Prefiero que sea un reto a que estés aburrida en clase…. translates to I would prefer you be challenged than bored in class, said the Spanish professor when I asked if I should take the beginner or intermediate level. Sums up the story of my life.
We registered for summer classes already and I signed up for the required elective. I feel it’s an oxymoron. An elective is a class selected by the student, but it is still mandatory to take. I signed up for Spanish, hoping to move past naming body parts to progressing to conducting a health history in Spanish.
This week was a tough week. I asked my “difficult conversations” patient, if she had prepared her children for her death? It took me one week to think about that idea before asking her about it. I knew the answer before I asked but I wanted her to think about death from a different perspective. Two more weeks will go by before I see her again and I want to ask her about plan A – hoping for the best, and having a plan B – planning for the worst. I am so humbled by the experiences she so freely shares with me. I do not think, she thinks of our conversations as learning for me, but I know I could not continue to grow unless I was challenged.
Thinking about death often is like a regular dinner conversation for me, always not far from my thoughts. It makes me consider if I am living the best me. If you do not have time left to live, did you spend your time the way you wanted to, with the people you wanted to be with, and doing the things you wanted to do. These questions help guide me most days.
I listened to a panel this evening called Dignity, Diversity and Visions of a Good Death at Duke Chapel and I was most moved by one panelist, a Pastor said, “there is beauty in death, suffering is not eternal.”
Today… on my day off, I listened to two other panels. This weekend is the (6th) Duke Alumni Women’s Weekend, “Engaging Women. Exceptional Weekend.” Over 500+ alumni returned to campus. I was a little blown away by the marketing and resources for this event. I wonder if anyone else said to themselves that is a great logo, great color, design and tag line. I liked the program design, the pen and tote bag. Seriously, someone spent some effort and money into making “Forever Learning. Forever Duke.”
The plenary session was called, “Leadership: Fear, Failure and Other “F” words” by five (women) school deans. The panel talked about the importance of mentors, being purposeful to create culture change, being a leader, a support network, and excellence in diversity. They talked about how Duke was different from other schools, in that every single Duke student is exceptional and the vast resources. The session made me feel inspired and uplifted. It made me feel grateful to be surrounded by talented and brilliant faculty. It made me feel grateful for the privilege of being a Duke student.
The other session was “build a life you love.” I wasn’t supposed to sit in on this session (being a student) but I followed the lunch line. Again with the resources, they had a really tasty catered lunch. This Duke alumni speaker talked about using your strengths, values and priorities as your compass in making choices. What we think, how we feel, what we do – utilizing your strengths will lead to satisfaction. Below is the exercise we did. It was kind of fun, I would recommend it.
Exercise #1: A. Describe a time in your life where you felt on top of your game, peak performance. B. Help your partner (the person sitting next to you at lunch) identify your strengths. I liked this exercise because it was not asking you to identify your strengths but having a partner listen to your story and identify them for you. (Link to finding your strengths). My top 5 were curiosity, gratitude, social intelligence, bravery, honesty.
Exercise #2: Life Priorities: what areas of your life are important to you? How satisfied are you with each on a scale of 1-10? Buckets are things like: Relationships – naming each one separately (partner, family, friends, children), career, rest, health, personal growth, finances, fun, travel, physical environment – (home, community), self care, community service.
Exercise #3: Focus on one life area (from the bucket above) where you scored a low score, identify something that is off balance, needs attention, giving the bucket the time and energy it deserves.
Life Area: (list one of the buckets where you scored low) – i.e. health.
Vision: example: I will feel good about my health and my body. I will feel active, engaged, and spend more time outdoors. I will embrace my body without negativity.
Current reality: I sit all day every day in lecture and studying. Not moving is having an impact on my health (weight), and impacting my self image.
My commitments: SMART goals – in the next two-six weeks, I will do: (Name your 5 commitments). (i.e. I will visit the YMCA for membership in the next week.)
Potential Challenges: (Time, stress, weather)
To overcome these challenges I will: i.e. I will go to the gym as soon as I wake up to not conflict with other priorities of the day.
It was a nice exercise to think about areas of your life that are important to you but out of balance with your time and energy. I liked taking a moment in my day to reflect on and refocus my priorities. Homework is to complete one of those exercises for each of your buckets. Are you spending your time and energy on the things you want to do?
Awareness + Choices = Satisfying Life