I made an abrupt decision to retire early last year (March 2022).
The reasons were numerous. I needed and wanted to spend more time with my infant granddaughter. My 85-year-old mother had become inactive after the lengthy COVID quarantine, and she needed some motivation to get moving. In addition, it was time for me to leave my career in sales. I no longer felt like I was in the right work environment. I wanted to, at least, take a sabbatical to take care of long overdue projects and family responsibilities. Now that I am retired, I hope to stay in retirement and pursue a new part time career in a completely new vocation.
I remember a doctor telling me that retirement, and subsequent inactivity, had been the demise of some of her patients. “Stay active, and have a to-do list,” she said.
Inactivity was not going to be my problem, though. My problem revolved around too many goals, commitments, and responsibilities. I found myself chasing from one activity to the next, but not completing any of my goals. I had traded my stressed-out work self for a stressed-out retired self. The pressure that I was experiencing was spilling over into my personal relationships, too.
Working with Mary Ellen helped me to get my “new life” on track. She first helped me to see that I was trying to do everything at once, and that I must first prioritize, then tackle each goal individually and with intention. She provided me with tools to help prioritize and accomplish my commitments and goals.
With each session, I found myself moving forward and managing my days and weeks more effectively. I became more consistent with my exercise goals. I was able to stop procrastinating, and to accomplish the planning and execution of house projects and family events. I was no longer as stressed because I had a plan that was working.
Overall, my biggest take-away was learning to stop the negative thoughts and worries that were driving my life. I have learned to recognize my behavior when I am going down a negative path in which I create a fictitious scenario in my head. Mary Ellen gave me excellent resources that helped me to recognize the need to let go of the stories that I tell myself, and to instead be present and open minded when conflicts or concerns with loved ones arise. In short, Mary Ellen taught me the value of Mindfulness.
I look back on my 12 weeks with Mary Ellen and I am amazed by everything that I was able to accomplish, both emotionally, and in the many projects that I successfully completed.
I plan to follow up with Mary Ellen with an additional 12-week session in the future. I have learned that life is sometimes easier to navigate when we have a great coach!
Member of Clergy in SC
I am quite thankful for the ministry of Mary Ellen Haile. While I am not where I want to be (yet!), she has given me the tools to meal plan, to choose better meals, and the courage to re-learn the joy of food preparation (and permission to mess up when cooking!). Mary Ellen challenges and supports during our conversations; and she has helped me see beyond the horizon to take better care of my health. She has helped me remember “my why” to make improvements in my eating habits, instead of just eating way too many candy bars or consuming way too many soft drinks. While I am a work in progress, Mary Ellen’s encouragement and challenge have put me in a much better trajectory for my physical, mental, and spiritual well-being. She can bless you with her ministry.
The Rev. Mary Balfour Dunlap
As a clergy person, my work is life giving but can very stressful. How do I balance my own life with caring for so many others. Working with Mary Ellen as my Nurse Coach has given me so many tools to work with. I had several goals to achieve, not only did she help me achieve my goals but my mind, body and spirit are fuller!!! I am grateful for this work with Mary Ellen and I can not recommend it enough!
Female age 53
"When I first met with Mary Ellen, these were the goals that I set for our 8 weeks together.
Be more engaged in my life. Own it, stop with all the obligations and expectations.
Have more relationships – see more people
Accept my circumstances and not always wish for something else
Like my body, feel good and healthy
Be more peaceful and not anxious.
I was not sure that I was capable of making any changes since I had been reading self-help books and journaling on my own for years without any real success. During each session we talked through manageable, realistic goals for the week. We also practiced mindfulness and celebrated all the small accomplishments. It seems so simple, but each week my attitude improved and I felt less overwhelmed by my circumstances. Developing tools to work through the times when I feel particularly negative or overwhelmed has given me the confidence to know that I can accomplish all the goals that I set out for our time together. I am work in progress just like everyone else. Making a commitment to work on myself and really engage in the process has been a life changing experience for me."
"I’ve had one previous experience with coaching, but not in a nurse coaching realm. When I was in college and struggling with an eating disorder I had a few sessions with a therapist. I was much younger at that time, but never in my life though have I felt that I had a more open space to be honest and totally forthcoming. There are people in my life who I speak with and can be open with, but in this coaching relationship I was able to work myself through different situations, emotions and struggles without advice or recommendations. Not only did I feel better about the situations I was going through, but I also felt accomplished and strong in doing so. I have so appreciated the time and effort you put into my progress throughout our coaching sessions. I will continue to use techniques, realizations and information shared in our sessions throughout my life to continue to make improvements. I am truly thankful for you and your impact in my life.
I think that what I most appreciated about our time together was the space you provided me to search within myself and the sense of safety you allowed me to feel during our sessions. With that, I was able to be honest with myself and come to conclusions that were true to my being. The tone of your voice was one of comfort and calmness and you asked questions that made me think about my own deep answers, not what should have been an answer or what someone else’s answer may have been. I appreciate you allowing me to be true to myself.
As a result of our coaching, I was able to build confidence in myself and to come more in tune with emotions that I generally wouldn’t acknowledge. I was able to speak out loud about my insecurities and struggles in my relationship and talk about my experience with loss while filling in the role of the caregiver and “expert” in end of life care for my future father-in-law. I also pushed myself as a result of our discussions and goal setting to increased the number of plant-based meals in my diet and I now talk more openly about that with friends - I even have a friend who asked me for more information about plant-based diets!
My experience working with you was absolutely positive and professional. You were very prompt with all of our scheduled appointments and your follow up e-mails and communication was thorough and informative. I never felt like I didn’t know what was going on or confused. Thank you for that!
I would again and again recommend you as a nursing coach. I have recently spoken to someone that I referred to you as a client and he said that they truly enjoyed their sessions with you also. I know for a fact that I’m not the only one who feels that your coaching technique and skills make a positive impact on lives."
"In my life, I was going thru the usual ups and downs that comes from juggling work, being present for my family and important people in my life, getting ready for the Holidays and seeing my kids, and trying to take care of myself.
I hoped the coaching sessions would help me with focus and to prioritize better. The coaching sessions have far exceeded my expectations. Mary Ellen has helped me manage the emotional triggers that hinder my getting things done and in doing so I feel happier about myself and I am getting things done. Mindfulness and concrete steps to obtain goals have helped. I also became more aware of how food plays a roll in my wellbeing.
My experience working with Mary Ellen was exceptional! Her training and knowledge thru her Coaching class combined with her innate ability and professionalism made this a positive and helpful experience.
Benefits, results, achievements - More positive sense of self, practical strategies to achieve goals, and increased awareness of having good food habits and exercise for overall wellbeing.
I gained insights on how to be more confident in my strengths and to use mindfulness to allay my doubts about myself.
I would recommend her to anyone who is interested in life coaching and to those that should be!"
"Overall, I had been feeling as though I was in a rut – pandemic sheltering has been affecting me more than I realized or wanted to admit. I often have felt, even prior to COVID, unanchored, unscheduled, structurally not sound. Coaching sessions with Mary Ellen helped me focus on what areas of structure I can control and how to take small steps to achieve that.
I loved working with Mary Ellen! Her calming demeanor is instrumental in being an effective nurse coach. She placed me at ease, usually by beginning the session with a mindfulness exercise, which really helped me center on our session goals. I really loved how she completely and wholeheartedly listened to me – repeating back what I’d said correctly and in a more understandable format.
A great benefit that resulted from our coaching sessions was learning how to focus on my goal of long-term wellness and healthy longevity. Creating and implementing some small goals each week has been another benefit to our sessions. Having data later on will help make sense of future blood work results I will receive.
The greatest insight that was gained from our coaching sessions was the affirmation that my needs and priorities are worthwhile and important and therefore shouldn’t be put aside if I want to ultimately achieve my goals.
I would recommend Mary Ellen to anyone who wants to see changes in their day to day lives in areas they know need attention - regardless of how small they think they are."
- F 55
"Before I started working with my nurse coach, Mary Ellen, the majority of my life was filled with working two jobs, one full time and one part time. The time spent working accounted for approximately 55-60 hours per week, leaving not a lot of "free" time during the week days. While I tried not to work at my part-time job on the weekends, I found myself using this time mostly to just "recharge" for the upcoming week. My methods for recharging included things like sleeping in, binge-watching Netflix, reading, maybe working a jigsaw puzzle, gathering with family and friends, or just doing nothing at all. During the weekend time, I was managing to keep up with the laundry, dishes, and doing some light house cleaning, but not much more truly productive work was getting done. I found myself either too tired or too unmotivated to do anything more. This cycle week after week was draining me both physically and mentally. I was feeling trapped in this existence where I felt like I worked all the time with nothing to show for my efforts.
My house has long been a source of unhappiness for me and is not at all the sanctuary I would love for it to be. There are so many repairs needed at the moment, and I don't have the funds to get those repairs done. I do not like having people over, and I never do any entertaining, because I am embarrassed by the condition of the house. I feel comfort and joy in the homes of others, which always seem to be so nice, well-maintained, and nicely decorated. I long for my house to be like that, but I feel overwhelmed by the costs and the lack of funds to make any of the improvements to get there. So, I've tended to just ignore the problem areas and/or come up with work-around solutions to mask what is underneath.
In working with Mary Ellen, we were able to identify that shame was playing a huge role in all the issues I had with my house. I was asked to consider the source of the feelings I had about my house and why I was hesitant to have anyone come to visit me there. While there were some specific things I could point to that had an impact on how I felt, I had to also consider that these feelings were emanating from within. I was feeling a sense of embarrassment about the condition of my house and didn't want others to see all the imperfections because in my mind those imperfections would be seen as imperfections in me. I feared judgment from others and feared they would see my house as a reflection of a lack of accomplishment in my life. Mary Ellen was quick to point out many accomplishments and personal characteristics I could claim, as well as the fact that these things are what others truly see in me, not all the things that I feel are lacking. Self judgment is a tough nut to crack but I did take a big step during the course of our sessions when I invited Mary Ellen to come to my home for session #3. This was a transformative moment for sure! While I am not ready to entertain just yet, I am now more open to inviting folks to come to my home instead of waiting for an invitation to theirs. I was also reminded that if anyone judges me by the condition of my home, then that is probably not a person I need to have in my life. I will repeat this as a mantra going forward!
In terms of addressing my bad sleep habits, Mary Ellen guided me to try several different approaches, such as setting a timer at a certain time and going directly to bed when the timer goes off, having a nighttime devotional, or doing some reading rather than watching television in the evening. I love spreadsheets and was already tracking my daily dietary habits and my weight, so I added a column to track my sleep as well. I tried skipping the couch altogether and going directly to bed where I would either listen to a meditation or read a little, instead of watching any television. While I was not successful in doing this every night, I was definitely able to see the benefits when I did! On my good nights I am now averaging 6-7 hours of sleep and find it much easier to get up in the morning with more energy to start the day. I believe it will be possible to permanently alter my sleep habits with just a little determination and holding myself accountable along the way, and I am both dedicated and determined to continue this work in progress!
My experience throughout was wonderful! I both enjoyed and looked forward to not only spending time with Mary Ellen in our coaching sessions and participating in her training experience, but also in the things I gained along the way. She has such a talent for thinking through a situation and suggesting possible options for a desired outcome. I loved the ease with which I could talk with her about topics that were of concern to me, and the reassurance that was given to me in the moments I allowed myself to be the most vulnerable.
I learned that I need to be a gentle with myself in terms of the standards by which I measure my accomplishments and my worth. I learned that the measuring tool I am using for myself is not the same as the one others are using to take my measure. I've learned that vulnerability is not a bad thing. It may be scary, but it is also freeing in so many ways when we allow ourselves to go there. I've also learned that when things seem overwhelming, it's okay to just start with one small thing that will give you a sense of joy when it is done. Small accomplishments over time will add up to a whole lot of joy.
As it turned out, I unexpectedly had more "free" time during the coaching process due to limited hours at my second job. While I really needed and missed having this income, I also found joy in the extra hours I had outside of work. I accomplished several small projects around the house that raised my happiness meter significantly. This involved planting flowers and adding mulch to all my flower beds. Now when I drive up to my home, I see the neatness of these spaces and the colorful blooms, and feel a real sense of pride in my home … at least on the outside! I've learned that I will need to be intentional in the things I do at my house, starting with identifying those things I can do myself, and then focusing first on the things that will bring me the most joy. Little by little I can transform my home into the sanctuary I would like it to be. I've also learned that I don't have to do it all myself. It's okay to ask for help. According to my coach, there are people for whom helping others is a great blessing!
I would definitely recommend your coaching to anyone who may be feeling overwhelmed by the demands of life or stuck and in need of direction to achieve a specific goal. I would also recommend your coaching for anyone who is seeking to make a change in their life somehow; whether it be related to their physical and mental wellbeing, a possible career change, spiritual development and growth, breaking habits, or just to talk through things with an impartial, objective, caring professional. In terms of a specific nurse coach, I would not hesitate to recommend you to anyone!"
- F 64
"Before starting to work with Mary Ellen, we were having trouble maintaining a healthy diet. My wife suffers from fibromyalgia and I have high blood pressure and AFib My wife’s weakness is salty snacks, and my weakness is chocolate. We would resist temptation for a few days, then give in and satisfy our cravings.
We began working with Mary Ellen and she provided us with some tools to make a healthy lifestyle. She recommended that we watch the “Forks Over Knives” documentary. We were also urged to be more consistent with our exercise and to increase our “steps”. Mary Ellen also urged us to journal our food and water intake, exercise, and how we were feeling before and after eating and exercising. We were also introduced to “mindfulness” and Mary Ellen recommended an app to assist us with proper breathing and mind clearing and calming. She also stressed adequate hydration by drinking enough water each day.
We’ve begun including more plant based food in our diets. My wife has found some great recipes that help eliminate some of the animal based protein we eat with plant based protein. We’re more mindful of our choices when we go out to eat as well as when we’re grocery shopping. We’re walking/hiking more, and we’re feeling more energized.
Mary Ellen is extremely personable, and has a very pleasant and calm demeanor. She is an advocate for achieving a healthy lifestyle, and has pointed out to us how small changes and wins are going to add up over time and help us attain our goals. My blood pressure is down, as is my weight. My wife's aches from fibromyalgia have lessened. We both have a ways to go to reach a full healthy lifestyle, but we now have the tools we need to get there.
We would recommend Mary Ellen’s coaching to anyone who thinks that a healthy diet and lifestyle is beyond their capabilities. We found working with Mary Ellen as a couple made it easier for us to work as a “team” to accomplish our individuals goals thanks to the tools and encouragement Mary Ellen provided."
- MD 63 & LAD 56
"When I met Mary Ellen I was still unsure about the mindfulness practice. It still seemed so unnatural for me to use in my coaching sessions.
Through exploration with Mary Ellen and her gentle pushes I was encouraged to really press in to finding what was comfortable for me. As I continued to push in myself I found mindfulness options that could help in different scenarios, to help better serve my clients needs.
As a result I am more comfortable with using mindfulness. I now have a folder with many different mindfulness topics to meet individual needs of my clients.
Mindfulness when utilized in areas that meet the individuals needs can be very effective.
I would recommend Mary Ellen to anyone who needs a caring individual to help them on their journey. Mary Ellen's mindfulness techniques are very restful and peaceful."
- F KM