by Melanie Goble DVM
What does forgiveness mean? According to Wikipedia, “Forgiveness is the intentional and voluntary process by which a victim undergoes a change in feelings and attitude regarding an offense, lets go of negative emotions such as vengefulness, with an increased ability to wish the offender well.”
Wikipedia goes on to discuss that it is not the same as condoning, forgetting, or repairing of a relationship, it is letting go of the negativity. There is the saying that holding onto anger and not forgiving is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die.
Holding that negativity in, poisons yourself and does nothing to the other person. Why do it?
On September 11, 2014, I was hurt. For the past one and a half years, I had worked hard to help build up the clinic that I was working at as an associate. I did everything I could to help make a difference in the lives of the patients and clients within the community. That Thursday night, I was fired. There was no warning. There was no explanation. All I was told was that “it just didn’t work out.” The clinic was closing and I had to collect all of my belongings and leave. I cried as I filled boxes with my books and supplies. I had no idea what to do. I was the sole wage earner in my family.
I took three days to wallow in my self-pity, to be angry, sad, and scared.
On the fourth day, I was driving to go and visit a clinic so that I could give the clinic owner a break. I still had many unanswered questions, and I had a lot of self-doubt. How could I fix something if I didn’t know what needed to be fixed? At that moment, I made the decision to let it go, to forgive. By letting go and forgiving the practice owner, I opened myself up for new adventure and more success than I could have imagined.
One month later, on October 17, 2014, I opened my own relief business, Renewed Strength Veterinary Services, LLC, with the intention of helping veterinarians take the time off they need to renew their strength in mind, body, and soul. I was very tempted that December to send a “thank you” post card while I was providing relief services in the U.S. Virgin Islands, but decided that would not be in the spirit of forgiveness. I have had the opportunity to work away from home, including a total of 5 months in the Virgin Islands and 2 months in Alaska. I have had more time to travel to England to visit my sister and her family and to visit friends in the American south west while also working with the Navajo Nation on a spay and neuter project. In some ways, I work more, but my stress is generally less.
I don’t know if my former employer has wondered where I am or what has happened to me, or even if they care, and that is alright. Although I forgave the individual, in the end, forgiveness was meant to free me. If you are reading this, Former Employer, I forgive you and I wish you luck in the future.
Forgiveness sets you free from the poison that is held within you when you retain that anger and resentment from a situation. For each of you reading, I hope and pray that if you have that seed (or giant sequoia) of anger and resentment, please consider forgiveness. Release the pain so that you may be free! Do not let that person or situation hold you back from pursuing the wonderful life that you deserve!!!
Do you have a story of forgiveness (of yourself or someone else) that you would be willing to share with us? If so, please let us know and you may have a chance to be featured here on The Daily Dose, a blog dedicated to self-care and empowerment of individuals so that we may one day celebrate Not One More Vet as a reality, not just a goal.
by Carrie Jurney DVM DACVIM (Neuro)
So, I was googling a bit about gratitude and came across this article.
So, one of the techniques recommended is of course the gratitude journal, which we are all doing together in the comments of this post every week. Which is awesome.
But another thing they recommended is a gratitude letter in which you write a letter to someone who means a lot to you. It reminds me of something a friend does regularly. When you get a birthday notification on Facebook, this person takes a few minutes to write a little paragraph about their friendship and what it means to him. The result is amazingly personal and so much more meaningful than that shorter "Happy b-day" that most of us write. So, I'm going to try it. It is in fact a dear friends birthday today. I sent her a funny picture and an email happy birthday, but she deserves more than that- and equally important I know that it will make me happy to do it.
So my friends- what specific things have you been grateful for in the last week? Remember, the more specific and more timely the better. Please share them if you are comfortable- gratitude is contagious.
by Nicole McArthur, DVM
I run, but I don't consider myself a runner. Probably because my sister IS a runner. In my mind, unless one is running a sub-6 minute pace over long distances, one can not be considered a runner.
I started running in vet school after gaining the proverbial freshman 15. I asked my sister for advice on how to start running... She suggested I walk 2 minutes, run 1 and repeat 5 times. Since I didn't like being outside (and because Davis is HOT), I used the treadmill in my air conditioned apartment complex. I struggled at first, but soon was able to run a mile without stopping. Then two. Then three. I figured a 5K was my limit.
Several years later, my college friend asked me to run a half marathon with her. NO WAY. Well... Maybe. My 40th birthday was approaching, and I thought a scenic journey around San Francisco would be the best way to bid my 30s farewell. To train for this, I applied the same advice my sister gave me all those years ago - I gradually increased my distance until I made it 13.1 miles. And then I signed up for another half. And another. And another.
Kim and me at my first half marathon. Go Giants!
Two years later, my vet school classmate sent me a text inviting me to run a marathon with her. NO WAY. Well... Maybe. If Meera thinks I can do it, I was sure as hell gonna try.
I must admit that my motive to run a marathon was not entirely pure. You see, my sister got a lot of attention for her running accomplishments. She was an NCAA All-American in cross country and track. She was recruited by some well known coaches and ended up on a team sponsored by Nike. She was training for an Olympic marathon when she called me and told me about the toll the hundred mile weeks were taking on her body. She asked me if I thought she should just grind through it or if she should have a baby (damn that maternal clock). I told her to have a baby because it would be easier on her body. So she had a baby. And another. Then another. And another. She never ran that marathon. I knew that I could never be as fast or as graceful a runner as she, but at least I could say that a ran a marathon first.
When I told my husband that I would be running a marathon in the Marin Headlands, he told me 'you're gonna die'. I am not exactly the toughest cookie... But I love to prove him wrong. I looked at the course map and, for some reason, I didn't register the 5,000 foot elevation gain over the 82% runnable course. So I began training and followed a schedule that gradually increased my distance up to 20 miles. And I visited the beastly Training Hill in Auburn weekly so that I could survive climbing those 5,000 feet of hills.
I am not a fast runner, so my long runs would take several hours. Those hours became my salvation: no kids screaming 'mommmmmmmay!', no dishes in the sink, no clients to call back. Just me and the solitude of the trail. I would come home with tired legs, dirty shoes and a rested mind.
Marathon day finally arrived and I was nervous. But I knew that I had put in the training, so I just needed to get out and run. Everything started off well and I was happy.
As the miles added up, I realized I was falling off pace to finish in the allotted 6 hour time limit. My happiness turned to disappointment.
My apologies to the race photographer who caught me at the top of yet another greuling incline:
At the mile 18 aid station, I began stuffing M&Ms trail mix into my mouth as hunger was my prevailing emotion. With each sweet and salty bite, I felt like the end was in sight and I was ready to power through. Until a volunteer approached me and said that I was likely not going to make it to the finish in under 6 hours. She told me that my options were to skip the out-and-back and head straight to the finish totalling about 20 miles, or I could continue unofficially and finish the marathon. I saw a man standing in the aid station after finishing the out-and-back and I asked him how it was. He gave me a look that told me it was torture. With that, my determination to finish my first marathon intensified.
I told the volunteer that I was there to run a marathon, not 20 miles. She told me she needed to take my number. I thought she meant she would write it down... No. She meant she would physically remove my number and I could have it back if she was still there when I returned from the 5 mile out-and-back. She encouraged me to run swiftly so I could finish in time. With a renewed sense of 'fuck you, I can do this!!!' I bombed down the hill. It is easy to run swiftly on a decline. It was the 2.5 miles up the steep grade I hadn't thought about.
After struggling through the uphill, my Garmin indicated I should be close to the aid station, but I couldn't see it. With my hamstrings cramped and burning, I felt the last bit of hope leave my body. I had zero control over my mind and my body and I began to sob. I had failed.
As I wiped away my tears, I saw the volunteer collecting trail markers. I heard her say 'there you are!' as she walked towards me and put her arm around my sweaty, stinky shoulders. We walked up the hill and I was surprised to see the aid station was still standing. She asked the race coordinator if I could finish officially, to which she replied 'of course, honey!'. The coordinator asked if I wanted to check in with the medic and I said 'no, I just want my number back'. She offered to pin it back on me, but I knew every second counted. So I rolled up my number and carried it in my hand towards the finish.
I don't remember much about the last stretch of marathon except that it was beautiful. And it sucked. And that my knees finally forgave me a few weeks later.
I found my classmates cheering for me at the bottom of the hill. And I realized I had accomplished my goal.
Six hours, 8 minutes and 40 seconds after starting, I crossed the finish line, earning the honor of last place.
At 42 years of age, I could call myself a marathon finisher.
I didn't run for a couple of months after that marathon. Partly because I don't like running in the heat while dodging rattlesnakes. But mostly because I was burned out. Training all those months made running a chore and not the zen place I used to love. But after a few months, I found myself missing the trail. It is where my brain slows down. It is where I am free to wander. It is where I find peace. As it turns out, I was running for reasons bigger than achieving a specific goal of finishing a marathon. And recently I began wondering if I should train for another marathon.
by Lisa Chase DVM
This Week NOMV member Dr. Lisa Chase shares one of her favorite recipes:
Chocolate Peanut Butter Shake
No added sugar! Omega fatty acids! Protein! An excuse to eat chocolate!
1 cup ice
1 frozen banana
⅓ cup peanuts
¼ cup raw oats (I feel this improves the texture, my husband thinks it ruins it, so it's up to you)
1 Tbsp Chia seeds (optional, other options include: flax seed, hemp seed)
1 Tbsp cocoa powder
Add a handful of spinach for extra health of you want, though be warned, it makes your shake a rather unappealing color)
1Tbps powdered milk (also optional, makes it a little creamier I think)
Milk (cows, almond, soy, whatever)… Approximately ¾ cup... I don't tend to measure, I just add enough so that it will blend. If you are blending and it can't seem to blend, then add more.
I highly recommend a Vitamix or other “hardcore” blender. I don't think regular blender crush ice that smoothly. If you don't have a Vitamix or similar, I would recommend using crushed ice, and peanut butter instead of peanuts.
My daughter and I love these as is. If you are used to much sweeter things you might need to add sugar to taste.
by Carrie Jurney DVM DACVIM (Neuro)
Last week we SOAPed by problems meditating and made a plan to try breath focused meditation while running.
Time for a recheck exam.
Well, my first attempt at moving meditation was on the treadmill on Tuesday. Unfortunately instead of my breath, I tended to focus on the clock on the treadmill. Which made my run seem a million years long. So I did a grand total of three minutes of very scatter brained meditation and then felt mad at myself. But- honestly I think that's a problem of the goal, and not the behavior. Rome wasn't built in a day, and I will not become a meditation master in a day either.
So then I had a really hard week of travel, and did nothing healthy Wed-Fri. Saturday I got a massage with a friend, which was a great recharge and Sunday I was ready to get back to life. I drove myself out to my favorite running trail and took off. This time I set a more realistic goal for myself. 3 minutes. 3 minutes seemed doable. So I let myself run for a bit first, and about half way through my run when I felt like I was in the groove, and took out my headphones and just focused on my breath. I did much better this time. Not perfect. Still focusing on other things on occasion- the smell of the wild garlic, the sound of the gravel under my shoes- but better.
So practice makes perfect. I'm going to keep going on a three minute meditation until I feel like I can achieve that, and there we'll go for longer.
Anyone else have a story of beginning in meditation?
by Carrie Jurney DVM DACVIM (Neuro)
I’m not new to games. In fact, my husband works in video games so I definitely have exposure to them whether I like them or not. Now, I could go on and on about how video games are actually good for your brain- they teach hand/eye skills and spatial skills, they can even make you a better surgeon- but that’s not we’re talking about today. In fact, I really hate those stats, because it implies that we need to always be doing something to better ourselves. That every action must have purpose. I think that mindset is bad for us. Why must we always be on the treadmill?
Let's talk about playing for the sake of playing. Play is really important for your brain, and it's something that is sorely unappreciated in our workworkwork-all-the-time culture. Seriously- Ask what people do to unwind, and you hear a new list of work: "I'm running a marathon, and volunteering and working in my yard." All of that is wonderful stuff, and good for self-care too, but sometimes you just need to let your brain do something enjoyable that’s not work or cleaning the house. Something that's just fun. Something that doesn't check a box on a list. For me this week, that’s a video game. And I refuse to feel guilty about it. I’ve been feeling overwhelmed and this has been a source of joy and relaxation for me.
How about you guys- how did you play this week? What silly thing did you do that didn’t further a single goal?
*image courtesy of comingsoon.net
by Carrie Jurney DVM DACVIM (Neuro)
Okay- I get the irony of talking about "Screen-Free" behavior on this blog. But the point of screen free is not to say you should never be on a screen. How would you get on NOMV!? Rather, this point is to discuss what hobbies we have that help us recharge.
I affectionally refer to myself as a tragic extrovert. I need to talk to people. It recharges me. But as we age it gets harder and harder to maintain friendships. So, I started to scheme how I could build and maintain lasting friendships as a busy adult. I tried a craft night- literally no one showed up. Bummer. Then I offered to cook dinner- and all of the sudden I had a house full of people- heaven. That was 5 years ago, and Elmo's Wine Club was born- named because my friends baby (now a 6 year old) attended and there was a constant stream of Sesame Street in the background to keep him entertained. Elmo's happens every Sunday night at my house. Always the same place, always the same time. Sometimes I cook a crazy french dinner that takes two days to prepare, and sometimes we order pizza. We eat off paper plates. Not everyone comes every week- but it's really nice to have a recurrent thing every week- you know when and where, no one has to plan or get reservations. You can just show up and hang out with your friends.
Do you guys have anything that you do with your friends regularly?
by Carrie Jurney DVM DACVIM (Neuro)
So, a few years ago I was in a really bad place. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to be a veterinarian anymore, and that thought left me bereft. This was all that I have ever been. If not this, then what can I be?
I was fortunate enough to have a very understanding husband, and enough financial security that I could take some time off and just be. Unfortunately, I spent a lot of that time beating myself up for not getting better fast enough. For not getting more chores done. If I was going to sit at home all day- why couldn’t I get my closets reorganized?
And then two very important things happened.
A dear friend, who had been through a similar career crisis took me to lunch and said “Look Carrie, You need to let yourself go through this. There is not a schedule. You owe yourself this time. You only need to do two things- shower every day and get out of your apartment twice a week. Everything else can wait.” This was huge for me. This was permission to feel the way I needed to feel for a while. There was no list. There was no goal other than resting. I couldn't make good decisions until I had recovered, so I needed to stop trying to force that.
And so I did that. I let myself rest. I let myself heal. I took long walks with a friend and we talked for hours. And some weeks later, I no longer felt panicked about my life and its path. I felt ready to make rational decisions about the next steps. However, I still had a problem: The climb out of this comfortable bubble I had built was insurmountable. The walls of my comfort zone seemed hundreds of feet high. Every day I didn't find a new job or organize my closets or lose ten pounds those walls got 10 feet higher. I felt trapped. I was scared to act, and then depressed that I couldn't get anything done.
As I sat in my comfortable paralyzing bubble, browsing reddit, I found this really great, simple productivity system that struck a chord with me. It’s called Non-Zero Days. I’m sure I’ll tell you all about it in another post. It really helped me dig out and become a productive person again. But more importantly Rule 3 really struck a chord. Forgiveness. You have to forgive yourself. You cannot dwell on ever mistake, every misstep of your past.
Here’s what Ryan, the author of this masterpiece, says:
This was a breakthrough for me. It is hard- I am a world champion of beating myself up. But this simple reddit post told me to stop doing that. To let myself be my best self I had to stop. I had to forgive myself. And I’m thankful for this space, because this will be my weekly reminder to forgive myself.
What can you forgive yourself for this week?
by Carrie Jurney DVM DACVIM (Neuro)
This post goes out to my good friend Kelly. Kelly knows a whole bunch about self-care. She’s the first person who probably ever said the word “mindfulness” to me with a straight face, and better yet she very patiently explained to me why I should stop being a twatwaffle and listen to her about it.
So every Friday on her Facebook wall, Kelly asks all of her friends to say three things they are grateful for. In fact, that post was the entire inspiration for this blog. She calls it the Friday Gratefuls and a lot of people participate in it. I try to every week, and I read as many grateful thoughts as I can. It really helps me recenter myself, especially if I've had a bad week.
I have done sporadic gratitude exercises prior to Friday Gratefuls. I first heard about them in a lecture by Dr. Bartram at the Caribbean Veterinary Medical Association's Work-Life balance conference (which was an awesome conference BTW). In these lectures, Dr. Bartram talked about the scientific literature on happiness. He is a veterinarian who has published in the field of veterinary mental health and suicide. Rather than harp on depressing statistics in his lecture, he presented to us the scientific evidence of what we should do to be happier. This was not touchy-feely hippy crap, this was peer-reivewed data. Data on how to be happier. And gratitude exercises were part of that.
Kelly’s post is a nice weekly reminder to take a minute and do them. And now, we'll have thankful Thursdays, so I'll make myself do them twice a week.
This is me (left middle) and Kelly (back right) when we first met at a mutual friends wedding in Thailand.
To do these exercises you need to write down three specific things you are grateful for. They cannot be general things like “my health, my family.” They need to be specific, timely, and they don’t need to be mind blowing. Writing “I had a really excellent sandwich for lunch” is better than “I’m grateful for my marriage.” Even better is “I am grateful that my husband made me this really excellent sandwich for lunch.”
Think of three. Some weeks that’s hard, but you can do it! Something good happened this week. You got a good parking spot at the store? Great! Write it down. Your friend dropped by for a chat? That counts! That incision you closed was really pretty. Good job! Gather then up and write 'em down. If your comfortable- we would love to hear about them. Gratitude is contagious.
So tell me my friends, what are you grateful for this week?
by Carrie Jurney DVM DACVIM (Neuro)
As a bonus to that little mental health boost, I get all of the side benefits of physical fitness: Weight loss, my back pain goes away, I can lift those really fat Beagles, lowered blood pressure and black toenails. Okay, that last one is not actually great, but I wear my ugly toenails with pride.
Running also has provided me with an easily renewable goal.
I think a lot of vets are very goal-oriented people, but at some point in your career new goals are difficult to find. I finished school, became a doctor- now what? Well, running is always another goal. There’s always another race to train for, another mile to run- you can always run a little faster, etc.
So running is a huge part of my self-care largely due to the mental benefits. How about you guys- what’s your go to exercise?
The Admin Team of NOMV is a group of veterinarians dedicated to improving veterinary mental health.