Sunday, November 13, 2011


Music has always been a big part of my life. My daughter says you can always tell what CD I am listening to by the tunes I sing when I think no one else is listening. Sometimes a song gets a hold of me, winds itself around my soul and causes me to make a change in my life.

Several years ago, I was partner in a small medical group. I had been out of the office for some surgery and behind my back the other three partners decided to sell out to a large hospital group. I felt betrayed by these men I thought were my friends. As we got closer to the merger, my anger became over powering.

One night I was watching a concert on PBS by the rock band Fleetwood Mac. While watching the concert I realized that this was the same great music I had enjoyed so much while eating pizza and drinking beer in college. I couldn’t believe the music was actually the product of this one group, but then again they had three different vocalists. I went out the following day and bought their greatest hits album.

When I buy a CD, I put it in the car and it can stay there for weeks. Fleetwood Mac’s ballads of love and betrayal began to throb in my head. The pounding rhythms of The Chain and Go Your Own Way spoke to me. One morning after a particularly ugly meeting, I got in my little blue Z-3. I turned the CD to the song Rhiannon. The raspy growl of lead singer Stevie Nicks, mirrored the frustration and anger I was feeling. I drove from Tacoma to Federal Way at 75 miles an hour, screaming the words of the song.

“Rhiannon rings like a bell through the night, and wouldn’t you love to love her. She rules her life like a bird in flight, and who will be her lover? All your life you’ve never seen a woman, taken by the wind. What would you say if she promised you heaven? Will you ever win?”

During those dark and difficult days, Rhiannon became a real person to me. She looked a bit like Stevie Nicks, her long blond hair blown by unseen tempests. Rhiannon wore a long black dress, fitted at the waist. Tassels hung from the sleeves. The dress floated as she twirled. Rhiannon was a strong woman, who knew her own mind. She became my mentor and I emulated her. I would be assertive in this unhappy situation. I would allow myself to use the power of my anger, but I would not let my anger become me.

With this image of Rhiannon I began to tell myself a story. It was a love story between this strong, assured older woman and the handsome young man who would become her secret lover. The story moved from my imagination to my computer, and to escape the trials of my work place, I began to write their story. Within months I had written a novel .

While I wrote about Rhiannon, something changed within me. As first novelists often do, Rhiannon was imbued with parts of me. I began to glory in those strengths, and by the time the book was finished, I had made a decision. I couldn’t care for people properly if I was feeling angry all the time. I would leave the big hospital group. Their brand of cover your ass medicine with 7.5 minute office visits was never going to work for me. I decided I would open my own practice, where I could care for patients the way I felt they deserved to be treated. But I had no idea where to start.

I was driving down the street one day, with Rhiannon still playing in my CD player. I saw a real estate sign at an office park and something told me to call the man whose name was on it. Soon we were looking at office space. Then, over lunch one day, I ran into a woman who used to work for us. She had been involved in the healthcare industry for a long time. She told me how to start getting insurance contracts set up and helped me apply to the government plans. She put me in touch with people who knew insurance billing and computers.

I went back to counseling and my counselor gave me the name of her attorney. The attorney told me how to get out of my non-compete clause and helped me get a state business license. She gave me the name of an accountant. When I wasn’t working or writing, I spent all my free time making phone calls, and right after New Year’s in 2006, I handed my resignation to my employer. Three months later I opened my own practice.

“She is like a cat in the dark, and then she is the darkness. She rules her life like a fine skylark, and when the sky is starless. All your life you’ve never seen a woman, taken by the wind. What would you say if she promised you heaven? Will you ever win?”

Rhiannon the song led to Rhiannon the mentor who morphed into part of me. The song lived in my CD player for the better part of a year, and the words still sustain me with their authority and hope.

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