This was to be the start of the day that changed my career, my year, my life.

What I thought I was going to Hope and Healing for and what I actually got from the day were two very different things.

I arrived to Enniskillen in the lashing rain on Friday evening and walked into the restaurant, to have dinner with the speakers for the day.

Going around the dinner table, each briefly sharing our stories and theme of our talks for the very next day inspired me so much that I was also petrified. How I would fit in amongst so many giants of inspiration? That dreaded feeling of ‘I’m not good enough’ reared its ugly head.

It was very clear from the moment I met the organisers in person that the intentions for the day of love, concern and hope were palpable. It was present in everything they did. These people were standing for people thriving and getting something really special from the day.

What I thought I was getting from the day was an opportunity to speak and tell my story of overcoming Multiple Sclerosis naturally.

What I got from the day was connection, love, friends, spine tingling conversation, care for people, people’s stories of adversity and how they wanted to help others overcome their own challenges. What I got was a new attitude of inclusion. No one was getting left behind.

We sometimes think that the problems of the world are ‘out there’ somewhere in the distance. When we read a story of bad news, we check to see if we know them, or if it effects us directly, right? Well Hope and Healing was ‘all for one and one for all’. It was a day where the community got to say and show that there are people there, in front you that care. That stand for you getting through whatever it is that is going on, internally or externally. There are people there that care. People that have been through similar if not the same. The message of ‘don’t be isolated, you are not by yourself’ was truly emotional.

Don’t be mistaken thinking it was a day of woe and sad stories though, it was nothing short of uplifting and inspirational. Gratitude was on the menu throughout. Stories of turning what we have into enough hit the nail on the head from many different and unexpected angles.

You could be a Mum with crippling anxiety, a person that thinks they don’t need to be inspired, or maybe you have it all together? I was the latter. I had a well paying job, happy with my lot and wasn’t really in need of ‘hope and healing’. Or so I thought!

There was no one left untouched by the sheer vulnerability and rawness of what was being shared.

I didn’t think I needed any more inspiration, in my head I was going to help people get inspired by overcoming an incurable disease, and I came away with more than I could ever give away.

I was so moved by the stories, workshops, meditation and conversations that I decided that day that I was going to leave my job and set up my own business again. I even said it aloud in front of an audience. How could I not follow through?

I had no idea how I was going to do it, how I was going to sustain myself and my two kids and what future looked like, but having been surrounded by so many tales of victory, of people being unstoppable that I knew whatever I wanted to do, no matter how hard I perceived it might be, these people were living proof that it could be done. Where do you get that on a Saturday in January?

I’ll never forget the feeling at the end of the day. Not wanting to leave Enniskillen, not wanting to part from the magic.

I’m happy to tell you, I left my job. I set up my own business, I studied coaching and received a distinction. I now have a path in front of me I didn’t know existed. Hope and Healing really helped me sweep away that dirt from that path to inspire me take the first step towards what I have always wanted to do. Help people help themselves.

I now coach people individually and also businesses. I speak frequently at conferences and within companies sharing from my experiences. However my biggest achievement is kick starting my MS to Success programme on February 22, 2019. I will be back speaking about this journey from disempowered employee to thriving coach and being a super hero in my own life and sharing how anyone else can do the same, whatever their personal picture of success is. Come say hello!

Karen Dwyer is one of several key speakers at the Hope, Healing and Health event which is being organised by the Aislng Centre and will take place at South West College’s Skills Centre on January 5 (Saturday).