57: Go! Do it Afraid Nurse Coach! Ashley Hagood, BSN, RN, NC-BC

About Ashley Hagood

Ashley Hagood, BSN, RN, NC-BC


Ashley Hagood is a Registered Nurse and recent International Nurse Coach Academy (INCA) Graduate of Cohort 40. With a decade of Nursing experience that began in Critical Care and transitioned to Women’s Health in 2022.


Ashley has demonstrated her passion for health and wellness at various stages in her career. In college, Ashley was named a campus Health and Wellness Ambassador for her wellness programming and initiatives.


Prior to beginning her 6-year tenure as a critical care travel nurse, Ashley collaboratively led a unit-based, nurse retention project at a Magnet Institution. In 2017, Ashley was named one of The Great 100 Nurses of Northeast Florida, an award that honors the professional and educational advancement of nurses in the region. 


Her experience has provided a broad and diverse perspective that led Ashley to identify core challenges in the current model of care. Ashley believes that by addressing the interconnected aspects of an individual’s well-being and involving patients as active participants; a vast potential of healing and well-being that extends beyond the absence of disease and encompasses optimizing vitality, resilience, and overall life satisfaction can be explored.


In 2021, Ashley took on her greatest physical challenge, and successfully climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro, the third highest summit in the world at over 19,000 feet high. Motivated by a thirst for knowledge and commitment to nursing excellence, Ashley’s current goals include; earning board certifications in Nurse Coaching and Holistic Nursing and starting an Integrative Nurse Coaching practice that provides Trauma-Informed Nurse Coaching to individuals, organizations and communities that are seeking to establish, meet or maintain health goals for overall improved quality of life.


In Ashley’s spare time she enjoys spending time with her family and god-children, traveling, salsa dancing and reading.


Ashley is from Philadelphia, P.A, and holds a Bachelor’s degree from Widener University.



Ep57: Go! Do it Afraid Nurse Coach! Ashley Hagood, BSN, RN, NC-BC Highlights

“Go. Do it. Make it happen. Do it afraid, go. Chase that light, whatever it is that you’re inspired to do. Whatever calling that’s been placed on your heart, take the chance, take the leap of faith, go, make it happen. Resources will come up along the way. Tools, people, wisdom, knowledge, all of that will come along the way.

Trust that the journey will be what it needs to be to get you to that destination. But go, take the step, go into the light. Do what it is that you’re called to do. And again, make it happen. Do it afraid.”  ~Ashley Hagood, BSN, RN, NC-BC

Ah-ha Moments

  • Discover the gentleness in waiting.  This can create an openness to see resources around you
  • Thank you to all who have supported us along the way
  • God calls us to share our light to help us through adversity
  • Keep going, despite adversity, ask for help
  • Nurses are so innovative and caring
  • Pushing things to the side doesn’t mean they go away
  • Ask for, and receive help when things are too heavy
  • Slow down to appreciate things around you
  • Look at the step right in front of you, be present.  These steps may allow you to come out of the cycle of fight and flight, and into a cycle of rest, and safety and trust
  • Go!!!  Do it afraid! Be brave, show up and take a chance.  Resources will come along to support you.  Trust.

Links and Resources

Mount Kilamanjaro

Integrative Nurse Coach Certificate Program

The Business of Nurse Coaching

Integrative Nurse Coach Academy

Ep57: Go! Do it Afraid Nurse Coach! Ashley Hagood, BSN, RN, NC-BC Transcript

Nicole Vienneau  00:00

Welcome, everyone, to the Integrative Nurse Coaches in ACTION! podcast. My name is Nicole Vienneau. I am your host, and I’m also a Board Certified Integrative Nurse Coach. And today we welcome Ashley Mariah Hagood. It’s exciting. She is a brand new Nurse Coach to the world. She received and worked hard to obtain her board certification just this week.

So super proud, super excited for her. And she’s from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. And I’m just excited because, you know what, having newer Nurse Coach graduates on our program is so exciting and fulfilling and just brings a love and a passion to our programs. So, we welcome Ashley.

Ashley Hagood  00:50

Thank you so much, Nicole. It’s such an honor to be here with you, and just to have the opportunity to share and speak my story on your platform.

Nicole Vienneau  00:59

I’m excited to hear your story. I know our listeners are too. So let’s travel down history lane. We’d love to know how you discovered Nursing.

Ashley Hagood  01:09

So, my introduction to Nursing, I think was actually— it started very young. And I was a little bit voluntold that I was going to be in the medical field. I think I used to… as a baby, I would have this little doctor bag and I would run around. And so my parents always… they just kind of ran with that, you know, and I kind of ran with that as well.

But I did grow up in a household where my father, he suffered from alcohol and drug addiction. And my mom was heavily codependent. And so there was a lot of mental health issues that surrounded our family dynamic. And in my mind, I always had this dream or this idea of the healthy family, what that would look like.

And so when my mom became pregnant with my youngest sister— we’re a nine year age gap, so I was about nine years old, going into being 10. And so I had a little bit of an understanding of what my role was in the family, and I was the oldest sibling. So a lot of that responsibility was placed on me.

There were just some things that, you know, between the emotional, verbal and physical abuse, that I had carried, that didn’t belong to me, as far as shame, guilt, you know, things like that. So when my mom got sick in her pregnancy, it was like, oh, my gosh, if she’s not here, where’s the light? Where’s the safety? Where’s the love and the comfort? What do I do?

So I was grieving a loss that wasn’t even necessarily a loss just yet. But it was at a very young age. And so there was actually a home health Nurse that came and took care of my mom during the time that she was struggling with her her pregnancy. She was very ill.

And then in the labor and delivery process, my mom was… she had a C section and she suffered a severe hemorrhage, and was actually put in an ICU for about… I believe it was a 10 day stay, if I’m not mistaken. But at 10 years old, that felt like an eternity. And I just thought to myself, how am I going to… how can I do this?

And the Nurse that cared for her in our home, she just became like this beacon of light, and it was like, oh, my gosh, she got her through this. There’s going to be people that can help. This is going to… this will work, everything will be okay. And then of course, at such a young age, even still, leaning into my faith and relying on prayer.

And just the community that I had around me, as far as great teachers, great mentors. I’m really grateful for the people that, you know, God brought into my life that, again, were just like those beacons of light. And I said to myself, at a young age, I want to do that for people, I want to be that for people, I want to give them hope in a what may seem like a very hopeless or dark situation or time.

And so I thought, initially, that that was going to be as a physician, as a doctor. And then I realized that I would really like to have the time to be able to give to my family. And I thought— again, I was so young— and so I said to myself, I think being a Nurse would really work because I want to be with the people.

You know, I want to be at the bedside, I want to be able to engage with people in a tangible way. And so that was when I applied for Nursing school, straight out of high school. And I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I was a first generation college student. I had no one else in my family that has ever really had a professional career.

No one who’s ever been in the medical field or in entrepreneurship or own their own businesses for any length of time. And so I was kind of stepping out, and taking a leap of faith, and not knowing really anything about what I was doing. And so, in high school, I had depended highly on the college admissions counselor that we had, and I was in his office every day: what do I do?

How do I get a reference? How do I apply? How do I fill out this waiver? Who can I get to look at this resume so that, you know. What can I do to build this resume? So lots and lots of questions. And I was just really grateful, again, that I just had great resources, you know, that were placed around me.

And in whatever capacity I could, I attempted to utilize those resources with humility and gratitude, of course. And so going into college, there was a significant event where I actually moved out of home when I was 18. And by all intensive purposes, I was homeless through Nursing school… sorry…

Nicole Vienneau  06:16

I’m with you.

Ashley Hagood  06:23

It’s just tears of gratitude, to see where the journey has come. And I just… if nothing else is received from this podcast, I just hope that if anyone is in a place of questioning, a place of doubt, a place of hopelessness, a place of confusion, that they would see that the journey will always bring you back, it will always serve you in the best way. And I’m just incredibly grateful for that. So, just tears of gratitude. Yeah, okay, sorry. I’m back.

Nicole Vienneau  07:03

Let’s pause for a minute, because gratitude comes from the heart space. And we all are listening to your story, and first of all, grateful that you have the courage to share with us, and be with us and be your authentic self. So thank you for that.

Ashley Hagood  07:23

Thank you for hearing, for listening. That’s an amazing heart posture, you know, it’s a space to stand in.

Nicole Vienneau  07:34

Yes, yes. And we love this story. Because we know. Everyone comes from a place. We don’t have control over our story. And we have control over some of our stories. So it’s fascinating, you know, and I’m imagining you as a little girl with your doctor bag, you know, and living, it sounds like in an environment that was loving and yet challenging too.

Yeah, and your mom and your connection with your mom, and how much love and support she’s given you through your life. And your vision of a healthy family. I remember you saying that. Yeah. Yeah.

And then this perseverance of, you know, being the first child to ever really go to college or have a professional career, and maybe not knowing exactly the steps to take, yet you knew the steps to take because you were asking questions. And you were seeking out the people who could help you and support you. And that’s where we are in your story.

Ashley Hagood  08:39

Yeah. So I had always had a passion for health and wellness, healthy family dynamics. That was, I think, where it started. And then it translated into physical health and physical well being, spiritual health and spiritual well being, mental health and mental well being. It really translated throughout.

It permeated every area of my life, not even realizing that integrative Nursing was so important to me at such a young age, you know. But it was always evident, it was always present. Even in college, I had done certain programs, and I had received a leadership in health and wellness award. And so these are just things where, again, looking back, I can see the way that the road all led to a specific destination.

And in no way am I trying to or attempting to say that I’ve arrived in any way. No, this is literally just the beginning. And I’m so excited. But I do think that that perseverance that you had mentioned before gives me a platform to be able to relate and empathize with people in a way of I understand the trauma, I understand what it feels like to not know, to see what looks like a dark space.

But on the other side of that, I really do hold true to the saying that it’s darkest before the dawn. But the dawn is coming, it’s coming. And that perseverance and that patience, and that gentleness in the waiting, I think is what really allowed me to generate a heart posture of curiosity, so that I could see the resources around me.

Because sometimes it can feel so… our situation or our story may feel so imposing, that we can’t even see the resources that are there, the hands that are there attempting to reach to us and, you know, pick us up out of that dark space. So I’m just incredibly grateful for every person that has helped me along this journey.

And I might not be able to say every person by name, but I hold you so dear in my heart. And if this podcast ever reaches you, one way or another, I just extend such a huge thank you. Because it’s, again, just the place of gratitude to be here, to be speaking with you, to be sharing my story so that other people can hear it.

I think that’s powerful. And I think that in my life, and in my situation, that’s what God calls from me to do, to share that light. Because we do all face, in one way or another— not any better, or any worse, not any heavier, or any lighter— but we do all face in one way or another, some form of challenge or struggle or adversity. So that brought me to Nursing school.

And I had gone through Nursing school with no contact from my family. So it was… I had kind of just trudged through, and I said, I’m going to do this, I’m going to get through and once I finish these four years, then I can be there, I can go back and I can help them. Because I’ll have the resources that I need, and now I can go and I can give back.

And so I finished Nursing school, and I was so excited. I was like, oh my gosh, this is it. Finally. But that wasn’t it. It in no way works the way I thought it was going to. There was still so many other things and areas that I had to kind of tap into and hone in on and readjust. And well, I don’t want to say readjust.

The word I’d like to use is to grow into, you know, really realize and actualize that full potential. And so, coming out of Nursing school, it was really tough because lo and behold, I got fired from my first Nursing job. And when I sat at that table in front of the Nurse manager, and the Nurse educator, and the chief Nursing officer of the neuro Nursing department at a major university hospital here in Philadelphia, with tears rolling down my eyes.

I was like, this was supposed to be the thing that I was gonna save everybody with. This was it. And I said, “Well, if there’s anything that you could… you know, any advice that you could give me or anything that I could have done differently so that I can move forward in my next Nursing venture more successfully, could you just give me any advice how to navigate as a new Nurse coming into the profession?”

And they couldn’t give me any advice. And I said, “Was there an area where I faltered or anything that I had done wrong?” And they couldn’t tell me anything I had done wrong. And I just sat and I was so confused. And of course, feelings of rejection came up.

And so I kind of… I walked out of that meeting, and I said, “You know what, Lord, I’m just going to trust you and know that this wasn’t where you wanted me to be.” So I put a six month deposit on my apartment that I had just moved into, mind you, that was something I was so excited to have my own space again, and to not be, you know, on a couch or living out of a suitcase and things like that.

And so, when I had gotten the word, it was right at that five month mark for when Nursing orientation had finished as a graduate Nurse, so our orientation process was a little bit longer than the traditional 12 weeks. And so I was told it just isn’t a good fit. That’s what I was told.

And so I took that and I internalized that for a moment, and I said, “Nursing just isn’t for me.” And I threw my hands up, and I was ready to go to cosmetology school, and I was going to do people’s hair and make women feel beautiful. And that was going to be my gift to the world. And I said, “You’re just… something in me doesn’t know how to quit. Something in me just doesn’t know how to walk away.”

It can be a blessing and a curse. And so I went home and I applied for six months. Over and over, I applied, I applied, I applied, I applied. And I had a friend that reached out and he was actually working as a registered Nurse down in Florida. And he said, “Why don’t you try down here? It’s beautiful. It might be a fresh start, you know? Why don’t you just try?” And so I did. I applied and lo and behold, I got a call in three days.

Nicole Vienneau  15:19

Oh, wow.

Ashley Hagood  15:20

Whoa. That was fast! I hadn’t gotten any phone calls prior to that. I chalked it up to having no experience. So I got the phone call, and they said, “Can we have you come down for an in person interview?” And so I sold some things in my apartment, because remember, at the time, I wasn’t working, but I had put six months down on my rent.

I went to my landlord, and I said, here’s six months of rent. I think I’ll be good. I’ll have to find a job by six months. Everyone tells me that Nursing is so secure, right? And so I put the six months down. I had just gotten to that six month mark. It was actually five months in, and I had gotten the call from a hospital down in Florida.

It was actually a hospital in Lakeland, Florida, where my friend was working. And so I also got a call from a hospital in Jacksonville, Florida. And so I went down and I did the interview for both. Sold some things so that I could get a flight, flew down to Florida, into Orlando’s airport, went from Orlando to Lakeland, did the interview.

The interview went great, got a job offer. Five hours later, found myself in Jacksonville, Florida, in a hotel to do an interview a second day for a med surg position in Jacksonville, Florida. The interview went great, was extended an offer. And I chose to accept the offer in Jacksonville, Florida, just because when I had sat down and really prayed on it, Jacksonville just kind of felt like it was the right move.

So I was in Jacksonville for one year, doing med surg. And I had always been in love with critical care. My practicum was a critical care experience. It was a six week intensive practicum, and the Nurse that mentored me through that program was such a strong Nurse and I just really admired the way that she cared for our patients. And I said, “I want to do that.”

So when I had the opportunity, and I had gotten some experience, I applied for a neuro ICU position. And I know, Nicole, your background is also a neuro ICU. And I was extended the job offer. So I spent two years in the neuro ICU, where I met a few travel Nurses that had come in and out of the unit. And I was like, man, I’ve never traveled anywhere besides Florida.

This was my first trip, first time on a plane. No, I’m sorry, excuse me, I misspoke. That was my second time on a plane when I had gone down to Florida. And so after I accepted that ICU position and met a few travel Nurses, I said, “I’m just going to try it. Let me just… I’ll go to Daytona. Daytona is only an hour away. You know, we’ll see how I like it, see how it feels.”

And I fell in love with the travel Nursing. Oh, my goodness, it was absolutely amazing. It was wonderful. It was a great experience. I learned so much from so many different providers, so many Nurses and doctors. I mean, just the medical profession in general— we are so innovative.

And I’m sure we can see this in all areas, you know, in all professions, but the way that Nurses present themselves, and the way that Nurses give of themselves and care for people in a space where they’re incredibly vulnerable, I was so inspired by… I mean hospital to hospital, it almost became like… it was like a passion.

Oh, what does the next facility do? How do they handle this and that? So it was a great experience. And I had traveled between Florida and Philadelphia. So it gave me the opportunity to also relink with my family, but also still have that beautiful Florida lifestyle of you know, beaches and sun every once in a while. It was great. It was really great.

And then I came to a place where I said, wow, travel Nursing, I travel Nursed for six years. And I had worked in every ICU you can imagine. Burn, trauma, neuro, everything except for cardiovascular, everything besides CVICU. I was blessed and fortunate to learn from those Nurses and just develop a wealth of experience and knowledge, and incredibly humbled by the great minds that I was able to work alongside.

You know, I learned so much. So, after those six years, I came to a place where I said, “This is wonderful and this is great, but I’m really looking for an opportunity to connect with my patients in a deeper way. And bedside Nursing… it had become…I think it was the pandemic, what really changed things for me, because I had taken a travel assignment out in California, Walnut Creek.

And it was just before everything had shut down, that I had accepted the travel assignment, and I had gone to California. And I was there, and the world shut down. And I had never been to California before. I didn’t have anyone out there. And, surprisingly, there was so much peace around the lockdown.

It’s really hard to explain because what was happening at the bedside was… I didn’t have words for, you know, I didn’t quite understand what my role was, what I was doing, what I was up against, you know. But I trusted in, not only in God, but I trusted in the profession. And I think at that point, I realized that there was just a different calling placed on my fingerprint that I wanted to leave on Nursing.

And I wanted to reach people in a deeper way, not just on the physical aspect of, you know, getting you out of a critical, acute stage of illness. But how can we build resilience, so that if and when you do enter that acute stage… because you know, unfortunately, things happen, whether it’s a diagnosis, an accident, things happen.

And I saw a common thread, I had started to notice a common thread. And I think sometimes when you see a need, you have a choice to either step into that gap and attempt to service that need and service that gap to the best of your ability.

And when I had the knowledge and awareness of that gap, I said to myself, I’ve got to re-figure, reconfigure some things. And so that was what brought me to the desire to leave bedside Nursing. I had no idea what it looked like at the time. I had no clue that it was going to lead to Nurse Coaching in any way, shape, or form.

Nicole Vienneau  22:26

What a story you have. So many threads of following what your heart is telling you, following what your faith, how it’s pulling you towards something, and you know, picking up your life. First, I’m going way back, because you had to sit across the table from three of your managers, educators, and so forth, and hear the words you’re fired without any explanation.

And hold that. After thinking that this was the career, you know, you had dedicated your many years of education to. And then went out thinking I want to go to cosmetology school now, because that’s not going to work out, the other thing, it’s not going to work out, that I really wanted to do.

And then really saying, oh my gosh, no, that’s not true. That’s not true. And then poof… not poof, because these are relationships that you had cultivated, right, through life. And then finding someone to say, hey, no, no, let’s try Florida instead and see what happens there. And then you saying yes.

Okay, let’s do it. You had to say yes. You had to say yes. And then, you know, persevering and discovering travel Nursing. I did travel Nursing for many years too, and I really liked that as well, like just showing up and not knowing what’s going on.

Not many people like to do that. I can remember one funny story for me, walking into a surgical intensive care that I hadn’t been in, you know, going in to see my first patient, doing my assessment, and coming out to wash my hands, and I couldn’t figure out how to work the soap. Look around, there was nobody to ask, and I thought, oh my gosh, I have to ask.

Like, how humbling is this going to be to, you know, think, oh, this new girl can’t even find how to work the soap. So I went to the unit secretary, the unit secretary knows everything. Nurses know that, when you are in trouble, you ask the unit secretary. And she just kind of looked at me strangely when I was like, I can’t figure out how to do the soap. So she’s like, okay, lady.

You know, it’s like those funny stories that also show how resilient, which is what you had also mentioned Nurses being so innovative and so resilient to ask the questions, to discover what they need to make something work or to support a family or to support themselves in some cases.

So, you know, your story just really brought up the whole vision of perseverance and innovation and asking questions and looking for people who would honestly support you. And, you know, just that story is amazing. So now we’re at the point of, okay, now COVID hits, and there’s a shift in you in the way that you want to show up as a Nurse. And so now you’re like, okay, now, I’m looking, sounds like you’re looking. So tell us a little bit about that.

Ashley Hagood  25:38

Yeah, absolutely. So I was working in a neuro trauma ICU during the COVID, during the pandemic, and as a traveler, pulled and floated to the COVID ICU to, you know, fill in those gaps for staffing needs. And I think the biggest revelation that I had in showing up to work was I was showing up to work every day almost disassociating with the fact that we were in a pandemic, almost going in with this blind faith of saying, no matter what, I’m here.

I am here, I’m going to do the best that I can for the people that God puts in my care. I’m going to do the best that I can for them. The fear, I’ll leave that at the door, I’ll leave that at the side. The questions, the doubt, all of that, I’m just going to leave it at the side.

But pushing all of that to the side meant that I still had it to the side, you know, the side couldn’t be ignored. So when my travel contract was done, I took a six month hiatus, I took a gap, just out of the all the work that we had done. I truly believe in the importance of rest. I truly do believe in that.

And I took from a financial perspective, I had made sure to set some things aside so that I would be set up. Mid pandemic, I said to myself, I’m going to need a break, I’m going to need a break. And it broke my heart to feel like that at first. You know, I had to reconcile with taking a break. And so I had set some provisions aside financially so that I would be okay.

Made sure that, you know, I was set up and that everything was okay, as far as that was concerned, almost like a little rainy day fund, so that I could take that break. And I didn’t guarantee that I was going to do that because again, it’s so hard for me to… I call it quitting, but it’s not.

And I had to even, you know… I had to reassign my language around that even, because I do believe that language is so important, you know, the words that we use are so very important. And I said I can’t quit. So I did take one more travel assignment before I took that break, before I honored myself and the things that I know that I really needed mentally and spiritually.

It wasn’t a physical exhaustion, because as far as that was concerned, I was running, you know, I was go, go, go, go, go. However, mentally and spiritually, I had a fatigue because of all the things that I had pushed aside. All of those unresolved emotions and questions and you know, things like that.

And so, when I took that second travel assignment, I came back home to Philly, because I said I had been away for a year, I worked the travel assignment in California, I did for 11 and a half months. And I know, Nicole, you’re very aware. But just in case, if any of the listeners are unaware, a travel assignment cannot extend past a year for it to be considered a travel assignment.

So once I hit that almost year mark, I knew that was when I was going to be leaving California. So I came back home to Philly, because I really wanted to be with my family again. We were incredibly fortunate and blessed that none of my family had suffered any significant losses from the pandemic or from COVID. So I just wanted to be with my family again.

Everyone had been locked down, so no one had been with their family for such a long time. So I think we all can relate to that feeling of just longing to be with each other again. And so I came back home, I took a travel assignment at actually our nation’s first hospital, which I always kind of think is cool, because I would always walk past the hospital and there’s a little cornerstone that’s like dedicated to Ben Franklin, and be like, oh, that’s kind of cool.

You know, a little piece of history there. Little bit of Philly there for you. And it was a great, it was a great experience. But things had slowed down so much. I was so used to almost being in this fight or flight mode, and when things slowed down, again, I was faced with everything that I had kind of pushed off to the side. And there were a lot of questions that arose in me.

Who am I? What am I doing to benefit the Nursing world? I had identified that, you know, we were healthcare heroes and all these great things and I really honored and appreciated and humbly received that gratitude. But I can’t necessarily say that sentiment was reciprocated in the pandemic, in the heat of it. And how can it be?

Like I think about if you’re in battle, if you’re in war, right? Again, it’s the resourcefulness, it’s the innovation, it’s that fight or flight, that go, go, go, that really gets you going there so that you can achieve your goal, which in our case, it was battling a virus that we did not know anything about. We were kind of up against a giant question mark.

And so that invoked a lot of question, and I already was a curious person to begin with, as you can tell. And so I started asking the questions. What am I doing? What does this mean for Nursing? How can I, if I have identified these gaps, I can’t just sit here and complain about them, I need to know how I can help.

I was even taught as a child, you know, if you’re not a part of the solution, you’re part of the problem. And I didn’t want to be a part of the problem in the sense that I just sat back and became jaded or tired or bitter. And so that’s how I reconciled with taking a break, so that I could give my… I’m gonna say my spirit, and my heart, the space that it needed to really develop answers to those questions.

And so I took six months off. And here goes crazy Ashley again, I decided to go to Africa and climb Mount Kilimanjaro, because where better to find answers than 19,000 feet in the air? So that’s what I did, this city girl from Philly, you know, I found myself up on a mountain. You know, I planned the trip by myself, I went just me. This was really a reflective experience.

It was an opportunity for me to grow closer to God. It was an opportunity for me to grow in my spirit. It was an opportunity for me to develop… to shut out all the noise. That’s really what I wanted to do, to shut out all the noise, and begin to unpack and sort out everything that I had pushed away for the past two years. So I went to Africa for my 30th birthday.

So that would have been September 2021. So two years ago. And I had an amazing experience. And I learned so much. It was so reflective. The Bible is very important in my life, it’s got a huge influence in my life, and in the word it says, when you’re looking for answers, you can look to nature, and you can see God. And I saw God in such a… I literally have chills right now… in such a beautiful way, not only in nature, but in the people.

We climbed that mountain, I cannot take credit for that. There was an entire team that was around us. We had porters that helped us carry what was too heavy. Think about the significance of that. People to help you to carry things when they’re a little too heavy. I was not one who liked to ask for help.

You can tell me how to do it, but then I’m gonna go do it. I’ll ask you for the instructions or the advice, but I don’t want your help doing it because I can do it on my own. That was always my motto, or at least what I subscribed to before. Then I learned a lot about the pace at which I was going at.

In Swahili, they say “polepole”. And that means slow down. It means slow, slow. And I would find them telling me polepole all day. And I would say I don’t want to go slow. I want to get to the top. I want to get up there. But it reminded me how important it was for me to slow down. And just the culture and the atmosphere of slowing down.

I spent time just reflecting in that. So receiving help when things are a little too heavy, slowing down, being able to really just take the moment to appreciate what’s going on around me. And then I think a really big thing that we learned was, our guide that got us to the top of the mountain would always say, “Look at the steps right in front of you.”

He never said to keep looking at the top of the mountain. He never said to look back at the previous base camp that we had just come from or the previous campsite that we had left. He said look at the step right in front of you. Look at that step. And that there were people on that mountain… I want it to be very known I had never hiked before ever, and I just said, oh, I’m going to Africa!

Let’s find the third highest mountain in the whole world! No hiking experience. But I had equipment, and I had people that really aided me, the tools that really aided me in that. And then being in that space in that moment, it was one step at a time. And seven days later, I was at the top of that mountain.

I was literally above the clouds. It gives me… oh my gosh, just taking myself back to that moment at the top of that mountain. And even getting up there, we started the climb at midnight from the base camp that gets right to the peak, the highest point of the mountain. We started the climb at midnight, there were other teams that made it up there in three hours.

There were other teams that took 12 hours. Our team so happened to take nine hours. But as we got closer to the top, the atmosphere was thinner. It was harder to catch a breath, right? We had to wear so much equipment to stay warm, because it’s much colder up there. You know, we were able to pass like the snow caps and all that beautiful, absolutely gorgeous scenery.

But the feeling of it, it didn’t feel good. It didn’t feel good to like have to take Diamox daily, just so that I can acclimate to the altitude. Right? It didn’t feel good as a lady, you know, where I’m, again, very much so a city girl, very much so used to the comfort and the commodities of the city, and I found myself using a bathroom behind a rock on top of a mountain, you know.

So very starkly different experiences. Sleeping in a tent on a pad that was maybe an inch thick, rolled up in a sleeping bag, and in you know, lots and lots of sleeping gear to stay warm. And then going through that experience, just me, it was just me in the tent.

And so I really had that time to polepole, to slow down and really reflect on everything. And that was a powerful experience. I came home… I had also done a safari, so I was able to see the Serengeti. I did that for a week. And then I went to Zanzibar, which is a beautiful island off the coast of Tanzania.

And I mean crystal clear waters, the most amazing food and service and just heart. Oh my gosh, it was… the culture is just so beautiful. So when I came home from that three week, 30th birthday revelation slash celebration, I literally felt like a different person. There was so much knowledge.

I was still Ashley, but I felt like I had received so much knowledge and I had learned so much and I had reflected so much just in doing simple things. I hope people hear me when I say you do not have to climb Kilimanjaro to receive these same nuggets of wisdom and knowledge and reflective revelation, you do not need that.

That was just something that I chose because Ashley has this… I don’t even know what it is. And I’m so grateful that I had the opportunity to walk in that experience because I can share that with people. And now I can translate that in a way where people that I walk beside or people that come into my path can experience that same growth.

Nicole Vienneau  38:44

So we don’t all need to go climb Mount Kilimanjaro.

Ashley Hagood  38:50

Even though I highly recommend.

Nicole Vienneau  38:51

I’m also just imagining this city girl up there. You know, but all those beautiful connections to, you know, allowing someone else to carry something for you, asking for that help, even though you could probably do it. But yet you have to ask. And that’s difficult for so many of us, especially as Nurses, we’re so autonomous, we want to do everything, and we do, and we’re like doing things all alone at work all day long without asking for help.

And how much just that asking and receiving of help can really help us in so many ways, not just physically as you said, but also spiritually, emotionally, mentally, all of those things. I love the polepole. Yes. All our intensive care, critical care Nurses out there who are super fast— polepole.

And Nurse Coaching, of course, teaches us to slow down. And I liked the vision that I received when you were saying just look at the step in front of you. And our connection to recognizing the importance of being present and actually being present. Yeah, I mean, those are two different things, right?

But when we are present with what we are doing, how that really shifts, but you have to polepole before you can do that. Okay, so now you have had this incredible journey, and now you’re back. Did you go back to Philly? And now you’re saying, hey, what am I doing? Now what?

Ashley Hagood  40:45

Yeah, I went back to Philly. And I said, “Okay, now that I’ve received all of this, it would be selfish of me to hold it to myself. How can I share this with the world?” Nicole, you said something that was so powerful when you said that connection between looking at the step in front of us and actually being present. And I just want to drive that home for just one moment.

Because what I learned on the mountain was, if I was worried about even 300 yards in front of me… which is a significant distance, but it’s not outside of our vision. Right? So I’d like to think, in comparison, think of like a five or a 10 year plan. It’s wonderful to have those things. I hope that it’s received that I’m not telling anyone not to have goals or not to have plans.

Make the plans, make the goals, have the destination in mind. But what I learned on the mountain was if I was so focused on what was very far ahead, and not the step in front of me, if there was a rock, if there was a little bit of a ditch— I mean, we literally were scaling the side of the mountain at certain points— If I hadn’t looked where is my foot going to go right now, with thoughts in mind of getting to the top of that mountain, my foot could have easily slipped, I could have fallen, been injured, you know, anything could have happened.

But with that awareness of being in the moment, and slowing down, the impact isn’t as hard when you’re going slow, and when you’re taking it one step at a time. And I had to learn that. Because as… again, as an ICU Nurse, as a person who grew up in a traumatic, toxic childhood, I was used to fight or flight, I was used to running into walls head first.

Of course, metaphorically. I was used to that. And so I had almost become numb to the pain of bumping into certain obstacles. And I just learned that there is another way. And what may seem so simple to some, that was a big deal for me, that was a big revelation for me. Because I didn’t have to be so gung ho and running forward so quickly.

I could slow down and just take it one step at a time, and exit that fight or flight cycle, and come into a cycle of just rest, and safety, and trust. And it’s really, really hard to develop when you couldn’t even trust the person that was supposed to provide and care and offer a source of protection and guidance, and you know those things as a parent.

But I don’t look back with blame, or judgment, or anything like that. My parents did the best they could with what they had, they absolutely did the best they could. But I do also acknowledge, without blame, that there are consequences. And there are side effects, you know, that do come as a result of coming out of a childhood like that into adulthood.

But now it’s my responsibility, as an adult, to navigate and mitigate those symptoms, those side effects, the results, basically. What am I going to do with the tools that I have? Who is Ashley before all of the trauma and the pain and the neglect and the abandonment and the abuse and the doubt?

Who is Ashley under all of that, when we can push all of that aside through forgiveness and all other things that I had to kind of process to get to that place. But who was Ashley before all of that. And that was where I decided I really want to take a different step and I want to use these resources and tools.

I can’t hold this to myself. Now that I’ve realized who Ashley is, what skills I’ve been given, what tools I’ve been given, I want to use them to help other people realize and understand who they are. That’s when Nurse Coaching answered. And man did it scare me. Oh, my gosh, I came up with every excuse in the book not to sign up for INCA, not to join the program. Everything you could think. This was the one thing.

Nicole Vienneau  45:20

And yet you did.

Ashley Hagood  45:21

And yet I did. And it took me a year to sign up for the program. It took me a year. And I finally… I said, “You know what? Take everything that you’ve learned and apply it right here. Apply it right now.” And so I did. I applied. And I was in the 40th cohort. And the biblical significance of the number 40 is a journey. Right? It’s that journey, like the 40 years that the Israelites spent in the wilderness.

And so I was like, oh, man, this is gonna be a journey. I was like, buckle up. So I buckled up. And some family things had happened. And I had emailed… my supervisor was Love Hawkins, and I had emailed her and I said, “Love, I don’t think I can finish the program.” And she said, “We’re gonna get you through this program.” Like, I have chills again.

“We’re gonna get you through this program. You can catch up, you can do this.” And again, just that support, those resources. God has never failed me in that way. Always providing another person to come in and just help lift me up again, even when things felt, again, like, maybe this isn’t it.

You know, maybe this isn’t it, you know. But answering the call. It’s funny, I was so willing to run to Africa and climb a huge mountain with no hiking experience, but yet, walking and stepping into this calling, that’s what scared me. Taking the course, that’s what scared me. So I took the course.

And I mean, it was such a process of self discovery. It was absolutely… it helped me translate Nursing in a way that felt personal to me. It was almost like INCA was like, hey, Ashley, this is for you. You know? It was great.

And the women that I learned beside in my cohort, in our subclass, in our cohort, I was so inspired by them, and the skills and the tools that they developed and what they brought to every interaction through our zoom calls. I mean, I just received… I felt comfortable in my skin. I felt like I could speak freely and openly.

There was no doubt or fear or any of that anymore. And we just shared our experiences— the good, the bad, the ugly, the growth, the strains, all of it, we shared all of it. And I was so humbled that I was asked to be our speaker at the completion of our cohort at our graduation ceremony. And so I was able to give that you know, that speech, and represent the ladies.

And again, just so humbled to be able to do that, that they trusted me enough to represent them, because I looked at them with such high regard. So I said to myself, man, if they want me to speak, they must look at me with high regard. And so it just was constant confirmation that it was the right place and the right thing. So that was what brought me to Nurse Coaching.

And then I said, I got to do the certification because then I had this commitment to my clients now. You know, I want to give them the best, I want to show up for them in the best way possible. I want them to have tangible results, just like I did, and continue to have, and will continue to have. I’m so excited for what happens now when challenges come and when I’m a little scared.

Let’s be honest, I’m going to use real language, when I’m afraid, right? When I’m afraid. Because the fear that I experienced was so intense that for a point in time, I didn’t want to move at all. I didn’t want to take any steps. Even the one little step in front. You couldn’t convince me to take it.

And through finally having that encouragement and just that nudge forward— it wasn’t a push, but it was just like a gentle nudge, you know, that just with loving kindness, that it was, come on, come forward. You got this. Right? And I took that step. And since then, I think I would say it’s almost been a snowball effect of just peace.

Yeah. Which is such the opposite of walking in fear. And that’s something that I hope that people that I work with, clients that I have the privilege to serve, clients that I have the privilege to sit in the space with them, in their trusting me to sit in that space and give them… also give them that gentle nudge as a Nurse Coach.

I mean, I count that all as blessing because what a humbling experience it was for someone to come and sit with me in that space, or stand with me in that space, or reach their hand out to me in that space. And so Nurse Coaching became my way of paying it forward and giving a gift back to the world. Hopefully, that can change even just one person. I would be happy with that.

Nicole Vienneau  50:55

So beautiful. Thank you for sharing all of the story, your story, your magical story. It’s not magic, right? You lived every single bit of the story. Yeah. And so in our last few moments, I’d love to ask the question, what is on your heart that you would like to share with our listeners?

Ashley Hagood  51:20

Yeah. I think it’s important to remember what’s on my heart is the internal and external resources. It’s an internal and an external work. I truly believe that it’s very difficult to heal where you were hurt. But it’s also very difficult to leave the place where you were hurt, because in order to feel hurt, you have to have cared.

And so when you develop care for an environment, a family dynamic, a relationship dynamic, a career, anything that you’re caring about, and there’s been some level of extreme hurt or extreme disappointment, it’s really hard to heal in that space. But it’s equally as difficult to leave that space to heal.

And what’s on my heart is, I know how afraid, how scary it can be to take that step to turn and pivot your direction and go to a different space so that you can go and heal in a space where you can actually realize what it is that… who it is that you are and what that environment was teaching. What lesson that environment was lending to you.

But just outside of that space, outside of that area of darkness is that light. I like to think of the… I can’t remember which philosopher said it, but it was, and I might butcher this story so please bear with me, but the moral, the basis of the story is people who live in a cave and they see this light that’s flickering outside of the cave, and they have no idea what it is.

So most people are afraid. But there’s one person that’s curious and they want to go and they want to look but everybody keeps telling them no, don’t go, don’t go, don’t do that. You might get hurt. You know, there’s a lot of fear surrounding it. So then the person gets a little bit afraid, right, and alright, maybe I won’t go.

Go. Go. Do it. Make it happen. Do it afraid, go. Chase that light, whatever it is that you’re inspired to do. Whatever calling that’s been placed on your heart, take the chance, take the leap of faith, go, make it happen. Resources will come up along the way. Tools, people, wisdom, knowledge, all of that will come along the way.

Trust that the journey will be what it needs to be to get you to that destination. But go, take the step, go into the light. Do what it is that you’re called to do. And again, make it happen. Do it afraid.

Nicole Vienneau  54:16

Now I’m getting chills. Yes, make it happen. Do it afraid. Go into the light. Yes. Ah, so much wisdom that you’ve shared with us, Ashley. Oh, my goodness. All right. Now I’m gonna switch gears because we got some fun questions to ask you. I mean, they’re all fun. Okay, so I gotta ask: Philadelphia, Florida, or California?

Ashley Hagood  54:52

Oh, is this Nursing or are we talking business or pleasure?

Nicole Vienneau  54:57

Whatever comes to you.

Ashley Hagood  54:59

Okay. If we’re talking business, California has it. California, I mean, they are caring for their Nurses in a way that is… let’s bring it to the other 49 states.

Nicole Vienneau  55:13

Okay, so other states, let’s look and see what California is doing for Nursing.

Ashley Hagood  55:18

They’re modeling a great way to support and care for Nurses. I definitely would say, as a bedside registered Nurse, California was a great place. But Philly, I mean Philly has such a rich culture and I love my city, I love where I’m from.

We have… there’s definitely… we’ve got our struggles, you know, the city is definitely in a… unfortunately, the opioid capital is here. But I do believe that there’s so much work to be done. And we’ve got incredible minds here. We’ve got great hospitals. I mean, Philly also is tough, but I’m gonna go with California.

Nicole Vienneau  56:06

Well, thank you so much, Ashley, for spending your time with us, for sharing your true self, your authentic story, we learned so much. And your light will help us shine even brighter, as well.

Ashley Hagood  56:22

Thank you. And thank you again, Nicole. I so appreciate the opportunity to be here. And for everyone that’s listening, I really appreciate you taking your time to listen and just tune in. And I’m looking to… I’m in the Nurse Coaching business course right now with INCA, so I am working on establishing my own practice.

My goal, Lord willing, is to be functioning and fully operational by fall 2023 as long as everything goes according to plan. You know, sometimes things happen. But I’m not on social media at the moment, but I will be very soon. Just kind of putting some pieces together. And so I’m really looking forward to entering into the Nurse Coaching space and serving clients in a way that can just be, again, just really tangible and so that they can make it happen.

Nicole Vienneau  57:12

Wonderful. Well, for now we’ll share whatever contact information you want to share. And then when you’re up and running and you get your website or whatever you’re envisioning for your business, then we can add all of these links to the podcast, because these podcasts go on forever.

Ashley Hagood  57:31

Awesome. Wonderful. Thank you so much.

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