Get Over Yourself. The Sooner You Can Live.

“You cannot help men permanently by doing for them what they could and should do for themselves.” 
― A.L.A. Himmelwright


Being ill allows the perfect opportunity for self-reflection. Before you start rolling your eyes and saying "A-G-A-I-N Ghabbie!" Hear me out. I know these past few weeks I've been publishing a lot of posts related to self-reflection, kindness and all the happy, go lucky emotions that you categorize with the hippie era, but trust me there's a valid reason for me doing so.

You see, I've been often reminded that I am less than six months away (yes 6 months) from sitting my final examinations for the Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery component of my M.B.B.S. degree. Once successful, I'll don a long white coat with the University of The West Indies Coat of Arms emblazoned on the left breast. My father for sure would be ecstatic for one and down-right proud; and he would have every right to be seeing he's been the steam behind this little train, ensuring that although he would have liked at least one of his 3 offspring to follow in his footsteps and studied law, he would be free from tuition.

With any career path one chooses, one thing is a guarantee; you will encounter a fair share of difficult people and challenges. How you respond to these people, will determine whether or not you're growing as an individual or remaining stagnant. Maturation is like a rite of passage, with each new day and each trial, you're shaped in some way or the other into the person you're meant to be, well for the most part. Sometimes we fail those trials, and that's alright as long as you realize your mistake and aim to improve whenever you're faced with another.

This post will shed some light on remaining rooted in one's morals, beliefs and values as well as realizing the need for a break from the world and overall restoration of mind, body and spirit.

1. ROOTED

root1ruːt/verb
past tense: rooted; past participle: rooted


  • cause (a plant or cutting) to grow roots.

  • (of a plant or cutting) establish roots. 

  • establish deeply and firmly.

Growing up, we all would have been exposed to a few elements at some point or the other. Some like me, would have been introduced to God and taken to church at a young age, others may not have been introduced at an early age, but came to know God later in their pubescent or young adult years. We all would have been taught the difference between right and wrong either in the home setting or at an educational institution at which we were enrolled; we would have learned either through mere observation or personal experience, the effects of alcohol or other substances on our decision making and senses. We all would have had that moment where we wished a simple snap of our fingers or click of our heels would erase some of our poor decisions that led to embarrassing outcomes. But let's be honest, would it help? Would we have learned a lesson? Would we be more appreciative of all we were taught and guided against by those who love us?
No it wouldn't. I've never personally seen the natural skyscrapers that are not only beautiful but the main inspiration behind this segment of the post. The giant sequoia  or the Sequoiadendron giganteum, is a massive tree. Have you ever taken the time to look at one? We have Google now so there's no real excuse not to-so be sure to Google it after reading this post. Well the giant sequoia before it becomes such a magnificent piece of creation for us to enjoy must endure a few things and requires certain things in order for it to reach its full potential. Are you seeing where I'm going with this? 

Compare yourself to the giant sequoia; before you're able to shoot up into the heavens, there are certain requirements that must exist. 


Climate Requirements

The sequoia grows naturally ONLY in a 260 mile strip of mixed conifer forest on the Western slope of the Sierra Nevada mountains, between 5,000-7,000 elevation. 
The climate must be just right, for the sequoia to have the best outcome. What specific "climate" requirements must exist for you to reach your full potential? Give it a thought and right it down. For me, I must be able to move freely, have a certain level of independence in order for me to be productive and to excel. For you, it may be, you must have a certain amount of alone time. Are you ensuring that your requirements are met? 


Longevity

The giant sequoia can live for 3,000 years. That's quite a long time, once their specific climate requirements are met. Let's translate this. Once our specific requirements are met, our endurance increases, we have a sense of worth, accomplishment and meanin and our outlook on our future is full of longevity. 

Growth

Interestingly enough, the giant sequoia only reproduces by seeds which sometimes remain in the cone for 20 years; forest fires help to open the cones which then exposes them to the heat of the fire and through the burnt bare soil are they able to grow. Wow. Does it sound familiar? Just like a sequoia, before we can even experience longevity, we must first experience trials and challenges which like the forest fires, exposes us to opportunities to grow. Don't run away from these trials my friend, they exist for our growth. Once this occurs (and it continues throughout our lives), we can reach our full potential. 

Purpose

Besides being gorgeous to view, each giant sequoia needs to produce just one maturing offspring over its lifespan for the species to persist. Our purpose is far greater than that of the sequoia, and once we realise what our purpose is, our daily goals should point towards us fulfilling that purpose over our lifespan. 


2. Renewed

renewrɪˈnjuː/verb
past tense: renewed; past participle: renewed
  •              resume (an activity) after an interruption

  •              give fresh life or strength to.

  •              replace (something that is broken or worn out).
I'm all about renewal; mainly because it is essential for growth and optimum performance. As I reflect on my transition from fourth year into my final year of medical school, I must say I performed the best when my specific requirements were met and when I took the time to pause and to intentionally focus on renewal of my body-my mind and my spiritual life as well as my physical well-being. 

Once an imbalance existed in either area, my performance plummeted, my motivation was practically non-existent and honestly I became overwhelmed by the question "why did I decide to do this (medicine)?" 

My body was begging for me to stop what I was doing, (basically what most of my peers were doing as well) which was flying auto-pilot; and to reconnect firstly with God and then to allow my time in prayer and communion with Him to ignite that spark that was still flickering. 

I was in desperate need of renewal; for 'fresh life and strength' for replacement of negative attitudes and vibes with positive ones and for a break and then to resume my daily obligations for optimum performance. 

This is something I'm still doing as often as the need exists and as healthcare professionals, where we are exposed to so much sorrow and sadness that exists with sickness, we must ensure we are renewed in all aspects of our lives so that we can transfer some strength to our patients and so that our interaction with them is one where we can offer encouragement and hope when they may be unable to see the light. 


3. Restored

restore
rɪˈstɔː/verb 
past tense: restored; past participle: restored


  • bring back or re-establish (a previous right, practice, or situation).

  • return (someone or something) to a former condition, place, or position.

  • repair or renovate (a building, work of art, etc.) so as to return it to its original condition.

  • give (something stolen, taken away, or lost) back to the original owner or recipient.

Restoration is such a beautiful thing. After being exposed to the elements of a sinful existence, we can experience restoration. Finding our way back to our roots, allowing them to lead us to the importance of renewal, we can then emerge restored. Not as we once were but better. Our experiences will allow us to mature and to be re-established. 



Would you allow yourself to remain rooted in your values? Acknowledge the need for renewal of your mind, body and soul and to experience restoration? Let me know in the comments below. 


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Holiday Shopping Guide



With the holidays quickly approaching and all those special people on your list to shop for especially the students, I decided to make a little holiday shopping guide to ensure the students on your list are covered.

If you're a regular visitor to my blog, you would have noticed that there's a new addition to the blog. I've added an Ebates button to the side bar. If you sign up for Ebates using the button, you'll receive $10 and you'll also help me make some money as well once you make a purchase at any of the 600+ stores listed on their site.


1. Noise Canceling Headphones

With a pair of noise canceling headphones, the student on your list won't have an excuse not to study anywhere. Although they are big and bulky and takes you back to the early 90s, these headphones gets the job done and eliminates distraction allowing the student to hone in on their studies. If the Bose is not in your budget, consider these other options; option 1 option 2


2. Exam Review Subscriptions

The student in your life is probably always studying for an exam or contemplating how best to prepare for one. Why not lighten their burden by gifting them a subscription to an exam Question bank or review plan. With programs such as Kaplan, Picmonic, Osmosis and Lecturio on the market you'll be sure to find something to suit regardless of what course their studying. 

Most companies are now offering holiday discounts, so be sure to take advantage of their sales and surprise that student in your life. 







3. Stationery 

With the semester winding down, most students would be on their last leg of stationery supplies. If they're anything like me, they're saving a couple of pens for those final exams and using anything they can find to take notes with in the meantime. Why not do them a favor and stock their stockings with an assortment of pens, post-its, highlighters and pencils. 

Jetpens is one of my favorite online stationery store that offers a wide assortment of pens, paper and pen refills so they don't have to throw away their favorite pen. 



4. Electronics

Like most things, electronics tend to lose their umph. If the student on your list has been lugging around that laptop with the electrical tape around its base that only works with their special touch, why not do them a favor? With Cyber Monday hours away, electronics are usually on sale so a new laptop, iPad or tablet will be less than if you were to purchase it during the year at most retailers. If their laptop is still in tip-top shape, but can use a little protection laptop sleeves, bags or covers are also ideal gift options that won't break the bank. 

Most students prefer digital textbooks but lack the right tools to store them. This is where external hard drives come in handy. A 1TB external hard drive will be more than enough storage for their textbooks, pictures, audio files and anything else they may need to store and transport with ease. Mine works like a charm and is compact enough to make traveling a no-brainer. Look for these at places like Sam's Club, Costco or even Best Buy. 



5. Health, Beauty and Wellness 

While it's easy to look like a zombie as a student, it's even easier to look your best with a few tools. The disadvantage of having to live on a student budget is that typically aesthetics take the back burner mainly because it's not always a priority when you're at the grocery and having to choose between toilet paper or that tube of foundation. 

Let's be realistic here, the last thing on any student's mind is whether or not they remembered to put on eye-liner or foundation before leaving for class or if they remembered to fill their water bottle with lemons. 

A few stocking stuffers that will definitely give you brownie points with that student on your list are things that would ensure they're staying hydrated while they're studying and looking cute all at the same time. These include items such as infusion water bottles, a 6 month subscription to a beauty box that will take the guess work out of shopping for beauty supplies or a gym or meal plan subscription. 



Was this post helpful? Let me know in the comment section below. What are some items you'd like to receive this holiday season? What did I miss?









Note: This is not a sponsored post. I was not asked to mention Ebates or any of the other stores listed in this post.
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Let's Talk About Love

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.” 
― Martin Luther King Jr.A Testament of Hope: The Essential Writings and Speeches

With the onset of fall and the drops in temperature that is to follow, there is a certain level of closeness that tends to occur during this time of the year. Sadly, the world is in a disjointed state and evil is more rampant than ever before. Within the last week, I haven't been able to listen to the radio or scroll through my phone without receiving some notification of another tragedy both locally and internationally. Added to that, school offers its fair share of unrest as well to the pot.

This past week I took the time to be honest with myself regarding my performance during my senior Surgery rotation. I could have done better and studied more. Period. After voicing some of my concerns based on observing the interactions of my colleagues and the messages that are posted in WhatsApp groups that we have, I was saddened once again, because I've realized that medical school has made us professional fakers and all the more better at being selfish.

One may think that being surrounded by the sick and studying medicine would foster an attitude of compassion, love and generosity towards patients and each other. If you've been following KevinMD you would have been surprised by one of the recent articles on Physician suicide where rather than encouraging conversation amongst medical students and persons who are directly affected the medical community is doing their best to keeping things quiet. We encourage our patients to seek counseling when they are feeling depressed, or having thoughts that are not normal, yet we're keeping our feelings, things we've encountered that may have troubled our spirit to ourselves allowing ourselves to become overwhelmed.

It is vital as a student to learn to express yourself so that as a doctor you will be able to cope with the ever changing environment you will be working in. Find the time to encourage healthy communication amongst your peers in a controlled setting to discuss things that may be on your mind, find the time to volunteer if possible and to journal. Something that would allow you to address what you are experiencing.

Here are some ways to ensure you demonstrate more love and less hate towards your colleagues, professors and of course the patients you encounter.

5 WAYS TO SHOW MORE LOVE AND LESS HATE

1. Resource Sharing

Preparation is the key to success and what better way to prepare than ensuring you have the necessary resources for the various courses. 

Some medical school provide their students with notes for the different courses that can be purchased through their University's bookstore. Other schools leaves it up to the students to get the course lectures, textbooks, etc the best way they can. 

In medical school sharing of resources with an open heart, fosters unity within your medical school community and demonstrates a level of professionalism as well. Rather than hoarding material and dispersing it to persons in your circle, try sharing the information you may have received from an upper year with others in your class. After all the goal is for everyone to graduate at the end of the day. 

By practicing good habits now, you're building character not just as a person but as a medical professional as well. Wouldn't you want to be known as the person who was always willing to share his/her resources rather than the miser who sat on what they had, shared nothing with anyone whom everyone kept at arm's length? 


2. Show Concern

As you advance in your medical career, you'll soon learn that the challenges you face change and what you once thought was unbearable or impossible to overcome will soon be a joke in comparison to what you will face. Chances are if you're feeling overwhelmed, defeated and just not sure what to do next, someone else has felt the same way or is now experiencing what you overcame. 

It is good to get into the habit of asking your colleagues, the person you sit next to in lectures, your  lab partner or even the upperclassman who you happen to sit next to in the library on occasion, how they're doing; and mean it. By showing some concern of another's well-being you're getting in touch with your empathic side and of course sharing some of their burden at the same time. 

It's vital to be interested in the well-being of others. We are all struggling with our personal issues and the simple act of showing interest (not to go back and gossip about what was shared with you) in what others are experiencing allows you to work on your listening skills which comes in handy during the clinical years. You may be able to share some things that may have worked for you when you were having a hard time. 

A simple genuine "Hi, how are you doing today?" may be just what someone needs to hear to know that someone cares. 

3. Seek Counseling

Sometimes we're not ready to open up to our colleagues or peers regarding what we're experiencing. Be it a bad grade on an exam, how a consultant made you feel on rounds etc. and this is where counseling comes in. 

Find out whether or not your medical school offers counseling services for its students and sign yourself up. The first step is the hardest but it's definitely worth it in the end. 

With Physician suicide rates skyrocketing worldwide, and with reports of medical student suicide rates on the rise as well, don't feel as though you have to go through things alone. Before you decide to take your own life and miss out on all that you are capable of achieving once you're able to overcome your present fears and challenges, speak to someone about it. Listen to what they have to say and of course pray about your situation and be patient. You're not alone. 

4. Be Mindful

Our attitudes have a big role in how others relate to us. Therefore it is important that you're mindful of your attitude on a day to day basis. 

Every day may not be a good day, but it doesn't mean you have to go around wearing "grumpy pants" all day just because your morning started out on the wrong foot, or your afternoon didn't go as planned. With everything in life, we have a choice. We can either be bitter or we can choose to be happy. 

So you woke up late which now sets your whole day back by an hour; are you going to stay in bed and sulk and waste more time or are you going to decide on making more of an effort tomorrow? 

I encourage you to make every effort to be a bit more mindful of your attitude on a daily basis. Make a note of how productive you are on the days you're in a sour mood versus when you're in a more happy mood. Make a note of whether or not your interaction with patients was better or not as effective and also note how you interacted with your peers and if your attitude may be the result of distance or tension between you and others. 

5. Avoid Negativity

This may be easier said than done especially when your medical school may have more issues than Vogue magazine. Everyone is seeking an outlet and a listening ear. Sometimes this is good. It's good to have open forums for discussion on issues that are dear to your heart and the school at large. However, when you find yourself being sucked into all that's negative, you'll soon start to see a change in your attitude from one that was more positive to one that's now more negative. 

Negativity is draining! It takes on many forms and its main goal is to suck all of the happiness out of you. We all know the saying 'misery loves company'. try not to be the company. When others are ranting about the same thing and not making any steps to be a catalyst for change, encourage them to either let it go because the issue is now turning them into a Negative Nancy or make a step to change whatever it is they're ranting about. 

Wouldn't you rather spend your study session discussing medicine or whatever it is you're studying rather than the same thing EVERY single time? 


Give these five things a try and let me know whether or not it helped you in some way or form to show more love and less hate.