The Gift of Time, Just Before The Midterm Elections 2018

Patricia Yarberry Allen, M.D. is a Gynecologist, Director of the New York Menopause Center, Clinical Assistant Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Weill Cornell Medical College, and Assistant Attending Obstetrician and Gynecologist at New York-Presbyterian Hospital. She is a board certified fellow of the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology. Dr. Allen is also a member of the Faculty Advisory Board and the Women’s Health Director of The Weill Cornell Community Clinic (WCCC). Dr. Allen was the recipient of the 2014 American Medical Women’s Association Presidential Award.

I woke up spontaneously Sunday morning with autumn light streaming through the tall bedroom windows that overlook the pond behind our house. I felt rested but guilty when I checked my old-fashioned watch and realized that I overslept by an hour. I reached for my phone to check for breaking news about the latest political campaign tweets and news. The time on the phone was an hour earlier than on my watch. I remembered, then, that this was the day when we are given an extra hour of morning time because of the change to Standard Time the first Sunday of November each year. My mood which has been decidedly off for the last two years suddenly improved.

This week, many of us can use an extra hour of sleep since we have not had restorative sleep for months as we have become active participants in the current 2018 political campaigns that end tomorrow. I know how important sleep is to all aspects of health. Good sleep hygiene involves turning off all communication devices and removing them from the bedroom hours before sleep. I haven’t done this in months. In order to sleep well, we also need a peaceful pre-bedtime routine. Well, you can tell I haven’t had that. In order to manage disruptive sleep patterns, I have exhorted others to prepare for the inevitable early morning waking with optimism asking that they repeat this pre-sleep mantra out loud, “I will wake up, but I can return to sleep with meditative breathing and self-control.” I suppose the good news is that my sleep has been less disturbed this year as I have gradually decreased my focus on the uncontrollable behaviors of the political elite currently in charge in Washington and focused instead on the work to elect representatives who support the issues deeply important to most women.

I chose, like so many other American women this year, to become more involved in the midterm elections as a way to change the current cycle of political life, to work for candidates who support policies that are crucial to the health of women and families in this country. It is such good news that women have moved from marching to organizing in order to support candidates who represent their views. The midterm elections will be decided tomorrow but the outcome of these races is not the only goal. We have already achieved a more important goal: women have become activists in numbers and passion not seen since the 1970s.

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