End of the Year Reflection โ€“ Moving Into 2023 with Intention + Two-Year Anniversary of Renrenspeaks!

Hello, friends! Happy Friday, and most importantly, happy end of the year! We are two days away from the new year, and as most of you are doing, I am reflecting on this very busy year called 2022. I am currently feeling so much peace and happiness, as I have been blessed to have made it through another year safely and in good health. I made my first Instagram Reel that I posted to reflect on this year, and it was so much fun! I am def going to have to incorporate Reels more into 2023 ๐Ÿ˜‰ Also, fun fact! It has been TWO YEARS since I started my blog too. Happy two years, Renrenspeakers! I learned so much about myself through this blog, and I am so thankful that you all have been reading my content and supporting me along the way. What are yallโ€™s goals and resolutions for the new year? What has been your favorite blog post on Renrenspeaks since 2020? I would love to hear them (comment down below or email your answers to me)!

This year has been one filled with so many fun memories, sad moments, heartache, times of pure stress and anxiety, and lots of love. For starters, I am now officially halfway done with grad school, friends! She did THAT! Your fav OT doctorate student is 50% done with grad school and I could not be any more proud of myself because I am telling yall, grad school is not for the weak. Iโ€™ll be honest. This past semester has not been an easy one for me. It was a lot for me mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. I felt at so many points during this semester that I was not creative enough, not competent enough, or not confident enough to understand the material I was learning in my lab courses. I found myself still comparing my progress and my processing to other people, whether it was in their capstone research process or in their clinical reasoning skills. However, this semester has also taught me a lot about myself. I am confident, I can do hard things, and I have pretty solid people skills. It has been really neat to see myself slowly blossom into a practitioner in training and I am thankful for the support system that I have had on my side thus far to get to where I am currently.

A highlight of the semester was that I received my white coat since I am pursuing a doctoral degree. I think I fooled the masses โ€“ I did not graduate friends, so I want to clarify that, though it did feel like graduation. The white coat symbolizes the next step in my graduate career of contributing to occupational therapy academia and scholarship. I was honored to be the student speaker, and I think I gave a pretty humorous speech that was personable and relevant to my cohort. I also got to see my tribe come and support me too.

I was also able to do some traveling this year! I know, I did not go abroad as you may have anticipated. Instead, I went to Dallas, Texas in September for the very first time ever. When I tell you it was the break that I needed, I am not lying. My love for traveling has been halted with grad school for obvious reasons. I visited my best friend, explored the area, and caught up with old friends and family members. It was a trip that was well-deserved and allowed me to unwind from all the stressors in my life at that time. Shoutout to Harena for being the best tour guide ever and for making me feel welcome in Dallas! ๐Ÿ˜‰

Another monumental moment for me this year is that I moved to a different home literally right after my week getaway to Dallas. I was impressed by how fast I was able to pack up and move all my things within two days (a very stressful two days, might I add). But shoutout to my wonderful friends who helped me move and to my awesome roommates who have made me feel so welcome in this new home. I am so grateful for people like them who have been alongside me cheering me on and supporting me through a stressful time such as moving. Moving to a different home felt like closing a chapter of my life, which I did. My old apartment was symbolic of me stepping into my mid-20s and living independently in a different state for the first time ever. I laughed, cried, yelled, prayed, and sang in that apartment. It connected me to many different types of people and helped me to prioritize my physical and mental health. It was the first time I was really on my #growngirlmoves apart from living abroad for a bit.

I know I asked yall about your new year’s resolutions, so I will share some of mine! My biggest goal is to be more intentional. I feel that God has put this word into my heart, intention. I want to be more intentional about who I surround myself with, the relationships that I build, the places that I explore, the career I pursue, the money that I spend and who/where I give it to, the food that I intake, the networks that I develop, the way I treat my body inside and out, and the way that I navigate spaces. It is easy to do things just to do them without purpose such as getting assignments done just for the sake of completing them rather than learning through them. I will say, there are so many times in school that I will continue doing things just to get them done because of a lack of time and that is the reality of life sometimes. However, I want to really try my best to take every moment as a learning opportunity, whether it be a positive or a negative experience. I am gonna start off the year with my 26th birthday, which is always a time for new beginnings and a new outlook on the year for me. I am excited to see how I bring intentionality to all parts of my everyday life and how it shapes me into a better person. I also want to be more consistent with blogging, friends! I miss talking to yall on this platform. School often gets in the way of me feeling like I have time for myself, but so many changes are happening that I would love to keep yall posted on. I cannot commit to a certain number of posts, but I am gonna try to keep yall in the loop as much as I can, especially now that I will be starting my internships next year.

All in all, I feel very accomplished this year, though it has been one that has been very challenging mentally for me. I am feeling wholesome, renewed, and restored, as I have spent the last few weeks in San Diego reconnecting with old friends, spending time with family, and revisiting some of my favorite spots around town. I wish everyone the best new year. I hope that you all can claim 2023 as a year of intention as well.

Peace and love and a very happy new year,


Three Weeks of OT School DOWN!

Hello, friends! Can you believe it? I made it through THREE WEEKS of my occupational therapy program! I feel like I literally just started my program, but at the same time, I also feel like I have been in school for months based on the content that I’ve been absorbing these three weeks. Honestly, I am definitely feeling the pace of graduate school. Most of my days are spent studying, digesting, and absorbing new knowledge and content learned. I would say out of my curriculum thus far, anatomy is definitely the most rigorous course I am taking. I don’t think that learning anatomy is an easy task to the everyday person, but I honestly have such a supportive classroom setup, environment, and professors that have made learning anatomy a bit less daunting. I had my first anatomy exam earlier this week which I actually did well on so thank God because I literally studied my butt off! I hope I can keep this same momentum throughout the semester, lol!

I can honestly say that I have seen a stark difference in undergrad compared to grad school. I’ve always considered myself a studier and thought that I had pretty good study habits set in undergrad. However, cramming for an exam and then forgetting about the material was more or less something that I made an unhealthy habit of. In GRAD SCHOOL though, SO much studying is required of you every day. Cramming? I don’t know her (at least I do not want to know her). The expectations are much more different. It is expected that you are responsible for interacting with the material that is presented to you so that you can critically think and apply it beyond the classroom. Because there is a lot of content to consistently interact with, I can admit that it has been pretty easy for me to forget to take care of myself and engage in constant small acts of self-care, whether this is sleeping on time, eating my dinner at a reasonable hour, or taking a break and getting some movement in. It is something that I am actively working on, I promise!

I am thankful that I have found resources and a friend group to help guide me and embark on this journey with me. Unlike in many of my undergrad classes, my grad school cohort actually looks out for each other and all want to see each other succeed! I appreciate and admire the cohesive, united, and collaborative environment that is continuously cultivated. Competing for the best grades is literally irrelevant because we are all in the same place getting the same degree, and genuine learning is MUCH more important than a letter grade! This is something that I have been actively unlearning, and it is truly liberating to reframe measures of academic success that society has shaped.

One thing that I think is SO important to my overall well-being and occupational balance is getting that social input outside of school! I realized that after all the studying I have been doing for a few weeks, I missed being social! I really have not explored the area that I am at, so I made it a point today to go out with friends and treat myself to lunch. Social input is very refreshing and rejuvenating, and sometimes it is hard to realize that when you are constantly on the grind.

Overall, grad school has been a time of critical reflection, self-awareness, unlearning, and relearning. I am glad that I am on this journey though and I am anticipating seeing where I am headed!

Peace and love,


I Made It to the Grand Canyon State!

Hello, friends! I am reporting to you LIVE from Arizona, ah! I am settling into my first week being here in Arizona, and let me tell you, I have definitely seen a shift in the weather coming from sunny San Diego. I moved here on Saturday with my family after a five and a half-hour drive that mostly comprised of the I-8 East. It was my longest drive that I had ever done by myself, but it was actually a very easy drive (let’s disregard the fact that I got 5 hours of sleep the night before and did not drink my usual 20 oz of chia seed water the morning of). I literally saw the temperature climb from high 60s to low 100s as I continued my journey east. I tried to not use my air conditioner to see how I could handle the heat since Arizona is notoriously known for being HOT, but this Cali girl couldn’t do it as she passed through Yuma (it was already 104 degrees there!). I already caught myself saying ‘Oh, it is only 100 degrees today, not that bad!’ whereas in California, I’d start whining if it hit 90 degrees, lol.

Besides the heat, which actually has been more manageable than I thought since 100-105 degrees is not an anomaly when living in Escondido in the summer, Arizona has been treating me well! Where I am located has very familiar stores such as Trader Joes, Ross, and Aldi, so I am truly good to go! Some things that I have noticed while being in Arizona for four days now include the following:

  1. Arizona is well-equipped to handle the heat. I really do forget that it is actually 111 degrees outside (which it has been the past few days) since I am mostly indoors with nice AC systems.
  2. Folks drive a bit recklessly here, either going too fast or too slow. Maybe it is because I am trying to be a cautious driver since I am not used to the traffic laws here or I am a bit more hyperaware of the road. But I definitely got cut off on the freeway more frequently than I typically do in San Diego.
  3. It is quite dusty here and little rocks can hit and cause a crack in your windshield easily.
  4. Black folks seem to be scattered everywhere, but there is no concentration of Black neighborhoods that I have heard of nor seen yet.
  5. There are ‘cooling stations’ commonly located around the town where sprays of mist are continuously spraying to help keep people cool. I saw this at the gas station and at a few restaurants that I passed by!
  6. Mosquitos around this area are very small but still make my arm swell terribly! I got bit by chilling at the poolside this past weekend and did not even notice it until I started itching vigorously.
  7. GAS IS CHEAPER HERE THAN IN CA. Before I came to Arizona, the cheapest gas station I could find was $3.89, and I was saying that was a good price compared to the +$4.00 I had been seeing everywhere else. In the area that I’m at, I have been finding a good range of $2.83-$3.20 ($3.20 being the most expensive I have witnessed). Even $3.20 is too expensive for me now, lol.

So far, my transition has been pretty smooth. The first day was a bit rough for me because I was physically and mentally tired/overwhelmed (I think a lot of it had to do with a lack of proper hydration), so I did not feel like I could fully absorb the novelty of being in a different state. After the first day, I have had positive experiences with the people that I have briefly met, ranging from neighbors to current OT students at my school. I finally have my own room too, which I am still trying to customize and personalize. I went to Ross the other day and got some cute (and cheap) room decor such as a comfy rug, a lamp, and artwork for my empty walls. After I set up the lighting and aesthetic of my room, I think I will finally feel settled in officially! I will have to change my license plate to an Arizona one, so I am gonna blend in really soon into an ‘Arizonian’ (sorry, Cali folks! My heart will always be in Cali, but my car is definitely in Arizona, haha).

I’ve already entered the grad school grind by doing some assigned readings. I am trying to establish a good morning routine that will set a positive tone for my day. Does anyone have a great morning routine that they’d like to share? If so, shoot me a message! I am trying to get into the habit of waking up at 5:30 am (maybe 6:00 pm, realistically) to start off my day so that my mind is equipped to take on the busy day ahead of me.

This is my quick check-in! Stay tuned to my grad school adventures coming up very shortly! (I start on Monday, can you believe it? Because I am still processing that).

Peace and love,