When I finished my family medicine residency many years ago, I was excited to start practicing medicine for real. I joined the staff of a small town hospital (the only female doctor by the way) and soon was busy treating patients in the clinic, rounding on hospital patients, delivering babies, and covering the emergency room. I enjoyed doing what I had dreamed of and trained for, but eventually found I spent more time there than with my husband and toddler son.
Since we were planning on adding a second child, I knew I could not sustain that pace. Fortunately I found a position with a medical group in a nearby city where my schedule would be more predictable, with no obstetrics or ER responsibility.
I’m sharing with you a guest post from another woman doctor who faced a similar dilemma (most of us do) . She solved her problem in an unconventional creative way. I think you will enjoy meeting Dr. Joanne Jarrett, who blogs at Creating Cozy Clothes .
My Unexpected, Crazy Journey from Medicine to Fashion
By Joanne Jarrett MD
Hi! My name is Joanne Jarrett, and I am a retired family physician. Not the “golden years” kind of retired, but rather the “retired sounds better than I quit” kind.
a career in the making
If you’d told me in my twenties that I would be designing loungewear for women and preparing to move to a farm in rural Montana in my mid-forties, I’d have said you had the wrong girl. I was a determined, sharp, ambitious, successful medical student and resident, and I was planning to have it all.
My husband and I wanted kids, but that would have to wait until all of our training was complete. We took turns going through our residency programs, and we moved home to Reno, Nevada from a two year stint in Lincoln, Nebraska with 24 weeks of my first pregnancy under our belts and a new practice to run.
Needless to say, my being a stay-at-home mom was not plan A for our family.
a fast track career
When I became pregnant, I was working a full time family practice, seeing patients at 3 hospitals before and/or after my full day, doing urgent care some nights and weekends, and taking call for our large group a week at a time every 7 weeks. I knew that schedule was completely incompatible with motherhood, but we thought I’d work 2 or 3 days a week and have my mom nanny while I worked.
Then Delaney was born, and reality set in.
I realized that I didn’t have room inside of me to be the physician my patients deserved and to be the wife and mother I wanted for my family. I already knew that during those 6 years of marriage before kids I worked hard all day, gave every bit of myself away piece by piece, and then came home and offered my husband the crappy leftovers. He knew how hard I was trying and didn’t complain much.
It worked, but a baby tipped the scales. We couldn’t both work jobs where emergencies make the schedule predictably unpredictable. I was exhausted and knew there was no way I could face the emotional lability and intellectual demand of being a physician in my state. And I loved being with that baby girl. When I was away from her I felt an undeniable tug back.
Then Bailey arrived less than 2 years later and it was decided. I was staying home. For good.
a career crossroads
At first, I was in survival mode and didn’t care about the changes I saw in myself. I just wanted sleep and ice cream. But eventually I started to wonder if who I used to be would ever matter again and how to find her.
Over a decade in, that woman is back. But she’s better than she used to be. More patient. More settled. More fulfilled. Less scared. Looking back, I’ve transitioned from professional to harried new mom to seasoned household CEO, self respect and vigor for life mostly intact!
Running my family has been pretty much all consuming, but I’ve always had a creative side and, through the years, I have developed hobbies that foster that. Scrapbooking made sense when the kids were babies. Combining creativity with a means of wrangling the millions of photos we were taking was a win win.
A limited decorating budget and a very picky décor taste lead to me borrowing my mom’s sewing machine and making an entire house worth of curtains, learning on the fly.
And I have always had a thing for wrapping a beautiful gift. To the point where I have a whole wall full of paper, ribbons, and other do-bobs to help me wrap a stunner at a moment’s notice.
Sewing flat, square things like curtains and pillow covers slowly evolved into kids’ costumes and then street clothes. I have a thing for fabric, and the combination of creativity and precision that following a pattern requires satisfies my creative flair and my bent towards the analytical.
I began altering clothes in my closet to better fit my (ever varying, eye roll!) shape and began seeing the potential in clothes instead of the mere reality of what was on the hanger.
I also have a passion for downtime. This wasn’t always the case. Scott and I have been married 20 years, and at first I had no idea how to relax. Saturday would come and I’d say, “What do you want to do today?”
From the couch, he’d say “this!”
My skin would crawl .I just didn’t know how to have a recovery or leisure day.
Well, I’ve learned well! You’ll never catch me hanging around at home in my jeans and underwire bra. Huh-uuuuh! As soon as I get home at the end of the day, I head straight to my closet to get into my cozy clothes. I live in them when I’m home. Even if I’m busy with this and that, I like the psychological change triggered by putting on those comfy clothes.
But those clothes aren’t perfect. I’m setting out to change that! We need a little coverage and support despite that fact that the bra is off the team at home. I discovered shelf-bra camis and began wearing them as loungewear and pajamas. I could never figure out why this concept wasn’t expanded into other pieces.
a career changes directions
After years of googling “shelf bra pajamas” and “shelf bra nightgown” and coming up with nothing except slinky lingerie (get real!!), I decided to design a line of cozy loungewear for women who want to be comfortable at home in something soft, cute, flattering and supportive. Something that feels and looks great to wear in the “no bra zone” but that is fit for public consumption should the need arise. I figured if I couldn’t find them, I’d make them and maybe other ladies will like them too.
And not all shelf bras are created equally, if you know what I mean. I set out to design the perfectly soft but flattering shelf that has enough thickness for coverage and enough separation to look great. I embarked upon a know-nothing journey into apparel production and have learned an entirely new industry over the last year.
I call the line “Shelfies.” Shelfie Shoppe launched on May 8th , taking preorders as part of a Kickstarter campaign to fund the first production run. I’d be honored if you’d click the link and check it out!
And because life is crazy, on June 20th my entire extended family is making a northerly migration from Reno to rural Montana. We are moving to the town of Huson, 20 miles outside of Missoula, to a farmhouse on 20 acres with a river running through it (no, really!). The four of us will live in the house, my parents and two aunts are building a barn residence next to the house, and my sister and her family have purchased a home a few miles away.
So we don’t have much going on!
What are you doing with your life that you could never have predicted a decade or two ago? Leave a comment and let me know!
update June 15, 2018
I’m happy to report that Joanne’s Kickstarter campaign is complete and Shelfie Shoppe is fully funded! I committed and will receive one of her “cozy” dresses as my reward.
Whether you need “cozy clothes” or not, I think we can all learn a lesson from Joanne’s life.
When the circumstances of life leave us feeling
we may need to evaluate if change is necessary.
It may not be as drastic a change as she made, but even small steps can get us to a place where we can use our talents and passions to create a life that satisfies us and blesses others.
Please spend some time on Joanne’s blog. She has a variety of posts on health, family, kids, food, and humor. Here’s a sample of a hilarious but thoughtful post about
Why I’m glad I got toilet paper stuck to the seat of my pants
6 thoughts on “How a woman doctor finds joy in an unexpected way”
What a delightful post! Best of luck on your new venture Joanne!!
Thanks for sharing at #BloggingGrandmothersLinkParty
You’re welcome Lori. I learned this week that Joanne’s project has been fully funded through Kickstarter. I am so excited for her.
what courage it takes to admit plan B may be the better fit. it must have been hard for someone to put behind them the study and work it takes to become a doctor or any other professional. Thanks for sharing joanne’s story.
I agree Penny, that’s why I find Joanne’s story so compelling. I believe the same traits that help someone achieve a professional degree can as easily be used in some other endeavor. And sometimes people return to their first career, and still continue the second. Keeping one’s options open is usually a good idea. I’ll have a follow up story about Joanne in a few months.
Penny, Thank you so much for reading and commenting! And thank you for your kind words. Life needs frequent re-evaluation and honest appraisal. You are right. It takes courage to admit that a change is in order. But living our life to justify the past is no way to live!