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Nursing wasn’t the first path I explored in health care, but I still remember when I fell in love with it as a career. I knew I wanted to be in the medical field at a young age after reading a book about an adolescent battling cancer. I was curious about the human body and the things happening inside each of us. Initially, I wanted to be a doctor. That changed during a college visit when a male faculty member discouraged me from pursuing it as a career. Still, I started college thinking I would go into pharmacy or pathophysiology. But after my first year of college, I just didn’t feel like I fit. That’s when I found nursing.
I visited my cousin in Omaha and she planned two days of shadowing for me at the Children’s Hospital there. I went in feeling very lost and unsure of my future. Then, after spending part of the day in the pediatric oncology outpatient program, I found my fit. Not only were the nurses amazing, but the clients were also inspiring. We visited one of the local colleges there, and I was on my way.
I have spent the past thirteen years working in various places, primarily working in mental health and pediatrics. In 2011, I was 24-years-old, still a new nurse trying to figure out how to be an adult, and I was diagnosed with stage IIIb melanoma. I spent the next fourteen months in treatment, having multiple surgeries and completing a year of chemotherapy. Finishing chemo for me was a funny thing; it was one of the most anxiety-provoking points of my cancer journey. Everyone around me was celebrating, and I tried to be excited with them, but I was so scared and overwhelmed. It was as if all the feelings of the past fourteen months that I hadn’t acknowledged slammed into me at once. I was a mess.
In the midst of it all, I found a group for young adults with cancer through my cancer center and decided to give it a go. At the first meeting, I met someone who had been on a trip with First Descents. He made it sound amazing: a free outdoor adventure somewhere else in the country where they feed you yummy food, and you get to meet other people who have been through cancer crap. I signed up right away and got scheduled for a trip to Estes Park, CO, in August 2013.
Since that initial trip with FD, I have been blessed to volunteer as a medic at several programs, attend FD events with my FD family, explore New Zealand on an international FDX program, and plan an FDX program to Ireland. I love the people in this organization. I can say firsthand that what happens on a program is life-changing.
On that first trip to Colorado, I found DiDi. She’s my authentic self, the person I most wanted to be. Magical seeds were planted during that week.
When I began thinking about what I wanted out of my life, I thought about when I was happiest and feeling my best. The answer was easy: at my FD Program, talking to people about their lives and watching the transformation that can happen by getting them out of their comfort zone and challenging them to show up for themselves. It happens every single time, and it’s always magic. That is what I wanted. I wanted to help people connect with themselves, find all that is gorgeous within them, and figure out how to bring it out into the world to live a life they love.
During the last few years, I was working as a manager. I saw that the way healthcare is running right now is not sustainable. The workers are burning out, for a variety of reasons, and the organizations are not keeping up. So, I decided to go back to school to get my master’s degree in Integrative Health and Wellness. The work I did in my program helped me launch my own business, This is Your Life Health and Wellness Coaching. In my business, I work with healthcare workers on burnout prevention and creating sustainable self-care plans. I work with my clients to connect to their strengths and bring awareness to their priorities. We have a collaborative relationship where I walk alongside them on their well-being journey, offering support, resources, and a metaphorical mirror, to reflect back all that is gorgeous within them.
The community I found with FD revealed my heart to me and helped me cultivate a life full of meaning and purpose. My north star is helping others live more authentic and beautiful lives by providing one-to-one and group coaching, and interactive workshops. My vision for This Is Your Life is to create a safe space for people looking to transform their life in a way that feels sustainable and right for them. Each of us has all we need within us to live the beautiful and meaningful life we dream of; we just have to unearth the buried treasure.
The mission of This is Your Life Health and Wellness Coaching is to help every woman in healthcare show up as her best and most authentic self, so she can truly be present and fulfilled in her work and in her life. As a creative multi-passionate nurse, and health and wellness coach, Jessica works collaboratively with women in healthcare to give them the tools, support, and accountability they need to prioritize self-care and decrease symptoms of burnout. Learn more about This is Your Life at www.thisisyourlife.live.