It was a moment that I had been looking forward too. I went there with an amazing woman named DeLorean. We met on Instagram and decided to room together for me it was ideal because you know the cost of NYC is out of my budget. It was during that encounter and that time away that I really began to think about my life, my purpose, my mission, my goals, and my passion. It was an innocent question that she asked. "So what is your goal with your plantform? What do you hope to accomplish?" It was a seed that had been planted and continued to slowly grow holding and taking root. As I surfed and loafed along I continued to ruminate on the questions running in my head.
Starting my new job I had a hard time figuring out what my next move was going to be. I was so busy surviving. Then the pandemic hit and I moved into full self-protection and introversion. As I isolated with my family and ultimately with myself I was left to take a deep look within. As I looked the more despondent I became. As I isolated and had more time on my hands the more I wondered “Where have I gone?” I slowly realized that in my life I had created space for everyone but myself.
Choose Yourself: Sounds simple right but actually this was one of the hardest steps for me. As a physician I’m constantly telling my patients who are caregivers to loved ones that they have to take care of themselves to avoid caregiver burnout and fatigue; however as a physician I was the worst patient. Often electing and selecting others needs and wants to precede my own. There is a reason flight attendant say “Be sure to secure your own mask before assisting others.” I started by embracing words and responses. “No.” “I don’t have the bandwidth.” “I can’t focus on that right now.” “Do you need this right now or can it wait.” and other assortments. At first I will admit I felt like I was letting people down, however the more I prioritized my needs, agenda, and my sanity the easier it became. Now, in all honesty it is still struggle and sometimes slip into my old habits but I keep fighting because, I’m worth it.
Seek help: I have started to see a therapist. There is no shame in seeking help of any kind. The only dumb question is the one not asked and the only shame is in wallowing in spaces where help is available and not using it. I don’t for a minute realize the privilege I have in finding help. Mental health resources are hard to come by and some providers don’t even accept insurances because the reimbursement rates are low and the hoops to jump through are ridiculous (let me get off my soapbox). However, with the increased use of social media and technology there are some more affordable options such as TalkSpace, etc. There is also journaling, talking with friends that you trust. Whatever the mode or the need seek help.
Try new things: Stepping out of my comfort zone has never a hard thing for me. However when in a rut it’s hard for me to see past my routine and just trying to survive. The key to lasting change is taking steps not matter how small and seemingly insignificant toward your ultimate goal. Taking inspiration from one of my favorite elements, water, I have been learning that it can cut through stone not due to its sheer force but due to the sheer force of its persistence. Small movements consistent in the purpose. There might be detours and misalignment it likely will not be a straight path but a persist patchy trying new things new ways new methods all aimed at the goal will create momentum forward.
Oprah Winfrey said "You can have it all. Just not all at once." I used to hate that quote until I realized that she's right. Gotta love "Mama O". I have realized that in trying to have it all at once I lost the most important part--myself. I am now focused on the creation of a life where as I attain and reach goals I am still energized and present to enjoy them. I am creating space in my life for me and if you have been guilty of ignoring your needs too, I invite you to come on this journey with me. Let us Create Space, and Thrive!
A few weeks ago I decided to take the little one to feed the ducks. Geechi in her true nature of wanting to minister to the ducks suggested that I feed them the stale raisin break that we had left. Remembering that raisins are toxic to dogs I hopped onto Google to make sure that raisins wouldn’t be toxic to ducks and geese. Well to my surprise I learned something—DON’T FEED BREAD TO DUCKS!
WHISKEY TANGO FOXTROT! Had all the movies showing people feeding bread to ducks lied to me?!? YES. Apparently bread provides no nutritional value to ducks the same as soda water (it’s the southern in me) to humans. If you were lied to like I was here is a list of things you can feed to ducks and geese.
The movies lied but the internet never will ???. Leave the ? at home and bring some ???????
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.
As with anything that centers around children trial an error is essential. I hope these tools help. If you have any other tools or suggestions please share them in the comments below 👇🏾 to help others.
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
2019 has been a year of trials and tribulations. If I had to name this year I’d call it “Love Through Adversity”. I quit my job in March to give me time to focus on being a mother to my son and also to give me time to study and prepare for my board exams. As I look forward to the year 2020 I pray that I will be able to bring forth the lessons and strength I gained into the new year.
Last year I started a trend of categorizing my resolutions based on the www domains so the saga continues.
TEASER: I’m also planning on a new platform launch this year so stay tuned
This year is here and I choose this year to find joy in the journey! Come along with me!
Living inter-generationally is not an easy feat and truly it’s not to be entered into lightly. While I’ve never been married I think I’m safe when I say that it’s almost as perilous as marriage. So my quick story in how I ended up living intergenerationally was that I have a home about 1 hour away from my ‘rents. I became pregnant, made the decision to raise my child as a single mother, and changed jobs and my parents house was closer.
So it started out as a temporary change due to logistics that has continued on due to convince and a sense of familia. Going through this process there are things that I have learned about what it takes to live successfully as a GAWD (Grown Ass Woman Da** It) with your parents in their house.
Even if you are moving in with your parents to save money—do not take advantage of their good nature. Contributions to the household needs no matter how small go a long way. My parents won’t let me pay rent because in their mind I’m paying for a mortgage which is true. So I buy food to keep the fridge stocked. If there is something that is needed like a new filter for the fridge I’ll purchase it. Laundry detergent, soap, lotion, etc things that we can all benefit from I purchase so that they do not. Its a small token and way to give back to them.
BE FLEXIBLE AND PATIENT:
Flexibility and patience go hand in hand. If your parents are anything like mine they raised you to respect your elders and also to have a strong personality. Living in a combined house with such strong personalities can cause friction. Add on raising a child as a single parent and you have a potentially explosive situation with a differing of opinions. I will admit my head is hot at times and I’m very strong willed, I was raised to be so by my parents. As a grown woman living in my parents house patience and flexibility have been imperative skills; and I must admit that I am still cultivating them ??♀️.
Embracing my imperfection and striving for perfection through grace.