Thoughts are Everything — Be very aware of the first thoughts you think as you wake up. If they are negative or stressful, make a promise that you will only think good thoughts. It could be as simple as being grateful for a good night’s sleep, a warm bed, a comfortable pillow, or having a healthy body. Think those thoughts for three to five minutes. Also, if you pray, do so first thing upon awakening. Or, meditate, if that is your preference. The idea is to prep your mind for a positive start to the day. Thinking good thoughts will be the driver of feeling good throughout the day.
For my series on strong female leaders, I had the pleasure of interviewing Lorie Gardner RN BSN NBC-HWC. Lorie is a Registered Nurse and a National Board Certified Health & Wellness Coach. She has a private practice, Healthlink Advocates, that assists clients navigate the healthcare system to ensure they get the best care. In addition, she provides health and wellness coaching to individuals and groups interested in improving their health outcomes. Lorie’s focus is to change the healthcare system one person at a time and maximize personal self-healing and prevention of disease with a focus on well being.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
I believe I was born with a purpose to help people. At five years old, I knew I wanted to be a nurse. I worked as a Registered Nurse at nationally recognized teaching hospitals. After hospital nursing, I managed clinical trials at orthopaedic and pharmaceutical companies. Then, I left the workforce for 15 years to raise my three children. Once my children were older, I went back to work as a consultant at an orthopaedic company. I quickly realized, though, it was not a good fit for me. I felt I was being called back to my purpose to help people. Around that same time, I was assisting my husband navigate an illness with an unknown diagnosis. What I witnessed in his medical care included a potential unnecessary surgery, incorrect diagnoses and unnecessary medications. I realized every person needs an advocate at their side when navigating the complex and fragmented healthcare system. Everyone needs someone who can coach and support them to their best healthy self as well.
What does it mean for you to live “on purpose”? Can you explain? How can one achieve that?
For me, it is so important to live on purpose. I do that by waking up with appreciation and thoughts of gratitude. I then make an intention for the day about how I want to think, feel and act. I move forward with my intent to see who I can help in the day ahead. It provides clarity and satisfaction to help someone, and many times several people, every day. One can achieve living on purpose by getting quiet with themselves and listening carefully to their inner voice of wisdom and knowing. Tapping into their intuition and being aware of what makes them feel really good. That is where the purpose is found. It is equally important to surround yourself with like-minded people that are uplifting.
Do you have an example or story in your own life of how your pain helped to guide you to finding your life’s purpose?
I had just gone back to work as a consultant — at the orthopaedic company that offered me a position after staying at home for 15 years — and I was told I needed major surgery. The surgery was long and difficult. Although it was a challenging time physically and spiritually, it was quite amazing! It became clear to me, as I had spent a lot of time alone in recovery, that I was being pulled back to a helping profession in some way. I knew my inner voice of wisdom was speaking to me. The golden opportunity of solitude made my next path very clear. I learned of this relatively new profession called healthcare advocacy. I knew I was being called to do this work. I immediately started the process of opening my business and getting the needed training.
The United States is currently rated at #18 in the World Happiness Report. Can you share a few reasons why you think the ranking is so low?
I believe there are two main reasons. First, we are an overstimulated society. We are constantly confronted with the next new “shiny object” to seek and “next place to go.” Second, there is not enough attention given to the importance of finding your inner self and purpose. It has become so hard for people to be quiet and satisfied with where they are and what they have. Our distractions are many, and I believe it can prevent us from being authentic and happy.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
My success as a patient advocate and health and wellness coach allows me to bring goodness, peace of mind, and clarity to my clients that are generally scared, frustrated and not sure what next steps to take. I become their guide and assist them with their healthcare challenges and become a trusted advisor. My training and success has allowed me to bring goodness to the world of the healthcare system providing an example of how each patient should be treated and how the system needs to change to support each person in the way they need.
What are your 6 strategies to help you face your day with exuberance, “Joie De Vivre” and a “ravenous thirst for life”? Can you please give a story or example for each?
1. Self-Responsibility and Love — You Matter — Upon awakening, think of three things you appreciate about yourself whether you believe them or not. Think about what you need to hear about yourself. For instance, you can say I am beautiful, talented and kind.
2. Breathing — It’s About Life — As you shower, appreciate the blessing of running water and practice deep breathing to start your day right. Breathing may seem simple and somewhat unimportant since breathing is an automatic activity. But, our tendency to breathe very shallow is quite common especially during busy and stressful times. When breathing is shallow we are not properly oxygenating our bodies, which can have negative effects. One has to make a conscious effort to practice deep breathing. You will be surprised at how much better you can feel with this one simple wellness step.
3. Sensing/Eating — You Are What You Eat — As you are doing your deep breathing, think about how a healthy breakfast can make you feel so energized. Being responsible for choosing a good healthy breakfast is something to be proud of. Be committed!
4. Feeling/Thinking — Thoughts are Everything — Be very aware of the first thoughts you think as you wake up. If they are negative or stressful, make a promise that you will only think good thoughts. It could be as simple as being grateful for a good night’s sleep, a warm bed, a comfortable pillow, or having a healthy body. Think those thoughts for three to five minutes. Also, if you pray, do so first thing upon awakening. Or, meditate, if that is your preference. The idea is to prep your mind for a positive start to the day. Thinking good thoughts will be the driver of feeling good throughout the day.
5. Communicating — Clarity and Connection — Decide you are going to try a different communication technique today. If you tend to lead conversations, make a decision to listen more today. Conversely, if you tend to be quiet and a listener, make a decision you are going to express your thoughts or needs more today. Have fun with it!
6. Playing, Working and Finding Meaning — It’s About You — Upon awakening, immediately think about something you appreciate or are grateful for. Then decide that you will have the best attitude you can at work. Maybe you say “I am not going to take everything so seriously today,” or “I am going to trust that all is well and all will work out.” Decide to do one fun or meaningful and satisfying thing each day. Make it simple and easy but appreciate it no matter how simple.
Do you have any favorite books, podcasts, or resources that most inspired you to live with a thirst for life?
I have read so many awesome and inspiring books, but authors like Wayne Dyer, Henri Nouwen, Jerry and Esther Hicks, and Eckhart Tolle come to mind first.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote” that relates to having a Joie De Vivre? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” ~ Mary Oliver. I just love this quote. I believe when we are children we tend to grow up to become what our parents wanted us to be. Or, we were strongly influenced by a person of influence in our life and followed a direction they suggested. For me, I was told at a very young age that I was shy and so I lived up to that trait. However, at the age of 15, my inner voice, which has always been very strong, decided that I was not getting what I wanted by being shy. I completely abandoned this trait and soared into my teen years with reckless abandon. I believe I intuitively knew that my life was to be wild and precious so I set out to live that way.
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
We are working on developing a community of like-minded middle-aged individuals who are committed to uncovering all of the possibilities they have for improving their health and wellbeing from the inside out so they can live their best second half of life! The focus is on a strong mind and strong body. Awareness is everything!
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)
The movement I would start would be to change our entire healthcare system. Our current
complex, confusing and fragmented system does not serve the people that need it most. As a nurse advocate and coach, I have served many clients and their families. They are confused, scared and frustrated when they or a loved has a serious illness. At one of the most vulnerable times in their lives, the system fails them. There is no one to support them through this difficult journey. Healthcare providers just don’t have the time to provide that support. Our system doesn’t support the whole person multidimensional approach. So, if I had my choice, every physician’s practice would have advocates and coaches on their team to provide this support. It is clear that with holistic support, all outcomes improve.
Additionally, I hear so much about patient-centered care, but the truth is that it is money-centered care. I understand that it takes money to allow us to enjoy the amazing innovation and technology that we have in this country, but I have to believe that we can use our incredibly smart minds to come up with a better system so that we can improve our health outcomes. We spend more money than most developed countries and have some of the poorest outcomes. No patient left behind. . . . .
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