Her Evolution: Catherine's Connection
Catherine, 36, Chapel Hill, NC - How a divine connection with an older woman led her to Rise and creating a business to care for elders
by Abby Stern · Thu 12 Jan 2023
Catherine’s experience at the Rise Gatherings Weekend Retreat reminds us of the power of the collective wisdom shared over the weekend by all present – a wisdom particular to women when we have the opportunity to gather, share and appreciate the experiences of the women who came before us.
Catherine is a compassionate spirit whose kindness exudes in every interaction. Originally from San Francisco, Catherine’s first passion was music, but ultimately she pursued a college degree in North Carolina after becoming hooked on the state’s natural beauty.
“Spring came along, and it was just gorgeous,” Catherine said. “I started making friends, and the winters were mild, and, you can go to the mountains or the beach, and it has this really bustling hub here in town. I loved it. So that was it. That sealed the deal.”
After graduating UNC, Catherine was employed in the restaurant industry and worked her way up to General Manager in seven years. It was in a restaurant that she began working with an older woman whose health had begun to decline, and the camaraderie between these two women led Catherine to get her certification in health coaching.
When the Covid-19 pandemic lockdown hit, Catherine longed for connection with other people and she knew she needed a new pursuit. She blended her love of interior design and connecting with others to secure a position at a local real estate company as a staging manager for homes on the market.
Through her different jobs and experiences, Catherine realized a common thread to all her life experiences: forming bonds with other people.
“What I discovered from all of those jobs is that I really appreciate the connection with people,” Catherine said.
Catherine now works with an older population assisting with tasks and providing companionship. Nothing fuels Catherine more than working with these people and bringing her light to their lives. She attributes this career path to her chance meeting with her friend, Anne, and Catherine knows that finding Anne was destiny.
Catherine’s awe-inspired description of Anne is that of a spunky and tough woman who grew up in a strict Irish American Catholic family. Anne was kicked out of her house as a teenager prompting her to forge her way through the workforce in the 1950s and 1960s and fighting her way up the corporate ladder in the 1980s. At a time when women were consistently underestimated and mistreated in the office setting, Anne independently broke down barriers and was a shining example of female potential and tenacity in her professional life.
Catherine explains that unfortunately, at the height of Anne’s career, her body started to present physical challenges and she had to slow down. It was ten years after Anne’s health began to fail that Catherine, in her late 20’s, met Anne through a mutual friend while working at the restaurant. Catherine has been completely devoted to her friend, learning from her ever since.
“The universe has power in bringing people together,” Catherine said of meeting Anne. “I think meeting her really kind of shifted me into a purposeful focus of, people really need to hear each other, we really need to see each other, and start acknowledging what we're all going through.”
From Ann, Catherine learned not only to appreciate older folks and the experiences they have to share, but that many older adults are isolated and missing companionship.
“I mean, there were some days where I would just show up at her house, and we'd talk and it was like, she'd be just better, and all I did was sit there, and just talk with her. And I was like, this felt very, very powerful and very meaningful,” Catherine said of working with Anne.
After all these years working with Anne, Catherine realized she wants to devote the rest of her working life to working with an older population. Her personal friendship with Anne has helped Catherine open herself up and care for herself in ways she never would have before. It was Anne who encouraged Catherine to search for a women’s retreat that would help her find the peace and support she needed.
With Anne’s support and encouragement, Catherine attended her first Rise Gatherings Weekend Getaway in 2019, and it was there she experienced a spiritual awakening, learning new methods of self-care and finding inspiration for her future.
“The first time I went to Rise, I remember I was almost crying the entire time. There were just tears,” Catherine said. “It was like, I'm releasing, I'm excited, I'm engaged, and welling up. It was so freeing and meaningful.”
While at Rise, Catherine attended powerful workshops and activities that centered on meditation, cultivating creativity, and expressing herself through dance and laughter alongside other women. One of her favorite workshops involved establishing greater connection with her body.
“It was like waking up your sensual self and waking up your connection with your body and your womb and your female goddess self,” Catherine said. “It was so fun and accessible and easy.”
Seeing all types of women side by side, sharing their lives and building on each others’ strength, was magical for Catherine.
“There's just this sort of beautiful anonymity there,” Catherine said. It was like, I accept you, I accept you exactly as you are, right now, in this moment.”
The Rise Gatherings Weekend also offered Catherine guidance on establishing healthy boundaries needed for self-care while she focused on caring for others.
“It's an Achilles heel, for sure. Boundaries have always been my struggling point, because I just will do the things that people don't want to do because I feel like I have to,” Catherine said. “I've had to learn to help yourself first. Give yourself what you need first.”
Rise truly became a home for Catherine where she can draw on the power of other women and feed her inner happiness.
“It was so liberating. I just felt like I could be exactly who I needed to be. I didn't have to feel like I was being judged, I didn't feel like I was being tucked into a corner. I could just be where I needed to be and feel how I needed to feel,” Catherine said.
After the retreat, Catherine was inspired to channel her passion for working with older folks into a small business. Her vision is to provide services beyond just helping around the house. She wants to collaborate with her clients and ensure their overall wellness and happiness in later phases of life. Catherine knows that sitting with someone and helping them organize old photos or listening to their stories is just as important as any other physical care, and her business will provide not just a helper but a friend.
At Rise, Catherine felt the power of connection, and she wants to bring that to people who may miss these sort of relationships in their later stages of life. Rise is a reference point for Catherine’s life. She constantly pursues situations that will give her the sense of peace and safety she feels at Rise, and she hopes to create spaces like this as she expands her business as a companion for older folks.
“It's very clear that these are values based, heartfelt, authentic individuals that lead [Rise], and I resonate with that,” Catherine said.
Catherine looks forward to attending more Rise events in the future. She loves Rise and feels their mission is truly genuine - that they provide workshops that not only intend to make you feel wonderful, but actually help you understand what wonderful means for you.
“That’s partly why Rise is so amazing, isn't it?” Catherine said. “It helps people feel heard and like they can spend the time being heard and being seen and getting their stories out.”