Nursing came as second career for me, and remains one of the best decisions I ever made. In 1995, I obtained my first undergraduate degree, a BA in journalism from Cleveland State University. During college and for most of my 20’s and 30’s I worked as a hairdresser, and to this day that was one of my favorite jobs. I loved every minute of the 15 years with my clients and co-workers in the salon. Helping to make people look and feel great, building relationships, and having a creative platform, made it one of the most rewarding times of my life. In so many ways, this all parallels my current work as a nurse and yoga teacher and helped to inspire my journey in both areas.
During the later hairdressing years, my meditation practice started taking shape. I joined a Shambhala meditation group on Cleveland’s North Coast, and designated a small corner in my home for my practice personal practice. I began to see glimpse of how a regular mindfulness practice can bring forth a sense of peace and clarity, and at times, dig up some buried work that needed to be done. Concepts such as, "surrendering to the breath, letting go of thoughts, and opening the mind to universal consciousness", I had no idea what all this really meant at the time. However, in the stillness of these meditation sittings, I began a journey of personal healing, and was gently nudged right into nursing school.
In the summer of 2005, I met with a counselor at Cuyahoga Community College and started taking pre-requisite courses for the associate degree registered nursing program. Unfortunately, nearly none of my journalism degree course work crossed over to meet the science requirements. This meant I was started college all over again, from square one. I was overflowing with ambition, and over the next three years, I thrived in this new-found energy while cultivating some incredible relationships that during nursing school. I’m not going to lie and say I was calm, cool, and collected during all this -- not at all. In fact, a rigorous full-time work and school schedule did get the best of me at times. I have my amazing sister to thank, who held me up during some humbling moments.
In 2008, I graduated as a registered nurse and jumped right into my first job in the emergency department at the world-famous Cleveland Clinic Foundation. At the same time, I took part-time work at the county trauma center. These were two incredible environments to cut my teeth and build my clinical acumen as a nurse. By now I had just turned 38 years old, and I felt there was lot of catching up to do in this profession. I would later learn that, in every moment we are exactly where we need to be. The ER, in two different teaching hospitals, was the perfect setting for a new nurse to learn the practice while offering an incredibly diverse patient population. I am forever grateful to every staff member at the Cleveland Clinic and Metro Health Medical Center, who continue to inspire my work in this profession. It truly is the people who support you during your growth spurts that stay in your heart forever.
For the 8 years following my time in Cleveland, I continued work in the ER and acute care settings in Palm Springs, California. In 2016, I implemented a two-year personal case study working as a nurse manager for a group of three urgent care clinics with a local health system. During my time in this role, I completed my Bachelor of Science in Nursing with Arizona State University and implemented a mindfulness-based stress reduction clinical study for Intensive Care Nurses. The study was selected for presentation at the Southern California Evidence-Based Practice Symposium, with Loma Linda University. As it turns out, my journalism degree was resurrected some 20 years later, and I realized the value of having a few writing skills nursing. Another great reminder that no knowledge gained is ever wasted.
On my last trip to Mysore, India I spent three months working my spiritual practice while the next chapter of my nursing path was slowly revealed. I knew that graduate school was the natural progression to serve as a nurse, but I needed to decide where to specialize. The obvious choice would have been Family Nurse Practitioner given my history in the outpatient and emergency setting. However, this is where the stillness of my yoga practice, merged with moments of reflection and revealed a path that made perfect sense.
In Southern India, there is something known as “Mysore Magic, and yoga practitioners from around the world realize this geographic phenomena while studying there. The devotion, deep immersion and practicing at the heart of this lineage, certainly does conjure something mystical. For me, this translates to a palpable union between my teachers, the local culture, a global community, and the rich history of the practice of yoga. The mind and body develop an intuitive sensibility that opens a door to profound clarity and internal communication. Vision is pristine, the mind unobstructed, and the body’s ability to heal and perform is remarkable.
In all of this, the decision to unify my training and experiences in yoga, meditation, mindfulness, and nursing, has landed me in a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program specializing as a Family Psychiatric and Mental Health Nurse Practitioner. I see this as an opportunity to move away from the transactional environment of the acute care setting, and transition to a space that is more therapeutic in nature. Here, the relationship between provider and patient can support deep and long-lasting change. I am humbled by this time to grow as a clinician, teacher, human being, and cultivate new ways to support each other throughout the experience of life.