Turning One

Thank you.
Two words I’ve never said more frequently than this past year.

“Why did you want to become a doctor?” I am asked quite often. My answer: to help others. That’s always been my reason for as long as I can remember. It has been my lifelong dream to become a doctor and one day own my own private practice. I recognized this calling from a very young age and mapped out plans for my future building at 8 yrs old. Because I can clearly remember details from these moments spent envisioning my future, Shannon Eye Care will forever be an incredibly special accomplishment, one I will always be grateful for every single day. To the many who have congratulated me this past year: Thank you. From the bottom of my heart.

To my parents: thank you. Thank you for always pushing me and encouraging me to strive for excellence. Growing up, you taught me the value of education and strong work ethic. You also focused on the importance of family, friendship, and compassionate interaction. By example, my parents & grandparents alike taught me to treat others with politeness and respect, always, and to give back when possible. Today, I believe both my approach to running a business and the way I practice as a physician reflects how I was raised. Mom & Dad: you instilled confidence in me and made me believe that as a driven, young girl I was capable of anything I set my mind to as long as I worked hard and always strived for my personal best. Today, these same convictions have given me the strength to throw caution to the wind, assume risk, and face the daily challenges small business owners are continuously faced with. I know that it was difficult for you to understand my lack of fear as I dove into a world of uncertainty and entrepreneurism but nonetheless you have supported me. Thank you for being there for me, cheering me on through the ups and the downs along this new adventure.

To my sister: my rock, confidant, steady voice of reason, thank you. Thank you for being my best friend. Your own perseverance, confidence, and ability to jump into the unknown, is inspiring. Your intelligence, strength, and determination emulates from everything you do. Thank you for bringing to life my dream logo, something that was so important to me. Thank you for flying all the way from the east coast to be part of my business opening in August and then again for my ribbon cutting in the spring. It would not have been the same without you there. I am entirely unsure how anyone gets through life without a sister.

Josh: my all-star employee, author of our “Tuesday tips” segment on facebook, and dedicated optician, thank you for all of your help. I value our constant brainstorming. Thank you for your positivity, commitment, creativity, and drive that keeps us pushing forward and always in search of innovation. As confident as I am in my own abilities as a doctor, I am as confident in yours as an optician. We have formed an incredible team. Thank you for believing the sky is the limit for Shannon Eye Care and helping me build my dream.

To the previous business owners who practiced from this location: thank you for the opportunity, helping me transition, and for reminding me to keep the big picture in mind.

When I became an optometrist I personally vowed I would practice with gentleness and kindness always. As soon as I had my own practice, I would create and establish an environment patients and staff alike felt comfortable in, and one in which I remained approachable. Patients: thank you for trusting me with your health and vision. Thank you for choosing me to care for your most valued sensory organ. Thank you for sending your spouse, your children, your parents, your neighbors, and your friends in to see me following your own experience. Thank you for helping spread the word that my business is now open and accepting new patients. Thank you for taking time to write flattering reviews, words that warm my heart and help me get through the tougher times. Thank you for embracing me as your new doctor. Thank you for your help growing my practice. Thank you for supporting local, privately owned business. Thank you for believing in Shannon Eye Care.

Oftentimes we’re told you discover who your true friends are during the hard times. From my experience, the same can be said for the good times. Thank you for the outpouring of encouragement and support. From all of the texts, phone calls, prayers, cards, flowers, and messages I continue to receive, to the constant inquiries of “how’s business?” I am incredibly touched by the interest people have shown. To the stranger on the other end of the phone, who told me I was living the American Dream, thank you. No act of kindness is too small to be noticed. Thank you to the Shannon Eye Care super fans on facebook: those who like all our posts, every single one of them. ☺ Thank you patients who decide to come by the office to schedule an exam instead of call- that will never fail to put a smile on my face. Thank you for staying long after your exam is finished, stopping back in throughout the year to visit, and understanding you are always welcome.

Patients, thank you for opening up to me. The past year I’ve seen pictures of your new rescued kitten, your beloved dogs, sketches of a wedding dress being sewn for your upcoming wedding, & snapshots of new grandchildren. I’ve listened to mothers’ fears over choosing schools for their children when district lines get redrawn. You’ve shared loss of a beloved pet. I’ve heard worry expressed for daughters heading off to college and hopes children will discover a career that brings them fulfillment and happiness. You’ve shared your life story with me and it touched me immensely. To the woman whose spiritual faith & guidance filled the room, thank you. I’ve heard about adoptions. I’ve seen couples raising an only child and families bustling with six children. I’ve heard about school, football, dance, residency, new apartments, new homes, recent marriages, and new jobs. I’ve learned you’re adjusting to civilian life after the military. You’re transitioning into retirement after your corporate career. I’ve discovered you too have aspirations to open your own business. And I am your biggest cheerleader.

To the industry rep, who from day one has insisted he’s never met someone more likely to have what it takes to succeed, thank you. Not only your faith in me, but also your wholesomeness and honesty, has been a breath of fresh air amongst sales vendors, once a world I knew nothing about and now suddenly am all too knowledgeable in. You bring light to the saying ‘invest in those who invest in you.’ Thank you to the frame rep who believes in my potential because I have created a business made up of young individuals with new ideas, not despite of it. To the woman who constantly lifts me up and has helped establish a referral relationship, thank you for your sincere friendship.

Fellow business owners: your positivity and camaraderie means the world. I constantly think how if I had started my business in any other area of the country right now, my experience would have been incredibly different. Nashville is the city of dreamers. Thank you for surrounding me with your energy, passion, and motivation. Thank you for taking me under your wing and introducing me amongst community leaders. I am proud to have now joined the ranks of those who possess the titles owner, entrepreneur, employer, and risk taker in this booming town full of possibility.

Thank you for taking an interest in my history and what made me who I am today. Thank you for immediately understanding my vision and goals for the future. Thank you to the neighbor who taught me mentorship can come from someone in an unrelated field of work if they are passionate about what they do. Thank you for causing me to sharpen my focus and reassess how I navigate networking. Thank you for inspiring me just when I needed reminding.

To the fellow optometrist passing through town who walked in this spring, introduced yourself to me, and shared your plans of opening an office soon. After hearing your ideas as to how you planned on bringing in new patients, I quickly felt real fear for you…is that how I had sounded to my parents?…Couldn’t be? Could it?…Maybe we are all, a little, crazy, after all?

Thank you to my pediatric dentist who used to ask me which books I had read over the summer (not if I had read any, but which ones exactly!) and which career path I was envisioning pursuing. You challenged me to mature, intellectual conversation. I haven’t forgotten those discussions. I was a child then, but you were already affecting the way I would practice as a doctor myself one day.

To the girls who opened up to me about your changing bodies, thank you for feeling so at ease to bring up a subject typically thought of only as uncomfortable.

To the domestic abuse survivors who provided me glimpses into your past and shared outlooks for a different future. Thank you for including me in your journey.

To the girls I saw myself in: the bright 15 yr old who spoke of excelling in math and science and whom already acknowledged the challenge she would face in finding a career that would allow her to one day balance family and career. Thank you for reinforcing the fact that it is so incredibly important for women to be sources of knowledge & experience for one another. Thank you for taking me up on my offer to introduce you to some of my friends, strong females who have paved a way for themselves in professional fields. To the 18 yr old off to college come this fall, who told me you want to become a doctor: I’m pulling for you.

Thank you to the journalists and editors who have published kind articles about me. Thank you to those who have encouraged me to put down in writing my own words. My blog, LadyAndHerLens.com is launching.

To the crowd that filled my office during our holiday party and again to celebrate my ribbon cutting with me and my family: thank you for contributing to the pomp and circumstance and to the memories I’ll treasure forever. Thank you for taking time out of your own day to recognize a significant moment in mine.

To the fellow entrepreneur who has expressed immense interest in my thoughts and business mind, thank you. Every time I see you, you encourage me, reassure me, and make me excited about all that is to come. You see steady wings before I’ve become completely comfortable flying. The last time a routine exam took me three hours to complete was during my first week in clinic as a second year IU optometry student, when it was typical for new interns just getting their feet wet to spend 2-3 hours on one exam. Fortunately, most of those three hours with you were spent talking, not necessarily examining! You genuinely and wholeheartedly care about my success and vision and dream. I am incredibly touched by your confidence in me.

To my comrades and heroes: fellow physicians, who are both doctor, and business owner, thank you for serving as my examples to look up to. It’s an extremely difficult combination, one that is hard to pull off gracefully. You are beacons of light.

It has been an incredible year. I’ve had a lot of fun while also working very hard. I’ve gotten back into public speaking, I’ve become actively involved in the community, and I have spoken live on the radio for the first time. Shannon Eye Care has brought couture eyewear to Franklin, TN. We hosted our first holiday party and turned the office into a winter wonderland full of life-size Nutcrackers. We’ve held trunk shows. We’ve celebrated with a ribbon cutting. We’ve participated in local art crawls, hosted sorority alumni for a wine tasting, and had Irish dancers perform in our driveway! And we are just getting started…

My personal life has flourished because of my professional life.

Today, I am proud that so soon into my professional career, I am practicing from a business that is my own and a direct reflection of who I am. I made one of the very best decisions of my life one year ago, today. I decided to take a chance on myself. And because of that, I have now become what I have always wanted to be.

To the friends who became patients. To the patients who have become my friends.

Thank you.
~Dr. Z

Happy One Year Shannon Eye Care!

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