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Finding Special Moments
by Frank H. Boehm, M.D.
am a morning person. I have always enjoyed rising early, making a pot of coffee,
getting the newspaper, and settling down for an hour of quiet time ó which I
call a time-out.
When I was a child, I remember my mother using time-outs as punishment.
However, even then, I enjoyed going to my room to think about how I was behaving
and what I needed to do "to be a good boy". I enjoyed my time-out then, and I
still do, although now I consider a time-out to be a reward rather than a
Over the years, I have noticed that it has become more and more difficult
to set aside those special moments of the day when we can remove ourselves from
the hectic, frenetic pace of everyday life. Yet finding time to get away, to
reflect, to concentrate, or to just let the mind wander freely is important for
our overall health. Studies have shown that reducing stress in daily life
significantly reduces the risk of heart attacks or the need for heart surgery.
I remember the days when simply driving to and from work supplied me with
the time-out I needed each day. Now, with a beeper strapped to my waist and a
cell phone by my side, those days are over. I can be reached anytime, anywhere ó
even in my car.
It was once believed that the American housewifeís life would be less
hectic and stressful with the introduction of appliances such as refrigerators,
washing machines, dryers, dishwashers, and microwave ovens. They were wrong.
Although the advent of modern conveniences may have made many people temporarily
more productive and thereby able to free up valuable time, it also increased
their work load ó because with the extra time, many individuals merely added
more chores to their day.
Modern technology has invaded our lives. Reading and answering my e-mail
at work and later at home each day may keep me better informed, but it also
takes away from the precious time I used to spend reading a book or visiting
with friends. The same goes for my beeper, which often keeps me tethered to a
nearby phone, although it allows me to be rapidly responsive to the needs of
But what about my needs?
As a little boy, I recall a time when our family only had one telephone
tucked away in a recess in the hall of our home. That one phone was shared by
several other families ó what we called party lines. Today telephones are in
bedrooms, libraries, living rooms, kitchens, and even bathrooms, and often have
two or three lines ó with call waiting, of course.
This all helps to explain why I love early mornings. No one is awake, the
house is quiet, the telephone isnít ringing, the fax machine isnít transmitting
its messages, and the computer is dormant. My beeper has not yet been turned on,
and I am alone with my coffee, newspaper, and quiet thoughts. It is my daily
As I grow older, Iíve noticed the need for more of these daily time-outs,
so lately Iíve started taking a 15-minute stroll with my wife and dog after
coming home from the hospital.
I leave all the modern technological and communication devices behind, and
walk out my front door a free man. My wife and I exchange news of our day and
talk about anything else thatís on our minds. It is our time-out together.
As we reenter our home, I cannot help but smile as I notice the three new
messages on the answering machine that came in while we were out walking.
Time-out is over ó at least until early tomorrow morning.
article is excerpted from the book Doctors Cry, Too: Essays from the Heart of
a Physician by Frank H. Boehm, M.D. Reprinted with permission of the
publisher: Hay House Inc.
Info/Order this book (hardcover)
About The Author
BOEHM is a Professor of OB/GYN and Director of Obstetrics at Vanderbilt
University Medical School in Nashville, Tennessee. He is also Chairman of the
Vanderbilt University Medical Center Ethics Committee. Frank is a specialist in
high risk pregnancy, has authored over 160 scientific publications, and
co-edited a major textbook. He currently authors a column in the Tennessean, a
Nashville newspaper, entitled "Healing Words". He is the author of "Doctors
Cry Too". His website
is located at
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