We are trying.
My original intention for this year was simple. Be peaceful and be kind. But over the last month or so, I’ve decided I need to be more pro-active. And the first step I’m taking is to be more concrete in the institutions I support. Especially when some of these institutions appear to be under attack.
Since it’s clear from this current administration that money talks (hi Betsy DeVos and other millionaire, (in my opinion) unqualified members of the cabinet), let’s make our mark and help support the causes we believe in. Let’s break records for donations and break barriers in order to achieve equality for all. I’ve decided 2017 will be a year that I will be more thoughtful, more dedicated, and more punctual with giving.
I’ve decided, that with my son sitting on my lap, and as I talk him through the steps I’m taking at my computer screen, I will donate to a specific organization each month. I already donate here and there, but I’m hoping that since there will be a schedule to this, and I will make it a process that my kids will do with me, it will last for years and years to come. Obviously, I realize there is more to being active than to throwing money at an organization. And 2017 will be filled with other ways of giving that I will share with my boys. But this is our first step. I have chosen a few international organizations as well some national and local based. I think it’s important to not only support locally, but globally as well. We all live on the same planet.
Here is our 2017 schedule. I hope those that chose to read this will also chose to read about some of these great organizations.
January: ACLU – American Civil Liberties Union: the support they (and many others) gave to those stuck in transit at airports and abroad was the spark for this idea of giving this year. Leo and I have already submitted our donation to the ACLU to keep fighting for those that are most at risk.
February: NPR – National Public Radio: I have been consistently listening to NPR for the last couple of years and I’m a huge fan. When the President calls the media “the enemy of the American people” we need to fight back and support reputable news organizations. The enemy of the American people is certainly not the media. Journalists that ask the tough questions, and report on the easy and the tough stories are ESSENTIAL to a stable democracy. I highly recommend the NPR One app – composed short news stories that are great for a quick commute or a quick run! I also am a paid subscriber to the New York Times – an honorable, honest news company despite what the President may say. And whose current theme on the subscription page is appropriately: “the truth is more important now than ever.”
March: Planned Parenthood: March is Women’s History Month and Wednesday was International Women’s Day. What better group to support this month than Planned Parenthood. This historic (101 years old this year!), necessary, life-saving institution whose foundation rests on helping women has been the subject of intense attacks from everyone from the religious right to certain members of congress and now the most powerful house in the US wants to help defund it. Planned Parenthood’s purpose wrongly gets labeled in the press as that of primarily providing abortions. While they do provide access to this important and necessary procedure in a safe way, there is so much more to this great organization. Please support women, support family planning, support access to cancer screening and preventative care. This is so important.
April: CAIR – Council on American-Islamic Relations: The toxic travel ban proposed and shut down last month by the President is unfortunately not the only discriminatory idea out of this administration. The idea of a Muslim registry, as some in the administration have proposed, is horrifying to me as well. CAIR’s mission (from their website) is “to enhance understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.” I mean, really, why do people care who their neighbors pray to? Encourage compassion and tolerance. Embrace diversity.
May: Brooklyn Free Clinic: This was started by a few fellow colleagues and friends in my med school class 11 years ago. How they managed to study for exams and rotate through SUNY Downstate and Kings County Hospital while also creating this organization is incredibly mind-blowing to me. They are some bad-ass, superior humans. This clinic serves the low income area surrounding my medical school – SUNY Downstate in Brooklyn. It is open (and free) to those without health insurance and is completely student run (with physician oversight). It’s a great organization and one I’m so happy to support and have such close ties to.
June: UNHCR – United Nationals High Council on Refugees: The crisis in Syria has been called the worst humanitarian crisis of our lifetime. There are MILLIONS of people who have fled, there are millions more who are dying for help in Syria. How can we sit idly by and not help those who have been forced from their homes? I just try to imagine making the horrible decision of leaving my home, my family, my country in search of a place where I wouldn’t have to fear for my family’s safety. When Americans (and others) refuse to accept refugees into our borders, I think they forget that these are people who never wanted to leave their home. They were FORCED to flee. Forced to flee for their lives. They arrive to a foreign country speaking a different language, with little to no finances and with usually no family or friends. Can you even imagine this horrific situation? And then to see the people in these countries be upset and unwelcoming must be so heartbreaking. The UNHCR does incredible work, but they need help. This. A wonderful story about a Jewish synagogue in Chicago that raised money to help resettle a Syrian refugee family.
July: AAAS – American Association for the Advancement of Science: Because science is real. Because please don’t ask your doctor for a prescription for azithromycin for your cold (which is likely caused by a virus and antibiotics will have no effect) and then deny or question the existence of global warming. They are both based in science, and they are both based on research and facts. Support science. A list of incredible, smart women who won the Nobel Prize in science.
August: GLAAD – Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation: Love is love. Why discriminate? If you love someone, it shouldn’t matter who that someone is, or identifies as. Love always trumps hate. I want to live in a world where anyone can love, live with, marry, have children with anyone else.
September: NAACP – National Association for the Advancement of Colored People: Because black lives matter. Because somehow, even in 2017, black Americans face roadblocks that others do not, and it is unacceptable. Black Americans still face discrimination, persecution and are treated as second class citizens. Not by all; but because there are still some who do, we must act.
October: Doctors Without Borders aka MSF – Medecins Sans Frontieres: An incredible organization that needs no description. I have known providers that have worked with MSF and they are among the most selfless humans I know. Providers travel to some of the most war ravaged, dangerous places on Earth to help those with no access to healthcare. They many times risk their own lives to help others. These are true heroes.
November: Pine Street Inn: As the weather gets colder, I want to support a wonderful local organization in Boston. During my training in Emergency Medicine at Boston Medical Center, I treated many homeless patients. Homelessness is a complex process that has roots in mental illness, substance and domestic abuse, among others. Pine Street Inn is a shelter down the street from Boston Medical Center that provides housing and so much more – job training, transition to permanent housing, and many other outreach programs – to almost 2000 residents of Boston everyday. And unfortunately homelessness is not unique to Boston: some information on resources in Fairfax County, Virginia and Washington, DC.
December: Capital Area Food Bank: As the holidays arrive, I want to help make sure there is always food on the table. Inspired by my dad this past Christmas who took us to help prepare holiday meal bags in Fort Myers, Florida, I plan on taking my boys to volunteer this holiday season. No one should be hungry.
Embrace diversity, be kind, be informed, show compassion. And if you are able, please donate.
That you will be entering our lives and turning it upside down in the most magnificent way possible any day now is so very thrilling. Just like your brother before you, we love you so much already, and we haven’t even met you. Although, it’s been recently discovered that mamas have bits and pieces of their son’s DNA in their brains – so our genes have been dancing around together already. I suppose I already do know you a little! Sorry to get scientific on you before you even emerge, but: #parentsaredoctors problems!
Oh little one, you are pretty active, and clearly quite cozy in there right now. You’ve created a daily glass of orange juice craving as well as a taste for strawberry flavored treats in your mama! You’ve already run a half marathon in Dallas, Texas, and you’ve traveled the coast of California, seen the Big Sur forests, splashed on the beaches of Georgia, relaxed in the Palm Springs desert, and explored Nashville.
The world you are entering is a strange, exciting, crazy, wonderful place. And I do sometimes worry about protecting you from the dangers it beholds. But then I have to remind myself that there are so many beautiful things for you to explore. So I’ll have to let go of my fears a little bit. I’m working on it. (Ask your brother).
Your brother, your dad, your dog and I can’t wait to show you this world of ours. So let’s do this, little man. We are ready for you. Here’s hoping and wishing for a safe, uneventful delivery!
Love you so much baby boy.
35 random, in no particular order, thoughts – on the day I turn 35.
1. I’m 35 years young today. Woah. I loooooooved turning 30. I was so excited, I knew my 30s were going to be my best years yet. My husband threw me an unforgettable surprise party. And I’m happy about turning 35, but that big four-oh is looming and I’m halfway through my 30s. That is the only scary part.
2. I’m constantly torn between sharing too much, and too little, online. There are some things I want to keep private, there are others that I’m happy to share, but once you put it on the internet, it’s there forever. I’ve debated this when posting photos of Leo. While I know this is the direction of the future, I wonder if Leo should have a say. It’s an interesting argument.
3. Many times, I’ve wanted to write, to reflect, on either a moment at work, or an interesting interaction, or even an interesting case, but I’ve chosen to not write about work to protect my patients, as well as to potentially protect myself. But it makes me a little sad that I can’t write and share some of my thoughts that emerge after a shift in the Emergency Department. It’s a highly emotional, stressful job and I wish I could tell everyone more about it.
4. That being said, there are a few medical topics I feel passionate about and do not reflect directly on specific patient interactions. And I reserve the right to speak my mind on those (read: vaccination, right to abortion).
5. Please for the love of all things great, please vaccinate your children. Please.
6. Jimmy and Justin – can you get any more hilariously brilliant? Love these skits.
7. Have you tried this (the middle one)? OMG, life changing. I curse the day my sweet husband brought this home. Although good news is that it’s gone pretty fast and then I’m too lazy to go back to Trader Joe’s to buy more. And I had to make a rule that I’m following about 80% of the time: I can only eat it on days that I’ve actually worked out. Again, works about 80% of the time.
8. The backlash against the medical community is disheartening. I’m only in my 3rd year as an attending physician, but I feel it. It’s one of the reasons I am tuning out more on social media. It’s frustrating to see people turn to homeopathic, alternative medications and boast of them based on their own (one) personal experience. And then to bash physicians and nurses in the process. I support alternative medicine’s use in conjunction with traditional medicine and under the direction of a licensed physician. In our established medical community, there are double blind, placebo controlled trials on treatments, medications, diagnostics, etc. We don’t base our practice on anecdotes, or on the outcome of a handful of patients. That is called bias. We (most of us – there are bad eggs in every field) went into medicine with the best of intentions, and through our education, learned to trust the science. I wish more would trust us as well.
9. Hearing my child laugh is still the most incredible, happiness provoking sound in the universe.
10. On the eve of acquiring my child’s first passport, I’ve been reflecting on my own travels. I feel so incredibly lucky to have had the cultural experiences that have presented themselves to me. I’ve been around the world, and I’m eager to show my little one the amazing adventures one can have on this planet.
11. The instinct to protect your child is strong, innately so. It has brought out an anxiety and a different sort of fear in me, unlike the fear I have experienced in the past, but I’m trying my best to work through it.
12. There is (and always should be) time to stop and smell the roses. Life is too short, and more importantly perhaps, life is too beautiful to not do so.
13. This – who lives in Austin and can ship me some of this devine brew?!?! My picks: Black Metal Farmhouse Imperial Stout and Biere de Blanc du Bois. We went here in November on our trip with good friends and I’m still dreaming about this beer.
14. Speaking of Austin, have been craving some Texas brisket….bad. It’s worth the 2 hour wait (and there is evidently, always a wait).
15. Hoping I can raise my kiddo to be a well-behaved little man. And reading this for some inspiration.
16. Despite all the health and happiness in my world, we are all currently living during the worst humanitarian crisis since WWII. Four million people have fled Syria – 4 million!!! Thinking about Syria breaks my heart. Can you possibly imagine, having enough fear to leave your home, and then to muster enough courage to take only what you can carry, and venture out, sometimes by boat, sometimes by foot, into a foreign land in search of peace? In search of a place where your children can grow up without worrying about bombs severing their limbs, about beheadings, about rape. Syrians are in my heart. Please let them be in yours as well. Please be tolerant, be open minded, and welcome these humans into our world. And please be generous, if you are able.
17. Jury duty – they found me again! Arrrrgh… I have moved every 4 years for the last 12. And every time, I’ve received a summons within a few years. How? Why? I’ve actually never had to serve…yet.
19. One of my goals as I start the second half of my 30s – I’d like to get back to baking. I used to bake much more before the kiddo arrived, but it’s become difficult with little hands grabbing at the oven.
20. I’m starting to tune out more on social media. I think one of the main reasons I even still check my newsfeed is FOMO – an acronym I only recently just learned (I sound sooooo old). It can seem the more people are on social media, the less you sometimes speak directly, and thus missing out on the big move, the engagement, the babies. But I suppose, as cliched as it is, the people who truly want me to know about big life events will take the time to tell me in person. So this serves as an apology if I haven’t ‘liked” a recent post. I just haven’t been looking!
21. Over a foot of snow expected for this weekend?!?! Yes please! Bring it on. Leo needs to make a snowman.
22. I have been training (sort of) for a half-marathon in March – should be a fun adults only trip with the hubby, sister and brother in law. So excited to spend the weekend together!
23. Spending money on experiences, not things, makes total sense! And it’s a mantra I am trying to live by…as evidenced by the amount of money spent on air travel this year!
24. Along the same lines, how amazing would a year traveling be? A family gap year?!?! I want Leo to see the world and explore – this seems like such an incredible idea. Maybe I’ll get the guts to do something like this in the next 5 years. It’s officially on the 5 year dream plan.
25. The Red Truck Bakery is the cutest place – delicious granola. And I wouldn’t call myself a huge granola fan. I would, however, classify myself as pseudo-granola personality-wise. 🙂 Jake and I found this place on one of our weekend road trips with Bear.
26. Trying to find balance between my little boys. Obviously, Leo is my main man, but Bear was my first baby, and he’s totally neglected now. Makes me a little sad. I’m trying to show Bear the love as much as I can lately. Poor guy.
27. I’ve been spending some time looking through childhood photos – Leo looks like my brother in many photos, but there are a few where he is a dead ringer for me – makes me smile. My mom made me (and my sister) photos albums of our childhood photos – 5 of them in total – and it was literally the best Christmas present ever. Nostalgia is incredible.
28. Reflecting on my rockstar brother today. My birthday mate; I’m missing you and thinking about you today little bro. A wonderful soul taken too early.
29. Leo had his first episode of vomiting the other night. Poor baby. And poor mama; didn’t really know where to put him, so I kept holding him and next thing I realize I’m soaked in vomit. I have to admit thought, it was totally worth it for the snuggles that came afterwards.
30. I was reflecting on the brilliance of MLK the other day. I really loved browsing some of his quotes; he was just an incredible human being. One of my favorites: “I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.” And another: “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort or convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”
31. The moon was so bright last night that it lit up my entire yard. I sat at my window for a moment and could see the dusting of pure white snow, and a sense of calm came over me. I felt grateful for that moment and grateful for my wonderful life.
32. Missing my family, wishing we lived closer. That is all.
33. To my child: Please go out into this wonderful world. Travel far and wide. Learn about different cultures and religions, about science and art, about history and above all, dream about the future. Without learning about the world around you, there is no way to make your place and shape your path in a meaningful way. And live by the words of Kurt Vonnegut: “Hello babies. Welcome to Earth. It’s hot in the summer and cold in the winter. It’s round and wet and crowded. On the outside, babies, you’ve got a hundred years here. There’s only one rule that I know of, babies – God damn it, you’ve got to be kind.”
34. To my husband: “Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming “Wow! What a Ride!” – Hunter S Thompson.
35. And to myself: “Do not anticipate trouble, or worry about what may never happen. Keep in the sunlight.” – Benjamin Franklin
We traveled to Martha’s Vineyard in August for a dear friend’s wedding and it was incredible to show Leo around one of our favorite places. Jake and I made many memorable trips to MV when we lived in Boston. I have vivid, wonderful memories of this place. Memories of the wind in my face riding on the ferry – with Bear in tow; of slight terror and amazement at the descent into the airport on the island in a small 10 seater plane; of the smell of the sea walking along the rocky aquinnah cliffs; of many special moments with friends we consider family. And of course, I can still taste and constantly crave the oysters – Wellfleet, Island Creek to name a few. Brilliantly briny, salty, delicious atlantic cape oysters. The best oysters, in my opinion, in the country. This trip in August, in fact, wasn’t the first wedding we have been to on the island! This magical place conjures up so many images of love and friendship in my mind. We had a glorious time getting to spend a few days with our best friends and watching two incredible souls unite. Keep the air salty, keep the waves rolling, keep the oysters fresh; Martha’s Vineyard, you will see us again.