Friday, May 10, 2013

Top Ten: Happy Feelings and Thankfulness.

late night leaving the School of Medicine. . .

"I've got myself to remind me of love."

~ Frankie Beverly


My eyes opened at five in the morning today. Not sure why, but couldn't fall back asleep. I folded my elbows behind my back and stared up at the ceiling for a bit. Usually that, and the sound of the BHE's rhythmic breathing, lull me back to sleep. But not this morning.

Yesterday had its highs and lows. Mostly it had highs and I'm thankful for that. But there was one part of my day where I was standing in the hallway talking to my friend Stacie S. and she said, "I am feeling anxious today for some reason." And I looked at her and said, "You know what? I am, too. I just sort of have this undercurrent of something in me and I'm not sure what it is." And she nodded when I said that because she agreed.

I'm not sure what that feeling for me or my colleague was even about. But some days I just feel that way. This little static electricity buzzing beneath my surface in a way that I don't like. Over time, I've learned that it just means I need to go somewhere and exhale. For me, I find that just sitting still for a bit and letting myself reflect on what is good in my life recharges me.


You know what else? Being with and talking to people I love and trust helps, too. Sometimes it's a family member or an old friend. Other times it's a friend at work or even one of my students. But mostly there is just this safety I feel with certain people that plugs me back in.

But the truth is that, more than anything, I've got myself to remind me of love. And whenever I remind myself of love, that undercurrent is quieted. The happiness wells up inside of me and comes oozing out in my actions. So that's what I am doing today. On this early morning, I bring you this (likely random) top ten of recent moments in my life that have reminded me of love.

And you know what? It doesn't take much. It doesn't.

Like to hear it? Here it go. 

#10  Breakfast with Small Group Beta

I had the chance to meet up with graduating members of Small Group Beta for a casual breakfast last week. Everything about it was wonderful and it reminded me of how intensely grateful I am to have had the opportunity to serve as their academic advisor for the past four years.

We broke bread and chatted about this, that, and also the other. Nothing about it was unusual. But that's what made it so special. It was everything our dynamic has evolved to become. Easy. Safe. Good.

I am thankful for that.

#9  This email.

I received this email on a particularly shitty day that I was having recently. I was rounding and feeling overtired, overbusy, and just. . . yeah. I'd just returned from Denver and just felt spent, man. But then opened my inbox and saw this from the daughter of one of my former patients:

"I wanted to take a moment to write you, as we just passed the 3rd anniversary of my dad's passing yesterday and my mother and I spent a lot of time reflecting on all the wonderful people who wrapped around our family to protect our hearts during that very difficult time.  Your name came right up, as we reminisced on your kindness and professionalism which had a huge impact on our family, but most importantly on my dad.

I still often sit and remember that cloudy afternoon when we sat in his room, just with you and talked openly and honestly about his illness.  You were one of the few souls who was not afraid to respect your patient (and our family) enough to talk about the truth and your most honest feelings.  While many others were afraid to commit to a diagnosis or to be too direct about the seriousness of his cancer, your most caring and openly honest approach was the best possible medicine we got as a family, as it allowed us to truly accept what we were dealing with.

 To this day, and for the rest of my life, I will remain eternally grateful for you coming into our lives in the exact moment you did."

I promptly found the nearest bathroom where I leaned against the sink and cried. That affirmation came at a time that I really could use it. And I want to do a good job, you know? Especially at times like that.


Even though I've got myself to remind me of love, it's always nice when someone else does, too.

 #8  Kevin S.

 This is Kevin S. And he is a medical student that I have had the pleasure of helping to mentor over the last two years. This photograph was taken yesterday evening at their Senior Banquet, right after he'd just been awarded a huge service award from one of the Emory SOM deans.

Now. Let me just say that while Kevin totally deserved this award, one really special thing about Emory is that there are so many students here with hearts for serving others that it could have gone to a large number of others, too. Which is super cool, right?

But the reason I mention Kevin is because he could possibly one of the best people I've ever known. And I am not just saying that because I am filled with near-graduation sappiness, either. He is just a remarkable human being and the kind of person that makes you believe in your heart that the future has a fighting chance.

Yeah. I don't even know how to describe what it is about him. I think one part of it is that he can see the good in all people. All people. Which makes them want to live up to what they see in his eyes. I feel better for knowing him.

Kevin is going up to Boston (yes, Harvard) for residency. He has a strong interest in healthcare for the homeless and street medicine. And? Despite his humility and selflessness, he is as smart as five hundred whips cracking at the same time. Isn't it great that he'll be using his powers for good?

He's going into Internal Medicine. Pardon me while I do the happy dance one more time. Ha ha!

I'm thankful for Kevin.

#7  Brother-BFFs

Last week for Isaiah's birthday, he had two friends sleep over. We also all went to LegoLand Discovery Center because Isaiah loves building Legos. Anyways. Zachary was there, too, and mostly because Isaiah wanted it that way. At one point, he and his friends were playing and it appeared that Zachary was going to be left out as the "little brother." That's when I overheard Isaiah saying this:

"I'm never going to leave my little brother out. Never. So whatever we play has to be for four people because he likes what we like and he's my very best friend no matter what. And my mom says that brothers always stick together."

And that was that.

They are totally different from one another. And yes, they fight sometimes. But mostly they stick together and are very good friends.

I'm thankful for that.

#6  My inner Deanna/Mommy.

I've already told you how ridiculously creative my sister Deanna was. Well. That apple didn't fall far from the tree. My mom is super, duper creative. And while I would like to think of myself as the same, I am first to admit that I am not necessarily the crafty kind of creative like them.

This week at school, the kids have their annual "Book Parade." Isaiah's class is doing Charlotte's Web (hello? awesome!) and Zachary's class is doing Click, Clack, Moo: Cows that Type. Well. Turns out that this means that Isaiah needs to be Templeton the rat and Zachy needs to be a cow. 

Mmmm hmmmm.

And so. I sat on my floor cross-legged and channeled my inner Deanna/Mommy. I decided that I would  not go and spend a bunch of money but would instead use my noggin. And so I asked myself what those two crafty chicks would do.

Here's the result:

Yes, people. That is a baseball cap that I covered with grey tissue paper. Those ears were from a 99 cent pack of pink plates.

The whiskers were cut off of an old broom. Dude. Deanna would SO be high-fiving me right now.

And the cow? Black baseball cap with horns and ears stapled on. Nice little nose on the bib.

And Harry was hating on my balloon teats but to that I say, "Whatev." Dude. A pink plate with balloon teats? As Sarah Palin would say, "You betcha."


Now. The paper towel spots? These are just for future family lore later. The story Zachary will tell about the ghetto costume his mama whipped up for him that included Bounty paper towels. But what can I say? A sister was using what was up in the house. Period.

Promise to post pictures of the outcome. Good, bad, or indifferent.

 ~ ***break to get kids ready for school ***~

Okay, I'm back.

Grrrr. This just in: Zachary put the kibosh on the teats. He said they gave him "the creeps." Which made Harry LOL until coffee sprayed from his mouth and nose. And to that I say, "Haters gon' hate."

Mmm hmmm.

Yeah. I'm thankful for my kids and for a chance to do things like this that my mom did for me.

#5  Jack and Jill.

Speaking of things my mom did for me. . . . .

Well. When we were growing up, my mother belonged to this amazing organization of predominantly, but not exclusively, African-American mothers called Jack and Jill of America. Jack and Jill is well known to most black folks, but for those who are unfamiliar, the focus is on exposing children to culture, service and leadership throughout the communities in which they live. By age groups, moms plan awesome activities every month and really focus on helping to create tomorrow's leaders. And--they do all of this while helping the kids stay grounded in who they are culturally and individually. We also learned a TON about Black History which was super cool.

So anyways. My mom had FOUR kids in FOUR groups in Jack and Jill. Which is kind of crazy because that's a crap ton of work. But what it gave us? Priceless.

Last week, I followed Tounces' footsteps and was installed as a Jack and Jill mom in my own right. Crazy, right? It really felt like a full circle moment. I'm excited to give Isaiah and Zachary all the the organization gave to us. I made some very close friends that stayed with me for life through Jack and Jill. My roommate in med school and every couch I crashed on during college road trips were all courtesy of Jack and Jill.

You betcha.

So yeah. I'm thankful that my mom made that sacrifice. And even more thankful that, through her example, now I want to do the same.

#4  Nurses.

This week was Nurses' Appreciation Week. The doctors hosted a lunch for all of our clinic nurses, complete with physician servers. And even better, the food was catered from the one and only Mardi Gras Cafe.

Woot woot!

Start shameless plug:

BTdubs, Mardi Gras is doing GREAT! A ton of you have stopped by already and I am sooo appreciative. So is the BHE. He says, "Your blog readers are NO JOKE." And to that I say, "Duh?" Please--if you haven't made it over there--go and have some yummy food! There's also live music on Wednesdays and Fridays.

End shameless plug.

Our nurses are our rocks. No question about it, they are. And they ROCK, too.

It felt good to recognize them because they deserve it.

I am thankful for our nurses at Grady. I am.

#3  Ira S.

Ira S. is one of our medical school deans. He is amazing and kind and empathic and simply an unforgettable human being. He's an oratorical genius, a true friend, and a cherished mentor. I am so happy to know him and to be a part of his light. I mean that. I've never known a better listener than Ira. When you talk to him, you know that what you have to say is important. I think of Ira a lot when speaking to my kids, my patients and my advisees. He has helped me a lot with the art of listening.

I could go on and on 'til the break of dawn about this man. But just know that I--and many, many others--am thankful for Ira S.

#2  More Medical Student Moments.

First this:

This was given to me by my SG Beta advisee, Dan W. This is his actual match day result paper that he framed along with our picture from that day. I haven't been that moved since Adam gave me his award in 2011.

I think I love this so much because it is a tangible reminder of what we can do for each other when we trust one another and work together. I will always cherish this because the day Dan opened that envelope remains one of the top three proudest moments of my professional career to date.

The Grady elders would say, "See, chile, you just see the glory. But, baby, you don't know the story!"

But in this case, we both know that story. So it felt good to share in that glory, too.

And this:

Med student power couples. Loved seeing these students at the banquet last night who met in medical school and became each others' everything. Love is a beautiful thing, ain't it?

Shivika and Sameer:  Ob/Gyn and Surgery, respectively. Awesome, collectively.

Marissa and Max:  Ob/Gyn and Internal Medicine, respectively. Will be pledging their undying love under a lovely chuppah in just a few weeks. Yay!

Nate and Marla:  Nate? So multidimensional and innovative that no title suffices. And Marla? Destined to be the world's most stunning Urology resident. Nate and Marla are extra special because I knew, loved and advised them before they were a couple. Now it's an added bonus to see them in love because I already know what an awesome catch the other is getting.

with Marla from SGB

And this one:

Joelle R.

Joelle just returned from an extended stint in Africa. She is as brilliant as she is beautiful. And she's my kind of people because she lives her life like she means it. I admire that so much.

Even if I don't have the "move to Africa" gene like she and my friend Kris do. ;)

#1  Pleasant Surprises.

Last night there were a couple of really cool surprises. One was the flash mob that the students organized to have take place at the Senior Banquet in the middle of everything. Even more awesome was that they'd heard of my flash mob obsession and invited me to be a part of it. Woo hoo!

Turns out there was another faculty member who was game (Barbara P.) and all of the rest were students. The look on everyones' faces when we hopped up from our tables and joined the choreography was PRICELESS. Like, OMG PRICELESS.

Even better than that was the song we danced to--Beyonce's Who Runs the World? Girls! And the other song for the guys was Justin Timberlake's Suit and Tie. This was TOTALLY fitting because y'all already know how infatuated I am with Beyonce and JT. A flash mob? To Beyonce? So. There.

Sorry, no blackmail photos as of yet. I think everyone was just so damn stunned that they didn't get their cameras out in time. Ha ha ha.

Best. Fun. Ever.

But if you must know, it really looked a lot like this. Well kinda-sorta-but-not-really like this:

If I was about thirty-five years younger, I would have said, "I'm Beyonce! TAP TAP!!" (In my head I TOTALLY was. Like totally.)


The other cool surprise was this:

We all put so much heart and soul into these students. This group in particular was very, very special to me. It meant a lot to be honored by them in this very special way. It truly did.

And no, this was not something I expected at all. I mean . . .who does that? I certainly don't.

I am thankful for this and was sure to flick that little voice away from me the minute it started up with all of the reasons why this was some freakish fluke. (Yes, the little voice is alive and well, y'all.)

Enough Already. Already Enough. Enough already. Already enough.

Inhale. Exhale. Repeat.

Yelling in my own head, "I am enough!"

I also knew that when I texted Tounces and Poopdeck this news, it would make them acutely proud. Or rather acute-on-chronically proud. That's always a bonus. It totally is.

And you know? I'm super thankful for that part, too.

That's all I got. I hope you let yourself remind you of love today. I'm happy that I did today.

Happy Friday.

Now playing on my mental iPod. . . .Mr. Frankie Beverly sings about "Happy Feelings."  


  1. Now *this* is one totally awesome post. Love all the happy and all the love. Love the way you McGyvered the kids' costumes. ***Congratulations*** on your Golden Stethoscope award.

  2. Yeah, yeah, yeah for this post and your award (love the title of it). Just what I needed to read to finish this damn Ethics paper, then I am done with class until July. Yes, I am here to confirm that even at age 43, procrastination rules the roost. Have a blessed weekend with all your happy and love thoughts.

  3. Loved this post as well. I am mopping up tears. Is it the remembrance of school projects past? Or the way you treat your nurses? Or the pride you take in your students? Or the Golden Stethoscope award that you TOTALLY deserve? I don't know, take your pick. I did laugh out loud about the balloon teats. That boy is his father's son, isn't he? So funny.

  4. I love this post! You are enough! You are loved and adored dearly!

  5. Ok...the teats are a little bit creepy. Deanna was the inspiration of my daughters Halloween costume when she was little kid.I posted the picture on Deanna's Facebook page she was a bunch of grapes but she said your mom was much more creative and actually came up with the idea.I'm in Boston preparing for my daughter's graduation from college and I'm doing a slideshow and her famous grape costume has a place.

    I love you blog!


  6. Number 7, my goodness. you are doing it so right.

  7. Awesome post Soror Doc! Welcome to the world of JnJ Motherhood! My kids are at best in 2 different age groups and they keep me going... I can't imagine your mom having 4 in 4 different groups!:)

  8. I am SO PROUD OF YOU!!! :-) Our Grady Doctor!


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