Embracing Real Self-Care

Tea Break

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I’m grasping at the edge of a comfortable new existence. I’d probably be cradling a cup of chamomile tea, letting its calm warmth radiate through me. The past few months have been hard, more demanding than I could possibly have imagined. I suspect that no one who has experienced this kind of curriculum truthfully expresses how difficult it can be. Dwelling on the hardships would make the experience unbearable. As a way of shielding the uninitiated from undue mental anguish, this lie of omission might be effective. Unfortunately, it also downplays the importance of developing successful coping strategies. I mention “coping strategies” not to dwell on the negative, but simply to be realistic. It’s not always reasonable to aim for mastery in vet school. Coping with the curriculum and achieving proficiency—while striving to maintain mental fortitude and physical wellbeing—is essential, however. On an everyday basis, this means finding a way to make the best use of every hour and every ounce of strength at my disposal. And that necessitates embracing an idea that once made me cringe. Read more

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A Drug That’ll Do for the Healin’

I believe that Bob Dylan’s lyrics are poetry, plain and simple. He strings words together in an incredibly dense, evocative way. Putting them to music doesn’t overshadow the power of the words, either. It simply lends subtle, understated support to the effect they produce. Good folk music has that incredible ability to convey feeling without manipulating the listener’s emotions. It doesn’t tell you how to feel. It puts you in touch with what’s already in your soul, because it appeals to the things that we all have in common. Read more

Everything we’ve ever imagined

We live our lives, do whatever we do, and then we sleep—it’s as simple and ordinary as that. A few jump out of windows or drown themselves or take pills; more die by accident; and most of us, the vast majority, are slowly devoured by some disease or, if we’re very fortunate, by time itself. There’s just this for consolation: an hour here or there when our lives seem, against all odds and expectations, to burst open and give us everything we’ve ever imagined, though everyone but children (and perhaps even they) knows these hours will inevitably be followed by others, far darker and more difficult. Still we cherish the city, the morning; we hope, more than anything, for more.Michael Cunningham, The Hours

It’s 9 pm on Thursday evening, and I’ve just done something I haven’t done for a very long time. I read an entire book today. I woke up, having finished reading Call the Midwife last night, and sat down at the foot of my bed to pick another book. I reached for The Hours, opened it, and looked up 30 pages later like I had just awoken from a dream. My own surroundings seemed strange, because I had been so completely invested in what this book laid out before me that the story seemed, momentarily, more real than my own existence.

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