My Love-Hate Relationship with To-Do Lists

Anyone can tell you that 99% of the time, I’m on top of my game. My number one strength is disciple, so I love order and routine. Not a day goes by where I don’t make a game plan and consult my plethora of to-do lists. To me, there is nothing better than structuring my day by making a list (or a few) and crossing off each accomplishment one-by one. Seriously, I get a little burst of happiness every time I get to check something off of my list– I’m crazy I know.

However, sometimes I feel like to-do lists can be harmful for people like me. Instead of being a tool to help someone stay organized, they almost serve as a measurement for how “good” a day is for me. The more items I accomplish on my list, the better my day becomes. My mind focuses only on tangible tasks, rather than meaningful moments. Because of this, it’s so easy for me to become this busy-body; from the moment I wake up I’m reading my bible, doing chores, going to work. Check. Check. Check. If every part of my life becomes part of my to-do list, am I really enjoying these tasks or just completing them to feel more productive and accomplished?

I don’t want to live my life in constant “work” mode. I don’t want to feel bad or lazy if I have a day where I spend time just recharging by reading a book or cooking. I want to shift my focus from finishing tasks, and instead focus on being in the moment during these events. When I am focused on being productive, I lose precious moments with those that I love. Instead of being present with my family and friends, my mind is preoccupied with what I need to get done next. How good a day is shouldn’t be measured quantitatively, but rather qualitatively. Maybe, one day I just spend time with my mom at the farmer’s market. Sure, I don’t get any chores done, but I’m fostering my relationship with my mom. This is far more important than checking off a to-do list.

What I am trying to realize now, is that the best moments in life cannot be defined by a to-do list. For example, I can think I am doing my job as a Christian by reading my bible, praying, and going to church. Check. Check. Check. Faith is more than a check-list. This is the same with so many other areas of my life. To-do lists can be helpful, but they also can be controlling. Will I stop using them? No, because they are useful reminders of things that I need to get done. I just need to remember that there is more to life than just checking items off lists. I need to shift my focus from completing tasks to enjoying the tasks in each day. A day can be great without checking many items off of a list. It’s okay to slow down sometimes and just enjoy the life that we have been blessed with.

 

Lots of love,

Hannah

Running in a Rainstorm

The past week has felt as though I have been trapped in a thunderstorm– surrounded by booming thunder, striking lightning, and a bombardment of wind and rain. What caused this metaphorical rainstorm? Work. Now for the most part, I enjoy working. I love my coworkers, and I treasure the relationships that I have with my residents. However, it just so happened that I ended up working seven days in a row. Up until day six, I was fine. On day seven, I lost it. I was so overwhelmed by the amount of work that I had to do. It felt as though my best efforts were far from adequate. I hate feeling that I am not performing to the best of my ability. After that seventh day of work, I cried multiple times because I was so physically and emotionally exhausted. It’s so hard to be positive, patient, and loving to my residents when I have no time away to recharge.

The next day, though, I received my reward– one full day off where I could do whatever I wanted. The day began with a trail run in a local park with my friend. As we were driving over, we noticed dark clouds looming in the distance. We kept driving, though, because our weather app said that I wasn’t supposed to rain. As soon as our feet hit the trail, though, it started down-pouring. This was no little trickle of rain; this was a head-to-toe soaking experience. God had enveloped us in a literal rainstorm. My friend and I couldn’t help but start laughing.I laughed so hard that I could barely stand, let alone run. I don’t think I’ve laughed that hard in a long time. For me, this was a sign that this day was going to be exactly what I needed to boost my morale. The rain died down, and my friend and I we able to finish our run, although we were a little muddier than we had originally anticipated.

After my run, I met the same friend plus two other friends so that we could spend the first day of summer downtown. The first stop? Purple Door ice cream, my favorite local ice cream shop. There I got an ice cream sandwich, composed of 2 chocolate chip cookies and salted caramel ice cream. Translation: I was in complete heaven. Later we hit the beach for an afternoon of relaxation. The water was freezing cold, so we only took a quick dip in it, but the rest of the time we just talked while basking in the warm sun. Since I have worked pretty much every day since getting home from school, it felt wonderful to just sit outside and relax.

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My ice cream sandwich creation: 2 chocolate chip cookies with salted caramel ice cream!

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Us eating the best ice cream ever from Purple Door Ice Cream. I wish I could come here every day 🙂

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Us enjoying the sun and warm weather for once. I love my hat that I got while in San Juan, Puerto Rico (I’m in the back.).

This day was one of the best days that I have had in a long time. After so much work, it’s amazing to see how much I value just one day off. I’m so thankful that God gave me exactly what I needed to recover from a hard week of work– a great workout; my favorite ice cream; and time with my best friends who love me, support me, and lead me closer to Christ. Escaping the rainstorm and stepping into summer’s sunny rays surrounded by my friends has never felt so good, and I will treasure this day forever.

 

Lots of love,

Hannah

Feeling God’s Presence in Nature

I’ll admit it. I hate Wisconsin a lot. It’s not really Wisconsin that I hate, though. I wholeheartedly despise winter. Sure, pristine, fluffy snow with 30 degree temperatures around the holidays is fine. However, that beautiful snow quickly turns to slushy mush. Thirty degree days turn into sub-zero temperatures with blasting wind chills. During this season, all I want to do is curl up into a ball with the warmest clothes that I can find and hibernate until summer. My negative feelings towards winter disproportionately have affected my view of Wisconsin as a whole. Wisconsin is actually a beautiful state–filled with vast flowers, trees, and wildlife. If I step outside my negative state of mind caused by my hatred of winter, I realize how wonderful God’s creation is. In fact, when I am able to get outside, I feel God’s presence most intimately.

Recently, I decided to go on a evening walk after work. Normally, I’m so exhausted from work that the only activities that I can do afterwards are eat and sleep. Anyways, I was proud that I could muster up the energy to get moving outside. What a powerful experience. I felt as though my whole walk was a prayer with God. Sometimes, I straight up talked with Him about my concerns or about petitions that I had for other people. The rest of the walk was almost like a mediation. I could feel God everywhere–in the clear blue sky swirled with cirrus clouds; in the smell of the blooming lilacs; in the simplicity of sheep grazing in front of a rustic red barn; and in the smiles of preschoolers as they played tee-ball in the field next to an old one-room school house.

Sometimes when I’m on vacation and I get to experience new scenery (the Caribbean, the Grand Canyon, the Badlands, etc.), it’s easy to feel God amidst His stunning creation. However, it’s easy to forget to notice God where you live because it’s familiar. This walk reminded me, though, that God’s presence is abundant everywhere if we take the time to notice it. As I walked along talking to God, I was able to view my familiar hometown with a new lense. I was able to appreciate the beauty that resides in Wisconsin, even though I still struggle to get through its winters. Being in nature fills me with such peace. In the craziness of this world, nature is still and pure. It’s always there, waiting to be admired and explored.

So if you are interested in a new spiritual experience, try going on a nature walk. Just walk and see where God takes you. If you let God speak, I bet you will see the beauty and tranquility that surrounds you.

 

Lots of love,
Hannah

Loving is Hard

I’m in the middle of my shift at work. Per usual, I’m sweaty and frazzled as I try to get all of my residents ready for bed. Call lights are going off; I need help, no one is around. Instead of joyfully and positively interacting with my residents, I find myself getting impatient and short even with the sweetest people. Just wait until I have challenging residents where my best efforts are never adequate for them; I struggle to just be cordial and respectful. In scenarios like these, it’s so hard for me to love others.

LOVE.

There are a plethora of verses about it, it’s at the root of Christianity, and yet it is one of the hardest concepts for me to live by. To be honest, I do a poor job at loving my family and friends– people who should be easy to love. If I can’t love the people closest to me fully, how can I ever genuinely love my neighbors, coworkers, residents, complete strangers, enemies?

What I have started to realize, however, is that love that is within me stems from God, not myself. I have felt God’s love working through me the most at Royal Family Kids Camp this year. My two campers were broken. I don’t know their stories, but at age seven, both have them have endured more trauma and hardship than I will ever encounter. They have been emotionally, physically, or sexually abused, and now are stuck in the cycle of foster care. For a week at camp, though, it was my job to forget about their pasts and just love them for who they are. The type of love that I felt was unlike anything that I have experienced before. It was more than sisterly or motherly love. It was God’s love in me that was shining on these girls. If it were just my love working, the craziness of camp, the rain, or little behavioral issues would have inhibited me from genuinely loving my campers. Instead, camp (even though chaotic at times) was a joyous place, and I was able to create beautiful relationships with my campers. Through God’s love, I was able to give my whole self to these girls. Whatever they needed–a friend, a role model, a hug, a smile– I gave to them. So yes, even though I was tired and cold, you bet I was tubing in the lake, dancing with the girls in the cabin during “quiet time” , or walking hand-in-hand with my campers as we explored nature. My experience with Royal Family has allowed me to grow in my ability to be compassionate towards others because I learned that my love alone doesn’t cut it. I need God’s love to work through me.

Now, if I’m in a situation where I cannot love a person on my own, I send a quick prayer saying, “Lord, I’m struggling to love this person. Your love is greater than mine. Help me to love them.” It’s amazing what a simple prayer can do. This worked even this morning as my mom and I went to the farmer’s market. I was starting to become a grouch around her, but I asked for God to help me be more loving, and it saved the trip from turning sour.

This tactic doesn’t work for me all the time because I’m human and I screw up daily. Loving unconditionally is something that I want to work towards because by loving others, I am showing love to God– the one who sent Jesus to die for all of my sins. I don’t want to be a Christian who can only talk the talk. My words and actions need to embody the loving spirit of Christianity. Hopefully, God will give the the strength to allow me to grow in my capacity to love, even in situations where it’s hard to.

Lots of love,
Hannah

When You Take a Vegetarian to a Steakhouse…

A few weeks ago, my family and I celebrated my brother’s high school graduation by going to a steakhouse for dinner. Josh is a stocky, muscular lineman; needless to say, the boy loves his meat. I, however, have been a vegetarian for a few months now, so meat isn’t quite up my alley. Luckily the restaurant was extremely accommodating and made me a delicious veggie pasta. My family and I had a wonderful evening filled with reminiscences of Josh’s baby days, and it ended with Dairy Queen ice cream cake– a celebration staple in our family. Since vegetarianism is a new phase in my life, I thought I’d share why I decided to make this change.

My decision to become vegetarian started in the spring of my freshman year of college. First of all, one of my friends is vegan and three other of my close friends are also vegetarian. I know, it definitely is odd that so many of my friends follow a vegetarian diet, but all of our stories for choosing this lifestyle are different. None of them pressured me to become vegetarian; however, they are awesome resources for information as well as amazing support systems for me. I actually chose to become vegetarian to reduce my ecological footprint. This past semester I was in General Biology 121, which focused mainly on biodiversity and ecology. It was shocking to see how much energy we waste simply by consuming meat. In addition, I’m passionate about social justice issues on various topics. To me, it just seems wrong to be using water and nourishment for cattle, poultry, etc. when there are people around the world starving of hunger and thirst. Since I didn’t eat a lot of meat before, I ultimately came to the conclusion that becoming vegetarian was a simple change that I could make to decrease my resource consumption for the benefit of an individual with greater needs.

I did a little bit of research and found some startling information about the effects of the meat industry and how becoming vegetarian could help protect the earth.

  1. In its 2006 report, the United Nations said raising animals for food generates more greenhouse gases than all the cars and trucks in the world combined.
  2. Cows and sheep are responsible for 37% of the total methane (23 times as warming as CO2) generated by human activity.
  3. Estimates of the water required to produce a kilo of beef vary, from 13,000 liters up to 100,000 liters. Whichever figure you use, the damage is plain when you consider that the water required to produce a kilo of wheat is somewhere between 1,000-2,000 liters.
  4. Thirty percent of the earth’s entire land surface—a massive 70% of all agricultural land—is used for rearing farmed animals. Much of this is grazing land that otherwise would host natural habitats such as valuable rainforests. And, of the entire world’s land suitable for growing crops that would otherwise directly feed humans, a third of it is used to produce feed for farmed animals.
  5. Livestock production is responsible for 70% of deforestation in the Amazon region of Latin America, where rainforests are being cleared to create new pastures.

That being said, however, I don’t think I will be a strict vegetarian. When I am at home and at school, I will eat a vegetarian diet. When it comes to traveling, though, I will probably eat a small amount of meat if my digestive system allows for it because food is such a critical part of anyone’s culture. If I travel abroad, I want to be immersed fully into the culture of that place, so if eating meat is a part of the culture, you bet I’m going to at least sample dishes with meat in it.

So I guess that makes me a “flexitarian” (please don’t roll your eyes at this). Vegetarianism is just a season of my life. If it goes well, I’ll keep living this lifestyle in the attempt to use less and give more. Giving up meat isn’t for everyone, but for me it is a small act of self-discipline that I can do to try to make this world a cleaner, greener, more prosperous place for everyone.

 

Lots of love,

Hannah

Source:  https://www.downtoearth.org/go-veggie/environment/top-10-reasons

From Observing Patients to Feeling Like a Patient

 

For a long time, I have been trying to figure out what I want to do with my life. I have almost always been drawn to a career in the medical field– as a doctor, PA, or something else entirely. Being the determined individual that I am, I’m currently leaning towards a career as a doctor. I don’t know what type of specialty I want to pursue, but being an OBGYN sounds interesting for various reasons. One, OBGYNs get to deliver babies. How cool would it be to bring life into the world?!?! Also, women’s health is really interesting to me. Most people squirm in disgust with anything related to women’s health issues, but I think every women deserves to be educated about their health. Yesterday, I got the opportunity to shadow an amazing OBGYN near me, and through this experience, I was able to see what a day in the life of a doctor is like.

Yesterday, the doctor that I shadowed only had office appointments– no babies were born sadly. However, I did get to see pap smears, pelvic exams, pregnancy check ups, and more. I even got to use the doppler monitor to hear babies’ heartbeats. That was by far my favorite part of the day. It makes me so happy knowing that these babies are growing and developing healthily inside of their mothers. I wish I could have seen a baby being born, but hearing them in the womb was pretty great!

My OBGYN is also such a sweet person. I got to hear her medical journey– her stories of med school, residency, etc. She also gave me insight as to what it is like to be a women in medicine. She is such a role model because not only is she a successful doctor, but she is also a wife and mother of three children. I admire the way she puts family first in her life. If I decide to become a doctor, I hope that I can embody her attitude and values.

However, one event in particular made this day quite unique. I was in a room meeting a patient, and out of the blue I started feeling woozy. I immediately tried to leave the room, but the next thing I knew, I was on the ground in the hallway. Yup, I fainted. I have never fainted before, but I guess that if I’m going to faint somewhere, it might as well be in the doctor’s office. The nurses were so sweet. They got me ice packs and let me lie down on one of the patient tables. Even though, I came to observe patients, I practically became a patient myself. I quickly recovered, though. I think I just needed more food. The whole experience was hilarious looking back on it. This little setback didn’t stop me from having an amazing day observing a wonderful doctor. Here are main things that I learned today…

  1. Eat lots of food or else you might make a fool of yourself and end up on the floor in the doctor’s office.
  2. You can be a female doctor and still have a family. It takes a lot of work, but you can make it happen.
  3. I can really envision myself as a doctor. I like the challenge and dedication involved with the job. Plus, I don’t mind all the school– med school, I’m ready for you 😉

I’m so excited to see what the future holds for me. I’m so thankful for the unique opportunities that God has blessed me with. I can’t wait to see the plan that he has in store for me!

 

Lots of love,

Hannah

 

 

Taking a Break…

When I first created Curiosity and a Cat, I was so excited to express whatever was on my mind. I thought it would be a unique way to do the journaling that I love with the hopes that these thoughts could inspire and encourage readers. I had tons of ideas to write about, and then the insecurities set in…

No one is going to read this.

Every other college girl has a blog. You aren’t unique by doing this. 

You are a science major, Hannah. You suck at writing. Why blog?

The list goes on and on…

I’ve always struggled with self-confidence, especially with sharing my opinions. I’m afraid that I will sound stupid or that my ideas aren’t valid. I easily become swayed by the lies that I form inside my head. However, I think it’s time to start conquering this fear inside of me. My family, friends, and coworkers know that my thoughts are valuable; I need to start believing that myself.

One of my favorite verses is Romans 12:2.

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is– his good, pleasing, and perfect will.”

I need to be TRANSFORMED by the RENEWING of my mind. I need to realize that if God places something on my heart, I should have faith in Him rather than listening to the lies inside of me. So after taking a break from blogging, I’ve decided to give it another go because it is something that I feel called to do. I can’t worry about what others think about my articles. All I’m striving to focus on is creating material that I am proud of. Hopefully, the topics that are on my heart and mind will relate to someone else in the world. At the least, blogging will be another outlet to reflect on my life and my faith, allowing me to grow spiritually and emotionally.

I’m excited to be back, and I have a plethora of ideas to write about (thank you overactive brain). Stay tuned for more random thoughts from yours truly.

 

Lots of love,

Hannah

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