Through med school and my clinical career, some situations were easy. I just dropped into the joy of serving my patients. As a senior on one of the oncology teams, I remember holding the hand of one of my young patients, a father who was dying from complications of cholangiocarcinoma, cancer of the liver bile ducts. It was a heartbreaking experience, but one of the deepest connections I have felt to what gives life. I wished for him, and his wife and kids, to be loved as they processed through the news of his prognosis. I also remember my very first patient as a primary care attending – a man with Parkinson’s and a dry sense of humor. Over time, he and his wife expressed an acceptance and fondness for me that I cherished. It simultaneously communicated trust and gave me permission to learn and grow as a young clinician. It was a journey they were willing to take with me.
Other times, I remember asking the question, “How am I going to get through this?”
There was a day that I stayed awake for 36 hours during a 24-hour shift – only because I hadn’t learned how to work efficiently, delegate family meetings, or stop thinking about everything that I could have done wrong. I was exhausted. I remember almost falling asleep while driving home and then feeling bad about asking my program director for an alternative way of getting home, should I ever feel so tired again. (They were more than helpful with this by the way.) Now, I think, “Do not ever feel bad for taking care of yourself.” The focus on taking care of others before myself, of thinking that I had to earn everything I wanted – even if it included the most basic needs in life – was hard to overcome. Apologetically surviving and staying small was a pattern; only a part of me saw life challenges as opportunities for growth. Now, things are very different, but I still see evidence of my past thinking. It’s an evolution.
Over the years, I watched how people in the world survive, how they are resilient, and even how they transform themselves. I started to understand on a deeper level what it takes, and what we need to let go of to finally realize the power we have. On all levels – whether on a physiological, psychological, emotional, or spiritual level – understanding what it meant to be human intrigued me and pulled me in. It’s always been a part of who I am. Connecting with the suffering of others, as well as my own, I was guided by a deep belief that life doesn’t really have to be so hard, if only we can see, accept, and respect ourselves (and each other) for who we are. If only we are willing to love and be loved.
There are so many layers when thinking about the human condition, but it’s ultimately led me to appreciate what it means to be here, right now. I’ve found answers in learning to be more present. By no means am I perfect, but I am here, and ready to receive knowledge that doesn’t just come from books or other people. One lesson I’ve learned, little by little, is that the essence of me is beyond labels, and that I am allowed to be here, with all of the excitement, and sadness, and anxiety, and love that I possess. With all that I want to create. And – I don’t need to apologize for any of it.
I see this in others too. I see their greatness, their unique creativity, and their vision for how they want to experience life more fully.
I love their desire to make the world a better place at the same time. Sounds corny, but truly it’s what excites me. I know it’s possible to live in a way that honors the things in life that sustain well-being and satisfaction, while also making a unique difference in the world. Also, from all my observations professionally and personally, I also deeply believe that so much of our human suffering, and that of others, can be alleviated by how we lead our lives. I want to create a ripple effect in the world by supporting physicians to define and live their lives well, through the purpose they are inspired to live in each moment.
Over the past week, butterfly metaphors have been in my head. So, it’s not unexpected that the visual of a caterpillar came to mind when I considered recent changes in my own identify and in my business. (Some may hear them as stereotypical personal development, life-coachy metaphors. But there are so many lessons contained in them, that if we are critical, I think it’s worth asking why.)
Earlier this summer, I had transiently shared about a new brand name – TRENDUP Life Coaching. So many things led to the development of this brand, and then to the evolution of Ashwini Nayak, MD.
On a quick internet search, I learned that in a matter of about a month, a caterpillar can progress through the metamorphosis to become a butterfly. Interestingly, the climate can affect the rate of its progression through this cycle.
TRENDUP Life Coaching was a stage, albeit short-lived, that I needed to go through to solidfy my ideas for this next phase of who I am and what I do. In the meantime, the climate this year was perfect to help me evolve. The pandemic, a career change, working with a new coach, new relationships and mentoring, and more time to think – all helped me to see the obvious: at Physician Wellness Through Coaching, what I’ve been offering people all along has been through me.
At this stage in my life, I’m still serving, but now informed as a physician and knowledge-seeker who is skilled as a coach.
The focus is still on people, on relationships, on YOU – but I’m taking it to a deeper level, both for my own joy, and in service of my clients and people with whom I’m connected. I want to experience more of what the world has to offer, expand my perspectives, and create paradigm shifts that I can share with people in my life. This is what motivates me to learn broadly and to have deep conversations. I bring this back to the coaching work I do, as I offer personalized one-on-one coaching to physicians. Many of the people who I work with are going through a career transition within or out of medicine. But this is just the beginning of where we start our work. Ultimately, the common thread is that they have a vision for creating a more conscious way of experiencing life, and for making a difference through some creative spark. They see that it’s all possible, and by working together I guide them to solidify that possibility and make it a reality. With a focus on personal leadership, my clients are able to find more inner joy and acceptance as they confidently navigate life’s decisions and lead themselves and others.