There’s So Much I Didn’t Know
I have been blessed in my career to have had some amazing jobs. I spent many years working in the non-profit sector. I’ve coordinated large events, worked in a cancer treatment center, and managed a senior/assisted living community. For the most part, the majority of my professional life has been spent in settings where I felt like the work, I was doing had value. So, when I made the decision a couple of years ago to “retire”; it didn’t take long before the feeling that I was somehow worth-less, started creeping in. I missed working, but more specifically . . . I missed doing meaningful work.
I started looking for opportunities and was thrilled when I was hired for the position of Foundation Assistant with the Olivia Caldwell Foundation! I began working for the OCF in March of this year.
Being the “new kid” is always a bit intimidating, but I have been welcomed warmly by the other members of the staff and by the OCF Board of Directors and have found a great mentor and friend in Katelin Gitthens, the lead of the Patient Advocacy Program, with whom I work most closely. Although I do have a well-defined job description, this position is new to the organization, and that means we’ve been doing a fair amount of figuring it out as we go.
The Patient Advocacy Program is also relatively new to the OCF. It has been in existence for about a year and a half. The PAP focuses on addressing the needs of the whole family when a child has been diagnosed with a serious illness or medically complicated condition. We provide support and connections to resources that assist with travel expenses, childcare, school accommodations, medical support and equipment, food assistance, counseling, and anything else a family needs throughout their child's illness.
We work with families from around the state, and the support we connect them to comes from a wide range of sources; from large national organizations, to state and local government agencies, to non-profits, to individuals who just want to help. One of my main responsibilities is to help manage these resources. As I’ve been researching and reaching out to these various partners, it’s been amazing to see the breadth and depth of support that is available. Many of these organizations have origin stories much like the OCF . . . where an unimaginable loss ignited a passion to help others going through a similar experience.
As heartening as it has been to learn about all these wonderful programs . . . it’s also been quite sobering to learn how great the need for them is.
We get referrals nearly every day; either families calling us directly, or from other service providers or representatives calling on their behalf. Some of them are facing short-term issues and their needs are easily addressed, others are facing catastrophic situations, with complex health conditions that are going to be on-going and require numerous resources throughout the life of the child. Regardless of the scenario, it’s always frightening to have a child that is hurting. However, even in the midst of their circumstances, the strength, courage, and resilience of these families is awe-inspiring.
So, what have I learned so far?
There are many awesome organizations and agencies in Wyoming, and elsewhere, staffed by dedicated people with a passion for serving others; and there are so very many families with sick children in need of their support. I am blessed to be working for the Olivia Caldwell Foundation, where, in some small way, I have the opportunity to help bring these two groups together. It is work with a purpose, and I am so grateful.
Life doesn't always go as we planned. We lay things out and then curve balls come flying in hot. We map out just how life is gonna go in our minds and then BOOM, it falls apart and takes you on a whole different path. I am a firm believer that everything happens for a reason, even if we don't like the reasons or the events.
When I was younger I thought for sure I would be a teacher. Then I went through the idea of being an attorney, world class chef or maybe even a nurse. I ended up in Massage Therapy school, and never even used my license. Through the years I have taken many online courses and certifications in a variety of fields. I have worked in childcare, financial institutes, government buildings, a grocery store, food industry, customer service, cleaning industry, in-home care and school system. And for fun, I am an Ordained Minister. Lets just say it has taken me a long path to figure out exactly what I want to be when I grow up. I enjoyed all the avenues I went through along the way. Some more than others and I feel along the way I have always shown I can excel in anything I do. Luckily, I have landed in a position where I get to use all my past experiences. I feel like I had to go through all of those to lead me right where I'm meant to be and am able to use all those learning experiences in my day to day ventures.
That is really all you can do. Take the hand you are dealt and play it out. The key is to use every aspect as a learning curve. It is safe to say that along the way you're gonna encounter some mighty curve balls, and you're gonna have to climb some pretty big mountains to get where you need or want to be.
What did you dream of becoming when you were younger? Is that what you do now? Or did life throw you all over the place and give you some curveballs of your own that you have had to navigate through? Was there something you swore you would never do and here you are doing it?! Do you feel stuck where you are at? Needing to revamp or spruce up your everyday life?!
Sit back and evaluate. I know that when people ask me where I see myself in 5 years…I panic! UM, look, I’m just trying to make it through day to day. Did you know that is actually one of the hardest questions to answer? It is proven most people don't even KNOW what they will be doing in 2 weeks let alone 5 years! I mean they can assume and have a solid plan, but life happens. Fifteen year old me saw myself at the age of 36 being rich off my own law firm, having 2 kids and living at the beach. Well here I am, living in the country, with 3 kids and I would say the only things I'm rich in are love and animals. I wouldn't change it for the world honestly.
I can tell you a lot of the doubt that comes with not being where you thought you would be is lack of confidence. So what, you didn't go to law school or become a doctor. You have gone through more jobs in your 20’s than you have pairs of underwear. And frankly your surroundings aren't where you exactly thought you would be. If you find yourself double guessing yourself and questioning if you are where you want/need to be, take a step back and look at the bigger picture. Write down pros and cons. Maybe make a dream board and evaluate if what you're doing now will get you where you want to be later. Try to factor in all your life lessons and experiences. Have certain things made you have a different perspective? Use that to help guide you where you want to go next. Just because you aren't exactly where you thought you would be, don't be discouraged or upset. Take it as it is. But also be careful not to use your past experiences as excuses for poor choices or lack of drive in your day today. Only you can be in charge of how you handle your life. Only you can choose your future. Give yourself grace and allow yourself to have the confidence that you are made for great things, even if those great things aren't as you pictured to begin with. Life changes, the world evolves and so do you.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.