I was blessed with loving parents, fun siblings, and an extended family that always showed support and encouragement. In other words, everybody knew everyone else’s business.

I was the first born and my father was particularly protective, always looking out for my best interests. So when I went to high school in 1960, my family decided I would become a secretary. I was happy and successful. At the end of my junior year, I met with my high school guidance counselor, as we all did, to discuss our expectations after high school. I sat down and she said, “if you could do anything you wanted to do after high school, what would that be.” I immediately responded, “I want to be a nurse.”

My answer shocked me as it seemed to come out of nowhere. It certainly wasn’t anything I had ever thought about, but there was no question that it was true. So she said, “You’ll have to go to summer school and take extra classes next year to get into college or a school of nursing.” I changed my senior year schedule. That night, I announced to my family at dinner that I was going to be a nurse. Everyone was shocked and responded as though I just gave them really bad news.

The news spread to my aunts, uncles, grandparents and cousins. Everyone said the same thing, “Why would you want to empty bed pans? Nursing is too difficult. You’re not smart enough to succeed in college.” I stood firm in my beliefs. It wasn’t easy, but knew my path in my heart. I graduated 8th in my high school class, received my BSN from college and a master’s degree five years later. After 50 years of public health nursing, I recently retired.

I was happy, excited and creative in every role I took on: from public health/community health nursing, administration, teaching and consultation. My inner strength was a gift from the Universe. I was able to use this gift to inspire patients and families or just provide a moment of comfort. Whenever I was faced with a challenge to change a health care system to improve patient care or staff needs or confront a doctor or hospital administrator regarding best practices, I remembered that day in high school and continued to believe in myself. This inspirational moment has been there for me throughout my personal and professional life.

I didn’t realize how important it was to listen to my inner voice until I became a Tao of Healing student. Through practicing Qigong and listening to Grand Master Nan Lu’s teachings, I’ve come to understand the importance of listening to your Heart. Messages from the Universe may come in quiet times, or from suddenly out of the blue. Regardless, I’ve found that true happiness and joy start with believing in yourself.

-Karen G.

Real Stories, TCM

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