Tag Archives: gratitude

Gentle Reminder

Sometimes, you just need a simple message to remind you of what’s important:

Food Lab, West Hollywood

Food Lab, West Hollywood

If you can do just these three things today, you’re ahead of the game. Happy Hump Day!

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Kind of a Big Deal

About 22 months ago, I asked my boss to take a week of sick leave because I wasn’t feeling quite well. In my own estimation and the opinion of other medical professionals, that sounded like enough time to get some good rest and back on track if not completely better. No one, least of all me, thought that I would so quickly fall down the rabbit hole. I wouldn’t return to work for several months and when I did, it would be part-time. During those first months back, this day seemed a pipe dream, if not completely ludicrous. I am so very grateful for my job, my boss and the higher-ups who supported me. I have been restored to good health for some time and have been intermittently working 40+ hours/week but due to scheduling, logistics, and contractual stipulations/obligations, today is officially my first day back working full-time. It feels a bit like the first day of school. I’m wearing a pretty dress. I made myself pancakes to celebrate. (I’d have a mimosa if I didn’t have to actually go to work). Though I have been around enough to no longer believe that “everything happens for a reason,” I do still believe that every experience, even the very unpleasant ones, add to your life. Whether by removing a layer of your naivety, showing you a strength you didn’t know you could muster, or revealing who really has your back when the chips are down, you are changed. Big hugs and thank yous to those who had faith in me when I had all but lost my own. And to the doubters, sorry to disappoint. I’m back. And I’m here to stay.

I can't wait to see this on Thursday. Photo courtesy of Universal Studios.

I can’t wait to see this on Thursday! Photo courtesy of Universal Studios.

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Go Ahead, Make My Day

Still on my Bucket List of Places To See.

Still on my Bucket List of Places To See. Photo Courtesy of Grand Canyon NPS (W. Tyson Joye)

I’ve been a little MIA because my day job has been my day-into-night job this week. Despite being tired and my house looking like it was ransacked, it’s been a really good week. Even beyond the mundane frustrations of a large metropolitan hospital, some weeks I joke that I am just “staving off death” rather than “saving lives.” Yesterday, I was reminded that I didn’t take an oath to fix illness, but rather to try and alleviate suffering.  I was delivering the good news to a patient who had been eager to go home for several days; I had spent much of the week reassuring his worried wife (who herself apologized, “sorry, I’m so neurotic!”) and attempting to explain his condition-low salt levels in the blood, which in his case was, counterintuitively, due to an excess of free water in his blood. He was a chemistry teacher in his pre-illness life and despite my crude drawings on the dry erase board, we were getting nowhere until I channeled high school chemistry class: “there’s not enough solute for the amount of solvent.” Eureka!

As I was leaving his room, my patient said: “You are awesome. That’s the word I used when I saw the Grand Canyon for the first time when I was eighteen. Awesome.”

Wow, I told him, gesturing my hands like a balancing scale: me, Grand Canyon. Gentleman, pay attention: if that’s not a compliment, I don’t know what is. I told him that I will put that in my special mental shoebox that I dip into when work is frustrating, when patients or their families yell at me, when I haven’t peed or eaten because I am trying to work faster, for when I forget to be grateful that I get to do the work I do, even when anyone who works in a medical setting will tell you it is so incredibly not glamorous despite its media portrayal (no McDreamies or McSteamies here…though a cute murse did put his phone number in my coat pocket while we were squeezed in a supply closet once…but I digress).

It was one of the most original thank yous I have ever received, at work or otherwise. And it made my day. So if you have the chance today and feel a desire to thank anyone in your life for something, do it. It just might make their day. And yours. Happy Monday! :)

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Brand New Day

Haleakala at sunrise.

Haleakala at sunrise.

During the Missing Year, I often searched for meaning in unexpected places.  You know you’re probably not in the best shape when you look to fortune cookies, songs on the radio, and graffiti for hope, a sign from the Universe, anything really, to convince you to keep hanging on for dear life.

Just after the new year, I was driving on a wide expanse of highway that has a view of the city. A Joshua Radin song came on the Pandora station I happened to be listening to:

It’s a brand new day
The sun is shining
It’s a brand new day
For the first time in such a long long time
I know, I’ll be ok

—Joshua Radin, Brand New Day

And at that moment, it occurred to me that I finally, truly believed that last line again. And with it came a huge sense of relief and gratitude that I thought would never come. But no matter how bad the nightmare is, there is always a morning.

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Unbelievably Grateful

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This quote has a permanent place on my fridge to remind me to be grateful of what I have and not to get caught up in what I still want (air quotes) and do not currently have. It reminds me that there is a big difference between “wants” and “needs.”

I have dealt with depression before (most recently, the entirety of 2014, which I refer to as the Missing Year because I was missing from my own life and the lives of those I love and care about). Suffice it to say that for months on end, I was only able to sleep 3-4 hours per night. And sometimes, as I was finally falling asleep, I wished that I wouldn’t wake up. Not because I wanted to die, but because I didn’t know if I could get through another day feeling the way I was feeling.

Yesterday, I was running along a favorite path that I hadn’t been to in a while. The sun was shining, it was 80 degrees out (a big apology for mentioning this to all East Coasters and Midwesterners) and I was running faster than my usual pace.  I do not listen to music when I run. Partly because when I am not depressed, I value my life and don’t want to be surprised by traffic, but partly so I have time to think or just listen to my breath or feet hitting the ground. It’s probably the closest I get to meditation. Yesterday, the thought crossed my mind: even if nothing in my life changed from how it is right now, I would be okay with it. In fact, more than okay. I am happy right here, right now. And for my friends who saw me through 2014, they know how this is nothing short of a miracle. And how incredibly grateful I am to have been restored to myself.

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