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March 31, 2018

As an undergraduate student in college, I remember speaking with a mentor regarding my thoughts and feelings towards a particular situation. A project I was considered to be a catalyst in was given to a graduate student in need of a thesis topic. As I was discussing the situation with this mentor, I also shared my approach to managing my thoughts and emotions, which was to acknowledge and experience the emotions, then address them and move on in a way that felt resolved to me. 

His response was surprising and created questions for me to consider.  

“That’s not what people typically do,” he reflected. “Usually they suppress the emotions or try to change them.”

Was he projecting his approach to handling difficult emotions? Was this expressed thought representative of men or people within the scientific community? Did I truly have a different approach to addressing emotions than the rest of society? 

Our conversation continued as I explained my rationale for this approach. I’m thankful t...

March 1, 2018

February is a short month, but full of meaning and important days. It’s Black History Month. It has Groundhog Day, President’s Day, and the Super Bowl. Of course, there’s always Valentine’s Day, which brings up a variety of emotions. 

February also holds personal significance for me. My husband and I met in February shortly before Valentine’s Day at a speed dating event that was the backdrop for a commercial, which is a fun story for another time. This year, it’s also been fun reflecting on the wild adventure of life that we’ve been on since that fateful night. 

The reminiscing reminded me of an important aspect of our dating. Before meeting my future husband, I came across a book entitled “101 Questions to Ask Before You Get Engaged”. Although I was single at the time, I thought it seemed like a good idea to start answering these questions for myself so that I could gain more clarity in what I was looking for in my life and a potential partner. 

A few weeks into our dating, I mentioned t...

January 30, 2018

Recently, there was a wall in our home that was calling out for a tall white bookcase. As it turns out, tall white bookcases are not easy to find in furniture stores where I live. Therefore, I went online, found one that seemed perfect for the area, and ordered it. A large, heavy box arrived on our doorstep a few weeks later. It was the unassembled bookcase. My husband and I dragged the box into the living room and left it there for an equal number of weeks. Neither of us felt like assembling the pieces. Eventually, my desire to organize, decorate, and place books in their new location overcame my inertia to assembling the bookcase. As I opened the cardboard box and began the next steps in making this bookcase a reality, I realized how putting together a bookcase is an analogy for bringing any idea to reality. 

For example, I experienced the idea as a calling. It was followed by inquiry and action, only to be met with subsequent inertia, a tendency to stall or inability to change....

December 30, 2017

The other evening I went to a community event where the organizer asked each person to write down a commitment for the upcoming year. This suggestion made me reflect on my first experience of deliberately setting intentions. 

During my freshman year in college I was part of an organization in our dorm that met weekly to build community amongst the students. Towards the end of the semester our facilitator asked us to make a list of 25 things that we wanted to see or do within our lifetime. It didn’t matter how outrageous the ideas seemed or whether we had any concrete plan to bring them to fruition. The task was to reflect and write. It was my introduction to what some refer to as a bucket list. 

My 18-year-old self initially thought, “This is stupid”. 

Nonetheless, I was impressionable and open to trying new things. I went ahead and wrote down 25 items. Some were ideas that seemed really cool to me, such as traveling to distant lands, living in a city, and learning another language. Some...

November 30, 2017

A few of weeks ago I had an unusual craving for fried chicken. It’s unusual given that I eat a primarily plant-based diet and cannot recall the last time I had fried chicken. Nonetheless, this craving was intense and demanding. When I went to pick up a few items from the local grocery store, I found myself in the deli department ordering two pieces of fried chicken legs. I devoured those as soon as I returned to my car and followed it with a big swig of lemonade I had also just bought. All of it was absolutely delicious. My craving and belly were satisfied. 

The following week I found myself at the same grocery store. This time, I stuck to my grocery list and stocked up on multiple items. As I was pushing the cart out to my car, I reflected on how much food I had just bought. It would surely last awhile, and I wondered if I bought too much. Letting food go bad was a cardinal sin in my parents’ house, and I carry the same sentiment with me as an adult. 

While loading the groceries into my...

October 16, 2017

Once I was mentoring a junior colleague on a direct admission to the hospital. She called asking for advice on what she should do, as there was an issue with the patient's insurance. The hospital was out of network for the patient’s insurance, which meant that the patient could not be directly admitted unless the patient wanted to pay for the hospital stay out of pocket. My colleague spent significant time and effort looking into other options, as well as talking with the case manager, the primary care doctor, and the patient about these other options. Ultimately, the patient decided to go to another hospital. Before this choice, however, my colleague wasn't sure what the patient would decide or what else she needed to do regarding the situation. I encouraged my colleague to document & communicate the work she had done by adding a note into the patient's electronic medical record.

I was taken aback by my colleague’s response.

"But I didn't do any work."

Given the lack of tangible written...

September 3, 2017

Nature is amazing and full of symbolism if we’re willing to recognize it. 

The other afternoon I was caring for the flowers and plants in my backyard and was shocked to see a camouflaged snake chilling out in my garden about one foot away from my bare ankles. Admittedly, I was a little freaked out & paralyzed with fear as I thought of my next move. 

“Um, snakes, lizards, and reptiles are supposed to be seen in the zoo, in a cage, or on hikes, not in my backyard.” 

This was one of the clear thoughts that came to mind, followed by “I’ve gotta take a picture because this is unbelievable.” 

Fortunately, my phone is now a permanent appendage somewhere on my body and was readily available to snap a picture of this critter. I shared the picture with family and received texts of amazement, as well as one of a GIF with Indiana Jones surrounded by snakes. I appreciated the shared surprise, the humor, and the acknowledgment of my right to be afraid. 

It’s likely a harmless garden snake, but I have nev...

August 24, 2017

Can you imagine working your whole life to reach a goal & have society tell you it isn't enough for you to be accepted and celebrated, that there's more you need to accomplish in order to be fully accepted as enough?

A friend recently shared a video of a man at a conference communicating to a room full of men and women advice his father provided him as a rule regarding women. The message was that “there’s something wrong”  with a woman over the age of 32 who has never been married and does not have children. The speaker added that every time he’s applied this rule, “it’s been accurate”. There was a strong reaction from others at the conference with one women explaining to this man that the described woman was making life decisions to support herself and her future family. In short, the described woman is a boss. 

Even with that powerful response, what do you do with this man’s generality if you are the 32 year old woman who is not married and does not have children? How is it possib...

July 10, 2017

My husband and I recently bought our first house. The previous owners provided detailed instructions about everything in and outside of the house, including the garden that has multiple newly planted white rose bushes. The previous owners included a comment regarding the roses. They heard that rose bushes would bloom more flowers if any yellow, dying flowers were trimmed. These decaying blooms drew energy away from the rest of the plant. After a gorgeous Spring bloom, the flowers began turning yellow and brown. As such, I sought out gardening sheers at our local gardening store. With knowledge and shears in hand, I confidently trimmed all the rose bushes. After the beautiful Spring bloom, our bushes now were one third of their size. I trusted the blooms would return and wondered when.

Then, the gardener came a few weekends later.

“What happened to the bushes” he asked. 

“The flowers were dying so I trimmed them” I replied, adding “obviously” to myself. However, I started to wonder if I ha...

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© 2019 by Christie Masters MD