As I was on my mat today at a Yoga class, getting my as* kicked. I realized that I’ve progressed through four learning stages of my life… although at times still oscillating between the last 2 most challenging discipline to study and practice: Motherhood & the Presence of Mind.
While some many want to you to believe money matters are complicated, the study of finance is never ever even 1/1000th of the complexity, depth and breath of medicine. Medicine has never been that challenging compared to motherhood for me. Then lastly, the presence of mind has been the greatest challenge of all. So the progression of greater complexity and challenge from learning and practicing the study of money, medicine, motherhood, and to the eventual presence of mind is a personal journey that I’d like to share with you today.
Any 2nd grader who’s mastered subtraction and addition can manage money. It’s the attitude and actual practice of money knowledge that’s challenging. A blessing in disguise was my parents’ financial insolvency and my extreme fear of debt developed as a child when Taiwanese Mafia creditors bang on our door, demanding pay back.
I’ve never made a lot of money in my life, the most was 60k in 2015 from PGY2 W2 income + a little side income from tutoring. Yet I’ve managed the little I had and became completely debt free, with a sizable retirement and college savings for Mini Wise Money today (8/17/2016.)
I knew how to manage money before I knew how to practice the other 3 M’s.
Medicine was my passion, 2nd to only motherhood. Medicine was much harder than money, much easier than motherhood to master. I worked 2 jobs in medical school as a single mother and managed the top of my class.
Medicine fascinates and captivates me. I gobbled up as much knowledge as I could and practice my doctor skills whenever I could, so that I could be a good doctor, someone deserving of being entrusted with another’s life.
Although I became a mother before I started medical school, I didn’t start learning about what it truly means to be a mother until recently. A tad late, you may say, as Mini Wise Money is turning 9 years old soon.
I struggle a lot with mommy’s guilt. I left Mini home with my partner during interview-audition-rotation season as an OMS4. I was absent for nearly 6 months physically. Not to count the innumerable days when I was absent mentally from shear exhaustion of sleep deprivation (I slept 4 hours/night for 15 years until recently).
It’s not whining when female physicians talk about the challenges of balancing motherhood with medicine, not to even mention marriage and me time. Any of these components take the lion’s share, the rest will suffer. Unfortunately, medicine takes the lion’s share in most cases.
While I’ve mastered money matters and developed a sound footing in medicine, I’m still a total rookie in motherhood. I do notice however, learning to become a better mother definitely make me better at medicine too.
Presence of Mind
This is the real challenge, how do I be present, here, now. Writing an article and not think about Mini, listening to Mini’s excited jokes and not thinking about studying more neuro-radiology chapters, doing questions in radiology board bank and not wishing I’m taking Mini out to Fantastics, and doing yoga on the mat while thinking about the next money article I’m writing.
It’s not easy to stop chasing my own tail and start living in the moment.
I find yoga helpful for increasing my awareness, mindfulness, and intention. The one hour I’m nearly 90% present is when I’m on the yoga mat in a yoga class listening to the instructor and willing my body into creating more space and decompress.
I hope you find your presence of mind too because it naturally makes you better in the other M’s: Money, medicine, and parenthood!
If you see a colleague stuck in one of the stages, lend a helping hand. Invite him or her on a hike, to a yoga class, or something else, in hopes of bringing their attention to the happiness and potential of this very moment.
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