A Guitarist Was Born

On my 40th birthday, I told my husband (Jay), “I’d like to start lifting weights and take guitar lessons.” Surprised to hear those words coming out of my mouth, he asked me why I wanted to become a strong guitar player? I reasoned … if I’d started practicing skills that didn’t come naturally 20 years earlier, perhaps I would have Continue reading

How a C+ in English Shaped My Writing Career

Choking back tears, I shoved my grade report into my backpack as I left my English professor’s office. I was bewildered that he had given me a C+ in freshman Composition and Literature. Was it a mistake? I’d always performed well in high school English classes and had worked hard in the course. He acknowledged my work, but shrugged, “You Continue reading

Three Steps to Spark Story Sharing in Lifestyle Counseling

Early in my career as a dietitian, I answered a panicky phone call from a participant in my weight loss program. Pat (not her real name) said, “Jean, I have a problem and really need to talk to you.” She had been a “perfect” participant: never missed class, her food diaries and exercise log showed stellar compliance, and her weight loss Continue reading

How I Knew I’d Found My Tribe

When I was finishing my master’s degree in adult fitness–cardiac rehabilitation in La Crosse, Wisconsin in the fall of 1982, I was struggling with how my dietetics degree would fit into the next chapter of my career. While I liked nutrition, the traditional “hair net” or “lab coat” (food service or clinical) jobs did not appeal to me. Leafing through Continue reading

Opportunity Disguised as Loss … Three Years Later

Instead of checking my email before work, I called my mom to wish her happy birthday. When I walked into the office, I could tell something was odd. My boss walked past me without greeting or eye contact. Looking out at the sea of cubicles, I noticed that everyone had their heads down, and I felt a tension in the Continue reading

A “Super Senior” Decision Led to Her Dream Job

Something about my daughter’s text, “When are you getting home?” alarmed me as I was getting off the plane on a beautiful summer evening in late August 2013. I suppressed my “mother instinct” to worry as I drove home and joined my husband on our patio. About 20 minutes later, Abby came out and asked if we could both talk. Continue reading

Sewing Zippers in a Factory Ignited My Career Passion

Sewing machines buzzed around me, as I quickly loaded another zipper and started to sew. My co-worker at the next station was sewing like a whirling dervish; her hands flying forward and backward, up and down, as she installed zippers on sleeping bags at a rate of 90-100/hour. She screamed at the handlers, who were to keep her supplies stocked Continue reading

Shrinking the Monster Named Fear

“Mom, are you coming?” Jackson called from the next plateau. I was sitting on a rock ledge trying to overcome the vertigo triggered by my fear of heights. Next to me sat a woman who’d confessed that she did not have the fitness to proceed. Observing her contented defeat, I knew I didn’t want to give up. I was fit Continue reading

He Learned the Hard Way that Holiday Humor Has a Dark Side

After one of my storytelling workshops, a participant handed me his business card and invited me to call him because he wanted me to share his story. Anonymity is important to him, so let’s call him Mike.  Sixteen years ago, Mike was a rising star as a design engineer. He was being groomed for advancement with high-profile assignments and access Continue reading