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The Wonderful World of Dr. Sam by Michaela Cordes | 1st February, 2015 | Personalities

She is beautiful, well-educated and comes from an illustrious family. But Dr. Samantha Boardman is also a woman full of surprises. The New York psychiatrist and mother of two children talks about her unusual career choice, her new website and why positive thinking is always key.

As you listen to the wise words of the beautiful and always elegant Samantha Boardman, life takes on the brilliant colors of a rainbow, even on a gray Manhattan day. The practicing psychiatrist who sees patients at her office in Manhattan during the week, has a new website called Positive Prescription.

“Last year I decided to go back to school. I enrolled in the Master of Applied Positive Psychology program at the University of Pennsylvania, which was developed by Dr. Martin Seligman, the founder of the science focusing on the positive side of psychology. It was a tremendous amount of work, much harder than I expected,” laughs Samantha, “but it inspired my website.” That was the moment that Positive Prescription was born. “I had started noticing in recent years how we tend to focus on the negative in psychiatry and psychology, how it’s always about addressing what’s referred to as a ‘chief complaint.’

“What I have learned? Tremendous empathy. What do I want to do? Change people’s perspective. Little tips and tricks are often all it takes.” Samantha Boardman

We fixate on what’s wrong: my kids did this or my husband did that… What I hope to do in my blog is to change people’s perspective. To help them see the good in things and realize that they are not alone. Every crisis is an opportunity; something you can learn from, even if you think everything looks dark and hopeless. Don’t get me wrong – I’m a fan of negative emotions, they are very important. People who lead stress-free lives are pretty boring. What I’m talking about is how to deal with the stress in your life, and how to recognize what is good stress.”

Going against the grain could be the motto by which this lovely daughter of an illustrious family has always lived. She was born in Johannesburg, but moved for a couple of years to England as a small child with her parents – her mother, Pauline Pitt, the “Queen of Palm Beach,” an interior designer and the great-great-granddaughter of George F. Baker, the founder of today’s Citibank; her father a hedge fund manager – before later moving to New York. She and her sister Serena, who made a career for herself as New York’s most successful real estate agent, were once the “Princesses of New York.”

“I think I still seem foreign to my parents. They expected me to marry and have children, not to take the difficult path.”  Samantha Boardman

But soon, both girls got tired of spending all their time at parties and society gatherings. “After graduating from high school, I traveled the world for a year. Then I worked for a while at Harper’s Bazaar – and did all the other things that were considered correct in the social circle in which I grew up. But during my first year of college I suddenly realized that I was more interested in science than in history, which I was majoring in. But I was also interested in the way history and science were connected. That’s when it first crossed my mind that I could go to medical school and become a doctor – and make more of a difference than I had ever dreamed. How did my parents react? Well, they were pretty confused. My mother kept asking: ‘Are you sure you want to be a nurse?’ But I didn’t care. I knew from an early age that I had to work really hard – and it didn’t matter if it was on the tennis court or in school – in order to make up for not being the smartest person in the room. I knew that I could excel and do just as well as those who were more gifted if I worked hard enough.” When her friends on the Upper East Side went out partying, she stayed home studying for medical school. “Sure, I sometimes had a pity party for myself, but I always felt I was doing something meaningful. That’s what helped me keep going. It was a very grueling time, but looking back, I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world. I remember how amazing it was to receive a letter from the family of someone in the hospital who had had a nice experience. It was a thank-you letter they sent me after their mother had passed away. I carried it around for months until it was all crumpled in my pocket. It was like a talisman – a reminder of why I was doing what I was doing.”

“You always need somebody who believes in you. My friend Tory Burch was the person who urged me to start writing.” Samantha Boardman

Samantha Boardman belongs to a small group of very cool women who started a new era on the Upper East Side right around the time when Tory Burch had built a fashion empire from her living room on Park Avenue. Wives no longer filled their days organizing dinner parties or accompanying their husbands to charity events. Much more often, you began to meet women who expected much more from themselves. It was Tory, too, who urged her friend Samantha to start her own blog.

“She kept asking me to write for her website because she was interested in what I was doing. I never really thought anyone would read the things I wrote, but Tory kept after me. And then I was surprised to find we even had some hedge fund managers following us,” recalls Samantha Boardman, smiling. She only appears in public on special occasions with her powerful husband Aby Rosen, the well-known real estate tycoon and art collector, who is just as famous for his amazing parties as he is for owning the most coveted real estate in Manhattan. “Many people think we go out every night, but we’re homebodies. We’ll take the dog for a walk around the block in the evening and then have dinner with the children.” Keeping your phone in your purse rather than on the table, shutting off the computer for a while and paying more attention to the people – and the world – around you are just some of the pieces of advice that Doctor Sam gives her fans – tips and tricks which she presents on her website as a “Daily Dosage” or a “Mind Tonic.” – “It’s the little things that keep us in the present, that make our lives so much more worthwhile. To share inspiring and uplifting facts with my audience on a daily basis is what gives me pleasure.” MC

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IssueGG Magazine 01/15
City/CountryNew York/ U.S.
PhotographyMark Seelen