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S2 Ep6: Brave Enough To Start A New Chapter

brave stories finding your purpose steps to a dream success triad Mar 07, 2022


A Dream is a Wish That Your Heart Makes


So I just love a good "Dreams Come True" story, don't you? You know what? Sometimes we lose that ability to really believe that a dream can come true as we get older. I mean, face it, we know the hurdles, we know the blocks, we know our limitations and we often come up with all these stories that tell us why we can't go for what we want, why it's too late. Why we're too old. Why we're not enough.


Today I want to tell you a story that I came across about a woman whose name is Dr. Susan Watson. She is from Cincinnati. She's about 61 right now. I came across this article in the Washington post and it was told by Karen Weese. At that time, Suzanne was 57. And can you believe it? She was in her second year of residency.

She became a doctor 25 years after being accepted to medical school!


So here's what she said in her story. She said, "I applied to medical school at the age that people usually do and got accepted. By the time I enrolled, I had a nine month old baby and a commuter marriage.

So when I got pregnant again, it was just too much. I withdrew maybe a week into medical school. My husband and I settled down and I stayed home with the kids for a while."


But then she says that she had one of those defining moments when, in her heart, she was called into the ministry and she became an Episcopal priest. Wow!

She did this because she says that you can do that part-time - work in the church part-time and she thought that that's what she would do - raise her children and work part-time. But here's a huge bomb that dropped on Suzanne.


Bombs, Boulders & Rocks Thrown At You


Right after she was ordained, her husband took his own life. He was the Chief of Staff at a hospital. And by the time he reached out for help, it was just too late. Can you imagine?

Now, with suicide what happens is many times an insurance company doesn't pay out life insurance. And that was what happened in her case. By that time they had four small children and she was left with a huge mortgage, her kids to raise and figuring out all this stuff financially.

She says it was a hard time.

So she said, "We sold our big house and the kids changed schools and I went to work full time in the church. But I had never lost the dream to practice medicine.


When I was 50, I started to take stock of the years I had left." Notice - here she has another defining moment.

What am I going to do the rest of my life? How does my life look now?

She was a single woman. At least that's what it says here in the article. She had raised her kids.

She had worked as a minister for all these years, but something inside was telling her she was restless. She wanted to do more.

And this dream kept coming to the surface. This dream of being a doctor.


So her son said to her one day, "You know, I've heard you talk about this your entire life, and you either need to do it now and sign up tomorrow, or you need to just shut up about it". Whoa.

And I, she says, I just decided, "You know what? I might as well give this one more shot".

And so she did for six months at night and between services, she was doing flashcards and taking online science courses. At last, in January of the next year, she started medical school at Wake Forest.


Brave Enough To Take the Scary Steps


To start the year off, there was a mixer at one of the classmates' houses. She said, "I pulled up and there were a bunch of kids in the yard who looked like they were from a fraternity.They were playing beer pong.

I panicked and just drove on by. I called my son from the car and I said, "I can't do it. I can't go in". And he said, mom, you've come this far. Just go in five minutes, just go in for five minutes.

So I parked and walked up the driveway. One of them walked out to greet me and said, "I'm sorry. Ma'am, we're Medical's students. And we've just moved in and we're having a little mixer to get to know each other. But if we're too loud, just let us know. We hope to be good neighbors." And - (yeah, awkward) - she said back to him, "Oh, I just wanted to introduce myself. I'm Suzanne and I'm one of your class classmates."


On the first day of classes, a similar thing happened.

She said as soon as I walked in the whole room quieted down because everybody thought I was the professor.

Same thing with my medical school interviews. When I'd walk into the waiting room, everybody would go silent and sit up really straight thinking I was the interviewer.


So at the time that she told her story to the author, she was in her second year of residency. She was seeing patients and slowly getting more responsibility. Her work weeks were like 77.5 hours long. They are capped, I guess, at 80.

She said, "I'm a little tired, but sometimes I almost think that I do better than the younger residents, because I was a mom. And once you've been a mom, you know how to go to sleep in a second and wake up in a second." (Right?) "And you know how to multitask and work even when you're dead tired.


I think maybe parenting gives that to you". I think we could all identify with that.

Like here she is walking her path and her experience in all the years before has come to be something that is benefiting her as she is pursuing what she loves to do at an older age.

She actually did two specialties in medicine - Family Medicine and Psychiatry because - now this is a key thing - her motivator, her vision, was to go to a small location. A village in a small place because she had gone to villages - Arctic villages - in Alaska when she was a priest and had visited families there. She saw that there was a high need for the treatment of depression and addiction, a high suicide rate.

And she wanted to serve in a place like that. So she took her two specialties. That's what motivated her so that she would have the tools to be able to serve people in a location like that.


A Heart On A Path


Talk about purpose.

Talk about having a vision for your life. Something that propelled her forward, gave her the picture of "why" - her Big Why for doing this.

To conclude, she says, "I have a spiritual mentor. And I thought that she would discourage me from going to medical school, but she didn't. She said we have to be stewards of all the gifts that were given. Even those that are won through pain and suffering, meaning that gift of perseverance or a more compassionate heart for those who suffer, from surviving something as traumatic and heart wrenching as the suicide of a spouse. This kind of experience can be used to bring good about out in this world".


Such a beautiful story.

Remember that you are, just as Suzanne, a heart on a Path. It's your own path, your own life. And you make the decisions about how you are going to live it.


So who are you?

How do you want to be known as you walk further and further along this path?

What decisions would lead you to a place of being so proud of yourself?

Knowing that you are leaving a legacy for the people you love. A legacy of love and not fear.


Where Does Your Bridge Lead?


Remember the bridge that we've talked about over the last couple of podcasts. That bridge that is in your imagination, that is the link between where you are now, where you want to go.

Imagine that you are on that bridge.

Think of walking over that bridge from here right now to that dream.

Suzanne's dream was to be a doctor, something she had started 25 years before it was in her heart. It must have seemed daunting and impossible to her.

Life got in her way. Big bombs went off. Her husband took his own life.


She had to raise four kids on her own. All kinds of boulders would've dropped on her, flattening her while she was walking along that journey.

She trained in an alternate career. Something that was far away from being a medical doctor. Going to medical school was a complete change for her but it was in her heart.

It was her dream.


The defining moment came to her and these defining moments come - they don't just come once - they come several times in those quiet times when all of a sudden we hear this calling.

It's like a desire, a dream, a wish that comes to you - a longing to have done something, tried something. It's almost like a feeling of regret that you didn't go for it.

When that calling comes to you, you need to really think about it because it's not too late.


And that's where you have to ask yourself the really tough questions. Can I do this?

Suzanne was motivated by her son saying to her, "Mom, either do it or give it up. Stop torturing yourself". And that's what it becomes.

That's what regret is like. It's almost like a continuous torture of our souls because it's "What if... If only I had done this."


Focus on the S.O.F.T.


So how did she do it? How did a woman past 50 realize a dream this big and made it happen? I like to put it into our S.O.F.T. Framework.

She grew into her S.O.F.T. & Strong.

She took physical action. The Triad of Success here:

Physical Action - she actually physically moved.

Words - she used words that propelled her forward. She talked to herself. She talked herself through it.

And she believed and focused on the dream.

The three sides of the Triad of Success, physical action, how you talk to yourself and what you believe and focus on.


So she became Strong on the inside.

She made a decision.

I can just see that moment, can't you?

She pulled her shoulders back.

She lifted her head a little smile on her face.

She raised her chin and she moved herself forward to taking those first action steps.

She filled out that application.

She studied for the entrance exams.

She took action.


She must have had to talk to herself because I'm sure those fears came up.

I'm sure others were throwing rocks at her from, you know, walking on their paths beside her saying, "What? What are you thinking? Are you crazy?" Maybe even some of her other kids but she talked herself through it.

She heard her son's voice - "Go for it or give it up". And she did not want to give up without fighting for it.

"I'm going to go for it", she said to herself.

She believed that she was meant to do more.


Her work as a minister had prepared her in so many ways had given her a vision and love for the people that she wanted to serve.

All along the way we're given clues as to what our purpose is and what we're meant to do. When we get older, it's laser focused into this beautiful vision and we are given the gifts and the skills and the talents that come together in a Treasure Box for us, gathered from our experiences in the past.

We use those to create something that is meaningful to us.

Something that matters to us to create and make that dream happen.


She grew Strong on the inside.

She was open the 'O' S.O.F.T. to possibility.

To the magic. She took action in developing herself into that person that kept that dream alive.

She kept that picture in her mind.

She was physically exhausted but she found ways, she stayed open to ways, of coping with that.

Her experience as a mom helped her through that. Fall asleep in a second, wake up in a second. Be on alert but still be resting.

Yes, she was tired and I'm sure at many times she felt like she wanted to give up, but she kept that vision in mind.


She was open to how she was going to make that happen.

She talked herself through.

Even the first night meeting her classmates at one of their homes at that meet and greet mixture mixer. She gathered her courage and stayed open - open to possibility.

What she found was that one step led to a more confident next step, to possibility, to learning, to making new friendships and accepting help.


So often, one step over the threshold leads to another step because you see that it wasn't that bad.

It wasn't nearly as scary as you made it out to be before you did it. Our imaginations trick us like that.

Fear tricks us like that. It holds us back and warns us about things that will never happen. Suzanne found this out one step at a time.


And she kept in the front of her mind that ability to Love Fearlessly, the 'F' in S.O.F.T.

And she was True to Herself. (the "T").

She knew her vision. She knew her dream. She knew where her passion lay and no matter what she wanted to get there, she was giving herself the chance to grow.

She was giving herself the opportunity to see the doors open and be able to walk through them to create a life that she loved. A life that had meaning and purpose for her in this next half.

She would not have completed her entire training until she was close to 60. She became a full fledged doctor around 60. Wow! That's amazing. Just let that sink in. Think about that.


The Joy will be in the Passion


How about you? You know, nothing drives anyone to do anything like passion.

Or purpose.

When you can see, taste and feel the peace, the fulfillment, the self-respect, the pride of knowing that you gave it your all.

When you go for that kind of life and you focus there.

You believe fully that you are going to get there in this next phase.

Just imagine the joy. Imagine knowing that you had the courage of believing in a dream and going for it.


Even if that dream changes along the way, having the courage to take the steps, to find the strength, to be open to it, to love fearlessly, to be true to yourself, that alone will leave you feeling as if your life was worth it.

And you did what you were called to do.


Now imagine your bridge.

Maybe you are standing at one end of it with that sense of hesitation or fear of the unknown. Fair enough.

We have all felt the calling from inside. That wish. That desire that offers the freedom like a breath of fresh air. That excitement. That call to adventure.

We all feel it periodically. It comes up for us.

At that moment is our opportunity.


Suzanne's desire called to her over a period of 25 years.

Maybe yours is something like that, that you have just never pursued.

Maybe it's something that you want to build or have or become.

A home.


A project that, you know you want to complete in your lifetime.

It's different for all of us. And yet it's the same, whatever it is.

It means a lot to you. It's yours alone.


In the last few podcasts, we talked about the bridge and we've been creating a picture of what it would feel like to do, to reach whatever it is for you on the other end of that bridge.

To make it happen. How would it feel for you to be there, to finish, to be living in it?

I want you to stop right now. And just breathe.


I want you to feel what it would be like to be Brave Enough to go for whatever is in that next chapter.

Imagine how excited you would feel. How your life would be invigorated.

How you would change. Imagine that.

What decision will you make today? Will this be the day when you decide, like Suzanne did, "I'm gonna go for it?"

If not now, when?


Remember what Suzanne's mentor said to her.

We have to be stewards of all the gifts that were given, even those ones through pain and suffering. The gift of perseverance or a more compassionate heart from the experiences that we've been through. Compassion for those who suffer. Our heart wrenching times can be used to bring good about in this world.


Hold that close ladies of the Brave Heart Club. You have a Brave Heart.

All it takes is taking one step at a time over that bridge. Dream your dream.

And I will talk to you in the next podcast. Thank you so much for being here.


I'm Bernice McDonald and I'm a Mindset Coach. I help women beyond 50 who are seeing their dreams disappearing off into the distance as they age and feeling the fear of inevitably becoming invisible.  Together we identify your vision, break through the wall of fear and past stories  to develop a plan that will shift your eyes to a much more exciting focus  other than "getting old"

You will be ecstatic as you see yourself stepping into your purpose, finding the courage to make those bold decisions and, best of all, falling in love with this next phase. Embracing the rest of  life instead of sitting it out.  Meet with me to set up your Personal Aging Beautifully VisionVision

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