Sunday, September 23, 2012

Top Ten: The ones I keep coming back to.

When I woke up Saturday morning, I did the normal early Saturday things. I made some coffee and pulled together some breakfast . The television came on and I listened to the boom-boom-pow of Saturday cartoons. Mean-mommy me puts the kibosh on television and electronics Monday through Friday so Saturday mornings are pretty much dedicated to both. I'm cool with that since I simultaneously find it a perfect time to nestle down at the kitchen table in front of my own "electronics."

The laptop opens. On a lot of mornings I wake up knowing what I want to write about. My hands are itching for the keys and I can't wait to go into my own world of writing. There are other days where instead of writing I just sit and read. Usually it's a combination of other blogs and, dare I even admit it? My own blog. It probably sounds a bit narcissistic but I hope not.

I've said many times over that the reason I started writing my blog was so that I could read it. It's been an archive of moments and lessons that I wanted to keep. Writing them down makes those stories and memories come alive. . . and stay alive. On the days I need to a pick-me-up or when I just need a swift kick in the pants, I find the stories that help me to do that. Sometimes I just want a good hearty laugh or a luscious ugly cry. I have my go-to posts for that, too.

Even pictures I've posted here remind me of things. Like these MacBook photobooth shots of Zachary and me are from this day when we were watching the video to REM's "Losing My Religion." The song had been playing on my mental iPod and I'd written a post that had this song at the end. Zachary came and sat on my lap (as he often does when I'm writing) and went into a trance while hearing that mandolin wailing and seeing the REM frontman Michael Stipe flapping his arms all about dancing.

"Play it again," he kept saying. So I would. And I did. And we talked about it and asked each other what we thought was happening in the video. I ended up writing about that, too. And if I want to relive that tiny little moment with my son, I can.

So I do that often. Sit and read. Sometimes it's a post that I remember every single detail about. Other times when I'm reading it, it feels like I'm reading it for the very first time. Many, many times I'm moved to tears by your thoughtful comments. I reflect on the unexpected community that has come to rally around these ideas and how many of those same people welcome me onto their own porches to sit and read and think and reflect.

I love it. I really do. It makes the world feel smaller and less lonely. It makes me feel -- no know -- that we are so much more alike than different. You show me that. I show myself that, too. So for that reason this is therapy, really. Anything that makes you more okay with yourself and the world you live in counts as therapy if you ask me.


This morning, I've been just sitting here at my kitchen table with a hot cup of coffee doing just that. Rereading and reliving. Doing that gave me an idea.Thought I'd try my hand at creating a top ten of the posts I go back to the most--and why. Quickly I ran through a list in my head and realized that it would surely exceed ten. I figured I could still call it top ten still to rope y'all in. Bwwwaaaaah! Ha! Haaaaah!

Ah hem. I wrote a little top ten (okay fifteen) about it!

Like to hear it? Here it go!


And let me just give the disclaimer that I am already feeling some tinge of anxiety at the idea of trying to do this. It sort of feels like I'm picking out a favorite child out of many or like I'm thanking people on a stage and am about to forget someone very, very important.

Very corny, I know.

You're probably thinking, what about the archive list on the right side of the blog? Why not put them there? Well, first of all, I don't update that too often. Second, I can't say it fully reflects the ones I go back to the most often. And third, oh. There is no third. Yes there is! I thought it would be a fun exercise to reflect on my reflections.

Even cornier, I know.

Hey! For those newer here, it could provide some insight. For those who've been down since I had less than ten followers, it might feel like a walk through an old neighborhood. And for those who are bored to death by all of this and see it similar to a rerun or when Tyra Banks does the hodgepodge episode on Top Model, please, please come on back here later, ya hear?

Warning: This will take some time to digest. Especially if you are new here. Take your time, bookmark it and come back to have another bite. Those who read here often, you'll remember most of these so no pressure for YOU to reread just because I do.

Wow. These disclaimers and warnings are getting neurotic.

And away we go!


*note that the pictures all link to the post of reference.

This was the post I was referring to above. Though I've written specifically about that song, Losing My Religion, the original post where I linked that song was about a patient asking me if I believed in God. I loved the discussion that followed in the comments.

My student-friend-mentee Cathy M. posted this weekend about her thoughts on keeping her faith-cards close to her chest. I know that people all along the faith spectrum are a part of this community. Believers in humankind only to those who said "L'shanah tovah!" often in the past few days to ones who fasted during one of the hottest months of Ramadan ever all the way to the ones who specifically believe in Jesus (and even that is a whoooole 'nother humongous spectrum.)

Anyways, I dipped my toe into that topic. I wondered if the post was too much or if it would offend somebody. As I was writing, I kept hearing Stipe on a loop. . .bleating into my ear. . . "Oh no, I said too much. . ."

What I learned was that I didn't. I go back to that post to feel this community and to also think about faith questions in the work place. Now I know that it's okay to do that and it's not really too much if you respect the space of others while owning your own.


This was the post written after I'd visited the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center as a visiting professor. I go to that entry often because it makes me thing about friendship between women. My friend Shanta Z. was the one who invited me up there and is such an amazing friend and colleague. I loved my visit there and continue to be glad that I wrote about that experience very shortly after it happened.

I often refer to Shanta as "the profesora in Pittsburgh." She is a wonderful champion for medical students and residents, a strong leader, and someone who gets me. She also inspired a poem that I posted a few months ago about teaching medical students and residents that I read often. Her mantra is "back to the bedside." I hear it in my own head every single time I am attending on the ward.


First of all, I always smile at my witty play on words with that title. Then that smile becomes a laugh when realize that my most faithful readers like my mama have no idea who the band "Panic! At the Disco" is so it actually isn't so witty at all.

That story was one that I had wanted to get out of my head and into written form for years. It felt so very therapeutic to write it and it continues to feel that way when I read it. The comments moved me to tears in ways that are hard to describe. What's funny is . . .if there was ever a post that I wrote for me, it was that one. I needed to process that experience. What I learned is that others needed to process some related feelings, too.

And I'm glad.


This was the post written after Small Group Alpha (my first group of medical student advisees) had their residency Match Day in March of 2011. It was probably one of the proudest moments of my entire career. In fact, I'm sure of it. On days that I feel overwhelmed by teaching and mentoring medical students, I go to this post. It recharges me and gets me shadow-boxing again because the reward is so, so great.

And since I mentioned Small Group Alpha and their Match Day, that always leads to me rereading the fun day I had with Ant, the sole survivor of SG Alpha, on her last day of medical school. That was special, too.


Well. I can't read this one too often because I end up thinking about that whole journey with a previously anonymous medical student. That leads to an ugly cry like no other. Like, super-duper-somebody-slap-me-to-get-a-hold-of-myself ugly.

But when I am in the right mindset, I read that post. I love that entire story because it is a testimony and reminds me that good things can happen if we pay attention to one another. So many people paid attention. The pieces came together and the result was . . . .  literally, a dream come true.

If you put "one moment in time" in the search engine or click that label, you can read the entire story.


Oh, how do I love thee? Let me, like, count the ways!

Aaaah. You guys know how much I love the BHE. Oh, that man. He is just . . . the best husband ever. Don't believe me? How about even more pictures to make you gag on how much I have a crush on this man!

The post about when Harry met Kimberly (witty again and bet Mom does get this play on words!) I don't know what was going on with me that day--oh yeah! Yes, I do. It was Harry's birthday, I think. Anyway, I put fingertips to laptop and wrote about the entire story of the day the we met. Whenever I am having a Harry love-fest (which is often, often, often) I read this for a smile.

I was never, ever lucky in love. Like, ever. So reading that makes me feel encouraged that every single dream can just be one moment away. It makes me hope that someone reading believes that, too.

I also like knowing that my boys will be able to read that story one day. The real, true story of "how I met your mother."

If you are interested in gagging repeatedly, please go straight to "The BHE" as a label. I do that often and fall in love all over again. It sort of embarrasses him that I so effusively profess my love for him here. But it mostly touches him.


Man. This post just makes me laugh out loud. Every single time I read it. No matter what.

Part of it is imagining my sister JoLai or my friend Psonya saying, "Aww hell naaaw!" while reading it. Or knowing how much it would tickle my friend Lesley M. She always shares the funniest ones with her husband who, like her, is an avid reader. Something about that makes me feel proud of the funny ones.

For whatever reason when this happened, I thought of all of you! I couldn't wait to write about it and hear your thoughts. It felt like I was standing on the corner talking to my homegirls about some mundane ridiculousness--and all of you were those homegirls. Ha. Sure, it had nothing to do with medicine but seeing as forty two percent of my life is spent in Target, it seemed reasonable to write about it.

I can't tell you how many times I've revisited this post just for a pick-me-up on heavy days. Laughter is an excellent panacea for icky days.


Something about this image I found of a young Bob Dylan singing in the deepest parts of the south during the epicenter of the civil rights movement moved me this morning. It also made me think of what was probably one of the greatest and most memorable moments I have ever experienced at Grady Hospital.

This is the post about that moment. I reread it often. I think it's my Poopdeck's favorite post of all time. (Poopdeck is my dad, but most of you know that already.)

Most of the stories I significantly modify to protect anonymity. The reason I love that story is because not one single drop of the details were changed in any way. I reported it exactly as it happened and, since it didn't involve patient care, it was okay to do so.

I loved this moment. It embodied every drop of every thing I love about Grady and underscores my complete awe and respect for the Grady elders.

That picture was one that I thought would make my friend Sister Moon smile. She (and the rest of our blog community-of-writers) is one of the best parts of starting this blog. We have really all become friends and it's so wonderful.

I mean that.


This post about a young mother crossing the street was supposed to be nothing but an exercise in simple observation. What I learned is that this can make for some of the most powerful imagery. I reread this post often. I recall closing my eyes and trying to think of words to bring that moment to life.  Funny. I had no idea where I was going with it. Once I reached a destination I was surprised at the emotion it evoked. It wasn't supposed to be that kind of post.

But it was.


I just reread this post again this morning and it made me cry. I wrote this after running into an old acquaintance in the hospital. Someone I'd known from college whose life had taken a few sharp turns that landed him in a clinic room at Grady Hospital.

I loved the way he owned his space. Despite the obstacles or the little voice it was obvious that he was alright with himself. It immediately made me feel comfortable and made me want to emulate that quality.

More than anything, I learned that you don't know anyone like you think you do. Pretty much ever.


Okay. Not all of them. But a few of them.

The F.P.

The first is the one about my favorite patient (F.P.) whose hair was coming out after chemotherapy. She was an amazing human being and one that I think of very, very often. I didn't know her for long but she had a tremendous impact on me. The very last thing she ever said to me was, "Love you." I will always remember that and hold it close.

Though not her real name, I gave her the name Mrs. Zebedee in the story. I'm not sure what made me pick that name but it's probably no accident that I chose a biblical one for her.  In the bible, "Zebedee" was the father of James and John. I imagine that he was quite wise. My Mrs. Zebedee was, too.

FOX-y Lady

This was the one about a patient calling to the hospital after an appearance I'd had on our local FOX affiliate. Hilarious.

The Hair Mane-ifesto

My homage to black hair and all that goes into it. What prompted me to do this? Well. Blame it on the Surgeon General of the United States. Sister-Doctor Benjamin said that sisters not exercising because of their hair concerns is a public health issue. While I neither support or refute this statement, I will say that I get why some women might be deterred by sweating if they have hair of the kinky-curly variety. Once I started writing about it, I couldn't stop.

One of my good friends (who does not happen to have hair of the kinky-curly variety) said that it was "truly educational and eye-opening." Something about that makes me wish I had a book cover to put that on the backside of.

Ever wondered about black hair? Read that post.


This was the post written after my mother's sixty fifth birthday. It was a day of new beginnings. I was reminded of what is truly, truly important. I have read that post and watched the video clip of my brother and I more times than I can even count.

Ever had misunderstandings with family members? Read that post and be reminded that life is too short to let them fester.


A modified version of this post is now published in JAMA. It is accompanied by an author reading. If you go to and either search or click on the multimedia page, you'll find an author reading of the full text version.

 I get "the nod" from people at least ten times every day.


This is exemplified through this small handful of posts about things that happened away from Grady. Technically, Teenage Mutant Target Checkout Chick and the one about my mom's birthday should be there, but they deserved their own place since I read them so very often. I know I'm cheating by not listing an individual post. But oh well, what can you do? I truly do read these often, so I figured I'd share.

The Puppy Mafia.

This entire saga makes me laugh out loud. But the very first installment makes me laugh the most. It's so ridiculous yet so true. I am laughing just thinking about it. So ridiculous and very much the embodiment of "my so-called life outside Grady."

The Lady in the Airport.

I kid you not, that's what happened. I go to this post for a hearty chuckle. And a reminder to have a little bit of chutzpah and cojones.

The Unexpected Isaiah Car Conversations on Race Relations.

This post was about a surprisingly heavy conversation that I had with Isaiah in the car one day--all revolving around The Green Lantern.

And this one was about the day that Isaiah relayed what a friend had told him about black people.


This post was written right after I had the surprise of winning the Evangeline Papageorge Teaching Award at The Emory University School of Medicine Commencement this year. I really, really considered not writing about it. But then I realized how bummed I'd be if I wanted to come back to that moment someday and had neglected to write about it while it was fresh.

I'm so glad that I did.

Every time I look at that last picture of my father, I cry. It makes me remember how I felt when I saw him standing there patting his eyes in that chapel. It reminds me of how acutely proud I made my mother and my father that day -- on top of their already chronic pride.

Whelp. Now that I have sufficiently eaten up your entire day, you may return to your regularly scheduled life. Ha ha ha.

There are others that I reread but I realized that I had to narrow it down. Remember, this blog is therapy and like Toni Morrison said after writing The Bluest Eye-- it was written "so I could read it." And I guess the point is. . . .I actually do.

Which makes me wonder--do any of the other blogger-writers out there do this? Or am I just a cornball who reads her own writing? I always hear artists and television/movie personalities saying they don't listen to their own music for leisure and that they've only watched their own movies/TV shows once. Is that just the cool thing to say or is that, like, how it really is with most people?


Sometimes I read things on my friends' blogs and wish I could remember the title or label so that I could go back to it. That may or may not be me nudging you to do a version of this, too.

My mom says that she is going to make a guest post here with her top ten posts from her daughter's blog. And by her daughter I mean me. Stay tuned for that. It could be as soon as next week or next year. I've learned not to rush the sixty-five year old version of my mama. You shouldn't either. Just saying.


I'd love to know which posts, if any, have resonated the most with you. Do you like the student posts? The mommy-hood ones? The patient stories? The ridiculous Target encounters? I'm curious. Feel free to delurk to share. Or just share. Think of it like feedback on Amazon.

But without the mean comments and star system.

Happy Weekend, my friends. And thank you so, so much for returning over and over to read the little blog that could aka this-here blog.


  1. Loved this! I'm working on my list - trying to narrow it down (which is hard). There are some cross-overs, but not as many as I thought there would be. The fun has been going back and rereading as I think about my favorites. Stay tuned . . .

  2. I'm thrilled with this post! Since discovering you a few months ago via Ms. Moon I have traveled back in time through your blog but missed quite a few of these. I will enjoy reading each and every one, including two of my very favorites from any blog I've ever read: When Harry met Kimberly and The Hair Mane-ifesto. I will look forward to reading those two again and also the list your mom is going to bestow upon us.

    Thank you and have a beautiful Sunday!

    1. Awww. That makes me super happy. I hope you have a wonderful Sunday, too!

  3. This is great-makes me realize that I have likely read your whole blog. Although you have highlighted fifteen posts/topics-this whole blog is a little gem. This little blog that could is daily reading for me-daily. Keep writing.

    Maria, fellow Meharrian

    1. Thank you, sister. I appreciate you so very, very much.

      Kimberly, fellow Meharrian

  4. First off yeah,I do sometimes read my blog. Mostly it's after looking at statcounter and noticing that someone in my extended family has been reading it. Then I kind of panic, thinking "OMG! What have I been writing about lately?" Most of my extended family found out about my cancer by reading my blog and they were not to happy about finding out about it that way. But actually sometimes it is because a doctor has questions about why I was put on a medication or why I was diagnosed with whatever and I hate to admit it but some of it I just don't remember. If I can remember the year, I can usually find it in my blog. And yeah, I do know that my blog would be better named TMI.

    I couldn't re-read some of these. You have a gift for making me cry, which is why I will NEVER go to Grady. Some of them make me examine myself, like "Oh No, I Said Too Much". For the most part my doctors are men and women of faith, not necessarily mine, but still faith. But I'm pretty sure the one doing my surgery on Thursday isn't, and I don't know why I'm haveing issues with that. It doesn't take away from the fact that he's brilliant and has done the procedure thousands of times. Still, I just wish he was relying on a higher power.

    You got me with the nod, though. I thought that it was something in the culture of where I work. We all nod acknowledgement of each other when we pass. I had no idea that it could be attributed to a race.

    Please keep on writing. Your posts are funny and witty, but filled with compassion and insight. It keeps me coming back to read your blog.

    1. Dear Lisa,

      You are so smart and thoughtful -- it is a high compliment that you come here to read these posts. I appreciate your candor and your consistent comments. You are so brave and resilient. I'm glad that you're a part of this community.



  5. I love reminiscing right along with you and remember every single post you've listed here! I feel the same way as you about writing, blogging, the community that has sprung up around us all. I'm privileged to be a part of yours, and blessed to have you in mine!

    1. Okay, so is it a deal that we will meet each other in person at Blog Her next year? Oh, and your "How We Do It" posts are so amazing that I go and reread them often. I loved your small stones and love your Christmas songs, too. Love the walks you take with Sophie, the conversations with the boys and so much more. You rock.


  6. One of my favorite of your posts (and there are so many) is the one about the transgendered woman. How her situation pushed your boundaries and then you opened your eyes and your heart and you let your boundaries widen to include her.
    And then you were a good doctor and took care of her.
    Yes. That one says so much about you to me.
    And of course I love that picture of Bob Dylan. It's almost comical now, to think of these northern white folks coming down to create some justice but hell- maybe they helped. They tried, anyway. Things did change, eventually. Are still changing. Still need to change. And Bob's still singing.

    1. Wow. That story was one that I had kept in my head forever but finally pushed myself to write about. The first comment on that post asked me "Why after all these years are you writing about this?" and it made me second guess it. Then the more I reread it, the more I knew that I needed to honor Ms. Ava and the many, many people like her who deserve to be on the inside of my boundaries.

      I know you understand. And I knew you'd like seeing Bob.

      Hugs to you and hope you had a blast on Dog Island.

  7. I LOOOOVE posts where you write about your dad. I, too, adore my daddy... so reading about your dad makes me warm and fuzzy. Nothing like being a Daddy's girl!

    Can I tell you that my favorite post of yours is one you posted recently? It was something about how you were walking to work, and you stopped and took pictures along the way. I loved reading that... because it made me want that peace... the ability to walk slowly and enjoy the view as I travel. My life is so rush, rush, rush. Those pictures you took gently nudged my spirit, told it to slow down, take deep, cleansing breaths, and enjoy the view. My baby won't always be small. My parents won't always be spry. The world won't stop spinning. I gotta chill! Thank you for posting that.

  8. Delurking to say that I love your blog because of its eclectic nature. I love to hear stories about medicine, happenings with your boys and BHE, escapdes with friends, and the wonderful relationship you have with your students. Some days I hear things and think, "what would Dr Manning think about this?" such as the debate about whether working moms can have it all. I enjoy your top ten posts and hearing about how a simple text from a former student can light up your day...reminds me that small acts can have a big impact.

    Lauren J

    1. Yay. I love when a post makes someone "delurk!" Thanks for reading and for being a part of this community!


  9. I feel like I have spent the afternoon with you after reading your top fifteen. Some I had read and some were new to me but ALL of them spoke to me. And, by the way, I love them all: Grady, Mom, Hair, Target, BHE. The variety humanizes the writing and speaks to our commonality.
    A quote has been running through my head since early morning today and it was in my BHE's toast at Jessie's and Cathal's wedding. It seems particularly applicable to you, I think, as well. "Love is the measure by which we shall be judged." St. John of the Cross
    Love, Coach B

    1. Yes! You make my day always and I love knowing that you read this blog.

  10. Okay, somebody get me a box of tissues. I just read #4 We Love Her More...I chose this one to read first because the Beatles have been the soundtrack of my life...I was a young teenager when this song came out.

    This post is beautiful on so many levels and I love how you explained the subtle reasons leading to a certain uncomfortableness between you and your brother. And then the hugging video, oh, oh, oh, the healing beauty of it.

    A part of me wants to read all of the 15 right now and a part of me wants to read only one or two a day to have the time to savor each one. That might put me pretty far behind on this blog, so I guess I'll just have to put my book that I'm reading right now ON HOLD!

  11. I'm a big fan of the student and teaching medicine posts...probably because I relate to them so much, but moreso because through your writing, you're able to reach students not just at Grady but all across the U.S.

    Thanks again Dr. Manning!

    1. Now you KNOW I love me some medical students so that makes me happy to hear you say that. Thank you for reading and for being here.

  12. Soror,

    I happened upon your blog because I noticed the posts about your sister, Deanna, in "1913" on FB. I wondered what happened and went to her FB page. I'm glad I did that, and am so glad I found your blog. I've enjoyed reading it, and I'll probably be a regular. My heart goes out to you and your family regarding the loss of what seems to have been one AWESOME individual. I pray that God will continue to wrap his arms around you. God bless you!

  13. Soror Kim,

    When I tell you that you have a gift, I mean you truly have this amazing gift of writing and telling your story. I been reading your blog for a week now and I truly love it. It has made me laugh, cry and made me think. Thank you for sharing your gift with the world. Your love for your family, your patients, students and your job is clearly shown through your posts. You and your family have my continued prayers.

    Denise C.


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

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