I got through the day yesterday. I was definitely dragging during morning clinic. My sleep schedule was off due to blogging at 2am rather than at 4am, and then after finishing a blogpost – I went to sleep on the couch. Obviously I was not able to finish an entire sleep cycle. Therefore I woke up groggy and not in my best form. But I dragged by eco-avatar middle aged body through the morning routine and was able to make it into work. I forgot my phone at home which ended up being a blessing in disguise. An entire day of phone detox is a good thing. I sent an email out to the department to let them know I had no phone, and just to call if there were issues. There were no issues that I was aware of. There are many of us in leadership that were available via instant text, so my being in my office just an actual email away – was okay.
Sometimes life is stranger than fiction, or even my trashart. I gathered bag #455 yestserday and it was a reused pita bread bag that was filled with wet plastic bags mostly washed up on Tourmaline Beach. I hadn’t really meant to head to the beach but I’m glad I did. It’s always an adventure. I wanted to start jogging more, so naturally ended up in my spot and did a beach cleaning amongst the rocky shore. I saw a beautiful snowy egret. They are a rare sight and only come feed where the kelp is left in it’s natural state. Where there is kelp, there are insect and remnants of crabs and other crustaceans. The “beach” of the white sand is really not natural. There is supposed to be kelp. The surf-rake removes it for us humans so we can recreate (and I mean to use that word in a new way). If it was up to me, we’d leave the kelp and the beach would be for the beautiful birds like the snowy egret.
My family member and I (our two families) put in an offer for a 25-acre ranch on the Big Island of Hawaii. It’s surprising that even with the hot real estate market, there are only two financial entities in the world looking for a 25 acre ranch on the Big Island in that particular lava zone. Yes we have to know about lava zones if you are buying on the Big Island. As always we are trying to get a reasonable deal, so offered lower than the asking price. We will be the back-up offer as they accepted an offer already. But it is contingent on financing and selling another property. With real estate, many many things can happen to derail a transaction. We are experienced buyers in a strong position who can get the deal done. This is reflected in our lower offer though. So we will wait and see, and if it happens – it happens. If it doesn’t, than that’s the market and we move on.
by drplasticpickernJust thinking outloud of the blog. If we can write an article Durrwachter-Erno et al and have it based on an avatar theme, why can’t I frame the new Climate Change and Health HMO Residency Clerkship around a similar framework. It makes sense to me.
Clean Air Week – Rotate with pediatric allergist Dr. Michael Land or UCSD allergist Dr. Christine James in clinic two sessions, linking rise of pediatric allergic diseases like asthma and allergies with climate change. Attend Air Pollution Control Board Meeting either with Dr. Birkbeck Garcia or Dr. Dan Spencer or Portside AirQuality Meeting. Definitly a cool session with Dr. Dave Neison on wildfire mitigation and thinking about active transport and how can physicians aid in these efforts, or advocate for this.
Clean Water Week Either pick plastics or pharmaceutical waste? This week we could also focus on storytelling and narrative medicine. What is your climate story? Shadow policy folks at Climate Actions Campaign or site visit with the Environmental Health Coalition. Environmental Justice focus on water issues. Access to beaches. River health. Wetlands.
Yep. It’s going to happen. I’m going to buy half of that Big Island Property. The math works out. It’s crazy when the math works out. I have our portion of the downpayment easy, and we are still investing in the other commercial project but this will be for fun and for creativity. The mortgage payment and taxes we split with my family member, and the monthly cost is actually not that much. Even if we just keep the land and let family and friends use for free (or you just pay to make sure it gets cleaned), it will be worth it. And when organizations like the posh private school we send our kids to ask us for donations, I can just donate a week at our vacation home and deduct it. I can do the same for Girl Scouts. But more importantly, we will get the land that I’ve been dreaming of.
The birds’ collective singing this morning is particularly trilling and lilting and beautiful. Its 547AM and I haven’t been able to truly be here on the blog to write in a few days. I posted things related to my climate work, but I haven’t been able to process and reflect. The writing has become much needed as I try to figure out this wonderful thing called life.
I went to bed crying last night. I was cleaning up my photos and I delete all the litter-picking photos and nature scenes, because I’ve taken then and chosen which ones to post and use on the blog versus Instagram versus facebook. It takes some sort of carbon to keep them, and those images I let go. But I must have accidently pressed a screen function that I didn’t know exist, because suddenly a lifetime of selfies on my daughter and myself popped up. I scrolled through those photo of a younger me and my little girl , and I did what any mother would do. I looked at her face, the tilt of her head and the roundness of her cheeks and the gap-tooth smiles – and I cried. A decade of regrets came pouring down my face. Where had the years gone? Where had I been? Where had that little chubby cheeked grade-schooler gone to?
I’m done with being afraid. It makes sense for some to be afraid, if you’ve lived through abuse, been hungry, worried about being able to survive the next day. I get it. I am lucky. I have had difficult moments to overcome in life that made me fearful. We all have especially women. It makes sense to be cautious when you are worried about survival. But now that I’m on the other side of what is the “Fear Zone” and into the “Learning and Growth Zone” I don’t want to go back.
If not me, than who? I declared that I was going to help save the earth by gathering one pieace of plastic at a time and I’m almost to 500 bags! I’ve encouraged a movement of climate activism in my small corner of the world and we’ve made real changes. Some of this is about plastic, but it’s also a metaphor about life. Not to waste life. Not to waste resources. To be creative. To free ourselves from the conventional life and conventional thinking, it order to tap into that authenic self in order to find true contentment and also to help save the earth. It’s all related.
I’m just having random fun. I told Dr. MM in clinic yesterday, that sometimes that dream you had of something you always wanted to do – it can be easy to get. The trip to Paris was just sitting there and staring her in the face. I said, “GO!!!” Just buy the flight and go with Dr. AF. He’s going anyway. $450 round trip for a flight and you guys split a hotel room, and go to Europe. Sometimes attaining your dreams doesn’t have to be hard, it can be easy. I told them I’d cover both their inboxes.
A similar dream, a dream that I never thought I had, was staring me in the face. It was looking at me and kind of danced around and said, “why don’t you grab this opportunity?” As the blog readership well knows, Dr. Plastic Picker is always financially savvy so if the numbers don’t add up – I’ll take a pass. But the dream was looking at me in the face and said, “HELLLLOOOOO, it makes sense financially.” I’m literally looking at the dream and flabergasted that it could happen? If the numbers work out, than it makes sense.
So I’m having just random big dreams and taking steps that financially make sense. I’m selling a rental property that I was meaning to sell for a while. That particular rental property was never a really great buy, but it wasn’t a bad buy. I was going to sell it last year, but it was a blessing in disguise that I didn’t sell it last year. Right now the market is HOT HOT in our area, So I’m pretty sure it will sell for 50K more than the one offer we got last year. And then Mr. Plastic Picker and I since we have a 50% savings rate, have our cash cushion war chest ready. Between the equity on that rental property that I’m going to sell and our war chest, I’m going to buy some land somewhere on some big Island somewhere in the United States of America. This big land somewhere has foster cows, a lava rock bar, sauna, and two all done houses. Its just 25 minutes straight shot from an airport. It has avocado trees and citrus trees and solar panels. And I can buy it outright without a mortgage with a family member. Even if I keep just said land for fun, and just vacation on it – it will make financial sense.
But you know Dr. Plastic Picker! When there is land, there is opportunity. Thinking of earth and planetary and physician wellness. I’m pretty sure I can organize a physician wellness retreat on that land, and charge less and provide a better program than other people. I’m pretty sure I can use the profits to put back into my climate work. I’m pretty sure we can heal physicians and heal the earth at the same time. Because Dr. Plastic Picker just wants everyone to be happy. And my physician wellness institute will be better because I actually really care about my colleagues and I won’t be making money off them. I’ll charge a reasonable rate to cover the cost, and proceeds will go to paying the instructors who will be physicians themselves and everything going back to climate advocacy. But I’ll get to have the physician wellness proceeds pay for the land and I get to keep the land. But I will love the land and not hurt the land, and be a good steward of the land. That’s it. And below is more pictures of the virtual property viewing I had with a family member. It was so much fun and one of the most joyous moments I have had with this family member. Of course I blocked out his face because he is truly anonymous.
OMG I may by partial owner to 8 foster cows. If you come to this physician wellness institute, you will get to adopt a cow for your stay. LOL. Just thinking about crazy dreams and crazy things on the blog. Who knows, right? Shoot for the stars and you’ll hit the moon. I may just land on this Big Island. If I don’t show up at work one day (because I’ve shown up to work every day for over 12 years without fail), you’ll know where I am. I’ll send a postcard and maybe some avocados.
The art of storytelling, the art of writing – is something that is so powerful. It’s how we teach. It’s how we experience life. For me life has always been a series of interwoven narratives, of your life and my life. The threads weave and then unwind, and come back. They get frayed and then when we reform community and connections, we reweave them together.
When a new family comes in, I have always thought of it as another storyline that arrives. Each new baby is a fresh book, and the chapters may follow a similar arc – birth, breastfeeding, first roll, first food, crawling, walking and than toddlerhood, but the details of the stories are different. And it is those details that make life and families and patients so interesting.
I think I had realized that I was burned out when I no longer was interested in the patient stories. Maybe it’s called compassion fatigue. But taking walks now and taking the time to self-care, has helped me relearn that. Catching those details in clinic are so key. How a teen reacts to announcing there are vaccines. What the parent is wearing. What room they are in today. What activities are they doing now. Did they seem happy or sad. I used to be a voracious reader. I still read, but I read less now. I consume less TV shows as well. Filling myself with imaginary stories that someone else created preventing me from appreciating the real stories happening around me. And that’s my job, to notice those patient stories and notice the stories of the young physicians that inhabit the real world with me. It’s my job to notice the arc of the teenage drama that is my daughter and the quieter story of our older son. Even Mr. Plastic Picker has the arc of his story, physician leader, proud father, exasperated husband of wife who disappears to pick up trash.
I wasn’t able to notice the stories when it was noisy. When I heard upper management’s endless stream of emails about metrics. This is why I detest shortcuts on the electronic medical record (I still use them), but I want to write the patient narrative myself and give them the instructions that I have created. I felt the endless workflows and smartphrases was erasing me.
But I realize now that I can use these shortcuts created at work to spend more time with patients, because I keep the stories in my heart. I remember them. I write about them (vaguely) on the blog. I echo my memory of the day in my silly art. I wish this for everyone. To live your life purposefully and slowly. Treasure the details, the moments. That was the true answer to burnout really. Reclaiming the narrative of my life and just slowing down time. It was rushing too fast before, and now it is gloriously slow.