Keeping a gratitude journal has been recommended by psychologists as a part of our daily activities. Multiple studies have shown how gratitude can increase our level of happiness. However, most people don’t take enough time to reflect on their days and be grateful for many things. Thanksgiving is an important holiday as it helps us pause from our busy life and provides us the opportunity to “count our blessings.”
The world in 2023 is even more chaotic than usual. We are witnessing several wars in addition to many natural disasters all over the world that disrupt so many lives and cause so much suffering. Some friends from this Lady Docs Corner Cafe group and I have reflected on many of our good fortunes this year and want to share our reflections of gratitude with you.
Dr. Linda Yau, Internal Medicine: This Thanksgiving, I am grateful to God that in 2023 my family did not have to spend so much time in the hospital! In 2022, my mother was close to dying 4 times. She survived sepsis, 2 rounds of CPR and severe weight loss. The hospital called my family in the middle of the night to ask to take her off life support. I flew to see her multiple times. This year, I am thankful to be able to talk with mother on the phone and talk about every day events. It reinforced to me that I must never take any time with loved ones for granted. Let us enjoy each and every day that we are blessed with. May you all have a wonderful holiday with family and friends.
Dr. Julie Bindeman, Psychology: I’m grateful for my family and friends. This has been a year of stretching–both physically and mentally. I’ve been working on writing and editing a book, and my incredible family is giving me the time and space to do so. I am grateful for my kids who are traversing adolescence (and pre-adolescence) and rolling with its punches. I appreciate my sense of humor and the ability to laugh at myself and with myself.
Dr. Harita Raja, Psychiatry: I am thankful for “belonging.” As a young girl, I often felt like I did not belong. For example, I was considered “Indian in America” and “American in India.” It was a confusing time and quite isolating. I was supposed to be grateful for having a family that loved me and the resources to thrive. However, the missing piece for me was “belonging.” As humans, there is a need to connect. I spent my young adult years faking it. People thought I was an extrovert and always with friends. Really, I was just trying to find my way. That was until I ran into “my people.” As I became vulnerable with others about my plight, I realized I was not alone. So many women have spent an exorbitant amount of time and energy trying to fit in or belong. However, I learned they are not one and the same. Fitting in was becoming someone I was not. Belonging was being me and owning it. Through the LadyDocs and my Raat Rani Collective, a local community of women empowered through movement and community, I feel that I have been given a priceless gift. My chosen family has no particular race or religion, but rather acceptance and tolerance. I have felt belonging in a way I have never felt before.
Dr. Zahide Erkmen, Radiology: In these divisive times of darkness, I have many things I am grateful for.
I am thankful for the group of diverse women (many of whom are a subset of this group of sisters) with whom I traveled to Nepal and Bhutan and with whom I was able to experience the wonders of a far different culture, with whom I felt so comfortable that I could spill my heart and tears into our writing exercises, and feel their love like I do my blood sister’s. As I get older, I am grateful for the walks and runs I have the privilege to be able to take on crisp and also unseasonably warm autumn days, and for the breaths I take when I leave work, inhaling deeply the fresh air, having been indoors since the morning darkness. I am grateful for my patients who ground me in my purpose and continue to teach me every day after 30 years in this calling. I am thankful for the hope I still feel that humans are inherently good and that this world will find peace.
Dr. Karen Lewis, Pediatrics:
I am so grateful for the network of family, friends, patients, and even people with whom I’ve had chance serendipitous encounters that uplifted me and reminded me of the good in the world and how we can always find a way to find connection with one another. I feel my heart expanding with love when I think of people near and far, of all different ages and backgrounds, who I deeply connect with. I count all of my LadyDocs friends in this group, and I’m so glad that we’ve stayed in touch, supported by Zoom calls and the occasional in-person gathering. There is a children’s book, “The Invisible String” by Patrice Karst, and illustrated by Joanne Lew Vriethoff, a good friend of mine from my time living in Amsterdam (coincidentally – or not???), that I love sharing with my patients. Recently, in our library where I volunteer with Audrey, our therapy dog, I read “The Invisible Web”, another book by these 2 amazing ladies, that expands upon this idea of the invisible loving connection that lifts up our world – I am ever so grateful for this book, and for the reality of this experience in my own life.
Dr. Shima Goswami, Radiology: Every year I find myself coming around this time of year and realizing that I have so many reasons to be thankful. This year, in particular, has been a bit of a roller coaster ride for my husband and me in our attempt to grow our family. I could focus on all the things that didn’t go our way or what we had to endure, but I’d rather focus on all the people that supported us along the way. For every hurdle we had to jump, there was a network of folks that helped us get across them. It’s with that love in mind that I’m so grateful to share that we are expecting a baby girl in March and couldn’t be more excited.
Jackie Eghrari-Sabet, Allergy & Immunology :Unusual as it may seem, with all the tumult in the world — I am grateful to be living at this time in history.
It seems like we were all meant to be here now, and given the opportunity to make an impact. And that impact starts with small actions and can grow to significant changes.
Secondly I am grateful for my dad, the now 93 year old Persian surgeon. He’s active yet vulnerable and showing me what the next 1/3 of life can be like.
Dr. Anonymous Radiology: Time after time, I find myself reaching into my exponentially growing collection of reading glasses. They snuck into my life as menus, inserts in medicine bottles, and more importantly expiration dates in grocery stores, became smaller. My reading glasses are not just magnifiers, they are my secret weapon. My Peepers open a portal to a world where words are clearer, numbers crisper, and ideas brighter. I choose my specs as an expression of my mood and superpower I need at the time. The large oversized bold frames give me bravery and humor, showing the world I am not afraid to stand out and that I do not take myself too seriously. The minimalist, unisex black frames give me gravitas and show the world that I indeed am taking myself very very seriously.
I can smooth out my wrinkles, cover my gray hair and conceal my sunspots, but I can’t deny the need for reading glasses. They are a sign of accepting aging gracefully, and a reminder that life is best lived looking through the magnified lens of gratitude and humor. Thank you reading glasses for always being within reach these days.
Alpita Shah, Attorney: I am grateful for the opportunity to travel to far away places (Bhutan to start!) that are truly awe-inspiring with equally awe–inspiring women! Thank you for being you – each and every one of you in Thu’s extended family of Lady Docs and friends of Lady Docs. Looking forward to more laughing, writing, and climbing mountains (literally & figuratively) with you in years to come! Love, Alpita
Dr. Robyn Pashby, Health Psychology: In 2016, my mom died of pulmonary fibrosis – a horrible condition which caused her so much suffering as she essentially suffocated over time. I have always considered myself someone who appreciates my health and my physical abilities, but since her death, I hold an acute awareness of how inhaling full, deep breaths is truly both a miracle and a gift. Every day when I walk my dog, do a Peloton ride, or run around the playground with my beautiful daughter, I take a moment to inhale and exhale and remember how much gratitude I have for the gift of air.
Dr. Bhavana Mistry, Dentistry: Truly grateful for having a loving circle of family and friends near and dear to me . Living in Maryland since the age of 4, I realize a lot of my friends have become family to me. In fact generations of unity between my parents and their friends have trickled down to their children being my close friends and now even our children are good friends . Holiday time especially we all make an effort to gather . In fact it has become tradition to do so !
A shout out goes to my dear friend Thu , who not only delivered my two girls over 25 years ago, she has become a close friend who is like family. She always calls me her little sister so proudly!
I am thankful she reached out to me to join her and other amazing ladies on a trip of a lifetime to Bhutan this fall .
The entire journey was filled with positivity , laughter, empowerment , camaraderie, support , encouragement and a lot of Love.
Truly grateful for the memories.
Dr. Miriam Graham, Physical Therapy: I am thankful and to know how we are interconnected to each other, to place, to spirit and to nature. Thankful to my grandfather and ancestors for instilling this concept in me from an early age.
I am thankful for the daily habit of seeing and noting beauty through sight, sound, touch, fragrance and taste.
Thankful for meaningful work that allows me to facilitate healing through physical activity, awareness, and by encouraging self-agency.
Thankful for past, present (and future) family and friends
Dr. Mindi Cohen, Family Medicine: On November 6, I was driving south on 270 from an event when an SUV was stopped on a heavy trafficked lane and its tire was rolling on the road. While trying to move to another lane the tire hit the the front side of my car. I was able to maneuver my car forward. As my car straightened out I felt relief that I didn’t hit any cars and I kept on driving until I realized my front tire was losing air. There was no safe way to pull over until the two sections of I-270 merged. I stopped in the safety lane not realizing how far I had gone. It was totally dark outside.
A car pulled up in front of me and a middle aged man wearing a yellow safety vest came out of his car. I opened my passenger side window and he asked if I was alright. I said yes. He looked at me and said, “You are lucky to be alive. You were touched by an angel.”
He recommended I stay in the car until a tow truck could come. He then left and I didn’t get his name.
I am grateful that he came at that moment and maybe he was my guardian angel.
Gail Fisher, Family Therapy: Many are the gifts of thankfulness – especially at challenging times.
Reframe our perspective, help soften our griefs and calm our troubled hearts,
and reminds us of life’s precious, daily joys
a sunrise, the soft Fall wind drifting thru a window, the intricate architecture of a bird’s nest,
the smell of fresh bread from the oven,
the kindness & caring of others,
the miracle of our body.
As the Dalai Lama has said: “If the only prayer we ever say is ‘Thank you,” that is enough.”
Dr. Carolyn O’Conor, Family Medicine: “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans”. This may be my favorite quote from John Lennon. I try to remind myself of it whenever I am in a reflective mood. This Thanksgiving season, as I come to the end of a 37-year career in family medicine, I can’t help but reflect. Through those years I have been so busy with schedules, family, meetings, patients that kept me awake at night with worry, and planning and planning and planning. I have hardly had time to pause. I am so fortunate to have been able to plan my retirement and announce it to my patients a few months in advance. I have had more heartfelt goodbyes in these last few months than I have had in my entire life. My patients have always given me purpose and positive feedback but lately I am overwhelmed with their generous comments. Many are individuals and families I have known for 10, 20 and even 30 years. I have done my utmost to say to each and every one of them, “Thank you for placing your trust in me”. I cannot think of anything I have ever meant more sincerely. I am thankful for the privilege of caring for my patients. It has been the honor and purpose of my life.
Tali Elizur, Trauma Therapy:
No matter what is happening in the world, being with my husband and children is exactly the grounding that I need. They are my raison d’être. How they could be real, and mine?
My husband and I are so different from each other, and somehow we’re exactly what the other one needs and wants. My daughter is resilient, kind, and a natural caretaker. She never ceases to amaze me. My son is clever, kind, and so assertive! When I think about how I’m his person, I feel like I hit the jackpot!
Every night at bedtime all four of us gather in one of the kids’ bedrooms and read books together. After reading, the kids ask for meditations and tapping (Emotional Freedom Technique). We all get to release the stressors and excitement of the day together. There is so much to be grateful for, and still those special moments with them are what I’m thankful for above all else.
Dr. Ling Chin, Preventive Medicine: I am thankful the sun keeps shining.
No matter how dark it can get,
I rely on the shining sun’s return.
In times of disappointment and despair,
I am thankful for the unfailing comfort from family and good friends.
And most of all,
when madness, chaos rears its ugly head; causing havoc in our weary souls
I am thankful that reason, respect continues to prevail, and good people stubbornly bond together in solidarity, sealing in love, joy in our hearts
Dr. Aruna Nathan, Internal Medicine and Lifestyle Medicine: Once again this year I am grateful to have my family. My spouse and my two adult sons always keep me engaged and challenged. They are the source of my utmost joy and happiness and some heartache; they always shape me to be a better person.
I stay blessed to have so many people around me who are my friends. We are on our life journeys but with a few shared intersections. We lean on each other when needed. I learn a lot from these interactions and everyone’s stories. This year I’m fortunate to have met a few new souls who are now part of my inner circle. They make my life even more fulfilling.
I continue to see the good in humanity even in these severely troubled times. I believe that when we try to understand each other through continued compassionate communication we always grow larger in love and acceptance.
Dr. Julia Korenman, Gastroenterology (retired): First, I’m grateful that I was asked to write a paragraph about what I’m grateful for. With everything going on in the world, it’s easy for me to be anxious and to focus on the negative rather than the positive. But when I started thinking, the list got longer and longer and was definitely much more than a paragraph, which helps put everything in perspective. Here is a sample of what I’m thankful for: chocolate, books, dogs, sunny days, rain, walks in nature, flowers, the ocean, seasons, my health and the health of my family, health insurance, vaccinations, our medical system—with all its imperfections, living in the United States—with all ITS imperfections, a long meaningful career, retirement, a good night’s sleep, kitchens—to cook in and to gather in, spices, my granddaughter’s laughter. What I am the most thankful for is that I have been fortunate to have love, company and support, through life’s journey, in good times and bad, from family and friends. I feel truly grateful. Happy Thanksgiving to all!
Dr. Hosai Todd Hesham, ENT: There are too many things that I am grateful for. I am grateful for the cheer and laughter in my home. I am grateful for the camaraderie and respect at work. I am grateful for the peace in my town. I am grateful for the conviction and honesty of the youth. I am grateful for the hope of the downtrodden. Finally, I am grateful for the clarity of my mind and the empathy in my heart.
Dr. Tara Waterman, MD/JD: I am grateful for my daughter’s smile. The joy such a simple gesture brings my heart is immeasurable and priceless. The promise of the future built on yesterday’s and today’s love and happiness. That simple expression of 13 tiny muscles will endlessly move this world forward.
Dr. Holly Gross, Ophthalmology: I was thinking of all the many things I was thankful for, and the first thing I thought of was that my daughter got married in September and I’m so glad she found the love of her life. The event was magical and filled with love, and our friends and family made it so special and unforgettable.
However, a recent series of events made me laser focused on so many things to be grateful for surrounding this event. My son returned from California five days ago with headache, fever, myalgias and bad cough. Today I took him to the ED and he was diagnosed with pneumonia. Fortunately it’s a mild case and he should do well with antibiotics. In the past three hours I realized I am thankful for:
- That my son lives nearby and was able to live in my basement so that I could care for him and check on him
- That my son has a job that allows him paid sick leave
- That my son has grown into an independent man who is proud of the fact that he has his own health insurance and used that for the hospital visit and his prescriptions
- That we have a personal friend who is a pediatric ER doc who came to the house yesterday to examine my son and made a plan
- That said plan went into effect this morning because he was still febrile and was seen by our friend in the ED at 7 am
- That we live in an area where have access to good health care
- That we can afford good health care
- That antibiotics are available quickly and a 500 mL bag of IV fluids helped him feel better almost immediately.
- That I am fortunate to have good friends and loving family who checked on us all morning
- I am thankful for the three hours that my son and I had alone in an emergency room together (and that it wasn’t really an emergency) because we have not truly talked one on one in a long time. As he was feeling better we really did have some quality time.
- That he went back to his apartment today!
I am thankful for the wonderful friends I have made through Lady Docs and for living in a civilized country. Let’s hope it continues to stay that way
Dr. Anonymous Psychiatry: Some wise man said once to me that to really understand something, you need to understand it’s opposite. So here are my opposites which are informing my grateful list. I am ungrateful for aging, with the newfound belly, wrinkles, aches and pains and memory losses. I am grateful that I’m alive, grateful for the people in my life who help me maintain my health, and grateful that I’m still mostly coherent. I am not at all grateful for the simultaneous wars going on and the suffering of so many. I’m grateful to be lucky enough to not live through a war, and grateful that I have everything I need. I am not grateful that there is so much pain and acrimony and hardship for so many, and terribly grateful that my family and all those that I love are safe and happy. And now I feel guilty that I’m so lucky.
Dr. Joann Urquhart, Cardiology: I am thankful my children and grandson are safe and healthy.
I am grateful I have a career that makes a difference in people’s lives.
In this terrible time of conflict I am grateful there are people who care about humanity and people no matter what nationality or religion. It gives me hope.
As Nelson Mandela said “It always seems impossible until it is done”.
Dr. Grateful, Psychiatry: Gratitude is a tricky concept; the longer I think about it the more aspects of my life it includes. But I will focus on something that I feel most grateful for.
Family. I have had the great fortune of being mothered by a wonderful second mother and a devoted father after the death of my birth mother from cancer when I was four and my sister was five. She adopted us enthusiastically and then gave us the very special gift of seven more (half) siblings. Our home was filled with laughter, cooperation and learned resilience when things went awry. I also credit my relationship with my mother and other family members with leading me toward a rewarding career as a physician. I can hear my mother’s voice in my most supportive comments. My patients have also taught me much about life. Learning to understand and accept differences and to compromise has helped me to avoid judgement of both myself and others. And of course, these relationships have influenced my parenting in a positive way. My mother continues to be extraordinarily kind and resilient; she has a zest for life that is inspiring. For her, I am most grateful this Thanksgiving.
Dr. Misha Martin, Pediatric: It’s sick season at Complete Care for Kids and many of my sweet babies (from 0 to 21years) are sick! This week I was humming through my day when a child suddenly puked down the back of my leg and into my shoe! I calmly grabbed the trash, pulled her beautiful hair back and waited for her to finish. After the dad profusely apologized and left with his daughter, her stickers in hand, my nurse and I mopped up the mess and chuckled about my vomit covered clothing. Later while showering off the “remains” of the day, what came to my mind was the verse “count it all joy”. This can mean many different things to many different people, but as a physician of children I embrace it all because that’s life! The miracle of birth, the developmental milestones, the toddlers dressed up as their favorite Disney princess and the growth spurts. On the flip side, there are the breast feeding woes, teen angst, shots, acne, disease and vomit down your leg and into a pair of new tennis shoes.
This thanksgiving, I know why vomit ain’t no big deal! I am grateful and blessed to treat every patient who walks into my clinic.
I am grateful for a life of meaning and purpose and – if the worst thing that happens is a little vomit in my shoe, well …it was a good day!
From one lady doc to all other docs, we count it ALL Joy! Happy Thanksgiving!
Dr. Thu Tran, Gynecology: I am grateful for the enormous beauty of nature and my ability to see the “windows of natural beauty” around me, which gives me peace and stability. I’m grateful for my early recognition that life is brief, which gives me this appreciation and intention to live it fully. I’m grateful for living in freedom, that even when we always have to fight for the marginalized communities, our freedom to express our opinions is priceless. I’m grateful for my more than adequate life, a place to call home, no fear for hunger or thirst, no fear of violence. I’m grateful for the love of my families and friends, that I never have to worry about being lonely. I’m most grateful for my father, who’s 100.5 years old, living independently with a mind that’s still so sharp and witty, and an intact sense of humor. He still watches what he eats, walks daily to exercise, uses his computer to explore the world, writes beautiful poetry, has a wide network of younger friends, and treats each day like an extra gift.
Lastly, I’m grateful for my large community of patients, many of whom have known me for more than 30 years. Their suffering, vulnerability, wisdom, life lessons have helped me recognize the essentials in life. I care for them, but they have helped me realize who I am and what I believe in. It’s a privilege to care for my patients in this circle of giving.
Dr. Marsha Seidelman, Pulmonology & Lifestyle Medicine: I have many reasons to be grateful … about life, good health, family and friends. But what I’m thinking about today is that when I say, “I’m retired,” I’m really not. I’m busier than ever, and have been given the chance by many to talk about wellness in general, and nutrition, exercise, sleep and mindfulness in particular. The most rewarding part for me is when people share their concerns and questions with me, and later tell me that they feel better, having changed some aspect of what they were doing based on our interaction. Being able to say “Yes,” to so many people and opportunities that I previously had to say “Sorry, I can’t” has been a blessing. Wishing our readers some quiet gratitude over the coming weeks.
What are you grateful for? We Lady Docs wish you a peaceful, healthy and happy Thanksgiving!