Damari says her colleagues’ response since she started sharing her messages last summer has been “very sweet and positive.”
Dustin Walter, MD, another first-year med-peds resident, says he is always excited to read Damari’s weekly messages.
“They have been unbelievably amazing. Nicole is a wonderful person and a gifted writer who will often take conversations that she has had with us during the week and incorporate them into her writing to make it even more relevant,” he says. “These pieces have been great, especially after a hard day or even to go back and reread them if the week has been especially difficult. They remind us that we are doing a good job and make us stop to reflect on the many difficulties of being a resident; they are reminders that we are not alone which is always needed. We all really appreciate Nicole for taking time to encourage and uplift us. Her focus on helping our well-being is more proof that she is a great writer and an amazing friend!”
Damari sometimes receives an immediate text back about her messages. Other times, someone will mention something she wrote several weeks before. “It’s very humbling,” she says. “It was nice to get feedback, whether it was that they liked a particular piece or they just liked receiving something that was a reminder that they’re being thought of and that someone was with them in solidarity. They’ve been very sweet and positive, which is largely why I’ve kept doing this,” she says.
Most of her writings relate to anatomy or physiology, but some take a different path depending upon the stresses of the week. Others have been spins on “cliched encouragements, delving deeper and tipping them on their heads. And every once in a while, it’s something random that just popped into my head.”
Damari is hopeful others find comfort and encouragement in her writing. She has never been published, but enjoys writing for herself. "I write mostly for me. I haven’t pursued publication. I really like writing fiction short stories, plays and comics, but I do that for myself as a hobby.”
Despite her hectic schedule, she enjoys having a deadline each Wednesday to share something.
“It’s something that I’ve just decided is a priority that I’m going to make time for. There have definitely been Wednesdays where the entire week leading up to it I’ve been working on something and it’s had seven days’ worth of edits and rewrites. And then there are days when I get off of call at 11:30 p.m. and I realize it’s Wednesday and I write something shorter.”
Damari likes the reflective practice of writing and appreciates the stress relief it provides her.
“I think the process of reflecting on what are the things that cause stresses in our lives and how can we work to overcome those or what are the insecurities that we might be struggling with and how can we get a more healthy perspective is really important and productive. I am sure the process of thinking through these on my own behalf and on the behalf of people I care about has made me more positive and reflective on the whole," Damari says.
The additional stress of coronavirus (COVID-19) during the last two months has not seemed to have altered her writings, she notes. The messages continue to be filled with encouragement and short meditations on life’s challenges.
“While (the challenges) might be bigger right now for a lot of us, or more at the forefront with all the additional stresses of COVID, I think a lot of the things that have been important for me to say have been the same. They’re just at the forefront of our thoughts right now.”