I've always loved the combination of lemon and sesame with greens. I often find Asian flavours difficult to replicate at home, but you can't go wrong with the powerful yet delicate flavour of sesame oil, and the rice noodles absorb the flavours beautifully in this dish. Brown sugar, soy sauce, turmeric, and chilli powder complete the flavour profile with just the right amount of sweetness, saltiness, bitterness, and spice. The vegies are cut in nice big chunks so that prep is quick and easy. The only mildly time-consuming part of this meal is the tofu preparation, so if you're in a hurry you can just replace this with pre-marinated tofu (or prepare this part in advance) and be done within about 15 minutes.
A lot’s been going on since my last post. The height of my anxiety, and my attempts to overcome it, all coincided with some shifts I’d taken on as a locum vet. A few weeks in, I was feeling a bit despondent because the procedures and protocols just weren’t up to scratch, and I felt that I wasn’t providing a proper standard of care. I'm nothing if not a perfectionist, and this is never more true than when I am responsible for others' wellbeing. So the stress of not being able to perform at my best affected me deeply and fed into my general feelings of anxiety. I would get home feeling physically and emotionally drained, almost outside myself. The memories of the day would feel sort of unreal, because they were so removed from how I wanted to practise.
(Photos of dogs and cats chosen at random from my South America photos!)
But things started to turn around when I provided a list of suggestions for improvement and immediately started to see them being implemented. It felt great to contribute to creating a better standard of care at the whole-clinic level, rather than just for the patients I personally treated. It felt almost eerie that this opportunity and realisation had come right now, just after I had made the commitment to myself to live more congruently with my values and passions. But then again, it's only when we recognise and commit to a certain path that our mind becomes geared towards identifying the opportunities that will lead us there.
At the end of my last day as I said goodbye to the nurses and vets I’d been working with, they were all sorry to see me go, and I realised that, at least in a sense, I was sorry too. It was great to feel like I’d connected with my colleagues and slotted into a team so easily, not just at a professional level but also in the context of my recent social anxiety. That evening when I went home to Mum and Dad’s and explained how my feelings at the clinic had changed, Mum suggested this might be a great role for me – some kind of clinic advisor. I brushed it off at first, but it stuck with me.
Later that week I visited my old home, Bayside Animal Medical Centre, to tell my boss how I’d been feeling and how much I missed working there. Using the word ‘boss’ kind of jars, actually. Even when I worked there I always thought of Jeremy more as a mentor and friend than a superior. He has always been an amazing support to me in both my professional and my personal life. He has sage advice for every situation and, despite being my employer, always dispenses that advice based on what he thinks is best for me, not for him or the clinic. Yep, he’s a pretty amazing man.
On this occasion Jeremy told me he felt that I needed to be part of a team again, that this was probably the only way I would find true professional satisfaction. He said that as much as he would love to eventually see me back at the clinic when a role finally arose, my happiness was the priority. If I needed to find another team in order to feel rewarded by my work again, that’s what I should do. After all the trouble I'd been having socially, it seemed almost ironic that he would suggest that what I needed was more socialisation! But it made me realise that, actually, this may have been the biggest reason why my social anxiety had reared its head – that without my position at Bayside, I was missing out on some of the most important and rewarding long-term social relationships I'd ever had.
Meanwhile, everything in my life seemed to be aligning to tell me I needed to engage in more important and meaningful work. I was watching Blue Planet II and feeling an immense sense of loss over what’s going on across our planet. I was also watching the HBO miniseries Years and Years, which paints a frightening portrait of the near future (Black Mirror style, but with a deeply engaging drama element as well) and impressively examines the role we each play in creating or preventing that future. At the same time, half our country was on fire – yet all the government had to say about it was that we should enjoy the cricket.
In the past I think I've subconsciously thought of work primarily as a way to make money and support my 'real' life, rather than as an integral part of my real life. I guess I've just been lucky that I've always been able to find satisfaction through relationships, learning, and teaching, and I've never had to experience what it's like to lack that satisfaction – so, until now, I've never really appreciated how important it is. It sucked to come home and not be able to come back to the job I loved, but I now realise it was the best thing that could have happened, and the only way I could grow.
Right now I feel passionately driven in a way I never have before. I know exactly what kind of position I want – one where I can lead, teach, and improve patient care on a broad scale. And I actually think I might have found it. But I won't jinx myself by saying too much too soon! Stay tuned.