I am sitting here beginning this blog post, and I have closed my eyes and am typing at the same time. I am a very good typist because I used to work at my father’s accounting office when I was a child. Therefore I can type with my eyes closed and I can still be pretty accurate. I am typing with my eyes closed because I am trying to listen to the birds in my backyard. They are singing this morning and the sky is only just lighting up. It is a beautiful song.
It is almost 4AM and I was thinking of not drinking my coffee this early and thoughts of the new intermittent fasting fad flitted through my mind. I had dinner last night at the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) Local Committee Chair meeting. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but they had these really delicious vegan wraps and no single-use water bottles. The plates were styrofoam though. I am trying to listen to my body more, and I had one wrap which was enough and drank from my reusable water bottle. I did drink coffee at about 6pm last night which is unusual, and my last meal was 7pm. So it has been 8 hours since I had anything to eat, but even if intermittent fasting is really “in” now – my body is telling me it wants a little bit of coffee with a little bit of sugar and cream. So I am sipping my coffee and I am happy. I am trying to eat more fruit and vegetables and less meat so will concentrate on that.
It has almost been 6 months now since I started this journey when I wandered onto the beach, and saw all the plastic. I just started picking up the little pieces and getting some exercise, and I began to see more clearly myself and the earth. Almost 160 bags of ocean bound plastic and over 600 salvaged items later, what makes me hopeful are those around me. Six months ago I wanted to retreat from the world after having splitting tension headaches from work and my back pain and foot pain that kept me from running as much as I used to. As nature healed me, I then saw how damaged our natural environment has become.
But as I grew in awareness and began to really see the plastic and the earth, I have also now seen the beauty of our human community.
The little children who submitted pictures to our drawing contest. Daniela, aged 11, who drew the stunning turtle that adorns our Dr. Plastic Picker Reusable Grocery Totes. A high school friend who donated his graphic art skills to help with the Vector files I needed for the bag. My sister who designed our logo. Dr. Dear Friend who has been here since the beginning and encouraged us to pick the next big clean-up date, which will be April 25. RN Plastic Picker who is as dedicated to reducing ocean plastic pollution as I am, and cancelled the single-use plastic water bottles for our clinic meeting. Done! The growing community of >500 Instagram litterpickers, ploggers, plalkers, zero/low wasters, and cigarette butt-pickers who encourage each other to clean our environment. A vegan anesthesiologist, a pediatrician who is a lover of bunnies and whose daughter studies wetlands, another pediatrician who loves butterfly bushes, a pediatrican/photographer who will lend us his studio for a big project, mommy friends who lend recipes, and on and on.
I saw one of my long-time teenage patients recently. Her little sibling had a follow-up appointment and she was just with her family that day. Outside the clinic walls, I exercise my social awareness and skills and do not just blurt out comments. But when I enter our building and I put on my HMO badge, I am YOUR PEDIATRICIAN. I take my role seriously. I even wrote in my HMO on-line bio ten years ago.
“There is no greater honor than being the doctor for your child. I take that role seriously and try to provide you with sound advice and guidance based on the latest medical research, along with common sense. I believe we function as a team (family, teachers, and doctors) to make sure our children grow into productive, contributing, and healthy members of society. I believe in fully vaccinating your children and the power of prevention.”
It is 441AM on a Saturday morning and I am typing away. In about an hour and a half, the sun will be rising and it will be time for me to plog to the beach and pick up another bag of ocean plastic. Daylight Savings time is coming. On March 8 at 2AM, we will move forward an hour and it will be 3AM. That means on March 8, I will likely instead of waking up at 4AM will wake up at 5AM. The blogging and beach cleaning most mornings and the deep restful nights of sleep, has reset my body to be with the earth. On March 8, I am going to be fine just as I was fine the last time our clocks “fell back.”
I am sitting at the kitchen table looking at the first house plant I have ever purchased. It is a “ponytail palm” from Home Depot. Last night, we had to go shopping for our daughter’s History Day project. Her middle school friends are coming over later to have a marathon work session, and we had to pick up supplies. We went to the local Michael’s and Home Depot. As someone who has been picking up ocean plastic pollution for the last 6 months, walking into a deserted Michael’s on Friday night with the light reflecting off all the new plastic and glittery things was a bit discombobulating. I know at some point all those shiny plastic things will become more weathered plastics for me to pick up.
We are getting there. I am at 153 bags of ocean bound plastic collected, 590 items salvaged. I have written 133 blog posts and 134 Instagram posts, and have passed 450 Instagram “followers.” The Instagram is more for fun and motivation and I am not seeking more Instagram friends, but somehow everyday there are more. About 200-300 people click onto the blog every day, so some folks are seeing the less-plastic-please help ocean plastic-pick message.
But what gives me hope are the tangibles, the changes that I know are happening in the real world. I know I picked up a lot of plastic, and I know that we are close to getting our organization to agree to bring in Eco-America training to our HMO. I see more and more reusable coffee mugs and water bottles at work. We actually cancelled all the single-use water bottles for all the MD meetings, and will just send a reminder out for everyone to bring their own water. We also changed our lunch order to half vegetarian, and for everything to be in large trays and not individual plastic clam-shell containers anymore. That way there is less food waste and less plastic waste in general. And a father in clinic told me his daughter’s school has asked all parents to avoid single use plastic items and moving toward zero-waste lunches.
by mom-friend Usa (who is originally from Thailand) and drplasticpicker
Dr. Plastic Picker: Our youngest daughter is in her 6th year of Girl Scouts, and I am in my 6th year as her Co-Troop Leader. We have a cohesive and very involved troop and set of parents, which makes it much easier to run the troop. It’s Girl Scout Cookie season and all of our Cadette Girl Scouts are canvassing their neighborhoods and selling cookies. We had a wonderful meeting last Friday afternoon on Valentines, as we went over women leadership and gender inequality that still exist in the workplace. We were surprised that this topic very much resonated with them, now that they are in middle school. What followed was a lively discussion.
If you know me in real life, you know that if I had not been a pediatrician than I really should have been a Trust and Estates Attorney or a Personal Financial Advisor. I find personal finances fascinating, because the same way folks make irrational decisions in their personal lives or in their health decisions, they do the same in their finances. Personal finance is at it’s core pscyhology. It was taken me to my 40s to realize you cannot fix people’s financial problems. Even if you draw out a personal financial plan for them and hand them essentially every detail they need to make themselves financially free, they still won’t.
But since I have become drplasticpicker, I am very hopeful! Just like my mission to save the planet, I have to do it by not telling people what to do – but rather showing them different possibilities. Most won’t listen, but some will begin their journey and hopefully end up in a better financial place.
I am hoping that I give you small glimpses into our personal finance journey, especially to our Young MDs. So here are Ten Financial Tips to Young MDs.
There are those rare people in life that embody joy and happiness. They are sometimes irreverent but always positive, and make those of us who are staid middle-aged middle-managers look at events and people from a different angle, maybe even upside down! And when one of those rare people is a MD, than they are even closer to unicorn status.