Tears and Love of Friends

image

What’s a stressed, Catholic grad student to do when overwhelmed from being hard on herself? Go cry in a local church! I used to pride myself in finding no need to cry, but over the past academic year I’ve discovered the miraculous powers of tears and have accessed them whenever I could.

Other ways I’ve been trying to deal with stress as of late is through prayer, hence why I sought out the church today, as well as reaching out to friends more often. While it usually takes my friends a while to respond, I was lucky to receive encouraging, warm responses from them while in the church. I couldn’t help cracking a smile when reading over their messages, and felt very fortunate to have my friends to cry out to.

A walk through NYC

People-watching, eating, and walking – my favorite things to do when out in a new place. I got to part-take in all three activities on my first day visiting a friend in NYC.

We grabbed a delicious brunch at Barbounia in Manhattan.

Spinach omelet

Spinach omelet

Watched a game of street-polo and families with young children in local parks.

20150419_150134

Grabbed snacks in Chinatown.

20150419_151754

Almond milk bubble tea and red bean bun. Yum!

Saw some great architecture.

20150419_155843 20150419_160612

Traversed the Brooklyn Bridge, where I swear we passed Sandra Bullock and I ran into an old acquaintance who had moved into the city in the past year.

20150419_162448 20150419_163111

And grabbed a Mexican dinner in Brooklyn.

20150419_174903

Empanadas and a grilled avocado

Had we not been worn out by all the walking and if there had been better weather, we would have wandered deeper into Brooklyn to watch the sunset at Prospect Park. Even without that final adventure, we had quite an ambitious day of touring the city. On to more adventures tomorrow!

Race Day!

It finally came: the BAA 5K! I’d been anticipating this event since the summer when I started running on a regular basis. I fell off my routine in the fall semester, but picked it up again in January, determined to be able to run in the race. I had to take a few breaks from running while training, with twisting my ankle due to pure clumsiness in February and getting sick from the combination of stress and little sleep over spring break. Nonetheless I was able to get back on track in order to have the stamina for running 3.1 miles!

Us runners enjoyed perfect weather conditions, a great crowd, and beautiful Boston scenery. I loved and felt empowered by the energy and excitement of all the runners, as well as the diversity in ages and running experience. The 5K, was well as the Marathon a couple days later, unite the city as one and remind us of the resilience we showed two years ago in dealing with the marathon attacks. This city doesn’t stop going!

I’m so proud of myself and my friends for completing the race. Looks like commitment to training paid off! Now I have a benchmark time (30:39) for me to beat next time I run!

After the race my friends and I enjoyed breakfast at the chocolate restaurant Max Brenner’s. Soon as I got home I plopped into bed and took a 5 hour nap! All that energy wore me off!

image

Pre-race selfie with friends!

image

Running towards the Citgo sign

image

Crossing the marathon finish line

image

White chocolate pecan apple french toast. Yum!

Sidenote: The day kept going for me with some swing dancing in the evening. It was one of my best nights of dancing! There was excellent music by the Solomon Douglas Heptet and a great, crowd as always.

Victories with anxiety

Yesterday I had an unexplained bout of anxiety that affected me the whole day and distracted me from my work. Having faced multiple days like this hasn’t made the experience any more pleasant, but I have been proud to look back and reflect how I’m learning to manage them better. I have grown in determination for fighting these moments and seeking out help so that they don’t hold me back. I’ve been learning to accept that these days will come, and even though all may seem lost in the moment, I have the power within me to bounce back. I’ve come to recognize the importance of being present in the moment by slowing down thoughts, taking deep breaths, and remembering the positive. Most importantly,  I’ve come to know and appreciate the support group I have in these moments. I’m thankful for the family and friends who let me cry, who withstand listening to the same running thoughts, and who put up with my irrational grumpiness. I’m grateful I have people to relate to and to laugh at anxiety in its face. This includes a friend who yesterday commented she’d refer to her anxiety as Regina George when I said I wish that anxiety was a physical thing we could hit, and then proceeded to make Mean Girls puns.

I have taken the first steps in promising myself not to let anxiety control me. My bout of it yesterday has motivated to make changes to face it head on and defeat it to the extent that I can. Life is too short to be held back.

Baseball, food, and friends

image

Tonight I got to play hostess again by having a few friends over to watch the Red Sox-Yankees game. I enjoy having the opportunity to have guests. Serving snacks to fuel conversation and laughter is always one of my favorite parts of hosting, thanks to my background in Polish hospitality. Aside from the food pictured above, a friend and her boyfriend (whom I met for the first time) contributed some unique, sweet snacks, such as green tea-flavored Kit-Kats and a tough, dried fruit, as well as pork and shrimp dumplings from a local Asian mart. We also had some wings from down the street for the first time. We didn’t quite have the most typical food for watching a baseball game, aside from some peanuts, but it was all still delicious!

We weren’t tuned in too much into the game, except for the times when either team scored and noting the fact that the game was going into extra innings. There were some great stories shared, plenty of references about my hometown Chicago with my friend’s boyfriend making numerous jokes about the city after his visit there a few months back, and even thoughts about starting a meet-up group for baking enthusiasts in our area. Unfortunately the company didn’t stay for the length of the game, as it stretched out into extra innings (and is still going on into the 14th inning as I write this post!). Nonetheless, the night was a great end to the week and a much needed evening of rest before diving into the work I have to accomplish over the weekend.

Easter festivities

My, I haven’t written here consistently in a while! Graduate school has taken over my life to the point that sometimes I’ve forgotten to take pleasure in the little things. Time to return to writing to be reminded of them more often!

The past week leading up to Easter had its share of graudate school trials, which left me with averaging 3 hours of sleep a night. Fortunately I was blessed to have a best friend stay over for the week. She was in for some doctor’s visits and I was busy with school, but we still managed to see each other and share some great “chicken soup for the soul”, as I refer to the times that we spend together. The timing of her visit was perfect with all the stress of school I was going through, among other things, and I was happy to have her around for Easter!

image

Other then my friend’s visit, the week was good with all the Easter services to attend. The services gave me an opportunity to run into and reconnect with alumni and friends I’ve looked up to and am blessed to know. Even though the few days before Easter are supposed to be solemn, they were filled with jovial and much-needed socializing.

I concluded the week by serving a traditional Polish dinner for friends with all the food my family would serve for Easter brunch, including carrot salad, kielbasa, Polish ham, pierogi, and bread. I was inspired to do so by the care package my parents had sent me and links of Polish dinners that my roommate was sending me. I traveled all the way to a packed Polish deli in South Boston with my roommate to pick up additional food. It was wonderful to relive a little bit of the tradition I have grown up with and to share it with friends.

image

image

image

Also, my roommate and I finally get to feast on all the chocolate we’ve accumulated from care packages, birthday gifts, etc.image

Overall, I had some solid Easter festivities that have rejuvenated me to power through the rest of the semester. Only three more class meetings and 4 more weeks at my placement!

Back on track

image

After taking a two week break from running to rest my sprained foot, I finally hit the campus fitness center to run on the track. It was so refreshing to return to running! I’ve been itching to continue training for the BAA 5K. I ran nice and steady and even got in some great conditioning exercises after.

While working out, I ran into a friend I haven’t seen in a while with whom I made plans to grab a meal. I later ran into another acquaintance with whom we shared some recent personal stories we could relate to. I then stayed for a while at the fitness center to do some planning for my school placement since I don’t manage to be as productive in my apartment. In addition to running, this latter part of my evening, seeing people I know and studying, were also signs for me that I’m getting back on track with myself. I haven’t had the best start to the semester, but I at least feel like I’m finally starting to get the hang of how what I could do to improve. Finding time to be productive and branching out to spend time with people that I don’t get to see often or would like to know better have been on my mind as a couple of objectives to move forward. I was glad to have accomplished them today without the intention of doing so when I came in to run.