Not What I Expected

Four years ago, I was considering retiring from school nursing and looking at my options. I wanted to work part-time and do something different. After Googling jobs for nurses, number ten on one list was Life Coach. I’d considered going into that area years before but the timing didn’t feel right. I had fifteen years of experience as a mental health nurse, so while Coaching would be different, it would still use some of my long-developed skills.

I took the Wisdom of the Whole (formerly Linda Bark Coaching Academy) course that following year in 2015, worked through the sixty supervision hours and passed the certification exam by April of 2016. I even completed an extra course that focused on Coaching People Affected by Cancer.

What I thought was going to happen, was that I would eventually develop a part-time role as a Coach in the oncology practice where I’d received treatment for triple-negative breast cancer. I’d served on the committee to develop the Waverly Survivors’ Community and hoped to contribute in a more direct way.

On November 7th of this year, I saw a previous entry in my journal that was written Nov. 7, 2016. I was giving my first Nurse Coach presentation to Waverly Survivors’ Community on using Positive Self-Talk when encountering medical procedures. I spent a lot of time developing my content, preparing a resource list, and working with the staff to coordinate our session. I made a comment in my journal that I was trusting God with my plans for retirement, with my desire to work part-time as a Coach with that oncology practice.

That night, three women came to our session. We were a very informal, conversational group. I presented some of my information, but what the women were more interested in was sharing their stories. They were so ready to connect with others going through breast cancer treatment. At the end of the hour, I posed the same question that I would with a coaching client, “So what is your takeaway from our session?”

They were quiet for a while, then one woman said, “You’ve been a survivor for 16 years.”

It wasn’t the information that I presented, it was me being an example that you could live for many years beyond treatment.

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Family picture May ’01 three mths after I finished treatment. Left to Right, younger son, Ross, husband, David, and older son, Brooks

Ultimately, I didn’t develop a role for myself in that practice. Instead, I was hired for a part-time research nurse position through UNC Outpatient Psychiatry that used skills from working in mental health, school nursing, and clinical trials research.

Now I realize that instead of working in person with cancer survivors, I’ve been using my own cancer experience and coaching skills in my writing. What I didn’t foresee, is that my energy for supporting survivors will be used with my own family. After fourteen years of having an empty nest, both my sons living in other states, now they’ve returned to our area.

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Family picture Oct. 2017–Daughter-in-Law, Emily pregnant with our grandson

And the biggest surprise, is that I’m taking care of my precious 6-month-old grandson two days a week. If I were coaching people going through the intensity of cancer treatment and learning to put their lives together afterwards, I don’t think I’d have the emotional reserves to give my best to my grandson. Now, instead of driving to that oncology practice I’m driving the ten miles to their home to take care of him. It’s a gift I didn’t foresee.

My heart wants to keep reaching out to fellow cancer survivors, to encourage them so they can say, “You’ve been a Survivor . . .” now for 18 years. I’ll keep pursuing Reflective Questions that help my readers, and me, to get at what’s inside waiting to be expressed.

And in the meantime, I’ll love each moment watching my grandson develop, grateful that I have this unexpected blessing.

 

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Loving my little North Carolina Tar Heel

How About You?

What plans have you made that didn’t work out in the way you’d hoped?

How did things unfold for you?   In what ways were you surprised?  Were there unexpected blessings?

 

 

 

 

 

6 thoughts on “Not What I Expected

  1. Connie,
    Your honesty is beyond my abilities. Your questions are what I am grappling with daily. I do not want to retire, as much as I want to direct my energies to help others. I know deep inside there is something that will be of value to someone, yet, I see the key is in the ability to write in a manner that one would want to find an answer. The trouble starts when the bank account becomes short. Where to find the monetary key to all this is really tough. In reading your posts I find that you had to be the best Nurse anyone could come in contact with. In the ICU at the VAMC Dallas, TX, I met some of the most beautiful people here on Earth. I am not sure that I would have had the encounters without having a need for a new Aorta Valve. Keep up the great work. I know that you will send me a lead to success. I need to keep reading your posts and learn.
    Thank you,
    John

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hey John,
      When you’re grappling, you’re growing toward what it is that you’re to do. I think you will find a way–including the way to meet your financial needs. It is a balancing act, and at times, it’s anxiety producing after the certainty of a set schedule and salary for so many years.
      Best to you as you keep searching and find Peace with your answers.
      Thanks for your kind words toward me and your support of my writing.
      Blessings,
      Connie

      Liked by 1 person

    • Hey Marie,
      Thanks so much. I’m glad you enjoy my stories. I’ve always enjoyed them–but wasn’t so sure about others! I’m fascinated with how life unfolds– for me and for others.
      I appreciate your enthusiastic support of my writing, my storytelling!
      Best to you,
      Connie

      Like

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