Love in the Time of Trump


Does the existence of a self-centered, dishonest, and uncouth President bring me clarity?


During the past 18 months of daily emotional upheaval and moral decay, I’ve slowly become numb to gross violations of human rights and international agreements. Child separation seems to be the norm, and I display a defeated sense of apathy.

How can we change a mad man? How can we overpower an entire federal agency that is trying to gut its own purpose? (Yes EPA, I’m talkin about you. The exile of Scott Pruitt has not stopped you from destroying the home of America’s original inhabitants – animals, plants, and American Indian natives.) How can I explain to my black friend’s baby that he lives in a time where people hate him for the color of his skin, in an age where Stephon Clark was murdered by police right here in Sacramento for no apparent reason except for being a black man?

The outrageousness of this time is exhausting. Yet it is also cathartic.

The outcomes of low-income people are just as, if not more, important than my own. I desire to build partnerships with people who are willing to fight for equality in access to education, employment opportunities, healthcare, housing….and equal access to serenity and a life of peace. I want to be surrounded by brothers and sisters who can recognize the immorality of our current politics and can offer help in making a change.

Change needs to occur internally first. What I think affects what I believe which affects my actions. Sometimes compassion needs to be factored into those initial thoughts. I have received compassion on countless occasions and it’s my duty to pay that forward. The Dalai Lama once said, “Compassion and tolerance are not a sign of weakness, but a sign of strength.” 

These realizations flood me as a wave of enlightening thoughts. Now more than ever I want to be closer to my family – sister, parents and dog – and my Indian culture, like those chewy, slightly spicy thikhi bhakri that comfort the soul. In this horrible age of public policy upheaval and racism, I want to avoid Trump supporters and surround myself with loved ones and friends. Maybe loving-kindness meditation is necessary to show compassion to people who have turned fear into hate.

I used to believe my purpose was to lead a feminist lifestyle with complete financial independence. A life in which career trumps love, where I could make a difference for millions through my work in health care policy. I thought my stubborn protests and arguments against my father would change his traditional, at times backward, outlook. The Time of Trump has taught me that no single person can create positive changes overnight, and wasting energy on hostile arguments isn’t a solution. Real, everlasting change occurs when one builds loving sustainable relationships over an extended period of time. According to John Lewis, a politician with firsthand experience from the Civil Rights movement, “Our struggle is not the struggle of a day, a week, a month, or a year, it is the struggle of a lifetime.”

National policies can drastically differ with each administration but the real work begins on the ground at the grassroots level. And those who don’t understand the dirt beneath the grass can never truly create informed public policies. (Yes Betsy DeVos, I am specifically referring to you here!)

In the Era of Trump, I recognize I need a partner who shares similar values to me. Someone who has led a life of serving others with compassion, whether in the dirt or through small everyday exchanges. Someone I respect because of his thoughts, beliefs, and actions.

In the Time of Trump, I reflect on past relationships as if looking at the red-orange sun from a sky blackened by wildfire smoke. Each love taught me new lessons. Each love shaped who I am. Those experiences were crucial to my journey and indirectly nudged me to find a love where I feel at peace.

The Age of Trump has unearthed my expansive heart and my infinite capacity of loving others. It’s time I actually emphasize love, being loved, providing love to those around me, and being of service to family and friends without focusing solely on my career path. Maybe this love can create a tiny ripple of compassion that slightly dampens the extremely polarized mindsets of our nation’s people.

I have discovered Love in the Time of Trump. Love for my life and everything in it. Thank you to the current President for somehow providing me with this enlightenment. 🙂



Questions for Tomorrow.

Do you change to thrive or do you thrive to change?

Are bus drivers actually angels sent from above to help the mentally ill?

Is a perfect roommate even better than the perfect soulmate?

Why do the menstrual cycles of different women sync up easily but opposing political parties never come to a consensus?

Why worry about saving for a future house you don’t want to purchase?

Why does it feel utterly comforting when your building’s security guard smiles at you?

Can people completely change their true natures?

Why do high school friends remember details about you that you’ve long forgotten?

Why is it so hard to connect with others even though we are hard-wired to be social, attached beings?

Do mothers lose a sense of self? Do single women lose a sense of meaning?

In 100 degree weather, why do buildings run air conditioning to the point of hypothermia?

Why do some people who gorge on sweets never develop diabetes?

How can animals understand the depths of your soul better than you can?

Why do loud people get all the credit when humble silent people do all the work?

When will the medical community admit that Trump is mentally unfit for office?

When will I come to terms with myself?

How many licks does it take to get to the center of a tootsie pop?  🙂





The Wisdom of Jewel’s Journey

It’s rare to find a podcast episode that awakens your inner heart. James Altucher’s interview of the singer Jewel opens your universe. For those going through a struggle, reinvention, or midlife crisis, Jewel’s journey from homeless girl to a mindful artist provides a guide on how to thrive during uncertain times.

As a child of divorce living in Alaska with her father, Jewel had a unique upbringing. On one hand, she was a homesteader─living off the land in a sustainable way─and grew up in a barn. On the other hand, she and her dad routinely sang at bars which allowed her to express and nurture her musical talents. Jewel’s father was abusive which complicated matters even further. When most kids her age were goofing off, she struggled with “nature vs nurture” questions. Am I doomed to an abusive life where I will abuse others or can I cultivate a mindset that allows me to change my situation?

“Could I re-nurture myself?”

She chose to change her destiny and at the tender age of 15, Jewel enrolled at a high school for the arts and moved by herself to Michigan. What insight from such a young person!

Jewel moved to San Diego to be closer to her mother once she graduated from high school. After being propositioned by her boss and refusing to have sex with him, Jewel found herself jobless and living out of her car. During this period of her life she became sick multiple times from kidney infections. She was so sick and febrile at one point, she walked into a hospital in a daze but was refused medical care for not having insurance! Luckily an “angel” doctor found her and provided her with free medical care and antibiotics. Yet things got worse when someone stole her car, the one place she called home. In an instant, Jewel was homeless and living on the street at the age of 18!

“It was one of the most transformative experiences of my life. It’s a very demoralizing thing to be in that type of position where you’re just stuck on survive mode.”

While living in this animalistic mode with no hope and no money, she decided to shoplift a dress from a store. She stopped when she saw her reflection in the mirror. Is this really who I want to be?  At that moment she recalled a quote by the Buddha, “Happiness doesn’t depend on who we are or what we have, it depends on what we think.” Yet again she used her resiliency skills to create a positive outlook during a dark time. Mind over matter! First, she learned about her own fear and anxiety.

“Fear is this thief, and it takes the past and projects it into the future. It robs you of the only moment you have to create any change in your life”

Then Jewel started noticing her hands. They were always clenched or held tightly to her body. So she let them go: she used her hands to to shake others’ hands and to open doors for people. Finally, she brokered a deal with a coffee shop to increase their customer base by receiving payment to sing. At the age of 19 while still living on the streets, she was offered a $1,000,000 deal to sign to a record label!

Any homeless 19-year-old would have signed immediately. Not Jewel! She had the foresight to read up on record deals and knew she would not be able to sell enough records to meet the requirements of the contract. She decided to sign a much smaller deal which allowed her to express her authentic style of music─the type of music that was vulnerable and didn’t actively seek out an audience. Jewel learned from nature to cultivate herself to be a hard-wood tree instead of a soft-wood tree.

“Hard wood grows slowly.”

Yet hard-wood trees think long-term and are able to survive life’s upheavals due to a solid foundation.

“Shortcuts lead to soft-wood trees that fall over quickly.”

Despite Jewel’s huge success in the music industry, she still faced challenges later in life such as a divorce and mismanagement of her earnings by her mother. Each time she encountered a new challenge, Jewel reinvented herself by working HARD and nourished her inner happiness rather than focusing on external outcomes.

“What if it’s not that I’m broken? What if there’s a part of me that exists whole at all times? I just have to do a very loving archaeological dig back to my whole self.”

She followed the map of her inner self and her inner values, not the map of others. Jewel concentrated on the goals that were speaking to her soul. As a physician who quit my practice, I know firsthand how difficult it is to listen to your inner voice because of the distracting sounds of society’s expectations.

Jewel’s journey proves that success is a mindset. It doesn’t matter if you have only $50 in your bank account because you are capable of improving your situation by altering your thoughts. For those who think it’s too late to reinvent yourself, think again. Life is about change! Change your goals, change your lifestyle, and change your mindset to become the true person you were meant to be.

If there’s one podcast episode you listen to, let it be this one! Click on the link below to play or download the podcast.


Gratitude and the Forest of Authenticity

It only takes a few people to show you new ways of thinking, new ways of being. Wild methods of living that allow for enriching experiences. Why live in an apple orchard when you can dance in the rainforest? My life as a robot is officially over and my cup of gratitude toasts those who guided me to new horizons. Thank you to the handful of friends in California who helped me question everything, the money, the career, the expectations, the false relationships. I even question myself. What is my purpose? What is my joy? Escaping the brainwashing and lies was my greatest accomplishment, and now I look forward to going deeper into the forest of authenticity, my true home.


Brief Exchanges between Couples (Overheard at the Airport)

At the gate:

Young Man:  I bought this sweatshirt for only $20 (pointing to the “I Love LA” sweatshirt he was wearing)!

Young Woman:  Why didn’t you buy me a sweatshirt?

On the airplane:

Old Indian Man:  Dear, do you want some? (referring to some sort of ethnic food in aluminum foil)

Old Indian Lady: Nods without speaking. Hands him The New York Times in exchange for the food.

In baggage claim:

Hipster Man:  I’ve written you a couple love letters, but you haven’t written me any!

Hipster Woman:  I wrote you a letter once. But it wasn’t a love letter.

Thank You Note

This past year has been the most devastating of my life, but when I see you in this picture, I can’t help but smile. I miss you. I miss your goofy laugh. I miss your patience and unconditional kindness. I miss the joy on your face from the simple things in life. I miss the calming effect of your hugs and the depth of your knowledge. Although you were clearly an extraordinary person, you never recognized the hidden gems within yourself. (Who else can spin a basketball on the tip of his finger, whistle the tune of a song, and fix any type of computer/tech issue, all at the same time?!)

For so many years, I tried to influence you with my narrow and uptight view of what life should be. Now you have convinced me to live freely and creatively, liberated from societal expectations. Your morality and quest for authenticity have taught me to search for meaning in my life, and your inner struggles have taught me to accept support from loved ones. You have given me the courage to quit my job as a pathologist and take time off to change careers. Most importantly, you have inspired me to live with purpose and happiness. My dear brother Neil, for this final gift, I thank you.

In Loving Memory of Neil Patel (August 5th, 1987 – July 16th, 2014)