I was thirteen when I discovered a stone on the banks of the Murray River. I was holidaying with my family and wandering around on my own, as I loved to do. This stone caught my eye in the late afternoon sun, as it seemed to sparkle with life. I was delighted as I reached down and noticed its jagged edges formed the shape of a heart. It fitted perfectly into the palm of my hand. I marvelled at this discovery, imagining how it may have been formed; the constant motion of the river combined with the wind over time or perhaps a stonemason had carved it? This stone is still with me today sitting on my bedroom window reminding me of the journey back home to my heart.

When I started my nursing training in 1983, nurses were struggling to find their voice and to be valued as professionals in their own right so it was no surprise I would feel attracted to this profession. I have learnt we are attracted to what we most need to learn. I loved exploring the natural world and nursing offered a way to finance travelling. Somehow most of my travelling ended up being in the city and I nursed in Adelaide, Melbourne and Sydney. 

 

Throughout my late teens and twenties I believed self-care meant finding ways to forget all that troubled me. The pain and suffering of patients gave me more to feel, as I believed taking on others pain was the way to assist. It was the only way I knew then. I ‘cared for self’ in ways that are not uncommon for nurses; alcohol, tobacco, live music and partying. These all numbed me taking the edge of the intense feelings that troubled me. After a few years as a General Nurse, another way of handling difficult situations developed. I felt dead inside and found I wasn’t connecting emotionally with my patients. I was able to organise my workload well and preform procedures but patients respond best to compassionate care and I wasn’t able to provide that. This concerned me and started practicing yoga but out of the classes I often felt hopeless and anxious. I believed I lacked discipline but this was not true; I had given up on myself.

 

From a young age others were drawn to me seeking counsel for their concerns and being there for others allowed me to feel useful. I had a gentle nature and found I could provide challenge and others appreciated my honesty. Listening came easily to me and others seemed to find comfort from talking with me. These skills lead me to Mental Health Nursing after only a few years in General Nursing. I found my niche there able to emotionally connect again, or so I believed. 

 

 

Now I have more than 30 years in Health, from my beginning in General Nursing to Mental Health Nursing, a few years as a Nursing Unit Manager and Nurse Manager to Education. I worked in a correctional facility for many years and in this specialised environment I met some amazing caring people, doing what they could to bring the best possible clinical care to some of our most marginalised people.

 

 

When I started working in a correctional environment in the late 90s I often felt exhausted dealing with the heavy energies of a jail. Without learning how to manage this I could not have stayed. Now I can teach others how to set and maintain appropriate energetic boundaries.  It is vital when we are teaching others that we first lead ourselves or we lack authenticity and become another voice advocating ‘do as I say not as I do’. When we are grounded and centred in our bodies we feel strong and able to be’ the calm in the storm’. In recent years there has been an increasing focus on nurses better caring for their own health needs but I found in my own experience and many others that eating well, exercising and practising yoga wasn’t enough as they don’t deal with what lies at the heart of poor self care. 

 

 

Late in 2007 I was approached by a colleague I admired to submit an Expression of Interest to participate in a leadership program. I was managing a subacute mental health unit at the time and raising teenage twins. My life was full and I hesitated. I felt surprised and wondered why she chose me but something compelled me to agree. A year later my life would shift again and I would be facilitating the program, admittedly not alone and again I wondered why me. I knew this was the direction I was being led to take, even though part of me was screaming ‘what do you know’. As a nurse we often undervalue ourselves and I was a product of my culture. However the quite voice within, the voice of my heart encouraged me and I knew I had something to offer. I have learnt not to question when opportunities present instead to be grateful and take a step knowing I am part of a much bigger canvas.

 

For 4 years I was privileged to facilitate the Clinical Leadership Program journeying with people from a range of disciplines in health including nurses, diversional therapists, occupational therapists, pharmacists, art therapists and even a dentist, walking with them as they courageously explored their existing strengths and areas for development. The leadership program explored how self-awareness is the key to leading others. Using a variety of activities and tools the participants raise awareness of their beliefs, values and challenge assumptions. Exploring the quality of our relationships with others, improving how we communicate, encourages and empowers participants to discover the influence they have as leaders in their own spheres. The quality of our leadership has a direct affect the teams we lead and our organizations. At the heart of this is why we are all in Health; to make a difference to the lives of the patients delivering high quality care.

 

Since 2010 I continue to have the pleasure of co facilitating, reflective clinical supervision with Clinical Supervision Consultancy; where we train health professionals to become clinical supervisors. Again the focus is on self-reflection and encouraging trainees to trust their expertise and listen closely to others, without judgement. A variety of tools are used and the training is interactive, experiential and light-hearted. Often people are amazed how simple and effective it is when we listen deeply to others and allow them to connect to their own innate knowing. I coordinated this program in my area until leaving the health setting at the end of 2012. Collaborating with others to enliven the program and broaden its reach across the local health setting was a key focus.

 

I have worked with large and small groups in different contexts and delivered more than 150 workshops and conducted even more coaching, mentoring and clinical supervision sessions both within my roles in Health and in my private practise, CoreTrue.

 

I have experienced and struggled with the challenges of nursing and can offer a profound way to care for others without withdrawing from connecting or caring but feeling constantly exhausted. I feel how different it could be when nurses take their place as empowered carers by learning to care for themselves from their core, supporting and encouraging positive patient outcomes without sacrificing the care of self. When each of us takes responsibility for ourselves our Health settings will indeed be centres of excellence, where the carers model self-care.

 

 

 

My Qualifications 

  • Registered General Nurse training at Royal Adelaide Hospital
  • Registered Psychiatric Nurse training at Gladesville Hospital, New South Wales
  • Graduate Certificate in Health Leadership & Management at University of Wollongong
  • Certificate IV in Mentoring and Coaching at the Insight Foundation
  • Certificate IV in Training and Assessment at Justice Health
  • International Coaching Federation(ICF) Professional Certified Coach (PCC)


 

Workshops

Currently training health professionals to become Clinical Supervisors in Sydney & Melbourne. 
New groups commencing March and June.

 

Interested in a Diploma of Mentoring, Coaching and Interpersonal Facilitation? New intake in April 2016 with Global Coaching Academy

 

latest news

sign up to receive my latest news