laugh! Have a great week!

Waking up in winter

♪♫♪ We got no money, but we got heart…

~~~

The first thing I did when I woke up this morning was pull on a second layer of socks with my gloved hands. I zipped up a jacket over my sweatshirt, pulled a hat on my head, and hobbled to my bathroom like a sleepy penguin (except I was probably shivering).

It’s pretty safe to say that I am not built for cold Chicago winters! Every year, as soon as it hits December, I am wrapped in as many layers as possible because I fear the biting cold so much. So far, I haven’t gotten sick yet (knock on wood), and I am doing my best to keep it that way. And of course, with all the talk of the Polar Vortex this year, I am especially bundled up from the moment I get up until it’s time to take shelter under my heaps of blankets at night. Even though I keep the heat in my room on high, I still feel cold in the morning! It might be because my room in Courtyard res hall happens to be right next to an exit, and people coming and going lets a lot of cold air in. Usually a hot cup of tea can warm me up though!

Aside from this crazy weather, I am quickly getting back into the bustle of school and work for this semester. I had the best winter break over in Japan and Taiwan by spending all my time with family and loved ones, and it wasn’t easy having to say goodbye for another unknown amount of time. I really hope I get to go back to see them all soon or they’re able to come visit me here! I kept telling them all about Chicago and how I’d love to show them around. Unfortunately, while I was there, internet was harder to come by than I anticipated, so I wasn’t able to blog regularly, but I’m glad to finally be back. I definitely want to share more about my experience and seeing my family (some who I had not seen in 5-10 years) in the coming weeks, and I’m still gathering all the pictures that were taken together. Stay tuned for some pictures of Tokyo and Taipei!

It has been a while since I last traveled, and I almost forgot how much jet lag can hit me. I was living on a pretty dysfunctional schedule for a while, and even though I tried to adjust in the few days I had before classes started, I was still sleeping at unconventional hours, usually waking up around 3 AM every morning. The temperature here is also about 50 degrees lower than it was in Taichung, so I quickly pulled out my thickest winter jacket from home to take to my room here on campus! Since I only had about one day at home before having to come back to school, I was in a harried state preparing my things for school. I had hoped to be diving smoothly into my work, but it feels like I sort of fell into the pool of work instead. This semester, I am taking (in order of increasing trepidation) Psychology 100, Russian 104, Physics 105/106, and Organic Chemistry II. The first two I am less concerned about—I have always been on my game for Russian since I love the language so much and I have taken some psychology before, even though this is my first real class in it because I have decided to switch to a Neuroscience major. I’m regretting not taking AP Psych in high school now to get out of the 100 level class, but I never expected that I might do something other than Biology or Biochemistry. I think this is the right choice, though, because looking at the course list, I find that the science classes for neuroscience fascinate me a lot more. However, I’m pretty anxious for orgo 2 and physics! I have heard some intimidating things from many friends, so I am trying to go in as prepared as possible. I already have quizzes for both classes coming up even though it feels like we are just starting to cover material. I really hope my retention from orgo 1 and high school physics doesn’t fail me. In the meantime, I’m just going to try to stay warm, set my circadian rhythm straight, and get back to the gym!

~~~

We’re gonna rattle this ghost town / This house is falling apart! ♪♫♪

(Anna Sun – Walk the Moon)

10 things you didn’t know about me as a UIC student

1. My favorite place on campus (besides my room) is the green space between Stevenson Hall and UH. During warm weather, so many students lay in the grass or play sports there. It’s such a great space to relax in between classes or after a long day. I’ve been going there since my freshman year and still find it relaxing as ever.
2. I’ve lived in Campus Housing (to be specific, Courtyard) for the past 2 1/2 years. It has been great to have a place to call my second home on campus, and I love how close I am to all of my classes. Thanks to housing, I have met some amazing people and have had such a successful time academically. Even though there are many different buildings and different building options, I have strictly been in Courtyard since freshman move-in day, and I couldn’t have picked a better place for me to live.
3. I knew I wanted to go here since i was 11 years old. When we dropped my sister off at Commons West (one of the residence halls) on move-in day, I fell in love with the campus and the idea of going to school in the city. After years of visiting my sister and growing up, I found that my opinions on what college I wanted to attend were all only about UIC. My senior year of high school, I only applied to UIC, and I did this as early as possible. Then, out of a panic and fear of rejection, I applied to one another school as a “back up plan”. When I received the admission letter from UIC, I felt as though everything was falling into place, and I was right.
4. My favorite building to have class in is Douglas Hall. I love the views from the building (and, of course, the new construction). This building gives you a great view of the rest of the buildings on campus.
5. I had never been to the Art and Architecture Building until the last week of fall semester. As I’ve said a million times, I am an English major, so this isn’t that out of the ordinary, except for the fact that this building is nearly feet away from Campus Housing buildings, so I felt that this was something I needed to explore. While I was confused once inside the building, I loved the beauty inside of it, and the staircases leading to nowhere were fairly Harry Potter-esque. I suggest everyone explores this building during their time here.
6. I can navigate BSB with ease and have never been lost. I realize that there are running jokes about the building, long-running memes, and an agreement that the building is tricky to get around. However, in 2 1/2 years, I have managed to not only find my classes, but other classmates and friends’ classrooms as well. This is  challenge I am always willing to take on.
7. I’ve been in SEL even though I am an English major. I had to fill my LAS gen ed requirement, which meant I needed to take two science courses. I signed up for Phys 112, which had to do with astronomy. I was thrilled to have this class since I wanted to be an astronomer at an early age. Every week, I needed to navigate my way through SEL to get to my lab room.
8. I have seen the sunrise from multiple locations on campus. It is absolutely breathtaking to watch the sun come up over the city and to see the light reflecting off of the buildings. Because I take on so many responsibilities, I have had far more than my fair share of all-nighters, which often wrap up with a glimpse of the city as it is engulfed in a sea of light. No matter where you are, if you have a nice view of the city/skyline, the sun rising in the morning is something you should see.
9. I have taken 18 credit hours almost every semester that I have been here, and I am tired out. It is difficult to repeatedly take so many hours as well as hold so many responsibilities within Campus Housing and the university. Because of my overloading in previous semesters, I have been able to focus on my 12 hour course load as well as make time for my obligations.
10. I couldn’t imagine myself at any other school. After falling in love with such a traditionally different university, I knew UIC was the place for me. It is so different from other campuses, and this makes it such a unique place to study and live. Every day I am here I am reminded that I made the right choice in choosing UIC, and I am more than thankful for that.

The little wins

I’m a fan of the little wins we have each day, like helping out another classmate get to their next class or getting through a chapter in a textbook. Perhaps insignificant on surface level, but each time we perform these “little” acts, I can’t help but feel good about myself and hope for the future. Even replying an email can feel fulfilling. In general, just getting work done feels awesome. It’s exhausting and probably not worth it in the long run, but that’s just our transient mind talking..

I’m listening to some old tracks ranging from the first year of college to back in junior high and it got me thinking. We might forget these “little” wins, but if it ever does arise or come back in the future, you won’t ever fully forget ‘em. It might be the music talking to me, but each time I hear a song, I always link it to the moment that resonated the most with  me at the time I heard that song (especially if it’s a song I badly needed during a dark time). Even R. Kelly’s voice brings a light to my face (popping fresh out the kitchen). I hope these artists know how much their music means to their fans and haters!

All right, what’s new with me…well besides getting killed with all my obligations, not much. So far, Polish has been doing pretty well. I’m surprised I still remember so much, but there’s still a lot to improve on like listening and responding. I get practice during class, but I’m not good at responding on the spot! Genetics is pretty fun. I am really happy I chose biological sciences as my major. (:

Anatomy and physiology II has been fun as well! We are studying the brain and special sensory systems like visual-auditory. Not a fan of the smell, but not the first time I’ve had awful fumes enter my nares. Hopefully by the time I am 90, a better treatment for cancer will be around. Research has been good but I haven’t been in for awhile. I gave a presentation on the background of my research project a few weeks ago so that was really good! It helped me understand more thoroughly my own study and how I generated this chronic wound diabetic environment. Woop woop.

Scribing has been taking a lot of time of mine that I would spend MCAT studying or studying for classes in general. We get weekly quizzes in almost every class I have and when I do a 5pm-2am shift, I’m super dead the next morning. I have Polish at 10am so it’s not TOO bad, but I always feel crappy when I come back, especially my skin.

My mom has been bugging me a lot about it and it makes me sad. I thought she’d be proud of me and more encouraging, but she and my dad are both telling me I’m crazy and going to kill myself in the end the more I work at this job. While maybe true, it’s also the only job that serves to tell me if medicine is really what I want to do in life. And here’s what I see as a scribe in the ER:

  • You’ll only eat, drink, or go to the bathroom if you let yourself. Personally, I trained myself to not do any of the above during those 9 hour shifts. And sometimes the doctors don’t either. I try to encourage them to take breaks because the work is so demanding and I want to make their lives easier…
  • You need to talk fast, type fast and move fast. There are so many sick people to attend to and they all want to be seen, and usually at the same time…and you’re just one person! Mad respect for ER doctors who make it happen.
  • Good night, I’m going to go pass out now. While it is definitely necessary that we have emergency rooms, it must be incredibly exhausting to do graveyard shifts all the time (or mixed with morning ones that totally screw things up). I see the same security guard in front of my residence hall working and the same Red Car drivers who have to stay up for 8 hours each night to make sure students are safe. And yet I still complain about things. I’m pathetic…

So, what about the actual content of the work? Did I take anything away from that? The pathology of disease? I actually think I gain more of that during research and reading papers, but these physicians are all well-kept in reading the latest research on treating diseases so it’s actually pretty cool and will probably continue to remain cool as we study and uncover human disease.

Ah. Super dead each day. I feel I work 24/7 as well as a student, researcher, scribe, blogger, tutor, web designer, organization president/leader/social committee chair etc…the list goes on and while I wish it could stop, I also wish to continue this crazy road. Maybe when I’m 50 I’ll finally take the hint from my mom that yes I am crazy and need to stop, but until that happens I’ll keep making my little wins that make me exhaustingly happy.

Back to School

Last week was the first week back to school.  It’s also beginning of my last semester of classes for my master’s degree.  I remember a couple years ago talking to my adviser and telling her how I felt like I was never going to finish.  And here I am one semester away from student teaching and less than a year away from having my master’s degree and my Early Childhood/Special Ed teaching license.  There is a light at the end of the tunnel.

However, the problem is now that there is a light at the end of the tunnel, I am totally sensing myself check out at times, and it’s hard to focus.  Senoritis, they call it.  Good thing I have my preschool practicum this semester.  The little ones will keep me on my toes.

I look back at the person I was two years ago and I can’t believe how much I’ve changed.  My first semester I was totally clueless.  I had no idea what my teachers were talking about.  Now, I’m two years older (well, duh), I am in the Golden Key International Honor Society, I write a blog every week for UIC, I hold down multiple jobs while being in school, and when I am assigned pages and pages to read, I don’t read them just because I have to.  I read them because they are interesting and I want to learn as much as I can. I am really proud of where I am because I worked extremely hard to get here.  But I’m not done yet.

So, instead of counting down the days until this semester is over, I am going to try to embrace it because I don’t want to miss anything.  It’s not going to be easy, but isn’t that the point? I’m actually thinking about getting my PhD.  Nah, not really.  Well, maybe :).

I hope everyone has a great spring semester!

14 ways to improve academically in 2014

Welcome back!

We’re officially in the first week of school. New classes, professors, and schedules allow us a prime opportunity to start anew and excel in our courses this semester. If your fall semester was a success, you’ll be continuing with your techniques and study habits. If it didn’t exactly go that well for you, now’s your chance to start over and get those A’s. Here’s how to make that happen.

1. Get enough sleep! Countless studies have shown that getting the correct amount of hours of sleep helps you to stay focused and do better. Instead of pulling countless all-nighters this semester, maximize your available time to ensure that you are sleeping around 8 hours a night.

2. Work on your time management skills. Notice I only said to work on this. Obviously, this isn’t something that can be changed overnight, let alone within one semester. Self control in any capacity is difficult. Try to get work finished before you complete other, more exciting activities.You’ll thank yourself down the road.

3. Eat healthier. Your brain and body function much better when you give them the nutrients they need (duh!) When doing homework or studying, snack on healthy alternatives like vegetables or fruits to sharpen your mind.Chances are you’ll notice an improvement over the semester.

4. Exercise. Even if you aren’t into working out, taking a little bit of time out of the week to clear your mind and focus solely on exercising is beneficial. Working out lowers your stress level and will make you feel better about yourself.

5. Read books. Read just one book if that’s all you have time for. Having alternative reading material to textbooks and your friends’ Facebook statuses will give your mind something else to use as a form of relaxation. Plus, reading totally makes you a smarter person.

6. Make time for friends and family. Life without some type of social interaction isn’t life at all. Being with friends and family will help to make you less stressed out and will remind you of some of the most important things in life.

7. Read your textbooks. Whether you paid 5 cents for them on Amazon or $150 at the bookstore, it’s ridiculous to waste a resource that you paid for. Textbooks exist to facilitate our learning, so make sure you are reading them. They also almost always come with tons of studying tools throughout the book- use those, too!

8. Take notes unlike your usual way. I would say take notes, but I’m pretty sure every college student understands the importance of taking notes. Instead of starting another semester in the same exact way as every other one, switch things up; write your notes in a different way. Make sure they are still thorough and useful to you.

9. Write down tests and papers on a calendar (and actually look at it!) I can’t imagine life without my 4 calendars. Writing these assignments down along with appointments, important dates, and work schedules really help you keep your life on track. Instead of trying to remember everything, give that brain a rest and create a point of reference.

10. Study with a friend. Instead of studying in a group, which usually just turns into a large group of people talking to one another, pick one classmate or friend to study with. Chances are you’ll be more focused than you would be in a group setting, and you’ll get more out of the session.

11. Join an extracurricular. UIC has thousands of organizations for its students. Try to get involved in something if your schedule allows it. This will give you an outlet, help you meet other students, and sometimes even give you an opportunity to be in an organization facilitated by a professor.

12. Stay away from your bed. You should never study or do homework in or on your bed. Take it from me- it’s always trouble. Never have I ever been able to get my work done on my bed without getting distracted, tired, or overly comfortable, usually causing me to nap. Make yourself a study space somewhere, whether it’s your desk, a table, or the library.

13. Use UIC’s resources. If you need help, there are countless people willing to help you. Get that tutoring you’ve been wanting, go to the gym to clear your head, or get the counseling you’ve been putting off.

14. Have fun! I hope this is self-explanatory…

Sacrifices that we make

Happy first week of school everyone! I hope you all chose the right classes and started meeting with the right people to make this semester your best one yet! I started freaking out a bit one week before because I received an email from the Slavic department that my section of Polish 102 was being cancelled due to low enrollment, and that if I wanted to take Polish 102 I would have to take the 10am class. I have never had this sort of thing happen to me before (I’ve had it where I am planning on taking a class but then it closes up so fast that I need to pick another one…but that’s during the time everyone is scrambling to pick classes), especially just a week before classes start! Unbelievable. I was crushed. I have been waiting to take this class for the past 2 semesters now. Polish 101 was so awesome, but I had to really focus on studying for my MCAT and do well in those three science classes I took (biochemistry I, homeostasis and genetics). I was so happy to get all A’s that semester and do well on my practice MCATs leading up to the real thing, but I guess I wasn’t as ready as I thought I was (hence, I am restudying for it now).

The restudying isn’t going so well, but it’s probably because I’m not in that “oh-my-god” AHHH mode yet (oh don’t worry, it’s going to hit relatively soon). Anyway, my dilemma for this upcoming semester was if I should take Polish by moving all of my classes around (and those classes fill up fast), or take something else that will keep me full-time and engaged. I pondered other classes and I dabbled in my emotions toward each one that I read the description of. While there were some that were interesting, I already made the decision in my mind that I was going to take Polish 102 this semester and freaking kill it (um, yeah we’ll see Milie…). So, as you probably guessed, I moved all of my other classes around (thank goodness there were still sections open) and made sure it did not conflict with my schedule that was already made for scribing at Rush. This new schedule will reduce my hours at research a bit, but at the same time it increased my mini-time gaps so that I could keep tutoring at the Writing Center! The schedule I had before had no clear spaces in between classes or after classes that I was willing to use for tutoring, but this new schedule has a ton of spaces that I can easily fill up with at least an hour of tutoring! I’m so excited about my semester now.

Because this is my last semester, I am really going to strive and push myself and others around me to work to maximum potential. Not sure the clear cut steps yet, but knowing me with my Google Calendar, it’s going to happen.

How do we choose what to give up and give in to? That’s up to you to decide what is most important, whether it may be education, family, love, art or you. My thoughts is that all of the above are important, so I always say do what makes you happy, even if that means reducing time from all of them…

Dedicating your whole life to that “one thing” is a tough decision (can you tell I’m starting to allude to your future career?), and the road ahead will continue to be a long and difficult one to go. Personally, I’m convinced enough of what I want to do and be, but not that convinced it’s the only thing out there for me. Explore your options, regret some and learn a bit more about yourself (because once you figure that out, everything else will seem so much easier). :D

MAKE A PLAN, FOLLOW THROUGH.

Also, don’t forget that Martin Luther King Jr. Day is next Monday! No classes, but I work that evening at Rush (then I have to wake up early to go to Polish 102…I hope I’m not too sleepy). Enjoy the nice weekend.

Where do I go from here?

If you read my post from last week, you know that my uncle passed away the week before.  It has probably been one of the most difficult times for my family.  After it happened, I took a couple days off from work.  I did it because I probably couldn’t handle all three boys all day.  I hadn’t been sleeping well and my patience had been wearing thin prior to his passing, so I knew I had no energy for it after.  The parents of the kids were very understanding.  I felt like I needed to do absolutely nothing.  I needed to grieve.  I needed to paint because it relaxes me.  I needed to lay on the couch.  So, I did.  The time off came and went and I found myself upon Monday dreading going back to work, but knowing I had to.

You never really get over the death of a loved one.  You just learn to live.  You learn to continue your responsibilities and obligations.  But the hurt never truly goes away.

After the boys got two extra days of winter break due to the extreme cold that hit Chicago, I couldn’t WAIT for them to go back to school.  Then I realized, “Oh man! That means I have to go back to school, too!”  Usually by the time the new semester is on the brink of beginning, I’m ready to go back.  It’s my last semester of classes at UIC and I thought I’d be ready to get on with it.  But I’m not. It could be the loss of my uncle, it could be “senioritis,” as they call it and I’m just ready to be done, or it could be a combination of both.  I just go between needing to be around my supportive family and friends, to wanting to be alone.  Where do I go from here?

My family and I are planning a “Celebration of Life” for my uncle at the end of February.  It helps to know there will be something that could give us a sense of closure.  However, it’s not for another 7 weeks.  So, in the meantime I plan to keep myself busy but also allow myself to paint, listen to music and take part in the things that make me happy.  My uncle would not want me in mourning for him, so I’m trying my hardest to think about what an amazing life he lived, how much he accomplished, and what he stood for and believed in.

John Lawrence Muellner April 26, 1948 – January 1, 2014

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