Thursday, July 14, 2022

Oh belly

Oh belly, what a complicated relationship we have had.

You cramped and cried out when our first little life in utero
    decided to prematurely take its exit.
You grieved in this sorrowful vacancy
    and ached for what could have been. 
You glowed with pride in all your bigness
    when you miraculously grew babies into existence.
You hang here now, and I eyeball and squish you often,
    wishing you away.

I don’t stop to rub you with affection and say,
    “good job- it’s been a rollercoaster.”

I want to love you the way I love my babies.
    I don’t want to just tolerate you. 

I want to embrace you,
    and honor you for your service.

Be patient with me,
    as I learn to reconnect with you
    in more healing ways.

Wednesday, June 8, 2022


to pause and savor bittersweet moments

that can shimmy underneath the

busy buzz of the day —

to truly taste each element to nourish

you from the inside out —

to sit in silence and feel peace, not fear,

in turning inward —

to settle into a bubble of peace that

brings comfort and clarity —

this is freedom

this is release

this is inner knowing.

Thursday, May 5, 2022

the flare

sometimes it's easier to keep pushing through
to roll up the windows and hit the gas
and maybe your tires are almost bald
needle teetering on the empty line
oil change way past due
and there's a funny sound under the hood
but if you hum just right it blends into the background music.

and then the battery dies
and you're stuck with silence 
and stillness
and it gets a little cold at night
and you rummage in the back for a blanket
and wait for a jump.

but no one's coming
you drove so far and left everyone behind
the flashes through the window were a dizzying display
and now, it's just darkness
and you wonder how things got so worn
and you're tired, oh so tired.

but you remember there's one flare in your trunk
and you wonder if it's worth it
and a tiny voice says yes
and with a deep breath, you add a flame
and suddenly, you're not alone in the cold anymore.

you drive the speed limit now
and you watch out for the check engine light
and look out for stranded vehicles along the way these days
cuz this baby's got some mileage
and it's going the distance.

Saturday, March 19, 2022

Fail Forward

Tears streamed down his cheeks with disappointment as folks laughingly declined his dandelions and found flowers he advertised as being "only five dollars!".

My son just wanted to have his own business, as he watched big sister successfully selling off her cookie inventory. I embraced him and tried to help him understand that the flowers unfortunately weren't nearly as appealing as the sweet treats. 

Suddenly something clicked in his little 5-year-old brain. He dried his cheeks and ran off to get some supplies. Before I knew it, he was churning out drawings and chasing after passersby, enthusiastically promoting his artwork for exorbitant prices, slowly bringing down the price until he hooked the customer in. One impressed individual even dug out a $2 bill for him to keep.

I've always been amazed at Ember's unfailing confidence - his ability to start up a conversation with a perfect stranger, his willingness to take risks, his sticktoitiveness, and his ability to be nimble when faced with adversity. I mean, let's admit it - it's hard to fail. It can make you want to hide in a dark closet and never come out. But some folks just have an uncanny ability to take it on the chin, dust off and get right back to it. Is it foolishness? Stubbornness? Denial? Or profound wisdom?

I think many of us could stand to learn a thing or two from this ability to switch gears and spin a failure into an opportunity for growth and greater knowing. For those of us who can easily struggle from analysis paralysis or let perfect be the enemy of good, it is a good reminder that if we aren't faced with disappointments or failures very often, we're probably not challenging ourselves or stretching our comfort zone enough. 

Of course it's a balance - you don't want to feel like you are constantly running ragged to meet some metric of success. It's important to have a foundation of self-compassion that allows you to return to a zone of safety when you feel too stretched. But it is fascinating to think about how much more innovation, and creativity might emerge in our society if people just gave themselves a little more room to fail forward. 

What can you do to push your boundaries and give yourself permission to discover and grow?

Saturday, February 5, 2022

To be enough

When you look in the mirror, where do you first rest your eyes? Many of us go straight to the part we don’t like. 

And when you reflect on your day, the one negative encounter you have can completely wash out countless other lovely encounters that brought you joy and satisfaction. 

We obsess over our to-do lists and how we’re not living up to some set of expectations, but rarely take time to reflect on our ever-expanding “done” list.  

Why are we apt to be so self-critical? Is it a survival strategy to identify threats to our ideal existence? Is it an evolutionary trait to drive us towards growth and progress? Whatever it is, it’s a major problem that absolutely threatens our mental health, especially if we have perfectionistic traits.

So often we focus on the things about ourselves that we want to change, but how often do we really luxuriate in the aspects of ourselves that we want to hold onto? This was a charge in a writing workshop I recently attended, and I found myself strangely emotional. It was disconcerting that this practice felt unnatural and challenging. Why did this intentional act of self-love feel so unfamiliar and awkward?

When I challenged myself to lean into it and really extract some good to muse on, it was incredibly healing. Tears welled up as I gifted myself that moment of self-celebration. What a powerful act to take the time to reflect on the pieces of oneself that fill you with pride. 

And to take it a step further, when we can really embrace our whole, raw, perfectly imperfect selves with all our flaws and the messy parts, that is true empowerment. The words "embrace imperfect" dangle from my rear view mirror and constantly remind me of this need to cultivate rich self-compassion and heal the aching wounds of inadequacy. Imagine if we all gave ourselves the same love and nurturing that we invest externally. Can you be your own best friend?

I challenge you to look at yourself in the mirror and say, I am enough. It might feel strange, and you might not believe it at first, but you are a complete human being doing the best you can in this moment. And that is more than enough.

“A moment of self-compassion can change your entire day. A string of such moments can change the course of your life.” ― Christopher K. Germer

Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Pouring from an empty cup

I was so juiced to donate platelets today. It's long overdue - between full-time work in the pandemic, wrapping up two professional development courses, my assorted "extracurricular" professional activities, and parenting/family commitments, I've been spent. But it's pretty hard to ignore the worst blood shortage crisis in over a decade, so I felt inclined to do my part. I worked really hard to get caught up on my work so I could make it to the appointment. I even got a solo hike in this morning and was feeling good about doing something for myself before I did something for others. This was going to be great!!

I show up to the donation center, ready to go - my hemoglobin level was excellent but my blood pressure was a little lower than usual. I noticed I was feeling a little dizzy, and I was starting to realize I hadn't hydrated enough. I hoped, though, that I could push through - just like we do in the clinical sphere - see patients now, hydrate later - no way to get enough water in with the consistent masking that is necessary these days. They get me in the chair, I queue up my movie and am ready to go-- I think. But I sorta know it's not going to go well. The nurses scrutinize my veins, squeeze my arms with blood pressure cuffs, tell me to "squeeze 3 times and hold it" - tap tap tap, squint. They are not pleased. They check the other arm. They put heating packs on me to try to get the veins to pop. No dice. They didn't even bother trying to poke me - they could tell it wouldn't be successful. I was sent on my way.

DAMN. IT. I get in my car and feel the tears well up. Then, the inner voice - "Why are you being such a weirdo? You can always try another time." I guess what I was feeling was frustration and sadness that I couldn't be of help in a crisis. And some of the frustration was self-directed, because I definitely should have known better and ensured I had been drinking enough water and had adequate nutrition to participate. But we health care workers are often really bad at the whole self-care thing - it's a running sad joke in medicine. It's even more embarrassing because I am the Wellness Director for my department and try to strive to walk the walk for my colleagues. 

But it's time to set the guilt to the side and see this as the lesson I apparently needed to relearn, again. You can't pour from an empty cup. It seems so obvious, yet we sure do try sometimes. And while doing all the right things for our own wellness can feel overwhelming at times, it doesn't have to be perfection. Sometimes it's just going to bed when you feel tired instead of trying to power through a few more items on the to-do list. Or keeping a bottle of water nearby to sneak swigs in when you can. Or doing a 3 minute meditation in the car before you transition from work to home. These tiny moments can be cumulative and are a powerful testament to prioritizing yourself just a little bit so you can keep doing the important work that makes your heart sing.

"Self-care is giving the world the best of you, instead of what's left of you." - Katie Reed

Friday, January 14, 2022

Family Medicine - where health is primary

I’ve got you When you’re sick or well Through your joys and sorrows I’ve got you Your children, partner, parents From birth to death, I’m there.

I treat the whole person
You’re not “the diabetic”, but rather
the resilient person who lost 30 lbs
and picked up a love for cycling
after we found those elevated blood sugars
I’ll be there with you, tissues and all,
Through the bad news
And we’ll figure it out together.
We’ll celebrate the joys, too
Life’s accomplishments, love and family
I’ll catch your babies
Then fall in love with them along with you
High-fiving at those well child checks
Marveling at their growth
[it happens so fast doesn’t it]
We’ll share stories while
I remove that suspicious mole
Or insert an intrauterine device
Or deliver a steroid shot into that tired joint
I’m your partner in care
With you on your path to wellness
My head, heart and hands are my tools
I’m here for you.
I’m your family doc.