My story is not what I expected growing up. I grew up in East Berlin where life progressed well and without interruptions through my early years. There was the preschool-ing and kindergarten-ing, the regular schooling, the studying, the pioneer activities in school, the ballet training, the church instruction, art club, and learning Russian (yes, my first foreign language). Then the wall fell. Overnight, everything changed. And yeah, I blissfully slept through it. My Dad woke me in the morning for school and said the wall came down. I said it’s a joke to get me out of bed. He said listen to the radio. Yes, he was right.
My first trip into the “World of the West” was filled with titanic waves of emotion and tears for a Berlin we all wanted. No longer parted, families and friends reunited. After all these years of losing hope, the moment had finally come. With eyes big as moon pies, I was trying to take in the new world where neon signs, flashing billboards, and fifty thousand choices for a candy bar gripped my senses and threatened to suffocate me on the spot.
But all those new opportunities that had materialized overnight!
Becoming a doctor was more of an accident because I just wanted to be a ‘lab rat’ and medicine offered a great path to research. To my surprise, my interests wound their way slowly through various specialties, from pathology (I was very nervous interacting with people), to surgery (people mostly not able to interact) to a specialty that surprised me: I became an Internist and specialized in Palliative Care. Lots of interacting required here! My metamorphosis transformed me to discover that people are fun and interesting. And the stories I would hear!
You may think: well, that’s nice…a straight path from student to doctor. Good job, moving on. But wait. Remember when I said my story was not what I expected?
The expectations: I would go to work every day, live in Berlin, marry, raise 2.3 kids, possibly a cat, and be close to my parents. And retire at 68. Right.
What actually happened: I followed my heart.
Throughout my life, the travel bug got me pretty good and the world was always calling to me with its siren song. At university, I wanted to study abroad but wanted to make sure I would land a spot somewhere I really wanted to see. Remember Bonanza? Yes, there are thousands of swooning fan tributes to Adam Cartwright. And yes…that’s why I picked Lake Tahoe. I loved it! I met my first husband and the rest was history as they say. I married and welcomed my daughter a year later. I suffered dutifully through residency.
Then life took a turn down a dark path. So what happened, you ask? It’s a long story. And one filled with pain, joy, and lessons that brought such value to my life, I own every moment of that dark path with pride.
I am now happily married to the love of my life, the best man I could ever imagine. How I got to this point I will share with you along our journey together as you discover your own strength and value, and realize that growing older is something to celebrate.
Welcome to the best part of life!