“What lies behind you and what lies in front of you, pales in comparison to what lies inside of you” (Ralph Waldo Emerson).
For a long time, I felt that my journey was indeed a forward moving path with the lessons learned and embraced behind me and the yet-to-be-discovered moments before me. What I didn’t realize in my younger days, was that the real journey comes down to being a path from within. A path that could be labeled as strength, compassion, and determination.
My story began in high school 30 years ago with the choices between a medical career or music performance career at the fork in the road. My heart led the way with pursuing degrees in piano —working diligently, furtively and tirelessly on performing literature to beyond expectations. My ability to succeed and develop a reputation for excellence was my utmost goal. For many years I followed this path -this journey of both heart and fingers, however, in the meantime, I often came back to that fork in the road choice made all those years ago. There was no regret from the choice I made: there was much gained from years of being a music educator and professional musician. But, as time gave way to reflection, I became ready to revisit my choices and prepared to make what was once a pipe dream into reality. Beginning a new career and returning to college at the age of 47 has been nothing short of scary. Thankfully, I am reminded by Emerson that I can indeed accomplish my goals because of that which lies within me.
Strength is the inward quality that prepares me for the uphill climb I set before myself on this journey to practicing nutrition as a member of the functional medicine community. I used to spend hours upon hours perfecting a passage of music to make sure I knew it without any mistake. Now, the medical textbook is my music; I feel an obligation to myself, instructors and future colleagues to be as knowledgeable as possible. Returning to school at this point in my life: mom, wife, chauffeur, cook, housekeeper, organizer, volunteer, employee…requires an inordinate amount of strength. I am surrounded by an incredible support network and as my now deceased father would say, “you can do this!”
Another step in this journey is that of compassion. My mother instilled the sense of compassion in me: as a registered nurse, she knew the meaning of care. Through her actions, I learned the importance of caring and as the years have gone by, I’ve become more concerned about the health of the people around me. It is perhaps for this reason I am most passionate about nutrition. I watched my father succumb to the effects of type 2 diabetes: he died of congestive heart failure with far too many years yet to enjoy. It’s been nearly 16 years now since my mother died of renal cancer. My sister lives in a care facility due to the devastating effects of progressive degenerative multiple sclerosis. My own 18-year-old son is faced with the challenges of Crohn’s disease. The thoughts that constantly run through my mind make me wonder what if nutritional changes could have made a difference in their lives? Again, the path behind and the path forward converge in the compassion of my heart. I can’t change what happened to my parents, sister or son. I can make a difference, however, in the people around me as I move forward. Herein lies my desire to practice functional medicine. Educating others about the nutritional choices they can make to find health and wholeness in their lives is my newfound passion.
That passion is really my determination. My purpose is to learn, share and discover how good nutrition can change us for the better. There are many obstacles that stand in my path, but using my inner determination as my guide, the journey will be navigated in its intended way. When I think of how hard the biochemistry test was, or how exhausted I was to write a paper a midnight, only to be up all night with a sick child, or how there aren’t enough hours in the day or dollars in the bank, I am brought back to my determination label.
Strength, compassion, and determination are only a small portion of what lies within me: as I march along the physical path, I know my inward discoveries will become even more profound and wonderful. Sharing my passion about health and nutrition, being determined to find nutritional outcomes for those who need wellness and healing, and growing stronger both personally and professionally are reasons why practicing nutrition in the functional medicine community are so important to me.