On a well-deserved break (or Course Six: a post-mortem)

Course Six, what a rollercoaster. The end of 2016 has brought about challenges and opportunities for growth in my academics, athletics, and personal life.

Academically, a challenging ten weeks of everything to do with hearts, lungs, and kidneys. Failed the first two exams in a stunning fashion, despite feeling prepared and up to the challenge. Went into finals week knowing that I must reverse the trend or risk remediation.

So, I continued my experiments in studying and tried something new. I had heard about a friend who would read class notes aloud to herself in order to study. Once, she reviewed so thoroughly before an exam that she talked her voice hoarse. I took this idea and put my Eugene twist on it.

I find that I pace when I think. Fidgeting soothes me deeply when on the phone or even while writing. I started reading my notes aloud, but would get distracted because I had all this energy and nowhere to put it. So, I began walking on a treadmill, very slowly, for about a half-hour at a time while reading notes aloud. This allowed me to review a large amount of course material relatively quickly, offered a chance to break-up the normal desk-bound study sessions, and got me walking an hour or two on deep study days.

This treadmill method, combined with some videogame-style habit tracking, helped me review for Course Six’s third exam and resulted in my highest med school test score! An 80 might be the median score, but it feels great compared to a 55, and provides a great boon of confidence before the grind of Step studying.

Athletically, I’ve found a rhythm in jiu-jitsu. Twice a week practices have become an ingrained habit, where I no longer try to fit the classes into my schedule. Now, I work my schedule around the sessions I want to attend.

I’m learning which techniques suit my style of grappling and where my transitions could tighten up. Looking forward to 2017, I’ll compete in early February, the weekend after Course Seven’s first exam. Over the next month and a half, I’ll drill techniques and learn the scoring systems for IBJJF competitions. It feels great to train for something.

Personally, the past few months have been a whirlwind of emotion. Lots of adjustments in my partnership and lots of challenges that brought us together. With winter break officially begun and the solstice approaching soon (Wednesday, the 21st), I feel life slowing down a bit and offering me a chance to catch my breath before the sun begins its return to the sky.

This marks my second and final foreseeable winter in Florida. I enjoy the winter rays and option to tan on Thanksgiving. I revel in the opportunity to slackline outdoors throughout December. As I write this in my Tampa apartment with the windows open and a gentle breeze rolling through, the temperature reads 81F. A tropical winter ain’t half bad.

That said, I find myself looking forward to the transition to Pennsylvania in May. I miss the cold and unmistakable scent of snow. I look forward to managing a woodpile and keeping a house warm.

I leave you, reader, with a short passage from a lovely poem that speaks to me as this year comes to close.

“The Summer Day” by Mary Oliver:

Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?


Long Form Sundays

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6 thoughts on “On a well-deserved break (or Course Six: a post-mortem)

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