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Preventing Your Own Trauma


Those of you that read my column regularly know that from time to time I write about quality of life issues for us. We have dedicated our professional lives to saving lives and giving others a chance at the best quality of life possible given their illness or injury. Many of us, however, in so dedicating ourselves, don't give ourselves the chance for the highest quality of life.

How much of your old self is gone? Do you still surround yourself with what's important to you? Do you find yourself thinking,What happened to me? I used to play baseball, I had a band, and we had barbecues and basketball every weekend.

Hopefully, you have an interest outside of your job and allow yourself to be passionate about something for the fun of it. Taking time out to share the joy of sports, crafts or other entertainment is important to your mental health and the health of your relationships. Participating in activities with friends and family requires focus that pulls you out of your work-dominated mindset and allows those closest to you to get all of you for at least the time you're playing the game, practicing the craft or enjoying the show.

It's easy to get caught up in the spiral that pulls you away from all the things you enjoy outside of work. Technology has allowed us to be so connected that we forget the basic courtesy of not answering phones or texts while talking to family and friends. It's easy to justify. I've told my family that the e-mail or text message is important, and, if I can solve the problem in a minute or less, it'll prevent hours of work later.

Take the time -- the time it takes to be a real participant in the life around you. I'm not the only one who turns down fun activities to avoid interrupting a work-related agenda. As I write this, the logic sounds even more pathetic than when I first decided to write this article.

Recently, my brother-in-law called me at work and said, "What are you doing Friday?" I was in a cab at the time and said "I'll be at the office, why? What's up?" He said, "I've got these tickets to tour U.S. Cellular Field. We'll get to go on the field, into the dugouts, and the pressroom, food and beverages are free."

U.S. Cellular Field is where my beloved Chicago White Sox play. When I was younger, I went to games all of the time, and I took my children when they were growing up. Some of you may have seen the photo in a previous column of me, my boys and the World Series trophy. Knowing that, you would guess that I would have said "Absolutely! Count me in!" What actually came out of my mouth was, "I'm not sure what I've got going Friday. I'm in a cab now on my way to a meeting. I'll call you by tomorrow night and let you know if I can make it."

I put off calling my brother-in-law and kept rolling it over in my head:I'll have to leave the office early. I've got so much work to do .Back and forth. At the last minute, I called him and said, "I'll do it. I'll leave work early and meet you there."

What was I thinking? It was fantastic. I walked on the field, had pictures taken in dugout and on the field, and enjoyed eating burgers, drinking beer and talking with old timers about the Sox teams I grew up with. My brother-in-law and I actually had our picture taken in the press conference area as though we were giving a press conference. It was awesome.

Not long after that, one of my sons called and said he had front row tickets for a day game. This time I was ready and said, "Great. I'll meet you there." Jim Thome ended up launching a home run that was the first of four consecutive home runs from Sox batters for the first time in team history. Seeing that with my sons was unforgettable.

I share these personal experiences in the hope that all of you will take some time off from it all -- then take a little more. Our practice will be enhanced by our return to balance. I'll leave you with a shot of me on my own field of dreams. My reason for being there -- just for the fun of it.


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