Always Arriving

 About this time last year I was set to staff an Advanced that was canceled at the last minute. I had staffed the previous basic and felt like I was making my way back into the work. Now it is a year later and I am still making a comeback to the work. Starting this Cycle marked the time of the biggest transition in my life thus far. So much of the last 13 years has been taking the next step in school, graduate training, and residency; and now I am leaving to blaze my own trail, make my own decision. choose my own path. To ask myself, “what do I want?”

 For the longest time I have not even considered “what I want” because my focus has always been “my career and academic achievement should always take priority and focus over everything else.” And everything else will come when it comes. When I think about the goals of this cycle it was this idea of setting off on my own path, carving time for something that is truly mine that provides happiness for me intrinsically, some hobby or activity that was me. And even more my secondary goals of traveling alone and finding an apartment emphasized the need to create something for myself and my own fulfillment.

 Still, yesterday I was getting a tour of the apartment I will be subletting in July. The woman who owns the place is a little quirky, new-age, and very emotive. I am not sure how we got to talking about my job, and although she was tentative, she eagerly prodded with a bright face–and non-judgmental curiosity–‘tell me what the next 5 years look like for you.’

 And all I could think about was “work will be work,” but I kind of just want to start a family. Or create something of a family. I realize how important that is to me. I was fortunate to have that emphasized growing up, yet ironically, I most often speak about how frustrating my own family is with our poor communication, entrenched ways of being, and stubborn need to maintain our own agendas–speaking of my siblings and me.  

 It may be a little while until I have a family on my own. But for the time being I appreciate the community that I get to help create during the PSP cycle with you all. And I hope I could be part of the ways you have been on contribution during this cycle. I know that being a part of it has made clearer what I really want out of myself

This week: The Good and The Could be Better

Im really trying to get to the bottom of how this week felt. I have to restore integrity. In the last week, I have not been as present to this PSP group (and my buddy) as I would have liked to. For me, I feel disconnected from the group and less energy towards my own PSP; the effect on the group is that ambiance of absence? though maybe not consciously acknowledged by everyone. Thais is, I feel that so much of life is not about making a mistake or doing something wrong or looking bad, but it is doing nothing when there is so much possibility in putting yourself out there. Greatest possibility? Re-commit to self and to group and look for ways to step-up and be in contribution. Mechanism? let’s start with the Stats Blog ;).

 Some things that went well this week. I biked to work during the weekend, and was able to motivate myself to go on a bike ride after my 12 hour overnight shift. Riding my bike to work sort of forced this opportunity because I couldn’t just drive home when all I want to do after a night-shift is to fall asleep. By taking advantage of the bright summer morning, I was able to get physical activity that made me sleep better until my next shift and feel like I had contributed time to something I enjoy.  
 I graduated from Residency this week! Although I still have a few shifts to finish, we had our celebration and it was amazing to feel how much that has changed in the last 4 years, and that I have made it through this demanding time. I also took the lead in recognizing one of the nurses who had unexpectedly passed away during our residency. During the awards ceremony before we announced the “nurse of the year” I had planned a slideshow in recognition of Anjanette. I had tried to initiate this the previous year, but was unable to gain momentum from people. But this year I really shared with people why it was important by my ways of being and took the lead in making sure we had time to recognize a nurse that really made me (and my colleagues) better doctors because we had the chance to work with her. It really complemented our ceremony and the feeling of family that is a big part of our program.   

 Things that could have been better: I am starting to feel burdened and somewhat oppressed again at the impending change in my life as I transition jobs, housing, and communities in the next 2 weeks. I am thinking about all the doing that has to happen and it is inviting in some crippling conversation of ‘no time to spare’, ‘I am not ready for this,’ ‘I should have prepared better and I don’t think I will be on my game to start at the new place,’ ‘I’ll have to prove myself over again,’ etc. I know these conversations just sort of spin around as around and limit me from starting anything while making everything seem like too much to deal with.  

 I am reminded of the purpose of my PSP is to maintain a hobby for myself, such that whatever feelings, problems, or obstacles com along the way I have a way to still commit to something that will improve myself. It is my basis for making time to do rock-climbing, soccer, or to get out on my bike. This cycle has brought me closer to this goal, but I am still struggling with the consistency.  

 Finally, following-up from last week. I made plans to visit my sister, Kate, 2nd week of July. Plans may change for her or for me, but she called me to thank me for giving her a date and I know by committing to this it was another small way of clearing space for us.

Hearing My Sister

One of the most impactful realizations during The Basic almost 2 years ago had to do with improving my relationship with my sister and working on being the source of change. She is 3 years younger than me, but relative to our 2 older brothers, we had more of a shared experience growing up and were relatively close until I left for college. As we have grown up I have not been as sensitive and supportive to her as she probably needs. I sometimes assert a tough love/life advice role when all she needs is someone to listen and empathize and not provide the answers. Alas, some of it has been gender difference in communication, other times it has been me as an “analyzer” (trying to be right), and still other times it is just those familiar entrenched ways of pushing buttons that we tend to regress to even if I promise myself that I will not respond negatively.   When I happened to call her on a whim last Sunday, it was something new when my sister gently asked me to come visit her in Chicago during a free weekend. It came at the end of a conversation talking about the arrival of our new nephews in the next few weeks, and me giving supportive thoughts about her upcoming medical school rotations. During The Basic I talked about wanting to create a space where my sister felt comfortable coming to me for advice and asking me for favors. In the last couple of year I have attempted things that have tried to create space, but often it was met with reminders of times when I have let her down, or pointing out things I have done with (or for) my other friends that I have not done for her. In ways, she would lay on the guilt, and I felt less than encouraged to make space. 

 I can not say I know that I have been source all of the time in the last 2 years for creating the space that allowed my sister to contact me and make a request, but I hope that the space came over time in my little ways of being. I then started to think about how easy it is to create separation in our relationships by things we do or don’t do and chasms can open up between people with even the smallest (in)action. Maintaining the status quo doesn’t take too much. But creating space for relationships–yourself included–requires consistent intentional effort to make and maintain “that space” and the prevent “the drift.” So even now that my sister has asked me to visit her, I am left with the anxiety of making time to do it rather than seeing it as an opportunity to help create and maintain the relationship that I want with her.  

 This situation reminds me of the perceived tedium/resistance of taking or making risks/steps/declarations is SOOOO important as these small steps create space to take action for all of the opportunities that are out there and that enter our lives on a daily basis. Space allows us to act and to be clear when that opportunity presents itself because we also see more clear how the opportunities do or don’t align with our vision. So by next Friday I will breakthrough my considerations (time, money, uncertain schedule) and follow-up with a plan to visit my sister so that I can continue to make that space for living that vision of our relationship. 

Starting With Gratitude

I woke up this morning a little foggy after a night out with my friend Tucker. My first thought: with everything I planned to do today, why did I decide to go out with Tucker last night? I thought about how crazy this weekend is going to be to coordinate, I worried a little bit about my imminent move. AND now I have to find some time–and some content–for the blog. How can I blog when I feel like everything is a touch out of control?  

Then I had an idea: start with gratitude.

I know we talk about this frequently. It is a large part of ‘the work’ from basic and beyond; and it is intrinsic to changing our language from ‘have to’ to ‘get to.’ But with the onset of ‘the doing’ I often lose sight of the gratitude.  
I have so much to be grateful for on this beautiful weekend. Grateful for all of your voices that I get to have in my realm of being. I see Josh’s work extending himself to others as showing gratitude to the universe for his abilities to communicate, to share, and to incite others to realize their own gratitude. And for each one of us, I believe that at the core of our PSPs we are striving to acknowledge how grateful we are for our abilities, our minds, our bodies, and our relationships–with ourselves and with others.
So today I am looking for the gratitude in everything that I ‘get to’ do. Because from Gratitude springs joy, and people recognize joy and it is infectious.  
So last night I ‘got to’ hang out with Tucker! He is a co-worker a couple years behind me in my program. But we have become really good friends in this last year. Superficially, we both like craft beer, biking, and British humor, but I am most grateful to be able to create a close friendship with another adult that feels just as easy and organic as my childhood friends. And we were out biking last night! Someone to support me in getting re-connected with my hobby!
This morning, I ‘got to’ work out. Because starting a beautiful weekend feeling energized only adds to the possibilities and clears the grunge.    
And now I ‘get to’ write my stat/blog. As I calculated: gratitude(shared) + Joy = Abundance for myself and others. So here I am sharing and hoping to grease the gratitude wheels in all of you ;).
There is a full schedule this weekend: Gov Ball with college friend, another college friend visiting from Dallas (both I haven’t seen in 2 years), Mom is in town (mostly for my niece but I feel… (deep breath) Grateful… that I can also make time to visit her in Jersey; trying to fit in another apartment visit after a family-friend lead came through and it bodes to be a sweet deal if I can convince landlord to take over the lease.  
Even writing this I can not quite understand how the conversations in my head try to turn all of these blessings into sources of stress. So today I am going to put gratitude first, and sort out the details later.

 

Recommitting 

Alright, so after traveling to 3 different destinations in the last 2 weeks, I am back facing reality. Reality that my living space is in shambles, I have a looming anxiety about the next 2 months–new job, living space, Borough–and I am not feeling so hot about my PSP.  

 First, I am going to celebrate all that I have completed for my secondary goals. I have a sublet set up for July, and I had a great time in my solo travels, met some awesome folks along the way and it lowered my threshold to do it again in the future. 

But what about everything else!?!

That is the questions that is oppressing me now, and I realize it is the consideration that has prevented me from traveling or planning leisure activities in the past because I feel like everything else in my life will slip; I am starting to feel a back-slide.  

About midway through the cycle, the initial inspiration starts to wane, my goal of establishing a routine in health has yet to manifest and so I am fatiguing in my commitment. As everyone else seems to be killing it in their goals and I feel sheepish in my own progress. So I become more isolated.  

My funk in the cycle is also compounded by the annual funk I find myself in around this time of the year. For me it is the time of transition, reflection on the last year, and anxiety over change in the subsequent months. It is the time of year when my intermediate-length relationships begin to run their coarse (often as a result of my isolation). I start to focus inward and commit to ‘doing’ things to prepare me for the next stage in my career. Thus, grungy attitudes pre-dominate and fear of failure motivates me. My reflection of the past year focuses on how I fell short in my contract, in my vision, and in my integrity; and then I start to manifest dropping the ball in every realm (My communication, my inspiration duties, my stats!). Any new commitments feels like a huge struggle. And as it goes with procrastination “it makes easy things hard, and hard things harder.”  

And deep down, I know all of this is so much harder because I am out of integrity. With myself and with you all. So let me use the rest to restore.

 With myself: in the ladder part of my vacation, I really slacked on taking time to work-out to start the day. Effect on myself: I feel lethargic, unmotivated, and incapable; I also feel disconnected with my vision of creating a healthy hobby. Effect on others: If I can not rely on myself to be my word, I disconnect from others and turn away from other people to support me which only makes things worse. I want to recommit to my vision for my health. Over the next 3 days I will commit to 30 minute work-out each day and ride my bike to work 2 of the 3 days.  

 With others: I am out of integrity because my stats are behind a day. For me payoff was some sense of control and comfort because I knew I would have to confront all the aforementioned feeling and thoughts. Effect on me: I feel disconnected from the group; I feel guilt, shame, and burdened that I can not be present to other tasks until I follow through. Effect on others: I disconnect from my presence to others, I don’t provide inspiration, and I become guarded to sharing with other, showing my diamond, because shame of being exposed for my incongruence. In the future, I will reach out to my buddy or group or integrity capt’s when I can tell my funk is going to sabotage my weekly stats and other commitments in or out of the cycle.   Because I think deep down we can really anticipate when we are going to be out of integrity, we just hope we won’t get caught.  And the act of being out of integrity is just that ‘an act.’ It is a sign manifest that I am taking for granted the truth of my contract. “Committed, connected, loving.” And to restore integrity is not to be ashamed, but to seize an opportunity to recommit to yourself, and to others, the truth in your contract.  

Check-in week 3

So I want to submit something that is more ‘stats’ oriented. A check-in as to where I am right now. Physically: Iceland. To this point there has been no misadventure or obstacles. I beat the odds and was able to meet with work friends in a disorganized foreign country sans smart phone. Lodging in Cuba was wonderful. And I came away with the requisite tan.  
Mind Check-in: I am still reluctant to reach out to people while traveling. But I think I am holding on too much to how that should look. I find myself visualizing an interaction with a stranger like I plan a trip accounting for all the things that could go wrong. What will I do if I am not having fun? What other options do I have? I am starting to feel that all these questions can be excessive not only for traveling, but also for meeting people. It is one thing to be naive, but then it is another to try and figure out all the answers when your head can not even judge or interpret all the variable ahead of time. And, in the case of people, it is almost counter-productive to try and pigeon-hole people; I know I had some of my best friends pegged wrong when I first met them. All this said. I took to the Apps (Couchsurfing; meet-ups; and group excursions) and am making plans to meet with other traveler’s while in Iceland. So I will keep you posted.  

 Body Check-in: I have been keeping up with light body training exercises while on the move, thought the days that require long rides and flights have been tough to keep up. Being in Iceland among fresh air, natural terrain, and pristine water confronts me with the feeling that I want my body to look and feel this way. I know Kyla brought up recent anxieties about drinking and I will say I am always at conflict with this balance of using alcohol etc. as a past-time and means of socializing while traveling, while also wanting to use this time to stay committed to making health/exercise a daily habit.  

It’s is great to check up on the chat when I have access. My comments have been sparse, but I am still very much connected and happy to have you all along with me on my journey.  

Il Viaggio Pittoresco

Fictional, in a sense, I wanted to ponder what the ideal journey would look like.  This is what I cane up with.  In Cuba airport; JFK layover; then on to Iceland!  Cheers!

Il Viaggio Pittoresco 

The morning fog cascaded calmly across the Himalayan topography. After the thirteen hour bus ride from Delhi, I wondered whether these images were real, or a mirage manifest by half anticipation, half exhaustion. Beside the bus, the misty haze seemed to move in pace and cadence with the bald men in red robes–or was it the monks keeping stride with the mist? As the bus crawled over the next hill, a colorful Buddhist temple stood ahead in stark contrast with the gray foreground. On second glance, the temple sat rather, in stillness, save for the soft billowing of prayer flags. Descending from the bus, I am in the middle of a dirt depot. I maneuver with the other traveler’s toting towering packs and locals hauling sacks of goods as we all propagate down the single winding trail. No one appears rushed because there is no hurry.

 The path connects the simple homesteads filling the level crevices of the valley’s peripheri. Along the way, people exchange quiet conversation in Hindi and Tibetan and sometimes English–with a British accent–or Hebrew or Italian or Spanish; German, too. I spot the weathered wooden sign that Brian mentioned in his E-mail. He had arrived a day earlier and made a visit to the Internet cafe in order to articulate more nuanced directions to our lodging in Baghsu. I check off Brian’s informal landmarks: “at the pile of gravel take a right down the footpath, when you see the small orange and yellow shrine take the fork left, pass the cow and you will see a painted stone identifying the Trimurti Garden Lodge, follow the path for another 100 yards to the stones steps…” 

 For me, it had already been 2 months of traveling. I ‘hired’ a car and drove through the verdant countryside of Ireland, then a short weekend in France, trains through Prague and Amsterdam; Then I flew to Croatia and took the ferry to eastern Italy where I spent long dinners with family I had not seen in 10 years. Fresh garden tomatoes and steamed Adriatic muscles–both collected earlier that day–spooned over penne al dente. I could not believe such simple ingredients could deliver such rich flavors. But, then again, doesn’t everything taste better when you are surrounded by the love of family? Despite the language barrier, there was little to disrupt the intimacy and warmth of the meal on the garden patio of Giorgia’s small condominium overlooking the fields of sunflower and lavender, all illuminated by that ‘golden hour.’

 A pre-trip blast on Facebook had precipitated impromptu meet-ups with old friends and acquaintances who were making moves through Europe at the same time. I had a refreshingly nostalgic dinner with Iva in Trastevere, reminiscing about that summer abroad while we enjoyed gelato outside the Pantheon. A group of guys from my high school soccer team met me in Dublin where we settled into a pub. Our familiar banter caught the attention of the bartender as we related stories of playing in Europe during the Summer of 2003. (Incidentally, the only non-victory during our run at the Holland Cup was a first stage tie against a team from County Cork; “You’ll Never Beat The IRISH!”) Next, Pete and Beardo met me in Amsterdam and we did our best to stay civil, but the odds were stacked against us. We biked Holland’s countryside as if we were back in med school executing one of our epic, post-exam, 25 mi. bike rides to Three Floyd’s Brewery.  

 Now, as I stomped down the unmoved trail of Baghsu, I feel the excitement mounting. I am about to embark on the final leg of my trip with two childhood friends. Friends since 13, we’ve prided ourselves on being able to ‘feel infinite’ while together, under every circumstance, without the need of intoxicants or large social scenes. But will our dynamic hold up years later on the other side of the globe? We have no exact plans except to meet up and head west, perhaps through Bali, Thailand, and then down to Australia. The three week journey home to the US will take us across the international date line on the Summer Solstice–we have been debating if that would qualify as the longest day of the year in the world. I proposed that the only way it could be longer is if we did all that while browsing aimlessly through an IKEA.

 I walk up the steps of the garden lodge through a thicket of Bamboo and see Brian on a bench with a glass of Chai at his side, smoking a cigarette, leg-crossed and hunched over a book. Alec is wearing his Chuck’s, jean shorts, wayfarers, bandana, and a Rolling Stones sleeveless-T; he stands arms akimbo gazing contemplatively up the mountain ridge. For a second, I flash-back to our summer sleepovers at Alec’s house (his parents had a generous curfew plus he lived close to most girls from our grade). The long dog days (and nights) riding bikes around the neighborhood with no destination in sight. Fifteen years later, it feels like we are up to the same old stuff. I sigh and smile at the scene. Despite the uncertainty of our trek ahead, I realize our real destination is being right here, right now, together.