Remember to BREATHE: Sustainable Climate Activism
April 14, 2021
This is the picture I’m most proud of this past week. Three friends together who naturally came together to work on climate change and health policy. It’s been two years to reach this point, then AAP San Diego Chapter Leadership told us – you need to go to this conference. Here is the money. As co-chairs of the Climate Change and Health Committee, we had already been working on moving legislation. But now we had their seal of approval, and off to virtual DC we went.
It has been a whirlwind conference, as this was the National AAP Legislative Advocacy Conference. We had inspirational speakers and met pediatricians who are in government and politics. Very “untraditional” paths and lives that I never thought possible. The world outside of my clinic exam rooms seems so vast and filled with possibilities. Getting to know new people and being exposed to new ideas, is very important to personal growth. I no longer worry about the endless tomorrows and the what ifs, and try to concentrate on today and the work I need to do for the earth, on myself (there is still a lot of personal growth to do), and for my family and the patients right in front of me. But this world of climate change and health activism, has brought so much joy and growth. I do want this for everyone. I don’t worry about the tomorrows in my career path anymore. I know I am a hard worker and help move my department forward. But I’m happy that I have been on this journey with these two wonderful people, and I can see how energizing it has been to do this together.
We had so many adventures these last three days. We are hoping to bring some of this knowledge and expand it to others. Because why shouldn’t everyone have this personal growth? Why shouldn’t this be part of the professional development of all my colleagues who are out there toiling for the world and the greater good? I mentioned to Mr. Plastic Picker that it made no sense for the same people to be sponsored over and over again, and he agreed. I’ll go next year, but I’ll pay my own way and ask chapter leadership to sponsor two others in our climate change and health group. Or maybe chapter leadership can spring for half, and then four can go. We’ll also try to bring these trainings back home and more local to those who can’t devote an entire three days to this. There are still egos everywhere, and there were egos during this conference. But it’s amazing to me that in our own committee, there was just camraderie and togetherness. We realize the environmental task in front of us and indeed the entire world it is so daunting, and that there is absolutely no room for egos. We need to draw as many people into this work as possible.
Lots of ideas and projects that will come forth from this conference, but I was reminded yesterday afternoon that it’s time to breathe. Our teen son was having his piano lesson virtually. He’s almost 16 now and still plays piano. It’s a part of his life and he keeps at it, because he truly loves it. Not for his resume. Not for any reason but that it brings richness to his life. He is doing more theory now and lessons are 45 minutes. His piano teacher was giving an impassioned talk to him about the need to BREATHE during a piece. He was playing technically correct but just like giving a speach or talking, a human has to take a breathe. And indeed, when the piano teacher played the piece again with the pauses , the BREATHING, it sounded beautiful.
And indeed a climate activist life, one needs to breathe. Take a pause. It’s been a whirlwind few days of different projects brought to completion, the conference and actually I have to get headway for the next few hours on that all important JOURNAL ARTICLE!!! But we have an author meeting at 10, and then the national AAP call at 12 – and after that I will write a bit more and we will take a few days off to vacation. I will take a pause and breathe. I wish someone had taught me that years ago. It slows time down, and life kind of takes a more natural rhythm when you allow yourself to pause, to breathe, and to rest.
For me litter-picking is taking a pause. It relaxes me. So yesterday when I was feeling overwhelmed, I went and got a bag around the neighborhood. And yesterday morning I salvaged also item #1535 which was a UC Berkeley T Shirt. I always wanted a T Shirt from UC Berkeley. I went to Crimson University and have never worn a Crimson University T shirt because it seemed too pompous. But Berkeley people wear their shirts all the time, even to the beach and lose them. I’m not sure what it will look like after it’s been washed. At the least, I’ll make it into rags. But I think it’s going to look really good after a good wash.
Sending pediatrician hugs and hoping you rest and take time for yourself. Our kids are on spring break technically so they need our attention and some parenting. I’ll continue to try to save the earth after spring break.