Healing Reflections: "Finding the Path To Calm" by Joseph Wildenberg, M.D., Ph.D.

Dec 1, 2021 | Hannah Schlotthauer, Administrative Assistant | @schlohan

"Finding the Path To Calm"  
Story by: Joseph Wildenberg, M.D., Ph.D. | Mayo Clinic Health System

The medical pathway has a way of forcing younger people to focus on the future rather than the present. I believe this gets ingrained relatively early in medical school, if not even before as students glimpse the long road ahead. However, not only did I arrogantly believe that I had a better balance of this than many, I also thought that my transition from training to practice finally allowed me to “live in the moment” as much as any Wisconsinite could.

Even without the upheavals that 2020 wrought this mindset was failing as I watched my child approach school-age and had begun fixating about his future. The pandemic forced me to confront the reality that the loss of control of all of our futures – both day-to-day and further forward – caused me great anxiety. With no way to predict how things would change and minimal outlets for that anxiety I needed to spend significant more time with my own thoughts.

Fortunately, this introspection showed me that it was the daily interactions with my family that provided calm within the storm. Looking forward to the simple things (a family dinner, a walk outside, etc.) reduced my anxiety but, simultaneously, began allowing me to accept the loss of control. I do not pretend that the journey of this transition is over, or ever will be, but paradoxically the pandemic has been a version of operant conditioning to work toward the very goal I thought I’d already accomplished.

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Art by: Karen Bejin  

Karen Bejin was born in Menomonie, Wisconsin and later moved to Chippewa Falls with her family. She currently lives there with her husband, Bill. She studied drawing, painting and ceramics as an undergrad at UW-EC and University of Wisconsin Whitewater and later studied watercolor with artists Karlyn Holman and Sterling Edwards. She is a member of Valley Art Association and Chippewa Valley Watercolor Artists.  She is part of the Valley Art Gallery (art cooperative) in Chippewa Falls. Her work is currently displayed at Valley Art Gallery in Chippewa Falls and Artisan Forge in Eau Claire.

Karen’s main medium is watercolor, though she includes acrylic, pencil or ink drawing, and collage in some paintings. Drawing is often an important element in her work and she likes to have the lines visible to the viewer.

The painting is called "Finding the Path to Calm." It is from the COVID-19 story of Joseph Wildenberg, a physician. The pandemic forced him to confront the reality that none of us control our futures and caused great anxiety. He found the daily interactions with his family provided the calm within the storm. I felt that his story was the story of many people and I tried to show some diversity in the families participating in their everyday activities. Finding this calm in the simple, everyday things is a unifying theme. I included some clippings from newspapers because there was so much information coming at us from so many sources that the information added to our storms. Hopefully, the knowledge that the calm eye in the storm comes from simply enjoying the time with our loved ones will remain with us and continue to bring us peace.

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For more information about the Healing Reflections gallery or to get involved with the project, contact Sara Martinek.

To discuss the latest on Post-COVID Syndrome, head over to the Post-COVID Recovery discussion group.

Interested in more newsfeed posts like this? Go to the Post-COVID Recovery blog.

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