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Sitting with Uncertainty (and other things I’ve felt while living unemployed…)

Hello beauties!

A happy mid-June to you all. I hope the weather is beautiful where you are. If not, get a load of this:

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I’m as shocked as you are. This is San Francisco, for Pete’s sake.

Well, last I checked in, I had just completed the final rotation in my dietetic internship. Uncertainties abound, but the newness of being free from supervised practice hours for the rest of my career was enough to keep at bay the flaming ball of anxiety that often inhabits my gut.

Prior to completing my internship, I firmly proclaimed that I required some down time, during which I could focus on studying for my RD board exam, and with money I had saved, I could get myself through a few more months unemployed. After passing the exam, I would carry on with my job hunt, warp speed – factor 10.

Well, to my utter shock, as soon as I had about 3 weeks left of my internship, I awoke from a haze to find I had been frantically perusing nutrition job websites, and noticed fingers that looked like mine typing away at cover letters and requests for references. What. Is. Happening?!

I wish I could say I caught myself in this old behavior, realized I wasn’t giving myself the unstructured time I so wanted and deserved, closed my laptop, and refocused my energy on passing my exam while enjoying life around me. Alas, this was not the case.

A number of weeks into practicing my daily routine of wake up, coffee, procrastinate, job hunt, “organizing” (shuffling things around until piles look manageable), listening to 1/4 of an Inman RD exam review track, and back to “organizing”, I had a nice little epiphany at which I so peacefully arrived by having it slapped upon my face.

Through networking and good fortune, I was put into contact with several people who were offering jobs that looked promising. After phone conversations and/or email correspondence, these opportunities looked like potential hires. They were jobs that I would be completely happy exploring, and I thought it would take away the anxiety I have felt relating to the dreaded day I run out of money. Well, time and time again, after informal interviews went as perfectly as they could have, I was told I would be a great candidate for the position, but right now they were looking for someone who had already passed their exam.

Alright – what’s the big idea, Universe? I was told early on in my plight into dietetics that many companies are ok with hiring prior to passing your exam, with the expectation that you pass within a certain amount of time from hire date. But that was proving wrong over and over again.

And then I remembered… Isn’t this exactly what I asked for? Didn’t I say I wanted and needed time to focus on this exam, and getting my life together post-internship? And didn’t I predict how I would struggle to just sit back and ALLOW this to happen?

Hm… Seems like the Universe just might have my best interest in mind here.

So currently where I sit is here:
Going against the voice in my head that tells me I’m not good enough because I get to live life on my own schedule these days, I have put the job hunt on hold. I am mostly focused on studying for this exam, and on appreciating what else I have going on, from a blossoming social life in a fantastic, still relatively new city, to community involvement and being of service to others. I have ACTUALLY done some legitimate organization which looks like this — a calendar where I can view things both weekly and monthly, noting sections of my exam review to go over each day to keep me on track to be as prepared as possible come test day. My exam is scheduled for July 23, which gives me over a month from right now to prep. I’m sure this time will fly by, so I’m avoiding the mind set that I have plenty of time and can get it done when I feel like it, which has often plagued me in the past; however there is enough time between now and the test for me to not be so susceptible to full-fledged conniption-style panic attacks if I only get through 5 pages instead of my intended 6 on any given Tuesday (if you don’t believe this to be a possibility, you were fortunate enough not to know me circa 2012).

For those fellow RDs to be who are curious about how I am studying and what materials I am using, I am going through Inman’s Review of Dietetics, and listening to the CDs where she reviews each domain and notes specific important details. That’s all I’ll say for now, and hopefully I can return in about a month to tell you that what I did actually WORKED, and share more at that time.

Until then, I will be sitting in some discomfort, and remembering to refrain from complaining about receiving the things I’ve always asked for.

Keep smilin, lovelies. Our futures are lookin damn bright.

<3,
Samantha

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Weeks 29 – 36: The FINAL 8 in School Nutrition Management

Well, it’s been a long road, but I can finally say with pride rivaled only by exhaustion that I have COMPLETED my dietetic internship!

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School nutrition management was my final rotation, and it was an experience unlike most of the others. Something I enjoyed was getting to work with a team of managers who worked in non-nutrition disciplines. For most of my 8 weeks, I spent time with our Food Service Director, a Manager in Training, our Associate Director, and worked closely with our head chef and catering manager as well. My rotation took place at San Francisco State University.  As I may have explained in previous posts, my internship was completed (love putting that in the PAST TENSE!) through Morrison Chartwells, a subset of Compass Group. Compass Group has a multitude of sectors, which provide food and nutrition services to establishments from hospitals, to schools, to business and industry settings. Morrison is the sector of Compass that serves healthcare establishments, which is where I did my clinical rotations. Chartwells is the sector that serves schools (and Chartwells Higher Ed, to further categorize, serves college campuses). My experience was unique in that I was working with Chartwells Higher Education, which works on college campuses – most other interns in my program were rotating in K-12 Chartwells accounts.

 

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Now that that’s out of the way….

 

My school nutrition rotation taught me a lot about management, and working with a team in which you are often the sole nutrition representative. I did have the opportunity to work with the Regional RD, Laura, who oversees Chartwells Higher Ed accounts. However, this was a long distance relationship, and  Laura did not have a scheduled trip out to SFSU during my time there. She was always available by phone and email, and was a large part of my learning experience in this rotation. Not having an RD present at the site on a daily basis taught me many times over to be proactive and independent.

Chartwells at SFSU incorporates a concept called Balanced Kitchen, which I was so excited to be a part of. Balanced Kitchen focuses on wellness on college campuses. At one point, I conducted an audit to ensure the dining center was meeting the wellness criteria for this concept – and our SF State champs did very well! I remember being a freshman in college, and staying well with healthy foods was such a challenge. It is great to see higher education moving in a direction that promotes the importance of a healthy lifestyle.

 

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Some of the criteria for Balanced Kitchen (aka Balanced U), and what the dining center strives to promote.

 

This was a project-centered rotation. In these 8 weeks, I think I completed upwards of 10 projects – and all of them took some serious time commitment! Some highlights:

 National Nutrition Month Activities:

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Me, beaming in the presence of my food models. Typical.

 

Nutrition Educations:

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Weird shadow on my face… But here I am giving a lesson on eating local and seasonally. My favorite educational tool right now is my local foods wheel. Ask me where you can find one!

 

Participation in Sustainability and Real Food Events:

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IMG_7790 A real local food-focused event!

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Put on a Farmer’s Market

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Enjoyed soo much delicious local produce.

 

Stress Reduction Fair:

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Focused on how to use good nutrition to keep stress in check! So much fun talking to students – and I met someone I’ve communicated with in the blog world! Amazing.

 

and Staff Trainings, and Food Service & Sanitation Audits (not pictured, because not that exciting – bein’ honest, folks).

 

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By the end of my rotation, I had made some strong connections with Compass employees at SF State, and I feel this rotation was the best opportunity to get to know some of the higher-ups who work for corporate! Getting to know some of the big wigs who manage entire regions was not only inspiring, but also allowed me to make an impression, shake some hands, and learn more about Compass as a whole.

 

As this blog is about honesty, I don’t want to leave out how much I struggled to get through this last rotation. With 8 weeks standing between me and RD eligibility, the to do list seemed forever impending. It’s not that the rotation was extremely challenging – I have been SO grateful to be done with clinical, and the stress level was NOT THE SAME here. But I did feel often paralyzed when I looked down at the list of projects to complete, and it even took me a few weeks to get started on some. But as of posting this, my assignments are COMPLETE, and I am awaiting the OK to sign up for my RD board exam (eeek!). This is a good reminder for me that it will all get done if I work toward it, but I have to remember to stay calm, get focused and organized, and just keep moving forward.

 

Well, folks, that wraps it up! Thank you to everyone who continued reading through my experience! I hope I was able to shed some light on the experience of dietetic internships for those of you embarking on this path. If you have questions, or just want to let me know how I’m doing (or how YOU are doing), please drop me a line below, or shoot an email over to thenourishedsoulblog@gmail.com.

 

This may be the end of my 1240+ supervised practice hours, but don’t you worry – there is still plenty of living, studying, and trying not to have panic attacks that I’ll be continuing to write about. Stay tuned, beautiful people! The best is yet to come over here.<3

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2014: Year of the Trailblazer

2013 –

I can’t say you and I didn’t have our moments. You certainly didn’t make things easy on me. Over the last year, there have been some major peaks, coupled with significant valleys, each accompanied by imperatively important lessons to be learned.

This year I’ve seen what makes me tick, what makes me smile, what makes me giggle until I cry, and what makes me cry until there’s nothing left to do but laugh.

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I’ve learned that most of the time I’m bubbly, but it doesn’t mean I don’t also feel anger. And I’ve learned that I love Star Trek, and I’m totally ok with it.

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I’ve found that I love myself more when I’m sober than I thought I ever could. And I’ve learned that one should be ridiculously, laughably, wildly in love with his or her own life — and even more important, I’ve seen how within my control that is, and have had to remind myself multiple times that this control ironically often comes from accepting the things over which we have no control.

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2013 in summary – I moved to the city of my childhood dreams; landed jobs I never thought I was qualified for (and did just fine); matched to a dietetic internship, solidifying my plans to become a registered dietitian, and met clinical cases I thought I wasn’t capable of solving (sometimes excelled, sometimes looked utterly foolish, but after all I turned out ok); I cried a lot, laughed a little bit more, moved on from a wonderful relationship that had run its course, letting go of someone I loved deeply, learned to handle my emotions without alcohol to numb them, and determined who some of my real friends were whether I was ready for it or not.

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Oh, and finally got to try poutine (Canadian french fry dish with cheese curds and gravy goodness that has been on my bucket list for some time).

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(It was delicious, of course)

All in all, 2013, it’s been REAL. No other phrase seems quite as fitting. And to your successor, 2014, I say BRING. IT. ON. I’m ready, and can’t wait to dive in, blazing my own pathway from here to Happinesstown. I am open and ready to receive the bliss I deserve. Let’s do this!

Coca Cola Life–Does the Green Label Say It All?

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Coca Cola has already released this version of its ever-popular cola beverage in Argentina, and it’s rumored to be hitting the U.S. soon. I am having trouble locating an ingredients list and straightforward nutrition info on Coca Cola Life, which immediately increases my suspicions. The marketing states that this version has fewer calories and sugar than the classic red can, due to a mixture of stevia (calorie-free sweetener) and sugar, rather than just straight HFCS.

I would love to get my hands on a little more information about the product, and I’m sure I’m not alone!

Thoughts on this stevia-sweetened treat from a company notorious for contributing to the worldwide obesity epidemic? Do I have any Argentinian readers who can shed some light on this new product?

Some Mornings…

Some days just start out rough. The alarm goes off, and moving your body close enough to the alarm to hit snooze sounds like a form of ancient water torture. All morning, things are dropping, you stub your toe, and your hair isn’t doing a thing to cooperate with you. You’re in a daze, and when you get halfway through your travel mug full of home-brewed coffee, you realize it’s been leaking all over you since you started drinking. Some days are just this way. I usually call them Mondays. But there’s no reason this mediocre morning can’t turn into a fabulous, productive, positive day.

Time to breathe, center, and TURN THIS SHIT AROUND.

Happy Monday morning, blogosphere.

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This mug speaks the truth. But it’s not so effective at containing coffee within the intended coffee area. 😦

Tuesday’s Quick Tip

Tuesday's Quick Tip

Social networking websites like Tumblr, Pinterest, and various blog-o-spheres are filled with pictures and words to use as motivation. Instead of using pictures of others’ bodies as a catalyst for our own change, why not use other goals? For example: I would love to one day hold a hand stand away from the wall for more than 30 seconds. This allows us to focus more on the power of what our bodies can DO, rather than on how they LOOK. After all, that’s truly the objective for improving your health, isn’t it? 🙂

Changes, Changes–Someone once told me they’re positive.

 

 

With all of my recent posts, I’ve been so EXCITED about sharing random new information with the blogosphere, that I did not realize… I neglected to explain WHAT THE HECK IS GOING ON, and why my clientele has suddenly made a shift from the elderly to the not-so-much. Well, allow me to explain…

 

Now, while this is a TRUE statement:Image

 

…I also LOVE preventative nutrition, and LOVE teaching others how to develop a POSITIVE relationship with FOOD. In some ridiculously fortunate curveball the Universe threw at me, it turned out that an eating disorder treatment program to whom I had sent my resume back in July/August decided to contact me (some time around Novemeber/December), looking to fill a part time position at their San Francisco location. I informed them that while I was so honored to hear from them, I had already accepted a full time position in Santa Rosa, Ca (about an hour north of SF). “It’s so interesting that you say that…” stated my soon-to-be supervisor… I am on the edge of my friend’s car seat at this point…. “We are opening a location in Santa Rosa in the next few months, and are looking for staff.” WHAT? YES. So, long story short (too late)… I began my second job in Santa Rosa (Saturdays and some evenings), doing EXACTLY what I had in mind when entering the field of nutrition.

 

Now… for about 3-4 weeks, having this job on the side of going to the Skilled Nursing Facility (SNF) M-F (and some weekends) invigorated me. I felt capable of dealing with every challenging aspect of my primary bread-winning job, even though it was not where my fervor for nutrition lie, and even though I felt rather limited in my ability to actually help my patients.

 

However, one day, out of SHEER frustration, after an extremely rough day at the SNF, I arrived home–likely in tears–powered up my dinosaur of a laptop, and logged on to a nutrition jobs website. There I saw the dream opening for most clinical-RD-hopefuls: “UCSF Nutrition Assistant/Diet Tech.” While I realized this was a LONG SHOT, I filled out an application. With the click of the “Submit” button, I felt a large amount of tension physically LEAVE my body. I figured that would be it, and maybe if I just sent out a few far-fetched applications every few weeks, I would be able to cope until eventually matching to a dietetic internship, and moving on.

 

Well, much to my surprise…. Not only was I contacted for an interview, but I actually got the job.

 

To conclude… I am now in my “week off” between the SNF and starting at UCSF (which has really been anything but… yet I am GRATEFUL for it). I begin with an orientation in SF on Monday, and am on the floor training on Tuesday. I am looking so forward to what these upcoming months have in store for me.

 

So, expect my posts to shift a bit, and if anyone out there needs a comrade in how to manage change, a COMMUTE, and still being sure to take good care of yourself, I’m your girl ;-).

 

I look forward to sharing the journey with you!