Change is a Messy Journey: From Wall Street to New Hope with Irma Jennings
“It’s these magic moments that drop in and say, ‘It’s time to go left now.’” — Irma Jennings
I had the pleasure of sitting down with Irma Jennings, an INCH, Holistic Bone Coach, who went from the boardroom on Wall Street to the cutting board in her kitchen to pursue her true passion, Food for Healthy Bones®.
- Tackling Wall Street
- Handling the messiness of change
- The power of resilience
Tackling Wall Street
Irma started as a secretary for a high-profile salesman and worked her way up to a top executive. Forging that path took every part of herself—to the point of being referred to as the “Ice Queen” by a colleague.
“I was losing my soul within the world of money, power, and greed. And I didn't know I was losing my soul.” Irma continues.
The “Ice Queen” title didn’t sit well with Irma, and it made her step back to look at who she was inside, to reconnect with her personality and countenance; versus the one she formed for survival in a man's world on Wall Street. “I realized that I was playing in a man's world in a man's way. And that was not my way. But I wasn't sure what my way was.” Irma shares.
That time in Irma's life feels far away now, as distant as a story that happened to someone else. Being a woman on Wall Street in the 70s was not all glamor. It was hard work, sacrifice, and constant battles for equality in the workplace between men and women.
“All during my career, women have picked me up and said, ‘Let me walk you here. Let me take you to this door that needs to be opened. We'll open it together.’” Irma points out.
After years of sacrificing her health and mental well-being, a diagnosis of osteopenia drove her to make drastic changes and to once and for all step back from the high-stress life of Wall Street.
Handling the messiness of change
Sometimes change shows up as a feeling of, “Something's not working. What needs to shift?” If the routines and lifestyle you once had are no longer serving you, it takes having trust in those moments of intuition to move forward.
“Trust is an important piece to this conversation because so many of us know that we have to change. But if we think about change or pivoting, it's so overwhelming, the canvas is too wide to even consider.” Irma explains, “I had to sit in the trust of what I call ‘the whispers’, and those were the redirected moments that helped me pivot.”
Her osteopenia diagnosis set her on her journey of searching for elevated health. “I went back to school, left Wall Street, and went to the Institute for Integrative Nutrition,” Irma explains.
After 37 years, Irma packed up her bags and left Manhattan. She moved in with a friend in New Hope, Pennsylvania, and that's where her soul and body began to heal.
“I thought about purpose, and I thought about how I wanted to live my life.” Irma shares, “Once I looked at my purpose again and said, ‘Well, what is my purpose?’ I realized I don't want to live alone. Because if I live alone, then I close down. I'm an extrovert, I need to be around people, I need to be around community.” And that’s what Irma found.
Change is messy and rarely linear. It takes heaps of trust in the process and relentless resilience around creating a better way of living to succeed.
The power of resilience
Irma’s resilience led her to a life she had never imagined for herself. “It’s so idyllic and perfect here. I had no idea that I wanted to live in the country.” Irma reflects, “My bones are strong, I did not take the medicine [I was prescribed]. I feel very grateful for the journey, for all of it, the whole picture.”
The yin and yang of Irma’s journey come down to resilience, and the beauty of persistence, all built around a new perspective of what it means to be healthy and fulfilled; to have a purpose.
Sit with disappointment. Sit with discomfort. Let yourself feel sorry for yourself, let yourself get angry, and then look forward to the possibilities beyond the circumstance and bank into resilience.
Irma said goodbye to her Wall Street career, her marriage, and the life she built in New York, and it led her to her new life's calling of introducing others to the view of food as medicine and what that means for healthcare.
Have you felt a whisper in your life? How have you embraced or turned away from change? What do you do when a routine is no longer serving you?