I had an epiphany yesterday.My friend’s husband emailed me a photo of yours truly actually standing up on a surfboard (yes, the surfboard was in the water). The photo was taken Memorial Day weekend during a mini college beach reunion with 3 girls I have known for 20 years. Two of us were taking a surf lesson and whoever and wherever the photographer was that captured the image, managed to get me during the only 3 seconds, in an hour-long lesson, that I was actually vertical. Said photo made it onto the local community newsletter where we were beaching.
Then yesterday, I was out horse back riding with my wonderful friend Linda Salinas, the natural horse whisperer. We had trailered her two horses to Grandfather Mountain and rode for 2 to 3 hours. I was in absolute heaven and we had the entire place to ourselves. We never saw a single person all day long. And Linda took a couple of ridiculous photos of me posing on my horse.
Well yesterday, my epiphany struck. Every touchy feely, new age vision board I have ever made has had pictures of beautiful magazine people either surfing or horse back riding. These are things I could only dream about when I was in the proverbial box of traditional medicine. My mind was so eaten up with stress and anxiety that I couldn’t take a step back and make the space to allow my dreams to become reality.
So when these two goofy photos ran across my visual cortex yesterday, my vision boards flashed into my head. And instead of the beautiful magazine people, it was me on the surf board and on the horse. I went huh, this is exactly what I was hoping to be doing when I left traditional medicine at 5:30 pm on September 19th, 2012 (but who’s counting).
Then I began to think of how our brains can often trick us. Trick us into thinking we need so much more than we really do in order to be happy. I still live in the same condo, drive the same car that I bought because it had a cassette deck, and I still have the same old-fashioned television that I bought 10 years ago. Yet I am happier than I have been in years.
I was always one of those people who thinks happiness, and the perfect life is right around the next corner. Years ago it was….as soon as I get into medical school, then my life will be perfect. And then it became, once I get into the residency that I want, then my life will be perfect. Next it was, when I have the perfect job and am making lots of money, then my life will be perfect.
Well, I continued to move through each of those milestones, but there was still this longing, this feeling that I was missing out or needed to be striving for more.
And the number of yoga and meditation workshops I have been to would make your head spin. Finally, that last one I went to many years ago, I said to myself, Sheesh, all you have to do is to actually MEDITATE. You don’t need to go to anymore workshops for people to tell you how to sit cross legged with a straight back…..but even that realization did not make me start to meditate.
And again I go back to that milestone of leaving traditional medicine that was the spark of change for me. Why? Because I had to put my own soul’s path first; ahead of what I presumed other people’s expectations of me were. I knew I would be disappointing a whole lot of people and for me that felt terrible.
But making this change shifted something huge in me. It allowed me to play again. It gave me the brain space to realize there was life outside of the 4 very air-conditioned sterile walls of traditional medicine.
I felt like I had my life back and began to shift everything including my thoughts about how I looked at my life. And I actually began to meditate…most days anyway:)
Sitting quietly is where I re-charge, get ideas, and keep my sanity. It has helped me to regain an immense amount of gratitude for the people in my life and for my work. Some days I have to pinch myself because I cannot believe I am able to make a living seeing patients in the wonderful and relaxed way that I now get to practice medicine.
Now at risk of sounding like a hallmark card, let’s set the record straight…..my life is not perfect. Prince Charming is still looking for me, I still would like to live on a horse farm, I would love to be more kind and compassionate, more understanding, and do more charity work. But I also recognize that I do some of those things some of the time. And if I put those characteristics on my next vision board, they will happen with far greater frequency.
The biggest epiphany of all is that the things that mean the most to me have nothing to do with money and that quest we Americans are programmed with to buy more things and have bigger houses is an illusion. And I cannot tell you how happy I am that my illusion has been wiped clean and is being painted a new color.