Finding Yourself in Acorn Space

Dec 1, 2022 | Identity

“Time and space to reclaim, or discover and nurture, the natural gifts and interests that make you uniquely you, driving you to be the fullest expression of yourself and make life worth living.” Sounds amazing, right?

That’s how Eve Rodsky defines “unicorn space” in her book, Fair Play: A Game-Changing Solution for When You Have Too Much to Do (and More Life to Live).

We were discussing the book in a group for physician moms that I co-led, when I mistakenly referred to the idea as “acorn time.” A bit of a Freudian slip, I suppose, because the next day, when I considered the misnomer, I realized it was actually more meaningful to me than her term.

An acorn, in addition to being sustenance for squirrels, holds within it the potential for a strong and beautiful oak tree. The acorn has that tree within it, ready to burst forth in a creative expression of life.

Acorn space is the place where I connect with my essential nature, the core of who I am, what I love, what energizes me. It’s the birthplace of creativity of every kind, including innovative ideas about how to improve my corner of the world. It’s a space ready-made for a creative expression of life.

In my experience, most physicians have very little acorn space. Perhaps that starts in medical school.

Ever since I learned to read, I’ve read some form of fiction every day of my life. The beauty of the language in a well-written novel and the expansion of my mind with new ideas feed the essential me.

Despite the importance of reading in my life, I cut back drastically during medical school and gave it up entirely in my internship year. Many physicians have shared with me similar stories of shedding essential creative endeavors: writing, playing piano or saxophone or violin, photography.

I love the idea of acorn (or unicorn) space. A time that I set aside for nurturing the creative seeds inside that are critical to the fullest expression of me.

As the year draws to a close, I’m thinking about creating some space specifically for dance class, a means of expression that feels life-giving to me.

What might you nurture if you created some acorn space? What part of your essential nature has been dormant and is asking for expression? I challenge you to find 30 minutes of acorn space this week to nurture you. I would love to hear what you found to do, drop me a line and let me know.


Diane W. Shannon


Diane Shannon is an award-winning writer, author, and coach. Since leaving practice as a primary care physician due to burnout, she has worked to support physicians in achieving their personal and professional goals and to highlight the changes needed to reduce burnout, improve career satisfaction, and protect the bidirectional healing power of the patient-physician relationship.

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Diane W. Shannon, MD, MPH, PCC

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