Thursday, July 14, 2011

Chug on

In trying to build off the high from yesterday, I ended up falling a bit flat. 

My long day of three planned experiments became a regular day of two experiments with one failing. I never budget for failed experiments because it seems too pessimistic...but when I don't complete all my experiments successfully, I feel really let down. The cruel, twisted nature of science at it's best. 

I'm having some problems with the intravital microscope. It's been a bit odd for some time, but I can't put my finger on what's wrong. I tweaked the amount of antibody fab fragments I'm injecting, and have focused, and re-focused the bloody thing, but the image is a wee bit more fuzzy than it should be. This worries me. Hopefully when I do some more on Saturday it will be working ok. 

Well I'm going to get geared up, play some tennis, and then make myself a nice summer salad to end the day! 

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The beauty of balance

After almost 2 years in this grad school business, I am getting somewhere with data collection and results! While I still have a long way to go, and really have to take full advantage of the extra year I have to take, I am quite proud of what I've accomplished so far. I am eager to power through, and have planned a busy day of experiments for tomorrow.

In addition, I had a great balanced day today. After walking to the lab in the morning, I grappled with some stats, and did my prep calculations for tomorrow's experiments. It was the first day I brought my laptop into work - why on earth have I been stowing it at home all this time? In between t-testing all the data I possibly could, I browsed through a couple great blogs and followed the Bombay bombings on twitter. I don't understand how terrorists can possibly begin justify their actions. I'm sure they once had a cause to fight for, but it's lost in the fear they spread and the innocent lives they take. Thankfully my family living in Bombay were ok.

After walking home (so managed to squeeze in 40 minutes of walking today!), I had a healthy snack and then practiced my violin. It was so relaxing, and made me realise that I really need to get on with finishing my violin exams. I only have 2 left until I'm fully qualified, but I've been dawdling over it with many excuses.

Then I Bodyrock'd out for a bit (check out: - it's all free!), which I had to take a bit easy since I injured my hip really badly the previous weekend. And then off to play some tennis. Half way through my legs began to seize up a bit, but it was well worth it. I feel I can have a restful sleep, and get up energised, knowing I had such a full day.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Can you become successful from eating right?

I believe that part of being successful is eating healthy and exercising regularly. 

I'm not saying you can't be successful without adopting these habits - au contraire - but it certainly places you in the right frame of mind. 

Eating healthy takes discipline, determination, and the ability to say "no" when a decadent dessert is right in front of your nose. Exercising regularly provides you with a routine to follow, and often allows you to realise that you can push past your limits. 

Having been an extremely unhealthy and quite overweight individual a few years ago, I certainly believe this. It hasn't always been easy to uphold, as the urge to indulge can be too much sometimes. 

I don't believe in diets - I believe in eating everything in moderation. I think if you cut out one player in the food pyramid, then you're opening yourself up for intense cravings. I tried slow-carbing earlier in the year, and became thoroughly sick of it in a week. As a girl who loves bread, the week of denying it made me crave it for a month. And I hated the idea of a complete binge day. 

Right now I'm recovering from a hip sprain injury. When I was exercising I tweaked the muscle a bit, and didn't listen to my body to slow down. I've had to take it easy the past few days, but it has really allowed me to focus on my diet. I'm trying to drink more water, pay closer attention to my stomach when it's signaling me it's full, and shush the voice that wants instant gratification. 

How does this all tie into success? I certainly don't have a chart or any experiments conducted on mice to demonstrate a correlation, but I know there's a feeling of wellness within when you eat healthy and exercise. That sense of lethargy is gone, and you can say: (for example) if I managed to exercise for 'X' minutes, I can do 'Y' task. You can attribute your success of living healthy to other areas of your life, and allowing the generated success to snowball. 

So maybe next time you are at the grocery store grab the raspberries instead of the chips, and when there's a commercial break in your favourite show, do 10 pushups! There's a little bit of success in itself already! 

Friday, July 1, 2011

Eye on the prize

Half the year has gone by...

I really couldn't tell you how the year has flown by so quickly - looking back it still seems like early January. Time has a stealthy way of sneaking past. I have decided that on this Canada day, there is no better day to refocus. Refocusing takes quite a bit of time and energy, and so I have shied away from it for a little while. Living life passively tends to come quite naturally - and the sick feeling in your stomach can be surprisingly easy to ignore. 

I've found adjusting to "adult", graduate student life a bit difficult. For so many years you are told exactly what to do, grades are the main goal, and it's very easy to mark how successful you are by a letter (and hopefully a plus)! As a grad student I've found there are no "real" markers of success. You hope for your experiments to work, you read papers, and you try attend conferences. The goal is life long learning - and the acquirement of a degree. But none of these afford instant gratification - you really have to work for them. It's not like a test that you can cram for the night before. This is the part I've had the worst time adjusting to. I lose sight of long term fulfillment, and the reality that something worthwhile takes hard work and dedication. 

I just finished watching Djokovic defeat Tsonga at Wimbledon to move into the finals for the first time, and claim the world #1 ranking. Djokovic has played amazing this year - he's been untouchable with a 47-1 winning streak. As I was watching him play, it sunk into my head that he has worked so hard and so long for this. I can certainly do that for my Masters. 

I am going to channel my energy into refocusing for the next 6 months of the year, and into pursuing passions outside of graduate school as well. I need to get rid of the girl who lounges in front of the TV after work, and find out all the wonderful things she is capable of. 

Friday, April 29, 2011

Does work mean love to you?

Probably one of the most inspiring talks I've ever heard on TED.

I never heard of Gary Vaynerchuk before yesterday, but his absolute passion comes through in this video. He's definitely in your face, but to be honest, what really isn't these days? It's an in your face you need to hear!

Why aren't you doing what you love today, and what's holding you back?

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

What happens when you open the Chamber of Secrets?

I believe it's important to have a handful of positive and purposeful role models in order to identify characteristics to aspire to and possibly emulate. Positive role models can make big dreams seem tangible - often enough they have put their own big dreams into reality. They provide a great way to truly know that big dreams are achievable. I believe they can also help you figure out how you want to present yourself to the world and your purpose in life. However, positive role models don't have to be larger-than-life, colossal beings of mankind...they can be as simple as your mum, your teacher, your friend. Keep in mind though, all role models come with a disclaimer that echoes Judy Garland: always be a first rate version of yourself, instead of a second rate version of someone else.

I have many positive role models for different aspects of my life, and I hope to pay tribute to them in this blog from time to time. Today, though, I want to mention a role model whom I believe embodies the spirit of a strong, confident, and against-all-odds type of woman: JK Rowling.

I first "met" JK Rowling in my Year 7 English class, when Ben gave a book report presentation on "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone". I had heard about Harry Potter and had already decided that I would not enjoy those kind of books - under no circumstances was I going to read them. One day though, my dad came back from a trip to England and brought with him the first two books of the series. Generally we got new books, I would grab them and devour them - since I was a much faster reader than my sister. This time though, she was having none of it, and claimed the first book. I hadn't yet mastered any semblance of patience, so I started reading the second book (which is heavily dependent on the plot line of the first book), was pretty much confused throughout the whole thing, but still loved it! I finally just took the first book from Leanne, and born was another believer in Harry Potter. I cannot even tell you the number of times I have read the Harry Potter books. I cried so much during the 7th book, because I grew up with those characters...they were my friends and it hurt so much when some of them died.

There are very few books and authors that can make you feel the way that JK Rowling does. The feeling of being completley lost in a book is something that I've experienced less and less as I've grown older - I think it's partially because I have less belief in the fantasy world, and the authors these days are just not cutting it. Take a look at Twilight! I love reading, and that automatically makes JK Rowling a heroine of mine. She's right up there with Louisa May Alcott!

However, JK Rowling is so much more than an author. She has a story of true perserverance and that showcases how far the belief in one little idea can take you. She faced tragedy through her mother's death, and the disintegration of her first marriage; when Harry Potter waltzed into her life she was poor. Under those circumstances to have the courage to write a book is truly admirable.

I remember one time she wrote a post for girls on her website. She had gone to a party, and an acquaintance that she hadn't seen for some time commented on how much weight she had lost. This completely baffled JK Rowling because she felt that it was so superficial - she had published books in that time, gotten married, and all the other woman could see was the weight loss. JK Rowling wrote in her post how she wanted more than that for her daughters - she wanted them to not be focused on their weight, but instead to focus on having accomplishments, and being creative. I think that's something that should be emphasised more in today's society.

I also love how down-to-earth JK Rowling still is, even though she's one of the richest people in Europe. She is truly inspiring, and I wish that there were many more strong women out there like her!

Friday, April 15, 2011

What ticks your clock?

I often ask myself: What gets me ticking? What inspires me to wake up in the morning and just be?! 

One would think that at 23 I would be able to answer those questions. Disappointingly, but perhaps not surprisingly, I'm not quite able to. I take comfort in the fact that people much older than me are still asking themselves those same questions, and still have no answers. I have also decided to ignore the fact that people younger than me have very convincing and well-thought-out responses. 

When I ask myself those questions words like...ambition, positivity, violin, and tennis spring to mind. Don't judge...those are just spur of the moment words, and let's keep in mind I'm writing this at 1.30 in the freaking am. Now I play the violin, well below my actual potential, and I used to play tennis. Ambition and positivity seem like good traits to have in one's life...but yea, I think it's pretty sad if that's all that comes to mind. I was hoping by now that I would have discovered my life's passion, and just go forth with that. Maybe those random words are really a signal telling me I really need to figure it out. 

I always mean to sit down and think about what gets me going in life, and then apply it. While I suppose writing a post like this one isn't really the way to address the situation, at least I'm putting it in the forefront of my brain. I especially want to figure out what gets me going as a graduate student. I've sat down a few times and kind of half-assed this...but I've never really figured out the whole thing. I have made up my mind to make a concerted effort to, at least, figure out those questions in regards to graduate school - I made the first step this morning by e-mailing a couple of profs I know for a sit down talk on graduate school advice. I hate asking for advice, so this is a big step for me - it always scares me that people will think I'm not very clever or that I've thought about asking for advice too late. It's important to face fear though. Hopefully they don't mind talking to me, and give me some useful information that I can benefit from!