From Scalpel to Connection
I mean, why would any six-year-old know exactly what they want to be? What experience do they really have to even conjure up that idea? Instead, maybe we should just try to learn and embrace and encourage their current interests. But anyway, I’m sure when those adults asked the question of me, they were thinking I’d give some simple, standard answer…nurse, teacher, ballet dancer, a nice lady at the store…but yeah, I’m not simple OR standard!
With all of those well-meaning adults in my life, who asked my 5-year-old self (I started school a year early) what I wanted to be for all of my grown up life, my parents nurtured every career consideration that I smiled at. Thanks to them, they didn’t just TELL me that I could be whatever I wanted to be, they got behind me and ENCOURAGED THROUGH ACTION & SUPPORT all that it might require.
I must have been around six years old when I exclaimed that I wanted to be a doctor…which was around the time that my mom had broken her foot, and then soon after, her ankle. Maybe it had to do with the fact that I was a player in both situations (once when she was carrying me, her sweet, sleeping girl and then once when I decided to climb a ladder that I had no business climbing and then began to fall). As they would chat with me about parts of the body and doctors who helped people with certain body parts, they were also stretching my thoughts and views to dream what those roles would look like.
What would Dr. Gerri look like? What people would Dr. Gerri help? The career dream that circled in my mind for 2 decades was that I would be a neuro-cardiovascular surgeon! Wait! What???? Yeah, I know, I had NEVER heard of it either…but I knew I liked the heart and the brain…and the idea of mending that which was not working well.
Through my youth, my parents would seek opportunities to allow me to start to understand the realities of such a role AND see what I’d need to do before I could wear such a stethoscope. Then during my senior year of high school, I participated in an amazing healthcare career internship opportunity! That experience, and the realization of the double-digit years in school that a neuro-cardiovascular surgical specialty would require, I KNEW that my career vision changed. My goal to become an Aeromedical/Trauma Doc was confirmed…or so I thought!
Many years later, my attention was captured by a sweet, charming, caring, warm, friendly college friend…his was the first smile I met on a college visit as I was in the process of into transferring to a different university to complete my degree. Friendship was the connection…remember, that career vision of being the Aeromedical/Trauma Doc required me to focus on some hefty coursework so that I could apply for the med schools, of choice.
Well after higher level chemistry and math left tire marks over me, and I failed my PE class called “Relaxation” because falling asleep in this course was an auto-fail, I decided it was time to re-group. Despite the encouragement of others to just hang in there, I left college and entered the workforce. Now, remember that sweet, charming, caring, warm, friendly college friend I mentioned? Yeah…he became my husband.
Years later the babies arrived and I truly fell head-over-heels in love with being a MOM! I jumped in 100%. Nurturing and guiding them became my purpose and I knew I was blessed with such an important, and often exhausting, role. I LOVED being a mom…and I STILL DO! I have been rewarded in this journey greater than I ever could have imagined. I HAVE NO REGRETS!
I was also blessed with the opportunity and circumstance that allowed me to homeschool my children for 6 years! Some may call it crazy, daunting or overwhelming…I call it an amazing adventure that was loved and is cherished. I even completed my degree – Bachelor of Science in Health Care Management! Education was what we did!
When the time came when we chose to transition into the traditional classroom setting, an opening, a window, was created for me to dust off and reconsider my pursuit of a career in medicine. As I mulled that over, I, along with a business partner, developed and managed and amazing asthma education and case management non-profit. The business grew, we had fabulous employees, and I was in a role to help people discover health and wellness. The fire within me for a career in medicine grew as I worked with some talented physicians, nurses and respiratory therapists on our staff. I even began taking some pre-requisite classes for med school…including chemistry and calculus — WOO HOO!
As I consulted several physicians, friends and medical partners, I began hearing a common song to their input, “You can positively affect the health and lives of others WITHOUT going through med school.”
They followed with things like, “You’d be a great doc and you could get through the process fine…but why?” AND “Are you sure you want to take that time away from actively helping others now?”
I didn’t really know how to take those questions. In my mind, I had placed my children first and now what my chance to go for my own goals. They were well taken care of and I had a husband of almost two decades who encouraged this step. However I kept going back to the fact that I know I trusted these people and I didn’t think that they would be throwing in blockers for any other reason but to make sure I first knew what I would be getting into, but also to reassure me that I could travel a different path and still live my purpose.
All of the sudden a great big earthquake shook my foundation. That sweet, charming, caring, warm, friendly college friend who became my husband, the father of our two wonderful kids, well, he walked out.
With an, “I don’t want to be married anymore,” a “Good Luck,” he was DONE. It was actually a very unpleasant and volatile situation that I will forego in this post. The year and a half separation before the divorce was finalized was draining, upsetting, degrading, angering, humiliating, embarrassing, isolating, frustrating, and life-changing. During that time I also chose to close my business and the business partner who I had grown to love as family, she and I no longer even talk.
Med school was no longer an option…I needed to focus on figuring out who I was!
The marriage was over. My kids were now moving on to college in a different state. I had found a wonderful job, but I was still struggling to fully find me. So, what did I do? I gave away almost all of my possessions, packed my car, and with the help of my kids, I moved across the country and started anew!
As crazy as it my sound, it was the best thing that I ever could have done. I made a fresh start. No money, no permanent place to live (although great friends of mine opened their home for me to stay until I got on my feet), the contents of 16 cardboard boxes and determination to find myself and SOAR! That is all I had.
I found a job, a tiny apartment and began to re-build…my life, my space and ME! During this journey I rediscovered my purpose and took the approach to completely heal. I realized that my struggle was part of my purpose so that I could help and empower other women in similar paths.
Life coaching, Health and Wellness Coaching and Divorce Coaching is what I do. This is how I help others! I have developed my skill and passion for connection to be of service to others. I was finally able to understand and see what those docs and friends had tried to explain — I didn’t need to go to med school to live my purpose…which also became my passion!
Over the past couple of years, I have experienced life deeper than I ever imagined. My initial journey to Jamaica was one that I had to be pulled into…until I was in the plane and about to land in Montego Bay. As soon as I stepped foot on the island, I knew that I had just journeyed to home!
I have discovered the authentic me. I love adventure, family, cooking and football. I love to listen and help people discover their own gifts. I love to discover the beauty in everything around and grow in ways I never considered. I love to read my Bible and nurture my soul. I love to run distances (Ha! I NEVER would have dreamt that one) and be gentle in yoga asanas. I love the slower pace of life, tasting new to my tastebuds foods, hearing sounds of nature, listening to music that speaks to my soul and embracing what authentic living is all about.
I have traded the idea, the career goal, my employment vision of changing lives with a scalpel in my hand, to one in which I use my God-given skill and talent of connecting with others, to help them, serve them and guide them through the paradigm shift of divorce and on to an amazing life that they can truly and completely LOVE!
If you are reading this and can describe yourself as a woman navigating your divorce or post-divorce experience, I WELCOME YOU! I encourage you to:
Follow Journey2Jamaica: My Path to Discovering Authentic Me, to learn more about my personal journey to discover authentic living,
Check out my other blog, Hummingbird Labyrinth, to gain more insight and resources to grow through the experience of divorce into a happier and healthier woman,
Scoot on over to see my additional resources on my website, GerriPrince.com, where you will find information on my health and wellness coaching services and woman-focused retreats.