My post-medicine to-do list: An update

by Lorien E. Menhennett

Ten days ago, I wrote about “My post-medicine to-do list.” Now that I’ve really had a chance to catch my breath and find a new rhythm on this research rotation, I thought I’d write a follow-up on my progress.

Ironically perhaps, given the title of that post, I’ve decided that to minimize my stress level, I will minimize the items on my daily to-do list. These three essential goals, though, are at the top of my list every single day:

  1. Humanity. Have meaningful contact with someone (not just about work) by text, phone, or in person. This reminds me of what’s really important in life: people.
  2. Creativity. Do something creative every day. It could be anything from doodling on a notepad to drafting a blog post. This feeds my spirit.
  3. Movement. Any intentional, anti-sedentary activity counts: going to the gym, taking a walk around the block, stretching on my yoga mat. Just something to get me out of my desk chair, to get the blood flowing. This keeps me in shape physically and psychologically.

Of course, I have many research goals as well. Some are flexible; others more time-sensitive. To both keep myself on track and to prevent myself from feeling overwhelmed, I group them according to must-do tasks (need done today) and can-do tasks (need done eventually, will try to do today if I have time but ok to shift to another day). This system seems to be working so far.

I have also made headway on the to-do list I proposed in that post from 10 days ago. My apartment is cleaner that it has been in months (I even mopped my kitchen floor). I’ve found some great new (to me) songs and musicians on Spotify, including Kidneythieves, Perfume Genius, and Gary Numan. Yesterday was a beautiful day, and rather than take the subway to do my various errands, I walked all over the city, enjoying hours of delicious sunshine. I’ve discovered that I prefer New England-style IPAs (which my new friend Nick at City Hops described as more “juicy,” with citrus notes), and that three of the varieties I’ve tried and loved are made at a local brewery called SingleCut in Queens. Definitely time for a field trip.

I’ve recently rediscovered my love of reading. I started with some childhood favorites: Madeleine L’Engle’s Time Quintet.

I’ve also rediscovered my love of reading. Last week, my youngest sister mentioned to me that she just reread A Wrinkle in Time, one of her favorite childhood books, in preparation for the upcoming movie. Her remark took me back to my own childhood. I was captivated by Madeleine L’Engle when I was a kid. I read everything of hers I could get my hands on, and even wrote her fan mail. In the flurry of clerkships, I’d forgotten that a movie based her most famous book is coming out next month. Clearly, I needed to be prepared too. So I immediately bought A Wrinkle in Time online, then proceeded to devour 90 percent of it in one sitting. Clearly, I could not wait, not even for 2-day shipping, to get the next book in this quintet. So yesterday I went to a real-live bookstore and bought the next three books in the series (the fifth wasn’t in stock, but I can wait for shipping on this one). I forgot how much I love fantasy novels, being transported to faraway worlds, bringing the vivid descriptions alive with my imagination — a creative endeavor in its own way. L’Engle said it well herself:

A book, too, can be a star, explosive material, capable of stirring up fresh life endlessly, a living fire to lighten the darkness, leading out into the expanding universe.

– Madeleine L’Engle

Tapping into that seems like a pretty good goal too, if you ask me.