The Playlist


Do they bug you? Baaahahahahaaaaa!!!

I get one almost every morning, a song that starts playing in my head, repeating lightly in the transom between conscious thoughts and brushing teeth. How fascinating! Apparently for some people it’s annoying, even distressing, but I like it, especially when it inspires me to dance a little. Music makes me happy.

Duran Duran was just inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, woohoooooo! If you have not already, I highly recommend listening to John Taylor’s memoir, In the Pleasure Groove: Love, Death, and Duran Duran, which he reads himself. It’s poignant and honest, funny and endearing, and for us 80s kids, a window into our music heroes’ lives. “Ordinary World” plays as I type now, and when “Rio”, “Union of the Snake”, or “The Reflex” come on I’m 14 again, walking the halls of AHS. There is just something about music from adolescence that we internalize, that vibrates as deeply as anything else from our most formative years.

More often over time, I’m adding ‘oldies’ to my Spotify Liked Songs list, including classics by Bryan Adams, Kenny Loggins, Journey, Gin Blossoms, and Eric Clapton. When Maverick came out I added “Danger Zone” and the Top Gun Anthem. When I was very young, my parents played John Denver, Johnny Cash, and Sonny and Cher. OMG the nostalgia, it’s so powerful. Each of these songs evokes something unique… something warm, comforting, utterly limbic and visceral; ineffable and yet completely tangible.

And remember Band Aid? I still love their single, “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” In sixth grade we learned “We Are the World” in sign language and performed it for our parents. Many of you likely recall these songs. What you may not know is that pop singers in Taiwan also did a similar project, “明天會更好”, “Tomorrow will be even better.” This one makes me especially emotional because Ma and Ba had always played the individual artists’ songs in our house. Tsai Chin‘s voice is especially distinctive and recognizable, and thus nostalgic for our whole family. All of these collaborative songs, but the Chinese one in particular, evoked a sense of being part of something bigger–something global–decades before the internet led us to take that feeling for granted. They still do this for me, in a deeper way.

Thanks to my kids, I also discover new (to me) music every week. Daughter has introduced me to K-pop, so my playlist now includes BTS and Blackpink. She and I are big fans of Oscar Isaac; did you know he sings, too? I added at least 5 songs from the To All the Boys soundtrack, and I liked the movie, too. I discovered One Voice Children’s Choir’s version of “Memories”, then Son/Daughter showed me the original by Maroon 5; they’re both great!

*sigh* I so love my playlist. It’s eclectic, personal, and joyful. I play it shuffled, so I never know what’s coming next, and it always makes me happy. Other drivers may often see me bopping along Lake Shore Drive…

When I write, I like instrumentals. My go-tos are the soundtrack for Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, selections from The Hobbit soundtrack, and my favorites from December by George Winston. Sometimes I just play a single song on repeat, which feels meditative and inspiring. Recent tracks include “Variations on the Kanon”, “Hallelujah” by The Canadian Tenors, and “Lean On Me” by The Tenors.

Music. Such a phenomenal thing. Thanks to iheart11 over at Passion…Unbridled, once again, for inspiring another of my 30 posts for November. I hope you have clicked on some of the artists/songs above and found uplift today. Life is too short to not hear something good every day, whenever possible.

Good Doctor and Good Mom


What do you sacrifice in pursuit of your dreams?

What does your calling cost you?

What are the returns on your investments?

* * * * *

Last week I mentioned Dierks Bentley’s, “Woman, Amen”, a song I love.  After listening to it for many days on repeat this past week, I decided to tour his nine albums this weekend.  His songs vary in topic and form, and at the same time he has a consistent style and vibe.  I like it.  Yesterday I heard his song, “Damn These Dreams”:

Now honey I know you miss me, I feel it when you kiss me

Trust me when I say every goodbye hurts

Well damn these dreams

Playin’ my heart just like a guitar string

Pullin’ me away from you and everything I really need

Well damn these dreams

Chasing that same old whiskey melody

All up and down these Nashville streets

It’s hard to look true love in the eye and leave

Damn these dreams


Instantly I remembered two other songs with similar themes:


Goodbye Again”, by John Denver:

Other voices beckon me, and for a little while

It’s goodbye again, I’m sorry to be leaving you

Goodbye again, as if you didn’t know

It’s goodbye again

Have to go and see some friends of mine

Some that I don’t know

Some who aren’t familiar with my name

It’s something that’s inside of me

Not hard to understand

It’s anyone who’ll listen to me sing

…Lying by your side’s the greatest peace I’ve ever known

But it’s goodbye again…


And “I Play the Road”, by Zach Brown Band:

…She says daddy where to you go

When you leave me all these nights

With a suitcase and guitar in your hand

Kissing me and mom goodbye with a tear and a smile

Where do you go? 

Daddy where do you go?

I play the road

And the highway is our song

And every city’s like the same three chords

Been helping us along when the story’s told

And the crowd is done and gone

Shaking off the miles and trying to make it home

…Mile after mile… 

Baby, I’m comin’ home

Years ago, I think it was either Dana Carvey or Martin Short who said something like one can only tolerate the life of a comedian because s/he simply cannot do anything else—they must do comedy.  If anyone can find the reference, please share!

* * * * *

As it is in music and comedy, so it is in medicine.  For many of us, we simply must do it; we have no existential choice.  These songs describe well our pain and conflict when we take call or have to work on weekends, or miss the kids’ school and sports events, and spend hours at home on the medical record or answering pages.

I recently read an article, “A Good Doctor or a Good Mom, Never Both”.  Early in this physician mom writer’s career, an elder colleague told her, “’You can be a good doctor, and you can be a good mother, but you can never be both at the same time.’”  The author disagrees, saying it’s either/or, never both, ever.  At once hearing Bentley’s song, I felt a moment of panic, mortified that I’m destroying my family for my job.  Am I totally selfish for choosing this career, and are my priorities so distorted that I so often put work before my family?  Have I chosen to be a good doctor and a horrible mom?

Thank goodness for Simon Sinek who, in his 2014 book, Leaders Eat Last, referenced a 2011 study that showed “a child’s sense of well-being is affected less by the long hours their parents put in at work and more by the mood their parents are in when they come home.  Children are better off having a parent who works into the night in a job they love than a parent who works shorter hours but comes home unhappy.”  This idea has saved me from countless episodes of self-flagellation and guilt.  It was so instantly redeeming that I recall the exact moment I heard it—I was at the airport, traveling solo, likely for a work related conference.  I can’t say I’m ecstatic every evening coming home, but I generally feel satisfied by a fulfilling day doing something I love.  I can confidently report that my husband feels the same.

I’ve attended one swim meet in two years.  I miss any school event that occurs during the workday.  I still get lost walking the maze that is the kids’ school, though we (they) have been there over a decade.  But I get to choir and orchestra concerts, and dinner potlucks.  I know my kids’ friends and am friends with their parents.  The kids’ teachers think they feel loved by us.  I think I do okay.

My kids hear me on the phone with patients and colleagues.  They know it takes time and understanding to take good care of people.  I’m confident they see and feel how meaningful this work and these relationships are to me.  And the science is pretty cool, too.  I would never pressure my kids to go into medicine, but I would not be surprised if they did.  I would absolutely encourage it, if it gives them the joy it gives me.

“You can be a good doctor, and you can be a good mother, but you can never be both at the same time.”  I respectfully agree and disagree.  You can absolutely be both, often at the same time.