OCTOBER 27, 2015
Happy Birthday To Me!
I sit here on the eve of my 47th birthday – feeling pensive and philosophical.
How did I get here? 47? I remember being 4!!
Where did the time go?
What have I done with my Life?
Have I done my best?
I’ve always loved birthdays. My earliest memory is that of celebrating my 3rd birthday. An extravagant fiesta put on by my still naïve mother - who thought putting on a kids’ birthday party would be a piece of cake ha! And speaking of cake – I remember my first glimpse of that Princess cake, alongside a wishing well one.
A Fairytale birthday indeed.
I had my friends, my family and loads of presents, and I was Princess for the Day.
I think my love of birthdays was sealed that day.
Birthdays meant cake - preferably vanilla with butter cream frosting, candles flowers, balloons , presents and parties. Celebrating with family and dear friends. Celebrating life and love.
Today, I’ve come to the realization that, yes, though these are all wonderful, my birthday wish list looks a little different.
I wish for a Peaceful World, where there is no War, no violence.
Where parents no longer see the need to escape their homeland in search of a better, safer life for their children.
Where children can arrive into their new homeland safely, and not washed ashore on a distant, foreign land.
I wish for a World where we live in harmony with the Earth.
Where we honor and respect Mother Nature, and the natural cycle of Life.
Where we can freely honor the Divine in our Lives.
I wish for a World where people have access to adequate medical care. Where they are treated with dignity and respect. Where they are treated as human beings, with bodies, minds and spirits and healthcare is tailored to their needs.
I wish for a World where all children will have access to an education, one that honors their unique learning style and provides a safe environment for them to evolve into their best selves.
I realized that as I get older, I feel less of a need for presents, and more of a need for PRESENCE.
I feel less of a need to receive gifts, and more of a need to give.
To give to my family - pure and complete Love. Love and acceptance of who they are, and what they mean to me.
To give to my husband deep abiding Love and gratitude for allowing me to evolve into this Butterfly, and for blowing air beneath my Wings so I can fly.
To gift my children with my complete presence, and deep gratitude for having chosen me as their Mama. They will be the whispers my heart will leave on this Earth, and I’d like those whispers to be strong and kind, and honest and true.
To gift my friends with health and happiness and peace. They are the family my soul has chosen. Bound not by blood, but by shared love of life, and celebrating the little things that bring us joy.
So, tomorrow I will give thanks for the lessons learned.
For the presence of Family and good Friends.
For Faith that has sustained me through trials, tribulations and triumphs.
For flowers – roses and orchids that bring me joy.
For Sunrises and Sunsets and Full Moons, and eyes that allow me to see these and a heart that has allowed me to appreciate all this and so much more.
And, yes, I will eat Cake – Vanilla with butter cream frosting or maybe a deep dark German chocolate.
And, maybe, just maybe, I’ll get me some birthday balloons. Cause…. Some things never change.
I LOVE BIRTHDAYS!!!
September 25, 2015
Grace under Pressure = Courage?
As I sat in the Departure Lounge of our International Airport, a part of me wanted to pick up my bags and head back out to the comfort and safety of the outside.
My heart beat with a curious blend of excrement and apprehension, of dread and exhilaration.
I was a bag of mixed emotions.
Sometime ago I had written an article on my journey through and to Bravery.
Today, it had come to me that in addition to me being brave, I also had to have been courageous.
Contrary to what is commonly thought, they are NOT the same
The dictionary defines bravery as showing no fear of difficult things.
Courage, on the other hand, is described as quality of mind that enables a person to face difficulty without fear.
So, which of these had I exhibited????
My mind spun around in circles.
Then it hit me. I had been both to some extent.
After several months of soul-searching and planning and listening to my heart, I had made the difficult decision to leave.
To leave the comfort and safety of home, of a well-established practice, of a safety net of close-knit family and friends.
Here I was, willingly, leaving all this behind, to fly off to the unknown.
To act upon what I knew, deep down, I was meant to do. There were no words to explain the deep conviction that this was indeed part of my Soul’s journey.
And then I realized, that, in fact, courage had been patterned to me all of my life.
I had come from a family of beautiful, outspoken, courageous women.
Women like my maternal grandmother who had left her small village, as a teenager, to seek a better life. She would meet and fall deeply in love with a man 10 years her senior, and together they would raise a family of 10 children, and countless grandchildren, and great-grandchildren
They had little material riches, but were blessed richly with a deep Faith in God, family love and togetherness, and the knowledge that hard work never killed anyone, and that love of your fellowman was key to a great person’s success.
Mum, as she was fondly called, was a great baker and I can still remember the smell of freshly baked bread from her ovens. Bread that was sold from that same kitchen, along with soda pop, to make ends meet.
She raised her 10 children, suffered the loss of her 11 th child as a toddler, took in grandchildren when asked to, raising them as her own.
There was wisdom imparted from her mouth, about any and everything.
She was wise, she was intuitive, and she was the essence of Love and Courage.
Three of their children would be awarded OBE’s from HRH Queen Elizabeth 11!!
My parents, too, had patterned courage to me.
Both teachers by profession, they would make, what seemed like a bad decision by so many.
When they decided to leave the perceived comfort, safety and security of their Government teaching jobs to enter the world of Business, they had never studied business, they did not have MBA’s, but both felt that with good, old-fashioned commonsense, along with the deep desire to provide a better, more stable living for their family, they would be successful.
And so they were when they established a thriving business in fabric retail.
Several years later, they would plunge into another uncharted world, when they built what would be the first of three hotels.
They were not hoteliers, but felt that our island needed hotels providing a World class facility with a Caribbean flair, and this they did! . (www.baygardensresorts.com).
What courage; to learn a whole new way of doing business, of being in this World.
I saw courage when my aunt had to face the sudden death of her husband of over 50 years.
Despite her heartbreak, she pulled herself together to be the pillar for her children, for her siblings, for us all.
She had to learn to be on her own, to smile despite her pain, to let the tears fall from her heart instead of her eyes.
I can only pray to have half of her courage.
Courage, shown by my dear friend who faced the diagnosis of her cancer with grace, and with faith.
Her diagnosis came in the midst of her dealing with her husband’s critical illness.
She’d had to fight with everything she had to beat this, and to come through as a stronger, wiser and even more beautiful soul.
So, in hindsight, I had always seen Courage patterned in my Life.
I knew no other way to be, to do….
And so, as my flight was called, I walked out to the tarmac, boarded my flight and breathed deeply.
It would be alright.
I was simply following in the footsteps of those wise souls who had molded me into the person seated in seat 14 A.
And as the plane ascended, I soaked in the beautiful sights of my sweet St. Lucia. My last view was of my majestic Pitons capped by a puff of white cloud.
I smiled. It would all be okay.
August 27, 2015
One small act...
I’ve never considered myself to be a particularly brave person.
Risk taking was certainly not particularly high up on my bucket list.
So here I was, on a chilly June evening, sitting in Napa Valley, having dinner with an amazing group of women.
We had started out as strangers at the beginning of a six month Mastermind program, and had now become friends, Soul Sisters.
At this weekend retreat, we’d laughed, shed tears of joy and sadness, and shared parts of ourselves that perhaps no-one knew existed.
In fact we had opened up to the deepest parts of ourselves that WE had never realized existed.
That evening, I felt raw, opened inside out, yet exhilarated and strangely at peace with what was happening. I felt truly alive!
I sat back, took in a deep breath of gratitude, and reflected on the journey that had led me here, and into the lives of these women.
Here we were - mothers, wives, businesswomen.
The mother whose firstborn had tragically died of a preventable illness.
The sister whose baby brother had been killed shortly after his College graduation.
The interior designer who had far more potential than she realized.
The fitness and lifestyle coaches, bestselling authors and event planners – all successful in their fields.
We were all women - businesswomen and mothers, on the verge of redesigning our businesses and our lives.
And, there I was, this Family Physician from St. Lucia, standing out like a sore thumb.
I was not American, a Medical Doctor, and older than the others.
I had survived mothering two teenage boys and my last child was already midway through high school.
So many differences, yet so many similarities.
Upon reflection, I realized that, in actual fact, I had to have been Brave!
What a revelation; that I had had to execute several acts of bravery to bring me to this point.
Act 1 - when I acknowledged to myself that I was no longer satisfied with providing healthcare to my patients under the current system.
This traditional system was not working; not for my patients and not for me.
I could no longer practice medicine as an Art; it seemed to be pure Science.
I wanted to put the heart and soul back into Medicine. I needed to….
I realized that if I wanted to be the change that I wanted to be in my part of the World, I would need to take a leap of faith, of bravery, and do something different.
Acknowledging this took immense courage on my part and even more courage to voice it.
Act 2 - sees me, on a New Years Eve , making the spontaneous decision to enroll in an Integrative Health Coaching Course.
As I pressed send on my laptop, it hit me! What had I done?
How was I going to fit this in, on top of everything else I was doing - Family Physician, Wife, Mother, Businesswoman, Daughter and Friend. Was this bravery? Or madness?
Whichever you may feel, I can tell you, it was one of my best acts. I was introduced to a new World, a world of treating patients as a whole, versus simply disease management, a world of providing true and complete Wellness. Of seeing patients as a Whole and optimizing their wellness by integrating health of body, mind and spirit.
This felt right. I was starting to put the Soul back into the practice of Medicine.
Act 3 - leads me to into the World of Online Business with a new view on Marketing and Branding, of a new kind of Leadership. Of using my intuition, of speaking my truth, and finding my voice.
My brave new World of learning how to design websites, and landing pages, how to use social media , of newsletters and blogging .
So here I was, this Family Physician of 23 years, immersed in this new world, which forced me to think differently, to look at life from a new vantage point.
Act 4 - takes me totally out of my comfort zone and finds me in Napa Valley with this group of women.
Me - the Doctor from the Caribbean sitting around a table with a diverse group of women.
We all had our unique story and life paths which had led us here, but we were all dedicated to bringing a deeper connection into our lives, our families, our businesses, our selves.
We had forged a deep connection amongst us.
We had all embraced our acts of bravery, as we opened up to each other, shared our stories, supported each other as we cried, as we had breakthroughs and AHA moments … and so much more.
They’d taught me to love what I do, to love who I was and to embrace the new ME I was becoming.
As I sat back and looked around at these amazing women, my heart swelled with gratitude that my one small act of bravery, one small decision to live my truth had led me to this moment.
I felt peaceful, content, and smiled as I wondered what Act 5 would bring...
I knew I could do whatever I wanted . I could be BRAVE.
I had to; for it is the Brave ones that will indeed be the change we wish to see in this World.
July 1, 2015
Why This Family Physician Became A Belly Dancing, Bachata Loving, Seeker Of JOY
I’d always known I’d be a Doctor; that my calling was to heal, to nurture and to care for my fellowman.
There was this deep unwavering conviction that was at my core.
And so it was, 23 years ago, I became a Family Physician.
An old-fashioned one, who put patient care first, and cared for their bodies, minds, and even their spirit.
I’d been taught that Medicine was a science and that was how I approached my work.
In a cool, scientific, matter of fact way.
Somewhere along the way, something felt off.
I was dealing with people; humans with hearts and souls, with thoughts, feelings, desires and dreams.
How could I be matter of fact as I presented them with life altering diagnoses? Of cancer, of chronic illnesses, of life paths suddenly changed.
Each one of them had their unique story, their families, and I had to deal with all of this – in a scientific, matter of fact way?
This was not a game of science. This was Life. This was Real.
I slowly lost my zeal for this career, and became soul weary.
Something had to change.
On a whim, I signed up for a belly dance class. As I learned to hip sway and shimmy and to use my hands and shoulders, something shifted.
I found a new sense of self-love - love of my full hips and Caribbean bottom and all its perceived flaws.
I learned how to truly listen to the music, each strain stirring my soul.
I need those full hips, strong legs and stable core to move to this sensual art form.
And so, for 60 minutes twice a week, I left the scientific world behind and used the other half of my brain.
There was no thought of patient management, or disease, or plans for the future.
There was just me, here and now, my body shaking, swaying and shimmying.
And what a joy it was. I lived for these classes.
As with everything, life took over, the course ended, and I went back to using the other side of my brain.
In the coming years, there were even more diagnoses to be given. And it hit even closer to home - family members, close friends.
I attended far too many patients at their end of life crossings, and perhaps, as a way of coping, the scientific brain simply took over.
Perhaps, it was easier to do so.
Enter Latin dance class. After being enticed by a colleague to join, I plunged right in.
And so I learned the basics of Salsa
1, 2, 3 - 4 is silent
5, 6, 7 - 8 is silent
LA style, Cuban style, cumbia step, cucaracha, ladies right turn.
I learned that the man will usually lead, and that I must simply follow!
“Just let go”, I was told so many times.
“Stop thinking, just feel.”
Leave the scientific brain behind. Surrender.
What bliss – no need to make a decision, or plan or diagnosis.
I simply followed my partners’ lead and I danced.
Week 3 – we learn Bachata, what I like to refer to as the blues of Latin dance.
I felt alive as I moved to the sweet, soul stirring strains.
1, 2, 3, tap
4, 5, 6, tap
Front, back, sideways, turns and twists
Always being led, allowing my creative brain to take over.
And as I moved to the sweet, soul stirring strains, I felt it - JOY ??.
It was as if a bottle of fine champagne had been popped open inside, and there were these tiny bubbles of JOY coursing through my body.
There must be a lesson here I thought.
I realized that Life was meant to be lived fully, to think AND to feel.
To use both sides of my brain to create a full, well-lived Life.
And so I chose to dance the Bachata of Life.
There would still be diagnoses to be given, and treatment plans to be decided, but I could do this with as much compassion, and caring and feeling as I could.
So together, I will dance with my patients, my family, myself.
I will dance with Life.
And as with any new dance, there will be missteps, but the music will play on and there WILL be moments of JOY – only if we allow ourselves to surrender, to allow ourselves to be led by the Great Divine.
1, 2, 3 tap
4, 5, 6 tap