Monday, March 28, 2011

I don't have time to hate the people who hate me; I am too busy loving the people that love me...

What a week it has been bloggers! There is just so much going on I don't even know where to start! I started a new class this week...Pediatrics. This is probably one of the classes I dislike the most. The kids aspect I don't's the parents that I can't stand. Once a child develops a personality and becomes their own individual person, a parent becomes very controlling about their care and about their child in general. In reality, we need to think about our patient and what care is best for them, not the parent (right fellow nursing students/RN's??). Learning about development, child abuse, and family assessment can be overwhelming especially since a child's development stages changes every few months or few years. Ugh. So stressful...

On Saturday I participated in the American Red Cross' Out for Blood 5k. It was at Centennial Park in Ellicott City which is a great run. There were about 600 participants of all ages- from kids to 70+. I had a very steady pace going until about mile 2 when I saw a woman hyperventilating on the side of the path. I ran backwards about a half mile to get her water and once she calmed down, we finished the race together! I was proud that she finished! For those of you who don't give blood, YOU SHOULD! You could help save a life, maybe even your own. When you give blood through the American Red Cross, they test your hemoglobin, hematocrit, and iron (make sure you are healthy enough and are able to lose that blood). American Red Cross will even send you a donor card that states what blood type you are! When I started donating at the age of 16, I found out that I have a blood type of O negative- the universal donor...I can give to anyone and everyone! They are always in need of my blood type so I usually donate "double". To find out more on giving blood or to schedule an appointment near you, GO HERE!

For those of you who don't know, next week I will be attending a conference for the National Student Nurses Association in Salt Lake City with a girlfriend of mine. I will be gone for 5 jam-packed days. I am very excited, however, to meet nursing students like me from all over the country and network with over 500 vendors (hospitals, colleges, agencies, etc.) I will also be attending an American Red Cross Disaster Certification which I am the most excited about. Hopefully, I will be able to travel to different countries who are the victims of natural disasters and lend a hand. It will be a nice "break" from things I do daily around here!

With my birthday coming up on Saturday (Yay! The big 2-4!) I have an even busier week. Classes Tuesday and Thursday, surgery date comes on Wednesday (hopefully), conducting SNA meetings on Wednesday, gym time (of course), and preparing myself for birthday things and another 5k Saturday morning in DC.

Even in my busy week, I found some more recipes for you all to try (summertime treats at that!)- let me know what you think!

Peachy-Cream Fruity Fondue (45 cal, 118mg sodium!)

1 1/2 cup frozen peach slices
1/2 cup sugar free pancake syrup
1/4 cup fat free cream cheese, room temp.
2 tsp. light whipped butter
1 Tbl. brown sugar
1 Tbl. cornstarch
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
Dash salt

In a microwave safe bowl, combine peaches and pancake syrup. Microwave for 1 minute. Place peach mixture in a blender with cream cheese, then blend until completely smooth. Set aside. In a small bowl, combine cornstarch with 1 Tbl. cold water. Stir until dissolved. Add brown sugar, vanilla extract, cinnamon, and salt. Stir and mix thoroughly. Bring a medium pot to low heat and add butter. Add peach and cornstarch mixes. Stir well. Raise heat. Stir for 3-4 minutes until thick and bubbly. Reduce heat and return to room temperature. If you have a fondue pot, transfer mix and set temperature to low. If not, transfer to a bowl and dip!

Strawberry Shortycakes (68 calories, 107mg sodium!)

3/4 cup angel food cake mix
3/4 cup Cool Whip Free
3/4 cup sugar free strawberry preserves
3/4 cup sliced fresh strawberries

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a 12 cup muffin pan with baking cups. Place cake mix in a medium mixing bowl. Add 1/2 cup water. Using an electric mixer, beat at low speed for 30 seconds. Increase speed to medium and mix for 1 minute. Let sit for 2 minutes. Evenly distribute cake mixture into baking cups. Bake for 12-15 minutes until tops are golden brown. Allow cupcakes to cool completely, then carefully peel cupcakes from cups and plate them. Spread 1 Tbl. preserves over top of each cupcake. Top each with 1 Tbl. Cool Whip. Evenly distribute sliced strawberries among cupcake tops.

Pina Colada Cupcakes (115 calories, 171mg sodium!)

For cupcakes:
2 cups moist style yellow cake mix
1 1/2 8oz. cans crushed pineapple in juice (not drained)
1/2 tsp. coconut extract

For frosting:
4 oz. canned crushed pineapple in juice (drained)
1 Jell-O Sugar Free Vanilla Pudding Snack
1 1/2 Tbl. fat free cream cheese, room temp.
1/8 tsp. coconut extract
1 no calorie sweetener packet <---Splenda!

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium mixing bowl, combine all frosting ingredients and mix until blended. Refrigerate until cupcakes are ready to be frosted. In a large mixing bowl, combine cake mix with undrained pineapple. Add coconut extract and mix until thoroughly blended. Line a 12 cup muffin pan with baking cups. Evenly distribute cake mixture between all cups. Bake for about 20 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Allow cupcakes to cool completely then evenly distribute frosting over the tops. Refrigerate until ready to serve!

I will have more recipes to come! Any needs? Let me know and I will look for a healthy, easy one!

I love means summer is right around the corner- though you would never tell with this crazy weather! Unfortunately, lately I have been seeing people and having people confide in me with a lot of drama floating around. Why? It's springtime people! Happy seasons! Cheer up and grow up! Drama only consumes those people who search for your life and be happy! Don't stoop to any one's level- no one can tell you how to do you except you!

A wise person once said ..."There comes a time in life, when you walk away from all the drama and people who create it. You surround yourself with people who make you laugh, forget the bad, and focus on the good. So love the people who treat you right, pray for the ones who don't. Life is too short to be anything but happy. Falling down is a part of life, getting back up is living."

So get back up and live your life...on your own two feet...

Until the next step bloggers...

Monday, March 21, 2011

Faith is taking the first step even when you don't see the whole staircase...

It has been a while since I have posted anything new on here. My stress post pertained very well to me in the last couple of weeks. A new nursing class starts for me this week...Pediatrics. I am not necessarily looking forward to it. I have FAITH though that I can get through it. Still...Is it summertime yet???

Next week I get my official date for surgery. For those of you who don't know, I have a condition known as an accessory navicular bone. Layman's terms? I have an extra bone in both of my feet. So, having 208 bones instead of the usual 206 doesn't make me causes me pain. Severe pain. My left foot/ankle has been a problem for me for a while. My extra bone is becoming detached and surgery is the only option for me now. They will go in, remove the bone, and then reattach my ligaments/tendons to my ankle. It seems like there is no good time to do this surgery as I have a booked schedule until around July or so. Ugh!

I walk around with an "aircast" brace on until my surgery day. If you want to feel something wild, come feel the bone coming out of my foot. Gross! I have FAITH that everything will go well and I will be back walking on my own two feet in no time...

I have had a couple days to do some research so for those of you who like to eat right, work out, or stay in have I got a gift for you! A wonderful new friend sent me Shakeology and man is it good! It helps you fight cravings, increase your energy, and lose weight! There are a ton of different recipes for each flavor. It is my new obsession! Though I do still have my amazing Amplified Wheybolic protein from GNC for after I work out, Shakeology will usually replace one of your meals a day and believe me, you will have enough!!

Since I had my first relaxing weekend in a long time, I took the time to find some healthy recipes and started to create some masterpieces! Here are a few that were my favorites:

Super Cheesy All American Breakfast Bake (only 159 calories including 24g of p rotein and 1.25g fiber!)

2 cups fresh spinach leaves
1/2 cup fat free liquid egg substitute (<---eat this almost daily!)
1 wedge Laughing Cow Light Original Swiss Cheese (<--- GREAT snack!)
1 slice fat free American cheese
1 slice extra lean turkey bacon (<--- I use regular bacon; it's better for you!)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cook bacon according to package instructions. Once cool enough to handle, chop the bacon into small pieces. Bring a sprayed pan to medium heat. Add spinach and cook/stir until wilted. Spray a small round backing dish. Place spinach in the dish. Break cheese wedge into quarters and place on top of the spinach. Cover with bacon pieces. Pour egg substitute over bacon and top with slice of American cheese. Bake for 20-25 minutes until egg substitute is firm and fully cooked. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

*Remember that you should be eating your breakfast within an hour of waking up!*

Coconut Glaze Fruit Salad  (only 122 calories along with only 20mg of sodium, 3.5g fiber and 2.5g protein!! WOW!)

For salad:
2 cups halved strawberries
1 cup blueberries
1 cup red grapes
1 cup chopped peaches
1 large banana, sliced
1 large apple, chopped
Optional: fresh mint leaves

For glaze:
6 oz. fat free vanilla yogurt (<--- I use Chobani Greek yogurt since it is always in my fridge!)
1/4 cup light coconut milk
2 Tbl. Splenda
1/4 tsp coconut extract
1/4 tsp lime juice

In a large bowl, combine all fruit. Set aside. In a mixing bowl, combine all your glaze ingredients until mixed well. Add glaze to fruit bowl. Toss to coat all fruit evenly. Mix mint leaves if desired.

*This is a great summer cookout recipe!*

I am signed up for a bunch of 5K runs between now and June that I am excited about. Most recent will be this Saturday in Columbia. I am also doing on for the Susan G. Komen Foundation to fight breast cancer (for my grandmother and Lynn!) and most importantly one that falls on my birthday. It will be a very emotional 5K for me that day but I am hoping I have people running with me to help carry me through the day. Want to join in on the fun or donate to a worthy cause for a tax write-off?? Comment and I will let you know more details!

Some causes I am running for: American Red Cross blood drive, Susan G. Komen breast cancer, Maryland Veterans (Yay Navy!), Ulman Cancer Fund, Children's Miracle Network, David Pinks Foundation (victims of sexual abuse), Got Your Back Network, Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, and GBMC's NICU! I have FAITH that I will make myself and all of these wonderful organizations proud!

I hope you take my blog and run with it! Literally! I am always looking for people to join in on 5K or 10K's and I love giving people tips on cooking (and vise versa)! I have journals of quick, easy, and healthy recipes that are up for grabs! So as you start off your week, I wish you confidence and FAITH to take the first step to walking on your own two feet...

Until the next step bloggers...

Monday, March 14, 2011

The only journey is the journey within...

This weekend was packed full of fun and not so fun activities. Do you ever have those weekends when you can't even remember everything you did? Talk about being exhausted...!

After taking one of the hardest tests in my life on Friday followed by class (which is cruel and unusual punishment all in itself), I was mentally fried so I came home, changed and took out my stress at the gym. There is nothing like doing over 2 hours of high intensity cardio and abs to get you fired up and feeling amazing! Now you may say, "Sarah, 2 hours of high intensity cardio?! I don't have the discipline! How do you do it??" It's simple. Circuit cardio training. Make stations for yourself and move from one to the other only spending about 3-5 minutes at each! If you do the same exercises or workout classes every week, you won't see results as fast because your body gets used to those workouts! Here is an example of a workout you could do:

1-3 minutes: Power walk on treadmill at 4.5mph at 6% incline
3-6 minutes: Steady jog at 5.6mph at 3% incline
6-10 minutes: Run at 8.0mph at 2% incline
10-13 minutes: Hop off the treadmill and do 25 jumping jacks, 20 pushups, 30 crunches
13-18 minutes: Rowing machine (Go at least 2500m)
18-22 minutes: Stair climber at a speed of at least 55
22-27 minutes: Eliptical (don't slack off-speed up those legs!)
27-30 minutes: Jump rope (try hopping on one leg then switching or rotating your body from side to side as you jump)
30-35 minutes: Run on the treadmill at 8.0mph at 3% incline
35-38 minutes: Knee tuck jumps
38-43 minutes: Spin bike
43-45 minutes: High knees for 15 feet or so (if you have room)
45- 50 minutes: Run on the treadmill 7.6mph at 2% incline
50-55 minutes: Stair climber at a speed of at least 50
55-60 minutes: Power walk/walk on treadmill at 4.5mph at 3% incline

You can either do it all over again or switch it up or add some of your own exercises you love! You will be amazed at how fast you get through an hour! At the end of my cardio workouts, I usually always end by doing about 750 crunches, different styles of course, that target different ab muscles. Don't be discouraged if you can't do my up to it! It's a marathon, not a sprint! Make sure you are comfortable in doing your own workout- even if that means playing soccer or volleyball with some friends for 15 minutes! Get it in!

Saturday I had my last day of clinicals in Rockville (which turned out to be a pointless day) followed by a much needed hair appointment. I am growing my hair out so just a trim for me! I don't know about you but my hair is SUPER thick and has a tendancy to be very course, especially in the warmer weather. I took the advice of my stylist and got a Keratin shampoo and conditioner. It contains Keratin, wheat, and soy proteins needed to make your hair extra moisturized and looking healthy! Check out their products! I also purchased Morrocan Oil which is put on instead of a leave in conditioner or smoothing creme. Focus it on your ends and it will have your hair looking smooth and shiny! Oil is lighter than creme so your hair doesn't have that residue or "heavy" feeling. I will keep you updated on how they work!

To end out the day, I traveled to Lansdowne to attend a fundraiser for a friend of mine that was killed in 2006. Every year, friends and family of Justin Fisher get together to celebrate his life and help raise money for the always growing weight room named in his honor as well as Salisbury Football (he played his freshman year). I have grown very close with his family and I love the fact that I knew such an amazing person. Justin was tragically killed in 2006 just before his freshman year came to a close but 5 years later (wow...can't believe it's been that long) we still hold him close to our hearts by throwing this every year. The food is always amazing plus there is an open bar, DJ, raffles, silent auction, and memories of Justin everywhere. I look forward to it each year and seeing people that I don't get to often.

My Sunday was simple...a pool table arrived at my house (Yay!) as well as a smoker for the grill (we throw the best summer parties!). I finished it off by working the night shift in the good old High Risk OB unit. Studying for my final occupied most of my night (it's so difficult to stay awake until 7am). Tonight's agenda? Study group, more studying, and hopefully getting at least 5 hours of sleep (if I'm lucky!)

What did you all do this weekend? I hope it was fun and you didn't get caught up with Daylight Savings Time! I hope you go into this week feeling confident, strong, positive, and, of course, walking on YOUR OWN two feet...

Until the next step bloggers...

Friday, March 11, 2011

"Stress is nothing more than a socially acceptable form of mental illness..."

My post tonight is very fitting for what is happening my life right now...stress. Finishing nursing school is no cake walk. I have three more classes to go and I cannot say how thrilled I am to be finishing with Med/Surg next Friday and onto Pediatrics (which is not my cup of tea either...) For the past week and a half, I have been studying non-stop about the urinary system and its disorders (acute and chronic renal failure, UTI's, kidney stones, etc.), prostate cancer and BPH, and HIV/AIDS. Next week for my final, the glorious 100 question test will consist of all of those plus cardiac illnesses/disorders/dysrhythmias, lung cancer, throat/neck cancer, and liver failure. Ugh with a double side of ick!

One question always remains though...Why do we choose to accept stress?

There is good stress and bad stress as most people already know. They are pretty self explanatory but what if I told you there is such thing as inevitable, imposed, and chosen stress?

Inevitable Stress- A woman is pregnant with her first child and all the horror stories she hears about how much is hurts and the time, energy, and sweat that goes into labor itself...she knows that day is coming. It's inevitable that the day will come when she must endure the 12+ hours of labor (For most first timers...not always the case...)

Imposed Stress- Someone puts stress onto our shoulders. The kids get rowdy or don't clean the house when you have 30 people coming over for Thanksgiving dinner or your loved one comes home in a bad mood and takes it out on you. You aren't causing the stress to yourself, someone is "graciously" doing that for you.

Chosen Stress- I chose to go to nursing school. I knew the hell I was about to endure (I actually think hell would be a nicer place than nursing school) and I knew that I would have no life for a while. I chose the stress and nonsense that is nursing school.

But why do we chose to accept it? Any of it? We each have our own answers for that. We can't avoid it. It will appear in one way or another but there are some ways we can decrease it...

Did you know that stress can help contribute to hypertension (high blood pressure), fluid retention, migraines, heart problems, early aging, and even going into labor too early? Yikes!

Do you ever wonder why people tell you to workout in the morning when you wake up? Well, here is why...

Several hours before you wake up, your hypothalamus (base of your brain) sends a signal to your adrenal glands (located on top of your kidneys which produce natural adrenaline) and tell them to start pumping cortisol, a hormone that acts as a wake up signal among other things. Cortisol levels rise within your body until you come into a state of consciousness and have what is known as an "Oh shit...another day I gotta get up" response (maybe this is why many heart attacks and strokes occur between 6am and 8am). However, cortisol is a long-acting hormone which is why we can hang out under the covers for those extra 5 minutes without losing steam.

When you go to the gym after you wake up and have breakfast (your morning meal should be eaten within an hour of waking up) you are already "burning" off the stress that has tensed up in your body overnight. As you are working out, your body releases endorphins which helps you be in a better mood and energized throughout the day!

A great stress reliever workout? Yoga! Meditation! Want to kick it up a notch? Hot yoga! Burn some extra calories sweating in that heat while you focus on your breathing and becoming one with your body. When breathing, close your eyes and try taking nice, big, deep breaths in through your nose and out through pursed lips. Kickboxing or MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) is also great and one of my favorites. Nothing like a swift kick or upper cut to a punching bag to start your day off right! There are classes at nearly every gym including mine!

Another way you can reduce stress? Have "me" time! Do something you like to do! Whether that be walking your dogs in a park, laying in your bed watching a movie, doing a craft, or having a glass of wine. Get a facial or a massage, even if it's just a 30 minute one. Getting the knots and tension out of your body can help you relax more and put you in a better mood. Check out the spa that I go to here. Take a "mental health" day every once in a while! You deserve it!

One last recommendation to relieve stress? Take a vacation! Travel somewhere you have never been but always wanted to go. Whether that be a Winter Wonderland or an exotic beach or a country overseas filled with it for yourself! Take some time away from your chosen or imposed stress. Enjoy it while it lasts!

My trip to Oahu, Hawaii in 2005

One of my stops on my 2009 cruise- St. Maarten!

Another stop on the cruise- St. Thomas!

So just remember that no matter what kind of stress you have in your life, it's not okay to have too much of it. Call up a friend or curl up with your favorite book and a glass of wine to unwind after a stressful day. You want to make sure you have enough energy to keep walking on your own two feet...

Until the next step bloggers...

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Excellence is a moving target

For those of you who don't know, I have been a leader for most of my life. Leader of the class line in kindergarten, captain of my soccer team, captain of my dance team, captain of the cheerleading squad at college, led my senior class in most scholarships won, and now I am the President of my school's Student Nurses Association as well as the Maryland Association of Nursing Students Membership and Elections Chair. (Whew! Yes, I am in nursing school...more on that to come!) I have always had the mentality and skills for leadership and it's just been the type of person I am. Some of us are leaders and some of us are followers.

Recently, however, I went to a conference in Baltimore where the keynote speaker, Dr. Beverly Malone, gave a new meaning to the word, "leader." She believes that everyone SHOULD be a leader at some point in their life. She strongly urged us to get involved as much as possible and stay involved when we have our set careers and life, wherever that may be. "Excellence is a moving target," she said. You have it for a second, a minute, a day and then it's gone and you are striving for it again. SO TRUE! You may get an "A" on your test but the next day or the next week, you are moving onto the next one you have coming up. If you get promoted, great! But then in your "higher up" position, you have more responsibilities that you are striving to make excellent.  Being a leader does not mean you always have excellence. (For more information on leadership, check out this AMAZING website I can testify to this. As a leader of over 200 students, there seems to be always something else I can do to bring excellence to me as a person, as a group, as an organization, and as a school. Because being a leader comes down to three simple things:

1. Vision
2. Understanding boundary management
3. Power

1. Everyone has vision or a dream. Everything in this world starts out as such. But it's not complete. It's like a tree with limbs and branches but no leaves. There is no detail behind it...yet. What is an idea/thought/vision without an action behind it? A hallucination. Complete your vision! Complete your tree and then grow more! And, of course, there will always be people who chew off your vision and will claim it as their own. That's okay- it's becoming a reality! Bask in that glory!

2. What is acceptable and what isn't? Understanding boundary limits and managing them is what seperates the leaders from the followers. For example, let's try something. Wherever you are right now, maybe it's at work, a home, at school, at a Barnes and Noble, or even at lunch in a cafe...grab someone else. Stand facing each other. Now step towards them and get as close as you feel comfortable. Tell them to do the same. How far apart are you? An inch? A foot? Three feet? Ten feet? Look down. Do you see that invisible line that both of you didn't dare cross? That is your boundary. Yours may be different than theirs and that's okay. We all have our own limitations. As a leader, we just need to know and be able to recognize them- how close it TOO close?

3. In my opinion there are four, yes four, types of power. Legitimate, extended, information, and charismatic. All of my examples will be based upon nursing so just go with it. Legitimate power- when us nursing students pass our NCLEX (nursing boards) we are legitimately nurses. We have the "RN" initials at the end of our name which gives us that legitimate power. Extended power- our mentors, our role models (which everyone should have one!) Their knowledge, wisdom, and experience they bestow upon you is your extended power. They are extending it onto you. Information power- We nurses, as much as everyone hates to admit it, but we know more about our patients than anyone-even the patient themselves! And we know this information on a 24/7 basis. (*Scary, huh?*) How powerful is that?! To know more about someone than even they do...Charismatic power- Being a nurse is a joyous thing. Our job description is caring for people. What better job is there? We come in for the day (or night in my case) and our attitude can shape someone else's. We can change someone's day or even their life by a smile or care we give. Now that's powerful...

So ask yourself this...are you a leader or a follower? Do you have these leadership qualities? There is no right or wrong answer. You have to find out for yourself. Who knows? You just might find out while striving for excellence and soon you'll be walking on YOUR own two feet...

Until the next step bloggers...

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Taking the First Step

A lot of people have told me I am a good writer. I take the feelings that are hard to say in person and write them down on paper. I cannot tell you how many journals I have of song lyrics, poetry, and just thoughts...

So now I have decided to make it all public. Bare my soul for the world to see. I am nervous but anxious to get it out at the same time. This blog is to help myself and hopefully others express their deepest, darkest thoughts, desires, and emotions. A couple of people encouraged me to write this blog so here I am...stripped down and honest.

In this blog will be topics close to my heart such as careers, working out, vacations, food, love, heartache, hurt, joy, and living life for yourself instead of for anyone else. It means a lot that anyone would want to read my "personal diary" if you will, but I hope we can share together.

I have looked back at my life many times and it seems as if I always find two pairs of footprints in the sand. Mine and someone else's. It startles me to think that I cannot remember the last time I lived my life for myself. I can always remember someone controlling my life or telling me what to do. For my friends that know me, they would tell you that I have some of the toughest skin known to man and I am one "tough cookie." What they all probably don't know is that inside, I was broken. To pieces. Millions of them. And underneath that hard exterior was a girl that could come to her knees in an instant and feel completely helpless.

We have all had moments that we need to step back and say, "What am I doing with my life? How did I get here?" For those of us that have truely listened to ourselves, we are astounded by what we hear.

I had an epiphany about three and a half years ago. It came to me in just 3 simple words... "Screw everyone else." Why should I have to live up to anyone's expectations except my own? Why should I answer to anyone but myself? I should make decisions for my life and what's right for me because that's just what it is...MY life. So I did...

Today I am proud to say that I live in my world and I have people that have been gracious enough to want to be in it. I have an amazing family, friends that I could never have imagined, a wonderful career blossoming, and a life I am starting to FINALLY live...for me.

I am so excited for you, yes YOU, to take this journey with me. You will see me grow and learn as I know I do everyday. But I will say this...Don't tell me that the sky is the limit when I know there are footprints on the moon. Because those are the footprints that I strive to create. Except this time you will only see one set...

Until the next step bloggers...