On Her Own Path to Self-discovery
Johanna Hocker had been a successful family therapist in the Blue Earth area for many years when, looking for a little more freedom, she decided to enroll in Life-Work Planning Center’s Women’s Entrepreneurial Workshop. She wanted the freedom to do what she considered to be best for her clients.
She was very invested in empowering people and commented that her philosophy was in sync with LWPC’s. She wanted to use creative ways to help people instead of following policies set down by others.
Johanna describes her approach as being more creative than scientific. She had all the ideas but lacked a structure and a business plan. Remembering back to the class over 20 years ago, she said that she needed the right questions to answer and a way to organize her thoughts. LWPC had received a grant through the Southern Minnesota Initiative Fund to work with women going into business.
When Johanna came to the workshop she felt that it was a Godsend; she was able to put her business together in a very short time and opened the doors to New Hope Counseling. Her business flourished and Johanna reports that it was the longest that she was ever in one place and that it was the most fulfilling.
Johanna retired after 20 years of owning New Hope in 2009.
Johanna’s career path took some turns and detours along the way. She didn’t have a clear idea of what she ultimately wanted to do but she generally knew what she wanted short-term.
There were also many obstacles; for instance, Johanna’s mother thought she was mentally-disabled and she had a hard time in school. As it turned out she is dyslexic. She persevered and learned how to deal with the dyslexia. She loved music and took piano lessons but she also wanted to play the accordion. Her father found an accordion for $600 and told Johanna that he would buy it but she would have to pay him back. She made 25 cents an hour doing chores at home but before she graduated from high school she had paid him back. Whenever she realized that she wanted to do something she figured out how to make it happen. She did that with synchronized swimming, and Spanish club.
No one from her family had ever attended college and she wasn’t thought of as a likely candidate so her mother suggested she enroll in Bible School. She did and got jobs to see her through. On graduation day, one of her professors told her “to whom much is given, much is expected.” It was a brand-new thought that she might have something to offer; it stayed in her mind.
Following graduation she traveled to Europe on a choir tour giving concerts. She worked and helped others but also had the confidence to think about what she wanted and make it happen. She said that “the weak and the helpless have always given her direction.”
While working in Mississippi as a secretary, she was inspired to go to college by the actions of a mentally challenged boy who was enthusiastic about being in a band. She went back to Wisconsin and enrolled at UWEC and graduated with a degree in Music Therapy. While there she became involved in leadership; not knowing what was next, but engaging fully in what she found to be interesting.
Years later, she entered the Master’s program in Counseling at UWS after being inspired by a young female patient in a pysch ward where Johanna worked. Twenty years after high school graduation she had her Master’s in Counseling.
The road wasn’t a straight path but she always followed what she was interested in and what called to her. Johanna is still changing, still exploring what she likes and letting her values lead her. The day that I talked to her she was readying for an accordion performance. She also mentioned that she was teaching Hardanger embroidery and knitting a cap without a pattern for a friend while also studying any amount of varied subjects.
Johanna is still on her own path to self-discovery and enjoying the journey.
– Jill Hahn, M.S., Peer Counselor