I broke my glasses the other day. As I was relaxing while reading a book, I casually rolled over, and crack—there they went. Right in two pieces, clear as day.
If you asked what my glasses meant to me at the time, I wouldn’t have said much. They’re just there. They don’t go with any of my outfits, I don’t consider them a fashion piece, and no one has ever really told me that they stand out. I just use them to see. If they broke, I’d get new ones. If I lost them, I’d use my contacts, and I wouldn’t think twice about it.
But if you asked me to truly think about what my glasses meant to me, it then becomes an altogether different story.
The cracked two pieces I held my hand have been front and center for many of the most important events in my life. They got me through my senior science competitions, my college interviews, and acceptances, and much more. They were with me on my first day of college, and they were right there on my graduation day and grad night as well—there they were, through all of my heartbreaks, joys, and tears in between. I even wore them when I surprised my parents with the news that I got into medical school. Despite getting an updated prescription annually, I’ve used the same pair of glasses since my senior year of high school. Six years! And now they were just there in my hands, broken in two, after seeing me through—and helping me see through—my year of being ¼ of an MD.
How often do we thank the often-overlooked items and events that get us through each day?
Do we remember our first pair of scrubs? What about our first stethoscope? Our daily face wash? Our backpack? Our experiences in service?
Too often we focus on the big moments in our lives. We remember the golden ticket of acceptance e-mail. We remember the proposal. We remember the promotion. We relish the moments that last for five minutes, but we can easily forget to be grateful for the seemingly less important items and experiences that helped us on our journey.
I remember volunteering every weekend in college. I joined service organizations because I loved working with people. I left my house at 6:00 a.m. on Saturdays just so I could get to the retirement home just as the doors would open for visitors. I also remember braving the cold because my friends and I wanted to make posters for the runners at a marathon benefitting the local women’s shelter. I think back to lugging around a bag of glass water bottles so we could make homemade lava lamps out of food coloring for the kids at the hospital. I remember running behind a family physician down the hallway of his practice, and even now I’m in awe of his grace and empathy.
In each of those memories, I was wearing my first and only pair of scrubs – Cherokee WorkWear. They were navy, and my mom had bought them for me. Whenever I came home, I would think, “Wow, I really do want to be a doctor.” Just as like with my glasses, experience has allowed me to clearly see each moment in my scrubs.
Our first service experiences allowed all of us to be here, and this includes every patient we meet, every health professional who’s taken us under his or her wing, and even every wash that our scrubs have endured. As we all know, becoming a doctor, a nurse, a PA, a physical therapist, or any other caregiver does not happen overnight. The inspiration, motivation, dedication, and hard work do not suddenly appear. Rather, it takes years and many important firsts.
Those Cherokee WorkWear scrubs were my first pair. There’s volunteering at the women’s shelter, one of my first exposures to healthcare, which further shaped why and how I wanted to be a doctor. One of the key moments occurred when I was in high school, right at the time that I got the same pair of glasses that was now in my hands in pieces. If you had told me six years later that I would be working with the scrub company that gave me my first pair of scrubs, to give back to a cause that made me first fall in love with medicine, I wouldn’t have believed you.
In honor of Nurses Week, Cherokee has given me the opportunity to give back and thank so many of the firsts in my life. My first pair of scrubs, my first volunteer opportunity, and my first pair of glasses. Cherokee generously donated over 15 pounds of clothes, toys, and blankets to our local women’s shelter, RCC. This shelter is a safe and secure haven for women and their children who have fled from a difficult time in their lives such as an abusive relationship or a house that no longer was a home. I was able to give back to a cause that meant something to me, all because of Cherokee. As nurses, physicians, caregivers, and members of the healthcare community, it is truly a gift that we are all able to give back to something that is central to what we seek in life, namely to save lives and help those in need, enhanced by the support of Cherokee.
Thank you, Cherokee Uniforms, for reminding me that service is a part of who you are and a voice that guides your organization daily, whether it’s the momentous events or just the little touches. – not just in the momentous parts of your life. Immense gratitude & special thanks to Lauren and Selah from Resource Crisis Center for their help in making this event possible. Most important of all — thank you, Debbie, from Cherokee Uniforms, for your unwavering support & generosity. It’s so gratifying to see that service, which is central to all of us in healthcare, is also at the core of your organization. Like a steady pair of glasses, you help us see the world more clearly and continuously help us help others.