Sunday, April 29, 2012

Life Balance

So I've obviously had a rough month or so. Final exams are this week, and then classes will be done. But next week I start my next rotation. This one is really important, because if I can't get into this lab, I won't have any funding left and I'll essentially be stuck and have to leave the program. I really don't want that to happen because I don't want to feel like I've failed at graduate school twice. Honestly, I don't think that will happen, but I have an anxiety disorder so I spend too much time worrying about this shit.
Since class is almost done, I've moved to trying to spend some of my time making sure I'm taking care of myself mentally. I kind of got into this issue with school due to my depression and anxiety, and now I'm climbing out of it. Summer is a little iffy in terms of therapy that's available, so I've turned to the magic of the internet. My group this semester was about mindfulness and stress reduction, and there are actually a lot of cool (and free!) apps on Android that are guided meditations or mindfulness practices. Since I have an Android tablet, I've started using a bunch of those and my tablet is now my little personal meditation device. It's actually pretty cool and is really helpful. So even if I can't go to a group therapy again until fall, I feel like I have a lot of tools to make it through.
I'm also hoping that taking care of myself mentally will also help me take better care of myself physically. I gained some weight this semester which obviously bummed me out. I'm trying to get back on track and eat better portions and eat less emotionally. It's sort of slowly working, but it's still difficult. I'm trying to drink a lot more water and tea to stay full for longer, and I'm also trying to drink a fruit smoothie every day that I make in my blender to make sure I get my fruit servings. Now if I can just convince myself to eat less pizza, everything would be fine.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Orchids: Des Moines Botanical Center

Here are a bunch of pretty pictures of orchids at the botanical center. I've had a crappy Sunday so pretty pictures are here to make me feel better.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Big Decision

I've been thinking about this for a while, and now I've talked to my advisor and made the decision, so I feel comfortable telling the rest of the universe.
I'm dropping down from the PhD program to the MS program in microbiology.
I've had a very difficult semester. I don't see myself going to school for five years before I get any payoff, and moving to the MS program ensures that I can be done and leave with an advanced degree if I so choose. I could choose to keep going, maybe that's what will happen, but for now I'm moving to an MS. My advisor was really helpful and is very encouraging, so I feel like the department is going to help me succeed. Now I just need to find someone who is willing to let me rotate in their lab and take on a master's student. Hopefully that will happen soon and I can get started on a project.
I feel very relieved and at peace about this decision. I just don't see myself in academia for the rest of my life, so I'm not sure a PhD is even necessary at this point.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Fishtail Palm: Des Moines Botanical Center

I think this palm tree is really cool looking. It's called a fishtail palm, and I think it's pretty obvious why. It's really tall. I had to look straight up to take this picture. I like it because it's different from the standard palm tree.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Des Moines Botanical Center: Koi

 There are lots of koi in the stream that goes through the botanical center. They're really pretty fish, even though they're related to carp, which are kind of ugly looking. Some of them are really big.
 Most of the koi in the pond were orange, but they did have some of the white varieties. They are my favorite.
While I was looking at the koi, I noticed this painted turtle! Painted turtles are from Michigan, so I had to take a picture of my Michigander turtle friend.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Des Moines Botanical Center: Palm

This is some kind of palm. I took a picture of it because of the leaves. You can see that some parts of the leaves are attached to each other near the stem, but as the leaves grow outward they are separated. This actually is because of apoptosis-programmed cell death. As the leaves grow, the cells that attach the leaves to each other undergo apoptosis and die, letting the leaves separate. How cool is that?

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Bananas: Des Moines Botanical Center

 This is a baby banana tree. Look at how little and cute it is! I'd never seen a baby banana tree before.
And this is an adult banana tree making bananas. They grow up so fast...

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Funky Cactus of the Day

This is a close up of this weird cactus at the Des Moines Botanical Center. It has a thick stem, these adorable little tiny leaves, and gigantic thorns! It looks pretty crazy but I bet it protects itself well from predators. I kind of want one because they look really neat but I would always be afraid that I would hurt myself on it.

April is the cruelest month

Man, it's April already and I am feeling behind. March pretty much took a big dump on me. I was really depressed and anxious and between that and getting physically ill I didn't feel great on a regular basis. Then my Great Aunt Jan died. I barely spent any time at lab, so essentially I'm starting over tomorrow brand new. Dr. Phillips has been very understanding, which is good, but I feel the pressure because I want to stay in this lab and I can't fuck it up. Anyway, I'm looking forward to getting regularly back into lab. My grades are fine so I'm less worried about those. But of course, something else had to happen to make me feel off. I heard from my mum yesterday that our oldest cat, Miss Demeanor, is probably coming to the end of her life. She has hyperthyroidism and now my parents have to give her IV fluids every week. I don't know how much time she has left, and I don't know if I'll get to see her one more time or not. It's hard to think about especially when I have other things to focus on. I don't know if I'll talk about at group therapy or not, but I'm just trying to get my act together.
In addition, I'm trying really hard to get back on track with my weight loss. I gained about ten pounds in February and March. I started doing Zumba, which I really like, and hopefully it'll help me out. Dan has talked about getting me to run with him, which I think I'll do. I'm crap at running because I'm built to be a sprinter, but if I get to work out and spend time with the guy I'm dating, that seems like a good idea to me. My food intake is really hard to deal with but I'm trying to cut back more, because I know I'm eating too much. It's just difficult when I'm so stressed out.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Turtles at Des Moines Botanical Center

Yay turtles! There are a lot of turtles and koi in the stream that runs through the center. All of these turtles were lined up on the bank. Eventually they got bored and jumped back in the water, but it was cute while it lasted!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Tulips: Des Moines Botanical Center

These are some of the tulips growing inside at the Botanical Center. The outside tulips hadn't bloomed yet when I was there, although by now they might be. I really liked both the purple and the yellow and orange ones. Fun fact: the stripes in tulips are caused by a plant virus. People have been manipulating the infected tulips to create new varieties for years.