Debra Berry

My Story

In his book, The Only Thing That Matters, Neale Donald Walsch writes, “You have been told that to be happy in life you need to get the guy, get the girl, get the car, get the job, get the house, get the spouse, get the kids, get the better job, get the better house, get the promotion . . .”  These are often thought of as planned and expected life events.

Many of us, including myself, grew up with plans to get many of these things.  I got my hot sports car. I got my nursing degree and career. I got my husband. I got my little house. I got my beautiful precious daughter and son. I got an advanced degree and a better job. I got a bigger, better house with a pool. I got my trip to Hawaii, and much more. 

But I also got the unexpected.  Divorce, my first experience of an unexpected major life change.  Turns out divorce was not the end of unexpected changes in my life.  Not so long ago, within about a two year period, I experienced a whammy of the unexpected.


First,  my job was eliminated.  I had been a nurse for nearly 30 years when my job was reduced to part-time and included a change in location.  I asked myself, "Now what?  I depended on a full-time income.   Eventually,  I moved to a new area and rented a little cottage tucked away in the woods on a lake, and then started a new job in a new area far away from family and friends and a place I had called home for many years.

Three months after my move and starting that new job, I was diagnosed with a major health challenge. I had always been healthy.  Suddently, I was too ill and thus not safe to live alone in the snowy isolated little cabin in the woods.  I had to move into a nearby town to be closer to work and my health care providers.  

Eight months after starting the new job, and in the midst of recovering from my health challenge and my mother dying, the job I had moved to was eliminated.  I remember standing in the hallway and asking myself once again, “Now what?”

“Now what?” turned out to be finding a new job on the other side of the state, my mother died, and less than a week after her funeral, I moved in with a family member until I could find a home in the town where my new job was located 


The unexpected continued.  I eventually found a condo to rent near the town where I would be working, and I moved once again.  A little more than a year later I found a home to purchase.  My sister died during the time I was closing on the house, I moved the next month, and the following month my dad died.   

If you lost count, that's five moves, two new jobs, three family members’ death, and a major health challenge.  All unexpected within less than a two year period!

I would like to tell you the unexpected changes I experienced in my life were easy, but the truth is they were tough.  I found I was meeting myself coming and going.  I felt disorganized and scattered. I felt like I was running in circles, and often I felt alone in the middle of the circle not knowing which way to turn.  I was tired, weary, and stressed to my limit. There was little peace and quiet or time for me to engage in the activities I enjoyed. I missed out on connecting with my family and friends.  Things I felt passionate about were put to the side.  I told myself to buck up, get up, and quit whining.  I was holding on and trying to survive.  My challenges did not not stop with what I just shared with you, challenges keep on keeping on!  

What I have learned is life keeps happening, and you will keep experiencing the those unexpected events and situations that can turn your life upside down.  I also learned how to navigate through the chaos that often come with these transitions in our lives and thrive.