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Episode 10: Occupational Wellness with Nancy Richardson

Updated: 4 days ago

Photo of Nancy Richardson
Nancy Richardson

Welcome to the Wellness in Every Season of Motherhood podcast where we explore what it means to achieve total wellness. I am your host, Autumn Carter. This podcast is geared more towards mothers, but we try to be inclusive of all here as we learn together to get us out of survival mode and into thriving during life transitions.

Welcome to episode 10 of Wellness in Every Season. I am thrilled to have you here with us today. Our guest for this episode is the amazing Nancy Richardson. Nancy's journey is truly inspiring. As a former school teacher, current registered nurse, and owner of a children's camp, she has accomplished so much while staying true to her values and raising five children. Nancy went back to school to complete her nursing degree when her children were in high school, all while running a successful after-school and summer camp program for children with her husband.

In today's episode, Nancy will share some vulnerable moments on her career and parenting journey, as well as offer some wonderful advice on how to achieve occupational wellness. As you know, occupational wellness is an essential aspect of our overall well-being and it affects many areas of our lives, which we will be talking about on this episode. So sit back, relax, and join us for this insightful

conversation on how to find balance in our careers and in our lives. Without further ado, let's dive right in.

I have Nancy Richardson with me and she is talking to us about occupational

wellness and I'm going to let her introduce herself.

Great, thanks Autumn. I graduated with a degree in teaching, I became a nurse. I had great opportunities that did align with my values and I think that's what occupational health is all about.

What do you think occupational wellness is and why do you think it is important?

I don't think that 30 years ago when my parents were in the workforce they would have understood or even given any thought to occupational wellness. But I think as we are in a new generation now that have new areas of interest that are more in touch with themselves, that are more demanding of their careers and of their employers, I think this is a really good topic to touch on.

It's about aligning with your values, your interests, and your beliefs within your career. And if we can grasp all of that, if we can get our values into our career and what we're doing in the workforce, I think that our ability to be successful and happy is going to work. It's going to happen. And we all know that if we're happy in our careers, they're going to stay with those careers longer. And our employers are going to be very happy if they have longevity of their people.

With the business that I own in 1984, my husband and I bought a business. We bought a summer camp and I had a teaching degree at the time. I had two young children and we bought this property. We had worked at a summer counselors and it was an answer to many prayers, many dreams. We were able to raise our kids together and we were able to work with other children. And then later on in my life after I was running my summer camp, I started before and after school programs and kindergarten wraparound programs for children. Again, I was able to use that teaching degree, loved what I did, just it was just really a dream come true. And I was always very interested also in the healthcare field. And I always knew that I would go back to nursing school.

And I chose to to do this when all my children were in high school. I had a wonderful time, and I also had the opportunity at that time to run a camp for children that had cancer. And I was able to combine my skills in nursing and in teaching and in being a camp person because I am a camp person.

I think as a young mom staying at home, I think something that can happen to us is we can lose our identities. Rarely does your child say to you, "Hey, mom, you did a really good job talking to me about that today." or hey mom, way to go on put me down for a nap today. That doesn't happen. And if we are in a situation where a husband leaves for work and comes home, we're catching him up on the things the kids did that day, maybe some of the things that we did, but we become so immersed and we can lose our identity.

And I think what is important to do is, if you can't practice certain things every day, as a young, young, young mom. As a 20-year-old having my second baby.

I knew I wanted to be a teacher, but I wasn't sitting down to babies and teaching them how to write. I was reading to them, but I wasn't fulfilling that piece of myself. But it's okay to put things on hold for a while. As long as we don't lose sight of what we love and what is ingrained in us to do.

I had the opportunity once to, I was working at a hospital as a wellness nurse. I was working with a wonderful doctor. She was the pediatrician and she'd come in and she would examine all the children. And we got to be friends. And she told me one day, I hate my job. And I said, you hate your job. You're a pediatrician, you're a doctor, you hold all these baby during your shifts. And you know what I wanna do? I just wanna plant plants. I wanna go into landscape design. And we talked about it for a long time and she quit being a doctor and she started a landscape business. And I thought, good for you.

That's what you did by going and doing nursing.

Yes, absolutely, absolutely. But I think that the personality you have as a teacher is similar to a nurse personality. You know, it's that nurturing personality. And you know, it's okay to change our minds. Our lives evolve. There are seasons for everything. Right now I do nursing for, I always tell people I love brand new babies And I love really old people. I did my brand new baby thing at the hospital for 10 years. And now I am working with veterans. Veterans are entitled to certain benefits, they're entitled to home care. So I go into a veteran's home and I sit and talk to him and I develop a care plan. And then I get a caregiver in there to go and take care of this veteran. And I just am at a season in my life now, I couldn't go back to hospital nursing. Physically, I couldn't do it. but I still have been able to take what I love doing and modify it in a way that works for me and for the people that I'm working for right now. So I've been really, really lucky there.

And I love that it fits your lifestyle. You like to travel. And when you were first interviewing with them, I remember you talking about this, that they said, yeah, we want you and we will make it work with your schedule. And I think that's important that it fits our lifestyle. We don't have to totally conform our lifestyle for our career. It shouldn't be that way.

That's exactly right.

Because otherwise we are going to be burned out. And we have so many dynamics that make up us that it should not be a focus on only this part of us, which is the reason why I love wellness and why I'm going through all these dimensions.

So you talked about this a little bit, but do you want to talk anymore about how your occupational health has positively affected your perspective in your career and your life choices?

Well, I would say that I am a pretty authentic person. I'm not brilliant by any means. And for me to know what my values are, I want my behavior to align with my values. It's as simple as that.

I had a guy working for me once and he was so good as a camp counselor. He was so good with kids. And I tried to get him to think about it in terms of the career. And he said, "No, I'm gonna be an accountant." And I went, "Huh? You're gonna be an accountant?" 'Cause usually, accountants are not like gung-ho camp people.

That's kind of a different personality, right? And he graduated, he got his degree in accounting, passed the CPA. And I got a phone call from him two weeks ago and he goes, "I don't like accounting. I really liked camp and I really like kids." And I'm like, "I know, I know."

So for me, it allows me to be the one person that I am. That's important to me.I wear a few hats, but by thinking about wellness within your occupation, thinking about your values within your occupation, it allows you to wear less hats.

This guy that you talked about, he can be very much like your husband has had so much success in the summer camp program that now he's working on his passion. He is super passionate about it, about environmental health.

We can marry our interests and make our dream career. And that is what my whole workshop is going to be about. Actually, it's a course, not a workshop.

It's gonna be longer than a workshop.

We can even have one career and change our minds and do another that we reach the lifespan of this career and we're now going for another one. And there's so much to that.

Can I share an epic fail with you though?

Sure, go for it.

So I was working in the nursery and when I graduated from nursing school, I decided I wanted to work with newborn babies. And there were only two nurses at the hospital that did this, it's called nan nursing. And that's the job I wanted. And so I interviewed for the job. And the person interviewing me said, "well, we don't have any of those openings right now." And I went, "well, it's okay". And she just said, "well, what would you like to do instead?" I said, "oh no, I wanna do that job. But when you have an opening, just give me a call." And she thought that was completely crazy. She goes, "oh, so you're not looking to work right now?" I said, "well, I am, but that's the job I want. So I'm willing to wait for that job."

And I knew that I didn't want to compromise that. Two weeks later, I got a phone call and she said to me, will you come take this job and I'm going to take those other two nan nurses and train them to do NICU nursing.

So it worked out beautifully for me. And it was the job I wanted at the time. But after about a year, I decided, okay, I'm ready to go to the emergency room and do emergency room nursing. So sure enough, I went down to the emergency room, I talked to them and they started me on a eight week internship and it was a disaster. The reason it was a disaster and my preceptor told me this is because I am the kind of person that I want to get to know you. You know, I want to know your name. I want to call you by your name. I want, if you come into an emergency room with a vertigo, people always think they're having a stroke, but they're having vertigo. I want to give you the name of the best ENTs out there and make sure that you're on the right path to get help for your vertigo. Well, my preceptor said to me, you do not have time to do all that. You are terrible at this job. I remember her saying to me, you did nothing right today.

She said that to me, you did nothing right today. But you know what? There's a lesson to be learned from that. I've never forgotten that. And it was a very humbling moment for me, probably a moment I needed to have. But she was right. I was in nursing, which I love. But when you're in an emergency room, they want to make sure you're not going to die and send you home with a referral. That is their job. It is not to get to know your name or to know if you have family in the area or if you grew up in Maryland and I can go on and on and on about everything I was engaging them in conversation in the in the patients. And I realized she was absolutely right. And after about six weeks, I can remember was the day before Thanksgiving. And I had I went up to the person who was in charge of the emergency room and I said, I'm really sorry, but I am not my best self when I'm here. I'm not good at this. And I walked out the door and the next week I went back to my wellness baby nurse job. At the time, oh, I cried. I was so upset. It was probably 40 years old. I was just devastated. And now I think about that. I'm like, she was absolutely right. I wasn't the right nurse for an emergency room.

So it's okay to have fails because the way I look at it, we can be on the right bus, but in the wrong seat on that bus. And I have used that example many times in my career with employees, with clients, but you've got to find the right seat. And it's okay to be in the wrong seat for a little while because what an awareness,

what an enlightenment that is. Hey, I was terrible at this, but I'm still in the healthcare field and now I'm working with veterans and I can sit and talk to them and thank them for their service and talk to them about what their needs are right now. So it's okay. Don't be afraid to get on the bus. But once you're on the bus, you may not be in the right seat. So it's okay to move around in that to find your right seat in a bus.

And besides the emotional part, it wasn't that huge of a shift and you didn't lose that much just feeling the humble and the heartbreak. And I mean, there was a lot of emotional but outside of that, it wasn't that painful. It was just a shift.

That's right. And I've done that in my own business. I had a woman who was a fantastic kindergarten teacher. And it was getting to be a little too much on her physically. So I asked her to come into my office and be my HR manager. And she got used to it. And eventually it worked out fine. But I think my expectations then 20 years ago was that she was going to be as good an HR manager as she was a kindergarten teacher. And she wasn't, you know, and she was in the right she was on the right bus because she was with my company. And she was in the

right seat for a long time. And then she switched to a different seat. And it wasn't the right seat, but it became the right seat.

So everybody's journey looks so different, you know, and just trying to find not losing yourself and your children and saying, hey, I'm interested in this. I'm interested in that. And maybe that'll come up for me down the road or maybe I can do this. You know, we never want to stop learning. I have a friend I was with yesterday and she said to me, I'm really worried that I'm losing it. Everybody in their sixties thinks this. I said to her, well, it's time to take a class. It's time to learn something. It's time to start listening to podcasts. It's time to, you know, you got to give your brain a challenge because it can go mushy. You know, they call it pregnant brain and postpartum brain, right?

You can't lose what you're interested in or develop what you might be interested in. And there's also the aspect that you can take what you're learning.

You've taken so much of your teaching and so much of what you've learned business wise, especially as you're starting to hand it onto the next generation. And you're applying it into your nursing profession. It's very interesting to me to look back and see, okay, I can see where for me medical billing and coding and knowing these things is now helping me here and all of my interests in health has led to my applied health degree and just I see how it all is coming together and it's really fun and it makes me excited for seeing where this next chapter of my life is going.

Absolutely. Yeah, so I think, I think there's that aspect of it too, with looking at the buzz, because at the end of your career, you can look back and go, I get it now, it makes sense.

Yes, so many things in hindsight. And my husband's aunt, I had the most amazing conversation with her almost a month ago, where she has a second career in retirement that is the career she always wanted, and she was not able to get into. And now she is beyond fulfilled.

That's awesome. Yeah. And it's important to never shut that door on yourself like, oh, I'm too old now or, or I have kids now so I can't do that or whatever you, there's still a way to do an aspect of it. If you can't do the whole thing, especially with kids, you can at least start to learn about this thing for when your day comes. I think it does kids a lot of good to see their parents working toward a goal.

How do you think it ties into the other area as wellness?

I think it's all, you know, any kind of wellness, your physical wellness, if you're happy at work, it's better for you. It's less stressful for you to be doing something that you believe in any way. It would be hard to have a job that I didn't like. You know, I think many years ago, my father was a plumber and I never asked him if he liked his job. You know, he had the same job for 40 years until he retired and that was the job you had. This generation isn't going to settle for that. They're just not. All my kids now, I have children that range from age 34 to 40. And man, if they're not happy at work, they're looking around. They're on indeed the next day. You've got to do something to keep this generation happy.

So I can imagine that having--with their emotional states, their emotional wellness, their spiritual wellness, if it's all tied into what their values are, I would think they would have more success. And maybe they'll stick around longer.


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What I really like from the National Wellness Institute is they say that occupational wellness recognizes the personal satisfaction and enrichment one

receives through their employment, academic and or volunteer and community

engagement services, which is what you're talking about, personal satisfaction and enrichment. And it sounds like you had that through your teaching career, and then through your summer camp business, and through nursing and all the aspects that you've done of nursing.

So I really, and I think that's the most important thing is that you receive satisfaction. So it's not just lopsided and you're only receiving it at home. The goal is to have satisfaction in your personal life, in your work life, in every area of your life that you can. That doesn't mean that you're happy all the time. That means that you have this sense of peace, of satisfaction, of just where it's an equilibrium. Yes, you have the lows, there's sad times, and yes, you have the highs of the happiness, but it should be pretty mellow. Just nice and mellow and as calm as you can have it be. I mean, even if you're in a high demand job, if it's something that you love and it gives you satisfaction. So let's talk about opposite side of this. What do you think the signs are that you are neglecting your occupational health? You personally?

Well, I know for a while I got involved in a camp for children with cancer and it was a nonprofit of course and I was never paid to do it. I would basically spend five weeks a summer at this overnight camp running this camp program for children. Like I was doing something for the good of humanity. I felt really good about what I was doing. It was hard on my family. So when I decided to, I did it for 10 years and I decided, okay, it's time to move on to something else that I feel strongly about. And I ended up getting involved in a charity for grieving children. These are children who have lost a mom or a dad. And I decided to run a camp for them. And I still do this camp to this day and it's a weekend, a year.

It feels great to do it. But when I say that, when you run a camp for kids that you probably won't see again next summer, a camp for kids with cancer, it just seems like you're not doing enough. Do you know what I mean? Like when you pick what it is you're passionate about and you're gonna do for the betterment of the world, when you choose what that is and you've done something as profound and impactful as camp for children with cancer, to then go and talk to kids about the grief process through their mom or dad dying, which sounds horrible, but it's not like working with a kid with cancer. And I've always felt that in my life. And now I'm just doing grief counseling, which is also a good thing, but it's, to me it was never as good. And I've always felt that and I don't know why,but I've always kind of felt that way. Does that make any sense?

One of the signs that you're neglecting this area is that you're not feeling like you're showing up as your full person. It sounds like what it is for you.

I think you're right.

I can see why you would struggle if you're not able to be fully in and fully needed. And there's definitely a difference between doing it for a weekend and five weeks.

What do you think the signs of neglect are for others, such as your friends and family?

You know, I think that sometimes you're naturally good at something. My youngest son is an amazing salesperson, but I can tell that he doesn't feel fully satisfied with what he's doing. He's good at it. And I think a lot of times we get into a job that we make way more money than we should and we're way good at it, but it does nothing for our occupational wellness. I know a lot of people in that situation who are making way too much money in the job they're in, even though it's not fulfilling, that they can't leave.

One thing that I thought of when you were talking about your son is when we are in jobs that we can't get away from for financial reasons, that is when we can look for hobbies. There are other ways that we can receive personal satisfaction

outside of just our job.

Yeah, for sure.

We are at a point in life where it can be a goal. And that is the whole point of my podcast and my program. The next episode actually is talking about Maslow's hierarchy of needs, because 40 years ago, we were looking for our basic needs to be met. And most of us have our basic needs met. So now we can go the next rung up the ladder all the way up so that we can receive what's called self-actualization, which is where we fill our fulfillment. We are fulfilled, we are satisfied, and this is when we have the opportunity to turn around and help other people like you are doing.

7 Basic Human Needs
Hierarchy of Needs

Absolutely. I think it's such a plus if you can find it within your job. And I think it's something new that we're looking for, like I said before, Autumn, 40 years ago, people were not thinking about their occupational wellness. They were thinking about paying the bills. And that's what they did. And it didn't care if they liked their job or felt fulfilled at their job at all. So if you can find personal satisfaction through your work, man, that's the icing on the cupcake, You know?

What do you do to routinely check up on your occupational wellness?

If you know when you are your best self, if you can say, "You're wasting your money if you have me sitting behind the computer. You're not wasting your money if you have me talking one-on-one with a veteran." I guess it also, how do you define success? For me, it is the veteran I saw today, very depressed, recently diagnosed with Parkinson's disease has no reason to live, he doesn't think. And I said, well, you know, what about some, what hobbies could we talk about? What games could we play together? You know, let's play cards, let's do this, let's do that. That's when I'm my best person. You can't get so bogged down in, for me, it's the admin stuff that you can't exercise what your gifts truly are. Because we're all given gifts. We all are. And we just have to identify what those are, and then be able to put them into practice, whether it be for a charity or for a grandchild or whatever it may be. I mean, the greatest legacy I'm going to leave is my relationship with my grandchildren. I know that these veterans are going to die in the next 10 years. They're not remembering me. My legacy is with my family and keeping a grasp on that. Because sometimes we get so much kudos in the workplace that we don't want to go home to the family that doesn't appreciate us, or that forgets to tell us we're awesome.

And that is why we have the other dimensions of ourself.

Yeah, for sure.


If you're a mom, you probably have a kid.

Yep, yep.

So there's definitely that thought of it. And you never said the word boundary, but I'm still, I thought about that the whole time, is your finding when you're your best self and you are letting people know, this is my best self. If you want my best self, I want my best self. If you want me to stay here, then these are the boundaries that you need to put me in. It takes a lot of self-actualization, we'll go back to using that word, of knowing yourself enough to know this is when I shine the best as an employee or as an employer, whichever side you are on that coin and for you if you're on both.

What can others do to strengthen this area if they are in a deficit? You did mention this a little bit.

You know, I think of just looking at all of your possibilities, even if you don't think you have any gifts or, I mean, I'm not musical. It's one of my greatest regrets in my life is that I don't play an instrument. But think of all the things we can do.

Think of children. And think of how every season we tell our children, OK, what do you want to do this season? It's fall. Do you want to do soccer? Do you want to do this? Do you want to do gymnastics? Do you want to do ballet? Do you want to do art class? But we don't do that as adults. We don't say, oh, well, I belong to the Y. And they're offering pickleball, or they're offering art. Just try everything.

Try things that you don't even think you'd be interested in. What's the worst that can happen? You're not interested in it, you know? But just to have exposure to different things is so valuable.

And to talk to people and to listen to people about what they're doing, what's popular, what's fun, things that I never thought I would do or be involved in. Golf, and yet I love golf. I mean, it's super fun, I love it. But things that you don't think you would be excited about, you can get excited about. And if you don't, that's fine too. But why is it we expect our children to be exposed to so many different things? We expose them, we pay money, we give them opportunities to be on teams, to work individually, but we don't do that for ourselves. We don't say, oh, it's springtime, what new thing am I gonna do this spring? We don't do that, but we should do that. We absolutely should do that.

We put ourselves in a rut, don't we? Where we're like, well, I always do this hobby. This is my hobby. This is what I'm known as. I thought it's funny that you're talking about piano 'cause I picked it up over the summer, I wanna say, right after I graduated. I'm like, okay, now's the time. And I'm taking swim lessons. I almost drowned as a kid. So, yeah, I still have a lot of anxiety when the water goes up my sinuses, like, okay, I can do this. But yeah, and I love that because we don't do that enough.

We know we don't.

And that is one of the things that was really driven home in applied health and talking about the dimensions of wellness. This is how you prevent Alzheimer's.

This is how you can prevent dementia. And this is how you can prevent mental aging. You can put two 90 year olds together and one totally acts like a 90 year old and the other one acts like he's like in a 60.


And why do you think that is? That is because they are taking care

of all the dimensions of themselves. And one of that is continuing to learn.

Do you have any last thoughts as we close out?

You're a great role model for people, Autumn, to think that you're doing piano and swim lessons and you have four little kids, that's a lot. And if we could all just embrace that as young moms, just don't forget who you are. Don't forget that one day those kids are gonna grow up and the last opinion they're gonna want is probably gonna be yours. And that's okay, because you've got to have your own life. You've got to have a partner that you're still crazy about because those children are gonna go find their own families and hopefully they'll still be an integral part of yours. But you cannot lose yourself because you're a mom. You should be adding to yourself, not subtracting from yourself.

This is exactly why I started this, is this reason right here. I was starting to lose myself. So that's why I went back to school. And I have seen so many moms along the way that, 'well, I want to go back and have a career, but I don't know what I want to do.' And they say that forever until they feel like their prime is gone. Or they end up seeing a therapist because they're super depressed because now their children have a life of their own and they have kind of forgotten their family.

They don't like their spouse anymore sometimes.


And then once their kids leave, the buffer between them and their spouse is gone. And they're like, well, now I need to get out of the house 'cause I can't stand my spouse. So now is the time where you should be focusing on dating your spouse, getting to know them. And more than that, get to know yourself

because you have so many different dimensions to yourself that are amazing.

And I just love what you said about, we sign our kids up for all these different sports and it might not be seasonal, maybe it's for the year or whatever. Do the same thing for yourself. That's amazing.

My next thing after I overcome my fear of swimming and learn my strokes better is I am a terrible runner. I can run if something's chasing me, but I cannot pace myself. I don't have the right form. I'm going to find a running coach next.

That's the next thing on my list. Like I, I want to round myself out and stop telling myself, I'm bad at this area. Cause that always happens. You know what?

Now's the time to fix it. So I love that. Thank you so much for doing this for me,

especially before vacation and sitting behind a computer.

Of course, of course, no problem. That's all right, I know, right? Hey, you showed me how to do everything, so I'm good.


The National Wellness Institute uses these questions as a self-assessment. One is almost never, two is rarely, three is sometimes, four is often, and five is almost always.

My professional, academic, and/or volunteer pursuits reflect my personal values.

I believe that the work I do accomplishes something important.

I regularly have opportunities to make meaningful contributions where I work.

My choice of work includes a variety of challenges that I can manage with my current skills.

I feel that I have a good life/work balance.

I authentically enjoy the work I do.

On a scale of 1 low and 10 high, how would you rate your overall satisfaction with where you are in this dimension?

Here are some coaching questions regarding occupational wellness.

What are my strengths and talents and how can I use them to achieve greater job satisfaction and fulfillment?

What aspects of my job or career bring me the most joy and fulfillment and how can I incorporate more of these elements into my work?

How do I handle stress and pressure my job and what coping mechanisms can I use to better manage these challenges?

What is my long term career vision and what steps can I make to make progress toward this goal?

What skills or knowledge do I need to develop in order to advance in my career or pursue a new professional path?

How do I communicate with my colleagues and supervisors?

And how can I improve my communication skills to build stronger relationships in the workplace?

What kind of work environment best supports my productivity, creativity, and well-being?

And how can I create or seek out such an environment?

Thank you for joining us on this episode of Wellness in Every Season. We hope you enjoyed our conversation with the amazing Nancy Richardson, who has accomplished so much in her career and personal life. Nancy shared some valuable insights on achieving occupational wellness while raising children and watching them start families of their own. As we know, occupational wellness is an essential aspect of our overall well-being and it affects many areas of our lives, especially as we navigate work and family life. We hope that our conversation today has given you some insights and inspiration on how to find balance in your careers and in your lives.

Thank you for tuning in and we look forward to bringing you more episodes on wellness in every season. Until next time, take care and stay well.

Thank you for joining our wellness discussion this week with Autumn Carter. If you liked what you heard, follow me on Instagram @momswellnessineveryseason to keep up with the latest wellness tips for moms. Please share the podcast love with others by sharing, subscribing and leaving a review wherever you listen to podcasts. If you want a topic covered in more detail or free coaching consultation, please DM me on Instagram or send an email through my website I look forward to connecting with you. Please join the discussion next week.

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