Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Heartfelt Updates from The Study and The Studio

"The Study" Update: Just Keep Swimming... 

Medical school in the Caribbean feels like an island on an island. 

My fingers are increasing adept at describing the anatomy and physiology that fuel human life.  Biochemical pathways for cellular energy, protein synthesis, and deficits that lead to disease are an ever-growing scaffolding in my mind. 

My fingers are increasing inept at finding the words to describe what fuels my drive to study for the elusive patient I will serve years down the road.  The daily grind of rise, shine, and study actually leaves little time for cultivating a day to day determination for the all-encompassing endeavor of medical school.  

Fortunately, the years of anticipating, dreaming, and waiting for a chance to enter medical school entrenched a zealously that helps me treat every day like game day even as our schedule makes every day seem more like Monday.

Some days I maintain a hustle just so that my mind does not deflate from defeat.  This is training season.  Board exams will be here before I know it and on that day of mental reckoning I want to step into that test center in full confidence that my preparation involved ever ounce of determination I could muster.  Even more so, on that day with my first patient I want to serve them with my full strength cultivated by a history of preparation and hard work.  

I am thankful to have a partner sharing this journey with me.  I am grateful to be known and at times reminded of who I am beyond a study robot.  That’s enough left brain exercise for now, back to the study…

"The Studio" Update: Re-rooting and Patience 

Something interesting is happening. I wasn't quite sure what it was until recently. After a few weeks, a few long walks up steep hills, and a few conversations with wise people, I think I'm getting a glimpse. 

I've been quietly frustrated with my seeming abundance of time and corresponding lack of production, inspiration, and energy when it comes to making things. "So much time and space and new resources: What is wrong with me?"... is the mantra subtly threading through my everyday. It is a mantra that can creep in for all of us in different ways. We have certain expectations of ourselves and of situations. Then, in the situation, we wait to see those expectations filled rather than what the actual experience brings. We build a social construct in our mind that becomes a faux-Truth even before the experience can produce the actual reality. 

Beginning in December of last year, I was uprooted and replanted. I graduated from a Masters program, welcomed my fiancé back from 4 months apart, got married, turned 30, and moved to an island. When I got here 2 months ago, it was as though I put my hands on my hips and stood there watching, waiting, expecting to see fruit bloom as soon as my feet hit the ground. Well, where was the fruit?! I'm adventurous, creative, and now I've got time. What is wrong with me? Stupid tree. It doesn't work anymore. Great, now I'm on an island with so much time and I'm worthless. Am I drowning or acclimating? Acclimating, obviously, right? RIGHT? Get on with it!

My lack of patience astounds me. My wise sister said maybe I should recognize mini-wins each day (like the day I figured out how to change the propane tank on our stove and carried the 50lb. thing all the way home just to prove something to myself). Maybe I shouldn't try to be producing creativity in the midst of figuring out the basics of living, of surviving (like how not to get run over while crossing the street or crossing in front of an angry donkey). The daily hardships of this place are real but hardly seem so to outsiders since my pictures mainly exude the beauty of this Nature Island. How do I explain things? How do I communicate (an act of expressing something inside of me) through my artwork that which I haven't yet ingested? 

Like any adjustment (losing a loved one, moving, getting married, new job, new kid...), patience is key and expectations can kill the possible joys in your new reality. I am grateful for a partner who shows me this patience and one who can see my fears and emotions I try to hide oh so well. 


  1. You just read my mind with this. We need to talk, sister.

  2. Sarah, it's great to have found you again. I switched emails and lost my link to your blog.

    Your comments are ones I can completely relate to from my early years of marriage - being uprooted (you may recall) from a very familiar place. I found it to be a very humbling time, for which I am grateful for as I think being in such a dependent condition upon the Lord you learn so much about Him, yourself and your dear husband. I'm so excited for all you're going to learn there and how close you will grow to one another as you look outside of yourself to the Lord for what you need each day. As I recall this was your father's main theme at my wedding!

    By the way, I met a dear Dominican family in church on Sunday and she gave me her info to pass along to you. She has family and knows a lot of Christians there so she said she'd love for you to contact her. If you can email me at I can give you her info. I just don't see where to contact you on your blog besides posting.

    Your old friend, Lisa DiGiacomo