Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Welcome Kathleen Pooler with a Guest Post on How a Nurse Learns to Care for Herself

Welcome Kathleen Pooler, author of memoir, Ever Faithful To His Lead : My Journey Away From Emotional Abuse.  Kathleen's guest post speaks to the often difficult task of caring for yourself first before you are able and strong enough to care for others. Her experience in nursing has taught her this lesson and it is one from which we can all benefit!

 A Nurse Learns to Care for Herself 

by Kathleen Pooler

“One cannot extend compassion to others unless you have compassion for yourself.” ~ Brene Brown, TEDx talk on herresearch on vulnerability.

I’ve known I wanted to be a nurse since reading Anne Snow, Mountain Nurse while sitting in my eighth grade study hall in 1959. My heart pounded in my chest as I envisioned myself being like Anne Snow and riding a horse through the Virginia mountains to minister to people in their cabins.

I also had inklings before that when as an eight year old, I watched Grandma Lydia feeding an injured bird with a water-soaked cotton ball. I don’t remember what happened to the bird, but I do remember the Grandma’s compassion in trying to nurse it back to health.

As the oldest child in my family, I enjoyed taking care of my younger siblings.

The idea of caregiving—helping others in need—seemed to take root early in my childhood.

Once I started nursing school in 1964, I knew I had chosen the right profession. How blessed I have been to feel the call to become a nurse and never waver in that desire.

As caregivers, nurses help clients achieve maximum wellness and regain health through the healing process. The cornerstone of the profession is the concept that the client’s welfare comes first. Caregiving and nurturing have been associated with the nursing profession.

But what happens when the nurse needs caregiving?

Like me, when the man I married drank too much and left me exhausted and confused; when I was forced to live my life as a single parent and became the sole supporter of my two young children.  I still had to go to work and care for others.

Nurses are terrific at caring for others but often lax in recognizing their own needs. Equipped with the mantra that “clients come first”, a Catholic Faith which encouraged selflessness and service to others and a time in our society—the 60s ad 70s-- when the woman was expected to do it all, I fell into the trap of living my life as others expected.

I suffered, what is now called “compassion fatigue”  (—focusing on alleviating the suffering of others at the expense of my own needs. I lived with a constant anxiety, suffered bouts of depression, loneliness, poor self-esteem and made unhealthy choices about relationships. I ended up falling into an abyss of self-defeating detours and heartache.

But, I still had to go to work.

How did I learn to care for myself?

When the pain of my decisions became acute enough—what I kept doing was not getting me where I wanted to go—I began accepting my responsibility in making necessary changes. I stopped denying. I stopped the magical thinking. I took action to take care of myself.

I had an “attitude adjustment”: It was not selfish, It was lifesaving.

I began to feel compassion for myself; to offer the same kindness and understanding I offered others to myself. I was able to break out of the perceived expectations I had about who I was and what I needed.

It was a process that took time but the more I focused on my own needs, the easier it became. And the better I became at offering care to others.

Like the airline attendant advises: Put your oxygen mask on first so you can care for others.

What specific actions did I take?

1.      A change in attitude about myself helped me be more compassionate toward myself. This required breaking through the denial and magical thinking to see things as they were, not as I wanted them to be.

2.      I learned to say no to activities that did not feel right and yes to activities that enhanced my life. This required listening to and honoring my inner voice.

3.      I committed myself to a healthy lifestyle of proper exercise and a healthy diet.

4.      I continued to journal and express my feelings on the page. This helped me to gain clarity and focus about my personal needs.

5.      I developed a support system of friends whom I trusted.  I learned to avoid people who did not have my best interest at heart.  In my opinion, discernment is a skill that requires practice. Many lessons were learned through trial and error.

6.      I become more open to my faith. Prayer became a natural part of my day.

7.      I learned to “put my oxygen mask on first.”

Putting myself first is the best way I can take care of myself so that I can be available to extend that compassion to others who care for me and whom I care for.

How about you? Have your caretaking needs interfered with your ability to take care of yourself? How have you learned to take care of yourself?

I’d love to hear from you. Please leave your comments below~

Thank you to WOW! Women on Writing for providing this stop on Kathleen Pooler's blog tour. 

Ever Faithful To His Lead : My Journey Away From Emotional Abuse is a memoir, a true life tears to triumph story of self-defeating detours and dreams lost and found.

A young woman who loses sight of the faith she has been brought up with attempts to find her way in the world, rejecting her stable roots in lieu of finding adventure and romance. Despite periods of spiritual renewal in which she receives a prophecy, she slides back, taking several self-defeating detours that take her through a series of heartbreaking events. 
 When Kathy's second husband, Dan's verbal abuse escalates, Kathy finally realizes she must move on before she and her children become a statistic.

How does a young woman who came from a stable, loving family make so many wise choices when it came to career, but so many wrong choices when it came to love, so that she ended up sacrificing career and having to flee in broad daylight with her children from an abusive marriage? What is getting in her way and why does she keep taking so many self-defeating detours?

The story opens up the day Kathy feels physically threatened for the first time in her three-year marriage to her second husband. This sends her on a journey to make sense of her life and discern what part she has played in the vulnerable circumstance she finds herself in.

She must make a decision--face her self-defeating patterns that have led to this situation and move on or repeat her mistakes. Her life and the lives of her two children are dependent upon the choices she makes and the chances she takes from this point forward.

Paperback: 242Pages
Genre: Memoir
Publisher: Open Books Press (July 22, 2014)


Twitter hashtag: #EFaithPooler

Ever Faithful To His Lead: My Journey to Memoir is available as an e-book and paperback at Amazon.
Book Giveaway Contest:
To win a copy of 
Ever Faithful To His Lead: My Journey to Memoir, please enter using the Rafflecopter form at the bottom of this post. The giveaway contest closes this Friday, October 10th  at 12:00 AM EST. We will announce the winner the same day in the Rafflecopter widget. Good luck!

About the Author: Kathleen Pooler is an author and a retired Family Nurse Practitioner whose memoir, Ever Faithful to His Lead: My Journey Away From Emotional Abuse, published on July 28.2014 and work-in-progress sequel, Hope Matters: A Memoir are about how the power of hope through her faith in God helped her to transform, heal and transcend life’s obstacles and disappointments:  domestic abuse, divorce, single parenting, loving and letting go of an alcoholic son, cancer and heart failure to live a life of joy and contentment. She believes that hope matters and that we are all strengthened and enlightened when we share our stories.

She lives with her husband Wayne in eastern New York.

She blogs weekly at her Memoir Writer’s Journey blog:

Twitter @kathypooler
Personal page,
Author page:
Kathleen Pooler/Memoir Writer’s Journey:
One of her stories “The Stone on the Shore” is published in the anthology: “The Woman I’ve Become: 37 Women Share Their Journeys From Toxic Relationships to Self-Empowerment” by Pat LaPointe, 2012.
Another story: “Choices and Chances” is published in the  “My Gutsy Story Anthology” by Sonia Marsh, September, 2013.


Blog hostess, Audry Fryer is the author of women's fiction novels:

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Available for Kindle and Nook.

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for a sweet price $4.99!

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  1. Thank you for hosting me on your lovely blog, Audry!

    1. Kathleen, thank you for your post! I enjoyed having you as a guest :-)

  2. Kathy and Audry, All of us who care for others, whether a nurse, mother, or teacher, need to learn to care for ourselves. Thanks for this important message.

  3. Amen, Joan! It's a lesson I had to learn the hard way , but once I finally learned it , it stuck. Thanks for stopping by.


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