This is a very vulnerable post for me. I truly have debated whether or not to post it because I was worried about triggering some sensitive areas for others. So if discussing weight and weight loss is a trigger please do not read further.
Four years into motherhood I am finally figuring out not only the importance of my mantra “Creating Space Girl and Thrive” but how to make it work for me. I have realized that in order to be the best mom for my son I must take care of myself and my health first. As I have begun to thrive and get back into being more physically active my body has hit a brick wall. Just as I have started to find my footing my body has begun to fail me just when I needed it most.
I remember taking a walk with my son to the mail box and back to the house which is just 1/4 of a mile round trip and I almost did not make it back to the house due to a severe pain in my lower back. As my son raced ahead of me I panicked as I realized that if a car or something happened and I needed to get to him quickly I couldn’t. Work up of my back pain revealed the beginning of back issues that directly tied into my weight. In that moment I realized that I needed to make some tough decisions about my health quickly. While I was working on being more active pain in my back and my knee began to limit my ability to be more active and therefore limit a key component of my journey to thriving.
I learned to focus not on my weight and to focus instead on healthy practices and a healthy lifestyle. Which I carried with me. I began to accept my body and appreciate it for the wonderful things it could do and the shape I was in. The birth of my son, while a joy, changed my focus from myself to him and I put myself and my health on a cold back burner.
As I began my process of evaluating my own feelings about the new state of my body and health I realized that I had to consider bariatric options. Not for the goal of a number but to put my body in a different position to be more active and address some of the health implications that genetics has in store for me as I get older. I realized that my goal was a return of function and ability to move with less pain.
As I started this journey it became clear that I needed to address issues that I may not be aware of in my relationship with food. I started by taking a close look at what foods I eat and why. I started having hard conversations with myself and decided to also work with my therapist to determine if there is any components of comfort or stress eating that needed to be addressed. Determining what behavior, triggers, and patterns impact my eating negatively and developing ways to rethink and address those triggers and patterns.
January is a time for starting new things. It’s also a semblance of a fresh start a new beginning. The key to a fresh start is a good foundation. There are 3 things that I find help lay a good foundation for the year and I invite you to do with me to get your New Year off on the right foot!
Get a New Toothbrush!!!
Do a Quick Purge!!!
Create a Mantra!!!
Everyday is a fresh start but there is something hopeful in society at large about the start of a New Year. It’s like shedding a layer of skin and having a newness in the world. Laying a good foundation is important and I hope that these 3 things will help you as we start 2021!
Earlier this year I had to let go of a relationship that I had invested my heart and soul into. It was one of the hardest things I have had to do. My track record with men is not the best I have the tendency to give my all to someone and am left being in a committed relationship on my own. At the age of 42, most of my close friends are either in a relationship, married, or divorced. In my family I am the only cousin who is not married and the only one that has had a child out of wedlock (my mom has been noting that point is a bit of a trigger for me—Geechi see’s all). While 2020 has not been the year that I anticipated it has in an odd turn of events been the year that I have needed.
2020 has oddly been about introspection and addressing areas of my life that have been consistently ignored. During this time I have focused on my mantra of “CST—Create Space girl and Thrive”. During the last 8 months there are 3 things that I am proud of doing:
Until I could do that fully and routinely I was no good to anyone and my desire to help others would be nothing but hollow and empty. I have also been learning that self-care can look like many different things. My narrow view of selfceare involved a period of significant uninterrupted time to rest, relax, pamper myself. As a single working mom it’s hard to carve out a big chunk of time to devote to just myself. Even so when I would carve out that time I would feel guilty and often that I was imposing on others to handle my responsibility. This resulted in me feeling run down, overwhelmed and depressed. So often as a women of color I felt I was failing others. It was a hard realization that in actuality I was failing myself. So now selfceare looks different than what I envisioned. Self-care takes the form of journaling, blogging, working out, meditating, reading a book even if it’s only for 2-3 minutes at a time. I make it a priority to get some time in every day just for myself, my goals, and my dreams.
After the birth of my son the feeling that I had repressed began to resurface. I started my blog seeking to write about my experiences as a single working mother as a way to satisfy that passion. The more I wrote the more I have longed and now have decided to invest in my passion to bring authorship to fruition. The more I denied the the passion to seek authorship the quieter my voice became for my blog. I finally decided the listen. The further I have come in the process my voice has become louder. Stay turned for my newest project that I can’t wait to announce soon!
walking away from a situation where I had invested my time, my hopes, and had invested dreams in a situation where I was not valued fully. In addition to that feeling pressure not from others but from myself to have what I saw others have. Not in a “Keeping up with the Jonses” manner but more of falling wedded to the dream that I came close to settling for less than what I deserve. Often we focus on others not valuing our worth that sometimes we neglect that we must value our worth as well and walk away from situations that no longer serve or honor our worth despite the investment of time and feelings.
All my life I’ve realized that I was black. Well, not all my life however when I think back there is not a moment where I do not recall being aware of my skin color. Even at a young age I remember kids in my class telling me that I couldn’t drink white milk because I was not white I had to drink chocolate milk. Growing up I have realized that my country views me differently and that there is a second set of rules that applies to me; a set of rules that has nothing to do with fairness or equality. Growing up I have always been told that I must be twice as smart, twice as talented, and twice as successful to get half of what my white counterparts had. Through my years of living I have realized it as a harsh truth.
Being black I learned about our history of enslavement, lynchings, rapes, beatings, etc. I have learned about the “war of northern aggression”. I have learned about the constant attempt to subjugate my race. I have learned about Tulsa, race riots Jim Crow. I have even learned about the civil rights movement. I have never been deluded in thinking that I was somehow considered equal with my white counterparts. I have always known that inequality was still present, that racism was still an ugly abscess that festered in America hidden and indurated under its lily white skin.
In my family we talk about people getting their black wake up call. A call to awaken them from a deluded dream of mistakingly thinking that somehow they were viewed as equal with their white counterparts. Being as “woke” as I thought I was I received mine for a second time as a 42 yr old woman when I realized through the murder and lack of justice for Breonna Taylor that I am not safe in my own home. Erroneously I believed that in America the days of whites breaking into the homes of blacks unannounced and killing them was no longer tolerated. I never was delusional in the believing that it did not occur; but imprudently I assumed that in my home I was safe. Misguidedly I believed that those that would choose to violate the sanctity of my home would be brought to justice. I foolishly felt that in America at least in my home I had nothing to fear. As a mother I believed that if my child if my son could just make it home he could be protected.
I grow weary and tired. I am weary and tired. I am done in.
I will voice the names of those who are supposed to protect my family and call them to act. I will voice the names of those who fail to act, who fail to enact, who fail to heed the call to action. I will voice their names for those names that I cannot bear to say anymore.
While I aim to be my son’s friend I also realize that my job as a parent is to love him, affirm him, and discipline him. Bell Hooks, in All About Love, states that “Abuse and neglect negate love”. Earlier in the same chapter she denounced hitting and draws no differentiation between disciplining and punishing. However, there is a difference. Punishment is focused on the past and is rooted in anger. Discipline however is focused on the future and is rooted in love and care. Even God disciplines.
“At the time, discipline isn’t much fun. It always feels like it’s going against the grain. Later, of course, it pays off handsomely, for it’s the well-trained who find themselves mature in their relationship with God.”
Hebrews 12:11 MSG
I write this not to change your mind but to be a voice of those who spank our children but in the current climate feel that we must hide in the shadows for fear of judgment. I speak out to voice that there is a difference between spanking and abuse and when we really honestly and openly talk about it we know the difference.
Know your worth! Acknowledge your worth! Declare your worth!
Care for your heart
Love yourself first
Treat Her Like A Lady:
How Can You Say That It’s Over:
I’ll Keep My Light In My Window:
If you are looking for an album of love this month and don’t mind a “retro” sound. Check out Truly For You by the Temptations.
I have had patients pray over me, for me, and give their advice. I’ve had patient ask me to pray for them, ask me to celebrate in their triumphs and cry with them in their sorrow. It is a truly an honor this vocation to which we have been called.
I look forward to new conversations, new atmosphere, new stories, new interactions. I look forward!
Options for non-board certified physicians
Still unempowered, I kept my secret to myself and the chosen few I had opened up to and prepared to take the exam again. I partnered with others who like me had not passed and we studied together and supported each other during the lows of doubt and insecurity. I worked full time, studied when I could, and was a mother the whole way through; and I failed.
Wow, that word even now as I type it hurts. I had taken this test a total of 3 times and had yet to pass. I began to spiral down a dark hole. How was I going to support my family? How was I going to pay back my massive student loan debt? As a single parent, I am the sole provider for me and my son. In one year I would lose my board eligibility; essentially my career as a physician was on the brink of being over as well as my means of supporting my family!
There are few options now a days for physicians who do not have the desired title of Board Certified. Hospitals privileges are unattainable, insurance companies unwilling too “allow” you to be a provider for their patients. Practices refrain from wanting you if you are not BC/BE. Four years of medical school, 3 years of residency, MCAT, USMLE exams all completed, state licensure obtained, DEA license purchased, and still one exam preventing me from the career I long desired, dreamed, and dedicated my early youth for. There was no other choice—something had to change. I contacted the ABIM to see what my options were as this was my last year of eligibility. My prime question centered around my options if I didn’t pass this year. On the website there was a statement:
“A candidate who is no longer Board Eligible may nevertheless apply for a certifying examination, but only if the candidate has: (i) completed at least one year of retraining in the relevant specialty after the expiry of the candidate’s period of Board Eligibility, but no more than seven years before the application; and (ii) met all other requirements for Board Certification in effect at that time. Retraining will require the successful completion of at least one year of additional residency/fellowship training in an ACGME-accredited U.S. training program or an RCPSC-accredited Canadian training program and an attestation from the program that the candidate has demonstrated the requisite competency for unsupervised practice. Candidates and diplomates remain subject to other ABIM policies and requirements for certification, such as the Re-examination policy.”
I nevertheless followed their instructions because I had no choice and reached out to my former director. She to her dismay had no concrete information about what a retraining year looked like either. She assured me she would contact the ABIM and see what she could learn but advised me not to give up; since I had one last year to take the exam. She suggested that I get in touch with the Testing Center on campus to see if I had a testing or learning disability. Could that be it? Did I have an undiagnosed learning or testing disability that evaded me for years only now to rear its head? She doubted it but it needed to be evaluated. Speaking with the counselor it became clear that she agreed; it was highly unlikely that I had a learning or testing disability that had not previously shown up. So what was the issue? Well one of the pieces that the counselor helped me discover was that I have a hard time trusting myself and taking a leap of faith in myself. Another issue was that I have a tendency to answer the question that I think I’m being asked not the question that is being asked.
So armed with this I decided I needed to take a step back and focus solely on this exam and being a mom. So I did. I quit my job, neglected my friends and devoted myself to my son and my exam. I fought through self-doubt constantly. I second guessed myself on every question. Thinking I was missing something. Fearing that I somehow did not learn what I needed to in 8 years of training. Why did I feel this way; because others before me had seemingly passed this test with ease. Here I was on the brink of failure with no safety net; nothing to fall back on. Despite years of caring for patients and living my dream I was in jeopardy of loosing it all. I doubted my calling. I never doubted God, but I doubted that I heard Him correctly. I doubted that I was on His path for my life. I was ashamed and alone. I bore this shame in secret because to do otherwise was considered taboo and a marker of weakness.
As the exam grew closer my anxiety increased and my confidence dwindled. In the last month of the exam I lived and breathed nothing else. My parents looked after my son while I studied. With each question I answered correctly my confidence grew and with each question I missed it was shattered into a million pieces. The few people that I opened up to about my failure would ask how the studying was going...others would offer prayers and well wishes. I felt inadequate, fraudulent I couldn’t figure out how I was able to take care of patients but still was not deemed worthy based on a test. I then came across three quotes from Michelle Obama:
“When you are struggling, and you start thinking about giving up, I want you to remember something that my husband and I have talked about since we first started this journey nearly a decade ago—something that has carried us through every moment in this White House and every moment of our lives—and that is the power of hope. The belief that something better is always possible if you’re willing to work for it and fight for it.” – Michelle Obama
“Am I good enough? Yes I am.”– Michelle Obama
“If my future were determined just by my performance on a standardized test, I wouldn’t be here. I guarantee you that.”― Michelle Obama
The day came and I sat for the exam and as I was logged in by the proctor I prayed. I thanked God for my calling and vocation and began my exam. When I finished I felt spent; I truly had done all that I could. If this was not enough I had no idea what the next step was and apparently neither did those at the ABIM. But what I knew for sure was that no matter what the test said I was enough. While I seemingly had to pass this test in order to continue on the traditional path of medicine I would not let it determine or limit my future. I am a doctor and I always will be.
Written By: Kharia J. Holmes
This article was originally published on WomenInWhiteCoats.com
Embracing my imperfection and striving for perfection through grace.