I suppose the lesson of my second year in med school was that there is blessing in frustration. What frustrations there were: so many tests in school that there was little time to learn, feeling so small in view of how much there is to know, too little time to fully and committedly connect with the community, fighting to scrape together a few moments to nourish myself, half the summer break sacrificed to prepare for Science Board Exams. Meanwhile, my house became somewhat like the cast of characters in “Beauty and the Beast”: just when I was having the most trouble keeping up, the parts of the house winked at each other and decided who was going to misbehave next, just to keep things interesting!
When they interviewed me for med school, one of the questions was “How do you cope with stress?” I knew even then that it was easier to answer the question than to actually address it constructively when the need arises. At the time I had a strong repertoire of well-implemented strategies: a regular yoga practice, connecting with a friend when times got rough, asking for help from a supportive community, time out to breathe. In the move to Portland and with the start of the program, each of those strategies took near-mortal blows. Uprooting oneself from community and loved ones is a hard thing indeed. Don’t get me wrong: I love the program and can’t picture any other direction for my professional life. But the day-to-day particulars of surviving this adventure are enough to make one question one’s sanity on a near-daily basis!
When confronted with too much stress and too little time, I found my best strategy was to look for the hidden blessing. Sometimes it’s a challenge, but it never fails to put me back on the right track. School can drive me crackers, but what an opportunity to listen to great healers. No one ever knows it all, but how wonderful to learn this incredible medicine every day. Entering third year, I got to wholeheartedly serve the community through my clinical work. And after much delay, both the yoga practice and regular folkdancing are restarting. How wonderful that my body is still willing to do those things, and how wonderful to have a husband to folkdance with!
So it’s onward and upward, which no doubt will bring new and different frustrations…and opportunities to enjoy our blessings!