Facing Change

Journal Entry, July 2016

As is obvious from the title of my blog, I am a huge proponent of change.  In the past 2 weeks my family has been challenged by a major change - Moving for 1 Year to New Zealand.  You would expect based on my posts that I can just roll with it and embrace this change.  Well, not so much. It has been a bit rough.  It's one thing to change from white bread with corn syrup to whole wheat bread and no corn syrup, or from soda to water, but a whole other ball game to change countries.

Journaling our progress through these trials and tribulations, will expose our humanity, our mistakes, and our frustrations. Though change is hard, beautiful possibilities arise from the most unexpected events.  Family bonds can be strengthened even in the face of chaos that may come with major change.  May our journey be an inspiration for needed changes in your life.

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First, what happened?

Over the past several years, my husband has been struggling with physician burnout.  He is a successful and wonderful surgeon.  But being great is not a synonym for being happy.  He has tried many avenues to treat this very prevalent condition in the medical field, but to little avail.  On our recent visit to Australia, he came up with a new remedy.   Leave the job on good terms, downsize our life, uproot and recharge while working and exploring New Zealand.  New Zealand?  That's random!!  Well, Lord of the Rings didn't think so.

More details....

New Zealand accepts our medical licenses with little fuss and few pages of paper work.  It's a country whose work force counts on temporary visitors.  They are equipped for job changes, quick work visas, furnished rentals with glorious views, 1 year buy back programs for cars, bikes, and other large pieces.  The schooling is year round and in the top 15 in the world.  Their education system embraces change and international students.  They also have more sheep then humans (trivia tip - you're welcome!)

AND they have a great safety video

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=X6El8XiODwE

Second, how does one deal with a sudden major life shift?

When faced with major life altering situation, I need to go through an acceptance process.  My process is the same pathway for dealing with grief.   When I was 23, I lost my father to a brain tumor known as Glioblastoma, so I have experienced the deepest grief.  This parallel is not meant to make light of grief and the process, but to illustrate how difficult a life altering change can be for me.

  • DENIAL - refuse to accept the facts, change is ignored ( I am really good at this)
  • ANGER - upset with self and others (not a pretty scene)
  • BARGAINING - making deals with myself or my spouse (my negotiating skills are a bit lackluster)
  • DEPRESSION - fear of uncertainty that sometimes paralyzes me and wipes me out, or sometimes the fear excites me into a disorganized chaotic mess (Tasmanian devil comes to mind)
  • ACCEPTANCE - stop struggling to resist the change, make a plan of attack, pursue goals to make the change happen!!!

All these events, quitting the old and preparing for the new, have occurred in the past 2 weeks.  We will be leaving by Oct 1, 2016.  I had to move along these five stages at a quick clip to get to the point of getting ready. It has been a bit messy, and I don't think my brain followed the steps in quite the right order, but I got to ACCEPTANCE.

Acceptance includes:

  • Telling my partners and my patients about my one year leave of absence.  This has been by far the toughest thing.  Crushing really.  I adore my job, my partners, my staff and my patients.  Thankfully everyone so far has been beyond supportive.   Setting up a plan with all the necessary transitions for my patients and staff.
  • My 3 kids - 10th, 8th, 4th graders need to start school in October in NZ. Therefore, I got in touch with our school counselors, got a better understanding of credit hours required by the US, and learned the mandatory classes the kids must have before returning to the US. Frightening and stressful!! Then I found schools in Wellington.  After speaking with the Deans of various NZ schools I relized that the transition into their school system will be easy and no big deal.

Third, how does one stay inspired through this tumultuous time?

A quote sent to me by my mom upon hearing this news

"Most opportunities never announce themselves with trumpets and confetti. They’re easily missed, mistaken, or squandered. They can be scary. And they never come with a 110% money-back guarantee. They’re often nothing more than chances to improve on something other people are already doing. Opportunities are whispers, not foghorns. If we can’t hear their soft rhythms—if we are too busy rushing about, waiting for thunderclaps of revelation, inspiration, and certainty—or if we can spot them but can’t nurture them into real advantages, then we might as well be blind to them."

From: "Nikola Tesla: Imagination and the Man That Invented the 20th Century"

Be Inspired, Ana-Maria Temple, MD