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Permission - the Authentic Tea podcast with Pauline

As a life and career coach, Pauline supports fellow medics to achieve a happy and healthy work-life balance. Pauline is the founder of Doctorscaringfordoctors, and her platform encourages us to celebrate ourselves, refresh our mindsets and find clarity. As a life and mindfulness coach, Pauline is helping other doctors to find attain and sustain a progressive career and at the same time is balancing her passions in life.

In episode 18 Rach chats with Pauline, founder of Doctors Caring for Doctors. This episode was recorded on International Women's Day 2021 and it was a pleasure to hear Pauline share her inspiring story and how she is supporting other healthcare professionals.

Rach (00:00):

Today, I'm joined by Pauline. As a life and career coach Pauline supports fellow medics to achieve a happy and healthy work-life balance. Pauline is the founder of Doctors, Caring for Doctors and her platform encourages us to celebrate ourselves, refresh our mindsets and find clarity as a life and mindfulness coach Pauline is helping other doctors to find attain and sustain a progressive career. And at the same time is balancing her passions in life. Welcome Pauline.

Pauline (00:31):

Thank you, Rachel. Thank you so much for having me. I really welcome this opportunity to sit here and speak with you. That's really great. Thank you so much. And thank you for the wonderful intro. I feel special already.

Rach (00:44):

Fantastic. Well, that's just so nice to hear, and we're really pleased to have you here. So maybe we could start with your business, which is Doctors Caring for Doctors. And I know through that platform, you're sharing your coaching skills predominantly for other doctors, other medics to find their path through life. Was there a point for you when you realized you wanted to use your skills to help colleagues and when you could identify that there was a need in this particular group?

Pauline (01:12):

Well, I'll start with the latter part first, the need in the, in this particular group. And I think that sort of came to me as a slow realization through the course of my own clinical career. I, I really enjoy medicine. I really enjoy being a physician, a doctor, a listener and anaesthetist. I think it's the most amazing specialty in the world. Sorry, surgeons. But it is hard. It's tough. And I'm not talking about the bits where you have to study for long hours and work for 18 hours. I'm not talking about those bits. I'm talking about the bits where, you know, you, something happens to your patient, but there's another patient waiting and you just have to get on with it. You know, you've had to give the bad news, but there's another patient waiting, and you just have to get on with it.

Pauline (02:03):

You're watching your colleagues struggle for whatever reason, professionally or personally, and you, you, you can't find a space to, to offer help to them because you don't know how, when you, and if you did know, you don't know how they would take it, you know, it, it's just a lack of space that we have as physicians to have any room in our professional lives for who we are and who we want to be. And that discovery sort of came to me very, I would say early on in my anesthetic career, which started back in 1999. And my first experience with that is a very personal one because I moved from the Caribbean to the, the UK and shortly after my my stepfather died and he was he wasn't a stepfather in the sense of stepfather. He was my father.

Pauline (02:59):

And it was the first time that I genuinely felt compassion and care from my, from my colleagues. I mean, I really felt that they cared that I was going through this. And what made it such a profound experience is realizing that this was the first experience I ever had with that. So this idea of care doctors, caring for doctors, healthcare professionals, as a whole caring for healthcare professionals is, is, is almost an unknown. We are trained to care for our patients, but we're not trained to care for ourselves and for our own professional community. So the need for this sort of reared its head and then just continue to make itself more and more prominent. As I went through my career as a consultant I found that I was in a greater position to actually stop. And because I had that control now as a consultant to say, hang on a minute, one of us isn't right here.

Pauline (04:03):

Let's take a moment and give that, helping hand to that person. And the coaching sort of stemmed from that as well, because, because my, my second interest outside of the clinical work was medical education. So I had a lot of interactions with trainees as well as and then I was also a trust appraiser. So I had a lot of opportunity to sit with people and just give them that little bit of space, although that's what the space was not designed or designated for. I felt as if it was an opportunity to give them that space. And I made it my business to try and find the time to do it with them. And I found that quite rewarding and, and they have always come back to me and said, you know, at the time or later on that it was really helpful. And so when I expanded my career a little further afield, and I moved to Qatar after the UK, I went on to do a masters in leadership and consulting.

Pauline (05:08):

And one of the things that, that one of the modules was about coaching and mentoring, and I sort of looked at it and thought, well, hang on a minute. This is what I've actually been doing. I didn't actually know that there was a really, really a word for it. And I thought, you know what, I'm going to do this. I'm going to, I'm going to dedicate some time and space in my life and in my career to actually do this because I, I think we need, we need it. And I enjoy doing it. And I think we can only get better from it. And my vision for Doctor's caring for Doctors is not just about coaching an individual physician or, you know, that's great. And it's wonderful if I can help just one person, but we need to change the whole culture of medicine. We need to change how we view ourselves as physicians and how we view each other. And I'm going to stop talking now cause I can just keep talking about it.

Rach (06:04):

Oh, thank you. No, thank you for sharing your story and your own personal experience. And it's interesting how it evolved as your own career evolved. And something you touched on there is about the culture, which I think is really interesting because, you know, as a medical student and from most of my past jobs and SHO jobs at all of that level, there was so little that was dedicated to thinking about my own self-care thinking about the care of my colleagues or even simple practices, to be able to be more mindful and to be able to identify how I could create some space, like you say, and create that balance in my own day. So maybe you could share a bit about what the value you see for doctors coming forward now in learning some of these things at a much earlier stage of their career. So when they're at med school or in their very early sort of foundation years, what's the value there in terms of kind of getting on top of it early on, rather than all of us trying to sort of catch up as we are, we're getting further down our career.

Pauline (07:11):

One of the things we do in medicine is we're very future focused. You know, what are you going to do next, your next audit, your next presentation, your next job, your next, your next, your next, I call it the dangling carrot. They just keep walking towards the carrot and they'll go to the point of exhaustion, but I'd passed my final FRCP. And the consultant said to me all, congratulations. So what are you going to do now? And I thought, can I breathe? Can I, can I do that? And this constant living in the, in the future leaves very little space to be mindful. And it leaves little space to stop to reflect, to look, you know, literally to look around and smell the roses. And it's exhausting. It's just exhausting to constantly be, be thinking, what am I going to do next?

Pauline (08:08):

What happens? What I found happened with me personally, is I lost myself a little bit and I started feeling and whenever I did think, you know what? No, no, no, no, no. I do need to stop. Then I started, I started feeling like I wasn't like, I wasn't really doing the job of a good physician. You know, it's like, what do you mean? You're not preparing something? What do you mean you're not aiming for the next thing? What do you mean? You're just walking the dog or, you know, going for pizza or whatever, you know, you need to be doing something. And it created a sense of guilt, a sense of laziness, a little bit of imposter syndrome, because it was a bit like, well, look at what everybody else is doing. You know, this guy has just published a paper on this, you know, your friends, just, done this. And they've presented at this conference. And, and you're, you're just home watching Netflix, you know, and that is very tiring on the soul. It, it completely flattens your energy. And the other thing about it is, is you don't necessarily want to be doing these things.

Pauline (09:15):

Like for me, I found very early on medical education was my thing. I really enjoyed that. And I was good at it. So why did I need to do audit as well and presentations and this and that. And, you know, it's like, why can't I not focus on what energizes me and allows me to put my whole into it so that you get the best bits of me rather than this piecemeal bits of that, that leave you unsatisfied. You don't do the great job. You know, it's just, it's difficult to be in that position 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Pauline (09:52):

So this is what I was alluding to when I said the whole culture of medicine needs to change. This is, this was fine in the 1950s where the doctor was the be-all and end-all, and it's really interesting how we've accepted this in terms of our clinical work. We don't expect the dermatologist to be a surgeon to be a psychiatrist, but somehow we must all, we must all publish papers. We must all write chapters in books. We must all do presentations. We must all do audit. We must all teach. We must all manage. Hang on a minute. We each have our own skillsets and why not applaud the skillsets of the individual rather than trying to create these, these cookie cutter physicians. That must be master, you know, jack of all trades master of none. So this is, I think not just an on an individual piece basis, the forces that be need to reassess what it is that the profession values and the, our definitions of what it means to be a good physician. So having the permission to start this self-reflection self-reflection and mindfulness, and this, this ability to just stop for a bit when you need to is something that needs to happen from basically day dot. And that's where I think the benefit will come from. We will, we will produce better doctors if we are doing what we enjoy. And it's as simple as that really.

Rach (11:13):

Oh, I mean, I totally agree with you. And I think the, one of the wonderful things I've found from this podcast is listening to other women who have found their own combinations. They've like you say, they've found their strengths. They found the things that they've enjoyed. And that doesn't mean, I mean, some people, yes, they step away from clinical work altogether. Some people step away from medicine, but for a huge majority of people, it doesn't need to be that. It's actually just like you say, identifying what your values are, identifying what you enjoy doing. And I think there is a little bit there people often talk about courage and having that courage to, or like said, maybe it's a balance of courage and permission having the permission to be able to explore those things, but also taking the courage yourself to follow what you believe is right for you. So do you think there was a point for you where you needed to kind of step into it, like to take that little leap or did it just happen? So gradually

Pauline (12:13):

It, it, it's, it's a bit like going up the hill you, you get to the top and you just, and, or other, that's not quite right. Maybe it's more like getting over the inertia of it. The inertia of coming to this realization took a long time. It took years, but then all of a sudden it was just like, right. I had reached critical mass and I could just take off with it. And that didn't actually happen until I was a consultant. I spent most of my registrar life, you know, feeling totally incompetent on one level or another. And it was just because I was being asked to do things that I just didn't want to do. And I did. And there were lots of other people who wanted to do it. So why couldn't they do it? And I found myself in a situation where I would focus on, on what I enjoyed, what I was good at, and they would go, Oh, yay. That's great. But what else, what else?

Pauline (13:04):

And it wasn't until I became a consultant where I, I realized, hang on a minute, you know what? You, you turn up on time, your, your patients, like you, you do a great job. You know, you work well in the team. You know, you do all the right things. So why just, just make the decision that you're good. This is okay. You know I'm, I, I'm not on an international stage with publications and presentations and, you know, and that's okay. That's all right, because there are other people that want to do it. And it was the proverbial weight off my shoulders. You know, it was like, you know what, I want to do medical education. Great. And I want to do it with allied healthcare professionals. Great. I enjoy doing clinical governance. I'm going to do that.

Pauline (13:54):

Great. Everything else, that's it I'm done. I don't want to do it. And it is getting done. And it's getting done by people who are way more competent than me at it and enjoy it more than I do. And it resonated with their values and beliefs and doing clinical governance and medical education resonated with my values and beliefs. And all of a sudden there was no longer a dangling carrot. It was like, you know what, I'll walk when I want to walk. I'll rest when I want to rest. And that's all. Okay. And that's what I started communicating with, with my my trainees and, and the people that I appraised. Hey, you know what, this is what you did with this year of your life in medicine. That's great. That's, that's okay. You don't need to do anything more. And yeah, it, it, it, it took a long time. It really did. And I'm hoping that with, with what I can do with Doctor's caring for Doctors is that I can, people can get to that stage a lot less painfully than I did. That's that's my, that's my main goal. Yeah.

Rach (15:07):

I know that that is an amazing goal. And I think it's so wonderful that you want to share that experience, because like you say, it's taken time for you to find your way. And now you can tell that you're so passionate about what you do, which is a great thing to hear from someone. And I think we all want that for our colleagues. We all want that for our loved ones. We want that for our friends. We want that for ourselves. So it would, it is wonderful that you are now sharing this and I also find it fascinating that you've, you've also continued to find other little things to explore. One of the things I saw, which I loved was that you've got a certificate in interior design. And it made me think about how, when we feel like we're able to follow the things that we enjoy, that actually it opens up little other aspects of our lives and different sides to ourselves. You know, the sort of creativity side kind of opens up. And is that something that you found, how did this interior design passion come about and yeah. How does it balance with everything else you're doing?

Pauline (16:10):

So I've always been a bit of a paradox in terms of, I really enjoyed the arts and I was good at the arts, but I was also very good at science and, you know, you kind of get pushed towards having a sensible career which I don't regret at all. But what happened in having my sensible career is all of that creativity kind of fell by the wayside. And it, this is coming back to your, your last question. When did I find the space to be myself when I became a consultant and I went, you know what I kind of, I mean, we, weren't very, we weren't in the aren't very rich. So when we bought our homes I, we spent a lot of time doing them up ourselves. And that allowed me to bring out that creative side that had been dormant for, I dunno, nearly 20 years.

Pauline (17:03):

And it was absolutely amazing. It was so much fun. And being a doctor and being somewhat of a type A personality, you always feel the need to qualify and qualify yourself. And I thought, well, you know what, I'm just going to, I'm going to actually make this official, I'm going to go do a certificate in interior design. And I also kind of pride myself on being a lifelong learner. So aside from the practical aspects of it, the theory of it was, you know, really quite interesting for me. And it meant that I could again, do things that resonated with my own values and beliefs, because now I could start making my own gifts and my own presents. You know, when my daughter got married, I made her wedding gift. You know, when my friend's birthday came along, I made her birthday gift, you know, and these things are really important to me to be able to, to be really personal with my friends and family and do things for them that come 100% from me and from my heart.

Pauline (18:02):

So to be able to have the space, to do something like interior design, where I unlike my, my, my major thing is upcycling antiques COVID is, has, has let me down a little bit because my, one of my favorite weekend things to do is to go to the charity shops and find these little gems that I could upcycle and, you know, and add them to my own home or give them away as presents. And you know, it, and I turned it into a little side business and it's absolutely fantastic because it allowed me to do something that I wasn't able to do for years and years and years. And again, it was like you don't realize what's missing until you get it back sometimes. And I think it's so important to have interests outside of medicine. For some of us, we don't need that, right. For some of us medicine can be the, be all and end all. And that's great if that's what works for you, but for most people, no matter what job you'll do, you'll have something outside of it. And you really need that space for your own personal wellbeing, to be able to express that and have the time to enjoy it. So that's what interior design did for me. It really gave me an opportunity to just go ha....

Rach (19:20):

To sing from your hearts. I think that's the, that's the message, isn't it? That it's given you that passion. And it's wonderful to hear you say that, it, you refound, it, it wasn't something that was totally new. It was there all the time, there was something there with the time that you enjoyed and you kind of refound it. We discovered an enjoyment of it, which I think is, is really, it's an interesting journey, isn't it? And I think that's the whole thing is like you were saying about lifelong learning. We are always continually moving. And sometimes we do that within the clinical career, but we're moving along somebody else's pathway or someone else's dictated tick box. So like you said, you know, it's always about what's next, but it's, what's next dictated by somebody else or dictated by the system. Its not, but it's not driven from us. It's not driven or given us the space to actually think what is next for me? What would I like to do next? Where do I want to take things? I think that's, there's a big difference. Isn't it, to be able to develop that yourself.

Pauline (20:21):

And I think too, as physicians where we, we are expected to excel at everything and we're, and everything we do should be also excellent. And we get really bogged down with, I mean, one of my clients, one of her major hangups was I don't have a really exciting hobby, you know, it's like, Oh, but you know, my friends, they go base jumping and rock climbing. And, and I just, I like knitting. This is the amount of pressure that we're under as physicians, even what we enjoy needs to be stellar. And it needs to be stellar in a lights in the sky kind of way, not, okay, well, you enjoy knitting and you're really good knitter and that stellar, no, no, no, no, no, no. But knitting itself, isn't stellar. Oh, come on, hang on a bit. So, you know, we, we really need to get this pressure off ourselves and we have to take some responsibility for this as well.

Pauline (21:21):

And another personal experience of mine was every Monday, you know, there'd be this little congregation in the tea room. And it would be like, well, what did you do over over the weekend? You know, and somebody went skiing in Val d'Isere. And, you know, somebody had found some exotic Japanese place with a six month waiting list and they got in and, you know, somebody took the Eurostar to Paris for lunch and I'm like, Oh, I walked the dog and I mowed the lawn. And,yeah, I probably, I'm not going to fit in here. Am I? And it was, it was almost like I felt, you know, I, I felt, I couldn't say, what did I do on the weekend? I walked the dog, mowed the lawn, it was great. This is wonderful. I feel great today. I, I felt totally out of my depth because I did something so boring and mundane, but that boring and mundane is good enough for me, and,that's all it should be about. So the pressure doesn't just come from outside, we bring it ourselves.

Rach (22:19):

And so what are the things that you like to do that keep you grounded in that, you know, to, for your own self care, are there little practices you do, like you were saying on a weekend to try and ground yourself to be in the present moment.

Pauline (22:34):

So for me when I'm off, unless I, unless I have something that I really have already committed to, I literally get up in the morning and go, right. So what do I feel like doing now? I keep myself as boundary-less as possible. So it could be a day in front of Netflix. It could be a yoga day. It could be a gardening day. It could be go out into the garden shed and make something day. I, I, I try to be very relaxed about it and not pressure myself into feeling I need to do anything at all. And that's something I really had to come around to as well, because, you know, in the world I grew up with in the West Indies to say that you're going to get out of bed on Saturday morning when you feel like it and do what you feel like is that, you know, it's, it's, it's sacrilege it's haram.

Pauline (23:27):

You just don't speak like that. But it's such a wonderful thing, you know, decide, you know what, I'm going to read that book today. I'm going to watch a movie. I just leave it up to whatever my heart and my energy for the day dictates. And I've, I've given myself permission to do that. And it's, it's really wonderful. And it's something that I work a lot with my clients on it is okay to just lie in bed for an extra hour and go, what do I feel like doing today? Obviously, if you've got little kids, you've got to rearrange it a little bit, but you know, what do I want to do today? You know, and let that take you, let your heart and let the energy that is within you and surrounding you feel like today, what you can't do is spend every weekend in bed and resting.

Pauline (24:20):

You can't do that, but if you need to do it this weekend, do it this weekend, you know, and just, just, just be true to yourself and listen to your body and open, open your mind to what the universe is telling you. I'm not a religious person, but I'm a very spiritual person. And, and, and as you said, I coach mostly doctors, but I coach, I coach other people as well. And the, the, the thing that I coach them around is what I find helped me in my life. And that is literally listening to your heart listening to your own energy and the energy of the universe, and then taking that and putting it together into something that's meaningful for you. That's how I keep myself grounded. When I, when I'm forcing myself to do something, I actually stop and say, hang on a minute, are you forcing yourself to do this because the outcome is going to be something that you really want, or are you forcing yourself to do this because you feel this is something you should be doing, because you're starting to feel a bit bad about getting behind on things. And honestly, if it's one or the other, that's how I make my decision. And it sounds incredibly selfish, so much more capacity to love others and find space and time for them as well.

Rach (25:39):

Thank you. It's really nice to listen to you speaking about that, because I think it's very hard for a lot of us, isn't it? When we're so busy, busy, busy to actually understand what we need and take that time to reflect and like you say, learn to listen to yourself and to trust your own intuition, to see you can be guided by it so that you can like, say, if you need to rest, or if you need to energize, or if you need to connect to someone that, you know, what it is that your body is talking to you for. I think some of that is also linked in to understanding your own values. Isn't it, which you touched on about how once you can identify those values. And for me, that was something I did also quite late on in my career. I had a career coach who asked me, and I was, I was sort of coming to the end of my registrar training.

Rach (26:28):

And she asked me what my core values were. And I think it was the first time that someone had actually really asked me that question. And I sat down and I tried to write them down on paper, and I really thought them through. And by that suddenly bits of the puzzle kind of fell into place. And it made things seem a little bit clearer for me because I could identify the values, but then I could also identify why certain situations didn't make me feel comfortable and why I felt better in other situations, because they were meeting my values and they were aligned with them. And the people I was with were aligned with those values. Do you also find that you being sort of value-driven is something that you've developed over time. And how do your own core values? Is it something that you'd like to kind of keep reminding yourself of, or is it just very inherent in you now?

Pauline (27:22):

Oh, no, it was not, it was not inherent in me at all. It, it wasn't I'll harp back again, a little bit growing up in the Western, these, you, you, you are told what your values are and they're pretty much the same for everybody. You know, be honest, be hardworking, be, be, be religious. That's essentially the top three. And you're, you're told this and they're not bad values to have, but they're not the only values there are. And then you go into a profession like medicine. And again, you're told what your values are, right? And again, that's not a bad thing, but the way it's done is that it doesn't give you room for you to think about your own values. And as doctors, we are actually taught that our values and beliefs have no place in, in the, in our professional life.

Pauline (28:16):

And we don't understand our values because of that, because we're just taught that this is the way a doctor should be. And you don't really get a choice in the matter, because this is what a good doctor is. So, and this is something, and to hear you say, it's, it's universal. You know, one of the very early things on I work on with my clients is what are your values? And I have yet to have a client go, Oh, yes. Well, my values are, everybody kind of looks a little bit stunned and and they go like you know, it's a bit like, Oh, well, as you said, I had never been asked that before, but it's not our fault. We've been taught that this is the way we're supposed to be. So even on this journey myself, I had to really stop and think long and hard about what my values were.

Pauline (29:10):

And I struggled with that concept as well. I mean, eventually I worked it out, but it did take a lot of time and it, it, it, it required a real shift in mindset for me to stop focusing on what other people thought I should be and who I wanted to be. And it works out that's a couple of them are in line with being a physician and a couple of them are not really. So for me, integrity is incredibly important. Both in my professional, personal life, compassion is important. No, this is the funny one, because as we spoke about this a bit earlier, we're taught compassion for our patients. We are not taught compassion to ourselves for ourselves and for our other colleagues we are it's, it's, it's not inherent and it's not taught when you see your, when you make a trainee cry.

Pauline (30:06):

I mean, I'm sure you've heard of, you've heard of this. It might've even happened to you, or you just swallowed your own tears or, you know, you see somebody suffering. And, you know, I remember once I went back in the days when we used to work, these really ridiculous shifts and I was feeling a bit ill and I was holding this retractor on this very large woman, and my arms were shaking and I was just, my head was bowed. And the consultant shouted at me that I wasn't holding the retractor properly. And the registrar said, Oh, you know, she's a bit tired and she's not feeling well. And I remember the consultant said without looking at me, it was like, I wasn't even in the room. And they said, well, if she's tired and sick, she shouldn't be here.

Pauline (30:51):

And that was it. And I remember standing there feeling so sorry for myself, you know, so compassion is, is, is one of my huge values. And it's not just compassion for others. It's compassion for yourself. And here's one that's not so much aligned with being a physician. It's adventure and fun. You know, this, this idea that we supposed to be, these stoic persons and you can then, then when you leave, you can do whatever you like. No, it's okay to have some fun when you're at work, it's okay to have a giggle. It's okay to be adventurous. You know, I got told off for, for laughing in the theater, you know? Okay, fine. I understand that there would be points when it would be inappropriate to be laughing in theater, of course. But when you're working together with a bunch of people, this idea that you must be professional, you know, all the time, because you're the consultant now.

Pauline (31:53):

It was like, come on, we're human beings and we're allowed to have fun, and we're allowed to make a silly joke and you know, it's allowed and it's okay. So that was one I really struggled with as a registrar, because I am a fun person. I like a joke. I like to lighten the situation. And you know, I got told off quite a few times for it, but yes, everything is a balance and, you know, but we should be allowed to be who we are. And if you're somebody who doesn't do that, you shouldn't be criticized as not being a team player. You know, we, we're all different and we should have room for that. So, no, it was not intuitive at all. I had to, again, I've said it a few times now I had to give myself permission to be adventurous and have fun in my professional work.

Rach (32:50):

That's so interesting because I think I spent a long time actually through my career feeling like I was not the same person at work and at home. So part of my career life, work like I was being part. sort of 60% of my true self. And I, that's a horrible feeling actually, but it's like you say, either one or the other, you're either suppressing down a side of yourself because you think you shouldn't be like that, or you're trying to be more like something, because you also feel like you should be more like that. So either way, you're not, you're not going to be very content or very, or give yourself much self-esteem or self-love because you're continually trying to meet somebody else's or your own expectations of what you should be like.

Pauline (33:34):

And then you get home and you're exhausted. And you have an argument with your partner or you shout it to your child, or because you spent the whole day wrapped in this tension of trying to be somebody who you're not.

Rach (33:46):

And with your coaching, you're obviously doing a lot to help individuals to find their way through some of that and to navigate it, which I think is, is fabulous. Is coaching something that you also have had yourself?

Pauline (34:00):

Yeah. I have a coach myself. And it's good because I also, I also believe that you really need to have the perspective of others. And not just people who love you and sometimes will tell you what they think want to hear, or they don't want to hurt your feelings. It is important to have someone be impartial and honest with you. It also helps to have someone who you are not worried will look at you differently if you tell them something. And, and, and again, this is something that we struggle with as doctors, because one of the things I did was when I started, when I decided to found Doctors Caring for Doctors, I said to people, well, if I, if, if you had the service, would you use it? And a lot of people said, I would be worried about what people would think about me.

Pauline (34:54):

And that's really hard because it means for us, we don't have that person to talk to, to be impartial, to, to be, our to give a voice to some of the things that we need to get out of our heads. So yes, I do have a coach and I, and I enjoy being coached as well because the amount of times I say, Oh, I didn't think of it like that. Oh, I see what you're saying there. Ah, right. Oh no, I would not have done it that way. And every time it happens, it's useful because I've learned something about either myself or about a situation that I've been in. What I'm hoping is that eventually doctors will have, it will be, it will be, it will no longer be the exception. It will be the norm that as a physician, you'll be able to sit and speak with someone and be honest with them and tell them what's in your mind. And what's in your heart and not be worried that it gets back to the Council or the appraiser or the college tutor or the whoever that person is, or your clinical director, you know, and, and just have a safe, comfortable space to be able to talk. And that's really invaluable. Friends and family are great, but especially for us in such a high octane position and world, I think we need, we need more to, to be the best that we could be.

Rach (36:25):

As, as we're talking, we're obviously in the, in the middle of the pandemic, a lot of people who are in the health care profession have found themselves in situations that have vastly different from the norm, increasingly high stress situations. And yet still turning up every day, still doing their duties as doctors and as healthcare professionals and not having the support there to be able to share the difficulties and the challenges, as you say, with a voice that is nonjudgmental is not noting it down for our appraisals and our revalidations and that when crises happen, it's when you really need these things the most. And they're often not in place.

Pauline (37:14):

I think as a healthcare professional, we're in a really awkward position for the obvious reasons. But another reason that has come up is this feeling of, well, if everybody else is coping with it, why can't I what's wrong with me? Why, why, why, why does everybody else seem to be able to turn up, get the job done and I'm suffering and what a lot of people don't realize is actually that's just a farce something, the other side that you don't know what happens when that person that you're standing there admiring actually gets out of that situation. And you might be actually better off because you've acknowledged that you've, you've got these feelings, you you've identified them, you've given them a name and now you are actually trying to find a solution rather than continually just putting on a brave face and getting on with it. And I think there's that that's an element that COVID has brought to the fore even more than it normally is everybody else, everybody else is managing what's wrong with me. And I think that's a reason, a lot of people don't get the help that they could benefit from because they're thinking, well, something's wrong with me because I think I need help. Actually, you're, you're probably in a much position for acknowledging that, but that's not what we're led to believe.

Pauline (38:43):

So it's a bit of a catch 22.

Rach (38:46):

One of the things we have found with the pandemic is that people are sharing so much more online. And obviously a lot of people are reaching out into the virtual space more than they ever have done. And so there are opportunities there and it is wonderful to see people sharing their skills and being able to provide support to people. What are the sort of things that you're offering at the moment to your clients and where can people find out a bit more about you and what you're able to share with them at the minute?

Pauline (39:18):

So the, the it's called, I was about to say the foundation, that's not quite the right word.

Rach (39:25):

Why not?

Pauline (39:29):

Perhaps, perhaps the coaching service is called Doctors, Caring for Doctors. There's a website we're on LinkedIn and we are on Facebook. You can use all of those platforms to contact me as well. And if you go to the website, there's actually a little chat button in the lower right hand side that you can get to. And one of the things I've done recently, I've done a little video on, on the, the, the ethos of Doctors Caring for Doctors is that you can have a rewarding career and a happy life because you don't have to do it all to be a great physician. And I've actually put together a little video about that, around that whole, whole way of thinking.

Pauline (40:14):

And if you just drop me a note in that chat or on any of the other platforms, I can send that link to you. There is no opt-in, it doesn't cost you anything. I'm not going to ask you for anything. It's just about getting it out there and helping people to feel better about who they are and who they want to be within medicine. So drop me a line and I will send that to you. And if you want to speak with me afterwards about coaching sessions, that's absolutely fine too, but there is no obligation whatsoever.

Rach (40:49):

Thank you. And we'll make sure we put all the links and everything underneath with the podcast info. So people can reach out and see some of the wonderful things that you're able to share with them. And like you say, just get in touch and make that initial conversation and see where, see where things go and see if it's a right fit for, for both of you. It's been really wonderful hearing your journey and how it's expanded and progressed and taken different ways. And the idea of this podcast is really that we can be our authentic selves. So is there somewhere or something that you do where you feel like you're your authentic self?

Pauline (41:24):

I'm pleased to say that is my life right now. I am always my authentic self. Always. It wasn't always that way. No, no, no, definitely not. But right now today, I can say every day I am my authentic self. It was a difficult journey being today this might be out of, out of sync, but today's international women's day whilst I'm talking to you. And you know, I was listening to another podcast sorry, a webinar with a very good friend of mine. It was a webinar on female writers. And it was really quite interesting. And they talked about things as being a female. You know, you, you can't get angry and you can't be too loud and you can't be too boisterous and you can't be too old and you can't and you can't and you can't. And I remember sitting there thinking, yeah, that was me always thinking, Ooh, Pauline, tone it down, pull it back a bit. Well, you know, you can be a bit overwhelming and, you know, and, and constantly pulling myself back because I didn't want to make other people uncomfortable. And whilst I'm aware of it and I try to balance the, all of me that I put out there I don't spend my day saying, Oh, remember you can't and you shouldn't and you, and constantly sort of editing who I am. So no, it's it's every day I get to be my authentic self. And I wish that for everyone, honestly,

Rach (43:04):

That's fabulous. I love that. I love the, your answer and I love the way you're sharing it. And yes, like you, I wish everybody gets to that point because that's what we're here to be. You know, we can only be ourselves. We only have one version of ourselves and understanding it and loving ourselves is, is a huge part of that. I'm interested whether you do any meditation or aspects of, kind of that mindfulness meditation or mindfulness in other practices. I know you were talking about your furniture restoration. And I also, I love repainting old furniture. And for me, painting is something that I can, it just takes me away, takes me to a different place. I'm totally absorbed. And it's one of those little activities I can feel quite mindful about and quite in the moment and in a flow. So what are those things that for you that bring that aspect of mindfulness to your life?

Pauline (43:57):

So yeah, my, my coaching qualification also includes mindfulness actually. And it's funny. I, I kind of stumbled over mindfulness. During what I thought at the time was a difficult period because I had failed an exam and it had been the first exam I had ever tried to pass and failed, and I was absolutely devastated. And it was the Saturday and I was mowing the lawn as I do on a weekend. And I was sort of going up and down with this lawnmower. And I don't know what happened. I don't know if, if the hum of the lawnmower was just at the right frequency to fire the right bits of my hypocampus. I don't know what happened, but all of a sudden, it just dawned on me that I was being ridiculous, that, you know, life goes, I failed an exam.

Pauline (44:54):

So what just, and I turned the lawnmower back on and that was it. I just went up and down with this lawnmower and I was completely absorbed in this. I didn't know this was called being mindful because that's what it is. I was grounded in the where and what I was doing at the time. And I kind of fell into this practice because it worked, I would just go, you know what? This is what I'm focused on right now. Everything else has to wait, its turn. And people think that being mindful and meditating means that you need to sit in the Lotus position and clasp your hands and deep breathe. And yes, all of those things are good. And I do those as well, but meditation can be as simple as counting your 10 fingers and being mindful can be as simple as feeling the muscles in your back.

Pauline (45:42):

When you, when you give a nice stretch, you know, and mindfulness and meditation can take seconds, it can take seconds to renew, revitalize and rejuvenate, how you are feeling, you know, and it, it's not necessarily our fault either because it's very commercialized and we think we need to be these gurus of, of Buddhism to enjoy these things. But it's literally just stopping in the moment where you are and taking a couple of seconds, even just to enjoy the fact that this chair that you're sitting in is really comfortable, or you like the feel of your woolly socks on your feet, you know, or, you know what, I just brush my teeth and they feel nice and smooth. That's, I'm going to come to all of them. You know, it's silly little things like that. And then all of a sudden, you, you, you stop and then you think, Oh right.

Pauline (46:35):

I feel much better now. And and this is what something I take my clients through as well. It can be a very small thing. It can be a bit of box breathing, you know, it can be counting the spider webs in your house cause you haven't gotten around to cleaning them yet. You know? And, and that's all it takes to just get your sympathetic system out of the way, you know, bring the calmness and the peace that you need to go over or get through whatever it is that's happening in your life right now. And if you need to do it 10 times in an hour, do it 10 times in an hour, you know, or if you need to take an hour to do it, take an hour to do it, it's completely flexible. And it's all about where your energy is at and what the universe is bringing to you. And, and that's mindfulness and that's meditation for me.

Rach (47:31):

Yeah, no beautifully put beautifully put. And like you, I think it's so amazing how you can find it in so many different things and for different people that will be completely different. Like you said, it might be mowing the lawn. It might be planting some seeds in the garden or going for a run or painting something or journaling, or just sitting still and feeling the floor with your fingertips on the floor, whatever it is that gives you that moment of being here, being here right now and being in the present moment and realizing you're in your body. And that I find that very powerful for me. It's something that really did change. I think mindfulness for me was one of the first things that I started to do before I started to explore kind of meditation and yoga. And obviously I've gone down that route and that's been something that I get great benefit from from my own practice.

Rach (48:21):

I think for anyone who is intimidated by those words of mindfulness, I would suggest just cutting back all the kind of glossiness and just going back to the real basics of it. Because like you say, you can find something and I think that's the beauty of it that you can find something that works for you. Thank you so much. It's been absolutely wonderful I could speak to you for so long. I want to find out so much more, but the last question is this podcast is called Authentic Tea. And so the last question is where and with who would you choose to have your most authentic cup of tea?

Pauline (48:56):

That's is actually a very emotional question for me, believe it or not. Wow I think that there are a lot of people in this world that I admire. Some of them are very close to me. Some of them are at a distance and I can always spend more time with the people I love. It's come to me that the answer to your question is also based around me, finding myself my own values and my beliefs. And what's really important to me. And if I could have an authentic cup of tea, it would be with my mother and grandmother who have both passed on because I didn't recognize who these women were on international women's day. I didn't recognize how resilient amazing, innovative, and I've run out of words. I can't think of any, and I did not spend enough time with them.

Pauline (50:13):

I didn't spend enough time finding out who they were and their why. I made a lot of assumptions about them a lot and on this journey to finding my own self and doing the coaching and mentoring and mindfulness and all of these other things that I have in my life now. I realized that I lost an opportunity there to, to really connect with them on a spiritual level that I think we don't even recognize is there. So that is who I would have my cup of tea with. And I would say to anyone out there, you know, those people that you have in your life take a moment to have a cup of tea with them because often it's, it's almost that question about, you know, if you could have dinner with anyone in the world, who would it be? And invariably, most people will say somebody who's far removed from them, but I would say have that dinner, actually, you know what, make time to have those dinners with them, you know, do it because one day you'll be gone or they'll be gone.

Pauline (51:32):

And one of you will be sitting there going, gosh, I wish I'd asked them this question, or I never really knew how they felt about that. My grandmother taught me so many things that keep me where I am and help me to get where I'm going. She was an amazing woman. And something you may not know about me is I had my daughter at 17. So I was a teenage mum and she was so practical about it. Everybody else was flapping and falling over themselves. And she was like, well, this is what's going to happen from now on. And that strength of character is something that I've carried with me all my life. And my mother was someone who overcame so many hurdles in her life and she lived to enjoy a wonderful life as well, but I never really knew them as people. I knew them as my grandmother and my mother. So that's my authentic cup of tea.

Rach (52:38):

That's beautiful. It's beautiful to hear. And it couldn't be more apt for you know, international women's day when we're celebrating the women in our lives. And it's so important as you say, to celebrate the people that we have around us and to appreciate them for being there, their authentic selves. So thank you for sharing that and thank you so much for taking the time to chat with us today and share your thoughts and just share your own inspirational story. So thank you.

Pauline (53:10):

Thank you so much. I really appreciate the opportunity as well. I thoroughly enjoyed speaking with you. It was really great. Thank you so much. I look forward to us working together again and some great stuff.

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