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In late 2010, after many years of feeling strange promptings about continuing my education, I decided to enroll in the Doctorate program of Traditional Chinese Medicine at Dongguk University in Los Angeles. The reason I debated on whether or not to do it was not only one, but many.

At an age, when many of my contemporaries are preparing for retirement, it was not easy to embark on a new career. I have a demanding, well-paid, job I enjoy very much. I had already gone through medical school once and knew how grueling a second time would be; I am already a part of a medical team which works together to ensure the wellness of patients, day in and day out. In sum, my life was settled, and more money or prestige have never been driving forces in any of my decisions. Serving others has, though.

The idea of using my gifts and talents to help others more miserable and disadvantaged had begun to grow. I see so much pain in the world around me, so many people suffering in body, mind and soul, my heart began to ache for them. What more can I do to help them, I asked myself. The idea of building homes throughout the world for abused women and children, where they will receive not only the tools to put their past behind them, but hope and healing began to form in my head.

Little did I know then, how hard the journey would be. The investment of time and money was a given. That, I knew and expected. What I did not understand was how much change this would entail. The changes and sacrifices have been many. I have had to develop patience to live with the reality that a three year program has stretched into four years and counting; changes in my lifestyle, for instance, that my health and strength will not fail me so I can work long hours, and study even longer; changes in my perspective to discount the hardship and count the little blessings; changes in my attitude so I can keep going when the going has gotten tough.

I have gained organizational skills to help me prioritize. Courage has been required to make these decisions and changes in the first place, and faith. Faith has been required every step of the way. Faith in God to keep His promises that we are always blessed when we are willing to work hard. Faith in myself that I can accomplish what I set to do, and that I was not put here to fail. Faith in that dream of mine becoming a reality and faith in others willing and able to help me along the way.

Certainly, having a noble purpose has served as an inspiration, and the many examples throughout history of others who tried and failed, but persevered until they attained their goals, also have helped me along the way.

It was Thomas A. Edison, the inventor of the light bulb, who put it this way, "I have not failed. I've just found 10, 000 ways that won't work!"

Yes, triumph seldom comes without the struggle, and persistence in spite of the obstacles and discouragements is what shows our true character. Nonetheless, this last hindrance I have recently faced in my journey knocked me to the ground. Last month, I took and failed the Grad examination. Granted, I took it way too early, since most wait until the last quarter to do so, and I still have three more quarters to go, and have not taken any of the formula prescription classes I will need to graduate. But I had worked very hard and thought I could do it. I almost did, since I needed 140 to pass and I got 139.

Knowing this, though, made the bitter cup, so much bitter.

Half in jest, I told some friends after finding out I had failed, I was glad I didn't own a gun. I cried bitterly that night. I questioned my goal, my sanity, my faith. Then, after that dark night, I began to see clearly. I began to focus on what I have already gained, the talents I have acquired, the knowledge that is already mine.

For the last four years, I have studied a philosophy so foreign to my scientifically trained mind, that at the beginning of this journey, I found myself many times going, "Really? please!" Afterwards, when confronted with the results, I find myself going, 'Really? Wow!"

I am closer to my goal than I was when I began. I am wiser, stronger, healthier, more enlightened, more empathetic, and much, much humble by what I have endured so far. Much has been gained. Much is still ahead to accomplish. But, perseverance is the secret to success, and I will endure.

Marie Curie said it best, " Life is not easy for any of us. But what of that? We must have perseverance and, above all, confidence in ourselves. We must believe that we are gifted for something, and that this thing must be attained. "

Like the little engine that could...I know I can!

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