Saturday, June 15, 2013

Stand and Deliver.

 "Got my hands doin' 
things like they s'posed to
Showing my heart 
to the folks that I'm close to

I got my eyes 
though they don't see as far now
They see more 
'bout how things really are now. . ."

~ from The Color Purple (on Broadway)



I'm so grateful, man. I get to do what I love for a living. And. I get to do it in a place that is gracious and welcoming and accepting, too. I do.

I get to work with amazing people every day. I get to laugh out loud and sometimes cry, too. I get to examine patients and I especially get to examine myself. Through these relationships and moments, I get to uncover layers of who I am to get closer to the most authentic version of me. 

I get to build relationships inside, outside and even down the street from the hospital.

I get to be a little silly and to be a lot serious, too.

And as I do, I come here to deconstruct it all and put it back together again. To help myself to get the lessons and see the beauty in all of it. And to, just maybe, help you do the same. 

But especially, in my professional life I get to teach. I get to do what I love in a setting that feels like a ministry. . . filled with rabid learners who want to get it right, too. Who want to be better and who want to connect with patients on the most humanistic level possible. And that's totally awesome.


Outside of work, a lot happened this year for me. Death hitting your immediate family is one of those things you just can't get your mind around until it happens. My family has been walking through a pain so mind-numbing that it's hard to even explain. Learning to get used to a life that doesn't include my sister Deanna in three dimensions has been hard. So trying to do the things that we need to do and have to do in our professional lives while our hearts fly on one wing has been challenging.

It hasn't been easy. It hasn't. But in some ways, I think it's made me even more aware and more intentional in both my personal and professional life. Kind of like I don't want to squander anything. Some days at work have felt really, really rich and really, really right. And others? Well, let's just say they weren't. Suffice it to say I'm thankful for bathroom doors on wards that lock. And for the tissue boxes issued by the hospital.


Considering this year and all that it entailed--more than ever--I'm just glad to be here. Still standing. And somehow able to deliver on what I'm supposed to be doing.

At least, on most days.

I know this is cryptic and kind of rambly. I apologize for that. I guess I'm just missing my sister deeply tonight. So, so deeply but in the purest and most beautiful way.

Does that make sense?

She was so proud of me. She was. People always told me that but I knew it already. Because she showed me through her actions. And she told me. It always brought her such joy to see me succeed even in the tiniest way professionally. I'm realizing right now how much I loved that about her. How much I loved sharing every little Grady triumph with her because her reaction always made me feel so . . .I don't know. . .special. 

Okay. So I'll go ahead and get it out. Last week, I received a teaching award. One that I would have immediately come home and told Deanna about first because she would have been the one keeping my kids so that I could attend the award program. And this one was a big one.

Deanna would have asked me to explain to her exactly what it was and then would have data-mined on her own in case I wasn't effusive enough. (This is what my sisters do.) And here's what she would have found when she did:

The Juha P. Kokko Award:
This award is presented to the faculty member who is voted by the residents as the best overall teaching attending in the residency program.  The Kokko Award is the highest teaching award given by the residency program.

Then she would have started asking me things like, "Is this for all of Grady or what? Has another underrepresented minority or black person ever won this award? Has another woman ever won this award?"

And I would have answered her quickly before she turned to Google. "No, it's for overall between the hospitals. Umm. . .no to the minority part. And as for the woman part, yes, once. Last year when my friend Joyce D. who was super-deserving won it." Then I'd have to listen to her tell me all about how much bigger this is than me and how she can't wait to tell any and every person who'd listen.

Because she was so, so genuinely proud of me.

And yeah. Our entire family is very good at the proud-of-each other thing. And, in all fairness, JoLai actually trumps Deanna in the spreading-the-word-of-whatever-it-is-someone-has-achieved contest when it comes to us or any of the kids. But I guess it just hit me on the way home from that program last Tuesday how much I wished she'd be there when I arrived. So that I could tell her first like always.

Now. Considering all of that, I am so deeply moved to have been recognized in this of all academic years. It goes without saying that first and foremost I'm just surrounded by so many amazingly talented clinician-educators. But I'm especially appreciative for this to have happened in the midst of me getting acclimated to my family's new normal.

And you know as soon as they called my name, that the little voice jumped right on me like gangbusters. Quick, fast, and in a hurry. Saying things like, "You sure charmed them, didn't you, Manning?" or "Um . . .do you really know enough to get the Kokko Award? Hmmm." And I swear to you, I had to chant in my head over and over again for the rest of that program:

Enough already. Already enough.

That kind of helped. But what really helped was having such wonderful friends that I could trust with these insecure thoughts. Because yes, they do creep up in us all.

And now I accept that what is uniquely my own style of teaching works for someone. I'm excited to do more and think more and try more things, too.  And, no, this isn't the first teaching award I've received or even told you all about, but for some reason this particular award was never one that I ever perceived myself to be "in the running" for. I'm glad to be in an environment that values many different teaching approaches and one that is filled with collaborative colleagues and gracious learners.

A friend of mine heard about this award on JoLai's Facebook feed. She reads this blog and asked why I hadn't immediately shared it here and I told her that I didn't know how or even if I should. Her reply was, "But we are a part of your community. And we want to be a part of this, too." I mumbled a few things back about not wanting to seem self-important or whatever and she reminded me that I'd worried about that at other times, too--and was wrong. Not to mention the fact that this is the same place I turned to on the very night I learned of Deanna's death. . . because I needed you all to know.

Funny. That night it never even crossed my mind not to immediately tell this community about that. Yet with personal triumphs it's always this weird dialogue that goes on in my head. Who to tell and how? Or at all?


I guess I'm just grateful on so many levels. Grateful for a career that I love. Grateful for my learners, my patients, and the gifts we give to one another. Grateful for meaningful friendships, an amazing professional mentor, and an institution that values what I can do. Grateful for a family that is yet holding on despite having a little piece of all of our hearts that keeps breaking over and over and over again. Grateful for this blog and the community of hearts that have been opened up to me. Grateful, man. Grateful for it all. 

Yeah. I'm still here. In fact, I'm even more than here. I'm present. I'm grateful for that, too.

I've got my sister
I can't feel her now
She may not be here, 
but she's still mine 
and I know
she still loves me

~ Miss Celie in The Color Purple

My sister was proud of me. That I knew for sure. And when people are proud of you and expect you to succeed, you rise. You stand. You deliver.

You do. And I want to do that for someone else. Push them to be better through expectation that they can. Just like she did for me. Just like my whole family continues to do for me.

Yep. Deanna was proud of me. And you know what? Right now? I think I kind of am, too.

Happy Saturday.

 Now playing on my mental iPod. . . 


  1. Congratulations, Madame! Add me to your list of prouds.

    1. I appreciate that, Nancy. You know about missing people. Thanks for always being here.

  2. Oh man, as I read this post I kept thinking of things I wanted to say in the comments. It is one of those kinds of posts. One thought I have is that it is nice that you can think through what Deanna would have said if she were here 3 dimensionally because really in thinking about that she WAS saying it to you. Then I thought yoohoo! you got an award. You rock, you deserve it, yoohoo! And finally as you summed it up about how people can impact others in their lives simply by letting them know they are proud of them and know they can do it. Damn! Those are words of gold. Truth truth truth!

    1. Wow. Thanks for that perspective, Jill. She WAS saying that to me now that I think of it. Yeah.

      Appreciate your kind words and you reading.

  3. CONGRATULATIONS!!! I am so hoping those residents will strive to be caring, knowledgeable, intelligent, compassionate (and on and on) doctors like you!

    with Hope,
    ~ Chris A ~

    1. Thanks so much, Chris. Be well and have a perfect Sunday.

  4. So very proud of you. I saw the news of your award on Facebook as well, and of course I wasn't surprised. I'm glad you are shutting that little voice (that we all have) down, because you are deserving. Truly. Thanks for taking the time to talk to me about my boys the other week. I knew you were in the middle of your day, so I didn't want to keep you or upset you, but please know that I think about and pray for you and your family. I love the way you make those of us who have not met Deanna, wish we would have known her.

    1. Hey Stace,

      It was wonderful to see you the other day. I'm so happy you stopped me and loved hearing the awesome news you shared. It's funny considering we met only through this blog. I smile whenever I think of the day I met your husband and he asked if I had "the blog about Grady." I'm so glad he did.

      You would have loved Deanna. She was awesome.

  5. I am SO glad you shared this award with us, so we can be proud for you as well. You know that this is kinda big deal, so toot your damn horn for the whole world to hear.

  6. Dr. Manning,

    I read your blog daily and if I had to choose one word to describe you it would not be boastful. You are most certainly, in my opinion, very humble and, I am sure, deserving of the award that you received. I often visit your blog when I need a lesson in gratitude as I tend to "sweat the small stuff." I enjoy learning of your accomplishments and I celebrate you for them. We have never met but your blog means a lot to me and I am here cheering you on from the stands. You are enough... Thank you. Sincerely, January S.

  7. Well I am a total stranger but I have read your blog religiously for years so I suppose that makes me qualified to say:

    Congratulations! And I am proud of you!

    Thanks for sharing this news with us,


  8. From the deck of the "teary-eyed" Poop,

    I am so so proud of you!!!!!!!!!


  9. Somehow I randomly came across your blog while trying to search for a story that recently happened at Grady today. Amazingly I was more intrigued with your blog that caused me to forget all about the story I was seeking. As someone who works for Grady, I have to tell you that I am so proud to see how much you truly care about this place, your career, our patients. It's refreshing to read your blog and to hear your genuineness. Reading it has been inspiring. I wish you continued success. I pray that Grady continues to have more Physicians like you working here, because while our saying is true that Atlanta can't live without Grady, it is equally important that Atlanta can't live without excellent care and wonderful doctors like yourself. Thanks for bringing the human side to medicine.


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

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