My first job, aside from being the family babysitter, was working in a drugstore during high school. I learned how to do my homework in less time, make correct change, satisfy the demands of my boss and the customers, create a killer hot fudge sundae, and be responsible for running the store alone.
In the decades since, I’ve had several extremely satisfying careers. With each, I’ve learned lessons I could apply to all aspects of my life.
I tend to rely on my intuition. It doesn’t mean I forego logic and reason, only that I’ve learned to pay attention to my gut reaction. If something speaks to me, I consider it worthy of exploration. That’s how I decided to attend a school of radiologic technology, and subsequently become a radiation therapist who helped treat people with cancer. I learned the language of medicine and radiation physics, but the lessons that took hold most firmly were that compassion and respect are as important as good clinical care and that life and good health must never be taken for granted.
Many people have asked how I made the leap from working in the health-care field to being a television health reporter. I just happened to be in the right place at the right time. I had no clue how to be a reporter, but I knew I could do it. If 20-plus years in the profession is any indication, I guess it was a smart decision. I learned how to write, think on my feet, dig for the truth, interview people from all walks of life, apply makeup with only seconds to spare, and appear calm, collected, and somewhat articulate in front of the camera.
The most challenging lessons came with the birth of my two daughters when I was in my 30s. I learned that having a husband who shares responsibilities and pretty much does all the grocery shopping and meal preparation makes juggling parenthood with a demanding career much easier
Now, at an age when most people think about retirement, I have started my own business as a freelance health and wellness communicator. I’ve learned that you should never be afraid to try something new.
Not everything has been smooth sailing, but even the painful times have taught me something. I learned if I keep encountering obstacles I need to either let go or try a different way. If I can’t stop dwelling on something beyond my control, I learned to write it on a slip of paper and put it my ginger jar – a gift from a long ago friend. If it’s in the jar with the lid on it, I can’t think about it anymore. This little trick works. I’ve looked at slips from years past and laughed, wondering why I let something inconsequential cause me so much stress.
Which leads to one more lesson learned. Never take yourself too seriously.
Diane Atwood is a health and wellness communicator based in southern Maine. Her website is www.dianeatwood.com.