A New Year, New Opportunities
2016 was one for the books. It became a roller coaster of a year. For me it was riddled with so many blessings mixed with so many losses. For some time to come, I will look in the mirror and remember 2016. In 2013, when I got fed up with being pregnant, commuting, and mud-slinging healthcare corporations…I did not imagine this. CWC has taken on its own meaning and purpose. For those of you who do not know, it started as an idea for a camp to help children lose weight with plant based diets….And it blossom from there, out of necessity and maybe a greater purpose that I am not sure that I know yet.
In 2016, I lost my grandmother. She was sick. I know that people “go.” What I didn’t understand is that I feel such a great connection to my lineage and ancestry through my grandmother. My great-grandmother lived to 99, albeit with Alzheimer’s. I went with my grandmother to visit her, to tell stories of the past. She survived the great depression, civil rights era, poverty with such grace. My grandmother fed me religion. My grandmother was the cook and the seamstress, the person that cared about curtains and hair as much I do. The one who was married with children like me…You see, I felt connected to the universe via my grandmother. My mother seems to be the connection to me and my childhood. While I have a good sense of self, I felt like a flag blowing in the wind hanging on to my past. At the same time, with my burn (for those who do not know, I sustained second degree burns to my face shortly before – like a week – my grandmother passed) I felt like I wore that feeling on the outside. I am realizing that those burns may be more of map to an unknown destination, not a reminder that something bad happened. Because maybe it wasn’t that bad after all. Death is not such a bad deal for her, just us mortal folks down here.
In this crazy busy world, I am constantly telling everyone to SLOWWWWWW down, way down. Think: ‘do I need to do this? Do I want to do this? How does it make me feel?’ I am always in need of the same advice. Juggling with raw eggs and one is bound to fall and crack. You go through daily praying that it’s not the sanity egg that falls. Far too many go by, day after day, thinking this way. When do we say it is too much, we need to simplify? At the beginning of the new year, I take time to reflect on the goals I set up for this year. So how did I do? Well, I uh, met my weight goal…and I lost it again. Ok the rest wasn’t so good either. So looking on to a new year. 2017!
So this year is simple, simplify.
RULE #1: I cannot add to the plate without removing something. I decided I wanted to teach. I got a professorship at Rowan, and I am loving it…but maybe it was a bit much. Lesson learned. Love teaching, check. Not in the middle of a major practice renovation, check.
RULE #2: Know your priority list and know it well. 1) There is more to this life than you. 2) My children (They did not ask to be here.They were sent to me so you better treat them as such until they are self-sufficient.) 3) My sanity 4) My husband (Yeah 2016 taught me that my marriage needs my sanity lol! Only 17 years to learn that lesson…again. 5)Physical Health – feel good, move more, provide the example. 6) My growth 7) The rest of my family 8) My practice 9) My students ….That is my order, and I think I got it right. Sometimes 2, 3, 4 or 5 can move around, but don’t go put #9 as #1, because it does not belong there. If there is no #1-7, there is no 8 or 9. It’s not mean, it’s not cruel. It just is. And this list changes as you change. You noticed weight as a number is NOT on that list…Because I had a number in my head but forgot about the person attached to it. So MY priorities are in order first, and then I get to that number. The number is eight by the way, eight pounds.
RULE #3: Have fun. We went to New York with children. I remember that it is possible to have fun and practice medicine. I forget that sometimes. So more trips, much fun. That’s what virtual visits are for, right?
RULE #4: Circles back to #1. Just say NO. Yes, say no to drugs, but for me say to no….lots of thing. Say no to that extra step in the PTA. Say no to that drug rep who wants an extra meeting. Say no to that extra pre-med student, you do not have time. Say no to an extra meeting, mindless phone call, extra shift, no, no, no…. However say yes to date night, walking your baby girl to school, to hugs, to late night dinner with friends, to hot chocolate on the porch, and finally….SAY YES TO HELP!!!
Do you know why I tell you this stuff? Because I am human. No one installed a panel of switches in my spinal cord in medical school. No one pronounced me half-human, half-medical machine. So why do I, key word- I – treat myself that way? No one asks me to be so selfless that there is no more SELF, then you just end up with LESS. These things do not make me selfish. I know everyday my patients struggle not with being selfish, but with overly selfless. I want you to see the beauty in making mistakes and putting it back together, imperfectly. I am a better physician for my struggles. It is a daily struggle. I get joy sometimes from the medicine, but mainly from the interactions. I feed off positive interactions. Make sure you allow yourself to make mistakes and have positive interactions EVERY day. You are not a machine, you are human. You are bright, beautiful, mystical, broken, cool, and uncanny. You are masculine, feminine, hardworking, lazy, excited, fatigued, and growing all at the same time. You are chromosomes, proteins, bacteria, fungi, disease, health, superfood, donator, connector, and destructionist right now….at this very moment….and that’s ok!
This year, it’s all ok. Be you, sit and think about it…and how beautiful it is. Say no. Say yes. Say thank you. In the mirror.
Love Dr. Chandler