I Choose Love welcomes guest blogger, Nicola Ducharme of The Naturopathic Mama! Below, Nicola discusses her road to success as a doctor, wife, and mom and how choosing love is essential for those with big dreams.
I am a forty-something, new-ish mom. As I sit here, it occurs to me (certainly not for the first time) that my life has not taken the path I thought it would, and yet I feel fulfilled and rewarded by the way it has unfolded.
I work as a naturopathic doctor, have an integrative private practice that brings great meaning and reward, and have a husband whom I love and a daughter that I’m besotted by. I feel successful. “Success” to me is defined as living the dreams that I’ve held and aspired to for so long. While we all make choices every day, there have been a handful of pivotal ones that I have had to make that have propelled me to this place of what I consider “success.”
I didn’t always feel successful. I grew up in Sydney, Australia with my mother and sister. My sister is brilliant, an A-student, high achiever, career-oriented girl, and it was definitely hard to live up to that. In response, I didn’t try and chose to cruise through as a B-student at best – Little Miss Average. It was much safer there.
I have had to make plenty of decisions throughout my adult life to reject that image of myself as Little Miss Average. When my mum’s career-counselor friend suggested I be a travel agent (because not much more was expected of me and it seemed “safe”), I chose to keep pursing my passion in fitness, then nutrition, then natural medicine.
When in my first year of naturopathic medical school I was on the brink of dropping out because it was all too hard, I chose to stick it out and put my head down, focus and work harder. Even today, though I love my work, I am challenged by the feeling that there’s just not enough of me to give adequately to my patients, my husband and my daughter. The demands at times make me want to quit my medical practice, but I choose to keep going, to stretch my capacity, and to reach in deeper to find the love and compassion that my patients need and deserve from me.
What is interesting is that in all these pivotal moments, I didn’t feel like I was choosing love. In fact, it felt at the time like I was choosing the hard road, going against the grain, or taking on an element of risk. It sure didn’t feel like love. But what I’ve learned from that is that choosing love often means taking the hard road. It’s giving ourselves the privilege of self-trust, the opportunity for growth, and the deep-seated belief in who we are at our core. Hard decisions require far more self-love than easy ones.
Today I have a rich, rewarding life. Yes, I juggle a lot, but I choose all of it. For the first 20 years of my life I never thought I’d end up feeling truly successful, and yet today I do. Is that about money? No, although it’s nice to have a sense of financial security. Is it about prestige? No, although it’s nice to be recognized for my work.
Success to me it’s about having all the things I’ve dreamed about for years; but it’s also about living a life where I know that I’ve overcome obstacles, made those hard decisions, and challenged myself to the limit. Step-by-step, decision by decision, through taking the road less traveled, the message I’ve given myself is that I’m worth it, that I’m capable, that I can do anything I want to do and can have the life I’ve dreamed of. And guess what? I have ended up believing it.