Melissa Ward

Melissa Ward
Episode 103

Join host, Japhet De Oliveira, as he sits down with Melissa Ward, Post-Acute Care Executive at Adventist Health, to discuss Melissa's work overseeing home health, her journey to the healthcare field, and her love of motorcycles.
Libsyn Podcast
"I love the energy of people, if that makes sense."

Narrator: Welcome friends to another episode of the Story & Experience podcast. Join your host, Japhet De Oliveira with his guest today, and discover the moments that shape us, our families and communities.

Japhet De Oliveira: Hey, welcome friends to another episode of the Story & Experience podcast. I'm delighted that the guest sitting opposite me today is actually smiling in advance. This is good.

Melissa Ward: For now.

Japhet De Oliveira: Now you heard their voice a little bit, so it's a little clue, which is great. If you're brand new to this podcast, we have 100 questions. We explore stories and experiences that shape the person into the leader they are today. And I'm going to begin asking the first 10, and then they will choose numbers between 11 and 100 and we'll see where we land. Brilliant. So let's start with number one. I like your body language. She's lined up her face. So what's your name and does anybody ever mispronounce it?

Melissa Ward: Oh, thank you for that. So name is Melissa Ward. Rarely does anyone mispronounce it. Now I usually am called Michelle though, for whatever reason. There's this-

Japhet De Oliveira: Really?

Melissa Ward: Yes, really. I had a boss who worked with him for five years and he thought my name was Michelle.

Japhet De Oliveira: Should we name him?

Melissa Ward: I think that's my name, is Michelle. That's my real name.

Japhet De Oliveira: Really?

Melissa Ward: Yeah. Seriously.

Japhet De Oliveira: So did you ever correct him?

Melissa Ward: Never.

Japhet De Oliveira: Oh, no. Oh, no.

Melissa Ward: It was one of those things I just let him do. I'm like, it's fine. It's okay.

Japhet De Oliveira: He just called you Bob and you're like, sure.

Melissa Ward: Exactly. Bob, is it? Yeah.

Japhet De Oliveira: All right. I was going to say Michelle, but no, I'm kidding. Melissa, what do you do for work?

Melissa Ward: Yeah, so I have the privilege of being our Post-Acute Care Executive. I oversee our home health and hospice locations for all of Adventist Health. That's 13, 14 home health locations, eight hospice locations across our entire footprint across the three states.

Japhet De Oliveira: That's a heavy job.

Melissa Ward: It's fun.

Japhet De Oliveira: It's fun. You did say hospice, right?

Melissa Ward: Home health and hospice.

Japhet De Oliveira: So explain how that's-

Melissa Ward: Yeah, it's an irony, right?

Japhet De Oliveira: Explain how that's fun.

Melissa Ward: Yeah. So hospice is the unique privilege that we have on taking care of patients and optimizing their life, even if it's at the end of it. Yeah, maybe fun is the ironic word to use.

Japhet De Oliveira: No, I like it.

Melissa Ward: But it's fun that we get to transform lives even at the end and the families and the privilege that we have in doing so.

Japhet De Oliveira: That's great.

Melissa Ward: It takes a unique individual to stay at the bedside with someone who's making those decisions and recognizing their immortality at that moment. And that we get to help make that a seamless journey as best we can during the grief and the pain and maybe regrets that they may have had and that we get to be part of making them a better person and a whole person at the end.

Japhet De Oliveira: How did you end up in this space? This is a bonus question. We'll go off script.

Melissa Ward: So I'll start from the beginning. And this has really become my mission. And so I'm going to start from where I started in school, when I came out of high school. I was really ag-heavy, agricultural heavy. That's what I wanted to do. I wanted to be an agricultural lobbyist actually. And go to DC and really advocate for farmers. That was my ultimate goal. This was back in the days where decisions were being made and I'm like, no, that's an injustice and we need to go do something about that.

And I realized at that point that my parents had a change in their plans and I was not able to go to the school of choice at that time, which was Cal Poly. And I was really broken over that moment. I thought I was upset, I was frustrated. I was resentful towards that. Why can't I, as if the whole world is for them to make my world better.

Japhet De Oliveira: It does happen that way.

Melissa Ward: It does happen. And so in that meantime, I went back to the junior college and I started taking ag classes and it felt empty. I felt something was not clicking for me. I didn't feel like I was in a place to give back or that I had that opportunity to do so. So someone said to me, well, in the meantime have you figured out what you want to do. Why don't you become a certified nurse's aide? Which is so opposite, right?

So I'm like, okay, I think I like people enough to do that. So I went to a local skilled nursing facility and at that point they had certified nurses training courses. And I went in and I started doing this. And Japhet, I fell in love with taking care of people. It is still my most favorite job I've had.

Japhet De Oliveira: I do know that about you.

Melissa Ward: So the opportunity to really wash someone's hair who had no family there to do that for them. To sit at the bedside and maybe clean their nails, or have lunch with them. It was a heavy job. It was a hard job. For those CNAs that are out here listening, the gurney baths that you have to do though. It is not easy. I was exhausted. But seeing the difference that it made really drove me.

And that's when I decided I think I should go into a healthcare, whatever that means. So then someone said, hey, why don't you enroll in nursing? Well, maybe nursing sounds good. That's a great career. So I started that journey. So I started going to school and then started my clinical rotation at a local hospital. And yeah, I'm like, not only is it fun working with people, but the energy to be able to be autonomous in making some decisions and making people's lives better.

So caregiver at heart, I found I was.

Japhet De Oliveira: That's great.

Melissa Ward: And then I had this kind of crazy adrenaline side that was like, give me the codes, give me the ICU, give me MedFlight, whatever I could do. And so I worked in the hospital setting for about seven years on the cardiac side. Loved the philosophy of acute care nursing for looking at a patient that when they come in, what's their discharge plan? And then also those touch points on how can I make their lives better while they're in here.

But it was a pretty controlled environment for the most part. And then on my personal journey, I was pregnant with my second son. So I'd taken some time off from my first son. I'm a proud mom of three boys. Second son was born and I was still in acute care setting. And he was 12 months old. He was just turning a year. I think I made it into the pediatric office at 13 months. And we're there for his checkup. But I told her, "Something's different with him. Something's not right." He wasn't feeling well either. And I said, "A lot's going on. I think he's got a cold, but man, he's peeing all the time."

And she looked at me and she said, "Let's just check his blood sugar just to see what he is." And so we went into the lab there and checked and she came back and she's like, "Are you sure he wasn't drinking apple juice or orange juice? Did we clean his fingers before the?" Yep, we did. And it was that moment that identified, we found out that he was a type 1 diabetic at 13 months old.

Japhet De Oliveira: Wow. My goodness.

Melissa Ward: That's a big deal.

Japhet De Oliveira: That's a big deal.

Melissa Ward: Back in the day, as a nurse, I thought I knew what this meant. And so we were rushed off to a pediatric specialist up in Sacramento, and that's where the journey with a 13-month-old with type 1 diabetes began. At that point, we were still giving shots for, insulin shots and finger sticks and toe sticks. And I had to actually dilute insulin for him. And so here I am in this dilemma, Japhet.

I can't go work in an acute care setting and be behind doors for 14 hours a day. So I need to find another way of work. And I think someone recommended at that point, hey, go try home care. That's a great place to go work. And I'm like, you've got to be kidding me. Not in a million years. That's where nurses go to retire. Or when you're done being a nurse, yeah, pull your hair back, put your slippers on, go visit with patients.

I literally thought, that's the end of my career. But I had no other option but to go try this. So I show up for an interview, they said, you're hired. My energy. I'm like, I'm here to take care of people. I'm going to make this work. Hadn't even gone out on a visit yet to even understand what home health looked like. And then I went out on my first visit with my preceptor and it absolutely changed my life.

I still, to this day, drive by that home where I'm like, that's where my mission began. And so I walk into this home with my preceptor. Is a 60, 70-year-old gentleman who's newly diagnosed, well, had heart failure for some time, but acute exacerbation of heart failure. He was a patriarch of his family. Portuguese family. Owned a dairy. This was his thing with his wife.

And he was the strength of the family. And here he is, barely breathing on the couch. His wife who was there to look after him, had no idea how to take care of this disease process. Medications all over the table, lots of salty foods and how do you change this? And I'm sitting there going, there's no doctor, there's no X-ray, no IV Lasix. I have no labs. And this guy's about ready to head back to the hospital.

This is where my life changed. This is why I became a nurse. One, that they let me in the most intimate part of their home, of their life, their home. That they want to hear what I have to say. And I have the privilege of partnering with them on their health journey. And that's where my journey began. So I'm like, this is perfect. This is exactly what I wanted to do.

And so over the course of several years, I was that clinician or that employee that was a pain to my supervisor. I was like, why are you doing it this way? This is not helping the patient. Don't you know what we have, what we're doing on the frontline, how much we have to struggle with and juggle to take care of these patients?

And so I became such a loud mouth. They're like, okay, smarty-pants, you're going to be our clinical manager. And then I realized that was my first journey into leadership was that first really close from being frontline, to now I'm with my peers managing. And that was the most humbling, my first humbling experience. And so then as a leader, as I've grown through my passion for home health.

And then I did my clinical rotation for my degree in hospice. I just felt like then my journey was in the situations came to where I was in leadership positions to help.

Japhet De Oliveira: They're constantly expanding that space.

Melissa Ward: Yes, constantly expanding. So that's how I landed in home health and hospice.

Japhet De Oliveira: That's incredible.

Melissa Ward: And to this day, I still remember this family that changed my life.

Japhet De Oliveira: That's beautiful. Hospice is very special to me too. Just a very, very sacred space. So I love your journey to arrive there. That's really great. And now you're leading it and changing it. So that's superb. Thank you. Thank you for sharing that. People are going to enjoy listening to that for sure. All right. All right. Look, simple things here. We're going to go through these simple ones real quick. You get up in the morning, what do you drink? Do you drink coffee, tea, liquid green smoothie?

Melissa Ward: You know what, this is a little bit of a change up. Sometimes I try not to be so patterned, but I do have one cup of coffee every morning. And then I usually follow it with a breakfast drink, and then a big old glass of water within about an hour from there.

Japhet De Oliveira: That's really good, that's really good.

Melissa Ward: That's what I do. That's my routine. I try and switch it up though. Maybe it's the-

Japhet De Oliveira: You move the cups around.

Melissa Ward: Maybe it's the water first. Yes, I do. Close my eyes, have my kids come behind me. Mom pick. Just because you, as we get older, we get into these patterns, I'm like, I know I'm going to be so predictable.

Japhet De Oliveira: I don't know what you mean. All right.

Melissa Ward: But only one cup of coffee a day for me, as you can tell, it's probably enough.

Japhet De Oliveira: Yeah, I know. I can tell. Where were you born?

Melissa Ward: I was born in San Francisco.

Japhet De Oliveira: Oh, really?

Melissa Ward: Yeah. Yeah.

Japhet De Oliveira: Did you live there for a long time?

Melissa Ward: No. So I'm a military brat.

Japhet De Oliveira: Oh, okay.

Melissa Ward: Yeah. So I had the privilege of being part of, my dad was part of the Army, and so he was an officer in the Army. We moved a lot, which is another part of what formed me. My first elementary school years all the way. I think it went to 11 different elementary schools. But my family was, they were stationed in Stockton. But somehow I ended up in San Francisco being born there while he was doing one of his tours.

Japhet De Oliveira: That's fantastic. They're pretty cool. Just as a guess, if people were to describe your personality-

Melissa Ward: She's crazy.

Japhet De Oliveira: Would they say you were an extrovert or an introvert and would you agree?

Melissa Ward: Well, it depends on what time of day I'm pretty sure. They're like, yeah, no need to answer that.

Japhet De Oliveira: Okay, then. All right.

Melissa Ward: But it's not always comfortable being an extrovert. I know I'm perceived as an extrovert, but as I'm hopefully becoming wiser, I do introvert more. Introspective. But I love the energy of people, if that makes sense.

Japhet De Oliveira: In a large crowd are you happy just to be quiet?

Melissa Ward: I am. I am.

Japhet De Oliveira: But that's different, right?

Melissa Ward: That is different.

Japhet De Oliveira: It wasn't always that way.

Melissa Ward: No.

Japhet De Oliveira: It is now.

Melissa Ward: It is now.

Japhet De Oliveira: Yeah.

Melissa Ward: I find more pleasure in listening, hopefully more than being the one kind of front and center.

Japhet De Oliveira: That's awesome. I like that. All right, this morning, first thing that went through your mind as you woke up.

Melissa Ward: How do I, oh gosh. Let me think about this. Well, no, because I don't want it to sound cheesy, like you really thought that? Really today I had the opportunity to kind of round up a three-day experience with my leadership team for a retreat. And the first thing I woke up this morning is how can I serve them? How do we want to end this meeting, and what's the greatest takeaway so they can make the communities they're going back to better. Honestly, it's a huge weight that I think we have as leaders to serve. And that's what I woke up thinking about this morning.

Japhet De Oliveira: That's not cheesy. That's beautiful. All right. Now here's the leadership question for you. Are you a backseat driver?

Melissa Ward: No. Well, let me think. It depends.

Japhet De Oliveira: Answer that quickly.

Melissa Ward: Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. Am I a backseat driver?

Japhet De Oliveira: Your instinct is no.

Melissa Ward: If I know I'm not to drive, then my answer is I'm not a backseat driver. If the person driving is uncertain on whether they should be driving, I'm a backseat driver. If that makes sense.

Japhet De Oliveira: That does, that does.

Melissa Ward: Yeah. It's a trust level of whoever's driving. Depends on whether I'm the backseat driver or not.

Japhet De Oliveira: It is. No, I like that. All right. Hey, floor is open now. You get to pick a number between 11 and 100 where you want to go. And where would you like to go first?

Melissa Ward: We'll start gently. Let's go. Let's try 22.

Japhet De Oliveira: 22. All right. If you could be anywhere right now, where would you be?

Melissa Ward: If I could be anywhere right now, I would be on my motorcycle. Anywhere up in the hills. Any twisty road. Doesn't matter where.

Japhet De Oliveira: Is this a little moped that you've-

Melissa Ward: It's a little bit of a moped that goes a little faster than the normal moped.

Japhet De Oliveira: Could you explain for some people. Because I've seen images, but if you could just paint that picture for us on, when you say motorcycle, what do you mean?

Melissa Ward: Yeah, so motorcycle is my hobby that I love to, that's my downtime. So I have a street bike, it's an Aprilia Tuono, a nice Italian bike that I get to go ride when I'm on the street. And then I have a track bike, which is equally fun, which is a Ducati Panigale that I get to go really rip it up on the track and kind of drag the knee when I can. But that helmet time is-

Japhet De Oliveira: Drag the knee.

Melissa Ward: That's where would love to-

Japhet De Oliveira: That's because you were dipping over on the side.

Melissa Ward: Well, we're trying to keep, yep, trying to get that bike up. And I'll get down and let's keep that as straight as we can.

Japhet De Oliveira: Just out of curiosity. This question is a bonus question. It's 22-A. How fast have you-

Melissa Ward: Oh, no. So I had to rethink this because I realized I was talking kilometers. So I know there's, I said 210 to someone, but actually it was more like 175.

Japhet De Oliveira: Oh, only 175.

Melissa Ward: Only 175. Right. So that's the fastest-

Japhet De Oliveira: On a motorcycle?

Melissa Ward: On a motorcycle. Yeah. Well it just is-

Japhet De Oliveira: It must be very heavy.

Melissa Ward: It's very fast when it's in-

Japhet De Oliveira: All right. All right. That was 22. Where would you like to go next?

Melissa Ward: That was fun. Let's do 34.

Japhet De Oliveira: 34. Tell us about a moment that a person's kindness made a difference in your life.

Melissa Ward: Oh, I've got that moment. Okay. So my spiritual journey, let's talk about that for a minute.

Japhet De Oliveira: I like that.

Melissa Ward: So my parents basically never imposed any spiritualness on us children. They basically said, whatever you want to do, whatever you want to believe. And to me, I think that had its benefits, obviously. But then there was the opportunity. So then here I find myself at 18, 19 going, what is this? There's got to be more. And I'm seeking to understand. And so yet I was very rough around the edges, just, here I am, this extrovert.

And then so I started going to a local church and already very just sensitive of where I was at and not knowing even what spirituality or Jesus or religion was. I had no idea. I had no concept at that time. And so I go into this fellowship and within the first couple months, one of the parents of one of the girls I connected with, her name was Connie, took me under her wing and she was a gentle, encouraging soul.

I thought, if I'm going to be a person, if this is what Jesus looks like, I want to look like that. And she was nonjudgmental. She looked beyond me and my crazy, well, maybe you shouldn't be doing that, or wearing that, or saying that. And it was as if it didn't matter to her. And so I still reflect back even with my own children, that's who I want to be to them. I want to just be that example of what He looks like.

Japhet De Oliveira: That is really good.

Melissa Ward: So I still think of her. I see her, and she's a phenomenal woman. She's amazing. So her kindness changed my life then too.

Japhet De Oliveira: That's beautiful. And teaching that to others as well, and instilling that and seeing that in others. That's fantastic. That's really good. All right, where next.

Melissa Ward: Okay. Let's just go up a little bit to 40.

Japhet De Oliveira: All right.

Melissa Ward: We're going to slow it down.

Japhet De Oliveira: That's a good question for you. Tell us about a time you failed.

Melissa Ward: Okay. This morning. Oh, yeah. Work personal.

Japhet De Oliveira: It's your choice.

Melissa Ward: Yeah. I think there's so many times I fail every day. I think the collective failure, sometimes I feel as a parent is-

Japhet De Oliveira: It's a heavy one.

Melissa Ward: It's a heavy one, right? You're not quite sure if you're making the right decisions.

Japhet De Oliveira: That's true.

Melissa Ward: And so there are times when I was not as forgiving or as supportive or as focused as a parent. And those are the failures I try and learn from. I go and apologize when I have that opportunity to identify that. And just self-correct as best possible.

Japhet De Oliveira: Okay. I've got to ask because there are parents like myself who feel the same way. How do you teach yourself to experience grace for yourself?

Melissa Ward: I listen to Connie's voice.

Japhet De Oliveira: Oh, really?

Melissa Ward: And the scriptures and what they have to say about it. It's okay. It's what you said. It's changing-

Japhet De Oliveira: The way you think.

Melissa Ward: The way you think.

Japhet De Oliveira: It changes the way you feel.

Melissa Ward: It changes the way you feel. And how I feel is not always the reality, is what I tell myself. And that changes moment to moment. But how I think and what I know is the truth is what matters. And then I just own it. I'm trying to get better owning the failure, this is what it is.

Japhet De Oliveira: That's good advice.

Melissa Ward: And then how do I avoid that? But how do I self-correct quickly?

Japhet De Oliveira: Yeah. Yeah. That's good advice. I like that. O, sage. All right, that was 40.

Melissa Ward: I hope this is going really well for you. And you're not just laughing.

Japhet De Oliveira: No, this is great. This is great.

Melissa Ward: You're like, Mark, we're cutting the whole thing.

Japhet De Oliveira: Destroy it. Destroy it. Delete the entire episode. All right. That was 40. Where next?

Melissa Ward: Okay, let's go to 50.

Japhet De Oliveira: 50. All right. Share about who has influenced you professionally.

Melissa Ward: Yeah, yeah. Again, I was like, oh. So the way I look at the professional influence is taking nuggets from many others that have come into my path that I'm like, that's who I want to be. So can I say it's just one person? Not necessarily, for me. But if I had that one person, it would've been my executive director when I first became a clinical manager. So she again, was a great model for what I would see as an effective woman in leadership. Her mantra was to be fair and just and to listen and to get the facts.

And so that really did start to form my early leadership growth. And then from there on, I had an executive coach in one of my former roles who really was like, you do gravitate to look at each person that you serve with, each leader, and what nugget can you gain from them? So I've got some physicians that I can think about that meant analytically, I want to do that better. I think about some peers that I've served with just recently. If I could be a better storyteller, I want to do that.

Japhet De Oliveira: Yeah, if only you could.

Melissa Ward: If only I could. Tell the story on a graph or the PowerPoints, this is where I'm going to need your help. So really trying to see parts of leaders that I want to emulate.

Japhet De Oliveira: That's really good. That's great for everybody, right? We can see something great in everyone.

Melissa Ward: And then understand that everyone has something great to give.

Japhet De Oliveira: That's awesome. Fantastic. All right. That was 50. Where next?

Melissa Ward: Let's drop down to 14.

Japhet De Oliveira: 14. All right. Oh, tell us about what you enjoy doing outside of work.

Melissa Ward: Okay. Well, okay. Well, we talked about most of that. I feel bad every time you and I talk at some point it comes back to the motorcycles.

Japhet De Oliveira: Somehow it comes back. I don't know why. I don't know. Jealousy.

Melissa Ward: Hey, I've got an extra helmet outside. We brought one for you.

Japhet De Oliveira: Okay. It's okay.

Melissa Ward: How awesome would that be though?

Japhet De Oliveira: I don't know. Let's move on, shall we?

Melissa Ward: Let's go on. Okay. I do, I like riding bikes, obviously. I feel it empowers me to think more clearly. And this technical skill is amazing. And the helmet time is very therapeutic and essential. I also love anything outdoors. I like to be active. I like to work out at the gym. I like to try and just push the body as far as you can to do better and be as strong as I can physically, mentally, spiritually, emotionally.

Japhet De Oliveira: That's awesome.

Melissa Ward: So I just like to be outside.

Japhet De Oliveira: Hey, that's great. Yeah, that's great. All right. That was 14.

Melissa Ward: Let's do 44.

Japhet De Oliveira: 44. All right, here we go. What is something that you are proud to have created?

Melissa Ward: In current state? The team that I have the privilege of serving right now. And we just came off again two and a half days of time together and giving them the opportunity to share their strengths with each other and their successes and opportunities. And I sat back, this is an amazing team. So also I'm learning as a leader that having a strong team is really the success. It is all about them. And not about me. So I'm proud currently of the team that is serving home health and hospice for us. They're an amazing team.

Japhet De Oliveira: That's fantastic. And they are.

Melissa Ward: They are.

Japhet De Oliveira: Hey, that's great. All right, that was 44. Where next?

Melissa Ward: Let's go to 70.

Japhet De Oliveira: 70. All right. Tell us about one thing that you are determined to accomplish. It's a great question for you, right? Because you're never determined about anything.

Melissa Ward: No. I don't do anything without... I'm not indecisive at all. I'm determined to accomplish, personally, I'd love to start some type of a foundation. And I'm just going to put that out there.

Japhet De Oliveira: That's good.

Melissa Ward: This is where I think about where I want to spend time apart from work. It's also giving back. And then I want that to be an example to my children as well. So I don't know what that looks like. I just spent some time with another peer colleague. She's from Ghana and she started a foundation there in memory of her mother. And I'm like, why can't I do something like that where you feel like you're giving?

And I just never thought I'd have that capability. I never saw that in myself. I said, I don't feel cultured. I don't feel lessoned or learned. And so I've been my worst enemy in keeping myself in a box. So if I could do that on a personal level, something like that, that's where I want to spend my time.

Japhet De Oliveira: That's awesome.

Melissa Ward: Also, riding motorcycles and accomplishing that and racing next year, we're going to be racing next year. So if I can get another championship, that would be fantastic.

Japhet De Oliveira: That's good. That's good. Fantastic. All right. That was 70. Where next?

Melissa Ward: Let's go to 85.

Japhet De Oliveira: 85. All right.

Melissa Ward: If that's not too intense.

Japhet De Oliveira: Describe. No, no, it's great. Describe a role model you aspire to be like.

Melissa Ward: You. No, honestly. This is not an easy one for me.

Japhet De Oliveira: No, it's not. Because you know so many good people.

Melissa Ward: I do. And I could just take a bit of everybody. I'm going to pass. Is that okay? Believe it or not, no.

Japhet De Oliveira: Well, we have never had somebody pass.

Melissa Ward: On this one. And I guess that's why this is hard for me because I know everyone has someone to aspire to. But I have-

Japhet De Oliveira: And you love bits of every single person.

Melissa Ward: And I do. I think of you. If I think immediately your energy level, you're finesse with people. Your emotional intelligence is appealing to me. I had a chance yesterday to spend time with Eric Stevens.

Japhet De Oliveira: Okay, yeah. He's a real-

Melissa Ward: Is he not?

Japhet De Oliveira: He is a bit next level.

Melissa Ward: Next level. And my team, here's what my team, they said, "Hey, we want to videotape him." That message back and take to my team because, so I want to be like that. I want to be, I think of Todd. Todd came and he spoke and he so makes it so practical to be as if you're part of that leadership. I think of the Obama's. I'm not even political. I'm not political, but I think-

Japhet De Oliveira: It's about the people.

Melissa Ward: It's about the people. Just the honor that they [inaudible 00:27:20] had brought the professionalism, the level of integrity, at least from my perspective. I'm like, I want to have that kind of a presence.

Japhet De Oliveira: That's beautiful.

Melissa Ward: So it's a, I'm sorry.

Japhet De Oliveira: That's beautiful. That's beautiful. And that's the privilege of this. You get to answer it the way you like. And I like that. That's good. That's good. That's awesome. All right, time for two more. Last two. Where do you want to go? The last two?

Melissa Ward: Can I just try the 100?

Japhet De Oliveira: Yeah, you can.

Melissa Ward: Let's try. I'm curious to see what your 100 question is.

Japhet De Oliveira: Okay. All right. Tell us about one question you don't want to answer.

Melissa Ward: You said, this is probably the most intimate question, right? No one here has ever asked me, but are you married or are you not married Melissa? Right? And of course that's not a question you ask anyone. But one of the shames, or I don't want to say shame. One of the also disappointments I have is having been married and divorced twice. That is not something you ever walk away. You never get married to get divorced, ever.

Japhet De Oliveira: No, you don't.

Melissa Ward: Right? And so I've always felt like I have a big D on my chest, a divorce. And people were like, well, what do you do? Why can't you be as successful in relationships as you are at work? Or at least maybe that's the story I tell myself people are wondering. And I ask myself-

Japhet De Oliveira: Not a fair narrative at all.

Melissa Ward: Maybe I'll just stick to work professionally. Because this relationship stuff is not cutting it. Right? So I think that's the one part of me that I'm always afraid to answer or tell people that I've been divorced twice. And I can look back and go reflect and go, I can see why. I change. They change. We change. No bitterness, no great co-parenting, nothing. No problems. But it is, you never get married to get divorced.

Japhet De Oliveira: No, you don't.

Melissa Ward: And there's always negative outcome from it, even if it's a good thing to happen.

Japhet De Oliveira: It's very complicated, right?

Melissa Ward: It's so complicated.

Japhet De Oliveira: It's not easy. It's not. And it's easy to attribute blame and guilt and shame, like you said, there's a lot of stigma.

Melissa Ward: Yes. There's a lot of stigma.

Japhet De Oliveira: A lot of unnecessary stigma.

Melissa Ward: So I just try and reconcile that every day with where I'm at on that history of me.

Japhet De Oliveira: I spent about 20 years helping people through this kind of process. And honestly, I think that we underestimate the complexity of the human being. Just nobody could foresee that.

Melissa Ward: No.

Japhet De Oliveira: And so-

Melissa Ward: There's so many pieces.

Japhet De Oliveira: But how do you come out of it?

Melissa Ward: So that's my goal.

Japhet De Oliveira: That's you.

Melissa Ward: How am I a better person out of this? How are they a better person? How do I not reflect the stigma? I'm not going to talk bad. With the kids especially, right?

Japhet De Oliveira: That's true.

Melissa Ward: Honor that experience and be a better person and rise above that and heal from it.

Japhet De Oliveira: It is a chapter.

Melissa Ward: Yeah, it's a chapter.

Japhet De Oliveira: In the book. In an epic book.

Melissa Ward: In an epic, right?

Japhet De Oliveira: Hey, this is great. All right, last one. Well thank you for taking the 100. Not everybody does it. I was wondering, but I knew you were probably going to try it. Okay. All right. So where would you like to go with your last one?

Melissa Ward: Okay, let's go to 15.

Japhet De Oliveira: 15.

Melissa Ward: Did I ask that?

Japhet De Oliveira: No, you did not. So what is the one thing that you always misplace?

Melissa Ward: Seriously? It's my glasses. All the time. Or my phone. So we were just talking about this today. I literally was in the hallway with my son getting ready to take him to football. Have my phone in my left hand. I'm like, "where's my phone? Let me grab my phone." He's like, "Mom, it's in your left hand." This is not good. So it's either my phone or my glasses. Every time.

Japhet De Oliveira: Are your glasses on your face when you misplace them?

Melissa Ward: Yes. Or up on top of my head. Yeah. Oh, yeah. Always. Every time. And then it's just so embarrassing.

Japhet De Oliveira: Has anybody ever said that you remind them of a wild professor?

Melissa Ward: Yes.

Japhet De Oliveira: Incredibly intelligent.

Melissa Ward: But just how do you get through life? I do. I ask myself, how do you even survive some days?

Japhet De Oliveira: No, that's awesome. Hey, I was going to say Michelle, but no. Melissa. Melissa, it's been absolutely phenomenal to talk to you. Thank you.

Melissa Ward: Thanks for this time.

Japhet De Oliveira: Thanks for your candor, for sharing your heart. And for anybody who's listening, I think good wisdom about parenting, relationships, careers, vocation, how to understand where your calling is. So lots of things to process, which is really good. I want to encourage people to do the same. Sit down with a friend, ideally get a cup of tea. I should actually bring a cup of tea from now on and sit down and ask good questions and listen, because you are transformed. I'm transformed from that and it's a good thing.

Melissa Ward: Well, I appreciate this and it has been an honor. And next time I'm going to ask you questions.

Japhet De Oliveira: Oh really? Okay. All right. Well hey, God bless, everybody. Until we connect again. Thanks again, Melissa.

Melissa Ward: Thank you very much.

Narrator: Thank you for joining us for the Story & Experience podcast. We invite you to read, watch, and submit your story at The Story & Experience podcast was brought to you by Adventist Health through the Office of Culture.