Donna Fitzgerald

$24.95

Creative Healing Through Transformation:
Conversations With My Soul

Donna Fitzgerald and Tana Heminsley combine their expertise and experience to create a compassionate step-by-step process utilizing the empowering tools of self-awareness and journaling. This self-guide workbook supports caregivers seeking authentic self-discovery and ease before, during, and after caring for their loved one.


This Visioning and Journaling Guide for Caregivers offers a unique source of support for the challenges of caregiving and the psychological and spiritual health of caregivers. Donna Fitzgerald's own journey as caregiver and bereavement volunteer has given her valuable insight into this world of uncertainty and self-doubt. In creating this essential resource, Donna offers a path to healing through journaling and authentic conversations with one's self and shares her most personal, profound, and transformative experiences of self-discovery. This caregiver workbook is a thought-provoking and inspiring work that deserves the highest praise and an unreserved recommendation for those seeking hope and healing.

About Donna

Donna is a Facilitator of Authentic Leadership Conversations, co-author of Daring to Share There to Here, Volume 1 by Diana Reyers, and an active member of the Daring to Share Global team.

She volunteered with the Kingston Chapter of the ALS Society in Kingston, Ontario, Canada for eight years, providing support to families living with ALS. She received the 2007 – 2008 Volunteer Excellence Award from ALS Ontario. Donna also volunteered with the Neuromuscular Clinic in Kingston, Ontario as a peer support volunteer. She was a volunteer with Hospice Kingston for two years as part of the Bereavement Support Program.

After being a caregiver to her late husband for six years as he battled ALS and passed away in 2004, Donna made a commitment to be of service to others. For the past sixteen years since her husband’s death, she has volunteered in her community, supporting families and caregivers.

Donna has navigated grief, trauma, and loss of self within her personal healing process. Along with her professional expertise, she finds purpose sharing the tools and self-care practices that were instrumental in her healing while creating a new meaningful life.

Donna is now retired from the administrative assistant position she held for thirty-seven years. She enjoys spending time with her children, being a part of her one-year-old grandson’s life, and loves being outdoors while tapping into her sense of adventure. Donna continues to offer support to those who find themselves wanting to heal and reconnect with their inner voice – to have meaningful Conversations with Their Soul.

TESTIMONIALS

"I applaud the authors for this beautiful healing book that could only have been written by someone who has successfully navigated the lived experience of major loss and change in life direction. The frameworks and exercises in this book provide really practical stepping stones for the reader through this difficult and uncharted territory – a route that enables the reader to realize the power of emotional intelligence, spirituality and authenticity to successfully transcend the most profoundly difficult life experiences. I urge anyone who has suffered such a life changing loss to use this highly empowering and insightful guide to navigate towards a place of healing for the mind and soul."

-Mike Fitzpatrick, Physician and Chief of Staff, KHSC

Kingston, Ontario, Canada


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"I am honoured to be asked to write a few words about this workbook, Creative Healing Through Transformation, written by Donna Fitzgerald. I am a Rehabilitation Physician and have spent my career working with individuals and caregivers affected by ALS and other neuromuscular conditions. I witnessed Donna’s personal journey through the many stages of providing care for a loved one while still balancing many other roles. All of us in the Neuromuscular Clinic witnessed her adjustment and recovery and we were pleased that she continued to work through the ALS Society as a peer support for other caregivers. Peer support is such a critical part of the supports offered to individuals. Peers bring the lived experience and validation of the broad breath of emotion that caregivers may feel. I am pleased that Donna has written this workbook so that she and others can continue to help caregivers. The workbook shares her personal stories in a way that encourages other to follow the path of healing. It is a wonderfully guided journey, while not being prescriptive, that can be used by individuals, in support networks and with peer support. Thank you Donna for writing and sharing this, I am confident that it will help others."

-Karen M. Smith MD

Kingston, Ontario, Canada


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"Rich Resource Guide. In this rich resource guide, the author provides a practical step by step approach to self-discovery through journaling. With empathy and compassion, she walks alongside the reader, acknowledging the fear and anxiety that may accompany such an introspective journey. She encourages and supports the reader throughout the process, providing useful tips and guidance along the way. By sharing frank and honest insights into her personal story of loss, followed by her journey of self-discovery, self-awareness and renewal, the author provides a unique and authentic voice to the power of journaling. The result is a practical and welcome addition to the toolbox of resources for caregivers across a wide spectrum."

-Patti Dixon-Medora, Caregiver Support Group Facilitator,

Alzheimer Society of KFL&A, Kingston, Ontario, Canada

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"This is an amazing workbook. Well written and simple to follow. The author shows, through personal anecdotes, a courageous journey that will aid others to also take the steps necessary for personal growth. Whether experiencing personal loss and grief or wanting to lead a more authentic and emotionally healthy life, this workbook provides the reader with excellent examples and exercises that can help lead to a richer understanding of ones’ Self.”

Sylvia Simonyi-Elmer, B.Sc, DCS, RP

Registered Psychotherapist

Kingston, Ontario, Canada


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"If you are looking for a structured way to help you on your journey to improved self-awareness and the peace that comes with living an authentic life, then this book is for you. Donna and Tana’s handbook provides clear and compassionate tools for caregivers to help them re-discover who they are in the face of their role as a caregiver. Each chapter offers descriptions and activities that can be easily incorporated into a caregiver’s daily routine. And the pay-off is tremendous – discovering self-awareness; finding your true inner voice and living an authentic life. Donna’s honest and, at times, vulnerable journaling is both helpful and uplifting as an example of how using these tools can help a caregiver grow to become the person they are meant to be."

-Teresa Whalen

Kingston, Ontario, Canada


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"I will never forget the first day that we met Donna at the ALS clinic that we were to start attending. I was so overwhelmed by what Maurice and I were facing that I felt like my life now was on a downward spiral. I was angry that he had been diagnosed with this and could not believe it was real.


Donna stood up as we entered the room and Maurice was very charismatic and connected with Donna immediately. After our introduction I remember thinking how lucky we were to have met her because she was answering all of our questions about the unknowns ahead of us in a very calm, honest way and that is what we really needed at this point to face the truth about this disease.


I then remember when she said about her husband having to go to the hospital for care and that he had passed away, it now hit me that this was so real and that the years ahead were going to be a struggle and very difficult.


Donna was our strength getting through the tough days of this horrible disease and I am so thankful for all of her help and just her kindness that she showed us. When I look back at those dark days Donna was someone that I connected to and was such a source of strength and helped us through our journey facing ALS. I will always be thankful for her and we were so blessed to have met her."

-Peggy Irvine, Past Caregiver

Kingston, Ontario, Canada


PRAISE FOR THE AUTHOR


It is said that ‘when life gives you lemons, make lemonade’.

For the more adventuresome and extroverted, make margaritas.

But who actually makes the lemonade?

Who gets the lemons and cuts and squeezes them into the pitcher?

Who chooses the sweetener and figures out exactly how much to add?


I have known Donna for slightly less than a decade. Our relationship was initially professional, we were working colleagues and shared an office and so we got to know each other personally. Donna was the rock of the operation. If you needed something organized and followed through, she was the one to do it. Everyone came to her. She looked after everyone. I began to understand that she did that outside of work and for people who had major challenges in their lives. It was impressive, and a little daunting that she had that much incessant drive and

compassion and that she always was so ‘put together.’


Then I was let into the inner sanctum of her personal journey. Her marriage that was disrupted by her husband’s illness. The care that she gave him to the very end. The challenge of raising two children at a time when they needed the attention of two parents when only one was available. Then her self-care strategies that she cultivated, a bit from despair

but that grew into a new direction.


I have one short story that shows her character and tenacity. I was a triathlete. Donna was a runner. I asked her if she might like to join our swim group at the local pool. Of course, she was up for it but understandably a little nervous about how she would perform. After the first session, I asked her how it went and she said she struggled to make it to the end of the 25 meter pool. But she did and she liked the exercise and she liked the coffee with the group afterwards. About a year later, we were back in the office after a morning swim in which our coach gave us 10 X 200 meter intervals; that’s 2 kilometers of swimming with a 10 second break every 200 meters.

I asked how she found it; she said, ‘I love 200s’.

Of course she bought a bike and did the whole triathlon thing too.


Donna makes the most incredible lemonade, she chooses only the best ingredients,

mixes them with love and care and shares it with any and all.


~ Michael O’Reilly, MD, Kingston, Ontario, Canada

INTRODUCTION


BY DONNA FITZGERALD

In the Spring of 2020, the world was faced with the COVID-19 pandemic and stay-at-home restrictions were put in place. I found myself in the at-risk population because I am over sixty. For the next few months, I turned to my self-care routine of meditation and journaling to work through the emotions of my daily routine being interrupted and not being able to visit with family and friends. I started writing and sharing with others how I felt, and I realized that living alone and being isolated awakened my desire to help those also struggling with these changes. I was unclear about what I could do, but I knew I would be guided over time.


I have learned to trust the process and not to rush a particular outcome. During the beginning weeks, I, like hundreds of others, retreated to my kitchen to bake and deliver my goodies to those on the front lines, reaching out to say thank you. I checked in on friends and family every few weeks to let them know I was thinking of them.


For many years I imagined myself writing a book, sharing how I used journaling to connect to my inner voice and soul throughout my caregiving journey. During the isolation of this pandemic, I supported Diana Reyers, my friend, mentor, and publisher of The Daring to Share Global series of authentic storytelling books, as she created a program adapting the Authentic Leadership Conversation worksheets into a self-discovery writing process. The program was developed to inspire people to become more self-aware while writing their stories as an outlet to share their emotions, awakenings, and personal journey. I met Tana through Diana approximately seven years ago, and eventually became a Facilitator of the Authentic Leadership Conversations, so I am familiar with the Conversation worksheets created by Tana Heminsley and featured in her Authentic Leadership Global book series. I had previously worked through the grief, loss, and trauma experienced from 1998 to 2013. Having found authenticity as a guide to living with more clarity and purpose, I wanted to support those searching for answers within their lives, and I knew that Tana’s Conversation worksheets, tools, and practices could provide the help others needed. As a result, I was also inspired to adapt these Conversations into an 8-week program specifically to support caregivers to navigate their supportive role, especially during the added stress of the unprecedented time we were all managing . . .