We had the good fortune of connecting with Cynthia Long and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Cynthia, we’d love to hear more about your end-goal, professionally.
The Wind in My Sail How do you put the wind back in your sail after a tragic event? I lost my best friend, husband, and father of my children December 30, 2008. He had been battling illness for over 28 years and finally ended the struggle that day at 920 a.m. on a very gloomy, grey morning. I am known by others to say: It is not about the destination but the journey that is the most important. My journey to regain the “wind in my sail” began with participating in a grief support group called GriefShare. After 13 weeks, I realized I was masking a fake, pompous attitude that I was fine with my loss. It was one night after the last support meeting that I broke down and realized that I was not as strong as I thought I was. I had been an OR nurse and worked on trauma patients for over 25 years but this time my loss was not a patient. He was the love of my life. I soon took this 13 week class again and began to see the gift I had for helping others with their grief. It was then that my personal narrative of end of life and grief was evolving. I was asked, soon to be a grief counselor. As I write this synopsis of my life, I have been a GriefShare counselor for over ten years. I know I had a story but did I have the tools to express my story in such a way that others would find confidence and consolation in my message? I had little confidence in my story-telling. I knew I had to become a better public speaker. Out of the blue, the hospital where I worked had a Toastmaster club on campus but the hours were not conducive for my schedule. It was then I found a perfect club. I joined Downtown St Pete Toastmasters club in 2014. I dove right in and completed my first ten speeches within six months. I was excited to hone in my new, embellished skills. My mother always said I had the hands of a nurse when I would take care of my baby sister. Little did I know then, that the career of nursing would serve me well as a profession but more overly, a career that would promote my inner heart and soul. I love the field of nursing yet there was a tugging on my heart to learn more about communication. The seed of this interest began as a young Toastmaster. In 2015, I went back to school after 22 years. Not only was this a huge step for me, I went back to pursue a Masters in Communication on-line. As a Baby Boomer, there certainly was a learning curve. Thankfully my daughter was getting her Bachelors in Biology; therefore, was a necessary, available resource for me. After graduating with my Masters, my professor encouraged me to continue for my doctorate in communications. His encouragement appealed to carrying out this journey and message. My dissertation: End of Life Dialogue and its Influence on the Grief Process is completed and published. It all started with a desire and need to tell my story. One might say the stepping stones like GriefShare, Toastmasters, a communication masters and doctorate paved the way. It was my journey. My destination has just begun. Dr. Cynthia Long 

Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
As a baby boomer, I was very apprehensive to go back to school after 22 years especially on line. My masters was more technical but he doctorate was intense. I learned to be a great communication scholar and researcher. I would emphasize to anyone about any difficult journey is to NEVER give up on your dreams and goals.

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I am an avid cyclist and have been cycling for over 40 years. I would say that you can see the best of St Pete on a bicycle. It is never too late to learn to cycle and build your endurance.

Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
My children have been instrumental in my journey. GriefShare started through Church Initiatives to help people through their grief. Toastmasters has helped me become a gifted motivational speaker. All my professors at Regent University.

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