Feeling Overwhelmed: Vegan Nut Butter, Apple-Scrap Vinegar, Micro-greens Garden and To Bed
September 24, 2020
I felt overwhelmed yesteray at 430PM. I had a full packed day of morning clinic. I was happy to finish relatively on time, and had 20 minutes to make it home before my virtual meetings started. The truth is yesterday afternoon the rest of the department was OFF not working and not at meetings. I sat through meetings from 1230 to 430PM. The meetings were all about really important things like vaccination campaigns, and spreadsheets, virtual care, reducing racial and health inequities, mediCAL Performance Improvement Projects, perceptions of medical home, perception of bonding with primary care doctors, and on and on. This is important stuff and actually potentially is a decision to spend tens of thousands of dollars to evert millions in fines, and to publish our work to deploy virtual care as a way to reduce racial and health disparities. As I half dozed off at 230PM laying on the couch listening to the meeting, some comment by someone woke me up. I’m the only front-line MD that actually attends these meetings (some from other departments with their name of hte projects have never shown up) and then I start talking and spouting out ideas. The team is fantastic, but at the end of the day when the meeting is over – I have to do my part to actualize these ideas. I have lots of friends in our department that want to help, but when those ideas and proposed projects are swirling in my brain and I was the only one that attended the meeting and I’m the only one with the ideas and I haven’t yet fully articulated them to my colleagues – it can be overwhelming. I feel alone sometimes.
I used to have tension heacaches from the weight of the department. I would leave our Tuesday meetings with my Assistant Boss to do list feeling overwhelmed. I would leave our Wednesday meeting with the quality team feeling overwhelmed. I would leave every interaction with anyone with a to do list feeling overwhelmed. But yesterday, I did feel a bit of a mental load and I just turned it all off. I had started texted one of my Assistant Boss friends about the new project as she is techie and can help us actualize these things. But I realized that she had worked an entire day also in clinic and she had her own mental load. She still replied to my text a few times, and we swapped ideas. But I texted back that I needed to let things just sit in my brain and I’d reach out after I finished this spreadsheet I need to do. And then I had texted a retired colleague about a nonretired colleague’s leadership development, and my plan to recycle this colleage back to life by working on his communication skills – but even when I initiated this conversation I texted back, let me talk to you tomorrow. I articulated that I was a bit overwhelemed. And my retired colleague understood.
Before becoming Dr. Plastic Picker I would never have done that. Now I realize somethings like avoiding million dollar fines and increasing vaccination rates and the leadership development of another colleague are 100% important, but they can wait because the workday is done. The workday was done and things can wait until the morning. So I mentally set things aside, and there was not even a hint of a tension headache. Those tension headaches used to really scare me. I made dinner shrimp and greenbeans sauteeds in garlic and butter, with the left over pasta from last night. The children and Mr. Plastic Picker asked for more and were very happy. And then Mr. Plastic Picker was looking for the last of the processed Skippy Peanut Butter. That Peanut Butter comes in a plastic container and has palm oil and filled with sugar. I whipped up quickly a batch of almond and walnut butter, because we have organic nuts in the house all the time now. It was really delicious and it’s so easy and doing this food project that fed my family and helped reuse a plastic container calms me. I checked on my apple-scrap vinegar project and had to throw out one jar that became moldy, but am hopeful about the second. I will check on the second one now. [pause] So far it looks okay, and I replaced the fermentation weight with a clean sterile one and stirred it up a bit. It smells like vinegar and the liquid is starting to look vinegar-y.
And then I retreated to my eco-haven, and just sat in what I like to think of as the Pachi Mama’s uterus. I sat there for a few minutes and just looked at the succulents and my still not reployed vermicomposter repurpose project. I propogated more succulents. I watered my agave plant that I’m trying to save. I watered my new chia plant microgreen project. I had repurposed the plastic container from my Dr. Plastic Picker’s First Birthday Cake came in. Dr. Dear Friend brought me that cake, and I’ll give her some chia microgreens when they sprout.
I watered my new chia seed plant, and checked on the succulent.
And then I scrolled on my iPhone and left comments for my litter-picking friends. And I went to sleep. Its now 451AM, a bit earlier than I usually am up and already done with this blogpost. Blogging for me is really journaling and I used to love to journal as a young girl. I used to dream of being a writer. And now I realize that I am a writer now. That we can all be writers, bloggers, gardeners, trash artists, apple-scrap vinegar makers or failures and climate activists. It’s funny how all those new identities and new experiences have helped me be Assistant Boss. Eventhough I have to really turn out the middle-management work today, and no worries – I will get it done, knowing I am something other than just a doctor and Assistant Boss gives me joy.
Feeling overwhelmed at work and life is normal. But what gave me those tension headaches is that probably I felt others didn’t see me for who I was beside the shifts I worked, my patient satisfaction scores and my middle-management title. But I now know it’s because I hadn’t given myself the freedom to become something other than doctor and mother. But now I am Dr. Plastic Picker! And I hardly get tension headaches anymore and that is such a wonderful wonderful things. I am crying now because I am so relieved and so happy. And I hope that I help you prevent some of your tension headaches. Please take care of yourself. Dr. Plastic Picker loves you, just like I love all the butterflies in the world.