2021 Pharmacy School in a Pandemic

We are one month into 2021, and it is safe to say that 2021 is not too far off from 2020.  The tone of the pandemic and economy takes a darker toll on my new normal.  At this point, we all know someone whose passed from COVID-19 or whose been struck by it.  It seems as though the fabric we’ve familiarized ourself with, is disintegrating into the new abyss.  A new unknown territory is being charted. There have been many moments in 2021 that I’ve asked myself whether I made the right decision.  Was this the right time? The right place? Where do I go from here?  Pharmacy school, via pandemic, brings on an entirely new onset of emotions that are unique and extraordinary.  Along with the normal rigor expected of a doctorate program, this pandemic highlights the stark reality of institutional structures that benefits and exacerbates inequities in learning.  
Hiking San Pedro
My body and spirit are exhausted.  I miss being around humans.  I miss being with friends, and being in their company.  It is not natural for humans to be socially isolated for more than a year, and I am unsure what this will do to our psychological framework for generations to come.  What I do know, is that this moment tests our resilience.  It forces us to come face-to-face with our inner demons, our insecurities, our shortcomings. And it makes us look at what we’ve ran from.  These are the moments that can break or make us.  I am grappling with this unique reality and what it means for me.  I do not know what this semester holds, but I do know what I want to achieve this semester. I’m learning you can not plan years ahead anymore, and that sometimes — just sometimes … you have to look at what is in front of you, and take it one day at a time.  And that is enough.  I am enough today.  And when tomorrow comes, I will take on the challenges tomorrow.  There is no need to worry about tomorrow, the week beyond tomorrow, the month, or the year.  Because we are in a unique place and time – that doesn’t guarnatee us tomorrow.  And so we need to just live, and be here. Right now. In the present.  So, my dear friends, bloggers, hundreds of followers.  I just want to say how much I appreciate each and every one of you. As you walked with me through my journey to med school, my decision to not pursue med school, my journey to pharmacy school, and now as a pharmacy student (during a pandemic). I know we are all struggling in different capacities, and I just want you all to take care of yourself as best as you can.  You are loved, heard, and appreciated.   A whole lot of love,
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Starting 2021: Financial, Pharmacy School and Personal Goals

Blessedisshe Liturgical Planner

I love planners, organizers, books, and flipping through pages.  When my husband and I first started dating, I told him I wanted a home with a library, large windows, and a willow tree.  I was fifteen.  I’ve always liked how crisp paper feels underneath my finger tips.  I like the way gel ink moves across paper lines.  I like highlighting, color coordinating my day, and crossing off items from my to do list.  Ironically, I also have three google calendars synced to manage my family life, work life, and school life. But there’s something about this planner that I love.  The planner is embedded with prayers, bible verses, and holy days.  It reminds to pray, read scripture and give thanks.  It allots portions and pages to emphasize whether I am eating well or taking care of myself.

The past two days, I have reflected on some of the amazing accomplishments I completed the last year and a half.  I’ve been doodling some of my 2021 goals in this planner. It has been an insane journey.  In 2018 I made the decision to quit my job.  I knew I was worth more, and that there were more possibilities for me elsewhere.  I increased my income significantly as a contractor, paid off my credits cards, paid off my private loans, paid off my husband’s private loans, paid off both of our cars, and managed to pay for my pharmacy school interviews and applications.  All within two years. All while going to school to fulfill prerequisites, full-time.  All of this happened because I quit a job that didn’t see my potential.  I took a leap of faith.  Do you see where I’m headed here?  We have to know our potential, we have to envision our future, write it down, plan it out, and then it comes into fruition.  Because we believe in it.

I start most mornings reviewing and writing down things that come to mind.

Typically I like to start my day jotting down thoughts, emotions, reviewing all the things I need to accomplish, and determining how I’m going to get from point A to point B.  This includes a number of things as of late: finances, whose going to pay my bills in pharmacy school, am I going to work forever, am I going to memorize my top 100 drugs, is this degree worth it?  The writing process usually begins with a thousand anxious ideas, thoughts, and what-ifs.  It then moves towards a calm and shifts to centeredness that exudes resilience. I am naturally an anxious person, mixed with a little bit of OCD, type A, and perfectionism.  It is through the writing process, I get to vomit out all of my daily, weekly, monthly, and annual insecurities. I get throw it all on a sheet paper and then I get to burn it at the end of the year in a bonfire. It is important to remove all of that hidden and not-so-hidden nonsense from our lives.  Because if you let it sit there, it will slowly eat at your soul, and it will do everything it can to tell you, “You’re not good enough.”  That’s why I have a physical planner, outside of my three google calendars. I need to write it down, I need to remind myself about the small things that matter, I need to have daily prayer and scripture.  Because all things have been made possible through Him, and Him alone. So – how are you starting your year? Did you write down your plans? Have you poured your sufferings into prayers? Are you doing okay?  2020 was certainly a difficult year for me.  The last three months were plagued with so much suffering but He always prevails and provides.  Do not lose faith – there is always hope, even in the midst of loss and grievance. A whole lot of love,

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#hmongpharmdtobe

This first semester was hard. Being a wife and navigating the various identities as a pharmacy student, wife, and family provider is difficult. Let alone in a pandemic. It is such a delicate balance to try to juggle.

Pharmacy School.

The death of an immediate family member resulted in so much internal despair in my mental wellness and relationship. Something was going to give and take. I felt it in my marriage, work productivity, and schoolwork. As a Hmong woman, there is such an immense amount of pressure to give all of yourself to your family. It can easily warp you, take over your studies, and alter your capacity to focus on your own dreams, goals, and aspiration. There is a sacrificial undertone embedded in Hmong females beginning in childhood: your family over everything and anything else. Everyone else’ needs before your own.

There were a few times this semester, I just had to say no, but for the most part – I am exhausted. I am tired. I am burnt out. I need an emotional break. I need a vacation, which is essentially impossible right now. A bug infestation destroyed thousands of dollars of bedroom furniture, which has left me on an air mattress on the living room floor since October. The retightening of the COVID restrictions on Southern California further exacerbates the mental fragility so many of us are teetering on. California is burning, my soul is burning, my wellness is burning. I can’t shop, work out in a gym, there are curfew imposements, dining out is barred. I am left with a keyboard, this blog, and a mask. What is the toll, this pandemic will have, on our mental wellbeing for years to come?

#stangtravels

It is so hard to be a wife, peer, colleague, leader, advocate, and doctorate student. I once asked a former MD classmate how she juggled it all, and she responded, “You can’t be great at everything you do. You’re going to have to be okay with just being good at some things. You’re going to have to be okay with doing just enough.” I reflected on these words often this semester. What were areas I could settle in being “enough”? I chose to be enough in: cleaning, tidiness, household chores, and cooking.

It is my hope that I never have to experience grieving, a bug infestation, and a pandemic all at the same time again. This semester was the perfect storm. I felt like I was going 100 mph in a hybrid 2007 honda civic, straight into a brick wall.

I could not quite find the words the past month(s) because I fell so far behind in school, and I was incredibly overwhelmed with catching up. But I am fighting on, taking care of myself, and remaining resilient. It is in our moments of darkness that true character shows.

A whole lot of love,

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All photos, writings, poems, and opinions are my own.