When this topic was given to me a few months ago, I thought writing about a vital life would be very easy. After all, as a medical professional, when we talk about vitals we are speaking of blood pressure and a pulse. Having a blood pressure and a pulse doesn’t necessarily mean you’re living a vital life.
I think the first thing I realized is that people probably define joy and vitality differently. So, let me try to explain what it truly means to me.
When I was growing up, my father went to work every day to provide for my mother and me. Mom kept the house, made dinner, washed clothes, and never worked outside the home. So maybe it wouldn’t come as a surprise that my father felt I would do the same. I would marry a good man who would provide while I manage the home, hearth, and kids. My father felt strongly that I didn’t need higher education.
I did marry well and we had two beautiful children. All was going according to my father’s plan until I realized that something was missing. I felt that I hadn’t yet completed “me”. While I loved being a wife and mother, I felt that I wasn’t living up to my full potential. There had to be more. I didn’t know how to think outside of the box. I was doing what others expected of me and nothing more. I needed to change that. I set out on a path of self‐discovery. That path of self‐discovery was attained through education. I went on to complete my Bachelor’s degree where I learned of my interest and skills in Biology. To build upon those skills, I entered into podiatric medical school. At the age of 42, I graduated as a Doctor of Podiatric Medicine. Those short sentences don’t begin to sum up the journey. It was not always easy. It was incredibly hard for me to step out of my comfort zone, remove the blinders, learn about myself, and focus on attaining my full potential. I had my husband and children in my corner the whole entire time.
My education has provided a venue to touch the lives of others. Every day I know I have the ability to make a difference in someone’s life. It’s more than just the medical knowledge to deal with their podiatric issue. It’s knowing that I can make a patient smile who just lost his wife of 50 years. It’s listening to my patient’s stories and laughing along with them. It’s leaving a little bit of me with them. That brings me joy.
We ALL make a difference in someone’s life. In every encounter we have, we leave something of ourselves with someone else. We need to make the choice to make it a positive and joyful encounter.
A path to a joyful and vital life begins with learning about yourself and removing the blinders imposed by others. Through this mindful self‐discovery, you can begin to make a positive impact. I think that joy is personal. Joy lingers in your heart. We spark joy when we give of ourselves whether it be in our careers or in our family life.
Life is dynamic. Be sure to show up! Along the way, we can choose to just be observers or participants. Sometimes we need to step out of our comfort zone and try new things whether it be professionally or personally. We may fail but there will also be great successes. That’s what is meant by vitality!
Live your best, vital life and be mindful of the joyous moments along the way!
Barb Yeager resides in Lexington with her husband, Ray. They have two wonderful children, who also married well, and three beautiful grandchildren. She is also Clinical Podiatric Manager and Chief Podiatrist at the Mansfield VA Outpatient Clinic.