In which it’s beginning to feel like Thanksgiving

How is it mostly through November already? When planning things I’ve felt like Thanksgiving has been a moving target and now all of a sudden its snuck up on me and will be here next.week. Bring on the sweet potatoes, cranberry apple casserole and heaping loads of ham and tryptophan! I can tell it’s close, my heart is constantly swelling with gratitude and happiness.

A brief update:

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I’ve been on my cardiology rotation at SCH. So thankful there are heart docs out there because every time they asked me if I could hear the murmur I just kind of had to nod, smile and trust their judgement that it was there. I’ll stick with things I can see (like teeth), thank you.

We had some sunshine! And it's projected to go through the weekend!

We had some sunshine! And it’s projected to go through the weekend! But seriously, this fall hasn’t been as bad as last year and I’m very thankful for that (but it still doesn’t stop me from wanting to snap a picture of it though).

I wandered over to the main section of UW's campus for a talk by the esteemed Amy Cuddy. Her TED talk is here and it's worth a listen: http://www.ted.com/talks/amy_cuddy_your_body_language_shapes_who_you_are.html

I wandered over to the main section of UW’s campus for a talk by the esteemed Amy Cuddy. Her TED talk is here and it’s worth a listen: http://www.ted.com/talks/amy_cuddy_your_body_language_shapes_who_you_are.html

Suzzallo library on main campus makes me homesick for a certain Gothic Wonderland

Suzzallo library on main campus makes me simultaneously homesick and warmed my heart for reminding me about a certain Gothic Wonderland. Also Duke football is AMAZING!

This season is one of my favorite. Good food. Gratefulness. Fall smells. It’s just delicious. My dear mother instilled a solid sense of civic mindedness in us and since I can remember I’ve loved having opportunities to volunteer. My schedule recently hasn’t allowed me the flexibility to go exotic places or take part in large scale projects, but that’s the nice thing about giving, it can be done very well in your own backyard in very small amounts. You could argue that that just may be the best kind of volunteering.

Screen Shot 2013-11-21 at 12.08.23 AMI joined the Junior League of Seattle this year as a Provisional and so far the experience has an amazing outlet for me. My mom was in Junior League in Knoxville once upon a time and I have cousins in the Memphis league. Far from being the petty organization portrayed in The Help, for me, it’s the perfect combination of fellowship with wonderful women and easy packaged opportunities to do good. On Saturday I helped out with a work crew at Green Plate Special installing their new garden space in Rainier Valley Seattle. They’re an organization that specializes in curriculum based food growing and cooking skills for middle schoolers. My public health heart just swooned.

Freshly dug carrots

Freshly dug carrots

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They’ve just moved to a fantastic new facility. We helped disassemble parts of the old garden and set up the new (pictured here

Seeds ready for planting.

Seeds ready for planting.

They asked us to do a crazy picture.. and um, this is what we came up with.

They asked us to do a crazy picture.. and um, this is what we came up with.

Also, sadly without pictures because I’m a dunce and forgot; Jeff and I got to catch up with our friend Rebecca Fairchild while she was in Seattle for work. On Friday we took her to one of my favorite places in Belltown, Local 360, and got a chance to reminisce about the 10 or so odd years it’s been since we were all freshman together in Bassett. Thanks for a fun evening Rebecca! And it was nice to meet your sweet friend Jen too! So because I sucked and didn’t get pictures, here’s some throwbacks:

Rebecca, Kuppy and I senior year at Duke

Rebecca, Kuppy and I senior year at Duke

Rebecca and I top row left, freshman dorm powderpuff football

Rebecca and I top row left, freshman dorm powderpuff football

In which I start a new chapter

When I ranked UW and Seattle first during the Match process, I was really excited. This was the only program where you could dual train in pediatric dentistry and public health and get paid to do it. I was even more excited when two weeks later I found out that I’d matched to one of the two spots in the country available. Awesome – I would earn not only my Certificate in Pediatric Dentistry (which alone qualifies you to be a pediatric dentist), but also my Master’s of Science in Dentistry and my Master’s in Public Health. It was the ideal triple threat combination that lets you go wherever you want. Bonus: I loved that Bri was the other person who matched to the position; we got along great and I knew we’d make an awesome team. But then, fast forward a year and some initially trying months of residency later, and my program told me that the grant that made all this possible no longer existed. Done. Gone. Over. No chance of finding additional funding. Sayonara. Goodbye.

I was, needless to say, a tad upset. I had moved not only myself, but my husband, 2,853 miles across a continent for this. I ranked other really good programs lower to do this. I gave up just going straight into a lucrative, safe dental practice to do this. I had already been accepted at UW’s School of Public Health – a top ranked institution. Not cool. Seriously, not cool. My program gave me two options: 1) just drop the MPH and complete the traditional pediatric dental residency and graduate in two years with the Certificate and Master’s of Science in Dentistry or 2) continue with the additional Master’s of Public Health track, knowing that I would not earn a salary for my third year and I would be responsible for the additional tuition. Option #1 was out – I’d already going through too much to get here. Option #2 was really out, because seriously y’all, I’m in the 22nd grade, and all those years of schooling don’t come cheap. Until we win the lottery I’d rather not add to the debt load already bearing down on us. I was crushed.

But this story has a good ending (though for many sleepless nights there didn’t seem like there’d be one): through some hard work and a lot of good luck I was able to fall into the right place at the right time with the right people. I’ve been awarded a T90 postdoctoral trainee grant from the NIH to continue my work in pediatric dentistry and start my MPH classes next week. It comes with the stipulation that I spend a majority of my time in research, an area I’ve always loved, but have recently fully embraced as where I’m supposed to be. This puts me on the path to Academia, a world I know well from the student side and am learning more about each day from the teaching side. I’ve always had lingering doubts about running a private practice as a solo practitioner, and this solidifies that that probably was never going to be the right choice for me. The one downside of all this is that I’ll have less time to spend with my co-residents, whom I love and whose friendships I cherish very much. They’ve been very supportive in the transition and I’m thankful that we’ll still share a few clinics and more importantly, many happy hours together.

Thanks to all of you who lived out this saga in real time through phone calls and emails; your support sustained me. Thanks for never giving up on me and more importantly, for never letting me give up on myself. Thanks for reminding me that life has a funny way of always placing you precisely where you need to be.

This isn’t the direction I set out on, but I’m so freaking excited to see where it goes.

MPH orientation today

MPH orientation today