Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Here's to the unknowns of 2016

Anyone who knows me well is aware of how seriously I take new year’s resolutions. I think the origin of this is pretty pathetic: growing up, I seemed to always be stuck at home with parents falling asleep watching TV, even when visiting home from college (my mom forbade me from going out, “only drunk drivers out!!!" as she would say). However, I somehow translated these tragic years of missed hook-up and binge-drinking opportunities into a regimented tradition of self-reflection. In high school, I came up with different life categories that were important to me (i.e. family, significant other, spiritual, physical, goals in medicine, cooking, etc), and every year I would review what I had written the previous year and generate or recycle old resolutions for the next year.

Since my daughter was born in 2013, however, I have to admit that I haven’t been as good about this tradition as in the past; generally, all things “mommy” have been put on the back burner (yes, something I really need to work on!). Reflecting on 2015, this has been an eventful year, although we did manage to stay put in the same positions and city. After 10 years of being nomads and chronic renters, tweedle-dee and tweedle-dum somehow managed to buy a place. I had a miscarriage.... and a surprise pregnancy soon after (which has emotionally been the complete opposite of the first). I settled into being a pathology resident and love it. I wrote my first real grant. My husband settled into having his own lab. After stopping nursing early in the year, I re-claimed my boobies and have felt gloriously free since. Free of diapers, free of pacifiiers. Our daughter settled into toddlerhood and we have loved watching her unfold before our eyes.
2016 is another year of unknowns. We are soon going from a family of 3 to 4 and will learn how changing boy-diapers is different from girl-diapers. In the summer, I will transition to a year of full-time basic research in an area new to me. And who knows what other surprises and challenges we all have in store. My resolutions are now much more general and stream-lined: strive to be a solid resident and improve as a pathologist, and, outside of residency, prioritize daughter/husband, food, sleep, and exercise, in that order. And of course try to always have fun. It’s helpful of course to have more specific goals… here are a few simple ones I’ve drafted so far:

Try to find a way to go out more with my husband (even if it requires going to McDonald's for the dollar menu in order to afford $80 for the babysitter).

Yoga 2x a week (mind you this is an online streaming service I’ve used for years which I can do in the comfort of my own home- and, uh, I like to do child’s pose in the dark and fall asleep… ssshhhh)

Never ever lie. I'm talking about the white lie B.S. that we don't even realize we do (e.g. “Sorry for the late reply, I am just now getting your text! or “Sorry I can’t make it I ended up being really busy today.”) If I commit to being somewhere, you can count on me to be there. This has actually been on my resolution list for 2014 and 2015, and I still don’t feel like I have 100% succeeded. (I made this resolution after listening to the excellent short essay “Lying” by Sam Harris- highly recommended, just listen to the audiobook while making dinner or something.)
Stop picking my zits. Seriously. I’m going to stop this year. (But why can't they just go away in the first place?? Wahh)

Continue to find ways to be engaged with our community (we joined the community association, helped plant trees in the park, picked up trash, etc). May sound like a pathetic effort, but you have to start somewhere!

Pray to God that birth for #2 goes more smoothly and is an order of magnitude shorter than for #1, and that I will thrive rather than merely survive during the newborn period (admittedly not really a resolution but just very very strong prayer.. God please have mercy on me!!)

Be aggressive and enthusiastic about reaching out to mentors and people I admire… I used to be so good about this in college. I would meet with physicians, renowned scientists, anthropologists, medical journalists, you name it- of course, many emails and invitations for coffee went unanswered, but a few of these mentors were extremely influential and steered my path in medicine in powerful ways. Something happened to me during medical school where I felt like I lost confidence, or became acutely aware of how little I had to offer. I would ask myself, “Why in the world would so-and-so want to meet with me??!?” and “I don’t want to waste their time or ask their advice- I need to figure this out on my own.” I realize now that it’s sad I feel that way. When my husband was first establishing his lab here, I watched him set up meetings with people every single day, and saw how fruitful it was in establishing his network of friends, colleagues, and collaborators. Especially since I will have more time during my research year, I will strive to be more confident and bring this back.   

So, tell me… how was your 2015? What are your hopes and resolutions for the next year?

Happy New Year to all of you beautiful physicians and mommas- I hope that 2016 brings you rewarding challenges, lots of love, strength, happy memories, laughter, and good health! May 2016 bring more peace to everyone.


  1. Great list! I especially love Never Lie and Mentors. Happy new year and birth!

  2. Great list!

  3. Yes to the zit picking (I ask myself that all the time!).

    Babysitters - are there any families close by who will do a co-op with you? And if your daycare doesn't offer one maybe suggest it (if ideas are needed, please email me - I can let you know about how our old daycare did it). Also, look into your local YMCA - we are huge fans of our local YMCA and just learned that they have an every month parents' date night that we will be using.


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