In the first 30 years of my life, I had several experiences that helped me to develop personally and would eventually inform my choice of graduate study and career:
Born in Oslo, Norway, and raised in Washington DC, I later lived as an expat in Ireland, Germany, and the UK. Living in so many places taught me how to adapt and find joy regardless of where I was.
Growing up in an alcoholic family taught me how to be vigilant to my surroundings- how to manipulate others and how to be extraordinarily loyal. I needed new coping mechanisms. That’s what got me into counselling, psychoanalysis, and other self-care experiences.
When I was 26, my father died at home. This was during a period when hospice care in America was largely unavailable. The experience taught me about advocacy, navigating institutions, and experiencing grief and depression.
Surviving a bedroom fire in my New York City apartment left me in the Burn Unit at St. Vincent’s Hospital. On that first night, I talked to another patient for hours because their pain was unmanageable. There I witnessed mindfulness and positive psychology in action.
Other personal experiences were connected to children and families; the psychosocial and biopsychosocial needs of loved ones and the success or failure of the systems involved in their care. This inspired me to work with NGOs and non-profit groups that focused on the wellbeing of individuals, families, and children.