I have been trying to put into words the feeling of this past week. It’s an unsettled, persistent, background feeling, at times frightening, at times…
I have been trying to put into words the feeling of this past week.
It’s an unsettled, persistent, background feeling, at times frightening, at times tearful, and always-present.
Being a doctor, and a mother, and intermittently a teacher, I cannot wrap my mind around the choices that I’m forced to make. Especially when all the most important ones appear to be so completely out of my control.
In ordinary times, this week, the last week of summer, would be filled with trepidation and excitement. Last minute trips to buy school supplies, new backpacks and sneakers. Figuring out bus routes, homeroom assignments, and snuggling the crud out of my three gorgeous boys who are growing up way too fast.
Now, these everyday concerns seem so comforting, and so…painfully inadequate.
My heart aches for my rising Kindergartner, who has spent every school-day morning of the last three years watching his older brother get on the Big Yellow Bus, setting his heart on the dream of being a Big Boy one day, leaving home on his own grand adventure of growing up.
My heart aches for my close girlfriends, schoolteachers, prepping their classrooms right now and praying that not one student, teacher or loved one falls ill this year.
My heart aches for the millions of people who have a loved one who is already medically delicate, and fear the very real possibility of losing them this year.
I need to do something with this feeling, this deep burning ache in my chest, before it eats me alive.
I think about my own hurt, and then, the much greater hurt of so many people who, unlike me, are also struggling right now with loss of housing, of livelihood, and loss of connection to loved ones.
In Tibetan meditation traditions, there is a practice called Tonglen. It is practiced specifically in the darkest and most challenging of times, for healing hurt and anguish. Right now, this tradition feels deeply relatable.
In this tradition, my breath becomes a bellows. I breathe in all the hurt. I burn it up. I breathe out relief, clear refreshing oxygen.
I breathe in sadness, fear, hopelessness, anger.
I burn them up in the furnace of my heart.
I hold the emptiness for two beats. I feel the stillness.
I breathe out cool, refreshing, relief.
I pause, and I breathe in again. I imagine a room filled with smoke, acrid and bitter. My breath becomes the medicine, an air filter, a medicinal furnace. With every breath, the air becomes clearer, my sight becomes clearer. The room fills with life again. I feel tears, beauty, forgiveness, love, and acceptance.
And so, I breathe. The simplest of actions, an ancient rhythm, a heartbeat. I breathe in. I breathe out. I keep breathing.
May we all be healthy, and happy. May we all find love, joy, and forgiveness, this coming year.
May our children, and our elderly parents be happy, healthy, loved and fulfilled.
May all those who hurt, who feel isolated, alone, and abandoned, find love, health, happiness and fulfillment.
May we all heal together.
May the way forward become clear.
May we face it together, with love, courage…and compassion
For a short 4-minute Tonglen instruction from Buddhist teacher Pema Chödrön, click here.
One of the wonderful, and also challenging things about starting my own clinic, is being my own contractor for most projects. Direct Primary Care is…
One of the wonderful, and also challenging things about starting my own clinic, is being my own contractor for most projects.
Direct Primary Care is hands-on, and so is building my office!
This weekend, between keeping up with my three kids, laundry, and working on coming up with a home-school plan for the coming year (yikes!), I actually got a chance to clock in some woodworking time!
This autoclave table is one of the last must-do projects needed to getting my office in order. My autoclave is the beating-heart of procedure work, allowing me to sterilize equipment and prep my surgical kits. And, when fully filled, that sucker is HEAVY.
With some expert woodworking guidance from Bill Norman (thank you!!!) I learned how to navigate a table saw, chop saw, router, belt sander and drill to bring this lovely lady to fruition.
Curious what else I'm up to? Check out Grace Health's Facebook page!
In Health. --Annie
Dr. Norman Finds Serenity in Chaos While Raising Toddlers During A Pandemic The Buddha is quoted to say “Peace is not the absence of Chaos.…
Dr. Norman Finds Serenity in Chaos While Raising Toddlers During A Pandemic
The Buddha is quoted to say “Peace is not the absence of Chaos. Peace is being at the center of the storm, yet being calm in your Heart.” This has never been as true as right now, especially for families of small children.
It's time to be real.
These last few months have been DANG hard for families with little kids.
When life up-ends my plans, I find it especially hard to do the thing I am always telling other people to do. Who wants to see the up-side, when life is crashing down all around you?
You see, I have a brain that tends towards What-If scenarios. What if that large SUV skips the curb and hits my kiddo? What if a big wave scoops my kid into water too deep for them to touch, and they panic?
Turns out, humans are hard-wired for disaster thinking.
In her book The Science of Positivity: Stop Negative Thought Patterns By Changing Your Brain Chemistry, Dr. Loretta Breuning describes the reasons our brains seem hard-wired towards worst case scenarios. "It's not surprising that threats get priority in our brain...meeting a need feels good, but escaping a threat feels even better. This makes sense because a threat can wipe you out in an instant."
We are wired for disaster-thinking, because it helped our ancestors survive short-term threats. But it turns out, disaster-thinking also comes at a cost, as anyone who has been in a pessimistic frame of mind knows. Pessimistic minds are unhappy minds, long-term. And, is all that disaster-thinking helpful?
If I'd been informed months ago of what was coming, I probably would have flipped out. Lost hours of sleep, bit my fingernails until they bled. And...for what?
The sheer unexpected insanity of what was suddenly being asked of parents gave me an unexpected moment of calm. I take a moment to reflect on all the crazy, messed up things I used to worry about happening. Which, in the end, did nothing to prepare me for the crazy, messed up thing that is ACTUALLY happening. And, I'm grateful. For all the might-happens, that didn't.
Anxiety about made-up events in the future does nothing to help prepare for actual events in the present.
And I realize I'm living, in real-time, a lesson in animal psychology.
What can be gained from this?
For me...a deep sense of gratitude. That people are honestly more selfless, honest, compassionate and resilient than I gave us credit for.
Our society hasn't collapsed. Our phones and internet still work. And, my husband and I are a lot stronger than I thought we were, proving our teamwork can weather a pretty amazing storm.
And, when I look back at my life, I find that the times I most cherish in memory are the upside-down times, the in-between times, the times when my relationships with my friends and family glowed like bright stars in an unknown frontier. So, here's to a moment of beautiful, unguarded, shared humanity, and to the lessons learned in gratitude, trust...and love.
Experience Primary Care as it was meant to be. Affordable, accessible, patient-centered.