White Coat Ceremony

Saturday, September 19th, 2020 was Adams official Mercer University School of Medicine White Coat Ceremony! We woke up early and drove to Macon from Savannah, Georgia. Adam and I got to meet his parents and brother at the Hawkins Arena before the ceremony.

We honestly thought that COVID was going to cancel this big event that we have been dreaming about for the past three years. Thankfully the university waited just a few weeks and put together a super safe and thoughtful event. Instead of being able to have unlimited guest, the university gave each student four tickets. Mask were required and everyone did a great job of wearing mask the whole time until we got to our seats. The medical students wore their mask the whole time and seemed as if it is their normal…which it is! To have the most safety and to keep social distance, the arena had every two seats zip tied up and a note saying ‘Do Not Use’. When it was time to dismiss, all of the medical students left first then the guest were let out one section at a time!

Once the ceremony got started it was absolutely beautiful. The speakers explained the history of the white coat ceremony and Mercer University Medical School that was pretty fascinating! The first white coat ceremony EVER was in 1993. Mercers mission is to educate physicians to serve in rural Georgia. The school has had over 2,000 MD’s graduate from the program. Mercer is proud to have most of their students that come from deep Georgia roots! The class of 2024 has 63 students at the Macon campus and 62 at the Savannah campus. The President of Mercer University has big plans to grow the medical school program and provide great health care in rural Georgia.

Adam is so happy to be apart of this program and we had a great day celebrating him and his classmates! After the short, 60 minute ceremony, we loaded up and headed to The Rookery in downtown Macon for lunch. We had wonderful food and fellowship! We loved spending time with Adams family and getting to celebrate all of his hard work that has lead to this season. The school could have decided to not have a gathering but we are so happy that they took the risk and let us enjoy a beautiful day!

Choose to Win

Earlier this year I was introduced to the phrase ‘#ChooseToWin’. I am all about motivation and unity but to be honest at first I didn’t get it. Choose to win? If that was everyone’s mindset…everyone would be winners. I grew up in the time where there was only one winner. In sports and in life you have to be the best to win. I just couldn’t wrap my mind around the idea that you could just make a choice to win.

I looked at #ChooseToWin as if you choose to wear a dress vs pants to work. Or you choose to go to bed a 9pm or waiting until 10:30pm. Or as if you simply choose to cook dinner at home or choose to grab Zaxbys to avoid making dishes. I make so many choices every day, just like you, and I know we would all #ChooseToWin if we wanted to.

That is what I didn’t understand for almost a whole year. It hit me like a ton of bricks and I final got it. It is not just a choice of win or lose. It is not a yes or no, a here or there. #ChooseToWin is having the mindset that you are not going to lose. Then having that mindset locked and loaded in your head, heart and soul that EVERY choice you are given throughout the day is focused on #ChooseToWin.

#ChooseToWin looks like choosing to get out of bed when you want to stay comfortable. #ChooseToWin looks like making a really good game plan and sticking to it. #ChooseToWin is picking the right attitude every day even when you don’t want to be happy. #ChooseToWin means being laser focused on each and every goal without letting distractions slip in.

Where I started the year without the understanding that everyone really can win, I am now a full believer that if we choose the next right choice and then the next we really all can win! In life and in the insurance world, there is more than enough space for everyone to win. We have the choice if we are going to choose to take the steps needed to win.

Like my dad always says, “In life there is only one thing you can control, and that is your attitude.” Once I let #ChooseToWin get more than surface level I fully understood the base meaning of #ChooseToWin is choosing a winning attitude. From there everything else is just choosing the next choice that aligns with what it looks like for you to win!

I don’t know about you, but I have chosen to do things this year that do not align with me winning. That’s in the past and there is nothing I can do to change it besides using it to motivate me to taking intentional steps daily to #ChooseToWin.

In this stage of life Adam and I have no option but to #ChooseToWin. We want to thrive in this season of me working and Adam knees deep in medical school. This looks like limiting tv because tv does not lead to us winning. It looks like going to bed by 10 and getting up at 5 to give us the time and sleep we need to choose to make the most of each day to be one step closer to our goals. It looks like us eating at home more to fuel our bodies with health and to stick to a budget.

#ChoosingToWin for us may look so different than what it looks like for you to #ChooseToWin. No matter what, let’s be proud of the choices we make and embrace the race we are all on! I have a strong feeling that there is more than enough room in the winner’s circle for all of us to win! We can all #ChooseToWin!

Much love, Colleen Howard

Fighting Lonely

There have been a handful of moments in my life where I truly felt lonely. That deep, depressed, alone feeling that shakes your soul. Yeah, if you know what I mean, you know it is not fun! A year ago when Adam selected that he wanted to study at the Savannah campus for medical school, my first prayer was for God to prepare community for us.

I was recently reading Jen Hatmakers new book called ‘Fierce, Free, Fire’ and she had a line that says, “Two scenarios where loneliness seems to spike are: 1) in transition, and 2) in young motherhood, and sometimes these overlap.” Now slow your thinking. We are going to focus on the first point she mentions- transitions. Not the motherhood part! One of the times I really felt loneliness was when I transitioned from college to career. After talking to A LOT of other college graduates, I discovered that this is a huge time of loneliness for many young adults. I was in the same town, but with a new last name and all of my college friends where in new towns. Even though I had thrived in college I was in a whole new season and didn’t have a community of my own. I let loneliness and depression overcome me until I did something to change it. We got plugged into to a church and I started a book club. Those two things helped me beat the loneliness and thrive during that season of life.

Through that experience I found out how crazy important community is. So knowing that I was about to make a huge life transition, I was so deeply craving for community to be easily made. This is what I thought it would look like: 1. find a church 2. join a small group 3. invite new neighbors over for dinner 4. have a community and thrive…. But little did I prepare for or think about finding a community during the middle of a pandemic. Meeting friends as young adults is one thing. Meeting friends when everyone is hyper concerned about germs is another thing.

Once we settled down and was ready to intentional find community we had to get creative! Where Adam knew he would organically meet friends during class I did not have that option. I live and work in different towns so that gave me the little extra challenge to be very intentional. While I continued to pray for God to open the right doors at the right time I also had to put on my big girl pants and send the first message. Where it has been so hard to meet new friends I have enjoyed reaching out with old friends who happen to be in the same town as me!

God has provided every single week! Where I start off a week with no intentions of growing community, God has opened a door to provide it. Every. Single. Week! Fighting the feeling of lonely to grow a community where we are planted has looked so different than I planned but I am so thankful for it! The first week I was in Savannah I reached out to a highschool friend that we used to play each other in volleyball. She invited me to brunch with her and her friends! I enjoyed spending time with other strong independent females who where thriving in their careers. I also got to hang out with one of my best college friends and met her long time best friend who happens to live very close to Savannah! Now she has become a part of community just by meeting a close friend of a close friend. I got to reconnect with a friend from 4-H who has known me since high school and she has done a great job reaching out to invite me to things with her friends.

While trying to build community in the new town, I took a weekend break to go on a girls trip with Valdosta friends to a baby shower in Florida! It was great break of finding community and I was able to enjoy people who know me really well. Once I got back to Savannah from girls trip, I was able to meet with two different strong females I looked up to in college and discuss our lives, marriages, dreams and goals!

I prayed so hard for new community and God has answered in the middle of a pandemic by simply allowing me to reconnect with wonderful people I already know! It is not the way I expected to find community but I am so thankful that I have been able to fight the lonely feeling of being in a new town with all of these beautiful souls. I even have some friends in Savannah that I have not been able to connect with due to different schedules but they still reach out and invite me to stuff!

Over Labor Day weekend Adam went to dinner and drinks with two guys who are second years! While he was there I reached out to one of the significant others of one of the guys to see if she was in town over the weekend. She was and invited us to go to the beach with them for a double date. We agreed and had a wonderful time getting to know them! When we parted ways after the beach day, my soul was filled with so much joy and happiness at how God has provided community.

I didn’t think building community would look like this. I have learned so much about myself, my relationship with Adam and God through these past three months of living in Savannah. I have been constantly praying for community for a whole year now because I so desperately did not want to be overtaken by the feeling of loneliness. God has taught me that He will continue to open relationships through me spending a simple message.

This is not the end of building a community, but just the start. God hears our prayers, He cares about community, and I believe He gives us the understanding of loneliness to draw us closer to Him.

Much love, from your favorite thriving millennial couple!

p.s. I have to mention, that while I was finishing up this blog, a friend that I have been able to reconnect with took the time to text me and ask to join her and her friends for dinner! God is so good!

p.s.s. Another old friend just called to ask if we could hang out and him and his roommates! God really is so good!

Oddly Familiar

I have a little book on my bedside table called “The Daily Questions – My 5- year Spiritual Journal”. Each day I open it and there is a question for me to answer. Every page has five lines where I write the year and then answer the question for five consecutive years. On August 27th the questions was, “What prayer do you most want answered?” This is when I saw that in 2019 the answer to that question was simply, ‘for Adam to get into medical school’! Fast forward to 365 days later and Adam is in medical school and preparing for his first test.

Even though I am so thankful for all the prayers God has answered to get us to this point, now my prayers look a little different! Instead of my prayers focused around Adam getting into school, they are all about him thriving in school. Specifically, the past two weeks were the first two weeks of learning material for him. Basically, everything changed, but the good change that we have been excited for. Adam was studying all the time, where I only got to see him at meal time. While he studies, I work, cook meals and clean!

Reflecting back at the past two weeks, the two weeks that will reflect every week for our next four years, it all feels oddly familiar. Where I was so worried it would be a large adjustment for us, it has been smooth! These past two weeks have taken us back to our college years where we were both diving in the deep in pursuing what was in front of us. In college we only got to see each other around dinner and the weekends. Throughout the week we just checked in with each other and waited until we had scheduled time to be together. This was how we build the foundation of our relationship and it worked for us.

We are so thankful to be able to go through this new season and adjusting into a rhythm that feels familiar. I get to work as hard as I want to in my career just as fiercely and determined as I was in student government, my classes, group fitness, and building a school spirit organization in college! I get to support Adam as he studies and keep myself busy working hard to stay out of his way.

I know that we have a lot more obstacles and barriers to get through during this medical school journey but the first two weeks have been great! Adam did a great job on his first test and has a great little study group to help take notes and study! We know we could have a mind set of ‘just getting by’ in this season but we believe that God brought us together because we are better at serving Him as a couple than individual, and we will strive to thrive in this season we are blessed with.

We are living answered prayers! Thank you to everyone who has prayed for us and continues to cover us in prayers.

Much love, your favorite millennial couple!

P.S. Enjoy some pictures of Adam and I thriving together in college.

Hello Medical School

August 10th was the very first day of orientation for Adam at Mercer University School of Medicine! We had been preparing and praying for this moment for what felt like forever. Then the moment finally came and went. We have been in Savannah since the end of May making sure I was set up for my job and our home was in order and ready for extreme focus. Check out Adams ‘Welcome to my crib…med school edition’ of his college x 2 pad.

Check out Adams study setup! Yes he insist that he needs this many monitors.
Study #2 location! Adam loves the chaise.
Here is where he tries to get at least 7 hours of sleep every night! (note from Adam- “I was forced to take these pictures…”)

The weekend before orientation week, Adam and I enjoyed a Saturday at Tybee Island and then Sunday we went to a pool party to meet some other first year students and upperclassmen at an apartment pool. It was great being able to meet new people that will hopefully soon to be familiar faces!

On the first day of orientation Adam had all of the feelings! He was prepared and eager to meet friends. Of course he showed up early ready to rock and roll! I wish this is where I had a funny story to tell you he ripped his pants and everyone laughed at him…but sadly that didn’t happen. He did survive first day which happened to be picture day and meeting some fellow classmates.

After the first day of school we got to meet some more of his classmates at a bowling night that the second year students put on! It was our first time bowling post-COVID so we were a little rusty but we still had a blast. I enjoyed being able to meet some of his classmates and even a few spouses. Wednesday of orientation week we got to go to a Savannah Bananas game and meet even more people! We were so hype to watch some good baseball but unfortunately it got super rained out. On the bright side, we got to meet more people and have a great time. But Thursday night we were both so tired, me from working and Adam from all the new experiences, that we stayed home and watched The Office!

After Adam survived the last day of orientation week it was time to hit the books and start studying for the real deal. I thought it would be better to leave him to his book so I took myself away as a distraction and headed to Florida for a girls trip. After leaving Adam to 300 pages of reading he was able to get really prepared for the first week of academic learning.

This is where things really felt real! Orientation week was cute and all, but I knew school was here when Adam asked me to wake him up at 5:05 AM when I woke up! I thought he was kidding…but nope. He was up, showered and out the door at 5:30 AM to head to the school to study and get a jump start on his week.

Here is a rare photo of Adam leaving before me!

Poor guy looked so tired already but he was eager to learn all of the information because a test was quickly coming up on Friday. Adam had a mid-week pick-me-up thanks to his first official anatomy lab on Wednesday. He got to learn anatomy on a real human cadaver. He lit up when he was telling me about it and just kept saying that he was so thankful that he didn’t pass out or get sick from it!

Friday quickly came and Adam was ready for his first test…yep. A test every week. He seemed confident going in and was happy with how much he prepared. I eagerly awaited his text and was so relieved that he was happy of his results!

The first week of medical school definitely altered what our day to day marriage routine looks like. Where I was leaving for work around 7am and Adam was still asleep, now we are both waking up at the same time and getting to say good morning to each other. Where Adam use to be home all day to take care of Evie, now we have to communicate to make sure she is taken care of. Where Adam was doing most of the laundry, our laundry piled up and was over filling so we adjusted to start a new laundry routine. Where we use to have different things planned throughout the week, now I can have plans but Adam’s will always be to study. It is very different but in many ways I think we will thrive through this season.

When Adam and I meet in college we were both very busy and really only got to spend time together during dinners and weekends and it oddly feels very familiar to those original days. We have rocked this adjustment because we have had so much love and support from friends and family. Thank you to all who have prayed over us in this transition season.

Five days down, hundreds to go as we all support Adam on his path to MD!

Love, your favorite millennial couple!