What it means to be a Balance Member


A young wife sat visiting her mother. As they talked about life, about marriage, about the responsibilities of life and the obligations of adulthood, the mother turned a clear, sober glance upon her daughter.  

“Don’t forget your sisters,” she advised.   “They’ll be more important as you get older.   No matter how much you love your husband, no matter how much you love the children you may have, you are still going to need sisters. Remember to go places with them now and do things with them.  Remember that ‘sisters’ means ALL women - your girlfriends, your daughters, and all your other women relatives too. You’ll need other women. Women always do”  

“What a funny piece of advice!” the young woman thought.  “Haven’t I just gotten married? Haven’t I just joined the couple-world?  I’m now a married woman, for goodness sake! A grownup! Surely my husband and the family we may start will be all I need to make my life worthwhile!”

But she listened to her mother.  She kept contact with her sisters and made more women friends each year.   As the years tumbled by, one after another, she gradually came to understand that her mother really knew what she was talking about.  As time and nature work their changes and their mysteries upon a woman, sisters are the mainstays of her life.   

After more than 70 years of living in this world, here is what I’ve learned:  

Time passes.  Life happens. Distance separates.  Children grow up. Jobs come and go.  Love waxes and wanes. Men don’t do what they’re supposed to do.  Hearts break. Parents die. Colleagues forget favors. Careers end. BUT…. 

Sisters are there, no matter how much time and how many miles are between you.  A girl friend is never farther away than needing her can reach. When you have to walk that lonesome valley and you have to walk it by yourself, the women in your life will be on the valley’s rim, cheering you on, praying for you pulling for you, intervening on your behalf and waiting with open arms at the valley’s end.   Sometimes, they will even break the rules and walk beside you… Or come in and carry you out. Girlfriends, daughters, granddaughters, daughter-in-law, sister, sisters-in-law, mothers, grandmothers, aunties, nieces, cousins, and extended family - all blessed our lives!

The world wouldn’t be the same without women, and neither would I.  When we began this adventure called womanhood, we had no idea of the incredible joys or sorrows that lay ahead.  Nor did we know how much we would need each other. Everyday, we need each other still.  

Written by: Carol Kunselman, MD -  Balance For Women Physicians Member


Past President and Current Member: Lynn Zills M.D.  

I am a Family Physician focused on Urgent Care.  I found Balance in 2009, shortly after I had dug myself out of a pit of burnout.  The group was small, very welcoming and comforting.  I was amazed at the intimate sharing, support, and first hand understanding of the struggles I had faced, feeling alone, for so long.  I have attended every year since 2009, wouldn’t miss it!!  I have been involved in the conference planning committee and submitted the CME application for several years, and became the President in 2014.  We were all devastated when we lost our matriarch, Dr. Martha Illige, to cancer, and feared our group would wither.  But, we all pulled together, pushed forward, and are now excited about our future again!  We have new members, new directors helping us get the word out, and fresh ideas, while still honoring our roots.  With that confidence for our future, I have handed over the president role to Dr. Felicia Froe.  The initial planning for our next conference is already quite vibrant and exciting! 

As newer conference opportunities arise for physician “wellness”, I firmly believe that Balance Conference stands tall as a group that already had it figured out decades ago!  We celebrate our 30 year Anniversary in August 2020 when we gather again in Breckenridge, Colorado!  I am aware of the recently created AAFP annual conference for “wellness”, but choose to attend Balance instead!  This sisterhood is so uniquely powerful, you have to experience it to understand.  Women physicians talking, sharing, supporting, understanding, learning, and gaining new strength from each other.  Please join us for an amazing experience! 


Vice President and Current Member:  Maria Adelaida Otazo, M.D., M.A.

I first came to the Balance Conference during my second year of residency.  At the time, I was completely burnt out; the demands of residency were great, leaving me feeling depressed, bereft and alone. I learnt about the conference from Dr. Martha Illige, a physician who had been my attending in residency.  At the Balance Conference, I found a welcoming community of female physicians who understood my struggle. Collectively, we learned coping mechanisms. Collectively, we leaned on one another. Our suffering took the form of creativity, and we healed together. Upon leaving the conference, for the first time since starting residency, I felt energized. My life took a different direction. I was even the “Wellness Chief” in my last year of residency. My first Balance Conference experience changed me, and continues to change me, each year that I return. Since that formative experience, I completed residency and am now in private practice. Unfortunately, medicine is extremely difficult, in so many ways. Fortunately, I have the opportunity to reconnect annually with my Balance Conference family to feel replenished, rejuvenated, and ready to face another year.