Dr. Molly’s Weblog

Molly O’Shea starts a revolution in pediatric care

Smile though your heart is breaking January 21, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — drmolly @ 10:11 pm

Be civilized.

Be respectful.

Be kind.

If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.

These are my guiding principles these days and yet they seem to be guiding me in the wrong direction. Instead of allowing me to be a good mother through this difficult time when we are all still living under the same roof, this permutation of the Stepford wife mentality has caused me to bury my feelings. Pushing my feelings deep underground isn’t new to me and so living this way feels oddly comfortable at times, albeit disquieting.

Sometimes it’s easier to just go through the motions than allow myself to actually feel what is happening inside. That’s not always a bad thing, mind you. You don’t want to be in touch with your super angry feelings when you are supposed to be focused on caring for patients and although it has happened rarely in the past, crying in the exam room (I mean me, not the patient) is not a cool thing to do.

Lately, I have been a disconnected and I am sure it is not a completely bad thing. There’s a lot going on in my life. The problem is that when I am in this state, I can’t pick and choose who I let my guard down with and therefore it is always up. I just keep smiling and when I feel a knot in my throat or the swell of anger or even a ripple of joy, I shut it off. Today my brother Chuck poked me and called me to the carpet on this topic. He noticed that I am present but not engaged and is worried about me. In the past, when I have been present but not accounted for, it has meant that something is really brewing in the background and I suspect he’s right.

This disconnect has served me well in the past. It has helped me through many difficult times since childhood and has allowed me to plow forward even when things have been more than rough but now it seems that unplugging isn’t as good for me. I need to be connected to my kids, my friends, and my family now more than ever and yet I can’t seem to get there. Sure I love my kids and know what is happening in their lives and still play games with them or go to fencing or riding or whatever but I am not all there and I can feel that difference and I suspect at times they can feel that difference too. It is for them that I am writing this as a way to access some of the feelings that I am tamping down.

Writing for me is a way to open up in a controlled and ‘safe’ way. Perhaps by writing about this log jam of feelings I’ll be able to break through, connect and live in the moment instead of protecting myself from this sea of apparently frightening emotions like anger or joy. By continuing to pretend that all is well when it is not works great at the office, but in the rest of life it is a hindrance. Learning to let my guard down doesn’t have to be all or none (or so I’ve been told) but finding a way to be connected with the kids but not let all of that emotion spill into the workplace seems a tough balance and for some reason feels ‘risky’.

I’ve gotta try though….living this emotionally protected life isn’t bringing me peace anymore. I have to trust that I won’t fall apart or spin out of control (given my experiences in life I know in my head that isn’t gonna happen) and yet it is this potential lack of control that is keeping me closed off. I welcome thoughts or suggestions….I’m having a hard time coming up with a strategy on my own.

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Christmas stuff is finally away January 18, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — drmolly @ 10:18 pm

We’ve been putting it off for weeks now. Putting away the Christmas stuff is usually done by the first weekend in January but this year the tree stayed up, the nutcrackers still watched over us at dinner from the buffet, and the collection of Santas continued to greet guests in the front hall. The stockings were still hung by the chimney with care and if it weren’t for the dog, I suspect the half eaten cookies and carrots would have lingered on Santa’s plate until now too.

You see, we had to go through the Christmas stuff as we put it away and divide it up. Half for him, half for me. We knew we’d have to consider each ornament and cookie jar, each holiday glass and plate and decide who was keeping each item. A daunting prospect and one that both of us avoided for weeks. We haven’t really begun discussing any of the details or logistics of the divorce in earnest yet so this was the first time we actually had to decide something that was unchangeable. Even though we told our families and our kids just before Thanksgiving, other than figuring out the logistics of the holidays, we haven’t had to confront this reality so concretely.

It’s probably a good thing that we let the stuff stay up a little longer this year. By the time today rolled around, it felt like a necessary thing to do rather than a bittersweet chore. We talked in general about the stuff we don’t have two of, like the tree and the stockings, and quickly were able to agree that I would have those and that he would keep the nutcracker and Santa collections he had grown over the years. There were a few other holiday knick knacks to figure out and both of us seemed more interested in keeping this palatable for the other than keeping any thing in particular. Even when we got to the ornaments on the tree, the most sentimentally charged of all, we had no problems or conflicts figuring out who kept the gingerbread man Declan made or the handmade ornaments Mairen had made us in years past. I’m not saying it was a joy, but it was less anxiety producing than I expected.

It’s tempting to hope that the rest of the process will go as smoothly and perhaps it will. We have always been good parents together and today as the boys helped us pack things up, that hadn’t changed. Thank you Kevin.

 

‘Up in the Air’ January 17, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — drmolly @ 10:26 pm

Ok picture this: it’s Friday night and I’m out of town. I’m missing the kids and images of Haiti’s disaster are all I can find on TV. The devastation and desperation and empty faces of the people in shock whose worlds have been destroyed are too much and since I am in the comfort of my own hotel room I have the luxury of turning the channel. I run through the channels a few times and when I find nothing I want to watch, I am once again reminded that not having cable at home is really no big loss. I end up on the in room movie channel and see that one of the options is Up in the Air with George Clooney and watch the preview.

I don’t normally watch movies when I am out of town, it seems somehow a bit pathetic to me to watch a movie alone in a hotel room and yet the draw of George Clooney was just too much (think OH YEAH from Ferris Bueller) and I ordered it up. I am not sure what I expected, a little romance perhaps with what I assumed would be a happy ending, but what I got was different and surprising. This was not a fantastic movie in any traditional sense but it really unsettled me and made me think. The movie is about a guy whose whole life is spent on the road going from place to place to fire people when their employer is downsizing. He is on the road over 300 days per year and despite the harsh reality of his job he has remained able to see the emotional toll his news takes on those he is firing and often he is able to offer some support that it is clear as the movie goes on is truly felt and not just a script to get through the process. At the start of the movie, he is happy and fulfilled and feels completely at home on the road. He is much less at home in his sterile apartment which is sparsely furnished and lacks any signs of individuality.

Although happy and fulfilled, his world is undergoing change. A young woman has been hired by his firm to streamline the process of firing others employees and her plan is to implement a remote IT hookup and have a video conference to fire the employee, saving her consulting firm a truckload of money in the travel costs. This results in a crisis for George Clooney’s character since his whole identity depends on the lack of a home base and his itinerant life suits him. He convinces his boss that the young woman proposing the changes needs to go on the road and actually do the job first and so she is sent with him on a long stretch of city to city firings. Although it seems self serving at first, it becomes clearer that he actually does seem to care that he offer genuine support to these victims of downsizing and as such soften the blow of reality. His protégé is naïve and young and righteous in a college student sort of way and gradually learns the nuances and shades of grey of the world with him.

In many ways though, her earnest idealism and romantic world view push him to think differently about his solitary life. She is in a serious relationship when the movie opens and at times is trying to convince George that his lack of connection to others has to be lonely and incomplete. As I listened to each side of their discussion, I felt a connection with both. I am in the process of divorce and want to believe that I will be perfectly content on my own. Happy to live each day in my own skin and make choices that are all my own, and yet, I also felt that the idea of spending life without a real and consistent connection with someone else, a constant in my life could be very lonely at times. It didn’t make me question my decision about the divorce but it did make me think about my earnest sense of independence and the lack of need for others in my life. I thought about the fact that I have the kids and my family and friends and perhaps that would be enough but as the movie progressed and I felt more and more that having a person to share the big and little things in life with does add a richness that can’t be found in other ways.

I think I am jaded by my experience in marriage, which in many ways has been a lonely existence despite the presence of another person, and so I am not naïve enough to think that just because you are with someone the sense of connection and grounding will be there. But I do see that if you can have that connection with someone else that is real and genuine there is an added richness to everyday life.  And yet, as I embark on these unchartered waters alone, I must plan to be happy and content on my own. I have been closer to my brothers and other friends of late and of course I have the kids but none of these relationships is as constant, deep and rich as a partner in life (and they shouldn’t be).

As the movie progressed, George met a woman who also travels a ton and they had an instant connection. They saw each other when their travel plans coincided and then began communicating regularly even when they couldn’t be together. He slowly but surely fell in love with her and when he had to return to his childhood home to attend his sister’s wedding, he asked her to join him. She did. Over that weekend, George had to confront the reality and messiness of relationships as one of his sisters was separated from her long-time husband and the other was getting married to a guy who got a small case of cold feet that George (of all people) had to intervene and talk to. As he saw these things unfolding and saw the pain and joy of a real connection, he let himself feel and become vulnerable to the woman he brought in ways he never had before. When the weekend ended, he was in love with her and was not only willing to but wanted to change everything about his life to be with her. She returned to Chicago and he ended up following her as a surprise only to find out that she actually was married with children and had a ‘real’ life. He was devastated and like all of those people he had to fire every day he was lost. His old identity of traveling man, which had been complete and full for him before, now didn’t seem to fit. The movie ends with him once again taking to the air, to his itinerant life, without a sense of joy or purpose.

The movie ultimately was depressing to me since I too am at a point of change in life. I am not getting fired nor am I deeply in love with someone who cannot reciprocate and yet, this sense of ambivalence about moving forward in life alone is real. At times I feel strong and confident and content that I don’t want or need anyone else to share in my daily life and even at times feel that having another person will bring baggage and hassles that I don’t have on my own. But there are other times when I feel this independent life will be incomplete. I suppose the truth is somewhere in between. Relationships are messy and complicated and real and as such have hassles and baggage attached but living a life without a deep, close and enduring relationship is limiting too. I guess I just have to wade into the water and see how it feels, let the realities and opportunities in life present themselves and just go forward knowing that I am not ‘Up in the Air’.

 

New Year’s Resolutions: Redux and spirituality January 3, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — drmolly @ 10:15 pm

Ok, I have a lot of strengths but keeping New Year’s resolutions (NYR) isn’t one of them. Every year I make them, and every year I fail to keep them. Last year was a huge success given this reality. Here’s the lowdown:

NYR 2009:

Make a real family dinner at least once a week.  SUCCESS! THIS ONE I ACTUALLY DID! I AM NOW UP TO 3 PER WEEK!

Race two or three triathlons this summer. NOPE. NOT EVEN CLOSE. DIDN’T EVEN EXERCISE AT ALL FOR MONTHS AND MONTHS IN 2009.

Learn to bellydance. NOPE. SEEMED LIKE A GREAT IDEA LAST DECEMBER BUT NOW JUST SEEMS SILLY!

Keep in closer touch with my friends (and not just by reading their updates on facebook!) MIXED REVIEWS ON THIS ONE. I NARROWED MY FOCUS TO A FEW PEOPLE AND WAS MUCH BETTER AT KEEPING IN TOUCH WITH THEM BUT OTHERS FELL EVEN MORE OFF THE MAP (NOT FOR LACK OF LOVING THEM JUST LACK OF …..)

Finish the sweater I started two months ago. UNDID THE SWEATER COMPLETELY AND INSTEAD MADE TWO DRESSES AND ALMOST FINISHED A DIFFERENT SWEATER. GOOD ONE!

Write every day. ALMOST! I WROTE A TON FOR THE NEWS THIS YEAR AND NOW THAT I AM BLOGGING MORE AGAIN AND STILL WRITING FOR THEM, THIS ONE IS STAYING ON THE LIST.

This year my resolutions are different. When I was at Brother’s Breakfast (the Sunday ritual with my sibs) we talked about the year ahead for each of us. Sure we had the usual things on our yearly to do list: get in shape, grow our businesses, blah blah blah but interestingly each of us had a desire for some spiritual growth in our lives this year. We are very different spiritually from one another and I have spent many, many years with a sense of spiritual apathy or perhaps even resistance. I have been detached from a sense of one-ness with the world, with myself, with whatever God may be. I was raised Catholic and my brother Chuck finds that the ritual of Mass allows him to get to ‘blank’ as he calls it. ‘Blank’ is a sense of peace, of calm, of one-ness and openness to his feelings and to others. Now THAT is a great description of what I am looking for.

Conall and I spent time last night talking about God: what God is and who he is. My kids have not been raised with any religion, by design. Although raised Catholic, I found that when I left mass I felt disgruntled. I felt stifled and couldn’t relate to the message I was hearing and didn’t want that for my kids. What prompted the discussion was the inevitable and timeless question: which came first the chicken or the egg? Conall was thinking about where his family ancestry led back to and reached this inevitable conundrum. I volunteered that many people believe that it was God who put on earth the first man and woman. Some people believe he set the process in motion and evolution did the rest while others believe that God intervened and put the first humans on the planet.

He then asked if I believe in God. I paused and answered honestly: I didn’t know for sure but I thought that God may not be a ‘person’ or ‘being’ in the sense that some religions forward but rather God is that part of each of us that shows unconditional love to one another and the web that sort of giving and loving produces is God. I read a book a year or so ago recommended by a dear friend called ‘Conversations with God’ and although the premise is a real stretch, the take home message is that the part of each of us that is God, is the part that encourages us to make choices out of a sense of love, not fear. That is a God I can embrace. A God that is based on human connection, giving, and loving decisions (even when they are really hard ones) is the God I WANT to believe in.

Conall and I talked more about God and religion and how the two are different. That religions are human attempts to explain and understand God and as such there are rules and dogma and rituals in religion that help people understand God. We talked about the fact that the world’s religions share a lot in common at their core but the image of God varies from one to another. That’s what makes me believe that God exists. So much in common across time and distance and culture and religions is the goodness that is God and that God is a part of each of us and each of us makes up part of God, regardless of religion, in my view.

This year, I hope to find how to get to ‘blank’ as Chuck calls it. And in doing so live a peaceful life, living in the moment and not in the past or the future. I hope to get in touch with the part of me that is loving and fearless, the part of me that is God and then share that part of me with my kids and my friends and maybe even with a little corner of the world. I did a heck of a lot better keeping my resolutions last year so this one may have legs. Wish me luck!

 

Bowling rocks and so does my staff! December 20, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — drmolly @ 9:47 pm

Man is bowling fun! I had forgotten what a great game it is to play and how much more fun it is to do with family and friends.

On Friday night, Cinzia organized the most fun office holiday party I have ever been to. We were sitting ‘the blue room’ (her office) around Thanksgiving and trying to figure out what to do this year. Last year, my fledgling staff came to my house for a traditional hors’ d’oeuvres party and it was fine…..well actually a little boring….but perfectly nice. This year, my life is in flux and having an at home party wasn’t on the possible list so Cinzia and I brainstormed…..dinner at a restaurant…..party at the office…..money in lieu of a party…..and then we hit upon the best idea of all: bowling! I know, a bit kitschy, but hey, I thought it would be fun!

Cinzia called around trying to find a smoke-free bowling alley and unfortunately the nearest ones were just too far away so we went with an old favorite of mine: Thunderbird Lanes on Maple in Troy. We picked a date, paid our deposit and Cinzia made the invitations. I suspected this would be a hit when I told Pat the plan and she was genuinely excited. You see, Pat’s not a party-loving woman (and neither am I) and this was appealing to both of us. We were definitely on the right track. Next hint that this would be a hit, was that only a couple members of the staff couldn’t make it so I knew we would have a critical mass of folks for fun.

Cinzia is an awesome party planner. We decided on a Chinese gift exchange where everyone brings a wrapped gift and you pick a number and either open a new gift or steal someone else’s. I had never done this sort of present game before but it sounded fun to me! Next, she organized a contest for the most gaudy holiday apparel and the staff loved it. They went all out with three people arriving at the party so decked out that it was clear they were really in the spirit of it all. Cinzia also planned to give a present to every staff member but she had them play a game where each wrote something down about themselves that they thought would be hard to guess. Some were really funny and all were surprising.

At 6:20 or so Mairen (who came along for the evening) and I arrived to help Cinzia set up. We walked into Thunderbird Lanes and the familiar smell of stale cigarette smoke, old beer, and foot odor welcomed us. We knew we were in the right place! We set up and our guests began arriving just before 7. The most elaborately decked out staff members were Paula who had red and white elf socks, red knickers, Christmas lights for a necklace and a goofy Christmas headband, Robin who came with white and silver tinsel and garland as her ‘jewelry’ and hair decor, and Tom who arrived the most bizzare of all as a goth elf complete with fake piercings, and knee high black leather boots. We knew those three were in the running for the prize but then Cherie’s husband Bob arrived with a green sweatshirt decorated with felt Christmas trees and pom poms…a spouse dressed up too….we hadn’t considered that! We met the spouses, chatted, ordered our pizza and had a beer or pop and then the bowling began.

Bowling is a fun game and is one of the few games that is even more fun the worse you are. With that said we had a BLAST. Chuck managed a whopping 48 in one of his games and at the other end of the spectrum was Cherie who broke 200 in one of hers. Despite the wide range of scores, not a single person took things seriously. Everyone was laughing and cheering each other on and enjoying the fun of being together. I honestly can’t remember the last time I had such a freely fun time. I love the people I work with and am soooo lucky to have such a happy group of people to surround me every day.

The ‘tell something you wouldn’t guess about me game’ was really interesting. We learned that super skinny Paula can not only get into the Christmas spirit with her wardrobe (she took first prize) but also can out eat her husband at any meal! Tom, the goth elf, loves opera and ballet (who knew!). Cherie has 3 body piercings! Pat stole flowers from a grave site (alright she was 3 at the time but still!). I can’t remember everyone’s but these were ones that stuck in my mind as ‘wows.’

The Chinese gift most coveted was the space heater (an homage to our freezing cold office) and the iTunes gift card only changed hands once! Fun.

What made the evening so wonderful was that after a year and a half, we know each other well. There are no airs, no need to be on our ‘best behavior.’ Stacey and her husband Marc and Lori and her husband Mark were there and I feel my little family at work is complete. To share my daily life with my brothers, my close friend Cinzia, and a staff that is more a group of friends than a group of employees makes all the difference. A couple of years ago when I imagined my work life, even optimistic me didn’t know it could be this good.

On the way home, at 10:45 (even though the party was only supposed to go til 9), Mairen gently asked me how much I had to drink that night. I hadn’t had anything and told her so. I was just free and happy and myself in ways not even she had seen. What a gift.

 

Geeks: Old friends and new December 17, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — drmolly @ 10:20 pm

Old friends. Not friends who are old, mind you, but friends who have been a part of my life since I was a kid.  A young kid. A geeky kid. They knew me and liked me long before I even really liked myself.

Tonight I met Maureen and Katie D. for a drink at Forte in Birmingham and reminisced about a bit about our old high school days. I remember the short-lived TV show ‘Freaks and Geeks’ and felt then as I do now that the gradations of ‘cool’ in high school were amazingly complex. Lucky for me, I found a group of other geeky girls who spent their summers programming computers with punch cards and doing science experiments at Lawrence Tech. These same geek-friends are now adults like me with families and careers and our love of computers and math and science has become mainstream. I am not sure we will ever be mainstream though and that is more than ok with us.

At my core, I am still a geeky nerd. I love technology and science and learning new things. I have yet to feel truly comfortable at a big party. I would rather cook and knit and blog and hang out with my computer than go to a movie premier. I rarely wear makeup and you can rarely find me dressed up. In this vein, our office holiday party is a bowling outing with prizes for the cheesiest holiday outfit and a gift exchange that promises to be full of snuggies and chia pets.  We will drink beer and eat pizza and smell horribly of cigarette smoke even though none of us smokes and you know what? It will be really fun! I love the folks I work with and we have dubbed our office ‘the island of misfit toys’ from the holiday classic ‘Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer’ and the name really fits. Nice to have found another group of geeky nerds to spend my adult years with!

I know what you are thinking: Dr. Stacey is so beautiful and cool and Nurse Practitioner Lori is clearly a popular girl so how can I still call this the island of misfit toys? Little do you know but they too have a geeky soft inside and even though they may have have a ‘cooler’ look, they are a part of the island and are genuinely loved and they love the island too. Thanks to Tom and Mrs. Tom (as Paula was dubbed by a sweet four year old today), Cinzia, Pat, Jeni, Maria, Kathy, Robin, Val, Michelle, Stacey, Lori, and Chuck for making my geeky work life a joy. Everyday.

Connecting with friends new and old, who share a world view that is slightly off center makes for a wonderful life. Tomorrow night’s bowling extravaganza promises to be a blast!

 

Feeling like I cheated December 16, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — drmolly @ 9:58 pm

I love to cook and spend most of the day each Sunday cooking meals for the week (hey I hear you moaning!). I know it’s very ‘Martha Stewart-y’ of me but I love it.  My  kids love it too and most of the time we make four different dinners, three desserts, and some bread on Sundays.  We experiment with different recipes and try new things and I contend it is because we do this as a family that I have three really good eaters.

Anyhoo, most of the time we end up with left over food from each meal which ends up in the fridge to slowly rot for a week or so until the furry mold smell alerts me that it is too late to salvage it.  A few weeks ago though, I had a brilliant idea: freeze the leftovers! (hey I hear you gasping and applauding!). Not revolutionary and quite obvious and yet I virtually never do it.  Soup is the exception where I purposely make twice as much and freeze it and then on a cold Saturday in January we have a big group of people over and eat through the soups. Yummy.

I have never liked the idea of leftovers.  I have always called it ‘used food.’ But a few weeks ago we tried some new recipes and two were delicious, risotto and beef stew.  I thought about the fact that practically every day at work I pull a Lean Cuisine out of the freezer and heat it up without thinking twice, what was my hang up with freezing leftovers? In a bold move, I froze the risotto and stew in single serving bags and put them in the freezer.  I wasn’t even sure risotto would be any good after being frozen but I knew if I put it in the fridge it would just end up in the trash anyway so I took a chance.

Tonight was the night of the unveiling.  I had a somewhat stressful day and last Sunday was spent at a horse show instead of cooking so I had nothing ready to go.  I had plenty of time to cook a real meal but not the desire so instead of making a boxed mac and cheese or offering cereal (my usual lazy day back ups) I decided to thaw both the risotto and stew.  They were AWESOME.  It didn’t even seem like leftovers!  The only problem with the whole thing was that as my kids sat eating and mmmmm-ing I felt like I had cheated.  They were having an awesome meal and I didn’t even have to cook!  I do know of course that I DID cook just a few weeks ago but the ease of a great meal on stressful day was almost too good to be true.

I feel like I won the lottery and can’t wait to work through this ‘cheating’ feeling by having leftovers again soon!