I’m sitting in my car in the hospital parking lot.  Just a few days ago I was on the beach in the Caribbean, living my best life.  

Right now I can feel the tug of the old energy trying to suck me back into the familiar feeling when the demands of being a doctor separate me from the core of who I am. 

Not now. 

I’m cherishing the peace, the calm, the sense of well-being that I had during my time off.  As I look at the vacation photos on my phone, I’m transformed.  I’m taken back to the heat of the sun, the vastness of the ocean, the nourishment of fresh food, the beat of the music and the warmth of the people. 

Although the destination for this trip was the same, the journey is new, different, and has its own inherent challenges.  It reminds me that life goes on and to enjoy the fullness and richness of life I have to be willing to live. 

As I emerge from vacation and re-enter my work life, I’m taking this lesson with me.  Instead of falling back into the daily routine and counting the hours when the charm of the vacation has worn off, I am keeping it alive.  Instead of letting go of that part of myself that I give up when I put on my scrubs and stethoscope, I am embracing her.  She gets to stay and live and love and laugh and cry and laugh again.  

She is no longer reserved for vacations and staycations and time off.  She gets to play full out every day.  She is the part that embodies the essence of life and she’s here to stay.  She is where my well-being resides and is an essential part of success in my life and in medicine. 

Here are some questions to consider:

  • As physicians deliver patient care, are we living?
  • Does the stress, overwhelm, and demands of caring for patients and teams cause physicians to shut down and live in a protective mode?
  • As we shut down part of ourselves to protect ourselves, does it deny us the richness of life?