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Grasping Our New Reality

I still wake up every morning and check my reality.  For a second I think it’s all a dream and I’m going to get up, get ready and get the kids up and ready for school….and then it hits me.  My new reality.  We are on  lockdown in our homes due to a viral global pandemic.  I’m sure soon it will not feel like a dream and it will be my reality but for now I’m still trying to wrap my head around it.

I get it… believe me, as a physician married to a physician working the front line, I really get it.  We need to social distance, we need to home school, we need to cancel all events, we need to shut down the economy to save lives.  But, I still don’t “get it.”  There’s so many layers happening.  We need to protect ourselves and each other and rather then fighting a war outside, we are being asked to fight this one from our couch.  It seems like a simple enough task, but so many of us are having a hard time.

We are being asked to cancel life events that we’ve been planning for months or years, we are being asked to home school our kids with no experience but fortunately with the help of amazing teachers virtually, we are being asked to distance ourselves from loved ones, we are being asked to give up our livelihoods and stop working, and some are being asked to risk their health so that they can provide essential care.  I get it…but it doesn’t mean we can’t be sad about it…all of it.

My son just had a bar mitzvah.  There were 10 people there; our Rabbi and our closest family. He was called to the torah… via zoom, he was watched by our friends and family…via zoom.  It was the most surreal and beautiful experience of my life.  It was the best worst case scenario.  Over 100 people watching and supporting us virtually.  Nine days before the event we were having a catered luncheon at our house with a photo booth and a game truck and slowly over the week as news of Corona pandemic spread we were asked to only have immediate family at our synagogue.  During that 9 day period, I was in denial, I cried, I bargained, I gat mad…I finally accepted and we tried to make it the most positive experience for our son.  We forged on and called it the “Barred” Mitzvah.  We made it work, and made some incredible memories.

But here’s the key element to my story;  I. Had. To. Mourn.  I had to grieve the fact that my reality had changed,  I had to mourn that what my son envisioned for his special day, for a day he worked so incredibly hard for, was not going to come to fruition.  And that’s ok. Many people applauded us for being positive, but before the positivity, came the overwhelming sadness and sense of loss.

Don’t skip that step!  We have all lost something, whether or not you had to cancel an event, our reality changed overnight. And in the end, we all need to be positive and look at the beauty of it (yes, there is beauty in it!), but before that we must mourn the loss of the reality we had a brief time ago.  We must let ourselves feel the grief, we must let our loved ones feel the grief and then get to a place of acceptance.  I have overwhelming gratitude for the way our son’s bar mitzvah turned out but it all came with time and perspective.  Give you and your loved ones grace and be okay with feeling sadness and grief, go through the stages to get yourself to acceptance and hopefully to the place of joy and love. One day at a time.

Grief is like the ocean; it comes on waves ebbing and flowing. Sometimes the water is calm, and sometimes it is overwhelming.  All we can do is learn to swim- Vicki Harrison

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Faces of Womanhood

We have a photo wall in my house of black and white pictures from different important stages of our lives.  I love the pictures, I love how the wall looks, and I stare at it often.  It’s on a wall between our 3 bedrooms and the laundry room, so let’s just say…I pass by it…a lot! Sometimes I take a moment to really look at it, not just fly by, and I usually just look at the kids but the other day I stared at my face in each picture.  No idea what prompted me to do that, I hate looking at myself in general let alone analyzing a photo of myself but each face told a story and this is how it went.

My Wedding Day:
I was ecstatic!!!!! It was hands down the best day of my life.  It started with the usual stresses, but the wedding was immensely fun!  The picture is of me with my husband during our first dance.  I’m beaming with a smile ear to ear…I’m truly happy.  We had no time to choreograph our dance, we were barely in the same city, let alone the same room before we got married.  But I didn’t care how lame we looked just holding each other and swaying like teenagers.  I was married to the love of my life and I was the happiest girl in the world!!!!  Plus I felt like a princess in that wedding gown!

The Birth of Thing 1:
It was exactly 7 days after he was born, his Bris (a religious circumcision ceremony).  Probably the most stressful event for a new mom.  In the picture, my husband and I were holding him and kissing the top of his head.  I look terrified! A complete look of self doubt and uncertainty. Am I holding him too tight, too loose, is he okay, will he be okay, what happens if he cries, what happens if he doesn’t cry, is he too hot, too cold?  I literally was worried about everything and felt responsible for every single emotion he may be having.  And I was certain I was going to mess it all up!

The Birth of Thing 2:
The pictures were taken 2 weeks after she was born, Thing 1 was 2.5 years old. My husband and I had a house, a mortgage and 2 kids and I felt like a real grown up.  We could actually afford a fancy studio photographer, and fancy birth announcements.  I now had 2 little people counting on me… and I was… exhausted.  In this particular picture of the 4 of us, I looked impatient.  I looked like I had a fake smile and I remember thinking, please everyone just look at the freakin camera…just one decent picture.  Hoping my naked baby does not poop on me. Hoping Thing 1 doesn’t tantrum and refuse to be in a picture, hoping we can get the perfect birth announcement…..Thinking:  Just keep it together people….!

So then I thought what would my current self tell my past self:
On My Wedding Day:
Remember this day and this feeling forever!  The love you have will literally carry you through some dark times.  You will be challenged, beyond the point you think you can endure and you will doubt yourself… a lot. Some days will feel like it’s too hard to keep going.  You will walk through fire, sometimes alone, sometimes with your husband by your side, sometimes him holding you and sometimes you holding him.  But you will come out the other side holding each other and completely in love! You are stronger than you think.

The Birth of Thing 1:
You have so many doubts, everything in you is unsure and worried. That’s okay, your son doesn’t see any of that.  He doesn’t care if you nurse him or give him the bottle. He knows you love him with all your heart and loves you right back.  You’re his rock, the one he comes to when things go wrong and you figure sh*t out and tell him it will be okay.  And he believes you ’cause you’re mom.  You got this, and…You are stronger than you think.

The Birth of Thing 2:
The next couple of years will be tough.  You will feel like you will never have your sh*t together… again…like ever! Your kids will get hurt and you will feel like the worst mom ever.  Sh*t gets real.  But things get better, they always get better.  You walk through fire again…and again…and again, but you get through it, stronger everytime.  You will meet many guardian angels throughout the way. In many different forms, just be open to it, to all of it. Life is messy and unpredictable and so hard for your controlling personality but you gotta let it go girl!  Just let it go and enjoy these fleeting moments.  They don’t last.  Be present and don’t worry about the perfect picture, the memory behind the picture is so much better….Oh…and you’re stronger then you think.

You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think- Winnie the Pooh

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Lessons From My Dog

I…am…NOT…a dog person!  I’ve said this many times over the years, and yet here I am sitting next to my dog while I write this post.  I’m really not though.  I always thought they were cute but didn’t really think they were for me.  And when we realized my daughter had an allergy to dogs and I knew we were never gonna get one…well, that  was A-ok with me.  But just as all things that you plan in life, things changed and we ended up with a cute hypoallergenic mixed breed rescue puppy who is very much a part of our family….Tank.  In a weird way he fulfilled that part of me that needed to take care of something again; since my babies were no longer babies.  Having another child was not in the cards for us for many reasons, but the mommy strings were still tugging at my heart…and this little guy filled that hole!

But….little did I know that #toughlittletank would actually have many lessons to teach me…

1.Love your humans hard…whether your loved one has been gone for 5 minutes or 5 years greet them with all the excitement in the world and show them your love!….Tank never ceases to greet us with all his love, attention and full wagging tail!  He really knows how to make a girl feel loved!

2. Work hard, play harder…..Tank never passes up time to play with a friend and always gives it his full energy and attention!…Time with friends is precious and something we have to make time for in our daily craziness!

3. Naptime is always a good idea!….Nuf said!

4. Never say no to a treat….Duh!

5. Follow your people where they may take you…trust the ones you love! …..In Tank’s case, that would mostly be the bathroom! But this could also be yourself and your dreams and goals.  Often times we down play that voice inside of us…DON’T…trust it, follow it…you never know where you might end up!

6. Maybe someone doesn’t want to hang out with you right now, but if you wait patiently the ones that love you will always come back to you!…..Tank is always right outside my door, waiting patiently when I’m ready to let him in! I imagine this piece of advice will serve me well when I have teenagers!

7. Always stop to smell the flowers. …..Ok, maybe he’s actually sniffing other scents but he really does stop and sniff and it’s always a great reminder for me to just slow down and appreciate my surroundings!

8. If a loved one hurts you, let them know, accept their apology and move on! If they say it was an accident; believe it!….Tank really only yelps when we hurt him, by accident of course, and he’s back to loving on us just the same right after!

9. Be resilient….I can not count the number of times I have scolded our little pup and coaxed him (pulled him) off of certain pieces of furniture.  But this little guy will try and try again.  True this is a sign that he should be better trained, but in the real world, we all  would do better if we (politely) don’t take no for an answer and keep fighting for the things that we want!

10. Just because you don’t think you’re a certain type of person, it doesn’t mean you can’t become a certain type of person!…I still say, “I AM NOT A DOG PERSON.” But I love this little guy to pieces!  So if I could become a dog lover, and cauliflower can become pizza, you, my friend, can become anything your heart desires!!!!

 

The only creatures that are evolved enough to convey pure love are dogs and infants.-Johnny Depp

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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My Soul Purpose

I am now THREE years old!  I know what you’re thinking….What the what?!?!?.  But I am not trying to make a (not funny) joke or just grab your attention.  My chronological age is 45, but my soul, she is barely turning 3.

I came up with the concept of my soul’s birthday listening to personal development speakers discussing the importance of not rushing ourselves, not giving up on something because it took too long, not putting an expiration date on our dreams and goals! For me, that was going back to the date when I realized I have a purpose, the date my soul was born, when it spoke up and cried and made it’s presence known.  That let me give myself grace in attaining my goals.  I  haven’t been working on them for 45 years, only 3 years!

Three years ago I went on a life changing journey to Israel with 50 other women.  I learned that I was put on this earth to serve a purpose…AND I FREAKED OUT!  What the hell was my purpose?  What if I never found my purpose?  What if I don’t have a purpose? But I was assured over and over that we all have a purpose.  It’s the thing that makes our heart sing, that makes us want to get out of bed every day, that serves others but serves us just as much if not more. I DID NOT HAVE A PURPOSE…not yet.  Being a doctor is great, it’s life saving, it’s important…but it wasn’t my purpose.  Being a wife and a mom are by far my most important “jobs”, but it can not be our “purpose”

Almost a year after our trip, my soul was turning 1, I was turning 43.  I didn’t know it yet but my soul was speaking to me, through tears.  My birthday always brings up so many hard emotions for me, I always thought I had high expectations, but I think it was my soul trying to speak to me all those years and I wouldn’t give it the space it needed.  I fought it, it fought back.  Last year my soul turned 2 and I turned 44.  My birthday was not as emotional, it was enjoyable.  My soul spoke to me in words now and I just had to listen, with grace and understanding.

After my soul’s birth, I started this blog, I started a buisness, I met new friends that became friends to my soul, I volunteered in a medical mission.  None of these were my purpose but all of it brought me joy and spoke to my soul.  All of it had me getting out of my comfort zone…you know, where the magic happens.

So now I’m turning 45, my soul is turning 3.  She is still young and immature.  She is still learning the world around her. But just like children her age, she knows what she needs and desires.  She is speaking to me louder because I am allowing her the space to dream big and bigger.  To run free and let her imagination run wild.  To let her express herself.

So yes, I am 45, but my soul, she’s only 3 and that allows me so much room to grow and learn.  I’m not too old to pursue my dreams, my desires, my goals and neither are you!  How old is your soul? Have you given it space to be born?  Have you nurtured your soul like you would your new baby?

Your soul is calling, just listen!

When you do things from your soul, you feel a river moving in you, a joy-Rumi

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Feminism

I’m a doctor, I’m a woman, I’m a mother to a fiercely independent little girl and I want her to know she can do anything she wants.  But I am not a feminist, at least not the way it’s been interpreted recently ( …and cue in the angry comments)

As a fourth year medical student I was the co-president of our school.  Among other things we were asked to give a speech to incoming medical students at their white coat ceremony.  There was about 100 students and their families in the audience so excited for their next steps and proud of their accomplishments thus far. Giving the key note speech was one of our OB/GYN attending physicians.  She said something that quite frankly alarmed me at the time.  In a nutshell, she said that there will be times that they will not be there for their families, for their kids or future kids.  That patients may take precedence over their personal plans. And she also said there will be times that they won’t be able to be there for their patients, that they won’t advance to the next level in their career because of their family, or get the promotion in the academic center.  As I listened to this I felt…deflated.  I thought what an awful message to send to these new and excited medical students about to embark on one of the hardest journeys of their lives. That was then.

As I continued on my path, became a pediatrician, then married and had kids, I realized how true her words had been.  You cannot have it all, all of the time.  Yes, you can have some of it all the time, or some of it some of the time, but… something’s gotta to give!

If I focus solely on my career, then I will need to cover the bases with my family from out sourcing help. If I decide I want to be at every pick up and every drop off, focusing on my career just ain’t happening.  Both scenarios are completely ok.  But there’s been a trend in society that if women can’t do it all, while looking gorgeous in stiletto heals  then there’s something wrong with them.  That they are not trying hard enough? What!?!?!?

My mom was a stay at home mom, she was there for me for EVERYTHING.  But in the eyes of the world, she’s just “a mom”   I’m all for women doing what they want to do but at the end of the day some women just want to be a mom, and that’s okay.  I was so determined and focused when I was younger. I thought I would work 4 days/week and be mom the other 3.  Easy! It wasn’t until I had my own kids that I started resenting all the hours I had to spend away from them.  I was not career focused anymore, I was mom focused.  And I know I’m not the only one.

As our daughters prepare for their future and we talk to them about career options, we should not ignore the most magnificent career of being a mom.  It should not be minimized.  Yes, I think school, education and a career are all important but I wish someone talked to me about the fact that I may want to just be mom and going to school for 11 years and coming out in debt and working 40 hours/week and taking call….may not be the career of choice if I just wanted to be mom.

I am so incredibly fortunate to be able to work part time but I went to school for a lot of years and have a lot of debt to now work part time.  Could there have been other career options I would have entertained if someone sat me down and said, ” Look, something happens to you when you have children.  That hardcore ambition kinda melts away and you just think about your babies ALL THE TIME.  And yes they drive you crazy and yes you will want your time away from them but just think about them in your career choice.” I know that seems like a lot, maybe I wouldn’t have listened and gone to med school anyway but maybe I would have?

In the era of #bossbabes, I  just want to make sure that our daughters know it’s okay to just be mom if that’s what will make them happy.  It’s by far the most important job I have had or ever will have.

Having children just puts the whole world into perspective . Everything else just disappears. -Kate Winslet