Free time is a curious thing. When I was younger I was excellent at amusing myself: I would read, swim in the pool, go for walks with Biscuit (my ever so loving childhood Bichon).
I find as I get older I am getting worse at doing things on my own. I will sit around and think of all of the things I could do, only to exhaust myself with possibilities and do nothing at all. I see this pattern in my mother, as well. It scares me because it is a pattern for loneliness. There are several studies around that correlate loneliness with dementia and early mortality.
Does being alone mean you are lonely? Absolutely not. If I fill my life with meaning, I wouldn’t even think about being lonely. I woke up this morning and wrote in my diary, starting with what I want to accomplish in the next 5-10 years. It shocked me how incredibly generic my thoughts were (though, the top of my life was to get a dog! #priorities).
How do I make my life remarkable? For what will I be remembered? How does one live life to the absolute fullest, while still being able to pay off her education loans?
Here is a sample of my list:
1. Get a dog
2. Pay off my loans
3. Purchase a house
4. Learn spanish
5. Transition to an entirely critical care position
6. Learn to play the piano
8. Join doctors without borders
Okay- so other than goal number 8, how incredibly boring is this list? I decided I need to be more expansive with my thoughts. What if I focus on the things about which I am the most passionate? How would those thoughts play out? What is it that I really care about?
1. Healthcare- ensuring my patients receive the best possible care
2. Palliative care- Ensuring patients have the best quality of life
3. Women’s health- protection against rape and domestic abuse
4. Seeing and experiencing the world.
5. Dogs. (#priorities)
6. Living a healthy lifestyle and helping others to do the same
7. The environment
So this list is a little better. Am I able to put away generic goals, goals I *should* have, for goals that are a little more of the cuff. Medical mission trips sound amazing, and a way to see the world and help those involved. But they cost a fortune, a fortune I don’t have. So instead, I will work to become a better provider. I will look into women’s shelters in the area, and opportunities to work with those who have been domestically abused. And I will take every opportunity to help the world and the environment. And, of course, get a dog.