Pursuing Life Balance: Meet @baxtersmom

Jul 12, 2019 | Teresa, Volunteer Mentor | @hopeful33250 | Comments (11)

Member Spotlights feature interviews with fellow Connect members. Learn more about members you’ve connected with and some you haven’t met yet. Nominate a member you think should share the spotlight.

2019-07-09. Gail Gemberling baxtersmom Connect spotlight photo

TERESA: What brought you to Mayo Clinic Connect? What motivates you to take part in the community? 

@baxtersmom: I first encountered Mayo Clinic Connect when I was seeking information regarding chronic pain. I suffer from spinal stenosis and scoliosis, which I did not know I had until about 10 years ago. All of a sudden, I started having pain down my left leg and a swollen ankle. Finally, someone did an MRI of my lumbar spine, and the cause became clear. What also became clear was that the only real surgical option was having a rod placed down my back in a 9-hour surgery that may or may not help at this point in my life. I was not willing to do this, and so I sought information on treatment options and came upon Mayo Clinic Connect during my search.

TERESA: What about Connect makes you feel comfortable to share and to be open with the community?  

@baxtersmom: I think the fact that there are moderators keeping an eye on the discussions makes me feel comfortable that the discussions will always stay at a high level and that when personal information is shared, it will be met with care and kindness.

TERESA: What groups do you participate in?  

@baxtersmom: I participate in the Chronic Pain group, the Women’s Health group as a mentor and more recently the Diabetes & Endocrine System group.

TERESA: Tell us about a meaningful moment on Connect.    

@baxtersmom: Some time ago, after nearly 30 years of university teaching, I found myself approaching retirement and dealing with some particularly difficult individuals at work. I will not elaborate on the details, but I was feeling very unappreciated, despite the fact that over the years I had won just about every teaching and service award possible. A few other individuals and I found ourselves in a very toxic work environment. 

Looking back on it now, it appears that both gender and age bias played a part in this treatment. However, at the time, it really caused a lot of anxiety and stress. I had become rather depressed as it continued on, so much so that I decided to take a leave of absence. The stress of being in such an environment was taking its toll on me physically. During this time, I began participating more in Mayo Clinic Connect. 

At some point, I received a private message from @colleenyoung and @lisalucier asking if I would like to become a Connect mentor. The message was a very nice one, complimenting me on some of my responses to some of the posts within the group. As I read their note, I realized that I had not received any positive feedback for anything I had done for a very long time, and I had forgotten how it felt to be appreciated even in the slightest. In this situation, I had simply offered up information regarding a recent surgery I had, and it seemed like the smallest of overtures. However, I realized that maybe I did still have something to offer. Now that I am retired, I am looking to find other ways to use my skills.   

TERESA: What surprised you the most about Connect?  

@baxtersmom: I think I was most surprised by the breadth of the topics covered by the Connect platform. I began in Chronic Pain, seeking information on my spinal stenosis and scoliosis, followed by looking up various topics in Women’s Health, and more recently, thyroid topics. It seems there has not been anything I have needed to explore that has not, at least in some way, been touched upon within Mayo Clinic Connect. I also appreciate the fact that the platform combines group discussions with pages with newsfeed posts from experts in such a way that you can find information on the topics suitable for those just beginning to research an area or for those more well-versed on an issue, and all points in between.

TERESA: What energizes you, or how do you find balance in your life?  

@baxtersmom: I am not good at the balance part at all, although I continue to work on it. I am energized by just about any creative process. One of the things I most enjoyed about college teaching was putting together a new course or taking on the task of renovating a course that was in need of a revamp. During my teaching career I have done this a number of times, and I look back upon those times as some of the most rewarding.

TERESA: Tell us about your favorite pastime or activity.  

@baxtersmom: I enjoy gardening, although my back does not allow me to do a lot of digging and hauling these days. But I can design how I want it to look and then, if I am patient, I will see that Mother Nature had a better idea. I also enjoy interior design projects and spending time with my 11-year old chocolate lab, Baxter. 

TERESA: Do you have a favorite quote, life motto or personal mantra?  

@baxtersmom: I have a favorite poem which many may be familiar with. It is the poem “If” by Rudyard Kipling. I had a version called “If for Girls” in my bedroom growing up, so it has been a favorite for a long time.

TERESA: What food can you simply not resist? 

@baxtersmom: Italian cream cake.

TERESA: Puppies or kittens?  

@baxtersmom: Can I say both? I am an animal lover at heart. But if I had to choose one, it would be puppies.

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Interested in more newsfeed posts like this? Go to the About Connect: Who, What & Why blog.

Hello Gail, (@baxtersmom)

Congratulations on your retirement! I'm so glad that you decided to spend part of your retirement years with us on Connect. You are a valuable member of our Mentor team. I enjoyed working with you on this Spotlight and I just love the picture of you and Baxter. What a sweet, loving dog.


Hi Gail @baxtersmom — Thank you for letting us get to know you a little better. Love the photo with Baxter!
P.S. – Really enjoyed reading your spotlight too. ☺


Hi ya Gail,
I enjoyed your Spotlight. I don’t mean to slight you Gail, but I especially enjoyed Baxter’s picture. I’m afraid he stole the show at least for me. He is a cutie.


Welcome. @baxtersmom ! I really enjoyed your spotlight. What did you teach? I know that I’ll appreciate and enjoy all that you can teach us, me especially! Becky


How nice to learn more about you, @baxtersmom ! Gail, looking forward to hearing from you!


@baxtersmom, Thank you for doing this interview. I think that your passion for teaching has given you a firm foundation for a rewarding retirement career that is certain to be appreciated by all who interact with you on Connect.


So very nice to meet you, Gaul. Pursuing Life Balance immediately caught my attention as that is something I do not do well. And I can relate to experiencing some age bias at my job. Thankfully, not to the degree you did and there are other coworkers who more than balance it out. Good luck on your journey and thank you for sharing yourself with all here.


Hi @baxtersmom – Great article – I can so relate to the difficulty in finding balance in life. I'm struggling with that too. Love your photo.


So very nice to meet you, Gaul. Pursuing Life Balance immediately caught my attention as that is something I do not do well. And I can relate to experiencing some age bias at my job. Thankfully, not to the degree you did and there are other coworkers who more than balance it out. Good luck on your journey and thank you for sharing yourself with all here.

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Oops, typo!! Gail!


Gail, thank you for sharing your retirement and gifts with the Connect community. It has been a pleasure to meet Baxter's Mom, and to benefit from your helpful and insightful posts. It sometimes feels like I receive more than I give. Welcome aboard! Nancy


@baxtersmom – Welcome to mentor land and moderator land. It's nice to have you with us and I also look forward to learning more about you!

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