The old one-dimensional female archetypes -- the soccer mom, the starving artist, the successful-but-lonely boss lady -- are dead. Women are creating new, multidimensional archetypes and defying stereotypes. The most fulfilled women are constantly creating in multiple areas of their lives, whereas burnout often happens when we feel like the routine of our day job is all we have time for. The Archetypal Woman Series is a tribute to inspiring women who rearrange time and space to explore and excel in a range of activities. May their stories encourage you to expand into your own uniqueness for the benefit of you and everyone in your orbit.
Editor's note: Nestled in the halls of famed Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, stealth poet and photographer Carolyn C. Hintlian works away as a senior leader of the Biostatistics Center. On the side, Carolyn also manages Boston Nutrition Downtown, a wellness company she founded 20 years ago well before it was its own booming industry. A wife and mother who has earned multiple master's degrees along the way, Carolyn published her own book of poetry and photography last year. She is also a dedicated Kundalini yoga practitioner. Carolyn truly embodies what it means to be multidimensional, and I'm proud to call her a dear friend. ~ Mary Margaret
You have been a Senior Administrative Manager at legendary teaching hospital Massachusetts General in Boston for many years. What exactly does your job entail?
My title is Senior Administrative Manager in the Massachusetts General Hospital Biostatistics Center. Reporting to the Director of Biostatistics, my duties include being responsible for the managerial oversight of all activity within Biostatistics as well as financial management of grant and contract administration (NIH, industrial and foundation grants). As the Senior Administrative Manager, I work with the Director to manage the Biostatistics Center human resources issues and space allocation.
In your observation, what has changed in healthcare for the better since you started at the hospital?
My position involves working in a department with a group of PhDs and MDs doing clinical research. In the past twenty years, the group has grown from a few people to its current size of 30 individuals, including doctoral level and masters level statisticians who provide the support on the scientific design and statistical analysis of the studies conducted by investigators in the hospital or across the country. Administratively, the biggest changes making research administration better is the advance in technology. All systems are now online and this improves productivity and efficiency in being able to submit grants and monitor finances. Technology has also provided many advancements in the delivery of healthcare and this has changed things for the better.
I consider you a trendsetter, given that you started a wellness business over twenty years ago, way before the industry exploded. I live in Los Angeles, where awareness of the importance of nutrition is high (even if there are turf wars over which diet is best). But I’m guessing the scene in Boston in the nineties was quite different. What motivated you to start Boston Nutrition Downtown?
One of my physician mentors told me to never give up practicing nutrition as I pursued more administrative roles in my career. My career started on a very traditional path as a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist completing a dietetic internship at Mass General Hospital (MGH) and then working as a clinical nutritionist in the hospital. Inspired to move into the community setting, I went back to school at the University of North Carolina,Chapel Hill for a Masters in Public Health (MPH) nutrition degree. This provided me with the confidence to work with clients in an ambulatory setting. After working in the MGH Health Centers as a nutritionist I was inspired to pursue a Masters in Business Administration (MBA) degree at Simmons College School of Management.
At that time Simmons’ management program was just for women. To me, school was “utopia”. I loved learning, and pursuing more degrees gave me the confidence to step into a larger role. As I started working in more administrative positions, it was a gift that I was given the opportunity to work one day a week as a nutritionist. I continued my role as a private practice nutritionist in a medical practice in downtown Boston. And this is how Boston Nutrition Downtown was created.
You’re a devoted Kundalini yogi and teacher. How did you discover the practice, and how has it enriched your life?
In 2003, I met a woman at a party who told me she started doing Kundalini yoga. I asked her what made this yoga so special and she told me it was “transformational”. That was enough to have me attend my first Kundalini yoga class in the summer of 2003. Very soon after, in 2004, I attended my first summer solstice and completed teacher training in 2005.
In the early days, the biggest realization from Kundalini yoga were the breakthroughs in my relationships. For many years after starting Kundalini yoga, my practice was consistent but not really moving ahead. It was not until the summer of 2017, when I found Guru Jagat online and joined the Aquarian Women Leadership Society in July 2017, that things began to change in very good ways. From roots to wings, I have only begun to be in touch with the creative self that I never really acknowledged existed. I am now a poet, photographer and soon-to-be skilled musician all from being coachable and participating in the Immense Grace work inspired by Guru Jagat. I have such deep gratitude for these teachings, RA MA [Guru Jagat's international yogic technology institutes] and Guru Jagat.
My favorite thing I learned about you was that you self-published a book of poetry last year. You mentioned you never thought of yourself as creative. Instead, you defined yourself narrowly--as many of us do!--as a good student and a businesswoman. What would you say to women who don’t think of themselves as classically “creative”? And why should we even bother taking time for creative pursuits?
Creativity is within all of us. And what I have learned from Guru Jagat is that “creation is all around us all of the time.” Creativity occurs in the moment. I definitely grew up thinking that someone had to be an artist or writer to be considered creative. What worked for me was training myself to pay attention to one particular creative pursuit on a daily basis.
Creative work brings me joy. Life becomes timeless when I am doing creative tasks. I have given my haiku book as gifts to close friends and I have been so moved by their positive reactions. I gave it to a college friend as a house gift and she keeps the book by her bedside and reads it for inspiration. It has been amazing to see how what I have created brings joy to others.
Are you open to sharing any of your poems?
My book entitled Your Inner Goddess: Reclaiming the Creative Power is a collection of haikus with my photography.
Find the joy deep within you
Create it, fresh start.
Rely on Miracles
Divine Grace Within
Keep Thoughts SUPER positive
LOVE POEM to my sister
Deep and closest to my heart
Memories of my sister before me
Guiding me now with her light
Mentor, guide, and fashion queen
Always there to listen
The job, date, or career
Leaving this earthly plane too soon
Know you are with me by my side
Let me be guided by your wisdom
Business Week Woman of Year
Your strength and grit led the way
Early attempts at breaking that glass ceiling
Worldly possessions can’t go with you
The greatest gift of all
Infinite love in this spirit world.
With heartfelt grace
Thank you for this gift.
(I wrote this poem last year as part of an Aquarian Women’s Leadership Society assignment.)
When you look back over your life so far, what were the most joyful time periods? Why?
My husband and I have one son who still brings me so much joy. I am a very proud mom of a son pursuing his PhD in Industrial Engineering at the University of Southern California (USC) in Los Angeles. Looking back to the days when he was in school during his younger and high school years brings me joy. To this day I love to hang out with him or go to the movies when he comes home to visit.
What’s next for you?
An intention that I think about almost daily is my goal to create a core message and statement of purpose combining my passions for creativity, nutrition, and Kundalini yoga. I am waiting for that inspiration to create what’s next for me so that I can use my gifts to inspire others to live a healthy and creative life.
Carolyn C. Hintlian is an administrator, registered dietitian nutritionist, wife, mother, sister and aunt. Her life-long passion is to champion healthy living through nutrition, weight management, and Kundalini yoga. Her experience includes decades of clinical experience providing one-on-one counseling around specialized nutritional needs. She continues to focus on prevention and a strong interest in inspiring others to healthy living. Her latest passion is being a creatrix writing haikus and looking for interesting subjects to photograph.
Find Carolyn at www.bostonnutritiondowntown.com and on: