After finding her purpose, Judy O’Higgins influences countless others

Each year, Women’s History Month commemorates the vital role of women as contributors to society. Prescott resident Judy O’Higgins, who lives at Touchmark at The Ranch, continues to affect others’ lives. Her life is an example of surviving and thriving.

After receiving her master’s degree in Social Work from the University of Michigan, Judy spent two years working with AmeriCorps VISTA in inner-city Detroit, alongside her husband.

Over the years, the two developed a strong dependence on alcohol; they separated, and Judy moved to the West Coast. “I finally entered a 30-day inpatient program for alcohol recovery in 1978,” she said.

A year later, she discovered a one-year program at San Diego State University that taught participants how to recover from substance abuse. “When I got out, I had everything I needed to make a difference. I knew what I wanted to do with my life.”

Her first job was as a primary counselor in a women’s recovery home. “I loved it! I was living my purpose.”

Another job—one at a prestigious program—followed. “Then, the most amazing thing happened: The hospital where I had once been a patient was looking for a new [head] counselor. I got the job.”

Listening to her inner voice

In 1986, a friend encouraged Judy to visit Sedona, which was home to an alcohol treatment program. Ready for a change, Judy and her second husband moved there, and she experienced another career-defining moment: the center would be sold. “My husband suggested I go into private practice; the transition was seamless. I didn’t even have to commute.”

Judy’s practice ran from 1990 to 2005, but after 25 years, the unexpected occurred: “I experienced burnout. It wasn’t something I thought was possible.” Incredibly, a longtime friend told her about a new opportunity as an independent contractor with SendOutCards, work that continues to fulfill Judy today.

When asked what advice Judy gives to women about pursuing goals, she said, Be true to yourself. Don’t just do what society tells you to do. If you have an inner voice guiding you to your purpose, don’t listen to the people telling you no—do it anyway!”

Judy said she believes going into treatment for alcoholism totally changed her life. ”The experience led me to my career. I was able to help others to a life of recovery—the most important thing I’ve ever done to truly make a difference.”

Today, she enjoys working on her SendOutCards business from her Touchmark home and participating in the retirement communities’ activities, walking her dog and updating a book for baby boomers, “License to Retire.”

“Continuing to learn new things and challenging yourself is very important at any age!”

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