Study Tips for Going Back to School as a 40-Something Adult

A friend of mine recently asked what apps I use for school and how I keep myself organized. ¬†As I typed up a massive text to her, I was realized this kind of info is better relayed via blog post where I can be my typical wordy self. ūüôā

A little bit of background on where I am coming from.  When I turned 40, I decided to move to Florida (with my long-suffering husband) and go to school for massage therapy.  But not just any massage therapy РI chose to attend a neurosomatic therapy training program that consists of an intense 18-month course where you learn about all the organs, muscles, and systems of the body and how to treat  all of them.

My BA in Accounting and MBA did not quite prepare me for this program.  Also, being out of school for years and years also did not adequately prepare me for this program.  Also, being 40-years-old and accustomed to nice things like organic food, eating out, and cars that do not break down every week meant that I wanted to continue working while going to school, which meant I would not have a ton of time to study.  So I was on the struggle bus when I first started!

Here is how I managed to make it through 3/5 of the program whilst working 26 hours/week: organization and apps!

  1. Pomodoro Blocks. ¬†I was introduced to this concept while listening to this book. ¬†The pomodoro technique involves working for 25 minutes (completely focused) and then taking a short 3-5 minute break. ¬†After completing 2 or 3 pomodoro blocks and breaks, you take a longer break of 30 minutes. ¬†This approach was invaluable to me. I would tell myself, “Heather, just 25 minutes. ¬†Just do 25 minutes of studying. ¬†Then you can look at Facebook or Instagram or eat some chocolate and almond butter. ¬†Just get in your 25 minutes.” ¬†And I did! ¬†Breaking up work into small chunks like this made it more manageable and helped reduce my severe procrastinative tendencies.
  2. An adjunct to the pomodoro block is my Brainwave binaural rhythms app.  This is an app that shoots frequencies into your ears (via headphones) to sync your brainwaves to a specific goal.  I would set the app to Memory Boost, set the timer to 25 minutes, and start studying.
  3. Essential Anatomy.  This app is so helpful for getting a 3 dimensional view of muscles and understanding the layers of muscles.
  4. Voice Record Pro. ¬†For my first 1.5 semesters I used Voice Memos to record the anatomy lectures. ¬†Then one of my fellow students told me about this program, and it CHANGED MY LIFE. ¬†Ok, maybe a little dramatic there. ¬†But this really is an awesome app for recording lectures. ¬†You can easily skip forward or back 10 seconds, you can speed up playback, you can set bookmarks. ¬†HUGELY useful!! ¬†We learn in school that you need to hear something 7 times to remember it. ¬†So hearing the info in class, writing up flashcards on the material, and then listening to the lectures again (while walking outside each morning), means I’m about 1/2 way there.
  5. Flashcards brings me to the next point: ¬†Quizlet. ¬†I personally prefer to use paper flashcards, because I learn better when I write and draw out things versus typing them. ¬†But for people who like electronic flashcards, I’ve heard great things about Quizlet.
  6. Bullet Journal. ¬†I have experimented with a few other planners – the Passion Planner, Panda Planner, etc. ¬†But I couldn’t find one that had the flexibility I wanted. ¬†So I created a Bullet Journal. ¬†This is my second iteration of it, and I really like how it works. ¬†I set up one page with the whole month listed on it, and then each day gets 1/2 a page. ¬†I separate each day into two vertical columns. The larger column on the left is where I put the list of things I want to get done. ¬†Completed items get a line through them, and items that need to be moved to the next day get a <. ¬†In the right-hand column, I put my major goals for the day (e.g. meditation, study, reminders to slow down, etc.). I also recently started a section where I track the “language of the world” as I understand it from The Alchemist. ¬†These are numbers, creatures, synchronicities I see in the world that make me feel as if I am on the right path. ¬†This structure gives me flexibility, ¬†and all the blank pages in the back give me lots of room to track the other random stuff I need t0: ¬†meanings of numbers, ideas for workshops, goals, reminders on how to build confidence, trainings I want to take, things I want to draw, etc. ¬†It’s a good brain dump location. ¬†Here are some pics:

I have about 2.5 months left of school, so hopefully these tools see me successfully through to the end.  Let me know if you have any helpful study tips! Do you use a Bullet Journal?  If so, what helpful hints do you have?  What study/memory tricks work well for you?

Thanks for reading, and chat with ya’ next week!!

 

Time warps

I am doing a 21 day meditation with Oprah and Deepak. ¬†I ran across the link on Facebook and figured I could use the encouragement and structure of a challenge. ¬†This challenge is all about reframing your relationship with time. ¬†I have an issue with time. ¬†As in, I don’t have enough of it. ¬†I spend a lot of it thinking and worrying and talking about how I don’t have enough of it it. Then I procrastinate by doing things I don’t REALLY love because I know that I don’t have enough time to do what I need to do, so why not put off even longer my engagement with this task for which I don’t have enough time??

Consequently, I end up facing a task (e.g. homework) by first making some coffee. ¬†Then I will check Facebook. Then I will remember that I need to text my brother. ¬†Then I will throw a load of laundry in. ¬†And maybe do the dishes. ¬†And then eat some chocolate. ¬†And then. ¬†Maybe then. ¬†I will sit down and study. ¬†And LO! ¬†It’s not so bad. ¬†It’s actually interesting. ¬†I am actually learning.

So, obviously, I really need Oprah and Deepak to help me with this unhealthy relationship with time. ¬†Each morning they email me a link to a meditation. ¬†Each day you are given a centering thought along with a ¬†Sanksrit mantra that you repeat for the duration of the meditation. ¬†Today’s centering thought is; The only real time is here and now. The mantra is: Om Hreem – Pure transparent awareness is my essential nature.

Doing these meditations has increased my awareness of my skewed view of time. ¬†I more easily observe the aforementioned pattern and break out of it occasionally. For example, on Thursday night, I finally got out my 2″ stack of handwritten flashcards and started reviewing them and separating them into Things I know, Things I Don’t Know, and Things I Kinda Know. ¬†Ninety minutes flew by! ¬†I had assimilated some new information. Yet, the evening was still rather young! ¬†I had time for a walk. ¬†Time for a chat with Tim. ¬†I felt as if I had entered some sort of time warp. ¬†Somehow much more time had appeared in an evening!!

That was Thursday. ¬†I haven’t experienced that bliss again since then, but at least I know it’s possible now. ūüôā ¬†I think the real key is just to FOCUS. ¬†Let everything go except that ONE thing you are doing right now. ¬†That one moment expands into a deep ocean where time does not exist, or at least it’s slowed waaaaay down. ¬†You can swim around in the flow and then come back up for air, at which point the clock ticks to the next minute. ¬†It’s happened once, so I know it’s possible!

That’s been my focus for the week. ¬†I will continue to work on my Focusing skills, because in November I have 4 tests and 1 quiz, so I need some depth and breadth of nonlinear time! I keep telling myself that I am part of Oneness, and in Oneness are oodles of brilliant juicy brains who already know all the stuff I am learning. ¬†If I can chill the #$@ out, and invite in spaciousness and tenderness and connection, I will do just fine. ¬†Part of me believes that, at least. ūüôā

Speaking of time warps, last weekend I went home for the first time in 6 weeks. ¬†I literally had to look at my calendar before I typed that because it seems as if it was ages ago already!! ¬†Could it have just been LAST WEEKEND? ¬†While it was awesome to see my friends and family again, it was odd to be home. ¬†Home is not really home now. It’s a pretty empty house where I felt like a guest – pulling PJs out of a backpack instead of a dresser, pulling my face lotion out of my travel pack instead of the medicine cabinet. ¬†I really wonder where HOME will be for us. Once Tim moves down here, will this apartment feel like HOME? ¬†Or will we just feel like temporary residents until we decide where to go after school?

I am traveling home week after next for Thanksgiving and then the weekend after that for a conversion project at work. ¬†I’m going to get really good at studying on airplanes. ¬†On my flight home last weekend, I brought my Trail Guide flashcards to review. ¬†The guy next to me observed that I was studying and then proceeded to talk to me for the 2 hour flight about his biology degree, his job, his family, etc. ¬†I murmured polite responses and then would return to studying. ¬†He continued to look over my shoulder and comment on how he still remembered a lot of the bones/muscles, etc. ¬†So I finally just surrendered to the flow and talked to him for the rest of the plane ride. ¬†I think ear buds are required next trip. ūüôā

Hope you have a fabulous time-rich Sunday!

Week 3 – On Contemplating Change Vs. Implementing Change

Today was the first week of normal classes at CNS. ¬†Monday we had Basic Massage. Tuesday was Advanced Technique. Wednesday was Business. Thursday was more Advanced Technique. ¬†Friday was Anatomy and Pyshiology. I’m concerned about my success in A&P because I cannot yet spell physiology correctly. ¬†Wait! I think I just figured it out!!

It’s been a super interesting week. ¬†I really love the Tech and A&P class. They are taught by the founders of the school and their passion really shines through in their teaching. You KNOW that they believe that this form of therapy changes lives. Not only does it change the life of the patient, but it has a domino effect and changes the lives of the people the patients interact with. ¬†This is a Difference Maker. ¬†It is so fulfilling to be surrounded by that kind of conviction and knowledge.

During the Tech class, we learn the  neurosomatic techniques. This week we learned how to address the muscles in the front of the neck Рinfrahyoids, suprahyoids, the deep anterior cervical muscles (the muscles that connect to the vertebrae), the scalenes (the muscles that move your neck from side to side) and the sternocleidomastoid Рthe muscle that flexes, tilts, and rotates the neck.

These are super impactful (is that a word??) muscles to treat. ¬†Treating these can help immensely with ear, jaw, throat, and shoulder pain, thoracic outlet syndrome, and migraines. ¬†However, they are a….sensitive area to treat. ¬†There are lots of trigger points in these muscles, and one of the treatments involves moving the trachea out of the way. ¬†So… ¬†It’s really important work with lots of benefits, but it’s also work that requires a lot of trust and practice. ¬†People just aren’t used to therapists fiddling around with the front of their necks!

My first A&P class was Friday. ¬†The teacher is…just amazing. You can tell he really loves the material and believes 100% in it its importance. ¬†He is lively, animated, funny, and super knowledgeable- which is a must, if you are sitting through 4 hours of anatomy lecture. ¬†It was totally overwhelming. ¬†Completely. He also told us that over 1/2 of the first term students fail their first anatomy test. I have never failed a test. ¬†I don’t know how I would deal with that!! I hope I don’t have to find out.

I took copious notes and also recorded the session.  Today I used the pomodoro technique to tackle studying.  With this technique, you focus 100% for 25 minutes and then take a 3-5 minute break (which I used to roll out my upper back, shoulders and pecs with the Yoga Tune Up balls).  I found that knowing that I only had to work for 25 minutes relieved some of the anxiety I was feeling about tackling this huge subject!  At first I really struggled with how to approach studying.  But once I started looking at my notes, looking at the pictures in my Thieme book, and tying the two together (and reminding myself to BE PATIENT), I felt so much better.  The terminology started to make sense.  The names of things in the body actually do have some logic to them, and that started to present itself as I worked.

I did about 4 pomodoro sessions and then took a long break. ¬†I, uh, watched Miss Congeniality. ¬†It’s a really excellent movie, actually.

But now I’m going to go back and do some more homework – I have some reading to tackle. I like to read before I go to bed because I feel as if the information just kind of floats around in the ol’ brain pan and settles in better that way.

Tomorrow I am meeting a couple of classmates to practice my neck-spearing technique (aka treating the superficial anterior cervical muscles). ¬†Then I’ll do some more studying, meal prep for the week (steel cut oats, quinoa, and BBQ pork in the Instant Pot). Hopefully I will figure out a way to have some FUN tomorrow. ¬†Figuring out fun stuff is actually quite challenging!!

Oh! I guess I should circle back to the whole theme of this post Рchange!!  I was talking to a dear friend of mine who has been with me step-by-step as I contemplated coming to this school.  She is intimately familiar with all the doubt, fear, and indecision I was experiencing.  My therapist said I was in Decision Purgatory, and that is the perfect description.

Well, Angela and I were talking about my current state, and I told her that living in Florida and going to school just feels, well, normal now! ¬†She reminded me of how petrified I was of making this change. It made me realize that CONTEMPLATION of change is the really scary thing. ¬†Actually EXPERIENCING ¬†the change is NBD (no big deal). ¬†You just deal with it, like you deal with everything. ¬†The Ego is a funny thing. I’ve been pretty entertained lately by watching its machinations. ¬†Between lots of reading of Kiran Trace and listening to Matthew Kahn’s podcast, I’ve realized that it’s all about awareness without judgement. I can FEEL whatever I want to feel, and that is 100% OK. ¬†I just need to observe how I feel and let that be OK. ¬†I’m doing a lot of “Huh. ¬†That’s interesting.”

Hope you are having a fabulous Saturday.

Take care,

Hlo