Gwenn McLaughlin

Taking care of sick children, injured children -- there's probably no other career on earth that is both as rewarding and as heartbreaking. And there are few that are so intense, as Gwenn McLaughlin, associate professor of clinical pediatrics at the University of Miami, can attest. She is a pediatric intensivist (which means the children she sees and treats are critically ill or wounded) at one of the nation's largest and most well-respected hospitals, Jackson Memorial. Every day the work she does can have life-or-death consequences. And it's not a job that gets left at the door when she leaves the hospital -- even if she's not on call, some of the youngest, most vulnerable human lives are still in her hands. "I make a hundred decisions every day that may affect a patient's health," she says. Needless to say, such a heavy burden demands an outlet on a regular basis.

The best ways she's found to decompress from stress and chill out in Miami:

Out of the home: "I will be out hunting new things to put in the garden. For plants my favorite nursery is Ernesto's, where you can get a two-hour tour of exotic and unusual plants from around the world if you show up on the right day. I also frequent Parker Sod on Galloway Road and Fairchild Tropical Garden's various plant sales and events. For other garden decoration, I browse Miami's many weekend arts and crafts shows: The Beaux Arts Festival and the St. Stephen's Show (coinciding with the Coconut Grove show) are two of the best for these items. I go early to beat the heat and the crowds and always look for George Mira's pink wagon for the best conch salad.

"When I don't feel like cooking, I go for Thai food at Thai Orchid on Miracle Mile with a homemade beer (only when I'm not on call), and if I want to splurge, I go across the street to Ortanique.

"For relaxing evening entertainment, I attend local theater productions at the Coconut Grove Playhouse or the Actors' Playhouse at the Miracle Theatre, to which I have season subscriptions."

In the home: "When I get home I don't want to make too many decisions (where to go to dinner, where to shop, what to do). I have my regular haunts close to home in Coral Gables and prefer not to travel far afield. My favorite place to be when stressed is actually home in my yard enjoying the weather and the flowers."

On top of all that: "If it's basketball season, I just stay home and watch the Heat with Eric Reid and Ed Pinckney. It is much less stressful and expensive than getting into and out of the arena -- and the view is great."

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