No matter what kind of day you’re having or how much is thrown at you, you’ve got to put your waders on and get through it.
When I take this approach on tough days, I know I’m sticking to my beliefs. That mindset helps me grow as a person and experience gifts in the unexpected. The beginnings of this idea took hold when I was young.
If you were like me as a kid, you didn’t have your whole life planned out at an early age. My dad gave me a glimpse into the future without me knowing it when I was eight years old.
We took a road trip from Chicago to Davis, California. My sister and I tried to keep each other entertained, but we mostly annoyed one another when the novelty of the back seat wore off (which was just outside of Chicago city limits).
When we arrived in Davis thirty hours later, my dad explained that we were going to visit his sister Barbara and her lab on the University of California, Davis campus.
I didn’t realize it at the time, but Barbara was smart. I mean cell-splitting smart. At eight, I was more dazzled by all the interesting equipment in her lab and the giant plastic models of the lungs, heart, and brain (extra points for identifying the fourth organ on the right in this picture!).
My aunt was a distinguished professor, a cellular physiologist whose work focused on metabolism. She published more than 200 articles on topics covering physiology, nutritional science, neurobiology, and other mind-bending subjects. She earned numerous awards for her advances in research and was a leader in her field.
Seeing Aunt Barbara in her element clearly sparked an interest in me at an early age, but it would be a while before I figured it all out and landed on my why. In fact, before I became a successful practice owner and chiropractic internist, I studied kinesiology, dance, and exercise physiology, and applied to physical therapy school.
When I didn’t get accepted to the physical therapy program I wanted, I decided to take a closer look at chiropractic school and my passion for health care. Today, I can’t imagine doing anything else. I’m a board-certified chiropractic internist and nutritionist who loves treating conditions from fatigue to autoimmune disease and serving patients from children to professional athletes.
Embrace adversity so you can appreciate the good – I strongly believe that the good might go unnoticed if that’s all we experienced. Adversity lets us appreciate the good after we’ve worked through the tough stuff. I’m sure I wallowed a bit when I got the physical therapy school decline letter. Had I not put my waders on and thought about my why—educating patients about their bodies and nutrition—I might not have landed on a fulfilling career.
Enjoy the freedom of your own choices – I recall talking to a patient about my cancer journey because they asked about my treatment. Knowing my passion for natural cures, they were surprised to learn I underwent chemotherapy as well. In that instance, I was happy to educate them about my personal decision—what was right for me—but I never want to put myself in a position of defending a decision. The same was true for my career choice. Don’t feel as if you have to rationalize a decision; it’s yours to own because you’re the one living it.
Learn the power of the pivot – Pivoting is a learning and growing behavior. If we bomb at something, or discover we’ve made the wrong decision, pivoting is a powerful option and one that is grounded in a growth mindset. My pivot from a future in PT to owning my own practice as an internist was a belief in my ability to learn something new. Carol Dweck defines a growth mindset as “people believing that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work—brains and talent are just the starting point. This view creates a love of learning and resilience that is essential for great accomplishments.”
In the spirit of Father’s Day, this is a shout-out to my dad for taking us on that pivotal road trip to see Aunt Barbara. She’s an impressive woman who was a leader in her field and still is in life. That experience in her lab and many others in my life continue to reinforce how I handle the unexpected. I encourage you to do the same: embrace adversity, enjoy your freedom to make choices, and learn the power of pivoting. Thanks for showing me at such a young age what’s possible, Aunt Barbara!