The Sounds of Silence

After the tragedy in Florida, I see + hear a lot of other words: soapboxes, dialogue, love, hate, anger, bullying, acceptance, and rejection.  I see people not necessarily speaking to each other, so much as writing strongly worded diatribe on social media, hiding behind their screens, not actually hearing each other- just wanting to make their point.  As Simon & Garfunkel said, “People talking without speaking, people hearing without listening.”

What I also see is that my voice is not the one that needs to be heard right now- though there are many voices that do need to be heard.

So I listen, I ponder, I consider…before I decide how to speak.  For now, a moment of silence from me means that I could use this platform to lift up another voice, someone I believe needs to be heard.

This incredible young woman, Emma Gonzalez, represents a new generation- who is fed up with the shootings. You may not agree with her, but her voice deserves to be heard, by virtue of what she has survived.  After all, she is from a generation different from many of us: she grew up practicing “active shooter” drills at school, wondered if her classmates might someday cause harm, and now grappling with the reality that her classmate did kill.  Her reality is different from many of ours, her voice (and the voices of her classmates) should be louder than any others.  And we, as the responsible adults (theoretically) in this situation, should be listening- really listening, displaying maturity and kindness, realizing that these young adults have already withstood more carnage than many of us may in a lifetime.  Though they are young, this kind of experience changes people; ask anyone of our Veterans, ask physicians, ask those in war-torn parts of the world, those who have lost a son or daughter (and many others).  Senseless death and destruction (and witnessing such) will change someone for the rest of their lives.

So, let’s take a breath.  I think we all agree that there should be no more school shootings.  We don’t reach solutions by screaming at each other and tearing each others’ eyes out. But something must change. We cannot expect different results if we change nothing, after all: nothing in life works this way.

Here is Emma’s speech.  She is passionate (of course), and I believe she deserves to be heard (whether you agree or not), because she stands where many of us have not: she is a survivor.

The other words I find particularly poignant at this time are the lyrics from Simon & Garfunkel’s prophetic song, The Sounds of Silence, the relevancy of which cannot be denied:

[Verse 1]
Hello darkness, my old friend
I’ve come to talk with you again

Because a vision softly creeping
Left its seeds while I was sleeping
And the vision that was planted in my brain
Still remains
Within the sound of silence

[Verse 2]
In restless dreams I walked alone
Narrow streets of cobblestone
‘Neath the halo of a street lamp
I turned my collar to the cold and damp
When my eyes were stabbed by
The flash of a neon light
That split the night
And touched the sound of silence

[Verse 3]
And in the naked light I saw
Ten thousand people, maybe more
People talking without speaking
People hearing without listening

People writing songs that voices never share
And no one dared
Disturb the sound of silence

[Verse 4]
“Fools”, said I, “You do not know
Silence like a cancer grows
Hear my words that I might teach you
Take my arms that I might reach you”
But my words, like silent raindrops fell
And echoed in the wells of silence

[Verse 5]
And the people bowed and prayed
To the neon god they made

And the sign flashed out its warning
In the words that it was forming

And the sign said:
“The words of the prophets are
Written on the subway walls
And tenement halls
And whispered in the sound of silence.”

Listen more, talk less. When you listen, you learn. When you talk you're repeating what you already know.
For a laugh:
Grumpy Cat | I WISH MORE PEOPLE WERE FLUENT IN SILENCE | image tagged in memes,grumpy cat,silence | made w/ Imgflip meme maker
pinterest//mylittlejourney ☼ ☾♡
 

Let’s listen, hear each other, and find the ways we can make change together.

xoxo

Lauren

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Whiskey-Mint Cough Syrup

This cold/flu season is rough, for sure.

We all have colds at my house right now, but back at Christmastime, my mom made some DIY cough syrup that not only tastes good, but it also uses up all those leftover candy canes from the holidays.

[amd-zlrecipe-recipe:2]

Obligatory disclaimer:

 

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Seeds and Weeds

When my grandma passed away, I created seed packets with Forget-Me-Not seeds inside, for anyone and everyone to plant in her honor.  She loved flowers, and I believe she would have loved the physical and metaphorical overlays between planting new seeds at the time of her passing. Here’s a pic:

 

Now, I love flowers, but I have no patience.  I plant seeds, but I immediately want to see growth.  When a week passes, and I still see no results, I become impatient.  I would be the worst farmer- and indeed, I have no (living) plants in my house.  I am the palliative care of gardeners- I gently escort them out of this life.  I joke about having a “Gray Thumb.”  I fully intend to plant these seeds, but it’s anyone’s guess if they’ll live.

My mother is the opposite- patient, steady, consistent.  She has lots of beautiful plants in her house.  They flourish in her presence- no matter where on earth we’ve lived.  I think it’s a little disgusting that they just continue to look fabulous amazing that she is able to nurture, so effortlessly.  She will have fields of Forget-Me-Nots.

I pondered this.  Part of being a good gardener is balance.   It is, in part, letting nature take its course, without interfering too much (again, very hard for me to do): don’t unearth the seeds to see if they’re sprouting, don’t overwater, etc.  Another part (equally important) is not neglecting- don’t forget to water and fertilize, don’t forget to weed the garden, etc.  The last part is to enjoy the harvest- enjoy with family and friends, share the seeds with other gardeners, perhaps store away for the winter.

Obviously, I’m not talking about gardening.  When thinking about the garden of my life, I oftentimes get sidetracked by a variety of different “seeds” and “weeds.”  By focusing on which things I would like to see reach full bloom, I can better decide which seeds to plant (or not), and which things are plants vs. weeds.  By thinking about my end goals and purposes, it becomes much more clear which of the “weeds” that come with everyday life require weeding out, which plants may need more attention/water/fertilizing, and which plants needs a little more or less sunshine.

This week, I need to answer a few questions about my garden of life:

  1. Which plants do I want to see in full bloom in 10, 20, 30 years?  What are things that I want to be able to say I have done by the end of my life?
  2. What are the “Weeds” in my life?  How can I get rid of them?
  3. Am I overnurturing or undernurturing any seeds I have already planted?  Can I restore balance?
  4. Are there new seeds in my life I need to plant, but haven’t realized yet?
  5. How will I pass these seeds on to future generations?
  6. How can I enjoy the harvest, and with whom will I enjoy it?

 

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They tried to bury us, they didn't know we were seeds #quotes #motivation…

xoxo

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If at first…

Update: The Blackwell Boutique is open, for anyone who may be curious!

The weekend was as busy as the week, so sorry for the late post!  My Christmas tree is still up, too, if it’s any consolation.  It is almost February, and this is the time of year I find myself asking, “Is January over yet?” I’ve been working all month toward a goal or resolution, and the weight of carrying longterm goals can feel crushing around this time.

January 2018 has been a little tough.  After all the resolutions (and inherent failures and successes), curveballs, nasty GI bugs, loss, travel, sleeplessness, and stress- I’m exhausted.  What a whirlwind- I’m left feeling disoriented, exhausted, and like I’ve lost something- or it’s been taken.  I’m hoping that though 2018 comes in like a lion, maybe it will go out like a lamb…?

In fact, there are certain goals in which I feel I am not really succeeding at all.  I have been tempted every week of this month with quitting those goals and moving on or finding an “easier” way (read: does not yield results).  Yet, I have been told repeatedly not to give up, from multiple important people in my life.

I need a breath of fresh air.  Not necessarily so that I can quit or pretend the stress doesn’t exist; rather, I need some space, some perspective, to create a plan of attack.

My lessons from the month of January:

  1. Don’t take for granted the blessings in your life, when life is inherently impermanent.
  2. We need to allow ourselves good, high quality rest, so that we can kick butt tomorrow.
  3. Celebrate your support system, your cheering squad.  Those are your people, your tribe. Love them hard.
  4. If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.  Don’t give up.
yoga on beach silhouette More

Reading Brene Brown's Rising Strong

xoxo

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The Blackwell Boutique

When I wrote last week about the “best laid plans,” I didn’t realize what a week I was in for.  Hours after publishing my post, my grandma passed away- and all those plans from this week turned on their head.  Of those plans, I had planned to make a big reveal today.  Today was THE day- the first anniversary of the Women’s March, which I’d chosen purposefully for my reveal. I realize there were some politics at the March that everyone did not agree with, but in the unifying spirit of furthering our female-positive cause, this felt like the right day for my female-positive next move.

However, being that I am still out of pocket for a few days, that agenda is moving slower than I’d planned.  Honestly, it’s good- I have been healing and bonding with family during a sad time- much needed.  This week felt so busy, so crazy- like I was being pulled in 500 directions at once- and it is disorienting to lose such a foundational family member.

I toyed with postponing this next step, but that didn’t seem right. I don’t have everything as I’d perfectly planned- but I think that’s ok.

Today, I am launching The Blackwell Boutique- an Etsy shop.  Each item is crafted with you all in mind- how to inspire and seek self-acceptance, self-worth, true happiness, loyalty with each other and ourselves, and restfulness.  I don’t have pictures of every product with me while travelling, but here’s a little teaser:

The Shattered Glass Ceiling Set

It comes in brown, green, and clear glass.  Each purchase includes a wallet card with an inspiring quote, to have with you wherever you go.

Many other jewelry sets will be listed, in addition to my own line of natural/organic skin care and beauty, when I return home.  In the meantime, you are free to check out the limited pics I currently have at:

https://www.etsy.com/shop/TheBlackwellBoutique

and I will update here when I post more, or feel free to check back!

xoxo

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Fight the Good Fight

Last week, we talked about learning flexibility as a means to resilience and fighting against burn out.  This week, we take that flexibility one step further, from learning flexibility with our plans, and apply flexibility to our perspective.

It’s easy to criticize others, isn’t it?  It is easy to form a snap judgement about someone or something, and dig in our heels.

It’s arguably one of the most basic human instincts, and we see it manifest in every facet of our lives.  There are platforms placing entire generations (ahem, millennials), political parties, races, classes, and gender in disparaging light.  I’ve heard and seen people roll their eyes when speaking about their younger siblings, the new colleague at work, the new student in the class, the new person at the gym, the “kids” in college/medical school/residency.  If I’m being completely honest, I’ve probably been that person rolling her eyes a few times in my life.

It’s easy to generalize about “kids these days,” and Lord knows, I am still, more often than not, stereotyped into the group of “kids these days.”

Let’s be honest for a minute, though: why are we criticizing these people, rather than helping them?  They are inheriting the world from us- and unless we take an interest in their education and inspiring them to pursue a better world, there will be no one to continue our work.  Progress is a good thing, yet there are the stubborn vestiges of older generations, who do not wish to evolve.

The world will evolve onward, the millennials will inherit the earth (as will the generations ever after).   We can either fight a fruitless fight against the future, or acknowledge its inevitability- and help shape it.

Application: Do you remember a time when a snap judgement was made about you?

I do.  I want to share why this blog is so important to me, for just a minute, a true story.  I recall as an intern, I was absolutely an outcast.  I didn’t have true friends within my own program, and heard the comments made behind my back.

“She’ll never make it,” many hospital staff members said.

“She’s probably sleeping with her attendings, she is too pretty to be a doctor,” another hospital staff member said (I was married).

One of my colleagues shared with me that the program “didn’t actually want me; they got “stuck” with me,” and detailed the other candidates which were more desirable/ranked higher.

One attending told me that I wasn’t cut out to be a neurologist– on my first day of my intern year.

They had decided, perhaps because of my appearance or apprehension/shyness, that I didn’t have what it takes.

For the years of my residency, I often questioned why I bothered fighting against these judgements, and I toyed with quitting.  I had been told I wasn’t good enough by so many people in my life at that point, I began to believe them.

Then one day, I was told by a female medical student that she knew she wanted to apply to my program BECAUSE of me, because I was there.  She shared with me that I was her inspiration, that she knew she could do it BECAUSE of me.

That was the moment I knew why I was here, why it was important to keep fighting the stereotypes, the lies, the snap judgements.  I was (and am) here to inspire the future generations of young women, to cheer them along. I wish, in my loneliest, most frustrated moments, I had been told that there were other women right there with me, cheering me on- so I want to fill that void for others (hence, this blog).  Remember: we may hear a thousand times “No,” but we only need one “Yes.”

I choose to leave a positive mark on this world (even if it is just my small corner of the world), and I will not quit.

Stay tuned for a special reveal next Sunday, which I hope will inspire more to follow their hearts and their dreams.  In the meantime, reassess some snap judgements you may have made about others, rethink how we treat our youth.  Find a way to inspire the future generations in your corner of the world.

Fight the good fight, finish the race.

xoxo

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Of Mice & (Wo)men

“Even the best laid plans of mice and men/ oft go awry.”  – John Steinbeck, Of Mice and Men, 1937

Anyone else have a tough week coming up??

The way this week is scheduled, I feel trepidation similar to what I imagine it must feel like before “The Gauntlet” episode from one of those reality T.V. shows (I can almost hear the terrible music cuing up now).

Between my hubby and I we both have early mornings, late nights, council meetings, school functions, staff issues, and night shifts- it’s a scheduling Olympics.  As a wife, mom, employee, and friend, I tried to prepare in every way possible for this week.  Meals are prepped, kid bedtimes/handoffs between hubby and I are scheduled, meetings are scheduled with times blocked, new office space set up as much as possible, phone dates scheduled.  My loved ones put up with an awful lot of scheduling.

Yet even with the best planning, some things fall through the cracks.  It’s going to be absolutely crazy.  As much as my Type A side wants it- this week will not go as planned.  In addition to the extra scheduled events, there are going to be unexpected things cropping up, unforeseen events.  This usually centers around the kids, such as a meltdown because there are no green socks, someone wanted almond butter rather than peanut butter, and so on.  There are some days when I am jealous of my hubby’s early morning shifts: he gets up, gets dressed, and goes straight to work.  How peaceful it must be, without my haranguing the children to “get dressed, mommy’s late,” or packing of the backpacks with approximately one million items that must not be forgotten (lest I suffer a disapproving tone of admonishment from teachers), or even the coordination of everyone’s meals/morning routine (dogs included).

It’s enough that I feel that same trepidation here, on what would otherwise be a normal Sunday night.

I don’t think I am the only one.

Women: how much additional psychological stress do we endure in our nurturing roles?  It’s immeasurable- but we feel it.  It adds up over days, weeks, months, and years.  There was an interesting article in Huffington Post last summer about this additional psychological burden, here.  We wouldn’t trade our lives, but we are exhausted.

For this reason, it’s important to learn flexibility.  Even the best laid plans will often go awry- written many, many years ago, but still holds true today.  To the best of my ability, I am going to attempt flexibility this week: expect that there will be detours this week. Whether on vacation, staying home, parenting, working, or whatever: remember that the tasks we complete in each day are many more than what is written in our planners.  Give yourself permission to be flexible, and be kind when things go awry.

xoxo

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My MIA Fairy Godmother

I have always been the type to make a New Year’s Resolution.  They have ranged from weight loss and cooking better food to spiritual/personal/career goals.  When the clock strikes midnight, I start my resolution, which I hope will make me a better, new, and improved version of myself.  Yet, what changes between December 31st and January 1st?  My life is the same on January 1st as it was on December 31st.

In fact, there are very few things within our locus of control that we can change.  I think this is why January 1st can be such a source of disappointment for so many people.  By now, the magic of the holidays has worn off; the “Christmas Miracle” for which we so fervently wished may or may not have come to pass.  The lights, glitter, and music of the holidays so nostalgic and celebratory one week ago are now growing old, tiresome, and perhaps migraine-inducing.

As we go back to work (I realize some of you worked over the holidays- hopefully you can rest soon!), and kids go back to school, and we continue our routine- we find that our circumstances are unchanged from 2017.  No magic occurs at midnight on New Year’s; no fairy Godmother waved her wand to transform things into what I perceive is a happier, healthier, better version of me.

We don’t have a Fairy Godmother, and yes, we are all living the lives we created for ourselves.  That doesn’t mean we have to settle.

Wanna change?  Change your perspective (which is fully within your locus of control).  Make small steps towards change each day- and expect there to be difficulty.  Expect challenges.  Expect setbacks- and forgive yourself.  If you fail, fail forward- learn something from it. Find something that gives you the sparkle in your eye, and run towards it, arms open, and fight for it.  You are a warrior, and this is your life.

Don’t. Give. Up.

 

Image may contain: text

xoxo

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Red Velvet Cake (Dye Free!)

I love Red Velvet Cake for the holidays.  I don’t love the obscene amount of red dye, though it is beautiful.  After researching vegetable dyes, I was not thrilled with the light pink color that natural, store bought dyes gave.  This is a Red Velvet Cake, not a Pink Velvet Cake.

This cake starts like all good cakes: with butter.

Creaming the butter, oil, and sugar.

Inspired by Carrot Cake, I wondered if adding beets to the cake could give a deeper shade of red, but I didn’t want it to taste like it had beets in it.

Pureeing the beets gave a smooth consistency, but leaving them slightly minced gave the reddest color. The beets seem to give it a fabulous moistness, which my Grandma Helen achieved by using 2 cups of vegetable oil in this cake (!!!).  In that sense, perhaps this cake is a slightly lighter version??

Add the puree to the creamed butter/sugar mixture, plus the beet juice.

OMG the cocoa.  It makes it a richer red color.

Separate into two pans:

Mmmmm.  Freshly baked.

This gorgeous cake plate is milk glass, which is perfect to offset the red cake and creamy white frosting.

Mmmmm.

This cake recipe could easily be made gluten free, by swapping the small amount of white flour for all coconut flour, too.

[amd-zlrecipe-recipe:1]

 

xoxo

 

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Christmas Treasures

Good morning!  I’m up early, with a few moments to myself before the craziness of Christmas takes on a life of its own.

Yesterday, my oldest son and I baked all manner of things, some of which I will spotlight in recipes this week.  My hubby and I sat near the Christmas tree with my mom, holding warm mugs of Apple Cider Hot Toddy.  On Saturday, my hubby and I took the kids out to dinner, where we watched snow falling peacefully beyond the smooth glass window.  Yet, despite these precious moments, my heart wasn’t in it.

The holiday spirit has all but disappeared within me, the wind taken out of my sails by the sadness of last week.  I worked hard and quickly to give a very sweet patient a diagnosis, with hopes of cure, before I went on holiday.  The patient came to me with a common referral: an abnormal MRI of the brain.

After many calls to insurance providers and schedulers, I had successfully coordinated the necessary tests to happen within the next 48 hours (no small feat- insurance companies play Scrooge in the Christmas Story of a physician).  Within 48 hours, the diagnosis was clearer, but bleaker.  I called the patient with his results, and we agreed to get a few other opinions.  All of the opinions were in agreement with mine: it was a rare diagnosis (about 1:1,000,000).  Though it was sensational for the medical world, it would be devastating for the patient.  My heart broke; there was no known cure.  It was a fatal and rapidly progressive disease, and this person would likely pass away within a matter of months.

My hand paused on the door handle; a rush of trepidation had stopped me.  I was acutely aware that the moment I went through that door, I could never go back.  I would forever change their lives, and in fact, sentence this person to death, just four days before Christmas.  I broke the news.  There were questions, tears, anger, guilt, frustration, disbelief, and despair- which I expected.  As I had expected and done for other patients with grave diagnoses, I stayed as long as they needed and answered all questions, gave every bit of information I had, and outlined the path forward.  Still, tears stung my eyes, but I blinked them back.

They left the office, filled with sadness and despair, but they have not left my heart.  I have prayed for that patient and family every day since they left.  Though trained to give the facts and maintain distance from our patients- I would be lying if I said there aren’t those who work their way into my heart.  It doesn’t escape me that this patient’s children will have their parent ripped away from them soon.  The impermanence of life is felt so fresh for this holiday; not a single day is promised or given to any of us.

With that in mind, enjoy your real treasures: be it your family, a significant other, a cherished pet, or a tradition, activity, or restfulness- cherish this day.  We don’t know what tomorrow, next month, or next year will hold.  Take pictures.  Eat the cake.  Savor the smell/sight/feel of your holiday.

 

 

xoxo

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