On Finding Meaning

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NaBloPoMo 2016, Letters to Patients, Day 8

To Patients Seeking Meaning:

Try the Three Question Journal.

One of my favorite parts of a new patient encounter is when we talk about your work.  Not only hearing about what you do (as I wrote on Day 3), but what it means to you.  I ask you to rate your overall work stress on a scale of zero to ten.  Then I ask you to rate the overall meaning of your work (to you, not to others), on the same scale.  I’m looking for meaning to rate higher than stress, and above 6 in general.  This ratio, I have observed, represents a sustainable and fulfilling work life.  When I hear you articulate your passions and intentions at work, it inspires me, too.

Some of you realize suddenly that the meaning you once felt has faded, and you get pensive.  Or you tersely state that your work holds no meaning whatsoever, other than as a source of income.  This is where I usually pause for a few seconds to feel out where the conversation will go.  Should I screen you for depression?  Should we explore or move on?  My meaning comes from these inflection points.

Given that we spend most of our waking hours, most days of the week, at our jobs, I assert that it’s worth trying to maximize our sense of meaning.  Why not be happy and fulfilled at work, if you can?  I also assert that this is something we can and should choose, for our health and that of those around us.

My friend Liz recently re-introduced me to an exercise that may help.  It’s from Rachel Remen, physician and author of two deeply moving books, Kitchen Table Wisdom and My Grandfather’s Blessings.  It’s called the Three Question Journal.  You can find background and detailed instructions on her website here.  Basically it’s a daily practice of finding three things in your encounters:

  1. Something that surprised you
  2. Something that touched your heart
  3. Something that inspired you

Many of you may think this is a waste of time, frivolous, meaningless.  You have more important and pressing things to do.  I admit, I am not a consistent practitioner.  I feel anxious: What if I can’t find anything?  That must mean I’m mindless, cold, and utterly un-inspire-able.  Remen says this is okay— “DO NOT BECOME DISCOURAGED!!   Many people find that for a little while the answers to all three questions are exactly the same:  NOTHING, NOTHING and NOTHING.”

Wouldn’t it be so much better to be able to answer with, “This, THIS, and oh my God, THIS!!”  Every day?

We have 22 more days of November.  If you comment that you will challenge yourself to this practice every day for the rest of the month, so will I.  And we can compare notes along the way.  Whattaya say?

 

56 thoughts on “On Finding Meaning

  1. Another lovely post, Catherine. I appreciate the reminder of Rachel’s 3 questions. Like you, I don’t do this practice consistently enough, but I will commit to doing it daily for the remainder of November. If I can’t come up with surprises, touching moments, and inspirational ones over these next few days, I am in serious need of a kick in the rear. Thanks…this is just what November needs!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Donna!
      Thank you for taking the challenge! I have been practicing since I wrote this, in case someone would (I knew someone would!)… I was thinking we could share each day, either on this comment thread or on each of my subsequent posts this month. Since you are the first guest to participate, you may choose! 😀
      And we can all reserve the right to not disclose details; it’s about the personal practice and the KIND community of support, not the content. Look forward to the sharing! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • Hi, Catherine,
        Let’s do it here. Since I’m a couple of hours behind you, I may not always get to it as soon as you. We’re starting this on a very atypical day. The questions were easy today, but only because thoughts about the election were never far from my mind.
        WHAT SURPRISED ME: How very emotional I am about the election. No results yet, but I’m in tears hourly over the pride of a Hillary win or the terror of the other possible outcome.
        WHAT TOUCHED MY HEART: The news about so many people standing up at the polls to help minorities and others who are being blocked from voting; it gives me hope.
        WHAT INSPIRED ME: The idea that young girls may be seeing the election of the first woman president and the possibility that this may inspire them to new heights.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Agreed!!
        Okay here are mine…
        Surprised: also how anxious I am about the election! Trying to remember deep breathing.
        Touched: couple of the last ads I saw for Hillary, seeing her hugging people, talking about her own mother, and reading about the rapid groundswell of Pantsuit Nation.
        Inspired: a note from my daughter to my son, owning her own annoying behavior and also standing up for herself, telling him to own his. 👍🏼👊🏼👏🏼

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  2. Hi, Cathy, here’s mine for today…such a surreal day. Hope you found peace in it.
    Surprised: by how numb I felt all day, and then realizing this was exactly how I felt in the days after 9/11
    Touched: by how kind we all were with one another—knowing the fragility of our feelings.
    Inspired: by the blogging community I’m so fortunate to be a part of—their many messages of hope, determination and resiliency.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Donna!
      Ok mine:
      Surprised: how actually inspired I feel as I go to bed tonight. I know we have very hard days ahead, and yet I am filled with hope.
      Touched: like you, by the gentleness go people toward each other today.
      Inspired: by all the wisdom and hope I read on Facebook, other blogs, and in the clips of Hillary’s concession speech.
      One day at a time.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. SURPRISED to receive a very kind message from a business colleague I haven’t seen in many years. Almost didn’t have anything for this category–message came a short while ago. Otherwise, no surprises today.
    INSPIRED by a story Bill showed me about Hubert Humphrey in his final days: knowing he was dying, he spent every day while he was in the hospital visiting other patients, listening to them, telling them stories, and cheering them up. Sometime he brought former President Gerald Ford with him.
    TOUCHED by a visit from a neighbor who just wanted to know how we were in the wake of the election. We talked for nearly an hour and all of us felt better for it.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Hi, Cathy,
    I was SURPRISED today by the fact that I really (mostly) enjoyed the movie, “Doctor Strange.” The friends we went with and my husband loved it, and I found a lot to like (umm, Benedict Cumberbatch, yes!). I know you—like my husband—love Marvel movies, so if you haven’t already seen Doctor Strange, I think you’ll like it!
    I was TOUCHED by several NPR stories I heard this morning and afternoon of veterans who still deal with the aftermath of their service, or who lost friends or are haunted by memories from that time.
    I was (continue to be) INSPIRED by the peaceful protesters in North Dakota and their resolve to stop the path of the Dakota Assess Pipeline. I just hope they can do it while Obama is still in office.
    Hope you can relax over the weekend, Cathy.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Donna!
      I was surprised to find out that Wallace Shawn is still alive!! We saw him on this week’s episode of “Life in Pieces,” our new second favorite TV show!
      I was touched by the relationship between Joanie and John on that show, the grandparents. I told Hue I want to be like them when we get old.
      I was inspired by the presentation I gave this morning to a group of young business presidents. I heard stories, they engaged in the workshop, and we brainstormed ideas for future programs. Self-care, team-care, elevating tribal culture–we all get healthier, happier, and more successful! Woo hooo!!
      Thanks for the movie recommendation, maybe we will see it this weekend!
      ‘See’ you tomorrow!! ;D

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Hi, Cathy, Hope you’re having a great weekend. I love Wallace Shawn! Will have to check out “Life in Pieces.” Here’s mine for today:
    I was INSPIRED to learn about the Women’s March on Washington that has just emerged in the last day or two as a positive response to the election and the fear of what might happen under the new administration. The hope is that 1 million women will march on Washington on January 21, the day after inauguration.
    I SURPRISED hell out of myself by sending an email to about 15 women friends less than an hour after learning about the March. I asked if any of them would like to go with me and participate in sending a message of justice, equality, and solidarity. So far, no takers. Whether I will go alone remains to be seen….
    I continue to be TOUCHED by the blogging community I am a part of. So much wisdom, so much caring … so many articulate, funny, and compassionate people.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Donna! My weekend is good so far, thanks! Looks like yours is at least surprising, touching, and inspired! 😊
      Today I was surprised that I was able to swing the heavy kettlebell and ropes at my trainer’s with little difficulty.
      I was touched by the movie “The Internship,” starring Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson. The relationships and optimism were almost too sticky sweet, but they spoke to my optimistic heart.
      I was inspired by my friend who shared the ‘positive’ Donald Trump video. I hesitated to share it myself, fearing backlash from my anti-Trump friends. But I wanted to be brave like her, because we need to keep speaking openness and possibility. Looking back, that post set the tone for my day, and it was a pretty peaceful, centered, grounded, and engaging day. 😊
      Thank you for always being so punctual with this journal, Donna! If not for you I’d forget! I’ll try to be more proactive. See you tomorrow!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Almost forgot!
    Surprised – to hear from a friend who may be interested in going to D.C. in January for Women’s March on Washington…and may even know of a place where we can stay.
    Touched (and saddened) – to hear that Leon Russell died. His signature song, “A Song for You,” has been my favorite song for 40 years–and it’s connected with many happy and sad memories.
    Inspired – I googled Kate McKinnon’s opening for Saturday Night Live last night. In her Hillary Clinton persona, she sang Leonard Cohen’s sublime “Hallelujah” – both inspiring and touching, particularly in light of Cohen’s death this week.
    It’s been quite a week, hasn’t it? Let’s hope the coming one bring a bit more joy!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Donna!
      Grrr… Just finished the post for (today), now I might get behind! 😦 And it’s okay, I’m still having fun and I might not get behind, I can do this! 🙂
      Okay..
      Surprised: That my daugher at as much of her lunch as she did. Sound silly?
      Moved/touched: That my son seemed to really understand when I explained why we take people seriously when they say they have allergy symptoms. He really seemed to grasp the risk.
      Inspired: When I spoke to my daughter tonight about how to handle relationships at school. She gets it–live and let live, and stand up for yourself. I think we are on the right track with these kids, for now at least. 🙂
      And yes, what a long, strange trip this week. I keep having to remind myself, one day at a time, one day at a time, keep breathing, keep walking. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Today’s are really a stretch, Cathy. It was kind of a low-key/lay-low/ho-hum day. Here goes:
    SURPRISED while watching squirrels in our back yard to see that they dig up nuts and then, rather than eat them or carry them away, they move to another spot in the yard and bury them again. Seems rather pointless. But then, they’re squirrels….
    TOUCHED by a story I read this morning of a postman during the Great Depression giving a family on his route the money they needed to pay the rent and stave off eviction. The experience inspired the members of this family to perform kind and generous acts at every opportunity throughout their lives. Nice to see an illustration of the ripple effect!
    “INSPIRED” by a recipe I came across in a blog I’ve just started following. So, later this week, I will bake for my husband Jodi’s “Cinnamon Roll Apple Pie.” I generally don’t eat more than a bite of things like that, but Bill loves them. As soon as his current snack is gone, I’ll try this.
    I am hopeful tomorrow will be more touching/surprising/inspiring.

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    • Hi Donna!
      I think it’s great that sometimes we will have less than eventful days. I’m sure Rachel would tell us to welcome it. The point is simply to notice, right? 😊
      Ok so… Surprised: that I over the weekend I had basically forgotten about the big presentation I made on Friday morning–my mind had moved on quickly to all the other things I need to do now! It was a big deal, and I just let it go…
      Moved: that my friends are so saddened and empathetic when I tell them that my daughter was worried about being deported when we realized Trump would win. She was born here. But she gets the racism behind his words…
      Inspired: I spoke to a woman today who has come a long way in the journey of self-care the last few years. New job, divorce, new relationship… Her health habits still wax and wane, but her self-judgment is better controlled and she takes it all a lot more lightly now, and her attitude is freer, more open and adventurous. She definitely inspired me.
      You inspire me, too, Donna! Your comments on my post for today make me want to reach out and form a physician-patient coalition… Do they already exist??
      Thank you!!! 😊

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  8. Hi, Cathy, here’s today’s:
    SURPRISED when I went out for a walk to feel how the weather has changed from only yesterday. Snow is expected in the mountains and frost in the lowlands. Winter is upon us.
    INSPIRED by watching an interview of Maria Toorpakai, author of “A Different Kind of Daughter.” Like her book, she gave me hope for change in Pakistan and other Middle Eastern countries. Her father’s advocacy for women’s rights, as well as her own, her mother’s and sister’s, is tremendously inspiring.
    TOUCHED to hear the many moving tributes to Gwen Ifill, following her death yesterday. Her colleagues had the greatest regard for her and she worked almost up to the end, covering the election and debates, not letting anyone know how sick she was.

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    • Hi Donna!
      Okay, here are mine:
      SURPRISED at WHAT a huge difference it made to not be on Facebook all day–I was so much happier and SO much more productive!!!
      TOUCHED by my daughter’s drawing of a Dala’i Lama quote on gratitude.
      INSPIRED by a conversation with a colleague, planning the next year of programming for Whole Physician Health. She is a kindred spirit in mind-body medicine, curiosity, and collaboration!!
      Thank you again for doing this daily practice with me. It’s reallly keeping me grounded in a tumultuous time! Read you tomorrow!! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Well, just two out of three today, Cathy….
    SURPRISED to get a call from my friend who said she would love to go to DC for the women’s march, but doesn’t have the energy or strength—she’s still recovering from a brain hemorrhage. When I told her I was thinking of staying here and doing the companion Seattle March, she said she’d fly up for it and she’d train for it between now and January. It’s been ten years since I’ve seen her.
    TOUCHED to read about the response to acts of violence and hate perpetrated on a mosque in Tucson (mostly by students at the nearby university). Other people took chalk and wrote messages on the sidewalk outside the mosque, saying things like, “We love you.” “We want you here.” “Tucson sees you and wants you.” The Islamic Center of Tucson replied, “From the bottom of our hearts, thank you. We love you too.”
    Maybe tomorrow will bring some inspiration … doldrums seem to be settling in. Hope you had a great day.

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    • Donna you are so punctual… I am guessing you are also very disciplined–you always posted to your blog on time all last year! ;D
      Okay let’s see…
      Surprised…that I’m able to stay away from Facebook much more easily today that I thought. I’m holding the space for what happens next, but I’m thinking I’ll be able to moderate it a lot better from now on.
      Touched…. Also by the story you shared about the mosque in Tuscon. I like your idea of finding more examples of good/kindness for every example of bad/meanness. If I go back to FB I will strive to maintain at least the 3:1 ratio!
      Inspired… By a conversation I had today preparing a presentation I will make in a couple of weeks to a group of designers. We’ll discuss self-care, tribal culture, flow, mastery, creativity, collaboration, innovation, and hopefully LOVE and TOGETHERNESS!!
      A bonus:
      My daughter has a mindfulness coloring book. It has quotes also. She saw one by the Dalai L’ama yesterday, and asked me if I know who that is. The innocence of children touches me, too. 🙂
      Have a great day tomorrow, Donna! I will be late to post, as I will be driving downstate after work. ‘See you then!’

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  10. Pingback: On Inspiration | Healing Through Connection

  11. Hi, Cathy, I cheated a bit. I prefer to think of it as creative accounting.
    SURPRISED to discover how much easier it is to stay focused on the lectures in my audio course if I color while I’m listening. If I try to listen while idle, I drift away. Hmmm, this is an area where multi-tasking is actually beneficial.
    I’m making this a two-fer:
    INSPIRED and TOUCHED by many of the speeches at the National Book Awards: Rep. John Lewis tearfully relating how as a teenager he was refused a library card because he was black, and now he was on stage accepting a National Book Award. Colson Whitehead’s “formula” for feeling better in these worrisome times: “Be kind to everybody. Make art and fight the power.” And poet Toi Derricotte’s declaration that “joy is an act of resistance.”
    Hope you’ve had a great day today, Cathy, and will have a better one tomorrow. See you then!

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    • Hi Donna! I heard parts of those speeches on NPR this morning, too! And yes, very moving.
      I just arrived in Champaign for the American College of Physicians Illinois chapter meeting. Tomorrow morning I will give a fifteen minute summary of highlights from the international physician conference.
      I’m surprised at how not nervous I am about this talk. But then again, maybe there is no need. I know this stuff, I love it. There are no facts to memorize, only passion and inspiration to share!
      I am moved by my conversation with my friend in the car. We talked for 121 miles and then some. We realized that we have been each other’s mentors in different ways these last few years. I also realized that knowing her had made me more confident, more brave, and more *my best self*. Truly moving.
      I’m inspired by the message in about to deliver tomorrow. The profession struggles to sustain its calling. Our circumstances undermine the meaning in our work, obscure our calling. And yet, lie you posted today, the well will still fill, from the deep. Oh my gosh!! I think I will quote you tomorrow!! OMG it’s PERFECT!! YOU inspire me, Donna!!!
      It’s gonna be great. Because I have so much inspiration all around me.
      This was a pretty great day, Donna.
      I hope your well fills in a little and a lot more every day. Let’s look for that 3:1 ratio, and continue our journal. It’s really helping me! …And staying off of Facebook is also paying off–in time, energy, and mood. 😉
      Hugs to you, friend!! ❤️

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  13. Hi, Cathy, I hope your conference was informative, enlightening, and enjoyable. I know your presentation was. I am inspired by your enthusiasm and commitment, and the energy behind them (bonus inspiration). Today,
    I was SURPRISED (and delighted) to get an email from an agent I’ve been corresponding with. She’s been very encouraging about YOLK (the book), and wants to have a phone conversation early next week.
    TOUCHED by a story I read about a 69-year-old woman who gave up her top spot on the liver transplant list so that a 23-year-old who was about to die of liver failure could get the now-available organ. Fortunately, another liver became available later to also save the older woman. But, really, she had been willing to sacrifice her LIFE for the younger woman.
    I was totally INSPIRED by a story my friend, Kris, shared on my blog, describing how a liberal Texan picked up the dinner tab for a family she had been sitting next to and overheard their bigoted and intolerant comments. Instead of confronting them or criticizing, she paid their bill and left a compassionate note. I’d like to believe it made a difference!
    Cheers, my friend!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Donna!
      Apologies for the delay. I left Champaign after 10pm last night, had to catch up on some sleep…
      Hey, it looks like you had a great day! 😀 I so look forward to YOLK the book, woo hoooooo!! Many vibes for positive progress coming your way! Okay, for my last 24 hours:
      Surprised to learn that marijuana has been used in religious ceremonies in India for generations. Learned a lot about marijuana, actually, from my friend’s presentation at the conference yesterday.
      Touched by the people who came up to me after my talk–the message resonated a differently for each of them, and I’m so happy to have made yet more connections for collaboration!
      Inspired by another colleague yesterday–a leader in the ACP. She pointed out that 80% of physician burnout stems from systems issues. So those of us who feel urgency to change the system are well-validated. AND, system change takes a long time. So, in the meantime, it’s just as important for us to focus on self-care and coping skills. That made me think: YES. They are not separate or opposing practices. They are not even parallel. Rather, they are cyclic and upward spiraling. Take care of yourself, invest in yourself. Take the returns and reinvest in those around you–participate in improving the system. As positive system changes progress, you feel rewarded, you continue to take care of yourself and others, etc. etc. It feels a little anticlimactic to me now, but at the time it was truly inspiring…
      So, now to post NBPM for today, and I’ll do my 3 questions again later! 😀

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  14. You’ve had an incredibly busy week/month. Super congratulations for posting to your blog every day, plus finding 3-question inspiration and such. My life is so much quieter now that I am semi-retired. I’m plenty busy, but without the constant deadlines and continual meetings. And I sleep better than ever. Here’s my day:
    SURPRISED by a sudden rainfall in the middle of my walk. Actually, I enjoyed it and was sorry when it stopped. I’d forgotten how much I love walking in the rain.
    INSPIRED to hear how Matthew Brumley, a Seattle travel agent—after his flight home from Amsterdam was delayed a full day—spent that day helping a stranded passenger from Nigeria. Knowing the city pretty well, Matthew led the two of them all over the city and beyond—taking lengthy train trips and visiting multiple embassies—to help the man renew his passport, get new travel papers, and arrange his flight back to Nigeria. Brumley noted that he had been returning from a fabulous two-week European trip, but this day of helping a stranger was without question the highlight of the trip. How easy it would have been to ignore a stranger’s need. I can’t help wondering how often we miss this sort of opportunity because we’re either not paying attention or can’t be bothered. Inspiring lesson.
    TOUCHED by a link my friend in Australia sent me today. The radio program This American Life asked songwriter Sara Bareilles to imagine what President Obama might be thinking about the election and Donald Trump, but can’t say publicly. The result was this beautiful and moving song, “Seriously,” performed by Leslie Odom, Jr. It’s incredible! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hI8TCA3fJcs. If you haven’t seen this, Cathy, take a look.
    Hope your weekend continues to be restful.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Donna!
      I have seen this song/video, thank you!
      Thank you also for your empathy and encouragement. 🙂
      Okay, here’s my day:
      Surprised: Hmmm, can’t think of anything…. Sadly, carrot cake for breakfast is not as unusual as one might think… 😉
      Touched: That people I don’t often interact with on Facebook expressed congratulations for my award yesterday. I feels good to be recognized. 🙂
      Inspired: Not really today. I feel confused and stymied more than anything today. Trying to figure out where I should put my energy, what I’m really responsible to do (I’m thinking politically), and how I can do it most effectively… So maybe I am actually inspired? To shift to more effective action? Maybe inspiration can be felt in smaller, quieter breaths… Hmmmm 😉 We will see where it goes in time, I suppose…

      Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Donna!
      Hope you have had a good weekend!!
      I’m debating between writing or working out, as I cannot do both and get to bed on time tonight… ;P
      These are my 3 for today, Sunday, November 20:
      Surprised: That I ended up enjoying the middle school’s abbreviated production of _Twelfth Night_, set in the 1970s. At first I could barely understand the dialogue, but somehow I got used to it, and the kids did a great job.
      Touched: That my daughter’s new friend’s family were so welcoming and generous for the kids’ playdate today. I hope this is the beginning of a fun new family friendship!
      Inspired: For Thanksgiving. Normally I don’t carry much sentiment for this holiday, and I still loath the labor of cooking (and I don’t even participate in that part!)–it’s just so much work, I almost feel guilty eating the food… But this year, with the mild fall and all that I have been able to witness an accomplish, I think I will get into it all and really think hard and long on gratitude. And maybe that’s a very good thing, because I think gratitude begets generosity, and we all know we need more of that these days!!
      May your week be filled with gratitude and generosity, both by you and on you! Peace and hugs! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • Hi, Cathy, sounds like you’ve been able to continue relaxing and replenishing today–I hope so. It’s been a quiet and productive day here…and, of course, rainy.
        SURPRISED when I went out to get the newspaper this morning to see the delivery guy get out of his car and walk up our driveway toward me. I was clearly in his sight. Then he made an abrupt left and walked over to some trees and proceeded to pee into them. Ours is the only house on our cul-de-sac that has a lot of trees in the front yard, so this may be a regular stop on his route. It may also explain why nothing grows in that particular area of the yard.
        TOUCHED and INSPIRED by rereading Oliver Sacks’ beautiful book, “Gratitude,” written shortly before his death. His writing, his observations, and his reverence for what really matters show—in the gentlest way possible—what a life well-lived looks like.
        INSPIRATION #2: The paragraph above is actually the second one I wrote to describe my reactions to reading “Gratitude.” After I read the first one over, I decided that I would use it as a blog post tomorrow, so I wrote a briefer one for our 3 questions exercise.
        Wishing you a great week. See you tomorrow!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Oooo, can’t wait to read the post! Oh, and I will add Oliver Sacks to my reading list. I have read interviews and various other short pieces about him, and I think I will really love his words. He was a physician, no?
        And OMG, really, peeing in your yard right in front of you?? I’m trying to think, how could you, kindly, of course, get him to STOP DOING THAT???

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  15. Actually, I was speechless. I thought for an instant of asking if he’d like to use our bathroom, but then I thought that might be seen as an invitation to knock to use it other times, and since they deliver at around 4:30 a.m. on weekdays, I don’t even want to open that door. Finally, I just said, “Really?” and turned back to my house. Probably a wimpy response. On a happier note, yes, Sacks was a physician, specializing in brain injury and cognitive issues. The movie “Awakenings” was based on one of his books, and he wrote about a dozen others. An amazing man!

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  16. Yikes! I’m just coming up for air to tell you it’s been an unusual day. I’ve spent nearly every minute at my computer, making some major revisions to my book proposal in time for my call with my potential agent first thing tomorrow morning (keep your fingers crossed!). I haven’t had time to think about our questions.
    However, I can cheat a bit and say that I was surprised, inspired, and touched by Nancy’s beautiful blog post at Practically Wise this morning, which continued the questions I raised last week about whether kindness really can stand up to the incivility we saw throughout the election. Nancy’s response was articulate and thoughtful, and right on target. So, if I can use that as a 3-fer, mission accomplished. And since we’re old enough to alter the rules when we need to, I’m ok with that.
    Hope your Monday was fabulous, Cathy. Sorry for this disjointed message. Back to work now.

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    • Woo hooooooooooo, write on, Donna!! I hope things went well today!
      Okay so yesterday…
      Surprised at how angry I was when I got up, and then at how it had all dissipated by the time I got home from work! Having such supportive work colleagues and staff helps so much.
      Touched: At how the people at work really do function like a happy family–everybody is looking out for one another, encouraging and holding one another up. So heartwarming.
      Inspired: Not sure this really counts… by the prospect of sleep? I did a decent workout and I knew I had today off, so I decided to get to bed on time and post a little later today. So I did, and it was totally the right decision! 😀

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    • Okay for today Tuesday, 11-22-16:
      Surprised: At what a good mood my teen son was in this afternoon–so talkative, and helped put away the groceries without being asked. :O I will take what I can get, woo hooooo!
      Touched: By the blog post by John Pavlovitz I referenced, about being gentle and forgiving with ourselves and our loved ones this holiday, as we all try out best to process the election results and prepare for the uncertain future…
      Inspired: by the collective of the articles I posted–I did spend 2 hours on Facebook and other media–reading, questioning, processing, deciding… By the time I finished my post and headed out for the day, I felt positively light, truly optimistic, and ready to take on whatever comes during our family gatherings. I think John’s post really affected me. It’s like Brene Brown says–we really are all doing our best, and if we can keep that in mind, it automatically makes us kinder, to ourselves and to others. And that can make *all* the difference. Hmmmm, I think I just found my post for tomorrow! 😀 Hugs to you, Donna! 😀

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  17. Hi, Cathy,
    I’m sorry to say I’ve got nothing today. I spent a good deal of time in an inspiration-less, surprise-less, and unmoving meeting. Then we hurriedly packed the car and headed up here to our cabin. I am relaxing and reading in anticipation of a busy day tomorrow (we’re having friends for Thanksgiving dinner). I’m sure if I had looked harder or made more effort, I would have found something, but … I didn’t.
    Hope your day was filled with just what you needed, and that you and your family have a fabulous Thanksgiving!

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    • HI Donna!
      Thanks for keeping up with the practice all these weeks, it’s been a fun and inspiring journey! And I think it’s totally okay to have nothing to report–we have shown ourselves that this seldom happens. And maybe you would agree that Rachel Remen would tell us that it’s the process, rather than the result, that matters more?
      Today I’m surprised that Donald Trump was so conciliatory toward the NYT people during their on-record interview. I’m also a little surprised at what a foul mood reading the transcript put me in. Shows me that I have some more inner work to do if I’m to survive the next 4 years with m sanity intact.
      I was touched and inspired today by a patient’s life story. So full of perseverance, discipline, self-efficacy, and triumph. I wish I had time to hear more.
      This home stretch of NaBloPoMo feels all uphill all of a sudden. 7 more days. It will be great to look back on the 30 days and process the process! It didn’t turn out the way I thought–better, though, actually! 😀
      Happy Thanksgiving and ‘see’ you tomorrow! 🙂 xoxo

      Liked by 1 person

  18. HI, Cathy, hope you and your family had a lovely Thanksgiving. Ours was wonderful. Here’s my 3 questions for today:
    SURPRISED to discover that my turkey was done an hour-and-a-half earlier than it was supposed to be. Usually it takes about an hour longer than it’s supposed to! Nonetheless, everything came together beautifully and we had a great meal, with great friends, and great conversation. It doesn’t get any better than that!
    TOUCHED by the two movies we watched today. While Bill and I were cleaning and cooking, we watched the 1993 movie, “Searching for Bobby Fischer,” a moving film about a child chess prodigy (with Joseph Mantegna, Ben Kingsley, Laurence Fishburn, Joan Allen). And then after dinner, with our friends we watched the 1994 film “A Foreign Field” (Alec Guinness, Edward Herrmann, Lauren Bacall). Two of our favorites!
    INSPIRED by a story I heard on NPR this morning about a restaurant owner in a small town in upstate New York. He is an immigrant from Bhutan and owns a restaurant and has recently been harassed and threatened because he is an immigrant and a minority. To protect himself and his family he even considered getting a gun, an idea completely at odds with his Buddhist tradition. However his local community stepped in to support him and his restaurant. Both are thriving in a loving community.
    See you tomorrow, my friend!

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    • Happy Thanksgiving, Donna!
      I’m so happy you had such a fantastic holiday! Mine was pretty great, too–better than I expected.
      Today I was very pleasantly surprised that I had one of my best workouts to date–when I was prepared to one of the worst. I have not done intensive training for a couple of weeks and I thought I had lost ground. Turns out I actually gained, through a process my trainer taught me is known as ‘periodization.’ YAAAY!!
      I was touched today by my friend who could see exactly what I was thinking and feeling, both with and without me saying it. And she validated all of it, loving me wholly and without reservation. I’m so grateful for her.
      And let’s see, inspired… Nothing in particular triggered inspiration for me today, but I do feel ‘inspired’ once again to de-clutter. The whole Thanksgiving retail frenzy puts me off, and I feel sheepish that I fell victim to consumerism again tonight for two cool electronics that we definitely do not need. Oh well, purchases can be returned. And I can purge a lot of my existing STUFF. It starts tomorrow! The kids can find their own food; I will be in the basement throwing stuff out! ;D I’ll let you know how it goes! Peace on you, friend! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  19. Pingback: On the Golden Positivity Ratio | Healing Through Connection

  20. Hi, Cathy, I hope your day of purging the basement was as productive and freeing as you hoped. I’m trying to get rid of stuff … rather too slowly and methodically. It’s mostly paper and books. I seem to have this fear of tossing some important information that I would never be able to find again (not that I could ever find it now when I need it). Here’s my day:
    After two days of clouds and relentless rain, I got up this morning to clear skies and the delightful SURPRISE that the mountain our cabin looks out on is covered in snow. Mount Pilchuck is not a skiing mountain; it’s a rather minor mountain in the Cascade Range, but it’s “my” mountain, and the first snow always delights me. Unless, there’s an unexpected warming, the mountain will likely be snow-covered until about July.
    TOUCHED to receive kind and funny and generous messages from two “virtual” friends, and then INSPIRED to think about how the concept of “community” has changed in recent years. There are now several people I consider good friends whom I have never actually met … people like you and Nancy and others who I’ve connected with in the blogging world, and other friends who I first connected with in an online class or other virtual means—whose presence I now treasure in my life. Because of distance, we can’t meet up for coffee or lunch, but the friendships seem no less real—and meeting up could still happen. It’s something to look forward to.
    Hope you can have a relaxing weekend.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Donna! 😊
      That’s so nice, what you said about the online friendships. I feel the same way! 😊 And I would also add the reward of renewing old connections on Facebook–it’s one of the reasons I keep going back. 😊
      No basement clearing happened today… But it was a relaxing day and I spent some quality time with the family, which was important.
      So let’s see, today…
      Surprised… Hmmm, can’t think of anything.
      Touched… Just looking at my kids, their innocence, joy…
      Inspired… Ya, nada there, too, I guess. 😜 Its just been a very low key day; hopefully more productive! Two more days, gotta make ’em count! 😄

      Liked by 1 person

  21. Hi, Cathy,
    I suppose I should be getting better at this, but today, I’ve got nothing. I haven’t even left our cabin, other than to go for walks, since Wednesday, and, other than Bill and the guests we had for dinner on Thanksgiving, I haven’t seen another human being. We don’t get TV reception up here, and I’ve barely listened to the radio, so I’m pretty much out of touch. Not complaining, it’s been heavenly, but in a low-key sort of way. We head home tomorrow, so hopefully there will be surprises, inspiration, and touching moments waiting.
    Hope you’ve had a lovely day!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Donna!
      You and me both, I could not even get mine in on the right day!
      And whatever, it’s a practice, not a test! ;D
      Okay so for yesterday:
      I was so surprised to wrench my back by by simply turning while bending–ya gotta be kidding me, not even lifting anything! 2 Aleves and sleep helped, but today it’s still sore. I feel decrepit, and it’s that much more annoying because I have trained my body so well these last couple of years! Grrrrrrr. My doctor self goes to the mind-body connection–I must be more stressed than I know! 😦
      Touched: at a family gathering where the kids’ cousins, ranging in age from 1 to 22. The joy, connection, and inherent optimism of youth filled the house, and thinking on it, I feel hopeful for our future. 🙂
      Inspired: to watch my happy movies! Gotta get today’s post up so I can relax and really enjoy. I think it will be Love, Actually first.
      Hope you have a relaxing and uneventful return to life as usual! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  22. Hi, Cathy,
    So sorry to hear you wrenched your back. Hope it’s getting better quickly. Back pain is so hard to deal with…and it’s exhausting.
    Today didn’t have a lot of (any?) surprises. The only thing I can muster is the fact that I am a bit SURPRISED by how much I am looking forward to spending the coming week glued to my desk and putting finishing touches on my book proposal, as well as edits to the manuscript. I’m even excited about the coffee that will accompany the work. Coffee has become my new favorite thing.
    INSPIRED by your movie post to get some fun and uplifting movies for the cold, dark nights ahead (thinking about it now, I probably need about four years’ worth). It’s been years since I’ve seen “Love, Actually,” and it’s such a delightful and satisfying film—I’ll check the library, or, failing that, Netflix.
    TOUCHED and also INSPIRED by a story I read by the wonderful Parker Palmer in today’s Brain Pickings newsletter. He was seated on a bus to the airport behind Representative John Lewis, following a commemorative Civil Rights Pilgrimage. He overheard Lewis tell this story:
    “In 1961, [Lewis] and a friend were at a bus station in Rock Hill, South Carolina, when several young white men attacked and beat them bloody with baseball bats. Lewis and his friend ‘did not fight back, and they declined to press charges.’ They simply treated their wounds and went on with their Civil Rights work.
    “In 2009, forty-eight years after this event, a white man about John Lewis’s age walked into his office on Capitol Hill, accompanied by his middle-aged son. “Mr. Lewis,” he said, “my name is Elwin Wilson. I’m one of the men who beat you in that bus station back in 1961. I want to atone for the terrible thing I did, so I’ve come to seek your forgiveness. Will you forgive me?” Lewis said, “I forgave him, we embraced, he and his son and I wept, and then we talked.”
    “As Lewis came to the end of this remarkable and moving story, he leaned back in his seat on the bus. He gazed out the window for a while as we passed through a countryside that was once a killing ground for the Ku Klux Klan, of which Elwin Wilson had been a member. Then, in a very soft voice — as if speaking to himself about the story he had just told and all of the memories that must have been moving in him — Lewis said, “People can change… People can change…”
    This story was from Palmer’s newest book, “Healing the Heart of Democracy: The Courage to Create a Politics Worthy of the Human Spirit,” which I have added to my list of books to pick up!
    Hope you’ve had a great day and that your back will be strong and pain-free tomorrow.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Donna!!
      Looks like a great day, and some great days coming up! 😊
      My back is MUCH better, thanks to an infrared light machine that my friend has. I was skeptical, but the heat really felt good, and who knows, the light may have helped too. So that was kind of surprising. Just to be sure I’ve swallowed some more Advil tonight before bed. 😉
      I’m touched by Tilda Swinton’s performance in “Dr. Strange,” which we saw today. (I liked it, as you correctly predicted!) Her character was such a total badass, and yet she seemed to take herself not too seriously. I really like people like that. I thought would resent a white person playing what I thought was supposed to be an Eastern mystical master. But now I think that these characters could all be various colors and it would all be the same. Diversity must be evenly distributed–so next I would like to see more lead LEAD roles go to women and people of color. 😉
      I’m inspired by the story you describe above! I saw that post from Brain Pickings today and have yet to read it. I have one of Palmer’s books, something like _To Know As We Are Known_; now I, too, have another book for the wish list! Thanks! 😊
      Okay, long day ahead. I think I will practice some mindful breathing and see if I can drift off.
      Here’s hoping your days coming up are joyfully productive!! 😄 See you tomorrow! 😊

      Liked by 1 person

  23. Well, this is embarrassing! Earlier today, I noticed something surprising and said to myself, “Oh, good, I have a SURPRISE to share with Cathy!” However, I can no longer remember what it was. Oh, dear … can I say the surprise is that I forgot my surprise?
    I was INSPIRED by how much I got done today—more than I expected and I’m happy with the outcome. I even made time to take a long walk, knowing that just sitting at my desk all day would make me sluggish.
    I was TOUCHED by an email from a friend who is taking very seriously her new commitment to speak up for anyone she sees who is dissed or treated badly as a minority or member of the LGBTQ community. She’s practicing saying words that will defend and de-escalate for when/if the time comes. She also wants to find a way to talk to Trump supporters to understand them, while still holding on to her disavowal of his words and behaviors (and now his appointments!). This is a woman who has always been fairly quiet, but she has definitely found her voice!
    Hope you’ve had a great day. Mine absolutely flew by!

    Like

    • Hi Donna!
      So glad your day was so great–we knew it would be!
      And how funny you forgot your surprise. I wonder if it will come back to you, and if so, at what hilarious moment? 😀
      Today I was pleasantly surprised that my back is still *fine*, as if it were never in pain in the first place. I gotta find out more about this ‘light machine’ my friend has. 😉
      I was touched by the people in my office today–they gave a loving sendoff to one of our schedulers, and everybody was elevated for it. So heartwarming.
      And, inspired: THIS article, a thousand times yes!! From the learning leader to the commitment to meaning in work, to walking the talk, to getting out in nature– A THOUSAND TIMES YES!!
      https://www.fastcoexist.com/3065943/how-reis-ceos-quest-for-purpose-inspired-him-to-take-back-black-friday
      Oh and I’m still marinating the ‘Wage Peace’ holiday mantra idea. 😉
      Until tomorrow, my friend! 😀 xo

      Liked by 1 person

  24. Hi, Cathy, I’ll look forward to reading the REI article. The company is in our backyard, and it is really a great example of corporate values and corporate responsibility. Here’s my day:
    SURPRISED to discover this morning that our 30-year-old refrigerator died sometime over the last 24 hours. Everything in the freezer had defrosted and the food in the fridge was warm. We went out this afternoon and bought a new fridge (will be delivered Saturday). Came home to another surprise: sometime during the day, our crock-pot had turned itself off and the pork roast I had prepared this morning was still uncooked. Hmmm, not a good day for appliances.
    I was INSPIRED by my book group discussion this morning about Maria Toorpakai’s lovely book, “A Different Kind of Daughter.” We all have very different tastes, but were in agreement about how good the book was and how enlightening it was about Muslim culture in Pakistan. The relationship between Maria’s mother and father, and their extremely progressive outlook as devout Muslims is a reason for great hope.
    TOUCHED by Ryan Speedo Green’s interview on The Daily Show, describing some of what he overcame to transform from rebellious ghetto kid to international opera star.
    Hope you had a good day, Cathy. Tomorrow is our last day of sharing this exercise. It’s been really enjoyable, and I’ve also really enjoyed getting to know you better. I do think I’m more aware of surprise, inspiration, and touching moments as they happen and I plan to to continue noticing and doing the three questions on my own.
    See you tomorrow!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Donna!
      Yikes, I hope your like your new appliances! And I always feel bad when food goes to waste… :/
      This month has flown! I did my final presentation today to an audience of designers. Then I got to sit in on a couple of design meetings–WOW! Everybody was so engaging and welcoming, what an honor to be invited into their world! That’s what both touched and inspired me today–that I could witness something so totally different from my own world, and find so many common experiences and also partially understand the work they do.
      I was joyously surprised by the goody bag they gave me–filled with products they had designed that I will use for years to come.
      I don’t know whether I will have more chances to interact with these amazing people; I sure hope so. Meeting them helps me think of my own profession and situation from new angles. It seems they had a similar experience from meeting me. I know more than ever now that we really need to get out of our silos and know one another better in broader contexts. That connection is beyond measure!
      It’s been fantastic doing this practice with you, Donna! Funny, I’m not sure if I’m better at noticing, consciously, at least, the three experiences. But I can say for sure that I was well aware all day today of the awe and giddiness!! 😀 See you tomorrow! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  25. Hi, Cathy, can’t believe this is our last day! It’s been such fun.
    Your presentation and interactions with the designers sounds fascinating and I hope you’ll write more in your blog about what you learned and observed. You’re so right that we can get tremendous insights about our own lives/professions when we explore a completely different life or profession.
    Today’s answers to the three questions were smallish, but smallish is often welcome.
    I was pleasantly SURPRISED to receive my annual message from Starbucks reminding me that I can have a free beverage of my choice for my upcoming birthday. I totally ignore my birthdays, but for some reason, I love it when Starbucks sends me this little treat (because I never remember it’s coming). Since I always get up a couple of hours before Bill, and he doesn’t drink coffee, I’m going to head out early tomorrow with a good book to one of my local Starbucks (there are at least 20 within a three mile radius!), and sit and relax with a caramel macchiato, while I read and people-watch. Sounds like a perfect way to start the day.
    I was TOUCHED by how touched my husband was when we learned that our neighbor’s grandson and his wife had a baby last night (our neighbor’s first great-grandchild), and that they named him John, after her husband who died last summer. John and Bill had been good friends, and Bill was so moved that they passed his name along to their baby.
    I was somewhat INSPIRED (though even more frightened and intimidated) by reading the first few chapters of Chuck Sambuchino’s book, “Creating Your Writer Platform.” This is where my agent says I need to be focusing my energy—on getting visibility, finding “celebrity” endorsements, and putting myself “out there.” I am not very proficient with social media, and the only way I’m likely to find a celebrity to endorse YOLK is if perhaps I happen upon their limping cat and pull a thorn out of its paw. I’m guessing this part may be harder than writing the book! It’s certainly outside of my comfort zone.
    Thank you, Cathy, for suggesting this exercise, and for being my “3 Questions Buddy” throughout most of November. Congratulations, too, on fulfilling your ambitious intention for the month with 30 excellent and thought-provoking blog posts. I hope you find a way to pause and celebrate your accomplishment.

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    • Donna!! HAPPY HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!! 😀 I hope you have a wonderfully warm and cozy time at Starbucks in the morning!!
      Oh yeah, the ever-daunting PLATFORM!! :O I know what you mean, the ‘putting out there,’ the ‘engage,’ the SEO and everything–choke, yikes!! And then, deep breath, one step at a time. I think the most important thing is that we stay true to ourselves. It’s such a trite phrase, but there is so much value in the core idea–never let someone push you to do something you’re not ready to do. Always follow your highest core values, and always judge for yourself, according to those values, the risks, costs, and potential benefits. Nobody else can weight those accurately for us. I am so confident in you, Donna, because you practice exactly this already. KUDOS!!! 😀
      Okay so… Wow, last day. We crossed the finish line, YAY HOOEY!! My sister runs marathons all over the world, so I’m sure she would scoff at the comparison, but I really feel like I have come to the end of a very long–well, race isn’t quite the right word–but you know what I mean!
      Thank you so much for taking up this challenge with me, Donna, it was so fun to do it with you! Your writing voice is so encouraging, so KIND and warm. You must make everybody around you feel so much better about themselves! 🙂 Okay okay, here is my last set (for now):
      Surprised: That my daughter had not eaten dinner and it was 9pm! :O Our evening routine was interrupted by an urgent trip to Target, and I had grazed before and after. She wasn’t hungry and I didn’t notice that she hadn’t eaten! Oh well, dinner at 9:30pm, no harm done. 😉
      Touched: that a friend asked me to write a letter of recommendation for her, due tomorrow. It was actually my recollection of all that we have been through together professionally, that touched me. She has been my mentor, my confidant, my friend, and my leader. And I had a chance to write to those who don’t yet know her, and tell them what a rock star she is. That was a pretty cool privilege.
      Inspired: by the last day of NaBloPoMo. All of you who have journeyed with me this month have held me up. It occurs to me that my patients hold me up in a similar way. Whenever they participate in relationship with me, as a person in addition to as their doctor, I am fed. Relationships, to be healthy, really do have to be reciprocal. There is just no way around it! So I guess I’ll just keep writing about that. 😉
      Oh, and I was also inspired by an article on kindness I read tonight. I thought of you immediately. Here it is: https://medium.com/personal-growth/some-ideas-about-kindness-a22a1cd9e1f2?source=facebookShare-545eda476197-1480566726
      Take care, Donna, and Happy Birthday again!! Looking forward to the next ‘thing’ we might do together!! 😀 xoxo

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