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2013 in Review

diet fortune cookieI can’t believe it’s already time to welcome a new year. Of course, this also means turning the final pages on the “old” year, which may or may not have any additional text on them. I tend to get surprised in the final days of December, saying, “Wait, I thought we were done and onto the acknowledgments page.” I will never learn, and that is probably a good thing.

That said, as we gear up for a fresh & shiny new 12 months, we look back on what the previous 12 brought—and what they did not bring. What did we accomplish that we set out to do? Where did we fall short? In what ways did we surpass our wildest expectations?

For me, 2013 was an objectively transformative year. Then again, the past few have been in their different ways. 2011 was all about endings and saying goodbye to what no longer served me well. 2012 was a clean-slate year of setting plans into action and planting new seeds. 2013 has been about beginnings and change and scaring myself on an almost-daily basis and reconnecting the heart, mind, and mouth.

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It’s Official!

So, first, this: I am now officially a Certified Dietitian-Nutritionist (CDN).  Finally!  Jess, MS, RD, CDN.

Notice that Kitchen Lady is not listed as a credential. Wondering what the f*** a CDN is?  You’re not alone. As explained here, a CDN “integrates and applies principles derived from nutrition, biochemistry, physiology, food management, and behavioral and social sciences to achieve and maintain people’s health.”

Warning to other RDs applying for CDN certification: it can take months for all the documents to be processed. Sometimes it doesn’t, though. My intern partner had his approved within a few weeks—not typical. I actually had an alert set for next week on my phone to check up on my paperwork, so this was a nice surprise! I’m having dinner with my dad tonight, so it’ll be nice to have a reason to celebrate.

The next little mountain I want to climb is attaining my CDE to become a Certified Diabetes Educator. This will involve a little more work/logged practice hours and an exam, but it’s something I really want to pursue. When it comes to our ambitions, Sagittarians aren’t really into the whole concept of “no.” Unless we decide we want to say “yes” to something different.

Then there’s this lab coat selfie I took this morning at my friend Laura’s request:IMG_3354I’m always a little fried by the time I get to Friday. Heh, Fry-Day. Yeah, I went there.

Hope you have a great weekend ahead! I’m going to a diabetes lecture tomorrow morning and then getting my hair cut before celebrating a former classmate’s birthday. And hopefully shaking this late-summer “maybe it is a cold.”

What are you most looking forward to this weekend? 

“Dietitian, S*** is F***ed Up!”

I’ll answer to almost anything these days.

foodservice bookJust because I did a foodservice rotation in my dietetic internship doesn’t mean I really understand what goes on in the underbelly of a large healthcare facility, even when I run down there ten times a day to straighten out issues. Sometimes it seems like the kitchen is trying to mess up trays. I swear, hospital foodservice is like the rubik’s cube of customer satisfaction.  There are a few places that have gotten it right, but no one really knows how…

Basically my entire life, I’ve taken on challenges like they were options, only to find out later that the place/situation/job had a reputation for being notoriously difficult. For example, when I was volunteering in a little-slice-of-hell longterm care facility for HIV patients several years ago, people would ask, “Isn’t that…depressing?” or “How do you deal with that?”

I’d say, “Well…it’s certainly interesting.” And then I would rattle off some colorful stories and talk about how it was teaching me a lot about meeting people where they were at. In answer to the second question, I’d say, “How do I deal? I just kind of do.”

Most of the people I know who work in healthcare have said similar things, that they don’t really stop and say, “Wow, look how awful this is!” They just jump in and do their job, laugh at the day-to-day amusements, roll their eyes when they need to. The camaraderie you have with your co-workers definitely keeps you going. Of course, there are always going to be those moments when you need to vent behind a closed door or go cry in the bathroom and ask yourself why the hell you decided to do this—that’s part of any profession—but it rarely takes long before you find a positive to balance out the negative.

For me, right now I’m learning a lot about communication between departments and about ensuring that people feel like their concerns are being addressed. I’m also honing my technique of keeping it all together when I want to start speaking in my New Jersey expletive dialect. It can be tough when I put in so much effort to communicate clearly that a particular patient needs xyx, only to find them irate over a plate of exactly what they’re allergic to/something they won’t eat/the opposite of what they asked for, but so far so good. And also, you have to celebrate the little victories. I never thought I’d get so excited over someone getting a carton of milk with their lunch.

How do you approach challenges? What has your experience with hospital food been like? 

 

Best Medicine

When I first went back to school to become an RD, I had all these identity crisis thoughts swirling around in my head. Did this mean I would have to morph into a Type-A cookie cutter? I had an image in my head of the bottle-blonde, well-heeled dietitian who only seemed to talk about fiber, green juice, and childhood obesity. Was I allowed to have non-food/health-related hobbies? Luckily, time mellowed out my fears as I realized that for better or worse, I will always be me, regardless of how blonde my hair is at a given time or what kinds of shoes I’m wearing.

And you know what? My version of healthy living leaves room for things like drinking a gin cocktail while making oatmeal for the week ahead. Or one-person dance parties just because. Growing up, I danced in my bedroom all the damn time. Then I got out of the habit—dorm roommates, live-in boyfriends, etc. Eventually I rediscovered some of my sillier solo pastimes, and um, yeah.

Dancing like no one was watching circa 2005 or 6.

That costume party where I went as Mick Jagger, dancing like no one was watching circa 2005 or 6. <3 embarrassing old photos…

When everything around you feels so serious, sometimes the best medicines are laughter and movement and music. I might have danced and listened to this song a lot last night. Best cure for the sad bastard blues ever. Way better than online shopping. And besides, what’s the point of having your own apartment if you can’t dance around in your pajamas? Even if you are 27 and not 17…

Be honest, do you still have dance parties by yourself? What are your favorite songs to dance to? 

“Artist Date” Weekend

I know this isn’t the first time I’ve talked about Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way on this blog, and it probably won’t be the last. Whether you’re making a living as a sculptor, a dancer, a lawyer, or a clinical nutritionist, it’s important to nurture your creative side and set aside time to play.

Something Cameron talks about is taking yourself on “artist dates,” and while I try to be nice to myself as I would a person I’m dating and not be overly critical or impatient, I tend to slack on actually taking myself on “dates.” I’m making this weekend an exception, though.

I’m not going to lie–the past few weeks have been full of very positive things (starting a new job, finally graduating with my MS in clinical nutrition after 4 years of hard work), but they’ve also been some of the hardest weeks I’ve had in a while. A lot of it is run-of-the-mill New Schedule stress, but also some really emotional stuff (thanks full moon lunar eclipse). Often,  Big Things/Big Changes = Big Feelings, so no surprise there. Just. Wow.  It doesn’t help that it is seriously, like, Leonard Cohen-style “wash my eyelids in the rain” weather. Read More »

Stupid-Tired

Do you ever just get so tired you feel like a raging idiot?

Me too.

A pretty accurate representation of what the inside of my head looks like right now

A pretty accurate representation of what the inside of my head looks like right now

In the past few weeks since starting my new job, I’ve done some funny sh!t:

  • walked smack into a wall while getting ready for bed—so hard I had a bruise for a whole week. Totally sober, might I add, just not wearing my glasses in the dark. If I had a ring on the “taken” finger, I’d probably have gotten pulled aside at work and asked if things were okay at home.
  • ordered some chia seeds and had them shipped to my old address
  • wrote “2017″ for the date. Um…
  • made a recipe I should have known I wouldn’t love—the recipe itself is actually an awesome easy dinner idea, but I was so out of it, I forgot that I am not a fan at all of Laughing Cow wedges—they make me feel like I’d been tricked into eating “diet food.”
  • almost wrote a tube feed order for 1000 ml/hr instead of 100. Whoops.
  • forgot to take off my bra for a massage. The massage therapist actually unhooked it for me when I was lying face-down and helped me out of it. It was both cute and weird.

And to think I have a f***ing Masters degree now…

Do you do stupid and/or weird stuff when you’re tired? 

What I Ate Wednesday #111: Graduation Edition

So wow, it’s my official first post-grad  What I Ate Wednesday. I kind of neer thought I’d be able to write that. Thank you as always to the lovely Jenn of Peas & Crayons for hosting the weekly link part. Take a visit to see more WIAW from other bloggers!

My graduation stay started with a fire in the basement in my building, but ended with lobster and chocolate fondue. So hey.

  • Breakfast: A hurried bowl of Greek yogurt with berries, cereal, and sunbutter
  • Lunch: Giant salad, scrambled egg whites, and toast with avocado
  • Dinner: a few pieces of a delicious sushi roll, (unpictured) oysters, steamed lobster with broccolini and sauteed spinach, fruit dipped in chocolate fondue, sauvignon blanc

What’s your ultimate celebration meal? 

Burnin’ for Learnin’

Happy Graduation Day to me.

So yesterday, I talked a little bit about the unexpected. Go figure, this morning, when I’d planned to sleep in and enjoy a leisurely morning at home before doing the cap & gown thing, I woke at 6:15 to the smell of smoke. At least it wasn’t like that time in 2007 when I woke to a big, burly fireman pounding on my door telling me to get out of the building.

Fortunately, the problem had been taken care of by then and by 7:30 the elevators were running again, even if the lights in all the hallways were out.

IMG_2386

So much for a relaxing morning! I went and hung out in a Starbucks for a while before doing a free Zumba class at the Athleta store. I kind of love that I spent the morning before graduating with a Masters of Science dancing around in a store window and laughing about my inability to tell my left foot from right.

Another day, another adventure. Happy Monday!

Last weekend as a grad student!

So wow, this has been a great last weekend as a grad student—equal parts mellow and fun. I even slept in until 9 this morning!

  • Lunch with Mom when I was passing through NJ for a doctor’s appointment Saturday
    tilapia & funny little salad with lots of picked veggies

    tilapia & funny little salad with lots of picked veggies

  • A friend’s Bday dinner here (I will definitely be attempting to recreate the kale caesar salad I had as an appetizer—so good) and drinks here
  • Coffee at this new place, which kind of feels like an airport hotel lounge—in a good way
  • A surprise Neil Young binge that’s gonna take a few days at least to shake

Tomorrow I’m graduating with my MS in Clinical Nutrition & Dietetics. In some ways, it almost feels like my first day of grad school was last week (it was actually 4 years ago today), but in others, it’s like it was a lifetime ago.

5 years ago, I moved to NYC to be with a guy I’m not even in touch with anymore, thinking I’d do my freelance writing and part time PR job until I found something in publishing. Hah! If someone had told me I’d feel compelled to seek out a job with an alternative health care practice and decide to go back to school to study clinical nutrition because of ghostwriting a Chinese medicine blog, I’d have laughed.

The main lesson I’ve learned is that when you follow your intuition to what feels good and what feels right, it’s hard to go wrong, even if it’s not always easy or doesn’t make sense right away. I can’t lie, it’s been awesome—lots of good surprises along the way. I love what I do, and even on the stressful days, I usually still feel like this: ice cream

“When I was 5 years old, my mother always told me that happiness was the key to life. When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down, ‘happy.’ They told me I didn’t understand the assignment, and I told them they didn’t understand life.”

—John Lennon

Cheers to that. Thank you, thank you thank, you for all your support and encouragement along the way.

That’s a wrap

So, I survived Tuesday’s presentation.  I have no idea what kind of grade I got,and honestly, at this point, I don’t even care. I’m just so happy to be done! After a sort of stressful early workday, it was awesome to sit down to a gorgeous lunch prepared by one of the food production classes. So many gorgeous things! I think the theme was Spanish foods? IMG_2369I also loved hearing all my classmates discuss their studies. Yes, it was a long 5 hours, but the feeling of being done and being able to spread congrats around the room was so special.

I’m not going to lie and say that grad school has been a piece of cake—there were a lot of late nights, tears, and freak-outs, though fortunately, most of the latter two occurred in 2009 and 10. I don’t talk about it much on the blog, but early on I had to stand up to a lot of naysaying and bust my ass the whole way to get as much as I could out of the education (and you know, not fail chem) and seek out my own learning experiences to fill in the gaps.

So yeah, I can now put MS, RD on those business cards. I’m a little fried but so appreciative. What a long, strange trip indeed. And it’s just the beginning of another one : )

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