Published on Sunday, 18 March 2012 17:19
I started my natural hair journey April of 2010. So I am quickly coming upon my 2 year natural hair anniversary. As I sport my natural coils, I’ve noticed that many other women are doing the same. Maybe I notice curls and coils more because I have joined the ranks, but I like to think that there are *actually * more women foregoing the harsh chemicals in lieu of natural hair.
Initially I was motivated. I devoured natural hair blogs, YouTube channels and online magazines (because that’s where the bulk of the information was located). As is typical of human behavior, I immediately noticed that "coily" women found other *new* ways to “distinguish” themselves (a la Dr. Suess’ Sneetches with their star-bellies vs. not). This was unexpected, yet not surprising.
Welcome to the Sorority.
Before going on with this natural hair story, I think it’s fair to clarify my position to enhance communication and add context to my experience and subsequent action.
I try my best (most of the time) to live a “healthy” life and diminish the toxic exposure in the lives of my family. I only eat organic meat - unless I’m celebrating a life event at my favorite steak house…or on pizza...or when I travel and have no other reasonable alternative….
…well I try to eat organic meat most of the time.
I do not do cow milk. I limit wheat gluten. I avoid HFCS. No trans-fat. I cook with butter. You get the idea.
I also use more (less toxic) deodorant and less Secret antiperspirant. So I sweat more. And sometimes, the deodorant doesn’t work as well as I’d like. And I stink. But “stink” is subjective, right?
Anyway, going natural was motivated by my desire to avoid putting relaxer on my scalp. To cut back on my exposure to toxins. Honestly, I loved the results of my relaxer. And my hair did well. I didn’t have an adverse outcome that motivated me to give up the “creamy crack.” I am not making a statement. I did not decide to go natural to express more ‘self-love.’ I love myself just fine.
I love myself when I wear jeans. I love myself in cut-off shorts. I love myself when my skin is darker chocolate in the summer. I love myself when I ‘turn’ caramel in the winter. I love myself in flip-flops, in the color blue, in boots and in the color lavender.
And I love myself with straight hair with a bow, and coily hair with a flower.
My outward appearance doesn’t MAKE me love myself more or less. But rather, my love for myself is *internal* and expressed in everything I do, wear, choose and say (or at least, most of the time it is). I do not see wearing coily hair any more self-loving than taking the time to straighten it.
My main motivation for discontinuing relaxers was for health. And not in a health-nazi kind of way. But rather in a “avoiding relaxer would dramatically reduce my exposure to bad chemicals so let’s give it a try” kind of way.
I’ve enjoyed my natural hair. As a girly girl, I’ve enjoyed the entire process of focusing on my hair, learning styling techniques, and trying new things. I love the big flowers I bought to accessorize it. I love the way my scalp feels.
But there are things that aren’t so nice about it. Things that I *would* change if I could.
See, it’s against the “Sorority Pledge” to admit any frustration with natural coily hair. It’s like that by admitting that it IS indeed more difficult to ‘take care of’ natural hair is some type of an expression in self-hate.
But naturally coily hair IS more difficult than straight hair in so many ways.
When I wash my natural hair, it takes 15 minutes to comb out the kinks. Then, finding a style that works depends on the day, weather, where I’m going and what I did yesterday. Until just recently, I couldn’t even (really) pull it back into a pony-tail (which was my typical ‘go-to’ style). And if I wait too long after washing to attempt a pull-back, I can forget it. Back into the shower I go for a second try.
After my hair was styled, “messing it up” was super easy to do. If I rested my hair on the car seat head rest…my hair would be lop-sided. If I took a nap, or the humidity increased…my hair did a new thing.
This is not always desirable.
When I had my relaxer, I could do my hair in 10 minutes…and it would look good…no matter the weather or other aforementioned circumstances. I could shower at night, wrap my hair up, and in the morning, let my hair down…and go. And in doing so, I could predict with accuracy how my hair was going to look, and said style would last an expected and consistent amount of time. It was easy.
I’ve never had a yearning to get another relaxer. I just hoped that, as my hair grew, I could get that pony-tail action again.
Then, I started pressing/flat-ironing my hair. Initially for length checks, trims, and a couple of “special occasions” with work – giving lectures to professional organizations and the like. I did this because I could *predict* how my hair was going to look for the presentation when it was straightened. I could roll it, and style it, and make it look good…and *know* it will look good.
But then, as a guilty pleasure, I started wearing it straight because I was too “lazy” to worry about it every morning. I am too “lazy” to wake up 15 minutes earlier to take a shower in the morning, instead opting for a before bed shower. Too “lazy” to expend the energy (and time) to comb it out every day…to only have to repeat the entire ‘ordeal’ the very next day. Gosh, is there no reprieve?
One day, I realized that, after blow-drying and flat-ironing my hair with the iPak (not organic but the results seem to justify the relatively low toxin exposure), my hair was *softer* and looked relaxed (gasp!!). I LOVED it. And the more I did it, the *better* it looked, felt and grew.
As I sit here with my hair in a ‘straight’ bun high on my head, I think back to the days when my hair would dry overnight into a *carpet* of kinks and coils. Dry and impossible. So much so, I couldn’t even FEEL my scalp thru my think hair. So I’d jump in the shower and spend 30 minutes working conditioner thru the back part just to get the comb to navigate. Then after all that work, upon completion, the shrinkage would be so profound that my hair never looked as if it were actually growing. Nevermind wearing a wash-and-go, or having it look nice after it dried.
And for me, this is part of the pleasure and ‘thrill’ of being a girl. Long hair to play with. I’ve always had long hair and I like it.
Just like I like black leather jackets and plum lipstick.
Recently I realized that there is a name for what I was doing. It’s called “heat-training.” Some in the Sorority are strong opponents with claims that encompass issues of self-hate, to hair damage…ready to throw anyone who even looks at a flat-iron OUT of said Sorority.
I figure, even if it’s damaging my hair (as the relaxer had)…there are no fewer harsh chemicals involved to seep into my vascular scalp and into my blood stream to contaminate my bodily systems and organs.
So…it’s better, healthier.
AND, if it allows me to decrease the time, effort, frustration and energy that goes into doing my hair…and allow it to grow, look good, and feel great. I’m willing to give it a try.
Published on Friday, 09 March 2012 16:13
(OR - Quit Medicine? Part II)
As a group, doctors are not very good advocates.
Not for themselves, not for their patients, and not for their profession.
Gradually (and not so subtly) everything non-medicine has played increasingly larger roles in interfering with the doctor-patient relationship. Everyone suffers (even those greedy bean-counting executives suffer when they finally succumb to their own illnesses, or as they deal with trying to navigate American healthcare for their families). And instead of demanding a seat at the table, exercising their responsibility to weigh in on all things medicine...they sit on the sidelines and complain.
But this is beside the point.
My point today is to talk about whether or not choosing emergency medicine (or even choosing a career in medicine) is what I thought it would be.
Let’s start with what I thought it would be like.
I knew, as a medical student, that my role was insignificant. I knew residency was hard with long hours and physical exhaustion. I understood that college and professional school would be expensive (and accrue a large debt for a girl from a non-wealthy family) and residency would mainly serve to delay my ability to pay off these debts.
I recognized that I was socially underdeveloped, and had no practical knowledge about anything not in the lecture notes. I expected to wait to have a family, and accepted being continually absent from my own life to undergo this training program.
However, I also expected more freedom once done. I hoped for enough money (which is subjective and constantly changing) to live comfortably. I hoped to reclaim some “lost” time (and hang out with friends, read some novels, get married, have kids). I hoped to mentally *graduate* from student status, and buy a big-girl house, and big-girl clothing.
Most of all, I thought there’d be more appreciation and respect for the sacrifice doctors make in order to do what we do. I hoped for a more powerful voice as a professional. I thought doctors and patients would advocate together for the best possible health-care situation. (Vocal in a 'I am woman, hear me roar' kind of way...sorta like the nurses. I guess medicine is still too male dominated to be very vocal....)
But what I quickly realized was…
…being a physician is not quite what I expected.
But I’m a roll-with-the-punches kinda girl (or at least I try to be), and realize that physicians are *still* quite cool. Saying you’re a doctor does offer a certain degree of legitimacy in conversation…and it is easier to get a ‘seat at the table’ if you bring a medical degree with you. I do acknowledge (and appreciate) that.
Instead of complaining (further) about all the things “wrong” with being an ER doc, let me make it clear…
…it really is a fabulous job.
Not a day goes by when I don’t get some fantastic job solicitation (usually in not-quite-so-desirable places to live) begging me to consider a move to Podunk, Wherever, for crazy sums of money. And even locally, having board certification in a specialty that everyone uses makes finding decent job a small issue. There’s never a shortage of ‘business’ as an ER doctor. As the recession progresses (and the economy slowly recovers) our ‘business’ just increases as people lose their health insurance along with their jobs - which is unfortunate. But single payer would allow everyone to have access to (at least minimal) medical care...and (get this) we'd actually get paid for said care. (I honestly don't know why doctors, especially primary care and first-responders, would be against getting *some* compensation from *everybody* you serve)....
...but I digress.
What I do in the ER, matters. It is meaningful work. And the pay is not bad either.
I often get asked: would you recommend this career for your children (or some variation thereof).
The answer is (still) absolutely yes!! But with caveats.
I think it’s important to go early, go hard, and get done. Doing it this way, you could be done with all your training by age 29. Still plenty of time to “catch up” on everything else in life. After all, what better way to spend your twenties than setting yourself up professionally (and possibly financially) for the rest of your life. All before you have children, get married, or acquire additional responsibilities (such as elderly parents) or in society.
I think it’s important to focus on the practical aspects of choosing any career, medicine included. It is not “a calling” or some sort of “special” state of being. It is a career. A way to make a living and contribute to society professionally. Just like a photographer (with better pay)….or a plumber (with equal pay).
Realize that having a fantastic career (any career) will not adequately replace loving relationships, family, and personal development. Temporary sacrifice is expected of many low-rung staff in any career…but constant/permanent sacrifice is not worth it.
If you put off having a family, miss your grandmother’s funeral, miss your cousin’s wedding…and then, at 35 realize that you cannot conceive…medicine would NOT have been worth it.
Everyone has their own ‘balancing act’ to achieve. Some of us put more emphasis on family…while others lean more towards career. That balancing act is highly personal. I will say, it’s very easy to weigh career more heavily (even when you don’t intend to) because of external pressures and the societal value placed on wage-earning and 'work' – especially for the “liberated woman.”
If you’re not careful, you’ll become imbalanced, convincing yourself that you’re where you want to be…even when it’s not. And…discontent sets in.
But, if you are able to put “everything in its proper place” in the ranking of your life priorities, medicine can be an excellent career. And EM...allows a doctor to do this. To work a lot...or work a little.
There are days, nonetheless, when you think to yourself...
....what *else* might I be good at? Is there anything else I might want to do?
Published on Wednesday, 11 January 2012 14:46
“Why can’t the Universe (or whatever) just *tell* me already what to do, show me my path clearly already? Why must everything appear riddle-like - listening to signs, attempting to interpret obscure cues, and pulling our hair out deciphering our ‘feelings’ and such, just so we can travel in the direction that we are supposed to travel?!”
Sometimes I think, it’s all a part of the “game” of life. We came here to ‘play the human game’ on Earth for awhile.
But then I think harder (deciphering the riddle) and I begin to feel like I understand things a little better. We are not here to walk any *particular* predetermined path. Whatever path we end up walking (at the end of our human lives as we look back…*that* path!) allowed us to experience being human. The entire path. Not just the end. We mistake ‘a path’ as a means to a destination. If we are able to change that thinking and realize that the life ‘path’ IS the experience…and does not LEAD to the experience…then it’s easier to appreciate that it’s not a riddle. Riddles have a ‘solution’. Life (and choosing a path) does not have a ‘solution.’ There are no ‘wrong’ or ‘extraneous/unnecessary’ components of our life journey. They are all, in themselves, the destination (so to speak).
We often use the term ‘life path’ to connote all the elements of our journey. And when we are not having the experience we want, it’s “easy” for our human brain (with its intellectual limitations) to ‘understand’ that “we are on the wrong path.” Really, what’s happening is you’re having an experience as a human, as a part of being human. And having this experience is: 1) divinely intertwined with everyone else’s experience (allowing *them* to have *their* experience too) – so it’s bigger than you in ways you can’t understand. 2) And having this experience is allowing you to (humanly) acquire a skill, learn a thing, feel an emotion so you can understand a situation, which is necessary to subsequently experience another thing. And these sequential experiences come across to us retrospectively as ‘signs’, ‘cues’, and as being unclear (until enough of these experiences have been experienced to clarify).
A common “mistake” is to misinterpret singular events in our life as a ‘sign’ as in ‘something to provide direction in our lives’. It’s not a ‘sign’ but rather ‘preparation’ for what is to come. An experience (or lesson of sorts) to teach us…perhaps to refocus and make a different choice.
This is not to be confused with being quiet, looking within, self-reflecting, and using that feeling (or inner-voice, or intuition) to help guide us to create the experiences (therefore LIFE, with its associated feelings) we feel we want. You are not a passive participant in your life. And your true “signs” come from YOU and your inner-voice being heard at key times in your life experiences. A friends insightful words spoken in a way at a ‘perfect’ time in your life, may seem like a ‘sign’ (and really, as I said, it’s easier for us to ‘understand’ it that way) – but really, its YOU HEARING the message at a time when you’re ready to hear the message (after you’ve experienced the prerequisite experiences that would result in your ability to USE the information that your friend gave you to help continue creating the life you desire.
It seems complicated, and unnecessarily ‘difficult’, this whole – lessons, signs (but not signs), thing. Why can’t we just HAVE the life we want? Because, we only *think* (again, in our limited human intellectual abilities) we know what we want. How many times are we wrong about what we want? So, in order to be happy, we have to have the ability to remove our own minds/rationalizations/limitations from the equation. And that’s the easiest thing to do, actually. But it’s also the most difficult thing to do. To use our brains for learning the practical stuff (integrating into a society and the rules in so doing), but let our experiences come to us, and appreciate them, and “learn” from them, and allow the next one to come. Paying attention to what *feels* good, what makes us feel loved, peaceful, happy, and everything good. And do more of that (using our cognition to navigate society to aid in creating these feel-good experiences).
So remember, you’re not looking for “signs” in the world to ‘point you the way’ to your bliss. This is misguided, and only leads to frustration. Humans are not using their gifts well (and we mix up the purpose of our mind with the purpose of our intuition/inner-voice) Outward events are just that – experiences (learning opportunities) to help our human selves develop/learn (or possibly participate in someone else’s learning) so that we might be ‘ready’ for the next experience…and so forth and so on. And collectively, these experiences equal our human life.
You’re looking for ‘signs’ from within. You’re using your own inner-spirit to SEE and HEAR stuff that’s out in the world. And in hearing and seeing these things (that are already OUT there) you have your ‘sign.’ A subtle distinction in practice, perhaps…but a huge difference nonetheless. By silencing your mind, and using your inner-voice/intuition, you can see the stuff you want to see. The stuff you want to see (as it lives in your heart) begins to appear…and the appearance of that stuff creates your life experiences
This is how you create the life you want.
Published on Monday, 09 January 2012 14:43
I’ve been patiently waiting for clarification regarding the direction of my life. Inside of me lives the essence of infinite possibility, and on the most visceral level, I do realize this and actually *feel* this energy. I know I’m destined for great things. And as the years tick by, I’ve become impatient and borderline obsessed with doing *something*!!
I tell my mind: “Relax. Just go with what *feels* right at the time, and you will be exactly on your life course. Things are being created that I don’t even know to ask for! How can I ‘visualize’ and ‘attract’ a specific thing into my life when the possibilities are infinite?” Does one just choose something, and try to MAKE it the “right thing?” Because, without the knowledge of all things, it is not *possible* to just make a decision.
And now that I’ve had time to really calm down and breathe, I realize that William wasn’t saying anything new or unknown to me. He is simply “reminding me” that we can do this. And since my “protests” and “reservations” were based in fear, everything is crystal a bit more clear now that those factors have diminished. I have never worried (excessively) about money, and certainly never have I not achieved a goal *because of* lack of money. Nothing has changed so no need to worry about it now.
I have taped to my bathroom mirror a short passage that essentially instructs me to “be at peace with the not knowing.”
I see other people doing their thing, and I feel “behind” and “unfocused.” My mind tells me that “I need to make a decision and stop floating from idea to idea without really getting involved in any of them.”
‘Just make a decision’ then ‘just do it.’ Or put another way, ‘just decide what you want, then go for it!’ This philosophy has served me well so far. So I had to take pause and sort out why this advice didn’t seem to apply to my life right now.
Making a decision to try something (as I’ve always made these decisions) is not difficult. I’ve “decided” to pursue (loosely, because that’s how it always begins…gradually) many potential ideas. Nothing felt “right” but/and everything felt “right.” Everything I considered was ‘logical’ and I’d be okay doing, but the pieces just didn’t come together as I began walking the path. The great thing is, in paying close attention to *inner* guidance (or is that wishy-washiness?), I didn’t have to take more than a step or two (or in the case of toxicology, a few more than a few) before it became (kinda) clear that I was not going in the right direction. And as gratifying as it may be to eliminate things NOT to do from the list, it becomes increasingly frustrating to see others develop an idea that I had…that seemingly went nowhere when I started down that path.
“Be at peace with the not knowing.” You can’t cognitively *know* because as a human, your knowledge based is very limited. You must know yourself enough to participate in life in such a way that brings you peace and joy. Day to day, you must make decisions that allow you to enjoy the things you enjoy. Doing this keeps you on the path. And along that path, you pick up a things/experiences/people/whatever that help you on subsequent legs of the journey. Sometimes you have to jettison some stuff (as you’ve learned/used/no longer need it). And you keep stepping. Sometimes you can’t see past your immediate circumstances. But other times you can see/feel the good that the future has in store.
For me, I think this is one of those times!
It started with a groupon for a new local yoga studio. I’d been hoping for a new yoga studio to open near my home since the current stock just didn’t fit the bill for me. Either the times were off, or the classes were not appropriate at the times I want to go, or the style was no longer conducive for relaxation. So, I was excited to see this groupon. I actually made plans to attend that evening – even though I don’t usually go to yoga when the family is all home (as it takes time away from the family and I could just as easily go during the day when they’re at school). And I was inspired. There were so many things I enjoyed…but very few of them actually had to do with this particular studio.
There was the instructors list. The child-care option. The Yogi soy chi. The scented heat packs. The water feature. The blankets. The organic co-op. The (idea of) community formation, lifestyle support, and even discussions about issues pertinent to “granola” living. I liked all that.
What was lacking was aesthetics (which is actually a big deal at a relaxation studio). I didn’t think the space appeared “finished.” The children’s section was in the ex-storeroom, and it wasn’t that far from still being a storeroom. The temperature wasn’t controlled, and the studio was not separate from the front entry-way. The space wasn’t large enough, and there were no mirrors on the walls to check your form, or better see the instructor. There was no signage. And the location was not great.
At the end of the day, it’s a decent yoga place (for now). The reason one would continue to go to this place over other places is the ‘community’ aspect. But the community will not likely get large enough to sustain (on its own) the studio. If the ‘community’ can grow and develop into a bona-fide crunchy coop of sorts, then the yoga will only be a small part, and really what’s being exchanged is something more than the yoga.
That’s what I’m thinking about doing! Less granola, more upscale, more health based/wellness and even slightly medicinal (because that’s what’s going to set me apart from just any ol’ studio).
Anyway, that’s how I feel today. Optimistic, like there’s a void to fill – and yoga (although appearing to be a large part is really) a small piece. How can I make this happen. Is this where I’m supposed to go to realize my heart’s desires. I’ve been open. I’ve been patient. I’m excited to think that this, this may be it.
Published on Wednesday, 04 January 2012 14:38
When I was a medical student there was a girl who, after 2 years of medical school, decided…she didn’t want to be a doctor after all! I remember hearing a rumor that she decided she would rather spend her days swimming with dolphins. Then…she was gone.
That got me thinking, for the first time in my life actually, what do I WANT to do? Prior to this, my standard reply of “I want to be a doctor” achieved sufficient accolades from everyone, and the satisfied look on their faces served as confirmation that I was on the “right path.” I never really gave it a second thought. But this girl…had the audacity to decide on her own that she was going to “throw away” everything she’d worked for (and all the sacrifices her family had made to allow her to opportunity to attend medical school) and make the “irresponsible” choice to swim with dolphins in lieu of becoming a doctor. I mean, who does that?
At that time, I thought to myself: good for her for knowing what she wants to do, but why not finish medical school first, *then* go swim with dolphins? That way, if her perception of a dolphin-swimmer’s life was misaligned with the reality, she would have “being a doctor” as a back-up career option.
So I spent no further time pondering any other choice at this time. Instead of thinking about what I *wanted* to do, I focused on completing the path I was on, because that’s what made sense to me. I reminded myself that the most difficult (academic) work was complete after taking the USMLE Step I (after 2nd year). The third and fourth years were the clinical (interesting, “field-trip”) years, where you *finally* get to legitimately “play doctor” for real! Why quit now?
But *when* IS a good time to quit? Once you get on the ‘medical-training-in-America’ highway, there is no “easy” time to deviate. It makes sense to complete medical school because once you achieve your advanced degree, you can *still* go fold jeans at The Gap if you want. Nothing (but a few years) is lost by finishing the degree program. So you finish…
Then, you can’t quit before internship. You can’t even get a medical license without completion of an internship! It only makes sense to obtain licensure. Why go through all of that training (and torture) in medical school to become a doctor, and then take away your ability to actually get a medical license because you’re too “lazy” to do just one more year?
Unless you know something that I don’t (which is quite possible), there’s nothing you can practically do as a new doctor (with no other training) without residency completion. You can’t really make any money (and with the huge burden of student loans, *choosing* to NOT make money is a crazy option), aren’t respected as a doctor, and are ostracized completely from “real” specialists (and everybody’s a specialist these days). Who wants to sign up for that? When in just 2 more “short” years, you too can be a board eligible specialist! So…I made up my mind that I would complete the entire training program, and *then* I could reevaluate my decision from a position of “safety” – as a board certified physician specialist.
As a 4th year student contemplating specialty choices, I decided *then* that (despite everything I thought I knew about myself) I had no desire to spend significant time taking care of sick people – gasp! And this realization just kind of snuck up on me as a senior medical student.
Before medical school I thought I wanted to be the quintessential doctor who took care of the entire family their entire lives, family medicine. Then I realized that people are “difficult” and I do not want to be ‘responsible’ for people, sick people…and certainly not their entire lives! Whose crazy idea was that in my head all those years, thinking I could pull that off?
So I eliminated the kids and pregnant women which is essentially internal medicine. That felt better. But still, too big. Too much. Too long. But, nothing else was particularly appealing, and this late in the game many options are essentially removed from the table. So IM it was. But then, I signed up to do an anesthesiology rotation because I’d heard it was super easy…and after 3.75 years of medical school, I was so ready for easy!
True to its reputation, the rotation was a cake walk! Show up at 6am (which was the most difficult part) and intubate a patient or two, then go “read” (i.e. do whatever) until the next morning. There was the opportunity to see trauma anesthesia, which allowed the student to do a-lines, venous lines, and more! Very cool stuff! Still not completely sold on my IM choice, I switched to anesthesia, just like that. I was desperate to “find” my “place.” I was a gypsy, and even as 2nd semester 4th year (senior) student, I was uncommitted!
So I clung to anesthesiology. Sure, I was cognitively aware that I would not be able to intubate and leave. I realized that the days began very early, and were long. Call was busy, and the training stressful. But, I *also* didn’t have to take care of a bunch of people…forever. One patient at a time. Done with surgery/procedure, done with patient. Sounds perfect.
Let me say, it is about this time I began to awaken from the unconsciousness of whirlwind academic overachievement and hierarchal indentured servitude, and realize that “maybe this whole doctor bit is overrated by those *stuck* IN it.” As a coping mechanism, I think many doctors just don’t *think* about their lives, and are unable to consider alternative life paths because they subsist on the delusion that this way is the only way to “be somebody.” And it doesn’t help that doctors typically see themselves as professional corporations and not the workers that they are, so their work conditions are super shitty, but no one cares. Especially not the doctors.
But I digress.
As an internal medicine intern (required prior to starting my anesthesia training) I actually had a great time. Becoming an intern is, in many ways, the prize for years of hard work and being invisible. Years of proclaiming “I’m going to be a doctor on day” to finally *being* a doctor is a huge step forward. Because, honestly, how many of us know someone who’s “going to be a doctor one day?” Not a big deal.
Just *finally* being the DOCTOR was enough positive momentum to sustain me through the internship year. And the amount of practical knowledge I acquired was worth the “abuse” and “sleep deprivation” at that time in my life. I felt legitimate (although incompetent). Also helpful was the knowledge that I was moving on to ‘bigger and better things’ with anesthesia. I was NOT going to be “doing this” (rounds, carrying a pager, writing long H&Ps, the whole deal) much longer. I was going to do short notes, cool procedures, and sit on my ass all day as an anesthesiologist listening to uplifting music, reading trash magazines, and getting paid well. Couldn’t wait!
So you can imagine my disillusionment when I actually began the anesthesiology residency. It was early mornings and long days. It was being on-call and lack up sleep. It was lonely. And in some respects, demeaning, boring, yet stressful all at the same time. And, the worst part was (for me) – there was no one to talk to, and minimal patient interaction. Who knew that taking care of sleep people would be lonely and impersonal?
Clearly, I hadn’t thought out my specialty choice well.
What now? I don’t want long term relationships taking care of sick patients. I don’t particularly like small children (even more so before I had my own). Being all up in vaginas all day was the *last* thing I found appealing. What else is there? Maybe I would go back and finish IM, and then subspecialize? But that would tack on like 5+ years to my training, and after this whole fiasco, I had no time for such nonsense. After all, I’d been trying to find an exit off this medical highway since 2nd year medical school, but stayed on for very logical and practical reasons. But at some point, I just had to draw the line.
It is important to keep in mind that doctors have done themselves a huge disservice by subscribing to the current status quo of medical training. Unlike nurses, or PAs, we cannot just “switch” specialties and “do a new thing” when we get bored with the current thing, or otherwise we can no longer do certain procedures or function in certain capacities. Nor can you move to another part of the country on a whim and expect be granted a medical license from another state (never mind the fact that you already HAVE a medical license after passing a *national* exam, which is asinine and a post for a different day). For multiple reasons it is not practical for a mid-career physician to “go back” and do another residency to obtain different credentials to do a new thing. Overall, medical education does not easily extrapolate into meaningful work outside of medicine. So, once you choose a specialty, you’re essentially stuck! A decision you make about your career at age 25 had better serve you well when you’re 50.
Oh, the pressure!
After all of this, I decided to pursue emergency medicine, primarily because it allows doctors to be doctors when they want to be doctors – and cool doctors at that. But, when you didn’t WANT to be a doctor, you could do something else. Anything else! And still be cool. With a solid “back-up” plan that is EM. And the cherry on top of that sundae was: I didn’t have to take care of sick patients for forever. I can step in when they really NEED help, I can TALK to them, I won’t be lonely, I get to do cool stuff….and then…I get to go home! To my life. All the while, making 100% more than a pediatrician, and 50% more than FM with less stress, less work, less ‘distraction’ from my REAL (non-doctor) life. (And judge if you must, but money *does* matter, especially when the cost of medical education is in the hundreds of thousands of dollars!)
Right? It’s all good now as an ER doctor….isn’t it?
Published on Wednesday, 07 September 2011 09:27
As summer comes to a close, I’m finally getting over my “chronic state of anxiety.” See, the kids are in school 9.5 months a year. And during that time there are only intermittent days that are truly “free.” After necessary household chores, administrative tasks, and obligatory social events are accounted for….really, there are only a few days left in a given month to really plan family time together.
So I enthusiastically anticipated summer. This was the first summer I’d have more control of my work schedule such that I can finally work more from home, than leaving to a “worksite.” This means – I am home when the kids are home! And after reading about the academic back-sliding so common among American children (in an increasingly competitive global population) I was determined to simultaneously offer the children a unique summer *curriculum* that, while educational, is fun and family oriented.
So, I spent hours on the computer investigating summer camps, programs, and educational opportunities. I decided I wanted each child to experience a fine art, performing art, a sport, acquire an academic skill, and learn on the go. Of course I wanted all of this to be enjoyable…but I honestly felt that as long as we were together, and the kids had our attention, they were going to be happy!
SO, I signed each kid of for *their own* sport (swimming and basketball) so that each can feel special as they develop their athletic skill. Everyone was introduced to horseback riding and the piano. I researched and learned how to teach basic photography skills to my daughter. We went through how to compose a photographic journal. Along with this, I downloaded some typing programs, and taught her how to type. We read a book for a book club together. And I took her to yoga classes and we worked on meditation.
With my son we went to art/paint class, and his father actually took him to museums, and together they read science magazines. Got out the telescope and star-gazed, appreciating the rings of Saturn with our own eyes! Also, we found age-appropriate media outlets to supplement his developing interest in science. He was too young to participate in official summer science camps…so we had to make our own.
We took a big trip up the East Coast and stopped along to way to explore and appreciate the historical and pop-culture elements that each location had to offer – including the big stops of Washington DC and New York City.
Of course the summer was sprinkled with (almost) weekly summer movies, a few sleep-overs, water fun, and birthday parties. There were workbook assignments completed, reading and math flashcards reviewed, and creative writing opportunities given. We had cousins in from out of town and explored our home-town in more depth…and solidified relationships with extended family. AND as souvenirs of a fulfilling summer, the kids have tons of books, hand-painted T-shirts, collages of summer and our vacation, plus new typing, page lay-out, photography, swim, horseback-riding, yoga, meditation, basketball, and painting skills. Even the baby, though too young for many of the elementary aged structured activities, participated in most of the activities in an age appropriate manner.
And that was in just 11 weeks of summer!!
So now, as we ease into the last 2 weeks of summer break, I feel satisfied that the kids had a fantastic summer, full of educational activities, time with parents, and acquired new skills. This was *our* opportunity to supplement the rote academic education supplied by the school with a bit of hands-on experience, and introduction to “atypical” extracurricular activities that are only experienced by design. As we transition back to “school-life” we spend time reviewing grade level skills – such as multiplication tables, and writing skills. And when the photos finally arrive in the mail and the summer books authored by us are complete and in our hands…we will sit back, and constantly relive this wonderful summer “vacation.”
Published on Thursday, 25 August 2011 10:51
When is it time to break-up?
Do I stay, or do I go? When is it time to break-up?
Love can be wonderful. But love can also be a great source of pain. Like fire. Used properly and for good, it adds immense joy to your life. If abused and not contained, it can destroy everything.
Understandably, you don’t want to bail on every relationship at the very first sign of difficulty. There’s something to be gained in working thru issues, and being supportive of someone during a turbulent time. No one wants (or wants to be) a fair-weather friend.
On the other hand, how much is enough already? When does ‘standing by your man’ become such an imposition that it fails to serve any meaningful purpose in either of your lives? What do you do when all of those “signs” and messages from the Universe/God (those whispers, your intuition, that's supposed to be there to guide you) just seem like cruel riddles - difficult to interpret, and never quite giving the sense of calm that's supposed to come with knowing you’re doing the right thing?
How far will you go, how much of yourself will you give, under the guise of love?
The answers to these questions usually become obvious as time passes, especially if you are armed with some basic information, and follow SEVEN critical rules.
The first rule of love is: Do not lose yourself!
You are a beautiful, compassionate, intelligent, respectable, honest, loyal, young woman serving an important purpose on this Earth. Do not forget that as you fall in love. Do not allow a guy (or anyone) to cause you to doubt your self-worth, turn you into something or someone you aren’t, or become involved in things that are not in alignment with your values and sense of self.
In order to not ‘lose’ yourself, you must KNOW yourself. Otherwise, you’ll morph into whatever sort of person your lover expects you to be; or whatever sort of person you *think* he wants you to become. You’ll engage in activities, act in ways, and focus on things that will divert you from achieving your greatest good.
So first FIND yourself - and then KEEP yourself.
Point: A good time to exit a relationship is at that point you realize that you have ‘lost’ yourself, and the only way to get back to YOU is outside of the boundaries of the relationship.
Rule 2: Feel the love
Love is supposed to feel nice and peaceful, and your lover is supposed to…LOVE YOU BACK! If he doesn’t (or fails to demonstrate it), it’s probably a good idea to reevaluate the relationship. One-sided relationships are not sustainable, satisfying, and only lead to suffering, self-doubt, and unhappiness (especially for you).
It’s easy for a guy to say he loves you, but DEMONSTRATING that love is what really matters. Guys tell girls they love them and promise 'happily ever after' all the time! They say this to keep you on the shelf. Their little shelf of ‘toys,’ so they can pull you down and play with you when they are bored with their other toys. Don’t be his cheap toy. You are much too valuable to accept that role.
You cannot believe him just because he SAYS something. Make him SHOW you. You have to FEEL the love, not just hear the words.
Point: If you don’t feel the love, regardless of what he’s SAYING, it’s time to do a relationship assessment. If the relationship is consistently one-sided, it’s time to let it go.
What is “consistently” one sided?
That depends on the length and nature of the relationship. On one extreme, if you met a guy a month ago, and he never calls you, and the only time you see him is when you arrange everything; it’s time to ditch him. If this is how he’s acting NOW, you’d be a fool to expect anything different later on.
On the other hand, if you’ve been married to, and/or built a life with a person who’s been there for you when you needed support, and in the grand scheme of your relationship over the years it’s been a fair, mutually supportive exchange; realize that this feeling of rejection is a small part of the relationship (and at times we all feel rejected by those we love). Very likely, in a short time, the feeling will pass. So, in some cases, it’s appropriate to hold the line and give the relationship (and this person) the benefit of the doubt with more time.
How much more time? Until either things improve, or enough time has passed where a clear pattern of *consistent* one-sidedness has becomes the dominating sentiment in the relationship which does not improve despite your best efforts (conversation, letters, therapy, coaching, whatever).
Rule 3: Have a vision
You must decide what you expect from a partner. Your list should be realistic, keeping in mind that you won’t be “perfect” so expecting ‘perfection’ in your partner is unreasonable. You’ll be single forever if you expect a real live perfect man.
That being said, however, you must have some standards! What are they? Maybe family oriented, intelligent, honest, loyal, mentally stable, drug-free, non-violent, loves you, hard-worker, balanced…?? Focus on things that really matter. Skin color, height, how much money he makes, the type of car he drives…shouldn’t matter. If you value the “wrong” (i.e. superficial) attributes, you will set yourself up for heartache.
So have a vision of the guy you really want. Who do you want him to be on the inside? How do you want him to treat you? What do you want him to value?
If you’re able to keep this vision in your mind’s eye to serve as a guide in choosing your husband, it will be easier to recognize him when he enters your life. This vision will also serve to inform you about your current guy, and whether or not there’s real long term potential in having a happy relationship with him.
Point: If the guy you’re with demonstrates (or you otherwise determine) he’s not consistent with your vision (meaning he’s not the type of guy you want to end up with) it’s a good time to dump him.
Rule 4: Recognize and act swiftly if immediate relationship-enders surface.
Immediately end the relationship if:
It involves domestic violence. No one has the right to hit you, throw things at you, threaten you, hurt you, rape you, lock you up, tie you down, or otherwise torture you in a romantic relationship (without your permission).
Domestic violence is about intimidation and control. How can you ever live your best and fullest life serving your purpose if you are afraid to even state your truth to your most intimate partner? How can you fully participate in creating your destiny, leaving your mark, raising your children, finding your joy, if there’s a bully living with you beating you down? His rage, anger, need for domination, is ALL ABOUT HIM. Sure, he'll blame you - say you deserve it. But the reason he's hitting you is because HE'S feeling out of control...and beating on you makes him feel better about that. It's the same reason anyone becomes a bully. There is nothing you can do to change him, and he’s not going to stop hitting you no matter how much he apologizes and buys you pretty things after the fact.
There are things that should only happen once (if ever). Being hit by your guy is certainly one of them. If you don’t leave, you are sending the message that you condone the behavior. The longer you stay, the more intertwined your lives become, the more passionate the relationship – the more likely it will end very badly (with him killing you). SO NOT WORTH taking a chance! Plan your exit, and leave him!
*Side note regarding the rest of the relationship-enders: What you should tolerate in a relationship is certainly partially determined by the nature of the relationship, time invested, and consequences of leaving. These factors can only be determined by you. If you are an old married couple with decades of shared life, finances, health insurance, family/children, and more – well, leaving your life-long spouse in their time of need may not be the smartest solution (after all, you wouldn’t want said spouse to throw you aside if you get caught making a mistake). But if this guy is some dude you’ve been dating for a year or three – push him out of your life onto his ASS.
With that said, let’s continue to other relationship-enders.
Drug use/Alcoholism – It is WAY too early to involve yourself in trying to build a life, and carry (or DRAG) a partner with a major issue like drug or alcohol abuse thru life. These issues are life-long, and there are many men out there that are not substance addicted (choose one of them). If you mess around with addicted men, who have addicted peers, you run the real risk of becoming drug-addicted yourself, or having your future children drug-addicted. Not to mention that you cannot ever trust an addict. They lie, they steal, they cheat, and they lose their minds, ultimately forsaking everything for that next high. If it is revealed to you early on that your guy is a substance abuser, consider yourself warned! This is a message from the Universe/God about the person, and if you pretend you don’t know the ramifications and ignore this advice, expect the relationship to bring you more problems and drama than you bargained for.
Criminal activity – if you play with fire you will get burned. If you lie with pigs, you will get dirty. You are the average of your 5 closest friends. Birds of a feather flock together. Any way you look at it, you will become a criminal if you condone their actions and stay with them.
Infidelity – once a cheater, always a cheater. It may be hard to accept this fact when, after being ‘found out’ the guy is crying, begging you on his knees that he’s a ‘changed man’ and ‘it will never happen again.’
Until it does.
If you let him cheat on you once, he WILL do it again. He’s a cheater, and now you KNOW this. If you keep him in your life you are accepting his behavior. If you accept his behavior, don’t be surprised when he continues being the man that he was the last time you caught him cheating.
Even if, in some imaginary land, he really wouldn’t cheat again, how will you know that? Because he *told* you so? Even if – how could you ever trust him enough to build a solid and meaningful relationship foundation? And even if YOU could, consider that he actually won’t trust you either – because now he’ll feel like you have a “pass”. Before you know it, in typical cheating-guy fashion, he’ll make YOU feel like you did something wrong even though he’s the one who was cheating!
Other relationship-enders include: verbal abuse, stealing from you, gambling, lying about money
Point: Do yourself a favor and break free of this drama as soon as this major character flaw is revealed to you.
Rule 5: LISTEN
Be sure to LISTEN to a guy when you first meet him. Many times if you allow him to talk, he’ll tell you everything you need to know rather early on. If he says he doesn’t want children, and you do, don’t bother with him. If he says he’s not a one-woman guy, don’t be with him. Don’t try to change him – he will not change.
Point: If he tells you something about himself that would be a deal-breaker later on in the relationship, why stick around? Don’t.
Rule 6: See the big picture!
You will get sad. Every relationship has its ups and downs. And life has a way of teaching us, and showing us, which direction we should go. If life is showing you that this guy isn’t YOUR guy, be sad (if you want), be mad (if that’s what you feel), but know that it is a lesson. Learn the lesson quickly (without trying to fight it, or get around it somehow), and move the hell on.
No relationship is EVER worth hurting yourself, or killing yourself over. Nor is he worth you going to jail for – so even if you WISH him dead, and really may want to kill him, you must realize that this rage/anger/frustration will fade. And you will enjoy a life free of a criminal record. After all, why screw up YOUR future over this ass-hole?
Yes, sometimes it may seem like each day is SO long, and without this person in your life you’re destined for a lonely end. It may feel like this guy was your soul-mate, the only guy you think you could ever love. It may feel like there is no point to life, or maybe you feel like life is so difficult…too difficult…and you want to ‘press the reset button’ to ease the emotional pain you feel.
But realize that there is no ‘reset’ button on THIS life. And no guy (especially some loser who doesn’t value your worth, and probably doesn’t even love you) is worth you being disloyal to yourself!
Feel your feelings, express your emotions, and continue living, one day at a time, demonstrating to yourself, and the Universe, that as much as it hurts, you are making progress…you are learning your lesson. Things will get easier – after all.
After you learn the lesson of “dump the loser” you will realize your strength and exemplify to yourself that you believe that you are worthy of love and happiness. You will show yourself that you love yourself more than you do some guy. You will realize that you are a capable and reliable advocate for yourself, willing to do the hard emotional work necessary to preserve your sanity and execute your life purpose. When you are able to recognize a *real* soul-mate (by eliminating imposters from your life)…your lesson will be complete, successful…and you will be ready for a real, mutually loving, respectful, romantic relationship.
But not until then.
Point: Learn the damn lesson and move on already! Dump a bad guy. You know he’s a dog way before he shows his tail. Trust your intuition.
Final Rule 7: Remember, LOVE has nothing to do with it.
Whether you should stay, or go, is based on anything/everything discussed – EXCEPT LOVE. We know you love him. He knows you love him. So what?! What’s love got to do with it?
Nothing at all.
Point: If you find yourself in an unpleasant relationship, and your only reason for staying is "because I love him," - it's time to leave.
Published on Monday, 01 August 2011 18:45
My Emancipation – understanding change
Starting something new is both exhilarating and frightening to me. I’ve been telling myself, and everyone around me, that I want to quit doing the mundane day to day work just to pay the bills and venture into purposeful living. But what can I contribute, and how can I realize my purpose?
This question has been on my mind for the last few years. And it wasn’t until I became okay with being uncomfortable did I have the mental courage to rethink everything I held dear.
Life was much simpler when I just did what my mother told me was best. When I was five, as a RN she told me I would make a great doctor. She supported my creative play as I made medical records for each stuffed-animal in my room. She brought home extra supplies from work to help me “stock” my bedroom medical clinic. She bragged on me, told me how smart I was, and went out of her way to enroll me into decent schools.
As I grew, I continued to listen to my mother. In retrospect, now as a mother myself, I was a very good kid. Overall, I was focused, studious, obedient, respectful, and happy. I believed to my core that there was no way I could make it in this world without my mother. She was all I had. And she made me feel special in a family where I was just a smudge on the otherwise perfect family photo.
Anytime I accomplished something big, my mother was there. At my college graduation, my sole family member in attendance was my mother. When I was dating the wrong guy, it was my mother who reminded me that I was a special girl and should strive for happiness. She helped me realize that I didn’t have to settle and stay in a bad relationship. She was there to listen to my dreams, and offer great insight. I wanted for nothing when I was in my mother’s presence.
Then I got married. And had a baby. And things became more complicated. My focus shifted from myself (and my mother), to my husband and child. I was also a brand new emergency medicine intern, and ultimately the only female in my class of 12 (in a program with 3 of 42 female residents, and one of 25 faculty). So I felt I had quite a bit to prove! I had a brand new set of parents, siblings, nieces, nephews, and friends. And as I adjusted to all of these life changes, I began to think for myself. I had to…I was a mother now!
So I ignored the judging eyes of black men who stared me down when I was out with my interracial family. I pretended I didn’t hear the “sugar daddy” comments from black women as they giggled their way past us on the street. I smiled *anyway* in the faces of the frowning elderly white women who slowly shook their head from side to side through the mirror at the department store. And I didn’t give anyone the opportunity to offer their negative opinion of my life, my husband, or my child if they were to remain in my life.
I think I started to emerge from my increasingly uncomfortable cocoon during this time. Even listening to my mother didn’t bring me the same satisfaction - the satisfaction of self-determination. Doing what she would do, as she shared her perspective, made *me* feel anxious and unclear. When I tried to get her to *see* ME, and support this woman I was striving to become, she resisted. She couldn’t understand why I was suddenly being so disagreeable. And in knowing I was displeasing my mother, I felt like a “bad child.” This was a role that was foreign to me. So in the end, we were both confused, anxious, and unhappy with our once very clear relationship dynamic.
I think this was the single greatest contributor to my desire to find my sense of purpose.
So on this journey I began. Asking myself the multitude of ‘why?’ questions that come with growing up. Why am I here? Why is humanity so confused and distracted? Why did I have to go through what I went through to be here now? Why did the events of my life unfold as they did? Why doesn’t my mom support me the way I expect that she is supposed to? Why can she not fit into my life now?
Many of the answers to my why questions still elude me, but this I know for sure:
I know I am a spiritual being having a human experience. I am here to serve a specific purpose that I am uniquely prepared to fulfill. All of my life events and experiences have unfolded perfectly so I am ready to embrace opportunity when it presents. My intuition and emotions serve as my subconscious guides, and I realize that when something doesn’t *feel* right I need to acknowledge the validity of that message. As I assert myself, and begin living my life my way, those elements that don’t “fit” will fall away – and it is all good.
But of course…I really do miss my mother.
I also miss other family members and friends as well. I miss some of the places I used to visit. I miss my hometown. I sometimes find myself wishing things could be the way they were. But more than that, I often wish that those people and places were able to ‘fit’ into my evolving life experience.
But I have no control over them. I only control my own thoughts. So I shift my focus on what I DO have. And that makes me happy. I am happy.
Now more than ever I realize that the ebb and flow of life brings people into your experience to serve you, and when they no longer “fit” it is best you allow them to go. When you are able to let them go, you open yourself up for new experiences and people that were sent to serve you better. Sent to help you uncover another clue, answer another ‘why’, and discover another aspect of yourself. Sent to help you reach your highest potential, comfort you, encourage you, celebrate with you, and maximize the positive aspects of this human experience.
And so it is!
Published on Monday, 23 May 2011 11:37
Gender equality vs. Gender equivalency
Gender equality. What does that mean? Does it mean that women and men are treated the same? Does it mean that gender roles are erased, and men and women both participate equally in all aspects of life? Does it mean that 50% of the top CEOs and university professors are women?
Most people would agree that true gender equality remains a work in progress for the World. When we are made aware of the statistics highlighting the disparities between men and women in pay, rank, respect level, advancement opportunities, and leadership participation, it becomes clear that we have a long way to go to close the gap. But, is it even possible to close “the gap?”
Men and women are *different*. Women are “failing” to create an equal world because the focus on “equality” is misguided. Equal means that both genders have the same, get the same….are the same. Since we are not men, pretending to be a man so we can make it in a “man’s world” is a futile endeavor at best, and a horrible set-up for major regression at worst.
Unlike the color of our skin, or even our age (to a lesser degree), gender makes men and women fundamentally different. The way we think, our values, the way we operate, our emotions, and biologic capabilities are different. Women worldwide have more in common with each other, than they do with men (even men in the same culture, ethnic group, or nation). Biologically, this is obvious.
Many of the attributes we possess that are counterproductive in the top corporate offices, are necessary in maintaining balance in humanity. When women are silenced, undervalued, or “morph” into men, these attributes are lost…and the world suffers. This is not to say that the contribution of men is unimportant, but rather the contribution of women IS important. To be made to “change” our natural instincts, inclinations, and push aside our inner desire to nurture babies, or interact with people in a fair and thoughtful manner so we can make it to the corner office, misses the point of promoting women as a woman.
Women should be celebrated as women - as different creatures, with alternate outlooks on the world, on life, on family, and on humanity. Our unique contributions need to be recognized, celebrated, and valued. Societies have various methods in their demonstration of “worth” and “value.” In America it is money. The problem is the work more commonly done by women is undervalued. A solution is for society to compensate people for doing this work. So I would argue, women should be compensated for being mothers, wives, elderly care providers, and this includes pay for maternity leave, child-care, elder-care, and arguably maintaining the house. And if men engage in these activities, they should be likewise compensated to the extent in which they participate. As such, in corporations, academia, politics, and service, everyone should be compensated appropriately for their contributions regardless of gender, to the extent they participate.
To this end, the equivalent contributions of both genders are recognized. Instead of trying to achieve ‘sameness’ we should focus on increasing societal value on what we contribute as women. The babies we bear, the milk we provide, the nurturing of young life, and the maintenance of order in our families. Women need to be able to participate in leadership positions in society while still being able to be mothers. Instead of being seen as a liability, a pregnant woman needs to be celebrated by society. Perhaps a shift in what is “valuable” will allow this to happen. However, as long as money rules the world, and women are paid less for their societal contribution, the gender gap will never close.
The solution is: either change what we value as a society; or pay women with money for their contributions (which are *different* but equally important as those of men). Strive for gender equivalency, and leave” equality” out – because we are not the same.
Published on Thursday, 05 May 2011 17:44
Finding time to raise your children.
As our world becomes increasingly chaotic, women often find themselves juggling careers, families, and a multitude of other life tasks simultaneously. Mothers are expert multi-taskers. However, you cannot do everything well, all at the same time. Consider all the various tasks mothers are responsible for, and it’s easy to see how keeping all those balls in the air can prove difficult. And for many women, hiring a nanny or assistant (or delegating parental duties to a non-parent, such as a grandmother) is not a first choice. This is a brief peek into one woman’s life, and you can see how having a high-powered career is counterproductive to really being the Mom of the Year.
People often ask me what I do all day. I work part-time outside of the home as a physician. But more often than I am at work, I am performing my duties as CEO, CFO, treasurer, secretary, and administrative assistant for ‘My Family Inc.’ My days are very full, and I would argue that working full-time outside of the home and being a full-time, involved mother are mutually exclusive. But people are perplexed by how busy I am. “I wish I could stay home all day” they’ll say. “What do you do anyway?”
You know what I do?
I cook healthy meals because this non-organic/fast food crap is killing us. I do yoga and get massages, because taking care of my body, and staying healthy is the best investment I can make in this life. I read for pleasure (for the first time since college). I keep my babies out of daycare from time to time so I can take them to the park, then to the ice-cream shop...and maybe even to the mall. I manage the business that is a household (which is a full-time job). I make sure the bills are paid on time; I negotiate online payments, allocate funds for various usages, and manage half of our accounts. I am the historian of our family - blogging, documenting, video-taping, photographing, and scrapbooking our lives...so we won't forget, and so the children will have a sense of what their childhood was like.
If not me, who will go thru my kid’s drawers and determine what fits and what doesn't, what I adore and will save for them vs. give to a shelter? If not me, who will decide where I want things to go in my home...how to decorate...and how to organize? If not me, who will take inventory of what we have, and what we need as a family? There are some things a house-keeper can help you with...other things, I'd rather do myself. If I don't change my own kid’s diapers, how will I be able to tell the pediatrician that their poop is consistent with prior poops? If I don't bathe them, how will I know that my little guy likes to play submarine with his Thomas the Tank Engine train set? Or even more importantly, how long would it take me to notice an injury or a rash if someone else (or various someone else’s) are doing the parental tasks?
If I don't read to my kindergartener, how will I know he's progressing as he should in school...and in life? If I don't find time to really talk to my daughter, how will I know who her friends are, and what they're like? I wonder if my friends know how much fun they are missing when they leave the house before having had the opportunity to dress up their cute little girl in almost-as-cute clothing...and spend time fixing her hair just so? Isn't this why we dream of having daughters? Why would you want to delegate all the fun stuff? And...if I don't have sex with my husband, and listen to his hopes and dreams, how can we stay connected in this partnership that is raising our family...and enhancing our lives? I waited almost 30 years to be 'mommy/wife'...and I want to be intimately involved!!
You know what I do? I walk my (often neglected, despite all my "free time") dogs, and train them to obey me. I do yoga so my back won't be sore after my shifts. I get massages and facials...and my eyebrows threaded. I do my hair, my nails, and read fashion magazines. I have like 4 blogs in progress...and enjoy being 'in the world' in this way.
I've discovered that I actually love photography...and it is not my style to do things half-assed so I actually devote a bit of time to this hobby. I am in a Sorority, and like many sororities, our membership doesn't end upon college graduation...and there are time commitments involved as we serve as mentors, organizers, advocates, and community activists in my Sorority as a graduate. I plan awesome trips for our family (that we have time to take because I don't work all the time). And not huge extravagant/over-compensatory (i.e. I work all the time so when we go 'on vacation' it has to be big so our friends will be impressed, and my working all the time seems justified) 3 week European-type trips...but rather Disneyland Resort trips...Legoland trips...Vegas trips...Tahoe trips. Frequent trips. Easy trips.
You know what I do? I can attend school field trips with my daughter. I can keep the laundry done (most of the time). I can be mentally and physically available and present for my husband. I can unwind and tend to my needs so I can be patient and understanding with my kindergartener and toddler without yelling all the time over spilled milk, literally. And without sitting them in front of TiVo'ed Little Einsteins cartoon for days on end (hours? maybe. days? no).
I can have 2 hour conversations on the phone with my parents...and/or my girlfriends. And I have the time/energy to spend a weekend or two a month (or at least every other month) socializing with good friends as a family (their kids, our kids, red wine, good food, background jazz playing, with the BBQ grill going, or tandori chicken and naan waiting for us in the family room...OR maybe an exciting night out at the bowling alley - the one with bumper guards to keep the bowling ball in the middle of the lane). And I have flexibility, and enough 'extra' time off that I can actually pick up shifts quite easily from other partners who need/want days off.
I have time to join and participate in Mother’s groups such as Jack and Jill of America. I can plan activities for my children, attending meetings, and involve my family in rich interactions with other families in our community. I garden and have afternoon tea with other moms to learn about what’s going on in the schools, in the community, and in the lives of those around me.
Homework. Have you seen the amount of testing and homework children endure these days? It’s a full time job just coordinating all of their assignments, school activities, extracurricular activities, and social development activities.
Above all...I just have time to think. You know, be bored...like a child in the summer, back in the day ('cause these days, kids are overextended and never have the pure luxury of just being bored). To just think. Think about investments, think about purchasing property, think about our next trip...and just let the creative energy flow. Think about ways to be more fully involved and engaged in this life I've been blessed with. Think about life. Think about my purpose...expanding my spirituality.
And, of course...time to *not* think...and just be.
There are so many things to do when not cooped up at work...running around crazy, neglecting your own needs, and giving your family all of your “left over” time and energy. I am a physician, and I love working as a doctor. Actually, I love being a doctor *because* I have plenty of time to *not* be a doctor. I spend more time being a mother, a wife, a daughter, and an individual than a “worker.” This is my definition of success.
Published on Thursday, 21 April 2011 22:08
Balancing work and home life.
I believe there is a "right time" for everything in life. A time to be a child. A time to focus on yourself. A time to focus on education. A time to focus on career. A time to become a parent. A time to focus on your family. A time to travel the world. A time to build an empire. A time to rest and observe. A time to celebrate. And, there comes a time to die.
These events occur for everyone at their 'perfect' (or seemingly imperfect) time. Many of these events overlap. Some people have “more” or “less” events. And we all try to accomplish as much as possible within the boundaries of time given to us by the Divine. And in our increasingly congested lives, we try to do everything, be everything, and have everything. But, one thing’s for sure: you cannot do everything WELL...all at the same time.
The (ongoing) women's liberation movement is wonderful. Each person should be recognized as a self-determining individual, and respected by society as such. However, now women are busier than ever - juggling so many tasks that it becomes impossible to complete them all with grace and success. This is true, because despite increasing female participation in the work-force, their home duties and responsibilities are often maintained. Planning healthy meals, caring for aging parents, staying home with sick children, grocery shopping, and many other household tasks fall into the laps of the women in the family.
What this means is: no one is getting the best YOU. If you have children, you may often find yourself torn between staying late at the office to finish up a project, and leaving early to attend your child’s school play. If you have a high powered job/career, you may find yourself missing major family events because “you are so important” at work, it becomes your second first home. If you are managing to be Super-Mom AND Super-careerwoman, you’re probably neglecting your own health, spiritual development, or losing your connection with everything and everyone important to you. You may be gaining unwanted weight. Your life may feel chaotic, disorganized, and everything you do is with a sense of urgency. It is not possible to do everything well…all at the same time.
So what to do?
Focus on what you *really* want. This inner desire will change over time. It will reshape and adjust as you progress on your life journey.
Published on Monday, 18 April 2011 07:34
In order to realize your full potential, you have to listen to your inner voice. That "gut feeling" or intuition that we possess guides us to our higher good. Our desires are of the Divine, placed in our hearts to help direct us in the way we should go. When we ignore our desires, and fail to follow the guidance of our intuition, we become frustrated.
My life so far has been an exercise in following the rules. If my mother told me something was good for me, I believed her. I realized that, if I followed the rules, things were good. My mother was always right, and I had a happy life.
This sentiment carried on through college, medical school, and residency. See, as a doctor-in-training, your educational course is all predetermined. If you study, do well on exams, participate in the curriculum, and have a good attitude...you will become a doctor. Once you become a doctor, everything will just "fall into place." Your dream job will appear, and you'll suddenly have everything in life you've ever wanted...or so the fantasy goes.
The thing is, very few of us think about life *beyond* this point - that is, until we get there.
I had a "good job" as an attending physician. Everyone seemed to think it was a very "safe" and respectable job. Many people spent their entire careers there. I was very excited to join this group.
But then, I became frustrated. And I was unsure why. Was it the frequency of my shifts? Maybe I was working too much, I thought. So I cut back.
But that didn't quite do it.
So I decided that my "dream job" would materialize if I went back and obtained more specialized training. I applied for, and got accepted into a medical toxicology program. And, even though I had some reservations...I figured "nothing worth having is easy."
I started the program, and immediately I had the feeling this path was not in line with my heart desires. But, was this feeling a feeling of "laziness" because I didn't want to do the work? Was it a lack of self-confidence that I could complete the program? Was it simply fatigue (after being in school for so long)? Was I worried about money realizing that I'm missing out on the opportunity to do real ER work in lieu of this (low-paying) fellowship?
I didn't want to jump ship prematurely if my feelings of frustration were rooted in my focus on negativity. After all, you cannot simply quit when the going gets tough, or else you will never accomplish anything worthwhile.
So how do we know if the feelings we feel are whisperings from the Universe to our Soul attempting to align us with our greater good, verses just our own human insecurities masquerading as "insight?"
When we are young, these messages are often crossed. It is indeed difficult to decipher between your ‘inner voice’ and all of the other ‘background noise’ in our heads. But through life experiences, if we pay attention, we begin to hear the difference between the two.
Initially, typically in our early to mid 20s, we are unable to hear the Universe talking to us in a whisper. We continue on our course of action, unable to hear the Universe in the whisper – so the Universe gets louder (as our discontent rise). And this continues in this way until a hammer comes down on our head (sometimes literally)! This is the Universe *shouting* at us. If we take intermittent moments of quiet time to analyze our actions and our lives (success, failures, and all), retrospectively we realize that “that voice” was there all along. The “lesson” becomes obvious as we replay the events in our lives, and learn from them.
As we become wiser, the Universe doesn’t have to shout as loud for as long. Something inside of us becomes acutely aware that “our direction is misguided” earlier and we are able to switch course, thereby avoiding the young adult catastrophes we may have endured in our early adult years. We are able to “hear” the whisperings of the Universe (or at least the soft voices). These ‘whisperings’ are your inner voices, your Divine energy, that is what you are.
So your challenge is to silent the background noise. If you are able to let go of the ‘distractions’ and focus on your very essence – the loving energy, the teacher, the peace-maker, and all things good; your life path will become clear, your purpose revealed, and your Soul able to experience the peace and happiness you came here to experience.
Published on Friday, 15 April 2011 07:31
Living a peaceful and purposeful life requires our full attention. There are many competing interests that distract us from this ultimate goal. Financial frustrations, health concerns, safety issues, and relationship worries frequently overwhelm us, and we feel lost, confused, frazzled, and unclear.
I intend to form a community where these issues are addressed, and insight can be provided from all of us, to all of us, to help maintain our sights on living a peaceful and purposeful life.