Digital Sabbath

Webster’s defines mindfulness as “the practice of maintaining a nonjudgmental state of heightened or complete awareness of one’s thoughts, emotions, or experiences on a moment-to-moment basis.”

With the aim of increasing mindfulness, this week I did something I have not done in a very long time— I completely unplugged for 36 hours. No computer. No phone. No internet connection. It was a complete digital sabbath and it was amazing.

It probably helped that I took this digital sabbath while staying in a cabin overlooking a beautiful bluff and surrounded by trees, but I came away from the experience more fully relaxed and with more mental clarity than I have had in a long time. My attention span feels longer. I am more fully engaged with my son when he’s talking to me. That nagging urge to check my phone, which often causes me to feel irritated with myself, is gone. I can be present and mindful about whatever I’m doing right now. The rest can wait. Not surprisingly, given the strength of the mind-body connection, I also feel more physically energized and ready to tackle my fitness goals in the coming weeks.

Given all of these benefits, I am more committed than ever to the two digital sabbath days per month that I have promised myself as part of our family media plan.

How are you cultivating mindfulness?


Repetitive Microtrauma

7537238368_a0bf8fa717In my line of work the term “repetitive microtrauma” usually refers to a physical injury. Little League Elbow, for example. An injury caused by throwing pitch after pitch after pitch. Repetitive overuse that gradually leads to a more serious injury. Slow and insidious, it sort of creeps up on you.

Once in a great while, social media starts to feel, for me, like so much repetitive emotional microtrauma. Continue reading


IMG_6093My reading was on the slide. Maybe it was partly the books I’d been reading. Good, but not, you know good. Maybe it was time. A little, but not ever enough. But, I also started to wonder if it was how I was reading. Mostly ebooks. And, often loaded onto an app on my phone.  A great app, but still. I just never felt engrossed. It was too easy to start thinking about (or doing) something else. I couldn’t feel the pages in my hands, see my progress. Couldn’t dog ear pages or leave little pencil scratchings. It just didn’t feel right somehow. Continue reading

Open For Comment: The Risks and Rewards of Writing in an Open Space

I recently co-authored an op-ed on gun violence that was picked up by The Huffington Post. As topics go, this is about as controversial as a pediatrician can get. Anticipating strong feelings on all sides of the issue, I was forced to really look at my feelings about writing in open spaces and exposing myself to criticism. This is an interesting vulnerability for a physician. Ever trying to avoid mistakes and often trained to steer clear of controversy, we avoid a public role as a rule. But, recent reflection has made me realize how much my perspective on all of this has shifted and been clarified over the last few years. Continue reading

Social Media Makes Me A Better Pediatrician

Almost two years ago I started writing more regularly- reflections on being a new mom, thoughts on my changing perspective as a pediatrician. I kept a notebook that quickly filled with thoughts that occurred to me during clinic, questions parents asked, things that came up with my son. I started reading more- both on-line and off. I realized that friends who were parents had the same kinds of questions I did. They too were googling questions and looking for credible sources of information. So, one year ago I started sharing the things I was writing about. My Two Hats was born. What I didn’t know then was that this little blog would open a new world to me. That it would start to shift the way I think about medicine and make me a better doctor. Here’s how. Continue reading

A flood of (mis)information: parenting in the digital age

photo by Heath Brandon

These days, when we have a question or doubt about our health or our child (or about anything really), our first thought is not likely to get out a book, or make a phone call. It is to search the web.  The internet brings answers to our questions within a few seconds.  This is an amazing thing- patients bring questions to clinic about things they have read, the patient/physician relationship becomes less paternalistic, e-patient communities are formed.  Patients and health care providers are more well-informed and empowered.

But what happens when the information we find is not correct? Continue reading