“I was always really in tune, I was always the one bringing stray dogs home, talking to my daddy, twisting his arm to keep them.
“I always had an empathy and then people always were naturally attracted to me. They would have come to me with their worries, with their woes, or if they had stuff going on. Then for the rest of my life really, people would always just open up to you if they weren’t doing well. And it just kind of grew from there.
“If I saw someone being bullied in the street or someone being harassed, if I saw a poor dog being left and not being fed, I had this real affinity and it’s only when you look back, you’re like oh my god, it was because I was always felt like an outsider. I felt like an outcast.”
Having worked in America and then back in Derry, Donna had nursing on her radar but chose not to pursue at that stage, focusing on becoming a home help. Two women, Kay and Margaret, who she met through the service, ‘planted the seed’ for Donna’s next career move.
“They saw something in me that I didn’t see in myself,” she says.
“Kay was a radiographer; she’d done really well.
“Margaret was well-established in her career, and they said, Donna, you would make such a good nurse. You have it in you, you have these qualities, but my family didn’t speak with us because we didn’t know how to communicate like that.”
Once qualified, she specialised in cancer and leukaemia care, supporting terminal patients in their most challenging times.
However, the constant exposure to death in her line of work and struggles faced from antisocial behaviour in her home life, le to events which ultimately saw Donna dealing with mental health concerns.
However, a life-changing trip to Sydney with her cousin opened her mind to possibilities.
“We said we’ll take a career break. And then her mammy said, why go [for] six weeks? Why not go [for] six months? You have no kids, you have no partners, you have no attachments. Just go and live your life,” says Donna, who has since returned to Australia with her family.
“I ended up nursing out there. I started with bar work first and just backpacking and having fun. And then I was like right OK, it’s time to settle down. I worked in St Vincent’s Private in Sydney. I done prostatectomies, hysterectomies, we’d a lot of medical, a lot of surgical, but mostly prostate cancers and things like that. I was a facilitator out there.”
Her facilitating role meant that no matter where she went, Donna remained a mentor to new nurses on the ward or nursing students, saying: “I always had an affinity, I just found it easy to teach people stuff.”
While there, Donna also worked as a palliative care nurse and a CPR link nurse.
On returning to Ireland with husband Lee, she continued within this vocation, before moving into My Homecare, working with children with life-limiting illnesses for the last five years of her nursing career.
“I remember when The Secret came out in 2006, I remember a friend giving it to me and I remember reading it,” she says.
“I always had a job; I never had an interview until nursing. I always found money; I always just seemed to attract abundance and prosperity. No matter where I was; if I was down to my last pound, I would walk into a fiver.
“I always knew there was something greater, I always had a call within me, and I thought that something greater was nursing.”
Manifestation is something in which Donna practised, but a ‘barrage of things’ including illness and home issues meant she was moving ‘from highs to lows to cheery to emotional’.
“I had suffered from severe depression before. I knew the tell-tale signs that I had been through the first time, but I was single the first time and I’ve gone and got help and done a lot of work on me, a lot of unpacking, but this time is different.
“So, I started asking a better question. And that’s where the mindset came under play. I just started asking: where do I need to go? What do I need to do and who do I need to contact?”
Seeing the work of Bob Proctor, who was recommended to her, led to Donna ‘dabbling’ in mindset to going ‘full pelt’. She trained in NLP (neuro-linguistic programming) and as a breakthrough coach, praising Melanie Breslin, her own mentor, and the Thinking in Results programme within the Proctor Gallagher Institute.
“Do you know when something happens, when the piece of a puzzle finally clicks into place?” she says.
“I always thought nursing is my calling, it’s my devotion, it’s my passion, where I [was] meant to be, but toward the end of my nursing [career] and I was going through trauma, my mindset shifted, and I was looking at it differently.
“I realised, I’m not just supposed to help people physically. I wasn’t just helping physically, I was helping people emotionally and intellectually, their families as they passed away and dealing with all [the] aspects.
“But this time I’m actually done with the physical side of helping people from a nursing capacity. And this is when I realised my call is actually deeper and it’s to actually help people with their mindset, help them intentionally guide them to design and create their own good life.”
After being a certified coach with the Institute, she developed the Goodlife Coach, which she now teaches to others. This includes a number of NLP and mindset consulting tools.
Through her business, she guiding clients to intentionally design and create their own Goodlife, in alignment with their vision, values, mission and goals.
“In the last three and a half years, I’ve done a deep dive into me,” says Donna, who works with clients worldwide.
“It’s about aligning with your values. It’s about aligning with your authentic self. So it goes deeper than just saying, OK, I’m going to upgrade my business and I’m going make X amount of money every year and I’m going to be a millionaire. No, it’s about actually bringing people back to themselves. Because this is where everything begins and ends with us and self-love, self-awareness and self-love and this is essential for good mental health, for good emotional health, for a resting state of happiness, peace and contentment and money can’t buy that as you know.
“It’s been a rocky, rocky path and journey and it’s not done,” she continues.
“You can be happy one day and have something show up and then go in. But my bounce back ability, my resiliency is a lot stronger. My core foundation who understands myself to be as a spiritual being and a bag of bones. This is what we teach, that you’re so much more than just a physical outer shell.
“The Goodlife approach It’s about showing you all these different elements and how they translate into your everyday life. It’s not just that you’re done in six months and here’s the certificate and away you go. It’s a lifestyle choice like going on a diet or becoming a vegetarian.
“What I teach then can under results and the good life approach is a lifestyle choice. Because it’s a process that you have to adapt every day. If you want to live this way.”