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The Grace of Being Seen

I wanted to share with you a letter that meant a great deal to me that was posted to my website in response to my last blog. Carol addresses it to physicians but it is true of us all; everyone who goes to work every day in this broken healthcare system in the hopes of helping others, despite everything. It has never been harder to be a health professional and I have never been prouder to be counted among the people who choose this work. We are what is right with the system. Perhaps some day we can build a system truly worthy of our patients and of us all.
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September 9th, 2014|1 Comment

Becoming Enough

So many of you responded to last week’s blog by sharing stories about your professional education that I have been thinking about education and medical education all week long and wanted to share some of my thoughts with you.

For me, the process of education is intimately related to the process of healing. The root word of education–“EDUCARE”–means to lead forth a hidden wholeness in another person. A genuine education fosters self-knowledge, self-trust, creativity and the full expression of one’s unique identity. It gives people the courage to be more. Yet over the years so many health professionals have told me that they feel personally wounded by their experience of professional school and profoundly diminished by it. Many of you responded to my last blog with stories like this, experiences from your professional education that were disrespectful, even abusive. Some of you shared that these memories were still painful even after […]

September 2nd, 2014|14 Comments

One Of A Kind

When I was almost eleven years old my parents took me to Canada for the first time. I had never left New York City before and I was enthralled. I especially loved the antique shops and thrift stores, an interest I shared with my mother and we spent many hours in other people’s barns looking at old things, some broken, many dirty but all interesting. Once, as my parents were making the purchase of an exquisite old vase, I noticed a little box marked FREE next to the cash register. It was filled with odd bits and pieces: buttons, a part of a pin, a ring without a stone, colored beads. In among them I found two links from an old bracelet. My father had laughed when I showed him my treasure. “It’s broken,” he had said. “What do you need them for?” I had felt stupid. I had thought […]

August 19th, 2014|45 Comments

Is Work Love Made Visible?

I have been so touched by the posts many of you have shared on my Facebook page or my website about a time when you were small and recognized that the needs of a living thing mattered to you. Every one of them is a love story. As children we had the capacity to simply love life even in some of its humblest forms… an earthworm… a duckling… even an ant, but as adults we often hide our love or even experience it as something else.

How many times are our actions actually motivated by love without our ever knowing it, even when our love is profound and part of who we essentially are? It is easy to recognize romantic love, parental love, fraternal love, the love of country and the love of friends. But how about those of us who love with our minds, studying for years in order to […]

July 31st, 2014|32 Comments

Befriending Life

I grew up in a world without animals, in urban New York City in the 40’s, and all the children I knew lived in big apartment buildings like I did. None of my extended family or friends had ever had a pet, unless you count a goldfish or a turtle.

When I was 8 years old, I attended summer camp for the first time. This was my first experience of country life and I loved it. I also developed a crush on one of the camp counselors… a 16 year old who seemed like a prince or a knight to me. One morning at breakfast he gave me a small box. Looking inside I found a tiny kitten possibly only a week or so old. A mother cat had been run over in the camp driveway and this was one of her orphaned babies. I was thrilled. In the box was […]

July 15th, 2014|23 Comments

On Learning To Love

Years ago a friend took me to a talk offered by her spiritual teacher. I remember this because the topic of the evening was unconditional love. The teacher began by talking about the nature of pets. Years later I can still remember his definition of a pet: “A little tuft of consciousness that circles around a person like a moon around a planet, and completes their energy field making them more whole.”

As I read the deeply honest and very beautiful things that so many of you have posted on my website or Facebook page, or sent me in emails or texts, I am reminded of this. Perhaps pets are a little tuft of Divine consciousness, and by offering us a taste of the great Love, which is the foundation of this imperfect and impermanent world, they heal us in ways that are profound. And in some powerful and mysterious way […]

July 2nd, 2014|17 Comments

A Forever Home

I first heard the expression a “Forever Home” when I was looking to adopt a cat. The woman who had come to visit and interview me from a local cat rescue organization had said to me across her cup of tea, “If you adopt one of our kitties you will need to promise to give him a Forever Home.” I nodded but secretly I was daunted by the phrase and had the feeling that as an impermanent being myself, I could not live up to such a high goal. But I adopted Cashmere from another rescue organization and so I forgot about her comment.

Eight years later I was walking through my garden trying to choose a place to bury Cashmere. I was having difficulty deciding where to make his grave when from some deep place inside, the memory of her words came back to me. What if I was not […]

June 24th, 2014|22 Comments

If Love Could Have Saved You, You Would Have Lived Forever

Six months ago my beloved cat Cashmere died. I had given him his epilepsy medicine three times a day and for more than six years I set an alarm for 4 AM every morning to be there with his first pill of the day. Now he is gone.

I live surrounded by compassionate people, most of whom have put service and the easing of pain at the center of their lives. Many people knew of my cat and his problems; a great many also knew him personally and over the years had brought him toys and treats and enjoyed a snuggle or two. In the week after he died, people expressed their regret that Cashmere was gone, usually in a single sentence. Hearing my “thank you” they then went on to business as usual. It was clear to me that I was expected to do the same.

Somehow this seemed familiar to […]

June 19th, 2014|46 Comments

One Doctor’s Heartfelt Story (at Keegan Leadership Luncheon)

Rachel gave a luncheon talk to 400 people gathered for the Keegan Leadership Lecture Series on Friday May 23, 2014. She declared to the gathering at Rohnert Park’s Doubletree Hotel that “a doctor’s mind, training and experience can diagnose and treat disease, but only the physician’s heart can heal.” During her half hour talk, Remen told stories of her own experience as a physician in a profession that frowned upon bringing ones emotionally sensitivity to the job. Click on the image of the Press Democratic article to read in another window or click here.

The Keegan Leadership Lecture Series seeks to inspire others to serve the Sonoma Country community as James & Billie Keegan did for more than 50 years. Each year, outstanding community leaders are recognized who exemplify James and Billie Keegan’s philosophy of “giving back” to the community. Proceeds from the Leadership Series help support Memorial Hospital’s Palliative Care […]

May 26th, 2014|Comments Off on One Doctor’s Heartfelt Story (at Keegan Leadership Luncheon)

Rachel and Healer’s Art in New York Times

This was the first article, published online in the New York Times on September 18, 2013 and quickly gained attention. A week and a half later it had 271 comments and was being widely shared from the New York Times site.
“Medicine’s Search for Meaning” by David Bornstein

The response to the OpEd piece the New York Times published about THE HEALER’S ART was so overwhelming that the NYT published another Op Ed piece October 2, 2013! Here is the link:

“Who Will Heal the Doctors?” by David Bornstein”

 

THIS IS A GREAT CHANCE TO GET PEOPLE TALKING ABOUT WHAT MATTERS.
Write in to the NYT (at the bottom of the article) and share your thoughts.

 

 

October 1st, 2013|1 Comment