Finding My Path Back to the Peace Corps by Barbara Joe


Finding My Path Back to the Peace Corps

-a Gateway to a Useful Life

Contributed by Barbara E. Joe 

As a newly minted college graduate, I realized that if I lived long enough, I would meet many challenges while finding my path and a gateway to a useful life.  Finishing my master’s degree was the first step; raising four children and facing head-on the time when my husband left while the kids were still young, proved to be another.  So who could blame me when I thought that the only way from there would be up – surely I had “paid my dues.”

But I was wrong!  In 1994 Andrew, my older son, died after a work accident. It was my darkest hour, the before and after of my entire existence – a divide never to be breached – seeming totally contrary to the natural order. I faced a problem without any remedy or redeeming rationale, no lessons to be learned, only that a child lovingly raised and nurtured could suddenly disappear forever. Then, my Cuban foster son, Alex, an unaccompanied minor who’d arrived during the 1980 Mariel boatlift, died of AIDS one year later.

For many months, all I could do was put one foot in front of the other, going to work, coming home alone to my empty house, feeling thirsty from so much crying, almost reveling in my grief, perhaps punishing myself for having let my boys die. Other parents’ announcements of their kids’ graduations, marriages, new babies, and promotions only rubbed salt in the wounds.  I joined a support group for bereaved parents, The Compassionate Friends, which made me feel less alone and for that I am grateful.

I became hyper-protective of my remaining kids and little granddaughter, anxious about every late arrival and missed phone call. After all, lightning had already struck twice. I envied other parents their innocent belief that their children would always be there to carry on their legacy. I knew otherwise – kids’ lives could actually disappear in a nanosecond, as is the case for each and every one of us.

My awareness that every life is finite, including my own, revived a dream I’d had since 1961 when President Kennedy first established the Peace Corps.  Although I hadn’t been able to join the Peace Corps in my youth, I revisited that dream.  In the year 2000 at the age of 62, I became a health volunteer in Honduras.  This was a homecoming to both my dream and to Honduras, because I was there in 1941 while my father did archeological work in the Mayan ruins of Copán.

How a 62 year old woman revisits her dream of joining the Peace CorpsMy surviving kids were skeptical; I’d often talked about Peace Corps but never followed through. They were surprised that this time I really meant it. Before I left, a man my own age warned that I was making a big mistake, that Peace Corps was only for young people, “Mark my words, you’ll be home by Christmas at the latest.” I followed my passion and stayed beyond the usual 27 months for “three Christmases!” I even started a support group for “over-50” volunteers, OAKS, standing for Older And Knowing Souls.

In the first town where I lived, two of my landlady’s young grandsons died of AIDS, along with the female partner of one of them. At that time, no AIDS remedies existed in Honduras, so my efforts focused on education and prevention. I also trained midwives and helped with deliveries, once participating in a breech birth where the baby died; the young mother should have gone to a hospital, but with the infant’s feet already emerging, it was too late to get her there. To reduce childhood deaths from a common killer—intestinal illnesses—I encouraged women to keep babies with diarrhea well hydrated with breast milk and a rehydration formula made of boiled water, salt, and sugar, consulting their local health center if the illness continued.

I had hoped to leave death behind, but it soon caught up with me. Honduran children died, as did some mothers in childbirth, and AIDS, the illness that had killed my foster son, was rampant.  Those deaths helped guide my work as a health volunteer. Fortunately, thanks to many collective efforts during my time in Honduras, child and maternal survival increased and AIDS decreased. The two Honduran towns where I lived and worked, El Triunfo (The Triumph) and La Esperanza (The Hope), memorialized in my book’s title, Triumph & Hope, reflected the true spirit of their inhabitants and my own frame of mind.

In 2003 I left Honduras after receiving an urgent plea from my 90-year-old mother who had learned to use e-mail to communicate with me.  I was already conversant in Spanish before going to Honduras, but it had become second nature to me there. Thus my new career as an on-call Spanish interpreter in hospitals and schools began, something I’m still doing at age 74. As an interpreter, I’ve helped families with children undergoing painful organ and bone marrow transplants, mothers with preemie babies small enough to fit into your hand, and kids with congenital anomalies such as eye tumors and missing intestines, as well as a pregnant woman with terminal brain cancer, patients with end-stage kidney and liver disease, and roofers permanently paralyzed in falls.

My work has proved helpful to others and my part-time schedule allowed me to spend time with my mother before her death in 2006. It was then that I got down to finishing my Honduras memoir, based on letters I’d posted monthly on a website while in service. After it received positive reviews, I was invited to give talks about Peace Corps service at libraries and continuing education centers. I also started going back to Honduras, volunteering with a medical brigade ( and organizing other humanitarian projects partly funded by my book proceeds. I’ve returned eight times so far, most recently in February.

Nothing can bring back my son and foster son, who are never far from my thoughts. But my experience of finding my path back to the Peace Corps offered me a healing experience and opened a brand new gateway to a useful life.

Metamorphosis - Your Stories of transformation and self-realization

 “It is well to be prepared for life as it is,

but it is better to be prepared to make life better than it is.” Sargent Shriver

A gateway to a useful life - finding my path back to the Peace Corps Contributed by Barbara E. JoeBio – Barbara E. Joe, MA   Metamorphosis - Your Stories

“Barbara Joe,” people ask, “What’s your last name?” Well, “Joe” is my last name, thanks to my late Korean father-in-law who chose that spelling. In solidarity with my kids, I kept that name after becoming divorced. A native of Boston, an alumna of the University of California, Berkeley, I’m now 74 with a lively five-year-old great-grandson. From my century-old house on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, I work as a freelance writer, Spanish interpreter, and translator.

I belong to The Compassionate Friends, a support group of bereaved parents. I’ve also joined a local Catholic community, Communitas, a few dozen people meeting for weekly Mass at a neighborhood center for gay Catholics. Most members are not gay, just people of all ages, races, ethnicities, orientations, and abilities, with priests from Catholic University taking turns presiding. As a volunteer with Amnesty International (AI) since 1981, I was a founding member of local Group 211 and have held various national leadership positions, including the last eight years as volunteer coordinator for the Caribbean for AI USA, and also serve as a board member of three non-profit organizations working internationally. From 2000-20003, I was a Peace Corps health volunteer in Honduras and wrote a memoir, Triumph & Hope: Golden Years in the Peace Corps in Honduras (,Kindle, and Nook), winner of three literary awards, including “Best Peace Corps Memoir of 2009” from Peace Corps Writers.

A powerful, inspiring personal story that offers an intimate look inside Peace Corps service, showing that no matter what your age and circumstances, you can always forge a new direction.

I’ve also written several articles about the Peace Corps and my missions to Romania, Sudan, Cuba, and other countries. I speak frequently at libraries and educational centers about Peace Corps service and my book.   In April 2011 I was featured in Woman’s Day and in August 2011 appeared in a video distributed worldwide by Voice of America News.


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A Metamorphic Life by Chrystal Kubis

A Metamorphic Life

Contributed by Chrystal Kubis

From a young girl to my early thirties I was riddled with fear in its many guised shapes and sizes. Life, most of the time, felt confusing and heavy.  This fear came in lack of love for myself and lack of trust, both in timing and forces greater than I could see.  I lived an existence always seeking a false ideal of perfection because I didn’t believe I was already good enough.  I had to come to an understanding that I am a powerful creator to my life, not a powerless human victim to circumstance.

Most of my life I had an incredibly hard time embracing the unknown, so I had to learn how to let go and embrace big change over and over again. I used to think I was born without the muscles capable of making decisions, nor the ones to trust and love myself.  The only passion and vision I had was that I wanted to stand tall as a light that inspired others to live brightly and boldly, and yet I couldn’t even get out of my own way.

Every time I felt deep emotion or crumbled in pain, I misunderstood it as ‘bad.’  I didn’t know that the crumbling was my soul letting go, shedding and breaking free. I didn’t have the faith to know that when I was praying for a better life, I could deeply feel but not see that change was happening.  I didn’t quite realize that, through it all,  I was growing into this radical, radiant woman who’d someday be proud of making it through her trials. What I didn’t grasp was that part of the journey for all of us is to unbury and release the human density, pain and emotional weight within.  I now understand this quest to be the journey of a hero, the journey of a teacher, healer and guide. This was my metamorphosis.

Buddha’s Light by Laurel D. Rund - Art from the Heart

We all go through times where the unknown is so overwhelming that we may feel lost before we can find ourselves.   It happens often at that moment when we can no longer deny that the lives we’ve built in our aim for ‘success’ are void of something.  But, then, all the responsibility we’ve taken on can cause a paralyzing hold from moving towards discovering and actualizing personal happiness.

The trick, I believe, is to never doubt that metamorphosis is happening all the time. The more we dive in to examine and excavate the fear and pain that weighs us down, the quicker we heal back into peace and wholeness. The more we step out of lack and fear of what’s to come and take responsibility to let go of the old ~ the more wind we can feel on our face, the more depth is added to our breath, and joy simply begins to shine out of our hearts.

I believe the map of answers is etched within the thing that’s been beating on its own our entire existence… our Heart. Some of us have access to this map very easily. It may be covered with healed scars, but we know it well. We know what routes to take when we are feeling lost or hungry for something more in life and we are well on our way to experiencing a life filled with freedom.  This path back to seeing and knowing ourselves to one of higher heart self-love is our true metamorphosis.


Metamorphosis - Your Stories contribution by Chrystal Kubis

Bio – Chrystal Kubis

Chrystal Kubis is a life navigation specialist, passion igniter and master empowerment coach. “Because we’re not given a handbook in how to comfortably be human, having the right tools and strategies to navigate our lives can make all the difference.”

Utilizing her wide toolbox of modalities gathered over 18 years of training and experience Chrystal serves as a facilitator of freedom who has led trainings on personal transformation and empowerment across the country.

Alongside a degree in Holistic Healthcare, Chrystal’s training is extensive in the fields of mind, body and spirit wellness including certifications as a: Transformational Life Coach, Massage Therapist, Yoga Instructor, Ordained Minister, Qi Gong Healer, Reiki Master and International Women’s Circle Leader.

Teaching and traveling internationally Chrystal worked with The Omega Institute in Rhinebeck, NY (2004-Present).  Changing roles over the years, she served as on-site faculty, campus life coach, ceremonial leader and faculty coordinator between the institute and famous educators such as Dr. Wayne Dyer, Marianne Williamson, Deepak Chopra, Gregg Braden, Caroline Myss, Byron Katie, Seane Corne, and James Van Praagh.

Chrystal is passionate about working with people who are hungry for shifts in their lives, and ready to transform both challenges and emotions into strength, flow, confidence and inner freedom. Her greatest gift and greatest joy is in helping others ignite their power and step into their highest potential.

Chrystal’s passions include outdoor adventures, channeling, writing, savoring green tea, being a life-long learner, dancing like a fool, wrenching cars and enjoying life as much as humanly possible.


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Labor Of Love by Ann Goldstein

Labor Of Love

Contributed by Ann Goldstein of Crann Coaching

It’s November 2011 and I am standing at the island in my kitchen overlooking New York City as I tell my husband, with tears in my eyes, that we are pregnant! Just days prior, I took a voluntary severance package to leave my executive position at a large pharmaceutical company to follow my passion in health and wellness. And, now,  I was being paid to have a baby!

The journey of becoming a mom and an entrepreneur where my husband and I worked from home to create time with our children started as a dream in July 2010, became a reality a year later, and has continued to the present.  I have been blessed to raise my son, Gabriel, from home and to also create my business, CRANN Coaching along the way.

It was not without personal challenges because my ego was holding onto the “Madison Avenue, fame, and fortune” of New York City corporate sales along with the societal and family programming of “go to college, get a good job, climb the corporate ladder, and save for retirement.”  However, that life did not fill me up or make my heart sing. It just fed my ego’s drive to earn more, accomplish more, and ultimately tire me out.

When I found out I was pregnant it was a time to let go of ego’s grip, lead with my heart and surrender to love. I went with the flow of life and listened to what my soul was calling me to do.  Prior to giving birth, I took a prenatal/postnatal yoga certification, I rested, and I got to know myself in a whole new way.

Mother’s HeartAfter an amazing 9 months and 21 hours of labor, our son Gabriel was born on July 20th, 2012. Labor led to the most beautiful miracle and my life was transformed. I was back in my pre-pregnancy clothes within six weeks after birth. People stopped me on the street to ask how I did it. My ObGyn praised me. It was great that I accomplished something most women yearned for. The thing was, I just transformed the outside of my body. My inner body, mind, and spirit were not healed and not balanced six weeks after giving birth. For me, that time wasn’t enough to heal my inner body, my mind and spirit – or bring them back into alignment.

I watched many other women head back to work six weeks post-partum and wondered if there was something wrong with me. I questio
ned everything about myself as I watched the sunrise over the Hudson River and New York City at 5 am day in and day out. As I breast-fed Gabriel in the same white rocking chair, I’m thinking, “but I’m Ann, the coach that teaches people how to balance their mind, body, and spirit, and I’m supposed to have it all together, especially in the happiest moments of my life, and I’m crying every time I think about going back to work.”

I was out of balance and wasn’t living from a whole heart,  so I couldn’t teach or love others until I took actions to balance my own mind, body, and spirit.

Once I went to work on myself, I realized that I was comparing myself to the masses of other women that were doing it the way my ego wanted me to do it. My ego wanted me to go back to the “Madison Avenue, fame, and fortune” of New York City corporate sales along with societal and family programming of “go to college, get a good job, climb the corporate ladder, and save for retirement.”  I was wondering why I felt out of sync and different. But different was what I wanted in order to balance the time of being with my family and creating a coaching business.

Now three years later, I have found a way to have it all. I call this the ‘labor of love’ because motherhood and entrepreneurship are about constantly birthing new ideas. In every phase of Gabriel’s life, I go through ‘the labor of love’ to find my new balance. Currently, Gabriel is starting a two-day a week pre-school program and once again I am transitioning. I’m finding a new balance of mind, body, and spirit so that Gabriel, my husband, and I can all have what each one of us needs and wants to create.

Life is about cycles and how we surrender to them. I’m here to help women find the balance in motherhood and business so that they can express themselves exactly as they want to be. When we balance our mind, body, and spirit and live from our heart’s calling we can give and receive love. We move out of our heads and move into our hearts and everything transforms. Life is about living our heart’s calling…not the calling of society.

The choice to leave corporate America and then finding out I was pregnant with Gabriel was the start of following my heart’s calling in a whole way – my metamorphosis.  It started with surrender and a belief that there is a higher force and power guiding my path.

It was the best gift I gave to myself and my family.

Metamorphosis Your Stories

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Ann Goldstein Bio – Ann Goldstein

Ann Goldstein is the Founder of CRANN Coaching and a leader in the medical community with a mission to transform our healthcare system from one of a “sickcare” system to one of a “wellcare” system.  She is committed to transforming people’s mind, body, and spirit so the three are aligned allowing people to live from a whole heart.

Ann brings her 12 years of pharmaceutical sales and management experience to her current mind, body, and spirit coaching business where she creates customizable programs and workshops to individuals, groups, and organizations.  Go to for more details on Ann, CRANN Coaching programs, CRANN Coaching’s blog, and much more.



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The $50,000 Question by Jane Barr

The $50,000 Question

Contributed by Jane Barr, CPC, ELI-MP

Metamorphosis-Your StoriesIt’s November, 2011. I’ve had health problems for months and now that I am not traveling for work I have the time to see a Dr.  OK, let’s admit the truth. I’ve been putting off going to the Dr., afraid to hear any bad news. And now the Dr. has said it… “Jane, you have a pre-cancerous condition. “Pre-cancerous? What is that? Is that like being a little bit pregnant? And you want me to have a $50,000 dollar operation with no guarantees? And if I don’t then I’m probably dead in 4-5 years?  The $50,000 question!

And what causes this condition? The Dr. says that no one really knows.

And does it ever just disappear on its own? And the Dr. says, sometimes but we don’t know why. Riiiggghhhttt! And I walk out the door.

That is the beginning of my journey. At first it’s a journey of just holding on to my sanity. First stop is the hypnotist. The purpose of hypnosis is to help relax my mind so that I don’t stay in fight or flight syndrome and can heal faster.

One big problem with cancer is that when a person is told they have the dreaded big C they generally go into fight or flight syndrome. Our bodies don’t know the difference between being chased by a lion in a jungle and being frightened by a Dr.’s diagnosis. Our brain instantly starts dumping 33 hormones into our bodies. The purpose of the hormones is to give us the strength to fight or flee.  Unfortunately in our modern society most of us aren’t physically running anywhere so those hormones don’t get used up and they literally tear down our bodies making us even sicker.

Next stop is a holistic Dr. who has me fill out a 48 page form. His determination is that the first Dr. diagnosed the external symptoms correctly but missed the cause. I  most likely have Celiac. I have my choice. I can have a biopsy to verify this new diagnosis or I can just see what happens if I eliminate all gluten from my diet. If I have the biopsy and it is positive then I still will have to change my diet. I choose to make the radical change in diet now. No meat, no fat, no sugar, no dairy, no processed foods and of course no gluten which means no wheat, no rye, no barley.  My husband (bless him) goes on the diet with me. We eat beans and greens and a little fruit 7 days a week. Plus I can’t count how many vitamins.

Final stop is an acupuncturist and a massage therapist who work to clear my system of the toxins.  Weekly treatments start to take hold and within about 6 months I’m starting to see a big improvement. A year later the problem which was diagnosed as cancer is almost gone. Yes, gone.

Here is the thing about being Celiac. It’s like being allergic to peanuts or addicted to alcohol. I can’t have even a tiny bit or my body starts to break down again. Nothing means nothing.  I have to make a life decision, a full out commitment to change my life. Or perhaps I should say a commitment to live.

I’m telling you this not because I want you to feel sorry for me. I’m telling you this story in order to share how this experience has become my metaphor for life in general.  When something isn’t working in my life I check-in with the questions that I discovered in working my way back to health and happiness.

Art from the Heart by Laurel D Rund

  1. Is there something that I am avoiding dealing with in my life? Building a barrier against a problem, walking away from it or trying to avoid it works for a while. But in the end if we don’t deal directly with the problem it will get worse. We have to face our concerns, see the doctor, or talk out the problem in order for it to start to improve.
  2. What am I pushing against? When we hear bad news most people react from a place of fear, or frustration. It’s normal and natural to react negatively. But all that does is make the problem bigger. It’s like pushing against swinging door and then not moving out of the way and getting hit with it. We have to learn to go with life and work with life in order for life to work with us.
  3. How can I make a good decision? The key to making a good decision is to stay calm and allow our intuition to guide us. A pastor suggested that when we are not able to make a decision that we should say “Spirit speak to me” and then turn on the radio and the answer will be in the first words we hear. Recently I was trying to make a decision between two important options and I tried her suggestion. When I turned on my car so I could hear the radio, the dashboard lit up with “Hybrid System Indicator” LOL – guess I got my answer.
  4. How committed am I to my decision? When we make a decision we have to commit to sticking with it long enough so that we can see the results coming to fruition. Prosperity coach Marilyn Jennet says that if we say we are committed one day but back away the next day it is like giving two different directions to a cab driver and expecting him to know where to take us. Commitment is the courage to make radical changes in our lives, to go against the norm and be OK with not being the same as everyone else, to be willing to ask for what we need.
  5. Do I believe it is possible? Psychologist Linda Wells once said to me, it’s not enough to know something intellectually. We have to “know, know” in our heart and mind that it is possible in order for it to come into our lives. If we believe or “know” that what we want is possible and we are patient and committed to whatever it is we want to show up in our lives then it will happen for us. We can think about it like this. If we want to build a chair we first have to get the picture of the chair in our mind. Once we are really clear and believe it can be built then all we have to do is pull together the materials, any support we might need from other people, and then build the chair. But first we have to be able to see the chair and believe that it’s possible to build it.
  6. What is getting in my way? What is going on for us on the outside is only an indicator of what is going on for us on the inside. As Paul and Layne Cutright taught me, we are never upset for the reason we think we are.  In order to cure the outside we first have to get to the underlying cause and cure it. If we are upset, overwhelmed, frustrated, etc. it is common to think that it is because of what is happening around us or to us. The truth however, is that it’s not what is happening to us but how we are responding to or thinking about the situation or person. Our underlying thoughts are what we have to shift or cure in order for our situation to get better.
  7. Have I said yes to life? Finally the metaphor means to me that we have to say yes to life, saying yes to health and yes to happiness. It means to be joyful in the morning, to be at peace at night, to live each moment as though we want to live. It means to be alive with enthusiasm, energy confidence, authenticity, and to love life so much that we will do whatever it takes to stay alive.


Bio ~ Jane Barr, CPC, ELI-MP        Jane Barr, CPC, ELI-MP

Jane Barr is CEO of Kinnexion and a certified Energy Leadership Coach.

Jane has worked for 30 years as a consultant to national retailers such as CVS, GAP and Vera Bradley   with oversight responsibility for system re-engineering projects.  Jane knows what it takes to deliver a project on time and on budget, to build strong teams and to generate add-on business worth millions of dollars.

She also know what it means to have a successful career and then, at mid-career, to find yourself exhausted and wondering; “Is this all there is to life?” or “How can I get off this treadmill?” or simply “Now what?”

As a coach, Jane specializes in helping smart, savvy business-women to reengineer and reenergize their careers so they can stop feeling like they are pushing boulders up mountains and start moving their careers forward in a way that is fun, fulfilling and financially rewarding.

Jane’s coaching certifications include: iPEC Energy Leadership, High Power Presentations, Relationship Savvy, Dale Carnegie Leadership and Communications, and Perfect Customers.

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For All Intents and Purpose – A Life Redefined! Angela Long

For All Intents and Purpose – A Life Redefined!

Contributed by Angela Long

For All Intents and Purpose – A Life Redefined!

In early 2004, I was a busy mom of two active children. My healthy, happy bundles of joy (ages two and five) were destined for greatness, I was sure of it. Why? Because I was fortunate to be home with them, having the privilege of spending 24/7 helping to shape my children into excellence;  teaching them all the things things I had learned in my lifetime.

At that time in my life, that was my intent and purpose. Good days were good, and bad days were…. well, not so good. My happiness hinged on how well my children behaved and performed, because that was a representation of how I was doing as a mother and a person. But, my biggest struggle was that they had minds of their own and preferred doing what they wanted to do when they wanted to do it!  All of my wisdom and knowledge seemed to fall on deaf ears, especially for my five-year-old. My hope was that one day I would figure out that magic formula to help him see the light and follow this path to great success that I had laid out for him and his sister.

Then in February of that year, at the age of 35, a twist of fate happened.  I heard these three little words that would forever change my view on life … You have cancer.”

It was an aggressive breast cancer that had spread to my lymph nodes and was considered to be late stage II.  I was suddenly thrown into a world where my health and my needs had to come first. My children’s future depended on it!

My biggest worry was if I didn’t survive this, there would be no one to shape my children into the excellent human beings they could become. I carefully followed the doctor’s recommendations of treatment, a total of six surgeries, eight rounds of chemotherapy, and a year of targeted medicine specific to my type of cancer.

During that time, I was forced to rely on others to help care for my children and me. As someone used to doing it all, this was very difficult.  It made me feel weak; more so than the chemotherapy poison that was being injected into my body. Fortunately, the love and support from my wonderful husband, family and friends helped to ease my pain, fear, and sense of overwhelming vulnerability.

Throughout my treatment, I couldn’t wait for it to be over so that I could get back to my normal life. However, when my treatment was complete, I didn’t see things quite the same way as I had before my diagnosis. My view on life had been redefined for me without my permission. I was left to figure out a whole “new normal.”  Who was I?  What I was doing? Where I was going?  And, the consuming thought ~ the fear of my cancer returning.

I felt much like a caterpillar in its cocoon. I was going through the motions of life, but had pulled away from it, too. At a time when I should have been embracing my every breath, I was finding it hard to breathe.

A gradual transformation happened, and realizations came to me one-by-one over the next several years. I learned to cope with the fear of my cancer returning by focusing on creating visions of a healthy future. Through study and experience, I discovered that my thoughts could either feed my fear or, alternatively, help me to heal…I chose the latter! 

I knew that my needs had to remain a priority and as the kids got older, this got easier to manage. It was then that I decided to become a life-long student of health of my body, mind and spirit through fitness, nutrition, meditation and mindfulness.

I realized that my life’s intent and purpose was out there waiting to be revealed to me ~ in addition to my treasured role as a mother.  I embrace my everyday and the joy of that day, especially when it helps others.  My happiness and delight is found through experiencing life, taking chances, using my gifts, and expanding myself through learning, loving and living.

Facing cancer opened me to many life lessons. Ironically, many were taught to me by my smart, independent and capable children.  I’ve transitioned from being their director and teacher to more of their observer, encourager and guide.  Though I still see my most important and treasured role as their mother,  I have come to understand the only change and greatness I am responsible for is that within me.



Bio for Angela Long

Angela LongSince her breast cancer diagnosis in 2004, Angela Long has been drawn to helping others through what she has learned along the way and enjoys discovering others who share that passion.

Angela is the founder of Breast Investigators, an online comprehensive breast cancer resource networks to help others find the information, care, and support resources they are in search of. She is also the host of Girl Talk on Health, a monthly meet up in Sarasota, Fl where she invites expert guest speakers to freely share their knowledge to help women improve their health. Angela strongly believes that by sharing information, it helps empower to have better conversations with their doctors about their own best care and make informed decisions with regard to their best health.

breast investigators Angela is a tireless fundraiser for non-profits and educating family, friends and acquaintances on the importance of breast cancer screening and early detection. She also helped many other breast cancer survivors during their journey through treatment.

But even with all of this, Angela felt the need to do something more and decided to take her advocacy work online. Through her volunteer and advocacy work in her community, she began seeking out and studying national organizations and foundations that offer information, support and programs that serve those affected by breast cancer in addition to those that promote the prevention and cure of cancer.

It is Angela’s intention on to create a platform where women and men can gain from the knowledge of experienced and authoritative members of the network, learn of local events and resources available to them, and connect with others. She believes that, together, we can take the mystery out of breast cancer.

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My Journey to Eckhart Tolle by Michele Penn

 My Journey to Eckhart Tolle by Michele Penn

How did I get two New York Times best-selling authors to agree to collaborate on a book with me?

I want to inspire and encourage each of you to live the magnificently happy and fulfilling life that you deserve. My book with Eckhart Tolle and Byron Katie, Peace in the Present Moment (Hampton Roads Publishing, October 2010) was the result of a journey to presence and to finding my life’s passion and purpose. This story is intended to teach “what you believe, you can achieve.”

It began with a marriage filled with verbal torment.  For years my ex-husband verbally abused me and one day, in an emotionally violent rage, he threatened to kill me.  That pivotal moment is when I  finally found the courage to leave the marriage.   Today, I have learned to forgive my ex-husband because that experience became the catalyst which changed my life.  Instead of losing my life ~ I found it!

Peace in the Present MomentWhen I read Eckhart Tolle’s book, “A New Earth,”  it taught me the importance of being present and awake. And when I read the “The Flowering of Human Consciousness,” I felt as if Eckhart was in my head.  Words had never before touched me in this way; I was opening up to the a new way of experiencing life.

As I began my metamorphosis, for some unknown reason, the sight of flowers enthralled me. I felt the soul of each flower and was transfixed by its unique inner beauty. Where had they been my whole life? Why had I not seen them before?

Eckhart says that “seeing beauty in a flower could awaken humans, however briefly, to the beauty that is an essential part of their own inner most being, their true nature.”  When he wrote that he was “increasingly drawn to and fascinated by flowers,” I understood exactly how he felt.  I felt conscious without thought when I was photographing flowers!

Something Oprah Winfrey said came to mind:  “believe your thought and act upon it!”   I knew my photographs of flowers were unique and spirit-filled.  Then came an epiphany, a vision … I saw my photographs paired with Eckhart’s quotes and I instinctively KNEW that he would connect with my flowers as profoundly as I connected with his words.

Acting on that thought, I designed a mock-up book of my photos paired with quotes from “A New Earth.”  I then visualized and felt what it would be like to have this book on the shelves of Barnes and Noble.  I wasn’t wishing for this ~ I had a knowing deep within me that the book already existed!

Synchronistic events began to occur in my life.  At a conference, I  ordered a candle to be shipped to my home, and when it arrived it was the wrong color.  I called the woman who sold it to me at the conference and left her a message. When she called me back, she said “things always happen for a reason.” I believe that as well,  but couldn’t imagine what the reason was for this error.  As we continued our conversation, we talked about our lives, spiritual paths, and my dream to have the book of photos and quotes come to life.

It was then that the “reason” for the call revealed itself.  The woman told me that she had written a book and, believe it or not, her publisher had just done a children’s book with Eckhart Tolle.  My connection to Eckhart Tolle manifested itself because of this telephone conversation.  So yes folks, “thoughts become things!”

This wonderful woman then offered to contact her publisher to see if he would be open to hearing about the book.  A few days later, she confirmed with me that I could indeed email some photos and my idea to the publisher, Bob Friedman. Because he was doing this as a favor, she asked me to keep my message short and sweet as he was very busy with “manuscripts from floor to ceiling to review.”

I sent Bob Friedman an email describing my vision.  Although he loved what I had to say and said it was a great idea …  he also said that we could never get Eckhart Tolle to agree but would be happy to put me in touch with other spiritual authors. However, my inspiration, vision, dream and passion was the connection to Eckhart Tolle.   I told Bob Friedman that if we could just get Eckhart Tolle to look at my work, I KNEW that he would feel the same inspiration and passion that I did.

Instead of mailing the mock-up, I asked if I could fly up and meet with Bob so I could present my “vision” in person (wanting to see his face when he opened the book.)  He agreed and we decided on a time when the CEO would be there as well. After my meeting with Bob,  he called in the CEO and the marketing director, and they all loved the mock-up.  Again, they reiterated that it was a LONG SHOT to get Eckhart Tolle to even look at my book, but since I was so inspired and determined, they agreed to send it to Eckhart’s publisher, Namaste.

Weeks and months went by.  Because I was manifesting that it was already DONE, I didn’t once question whether Eckhart would get to see the mock-up, or whether he would like it.  And then the phone call came in from Bob Friedman.  He said, “I am in shock, but because of your genuine spirit, passion and belief, we are on second base. Namaste loves it and has agreed to show it to Eckhart Tolle.”  I never for one minute doubted that this would happen! 

After some time, I received a phone call that Eckhart loved the idea too!!  He wanted to do the book with me!!   I was very excited but,  because I had been vibrating in the knowing that it was DONE,  the news didn’t surprise me! My friends and family, on the other hand, were shocked and impressed. They couldn’t believe that I could manifest something like this.  I was living my purpose and on my way!

Eckhart said he wanted to include Byron Katie in the book as well, which was another wonderful happening.  I eagerly signed the contract and was told that the book was due out later that year. But, four months later,  I got a phone call from the CEO of Hampton Roads telling me that they had decided not to print the book.  He said that they were canceling the contract because of the economy ~ that it wasn’t financially feasible to do a four-color book.

When I got off the phone, I was disappointed but didn’t get upset. I knew this was just part of the journey because the book was already DONE.  With my belief in tow, I called the CEO back a few days later and had an incredibly positive conversation. I talked about how the world needed to be inspired by this great combination of quotes and flowers. I talked from my heart and soul. And then… he agreed!  We were back on track and the contract was renegotiated.   ‘Peace in the Present Moment‘ was published in October 2010….

“If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.”  Wayne Dyer

Peace in the Present Moment

I never met Eckhart Tolle during this whole process.  In June 2012,  I attended his retreat at The Omega Institute in Rhinebeck, NY. Eckhart spoke for days, and I loved every minute of it. He was enlightening, funny, motivating and inspirational. The first night I tried to talk to someone who could get me to see Eckhart, to no avail.   I finally spoke to Eckhart’s manager, who told me that he doesn’t see or speak to anyone personally at conferences. They keep him very protected, he rarely does book signing and I was told that press interviews are virtually impossible to schedule.

My persistance paid off when Eckhart’s manager finally agreed to ask him if he would meet with me privately. I gave a copy of Peace in the Present Moment to his manager so that Eckhart would know who I was. The next morning, he told me that Eckhart had been too tired to discuss a meeting, but said he would try again that evening.

The following day I heard someone call my name.  I looked around and saw Eckhart’s manager over a sea of 500 people. I waved to him. He came up to me and said Eckhart would love to meet me at the end of the conference. Of course!   I knew it would be an incredible experience.

At noon on a Wednesday ~ a day I will never forget ~ I was escorted into Eckhart Tolle’s room. Eckhart wanted to hear my story from start to finish, wondering how I was able to miraculously get to him. It was an incredible 40 minutes. Eckhart thanked me for creating our book! How amazing. He hugged me for what felt like five minutes. It was a dream come true.  We signed one another’s books and took some pictures and then he asked me to sign a book for Oprah, because he was going to be seeing her soon and wanted her to have a copy. That was another dream come true!  We all know how much Oprah loves Eckhart Tolle!

Peace in the Present Moment sold out in the Omega bookstore. Those who bought copies asked me to sign them and tell them my story. Hopefully, I  inspired many people to use Eckhart’s teachings and manifest just like I did. Being able to uplift and encourage others was an incredibly satisfying experience.

Today, I continue to manifest amazing things into my life. I attracted the man of my dreams by using the law of attraction and the power of the present moment. And, I am living the life I always imagined … knowing full well that all of us can be “awakened to our life’s passion and purpose.”   I have found mine – have you found yours?


Michele Penn Bio ~ Michele Penn

Michele Penn is an author, inspirational speaker, award winning photographer. Creator of the book Peace in the Present Moment with New York Times best-selling authors Eckhart Tolle and Byron Katie. She lives in Sarasota, Florida, with David, the man of her dreams, where she finds great inspiration from a community rich in art-appreciation. In Peace in the Present Moment, Michele Penn’s breathtaking floral photographs add peace and a deep stillness to the wisdom of Eckhart Tolle and Byron Katie. Her close-up photos, which Michele likes to call floral “soul shots” are a symbol of enlightenment. Her attention to detail and  ability to capture the soul of the flower sets Michele apart and makes her work truly inspirational.

With her second book, Dance in the Garden, Michele combines her “soul shots” with quotes from some of the most influential people of Dance in the Gardenour time. She intends to motivate the reader and bring them into a space of stillness to quiet the mind.

Michele was raised in Short Hills, New Jersey, attended Millburn High School and graduated with a bachelor’s degree from Syracuse University. Her three beautiful children, Freddy, Nicole and Melanie, fill her life with inspiration. As an award-winning photographer, inspirational speaker and business owner, her intent is to enrich other people’s lives.

Michele is also one of 32 authors in Faces Behind the Pages that Inspire, a collaborative effort of some of the most amazing and inspirational Pages on Facebook.
To purchase Michele’s DVD’s and CD’s
Sign-up – Michele’s website
Michele’s “I Am” app

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Kate A Woman With a Relentless Spirit

“You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.’ You must do the thing you think you cannot do.”  Eleanor Roosevelt

Kate A Woman With a Relentless Spirit
Contributed by Sidney Andrews

As author of “A Fall to New Heights” and “Journey into Thought” I am compelled to share some of the inspiration gleaned from my awesome forty year partnership with Kate, a woman of faith, trust and courage, the likes of which I’ve never seen. I’m presently working on her autobiography titled “Kate, a Woman With a Relentless Spirit.”

Kate is the youngest of nine children. At age seven she contracted polio and was hospitalized for two years, after which followed three summers in a rehabilitation facility for muscle transplants in her hand to allow for the functioning of her fingers, allowing for the only upper mobility she’d have. Unlike many who suffered the loss of use of their legs, living out their lives in a wheelchair, or with cumbersome steel braces, Kate was left with no shoulder and upper back muscles, no use of her left arm and only partial use of her right arm from elbow to finger tips.

The sky is the limitAs Kate has told me, “If it weren’t for both my mother and father who didn’t coddle, but rather encouraged me to be all that I could be, my life would have been one of bitter survival and feeling sorry for myself.” She was told there wasn’t anything she couldn’t accomplish!  Kate grew up believing the sky was the limit and pushed those limits for all she was worth. She discovered, as encouraged and lovingly inspired by her parents, that believing in herself and the power of her inner spirit would guide and teach her the ways of living a productive and joyful life of meaning and purpose.

Kate recalls as teenager how she was made fun of and the boys wouldn’t date her. Tearfully, at age thirteen she talked with her Dad about her deepest feelings; his reply was, “Honey, polio is never going away. If I could, I would take it from you, but I can’t. You have a choice Kate; you can either whine and cry through life or smile and find joy in each step you take!”

So, Kate – a woman with a relentless spirit – did just that! She went on to marry and has a beautiful daughter. Unable to lift her daughter, her husband would place the baby on a blanket on the living room floor, before leaving for his twelve hour a day shift, and there Kate would feed, dress and change her diapers using her teeth and toes to fasten the pins.

Kate had been married for eighteen years before we met at a prayer meeting in the summer of 1973. She and I have shared a spiritual partnership ever since.  At age thirty-eight, wanting to be an equal partner and help me, Kate went back to school to obtain her high school diploma. From there, after searching for a job and being turned down for two years, Kate was finally hired at the Massachusetts University Medical Center, where she ultimately introduced and developed a program for hiring, training, and accommodating disabled persons in the work place.

For twenty-one years Kate tirelessly gave of herself; inspiring, challenging and changing many a disabled person’s life for the better. Ultimately she traveled the USA teaching and training employers in the art of creating an environment where disabled persons could flourish and contribute to society.

The program she created and established was the first of its kind in the country and became the foundation that other employers built upon. Because of its success Kate was awarded the Governor’s Award, and was invited to Washington where she received the Presidents Award for Excellence in creating opportunities for employers and the disabled to meet with success.

Was Kate’s life of service without obstacles, problems, or skepticism? Absolutely not! Still, she was never once deterred from her vision and passion to make a difference in the lives of others, and to teach that what we see is but a fraction of who we are.

Kate and I retired and moved to Florida in the spring of 2003, where she began volunteering as a receptionist for the newly opened Port St. Lucie Civic Center. Her professional position may have come to a closure, but not Kate’s desire to continue inspiring others and giving back to the community. Kate has truly been a bright light for those whose lives she’s touched, and at the tender age of seventy-six, continues her amazing journey to live her best life. I’ve been honored and proud to share her amazing and inspiring journey.

More about Kate and I can be read in “A Fall to New Heights.” The lessons to living one’s authentic truth and best life can be found in “Journey into Thought” Awakening to Spirit.

Who, and wherever you may be on your journey to living your authentic truth and best life, never give in and never give up the essence of who you are.


Sidney Andrews Bio ~ Sidney Andrews

Sidney Andrews is an author, public speaker, freelance writer, retired nurse and the mother of three grown children. She resides in Florida with her partner, Kate, of forty years.

Her latest book “Journey into Thought” Awakening to Spirit, was one of twelve top books selected by the Cyrus Web Conversations Book Club, for 2013.  “A Fall to New Heights” received honorable mention in the Hollywood Book Fair in 2011.

Author web site and blog at:

Journey into Thought A Fall to New Heights

The Lesson Of Long-Term Marriage by Lorraine Devon Wilke

The Lesson Of Long-Term Marriage:

What’s Better Is So Much Better Than What’s Worse

Contributed by Lorraine Devon Wilke 

Twenty-three years ago today I got into a car with a very handsome man dressed in blue pants and a white shirt, drove a couple of hours to a courthouse in the very bucolic town of Mt. Vernon, Washington and, during the lunch break of a local judge, and in the presence of the bailiff and court secretary, married the man to whom I am still married today. The bailiff fired off a few snapshots from my then-cheesy 35mm camera (pictures I, years later, Photoshopped to the excellent results below!), we had lunch at a nearby cafe where a bottle of champagne and a slice of pecan pie with a bride & groom atop awaited us, then we drove north to Vancouver to spend three days at the Pan Pacific Hotel as our rainy, wondrous honeymoon. It was perfect… and when people ask if I ever regret not having a wedding, I assure them I still think it was perfect, to this very day.

There is much to be said for weddings done right (I covered a few of those HERE) and certainly the topic of marriage is a deep and many-layered one (in The Warmest Chord my own heartfelt perspective is offered), but on this anniversary, from where I sit many years beyond that glorious Pacific Northwestern day, currently miles away from my stoic, stalwart husband who continues to deal with the ramifications of brain injury, the message of marriage I have to share is a different one than I had 23 years ago.

It’s a stronger one; one built more on wisdom, resilience, commitment and compassion than wild romance and youthful lust. Though, don’t get me wrong; I’m all for romance and lust, revel in it whenever it presents itself (which, as most of us would attest, is never enough!), but life teaches that any long-term relationship survives within an unpredictable mix of emotion and events… and the way we respond to both. And the longer I live the more I realize, while I may not be able to predict events that come flying my way (damn that unpredictable universe), I can do something about how I interpret, respond to, and learn from those unfolding moments.

The Lesson Of Long-Term Marriage by Lorraine Devon Wilke Love is a funny thing, too. It keeps you attached and aware of that other person; sensitive to their needs and emotions, impacted by the events of their life that can overlap your own. Sometimes those intersections are lovely, sometimes they’re… challenged. As any couple knows who’s dealt with illness, adversity, injury, or any of those kinds of unexpected events that knock us off our feet  – a job lost, a disease diagnosed, a family member’s death; a brain injury – marriage can become about endurance and tenacity, a balance between attachment and detachment, even an ability to let go when needed to allow life to reorganize into some different while you’re away.

As the wife of a husband dealing with brain injury, I’ve learned about that part of being married. I’ve learned (as I wrote years ago in Love In the Age of MTBI) how circumstances can change and impact a marriage, make it more complicated and mercurial, shake it up in ways that can both take your breath away (and not always in a good way) and make you realize how strong your relationship really is, strong enough to endure the dark corners stumbled upon repeatedly and sometimes without warning. When pain episodes strike, when the walls go up and the lights go down and you realize plans will change, warmth will take a holiday, communication will be backburnered in lieu of necessary isolation and silence, it’s then that you face the reality of what you and your chosen one created back on that magical day, years earlier, in a courthouse in Mt. Vernon…

The tether. The bond. The connection. You can pull apart because you have to, because you both need time to regroup and recalibrate, but you never stop feeling the connection. The love. The sense that you are family and you will get through this to a happier time, a better time.

And while away, if you’re smart, you’ll take the opportunity to pursue your own “vision quest.” You’ll pay attention, listen, learn, and remember that thoughts impact reality; you’ll readjust your own view of life to get stronger, more compassionate and loving… to him and to yourself.

And if, during that time, an anniversary pops up, you’ll pay attention to that, too. You’ll look at that person – from wherever you are – with all the love you feel, all the belief you have in what’s good and right, and you’ll … celebrate another anniversary. Another year of marriage.  Another worse endured for all that is better.

Because what you find when you step away, when you take that breath, and look at the reality outside of pain and the adversities life throws at you, is that what’s better is so, so much more than what’s worse. Worse, you can overcome; better, is the life you’ve created and will continue to create. That’s the lesson, the true gift of a long-term marriage.

Happy Anniversary to Us!

Essence of Laurel

 Lorraine Devon Wilke

Lorraine Devon Wilke

Follow Lorraine Devon Wilke on Twitter, Facebook, The Huffington Post, Addicting Info, and her blog @ Rock+Paper+Music. You can view her fine art photography at Fine Art America; details and links to her music and other work @



Grief’s Toolbox – by Glen Lord

Grief’s Toolbox

contributed by Glen Lord


If you were to have met me in early 1999, in most people’s minds, I was living the American dream.  I had a successful career having received four promotions in three years, a wife and four year old son, Noah, and a great house in the suburbs. Like any other family we had problems but, looking back, I know that we were truly happy.

In June our doctor told us that Noah needed to have his adenoids and tonsils out because of chronic ear infections. We scheduled it for a Friday thinking that by Monday we would be returning to normal and ready to start the summer.  The surgery was reported uneventful but Noah’s recovery was fraught with difficulties. After many phone conversations with his surgeon he was finally admitted into the emergency room. Monday morning, though no better, he was discharged and we took him home.

Five hours later Noah hemorrhaged from his surgical site and died at home with my wife doing CPR desperately trying to save him. Noah died from medical error following a routine surgery. Monday, June 14th, 1999 ended not with excitement for summer plans but with a life torn apart … it was as if my wife and I were standing still as the world around us continued.

A friend of ours showed up on our doorstep with a bag from a bookstore. So desperate to help us, but not at all sure where to turn, she had purchased all the books that she could find that had anything to do with grief. A stranger gave our names to the local Compassionate Friends, a self-support organization for grieving families. With these limited resources, I took my first steps of the grief journey.

Noah’s birth had changed me; my world became so much bigger than myself. There was this little life that depended on me for everything. My ability to love deepened that day.

Noah’s death changed me again and the world became even bigger. I now saw a world full of hearts that hurt just like mine. I craved to be with people who understood the loss that I felt, the overwhelming devastation. I clung to the stories of how they reinvested in life and found joy again.

As impossible as it seemed to me … I had to believe that there was hope to be found.
 those who had found it were guiding lights in my darkness.

Grief's Toolbox

As I continued on my grief journey,  I realized that there were many more resources available but they were difficult to find, especially for those newly bereaved. I thought about how helpless our friend felt with only a bag full of books to offer us.

I knew that there had to be a better way to reach out to those who are earlier on this road. I saw how differently we all grieve and that each of us needs different tools to find hope.

This realization inspired my wife and me to found The Grief Toolbox – a community of grief resources. The Grief Toolbox provides many tools for those who grieve and those who want to help; there are thousands of articles, grief related artwork, a grief group locator, a marketplace of grief and memorial products.

Most of our contributors are bereaved themselves and want to reach out to help others. The Grief Toolbox continues to expand the offerings to the bereaved.  We have produced an original DVD series designed to be used in a facilitated group and we continue to invite others into the community, such as The Birdhouse Project.

I have learned that joy and sorrow can and do co-exist, and that life can be good again. 

Noah is a part of my life. Not a day goes by that I don’t think about him.  I no longer see him as a four year old little boy who relies on me for everything.  Instead, he is where I draw strength. I am more than just myself, I live my life for both of us.

My hope is that in the work that I do, I help others to find hope and joy in their own lives. If you are interested in joining our community, please do not hesitate to contact us … we are here for you.

Essence of Laurel

Glen Lord of the Grief ToolboxBio – Glen Lord

After the death of my son, Noah, I became a fellow traveler on this grief journey. It was at my first TCF meeting that I found much needed love, support, understanding, and most importantly hope that I could be whole again.

I have been involved in the Compassionate Friends on many levels and positions. As a member of TCF,  I have been involved in the 2005 Boston Conference, Boston North Shore Newsletter; fund raising and publicity for the Manchester, NH chapter. I have been a member of TCF in NJ, MA and NJ. and am currently a facilitator in my local Nashua/ Manchester chapter, serve as the 2013 Fundraising Chair for the Boston National Conference, and serve on the national Board of Directors.

Utilizing my strong background in sales, finance and marketing and operations management,  I have extensive experience developing multiple organizations, and have held executive level positions in multiple Fortune 500 companies. I  am presently CEO of ARC Marketing Inc as well as The Grief Toolbox, and a Managing Director of Easy Rich Development International.

The tools to finding hope again are different for each person…

The Grief Toolbox

© 2013 Glen Lord The Grief Toolbox, Inc.

This realization inspired me to cofound The Grief Toolbox ( ,  a community of grief resources. The Grief Toolbox provides many tools for those who grieve and those who want to help; there are thousands of articles, and grief related artwork, a grief group locator, a marketplace of grief and memorial products. The grief journey can make us feel lonely but we do not travel alone.

I am an executive producer of the Walking Through Grief® series, and a speaker and presenter on grief and loss.  Noah’s death, and all the stumbles along this grief journey, has changed many of my priorities and allowed for extensive personal growth.  I spend as much time as I can with my family and two adopted teenage sons.  

Through the work of Grief ~ I have found purpose, passion and hope.



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All I Want is a Room Somewhere by Carol (Ki’ihele) West


Contributed by Carol (Ki’ihele) West


When I first met the man I was to marry he was, more or less, camping in a friend’s house with a coat closet for his “things.”  When he opened the door of this overstuffed closet, he was likely to have an armful of falling debris. I thought it was just a guy thing, and paid it little mind.

After a few months of dating,  we moved into a house with a garage on O’ahu.  Soon the garage no longer had room to hold the cars as he had filled it with engines, transmissions, car parts, tools, boats, sails, and anything that happened to catch his eye. I didn’t, at the time, realize that this propensity would take over my life.

We soon moved to the island of Maui and had a big yard that began filling up with, to me, junk. To him, they were all things that would eventually be “useful objects.”  After we got married, we wanted to build a home of our own, so we moved to the island of Hawai’i where land was still inexpensive. Thinking we would be able to start with a nice clear acre of trees and ferns, I packed just a few of my few things. He packed up the entire back yard!

Our home was small but sweet. My husband worked at home rebuilding cars and building boats and I went to work. Our family grew ~ we had two boys who didn’t seem to mind the junk in the yard – it was what they were used to.  But, all I wanted was “a room somewhere” far away from the junk that surrounded our home.

All I want is a room somewhere! by Carol West for Metamorphosis - Your StoriesIt took a long time for my husband to fill that acre and then, without my knowledge, he bought a second acre. Against my protestations he proceeded to fill the second acre and I finally began to realize he had what is now called a hoarding disorder.

Through all of this, the house remained my uncluttered domain until one day my husband moved a huge desk from the upstairs into the living/kitchen area and began stacking things on it.

Soon, I had to squeeze myself through the yard (I could no longer park on the lot), and had to bang on the door to get in, as I could no longer open it from the outside.  I felt violated.

Promises … promises … no action! … After 30 years of marriage, I could no longer tolerate living on such a beautiful island in what the county had now designated an illegal junkyard.  I finally asked for a divorce.

Endings and Beginnings … I didn’t want the house, but did get the second acre of land.   With my savings, I was able to build a little home.   The cottage is all mine, even though I still have a credit card debt to pay off.  It took me a long time to even put furniture in the house.  I needed open space, wanted clear floors, and yearned to feel the breeze blowing through all the windows with nothing to impede its flow.

I slept on a cot with my cats and felt free. In time, I did buy the necessary bed, chairs, and a table. I planted hibiscus and plumeria, fern trees and papaya and now have a lovely garden – never taking my surroundings for granted.

Today, my home is once again a magical place. I am joyful, at peace and rejuvenated.  I marvel at the fragrances in the air, feel every flutter of wind, and go to sleep with the sounds of the coqui singing in the night and the waves hitting against the cliffs.  It is just “loverly”!

“All I want is a room somewhere,  far away from the cold night air

With one enormous chair. Oh, wouldn’t it be loverly?

Lots of chocolate for me to eat. Lots of coal makin’ lots of heat

Warm face, warm hands, warm feet. Oh, wouldn’t it be loverly?

Oh, so lovely sittin’ abso-bloomin’-lutely still.

I would never budge till spring crept over the window sill.

Oh, wouldn’t it be loverly!

Loverly, loverly, loverly

Wouldn’t it be loverly!”

My Fair Lady – “Wouldn’t it be Loverly?”

By Lerner and Loewe

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Laurel Rund's bird logo


Carol West contributing author to Metamorphosis - Your Stories                       Bio – Carol (Ki’ihele) West

I sailed to Hawaii with my family on a 40ft. sailboat at age 18. I had spent the summer on O’ahu the year before and had fallen in love with the islands. I’m still in love with the islands after 51 years.
I went to college at age 30 and earned my RN degree, but found I didn’t like nursing so I found another job in the health field and worked as a Chiropractic Asst. for 24 years. I had flexible hours and was able to be off on Tues. and Thurs. afternoons which allowed me to take my two sons to their soccer and baseball practices and the weekends free to attend their games.
But, I found it increasing difficult to be at home among all the junk so decided to take a hula class to get me out of the house. One class soon developed into twice a week and kept me sane.
It became a passion  for me and when the boys moved away for college, I began to pursue hula seriously, dancing and teaching four times a week. I made all the costumes for my hula halau’s performances. Sewing was something I have always enjoyed doing. I had made my own clothes and those of my son’s and husbands for years. When I retired at 65,  I finished my cottage and then I needed an outlet,  so I opened an Etsy shop sewing hula skirts, tops, shirts, etc. for hula. I have had my business for 15 months and have had a steady clientele.
Sew Me Hawaii by Carol West
I put a lot of aloha into my creations and love the fact that I am, in a small way, helping to perpetuate hula.    Do you know someone who dances hula or just loves Hawai’i?   Then, e komo mai–come in, kick off your shoes and browse through my shop of hula pa’u (skirts), tops, shirts and Hawaiian fabric gifts, handmade in Hawai’i with aloha.
                                                         *(^^)/    Ki’ihele


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It’s All Clay by Satya Winkelman


Contributed by Satya Winkelman


Spirit Woman in IT'S ALL CLAY

She was staring right at the woman on the edge. Not at the skeleton, the snake or the alligator.  The flash from the photo taken of this black ceramic bowl must have made her face come to light…third eye and all.  The bowl is actually completely empty and was made to portray how I was feeling then.  So seeing the woman’s face in the bowl years later was an awesome transforming surprise.

The process of creating art has always been therapeutic for me as it is a personal expression of my psyche, usually unknown to me at the time.  After my divorce, a move and a total hysterectomy, I was feeling dark and empty and decided to use clay,  a new medium,  for therapeutic expression.

Clay work by fine artist and author Satya Winkelman

Click on image to see enlarged view

The hysterectomy was much more significant than I had realized,  and my zest for life and femininity felt as dead as the skeleton I sculpted.  Already a psychotherapist,  I had known that snakes represented transformation, which I was seeking;  and that the alligator was representational of guiding of the dead. Attaching those pieces together with the woman seemed appropriate.  The bowl was painted black,  fired and put on a shelf.

Loving the feeling of clay,  I continued expressing and sculpting my emotional-psychological process. The many pieces made over those years reveal steps taken while transforming from shadow to light. As one stage lifted, another emotional phase took its place, but the awareness of Spirit Woman’s light has remained.

I started sharing my art with the women’s empowerment groups I was leading and in seeing the pieces, they  related viscerally to the various stages of my work.  Observing the process, the women felt relieved to know they were not alone or stuck, and could see where they have been and where they were going on their journey.

The face in the bowl, “Spirit Woman”,  has guided me to write “Through the Fire” to share my art and journey with all.  Thirty-six sensual pieces are used to illustrate five stages of emotional growth that I, along with hundreds of women I’ve worked with, have traversed in order to obtain  higher states of consciousness.

Spirit Woman reminds us, especially when we feel alone, on edge or in the dark, that we are not.  Facing the light of awareness, we can all reflect on an observing essence ~ even if it is our own psyche.

After all … it’s all clay!

Essence of Laurel bird vector

Fine Artist Satya WinkelmanBio ~ Satya Winkelman, M.A., C.P.  

Satya Winkelman is a nationally board certified psychodramatist and group psychotherapist with art therapy training, and has a Masters of Arts Degree in Psychology and Creative Arts. During her 30-year career, she has served as a communication and personal effectiveness trainer for Fortune 500 companies, schools, churches, and business throughout the U.S., Canada, and Europe.

Satya held the position of staff trainer and Program Director for Kripalu Holistic Health Center, and served as staff trainer and Director of Psychodrama at Sarasota Palms Hospital. In addition, she was the creator and director of Personal Growth Theatre, and was the host of a television talk show, Mental Health Matters.

Through the Fire by Satya WinkelmanWinkelman creates sensual ceramic sculptures in her Sarasota studio and continues to teach communication skills and facilitate women’s personal growth workshops. Her book “Through The Fire: A Woman’s Guide To Transformation” is available at www.Amazon. com.  and also at

To view and purchase Satya Winkelman’s sculpting and art pieces,  go to


Once I was a Butterfly by Linda Maree

Metamorphosis Revisited: Once I was a Butterfly

Contributed by Linda Maree

Narrative by Linda Maree called Once I Was A Butterfly for Metamorphosis-Your Stories

Collage by Linda Maree ~ “Once I was a Butterfly”

Once I was a butterfly, spreading my creative wings and taking flight, flitting about, soaring through “life as it comes,” and I thought my transformation complete.

Before gaining my wings, I had experienced a divorce, a move to a new state and then across the country, and a severe health challenge that nearly ended this terrestrial journey. Imagine my surprise, emerging from that dark chrysalis time, to find that I could fly! And I did.

I spread my newly-formed wings and flew into the light, sipped sweet nectar with friends, and delighted in fruitful days as well as days when I sat back and rested my strong, beautiful wings. I tasted the poignancy of love at its best and worst and best again, and the pull of hunger during lean times.

I knew the joy of doing work that I loved and the shame and sorrow of misdirected choices and missed opportunities, yet rejoiced in the rebirth of spring as each year passed, celebrating my birthday and life renewed. I believed that once I had my wings (I want to be a writer … I want to be a writer … and then one day, wings: I am a writer!)  the really hard work was done. Once a butterfly, always a butterfly!  How could this not be so?

What a surprise, then, awakening on this year’s birth anniversary threshold to find myself wingless … and hungry! I was a caterpillar once again!  Voracious. Crawling on my belly, pulling myself along and devouring all in my path.  Nourishment!  Must eat! ~ my frenzied mind called out to me. Books … retreats … classes … workshops … I devoured them all as if I had never eaten before, never partaken of the wisdom I was ingesting. Never mind the effect of my tremendous appetite on those around me, those I love. In the caterpillar phase there is nothing to do but nourish oneself, to the exclusion of all else.

Life often requires such focused, single-pointed effort, for it is the only means for surviving and thriving the phase which follows that of the very hungry caterpillar . . . the time of quiet destruction and renewal: the chrysalis.

I have been here before, in the chrysalis, and the past results were stunning, but to be honest, at this point in my life, I hadn’t planned ever to return to this uncomfortable place again. It seems, though, that transformation is a dynamic process that requires a balance of cycles to sustain it.

I don’t recall all of the details of previous chrysalis sequences, but I do remember learning one very important lesson: the process of metamorphosis is most painful when I try to hold on, to remain attached to the me I have always known myself to be, attached to the way things were, the way I believe they should be. Holding on only creates pain, sorrow, angst and much more suffering than necessary.

Without attachment, however, the chrysalis phase becomes one of deep, quiet rest, complete dissolution, and a preparation for re-emergence. To the outside world it may appear as an inability to focus, lethargy, even despondency or lack of initiative. Inside, though, there is a lot happening, crucial changes occurring that will one day be readily apparent … but not now.

Because I have been here before, and because I have experienced the joy of emergence in the past, this passage into the chrysalis is easier in some ways, though my ego still likes to remind me that “laziness” does not look good ~ I do not look good.

And it is true. The chrysalis phase is not a pretty one, not admired like the beautiful butterfly, and can be even more troubling to our loved ones than the annoyingly hungry caterpillar. As caterpillars, when our appetite is at its peak, we are most open to sharing with those around us the wisdom ideas/thoughts/words we have been devouring … whether they want to hear them or not! We constantly regurgitate what we’ve read, what we’ve heard, what we’ve learned, and at least it appears that we are doing something, albeit somewhat obsessively.

Here in the chrysalis, though, there is no sharing, no movement, or so it seems. There is only quiet, stillness, integration, and the hard inner work of becoming the butterfly once again.


Emerging From the Chrysalis: A Poem by Linda Maree

Narrative by Linda Maree called Once I was a Butterfly for Metamorphosis-Your Stories

Bio ~ Linda Maree

Once upon a time …  there was a child who loved stories.  One day the child came upon a path bathed in moonlight and sparkling with bits of magic, pieces of myth, and trickles of metaphor and decided that this was “The Write Path” …

Today, published writer and wordplay enthusiast Linda Maree creates and facilitates programs for engaging the inner storyteller, enhancing and promoting creativity, and nurturing “The Feminine” within all of us through visual art and the written word.

Web site:




stories about people experienced a life-changing metamorphosis

Read more stories

Reconnection with Joy! by Randy Brown

My Journey of Reconnection with Joy

Contributed by Randy Brown


Randy Brown's narrative in Metamorphosis-Your StoriesAs a kid, I knew exactly what brought me joy! It was playing baseball. The game was magical to me. I loved everything about it: the uniforms, the equipment, even the dimension of the field. I loved the strategy of each pitch. I love to watch the Major league players who had become my heroes for their amazing ability to play this magical game.

When I wasn’t playing baseball I was day-dreaming about baseball, reading books and articles about baseball. I would walk with my friends to 7-Eleven to buy baseball cards and baseball trading cups. I would buy baseball magazines so I could cut out the pictures and put them up on my bedroom wall.

No one ever had to motivate me to play baseball! My desire to play flowed as effortlessly as breathing. When I was playing baseball it was as if time didn’t exist, I never checked the time to see when I needed to quit. It required no effort, no hard work and there was no pressure, no stress, just pure joy!

I grew up in a very normal, happy family. And to this day we are all very close and love each other deeply. My parents were loving and generous people who also happened to be extremely talented and high achieving people. My Dad was gifted in athletics and business, while my mother was a gifted singer.

Somewhere along the way I lost the ability to be “fully alive.” As anxiety and fear of failure crept into my life I began avoiding many of the joys of life, in order to avoid pain.

Along the way I came to the conclusion that there were only two standards of performance: perfection or failure, there was no middle ground. This caused me to drive myself very hard and to put a lot of internal pressure on myself. In doing so, I became my own harsh judge.

So by the time I reached high school the inner pressure of perfectionism had me completely disconnected from my earlier, pure love of baseball. The passion that had once resonated so strongly, had been whittled away, one perfectionistic piece at a time. I had become terrified of not living up to my own perfectionistic ideals, no longer playing for the joy of the game, but instead trying to avoid failing, because failure, of any kind, was not an option. What could I do but try even harder, which brought on more stress and anxiety.

In college, I did what I felt I “should” do by pursuing a major in Business, which I had no passion for. In fact, it caused me great anxiety and when I didn’t excel in my school work I experienced frustration and discouragement.

When I graduated, I followed my Dad’s footsteps and went into sales. By now I was completely disconnected from what brought me joy, and was completely without a dream or passion in my life. I was just doing what I thought “I should” do.

Of course, I took on my sales career with the same perfectionistic mindset. I definitely had an “outside-in” focus, needing the recognition, bonus checks and awards that are typical of people having to be motivated to do something they aren’t inspired by.

Under the stress of trying to be high-performer, in something I didn’t love, I began having panic attacks and severe depression. Somehow I continued in sales for another 25 years, all the time driving myself, and continuing to battle anxiety. Eventually OCD and addictive tendencies began to take over and I hit the wall. I knew there had to be something more. I had reached the point of emotional and spiritual bankruptcy.

The direction of my life began to change when I had an amazing spiritual experience. One Sunday afternoon as I was praying in my bedroom, being now truly desperate, something seemed to subtly shift and a gentle message pierced my despair: I received the impression that we needed to move to Utah where my father-in-law worked as a personal success coach for the Professional Education Institute, a company that helps clients all over the world align with their dreams and passions.

Things didn’t completely change overnight, there were still challenges ahead, but my transformation process was underway. Little by little, I was exposed to the success principles taught by some of the world’s top personal development gurus.

After working there for a while, it became evident that there were some absolutely vital things missing from all of their teachings

While working at PEI, I had the opportunity of meeting best-selling author and inspirational speaker Jack Canfield when he came to speak with the personal coaches. In his presentation, he took us through a meditation exercise designed to help us connect with our “Highest Good.” This simple exercise had a life-changing effect on me. For years I had an inner desire to become an author myself. I had started and stopped several times in my efforts to write a book. As Jack spoke to us that day, something amazing took place inside of me that caused powerful emotions to resonate.

This experience caused me to ask myself, “What if everything I’ve believed about success is wrong?”

  • What if True Success is a measure of how happy I am?
  • What if True Success is less about effort and more about allowing?
  • What if True Success flows as a result a Divine Purpose that been designed for each of our lives?

I know now that these feelings that resonated so powerfully inside of me were calling me to my “Divine Purpose,” calling me to live the joy that was designed for my life.

Contact page for the Essence of Laurel website

“Your vision will become clear only when you look into your heart.  Who looks outside dreams.  Who looks inside awakens.” – Carl Jung 


Randy Brown shares a story in Metamorphosis-Your Stories

Bio – Randy Brown

Randy Brown is a personal development speaker, author and coach. He is now a self-employed business owner.

Randy is the author of “Experiencing Christ, Your Personal Journey to the Savior,” and his current project is “TRUE Success: Your Divine Purpose.” He has done personal coaching for Robert Kiyosaki and Jack Canfield.

For over 20 years, Randy did numerous public speaking engagements for the Southwestern/Great American Company.

Randy’s  blog contains articles and posts designed to help individuals  find “TRUE Success” by connecting to their “Divine Purpose.” His inspirational messages will provide readers with universal principles and techniques that will enable individuals to change limiting beliefs and attract an abundant life of Divine Purpose!

Randy Brown’s Blog:





You Are a Little Angel by Heidi Thompson


You are a Little Angel

 Contributed by Heidi  Thompson 

A narrative which talks about breath awareness.When I was ten, I met Swami Sastrananda. He was a guest in our home for a day. What left a lasting impression on me was the Swami’s peaceful, loving smile, his thoughtful, intelligent eyes, and his reassuring words, “Heidi, you are a little angel.”

After he returned to the Ramakrishna Ashram in Bangalore, I wrote him letters. I asked him questions about God, life, and how to become a wise person – like he was. I never thought that writing to a Swami was unusual.  All I remember is that when I was ten, I felt alone, insecure, guilty, and not worthy of being loved.  His kind letters reassured me that I was a good person.

Throughout my adult years, the Swami continued to write – even when I was too busy to write back. I was studying art in Europe and changed addresses frequently. Somehow his supportive letters always found me. After my European adventure, I returned to Canada and pursued a career in photography and painting.  I married a guitar builder, Ted Thompson, and had one daughter and stepson. For the next 20 years I enjoyed a creative life of painting, teaching, and family.

When I was fifty, I received a phone call. It was the Swami, now in his 80’s. He had kept all my letters from my childhood and wanted me to have them. He asked if I was happy. I said, extremely so. I told him that I had discovered a meditation technique called Vipassana, which was giving me the answers to my life-long questions.  He said, “I knew you would find your way. Vipassana is a good path.”


Using Breathe Awareness to Develop the Brain and Improve Concentration 

I attended my first 10-day Vipassana meditation course taught by S.N. Goenka in 1983. It was an intensive, silent retreat that required us to meditate for about 11 hours a day. On day seven, during one of the breaks, I was standing in the woods looking at sunlight radiating through the trees.  I was struck by the beauty. An intense peacefulness filled me. I felt at one with myself and the nature around me. It was in this moment; I realized that everything I had been looking for – worthiness, joy, peace, freedom, and love – were within myself. The only thing that had separated me from this experience was a thin veil of ignorance.

Vipassana is a meditation technique that was taught by Buddha. Its tradition has been passed down from teacher to student for over 2500 hundred years.  It provides a method to sharpen one’s awareness, establish a base of morality, and cultivate insight and wisdom. The technique is three-fold. First, one practices Anapana-sati, or breath awareness, to sharpen the attention. This involves focusing on the sensations of breath at the entrance of the nose. The second technique is Vipassana, which requires one to direct the attention throughout the body, feeling every sensation and remaining objective with the experience. Vipassana’s aim is to awaken wisdom of our transient nature and develop less attachment to pleasure and pain. The third technique is loving kindness, a meditation which cultivates goodwill and selflessness.

Being a mother, I felt compelled to teach children breath awareness. In 1996, I created an attention development program called Mindmastery and taught young people from Kindergarten to high school. The students came from all walks of life. Some were high potential learners, some were high-risk, and some were diagnosed with severe ADHD. The transformation that I saw in the children always brought me joy.  From my own childhood experiences, I could empathize.  Many of these children were feeling stressed, incapable, angry, confused, and unworthy of love. I could see that while they were doing breath awareness, they were happier and more serene – they truly looked like “little angels.”

I now understand why Mindmastery was welcomed in the schools. The 1990’s was the beginning of ADD and ADHD becoming a popularized mental and behavioral disorder. At the time, no one realized that this condition was being propagated by pharmaceutical companies. They coined it ADHD – Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder. Their marketing campaign was so successful, that millions of children ended up being diagnosed with this disorder. Subsequently, they were prescribed the controversial methylphenidate, psychostimulants – the new wonder drug. Today, things haven’t improved. Over 10 million children in North America are taking this brain altering psycho-stimulant.

Intuitively, I never accepted the notion that a lack of attention could be a “disorder”. Otherwise, I would admit to having ADD or ADHD myself. But, judging from my ability to focus when I want to, this wouldn’t make any sense. Experience tells me – all humans are born with relatively underdeveloped attentions. It is through our upbringing, experiences, and efforts that we can develop this unique human brain faculty – if we choose to.  No pill can build our brains. No pill can cultivate our faculty of attention. No pill can awaken our wisdom and love.

Humans possess amazing potential to develop their minds. Science confirms this. They say that the brain develops and grows through our experiences, diet, stimulation, relationships, rewards and punishments, and thinking and feeling. All these factors contribute to cultivating the brain and developing the brain. Because of science, many people now accept that we are indeed, makers of our own minds. Only through effort, attention, focus, determination, work, and love will we manifest our potential and become our “higher” selves. There is no deficit in our nature, just untapped potential.

Fortunately, there is a worldwide movement driven by conscious, concerned, and compassionate parents, teachers, doctors, policy-makers, and scientists. They are educating the public about the brain and the dangers of drugs. Parents are ensuring their children get a wholesome diet and are exposed to meaningful stimulation. Teachers are incorporating yoga and meditation in the classroom. Doctors are suggesting natural methods that heal rather than chemicals that mask the problems. Policy-makers are ensuring corruption doesn’t infiltrate our government. Scientists are researching meditation. Their findings are reassuring the population that meditation is an effective way to develop the brain and improve health.

“I took a deep breath and listened to the old bray of my heart: I am, I am, I am.”  Sylvia Plath
Metamorphosis-Your Stories by Laurel Rund

My humble contribution is to inform people about breath awareness – a simple, safe, and effective exercise that can develop the brain and improve concentration. To learn how to do breath awareness and teach your children, you may enjoy my book, Calm Focus Joy: The Power of Breath AwarenessA Practical Guide for Adults and Children.

After practicing breath awareness, nine-year-old Braden wrote, “If I could change the world I would tell everyone how to do breath awareness so the world would be more peaceful.”  Now, I must say, Braden sounds like a little angel.

Laurel Rund's bird logo

picture of author Heidi ThompsonBio – Heidi Thompson

I was born in Vernon, B.C. and I moved to Europe when I was seventeen. I discovered my passion for art and studied photography at the University of Art & Design in Zűrich. After graduating, I worked as an apprentice with German artist, Oskar Kollar, followed by a year at the Art Academy of Nűrnberg. In 1981, I studied a final year at the Hungarian Academy of Art in Budapest. In 1982, I returned to Canada and worked as a freelance artist. Later, I earned a B.F.A. through BC Open University and a teaching degree certificate through the University of Victoria. I have published three books and currently exhibit my paintings in the USA and Canada. (

My book, Calm Focus Joy: The Power of Breath Awareness is available on my website, or on Amazon, Kindle E-Books, or Barnes and Noble.

Heidi Thompson:

What Did You Exchange for Today? by Gaye Freedman


by Gaye Freedman, Ed.D


What you do today affects tomorrow – What did you exchange for today?


At one time I lived in a big house, had an impressive job, a nice car, and important friends. I spent my time chasing the Joneses and dreamed of living large like Oprah or Donald Trump. I thought I was important and life was perfect; but like many people I took for granted the things that were really important; my family, my friends, my life.

One day my daughter who was nine, came home and said she didn’t feel well. I figured she probably had the flu and so I told her to lie down. She asked me to tell her, her favorite story, a story I had been telling her since she was five years old. “Ok” I said and told it to her quickly and then said, “Now go to sleep princess.”

Around two o’clock in the morning I heard a strange noise and got up to see what it was. “Ginger are you all right?” I asked, “Ginger? Are you all right?” Suddenly I was screaming, “Ginger! Ginger! Ginger!” My beautiful daughter had stopped breathing and died. She didn’t have the flu; she died from an infection in her heart.

My daughter’s death was like a bomb that blew apart my family and my life. As Dante said, “In the middle of the journey of life, I came to myself within a dark wood and the way was lost.” I was lost.  For the next two years, I woke up each day and made only one decision. Would today be the day I killed myself or would I wait until tomorrow? I guess it’s a good thing that I’m the world’s greatest procrastinator. But honestly, I didn’t think I could do that to my husband and my son.

One day, my husband took me to Maui, and as I sat on the grass near the Seven Sisters waterfalls, watching the sunset over the horizon and the waves crashing against a magnificent shore, the salt air filling my lungs. I was stunned at how beautiful it was… it was so beautiful. And I asked, “God, how you can make something so beautiful and yet take everything that is beautiful from me”. I don’t understand.

And in that moment I had what I can only describe as a spiritual experience. I realized that I was part of a vast and miraculous universe and with a creation this magnificent I couldn’t possibly understand it all. But if I were willing to trust God then one day, I would be given the answer to my questions.

My daughter’s life, although short, had been a gift. A gift I took for granted. What was really important was not how rich, how successful or how famous I became. It was the people I loved and the joy I found in living every day.  A proverb says  “What you do today is important because you are exchanging a day of your life for it.”

Art from the Heart by Laurel D. Rund

“What the caterpillar calls the end of the world, the master calls a butterfly.” Richard Bach

I learned to ask myself, “What did you exchange for today? Are you living life so caught up that you forget to focus on the things that are really important, your family, your health, and your friends? Are you celebrating life?

  • In a small town in Italy at sunset everyone comes out of their houses to sit on benches and watch the sunset. They celebrate life.
  • In Latvia, people celebrate the summer by running across a local bridge at 3:00 am in the morning…naked. They celebrate life.
  • But Americans, we rush through our days. Our lives become routine, we fall into a rut. Do you know the difference between a rut and a grave? Not much.

My daughter’s death taught me to celebrate life; to live with purpose, laughter and love … and to see each day as a gift.

I often ask myself, “What did you exchange for today?” Was it worth it? In the 4.5 billion year history of the universe this day only comes once. I’m committed to exchange each day for the things that are really important and to embrace this miracle called life?

How do you feel about your life right now? Are you happy? Do you see every moment as a gift? Or are you so entrenched in the everyday hassles of life that you don’t have the time to focus on what’s really important, on what brings you joy.

What did you exchange for today?
One of Gaye’s posts included this video.  Enjoy

Contact page for the Essence of Laurel website

 Bio – Gaye Freedman, Ed.D

Metamorphosis - Your StoriesGaye Freedman, Ed.D, has a Doctorate in Education from the University of Southern California and over 20 years experience working in the field of Training and Development. She has worked in corporations including Intel and Cisco Systems and non-profit organizations including the YWCA, Black Chamber of Commerce, Girl Scouts and the Bill Wilson Center for homeless and runaway teens in San Jose, CA.

As Chief Education Officer of Global Education Projects she developed “The Global Kids Club” a web based educational program for ages 8-12 designed to introduce elementary students to the people, places and cultures of the world. And as the owner of Life Strategies Consulting, she specialized in motivational workshops for women. A passionate advocate for women she used humor and creativity to inspire women to achieve their dreams.

As part of her life journey she also picked up a hobby…..Comedy… and has been having a blast working as a comic for the last few years. During the recession when everything seemed to crash and burn she decided that life was too short to bitch and moan. “I mean really nothing is promised so what the heck.” Her motto became, “If it ain’t fun don’t do it.” And this is what her life is about, being happy and living a life of joy and laughter.

Gaye is currently working on a new project to bring that message to women across the country.

Ms. Freedman lives in Bradenton, Fl with her husband of 40 years.  Her website, which is a work in progress (isn’t that a metaphore for life?)  is:  The Laughing Goddess