Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Top Ten: All you can be.

 "All you can be is happy."

This quote is one that I've always liked. I'm not sure who said it or what was even going on when they did, but I ponder these words often.

"All you can be is happy."

Like, no matter how much money, power, fame or fortune you have, when it's all said and done, all you can really be is happy. And perhaps more money, power, fame or fortune might trick someone into thinking that, if they just had more of those things, that they would be. The more I think about those words, though, the more I recognize that those things aren't the things that make folks genuinely, deep-down-inside happy.

At least, I don't think so.

So this is why I take such deep inhalations of my life as it's happening around me. I snap pictures, hug people, write things down, let myself cry, and just . . . I don't know. . . .be present. And intentional. Sometimes I find myself going so hard at trying to make a life that I forget about the one right in front of me.


Whether you get married, have kids, get divorced, have step-kids, lose weight, gain weight, get a job, lose a job, quit a job, create a job, get into a school, not get into a school, move away, stay where you are, meet someone new, see new things in someone old, go on an exotic trip, stay home and watch an exotic reality show, dance like no one's watching, watch like no one's dancing, win everything, lose everything, make up your mind, change your mind, or even, sometimes lose your mind. . . . no matter what. . . .

All you can really be is happy.

See? Happy is kind of a destination that we or rather I (I'll speak for myself) make seem so far, far away. But it isn't, is it?  Harry reminds me of that often. When I'm fretting and nitpicking and pondering each and every little thing, he says, "You know? We are blessed. Our life is good. Our kids are great kids and we have a great marriage." And he often says such things while clipping his toenails or spitting out Crest toothpaste or on his hands and knees looking for something in the back of a cupboard. Something about him saying such things at such times punctuates those words. Reminds me to slow it down. Pump the brakes. And realize that I need to stop worrying about getting to happy because I'm here already.


Some things in my life suck. Like missing my sister and feeling uncertain about kid-rearing things and worrying about my patients or my friends whose loved ones are patients. Yeah, those things suck. But then I reflect on those words: "All you can be is happy."  That flips the script for me. I close my eyes and realize that I miss my sister but I don't regret things about us. So that's amazing. And then I recognize that my uncertainties about my kids are okay because it means I'm thinking and trying and giving my best effort to show them they are loved and cherished. Which, I know, will count in the end. And then it dawns on me that if I am worried about my patients or my friends whose loved ones are patients, then it means that I have a heart for people and caring. Which is wonderful, actually. So the script gets flipped and I see it with different eyes.

Eyes that know the truth. "All you can be is happy."

And so. These goofy top tens? They're usually a part of me living with zeal, man. All a part of an ongoing goal I have to examine and appreciate the life around me and to remind myself of the ultimate destination: "Happy."

So here's what's been going on in my life for the last few days. I wrote a little top ten about it! Like to hear it? Here it go!


Warning: Happiness is exhausting. . . .

Leh go!

#10   See Zach run.

OMG. My heart nearly exploded when I saw my baby walking out of the house with his dad for that first track meet. Back slung over his shoulder, looking like a little man. . . . sigh. All I could think of was my blogger-friend Angella's son who is a grown up college senior at his track and field events

Le sigh.

And then, this:

His team wears fluorescent spikes and gear. You can't miss them!

I was SO proud. He was so disciplined and was so . . .in the zone, y'all. It was amazing. And, mind you, Zachary picked this. He likes physically challenging sports, obviously. His resolve at such a young age inspires me big time.

That's Z up on the top right lane in the green. . . . .

Go Zachy!

What a proud, proud day. So exciting.

#9  Time flies, man.

 Isaiah has stuck with soccer (and golf.)  It's so much fun to see how much he's grown up while watching him on the field. Amazing.

 He started when he was three and -- LAWD -- can I admit now that it was pretty painful to watch? Those kids used to be out to lunch, man. (Stopping to slap my knee and laugh OUT LOUD.) I know it's terrible to say that, but it's true. It was what I call "Amoeba Soccer." Which is cute at first, but then mostly a hot mess. 

Ha ha ha. I'm awful, right?

But that was then, baby. And this? This is now.

Love it.

#8   Love this more.

I love the fact that, even though my boys play different sports and have different interests, they always root for and encourage one another. Always. It's awesome to see and makes me feel like I'm doing something right.                                                            

Amazingly, no one is jealous of anyone. That makes me really, really happy.

#7  -- Red pants and spec-tacular glasses day.

The residents and I were in a pretty silly mood at the end of our clinic session yesterday. Pooja G. and I had both received the tomato red pants memo so we captured it on film here. We may or may not have turned the hallway into a runway and we may or may not have done our very best Naomi Campbell walks.

May or may not have, I said.

Either way, let's here it for "pops of color!"

Ravi V. and I decided that we looked pretty smart in our nerdy specs. My friend Steve in Philly did this pair, too. I think our patients felt better seeing two medicine nerds coming at them with prescription specs and white coats. Don't you?

We looked "smart" in the real sense and "smart" in the British sense, too. (And y'all already know about my fascination with UK lingo.)


#6   This picture.

Okay. So the little girl in the blue smock sent my brother, Will, this photo below:

She basically wrote a letter that said she wanted to "be him" when she grew up. Which means, she wanted to be a veterinarian and a business owner. Mind you--she'd only seen him on commercials for his (hello? AWESOME!) veterinary practices, The Village Vets. For her birthday, her dad brought her to meet Dr. Will. The other kids are family and friends that accompanied her. 

How rad is that? Seriously? Seriously.

Will? Dude. You rock, man. Like you so very do.

Oh, and if y'all have pets and you live near Decatur, Buckhead or Stone Mountain/Lilburn? You need to make it your business to take your pets to THE VILLAGE VETS -- aka the best vets in the ATL! 

And he loves the kids? I'm just sayin', people.

#5  --  Los dedos azules

When I wrote about my patient with los dedos azules, I was inspired to paint my own that color. I'm not sure what I was thinking about on that picture, but it makes me feel connected to that patient when I look at it.

Also -- I heard from several Spanish interpreters (NOT TRANSLATORS) who read that post and appreciated it. Including Cathy M.'s mom. Yay. That made me really, really happy to know that they were reading my blog and feeling encouraged. You know? There are so many moving parts in the hospital that help things work like they do. I deeply appreciate our interpreters. I truly do.

#4  --  Field Trip to the Ponce Clinic!

Grady has this amazing clinic called the Ponce de Leon Center. It's located on a street called Ponce de Leon Boulevard, hence the name. But I kind of like that it has that name don't you?

Plus, have I told you that Poopdeck's eldest brother was named Ponce de Leon Draper?  Not. Even. Kidding. Real name of their first born male. Yep. "Uncle Ponce," we called him. 

Who does that?  I'll tell you who. My granddaddy Pipes. The same one who also named children -- hand over heart -- Woodrow Wilson Draper, Etsel Ford Draper, and Hiawatha Draper. How awesome is it that my granddaddy was all about my mantra "do it for the story" way before I was born! See? It runs in the family.

Wait. What was my point? Damn. Oh! The Ponce Clinic. Ha ha ha.

Okay. So check it. The Ponce Clinic is filled with a whoooooole bunch of ridiculously smart people who have devoted their careers to caring for people with HIV and AIDS. In fact, with very few exceptions, you can't even go there unless you have a CD4 count low enough or an illness that is AIDS-defining. That means that they take care of a sick population. That they then make well again. Which is super, super cool and wonderful.

Speaking of wonderful, I got to hang out with one of my favorite medicine nerds and Grady doctors, Wendy A. while I was there. She's the medical director of the Ponce Clinic and is simply amazing. She's also a small group advisor at the medical school and a good friend. Okay. . . .I generally mortify Wendy when I get too effusive here, so I'll just stop now and just say that we had some great girlfriend time. We sure did!

And! I got to interview Wendy's associate medical director, Vince M., for our Emory Academy of Medical Educators TEACH 12 initiative. Here's the video which highlights Vince M., the importance of being a good communicator and also the Ponce Clinic. Three for the price of one! Yay!

#3  -- My wonder twin!

Being at the Ponce Clinic made me miss my wonder twin, David M. He worked there a lot while he was at Grady and the patients loved him so much. I miss that guy! I texted him and told him so. 


He's doing well in Philly. He's awesome so duh, of course he is. Penn is loving him and I am missing by buddy but . . .as Ms. Moon says. . ."ah lah." He texted me back this picture of himself working in the clinic that day and I like that he looks happy and peaceful and like himself. Plus, I think he has a boyfriend these days--or rather he's what we refer to as "boo-ed up."  So that's good, too. 

 #2  --  Sun in my Belly: Breakfast with Diogo and Dinner with SG Beta.

Diogo is one of our medical students who just finished her third year up. I am lucky enough to be in her village of mentors so we met for breakfast and brainstorming last week. We talked about life, love, and the pursuit of happiness. Some of it involved medicine. A lot of it didn't. 

And we had some yummy food at a place called "Sun in my Belly." Which also made me happy.

And speaking of yummy food. . . .last week I had Tuesday Taco Night with Small Group Beta. We laughed and talked and celebrated the newly matched members of our crew. It was so easy and awesome. I love how close we've grown over the last four years. 

They also gave me this cool framed collage to put in my office. That made me really, really happy, too.

#1  -- Easter Retro-fun.

The rest is just a crap ton of pictures from our perfect Easter Sunday with my med school classmates all of whom are now grown ups with kids. So yeah. This mostly includes our kids having some retro-fun.

Peep those "Easter baskets." Bwaah ha ha ha!

I told them to "mean mug." Look at Isaiah pumping his fist and sassy little Ryan on the top step. Ha!

Hot and awesome husbands included, but assembly required.

What y'all know about old school egg dying? Don't hate. Participate.

(They still smell like vinegar, even today.)

Yolanda, Me, and Jada: Meharry Class of '96!

Hmmm. . . .what else from Easter? Oh! Yes. Can't forget our own backyard Easter egg hunt. Because Zachary notified me after church that he was "sooooo excited to see what the Easter Bunny did in our backyard this year" -- right before he tore out of the car to start hunting for them. 


We stopped him just in the nick of time. Phew! 

Can I just say that I have NO IDEA how he got on this whole Easter Bunny hype? I see Resurrection Sunday as our most reflective and important holiday as folk of Christian faith, so I usually don't go saying too much on Mr. Bunny's behalf. Chocolate or otherwise. And no, that doesn't mean that I'm a spoil sport or that I won't go along with the whole hiding eggs and having fun thing but I'm just saying that The Easter Bunny is kind of like Mall Santa to me. Which means, mostly, he can kick rocks. 

Well. Zachary apparently believes not only in Santa but also the random Easter Bunny. So seeing as I don't go killing dreams, I snuck off to CVS so that the dream could be real for the youngest Manning. 

Sure did.

So then, dude comes sulking into the kitchen saying how he "can't be-lieeeeeeeeeeve that the Easter bunny skipped our backyard this year" and I, being the rad mama that I am, said to him whilst stirring a pasta salad for our potluck, "You know? I was taking out some trash and could've sworn that I saw an egg out there. Maybe he did come after all." 

Mmmm hmmm. 

And since I don't go getting baskets and such, I promptly handed each boy his Trick o' Treat bucket that Auntie Deanna made with them last year and let them go to town. 

Dude. All I'm gonna say about that is:  "Five points for Gryffindor."  For real, man.


Jeeze. That was long. Sorry, y'all. You can tell I have the morning off, can't you? Ha.

But real talk--here's the take home messages:

Slow down. Smell roses. Pretend to be the Easter Bunny. Wear some red pants. Paint your dedos azules. Have fun. Laugh hard. Eat something yummy. Encourage somebody. Shake your groove thang in the bleachers while your child runs the 400 m race.

Because really? No matter how hard you go at life, all you can be is happy. Period.

That's all I got.

Happy Tuesday. And I hope you are doing something that makes you happy today.

Now playing on my mental iPod. . . .one of my favorite songs. Mary Mary singing "Be Happy."

Here's one more picture of my med school classmate Jada's son, Jonah. He medaled in that same track meet. That's him out front on the bottom left. He's been running track since he was five and is super talented. On Zachary's first race, he patted his shoulder and encouraged him--saying, "I just KNOW you're going to do GREAT, Zachary!"

And he did. 


  1. Ah-lah. Ha! I have to say that my own personal motto is "All you can be is worried," so this was a good thing to read on a beautiful day where I have plenty of time to stop and smell the roses or, in my case, stop and check out the blossoming blackberries on my little woods walk.
    Thanks, honey. Your family- each and every one of them portrayed here-blood and not-blood, is beautiful.
    Hiawatha? You're killing me.

  2. Before you read forgive me for typos. Im choose not to edit my words as im multitasking and cant believe im getting this in but find myself drawn to do so....
    Kimberly, thank you. I find myself often wondering if others felt this way. There are certain things I do not allow others to forget such as how great of a country we live in and despite their current condition there is opportunity to "be happy". My standard of living, quality of life and tools of measurement for "happiness" may not be the same as others BUT as a citizen in this global community I find that we can and should afford others an opportunity to discover "their happiness". Given what I have read in previous posts, I am certain your bedside manner is well above par. I have yet to observe your clinical acumen but could only imagine. Understanding your role in the community which you serve and place in your family life are conducive to a healthy and "happy" life. I appreciate AND MOST IMPORTANT respect every aspect of everything I encounter. Darlene made reference to how I acknowledge every person I encounter (the doorman, the waiter, the bartender *ok sounds like im a party goer LOL). I once was there and felt beneath people or was made to feel that way. Looking on the exterior you would know what I have accumulated and have done for the community. I want to give everyone a sense of “happiness”, hope and pride. I am in a very happy place now and although its always spilled over to others such as those ive mentioned, its being amplified by a mutual feeling with Darlene. Despite the current economic climate and concern and grief it may bring some, I find it as an opportunity to come together. We as people of color have dealt with much worse conditions with way less resources. Putting a smile on someones face and giving them a sense of pride and hope is the least we can do. Have a great day. Until the next one. - Joe

  3. My grandfather was a black Woodrow Wilson! :) His brother was Booker T. I also have a great uncle Booker T on my mom's side!

  4. My husband and I were talking last night about all our blessings and how, even though we've had horrible events happen in our lives, we are genuinely happy. So, this post just added to that happiness. By the way, I have an uncle named George Washington (after the president) and my mama was named Zora after Zora Neale Hurston. My aunt was named after Eleanor Roosevelt.
    - Bridgette


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

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