ImagiNation with Darria Long Gillespie

Dr Darria

Darria Long Gillespie

ER physician, Author of Mom Hacks

Occupation: ER physician, national TV health expert, author of Mom Hacks, “Make-life-better-for-women-doctor” 

Favorite Productivity Tool: Evernote

Most Recommended App: Runkeeper

Last Thing You Read: The Invention of Wings  by Sue Monk Kidd


Instagram handle: @DrDarria

Tell us about your journey? I was always interested in medicine and helping people feel better – in medical school however, I was frustrated by changes I saw on the policy side of medicine – and decided to get my MBA. Then, in the middle of residency, the bird flu epidemic hit, and if you watched the news coverage, it was terrifying. Which is why our patients flooded the ER, with waiting room stays of 8 hours or more. That’s when I realized that I also wanted to try to “reach” my patients even before they came to the ER, which is how I became interested in media.  I started doing local news, including producing my own health show on the local access channel for a few months (fun and a great experience – but So. Much. Work!). Local news led to doing national news, including The Dr. Oz Show, and others.

Around that time, I had finished my residency training and was now working in the ER.  And – thanks to my training – I always had a feeling that, no matter what comes through those double-doors in the ER, I could handle it, that “I’ve GOT this”. And for the most part, that played out in my daily life. Until I became pregnant and a mom. Suddenly, I didn’t feel any “I’ve GOT this”, and when I looked around – most of my fell moms didn’t either. Unfortunately, when I tried to find solutions, I felt like society just accepted that health just became harder, post-kids, as if they were just saying “well, this is just the way it is”.  I didn’t like that answer.  And I’d had a health scare before – being diagnosed with a chronic autoimmune arthritis when I was in residency. I’d been told then that there was nothing I could do about it – but with major health and lifestyle changes, had been able to take back control of my health. So, now that I was pregnant, I wondered – could I take the lessons I’d learned from my own health scare, and combine them with that “I’ve GOT this” mentality I had as an ER doctor, to create a system so that every mom – and woman – could feel “I’ve GOT this” in her every day life? That’s how hacks started. 

What's your favorite part of your day? Morning! I get up before anyone else is awake, get bright light from my bathroom lights to wake me up, turn on the coffee maker (in anticipation of yummy coffee post-run) and head downstairs to my basement for a treadmill run.

When do you feel most successful? When I’ve finally done that big project on my to-do list that I’ve been dreading (and procrastinating). Or, when I have those days when career and mommy-hood just come smashing together, and I can go from being on-camera at CNN to being a soccer mom on the sidelines. That’s when I really feel so grateful that I can do both things. 

What do you do to recharge when you’re feeling drained? If it’s a day that I’m working from home, I’ll take a break one of three ways – go for a quick run (5-7 minutes if I just feel like I’ve hit a wall) listening to my “Mom Hacks Pump Up Playlist”, take 5 minutes to hug my kiddos and connect with them, or watch one of the videos on my “laugh list” – a little notes list I keep of silly memes and videos that always crack me up and make me feel better.

What do you know today that you wish you would have known when you first got started as an entrepreneur? No one will care about your business as much as you do. No one else will naturally want to stay up as late, to make that extra edit to be sure the document is spot-on, to make that extra “ask” to someone that may seem far-fetched, but high yield. That’s not saying anything about you or your product – it’s just the nature of the beast. Don’t let it discourage or frustrate you.

How do you optimize your day? I have to get in my run first thing of the day, before anyone else wakes up. If I don’t, my children make me feel too guilty about going for a run at the end of the day, when they want to play. I also try to meditate for about 5-10 minutes a day, and truly note a difference in how my week goes when I’m doing this consistently.

Who is the person/people who allowed you to imagine more? When I was at Harvard, one of the former deans, John McArthur, had become a mentor. I was expressing my frustration at how health news was covered in the media – and expressed a fledgling thought about how maybe I should get involved. But I had too many concerns – I wasn’t trained in media, I had no contacts, I didn’t know how it worked…. He stopped me, and simply asked, “Why not? Why NOT you?”.

What does imagining more mean to you and your story? Eleanor Roosevelt once said “Never allow a person to tell you ‘No’, who doesn’t have the power to say ‘Yes’”. To me, a “no” doesn’t mean that the option or dream is closed. It can mean many things – maybe I have to try a different tactic or route, maybe the person who said ‘No” just doesn’t have the imagination or willingness to do the work – in which case I need to help them, or perhaps it means I need to wait and prepare and am just not ready yet. It means many things. It does not ever have to mean the end to a dream. Do not wait for permission or someone’s “yes” to imagine more or pursue your dream.

If you could do more of one thing every day what would it be? Hug my babies, dance, and sing. Perhaps all at the same time. To be fair, we do this every single day. Because life is made not of the “big” moments, but of these tiny moments where we connect, play, and laugh.  I truly believe that it’s in those moments where we’re laughing so hard that tears cloud our vision, that we actually see our life’s beauty most clearly.