The Games We Play

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “The Perfect Game.”

So I may have deviated slightly from the given assignment, but I hope you enjoy it nonetheless.

This story is set in the dead of winter, in turn-of-the-century North-Eastern Europe, on a very dark night. Lars had never been good at being a family man. In fact, he was anything but. He worked in the textile trade, which meant long trips to southern Europe and the far east, and only rarely he saw his wife and two children. He didn’t miss them much, in fact, he enjoyed the freedom to roam and make his own decisions. The fine silks made him dream of a better life and he was always in the search for something more.

weheartit.com

weheartit.com

This evening he took his seat at the bar, shifting his heavy weight onto the rather unsteady barstool. He was always on the lookout for a bit of gambling, certain he could make his own luck, and tonight was no different. The crew of soldiers that had stumbled in grew louder with the drink, and he overheard talk of a card game. This was his chance, nothing was easier to beat than a drunken soldier in the company of his own men – off guard.

He’d wormed his way into far more challenging evenings before, and soon he was sitting at the table, and took the cards that were dealt. A few rounds of whiskey gave him courage, and even though his golden coins were dwindling in his money belt, his luck did not seem to desert him tonight. And yet, as all games of luck unfold, the dark side of the coin was showing its face. He thought one more game would change every thing, and tomorrow would be market day. He would make it all back. He kept playing to his doom. Soon he was waging more than his money belt, hoping to take loans from the bar’s customers. I’ve got the finest silks! he slurred to his neighbour on his left, a fine elderly gentleman, whose gold-rimed coat set him apart from the soldiers.

What else have you got? As the evening wore on, Lars wagered his house, his load of textiles, his soul and finally his daughter. If he lost, she would marry the fine gentleman. It would never come to that though, as his luck was set to turn. He ordered more whiskey and joined in the singing.

weheartit.com

weheartit.com

The gentleman had a grave look on his face. “I should be overcome by joy. I have wandered the earth for years, hoping to find some heartless soul that is fit to take my place. And I wouldn’t feel this overcome with sadness, if I didn’t know what awaits you. You wanted a bigger life, and were willing to give away all the riches you possessed. You made a bargain with the devil, as I had years ago. Now you must go live with him, and roam the nights until you find someone willing to wager his own soul for the luck of a card game. He reached for the large gold chain around his neck and lowered it over Lars’ head. It was heavier than it looked. At the end of it, hanging over Lars’ sternum, was a key. This leads to hell my friend, welcome.”

Dumbfounded Lars turned to the gentleman, as he left. Where will you go now?

“Me? I’m off to enjoy the little I had before. You will soon understand how much it means to me now.” And with that, he disappeared into the snowy night.

Growing up on the Move

A couple of things I loved about moving as a kid:

And She opened her eyes to the magic of the world' - found on weheartit.com

And She opened her eyes to the magic of the world’
– found on weheartit.com

1) having a growing number of friends from widely different backgrounds

2) getting the advantage of learning a new language in real time, making it your own, in a way you would never get to as an adult. Most of all, you speak and yeah, you make mistakes, but as a kid, you don’t care, you just go for it.

3) the sense of adventure you get when you find out, this is it, we really are moving to Australia or Canada, or wherever.

4) that when you know you’re only living somewhere for a year you make the most of it, whether that means taking your kids out of school for 3 weeks to road trip to Ayers Rock, camping style, or whether it’s living above your means for a couple of months. You tend to explore restaurants and national parks to a greater extent than someone who expects these incredible moments to be available to them for years to come.

5) having several places to call home, despite how torn you may feel between them at times.

Have a great week!

M.

The Impostor Syndrome

When working with the leaders of your chosen field, it is easy to be intimidated by the vast experience of your collaborators and mentors. You may even ask yourself what you are doing there at all. You may worry about them realizing that you don’t belong there.

And yet, little by little things change. You gain confidence in your own abilities, you recognize the humanity in others, you may come to the conclusion that ‘if he can do this, so can you’.

Teddy Doctor 'found on weheartit.com'

Teddy Doctor
‘found on weheartit.com’

In Medicine, some transitions happen fast. Before you know it you go from sitting in lectures to taking patient histories, and you feel like a fraud. You wear a white coat and people think you’re the real deal. You feel like you need to break it to them – hey, I’m nothing but a medical student.

As rotations drag on, you realize that not only does stating your lowly medical student status get you nothing but doubt and under appreciation by colleagues and patients, you actually lose time and are less efficient. Yes, you may be the student, as stated on your badge, but you have a job to do. A precious one. Never again will you have this much time to indulge in long patient histories and physical exams the way you do as a student. Soon enough you become competent are the white coat feels like a comfortable armour rather than the strange unfamiliar gear that ‘a real doctor’ would wear (in Europe anyways).

Soon enough, you realize that you are the real deal, and that in a couple of months your signature on prescriptions will bear the full weight of ‘real’ responsibility.

And so the fraud becomes authentic and never questions it again. Most of the time anyways, until you slide on the robe of professor, of department chair, of anything really. It takes time to take on a new role and to believe that you truly belong. Until it fully sinks in that you have made your dreams a reality, little by little.

The Diving Board

“Don’t be afraid of your fears. They’re not there to scare you. They’re there to let you know that something is worth it.” 
― C. JoyBell C.

The strange thing about the antonym of success is that it is something other than failure. It’s opposite is not trying. Failure, on the other hand means having the courage to step into the ring and fight what is rightfully yours – or not.

First Step - take off those shoes? "Courtesy of weheartit.com"

First Step – take off those shoes?
“Courtesy of weheartit.com”

It means having the gumption to take a step towards your dreams and either see them crash on the solid grown or lift you higher than you thought you could reach. Isn’t it easier though, to sit in the shade, with a cool glass of lemonade and watch from afar as someone takes the plunge from the high diving board? Isn’t it tempting to criticize every pirouette completed prior that moment when your body glides through the liquid interface, into another realm, where movement is slowed, serene.

Sure, the high board may seem tall from afar, but it’s nothing compared to the vertiginous sensation of standing up top, seeing the blue reflection far below, and knowing that one wrong spin will send you down, flat onto the surface that suddenly feels hard as concrete, knocking the wind right out of your lungs. You know it may happen, you see the avid onlookers, half hoping for a humiliating spectacle, which would only comfort them in their own inertia – too afraid to try themselves, yet quick and ready to judge your outcome.

According to wikihow, here are the steps necessary to a successful dive:

1. working up to diving – or anything else that slightly scares you yet you have insanely but stubbornly set out to do.

2. get used to diving in headfirst – with of course having taken precautions to ensure that the pool/lake is of the appropriate depth to dive in head-first. Some projects are brazen – others just foolish and life threatening. Be brave, not stupid.

3. Do a dry run on land prior to diving into water– umm not sure how wikihow pictured this, frankly I think water is a less painful medium to fall on than solid ground, but hey, they are the experts. They do have a point though. Practice makes perfect, whether it’s exams or that tango lesson you’ve set out to take.

4. Crouch close to the pool and glide into the water – some things you can prepare for slowly, inching closer to the pool’s edge, other projects require that final leap of faith. Practice tests are great, but soon enough you’ll find yourself taking the real one. Are you ready?

5. Dive from a standing position – stand tall, be brave. This is your moment.

And I guess wikihow didn’t mention one last ingredient, great friends to cheer you on.

My dive was about 6 weeks ago when I took my board exams to see if I could practice medicine in the country of my choice. I felt nervous, and foolish for trying something so soon when we aren’t quite ready yet. Really it seemed insane. Unlike landing on your belly in a pool, you have to wait till you know if it was a perfect flop or a smooth dive. Today, my hands shaking, I was able to see that not only did I pass, but this may have been one of my best dives yet.

Cheers, M.

Lifesavers "Courtesy of weheartit.com"

Lifesavers
“Courtesy of weheartit.com”

New York Escape

Last weekend, New York happened.

Here is the recipe for what was a pretty incredible getaway.

COPYRIGHT - NYC

COPYRIGHT – NYC

Ingredients:

– two cloves of friendly roommates

– one pound of real dough

– a pinch of time

– a smidge of spontaneity

Preparation time:

Although you can prepare this weekend ahead of time, it is also a great last-minute classic.

All you need is good humour and great team-work.  Many people say oh yeah let’s make these plans and never actually go through with it, so I’m really lucky to have such motivated roommates. Without them this trip wouldn’t have happened, it’s that simple.

As an appetizer we spent the afternoon in Central Park, kind of like sun-dried tomatoes. And yes, unknowingly, we ended up with our first sunburns of the year. So if I were to repeat this recipe, I’d add a dollop of sunscreen.

Next we had a wonderful side-order of Ramen restaurant experience, with pork buns and cheering when you enter the room. Although you can do this yourself at home, I strongly recommend the authentic experience (found at Ippudo West, in NYC).

The element of spontaneity which truly made this recipe, was seeing les Misérables on broadway. Incredible presentation, voices that send chills down your back, the whole sensory overload that you expect from this course.

The dessert was a platter of fine art with select pieces from Ernst Klimt and Egon Schiele In the Neue Galerie.

Overall, I wouldn’t change a thing. 🙂

Bon Appétit!

Back in Boston

So I got my wish, another placement in the top hospitals in essentially every field of medicine. I was glad to return to Boston and live with my lovely roommates yet again, and even more so that it’s started to warm up since january.

Pineapple ketchup courtesy of weheartit.com

Pineapple ketchup
courtesy of weheartit.com

7 Things I learnt this month:

1) it doesn’t always snow in Boston and people do actually venture outside longer than merely to get from point A to point B.

2) That I definitely want to work with kids

3) that New York is only a 4hr bus ride away

4) that I forgot how much fun blowing bubbles really is

5) that JFK grew up here

6) that there are wild turkeys in the city

7) that soaking pineapple in salt water makes it sweeter 🙂

Boston :)

Boston 🙂

Four Seasons in one Day

As I was looking up places in the US and Canada for my postgrad training, I decided to also add these places on my weather app. So now, everyday I compare these east and west coast cities and try to picture how these places look year round. Weather shouldn’t really be a determining factor in this decision-making process… and yet, it would seem that the gentle waves and sea breeze of california are slightly more tempting than the frigid northern cities. Really, after this winter, why even bother applying to Montreal, Ottawa or Boston. And yet, I love my four seasons. Christmas ought to be snowed in in my books. Spring should be longer than 3 days. Autumn is incredible up north, where great forests become a kaleidoscope of hues.

Summer Fun courtesy of weheartit.com

Summer Fun
courtesy of weheartit.com

In the end, I guess each place has its perks. And not quite knowing where I’ll end up is thrilling too, albeit nerve-racking.

7 ways I can be more successful before breakfast

Whether it’s regarding your professional future or a side project, these tactics help me achieve my goals.

courtesy of weheartit.com

courtesy of weheartit.com

1) Short term goals – ensure that your goals are achievable. One liners that you can easily cross off your list. Seeing the end zone will help you maintain your pace till the finish line.

2) Although it is tempting to keep oneself motivated by having many pots on the fire, limit the number of projects you work on in order to ensure that your projects are followed through to completion.

3) Find out how to combine passion and efficiency. It’s hard to get things done that thoroughly bore you. If you are interested in your project and it has meaning for you, it will be easier to stick with the project.

4) Question everything – things can always be improved. By you.

5) Find your Niche- how can we better our current situation? What does our society need? Sure you can open a used book store, and it may be what you truly want (frankly I would love that), but if your community has no need for it, it will most likely fail. Find out what your peers need and find a way to provide it.

6) Be consistent. There are many people who start several projects and never finish them. If people know they can count on you to follow through, that means a lot.

7) Realize where you lose most of your time. It it’s tv shows or some other procrastination method you are addicted to, figure out how many hours you are losing which you could use to be productive.

It’s not much, but it’s a start.

Cheers!

Self-fullfilling Dreams

Here is to dreaming with open eyes. How much can self-confidence versus self-doubt shape the events in your life? Ok so I will get this job, it’s happening. Or rather … well I’m not getting my hopes up, it’s a long shot, but it would be pretty great. Which attitude will get you that dream job and turn it into a reality? How much of your life is your doing? Fake it till you make it happen?

"The time to ponder has passed, the time to act has come" photo courtesy of weheartit.com

“The time to ponder has passed, the time to act has come”
photo courtesy of weheartit.com

Well, in any case, sometimes it’s just about showing up and asking for the things you want.