They say that three of life’s top stressors are divorce, moving and changing careers. In 2004, having just finished the first two, I embarked on the third. Crazy, no? But what joy there is in setting one’s course uphill, in the direction of dreams.
That year, my older child graduated college and became self-supporting while the younger left home to start undergraduate school. In anticipation of my empty nest, I did some profound thinking about what I wanted the next stage of my professional life to look like. My Accounting career had fulfilled its purpose of financing my children’s undergraduate education and while I was not unhappy, I decided that I would prefer to spend my working life making a direct difference in the lives of individuals. Allowing myself to ask the question “What would I do if I knew I could not fail?”, I realized almost immediately that I would return to my original undergraduate field of study: medicine. After 18 months of preparatory courses – all while continuing to work full-time – I was accepted to the National College of Naturopathic Medicine in Portland, Oregon.
A huge lesson I learned along this path is that if you take courage to state your dream aloud, the universe will support the dream with resources you never imagined. I am grateful daily for friends who all along saw me as I wished to see myself, offering encouragement when my determination flagged. I am still amazed that once I stated my decision to purchase a home in Portland, a city I knew nothing about at the time, I found my home within three hours. And it’s a cute one in a village-y section of the city, with a real neighborhood feel. It seems the universe indeed liked this dream.
And then the thing happened that I never would have anticipated, even in that year of blessings. In May 2004 a wonderful man entered my life. Don’t ask how I found time for that relationship during the last month of my school semester, with a huge project at work in its final stages, and while buying the house in Portland and selling the one in L.A. I’m not sure myself how I did that. Further, realizing my professional dream meant a year of long distance relationship – tricky when you’re also in your first year of med school! The best things in life are never free. But he stayed the course, relocating to Oregon after we married in summer of 2005, and has been a source of support all along the way.
So in the end, perhaps the universe had the last laugh: it looks like my dream was bigger than I thought. The road to a dream is a challenging road: at every turn obstacles crop up and ask “how much do you want to do this?” There are times when my heart was in my throat as I answered “yes”. I didn’t know that to embrace life, one must embrace fear. We’ve all become such experts at denying fear. It’s a damaging game, though: fear will not be stopped and if not acknowledged, manifests as tension, chronic illness, isolation. But fear acknowledged and faced results in growth. And every one of us is meant to grow – to the end of our days.