Core beliefs

Letters to a young doctor… Learning to say No

Letters to a young doctor… Learning to say No

‘What has been the hardest lesson you have had to learn?’

‘Saying No instead of Yes….’

Hello….

It has been surprising to me that the hardest lesson I learned from Medicine is how to say “No’.  I suspected the lessons in school would be the hardest, maybe the ways to have delicate conversations, or to sit with the dying.  However, nothing comes close to learning to say “No’. 

Lessons in Love...

Lessons in Love...

‘I am curious about your use of the word allow.’

My breath caught in my throat, tightness grabbed at my heart, and for a second the sense of vertigo was there, I was on the precipice looking down.  What had she seen, what had I shown, and why did she hone in on that phrase. 

‘I want to offer you some words… notice what happens when you hear them…. It’s OK to allow yourself to be loved.’ 

I turned in, felt the instability in my seat, felt myself twisting just a bit as I looked into that place where it felt scary. 

Memories of Africa....

Memories of Africa....

The moon, large, yellow, rises slowly above the trees, sounds of the jungle can be heard in the early evening, strange and foreign to my ears.  Sitting on the cement flooring that marks the porch edge for the school we are building, I have a moment of clarity, my place on the earth. I see it on a globe, glowing brightly, so far away from everything I know. Rising with the moon,  an urge in my heart, to walk into the forest, disappearing from all that is known, into a place where everything familiar to me no longer exists. Into a place where everything unnecessary, unessential, is stripped away.

Stepping toward fear...

Stepping toward fear...

“Fear is a natural reaction to moving closer to the truth” 
― Pema ChödrönWhen Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times

I am struck by the honesty of this quote, there is a deep truth within this understanding, there is a fear in moving, edging closer to the deep truth that lays within us all.  This has been the 11th block of a 15-block training in Hakomi Mindful Somatic Psychotherapy, and as per usual, I am sitting at the Newark Airport feeling a little shaken up by the process. 

Where the fear comes from...

Where the fear comes from...

What is it that hold me back?  What keeps me from being all that is within me?  It is a funny question for me to ask, given the work I am doing to help others finds their way through this briar patch.  I know, deep inside, that this answer is within, but as I sit here with this question, my mind provides me all sorts of reasons why I cannot step into that place, and as I look at these reasons, they all circle around fear, the fear of rejection.

Needing to be helpful.....

Needing to be helpful.....

Sometimes Medicine wants more than you can give, and there are many times in the past when I’ve given Medicine everything I had and a little bit more. These days, I give medicine what it deserves and nothing more. I don’t spend myself into debt for Medicine, I don’t empty my emotional banks to make sure that Medicine is full, I do what I can and when I get to the end of what I have to give Medicine, I stop.

The inner child...

The inner child...

He is watching me as I go about my morning.  I can feel him just below the surface, noticing what I am up to.  He is ever curious, this little one, and lately he has not been far away.  I can hear his questions about what I am doing, why I am doing it, and what it all means.  He is always asking ‘Why?’ and as often as I can, I work to answer his questions.  He did not used to visit me at all, and for the longest time, I did not know he existed. 

Organizing help out of my life…..

Organizing help out of my life…..

I did not need help.  I could do it myself.  I never asked, and anyone who worked with me for any length of time quickly understood that they did not need to ask either.  This was my modus operandi. This was how I unconsciously organized my life, and it was no more in my conscious awareness than the steps needed to ride a bike, or tie my shoes, chew gum while walking, it just happened in the background all day long, completely unknown to me for many, many years.

The barrier.....

The barrier.....

It was an ordinary evening, we had enjoyed a lovely supper, and were engaged in the after-dinner discussion of the day.  There was nothing to foreshadow the bomb that was coming my way… ‘you know’ said Nancy, ‘you left Texas to come someplace new…. And to do something different than you were doing in Texas… but it looks to me like you have recreated that life on PEI….’ She was right, and it had not even taken two years.  I had come with the dream of finally setting boundaries between my work and the rest of my life, and finding balance between the two.  I had walked away from the busy academic career to restart my medical practice and ‘get it right’ this time.  But here I was, once again doing what I had always done…. Filling my life so completely that there was no room for all of it and certainly no room for anything else, medicine had once again taken over.

Are you listening...

Are you listening...

There is was again, the anger, arising from seemingly nowhere, red hot and ready for battle.  Why is it here again, and what can I do to help keep it at bay?  It would come up suddenly, and in that moment of recognition I would stop and look to see where this anger came from, why it arose once again.  What a frustrating process this was, each time I would look it seemed that I saw only blank walls with no path forward.  Again and again I would return to this quandary, looking for the way in, the path to understanding, knowing where this anger came from and why.....