Sunday, September 10, 2017

Hope for the Storms of Life

As I write, we are waiting for hurricane Irma, the category 5 storm that devastated the Caribbean just a few days ago. Our house is boarded up, and we feel as safe as one can feel while in the path of a powerful storm. Our weather radio is on my favorite station, Z88.3, which injects weather warnings between songs of hope and peace to help us prepare. I can't think of a better way to remain hopeful and ready for a storm.

© 2017 Amaryllis Sánchez Wohlever, MD
Below are a few songs that are particularly relevant during times like these.

These songs remind us that praising God in the midst of our storms is powerful. The Lord inhabits the praises of His people. As we pray and lift up His name, He blesses us with His presence, comfort, and peace. 

Praise is a fountain of life and peace.  

As praise rises, blessings descend.

May we all experience this in greater measure as we place our trust in Him, seeing every trial as an opportunity to learn to trust God more. And may these words of the psalmist become our prayer during the storms of life, for our God is the place of safety, joy, and peace.

 I will extol the Lord at all times; His praise will always be on my lips.
I will glory in the Lord; let the afflicted hear and rejoice.
Glorify the Lord with me; let us exalt His name together.
I sought the Lord, and He answered me;
    He delivered me from all my fears....
The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear Him,
    and He delivers them.
Taste and see that the Lord is good;
    blessed is the one who takes refuge in Him.
Psalm 34:1-4, 7-8 

Please join me in praying for everyone on the path of this hurricane as well as the thousands of people who are now homeless or whose lives will never be the same again. I am thankful for the relief efforts already underway and for the many ways we can all help one another during such times. God bless you all, and thank you for your prayers.

Praising God in the storm,

Dr. Mari

Saturday, February 4, 2017

A Physician's Detour on the Journey Toward Simplicity

by: Amaryllis Sánchez Wohlever, MD

I start every year by choosing a theme. Usually the theme emerges over weeks, as I sense God leading me in a new direction. Last year, I chose a theme of simplicity. I felt led to begin by decluttering our home, focusing on one small space at a time. So I re-read Contentment (a book by my friend, Dr. Richard Swenson) and followed a few websites that inspire a journey toward simplicity. Our decluttering began with my bedroom closet and moved to the kitchen cabinets, bookshelves, kids' rooms, and so on. Slowly, 2016 became the year of simplifying, removing clutter, and reclaiming physical spaces to gain spaciousness of mind and spirit.

Halfway through the year, this physical decluttering was interrupted abruptly by a need for surgery and, later, some physical therapy for my arm. What began as an external process shifted into an internal restructuring, cleansing, and rebirth. A physician-turned-patient, I had to rely on others for daily tasks and also for inner strength, at times, with an even greater reliance on God through prayer.

Now that I'm back to decluttering our home, the inner journey to greater simplicity seems effortless. The immense gratitude that expands as you regain your strength and realize you're filled and surrounded by love is, at times, overwhelming. Although I could write about difficult moments, long waits for needed care, mistakes by well-meaning and very human medical personnel, and more, these memories keep fading. They've been overtaken by experiences of loving care that are cemented in my soul as reminders that I am loved deeply, and that God's love is powerful, tender, and healing.

What I remember most vividly is the kindness, the compassion, and the love I've received.

For years, I've spoken to healthcare professionals about Mother Teresa, the role model that drew me to medicine. She speaks of the power of a smile, of kindness, and of loving the person in front of you. We may not all do great things in this world, she says, but we can all do small things with great love. She's so right!

Small acts of kindness and love may seem insignificant, but they matter greatly. Though they are small, their impact can be far-reaching, for they touch the core of who we are and, often, our deepest needs.

Mother Teresa's wisdom took on a new dimension as I've lived the truth of her words this past year. As healthcare professionals, we must never underestimate the power of a smile, of appropriate touch, of silence, of positive words, of hope. These are the moments I remember, and they continue to bear fruit months later. These moments have power to bless, and to heal.

As physicians, we rely heavily on medications and various treatments while sometimes neglecting the power of empathy, of simple gestures, of love. As a physician and leader in healthcare who understands the impact of excessive regulatory burdens and the countless stressors that continue to threaten our profession, I know how critical it is for us to fight back. We need more time to care for the human being in front of us, and we need to take back control of how we do this. At stake is the very heart of medicine, and the sacredness of our profession.

We have much work to do in healthcare, and the road ahead is tough. I, for one, will continue to teach about the blessings and necessity of kindness and love in the exam room, for they have the power to transform the toughest journeys, one person at a time.

Spreading hope through kindness, forgiveness, and such not-so-small things,

Dr Mari

A few relevant reads: 

Purpose: An Antidote to Burnout

Hope for Physicians: A New Paradigm

Wisdom from Mother Teresa

Thursday, April 14, 2016

A Story, A Prayer, and a Song

A Story

Last month I helped someone. It was so cool. We had one of those moments of connection that surprise. Words that can't quite be planned. They just seem to form and emerge at just the right time in just the right way.

In those moments, words can heal. Words are powerful.

That day, my words landed. They reached another human being's heart as I shared mine. And then I knew the person in front of me would leave knowing she was heard. Understood. Loved.

I live for those moments. It's part of why I am now a coach. I love how coaching focuses on the positive. On possibilities. On a future yet unknown that we can begin to create now. A tomorrow that is brighter than our present reality and, perhaps, our past. Very cool.

A Prayer

This week I spoke to someone else. Someone with trouble letting go. Listening helped. Words helped. A certain lightness began to fill the room. And, yet, I hoped for more for her. So much more.

So ... as she spoke ... as she shared her heart ... I shared mine with my God. Though she didn't know it, I lifted her up so high.   S o  v e r y   h i g h.

There is no gift like prayer. The one who prays is as blessed as the one lifted up to the One who hears like no one else. Cares like no one else. Loves like no one else. And can answer like no one else.

Through prayer, we live in God's presence. We are lifted higher. We connect with our Creator, and rest.

My hope for her ... is God. God's blessing. God's joy. God's rest. And I know He will answer.

A Song

My daughter played a song for us tonight. It rocks. It's by Matthew West, and it's titled Do Something. You will find it here. Enjoy, sing it out loud, and don't forget to...

Dr Mari

Be still and know that I am God. 
Psalm 46:10

For more on the power of prayer, read Prayer: A Way of Life.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Blessed Easter: Hope Restored!

He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. 
Matthew 28:6

The disciples witnessed it.
The Gospel writers proclaimed it.
Countless believers down the ages have experienced it.

He is Risen!

The resurrection of Jesus Christ is a historical event that invites a response.

He is not here; He has risen!

Words of hope. 
Words of life.

Words that change everything.

The compelling story is recounted this year, of all places, in the Wall Street Journal.
You may read it here.  

May we live into our joyful Easter every day, all year!
Dr Mari

For more on how the story of the Resurrection impacts our lives, read The Hero Lives! and He Is Risen! So What Does That Mean to You and Me?

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

A Physician's Plea

a physician's plea

i am a physician
which means i'm first human
though the world wants to keep me
detached and removed
up in some pedestal
far from the real you

i don't belong there
i belong with you
next to you
i'm a human person
i am like you

it is in my humanity
that i can best
see you
hear you
serve you

i am a human being
just like you
and my heart longs
to know you
and connect with you
with compassion
and, yes, with love

let me
to where i belong

i am 
which is
what you need

let me be human
and walk alongside you
believe me, i care,
and healing dwells there
in the house of 'we'

we heal
living more fully
we are human
i am human
a human, MD

Blessings & Joy,
Dr Mari 
© 2016 Amaryllis Sánchez Wohlever, MD

I was blessed as the first physician to greet this baby into our world!

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Hope for Physicians: A New Paradigm

My article Healing patients shouldn't be killing doctors was published on KevinMD this week. The enthusiastic response from my colleagues has not surprised me, for I know how unsupported and unappreciated so many physicians feel as they do their best for people every day despite countless obstacles. As I said in the article, unsupported physicians are like hamsters in a wheel going around and around never getting anywhere while running themselves to the ground.

In the last few years, the rates of burnout among physicians have reached epidemic proportions. This rising prevalence continues to climb alongside a parallel ladder of increasing barriers to excellent care while the once-central patient-physician relationship sits in a corner, pushed back by technology, the mandated over-reliance on electronic medical records, increasing regulatory demands, and less time available for direct patient care. We spend so much time, energy, and resources constantly adapting to change that a proactive practice is often an unattainable dream.

Yet, this is not the end of our story. In fact, I believe it marks a new and important beginning for our profession.

As physicians, it is time for us to recognize that, without our very active participation, the health care system that's become an enemy for patients and physicians will only worsen. As physician leaders, we are a critical part of the solution to the growing enigma that health care represents. During a time when it's tempting to merely strive to survive on the sidelines, we must become more engaged than ever.

What a privilege to serve at the Florida Capitol!
It is time to change the culture of medicine to one of modeled wellness, interdependent teamwork, and true servant leadership. And as physicians, we must take the lead.

As I explain in the article, we must become courageous champions of change. No letting the complacent entice us, or the naysayers stop us. No letting those with low expectations, no vision, and limited understanding dictate what we can and cannot do. No excuses in pursuing the very best for our patients and for our teams, and no fear. Let us all do our part. Let us lead. Read more here.

Dr Mari 

Monday, January 4, 2016

A Favorite Christmas Gift ... Insects! (Part IV - Transformation Series)

I am the only person I know who received insects for Christmas. Yes! My son thought I'd enjoy watching some caterpillars crawl their way up into a chrysalis ... en route to becoming butterflies. So here's what he got me.

A perfect gift! I'm always mesmerized by watching this process, so I thought I'd share it with you as 2016 gets going. After all, we all have something that needs to be transformed in this new year. I know you agree.

So my caterpillar friends arrived with plenty of food carpeting their cup home. All we had to do was watch them grow, which is a good thing. I don't really like caterpillars. They crawl around, eat, and grow. That's about it. Yet, what comes next is pretty remarkable.

Satisfied with their earth-bound meals, and perhaps recognizing that's all the ground has for them, the plump caterpillars leave behind what's familiar for high places. There they hang for days ... waiting ... making observers wonder if they've just dried up, never to open, or if perhaps they'll emerge one day.

In the waiting, we invariably notice something new. This time I noticed caterpillar parts left behind on the ground and walls. Some parts had to be shed and left behind before entering the chrysalis. I know you also agree there's much food for thought in that as we consider our areas of needed transformation.

After days of waiting patiently, here's how our friend looked right as it emerged from the chrysalis: wrinkled and small. Yet, after a few minutes of pumping the unused wings, they straightened and opened in all their colorful splendor! Amazing.

The process of watching a crawling caterpillar transform into a flying butterfly is always full of surprises. My greatest discovery this time was the beauty and attention to detail evident on the back of the butterfly's wings. On the painted lady butterfly, the back of the wing is stunning. A rainbow of color is hidden on the part of the butterfly we often don't even see.

I can picture God's fingers meticulously adding a bit of blue here, some red there, then orange and yellow and green. So much more than I'd ever seen on this butterfly, miraculous if we consider that the caterpillar that became a chrysalis had only one color: black.

My winged friends teach me so much about life and about myself. Here are just a few thoughts as the New Year takes flight.

* Sometimes life and beauty are hidden, though very present. We need to pay attention to see and perceive it.
* Often what is dried up and looks dead has life within, waiting to be nurtured, discovered, and expressed.
* The process of transformation takes time. Patience is needed ... for the one being changed and for the one observing and hoping for change in someone else.
* When we're tired of crawling around empty grounds, heading upward holds great promise of new life. If life feels empty, look up and start the upward journey. New life awaits at new heights, and it is the climbing that strengthens your wings!
* Seasons of slow crawling are often essential to the growth that's needed. Without the caterpillar, there is no butterfly.
* Life is a beautiful miracle.
* Transformation is always worth the wait.

Ponder with me: What must I leave behind so I may embrace the new and rise higher in 2016?

Pray with me: As this new year begins, may I have the wisdom to recognize areas of needed change, the courage to rise above my circumstances, and the ability to trust that God the Giver of life knows me, loves me, and is always in control.

New Year Blessings!
Dr Mari

* For more of this series on transformation, read Be Still And Know for Part I, Baggage-free Flying for Part II, and Hope Flies Despite Broken Wings! for Part III. *

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—His good, pleasing, and perfect will.
Romans 12:2