Looking back and looking forward

Ah, 2016.  In some ways it’s felt like a doozy.  For those of us of a certain age (Generation X friends, I’m looking at you), we lost too many icons. Any year that takes Haggard, Prince, and Bowie is a tough year for me to reflect on my musical “upbringing.” Politics have been divisive and difficult. And whether you loved or didn’t love Hilary Clinton as a Presidential candidate, you had the opportunity to witness a huge public display of misogyny.

I had plenty of things in my life that didn’t work, and so many that did.  I’m still trying to stuff 10 pounds of sugar into a 5 pound sack in terms of juggling my clinical, administrative, educational, and research obligations- though 90% of it is stuff I really do love.  Some days there’s simply too much of some of the good stuff, you know? I was part of an amazing group of women who successfully executed a $10 million capital campaign for our sorority’s foundation. I got phase 1 of a qualitative research project I’m absolutely passionate about (effective mentoring in academic surgery) completed and am starting to dig into phase 2 (barriers to careers in academic surgery). I ran 9 half marathons, all of which involved friends and fun and most of which involved travel to terrific places; in the course of that I set a new PR in January then again in May. I completed my term as President of the Association of Women Surgeons and started my term as President-elect of the Association for Surgical Education. I spent 10 days on a river in the Alaskan Arctic rafting, hiking, and realizing that no cell service and mandatory naptime are very, very good for the soul. I got a teaching award from our graduating medical students, and had what I would argue is my proudest career moment receiving an Outstanding Alumna award from the Texas A&M College of Medicine. I fell in love over and over with Bozeman, MT, during my off-time, and I spent more time back in the homeland in a calendar year than I have in a long, long time. My breakfast taco titers are good for at least a while. I yet again had the privilege of caring for people of incredible resilience and beauty. And most importantly, I continued to revel in having my Mom (all around amazing human and my biggest cheerleader) a mile away. None of this crazy, messy, wonderful stuff would happen without her here to manage the “little stuff,” including the animal family when I’m on the road.

Full disclosure:  There were also some really challenging moments, most of which happened in September.  Details aren’t important at this point, and I have to say that as sad/ angry/ hurt/ frustrated as I was about what happened, I learned a huge lesson: I have a group of folks who have my back no matter what, both in my personal life and my professional life. The power of that is not to be underestimated.

So what does the best version of my 2017 look like?

  • New challenges with a big, passionate “YES!” attached to them.
  • More writing because I love it- some academic, some not, all creative and done in joy.
  • Gratitude and appreciation.  Every. Single. Day.
  • Connection and friendship are EVERYTHING.  Keep the coffee date.  Block out the time and hop on the plane. Send the note.
  • Remembering to #choosecourage and #lovelouder.  I learn time and again that these are the two most meaningful things that each of us can do in our daily actions (even the ones that feel small) to generate a tremendous ripple effect.

Onward and upward, friends.  Onward and upward.