A Lesson in Humility: A Recap of My Children’s Medical Trip

Before embarking on this Children’s Medical trip to the Arkansas Children’s Hospital, I couldn’t help but create expectations for what I wanted the trip to be like. I wanted to spend one-on-one time everyday with sick in-patients, giving them joy, hope, and encouragement. I yearned to hear stories from the families about how they were dealing with the stress of having a sick child so that I could offer a listening ear and an empathetic heart. What we got instead was little patient contact and a lot of filing, copying, and stuffing of envelopes.

The reality of this trip was so drastically different from what I envisioned, and for a while, I was bitter. I knew that other Children’s Medical trips to Iowa and Tennessee were having a very different experience than we were having. I realized, however, that I was being selfish with the service that I was willing to offer. As the week went on, my group discussed how we could all benefit from a dose of humility. We came to serve this hospital. No service (administrative or patient care) is below us. With that notion in mind, our group was able to enter the hospital every day with positivity. When we got to do arts and crafts or play games with smiling children, we cherished those moments. Other times when we were doing paperwork, we tried to use that opportunity to learn more about the behind the scenes jobs that need to get done in order to make the hospital run.

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This trip was not what I expected at all. Despite the challenges we faced, I have many memorable moments with my group. My favorite child interaction was when I was running “Art Cart” for the out-patients. I saw a little boy running around, and his dad looked exhausted, so I decided to see if I could harness his energy. The little boy and I began playing a modified form of Red Light Green Light. Soon other kids were joining in, and we played this game along with Simon Says, Duck Duck Goose, and whatever other games I could think of on the spot. Needless to say, the kids had an endless supply of energy, and I definitely got my cardio in for the day.

My other memorable moment was making dinner at the newly built Ronald McDonald house. This facility was beautifully renovated. It is clean, cozy, and comforting for the families who stay there. Plus, their dog Mac brings a smile to everyone. On Thursday night, we decided to make “Breakfast for Dinner” for these families since we heard that many people were sick of eating pasta or chili. After getting a tour from the wonderfully dedicated maintenance man, Ernie, we whipped out the red and white striped aprons and got to work. We flipped pancakes (topped with your choice of chocolate chips, bananas, and/or sprinkles), scrambled eggs, fried some bacon and sausage, and even made cookies. It was a great feeling knowing that we could provide a home-cooked meal for these families. I am so thankful that Ronald McDonald house exists because if I had a sick child, the last thing I would want to do is worry about where to stay or what to eat. Here, the families can just focus on being there to support their children at the hospital. I’m so glad to have been able to serve in such a wonderful facility.

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Finally, my group was filled with funny, kind, and positive people. Before we began our service at the hospital, we bonded by rock climbing to the top of Pinnacle Mountain. Luckily, no bones were broken—just one scraped up leg resulted. Later we bonded further by cheering on the Packers at Buffalo Wild Wings, even though we were surrounded by dedicated Dallas fans. Luckily, the Packers were victorious, so we were able to leave with our heads held high. Whether it morale boosting Baskin Robbins runs, murder mystery podcast listening sessions, or intense games of Uno attack, our group couldn’t have gotten along better. Even when we were disappointed at times about our service, we were able to laugh it off and face each moment with the positivity needed to get through the week.

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So no, this trip is not what I expected it to be, but as a result I grew in my ability to lead, adapt, and remain positive in unpredictable circumstances. I was challenged to volunteer selflessly and humbly, realizing that we were helping the hospital no matter what type of service we were giving. I was able to bond with my wonderful group and meet some of the nicest people with Southern hospitality, such as Margie from church who cooked us a meal for free, the men from the simulation center with their passion and enthusiasm, and Blake from the research center who was so excited to educate young adults like us. Even though this trip didn’t go as planned, I can still walk away feeling accomplished in the ways that I served others and built relationships with the people I met.

 

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Reunion with My Long Lost Childhood Friend!

Date: Sunday, January 8, 2017.

Time: 3pm

Location: my toasty warm room

It was just a normal Sunday for me and my family. I woke up, read my bible, worked out, went to church, and ate brunch at the Original Pancake House. We had returned from brunch and I was just laying in bed trying to “help” my mom order pictures via Walgreens. All of a sudden the doorbell rang. That’s not that unusual. I just let my mom get it. It was probably some kid selling something, right? What do I hear, though? My mom was yelling, “Hannah, it’s Madhu!!!”

Madhu—as in my childhood neighbor and best friend who I have not seen in over 10 years standing here at my door step. I was amazed, elated, and completely in shock.

Let me back up to when the story all began. My family moved into our house back when I was 4 years old. Maybe around a year later, Madhu and her family moved in. I was an extremely shy child, and I hated interacting with new kids, but Madhu immediately was ready to play. She loved our swing set and plethora of toys. While our dog scared her slightly, she came over to play with me almost every single day. One of my favorite memories was exchanging riddles with one another (nerdy, I know haha). Soon enough, I realized that Madhu was an amazing, bubbly friend, and I took the initiative to start knocking on her door after school to play. Honestly, when I think back on my childhood, I remember these times with Madhu.

Sadly, her dad got a job in New Jersey, so when I was about 10, she had to move away. Madhu and I had to say our goodbyes, but I had her new address, so I wanted to keep in touch with her (this was before I knew how to use social media). Soon afterwards, I lost her address information, and needless to say, I was devastated. I had no way of contacting her. Years later, I tried finding her on social media, but I couldn’t find her because I didn’t know her full name. She was just Madhu back then.So that was it. My friendship with her was over.

Or so I thought…

Now more than ever, I believe that God is up in heaven orchestrating miracles large and small. I never, ever thought I would see Madhu again. What are the odds that she comes back to Wisconsin to visit after all these years? How did she have the bravery to ring our doorbell not knowing that we would still live here? How is it that not only I was here to see Madhu, but also my mom, dad, and brother? Think about it. Sure I am on break, but normally I am at work at this time. Also, I almost decided to try to go on a Nicaragua trip rather than my children’s medical trip to Arkansas. Had that been the case, I wouldn’t be at home right now. I would be in a different country.

I truly believe that it was not a coincidence that Madhu stopped by today. I almost cried out of joy because I was so happy to see her, even if it was for only 15 minutes. I’m so thankful for even this short time to see her again, and now I have her contact information so that we can keep in touch from time to time. I know years have passed since we have seen each other, so I don’t expect this one reunion to make us instant best friends, but I am so happy for the chance to be able to communicate with her again.

God is so good. He never ceases to amaze me that is for sure.

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Lots of love,
Hannah

Will You Accept this Rose?

In case you haven’t seen, a new season of the Bachelor is on. Now, I never thought I would be the type of girl who would enjoy the Bachelor/Bachelorette, but I watched the last season with JoJo as the bachelorette and now I’m hooked. On Monday I stayed up late to watch the first episode of this season, and I have to say that I am pleased with both Nick and some of the women. I don’t really know how Nick portrayed himself in previous Bachelor/Bachelorette seasons, but now he seems really mature and grounded by his family. Plus, he is from Wisconsin (so am I)! Also, some of the women are lawyers, nurses, etc—they actually have real careers. Right now, I am rooting for the neonatal nurse who is also from Wisconsin. We will see what happens in the following episodes…

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Anyways, all of this talk about the Bachelor has gotten me thinking about my perspective on dating. For the record, I have yet to date anyone. Whenever I come home, family members and friends are constantly asking me if I am interested in someone. It drives me crazy. Yes, I am 20 years old, and yes maybe most girls my age have at least dated someone, but I personally don’t want to date just to date. I’m not interested in hooking up with guys. I want a real relationship, so therefore, I want to wait for a guy who is mature, caring, thoughtful, funny (the list goes on).

At this point, I feel so young. At age 20, I am barely an adult. I am still in college, and I have intentions on going to medical school and starting a career. I don’t envision myself settling down soon, so I wish people wouldn’t pressure me to be in a relationship. Also, as much as I would like to be in a romantic relationship with someone, I feel as though God is giving me a message saying that I still need to work on the relationships I already have in my life. I love my family, but I need to improve my attitude around them. I want to work on letting my guard down around them and showing them how much I love and appreciate them. As far as friends go, I barely have time as it is to see them because I get caught up in school and other activities. I need to make more of an effort to spend quality time with them, so that they can see how much they all mean to me.

At this point in my life, I know that I should not be searching for a boyfriend. I already have amazing relationships in my life that I can to continue to strengthen, and I also really want to focus on attaining a fulfilling career. I trust that when the time is right, God will place an amazing guy into my life. I just want to encourage any of you who also are struggling with being single right now to not settle for any person you stumble upon. Use this time to grow as an individual and to spend time with the important individuals who are already a part of your life. I truly believe that God is the best matchmaker out there, so I’m just going to (try to) patiently wait for the guy he has in store for me.

Lots of love,
Hannah

Every Moment Matters: Tips for Time Management

 

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A new year means new goals for everyone, right? I know as a college student, having better time management and increasing productivity are goals I constantly strive for. While I am a real person who does have days with zero motivation, I have to say that in general,  I have succeeded with my time management and productivity, so much so that my friends look to me as a model for how they should be structuring their days. So today, I’d like to share with you my top time management and productivity tips so that 2017 can be a productive year with as much happiness and as little stress as possible.

Balance

The key to time management and productivity is realizing that all of your time should not be spent on work. For me personally, I think your day should be split into quiet time, work time, and you time. Quiet time is a time to think, read, reflect, and to just be still. Work time is to obviously work. Finally you time is time  to relax, hang out with friends, and do the activities that you enjoy doing. I truly believe that part of your day needs to be spent not working. Some people say they can camp out in the library all day and study, but that is false. People need breaks to refresh their minds. I find that if you create this balance, you can work more effectively during your study time and therefore, get more accomplished in a shorter period of time.

Prepare the Night Before

Before I go to bed, I prep for the following day. That is, I gather all the materials that I will need for the next day and I will make a to do list. For instance, if I know that I won’t have time to come back to the dorm at all the next day, I might pack a lunch/snacks, put together a workout bag, and gather any books or homework that I need. That way, I will have everything I need with me, and I don’t have to waste time walking back to my dorm to go get something I forgot.

To-Do Lists/ Planners

There is no right or wrong way to have a to-do list or a planner. There are so many options out there, you just have to find what works for you. For me, I like to have a planner specifically to write down my homework for each day. In addition, I like to have to-do lists on my phone or on post-it notes. When I make to-do lists, I like to have an “immediate” to-do list, as in the items that I need to accomplish today, and then have an “extras” list of things that need to get done in the future, but aren’t pressing. This allows me to really prioritize the key items that need to get done today, and then if I have extra time, I can check off items off of the “extras” list. Also, I sometimes fill my “extras” list with productive procrastination tasks– tasks that don’t really help me accomplish homework, but still need to be done. A lot of times I add random errands or chores to this list. That way, if I need to take a break, I can check off one of these chores. It’s a rest from doing homework, but you still do something that is productive in a different way. Win, win.

Another tip I have is to structure your to do list almost as if it is a schedule of your day. For example, my “immediate” to-do list might look like this:

Wake up

Eat breakfast

Read bible

Go to Genetics

Read for O.Chem

Eat Lunch

Do O. Chem Worksheet

Go to Office Hour…

So on this to-do list, you will see that I have really easy items on the list to check off like waking up and going to class. In between these scheduled events I have to go to, I add in the homework or tasks that I think I can accomplish during that gap of time. I structure my list like this for a few reasons. One, it is really nice to check off easy items on the list. It feels like your are accomplishing something just by doing simple things like eating or going to work. Then, outlining my list as if it were a schedule of my day allows me to not only see what I have to do, but when I think I will do those tasks. If you only know what you need to accomplish, but not when you plan on accomplishing those tasks, you will not be as productive as possible.

Start Your Mornings Peacefully

I cannot stress this enough. Wake up early so that you do not have to rush around in the morning. It is so important to have time to be still, and for me that works best if I start my days with time just for myself. In the mornings, I usually wake up, eat breakfast, and take time to read the news and my bible. This time in the morning sets the tone for my day. Instead of waking up frazzled and rushing to make it to class, I have the opportunity to begin my day peacefully, which allows me to be less stressed out as the day goes on.

Eat

This one is pretty self explanatory, yet people forget to do it if they feel to “busy”. I don’t care how busy you are, you still need to fuel your body. Eat. Seriously. And don’t eat crap either. Eat food to nourish your bodies so that you can have energy to get through the day. If you are particularly busy like me, make sure you pack snacks so that if you can’t get to the cafeteria right away, at least you have food to hold you over. My favorite snacks currently are any of the Kind granola bars or cocoa dusted almonds. Delicious.

Workout

I am a huge proponent of working out because it clears your mind, reduces stress, gives you energy, and countless other benefits. A workout does not have to be long– maybe it’s just a quick 10 minute walk or bike ride. The point is, a workout is that “you” time I mentioned earlier. It is a chance to give your mind and eyes a break from reading and studying. Without a doubt, when I work out, I am more productive because of the energy it gives me. In fact, the times when I am busiest during the semester are the times where I workout the most because it helps me focus afterwards on the tasks that I still need to accomplish.

Sleep

Again this is obvious, but sleep is so important. I don’t care how much you feel like you need to study for an exam. Without proper sleep, you are going to be tired during the day, which makes you less focused, therefore, less productive. I consciously make an effort to try to get at least 7 hours of sleep a night because for me, lack of sleep just leads to poor performance on my part. I would rather sacrifice doing more homework/studying for sleep any day. If you are honest with yourself, you will realize that the amount of material that you cram in by staying up late is so insignificant that it’s not worth staying up for. I personally think it is best to have a time where you consistently go to bed because your body really does thrive on a set routine.

Find a Schedule that Works for You

Lastly, it is important to note that everyone’s bodies work differently. So while I personally like to be up by 6am and go to bed at 11pm, that may not work for everyone. What is important is to create a schedule that allows you to have your work time when you are most alert. For me, I am very productive late mornings and early evenings. I always hit a slump in the afternoon, so I know not to do any intense homework during that time. If you don’t know when you are most alert, just spend a few days journalling how you feel energy-wise every hour that you are awake. You will soon find recurring patterns where you feel energized or fatigued.

I hope these tips are helpful for making 2017 your most productive and balanced year yet.

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Lots of love,
Hannah