Monday, February 28, 2011

The Power of God: That's Better.

So I can't lie, I have been the absolute worst person when it comes to reading my scriptures, and for quite some time now. I haven't often wondered when I would be better at it, but recent bouts with depression have turned me back to a vital behavior I know I need in my life consistently.

I have been going through some really tough times lately, on and off, with a few things that have been weighing heavily on my mind lately, and tonight I reached a breaking point and finally decided that reintroducing that daily behavior surely couldn't hurt in life, but only stood to help me rise, if even only slightly, from the position I've been hovering at. Chance happenings led me to 1 Nephi 18, and being a faithful believer that the Lord guides me to passages at the exact time when I need them, I committed to reading the entire chapter before turning out the light for bed tonight.

If you're like me and couldn't name off the top of your head what 1 Nephi 18 is about, I'll briefly recap it for you: Nephi builds a ship with the guidance of the Lord and everyone boards it to set sail for the Promised Land. After being on the ship for a while his brothers, good ol' L&L, begin to get rowdy and tie him up. Nephi, being the valiant man that he was, however, doesn't complain a bit and waits for the softening of his brothers' hearts. Soon enough a storm sets in, though, and after four days of relentless tossing and flailing about on the ocean his brothers begin to fear and, here's my favorite part (v. 20) "... there was nothing save it were the power of God, which threatened them with destruction, could soften their hearts; wherefore, when they saw that they were about to be swallowed up in the depths of the sea they repented of the thing which they had done, insomuch that they loosed me."

Oftentimes the Saints of the Church, and justly so, equate themselves to Nephi or Sam. In my case, however, I haven't been acting like much of a Nephi or Sam, at least by my own standards, and it's a humbling experience to read a verse like verse 20 and realize just who you might be emulating the most. I've been wondering a lot lately why I might be going through such a negatively consuming state lately, even though I've been making a concerted effort to abandon and forsake my greatest vices, and finally realized one possible solution tonight: sometimes the Lord has to let you fall on the rocks in order to break you so He can build you back up in the way He knows is best. Threaten me with ailments, my heart won't soften. Threaten me with guilt, my heart won't soften. Threaten me with solitude and destruction, however, and perhaps it begins to melt.

Oh I know not everyone reading this will be LDS, but I do want anyone reading this to know that I am. Despite all my faults, intentional or not, I know God lives. And I know He wants us to simply know of His love for each of us individually and to experience that same love for our neighbors, even as if they were ourselves. I'm thankful that He loves me enough to let me fall to the bottom so I can realign myself with Him and even one day return there. I know it's true and I'm grateful for His gospel, and I say this all in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Sunset Cantina: That's Better.

Mexican food is something anyone who knows me knows I love from the bottom of my heart. Homemade tortillas, bubbling cheddar cheese, lime spritzed shrimp with a fork pressed fresh cilantro guacamole... oh my gosh, I'm getting hungry again. No, but really, I've enjoyed trying new restaurants all over Boston and found a gem tonight, right by the main campus! The Sunset Cantina is a busy, upbeat joint right across from the Agganis Arena, and you should definitely try it if you're in the city or ever coming in to visit! They have a HUGE menu with the widest variety of foods I've ever seen on a plastic-covered folding piece of paper. Highly recommend the lime shrimp quesadillas (see below). And, in advance, you're welcome! :)

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Cracking Ice: That's Better.

So, as you might know, Boston, as well as the rest of New England, has had one of the worst winters ever this year, if not the one that takes the cake entirely. It's been an endless struggle of snow and slush and it has continued to mount as temperatures rarely creep past 32 degrees. Cities have long run out of money budgeted for snow removal, and it is now getting to the point that people are just fed up with it. Today as I was walking to the T stop to head into the city, the sidewalk from my car to the stairway was plastered in a 4" thick coating of rocky ice making it a rugged terrain for even my young, agile self in boots, let alone the short little elderly man walking my way... and this is in Newton!! Where they're supposed to have money! What is going on, MA, let's take care of this already!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Lifelong Friends: That's Better.

So I went in to meet with one of my professors the other day, Professor George J. Annas. He is the world renowned expert on Human Rights and Health Law and has penned more books than would fit on my desk. He is also apparently a closet screenwriter, a fact I discovered while having this visit with George and seeing this picture displayed in his office. It's really cool because apparently these 4 cookheads have been together for over 40 years while they've built up the SPH Department of Health Law, Bioethics and Human Rights to what it is today. So cool!! I want lifelong colleagues and friends! How lucky were they?!

These professors, mind you, are all currently my teachers and, trust, they will not be hearing the last of this photo :)

Leonard Glantz J.D./MPH, Wendy K. Mariner, J.D./MPH, and Michael Grodin, M.D., MPH

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Warmth: That's Better.

"Human choices are remarkably susceptible to the manner in which options are presented."

(DeMartino, Kumaran, Seymour et al. Science 2006; 313:684-687.)


So, oh my gosh, I've done such a horrible job of staying on top of this, but, swear, I'm gonna make this blog a priority this year!! No matter how crazy school and work and everything else gets in life, it's no fun to just look back and see a few sparse entries for the whole year! Balance, folks, balance. You can't forget the good things in life, the things you enjoy. If you leave those behind, all you become is stressed, unpleasant and serious all the time. And, for real, who wants to be serious all the time?!

So I'm absolutely LOVING this semester so far, I'm in a ton of health law and policy classes, and, combined with my internship and my living with a pediatrician, it has become the PERFECT STORM for me of Health Policy and Law!! I love it!! Everything is so deeply intertwined and symbiotic that it's fascinating to learn about things from all different angles. One of the two non-health law classes I'm taking right now is Intro to Social and Behavioral Sciences in Health, and it has been fascinating to learn about everything so far! Topics we've covered include framing of PH issues, perspectives and paradigms, and failed PH interventions. All very interesting topics, as they're basically teaching us how to manipulate people to get them to be healthier. It's the perfect mix between psychology and public health, for anyone interested in the two topics.

Anyways, tonight's lecture will focus on understanding human behavior as predictably irrational, and for one of our readings we read an article called 'Experiencing physical warmth promotes interpersonal warmth' (Williams, Bargh. Science 2008; 322:606-607.) I know some people might think of it as common sense, especially if you've done any studies in child development or adolescent psychology, but I think we easily forget how influenced our decisions can be by the environment that surrounds them. That's probably one of the main principles I've taken out of class so far, environment has such a profound impact on people, that's it's kind of outrageous that we forget about it so easily! The next phase in my work then, after policy and statute analyzing is going to be using this oft forgotten tool of manipulation to actually solve the health problems our country is experiencing because, let's be real, legal regulation is NOT the most efficient nor the most effective way to encourage positive health behaviors or curtail negative addictions. It's not! So for this, and because it's freakin freezing outside (swear, I've never seen this much snow in my life at one time except for when I'm in the Rocky mountains...), warmth: that's better. :)

PS Here's the cool article the first quote came from if you're interested in how framing affects decision making.