Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Top Ten: The Best of 2011.

Floating wish lantern, December 31, 2011.

Well. Here we are in 2012. 2012! Yep.


Can I give a tiny confession? 2011 wasn't my most favorite year. Wait--that's negative isn't it? I mean. . .  in the big picture sense it was definitely a good year. I guess there were just some parts of it made it . . .well. . .just not my favorite, that's all.


Either way, being the Pollyanna that I am, I can always wave my hands and focus on the good parts--which there definitely were good 'n' plenty of in 2011.

And so I will. So here's to 2011 . . . . . . . .

The Top Ten Favorite Parts of 2011 (which fortunately made the least favorite parts less annoying.)

By the way, living life with the B.H.E. and Things 1 and 2 go without saying. These are perennial favorites so this should always be understood.

#10  --  The Big Snow of January 2011.

Last January it snowed in Atlanta. Yes, it snowed. And snowed. And snowed some more. The problem with it, though, was that the temperature hovered somewhere between freezing and not freezing for several days. This meant that during the day, it would start quasi-melting. The quasi-melted parts would then freeze at night. That made driving anywhere absolutely impossible (unless of course you're Neil W., but that's a whole 'nother story.)

Anways. I am sure this all has you wondering, "Uuuuhh. . .so why is is this on your list of favorites?"

Here's why:

For seven days, we did things like this. We built forts. We drank real hot chocolate. We watched movies. We cuddled. And we had wonderfully uninterrupted family time. At some points we didn't even have cable so there wasn't even any television to compete with.

It was awesome.

#9 --  Rediscovering School House Rock with my kids.

YouTube is something pretty special, man. Thanks to YouTube, my kids and I watched every single episode and song from School House Rock a minimum of five trillion times. Zachary took to them in particular, and knows nearly every word to every song. Well, sort of knows the words.

Case in point:

#8 --  Match Day and Commencement 2011.

Match Day:


Among my favorite-favorite-favoritest moments of 2011. Hands down.

#7 --  The Bieber Bomb and other laugh-out loud moments with my kids.

I laugh OUT LOUD at this every single time I hear it. It never, ever gets old. Ever.

This is actually a video but appears dark because we were lying in bed with the lights out. This was during our "lullaby time" and our favorite "lullaby" to sing together happens to be an old James Taylor song called "Close Your Eyes." Even if you've seen/heard this before, it will still make you laugh. This PERFECTLY captures the relationship between and spirit of my two children. I will cherish this forever and am so happy I pushed record that night.

(Remember -- non-YouTube videos won't show up on your smartphone or iPad so be sure to come back and check it out on your computer.)

Bwaaah haaaaaaa haaaaaaaa. . . . .phew! This was just one of many funny, funny moments with my kids.

#6 -- Mama (y Papa?) Gallina.

As most of you know, I do some media appearances from time to time. What you may not know is this: To me, the very best part of being on television--especially any national segment--is how ridiculously proud it makes my parents.

Oh.  Em. Gee.

Sometimes I question whether I should ever go to CNN again for fear of my father's health! Talk about excited. Lawd. . . it never gets old for him.

But seriously, though. . .I realized that once you become a full-grown adult, you don't have as many opportunities to make your folks that kind of proud. You know. . . that proud they feel when you say your lines loud and animated during the elementary school program or when you win the spelling bee or make a soccer goal? Yeah, that.  It's funny. . . once I graduated from medical school and residency. . .those kinds of moments became rare. I mean, yes, I know my parents are proud of me on a day-to-day basis, but I'm talking about those super-duper poked out chest moments, you know?

My friend Shanta's husband, Fernando H., has a name for this. When she gets super proud of their kids or her family or her friends he calls her the "mama gallina."

Shanta Z. (aka mama gallina original) y los pollitos.

In the literal sense, this probably translates to being a "mother hen" which technically isn't the most flattering thing in English. But it isn't English, now is it?


Yeah. . . .this term--"mama gallina"--I like.  I like it because it captures the sound in my parents' voices and the emoticon-laden text messages they send after any television appearance I do. Okay, and even though my dad is actually a "papa", he definitely gets the "mama gallina" poked-out chest like nobody's business. (Remind me to ask Fernando and Shanta if there is a male version of "mama gallina.")

I assure you that my father sent a minimum of one thousand texts when this aired.

So anyways. The point of all this is to say, at forty-something years-old, it feels really, really good to make my parents so acutely proud. It really does.

#5 --  JoLai's Big 4-0.

Nothing against any of my other siblings, friends, or family, but my sister JoLai is probably the best person I know.  Being in L.A. to celebrate her birthday with throngs of people who felt the same way was one of my most favorite moments of 2011.

#4  -- Small Group Moments.

Small Group Alpha (Class of 2011)
Small Group Beta (Class of 2013)

Small Group Gamma (Class of 2015)

Next to caring for patients, my small groups are the very best part of my job. I care about them in a way that goes beyond how you care about your students. Working with them for four entire years does this to you. The group dynamic evolves into something special but also the individual relationships I form with each person are even more special. And what's really nice is that these bonds are formed in classrooms and hospitals, yes. But often because of the nature of our curriculum, they are built right in my house where they all feel welcomed and relaxed and safe.

SG Beta, small group session.

Barefoot learning with SG Alpha at the Manning house.

Now that I think of it, this is what made me love Match Day and commencement so much. Because of moments like these, the mama gallina in me got to feel a little bit of what their parents were feeling, too.

#3 -- Camp Papa.

Two boys. One grandpa. Four weeks of fun on the west coast.  The best part about this year is that now they were both old enough to remember it. I am so happy to know that this is a memory they will carry with them for the rest of their lives. Grandparents and parents don't live forever. But memories do.

#3 and a half -- The Kids returning from Camp Papa.

 There's nothing like the sight of seeing children who are happy to see their father. (Especially when you happen to be madly in love with their father.)


#2 --  Summertime with children. 

All of it.

#1 --  Writing this blog (and talking to my mother about it.)

I'd like to think that I inherited my interest in writing from my mother. She's an avid reader and a damn good writer, too. (Remind me to harass her about starting her own blog--she technically has one but never posts.)

My mom reads my posts religiously and quite often leaves me a subsequent text message informing me of my typos and grammatical errors. Sometimes before she even finishes reading the post. Although I give her a hard time about it, I love that she does it. It's one of the ways we've bonded over the last few years. Not that we needed any extra bonding. . .  but that's been a nice bonus of doing this.

I have also loved building relationships with other virtual friends through my blog and through their writing this year. People like Sister Moon and Angella Lister have become sho' nuff and bona fide friends-slash-mentor-esses. So have people like Ann I., Dr. Toni B., Elizabeth A. and the adorable Rachael C. I've followed the brave fight of one beautiful little red-headed girl named Ella against leukemia and stopped by Oklahoma to hang out with Sarah D. who also has a B.H.E. Yep, this world has introduced me to fun people like Omgrrrl and the ever-honest, ever-hysterical, ever-potty-mouthed (yet ever-so-sweet) SB.

And. Through this blog I have become face-to-face friends with people like Psonya from Pserendipity and Lisa R. who did her hair in fancy buns like Princess Lea for her son Bob's birthday. I have also been able to travel all the way to Uganda and even dip my feet in the Nile with my dear-heart Kris R. thanks to her lovely writing, too.

Then there's the people who don't blog but who read. Sometimes you delurk and comment but even when you don't, I feel you sitting there with your coffee as if we were having it together. And that's really, really special.


But best of all? I've gotten to know me better in 2011 thanks to writing here. I've gotten to hash out my kooky thoughts and put them back together again. Thanks to this, I've found a place to come back to them, to laugh at them, and to cry at them over and over again. And oh, how I love this! It helps me remember the fine details that get lost sometimes.  Yes, it does.

Oh yeah! And! And, and, and! My F.P.s (favorite patients) get to stay with me in high def forever. And now . . . some of them have become your F.P.s, too.

(Mom has a particular love for the Grady elders.)

You've listened to my mental iPod with me and gone on all sorts of journeys from hospital elevators to restaurants and even to the Target checkout line. You've sat by patiently as I looked for stuffed puppy dogs, parented my children and professed my nauseating amount of love for my husband. Your comments have helped me to understand myself and the world a bit better. And that? That's been rad.

All of it.

The woman in the elevator, Miss Regina.

So there you have it. My top ten favorite moments of 2011, which now that I think of it, was a pretty good year after all. I'm sure I'll remember something or someone I left out.

Or my mom will. Ha.

Happy 2012, y'all.


  1. For that prideful feeling you inspire in your parents, ask your friend Neil to define "kvelling" or "shepping nachas"

    they're Yiddish and I think are exactly what you are looking for.

    kvelling is sort of the opposite of Schadenfreude.

  2. Keep blogging. Indefinitely. Please and thank you!

    Your fellow Meharrian,

  3. Just so you know--I love your blog. I don't comment much, on anyone's blog, but I had to share that. I'd love to work with you--but these days I'm out of the acute care game and have dedicated my life to improving the care of our frail elders. You don't want to move to Richmond and become one of our LTC attendings, do you? :)

  4. You had enough good times there for several years.

  5. Shoshana -- shepping nachas? now that's a new one! I was up on "kvelling" though.

    Maria -- Thanks for the support as always! Happy 2012!

    Boss Nurse -- Anybody with the name BossNurse is my kind of people! I'm not ready to leave my Grady elders, but I love knowing the ones in Richmond have the BossNurse!

    Trooper -- Ain't that the truth? See, this is why I list the good things so that I can get that smack across my face that says, "Uhhh, hello?" Happy New Year!

  6. Okay, so I can't even front... I was reading through this wondering, "Will my 40th make the list?" LOL! How vain is that??? I'm glad I made the cut. It was definitely a highlight of my 2011 having you & Deanna with me. The only thing missing was Will, and I know he was there in spirit.

    Thank you for Harry.
    Thank you for the boys.
    Thank you for being on Team JoLai.
    Thank you for for being you.
    Thank you for this blog which keeps me just a little closer to Team Manning.

    I love you!


"Tell me something good. . . tell me that you like it, yeah." ~ Chaka Khan

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