Thursday, November 11, 2010

"So I could read it."

Lame, I know: my #1 follower

Author and Nobel laureate Toni Morrison didn't start writing until she was almost 40 years old. The first book she ever published, The Bluest Eye, is one of my favorite books of all time.  When somebody asked her why, after all that time, she'd decided to write that book she said, "So I could read it."

I heard that.

A medical student recently asked me, "What prompted you to start writing this blog?"


Okay. . . it's true that I write this blog to honor patients, their stories, and to underscore the ups and downs of fighting for work/life balance. No question. But now when I think about Ms. Morrison's words, I realize what I should have said:

"So I could read it."

I think that's also part of the answer to the question I hear the most frequently: "How do you find the time to do this?"  We find the time for the things that are important to us. And this has become important to me, so I have to find it somewhere. Nestled between that moment when I first wake up to those first few seconds that the kids break the morning silence. Or intertwined in those few hours after the last Dr. Seuss book and falling asleep with a book in my hand. Even if it means not watching much television. Or talking on the phone a little less. I have to find the time to do this.

So I can read it.

Nope. I'm no Toni Morrison, but I sure relate to her impetus to write. Reading my own stories has made me a better doctor, a better teacher, a better mommy, a better wife, but most of all, a better friend to myself. It's given me a golden opportunity to visit with me regularly and often, sometimes laughing out loud over an early morning cup of joe or "ugly crying" into the crook of my own elbow late at night until I'm out of breath and tissue.


It's an honor to know that anyone has spent even a moment of their day reading what I've written. Seriously. And I'm the first to admit that sharing these thoughts and hearing affirmations nudges me to keep at it.  But deep down, I admit: sometimes I can't wait to finish a story. . . .just so I can read it. And learn from it.

Lame, I know.

My friend and fellow Grady doctor, Neil W., calls me a "free-style" writer. Kind of like those rappers who rhyme off the top of their heads without scribbling or erasing my words off of a notebook multiple times before performing for a crowd. He's right. Most times, I just have to get it out so I just type, type, type. . . and (thanks to my mom, the queen of "girl, you have two typos in that post and 'eachother' is NOT one word for the millionth time,'") my "free-style" approach works. .  .and has made this a surprisingly painless form of self-exploration. Taking the time out to do this is a gift I give to myself, my #1 reader.

That's been one of the most surprising perks of doing this. I've gotten so much closer to me.

(Lame again, I know.)

I now believe that everyone should have some kind of activity that allows them time to befriend themselves. In doing so, you quickly find that you are the friend who is always willing to try that new restaurant, to hear the same stories about what your kids are up to over and over again, and not mind being tapped into late at night for last-minute advice (on the same damn issue--again.)

I'm not sure what you do to befriend yourself. . . . .

But I hope it's something. For me, it's writing. About everything and about nothing. And these days I'm thankful for this electronic labor of love that has forced me to take pause in this hectic life and spend a little time hanging out with someone who has finally become my BFF--me. 


What do you do to connect with you?


Here is a neat essay on finding the time to do something meaningful like writing, shared with me by my blog-friend Lisa R. (Thanks, Mama-smacksy! )


  1. Love this--so true. It's like a journal, really (but one I'm glad we get to share!).

    As for me, I spend so much of my time alone that I sometimes have a harder time transitioning out of that and back into the real world--connecting with other people. It used to be the opposite, but writing is so solitary, and I guess I just got used to doing it all the time!

  2. And please, do keep writing. I love reading your well-written, carefully-composed and thoughtful entries!

  3. I discovered your blog a couple of weeks ago and immediately sensed a kindred spirit within it. I have wanted to comment on every post I have been able to read thus far, but have stopped myself for the lack of time and fear of appearing like a "groupie".

    Your latest post has encouraged me to finally leave a comment.

    Thank you for your generosity in sharing your lovely writing, parts of yourself and your thoughts so gracefully and kindly with complete strangers like me.

    I am a medical student and a mother of 2 very active boys, with many views that appear to be quite similar to yours (re. medicine, children, kindness, caring, work/life balance, etc.).

    What do I do to connect with myself? I used to play the piano and write fiction, but as you well know mothering is a full-time job, and medical school is a jealous lover who does not tolerate much competition. I hope that in a few years, at the end of each day, after everyone's needs and desires have been met and satisfied, there will be a little me still left for me. Your blog gives me great hope.

  4. Love that essay you linked at the end. It's exactly what I needed to read today...

  5. You are an AMAZING WRITER and such an inspiration!!! Keep up with the self-exploration - we all benefit!

  6. Hi Dr. M. it was such a nice surprise to learn you have a blog. I definitely agree with you, writing is a wonderful way to stay in touch with ourselves. Writing is a very powerful tool for many reasons. Having a blog has helped me to acknowlege my emotions and deal with them, share my feelings, and especially to organize my thoughts. Reading it provides insight about our minds and souls. It also tells us our own story reminding us where we have been and where we want to go. Well said. "So I can read it" is the main reason for me as well. Best regards. Aida

  7. None of this is lame.
    Or I am really lame.
    There's a good chance both are true.

    (I don't see a way to email you here. Perhaps you wouldn't mind emailing me through my site? I have a non-stalkery writer-y question to ask you.)

    xo L

  8. You know what I love about blogging the most is that it gives you space to process and its a history of where you have been. I think I might use that line myself the next time someone asks me why I blog. :) What a great response... not lame at all!

  9. When I started Blogging about my daughters Cancer, It was for everyone else. Now (typo's and all)it is just for me. It helps me to seek clarity and better understand my role in this journey.
    When people respond, no matter what they say, it helps to know that someone- anyone- understands me.
    Thanks for sharing.



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