Monday, February 26, 2018

Teaching as a Way of Living! by Jane Keil Yoder

"Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire." 
William Butler Yeats    
                                 
Teaching is a Way of Living!  To Teach is to touch a life forever! Teachers change the world one child at a time!


Yes, I was one of the lucky ones who found a satisfying and fulfilling career that I loved—teaching!  When I found my purpose, it was the beginning of my metamorphosis.

I taught grades Kindergarten through Seventh over a 30-year period.  Although fifth grade ended up being my favorite age to teach, each grade level was a gift, offering me the opportunity to interact with children at various stages of their development.  I like thinking that I helped shape young people’s lives in positive ways and in turn they did the same for me.
 
As a teacher to children from diverse backgrounds, ethnicities, socio-economics, learning styles, and capabilities - each year brought new challenges, and, often, tremendous success in reaching and educating each child wherever he or she was.  

I always treated the children in my classes with respect, honoring their strengths and weaknesses, teaching them to respect and honor themselves and others. I encouraged my students to be their best and do their best, and not to be afraid.  If a lesson or subject matter appeared too difficult, I was always willing to assist my kids or I would find someone who could, if it was a subject area that I didn't feel proficient in. 

Some classes were more challenging than others due to a mixture of personalities and learning curves. When faced with this, I knew I had to do something for myself to prepare me to face each day with more confidence. To get ready for the day ahead, each morning I practiced meditation and recited affirmations to set me on my way.
  
After some years, I introduced the recitation of affirmations in my classrooms which proved to be extremely beneficial for the children.  And, I taught my students the art of journaling as a way for them to express themselves, especially when they were experiencing challenges. I encouraged the students to try other creative outlets as well ... such as art, music, drama, creative writing, and even playing games.
 
At the end of every school year, while looking at a class list, I would write down something positive about each student, something that I did for each of them, and finally something that I gained from each student.  This was always a wonderful exercise for me in clearing the year’s slate and using the information as a jumping off point for the next school year.  What a treasure trove of memories that created for me!

Even though I am happily retired, I still meditate and journal daily.  I use affirmations when I feel the need to. Art, music, photography, spending time in nature, and movement are also important creative outlets for me.  

And, I am happy to say that teaching is still very much a part of my life! I have been a mentor for high school students for the last several years and I continue to encourage students to be the best they can be, to work hard, and I tell them they are exceptional people. It is a part of who I Am - a teacher with a loving purpose.

I like relating with my former students in a different capacity now ... adult to adult.  Sometimes they ask for personal or professional advice, letters of recommendation, and show interest in what’s happening in my life since I retired.  Many still call me “Ms. Keil” and talk about what they remember about the year when I was their teacher.  Some of my students even remember that I collected pig things and had them all over the classroom.

Teaching was more than a career for me, it was who I was then and am now.  I am truly grateful for all the intrinsic gifts I received from each of the children who graced me with their presence in my classroom and on my life’s path.  Yes, to teach is to touch a life forever and teaching is a wonderful way of living!

Bio - Jane Keil Yoder 



Jane is a retired teacher who is happily married and lives in Sarasota, FL.  She enjoys spending time with her husband John, cat (Roger), friends, and family.  Jane is a member of two weekly writing groups and a monthly art group. 

For seven years, Jane has been a mentor with Take Stock in Children (TSIC) and a big sister with the BBBS organization.  She also volunteers in a friend’s classroom once a month.  Jane will always care deeply about the welfare of all children!

Jane loves spending time in nature, kayaking, traveling, reading, participating in various artistic ventures, photography, and finding treasures at consignment stores.  



Friday, February 2, 2018

A Metamorphic Life 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.

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.

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.


Metamorphosis Your Stories 

Finding My Path Back to the Peace Corps by Barbara 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 Cop├ín.
My 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 (ihsmn.org) 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.
“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

Bio – Barbara E. Joe, MA



“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 (Amazon.com), winner of three literary awards, including “Best Peace Corps Memoir of 2009” from Peace Corps Writers.
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.


Metamorphosis Your Stories 

Labor Of Love by Ann Goldstein

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!
Inspirational quote Art from the Heart by Laurel Rund the Essence of Laurel
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.
After 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 questioned 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.
Note:  published in 2014

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.  



Metamorphosis Your Stories 

The $50,000 Question by Jane Barr

Quote Art From the Heart by Laurel D. Rund is the Essence of Laurel

It’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.
Quote Art from the Heart by Laurel Rund is the Essence of Laurel


  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 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.

    Metamorphosis Your Stories 


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



    Quote Art from the Heart by Laurel D. Rund the Essence of Laurel
    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
    Since 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.
    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 BreastInvestigators.com 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.

    Metamorphosis Your Stories


    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!
    When 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 bookbut 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

    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?

    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 our 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.

    Kate A Woman With a Relentless Spirit 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.
    As 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.
    “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

    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.


    Metamorphosis Your Stories 

    Teaching as a Way of Living! by Jane Keil Yoder

    " Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire."  William Butler Yeats                                   ...