The following is an excerpt from Mountain Mantras: Wellness and Life Lessons from the Slopes.
The Beginning of a new Ending
Over the next few years, a dramatic shift occurred in my career. We had our first child, Elena, and I continued to plug away at work, even while knowing something was off with my life balance. Then, as I was pregnant with our second child, Alexander, I was assigned to a tight-deadline project while my big belly bumped up against the desk. I had to pull two all-nighters with- in a week’s span of time. As I was sitting at my desk wearing the same ugly maternity clothes from the previous day, I made the decision to leave the world of consulting.
“Great idea,” said my mentor when I told him my news. He rubbed his hand across his smooth head. “Now that all of my hair is gone, I think it’s time for me to leave this firm, too.”
I cleaned out my office and happened to pick up my Stephen Covey book, which, by then, was sacred. What did I want my fu- neral to look like? What were my next steps? Needing a new mentor, I went up to South Milwaukee, Wisconsin to visit my 92-year-old grandma, who was in a retirement home. She was a beautiful, sage creature and a devout Polish Catholic. She fingered her rosary as I explained that I was at a crossroads professionally. She asked me the simplest, most profound three questions.
- “What are your God-given gifts?”
- “What are you passionate about?”
- “What is a critical need in the world that is waiting to be met?”
That conversation birthed Nurture, which would grow into an important player in the national movement around nutrition and wellness education. Since I was a kid, growing up in the house of my biochemist dad, I was fascinated by the role that nutrition plays in our overall health. When my dad would take my sister and me to work, we would dive into the bookshelf to dig out the best picture books on pathology. We flipped through the pages of these medical tomes with the same engrossed attention that you see in people leafing through the Guinness Book of World Records.
“I can’t believe this. This woman is covered with black scales and has a black tongue!”
“Eeeww! Look at this man with sores all over his body and lips!”
“Freaky. This baby has a bow-legged stance worse than an old-fashioned cowboy.”
Thus I learned about pellagra, scurvy, and rickets, or, more importantly, the critical importance of such nutrients as the B, C, and D vitamins.
Thinking through my grandma’s prescription, I thought:
- God-given gifts: Work ethic and organizational skills.
- Passion: Nutrition and wellness.
- Critical need in the world: This answer would soon be uncovered through discussions with my dad, another sage family member and mentor.
Listen to the words of the wise
Find your passion, they advise