Challenging myself is an inherent part of my make-up. I once had a friend ask me "Why do you always have to do everything differently than everyone else...do you do that on purpose?". Yes...actually I do. I am always seeking something new to learn and challenge my brain and body. Anything from running races, rowing competitively, treating my speech patients in a very "outside of the box sort of way" to use an overused phrase, to really asking myself the hard question of "why am I doing this? Is what I am doing making a difference in a positive way?". I am easily bored but if I am challenged and have a purpose that is in alignment with my beliefs then I am happy. So it's surprising that my chosen profession, Medical Speech Pathology, has kept me engaged for 25 years...almost. Not surprising in that it wasn't challenging or purposeful in the beginning, it certainly has been, but 25 years?? We all change so much in 25 years...at least if you are living a life of awareness and willing to challenge your potentially long held beliefs.
As my views on healthy living evolved my involvement in traditional healthcare seemed less authentic. I became more mindful, More aware of what I do on a daily basis. I wasn't oblivious before but I had reached a point of mastery where I could really take more time to think about how it all fit within my values and beliefs. A good portion of my practice as a speech pathologist has involved the treatment of swallowing disorders. Many of my patients were unable to swallow for various reasons and required tube feedings. My evaluation's frequently recommended non-oral feedings which were necessary to avoid aspiration pneumonia. When I thought about the source of nutrition that I was recommending and the fact that I often told them "this is nutritionally sound and you will get all the vitamins and nutrients you need" I realized that I actually didn't believe that. Sure...I knew that they would be avoiding pneumonia and that was paramount. I still believe that...however, the nutrition they would be receiving from my point of view was not truly going to promote healing. I also hadn't really incorporated the "choice" aspect of a hospitalization. These patients had a choice to accept or decline my recommendations and I was really the only one who had the expertise to fully explain and offer that to them. That became a standard part of my practice quite a few years ago but still, I had a crisis of consciousness. I floundered and felt disengaged and thought where do I go from here? It's really like jumping off a cliff to say you no longer feel in alignment with the practice you have been cultivating for over 20 years.
Don't get me wrong...there are many aspects I have LOVED about being a speech pathologist and really felt like I've made a difference in lives all over the country. Yet I've also spent many years treating those who have the rubber stamp diagnosis of hypertension, diabetes, coronary heart disease and at times a plethora of other largely lifestyle induced diseases. These are so common with every person who enters our healthcare system that we are more surprised when these aren't on their list of diagnosis. It should be the other way around. I felt complicit.
I was so comfortable in a hospital setting, I could evaluate and treat easily and efficiently, younger therapist's came to me for answers...but I knew something wasn't right. I felt a distinct disconnection with the way our healthcare system functioned and my personal beliefs about healthy living. I knew I needed to be on the other end of the spectrum empowering people to take control of their health and happiness and living on purpose. I discovered Integrative Health Coaching through Duke Universities Integrative Medicine Program and never looked back. This was my tribe, my place. I finally felt that I could be part of the solution.
We often live very unconsciously going from day to day not considering the routine things we do until they don't work anymore or we are just numb. We don't have to wait until something goes wrong to start living a healthy, fulfilling and passionate life. My personal journey of health and happiness began long ago and has evolved over the years as I learn and grow. My training at Duke Integrative Medicine made all the difference. In my work as an Integrative Health Coach I am so energized when I bring clients to sit comfortably with the ideas of empowerment, purpose, taking small steps and living their best life. This feels right.
These ideas are grounded in mindful behavior on a daily basis. It's been a daily practice for me to live more mindfully, pausing to consider my actions and behaviors before engaging for some time now. Not perfectly but on the journey. This is the basis of Integrative Health Coaching and my work as I see it. It starts with a meditation practice which then filters into your daily life as more purposeful, mindful moments. Nurturing mind-body awareness leads to long lasting sustainable change and living on purpose. Using these principles has allowed me to live a more peaceful, balanced life. Using my energy where it suits me best and gives back to others in a profound way. I am charged up about bringing this way of living to more people and increasing the collective consciousness of compassionate, healthy living. Put your oxygen mask on first before assisting others my friends.
You only have one life...start living it the way you want to .