Car Jacked, Ain’t got Jack

We always have a great time when he comes into the office. Every pound of weight lost prompts fake confetti from me and a hearty laugh from him. Then Irma struck. He tells the story of hauling water out of his house. As quickly as it was hauled out, it accumulated with robust force as it rolled down the walls and climbed to his ankles. It was terrifying!

As Irma made havoc, he ran to his car to seek shelter which was short lived as Irma pelted an angry missile that shattered the windshield. He ran from the car back to the house which was in shambles by this time! What do you do when you are left with nowhere to run in the middle of a tropical cyclone. Irma was no hurricane, she was an angry cyclone.

The only standing structure was the dog kennel…it was either him or the dogs. The dogs stayed in the kennel while he rode out the storm with hope and a prayer. As we sat and spoke, he told me how one dog ended up killing the other. Even the animals were affected by Irma.

” So where are you staying now”

” In my car”

He has been living in his car for 64 days! 64 days. When I asked him what he needed, he said nothing.

” Do you need food? Clothes? Batteries? what do you need?” Silence.

” Do not let pride keep you from your blessing. We have it for a reason, we have it so we can give it away. I got up and went to my exam room turned storage unit and pulled out some men’s clothing in his size.

I see a smile peeking through. “Can this fit you?”

” I think so…thanks doc. I am ok”

“You are not ok but you will be. Come with me, let’s get you some more things”

We went through pants and toiletries and packed bags and bags.

” Do you need a tarp”

” You got tarps?!”

“Yes, here you go.”

I watched as someone who was shy to ask get excited about suits and claimed several. I am honored and thankful that he allowed us to be love in his life. Even if for this moment. His story is our story. This is so many that come to us.

It is so important that when asked what we need that you state what we need. There is no fame or honor in pretending that we are ok when we are not. Life is a cycle and when people want to give, it is quite ok to go ahead and receive. Say yes to the blessing. We are blessed to be a blessing and when we keep our hands shut, the good things that we have eventually rots. It only has life when we release it.When we do not allow others to share their gifts, it halts the cycle of blessings. Let us keep the cycle of blessings going.

 

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Telling the story…the park, the bench and the broken.

I went on the radio on Friday evening and on Monday patients were lined up outside the door long before we opened. Word got out…we had free medications and supplies. Patient after patient and before we realized it, we saw 62 patients in one day from 10:30am to 5pm. The adrenaline that comes with taking care of people fueled me.

He walked in. Broken. I could tell by his posture and his eyes. He was broken. He was brought in by someone who I had taken care time some time ago. They told him, “you need to go see my doctor. She will help you.” As he started talking, it became apparent that Irma had not only caused a physical upheaval but an emotional torrent as well. His partner for decades left. As the storm moved on from our island, so did his partner from his life leaving behind rubble. His house ravished by the storm and he was now homeless. And even in his broken state, he still found the strength to give back to those who like himself were broken by the storm. As I listened to his story, I jumped into action. I started putting together a bag of goodies, shirts, clothes, toiletries. I brought the bag into him. I could tell that his pride was tender but I let him know that it was indeed ok. There is nothing wrong with accepting help when you are down.  I tended to the medical reason he was there…and then I broke.  Since Irma, my tears have taken on their own navigation system and as much as I try to regulate them, they betray me every time. We all cried. I have learned to not stop the tears because I cannot, plus we all needed a good cry that day. I hugged him and watched as he walked out with his shoulders lifted just a little higher. Even though he makes his place of abode the park bench, he left knowing that at least in our office, his dignity remains intact.

Heart to Heart

With every beat it gives life, it sends oxygen that circulates to organs that most need it. The heart is amazing and that is why everything we do should be heart generated. IN so doing, it gives and brings life. When I decided to go back to medical school after 9 years of being out of academia, it was a scary thing. I left a “real job” with a real paycheck in order to become a student with student level pay. Some may think that this was a nutso move but I was not called to a REAL JOB, I was called to destiny as a healer. It takes courage to stop and re-evaluate and make a shift. It is not comfortable but were we created for comfort? Furthermore, it was a temporary discomfort anyhow.

My journey in becoming a physician and a board certified one was NOT easy, there were many tears, many fears, many sacrifices. If I did not have a clear vision of what I was called to do and know within my heart of hearts that this was the road to go down, then I would have folded. I would have quit. I would have settled. But with the vision manuscript in my hand, I wielded it like a sword; I cut through fear and doubt, and disappointment. You have to be sure of what you are called to do because, with this confidence, you move over boulders and use them as stepping stones rather than obstacles.

So search your heart, have a heart to heart with yourself. Listen. What do you hear? What do you dream of doing? What have you always loved? What do you do that you would do gratis? What gives you great joy? Spend some time reconnecting with yourself. When you get the answer, then jump right into it. Don’t let your fear and self-doubt talk you out of flowing from the heart.

Know Your value

She came in with shoulders hunched over. He was cheating on her. Again. 25 years. Same behavior.

Me: What are you going to do about it?

She shrugged her shoulders: Dunno

Me: Well are you happy with this situation?

She: No

Me: Then change it

She: How?

And therein lies the dilemma. How do you take a situation where you are undervalued and abused and turn it around? How do you change that trajectory? Change has to start with some of these steps:

  1. Take Inventory: We need to locate ourselves in order to change the trajectory. If you don’t see a problem, then there is no solving it. Locate and admit that there is a problem. As best as you can, outline the problem. Own your part of it. Determine if the situation is serving you. If it’s not. Abort.
  2. Recognize your own value: It is sometimes hard for us to see just how awesome we are. I often wonder what lens we look through when we see ourselves. I find it difficult to focus and see things through scratched or deformed lens. Taking time to reflect on how we came to the conclusions we did about ourselves is a worthwhile activity. We do not have to accept everything that is offered to us. Recognizing and learning our value helps us reject offers that are cheap. Get a pen and paper and start writing, don’t censor your thoughts just focus on the awesome. Write. Write a new  reality. Change your mind, change your life…truly.
  3. Change your self talk: What are you saying to yourself? Are you defeating yourself before giving yourself a fair chance?  Would you be yourself’s best friend based on how you talk to yourself? As a man or woman thinks so is he or she….so yes your self talk is absolutely important. You become what you behold, so your talk to yourself has creative power. We manifest that we digest so please change your soliloquy.
  4. Change your circle: If we are in partnership or relationship with people who are not able to recognize our value, it is best to get away. Why? Try going on I94W while  the person you are yolked with is going I94E. You will in fact get no place. The tension of dissonance will pull you away from your purpose. It stagnates. People project their own self worth on you and if within your circle there are those who don’t value themselves, guess what? They likely don’t value you either. Change circles. Associate with people who lift you up, build you up and honor the awesome in you. Be a person who lifts and builds others.
  5. Be brave: Walking away from the familiar takes courage but the freedom felt once the chains have loosened is invigorating. Sometimes we just have to jump and trust the parachute to open. We have to trust that we will land in a better place. No discoveries are made by the coward of heart.

The relationships that must change are our relationship with ourselves, life and God. If we truly know who we are in Christ, we would know that He thinks highly of us, that to accept anything other than His best for us is pride. Relationships with the world around us, our job, friends, partners, these relationships should also reflect God’s best for us. We settle too often and for too little. Take the step to elevate your relationship with God, yourself and thus your auxiliary relationships.

Months later, I heard she moved away. She had enough. The work we did finally paid off. She was able to see her value and thus rejected a value-negating relationship from a love stealer. Whether a person or a job, make a decision to go where you are appreciated, not tolerated or denigrated.

Pursue Purpose

ONE of the things that I keep in the forefront of my mind is destination. Where I am going and WHY I am going there is important in the scheme of things. When I keep my destination in mind, I am sure to avoid distractions to deviate from my purpose. So many times I see people running after profit, they want to be rich. They are about the bling and the ring and not a dime in the bank to show ah ting! I guess the lure of the Real (not so real) housewives and the baller wives and such seduces the vulnerable into thinking that it’s easy. That could not be farthest from the truth.

Most of the successful people I know, those that are TRULY successful ( not a semblance or facade of success), have paid the price in grit and sweat.  Their character has been tested and they passed the integrity test. People may look at me and say “I want to be like you when I grow up doc”, in fact I hear that a LOT. I see it posted on my Facebook page a LOT. I always wonder if they want to go through what I had to go through and GROW through? I have no regrets for the things I have been through as I am a BETTER person for it. I LOVE my life, with all of the challenges it has brought. But do folks really know what it took to get here? The faith to believe what I could not see physically but dreamed? In fact, I want to say to them…no be YOU when you grow up!

  1. Don’t abort your purpose by trying to bypass the hard things. The only way we grow muscle is by lifting heavy things or rather going against resistance. So do not wish away the challenges to get to the fairy tale ending. Those challenges build character, build integrity and simply gives you flavor.
  2. Humble yourselves enough to sit under someone who can mentor and guide. Too many with little street cred and little real life experience in the arena are thinking they are now experts in how to navigate the system. My advice? Stay teachable. Always always be open to learn. Don’t be so eager to be in the limelight to be the expert because to whom much is given much is required. Stay humble.
  3.  Pursue Purpose not Profit: Making decisions solely based on money is the wrong thing if truly you are seeking a wholehearted existence. I see a lot of THIRSTY individuals, running after every money making venture. Many times, it has nothing to do with their purpose. Its just all about the money. Well here is the thing. There is nothing wrong with money, it the LOVE of money that will lead you into trouble. If you know your purpose, then you will make decisions that bring you closer to that purpose rather than every whim that comes your way. When you are thirsty and hungry, you make decisions based on your thirst. These often do NOT line up with your purpose. So best to not get thirsty right?! lol…keep drinking water. When you pursue profit in a purposeless manner you enable a confusing and empty existence.
  4. Resist the urge to think that the person with the loudest bark and the biggest bling is successful. Some really have nothing to their name and may not be able to lead you in the right direction. There are many silent millionaires. Pay attention and do not be misled.
  5. Lastly, be yourself…and if you do not know who that person is..then take time for self discovery. This may require…will require quiet time. Turn off social media. Turn down the noise and tune up the discernment. The only person who can do you, is you. Do not be busy trying to be someone else or copy someone else’s idea and try to make it your own. There is enough for everyone. Be original I often look at the sky at night and I am in awe of how well the stars align and I have yet to see the stars fighting each other or jockeying for position. In fact, they look better together! No-one is jealous of the other’s shine. They are all just flowing in purpose.

So that is all folks. Go out there and Be the BEST you! Only YOU can!

 

Wheels Up

I love to travel! It feeds my soul and gives me life! I wanted to be a flight attendant when I was a child for the mere fact that they got to travel! I had no thought of how labor intensive the job is. On my long haul to South Africa, I flew my airline of choice Delta. The flight attendants were just amazing. I have to give a shout out to Jana, Karen, Charlotte, Yvonne, Allison and Mary on the flight TO South Africa and a special shout out to Troye Washington and her crew on the trip FROM South Africa back to the US.

After 8 hours or so, I get out of my seat and join the attendants in the back, we chat, laugh, twerked…yes delirium set in and we did twerk on board DL flight # lolololol! These flight attendants are people who have the daunting task of dealing with people, some not so nice, highly entitled demanding people for 10+ hours! Kudos to them! As a physician, I understand that there are times you are not in the mood to really deal with rudeness or entitlement and when you don’t work for yourself, you have to do your best to represent the brand with dignity and integrity. Shared some health tips with my new homey Jana who was gracious enough to charge my phone for me in the flight attendants’ quarters since the outlets at our seats were not functioning. When our journey ended on the way to SA, we hugged and took selfies! What a great group!

On the way back, the team was equally awesome! Very efficient. Troye headed up the team…she was spunky just like Jana! My kinna people.

“Ladies and gentlemen if there is a doctor on board, please ring your call light”

aaarrgghh the dreaded announcement. I hesitated! Then jumped into action. One of their own flight attendants was ill. Myself and another internist and PA assisted. We checked vitals, took history performed exam, documented findings. I found myself doing what I would do for my own patients or family and massaged her hair. She cautioned me that she had dirty hair and apologized.

Me: That’s ok hon, this is better than diabetic ulcers…just relax…take nice deep breaths. You’re going to be ok.

She managed a smile…she started to feel better after some medication and Sprite. Rx for rest, no more work on this flight. Explained to she and her team leader what I thought the problem was. I checked on her again an hour before landing and was escorted up a secret place I never knew existed! Did you know that there were bedrooms upstairs in the plane. That there was even an UPSTAIRS in the plane. My lady was resting well and felt better..I became my silly self and managed to do some dance or the other while the flight attendants who were up there laughed.

Me: Dang this is some cool stuff up here! I never knew this existed!

Them: Now you know you’re special because you got the info girl!

We laughed about the very strange passenger who walked up to me talking thinking that I was one of the flight attendants she spoke to earlier

Passenger: I know you

Me: Uh uh, no you don’t. I don’t know you!

We laughed because this passenger had done this prior with someone else. Strange.

As I left the plane after we landed, Troye and the entire team thanked me and I was surprised to get a message through my website from Troye updating me about my lady. She was doing better and it was what we thought it was. I am so thankful that Troye displayed so much grace and gratitude.

No-one is ever ALL good or ALL bad and we sometimes don’t realize just how much goes into doing a certain job. I watched those flight attendant busting sweat balls in the back of the plane and I decided to provide comic relief….I appreciate the work they do because at this stage in my life, I would not want to do it. Some of these flight attendants were much older and while I know they must love what they do, I cannot help to think if it is a MUST for them…that they cannot survive without the income. They worked hard to make our 14 and 15 hour trips palatable. In light of all the fallout from a situation where we only know one side of the story, I think it is is important that we see the other side. I think it is important that we remember that we are not always ON and there are times when we too might err…let’s build a coalition where #thisiswhatateamlookslike