On newborns, mud, and shoes (or a taste of Spring)

Beginnings are in the air. My week of newborn nursery had me inspecting humans a few hours old. The first wet gasps of Spring in the Lehigh Valley. Finally, a reminder from my feet that mental flexibility is more important than rigid strength. There’s always time to drop what no longer serves in order to make room for new growth.

Newborn nursery has been a great pleasure. The hours are quite relaxed, from 7a to noon, leaving my afternoons filled with errands and whatever I desire. The clinical practice is also relaxed: if the children were acutely ill, they would be in the NICU, not on this service. Most mothers and babies leave within two days of birth, there only for some labs and observation.

It is a great privilege to inspect these nuggets of life, a handful of hours old, to pick them up and listen to them. To talk to a mother who birthed a life earlier that morning. What a reminder that these patients are experiencing tremendous life shifts, while it is just Wednesday morning for me.

One of my preceptors likes to compare children to flowers. They bloom quickly, grow constantly, but wilt just as fast. I’ve enjoyed my week of watching new lives, just starting off in this wacky world.

Spring has almost come. This past week, we had weather up into the fifties and sixties. The ground has melted and become soggy as water makes its way downhill. The Tumblebrook has swollen and pulled at its banks.

I see sumac dropping the old berry bundles in preparation for new growth. The bushes in front of our house are beginning to throw off new shoots. Maples outside the window are budding, and I am sure the sap will begin to flow soon.

I have many plans for this spring. I want to tap the trees and render some delicious sugar through patience. I want to forage some of the greens that will sprout in the coming months. I want to slackline again, hanging like a monkey between two proud trees.

And of course, last night the snows returned and deposited a thick, clumpy layer of white. A reminder that all things come in due time, and winter is not over yet.

Since the 40+ hrs/wk in clinical clerkships, my feet have lost an impressive amount of musculature. I see how my toes are forming to my shoes. I feel how sensitive the skin to rocks and gravel. I took a hard stance against shoes, when I had the luxury of time. Allowing myself to reverse this hard stance has been an exercise in self-forgiveness.

During the years leading up to medical school and my time in Tampa, I had enough control of my schedule to ensure plenty of barefoot conditioning. My leathery soles kept up with my movement practices. Looking back on my movement since the transition to Pennsylvania and the start of clerkships, I have been limiting myself.

Instead of movement that challenges my entire body, I bottleneck my movement through my feet. Could my feet handle the run on rocky soil? Do I want to carry something heavy through this field with rocks?

In preparation for long hours standing during the surgical clerkship, I ordered a pair of excellent minimalist athletic shoes. And this week, I did something that I haven’t in quite some time: I ran. I hit the trails behind the hospital to warm up before a gym session. I kicked a ball around and enjoyed the chill air and damp ground. I was able to move so much faster and free than when I ran barefoot in the summer and fall.

Wearing shoes is rarely my preference. It is, however, my professional reality. My hobbit feet are a wistful memory, not likely to return in the near future.

I do plan to continue my barefoot efforts, but I need not be barefoot all the time. The hard-line is a hard line. I can lift with shoes on and still feel like I am benefiting my body. I can run with shoes to challenge my endurance, not just the soles of my feet. I can be comfortable and not feel decadent or weak.

Discomfort does not always equal strength.

Emotionally, rebirth is in the air and I am ready to do the work necessary to keep the momentum going forward. I feel good. I am also very ready for a canine companion to join our household.
Spiritually, I feel centered in myself. The weekend of reflection allowed me to look inside and feel comfortable with what’s been going on. I know where I need to develop and I know how to do it. Just gotta do the work. Stay connected.
Physically, I feel good. Been stiff but really enjoying the running on the earth. Enjoyed my first slackline session of the year this week, and it felt so good. 
Relationally, I feel like I’ve slowed in my reaching out because of school and life obligations. I would like to prioritize this in the coming week.

Emotional – 5/5
Spiritual – 5/5
Physical – 4/5
Relational – 3/5

Total – 17/20
3wk running total – 55/60

Long Form Sundays

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