If only you could spread it like peanut butter

I moved to East New Market from Cambridge in September of 2001 when my sons were little.  A case of sweet serendipity landed me at the crossroads of Route 14 and 16 one evening.  I got lost on my way home from my job as a relief veterinarian when I took a wrong turn.  I fell in love with the quaint small town and all of the historic structures.
I couldn’t get East New Market out of my mind, and so I did a little research, only to find a modest yet beautiful home with a large porch, vacant and for sale.  I immediately set the wheels in motion to make the move to East New Market.

My husband at the time was a little taken back by the idea.  The year before we had our house in Cambridge on the market, intending to move to Easton where we would both be closer to our jobs.  Our house never sold and I believe he felt we were just destined to stay in Cambridge.  You would think that after 12 years of marriage he would have realized he was married to Lucy Ricardo and her accompanying scatter-brained ideas.  I insisted that this would be a good thing, and was equally impressed by the local elementary school that our sons would attend.  I convinced him to visit the town and vacant house and finally he agreed to put our house on the market.  Guess what?  We had a contract on the house the next day, we were moving to East New Market.  Things fall into place when they are meant to be.

I enjoyed those early years of living in East New Market.  I would take my sons and our Jack Russell Terrier, Mrs. Wiggles, for walks in their Radio Flyer Classic Red Wagon.  I think we were probably a sight to behold!  After a few years, and the boys were well into their elementary school career, it dawned on me that our quaint little historic village needed an animal hospital.  I was driving well over 45 minutes to my job as a relief vet, and decided I should do a little more research.  Research and planning are good things to do when one wants to make a change.

Eighteen months later I was standing in my front yard when my elderly neighbor stopped his car to chat with me.  He said, “You have a pretty bad sense of direction.”  I guess I looked a little confused.  He continued, “Cabin Creek is six miles northeast of here, not around the corner on Rt. 16.”  He was kindly criticizing the name of my new veterinary practice.  I smiled and thanked him, telling him I only chose the name to indicate that the practice was located in North County.   People will always criticize but it’s best to show grace under pressure. Since that day on my front lawn, Mr. Smith and I have become fast friends, he’s really a nice man.

The first day of work in my new practice, May 17, 2004, was a little surreal.  I had only six medical records in my file cabinet, and I had only two employees, both of whom had no experience.  The phone actually rang, and we had a few appointments.  The next day was even a little busier.  On the third day, a well-respected veterinarian from the Cambridge area paid me a visit.  He brought an artificial flower arrangement, and I gave him a tour of my new facility.  We had light conversation, and as he left he said, “I have only one word of advice for you – if you could only spread it like peanut butter, it would be a lot better.”  Then the gentle doctor walked out the front door.  Well, I had no idea what that meant!
Fast forward eleven years – that’s over 4,000 days later. I have a full time staff of four with a practice manager and part time kennel helpers; these are the cream of the crop high school kids who are interested in science.  There have been some really long days here, many sleepless nights worrying about cases.  There have been times when people knock on my door at home.  I can remember sitting down to dinner one Sunday after making a pot of homemade sauce and meatballs and having to run over to work to take care of a cocker spaniel that had been struck by a car.  Then there’ve been the slow winter days, when I have to send staff home because we have no business, and the hospital is spotless because they’ve cleaned it from top to bottom and there is just plain nothing to do!

And so, I was out running the other morning before work, and it finally dawned on me what that well respected and seasoned veterinarian meant when he said, “If you could only spread it like peanut butter, it would be a lot better.”  It’s similar to the medieval farmer saying “Make hay while the sun shines.”

In other words, make the most of your opportunities while you have the chance.  It only took me eleven years to understand.  It all came together for me on that run–seize the opportunities when they come your way, spread it smooth like peanut butter, and it will all be better in the end!

Editor’s note: Dr. Flaggs is owner and head surgeon at Cabin Creek Animal Hospital, and a proud and happy resident of East New Market, “North County.”

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