Ballard Naturopathic Blog | All posts tagged 'gratitude'

Stone Turtle HealthNaturopathic Medicine and Massage Therapy for the Whole Family

6204B 8th Ave NW Seattle, WA 98107 Work (206) 355-4309

Stone Turtle Health Blog

Gratitude Posts

October 8, 2015

Gratitude and acknowledgement. I'm seeing an uptick in these types of posts on social media and it's not because I'm following more hippy-dippy accounts, either. As community members, people are reaching out to help one another and are getting recognized. Maybe the actual helping hasn't increased but having a forum to sing someone's praises certainly makes it seem that way. My feeds are filled with friends, neighbors, and family members showing gratitude for gestures, gifts and for simple pleasures in daily life. It's a trend I wholeheartedly support, not just because it's "nice" or "sweet" to acknowledge someone for their work, but also because it's good for US to do so. Connections with an extended support network have been shown to improve mental health and illness outcomes in study after stduy. Community makes us healthier and recognizing other people's contributions to our community makes the ties that bind that much tighter. 

Tomorrow, my son turns one year old. Last year, at this time, we went through a terrifying journey and I want to express my gratitude for everyone who wa a part of it. First, my family, who helps in many, many ways from stocking his closet and sending home toys, covering some of my childcare needs to allow me to keep the clinic running and just holding him for me so I can get a hot meal or a drama-free trip to the bathroom. My long-time and new friends who've shared laughs and tears as we went from the NICU to home and I tried to figure out how to juggle everything. My patients and office mates who have been so understanding of my mommy brain and have welcomed CJ into the clinic family with open arms and occasional smiles of commiseration aimed in my direction. The doctors who covered for me while I wrestled with the heavy fog of early motherhood, shuttling back and forth to the NICU for 70 days, not wanting to get out of bed until it was time to go and see him. My colleagues who helped me figure out how to balance (-ish) life with a baby and a clinic. Our community in general, via Faccebook, that has shown me how deeply the need to connect lives in each of us. Women I never knew drove me back and forth to the NICU to see CJ for the first few weeks. Families hand down clothes and toys and we, in turn, pass them on to new babies that come along. Ballard is NOT the big city, it's a small town full of folks who are maybe trying out this "neighbor" thing for the first time, or they want things to be like when they were a kid and they realize the importance of connection in reaching that goal. 

His sitters. Oh, bless the young women and their moms who have covered my ass so many times and whose families have absorbed him into their midst, so he can have a mini-vacation from me, complete with older brothers and sisters. The initial fear of handing over my son to someone who looked barely big enough to lift him has been far outstripped by their impressive growth as caregivers and young women. It's a privilege to be a part of their lives and to watch them gain competence and enthusiasm, and to see CJ bond and build relationships with them. 

Thank you, everyone, for making this the BEST year of my life.

Dance moves

May 24, 2013

 

Music, for one reason or another, has always been an integral part of my daily life. I meet people who can have music in the background at dinner or a barbecue, but how can you focus on anything without reveling in the songs, the lyrics and melodies changing you into whoever you were, wherever you heard that song for the first time?

Odd, this, but every few months or so, I'll just cling to some music, one particular artist or one song covered by many, as I use it to process whatever is happening in my life. Last spring, I was drawn to Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah". Life was not good. Love was not good. Love ended in brokenness.  Suffice to say, I survived and that song (although on repeat for a few, wallowing months) stopped being so personal. I was bright and shiny and life was beautiful again. Showtunes, old school R&B, anything that was sunshine and hope and the rush from dancing at home on my lunch break or after work, became preferred again.

What I've been feeling lately is spring and summer and hip-shaking solo dance parties. I've been moving through the world, walking for miles on my lunch break. The only trouble is trying to keep from dancing in the streets to the beats in my ears.  Right now, I'm grooving to "Fugees Radio" on Pandora, which I've filled with my own personal blend of 80's & 90's rap & hip-hop (memories from middle school through college) and today's new discoveries. For a few songs, I'm no longer staring 40 (well, ok, 36) in its exhausted eyes, I'm back in middle school, before the self consciousness, before any aches and pains, when we all danced in tight circles in the gym, trying to pick up new moves.

Which brings me to Macklemore & Ryan Lewis's "The Heist", only the second album I've purchased on my iPhone (the other being Johnny Cash's "Unchained", if you must get all the details of my "diverse" music tastes). There's that resonance again. I will warn you that there's cursing, so it's not something to spring on your kids without listening first. But, as an adult, I would definitely recommend you give it a listen. Listen to the words...

"My, Oh, My" makes me tear up at the loss of Dave Niehaus a few years back, remembering how I couldn't get my mom to get out of the car and come in for dinner until the M's game she'd been listening to all the way home from work was over. "Can't Hold Us" had me freak out,  dancing with a classmate in my improv class, "Thrift Shop" has its own dance routine worked out at home (with or without my vacuum cleaner),  "Victory Lap" and "Ten Thousand Hours", about the journeyman process to getting good at what you are passionate about rings true for me every day I step in my clinic, especially those times when I wonder what the heck I'm doing and when I should know enough to give up and let it crumble versus buckling down and riding out the rough spots. "Same Love" is thrilling to me now that marriage equality is a reality in our state, in so many other states and countries. How principled, how upright to stand up for this belief in equality in a genre that routinely diminishes and demonizes those who love people of the same gender, especially before it was the law to allow everyone the freedom to marry. I am so happy that all my friends, gay or straight, can choose to live the way they want to live with the partners that they love. 

But, oh, the heartbreak on "Starting Over", his follow up to "Otherside" makes me cry every time. I want to punch a hole in something when I think about addiction and the people I love that struggle with it. I hate that these are the stories that pretty much everyone has, that there's a saboteur in so many brains.. that this disease called addiction waits patiently for so many people to have a moment of weakness. The closing line is exactly what I want to hear: "If I can be an example of getting sober, then I can be an example of starting over..."

Macklemore's willingness to share his own struggles, his openness about what he's gone through and about his beliefs, and his positive attitude as reflected in his work are all inspiring to me. I became a doctor to make a difference in someone's life, to provide caring and healing for the people in my community who need it, to help build a stronger Seattle, a stronger and better world. He's made such a name for himself as an independent artist- that, too, I admire. The hard work and heartbreak, the two steps forward, one step back process of getting recognition, especially without the backing of a large corporation. If I could say anything to him, it would be "Well done. Keep making a positive change. Share your message with as many people as possible. You are a force for good. You matter and you have a chance to change so much. Keep moving. " I realize as I write this, these are the words we should say to everyone.

So, I guess this post is just a mash note to Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, but it's also for everyone I see making a choice every day to make a positive difference in the world, to reach out and connect with people around them, to stand up for the changes they want to see happen. Yeah, "The Heist" hits me. It's beautiful. You should listen to it. And you should dance.

 

Bountiful Gratitude

March 2, 2010

This weekend, I was excited to learn of, and attend, the Seattle Food and Wine Experience at Seattle Center. Over 100 wineries and  21 restaurants were on hand to share their creations. For the food-obsessed, like me, it was like going to fantasy baseball camp. Except, you know, no sports.

In most matters food-related, I've found myself incredibly pleased and humbled to find that Seattle is truly a first-class city and Sunday's event was no exception. I was just thrilled to be able to try dishes from restaurants I've always been intimidated by, and better yet, to speak with the chefs whose job it is to create the art that brings me such joy. I've been told by a few people that my passion for food should make me a restaurant critic, not a doctor, but how could I? I'd be hard-pressed to find a food I don't like, a recipe without some redeeming value, or a chef who doesn't enjoy what he or she does or is unable to translate that joy into a tangible creation.

Now, today is the birthday of one of my dear friends, someone who always has a positive attitude, who always seems to be just leaving for, or getting back from, some party or event and is continually updating his status on Facebook to remind us of what wonderful things he's done that he is grateful for.

I'm going to interrupt myself for a minute here. I understand that sometimes the "Pollyanna" act gets a little tiring for those around me. My closest friends know that my gratitude and the positive outlook haven't always been in evidence. I'm not irrationally idealistic. I do have a grasp on reality and am not a big fan of "manifestation" as it has evolved from some layperson's application of quantum physics to the latest feel-good craze of the self-helpers. And yes, I have mini-freakouts over things that I can't change and that my closest friends endure with grace. The subjects of these "freakouts"? Some are a product of not meeting social expectations of a woman "my age", others are too personal to go into here. I'm sure everyone has them and it's not just my own personal brand of crazy. Mostly.

That said, I've been wondering lately why I'm so happy with my life, why things seem to be going the right way (mostly, with switchbacks, dead ends, and occasional misdirection impeding the direct forward progress at times), and where this all leaves me as a pragmatic atheistic idealist. What have I done to myself that makes me wake up every morning with the first thought generally being "Today, I'm grateful for..."?Which can be a real bitch when you wake up wanting to be grumpy.

I've come to the conclusion that, for myself, I got really TIRED of feeling sorry for myself. It got boring (and probably did so a long time ago for those people with whom I shared my self-pity). I've been through a number of different classes looking for THE way to be successful, THE way to be positive and THE way to get what I wanted out of my life. I traveled all over the world, mostly by myself, to varying cultures where people had so much less than me but so much more to offer in terms of new experiences, wonderful shared meals and also, sadly, opportunites for me to see how much better off I was than some and how grateful I "should" be for the gifts in my life of family, friends, health, and having my basic human needs met. I mean, getting TIRED of something because how many times can you hear your mind tell itself the same sob story over and over again. An exercise I did in one of my classes: to write down something that had happened to you, something you were feeling sorry about, and reading it over and over again to a nonjudgmental partner until you couldn't bear to read it anymore. Mine took three recitations. Others took one, or fifteen recitations before they were done.

I have friends who see the reasons to be sad and angry, perceive slights and insults at every turn, and turn their disappointment inward toward themselves in self-destructive and painful behaviors. I wish that there were a way to share what I've learned about myself with them, but I don't know how and I don't want them to see it as another person putting them down, or confirming what they feel about themselves. But I will say that, even if I can't open their eyes to how wonderful they are, how much they have to be grateful for (which truly includes the talents and gifts that they themselves have and how much they mean to the people close to them), I'm still glad that I can continue to be grateful for them in my life. Maybe at some point, they'll realize that I'm pretty damn smart and if I see something great, maybe something great is there.

So, today, I think about how grateful I am that there are places like Perche No, Campagne, Andaluca, the Palace Kitchen, Pearl, and other amazing places where artists can share their creations with me. I'm grateful for friends who understand what I mean when I talk about food as art and as one of my preferred methods of communication. And, at the risk of sounding proud, I'm grateful that I'm a hard worker and dedicated to what I do so I am able to visit them when I can. I'm grateful for the ability to taste.