Tuesday, February 21, 2012

A golden opportunity.

Couch kids in the morning are hard to leave!

The kids were out of school on Monday and Harry and I both had to work. I felt like such a loser considering that their school calendar comes out a year before yet I neglected to request that day off.


Fortunately, I have a wonderful older sister who lives in town and who just happens happens to teach in the same county. This meant that she was off, too and very, very lucky for us she was willing to spend her off-day with her nephews. Score.


The issue wasn't the childcare as much as it was the missed opportunity. It was a gorgeous day and that day would have been a golden opportunity for me to go to the park or go for a walk with the boys. So I was bummed. Super bummed that I didn't get to spend that day with my kids instead of having to go to work. That morning when I woke up, I didn't want to go.

Not at all.

When I got to work, I was dragging and blah. I told my colleague Carmen M. how I was feeling. We always talk about our kids at the beginning of the clinic session and she gave me the empathy I was looking for.

"We have plenty of faculty here today. Maybe we can let you go," she offered.

It was a very sweet offer and I appreciated it. But my time is no more precious than hers and my love for my children no greater either. "I'm sure that we all have a list of things we'd rather do today," I replied, "but thanks anyway."


Eventually blah got a little bit better. Like always, things picked up in clinic once I started seeing patients with the residents. It ended up being a good session because I not only got to work with Carmen, but also two other people that I don't work with regularly. And all of them are junior -- within their first two years on the faculty.

On this day, I watched them, my junior colleagues. They each had different styles and strengths. And each of them taught me something without even realizing it.

But especially, I paid attention to Carmen. We work together often, but on this day, I really paid attention. I watched her from the corner of my eye talking and teaching and explaining and role modeling. And it was really heartwarming to witness because Carmen and I go way back to when she was novice medical student on my team several years before. And now here we were shoulder to shoulder teaching together as faculty members in the clinic.

The beauty was that she is still every bit as altruistic and earnest as she was then.

At the end of that session, I bumped into Carmen as I prepared to leave. My morning had started out blah and being with her that day had done my heart good -- I wanted to tell her so. When I got ready to speak, I was surprised to find her face full of frustration and her normally chipper personality slightly less so.

"You okay?" I asked her.

She paused for a moment with glassy appearing eyes and then shrugged. "I think," she spoke carefully, "I think I just feel overwhelmed today. Like I'm trying to change certain things and. . . " She let out a big sigh to regroup.

"And what?"

"And I guess I feel like I don't make any headway. Like I'm not really having an impact."

I looked in her face and saw that she meant every word. Then I thought of all that she'd taught me on this day and all the days we'd worked together before including when she was a medical student. I put both of my hands on her shoulders and faced her.

"You've had an impact on me," I told her. I repeated myself for emphasis. "Carmen, just know that you've had an impact on me." And I said that because it was true.

We stood there in that hallway with our eyes locked and it spoke volumes. And it was good because for the first time that day I was truly glad to be at work instead of mad or indifferent about it.

And you know? I walked out of the clinic feeling alright. Talking to myself and saying things like, See? It was good that you were here after all. 

This is truly how I felt and it showed as I walked through the hall and toward the exit.

When I stepped through the door, the sun was shining extra bright and the sky seemed extra blue. I looked up and felt that sun on my face and that was good, too.

I took a few steps to begin heading to my office, head up, heart in a good place. My favorite personal anthem playing on my mental iPod -- "Golden" by Jill Scott.

"I'm taking my freedom
pullin' it off the shelf
puttin' it on my chain
wearin' it round my neck

I'm takin' my freedom
puttin' it in my stroll
I be high steppin' y'all
lettin' the joy unfold. . ."

So this was playing in my ears and was the beat to which I walked. Yes. Me, the sun, and good thoughts swirling in my head. Asking myself heavy questions about what I'm supposed to be doing when and how to be who I was born to be. Heavy questions, but in a light way. Feeling good and glad that I was in that hallway at that very moment with Carmen.


"Dr. Manning! Dr. Manning!"

A voice rang out across the pathway in front of the main hospital entrance. It was easy and familiar, not urgent or worried. I swung my head toward the sound and I saw an unfamiliar face.

"Dr. Manning! Aww man! I can't believe I ran into you!"

The very first thing I noticed was that the man speaking to me was riding in a wheel chair. But this was quickly overshadowed by his bright and genuine smile and the warm twinkle in his eyes. Walking beside him were two young boys very close to my children's ages.

"Hello," I responded. I was a little bit embarrassed because his tone suggested that we knew one another. And also because I was pretty far into my head with Jill Scott before he called my name.

"Dr. Manning, you don't know me but my wife. . . aww man. . .my wife is going to be tripping when she hears that I met you!"

And I smiled right back at him and looked over at those handsome boys. "Are these your boys?"

"Yes! I think my wife said she once sent you a picture of them?"

That's when it clicked. I immediately knew who she was.

"StaceSenior! Your wife is StaceSenior! Oh my gosh!!" I gushed.

He laughed out loud and nodded."Yes! My wife is Stacey!"

I chuckled to myself when it dawned on me that I was calling her by a blogger sign-on name. "Oh my gosh! Yes, Stacey!"

And I just stood there smiling all goofy and giddy-like because his wife--not him but his WIFE--reads my blog and thought enough of it to tell her husband about it. And then have him remember enough to recognize me from across a courtyard.

StaceSenior. Yes! She comments regularly and has become what my friend Sister Moon calls a "dear virtual friend." (Which makes sense because I consider Sister Moon one of those, too.) Stacey doesn't have a blog of her own but reads mine. Reads all my quirky stories and streams of consciousness faithfully which I totally appreciate.


I was so glad to be in that place at that time. I said it out loud just so I wouldn't forget it.

"I'm so glad to be right here right now!"

"My wife is in the car waiting for us. I just had to stop up here to pick something up. Can't wait to tell her we met!"

"In the car? Where?" I pressed.

"Right over there," he answered while pointing. And wouldn't you know he was pointing exactly where I happened to be going.

So we headed that direction and I chatted with Stacey's sons while her husband rolled beside us tickled at the fact that he had indeed found, in all of the giganticness of Grady Hospital, the crazy gradydoctor-lady who authors the blog she affectionately calls "the little blog that could."

"There she is right there!" he announced while pointing at a woman sitting behind the wheel of a sedan.

I tip toed beside the car and then knocked on the window startling her. I stuck my face near the window and she laughed loud and hearty.

"StaceSenior!" I exclaimed.

"Dr. Manning! Hey!"

And just like that we hugged each other. And that was natural and right and genuine.

I told her that I didn't even realize after all this time that she was in Atlanta which made me just as excited to see her as she was to see me. We chuckled and chatted and hugged once more before I left. Her husband watched with a happy smile and those adorable kids stood by politely.

And it was good. All good.

When I got home, my sister was there and my kids were in great spirits. They love being with her and it showed. They had done math and read books and cleaned up and messed up all over again. And I was glad that they had.

In bed that night I reconstructed my day. Not wanting to go to work. Being there with my junior colleagues and especially Carmen M. Seeing a former medical student flourish into someone I now call my fellow Grady doctor. And standing in that hallway long enough with her to exit that door when I did and meet Stacey's husband and kids. Then getting the added treat of seeing a virtual friend in the flesh and not finding it the least bit awkward. And lastly being reminded that it takes a village and that my sister Deanna is one of the very best parts of ours. Every moment a golden opportunity.


I fell asleep strumming my freedom and reflecting on living my life like it's golden. Because I was exactly where I was supposed to be that day.

And it was good.

Happy Tuesday.

And on my mental iPod. . . my personal anthem. . . .


  1. There are no accidents. I'm just sayin'.

  2. Hi Dr. Manning. I wish I could be like you. So honest and then somehow be able to turn things around and look at the positives. You are a blessed individual -- to be choose to do that and we are blessed to learn from that choice. I'm reading this on a tough, feeling-sorry-for-myself night and it was like getting a little lesson in life. Thank you sweet lady. Joanne (PS - it is getting harder to sign on her annonymously!)

  3. What you did, reviewing your day and looking for blessings is what the Jesuits (an order of Catholic priests and brothers) call the Examen. there are a few, not very rigid steps to it, but basically it consists of praying for grace, rewinding through your day to look for where you see god in others. Guess this hit home for me on Ash Wednesday. Google Examen or look at ignatianspirituality.com for a better explanation. Not trying to convert here, just pointing out the similarities between us. I love to read your posts.

  4. You know the Seniors were excited about our mention on the blog! It was so great meeting you in person. And yes, everyone, she is just as warm, pretty, and genuine as you think!!!

  5. this is a little bit of beautiful magic, right here.


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

Related Posts with Thumbnails