BACK FROM A BREAK
My cousin calls me Lady Bounce back. My professional life spanning from 1988 to 2019 I have had 4 breaks. And bouncing back each time meant different things. 1988 was when I qualified. Those days I did what most of my peers did, joined the nearest dental college as staff. Then in 1990 came the first break. I got married. Before I knew what was happening my first baby was on her way. So the break extended till 1993 Oct. The challenge then was to find the job. Then one night when I got totally overwhelmed I did what people in my family did when things were down. Sat down and made a list of that was not working.
- Check your options. That required me to take stock of the situation.
- Put plan A and B in place.
That was when I decided to opt for a private practise. It was scary the investment was high. I would strap my daughter on to the baby bag, hall her food, and I worked the location, loan, instruments everything. When I got back to work I was empowered. The lesson learnt was getting back to a workspace was like cycling you never forget.
Then came BREAK 2 this was in 1995, an accident, a biopsy and second pregnancy took a year of my life. then another six months to come back into action. This time
- Check the options,– two kids to think about.
- My mobility was badly compromised.
- Finance were shaky.
- My confidence had lowered.
- I had accepted the super cape by default. I had to be the perfect mother, daughter, doctor, daughter-in-law and wife. I was earning so asking my husband for money was a no-no.
It then made sense to have the house and clinic together. But Hail Mary I realized that I never got to switch off. The plus point was I was not travelling to work so I learnt to use a computer. My ankle was fused so I went back to dancing and I learnt I could put aside 2hrs every week to teach dancing. The learning was it was okay to multitask.
In 2011 came the BREAK 3 this time it was 40% burns 25% being second degrees. The challenge was isolation. I was not allowed visitors for 7 months. My mother had gifted me a laptop the previous year. and I had just discovered blogging.
During the break I learnt
- Blogging by trial and error.
- Got certified as a medical writer.
- Read books
The first 3 months after the burns I was still on tubes. The next 7months I just didn’t try to take stock. This time round it was worse than before for emotional I was exhausted too. However Penguin and Westland started sending me books for reviewing. Thanks to being a certified medical writer I did lot of medical and pharmaceutical brochures, pamphlets, posters. Did peer reviewing and technical writing of quite a few medical journals. Handled the Tobacco rehabilitation for www.healthenclave.com so end of the year I thought I was good to go back to work. But emotionally I was still battered.
- Step 1 to recovery was to re-enter the public space. I attended Landmark curriculum for living.
- Step 2 was to reclaim my ability for conversation and public speaking. I joined toastmasters.
- Step 3 was stock taking. The challenges now were
- My kids needed escorting to various entrance exams and counselling.
- My mother is senior.
- I did not have confidence to re-invest in dental equipment and perform my best as a dentist.
- MOST importantly I no more enjoyed dentistry. But I enjoyed the challenge of diagnosis. And working with the patients.
- Step 5: what were the skills I had—
- I could listen and be the space for people to unburden.
- My diagnostic skills were excellent.
The obvious answer was I move to the next stage of growth was focus on my area of interest. I needed additional skills here was something that could give me a skill as well allow me heal my sleep—Hypnotherapy. The learning here was probably the most difficult. Understanding the difference between training and calling. Having to decimate a responsibility without grudge. Just as the going was good up comes BREAK 4
But being through hypnotherapy made me learn my lesson faster. This time MIL fell sick and then my Husband. The learning was to define boundaries and say thus far and no further. To take responsibility for myself.
Having bounced back so many times I just figured this much out –
- Take stock
- Plan and optimize. For example when I took my daughter to Gandhinagar, I took up on the offer of the Gujarat Tourism and did a bit of site seeing and blogged about it. While travelling in the train catch up on reading. Sometimes just take time off and meditate.
- Create boundaries and stick by it.
- It is absolutely okay to ask for help or outsource.
At times it is absolutely okay to say, I have wandered and would like to retrace my step. After all every day is the first day of the rest of your life. importantly if there is a gangrene in your life amputate it.