I’m grateful for…

People: My family, friends, and all the people I interact with. I love to be around people, to hear their stories, and to enjoy their presence. I love to hear the kids riding bikes in the neighborhood, overhearing conversations on the bus, and seeing families walking in the hospital.

Places: Our townhouse is wonderful. I love my commute by bike or bus. I love the trees out our windows. I love my memories of Italy. I enjoy the mountains, beaches and historic places of the world.

History: For my ancestors, especially my grandparents and parents who sacrificed much to make my life so enjoyable. For soldiers, revolutionaries and public servants who have created and defended my rights and opportunities.

Knowledge: For my teachers. The authors of the books I’ve read. For scientists and physicians who have given neuroscience and neurology. For each bit of knowledge which I have been able to remember.

Faith: In God. In my family. In good people that are trying to make a difference. In the hope and promise of future generations.

I am grateful for every moment.


Two weeks ago I flew to San Francisco. I spent a couple days there before flying back to Tucson to pick up the kids from my in-laws and fly home. It was an eye opening trip. Thursday due to flight delays I was in airports for seven hours. I read an entire chapter book- in one day. That hasn’t happened since before Scotland was born. Friday, Tom was at his neurology conference all day, so I had the day solo to explore the city. I woke up when I woke up, did some yoga, had a cup of tea while I ready my scriptures, and got ready. I bought a MUNI pass- jumped on the subway and headed out. I walked along the high-end market stalls in the Ferry Building, lingering to savor the samples of $12 bars of chocolate- without having to wipe faces, and hands, and clothes. I stalled to take in the diversity of mushrooms- no one complained. I took pictures without being pulled off balance. I didn’t buy breakfast- I didn’t want to waste time, and no one was begging me to. I explored the Embercado area, then took a street car north so I could climb the Filbert steps. I got off a stop early, and jogged the rest of the way, because I could. A goofy smile was smeared across my face. I couldn’t help it. I was in San Francisco, the sun was shining, the air brisk, fresh! I had an entire day to myself. I felt both stressed and exhilarated. How to make the most of it?! I climbed the steps, stopping from time to time to turn around and take in the view of the bay. I side tracked and walked down skinny alleyways between houses, admiring the enormous succulents, and new-to me plants. I imagined life in those homes- etched into a cliff, overlooking the bay. I had pleasant flashbacks to a trip to Cinque Terre, with it’s similar cliff dwellings, and steep narrow streets. I climbed all the way to the top arms swinging, mouth smiling, mind free. Wait, arms swinging, such a strange sensation. It was at this point in the day, an hour in, that I realized how strange it was to have NO one else to consider that day. My whims would guide the day. No time would be wasted discussing the merits of this or that decision, no energy spent trying to choose based on the others’ perceived desires. I would just go, do, enjoy. At that point I let go of any stress or pressure and decided to just take it all in. I took the elevator up Coit tower. I leaned out the windows (far enough that the attendant had to warn me!) feeling the fresh ocean breeze, and taking in the gorgeous 360 of San Francisco. Such a gorgeous city. The details of the day are less interesting than the feeling I had- such freedom, such abandon. I took busses the wrong direction, and walked too long in ordinary neighborhoods. I didn’t do things in the best order, and I ate nothing but granola bars until 5:00pm. But there was no one but me to worry about, no one complained, demanded, begged. The change was shocking. And yet I wasn’t gleeful about the absence of my children- in reality I melted every time I saw a child, and teared up a bit when a 2 year old darling with blonde curls danced around in Coit Tower. I wished Tom was there to share the view, and found myself focusing on things the boys would find interesting- double decker bridges, the variety of public transit options, decorative dragons. But I was also surprised by how often I felt freed by the opportunity to actually pursue something that interested me- to linger in the garden, to examine the succulents, to read the plaque, without consequence.

Tom texted around 5:15- “Where are you!?” My day alone had come to an end. An exciting dinner date awaited. I jumped on the side of a cable car, holding on to the bar, and resisting the urge to lean out and start singing. An older man, asked me curiously, “Do you feel comfortable there?” “Oh. I feel great!”

Matching to Seattle Children’s Hospital

Just wanted to let everyone know that I am finishing medical school in May (…finally!), and then will be moving to Seattle (woohoo!) for a five year residency program in Pediatric Neurology. I will be working primarily at Seattle Children’s hospital and at the University of Washington. The program involves two years of general pediatric training, one year of adult neurology training, and two years of specialized pediatric neurology training. I will be continuing some of my research in biomedical engineering, though time will be at a premium (have you seen those mountains?!)

It is “my first real job” (n.b. no more need for “eternal student” jibes!).

We are so excited to move to Seattle. We found out Friday in the residency match; before Scotter opened the envelope, we knew that I had a job somewhere, but not where. We are a little nervous about the cost of living, but we aren’t the first family to live in Seattle on a budget. Kjirsti’s parents live a few hours from Seattle, which will allow scotter some much needed space for running around. Kjirsti is excited to develop a new Voice Studio in Seattle. Scotter is excited about all the puddles. And I’m excited about, well, everything!

Hope & Doubt


All treatments in medicine have potential benefits, but also potential risks. Prescribing treatment requires some degree of hope that the patient will be part of the group of people in which treatment benefits outweigh the damages. Patients receiving prescriptions will find no benefit unless they have at least enough hope to follow through on the doctor’s recommendation. Ultimately, the hope may be realized, and the patient’s ailment relieved. However, sometimes hope is in vain: the side effects are intolerable, the therapeutic effect is insufficient, or the surgical procedure is disastrous. The unpredictable nature of medicine means that, regardless of best intentions, hopes will not always be achieved. Instilling “hope”, therefore, requires communication of some level of doubt, to ease understanding when treatments do not go well.


Yet, I have seen doubt damage patients. They stop a blood pressure medication after 2 days because “It’s not working”. They tell me they didn’t pick up a medication because they “didn’t think it would work”. As humans, we like quick fixes, which make treatments like antibiotics so popular. We are fatigued by insidious diseases like diabetes and obesity, which require constant vigilance and daily sacrifice. Doubt overwhelms many patients, and they stop trying. In their most difficult times, they need increased hope, that each effort increases the likelihood of more tomorrows. It is our job as medical practitioners to explain risks, but also to instill hope sufficient for our patients to get the most out of the rest of their life.


When it comes to gardening, I have many dreams.  I draw the content of these fantasies from my gardening magazines where people with endless incomes, endless sun, and endless space create breathtaking gardens, or from the flower catalogs that I save and devour with the same intensity and excitement as a child with the Christmas toy ads.  I found myself completely suckered into the plant descriptions that raved about the specimens “strong stems, brilliant color, elegant fern shaped foilage, etc…  Something I’ve learned over time is that many of the promising and exciting flowers in my catalogs fail to show up at my nurseries. In my early years of gardening I would literally nursery hop trying to find rare but desired plants.  Since my lifestyle has more children and complexities than during that stage of life, I have started experimenting with a very dangerous hobby.  Ordering plants online!  This first picture is a plant I have long coveted, but never seen at my nursery.  In the past my self-control has kept me from actually buying much from my catalogs, but when I needed to order a flower for a friend I found myself in kind of a shopping craze and before I knew it I had purchased two Dicentra Gold Heart (bleeding hearts).  They arrived today and though small (actually bigger than I expected) they look healthy and seem to already promise to brighten my shady areas and provide their romantic arching stems with delicate pink “bleeding heart” blooms.

My other dream is to have enough flowers to be able to daily bring some of them inside.  You see those pictures of women coming in from a gardening session hefting a basket filled with the seasons beautiful blooms intermingled with their clippers and spade.  How I long to be able to send my artistic daughter out every day to bring in an arrangement to brighten my kitchen, entryway or even bathroom.  In my small yard and with many young plants, I’m usually happy when a particular patch actually makes it to maturity without succumbing to the dangers of the soccer ball or my three year olds bike, or my one year olds  inquisitive and sure fingers.  But today I needed flowers inside, and after roaming the yard I found our old, windbent snowball tree.  I decided that I could certainly afford to deny it of some of its fruits and gathered a large bunch.  Bringing them in I felt a real sense of joy to be able to grow and enjoy flowers.  So even though I don’t have an acre of flowers for cutting, today my table is blessed with the simple beauty of springtime, the memories of my own snowball tree right by our backdoor, and the feeling of luxurious plenty.

Since my dream of an abundance of dispensable flowers is not likely in this decade, my new focus is going to be on enjoying my flowers inside in a very small focused vignette sort of way.  This vase is tiny, but perfect to display a couple of my spring daisies.  I am amazed at how they brighten up a dull space, and how much more I am aware of appreciate the details of their form in such small numbers.  So I will keep dreaming, trying to restrain my mouse from draining my bank account for rare but perfectly needed flowers, and enjoying my cuttings in a miniature sort of way.

Stand by me

playingforchange, a group who is trying to promote peace through music, made the following video.  It touched my heart, hopefully it will touch yours.

“This cover of Stand By Me was recorded by completely unknown artists in a street virtual studio all around the world. It all started with a base track—vocals and guitar—recorded on the streets of Santa Monica, California, by a street musician called Roger Ridley. The base track was then taken to New Orleans, Louisiana, where Grandpa Elliott—a blind singer from the French Quarter—added vocals and harmonica while listening to Ridley’s base track on headphones. In the same city, Washboard Chaz’s added some metal percussion to it.

And from there, it just gets rock ‘n’ rolling bananas: The producers took the resulting mix all through Europe, Africa, and South America, adding new tracks with multiple instruments and vocals that were assembled in the final version you are seeing in this video. All done with a simple laptop and some microphones.” [gizmodo]