From the VetPartners Experts: Walking the Bridge to Connection and Finding Career Sustainability

Oct 25, 2018 at 12:36 pm
Kimberly Pope-Robinson

There was a moment in my life when I almost let go of my bridge to connection. I was holding on to the bridge, dangling by my fingertips, and about to make that final decision to let go of life.

Then, I saw it. It was a flash, just for a moment. A thought. Today, I call these thoughts “balloons.” This balloon showed up literally just in time to save my life—it was the thought of the unspoken connection to my horse, Toby.

From that moment on, I realized I can’t get rid of the sinkers that pulled me off that bridge to connection and into my ocean of shame. In fact, I need them. My sinkers are connecting me to my inner passion and driving much of my conviction. Instead of trying to eliminate my sinkers from my life, what I could do was find and fill my balloons—my physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual balloons.

Physical balloons are the actual physiology of my body and are related to the need for oxygen, food, water, and regular activity. My go-to balloon filler here is running. It’s easy, and I can do it pretty much anywhere. I just put on some running shoes and go. It doesn’t matter if it’s one mile or five, any distance does the trick.

Mental balloons help my mind to quiet and allow me to connect with the moment at hand and be mindful of my current reality. Sometimes, when I feel my mind begin to tighten and start down the path to chaos, I’ll look up and find an object to focus on. Then, I go over every detail of that object in my thoughts. Whether it’s a sticker on the back of my computer or a flower sitting in a vase on the table, it becomes my sole focus. Over the course of just a few seconds, my mind will settle, and then I mentally settle.

Emotional balloons trigger “feelings” within me. They’re often related to memories. I commonly use smells to help fill emotional balloons, and I have key smells that I know trigger happy memories. I have a number of smells around me in the form of lotions or candles to go to when I feel I need them. You might see me putting lotion on my hands one day, and, yes, it could be to moisturize my hands, but it’s most likely filling a needed emotional balloon.

Spiritual balloons connect me to a place of wholeness. For me, this is anywhere in nature. When I desire that feeling of a larger connection, I head to the outdoors, a space where you see minimal signs of civilization. After just 15 minutes of being surrounded by the energy of those spaces, I can literally feel the balloon lift me up. It doesn’t take long, but it can have such a lasting effect.

Because I can’t get rid of the sinkers that pull me off the bridge to connection, I instead work to embrace those sinkers and find a way to stay on the bridge to connection. I now see that in order to stay on that bridge, I have to recognize and embrace my balloons.

What are your balloons, and how do you fill them? I don’t have the specific solutions on how to find and fill your own balloons. That is something that is unique to each of us. What I can provide is the space that gives us all permission to find and fill our balloons. Balloons are all around us—just look for the flash, and, when you see it, reach out and grab ahold of the lifting effects of your own balloons.

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Kimberly Pope-Robinson, DVM, CCFP, has served in the veterinary profession for more than 20 years, practicing in both the large- and small-animal sectors. During her career, she has also supported the position of a multi-unit manager for a large corporate practice and spent time in the pharmaceutical sector working with specialists and universities. Dr. Pope’s experience has provided her a unique understanding of the stresses involved with maintaining a career in the veterinary industry, and she now dedicates her time to providing well-being support for the profession through her company, 1 Life Connected. Dr. Pope provides support through one-on-one coaching, customized team events, and as a dynamic speaker and author. Her book, The Unspoken Life: Recognize Your Passion, Embrace Imperfection, and Stay Connectedwas published in 2018.

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