No 3 Words – Just the Garden

In 2012 and 2014 (I don’t know what happened to 2013), I wrote “3 Words” posts – a few choice words to guide me through the year. As much as I love the idea of the New Year as a blank slate and a time to start fresh, I’m just not feeling it this year.

At the end of 2013, I had 2 glorious weeks off. There were no office administrative hassles, no early-January manuscript or presentation deadlines, and I had time to garden, read, write, cook, and just be. I went into 2014 feeling rested, rejuvenated, and ready for the challenges and changes that I knew were waiting for me. On my second day back, while in the operating room, I received the news that my best friend had been killed in an accident the evening before. All of the New Years’ optimism was sucked out of me in an instant. 2 weeks later, I received notice that I was selected by the Nominating Committee to be the incoming President-Elect of the American Society of Breast Surgeons. It was unexpected and quite an honor. Completely opposite ends of the emotional spectrum.

I expected changes in 2014. And I got them. After nearly 20 years in private practice, I am now an employed physician. I thought it might be difficult giving up control of the practice that I struggled so hard to build, but it was the right move at the right time, and I’m fortunate that I can continue seeing patients in the style that I have become accustomed, while having additional opportunities for research and teaching. But change, even for the better, is stressful.

Change is a part of life. None of us stay the same physically, mentally, or spiritually throughout our lives, but the changes often occur gradually, so we have time to compensate and adjust – to the point we hardly notice the change at all. We expect significant life-altering change to come around only on occasion.

Monarch Caterpillar

Monarch Caterpillar

Monarch Butterfly

Monarch Butterfly


Having had a few days off and a little time to reflect on the year, I just don’t feel right about the clean slate thing right now. The change seems too abrupt. I could come up with new works, but the old ones still have meaning and inspire me. I already know I will have more change in 2015 – again, on balance all positive things, but I don’t feel I need to throw any new words into the mix.

But there is still something magical about the stroke of midnight, seeing a clean page on a calendar, and holding on to the hope that with another year of life-experience under my belt, I will have developed better decision-making and coping skills. And I do have a goal.

My goal for 2015 is to be more like my garden (hear me out…). The garden is constantly changing. It might look a little different year to year, but there is a definite cycle and that cycle amazes me. The change is effortless and without thought. I never worry in January that the snap peas are growing too slowly, because in March I will have enough to feed an army. Or not, if the weather doesn’t cooperate. I anticipate the first tomatoes of summer, but sometimes the June Gloom we experience here means only a puny supply. Nothing is alive in September – we’re often still in the high 90’s – but that’s ok – that’s the time to amend the soil, work in the compost, and get the dirt ready for the next generation.  I can go with the flow in the garden. My goal for 2015 is to go with the flow a little better in life. Accept that change, even major change, is going to happen – ready or not. Figure out how to gracefully adjust.

I will still wish everyone a Happy New Year (and mean it!). But instead of 3 words, I’m going to review my garden album. Marvel and soak up the good stuff. And try to do the same in my non-garden life.


9 thoughts on “No 3 Words – Just the Garden

  1. What a wonderful note to read on the first day of a New Year. You definitely had many challenges in 2014 but what opportunities you’ve been given!

    By being an “Employed Doctor” you should have been able to alleviate some of the stresses of running your own business. No worrying about the fate of others in your practice as you work to meet the needs of your patients; no worries about leases for office space or equipment; no submitting of the myriad of forms to the government and insurance companies; possibly less worry about hiring and firing staff (my least favorite job as a manager); working in an educational environment where you can mentor more up and coming young doctors and pass on your skills. What an opportunity!

    Let’s not forget your selection as the President-elect of the American Society of Breast Surgeons. You will have the opportunity to make an even greater impact in your chosen field. Like you (but many years ago), I was elected the President of Canada’s largest society of computer professionals. I went to my first Board meeting and came out as the President-elect. I just never know when to keep my mouth shut. My new Board was able to save the organization from bankruptcy. I look on this as one of my greatest professional achievements.

    I hope as you look back on your accomplishments with the Society you will have the same sense of accomplishment.

    I love your garden metaphor. You did a magnificent job on this post. All the best in 2015 Doctor. You’ve earned it!!

    • Thank you, Nelson! I agree that although 2014 has been full of change and challenge, the opportunities have been tremendous, and I feel so thankful and grateful to those who have believed in me.

  2. Deanna, I love the garden metaphor! And I surely enjoyed watching the slide show of your fabulous garden. I wish you the best that 2015 has to offer in your gardening and non-gardening world alike!

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