Trixie’s 8th Birthday

Trixie turned eight on Sunday.

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She was sooooo excited to open her presents that she woke me up at 6 A.M. to get the party started.

After being told that 6 A.M. was far too early to wake everyone up on a Sunday, she came back to check at 6:30 and 7:00.

At 7:01, I relented, got out of bed and fired up the coffee.

Through my friend M., we were able to secure a Hatchimal as a gift.

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Unfortunately, Trixie’s Hatchimal did not hatch, which appears to be a common problem.

We were able to open the shell ourselves, which prompted her to declare that her Hatchimal – “Pinky” – was born via cesarean section.

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After a birthday party with friends at a local bowling alley, the four of us headed home for her dinner of choice: sushi, followed by a (gluten-free) red velvet cake and ice cream, a round of a new game (Disney’s “Beat the Parents”) and a showing of “Garfield, a Tail of Two Kitties.” 

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She declared it the best birthday ever. Heart full.

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Turning Around a Bad Day

Yesterday was not a good day.

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It. Just. Was. Not.

I won’t get into details, but one conversation at the start of the day turned my smile upside down.

Before this happened, though, I’d already had a few minor issues.

Starting with this:

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I did not like my outfit.

Individually, I like all of the pieces. Especially this J. Crew necklace:

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When I put it together, though, I didn’t feel like myself. I felt like a frumpy businesswoman. 

Maybe I am a frumpy businesswoman, but I prefer not to think that way.

(The rest of the outfit is a blouse from last season at Anthropologie and a jacket and pants from M.M. LaFleur, which is usually a solid go-to).

Note to self: ruthlessly cull wardrobe.

Next problem: I got hangry.

I was busy. I ran from one thing to the next. I didn’t have time to eat. I was under coffee’d.

Super Grrrrr.

But magically, it turned around.

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I finished work and drove to the W Foshay Hotel, which was my destination for the night.

This is one of my favorite hotels, and one that I have stayed at many, many times for City Getaways, although usually with Spouse.

The only problem is that now my whole life requires living in a hotel, and the style of hotel for living on my own dime and one that I (briefly) visit for a holiday is vastly different. Now, I only stay at the W when I get an incredible deal.

But sometimes I do. Today was one of those days.

As I walked in, there was a red carpet set up in the lobby.

Hotel employees were lining the carpet and clapping to greet arriving guests.

Ok, I know this is some kind of hotel directive, but seriously, it is effective. 

 I walked that red carpet like I was Gigi Hadid.

(Did I mention there was a mini cocktail at the end?)

I checked in. I had a smile on my face. I told the desk host that the red carpet made my day.

But it didn’t end there.

I took the elevator to my assigned room and noticed that an adjacent elevator opened.

The hotel’s concierge exited and headed to my room. After a tiny moment of confusion, she told me that she had a delivery because this was my 100th night at this hotel.

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Ok, this was awesome.

Champagne, chocolates and snacks, plus a personalized note for hitting my 100th stay.

It wasn’t just the alcohol – although, honestly, this blurred the dissatisfaction from earlier in the day – but it was the entire sentiment that made me smile from my head to my toes.

Life has not always been perfect or easy lately, but this made my day. 

Thank you, W Minneapolis!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Glam Boutique

This isn’t exactly a Valentine’s Day-related post, but this made my heart swell on multiple levels. 

Last week Trixie created a doll store from a cardboard box.

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Welcome to Glam, ladies and gents!

I love her creativity, especially the wall displays (catalog images) and the cash register (??) made of legos bricks. The counter is stocked with accessories. This is *exactly* the kind of thing I would have made when I was her age. Heart.

Spouse created an elaborate backstory for Glam, namely that it’s such an exclusive boutique that it’s appointment only.

Late in the week, he sent me this text:

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Made me laugh. So much love.

Happy Valentine’s Day, Friends!

 

 

 

 

 

44

 

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Via Getty images

Today I am 44, a palindromic event that happens only once every 11 years.

I need to remind myself that growing older is a privilege denied to many, but dang, 44 really seems on the wrong side of youth.

Time to step up my skin care game.

It’s funny how much things have changed in the past year. I left a job that I thought I would have forever and I survived that quite nicely. I’m living more authentically than ever, even though that involves some temporary hardship as I live apart from Spouse and my kiddos until the end of the school year. My new job is even better than I imagined, though, and I’m just getting started.

Here’s an anecdote to illustrate the profound difference:

Last week I had to stop by the bank to deposit a check. I’d renewed my medical license and paid dues to several medical organizations, and my new employer cut me a reimbursement check, made out to me with “Dr.” in front of my name.

I had to wait in line several minutes at the bank and chatted with a few people around me. The old me would have been irritated with the wait and I probably would not have engaged with fellow patrons. The new me is not angry and talks to strangers.

When it was my turn, the bank teller immediately commented that we have the same birthday (And Happy Birthday to you, Lakeisha, if you are reading this!)

We joked a bit about how I was probably two decades older and then she looked at the check and said – with surprise – “Are you a doctor?”

I affirmed and she asked me what kind.

I said OBGYN.

She said that she always wanted to be an OBGYN.

I told her she should go for it.

We bantered a bit and she said that someone close to her needed fertility treatment.

I told her that, in fact, infertility was my speciality, she asked me several more questions and then requested four of my cards to give to people she knew. She effusively thanked me.

In the end, we both wished each other Happy Birthdays and left as friends.

As I drove away, I was smiling and thinking about the encounter. I asked myself how I was feeling and the answer came immediately: happy.

It almost brought me to tears.

On one hand, I was saddened that I didn’t recognize happiness during an ordinary day such that I had to question the strange emotion I was experiencing. 

On the other, I realized how far I’d come from my old situation.

I wouldn’t have stopped to ask myself anything. I definitely would have been annoyed by the wait. Frankly, I wouldn’t have been in the bank in the first place because I would have been too busy during the day to go there. The check would have eventually been lost in a pile of papers on my desk and I would have been out of luck.

Again: things have changed.

I had dinner last night with a former colleague and one of my best friends. I shared this anecdote with him and said that the biggest difference now is that I feel like I live so much more of my life as the best version of myself. I smile more. I engage. I am open to people. I laugh all the time. I am always, authentically me.

It took 44 years to get here and I’m still a work in progress, but it feels good.

I’m still making skin care a top priority for 2017, though.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Twin Cities Women’s March

After a bit of hemming and hawing, I decided that the Women’s March was so important that we needed to attend.

My mental Pro/Con List looked something like this:

Pros:

  1. This is an incredibly important, once-in-a-lifetime event
  2. As an OBGYN, I am all-in for equal rights and women’s rights, especially reproductive freedom
  3. I am a feminist
  4. As parents, both Spouse and I thought this was a tremendous opportunity for the kids to see activism in action
  5. I could go on with about 100 more points like this…

Cons:

  1. I’d already driven the 200+ mile round trip between our current city and the Twin Cities twice this week. With my new job I’ve been staying in a hotel from Monday to Friday, but this week I had an early morning dentist appointment on Friday and drove home Thursday night after work (in terrible fog and icy rain) and then did the whole round trip Friday. Going to the March meant I had to do it again on Saturday, too. In the best case scenario, I hate driving. In this case, I really detested the nail-biting road conditions.
  2. I thought that parking and the crowds might be a hassle
  3. While I believed that things would be peaceful, I had a tiny worry that some nut job might do something crazy and I didn’t want to put my kids in danger
  4. The real reason: I hate being even *slightly* physically uncomfortable in the cold. My temperature comfort zone ranges from approximately 70-73 degrees Fahrenheit, and this March was taking place in January in Minnesota.

Even in my head, I knew the Con List was totally lame and the right thing to do was to go. Sometimes I grumble about things, but in the end I almost always Do The Right Thing, and the March was something we could not miss.

MGM (9) and I set off on Saturday morning. [Trixie (7) had a birthday party to attend and Spouse brought her later in the morning. MGM and I never saw them, but we knew they were there].

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Proof

The temps were in the mid 30s and there were periods of rain on our drive to the March. We had zero issues with travel and parked without a problem in the parking garage of the Minnesota Science Museum, which was about a half mile from the organizing point for the March. We joined the crowds walking to the starting point. The mood was upbeat. People were incredibly friendly. It felt great.

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Shortly after we got to the organizing point, I got a call from my friend and work partner, P., who had arrived with her daughter. We met them and then the March started. The crowd was estimated to be more than 60,000 people.

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There were so many witty signs along the way. This was MGM’s favorite:

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Pizza rolls, not gender rolls.

This one is even harder to see, but I loved it:

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You can’t comb over misogyny.

One speaker I was excited to hear at the rally was Ilhan Omar, the first Somali-American lawmaker in the United States.  She was elected in November to the State Congress. She received huge applause and was very inspiring.

The funniest thing I saw all day was a dog wearing a Donald Trump wig. I wish I would have taken a picture of it because it was so hilarious. This is NOT the dog, but I googled this and found an entire costume from My Best Friend Boutique:

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Remarkably, the rain held off during the rally and with temps in the mid-30s but appropriate winter gear, I was never cold. Not even a bit.

In the end, I couldn’t have imagined Not Going. The spirit, camaraderie and energy were incredible. I was lucky to be a part of this. I think my 60,000 new friends would all agree it Felt Important.

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After we left the rally, we had lunch and I told MGM we could go to the Science Museum if he wanted. He did. This was a bit of quid pro quo on my part, since the March wasn’t his top idea for a Saturday.

They had an interesting exhibit about medical quackery. This is a “brain tester” from the 1920s:

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MGM and I also did an experiment to extract DNA from wheat germ. This took about 20 minutes to complete.

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The last step was a show-stopper: DNA floated through a layer of alcohol to form a swirly cloud in a test tube. We were both impressed.

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We drove home without incident, cooked a meal together as a family and called it a night.

It was a successful Saturday.

 

 

 

 

 

 

And A Happy New Year!

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Welcome, 2017!

I have to start by showing off my awesome Christmas gift from Spouse, which was my own champagne saber engraved with “Fancy Lady Doctor.”

I basically lost my mind when I opened it up.

He also included a bottle of chilled champagne to put it to immediate use. Victory!

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Here’s a close up of the saber:

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Of course I put it to fine use on New Year’s Eve:

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The start of 2017 is finding me loving my new job, househunting and trying to orchestrate the move for the rest of the family – all from the comfort of a hotel room, where I am staying during the week while I work. The current plan is that this will continue until the end of the school year.

The final new thing is that when I left my old job, I had to turn in my laptop, which put a serious cramp into my ability to blog and shop online.

I rectified that situation by buying a new MacBook Pro 13″ laptop, which I absolutely LOVE.  It has so many cool features, like the ability to share photos or images between devices via Air Drop. (Confession: this *may* have been a feature on my old MacBook Air, but if it was there I didn’t use it). And then there is the touch bar at the top of the keyboard, which is dynamic and changes depending on which application you’re using, plus it lets you unlock the computer with your fingerprint.

And of course I needed a (cute) case to protect my new toy. Safety first!

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This laptop sleeve is from a current Kate Spade collaboration with Disney featuring accessories with Miss Piggy (!) and Muppet-like monsters. I think it’s adorable.

 

What To Do When You Are Between Jobs

As I mentioned a few days ago, I am between jobs.

This is a such a rarity for me that it’s only happened once before.

I don’t count the period between finishing residency and starting fellowship as one, because I only had a weekend to pack up my stuff, drive from Colorado to Texas, and establish myself in an empty house (save a mattress) with a dog. I started my new job on Monday. 

In contrast, many of my co-residents graduated and went to the East Coast to stay in a summer house that belonged to one of their families, where they spent a week bonding and having a last hurrah. Several took the summer off before starting their new, “real” job. My friend E. charted a sailboat and tooled around Greece. I so wanted to be with her on that boat.

Fast forward three years: after fellowship I had almost three weeks off before starting my new job, the one I just left. It would have been the perfect time to do something fabulous, except I was newly pregnant with Baby #2 (Trixie), and Baby #1 (MGM) was a rambunctious toddler. Spouse was cleaning up and out our old house and wasn’t able to immediately join us, so MGM and I suffered through two miserable flights before decamping to my mom’s for a few weeks. We lived in the basement. It was summer. MGM slept about three hours a night, which meant I did, too. I was mildly nauseated the whole time. Still, I remember it as a boring yet pleasant experience, although it wasn’t the Total Reset that I imagined would ideally mark the occasion.

I want this time to be different.

Originally, I had planned for a month off between gigs. It didn’t work out, and I am totally ok with that since this means my income and benefits won’t be on hiatus. The gap is now two weeks.

I decided to do something big to celebrate.

Over the past eight years, I’ve hoarded my Starwood Hotel travel points and frequent flyer miles enough that I could book two first class tickets to Kauai and stay at the St. Regis in Princeville for a week.

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Kauai image via Fodor’s

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St. Regis image via Starwood Hotels

So that’s what we’re going to do. Spouse and I leave in two days.

While planning travel is one of my great pleasures in life, I’ve left this trip entirely open.

I’d like to do some hiking, a helicopter tour, and visit a coffee farm. Honestly, I didn’t research Kauai enough to know if there is a coffee farm there, but I’m hoping for it. Of course I will also hit the spa as much as legally allowed, and I will drink champagne.

When we return I’ll be home for two days and then I’m taking the kids (just me, no Spouse this time) on a short trip to Florida. I have to pull them out of school for a few days, which I know is not ideal, but with all the changes that are coming I thought it would be nice to do something fun for them. The three of us will leave on a Wednesday and return Saturday. We’re spending two nights with my mom at her place in Florida, and then one night at Disney (staying at our favorite place, the Swan Hotel) to attend Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party.

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Image via Disney

And then I start my new job on Monday. Whew.

Full trip reports forthcoming.

 

 

 

 

 

How To Quit Your Job (A Work of Fiction)

Memo: How TO QUIT YOUR JOB

 

  • First, don an amazing outfit; I mean a truly spectacular one. Wear lipstick. You’re going to want to look good for this.
  • Do it in person and in writing. On the morning of the day you quit, request a brief meeting with your boss, and say it is time sensitive. In the meeting, say that you are resigning. Be pleasant but neutral. Practice this ahead of time in order to actually be pleasant and neutral when it matters.
  • Accompany your verbal notice with a written one. Keep this extremely brief; state you are resigning and give your suggested final day at this workplace. If you are leaving but not entirely happy with the departure, it’s ok to NOT fill the page with words thanking your current employer for making conditions so bad that you are leaving. That would be inauthentic, and that is something you are not. However …
  • Be gracious. Wish your colleagues the best in the future. Even if you don’t feel that way right now, it’s a classy gesture.
  • If offered an exit interview, YOU MUST RESIST the temptation to Put It All Out There. Spoiler alert: they don’t care what you really think at this point, and odds are nothing is going to change from what you say. Save your catharsis for your friends.
  • Refrain from using the phrase “with mixed emotions” to describe any aspect of your departure. This is trite, overused and makes you look both inarticulate and unimaginative.
  • Know that they will talk sh*t about you. They just will. You don’t need to like this fact, but you do need to know it. You see, other people are going to watch you walk away and that might force them to put a mirror to themselves and their own lives, and they may not like what they see. So for some it will be easier to trash you, call you a fool, shake their heads and say that you never belonged here in the first place. Secret: some of them will actually be jealous because you are doing something they wish they could do. Some may be inspired to follow your lead and exit. Some will be happy for you, and they are called your friends.
  • Time it strategically for your benefits. This is a practical one: some companies have benefits programs where if you work a few days out of a month, your benefits will continue until the end of the month. It may feel tidier to quit on July 31st versus August 3rd, but those extra days may mean a significant financial difference, especially if you have to pay for COBRA coverage.
  • In you can swing it, throw your own going away party and pay for the booze! This way you can invite who you want, focusing on the people you like, and there has to be at least someone you still like there. Avoid an awkward lunch party in the conference room at all costs.
  • Also, if possible, give yourself a bridge between finishing one job and starting another. Honor and enjoy the time off, because as adults we rarely get to do this. Go to a tropical island if you can, because your new job may require some significant nose-to-the-grindstone time before you earn/can afford another vacation.
  • Be Brave. Know that you are strong and will be Even More Amazing in your next iteration.

P.S. This is a work of fiction.

A New Opportunity (a.k.a. Difficult Decisions, the Pursuit of Happiness and the Opportunity of a Lifetime)

Today was the last day of my job.

It was a position I held for over eight years, and for much of that time, I thought it would be a forever job, one where I would start and end my specialty medical career.

The reasons behind the decision are complicated and too personal to share in their entirety, but initially I faced this change with deep sadness. I still partially feel this way.

To focus on the (amazing, wonderful) positive: I am about to embark on a very exciting new chapter.

A colleague and friend who I respect and love asked me to partner with her in joining an established private practice in a nearby city.

This is a Once in a Lifetime opportunity, and in the end, it is also one I could not pass up.

I want to be able to craft a medical practice that represents me in every aspect, from the little things like the magazines in the lobby (artsy, diverse), to the art on the walls (hip, real), to offering patients a beverage while they wait (sparkling water, anyone?), to the big things like making every patient feel understood and cared for during the good times and the bad. Another pro: I can dress more creatively without the restrictive wardrobe rules of my old job (all suits, all the time).

The most important factor: I can authentically be myself, always.

I’m excited to begin.

On the flip side, people may wonder why I’m leaving a position I loved. That’s harder to justify.

For most of the time I was in my former job, I truly, deeply loved it. I lived and breathed the work and gave my all to the institution. I was so proud to be a physician there.

A few weeks ago I was interviewed for a public radio news show about fertility treatment. The other guest was Belle Boggs, who wrote “The Art of Waiting: On Fertility, Medicine and Motherhood,” an eloquent memoir about being a fertility patient. The conversation was stimulating and one of the best I’ve had in a long time. At the conclusion of the hour, the show’s host told me that throughout the program, the phone lines had been jammed with current and former patients of mine who were calling to say what an excellent doctor I was.

My voice cracked when I thanked her for telling me. 

It’s almost impossible to leave that behind, even though I’m sure there will be new stories and new patients.

(Sidenote: I hesitated to include that anecdote in this post, because if read the wrong way it sounds really boastful and ugly. I don’t mean it to; it was a very surprising moment to me and one where instead of feeling swollen with pride, I actually felt quite stunned and humbled. In the end I decided to keep it because it illustrates the bittersweetness of my current situation).

In all parts of my life, I’ve pledged to be authentically myself, and it would be inauthentic at this time not to mention that the reason I was receptive to the opportunity to join a private practice with my friend involved turmoil within my own department. After a few years of this, my immediate colleagues and I were very unhappy. Despite passionate discussions and attempts at change, it became apparent that the status quo would be upheld.

I felt like I could continue to be unhappy in my current iteration or try to live authentically and forge a new path. I chose the latter.

While I still have framed some of this story with sadness, the overwhelming sentiments I feel are Happiness and Excitement for the future.

I now see this opportunity for what it is: a gift.

To the clinical and nursing staff I’ve worked with, patients I’ve been honored to care for and my physician friends, please know I love you. Thank you for letting me be a part of your life and be able to practice a medical specialty that I deeply love. It is a privilege.