Celebrate A New Year!

Screen shot 2013-12-29 at 10.10.16 PMWe get to celebrate newness! A chance to start over, to repartake in grace and mercy. To remember to live in right now. To grow in every event that comes in our day.

Your mercies are new every morning
So let me wake with the dawn
When the music is through or so it seems to be
Then let me sing a new song, old things gone
Every day it’s true, You make all Your mercies new.
~Nichole Nordeman

I got to welcome the New Year in with some friends from work, a fellow third-culture kid and her sweet family, and their crew of family and friends. We had an hors d’oeuvres (is that really how you spell that word?!) potluck, and lots of fun conversation. I got to hang out with an amazing human being who works for child protective services–a tough, difficult job, and just talk about life and how much you get to really feel like your life’s work makes a difference here. And the simplicity and community and warmth of Nome.


Nome fireworks!

Then I went over to Phil
and Sarah’s house for a
little visit and a bubbly
drink to toast in the new year. Besides house parties to celebrate the New Year, the City of Nome puts on a fireworks display usually over West Beach.
I was going to head down to the frozen beach to watch fireworks, but missed the messages from my friends. So instead I caught a few over the rooftops of Nome.

I’m told that you have to catch the New Year’s fireworks if you want to see them in Nome, because there’s not enough darkness in July! Imagine that! :)

And got to hear the most beautiful version of Auld Lang Syne–an Artist medley, and I imagine a circle of friends sitting around singing, and reflecting on their friendships of the past. sung by Jesca Hoop, Butch Walker, Buddy, Anya Marina, Cary brothers, Greg Laswell Lenka, Holly Conlan, Ingrid Michaelson, Jim Bianco, Jonah Matranga, Joshua Radin, Laura Jansen, Meiko, Sara Bareilles & Tim Jones
Listen here:

And there’s a hand my trusty friend! And give me a hand o’ thine! And we’ll take a cup o’ kindness yet, for auld lang syne.

May your new year be filled with thousands of happy memories and love and daily grace and hope and kindness! Much love!

There’s No Place Like Nome for the Holidays

Or any other day, for that matter!


Photo from the Norton Sound Health Corporation magazine

Spending the holidays in Nome has been quiet and sweet, and warmer and brighter than I was expecting!  I’ve been working through them so far, which keeps me occupied, and less thinking about how much I miss my family. And different people have graciously invited me to spend the holidays with them.

Then there is Nome Announce, a community list serve, that reminds me of how connected, warm and caring this community is.

Some examples of posts on nome announce:

“I lost my wallet (or phone, or purse, or dog, or whatever), it’s [fill in desription], please contact me.”

or “Bill, you left your drill at the rec center. I have it–call me at [phone number].”

Or “I’m looking for a couch, or Christmas tree, or cookie cutters…cookie_cutters

or someone to escort my  kid from Anchorage to Nome”…or anything someone might ever need.

And not too much later, usually there’s a little thank-you post for someone helping them out. :)

You can easily keep your fingers on the pulse of the community. Knowing what happened to whom, when. Like one patient I medevaced–his family announced that he was rushed to Anchorage and the family was requesting assistance in their trying time. It’s so beautiful!

Then not infrequently, there are messages like this, from grateful, kind, down-to-earth, just good old-fashioned, full-hearted people:

Dear All,
Thank you for all you do in and for our city.  Living here in Nome is a joy because of you!  You, as a community, rarely are recognized for your contributions to make Nome a real, caring, loving, neighborly place to live.  You pull together for city-wide celebrations, parades, and to aid one another in times of need. You check on your neighbors, respond to search and rescue operations, support children and families in need directly and through the organizations here.  You make noise to our local decision makers in order to make our city’s functions truly representative. You open your hearts and homes to the stranded and helpless.  You respect and support law enforcement personnel, who are our neighbors.  You show up for jury duty.  Nome is the best place to live in Alaska and maybe anywhere. I’m just saying!
Thank you all. And Happy Holidays to everyone.Warm Holiday Wishes
And heartfelt gratitude for each other in the community:
“Thank you for investing your life and love in the people of Nome. May all the good you have sown in the lives of others come back to bless you again and again. Thank you for allowing me to volunteer alongside you many years ago…” (note to someone leaving)
And multitudes of wishes for Warm, Bright Holidays.

Sunday Art Therapy

I had a day off (except for rounding on one patient). My hospice patient died last night, which is merciful for her. Fittingly I just found the Tibetan Book of Living and Dying, a beautiful look at the natural acceptance of the whole circle of life, which is healing. I discharged my other patient, and then I got to go home and do some art therapy!

I found a beautiful painting of the Winter Solstice that captured how the solstice feels, that I wanted to paint. My rendition:

Tundra Sun:

The photograph of the mid-day sun over the frozen Bering Sea.

I also painted the board I found in the dirt on the side of the road. I saw this sign a while ago, and I’ve wanted to make it forever!
This kitchen is seasoned with Love

Beach Therapy

I slept in a bit and went to round on my four patients today. Yay for a day off! I have a dying hospice patient, so after rounds I went down to the beach to rejuvenate.

Hippocratic Oath

A frame I have sitting on my desk, with a reminder of the Hippocratic Oath

Going down to the Bering Sea is still therapeutic, even if it is frozen. Especially now, because there are so many cool ice sculptures and abstract art by Mama Nature. :)

Sunset Bering Sea Ice

Sunset (after 4pm now!!!):Ice shapes
frozen waves

 Wave front: Wave front

Ice shapes
Frozen beach

Frozen beach front

(Remember how it looked in September:OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA


Winter is so peaceful
Winter Peace

Great words!
A good life quote


It’s getting cold!
-10 degrees

Sunset village

Better than a sleigh ride. Christmas Medevac flight with the Northern Lights!

Merry Christmas tag

Merry Christmas!!! I’ve been meaning to write a nice Christmas post, but I took call on Christmas Eve and Christmas, and the days were busy! Since I’m one of the only doctors here without family around, it’s nice to be able to take call so that others can be with their families, and so that I will get to be with people instead of being at home alone…feeling sad and lonely and sorry for myself. :)

Plus I got some really great experiences! I got to deliver a baby, take care of a post-partum hemorrhage because some of the placenta membranes were retained, and sew up a laceration (all on my own!). The mama looks great and went home on Christmas! I also had 3 pregnant patients to rule out preterm/early labor. One of them got medevaced to Anchorage. Another I thought would be medevaced, but she stayed here in Nome. …Until today. then she started really going into active labor. So I got to go another medevac to Anchorage Native Medical Center tonight. Luckily she got there without any issues–for which I was glad, because she was starting to have real contractions and dilate her cervix, and I was afraid she might have a baby on the plane. (She has had 4 other deliveries, which means she can deliver quickly!) The only problem was that there were some significant abnormalities of the fetus on ultrasound, and needs to be seen by the high-risk maternal fetal medicine doctors. And there is a good chance he would need resuscitation or extra care in the Newborn Intensive Care Unit (NICU).

The flight to Anchorage was uneventful. We just watched the patient closely and made sure she felt comfortable.

The flight back was fantastic! I got to sit up in the front, and we saw amazing Northern Lights–this is the first time I’ve seen them very well in Alaska! I wish I had my camera to show how beautiful it was looking out the window over the wingtip, to see the dancing Northern Lights, in a sky full of stars. The Big Dipper was just above wing tip and the North Star above that. Words cannot capture the beauty! (And my iPhone camera couldn’t either…) And the pilot told me of his adventures in Alaska–flying a small Cessna out to the wilderness and canoeing down untouched rivers.

These are pictures that Guy took of the Northern Lights here in Nome:

Northern Lights

My Christmas decorations were simple, but symbols of warmth and hope:
Christmas candles window

Christmas lights

Joy to the World