Posted by: krpooler | April 8, 2011

Bittersweet Transitions


      I have been a Registered Nurse for forty-four years and for the past fifteen years, a Family Nurse Practitioner. Nursing has defined me since the day I decided  I wanted to be a nurse:

      Back in my eighth-grade study hall, while reading “Anne Snow,Mountain Nurse” my  heart was thumping so loudly, I felt certain my classmates could hear it. Riding a horse through the mountain passes of Virginia, Anne Snow ministered to poor people and their families in their rundown cabins as a community health nurse. I could just see her bringing healing and consolation to those families. Staring out into that sunny March afternoon in 1959, I visualized myself on that horse, in those mountains, with the sun breaking through the trees as I found my way to those cabins. I would reach out to wipe a beady brow or console a crying baby while an anxious mother looked on. I soaked up every word, all the time seeing myself being Anne Snow. I could hardly wait to tell my best friend, June.

      In 1971, my Dad,bless his heart, encouraged me in this letter to go back to school for my Bachelor in Nursing degree with these words :

     “Give a man a fish and he will eat tonight. Teach him how to fish and he will eat every night. I’m not concerned with an estate, but with seeing you develop so you can create your own estate.”

      I did go on to get my Bachelors, Masters and Family Nursing Practitioner degrees. Nursing became my best friend through divorce, single parenting, cancer, life. I have always had a job, not a job, a calling.  When I needed to be there for my young children, I found a day job.When I was too sick to work in the clinical area with patients, I could be a consultant for an on-line nursing program. I’ve been a staff nurse on general medical floors, emergency departments and in ICU,a camp nurse for emotionally disturbed adolescents, a director of an emergency department, a  director of nursing of several small hospitals, a nursing faculty member for baccalaureate and associate degree nursing programs. I am finishing off my career as a Family Nurse Practitioner doing primary care for children and adults. I have loved,loved,loved my calling. I am humbled and honored to have had the privilege of this calling, the opportunity to make a positive difference in the lives of people who trust me with their care.

     So when the time came to consider retiring from Nursing, I balked,agonized, cried, knowing all along that I wanted to take leave when I was at the top of my game. I wanted to know when it was time to gracefully bow out. But I didn’t want to retire. I wanted to just simply transition into another phase. I wanted to go to something better.

     Travel writer,Alexis Grant talks about taking the big  life-changing leaps in this post, citing that it may never be the right time to follow your dream-“making the decision comes down to just that-making the decision.”

     And so,it is time. I have made my decision. I will transition from Nursing,my calling, and move on to this next phase of my life in August where I will continue  following my dreams. I am looking forward to spending more precious time with my family and friends, playing the piano more, reading more,writing more,planting flowers and just breathing in the fresh air.

     Remember, how my Dad showed up while I was floating in a rowboat a few weeks back? Well,while he was there, he asked me,

     Kathy, do you remember what I taught you?

     Yes,Dad. You already taught me how to fish.

     OK, then, cast your net , and reel in your bounty.

     That’s when I knew it was OK~bittersweet , but OK.

     I know that I have to surrender what I am now. I can hardly wait to see what I will become!

How about you~ What are your bittersweet transitions?

What do you dream of becoming?




  1. Kathy, this resonates with me. For all of my career I was human resources specialist, even when I was a beginner, all the way up the ladder and through post-retirement consulting. I even got certified as a senior specialist in the private sector even though I worked in the public sector. I EVEN had a newspaper column called “The Personnel Office” wherein I dispensed HR advice to small businesses.

    HR defined me, except of course that I longed to be a writer! But I poured all my creativity into my career.

    Finally, a few years ago, I decided to stop all HR-related efforts. I cleaned out all my files, said goodbye to clients, etc. I had to make the decision to become outdated in HR, to drop out of the race, to let my knowledge of the law and customs grow rusty and useless. Of course, it was heartbreaking! HR was my life.

    But now it isn’t! And I have discovered a world of new interests. I no longer dress and look corporate. I say things that are not politically correct. I am no longer so reserved and proper. Hell, I haven’t had a mani-pedi in 6 months! Of course, that’s largely due to my new babysitting gig. Who needs nails?!

    I know you will be happy no matter what you do or who you become. As my friend Daisy ( told me recently, “When the heart grieves over what is lost, the spirit rejoices over what is left.” –Sufi Proverb

    • Oh my gosh,Lynne, I love the quote:”When the heart grieves over what is lost, the spirit rejoices over what is left”! Thanks for the link to Daisy’s website and for your very encouraging words about how great life can be after you move on. Now that I have finally made this decision, I feel very excited about this next phase. Maybe I’ll even be able to fit mani-pedis into my schedule!I have a feeling I will wonder why I waited so long and how in the world I ever had time to work! Thanks for stopping by.

  2. Kathy, congratulations on making the decision to take the leap! I know it will be bittersweet for you, but how wonderful to have your loving dad bestow his approval on you! You’re so fortunate to be at that place in your life when you CAN make this decision. So many unfortunate people are “stuck” — whether it’s raising small children, tending aging parents, dependent upon a job for making ends meet, or whatever. How exciting to be embarking on a new journey — be sure to keep us informed as you sail onward!

    • Thanks,Debbie! I feel very fortunate to be able to make this decision,though I must admit it was a grueling one. We are so define by what we do that when we have to leave,it feels like part of ourselves is being torn away. But now that I’ve made the decision, I feel free and ready to move on to my writing,etc and the rest of my life. Yes, it is exciting! Thanks for stopping by.

  3. Kathy, I understand transitions and I wish you well on making a smooth one. Mine was not, and I’m still recovering from it fifteen years plus later. If I’d have been as aware of my job vs calling as you are, it most likely wouldn’t have had to be so dramatic in order to get my attention. More power to ya! Sam

    • Hi Sam,
      Sounds like you have a story with your transition. I guess we all have our stories,otherwise what would we have to write about? It seems like some transitions are harder than others- change is never easy even if it’s a good change. I’m so happy you stopped by and I appreciate your comments and good wishes. Take care. Kathy

  4. Kathy, I told you how happy I have been since you gave the best news of the year a few days ago. I understand, there is time and there is place for things to happen, things to take turns-good, better,bad or worse. You are an amazing woman, I don’t know how you did it. Now, live for yourself, do the things and enjoy what Kathy wants to do. May the sky, loaded with bright stars, that beautiful shine of the sun, that cool breeze, the chirping of the birds be with you! Now I will get to see more of ‘Kathy’s strides’! You dad is gigling all the time.

    • Smita, I love the vision of my Dad giggling! Thank you for your beautiful words of support and encouragement. It was a tough decision but now that I’ve made it,it feels great. I look forward to breathing in the fresh air and hearing the birds chirp. Thanks, as always, for stopping by and for your comments. 🙂

  5. Congratulations on a lifetime of nursing! With your gifts, I am sure you will continue to nurture souls, now it wil be through a different avenue, your writing. My niece is going into nursing and I will pass on your post. I would be honored to guest blog for you…but give me a week or so. I am recovering from a bout with pneumonia. Best,

    • Pat,
      I am so sorry to hear you are ill with pneumonia. Hope you are on the mend. I appreciate your comments about using my nursing through a different avenue-one never stops being a nurse. So happy to hear your niece is going into nursing. She will never have to worry about finding a job. Like I said, nursing has been my best friend. I would love for you to do a guest post on the power of hope in your life similar to the post you had sent me. Take your time and heal and send me your story when you are ready 300-400 words(
      Take good care~

  6. Hi Kathy, this is my first visit here but I had to comment on your post and wish you well as you enter the retirement chapter of your life! I am less than three years away from my Big Retirement Day and I can’t wait. There are so many things I look forward to having more time to do. I have also found that as I’ve gotten older my focus is shifting away from the corporate life and onto that which is important and lasting – family, friends, and time to enjoy and appreciate every day.

    • Hi Linda,
      So nice to see you here. Thanks for stopping by! I totally agree that at this” certain age”, our focus and priorities do change. It was a grueling decision for me to leave a career that I love but many have reminded me that I will always be a nurse and will serve people in other ways,i.e., through my writing. Once I made the decision, I feel so much better! I’m with you when it comes to looking forward to having more time to do the things I want to do. I have a feeling once I am fully retired in August, I will wonder way I waited so long. 🙂 I appreciate your comments.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: