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  Dec 26, 6:23 PM
How does she . . . Work as a psychologist and executive coach . . . Give motivational presentations . . . Chair the American Association of University Women Science Fair committee . . . And still have time for herself?

Therapist, coach and mentor gains balance by meditating

BY KATHY HAGOOD
FOR FLORIDA TODAY

Dr. Wanda Bethea worked 80 to 90 hours a week for 19 years. She headed the psychology department at Indian River Hospital and had a private practice in Vero Beach.

The psychologist commuted from her West Melbourne home six days a week.

But she worked so hard she developed health problems in 2000, including a severe case of mitral valve prolapse.

"When I got sick, I knew I had to slow down," said Bethea, who also has diabetes.

For starters, she left her hospital post. Then she moved her private practice to Melbourne and expanded her services to include executive coaching.

"Coaching refreshes me," she said. "It's a nice contrast to my therapy sessions because, oftentimes, I work with patients who suffered sexual abuse."

In addition to therapy and coaching, Bethea also conducts forensic testing and gives expert testimony in court cases.

Although Bethea no longer shoulders a grueling schedule, she's still extremely busy and typically sleeps no more than about five or six hours a night to fit everything in.

In addition to her practice, she mentors a high school student, gives motivational talks, writes a column for a Chamber of Commerce newsletter and participates in three chambers and additional networking groups.

This year, she's chairing the American Association of University Women's Science Fair committee, which will award scholarships to four girls.

"I'm a pretty driven person, so I still tend to take on a lot. My husband helps, because when he sees I'm getting stressed out, he says 'Go take a nap,' " she said.

Her husband, Rick Briggs, also supports her by cooking and helping clean the house. Because he has a more flexible schedule, he will bring her lunch to work when she gets busy.

"I don't know how I would manage my life without him," Bethea said. "He helps bring balance to my life."

Because she has a busy schedule, Bethea takes time in the morning to center herself and relax through meditation and spiritual readings. Sometimes, she reads the Bible and sometimes her Native American Sacred Path Cards.

"Everyone needs spirituality in their life. It's essential," Bethea said.

Bethea also exercises regularly at Body Dynamics in Melbourne.

Another balancing factor is her three young grandchildren.

"If I work too much while they are visiting, my husband reminds me to quit working and come out and play."

Here's how . . . She gets up early and goes to bed late . . . Takes time in the morning to center herself . . . Doesn't try to do everything perfectly . . . Exercises regularly . . . Her husband cooks and helps clean the house.

A typical day

5:30 a.m.: Wake up, meditate and read spiritual literature
6 a.m.: Get ready for work
7 a.m.: Leave for work, stop by lake to clear head and prepare for the day
8 a.m.: Arrive at work, counsel patients, coach clients and work on volunteer projects
11:30 a.m.: Husband brings her lunch Noon: Get back to work
7:30 p.m.: Leave for home
8 p.m.: Eat dinner with husband and spend time with him
10 p.m. Take care of paperwork and other business
Midnight: Go to sleep


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