Even during a pandemic, I focus on living

By | May 1, 2021

Lately, I ask myself, “Where is my focus?”

Is it on what’s in my inbox, where I receive daily emails about COVID-19, the vaccine, what’s working, and what’s not?

Is it on the news, the trial, the verdict, police shootings, and the state of unrest in our country?

And if my focus is on what’s outside of me, then who is focused on me?

Focusing on me is my job. It’s the most important job I have.

Paying close attention to my physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual well-being is paramount to living the life I desire for myself and my family.

It means I check in with myself. I ask, “How am I doing?” Sometimes I’m great. Other times I’m good. And there are times when I could be better.

There are times when grief catches me by surprise. An innocent thought reminds me that weeks ago, I’d start my day with a daily “Good Morning” message from my uncle, but COVID changed all that. In those moments, I allow myself to grieve, knowing that in the grief is love.

Psalm 30:5 says, “For his anger endureth but a moment; in his favor is life: weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.”

In his favour is life … joy cometh in the morning.

I start the day with those words. I let them sit on my heart and spirit.

It does me good.

Living and working in medicine, we come to face to face with life and death. We are confronted with challenges and obstacles and life-altering experiences for ourselves and our patients.

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These experiences influence how we feel, where we put our focus, and how we see the world.

As I create my new normal, I choose life!

I choose to dance between the tears and the joy, knowing that joy is available in the midst of the tears.

Choosing life means I believe I can thrive in this very moment through the peaks and valleys of medicine.

Choosing life means that in the midst of it all, I honor the meaningful contributions made to the patients, their families, and the team. It means calling the eight hours, 12 hours, or 24 hours spent in the hospital a success independent of the outcome.

It’s when we gather to debrief and allow one another to process the experience in our own way, offering compassion rather than judgment.

It is when we take the time to say thank you for being with me at this moment.

Choosing life means taking full responsibility for my energy so that I can be in total service. It means I allow others to be wherever they need to be in their experience of a busy day with high acuity patients while not allowing their interpretation to the color, cloud, or convince me that I am about to have a bad shift as well.

Choosing life means I am a teacher and a student. It means that as I teach junior doctors about medicine in the NICU, I am learning. I am learning there comes a time when I must stand at the side and let them take the head of the baby in the delivery room, not so they can demonstrate to me that they know how to assess and intervene after a baby is born. But so they can prove to themselves they have the knowledge, the skill set, and the confidence to do it.

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It means there are times when they will update parents on their own. Then there are times when it is more appropriate that we do it together, so they learn how to deliver the news, listen attentively, and respond to questions. They learn the importance of building the doctor-parent relationship, so when they leave the room, the parent knows they have a partner on their journey.

Choosing life means that I own my value. Who I am in medicine and who I am at my core is more than enough. I welcome new experiences for ongoing growth and development.

I acknowledge my worth in the smallest ways. And when I do that, I set the stage for others to do the same.

I easily and effortlessly set boundaries and make room for my children, family, and myself without guilt. I give myself permission to be defined by something other than a doctor — like mom, daughter, friend, and me. It’s OK to make medicine part of my life and not all of my life.

I choose life when I quiet my ego so that I can hear the voice of my intuition. I hear the sweet song of spirit as she guides me ever closer to my soul’s calling, my soul’s work.

It means I seek harmony in my life every day. When I head home after a 24-hour shift, although I may be physically tired, I am emotionally grateful and spiritually fulfilled.

It means that I now understand the value, importance, and necessity — yes necessity — of completely unplugging and not being available to reconnect to peace and calm, love and joy, happiness and humanity.

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Where is your focus today?

Stephanie Wellington is a physician and can be reached at Nurturing MDs.

Image credit: Shutterstock.com