Do you journal?  I never did.  Until I had kids, until I realized it forced me to sit down in the quiet early morning and spill my gratitude, fears, frustrations, thoughts and dreams out on paper.  I started journaling about 2 years ago.  The best part about journaling is going back and reading it months, years later.  When I started journaling I learned something about myself.  I learned that I am afraid of a lot more than I was willing to admit to anybody other than myself.

On the first day of 2019 I wrote in my journal a list of dreams.  I wrote two things that stand out to me today:

“I dream about helping more people through my work and being able to fully dedicate time to my patients.”


“I dream about owning my own business but am TOO AFRAID to take the leap.  The security of my job and benefits is too great.”

I realize now that I spent most of 2019 feeling unsatisfied by my work.  The truth is I had a fantastic job, working with incredible people and really making a difference in the community.  However, personally I was unsettled.  I don’t think Heather realized I had this going on inside of me when she planted the seed of owning our own practice together, some day.  Most of Heather and I’s conversation would start with “some day…”.  As the year progressed, as Heather wrote in her blog post, it seemed as if we kept getting signs nudging us toward what our heart really desired.  But the truth is I WAS AFRAID.  And I hate admitting to being afraid.

I would ask my self questions like:  What about retirement? How can I leave my stable monthly income?  I don’t know anything about running business? Am I a horrible person if I help those who want to be helped and not those who need to be helped? WHAT IF THE PATIENTS DON’T COME? The what if’s go on and on…but what if I don’t.

Then one day, after journaling and praying I decided to change the narrative in my head.   I was finally honest with myself.  Direct patient nutrition care is where my heart belongs.  While I thought being a Nutrition Director over three locations and the responsibilities that coincide is what I wanted, truth is I missed the relationship with my patients.  I missed hearing the success stories, comforting their tears as we talk about their relationship with food and walking with them as they work to turn their life in a different direction.  So when Heather said “are we going to do it? And when?” I said yes.

Believe it or not that’s all it took to break through the fear. Saying yes and lots and LOTS of support from my husband and my family.  I also realized that I couldn’t look at my daughters in the eye, tell them to be fierce and follow their dream while I myself stay in a position of comfort out of fear of the unknown.

In a traditional billing fee for service medical setting, nutrition services are poorly reimbursed.  Time and time again patients would turn down referrals to work with me because their insurance wouldn’t cover my services and the fees were too great to afford without insurance. Additionally, even if nutrition services were covered sometimes is depended on a specific diagnosis or I was limited by the number of visits.  It felt like no matter how much I wanted to help people the system kept the hurdles too high.

As our practice began becoming a reality in Summer of 2019 we knew the name needed to say it all.  Why Elevation Health? To me Elevation Health is a play on words the describes our personal goal to be a part of our patient lives and to allow them to a part of ours.  To help raise the bar in healthcare, patient care and redefine what health really is.  Not to mention we are located at an elevation of 3000 feet in the coolest corner of North Carolina in the Blue Ridge Mountains.

So here I am.  Half a year into being a small business owner.  Have there been challenges? Absolutely.  But as a Dietitian I feel like I’ve had a breath of fresh air breathed into me.  My life has literally been “elevated”, because when I’m working with our patients I feel like the possibilities are endless and I have no restrictions on my abilities to help them.  I’m able to not only tell them how to improve their health, I can show them, I can lead them and I can connect them with the tools, resources and products that will help them get results.  I am excited about what the future holds for Elevation Health and for my own career because for the first time in many years I feel like the possibilities are endless.  Right now I’m the only one holding myself back.

What I have learned through this journey so far is summed up by this quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson -“Do the thing you fear and the death of fear is certain.”  My hope for you is that you follow your dreams, defeat fear and find health. If Elevation Health can be a part of elevating your health and providing a view of healthcare you’ve never seen, we would be delighted.  I look forward to sharing much more of myself, my knowledge and my passion in future blogs.

In Health,

Maggi Birdsell