Habits life

On Purpose + A Quick Trip Back in Time

October 20, 2021

I am reading On Purpose by Tanya Dalton right now.

It is making me more motivated to think about what aspects of my life I am actively choosing and what is just . . . happening.

I spent an hour reading old posts from residency last night — yes, diving into my own archives, circa 2007-2010! I noted several things:

1- I was tired a lot

2- Running was a huge coping mechanism for me (more than exercise is now)

3- I was fairly happy despite working 9 jillion hours (and often odd ones, at that)

I also cringed at my lowercase letters + “healthy living blog” touches, but . . . it was a long time ago. Check out this vintage pic:

2010 SHU: “This Garmin device is truly amazing!!!”

It does appear that during what was a challenging time — residency is inherently hard, Josh was working obscene hours so I was often alone, and at that point I was already dealing with fertility issues — I generally chose to shape my days in the ways that I could.

There was no social media to escape into or wallow in, which probably helped, though my 2010 equivalent was reading a lot of blogs.

I don’t even know where I am going with this except to say I do like the idea of having more active choice in the way I go throughout my days. I don’t think it’s always possible to choose happiness — when one is truly depressed (or depressed-adjacent?), it doesn’t feel like an option. But it often is. Also, things like blogs / social media almost never bring joy for me. They just kind of numb unpleasant feelings.

About to ponder this on a run that would make 2010 me roll my eyes (thankfully, 2021 me doesn’t give a (#*&$). It’s 73F, which is somewhat joyful in an of itself.


  • Reply omdg October 20, 2021 at 8:55 am

    I remember during residency, the majority of attendings were about my age and had young children, and they constantly complained how much harder being an attending was than being a trainee. My suspicion is that actually what is hard for many people is having young children and real responsibilities. For most physicians this happens during early attending-hood, rather than residency, but people conflate the two things (being an attending, and being the parent of small children), and since you’re not really allowed to say that there are things about having young kids that suck, they say (or may believe) that it’s their job that is the problem. Other things going on during this life phase:

    1) Having real responsibilities, and realizing that you can’t really change your spouse or career anymore without significant repercussions.
    2) Realizing that you don’t get to have absolutely everything you wanted in life, or that what you wanted and now have also has significant downsides.
    3) You’re not getting any younger, and minor (hopefully) health problems start cropping up. Your parents die, and you start to realize that this is going to happen to you as well.

    Anyway, provided you stay healthy, I am going to guess that your 50s are going to be a lot easier, so there is that to look forward to at least! Having a 3yo is hard, especially when combined with all the schlepping of the older kids!

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger October 20, 2021 at 9:27 am

      So interesting! All makes sense.
      G turns 4 in December (!). I do have a sense of feeling like life is starting to feel like less of a slog.

      I have several residents with infants and it has to be so hard – but to their benefit, their schedules are far more humane than mine was. (Definitely hard at times still, but more shift work and no 24-30 hour call!).

  • Reply Jen October 20, 2021 at 10:20 am

    Such food for thought – this goes along with Gretchen Rubin doing some podcasts and posts about drift which i think i similar – and definitely this part of our lives with kids and jobs and just getting through doesn’t feel like there’s as much active choice … but life is moving fast too. It is so interesting to have your blog to look back through. I have a training log that’s online that for me goes back to 2009 and it has a great sort of journal feature so i can keep pulse on what was going on and i do love looking back.

    And to your 2010 pic and back GR where she wants to do an album of now i was thinking about taking some photos of the mundane parts of pandemic life like the box i started for dirty face masks at the end of the school day, the rapid tests we get for the school testing program and the health check forms we need to pin to my kids’ backpacks everyday. One day this will be behind us and i think it will be interesting to have a page in my 2021 photobook that has this.

  • Reply Lisa of Lisa's Yarns October 20, 2021 at 12:50 pm

    LOL about the amazing Garmin photo! I do think back to 2002 when I was studying abroad. We traveled to New Zealand for Easter break. There wasn’t even mapquest for NZ at that time. We used a road map to navigate the south island. I wonder how 21yo me found all our hotels in the 4 cities we stayed? Most were smallish but 1 was Christchurch which is NOT small! Boggles my mind! Now I am so reliant on google maps!

    I just went through a box of photos from HS through college and boy was that a blast from the past. Most of them went in the trash. This was pre-digital cameras so you never knew how the photo would turn out until it was developed and many were terrible! Or something I didn’t need to memorialize. I don’t know if I could go back and read my early blog entries… I blogged through some tough times, especially in terms of dating/accepting that I was single for far longer than most of my peers. Eeks.

    I’m definitely very tired these days and challenged by our toddler who has strong feelings and loves to push boundaries. But when I think back to my pre-kid life, I do not miss the full calendar I had. I think I felt like I had to say yes to nearly everything so I would often have plans up to 5 times/week which was way too much for an introvert like me! I appreciate that I now feel like I can say no to things but wish I had felt that I could say no when I didn’t have kids! So whenever someone kid-free says “I know I’m not as busy as you” I try to tell them you don’t need to have kids to feel like you can say you are busy/overwhelmed. I was very busy back then, just in a different and probably less fulfilling way. Of course not everything I’m doing as a parent is fulfilling but overall, I think I mostly enjoy how I spend my time now, especially when it comes to social plans I accept.

    • Reply Kersti October 20, 2021 at 4:43 pm

      Lisa – how does it feel to be an introvert parent? Do you get more or less introvert exhaustion from your prior schedule versus now?

      • Reply Lisa of Lisa's Yarns October 21, 2021 at 11:35 am

        @ Kersti, that is a good question. I think I still get less introvert exhaustion at this stage of life because our kids still nap and go to bed very early. So I get breaks during the day/can have quiet evenings so that helps. I will probably feel differently when they are older and have activities outside the house. My husband and I are good about giving each other breaks during the weekend days so that really helps. I’m an outgoing introvert and he is a shy extrovert so most people guess we are the opposite of what we actually are. But he does not have the need for alone time like I do. Lastly, I’ve been working from home for 18 months now but will go back to the office 3 days/week starting in January so that is probably going to really change my level of introvert exhaustion! I did feel kind of lonely early in the pandemic so I know I got some positive social interactions out of being at work so hopefully 3 days in the office will feel like an ok amount of being out and about in the world!

  • Reply Grateful Kae October 20, 2021 at 1:21 pm

    Speaking of ways to spend your days that don’t involve social media or blogs, did you see that Season 2 of the Babysitter’s Club is out on Netflix now? 🙂

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger October 20, 2021 at 2:00 pm

      Yes!!!!!! Annabel and I will be watching together – maybe we will start this weekend!!!!

  • Reply Diane C. October 20, 2021 at 4:29 pm

    I just listened to the Life Kit episode with writer Oliver Berkman (he just release a book called 4000 Weeks: Time Management for Mortals) and he suggests (attributed to James Hollis) that instead of asking if a choice makes you “happy” maybe we ask ourselves if this choice “expands or diminishes our lives”. He makes the point that a lot of parenting does not make us happy, so perhaps seeing it within the “does this make me happy” framework feels defeatist.
    (I thought the whole episode- and his book- had some really thoughtful points about our conception of time and how we choose to spend our lives…)

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger October 20, 2021 at 4:44 pm

      I am definitely going to read it!

  • Reply Katherine B October 21, 2021 at 7:03 am

    Parenting is a long-game thing. My parents are both 82 and have just celebrated their Diamond Wedding with a special photograph and personally signed message from The Queen the highlight, closely followed by a small family get together with their three children and spouses. Grandchildren not there because of Covid but they have 6 (two each!). They constantly say how glad they are to have family now to care for and about and keep them interested in young people’s things. I know it doesn’t always work out like that but kids are not just for childhood!

  • Reply Rinna October 21, 2021 at 11:56 am

    On Purpose sounds really interesting. Do you have to read the first book of hers (The Joy of Missing Out) or is it a standalone?

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger October 21, 2021 at 1:49 pm

      Can definitely stand alone (and I prefer this one so far!)

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