Monday Mayhem: Dare to do what you love/hate!

We met a pediatrician recently who shared a story of his early days of clinical work. He and several other interns would see patients at a walk-in clinic. A nurse manager was responsible for doing the initial assessments then she would assign each patient to one of the doctors for treatment. As it was a clinic, there were no appointment, so on any given day one never knew what kinds of patients he or she would see.  However, this particular doctor noticed that he was getting all of the mental health patients while the other doctors were getting a variety, and often the “easy” stuff–runny noses and the common cold.  Annoyed by this apparent disparity and worn out by the more difficult patient load, he confronted the nurse manager.

“Why are you givng me all of these patients and not giving any to the other doctors? It’s not fair!” he complained.

“Why do you think?” she shot back. “You’re the only one who has proven you can actually help them. When I give those patients to the other doctors, they sit with them all day and get nowhere! My waiting room gets backed up and it’s a mess. I give them to you and you get them in and out.”

My doctor friend wasn’t sure how to respond to this, but vowed that once he had put in his time at the clinic and was able to open his own practice he would see to it that he would only see the kinds of patients that he wanted to and he would pass on those others…

Fast forward decades later this same doctor is now well-established and, indeed, in a position to choose the kinds of patients to treat, or not. And guess what? His pediatric patients who have come in with mental health issues have found his knack for counseling to be good medicine.  Word has spread to the wider community and his services have begun to fill a need. He now sees far fewer pediatric cases and far more mental health cases.

“Isn’t that something?” He said as he slipped into his crisp white coat and prepared to leave us. With a sigh and a shrug he waved goodbye and let the office door close behind him.

Then his nurse leaned in as if to share with us a little secret.”Don’t let him fool you,” she said. “He loves it, and he’s good with them. They come in here all down and depressed, then, next thing you know, you hear them in there laughing and talking. He’ll get down on the floor with them and draw pictures, all kinds of things. Before you know it, they’re leaving out of here all smiles and feeling better! He acts like he doesn’t like it, but he was meant to do this.”

Wow.

For some reason, her words hit me.

We usually assume that the things we’re meant to do are things we enjoy doing. Things we know we’re meant to do, not things we dread doing or things we try to avoid! Here’s a man who spent his entire career trying to avoid this type of work and yet he apparently has a gift for it. Is it possible that our gifts could be things we despise?

Might it actually be necessary to wrestle with the gifts and talents that we have as we figure out what we can and should be doing with them?

It seems to me that the moral of this story is that if we have a knack for something, if we’re naturally good at it–even if we don’t particularly care for it–we should not run from it. Maybe we aren’t meant to do it all the time–but for a time.  

But, when that time comes we must not turn away (if you’re good at it, and it can help someone, how can you say no?)… because some of our gifts we love… and some we hate.  It’s ok.  Do it anyway.

Happy Monday!

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P.S.Who’s on first? I make A Case for Second Place

Monday Mayhem: STRETCH!

I’ve always wanted to be a dancer.

It’s a truth that not many know about me! But there it is. In black and white now, for all the world to see. When I was a little girl my mom spoke often of putting me in ballet, but the cosmos did not align in my favor for many things that I wanted as a little girl.

Life happens.

You grow up. You tuck away your childhood dreams and go on.

I admired ballerinas from afar, attended Alvin Ailey performances and with my daughter watched the Nutcracker with awe and wonder.

Fortunately, when she expressed a desire to dance, I was able to enroll her in a little studio not far from our house and I’ve watched with awe and wonder as she’s developed grace and poise in a very short time. When I registered her for the summer the studio owner reminded me, again, that they offer “adult” classes and I told myself, again, that I’m “too old for this” now. My time has passed. I’m past my prime.

It would be a stretch to take ballet at my age…literally!

But, then I thought, why not stretch? Stretching is good! Physically, stretching increases range of motion, prevents injury and  improves balance, but psychologically? Emotionally? Professionally? Stretching can be scary. Reaching for goals that are not just beyond my reach, but beyond my zip code!  Extending myself to attempt things that are so far outside of my skillset that I have to do research before I can even start? No. My courage is a bit atrophied from decades of settling for tasks that fall safely within the parameters of my paygrade, from sticking with activities that lie limply under the canopy of my job description. So, the thought of crawling out from under that safe, yet confining space was frightening!

When atrophied muscles begin to move, the result is resistance. When we wander into unknown territory, the initial move is hard. To stretch beyond the comfort zone is to pull away from the familiar and to risk pain. That’s why it’s easier to stay where I am, to stick to what’s expected of me at my age, to settle, rather than to stretch.

But, there’s another reality:  if I do nothing I die! For years I’ve watched others do things I wished I could do. I’ve spent much of my life on the bench, observing from the sideline. At the end of my life will I be content to say, “boy it sure was fun to watch everyone else living their life!” No! It’s high time I get in the game and do some living myself!  Physically, if a person doesn’t move, they will deteriorate. Psychologically, emotionally and professionally the same is true too. Because anything that is not moving is declining; anything that isn’t living is dying!

The bottom line is, I have two choices. I can either get old or I can grow old.

If I get old I stay where I am, in my comfort zone, doing what’s safe, completing the easy tasks that I know I can do, never stretching myself to do any more or to try anything new. And every year I’ll get older.

Or I can step out of my comfort zone. Break away from what’s safe, challenge myself to tasks that seem too hard for me, stretch myself to do more than I think I’m capable of and to try new things that I never thought I could. And every year I’ll grow older.  I’ll stretch, I’ll change; hopefully I’ll be stronger and better for the effort and experience.

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So, what about you? Do you need to stretch? Have you settled into a safe space and allowed your literal or metaphorical muscles to atrophy? Maybe it’s time to peek out from under your canopy. In the meantime, if, you’ll excuse me, I have some stretching to do, my ballet class will be starting soon!

  • Learn more about the benefits of stretching from Prevention
  • Learn more about my favorite little dance studio Arabesque Dance Arts
  • Also, check out “Hi, I’m K” where I’ve uploaded pictures from my ballerina daughter’s birthday “spa” party!

*Want more Monday Mayhem? Click here!

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Monday Mayhem: Wonder Woman!

Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve loved Wonder Woman!

Correction: when I was a little girl, I believed I was Wonder Woman!

I would dress up in my favorite little jumpsuit, spin around so I could transform from my human self to my superhuman self and I’d grab my jump rope, er, my lasso and I’d run around the back yard singing my “Wonder Woman” theme song and chasing imaginary bad guys.

I was fearless.

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small doesn’t serve the world. There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We are born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It is not just in some of us, it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others. MaryAnne Williamson

So you can imagine my excitement when the new Wonder Woman movie came out. My whole childhood came flooding back–all of the giddiness and nostalgia for that shero who kicks butt like no other woman in history! I saw the new movie and it was great. Gal Gadot is amazing as Wonder Woman. She’s everything a little girl’s hero is supposed to be!

Fearless.

But, over the years when I have read the MaryAnne Williamson quote above I have struggled with the notion that I am powerful. Williamson’s words encourage, but also challenge me. They are comforting but also galvanizing. In the same breath that she says “don’t worry” she also says “get up!” She will not tolerate belly-aching.

In Wonder Woman there is a scene on the battle field when the men try to persuade Diana that although her desire to help the people in one village along the front devastated by the war were merely necessary casualties not worth saving, she refuses to move on towards her ultimate destination without doing something to help.  But her companions insist that her efforts will be useless.

How often do I convince myself that my efforts will be useless?

There are always reasons why I can’t—I can’t get time off from work, can’t get the extra funds, can’t muster the courage. Williamson says we ask “who are we to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous,” but I’ve never once asked myself these questions! I have taken it for granted that I am none of these!

Yet she says who am I not to be?

Williamson, like Wonder Woman, asks why not?

With this statement she challenges my existentialism.

In the politics of popular opinion, she demands  a recount:  Who am I “not” to be implies that I have made myself exceptional by denying what is.  I have actually stepped outside of truth in search of a lie! ‘Who am I “not” to be suggests that I have taken up my bed, walked out of my house and into a foreign land in search of home.

As I ponder how foolish this sounds, I am left with no response to her question. And neither did those men who watched, dumbfounded, as Diana strutted onto the battlefield as if it were a New York runway. With sheer confidence and not a shred of fear Wonder Woman handled her business!

So, what are we waiting for? My younger self would have done the same! I would have donned my superhero costume and claimed my superhero title without any hesitation. So, what happened with age and the suppposed acceptance of reality? The loss of gumption. The inability to stake claim to the possibilities.

What Wonder Woman and Williamson have reminded me is that “we are all meant to shine [because] we are born to make manifest the glory of God who is within us.”

So, get out there and fulfill your destiny. Do the impossible!

Happy Monday!

Let’s start by doing the Jumprope