It’s been a tough month. For the most part our family was able to find joy in being together and grateful to be in good health over the holidays. But the last few days with my arm sore from the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine and being fatigued kind of wore me down more than I expected. But the bright side of things is that I’ve started picking up litter around the HMO parking lot, and there is so much litter that it’s very quick to fill a bag. It’s oddly satisfying as I don’t have to walk as far. This gives me more time at home to focus on other things. I’ve committed to picking up 20 bags a month, and this month I finished early and I’m really proud. I’m going to end the month totals today.
We are living through a historic moment. Mass peaceful demonstrations for #blacklivesmatter dovetailing with the threat of the COVID-19 pandemic. Our nephew, niece and brother-in-law in New York City participated in the demonstrations. They wore masks. I have already written my thoughts about the stain of racism on the health field as well https://drplasticpicker.com/blacklivesmatter-the-stain-of-slavery-colonialism-apartheid-extends-to-science/. The world has a lot of work to do. As America moves toward addressing the concerns of the #blacklivesmatter movement, #environmentaljustice should also be addressed because communities of color bear the greatest burden of climate change. Yet these same communities also bear the greatest burden of this pandemic. What a complex situation.
To say that this month has been a bit off is an understatement. We finished two months of COVID-19 quarantine. We are undergoing this collective experience. It has been documented on social media, including this blog. I made a comment on one of the COVID-19 MD Facebook Groups for Pediatricians under my real name. It was just a simple uplifting post about a patient encounter, and I kid you not – it generated already 373 likes and 32 comments of others sharing their stories. I was initially very excited but my wise high school son warned me that putting value in the number of likes one gets on social media is harmful. He is right. But I am still happy that the post resonated with my fellow pediatricians. It made them feel good. I think the story was straight forward, simply written and described a heartfelt encounter that many of us have as pediatricians. I was my gift to my colleagues as we are going through this collective angst.
What made me happiest about that post is that it was quickly written, well written and I think the by-product of now having written over 180 blog posts! I have now had 3 blog posts also accepted onto KevinMD. That my writing generates emotions is the greatest compliment I could receive. I’m still not quite comfortable with this new role I have taken (blogger/instagrammer/writer) but I love it. My old mentor in clinic years ago several times would send me grammatical corrections to my work emails, and I remember being unreasonably angry at him. I was so mad! Some of it was that I felt overworked as a younger mother and middle manager, but now I realize perhaps criticism of my writing hurt more than other criticisms because I valued writing as an artform.
It is good to have a rhythm to the month, and blogging has given me this structure in life. There is a world-wide pandemic going on, but let’s leave that somewhere else for a bit. I did pick up ocean bound plastic at the beginning of the month so at least I have something to report out for March. Now that I am reviewing my notes, I was really doing a lot of litter picking at the beginning of March – and I’m glad I did because for various reasons that everyone knows, there was not much litter picking or beach cleaning from mid month. I expect April to be really nothing since the beaches are closed. I think I could do it safely, but I don’t want to set a bad example and someone copies me and doesn’t wear the right protection and then gets sick. Dr. Dear Friend https://drplasticpicker.com/drplasticpicker-goes-to-the-aap-national-conference-in-new-orleans-and-tries-to-use-less-plastic/ is cleaning her office, which is a great idea for April. I’m thankful for this blog series, because I’m accountable to report out to our readers even if the total is 0. This is the entire purpose of this blog! I have to be accountable to you and the environment.
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.
Today is a day of happiness and saddness. It is a happy day because the second drplasticpicker Office Beach Clean Up was a big success. I honestly did not know how many would show up, and we had 15 volunteers. It was a lovely morning for many interconnected reasons. It is a sad day also because two butterfly conservationists in Mexico were murdered likely by local drug cartels or illegal loggers. These two conservationists were integral to the efforts to preserve the Western Monarch Butterfly. I posted on my personal facebook page and likely no one will notice, but there are forces of good and evil in the world. I have never been an alarmist, but I see it now. Being on the beach most days has opened my eyes to the forces of evil that are trying to steal our children’s future. What can one person do? What can one pediatrician that has created this drplasticpicker avatar realistically do? I ask myself that every morning as I drive to work looking at a still beautiful blue sky, and when I go to bed thinking about the insects dying en masse around us. I think about the light pollution humans have caused that is keeping us humans up, and also partially disrupting the invertebrate ecosystem.
What can I do? I can keep on blogging, keep on plastic picking, keep on community organizing, and hope that I am part of billions that are mobilizing and waking up. And this post series is a source of happiness. Sometimes when I feel helpless, that we are confronting an insurmountable task, I look at my totals and I am reminded about how much one very normal very ordinary person can do.
On reviewing last month’s December 2019 Plastic Picking Round Up blog post https://drplasticpicker.com/december-2019-plastic-picking-round-up/, I had wanted to pick up 20-30 bags a month. I think that is a reasonable number and about 20 blog posts. Last month I wrote 29 blog post. In general, January had the fewest bags and the fewest blog posts but still respectable. Now that I have an archive of >100 blog posts, I think that is a good goal for every month. This month was also busy because I became more involved in local and professional environmental projects. I have also been accepted to attend the Climate Reality Project training this season, which is part of former Vice President Al Gore’s group. I am hopeful regarding this opportunity. So below are the totals for January 2020.
23 Bags of Ocean Bound Plastic Collected (I only count the ones I pick, the group totals I will write about in a separate blogpost).
48 Items Salvaged
Office Supply Items
It was a good month overall, so this makes me more hopeful regarding the future.