I am so over being productive.

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This whole pandemic has definitely been a test of strength, fear, ingenuity, and self-direction. Ever since that fateful day in March when the governor issued the stay-at- home order, life has changed. I have to admit that initially I mentally greeted the stay-at- home order with a positive spirit and a can-do attitude. I got creative at home. I spent more time with my kids. I told myself that having less patients meant more ME time that I could do with as I pleased. I cleaned rooms and reorganized, creating soothing spaces for each of my family members. I tried to read more. I tried to get to each and every project that had been hanging over my head..sometimes for years I spent more time with all of our pets… probably too much so for my dogs’ liking. I think they have not been on their recommended nap schedule for months. My overzealous attempts to lavish them with affection 24 hours a day amd dress them.in ridiculous outfits seem welcome on the surface, but I think they are just humoring me. They would really rather be getting their 15 plus hours of sleep a day. Or, they are just too tired to fight me over dress up time…lol.

I have a vegetable garden for the first time in years. I was always too afraid that I would mess up the over the top landscaping the previous owners put in. Now, I have thrown caution to the wind and dared to add my own accents and a raised garden on our deck. This is all fine a good until I eventually get to return to a regular office schedule and have to rely on my 16 year old to water it.

Once the back and forth conflicting executive orders stabilized, we were able to enjoy our quaint little cottage as well. By little I literally mean small..800 square feet. It is not a clever euphemism. It is our little patch of Heaven. I literally find my mood magically transformed just by getting in the car to go there. That is the special magic that it has. Despite the close quarters, I think we all get along just a little better when we are there.

All these things sound great….and they are, but they don’t paint the whole picture of pandemic life. The work side is crazy, but maybe not in the way that you would think. I am either at the hospital 4 hours or 25 hours and everything in between. Between asymptomatic carriers and everyone else, we are potentially exposed every day without knowing it. We dutifully take all precautions daily. I take note of all the accolades for front line workers and sing their praises also. I think that people only think of frontline workers as those in the ER or in the ICU, but truly they are everywhere. We need to recognize that. The frontline is potentially everywhere.. That’s why we all need to do our part. Please do not misunderstand. Clearly those working with the sickest of patients deserve the lion’s share of the praise. Those situations are by far the scariest. I just mean that all of us in Healthcare or in any situation that deals with the public are facing risks as well.

The office is stressful not just because of potential exposures. It is also stressful because of lack of activity. Arbitrary decisions by outside forces have attempted to render me non-essential, therefore driving patients away from my practice. I can barely fill two days of office per week but spend my days not in the office answering patient questions and offering reassurance. I spent a lot of time on social media, trying to offer support and reaffirm my presence for patients and friends. I also try desperately to come up with that perfect ad that straddles the line between reassuring and tacky to remind people to please start utilizing my business when it’s allowed. My goal is to not only survive this virus but also the potential economic ruin it leaves ( or at least the government leaves) in it’s wake.

I feel for every small business out there. I am an independent business person as well. There is no hospital backing or unemployment for me to fall back on. I have one business at 0 percent since March and one business at 20 percent. It won’t be enough if we have to hold back much longer. And yet, some equipment lenders still want their blood from this turnip. It’s as if threatening me will magically add some numbers to the zero in my bank account so that I can immediately give it to them. Go ahead. Knock yourself out I guess. I feel like a worldwide pandemic with a side of economic ruin is a legitimate excuse as any for not being able to pay all your bills right now, but who am I to say? I mean, that one has to rank pretty high up there, doesn’t it? I didn’t make it up. I am not that creative. I get it, they want their money too. However, I feel like their millions and billions of dollars in potential resources just might allow them to hold out a bit longer than I can.

I am not ready to give up. On the contrary. I am ready to snap my fingers and have this be all over. I want my staff back in the office every day, but I can’t blame them for enjoying their unemployment and I can’t blame them for not being cognizant of all of the potential overdue projects spinning around in my head if I don’t tell them. It’s just that sometimes I run out of energy to keep fighting to keep myself and everybody else motivated to keep going. I get tired of fending off everyone’s misdirected frustrations. Sometimes the perceived uneven pressure seems unfair. Sometimes I get resentful and childish and decide that no one understands like I do the potential full ramifications of this pandemic. This is ridiculous and egocentric thinking of course, but I fall prey to it from time to time. Those are the days that I find myself completely “over it” and absolutely done with coming up with new business survival ideas. Those are the days when I am definitively uninterested in being productive or putting on a brave face. Those are the days when the weight of the entire world seems to be on my proverbial back.. I feel the urge to pout or cry or yell and let the cork that is barely holding my emotions in to go flying. Sometimes the tears just start coming and I cannot stop them. Then, when it is just about too late, I stop and check myself. It really is no one’s job but mine to worry about my business or my future and it is unfair of me to even expect other people or employees to help carry the weight of all my worries. It just doesn’t work that way. I just have to figure it out myself…..and I will. This thing is NOT going to get me. Have a fantastic day!

Dr. Katz

Happy, Independent, and Legal

Remember how you were when your first born arrived on this planet. You peered into their amazing newborn blue eyes and you adored and stared at them, musing over your endless dreams and expectations. You just knew that they were going to be an astronaut, a doctor, a professional musician, and a pro-athlete. They were going to go to the most prestigious Ivy-League universities in the world. They were going to win the Nobel Prize in Physics. They were going to be President some day. They were going to be perfect. The sky was the limit and nothing less would do! They were going to be the best at everything and entitle you to infinite bragging rights. A little often unacknowledged voice inside of you also pointed out that there were opportunities to live vicariously through them and that they would be able to accomplish all the things that you couldn’t. Anything seemed possible. Ah how times change!

Ok now let’s fast forward into the toddler years(3-4) when you get the brilliant idea to enroll them in some kind of activity for self-enrichment. Then you realize that what you really signed up for is struggling to get them into a uniform or costume, trying to observe what they are doing without disrupting the whole activity or class as they press their nose against the window to look at you instead or run off the field because they wanted a snack…..or just sit down on the field and pick their nose. That is a personal favorite. Of course NONE of my kids did ANY of those things…lol. Ok they did, my now amazing tapper actually got kicked out of her first dance class at 3 for being “disruptive.” I remember at first being upset at the time that she was going to miss out on something great. I thought her dance career was over for sure. Then I also wondered how the hell the instructors expected 3 year olds to pay attention for 45 minutes when the average attention span of a 3 year old is more like 10 minutes? And by the way, her “disruptive” behavior consisted of occasionally running to the window to look at my husband. It’s not like she was inciting a revolution or anything. I felt a little gypped to tell you the truth. I was ready for her to be a star and they just “didn’t get it.”

But, life churned ahead to the elementary school years. Now sports started to get a little more interesting for my one daughter and soccer games became something to cheer about. Dance found its way back into my other daughter’s life and there were actual performances to attend! Whoo! I had them at exclusive private schools and they were getting the best education. Now we were really getting somewhere! Those Harvard and high profile job dreams could once again lift off and take flight. At that age, both girls were still somewhat receptive to guidance. This is when I first began to struggle against my inner “stage mom” nature. I was determined not to over push and make sure that whatever they were involved in was something for them and not for me. I was by no means perfect in that regard, but I think i did a reasonably good job. I tried to be involved but not control everything that they did. While my friends were forcing their kids to continue playing an instrument or never letting them see their friends in lieu of studying, I was trying to let my kids be kids. Did they sometimes bring home less than desirable grades? Yes. Were there consequences? Yes. I also still objected when activities ended or they lost interest in something. We had minimum participation requirements( finish out the season at least, etc), but I did not force them to continue any particular activity just for me. I allowed them to own the consequences and regrets of their actions, within reason. I mean, I wasn’t allowing them to commit crimes, run the streets at all hours and swear at adults or anything, but i did allow them their own mistakes.

Then, we took a turn in the middle and high school years. By the time both my girls were in their teen years, they had transferred to large, public schools with a whole different universe of social groups and influences. There were a lot of potentially unsavory elements in their daily lives, but i felt that it was necessary to break them out of their small private school bubble in order to give them a social education as well. I felt that they needed to be able to handle themselves in a more realistic environment. There were sporting events and dance competitions and increasingly intense pressures on all sides. There were exciting things to cheer for and just as many things to be disappointed about. It’s a weird double edged sword scenario the older your kids get isn’t it? They have more opportunities for competition in a variety of areas, but then you also have more opportunities to potentially behave badly and get out of focus when they don’t perform like you hoped. They didn’t always get the grades that I was hoping for or win the scholarships that I thought that they should. But sometimes they did. I finally had to ask myself the big question: How much did that really matter? They were trying to adjust to their new environment while adjusting to fluctuating hormones and evaluating just what they expected of themselves, much less what i expected.

This was a difficult time. Their moods changed and they became intermittently sullen and argumentative. Their confidence wavered, social anxiety soared and I had to adjust my expectations about performance to what was actually going on around me. Both of my girls went on very different journeys toward their own happiness and health. Their paths were not what I thought they would be. They both went through significant traumatic experiences that affected how they dealt with the world around them. I had to decide if it was worth it to battle it out about grades and scholarships and contests and risk the communication going to zero, or embrace them for who they are and support them as they went forward into their own future. I decided that, as fun as it was banging my head against the wall and being frustrated over what I thought my kids should be doing, I needed to put it all back into perspective. I did have plenty of stuff to brag about, even if it wasn’t the stuff I thought it would be. But, was that the whole point? Wasn’t their life supposed to be about them?

I kept using the argument that grades and scholarships were the key to a bright future, and that is true, but it all depends on which future you have in mind. Also, who is to say that the future they are choosing for themselves is better or worse than the one i would chose? I had to realize that, believe it or not, the world wasn’t going to end if my daughter did not head off to an Ivy League school on a full scholarship if she wasn’t ready or that wasn’t her path? In fact, I am fortunate enough that she has decided to work full time at our office, pays her own bills, and manages all of our large animals at the barn. She is productive, happy and using parts of her brain that I think she forgot existed when she was in high school. That is downright fantastic! I have seen her take tremendous strides just in these last 6 months, figuring out who she is and what she wants to do. This is a much better option than me trying to decide for her and forcing her to go to college. That would have been a disaster. I mean, I am all for flushing money down the proverbial toilet but why? I guess what I am really saying is that I have had to take a step back and alter my expectations over the years with regard to my kids. I have let go of all the crazy expectations that potentially set both myself and my kids up for a failed social relationship. Don’t let me fool you, my stage mom side has not been completely exorcised from my body or anything. I am still me. I just finally realize that the ultimate future goal for my kid is for them to be happy. They also need to be independent, because they can’t live in my house forever! Oh yes, and I would prefer that they do not do anything illegal. Beyond that, it’s all gravy. Have a fantastic day folks!

Dr. Katz