Ten years ago, I was professionally and personally burned out. I was disinterested in the revolving door of primary care pediatrics and exhausted from the merry-go-round of home and work.
I had lived most of my adult life with chronic pain and chronic fatigue syndrome. My personal relationships were draining me.
One day, while clearing out my spam folder, I noticed an email about a fellowship on integrative medicine through the Andrew Weil Center for Integrative Medicine and was intrigued enough to take a leap of faith. I completed the training and board certification in this new specialty, a healing-oriented medicine that looked at the whole person, teaching appropriate use of both conventional and complementary remedies.
I found a global community of teachers, healers, seekers, and pioneers.
I learned about self-care and began to find ways to nourish myself and my family. As a child, I had always loved to draw and to paint. As an adult, I was rediscovering how freeing it was to color outside the lines.
Painting “I Am” affirmations became a powerful and joyful healing avenue as I connected with my two beautiful daughters and with my own inner child. The flow of acrylic color on those white canvases filled me up so much that I started to have enough to give.
I became witness to the epidemic of toxic childhood stress, ubiquitous inflammation, and chronic disease all around me and within me. It became more and more apparent to me that I was not an effective resource or guide unless I was truly committed to being on the journey to healing myself.
Creating tools to build intergenerational resilience in my patients and their caregivers became a priority. I released a children’s book filled with my art. I began offering art therapy workshops and selling my affirming artwork in my community. I dived deep into the research on how music, mindfulness, and art can rebuild and rewire our brains and our hearts.
Integrative medicine has nudged me in a fresh, cohesive direction, both professionally and personally. It has opened me up to a vibrant community of healers and teachers both globally and within my own backyard of St. Louis, who show me how to bring mind-body-spirit medicine into my office and into my home.
Twenty-five years into practice, I am now enjoying all the hues and tones of my healing as my joy grows in concert with my renewed zest for medicine, my renewed zest for my life. In 2019, I moved into a new office for pediatric integrative medicine which has been five years in the planning. The healing, affirming art that I created to bring me back from the brink of burnout, is now hanging in the new office’s waiting room and exam rooms.
I have come full circle, helping children and families access their innate self-regulatory systems, as I learn how to access mine.
Image credit: Anu French