I’m currently finding it very difficult to see the good in the things around me these past few days. My (newly acquired) seasonal allergy symptoms are at an all time high, I have two, back-to-back midterm exams tomorrow (literally back-to-back, 12:30-2pm and 2-3:30pm), and I continue to make mental lists of everything I want to accomplish, which continue to overwhelm me. I also made the rookie mistake of drinking a latte this morning. Lattes are comprised of two lethal ingredients, milk and caffeine. The milk obviously doesn’t help with the inflammation of my allergy symptoms, and the caffeine in no way helps with my anxiety symptoms.
Besides regretting my poor decision to drink a medium latte, I am overwhelmed with countless discrete and continuous probability distributions as well as consumer behavior theories, models, and definitions. I’m attempting to efficiently memorize and apply the multiple different probability distributions while simultaneously keeping myself from having a mental breakdown while thinking about everything and anything I could possible overwhelm myself from. (Books I want to read, things I want to do, yoga asanas I want to practice, places I want to run/bike, workouts I want to try, and school material I should probably be studying instead of typing this blog post.)
I need to constantly remind myself to breathe (deeply) and take my time and give full attention to one assignment or task at a time. And to not drink anymore lattes this week.
Wow such a long time since my last post! It’s crazy that I love blogging so much, yet I never found the time to return to this passion until April….
Since my last post I have many new changes and will briefly discuss most of them below. Please be patient with all of this; I promise to set aside more me-time to blog more often.
I love my classes again this semester; I’m in Marketing Research, Consumer Behavior, Data Visualization and Simulation, Operations Management, Six Sigma Toolkit and Applied Statistics. I have a passion for the core of all of these, whether it be a math, business analytics or marketing class. I love my Six Sigma class because my professor is so smart, experienced, and helps guide the shape of my future during office hours. I will end this semester as a certified Yellow Belt (not much, I know, but definitely a step in a positive direction). I also love my Consumer Behavior class; my professor is like a cool mom. She has kids a little younger than us but knows what’s in and not and can hold humorous conversations with the class members during lectures.
I’m training for a half marathon – the Zooma Annapolis Half Marathon – on June 4th. I’m excited to complete it with my sister, however training for this has definitely made me realize how much I dislike running. I guess it’s more of a love-hate. I love running, just hate the lonely long distance runs (outside surrounding pollen and struggling to breathe.)
I’m finally beginning to feel more emotionally stable again – HALLELUJAH!! The medicine and therapy is definitely helping and I am choosing to do more activities that boost my mood (like yoga) and less activities that kill my mood. I’m extremely excited to graduate in a year and physically, mentally, and emotionally move on. College has not been the best experience for me, although it was much needed, as all of my struggles have help strengthen and build who I have become today. (ROMANS 8:18 “The pain that you have been feeling cannot compare to the joy that is coming.”)
I’ve also began the 100 Days of Happiness Challenge! #100happydays In case you have been living under a rock (and not followed my Instagram account – @strongandsmiling) than you would be unaware. I am committing myself to post something that makes me happy everyday for 100 consecutive days in hopes to further improve and stabilize my mood/emotional state. So far, I honestly feel that I have become the slightest bit happier, simply because everyday I am forced to take a picture of and cherish something happy so I am able to post and write about it that day. Today is day 21, so I’m only a fifth of the way done!
My goals for this week are to keep up with my yoga/lifting/running plans, sleep for at least eight hours each night and to smile for one minute every day – even if it’s by myself in my room. I’m hoping these three goals will help improve (or at least maintain) my physical, emotional, and spiritual health.
This weekend I was blessed with having the opportunity to come home for two days while my classes and field hockey have a “Fall Break”. I happily reunited witb two of my sisters, my parents and my pets Friday night after driving home straight after my game on Friday night. Since then I’ve caught up on all of my recorded Modern Family episodes (struggles of not having cable or a tv at school), went to the Annual Fall Festival at Kinder Farm Park, sold pumpkins at my church, hung out with my family and made homemade pizza and roasted marshmallows in our firepit and watched my sister’s rec field hockey game. It’s just a short trip home but it’s always a nice mental reset to sleep in my own bed (and hang out with my beloved cat, Beau Beau).
To pass the time selling pumpkins, my sister and I did some fun exercises; the videos are included below. The first video is a core exercise, the second is alternating lunges with a twist, the third is another core exercise with Russian twists, the fourth is squats with a shoulder press, the fifth is squats with bicep curls and the last two videos are of my sister and I using the pumpkins as an obstacle course for field hockey dribbling.
“Life is like riding a bicycle, to keep your balance you must keep moving.” – Albert Einstein
“If you can achieve something without a struggle, it’s not going to be satisfying.” -Greg LeMond
I couldn’t decide between posting a positive quote and posting about exercising so I’ve mixed them together by adding in these cool quotes about bicycles. Today I took a peaceful bike ride and even wore a helmet for once! Safety first!! I’ve always loved biking because it’s a great workout and you are able to enjoy everything all around. I believe that it’s an underrated activity in the United States. In particular, the Netherlands stands out the most to me, as I was just there over my spring break with my team while we completed our own “Euro Tour” and played many different hockey clubs throughout Holland and Belgium. What I loved the most about the culture over there is how basically EVERYONE rides their bikes to work, school, for leisure and anywhere else they need to be. Our biggest problem is that our level of patience has depleted dramatically in the past few years and people need to get where they are going right away, therefore biking would take way too long and be a waste of time. Another point my mom (a fellow fitness lover) recently pointed out was how crazy it is now in time where people will get in a car and drive to a gym just so they can sit on a stationary bike to get a workout and then drive home again. Think about it; it’s awful!
Back to the inspiring Dutch way of life, their general population was considerably less obese than the average American and although they still have deadlines, curfews, and times to be wherever they are going, they don’t stress about getting there “right now”, keeping biking still in the running for usable transportation. While on our previously mentioned “Euro Tour”, my team and coaching staff was fortunate enough to participate in a guided bike tour of Rotterdam. Although it was very cold and windy, it was incredible to be able to bike the same roads that the locals bike and experience the city from the seat of a bike. One of my roommates this past year was from the Netherlands and came to the US to attend college but rode her bike to class and practice with so effortlessly, beautifully, and graceful. (She can even ride impressively without using her hands!) She put all other bikers to shame with how great she looked while riding her bike. I still envy their lifestyle and abundance of patience and low-stress, along with their (and her) outstanding bicycle skills.
Unlike the breathtaking cities of Europe, my bike ride today consisted of biking a total of five and a half miles through my flat suburban neighborhood to the murky, brown river and back home again. I can’t complain at all though because it was a beautiful day outside and I am very fortunate to be physically able to bike, especially to the little body of water which eventually leads to the magnificent Chesapeake Bay.
I encourage you all to bike somewhere outside and take a moment on the seat of your bike to acknowledge and appreciate the beautiful outdoors!
Where DL means down low and TR means Training Room.
As a collegiate athlete, I have naturally spent hours upon hours in my school’s Athletic Training Room. You could even say it’s sometimes my home away from home (apartment) away from home (permanent home away from school). It’s hard to explain the training room to non-athletes and people who don’t fully understand college athletics but I’ll try my best to clue you all in as to what goes on in here.
I guess for starters, the real question is what doesn’t go on in here? I have experienced literally all emotions in the TR since being at school these past two years. There was originally a love-hate relationship between me and the TR; this then turned into an aggressive hate relationship, and now I’m happy to report that we are on good terms again. The TR is the home to the ice machine, ice baths, hot whirlpool, stretching tables, rehab modalities, rehab equipment, extensive bandaid/bandage cabinet, taping table and the wonderful athletic trainers. 🙂
Here is a brief breakdown of my four semesters as seen through the TR:
Freshman Fall: I only had to come in to get water before practice everyday (a freshman duty), get my baseline concussion test done before the start of preseason, and meet the team physician and get cleared to play before preseason began. This was all.
Freshman Spring: Forced beyond my will (which I later learned was for my own good) to come into the TR at least two times per day. I was diagnosed with CECS and had to meet the team physician every Wednesday afternoon to discuss my current situation and what I should try to do in the upcoming week. I also had to ice bath my shins to reduce the swelling and get my anterior tibialis muscles massaged with something similar to Graston tools to try to release the fascia (tissue directly covering the muscle). During this semester, I also sprained my ankle, requiring me to complete ankle strengthening exercises once a day, daily and have “stim”, basically electric currents, on my ankle to help build back my strength and reduce swelling. Since my freshman year spring, I have gotten my ankles taped to help stabilize it and reduce the workload off of my shin compartments which usually have to work hard to control my ankle movements.
In the picture, my ankle is wrapped in the “Game Ready”, which pumps cold water in and around a wrap and simultaneously my foot is elevated, both done to aid in the reduction of the swelling. This was completed until my ankle returned to its original range of motion and strength.
Sophomore Fall: Actually for once in my life, I was good! …… Until receiving a concussion in September, taking me out of class for two weeks and out of field hockey for the rest of our season. NOT FUN. But, those times have passed and I am stronger because of it! Having a concussion required me to get driven to the TR by one of my coaches or teammates, until I was off of bedrest and physically and mentally cleared to walk there myself. In the TR I would have to complete a SCAT test (a paper concussion test) which documented my symptoms, long-term and short-term memory, coordination, balance, and cognitive skills until I was fully recovered. Also during my recovery I had to get into “the noose of shame”, or a traction device to help the muscles in my neck until I was able to regularly visit the team chiropractor. On days with unusually painful headaches, one of the athletic trainers would give me a pressure point massage to try to shrink the muscular knots in my neck at the base of my head. I also had to see our team physician EVERY Wednesday so he could witness any progressions and suggest things to alter to best try to heal my brain and post concussive symptoms.
** NOTE: This was when I hated everything involving the TR. I don’t blame myself though because who wouldn’t hate the place where they have to sit in the noose of shame, take (and fail) never-ending SCAT tests, and have the trainers massage my knots which at first worsened the pain, but eventually (and fortunately) they dissolved all of the knots (….. until finals week; where the tension knots became infinitely worse).
In the pictures below, I documented my first day back at class (and I tried to look the least confused as possible – although as you can see, I still looked very concussed/confused), at the imaging services center in the Williamsburg Regional Hospital, when I got scans of my brain completed, and the last two pictures help better show the dreadful “noose of shame”. You’re literally sitting in the corner of the TR and staring straight ahead at a door while you’re hooked up to this contraction and anytime you move your face, head or neck it tightens; I believe the name is extremely fitting.
Sophomore Spring: More compartment syndrome problems due to overtraining in our off-season. It definitely wasn’t even comparably bad compared to the pain I endured a year ago during my Freshmen Spring season. It was more emotionally draining that I was having physical problems again and I came to the realization that this is just something I am going to have to toughen out and live with.
In the pictures below, I’m sitting in a cold whirlpool/ice bath with one of my teammates, and the other two pictures were snapchat screenshots from another one of my teammates. In the “0 MPH” picture, you can see the STIM pads on her legs, along with ice bags, and in the other picture, both legs are getting ultrasound treatment.
Sophomore Summer: I visited the wonderful TR every day during the week for knee rehab (PFPS), ankle strengthening and hip strengthening exercises which both help alleviate the pain caused by the CECS. YAY! I have learned to not hate the single place on campus which has helped keep me both alive and functioning despite multiple injuries and problems. Our team athletic trainer is so awesome (and the other ones are pretty great too) and after two extremely long years I learned that they are all here to help make us, athletes, better and back out on the field, court, pool, gym, etc.
The pictures above are all from this summer; I have to heat my shins with a hot pack, to loosen the muscles before I begin my rehab exercises, I get my ankles taped to help with stability and prevent my shin muscles from over-working and becoming unnecessarily swollen, for a short period of time this summer, my athletic trainer tried “combo” which is just a combination of both ultrasound treatment and stim treatment coming from the ultrasound head simultaneously, and the final picture just shows me ice-cupping my knees after completing my rehab exercises and to reduce the swelling.
I can almost guarantee that there will be more posts in the future (especially during the school year) referencing the TR – but I SWEAR I will only say positive things about my experiences here. I have a not-so-great track record with my team athletic trainer regarding the negativity I associated with the TR and how poorly I talked about it to my teammates. If you ever read this, please know that I am extremely grateful for everything you do to help me and that the TR isn’t actually so bad afterall <3.
On Monday night, country artist Canaan Smith came to my school and gave a free concert to anyone wanting to attend. Although it was a Monday night in Williamsburg, VA, there was a very impressive turnout. I was very excited about seeing my friends at the concert and being able to kick back, relax and enjoy some nice country music outside. One of my roommates came down for the day and night and we enjoyed some always delicious Cheese Shop on DOG Street in CW before walking over to the campus amphitheater on Lake Mataoka. It was a beautiful night and we all had so much fun! We learned later on in the night that Canaan was originally from Williamsburg, so this concert was like a little homecoming for him and his hometown fans. Even though we all only knew one song (“Love You Like That”) we still happily jammed out the entire time and enjoyed great company and awesome weather. Also p.s., Canaan’s newest album, “Bronco” – dedicated to his brother, was just released yesterday!
(In the pictures, I’m wearing the high-necked, black tank top with the long necklaces and fun, new, Reef sneakers)
I can also now officially write that I will fortunately be able to join the rest of the Slattery fam at our cousins’ new Cape house next week! I have worked extremely diligently these past four weeks during my summer semester and will be able to be exempt from taking the final exam. Because I won’t need to be in class for the final exam nor the review day, I’m able to depart Williamsburg this Monday and get shipped up to relax for a week in New England with my sisters, cousins, parents and aunt and uncle. It’s going to be so enjoyable to be able to finally relax and not worry about anything! Until then, I have to pack, study for my fourth and final unit exam on Monday morning and see all of my friends one final time before returning back to Maryland for the remainder of the summer.
Stay tuned for some final Williamsburg posts and upcoming New England posts! 🙂