Doctor of the Year

Last year the New York State Association for Rural Health honored me with the 2019 Gary Ogden MD Doctor of the Year award. I traveled to Niagara Falls with Solange for NYSARH's annual meeting to accept the award and meet folks. In my brief acceptance speech, I described myself as a journeyman doc. It was actually quite meaningful to be recognized for the everyday work I do, and helped me reflect on how everyday activities ought to be recognized by everyday people, everyday!

As we age, and naturally reflect on what we are leaving in the wake of our work, and perhaps even our legacies, I believe that taking lessons from the dying is a way to connect us with what truly matters right now. There are many helpful stories passed on from those who work with the dying mindfully, and the messages are similar: what is important in the end is how well you loved and how well you are loved. All the rest is secondary. How many missed opportunities are there each day? How greedy are we in our dreams and aspirations? That is, let's examine what exactly we are hoping for and inform ourselves what it is we discover in that process.

The trip to Niagara Falls segued into my reading of Roshi Joan Halifax, PhD's recent book "Standing at the Edge (Finding Freedom Where Fear and Courage Meet)," which, especially this year, has had enormous meaning for me. Many of us who care and whose work involves caring, walk around for our whole lives feeling as if we arent doing, and have never done quite enough. Roshi illuminates on "edge states" . At the risk of going on too long,and spoiling her wonderful book, I wont say more. (Look for a future post). Suffice it to say caregivers in every walk of life, just might need more self-care, more kindness directed at our own tender souls.

My brief acceptance speech did give a shout out to my many teachers, though generically and un-named. But here, I am shouting to friend and Friend, a Quaker, named Mary Cadbury, who has been heard saying, as a guide to those who have received a compliment, an award, a recognition: It's OK to breathe, but don't' inhale! Really, a simple thank you, perhaps along with a bow, usually does the trick So once again, we return to mindfulness of the breath and gratitude to all.

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