A Song of Ice and ‘Flu’-er

Daniel's DogBeing from Texas there is nothing as exciting as some sort of winter weather. “Snow days” are something that we long for, covet, and store in our memory for as long as possible. You can ask any Texan and they can probably tell you the exact date of the last time there was snow in Texas. We’re constantly mocked by our non-Texan relatives in the North, as well as by the stories of walking both ways to school, up-hill, in 20 feet of snow, while Texas completely shuts down at the mere idea of ice falling from the sky.

Hey, I’m not complaining, especially when it turns our three-day weekend into a four-day one! The storm that hit last week that was supposed to bring lots of ice and, more importantly, snow. A winter storm warning would pop up on my screen as I watched the Patriots dismantle the Titans (Go Pats!), and my mind and body were ready for the snow. Monday came around and then the news that school is being cancelled due to the ice that is expected. The next day came slowly, as I had checked outside every 30 minutes the night before. Like a kid looking for Santa on Christmas Eve, I was looking for the snow that would soon turn my world white.

When I finally fell asleep, I woke up early and immediately noticed two things: one, I was getting sick, and two, there was no snow…just ice. The disappointment and the illness kept me on bedrest for the rest of the day and the next. I ate chicken noodle soup, tried to keep my puppy—who was quickly getting cabin fever—company, and binge watched the last season of “Game of Thrones” again (P.S.: shout out if you got my reference in the title). While I felt awful and was disappointed, I watched my dog constantly want to be outside. As a Canadian breed, he wanted nothing more to be outside to play in the ice; when allowed, he individually broke up all the ice, sprinted around full speed, and was completely and totally infatuated with a patch of ice on the back porch—he would sprint at it and then slide across. It made me think about my disappointment in the lack of snow and the presence my illness: he was making the best out of every situation; when life gave him ice, he made snow cones.

In veterinary school, it is easy to find disappointment—whether it is a lecture that you find really challenging or a lower grade than you wanted—but it doesn’t have to be like that. We all got here on our own merits, because of the hard work we put in throughout the previous years of our lives, while looking at veterinary school like a little kid waiting and hoping for snow.

So this semester (and future semesters) I’m going to change my outlook, and I hope that you do the same in your everyday life. Don’t look around and be disappointed with the things that occur in your life; look at them as opportunities to learn, to grow, and to enjoy. After all, you are living another day (hopefully without the flu). Look at the world not as a frozen wasteland like I did but, instead, as my dog did—as a winter wonderland. Make the best of each situation, and don’t be afraid to make your own snow cones.

Taking Time to Enjoy the Little Things

Daniel H.I feel that as I’ve gotten older, time has gone by much quicker. Days pass by in what feels like minutes, months fly by in hours, and years fly by in weeks. Throughout high school and even into college, I felt that I didn’t appreciate the time as it was happening; it felt like I was just focusing test to test, one event to the next, but I didn’t appreciate the things that were happening every day. Now that I’m in veterinary school, I’m trying to change that mindset, to not look at a professor’s material as “boring” just because it isn’t the subject matter that I’m interested in, to not complain about waking up early or staying up late, but to enjoy where I’m at. I feel that I’m fortunate to be here and to complain about the little things doesn’t allow me to be appreciative of the opportunities I have been given.

Naturally, one of the ways I found to stay grounded and to stop looking to the future was getting a puppy. Now, sure, when he was going through potty training, there was nothing more that I looked forward to than a future of not cleaning up messes every hour or so, but I came to appreciate the little times with him—learning how to walk on a leash, the first time he learned to sit, even the confused face that he gives when I’m mad at him for chewing up something, how he just wants to play. Now I have a 7-month-old Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever named Finnley who forces me to spend time appreciating the things outside of school. Strolls down the street become a time to reflect on my day; he appreciates me no matter how many questions I miss on a test or how stressed I can get because of school.

Another tool that I’ve used to stay focused on where I am is to eliminate as much stress as possible. When we stress, we just focus on doing anything we can to get through that period of time, but this is something that can easily be avoided with good time management and by not stretching yourself too thin. I think the most important thing to avoid stress is to find a time to do something that relieves stress: going on a walk, reading a book, or taking a nap (for a reasonable amount of time). These are all great relievers of stress, but what works for one person won’t necessarily work for another, so it is important to find what brings you inner peace. In all the songs about living like we are dying (looking at you, Tim McGraw), they describe how the people live and focus on the day by forgeting about the stress of the next week or the next month.

So go out there and be like Tim McGraw, live like there is no tomorrow, because tomorrow isn’t always guaranteed. Focus on each day, and find appreciation and value in the little things in your life.