The short version: I’m a 34 year old who- through a series of fortunate and not so fortunate events- has turned my very stable life upside down to pursue the life I truly want.
The not quite as short version: I was raised in a happy, supportive home and have always been smart, goal-oriented and extremely driven. ‘Extremely’ is my first understatement of many to come. Academics were fortunately easy for me, I loved health and science, I loved people and people loved me. Naturally, to me and any high school guidance counselor, becoming a physician was the logical choice. But I went one step further: I worked for my local family doctor for several summers during high school. Just to be sure. And he told me not to go into medicine. But it made so much sense, and he was just a jaded old guy, right?
According to plan, I graduated Hall of Fame from Mississippi College with early acceptance to medical school at The University of Mississippi. Medical school was much more challenging than any work had been for me previously, and despite several bumps along the way, I eventually graduated and began a residency in Pathology in Philadelphia. The further I progressed in medicine the less satisfied I was becoming with my life. But, not to worry, I was following my carefully laid plan beautifully.
After moving to Colorado and seeing a chronic shortage of primary care physicians, I began residency this time in Family Medicine. Surely filling a need in the community would bring the happiness and satisfaction in my career that I desired.
Again, negative. A minor break-through happened at this point when I decided to leave clinical medicine. I began to work as a personal trainer and then group exercise instructor for Golds Gym just because it sounded fun. For the first time, I didn’t feel physically ill at the thought of going to my job each day. It was actually mentally, physically, and emotionally rewarding! Just by nature of the work… financially, not quite so rewarding. And at the time, that part didn’t really matter.
But changes happen in every life at one point or another, and I found myself in a position of needing to become financially independent. My initial instinct was to find a non-clinical niche in the world of medicine. This would be logical: I could use my education, likely have a reasonable salary for a single person…
And then enters the opportunity to attend a Women’s Quest cycling and yoga retreat in Tuscany. “Adventures for the body, mind and spirit” is what the brochure calls it. I run it by a few girlfriends, and a few months later I’m there. This will be my reward for a tough year and a once-in-a-lifetime vacation before I venture back into, of course, medicine.
Through incredible, almost surreal experiences on that trip- fuel for another story altogether- I return with a new drive. Yes that extremely driven trait again. But this time, to actually live and love my one ‘wild and precious life’.
I have through this entire process been working with Third Evolution, a company that assists physicians who want to transition into non-clinical careers. ANY non clinical career! I email Bob to tell him I want to completely change course. What are my passions? Exercise and food. What would I do if I could do anything? Go to Culinary School. I half expect him to laugh. He doesn’t.
After extensive research- just take my word on that part- I enroll in Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts in Boulder Colorado with the goal of finding a career in food writing, food styling, or food product development. My lab coat has become a chef’s jacket. And so the journey begins.
And if you want the truly long version, that will have to be done over a cup of coffee.